5 Meal Planning Tips

Earlier this week I shared a very basic meal planning post. I believe that meal planning is a great option for those looking to make life just a little less busy.  A little planning goes a long way in saving you time and money.

Today I want to share 5 Meal Planning Tips expanding a bit on my prior post.

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1.Check your cupboards & fridge. Look in your cupboards and fridge before choosing your meals for the week. You may find canned goods that inspire a chili recipe. Maybe there is meat or veggies that can be used in a casserole. You might even have enough ingredients to make a complete meal.

2. Consult your store flyer. Your store flyer can provide direction as you pick meals for the week. If ground chicken is on sale you can add chicken burgers to the week’s plan. If you see a great deal on pasta and sauce then add an Italian dish to the menu. The store flyer can inspire ideas and help you choose inexpensive items for low-cost meals.

3. Don’t be afraid of repeats. Families have their favorites: Mom’s meatloaf, a tasty lasagna or burger and fries. You know which meals your family loves and talks about to their friends. It’s okay to have the same meal week after week. If your family loves baked macaroni and cheese then maybe you add it to the menu every Tuesday. It’s one less meal you need to think about each week.

4. Consider your leftovers. If you make a large enough portion of a certain meal then you can eat it again in one of the upcoming meals. You might even wait until the end of the week and eat all the leftovers from earlier in the week (making a buffet of sorts). You could also use leftovers from one meal to create another meal. If you made shredded chicken over rice one night perhaps you can use the leftover chicken in tortilla wraps with black beans and tasty toppings.

5. Make your grocery list. A list of meals is great, but don’t forget to then make your grocery list. Going to the store with only a list of the meals will make for some disorganized shopping trips. Write down your meal ideas, consult the recipe noting the ingredients, and then add those ingredients to your grocery list.

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I hope these tips are a help to you as you make meal planning a part of your weekly routine.

What about you? What are some of your meal planning tips? Share them in the comments; I would love to hear from you!

Until next time,

Charissa

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Meal Planning 101

Looking to save time and money? Meal Plan!

If you feel like life is crazy each evening and you spend too much time fretting about dinner options I would highly recommend meal planning.

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In a past post I shared 5 reasons to meal plan, so today’s post will focus more on the “hows” than the “whys”.

Meal planning is simply choosing meals to eat over the course of the week.

When someone talks about meal planning they usually focus on dinner because it is the meal when most of the family is home, and it tends to be the biggest meal of the day. You can also meal plan breakfast and lunch. For the purpose of this post we are going to stick with dinner.

Consult Your Calendar

When meal planning it is important to have your calendar close at hand. First, determine how many meals you will need to plan for in the coming week. For example, if you are going to meet your friends for pizza one night and you are also going to your sister’s house another evening then you only need to plan 5 meals. While looking over the week also note any evening events or activities. A crock pot meal might be best if there is a night when everyone is coming and going at different times. If you have to eat an early, simple dinner one evening perhaps soup and sandwiches make sense. A quick glance at your calendar will help you with your first steps for the week’s meal plan.

Choose the Meals

Now that you know how many meals you need and what types of meals might be best you can begin to choose meals for the week. Thankfully, with the help of the internet, we have access to endless recipes. You can search for recipes there or if you love your cookbooks, pull out some of those and add recipes to your plan for the week.

One helpful tip is to begin building a master list of meal ideas. If you find a meal your family loves, add it to the list. Before you know it you will have a large list of meal ideas that you can quickly refer to when planning each week. This list could be stored in various forms including a list on the side of your fridge, a binder or a notes/list app on your phone. Remember to include links to websites (or reference a cook book) if it’s a recipe in which you need to remember detailed instructions.

More Easy Ideas

  • Assign a theme to each night of the week: Taco Tuesdays or                Italian each Thursday or maybe Soup Saturdays.
  • Don’t over-complicate things: A simple meal is a great choice any night of the week. Check out a few of our simple meal favorites!
  • Have some basic, quick options in your pantry: Keep a small supply of pastas and soups for those nights when things don’t go as planned.

Meal planning doesn’t have to be an overwhelming process you dread each week. In fact, I know that the more you do it, the easier it will be each week. You’ll find that things will be a little less busy and a little less crazy when you have a plan in place.

Happy Meal Planning!

What about you? Do you meal plan? Do you have a favorite go-to meal?

Until next time,

Charissa

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Tasty Pumpkin Soup Recipe

tastypumpkinsoupPumpkin soup is one of my fall favorites, and I have been making this pumpkin soup recipe since before I was married. I would like to give credit to one of my roommates for this super tasty, very simple recipe….but I can’t remember who shared the recipe with me. Its origin is of less importance than its tasty goodness, so you might want to hang onto this one for not only the fall season but for the crazy, cold winter as well!

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Ingredients:

3 cups vegetable or chicken broth

1 cup whipping cream

15 oz. can 100 % pure pumpkin

3 Tbsp brown sugar

1 tsp cumin

1/2 tsp chili powder

1/8 tsp nutmeg

3/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese

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Directions: Bring broth and cream to a boil. Whisk in remaining ingredients (except cheese). Reduce heat to medium/low and simmer until soup thickens (about 15-20 minutes). Season with salt and pepper. Place in bowls and garnish with cheese. Enjoy!

