This Week’s Menu Plan: September 26 – October 2

menu template

 

I’m happy to report that last week all of the meals I had planned got made! Now that’s progress! How did you do? Did you try any new recipes that were a hit?

Here’s the plan for September 26 – October 2, 2016:

Breakfasts:

  • Oatmeal
  • Peanut butter toast and apples
  • Waffles/cereal

Lunches:

  • Leftovers
  • Smoothies
  • Tomato Soup & Grilled Cheese

Dinner:

Monday: Spaghetti
Tuesday: Oatmeal Pancakes, bacon
Wednesday: Hashay
Thursday: Sausage & Potato Bake
Friday: Leftovers
Saturday: Snack Party plate
Sunday: Dinner at my parents

What’s on your menu this week? Let up know in the comments!

This Week’s Menu Plan: September 19 – 25

menu template

You guys, I bombed last week’s menu plan. I think the only thing that got made from the list was tacos and that wasn’t even the recipe I linked to last week! (I found some precooked taco meat in the freezer, yay!) Other than that, we ordered Domino’s pizza, I made a bourbon chicken in the slow cooker, we had a “snack party” plate another night and the rest must have been leftovers.

At least we were fed, right? Ha!

 

Since most of the meals never got made last week, I’m just going to roll them over to this week. 😉

Here’s the plan for September 19 – 25, 2016:

Breakfasts:

  • Oatmeal
  • Peanut butter toast and apples
  • Waffles

Lunches:

  • Leftovers
  • Smoothies
  • Tomato Soup & Grilled Cheese

Dinner:

MondayOatmeal Pancakes, bacon
Tuesday: Cool Ranch Shredded Chicken Tacos 
Wednesday: Slow Cooker Honey Garlic Chicken and Veggies
ThursdayFettuccine Alfredo, carrots
FridayBalsamic Beef Roast, mashed potatoes, veggies
Saturday: Out for our anniversary (yes, we didn’t even do this last week!)
Sunday: Dinner at my parents

What’s on your menu this week? Let up know in the comments!

This Week’s Menu Plan: September 12 – 18

menu template

Well that was a whirl wind week! How about yours? My daughter started back to preschool and she’s now taking a ballet class once a week. Nothing out of the ordinary but I guess I did get used to having a more laid back summer! This coming week will be pretty much the same with school, dance and my husband’s last soccer game of the season. (I’m realizing that I may need to carve out a wee bit of time for something I would enjoy doing! We’ll see.)

Since I’m still learning how to juggle a newish baby, getting my daughter places, new routines and whatnot, I’m planning simple meals this week.

Here’s the plan for September 5 – 11, 2016:

Breakfasts:

  • Oatmeal
  • Peanut butter toast and apples
  • Waffles

Lunches:

  • Leftovers
  • Smoothies
  • Tomato Soup & Grilled Cheese

Dinner:

MondayBalsamic Beef Roast, mashed potatoes, veggies
Tuesday: Cool Ranch Shredded Chicken Tacos 
Wednesday: Slow Cooker Honey Garlic Chicken and Veggies
ThursdayFettuccine Alfredo, carrots
FridayOatmeal Pancakes, bacon
Saturday: Out for our anniversary
Sunday: Dinner at my parents

This Week’s Menu Plan: September 5 – 11

menu template

How on earth did we hit the end of summer vacation already? It just zipped by! We’re enjoying the long weekend by just spending time together and hitting up a nearby fair. It was the first time my oldest daughter has been and she had a blast!

Also, soup weather has hit! That makes me sort of giddy, because I love soup! There will be a couple of soups on the menu because of that fact. 🙂

Here’s the plan for September 5 – 11, 2016:

Breakfasts:

  • Oatmeal
  • Peanut butter toast and apples
  • Waffles

Lunches:

  • Leftovers
  • Smoothies
  • Grilled Cheese

Dinner:

Monday: Dinner at my parents (because we missed yesterday)
TuesdayZuppa Toscana
Wednesday: Slow Cooker Honey Garlic Chicken and Veggies
Thursday: Potato Soup (from Good Cheap Eats Dinner in 30 Minutes), buns
Friday: Pizza (either this dough recipe or on Pita bread with pepperoni or ham)
Saturday: Cool Ranch Shredded Chicken Tacos 
Sunday: Dinner at my parents

7 Foods Perfect for Packing in Thermoses

Back to school season means it is time for back to school lunches! While you might think this means a year of sandwiches and prepackaged foods, think again. Thermoses are a great investment and perfect for adding flavor and variety to back to school lunches. Take a look below at 7 foods perfect for packing in thermoses so your child can enjoy a lunch that is fun, fueling, and healthy!

