8 Weeks to a More Organized Christmas: Plan your Food

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:

The Healthy Meal Planning Bundle is here!

If you’ve spent any time at all here at Simply Frugal, then you know I sing the praises of meal planning. Taking the time to meal plan is just so sanity saving and money saving!

However, if you’re anything like me, there are seasons in life when you need all the inspiration you can get.

That’s why I’m excited to let you know that the Healthy Meal Planning Bundle is available for 2020! You guys loved all the resources available in the carefully curated bundle last year. This year’s bundle is no different.

I’m a big fan of printables so I’m especially excited about the Grocery Budget Binder and the Meal Planning Success Kit.

Since my daughter was diagnosed with many food sensitivities last year, I’m going to dig in first the the For Real: For the Love of Real Food ebook for some ideas.

If you want to simplify mealtimes, put unfussy (but still healthy) meals on the table, and ditch the frantic late afternoon craziness, then you’ll definitely want to check out the Healthy Meal Planning Bundle.

If you’re ready to stick to your food budget, whip up healthy meals, and quit wasting food, check out the Healthy Meal Planning Bundle before the sale ends August 21, 2020.

Countdown Timer

Missing an Ingredient? Here’s an Easy Guide on How to Replace It

Don't let your recipes get thwarted by a missing ingredient – use one of these easy substitutions instead!

There’s nothing more frustrating than starting to bake or cook something delicious only to find that a key ingredient is missing. Ugh! But there’s no need to scrub a recipe and sulk in frustration. If you know what you’re doing, you can just substitute it with something else! Here are a couple of ingredients that are bound to be in everyone’s pantry or fridge and are a dish-saving substitutes.

Read on to see the complete list, or download your own printable PDF copy using the button below. (I recommend hanging it up somewhere in your kitchen for easy reference!)

Vegetable oil

Substitute with butter, margarine, coconut oil or apple sauce

Apple Cider Vinegar

Substitute with white vinegar

Balsamic Vinegar

Substitute with apple cider vinegar, red wine vinegar or sherry vinegar

Tomato Sauce

Substitute by mixing one part Tomato Paste and one part Water.
Or substitute with canned tomatoes and adding onions, garlic and some herbs.

Baking Powder (1tsp)

Substitute with 1/4 tsp baking soda + 1/2 tsp. cream of tartar

Bread Crumbs

Substitute with cracker crumbs, crushed cornflakes, ground oatmeal, or even cooked quinoa.

Brown Sugar (1 Cup)

Substitute with 1 cup white sugar and 2 Tbsp molasses.

Butter

Substitute with margarine, oil or shortening

Buttermilk (1 cup)

Substitute with 1 Tbsp lemon juice or white vinegar and enough milk to make 1 cup
Or substitute with 1 cup plain yogurt

Corn Syrup

Substitute with honey, maple syrup, or brown rice syrup

Ricotta Cheese

Substitute with cottage cheese or cream cheese.

Fresh herbs (1 Tbsp)

Substitute with 1 tsp dried herbs

Honey (1 Cup)

Substitute with maple syrup, corn syrup or 1 1/4 cup white sugar and 1/4 cup liquid (whatever is called for in the recipe)

Lemon Juice

Substitute with white vinegar or apple cider vinegar

Mayonnaise

Substitute with sour cream or plain yogurt

Wine

Substitute with beef broth, chicken broth, vegetable broth, apple cider (not vinegar), water, tomato sauce, white grape juice or non-alcoholic wine.

Yeast (1 tsp)

Substitute with 1/2 tsp Baking Soda and 1/2 tsp Lemon Juice

Rice

Substitute with Quinoa. (Quinoa also provides twice as much protein and fiber which promote a healthier digestive system.)

Eggs

Substitute with 1 Tbsp ground Flax Seeds or Chia Seeds and 3 Tbsp Water. Mix until gelatinous.
Or substitute with silken tofu.
Or substitute with apple sauce or mashed banana

Pastry Flour (1 cup)

Substitute with 2 tablespoons of cornstarch combined with enough all-purpose flour to make a cup.

