Check out these great meal prep ideas for quick dinners all week! I so need these ideas right now!
Check out these great meal prep ideas for quick dinners all week! I so need these ideas right now!
When it comes to menu planning, these budgeting tips are going to transform how you view your grocery budget. There are so many simple tricks to help you create amazing meals for your family on a budget, and this post has some of the best. With a few simple tricks up your sleeve, you can provide your family with delicious meals without breaking the bank.
Ask your butcher for budget cuts of meat. Not only can you watch for the sales on meat at your market or grocery store, but you can talk directly to the butcher. Sometimes they will have meat that isn’t bad, but can be sold at a fraction of the regular price for some reason. End pieces of whole rib eyes can be found at low prices because they aren’t enough to be a “steak”. Ask for these bits and then cube for stews or braised beef dishes. Sometimes meat isn’t out of date, but close to it and the butcher has to mark it down. Grab those mark downs and cook in advance simply then freeze to add into other menu items later.
Use your slow cooker. Slow cooker recipes are one of the best ways to stick to your menu plan as well as stay in budget. One of the best budgeting tips is to utilize those budget cuts of meat and tenderize them for amazing meals in your slow cooker. A beef roast or whole chicken can feed your family several meals for half the price, but may not be as convenient or easy to cook fast. Put into a slow cooker and let it do the work for you.
Utilize your own garden if possible. If you have time and space to have your on garden, this is a huge savings for your menu plan each week. Learn to can or freezer excess produce for future use, and utilize this year round in your weekly menu plans.
Build around low cost staple items. For most this means picking up things like dry beans, brown rice and sweet potatoes that are low cost but can stretch a meal further. While many would find this unhealthy, if you combine this with nutrient-dense vegetables and limit your high-fat proteins you truly can eat healthy. Focus on whole grains when possible and limit the regular potatoes, corn and white rice.
Buy what is on sale and match with couponed pantry items. For sales at your market or grocery, take the time to check your coupons and shop using coupons on sale items to get twice as much value toward your menu plan.
Create your menu with what you have on hand first. One of the best budgeting tips for menu planning is to start not with what you want to buy, but what you already have on hand. Look at your pantry, freezer and refrigerator for great starts to a meal. Utilize your on-hand items and limit your week to week expenses as much as possible focusing on fresh fruits and vegetables.
Utilize one item multiple ways. One of my favorite ways to save money is to cook dry beans in my slow cooker. Dry beans can be seasoned and eaten by themselves, added to soups or chili, refried to make dips or put into burritos. This simple item can be used multiple ways for very cheap.
Take advantage of our favorite budgeting tips for menu planning that will stretch your budget even further.
When it comes to tricks to help you save time, money and stress, freezer cooking is at the top of my list. Freezer cooking can fully change the way your family does things day to day. By planning ahead you can have have delicious, healthy meals for your family from the freezer instead of taking a spin through the drive through… again.
This time of year kids activities start back up and you may find yourself a little overwhelmed. But you can help tame the dinner time madness with these tips.
Make a menu.
You hear it all the time because it works. A menu means you can shop once and do prep work as you put the food away. You’ll probably find that you don’t have to look inside the fridge multiple times a day only to decide that thinking about what will be for dinner is just too much again. While I like to plan a week’s worth of meals, you may want to just plan enough meals to get you until your next shopping day. I recommend planning 2-3 days extra for the freezer because life happens and you may not be able to shop when you want to.
Prep before putting food away.
The fastest way to create many meals for the freezer at once is to go shopping in the morning and spend the afternoon completing the prep work. This is great for working mothers or moms with a lot of activities during the week. Chop all of the ingredients for one meal and load right into freezer bags for a complete recipe. Leave out any liquids, you can add that later. Now you can pull out a bag and toss right into the slow cooker, Instant Pot, or oven. Add any liquids needed and you’re good to go.
When you are cooking and baking, double your recipes and cook once but eat twice! This is a great way to reduce your workload because you can cook once and clean once. That means that on busy days you do not have to worry about cooking a meal or cleaning up from cooking. This works really well for casseroles, cookies and muffins, and soups. This is the least stressful way to build a large stash for your freezer with very little stress on you. No all day cooking or menu planning but you will be building a stash of meals for busy nights.
Protect from freezer burn.
While this freezer cooking is amazing for saving you time and money you will find that things can get freezer burnt causing unnecessary waste. To prevent freezer burn, remove air from packaging and use multiple layers around your food to keep it fresh longer. Never let air get into your packaging. Label your meals well so you do not need to open anything to find the meal you want.
Want more great meal time tips? Check out The Ultimate Homemaking Bundle! This fantastic resource includes three ebooks about freezer cooking and so much more! Only available through May 2, 2016.
On hectic, busy mornings, breakfast doesn’t have to be unhealthy. Here are five quick, easy and healthy alternatives to cereal or toast.
Mornings can be such a crazy, hectic time.
Especially if you’ve got kids that go to school, you have to be at work or any of you have an early morning appointment or activity. It can be a real struggle to get everyone dressed, fed, packed and out the door to your event/school/work in a timely fashion.
Even on days when we don’t have to be out early, I know it can be SO tempting to pull out the cereal, or make a piece of toast and call it good. Plus, who has time to get creative in the kitchen for breakfast? We want quick, easy AND healthy, but usually compromise on the healthy end of things…
But it’s honestly easier than you think to make healthy breakfasts that are delicious and nutrient rich, keeping tummies fuller, longer.