7 Foods Perfect for Packing in Thermoses:

Thermoses are a great investment and perfect for adding flavor and variety to back to school lunches. Take a look at these 7 foods perfect for packing in thermoses so your child can enjoy a lunch that is fun, fueling, and healthy!

1. Hot dogs.

Hot dogs store nicely in thermoses. Just add some hot water along with the cooked hot dogs and close tightly. They will say warm and be ready to add to a bun with all the toppings you want. This is also when those carry out condiments come in hand.

2. Pasta dishes.

You can add all sorts of pasta dishes to thermoses including Ramen noodles, spaghetti, ravioli, and alphabet noodles in broth. Add leftover dinner pasta or boil some pasta the night before so you just have to heat before adding to the thermos. Don’t forget a side of bread and butter and mini salad or some veggies to make the perfect lunch.

3. Soups and stews.

This is the perfect winter time lunch! Thermoses are great for chicken noodle soup, tomato soup, leftover stews, chili, and more. Just heat it and add it to the thermos for best results. Add crackers or a sandwich or even a mini fruit salad and you’re all set.

4. Meatballs.

Meatballs are a savory dish that kids will love. Heat frozen meatballs up and add them to the thermos, or heat meatballs from the previous night’s dinner. They pair well with pasta or pack some bread for a meatball sandwich. It’s a filling lunch sure to keep the kids going. Add a small side salad or some fruit to round out the perfect lunch.

5. Rice and beans/Rice and chicken.

Any combination of rice and beans or rice and chicken is perfect for a thermos. Heat before filling the thermos and it’s a hearty lunch idea the kids will enjoy. Make one of these meals for dinner and reserve some for lunch if you wish.

6. Burrito bowls.

Doesn’t a burrito bowl sound amazing? You can place burrito bowl fillers in a thermos for a tasty lunch with a festive spin. Toss in some heated Mexican rice, beans, ground beef or shredded chicken, shredded cheese, lettuce, and a dab of sour cream. Pack some corn chips to top the mixture with for the best lunch ever!

7. Hot chocolate

Pack some hot chocolate in your child’s lunch for an after lunch treat. You can even add a baggie of mini marshmallows on the side. This is a great way to warm them up before heading outside for recess during the cold winter months.

Are you ready to send the kids back to school with lunches that are fun and fueling? Buy a durable thermos and give these 7 foods for packing in a thermos a try. Your kids are sure to enjoy them and be the envy of the class!

What are your go-to lunches for back to school? Let us know in the comments below!

This Week’s Menu Plan: August 29 – September 4

menu template

Well, we’re easing into this whole menu planning thing again, right? Good, because last week’s menu nearly went out the window with unplanned dinner options. We were invited to some friend’s for dinner one night, my Mother in Law took us out another night, and my husband was gone one night for soccer so I invited us over to my parents for dinner. 😉

So on this week’s menu, you’ll see a few repeats from last week because I still have the ingredients on hand to make the meals we skipped. Let’s hope we do better, but I find there are at least one or two unplanned events that happen on a regular basis!

Here’s the plan for August 29 – September 4, 2016:

Breakfasts:

Lunches:

  • Leftovers
  • Chicken noodle soup (in the freezer)
  • Grilled Cheese
  • I’m doing the PowerBowl Challenge from Healthy Habits Happy Moms, Sienna will eat the above mentioned.

Dinner:

Monday: Cashew Chicken (from Good Cheap Eats Dinner in 30 Minutes), steamed veggies
Tuesday: Perogies and Sausage, peas & corn
Wednesday: Snack party plate (crackers, cheese, fruit, veggies, scrambled eggs)
Thursday: Chicken Skewers with Peanut sauce, tossed salad, corn
Friday: Pizza (either this dough recipe or on Pita bread with pepperoni or ham)
Saturday: Out to Eat
Sunday: Dinner at my parents

I’d love to know, what’s on your menu this week?

This Week’s Menu Plan: August 22 – 28

menu template

Well, wouldn’t you know it, but actually having a written down menu plan actually gets dinner on the table? My husband was quite pleased he had some decent meals with leftovers to take for lunch the next day! I think I went into survival/lazy mode after baby Adelyn was born. That worked for a bit because I had a whole bunch of freezer meals to go through. However, the supply ended and I just didn’t get back into menu planning. I’m feeling much more sane now that I know what we will be eating everyday.

One dinner from last week didn’t get made because my husband ended up having last minute plans and took Sienna with him so I made a smoothie for myself.

Here’s the plan for August 22 – 28 2016:

Breakfasts:

Lunches:

  • Leftovers
  • Chicken noodle soup (in the freezer)
  • Grilled Cheese
  • I’m doing the PowerBowl Challenge from Healthy Habits Happy Moms, Sienna will eat the above mentioned.