Salt

Often times, substituting salt for herbs and other seasonings like onions, lemon or lime can make a dish taste really flavourful.

Sugar

Substitute with 1 and 3/4 cup of powdered sugar.

I hope you find this substitutions list useful! I’ll leave you with the button to download a free printable PDF copy of the list, in case you missed it earlier in the post! 🙂

Easy and Cheap Dinners from a Rotisserie Chicken

Time and time again, grocery store rotisserie chickens have saved my sanity when it comes to dinner time. They are easy, already seasoned, already cooked, and can be used in a lot of different recipes. Here are some easy and cheap recipes using rotisserie chicken!

I don’t know about you, but all this cooking at home has me constantly looking for shortcuts. While I don’t hate cooking, I don’t like spending hours upon hours in my kitchen. I want easy, fast, flavorful and cheap!

That brings me to rotisserie chickens. Time and time again, grocery store rotisserie chickens have saved my sanity when it comes to dinner time. They are easy, already seasoned, already cooked, and can be used in a lot of different recipes. There are so many ways to use a rotisserie chicken!

On that note, I have rounded up a list of easy and cheap rotisserie dinners! I hope you enjoy!

First of all, if you wish, you can make your own rotisserie style chicken in the slow cooker with this recipe I found.

What are your favourite ways to use rotisserie chicken?

Tips for Stockpiling

It seems each of us has prepared for the world’s pandemic in different ways. There are many items that average consumers are having difficulty buying, such as toilet paper and hand sanitizer. With the thought that the pandemic may cause a complete quarantine or lockdown of our world, it’s important to know what you should have stockpiled at home. In fact, taking action can actually soothe your fears. 

Schools have already shut down and many areas are on restrictions for social gatherings or even dining out. This is simply how our life is right now. It’s been said that if any area is about to go on complete lockdown you’ll have 1-2 day notice so that you can be fully ready. That’s why I wanted to share some tips, as it sounds like you’ll have 1-2 days to get that stockpile prepared.

Tips for Stockpiling

These are fantastic tips for creating a stockpile that won't leave you broke or with food you won't eat!

Take inventory

Take look in your cupboards, fridge and freezers to see what you already have on hand. You may actually be surprised at what you already have! It may not be exciting, delicious food, but it will keep you fed! To help you out, I have a Freezer Inventory printable here and a Pantry Inventory printable here.

Stock up your family’s Essentials

The first step is to make sure you have the essentials. By this, I mean to stock up on what your family regularly eats. Families have been advised to stockpile at least two weeks’ worth of food. I highly suggest you get food that can be frozen or has a long shelf life to keep the food healthy longer. Prioritize those items you really can’t live without like baby formula or foods for special diets. When this all blows over, you don’t want to find you have spent a fortune stocking up or be stuck with food you don’t like. Focus on buying a few extras of what you normally consume. Make a list to keep yourself on track at the grocery store or when you’re placing a grocery order.

Make a Meal Plan

Sit down in the near future and make a list of meals you can create with your essentials. Make sure you account for drinks, breakfasts, lunches, dinners and of course, snacks. With a meal plan in place, your food won’t go to waste and you’ll spend less money.

Planning a menu is simple. First, print off two copies of this weekly menu planner. This resource will allow you to plan breakfasts, lunches, dinners and snacks. Next, start writing in meals that you know you like, based on foods that you already have and what can last awhile. If you need some meal ideas, here are our family’s favourites.

Focus on pantry meals

By this, I mean meals you can create using canned goods like beans, tomatoes and even canned tuna or chicken. Rice and pasta are excellent for pantry meals. Items like cheese and milk can even be frozen. Basically, focus on items with a long shelf life. Some fresh produce like apples, carrots, oranges, and celery have a longer shelf life compared with other counterparts like fresh berries.

These are just a few tips for stockpiling that will ensure you’re prepared to keep your family happy, healthy and fed for an extended amount of time. I’ve seen a lot of people out there panic buying and will have too much stuff after the fact or perhaps are going too deep into the financial hole due to panic. The key is to make sure that you’re able to financially afford your stockpile and be smart about what you spend money on for your stockpile.