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What about you? What is one of your favorite fall soups?

Until next time,

Charissa

 

5 Simple Meals

Sometimes you just need a simple meal. I might even argue that more than sometimes you just need a simple meal. Don’t shy away from meal planning because you think every meal has to be extravagant. A simple meal can still be tasty and enjoyable. I hope the following ideas inspire you to add a simple meal into your weekly menu.

Note: I will not be including serving size and amounts of ingredients needed for each meal. These meals are so simple that you will be able to determine (for example) how many pita pockets your family needs to sufficiently satisfy the rumbling bellies.

  1. Pita Pocket Pizza                                                                                 Ingredients: pita pockets, pizza sauce, pizza blend shredded cheese, various toppings of your choosing (pepperoni, peppers, onions, etc).          Assemble pizzas and bake at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes.
  2. Crock pot Chicken over Tortilla Chips                                               Ingredients: chicken breasts, salsa, black beans, frozen corn, tortilla chips Place all the ingredients (except for the chips) in the crock pot and cook on low for 6 hours. Spread tortilla chips on your plate and cover with a scoop of chicken from the crock pot.
  3. Cheese Quesadillas                                                                                 Ingredients: tortilla wraps, shredded cheddar cheese, sour cream, salsa Place a large handful of cheese in between two tortilla wraps.  Warm/brown tortillas on griddle or in frying pan on low heat. Turn once to evenly brown both sides. Remove from griddle and cut into four triangles with a pizza cutter. Garnish with sour cream and salsa.
  4. Baked Pasta                                                                                            Ingredients: pasta of your choice, pasta sauce, mozzarella cheese            Cook pasta according to box leaving it more firm than done. Drain pasta and return to pot. Add pasta sauce to pot and mix with the pasta. Pour pasta and sauce into a 13×9 pan. Cover with mozzarella cheese and bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes.
  5. “Snacky” dinner                                                                                              Ingredients: whatever fruit, veggies, cheese and crackers you have            Prepare ingredients and place on plate. Beyond easy!

There you have it, 5 simple meals. Maybe you can choose one tonight!

What about you? What are some of your favorite simple meals?

Until next time,

Charissa

5 Reasons to Meal Plan

Meal planning is one of those topics that either excites or agitates people.  I fall into the first category of people. I can’t say that the actual act of meal planning makes my heart flutter, but it does put a smile on my face once it is done. It certainly makes me happy as the week progresses and the plan is in place. Meal planning has made a big difference in my life.  Here are my top 5 reasons you should meal plan.

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  1. It saves you time.  Who wants to spend the good part of your Saturday morning wandering around the grocery store trying to figure out what you are going to feed your family for the next week? Who wants to go to the store almost every afternoon in search of the necessary items for that night’s meal? Who wants to stare into the cupboards each evening hoping some meal idea pops into your head? Our time is precious, and meal planning saves time. Taking the 15 to 20 minutes to meal plan each week will save you hours that might be wasted wandering the store on a Saturday morning, rushing to the store each afternoon or staring at your cupboard each evening.
  2. It saves you money.  If you don’t have a plan then you aren’t focused when shopping for the week. You pick up more items than you need. You forget to buy something, return to the store later and get that forgotten item plus a few more (expensive) extras. Lack of a meal plan can also result in calling for expensive take out which equals a hit to your wallet once again. Meal planning saves you money because you have a focused purpose when shopping, you have the items you need for each night’s meal, and you aren’t calling for take out in a moment of desperation.
  3. It saves your sanity.
    Trying to come up with a meal idea each night is exhausting. We’re often tired, the kids might be cranky, and everyone is hungry. It’s not an ideal time to make a decision about a dinner choice. Meal planning ahead of time allows you the opportunity to carefully consider your calendar, your food options and your needs for the week.
  4. It makes grocery shopping easier.
    When you have a meal plan you can create an organized shopping list. When you have an organized shopping list you can shop with ease.  Grocery shopping is not one of my favorite tasks, but meal planning has made a not-so-favorite task more bearable.
  5. It brings health and variety to your meals.  I don’t believe every meal has to be complicated or fancy. In fact, I am a strong supporter of the simple meal. A meal plan allows the opportunity to think through your choices for the week and choose a variety of foods that are tasty and healthy and good for your family. You can also plan ahead for surprise ice cream sundaes on an ordinary Thursday night!

I am such a big fan of meal planning, and it’s a favorite topic of mine.  It doesn’t have to be complicated or time consuming. I believe that if you start making it a part of your weekly routine you will be happy about the time, money and sanity you save and about how much easier and healthier your grocery shopping will be.

I plan to do an upcoming post on how I meal plan, but for now I want to know, what about you? Are you a meal planner?  If you are not meal planning now, what are your hesitations?

Until next time,

 Charissa