Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Save Money by Meal Planning

Several weeks ago, I received a gift from my sister-in-law Anne: a laminated meal planning chart! She has been married for two years and has a one-year-old daughter, and her homemaking tips have been a lifesaver.

After Mr. Handsome and I tied the knot, Anne started sharing her favorite recipes and explaining how she how she plans a full week of meals at a time to save both time and money.

When the schedule is overflowing, it's tempting to throw planning to the wind and start taking life one day at a time. Unfortunately, this causes even more chaos when dinnertime rolls around and the refrigerator is empty.

Meal planning saves time, helps busy wives and mamas establish and stick to a grocery budget, and limits last minute runs through the drive-thru.


How does it work? Set aside a few hours each week to make a list of meals to prepare for the next seven days, figure out what ingredients you need, and hit the grocery store. If you have children, get them involved by teaching them how to search through ads and navigate the aisles of a supermarket.

When you return home, decide which meal will be prepared on which day, and organize your refrigerator and pantry accordingly. Update your meal planning chart so everyone knows what's on the menu.

I have found that it helps to have a few meals on the back-burner (not literally). For example, I always stock the ingredients for spaghetti and meatballs, easy homemade pizza, and garden salad.
That way, if I'm ever in a pinch, I still don't have to run out and grab McDonalds.

22 comments:

  1. Shela G10/13/2015

    Great advice!! When my husband and got married he had a hard time understanding why when we went food shopping I would buy serveral days worth of meals. Almost 7 year later it is something he appreciates because it saves money and time.

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  2. What's on the menu for this week? We usual do two fish, one meat and one pasta dish a week. I always keep frozen pizza in the freezer for emergency meals. Nothing worse than wasting money and health on McDonald's.

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    1. Hi Andrea,

      This week I made:

      Steak, carrots, and sweet corn
      Shepherd's pie (loaded with lots of veggies)
      Chicken Parmesan and asparagus

      The steak was part of our Magnificent Meal Monday tradition and only cost $6 at Aldi.

      We have friends coming this evening and staying through the weekend, so I have a few crowd-pleaser meals planned that unfortunately aren't super healthy. I plan to make homemade Chipotle (See my Recipes page), hot chicken wings, and homemade pizza.

      Blessings,
      Ellie

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    2. I have a question for you, Andrea. How do you cook your fish? I usually just bread and fry it, but I would like to experiment with healthier alternatives. If anyone else wants to chime in, feel free!

      Ellie

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    3. Anonymous10/15/2015

      hello Ellie!

      We put ours on a a grill with a lemon coating!

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    4. I bake cod with olive oil and seasoning. Or drizzle honey and nutmeg on salmon. I love to add angel hair pasta and baked/grilled veggies to the salmon.

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    5. Fish: we usually only eat tilapia, salmon or swai fillets.We love salmon sprayed with some Brag's, (healthy version of soy sauce seasoning), then put s few of the canned french fried onion rings on top, and bake. I have done that with Tilapia, and just the bragg's only on tilapia or swai fillets before baking. Also sometimes top fish with some seasoned bread crumbs or panko before baking.

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    6. Thanks for the recipe suggestions! Can't wait to try them! Y'all are the best. :)

      Ellie

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    7. You're most welcome! Many blessings...

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    8. Anonymous10/24/2015

      My husband foil wraps salmon steaks together with cardamom, sliced red peppers and onion, and chopped kale, sea salt, oh and fresh garlic of course. Then puts on the bbq or just in the oven. The cardamom does something fabulous to the flavour!! Love all your blogs, by the way!:-)

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  3. Anonymous10/13/2015

    Meal planning also helps busy husbands and fathers!! It is good for the whole family.

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  4. Anonymous10/13/2015

    This is a super idea. Often when I am reminded about something I have not accomplished I say "It's on my list!" Organization seems to be a never ending goal for me. These kind of tips are very helpful. Thanks!

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  5. Anonymous10/13/2015

    I love doing that and think it's a great idea...and so organized:) Don't always stick to it though, but need to get back in the mode! Thanks for the reminder:) God bless you!

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  6. Anonymous10/13/2015

    Good ideas, your blog is heart warming!

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  7. Anonymous10/14/2015

    These food posts are food for my soul. It gives strength and strategy to the world weary, thank-you Ellie for your insights. Now how to shift gears from being a blog reader to a doer? Any suggestions to how to actually getting around to implementing the good suggestions?

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    1. I'm glad to hear that my posts are an encouragement to you. :) To implement a meal plan, I suggest getting the rest of your family involved to make it fun. Of course you don't want to give in to little ones who want to eat hot dogs and candy every night, but there is no harm in asking what their favorite meals are and then trying to work that into your plan every so often.

      I have found that meal planning is quickest if you keep a running list of all the meals/recipes that you and your family like. When it comes time to plan for the upcoming week, you can just pull from your list.

      Hope this helps!
      Ellie

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  8. Anonymous10/14/2015

    Great tip, thanks!
    Alexis

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  9. I jot notes down on my menu planner regarding activities/appts that we have each day so that I choose meals which don't require prep/baking time I don't have for that particular day.

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    1. That's a great idea, Tara!

      Ellie

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  10. Anonymous10/14/2015

    We do that at my house it is a good idea

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  11. Anonymous10/23/2015

    Ellie and Readers,
    Here's a quick and easy salmon dinner that is delicious! Rinse salmon and place in a glass dish. Put about a half-inch water in bottom of dish, and drizzle some olive oil over the salmon. Bake for 20-25 minutes on 350F, or until fish is flaky. Before cooking the salmon, peel some potatoes, and cover with water. Bring to a boil, and cook on medium heat for 10 minutes. Turn off heat and let sit until a toothpick goes through potatoes easily. (This will help keep potatoes from becoming soggy.) Bring some frozen peas to a boil, using just enough water so that it will not burn, simmer for a minute or two, and drain the water. Serve salmon with a tablespoonful of mayonnaise or Vegenaise, and some lemon, if you like. This is a tasty, low-calorie meal (maybe except for the mayonnaise!) that is a good once-a-week staple. - Marge

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  12. Anonymous10/23/2015

    Just salt the potatoes to taste, and the peas, if you like, although they often don't even need it. No need to season the salmon.... the mayonnaise gives the extra flavor! -Marge

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