10 Quick And Easy Meal Prep Ideas For Summer

Summer is almost here! Can you feel the heat and the excitement?

This season is all about outings, get-togethers, swimming, and vacations! There are more opportunities to spend more time with your family and friends. Catch up, enjoy, and explore new locations!

Of course, any summer activity would not be complete without food!

If you want healthy and home cooked meals, you don’t need to spend a lot of time (Who has extra time in the summer anyway?) The secret is all about meal prepping. You can create different meals for different times of the day without the hassle and without overspending on take out.

If you want to create a meal plan this summer for your family, here are 10 quick and easy meal prep ideas that will help.

If you want to create a meal plan this summer for your family, here are 10 quick and easy meal prep ideas that will help. #mealprepideas #summercooking #mealprep

Create A Plan

Decide on the different kinds of food that you want to prepare ahead of time. Take note of all the recipes you want to prepare and cook for the whole week. Then write down all the ingredients you need on your shopping list.

Start Multitasking

Cook multiple recipes at the same time. You can roast summer vegetables while baking chicken. This will allow you to get things done faster.

Don’t Over Prep

Don’t prepare meals for five days or more at one time. Some foods, such as fresh summer produce, may not last for more than three days in the fridge and you might end up with a lot of spoiled, wasted food.

Use Your Grill

Summer is often too hot to turn on the oven because it heats up the house. Instead, prepare meats and vegetables to cook outdoors on the grill, after all summer is time to grill! Schedule some barbecue nights and grill fresh summer vegetables. They not only taste great, you can relax on a warm summer evening with your family while grilling outside.

Be sure to cook up plenty of meats so you have leftovers for other nights!

Prepare Raw Food

Vegetables like zucchini and cucumber can not only be paired with different fruits and veggies, it can make you feel cooler, especially during the hot summer months.

Spiral some zucchini and cucumber then blend them with basil pesto for a vegan pasta recipe. You can also schedule some no-cook options like canned corn, beans, and green salads to spice up your weekly schedule.

Utilize Your Slow Cooker

You might think that your slow cooker is only for winter, but this multipurpose appliance is also ideal for summer cooking!

You don’t need to heat up your whole house while waiting for your lunch or dinner to be cooked. Start making large batches of shredded meat or beans then freeze them in smaller portions. You can also cook potatoes, corn, and carrots in your slow cooker.

The Instant Pot is also ideal for summer cooking!

Glass Over Plastic

Plastics can be cheaper but using glass containers are better. Here are just a few of the many reasons why you should choose glass over plastic containers:

  • The contents are easier to see.
  • You can microwave them.
  • The taste of the food will not be altered, even if you leave them in the container for several days.
  • Glass doesn’t release any chemicals when exposed to heat, thus making it safer for your family’s health.

Reuse Leftovers

Make extra servings of your meals for dinner then eat the leftovers for breakfast or lunch. My husband loves taking leftovers to work!

Reusing leftovers makes it easier to plan your meals because you don’t need to think about the food you’ll eat for lunch every day. It also eliminates wasted food and cleaning out the fridge.

Buy The Best Bread You Can Get Your Hands On

Did you know that all the outdoor activities of summer can cause you to feel more hungry and more often?

Opt to get whole grain breads, especially if you’ll be having sandwiches for any of your meals. Look for a bread that is made with 100 percent whole grain. Bread with lots of texture makes you feel like you are eating an actual meal, which can make you feel fuller, faster, rather than just eating a sandwich.

Cook Once A Day

Prepare all your food in one go then store them in your glass containers so you can just heat them up once your mealtime comes.

Check your schedule then look for a block time when you can cook and prep your meals on a daily basis.

Stop spending a lot of time thinking and prepping your meals for the whole week. With enough preparation, you can feed yourself and your family with healthy and delicious meals without spending much time or money.

What are your summer meal prep tips? Let us know in the comments below!