Dinner:

Monday: Cashew Chicken (from Good Cheap Eats Dinner in 30 Minutes), steamed veggies
Tuesday: Sausage and potato bake
Wednesday: Fettucinne Alfredo, Caesar salad
Thursday: Chicken Skewers with Peanut sauce, tossed salad, corn
Friday: Pizza (either this dough recipe or on Pita bread with pepperoni or ham)
Saturday: Out to Eat
Sunday: Dinner at my parents

I’d love to know, what’s on your menu this week?

The First Menu Plan in a Long Time!

You know when you go on and on about how good something is because it saves you money and makes things run smoother? Menu planning is one of those things that I think makes life a whole lot easier. And well, there hasn’t been much menu planning going on around these parts lately. I can blame the new baby and make all sorts of excuses, but really, meal time is a mess around here! Leftovers are being thrown away far too often, we’re eating out more often than we should be and there’s just a general “blah” feeling around dinner time.

Since so many of you mentioned in the recent Simply Frugal survey that you would like to see menu plans again, I thought I’d start doing them again. I used to post our weekly menu plans each Monday back in the “olden days” of Simply Frugal. Time to revive them!

It actually brings me to a happy place when I plan out our menus. I’m saving money because I’m telling our grocery money where to go instead of spending too much on a whole lot of “nothing”. Plus, there’s a lot less scrambling around 5pm because I’ve already got dinner under control.

I’m embarrassed to admit, but I’ve even put our menu planning on autopilot and I still can’t seem to get it together to have one of those meals prepared.

Enough I say! Time to get meal time under control again. Starting today and each following Monday you will see a weekly menu plan from me featuring easy, frugal meals.

This week's menu plan from SimplyFrugal.ca

Here’s the plan for August 15 – 21, 2016:

Breakfasts:

Lunches:

  • Leftovers
  • Egg sandwiches
  • Grilled Cheese

Dinner:

Monday: Pesto pasta with carrots
Tuesday: Chicken Skewers with Peanut sauce, tossed salad, corn
Wednesday: Hamburgers, watermelon/cantaloupe
Thursday: Tacos
Friday: Pizza (either this dough recipe or on Pita bread with pepperoni or ham)
Saturday: Out to Eat
Sunday: Snack Party Plate (fruit, crackers, cheese, veggies, back bacon)

I’d love to know, what’s on your menu this week?

10 Tips For How To Save Money On Food

There are some expenses that just aren’t going to go away, and food is one of them. This list of ideas will help make your grocery budget go further.

10 Tips For How To Save Money On Food

Produce your own food. This can be growing a vegetable garden or even raising chickens in your back yard for eggs. Producing your own food sources is a great answer to how to save money on food. This usually takes a small up front investment and some time to make work, but is well worth it in the long run for a better grocery budget.

Shop with coupons and sales. This obvious answer has to be on the list because one of the best tips for how to save money on food is to clip coupons and shop sales at your market or grocery store.

Stockpile seasonal items. When you find a fruit or vegetable you love and know is only available during a specific time period, stocking up and freezing or canning for future use is a great way to save money in your food budget.

Menu plan consistently. Nothing kills your grocery budget like take out or last minute ingredients for a fast meal. Take the time to menu plan consistently utilizing what you already have on hand and sales at the time to build a low-cost menu everyone will enjoy.

Make more vegetarian meals. For most meals, the meat is the highest priced item by far. Make more vegetarian meals and skip the meat in your menu plan at least 2-3 days each week.

Use low-cost staple items as a base. Don’t forget about things like dry beans, brown rice, potatoes and pasta as the base for many hearty and healthy meals that are full of nutrient-dense vegetables, healthy fats,and the occasional lean meat.

Make your own and avoid processed foods. Instead of buying cake mixes, ready-made bread or even cookies make your own. Avoid all of the nutritional bombs in processed foods and save money by making your own.

Barter with friends and neighbors. If you don’t have time for a garden but have a friend or neighbor that does, it’s time to barter. Offer cleaning, babysitting, mending or other services in exchange for fresh produce from their garden.

Plan for leftovers. Make your menu in a way that each meal always has enough leftovers for two meals or at least, a smaller lunch portion the next day for every family member.

Avoid food waste. If you have just a bit of vegetable or roast left that isn’t enough for a meal, toss it into a freezer bag and save for future stews or soups. Use the chicken bones from a roasted chicken to simmer and create your own chicken stock. Toss vegetable peels and bits of vegetables into a stockpot and simmer for a practically free vegetable stock.

These tips for how to save money on food are easy, practical things anyone can do on a regular basis to keep their food budget low.

How I Put Menu Planning on Autopilot

You know planning a menu is a good thing, but sometimes it only feels like another chore to cross off the to-do list. Well, end that once and for all by putting your menu planning on autopilot!

