Menu Planning Central: Solve the Dinner Dilemma for 50% off!

50% off sale--medium

Solve the dinner dilemma once and for all!

I’m pretty sure most of you know that I’m a huge fan of menu planning. I personally think every family should test it out with to see if it works for you. :)

But, in case the thought of creating your own menu plans scare you, I thought I would mention a 50% off sale that Menu Planning Central is having!  Through September 26, 2015 you can save 50% off the lifetime membership. So that means you can get a year’s worth of all 4 types of menus (Family-Friendly, Frugal, Healthy, and Vegetarian) for just $50! (normally $100) This is a GREAT deal and will help you out!

Use coupon code: DINNER at checkout to get the discount.

Click here to get started menu planning with Menu Plan Central!

Free July 2015 Monthly Menu Planner


Download a free Monthly Meal Planner for the entire month of July!  Included in your download you will find all of this:

  • Meal Planner for 7/1/15 – 7/4/15
  • Meal Planner for 7/5/15 – 7/11/15
  • Meal Planner for 7/12/15 – 7/18/15
  • Meal Planner for 7/19/15 – 7/25/15
  • Meal Planner for 7/25/15 – 7/31/15
  • July Flexible Meals
  • July Flexible Meal Calendars
  • July Blank Week
  • Dessert Menu for July 2015
  • Dessert Calendar for July 2015
  • Fill In the Blank Ingredients List – Entire Month
  • Fill in the Blank Ingredients List – Weekly
  • Blank Family Shopping List (Food, Sundries, you name it included)
  • Blank Costco Shopping List

Download your menu plan now.

Take Them a Meal


I came across this really neat website that is perfect for those of you that may find yourself in a situation of organizing meals for a family you may know. is a free service that allows you to create a meal schedule for a family in need. It’s easy to do!  One person creates a profile for the family with instructions for drop off and dates needed.  Then you are provided a link that you can share so that others can sign up for the days they can prepare a meal for the family. No more time consuming phone calls!

You can read the story here.

How neat is that?

The Eating from the Pantry & Freezer Challenge: Week 4

Welcome to the fourth  and final week of the Eating from The Pantry & Freezer Challenge!  Here’s what it’s all about or you can read the post from Week 3.

For those of you who have been doing this challenge all along, way to go!  You’ve reached the end!  And to those of you who have joined in at some point, even for a week, thank you!

I’m sure that by this point you’ve seen some significant savings or you’ve even noticed that you’ve been shopping less often.  Even just a week or two of eating what you already have can make a big difference and help you put extra money towards larger grocery purchases, debt payments, or simply to help save up for something you’d like to buy!

Here’s my update from last week

There’s actually a bit more room in our freezers!  Enough room that my father-in-law was able to store some stuff while he was looking for a new fridge/freezer after his broke.

But, as I suspected, I can keep going on this challenge for a while yet since we’ve still got plenty of food!

In total I spent about $25 this week on milk, eggs, produce and yogurt.  I’m quite pleased that I’ve mostly been able to stay under my $25 limit for the week!

I’ve still got plenty of chicken, ground beef, steaks and a few already made freezer meals.  So, we’ll be having some chicken dishes, and most likely some beef dishes! 😛

Here’s what we’ll be eating this week:

My mother-in-law is here with us this week so the plan may not go according to what I have written. But I’m going to try my best!


  • Breakfast:  Refrigerator Oatmeal
  • Lunch:  Smoothies
  • Dinner:  Marinated steak, pasta salad, grilled veggies




  • Breakfast:  Cereal, fruit
  • Lunch: Egg salad sandwich
  • Dinner:  Roast beef, roasted potatoes, steamed veggies




  • Brunch:  Waffles
  • Dinner:  At my Parents!

Now it’s your turn, what will you be eating this week?

Now that the challenge is coming to a close, has the challenge been difficult for you?  What types of meals have frequented your table?  And most importantly, did you get things cleaned out and meet your goals?

The Eating from the Pantry & Freezer Challenge: Week 3

Welcome to the third week of the Eating from The Pantry & Freezer Challenge!  Here’s what it’s all about or you can read the post from Week 2.

Here’s my update from last week

Well, this is a bit embarrassing, but not many of the dinners I had planned for last week got made! Sienna and I were on our own for a couple evenings and we had a couple of rough days so I opted for the drive thru. Another evening we were invited for dinner to a friends house.

