Meal Prep Ideas for Quick Dinners all Week

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Check out these great meal prep ideas for quick dinners all week! I so need these ideas right now!

7 Budgeting Tips For Menu Planning

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.

Check out our Top 7 Budgeting Tips For Menu Planning to give your family amazing meals while easily saving money!

7 Budgeting Tips For Menu Planning

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 Sometimes meat isn’t out of date, but close to it and the butcher has to mark it down.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.

I’m Wondering: What Are Your Menu Planning Challenges?

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?

I’m Wondering: What are Your Favourite Freezer Meals?

As I’ve mentioned before, February is fill the freezer month in anticipation of the new babe due to arrive next month. While I’ve compiled a list of meals to make, I’d love to know what others enjoy freezing (and eating)!

I’m Wondering: What are your favourite tried and true freezer meals? What are some things that always turn out and taste great after they’ve been frozen for a while?

The Ultimate Before Baby Freezer Cooking List (Fill the Freezer February)

Have your meals taken care of with this Ultimate Before Baby Freezer Cooking List! The post includes a great printable recipe and shopping list pack.

The time is quickly approaching for our new baby’s arrival! Baby is due to arrive around the middle of March so I’ve dubbed the month of February as “Fill the Freezer February”. Clever, right? 😛  Last month during the January Declutterathon, I made a bit of room in our freezers so I can fill it up with plenty of freezer meals to keep us well nourished for a while.

Preparing meals isn’t one of my favourite things to do at the best of times, so I know I have to make it as easy as possible for myself once the baby is born. I want to avoid as much eating out as possible but I also want well rounded meals.

So today, I present to you, Fill the Freezer February with my Ultimate Before Baby Freezer Cooking List! My plan of attack is to make the meals I have picked throughout the entire month of February. I want to avoid a big one day cooking session because my body is just not handling extra standing as well these days. Once I create the meal, I will do a post for you with a photo and the recipe.  How does that sound?

Whether or not you have a new addition arriving in your family, I’d love for you to join me. After all, in the long run, freezer cooking can be a great money and time saver.

If you’d like to join me, today I will provide my list of meals and snacks I plan on making plus, a free downloadable Ultimate Freezer Cooking pack. The pack includes a grocery list, recipes and labels!

Here’s what I have planned to fill my freezer. All recipes will be included in the Freezer cooking Pack unless otherwise noted:

Breakfasts

  • Waffles (1 batch)
  • French Toast (1 loaf)
  • Maple Oatmeal packets

Lunches:

  • Chicken Noodle Soup (2 containers)
  • Cream of chicken soup (1 container)
  • Hamburger soup (1 container)

Dinners:

Snacks:

That list should give us over 30 meals, taking care of breakfast, lunch and dinner for a while. Plus, there are quite a few snacks. Since I am not making everything in one day, I didn’t have a budget in mind, because I will pick things up while they are on sale with my regular grocery shopping.

Get the downloadable Ultimate Freezer Cooking pack here.

Also, I’m really considering purchasing a set of these Hands-Free baggy racks. I think they would be so handy!

baggy rack

I’d love to know what your favourite freezer meals are. Let me know in the comments!

8 Weeks to a More Organized Christmas: Plan your Food

One way to lessen your Christmas time stress is to Plan Your Food! Sit down for a short spell to plan your meals and make your grocery lists to feel like you're on top of the season.

I think this will be a fun week in the 8 Weeks to a More Organized Christmas series!  It’s all about food! Specifically, we’re going to plan our holiday menus.  You’ll want to think about:

  • Christmas dinner
  • Christmas brunch
  • Christmas eve
  • Boxing day

And well, any meal surrounding Christmas day.  My planning is quite simple.  My parents cook our Christmas brunch and dinner so all I have to do is bring the cheesecake and some baking!

For inspiration, I highly recommend taking a look through Pinterest.

While you’re planning out your dishes, be sure to start adding items to a grocery list.  You don’t want to forget anything!

To help you out, you’ll want to check out the Christmas dinner planner and grocery list that are available in the Holiday Planner, here.

Also be sure to print off the 8 Weeks to a More Organized Christmas checklists to make sure you’re on track for the final week’s until Christmas day!

What will be on your holiday menu?  Leave it in the comments! Any food traditions you have to uphold?  How do you keep on budget?

Sign up for the 8 Weeks to a More Organized Christmas newsletter to receive a FREE Christmas Dinner Checklist!  This checklist is quite detailed and will help you remember all the details needed for a memory filled dinner with family and friends. You’ll also receive a weekly email with each week’s “task”.

Here are the posts in the 8 Weeks to a More Organized Christmas series so far:

8 Weeks to a More Organized Christmas

Free July 2015 Monthly Menu Planner

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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

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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.

TakeThemaMeal.com 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 TakeThemaMeal.com 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!

Monday:

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

Tuesday:

Wednesday:

Thursday:

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

Friday:

Saturday:

Sunday:

  • 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.

Monday:

Tuesday:

Wednesday:

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

Thursday:

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

Friday:

Saturday:

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

Sunday:

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