You know planning a menu is a good thing, but sometimes it only feels like another chore to cross off the to-do list. Well, end that once and for all by putting your menu planning on autopilot!

You guys, I have not been feeling the love for menu planning for quite some time now. That makes me sad because without a menu plan, our meal time is definitely not what it should be. I’ve been resorting to quick prep meals (think frozen pizza, pasta with a jar of sauce poured over top and grilled cheese & tomato soup…) Not good! Between picky palates and no desire to cook, menu planning took a real nosedive in the last year or so. On the other hand, the grocery stores were probably quite happy, because I was spending more since I had no plan. 🙂

That brings me to today. I’m pleased to say, I’ve found a system that works for me! Actually, I’v put menu planning on autopilot! It initially took a little bit of work upfront (still only 4 steps!), but now we’re smooth sailing.

Here’s how I put menu planning on autopilot:

Step 1: Brainstorm

This part took me the longest. I sat down one afternoon (interrupted by the 4 year old and baby, often) and wrote down all the meals we like to eat. Our family favourites. My goal was 60 meals, but I quickly realized that was a lofty goal. In the end, I came up with 40 meals. Enough for 8 weeks of eating when I allot 5 meals a week. I like to leave 2 days free for last minute events, trying out a new recipe and Sunday dinner at my parent’s house.

Here are the meals that made the rotation. Keep in mind that they must be simple, enjoyed by all family members and not require any weird ingredients:

  1. Slow Cooker BBQ Sauce Pork Chops
  2. Sausage and Potato Bake
  3. Waffles/Pancakes
  4. French Toast
  5. Chicken in basil sauce
  6. Balsamic Beef Roast
  7. Pesto pepperoni pizza
  8. Hashay
  9. Creamy chicken soup
  10. Spaghetti
  11. Meatballs
  12. Quiche
  13. Sweet & Sour chicken and rice
  14. Sloppy Joe calzones
  15. Peanut chicken pasta
  16. Pesto pasta
  17. Fettucine Alfredo
  18. Balsamic almond chicken
  19. Chicken Cacciatore
  20. Baked Beans
  21. Sesame chicken
  22. Pizza
  23. Perogies & Sausage
  24. Lasagna
  25. Melt in Your Mouth Chicken
  26. Hamburgers & pasta salad
  27. Sticky garlic chicken & broccoli
  28. Chicken pesto stuffed shells
  29. Maple pineapple ham
  30. Chicken satay with peanut noodles/rice
  31. Ramen Vegetable stirfry
  32. Soy sauce pork tenderloin
  33. Greek Chicken
  34. Shredded beef sandwiches
  35. Tacos
  36. Chicken Broccoli Alfredo
  37. Hamburger soup
  38. One pot pasta
  39. Chicken Fajitas
  40. Black Bean and Salsa Burritos

Most of these meals can be made with pantry staples, which are easy to stock up on when they’re on sale. Also, I whipped up a couple of printables for you to help you brainstorm. A “Our Favourite Meals” sheet and some recipe cards! (click on the images to get the free printables.)

favorite mealsrecipe card
Step 2: Write all recipes on index cards

Now, once I picked all 40 meals, I wrote each meal down on an index card. Sometimes I wrote the entire recipe (if it was not found online or in a cookbook). Other times I wrote the name of the meal and where the recipe could be found (Pinterest, page 3 in a cookbook…etc.) I also wrote down side suggestions and any adjustments I like to make to the recipe.

Step 3: Place them all in a recipe box/binder

Next, I placed all of the index cards in an empty recipe box that I had, in no particular order. You could place the index cards in a binder with protective sheets instead, but I liked the idea of a recipe box.

Step 4: Pull out a week’s worth of meals and place in front

Here’s where the autopilot comes into play. Since I’m only choosing 5 meals a week, I pulled out 5 random index cards and placed them in the front of the box. I put a divider card behind the five recipes so I know when I’m done for the week. Once all 5 meals are made, I rotate those index cards to the very back of the recipe box.

Step 5: Repeat Step 4 over and over!

On Sunday, when I pull out the 5 meals for the week, I also create my grocery list. I write down everything I don’t already have in the pantry/fridge/freezer.

Now, you could take this a step further and look at your store flyers first to determine which index cards you should pull out for the week according to what’s on sale. For example, I may not want to make the Balsamic Beef Roast this week because I don’t have one in the freezer and I don’t see a sale at any of my local stores. However, pork chops are on sale so I’ll make the slow cooker BBQ Sauce pork chops instead.

Does that all make sense?  This system has been life changing for me! I hope it might work for you as well if you’ve been struggling with menu planning.

Have you found a menu planning system that works for you?