The meals we managed to eat were breakfast every morning, egg salad sandwiches, pancakes, peanutty Asian wraps (twice), and smoothies.  Needless to say, we still have quite a bit of stuff in our pantry and freezer!

This week should be different.  My Mother-in-Law is coming to visit for a week so we should be going through quite a bit of stuff.

Getting creative with what you have left

At this point in the challenge you may have come to a point where you need to be creative when it comes to using up what you have an abundance of and filling the spaces of those things you wish you could go out and buy.

There are a few great websites out there that will come up with some recipes for the ingredients you already have on hand.  All Recipes is one of them.  Simply input the ingredients you have and the ingredients you don’t have and it will pull up a list of recipes you could make!  Recipe Matcher, Supercook and Ingredient Chef are also good resources!

Here’s what we’ll be eating this week:

Since not many of my planned meal got made last week, you’ll see some recycled meals on this week’s menu.   To complete my meals this week, I spent about $17 on yogurt, produce, milk and eggs.




  • Breakfast:  Banana chocolate chip muffins, yogurt, fruit
  • Lunch:  Leftovers
  • Dinner:  Perogies and Sausage, steamed veggies (needs to be a quick dinner)


  • Breakfast:  refrigerated oatmeal
  • Lunch:  Potato soup
  • Dinner: Marinated steak, pasta salad. grilled veggies



  • Brunch: Bacon, eggs, hashbrowns, toast
  • Dinner:  We’re headed to a baby shower/birthday party (I have to bring a salad)


Now it’s your turn, what’s your update and what will you be eating this week?

The Eating from the Pantry & Freezer Challenge: Week 2

Welcome to the second week of the Eating from The Pantry & Freezer Challenge!  Here’s what it’s all about or you can read the post from Week 1.

Here’s my update:

As it seems with all my weeks, not every meal I had planned got made.  Things just come up or we have more leftovers than we thought!

But I did manage to rid our freezer of a few things!  Some chicken is gone (BBQ chicken salad, Chicken in basil cream sauce), a container of chicken noodle soup is gone, along with quite a bit of produce.

I added up my receipts from my groceries last week and I ended up spending $34.60.  Over my $25 “budget” but I did use a gift card that my husband got from work. Milk, yogurt, and fruit & veggies is what I bought.

Here’s what we’ll be eating this week:



  • Brunch:  Waffles with berry sauce
  • Dinner:  Fettucine Alfredo, Caesar salad, garlic bread



  • Breakfast: Banana muffins, yogurt, fruit
  • Lunch:  leftovers
  • Dinner: Leftovers



  • Brunch:  French Toast
  • Dinner:  Appies (whatever appy things I can find in the freezer)


  • Breakfast:  Oatmeal/cereal, yogurt, fruit
  • Lunch:  Egg salad sandwich
  • Dinner:  Marinated steak, pasta salad. grilled veggies

Now it’s your turn to share your menu plan with the rest of us!  We’d also love to hear your progress and savings report!

The Eating from the Pantry & Freezer Challenge Starts! Week 1

It’s time to start the Eating from the Pantry & Freezer Challenge!

I told you last week that I’d be sharing my goals and plans, so here’s what I’ve got in mind:

My number one goal is to clean out the pantry and freezers, especially the freezers!  It seems like we’re always throwing stuff out because it gets lost for far too long. :(

Secondly, I’d like to spend only $25 each week on the items I decided to keep buying (dairy, eggs and produce).  I think this is going to be quite feasible!

It’s important to decide on an amount you’d like to spend during the challenge.  By not setting an amount, you could be setting yourself up for spending too much!  Determine how little you think you can get by on.

Also, I think it’s important to say to make this challenge your own.  Decide what will work best for you to help you clear out your pantry and freezer while still making it a challenge.  Maybe this means you won’t be buying any household items (toilet paper, toothpaste..etc) because you really do have enough to get you through until the end of the challenge.  Or maybe you realize that you have a ton of stuff to go through so you can actually do the challenge for 5 weeks.  Make it yours!

Now, how am I going to make this happen?

I took inventory of our pantry and freezers (and discovered I had a lot more than I thought)!  Here’s what I’ll be working with:

  • Lots of chicken breasts
  • Quite a bit of beef (ground, a roast and a few steaks)
  • One package of ground turkey (will make two meals)
  • Plenty of flour, oatmeal, rice, pasta, quinoa
  • Lots of frozen fruit (peaches, strawberries, mixed berries, raspberries)
  • Chicken kabobs
  • Chicken fingers
  • A little pack of leftover diced ham

I’m actually quite shocked at how much I found and I’m sure I could do this challenge for longer than I have planned!

Don’t forget to join the Simply Frugal Pantry Challenge Facebook group!  I want it to be a place where we share meal inspiration, tips and more!

Here’s what we’ll be eating until next Sunday 




  • Breakfast: Bran muffins, yogurt, fruit
  • Lunch:  Smoothies
  • Dinner:  Perogies and Sausage, steamed veggies (needs to be a quick dinner)



  • Brunch:  Smoothies
  • Lunch: Grilled cheese sandwhiches
  • Dinner:  Leftovers


  • Brunch: Waffles with Berry sauce and whipping cream
  • Dinner: Marinated steak, pasta salad, grilled veggies


  • Breakfast:  Oatmeal/cereal
  • Lunch: Smoothies
  • Dinner:  At my parents

On Monday, May 11, I’ll be back with my next menu plan and how much I actually ended up spending on groceries to get through this week’s menu!

Now, it’s your turn to share your menu plan, goals and plan of attack with the rest of us!

How to Meal Prep for a Week

How to meal prep for a week

Preparing meals ahead of time can be a big time and money saver. You’re doing all of your cooking on one day, and will be saving money because you’re only buying the ingredients you know you need.

Cooking all your breakfasts, lunches and dinners for a week, in one day, may seem daunting, but with these tips you’ll be able to meal prep for a week and not have to wonder, “What’s for dinner?” anymore!

Find your recipes. Before even starting the process, you should print out the recipes you will be using for the week. This means printing or writing down recipes for all meals for 7 days. If you will be making snacks, like homemade granola bars or protein bars, print those recipes as well. Now you have a master list of all the ingredients you will need.

Divide up your grocery store list. Go through each recipe and categorize each item. Your grocery list should have sections broken down into protein, carbs, vegetables, fruits, spices, and other. Doing this will make it much easier (and quicker) to find the things you need when you’re at the grocery store.

Buy the right containers. If this is something you will be doing on a regular basis, you want to make sure you have durable containers that are made to last. Don’t skimp out on this.

Cut your vegetables and fruits. Once you’re back from the grocery store, start by chopping up your vegetables and fruits. Organize them by whether you’re using them as a snack or will be using them as ingredients in a meal.

Use the oven. The oven is great for baking meats, potatoes, vegetables and more. Make a list of every item that needs to go in the oven and put it all in. If your oven is going to be on, you might as well cook everything at once!

Use your slow cooker. Many people who meal prep like to make freezer meals. This can be preparing something, like meatballs, and freezing them to cook at a later date, or preparing an entire meal which will then be thawed and cooked. If you have a slow cooker, doing this is especially easy. Take a look at my post 9 Slow Cooker Freezer Meals or you could Google slow cooker freezer meals to find recipes. Even if you don’t want to freeze your meals, you can still prepare all of the ingredients you’ll need and use your slow cooker to cook the meal. It will save you time all week!

Use different seasonings. One can only eat so much plain chicken. When you go grocery shopping, make sure to pick up different seasonings for each meal. Get creative with how you season or marinate your protein options.

Make one huge dish. If you don’t want to prepare 5 different dinner options, you can make enough of one recipe that will last you a few days. Find one you really like and cook it in bulk. If you have meals or items that will last longer than 3 days, put the leftovers in the freezer and cook it when you’re ready.

Make grab and go meals. The last step is to just divide everything up into your containers. Take each meal and put it in a container so it is ready to go for each day of the week.

Meal prep can be a great way to save time throughout the week. Although it may take a full day on the weekend, once you know what meals you’re making and what ingredients you’ll need, you’ll become more efficient at it. No more worrying about what’s for lunch or dinner!

Do you do any sort of meal prep at your home?  What does your current system look like?

Non Planner’s Guide to Menu Planning


Do you like the idea of planning a regular menu, but have difficulty with actually making plans or sticking with them? Check out this Non Planner’s Guide to Menu Planning over at I Heart Planners.

September Menu Plan Inspiration from Canadian Living

canadian living menu plan

I thought you all would enjoy this menu planning inspiration I found over at Canadian Living!

Canadian Living has created 22 Quick and Easy weeknight dinners to help carry you through dinner time in September!  Each weekly plan even includes a grocery list!

How easy will this make your menu planning?  I’m going to be using this as a guide, but I’ll have to swap out a couple of meals that won’t appeal to the majority of this household.