Meal Planning

Cook Once for a Month

Ever freak out at 4:30 pm because you have no idea what you are making for dinner, or go to the store and guess what you need for the upcoming week, or how about get home from the store to realize you bought things you already have?

Well, this was me for a while.  It wasn’t until I discovered Tiffany at Don’t Waste the Crumbs,that I realized that there was no reason to be a crazy person at dinner time. I just needed to put some planning and effort ahead of time into our meals.  After 6 months of following Tiffany’s guidelines, I began planning and eventually cooking for the month. Now I’m going to be honest with you, it was hard at first. I felt like a floundering fish that just added more to my already overwhelmed plate. But after several months, I started to get into a groove. I can now say that I no longer freak out about what I am getting on the table in 30 minutes and I have drastically cut down our monthly grocery bill (including toiletries) to $450 a month for a family of 5.

This is what I do each month:

1.) Look at our calendar and mark off days I already know we will not home.

2.) Look in our freezer/pantry for left over meat’s or meals. Carry over any of those unused items to the current month.

3.) Look at our local ads to find out what meats are on sale and then plan meals for  around those sales. I am working up to having 4-5 recipes ready for whatever is on sale.

4.) Make list of all ingredients needed for month and then check to see what I already have on hand.

5.) Check for coupons and write out final grocery list.

On shopping days,  I try my hardest not to have any kids with me and even better when I can come home to an empty house. (my mother-in-law is AWESOME and usually takes the boys for the day). After doing my mega shopping, I unpack the car and dive right into cooking. All the recipes that I have are freezer friendly. Besides making breakfast items like pancakes, waffles, egg burritos…, the only prep work I am really doing is cutting up veggies, adding to Ziploc bags with meat that go right into our freezer.

It is a long day to do all this but it really makes up for it during the month. Another bonus that I was able to experience this past month was 3 different friends had just gone thru something major (birth of baby,  husband passing, and daughter in hospital). I was able to go straight into my freezer and pull out prepared meals to help them. Let me tell you, that alone was reaffirming that we are doing the right thing.

Now this process is still very new to me and I am working on getting the system smoother. Tiffany at Don’t Waste the Crumbs lets you purchase meal plans for the month and she uses all REAL food in her recipes. Not all her meals are freezer friendly like I’m looking for but I love her concept of using just real food. It is something I am working towards.

I would love to hear back on what you do for your meals. What are your go-to recipes your family loves?

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