I used to despise oatmeal. But as I’ve grown older and found recipes I like, oatmeal is one of my favourite things to make for breakfast. I’ve got two recipes that I like to switch up.
The first being Homemade Instant Oatmeal packets. I love the fact that I can whip up a whole bunch of packets (just like buying them from the store!) in no time and have breakfast on hand for quite a few weeks. My second favourite oatmeal is this Overnight Refrigerator oatmeal.
Both of these oatmeal recipes are very versatile when it comes to adding toppings that you like. I’m a big fan of adding raspberries or strawberries. Nut butters, nuts and seeds would also be great additions.
Smoothies are delicious and so satisfying! Not to mention a breeze to put together. Currently our favourite combination is frozen strawberries, banana, yogurt, protein powder, and either juice or water. Sometims I like to add spinach or kale, or frozen berries, or frozen peaches.
This Tropical Pineapple Peach Slushie might also be a great dairy-free option:
What’s your favourite smoothie combination?
My husband’s most common breakfast request is egg toast. It’s a notch up from plain scrambled eggs or plain toast. 🙂 To make it, I simply scramble up some eggs with some milk and a touch of salt and pepper. Then I divide the eggs between some whole grain toast, then top it all with some shredded cheese.
Not the quickest breakfast on the list, but it’s still quite easy to put together! Plus, this french toast is perfect for freezing leftovers, then popping in the toaster. We like to top ours with butter, real maple syrup and sometimes fruit and whipping cream. French toast is also a hit with me because of the egg mixture it’s coated in, giving it more protein than pancakes or waffles.
FRUIT SALAD WITH GREEK YOGURT
If I could just eat fruit for breakfast, I would! I love, love a big bowl of fruit salad. But to give it more protein, thus making us fuller for longer, I serve it with some Greek yogurt. I can’t quite do plain Greek yogurt yet, so I usually buy vanilla flavoured yogurt. As for the fruit salad, I just cut up what fruit we have on hand. Which is usually apples, strawberries, bananas, oranges and sometimes berries or mango.
This Peanut Chicken Pasta is a favourite of ours for a quick and tasty weeknight dinner. It’s a hit with everyone!
I realized the other day that I haven’t made one of our favourite dinners in a while so I thought I’d do it up, then give you the recipe! It’s perfect for my peanut butter loving husband and daughter. I happen to love it too because it’s tasty and I feel like it’s fairly healthy. Plus, it’s easy, that’s my motto in life I think. Especially when it comes to cooking. 😉
I hope you enjoy one of our family’s favourite dinners, Peanut Chicken Pasta:
Having a planned menu each week is a lifesaver for me. I find that on the weeks I fail to plan, we eat out more often or I’m grabbing something super simple from the freezer (Pizza? Premade appies?). This results in higher than normal spending and not so healthy eating. (Though, I’m all about giving myself grace and being mostly okay with weeks like that when it’s not our normal.) So, this week:
I’m Wondering: What are your menu planning challenges? What keeps you from implementing or succeeding at menu planning in your home?
These Zucchini Chocolate Chip Muffins are packed with healthful ingredients like zucchini, whole wheat flour, apple sauce and make a great on-the-go snack.
The best zucchini chocolate chip muffins ever! Moist, sweet, packed with shredded zucchini, perfect spices, chocolate chips and all sorts of healthful ingredients! I like to make these into mini muffins because I find my daughter enjoys them more that way. 🙂 Plus, you can’t actually taste the zucchini so she’s getting a vegetable that she wouldn’t normally eat.
These muffins will be perfect when zucchini growing season is upon us. Use up that bounty!
For this Chicken Broccoli Alfredo meal, you take some chicken, broccoli, Alfredo sauce, and bacon bits, toss it all into a freezer bag. That’s it. Then to cook it, throw it in the slow cooker for a super simple, family pleasing dinner!
This Chicken Broccoli Alfredo is easy, easy, easy! Easy to put together, and easy to cook! My favourite kind of meal. 🙂 It’s a family-friendly meal that goes from the freezer to the slow cooker, making dinnertime a breeze. The recipe calls for a bag of frozen broccoli, but I find a bag of broccoli and cauliflower is just as good! It’s delicious served over pasta or rice.
Here’s how to make Slow Cooker Chicken Broccoli Alfredo:
This recipe for the ultimate comfort food, Easy Freezer-Friendly Shepherd’s Pie is one of our family’s favourite. Ground beef and veggies smothered in a tasty gravy, topped with delicious mashed potatoes. Yum yum!
This freezer-friendly Shepherd’s Pie is one of those easy to prepare comfort foods. It’s a simple meal that uses ingredients that you usually have on hand. It’s perfect for the freezer to cook another day, or you can make it ahead and refrigerate until you’re ready to cook it for dinner. This recipe includes the use of beef gravy or Shepherd’s Pie gravy, which adds a delicious touch of flavour to the Shepherd’s Pie and keeps it moist and tender.
Here’s how to make Easy Freezer-Friendly Shepherd’s Pie:
These Freezer Mashed Potatoes are one of my husband’s specialties. After I made them one time, he decided we needed to eat them more often, so he takes it upon himself to make up a fresh batch every once in a while. Makes me happy, because I happen to think they’re delicious too!
Normally, potatoes don’t freezer well, but because there’s all sorts of yummy additions, these freeze very well! They also pair very nicely with the Maple Pineapple Slow Cooker Ham I have here.
The added sour cream, cream cheese, butter and salt & pepper make for a really delicious combination of flavours. Sometimes, they don’t even make it to the freezer before we eat them 😉
Here’s how to make Freezer Mashed Potatoes: