It has come to my attention that there are some lies floating around out there about meal planning. So I wanted to take some time to clear the air!
I’ve been meal planning most of my adult life without even realizing it. You see, back at Central Michigan University times were tough. I was paying for my tuition with student loans and being the frugalista that I am, I took out the minimal amount to cover tuition only.
I then worked full-time to make ends meet at a daycare making around $4-5 an hour. Needless to say, that money did not go far when it came to buying needs like food and most wants were left as gifts from my parents and grandparents (thanks, guys)!
So after leaving the dorms where I had a cafeteria meal plan allowing me to eat whatever I wanted twice a day, I started meal planning on my own for two main reasons:
I only went to the store once a week because I rode a bike (until it was stolen – hard times!).
I was on a very fixed income. This meant I needed my food to last the entire week until I could pump those pedals to the store again.
So after this struggling college experience, I was conditioned to continue meal planning.
After I started living off a teacher’s salary and was making more money, I also had more bills – like paying back those yucky student loans! So with that, I continued my frugal meal planning ways.
Although Winter often brings cabin fever here in Michigan, there are a few things I still look forward to! For one, we can go sledding when the windchill dies down. We also like to make use of the indoor play areas…But perhaps one of the most fun Winter activities we look forward to is watching the Super Bowl! My family loves making Super Bowl party appetizers in lieu of pizza every year!
Let me preface this by saying, I am not a huge football fan. I used to watch our team, the Detroit Lions for many years; however, after having my two boys, my t.v. time has dwindled downhill just like the Lion’s record – ouch, I still love ya Lions.
Yet, I still love the hype of watching the Super Bowl. I’m not sure what it is…The funny commercials everyone will be talking about the next day, watching the tears of the winning team, the amazing halftime show (hopefully family friendly this year, Justin!), or my favorite part of any party, the food! We love having Super Bowl party appetizers.
We usually have our own Super Bowl party and make it fun by bringing out a different Super Bowl party appetizer every quarter, saving dessert for the fourth! Food is a huge part of any celebration and this year’s party will not disappoint with the recipes listed below. So whether you are hosting guests or enjoying the Super Bowl with your family, try some of these frugal recipes and make it fun without breaking the bank. The biggest penalty will be deciding which one of these yummy appetizers to make.
Meal planning is just one of those things I do. I’ve always loved the quote, “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.” This reminds me of the time before I started meal planning. Of course, before I had kids this was no big deal! We could whip something up or order something on a whim. Now that I have two sweet and very hungry, may I add, little boys I need to know what is going into the oven before “HANGRY TIME” happens.
Oh yes, my friends, there was a time I was way less organized. A time when I had two kids under two and I was pulling my hair out just thinking about making dinner. At that time, I needed a way to make things go a bit smoother in our household. The chaos of dinner time was real (and scary)!
That’s when I had a brilliant -not so new idea – to start meal planning. I’ve always been a budget-conscious person and I would make sure I had enough food for the week, but now I needed to take it to another level. I now had four hungry mouths to feed so I decided to meal plan for two weeks at a time. This saved me from going to a store with two kids more than twice a month. If you are a busy mom, you know exactly why I want to avoid the store with kids!
Why Meal Plan?
Meal planning, as mentioned above, will save your sanity as a parent. However, another HUGE reason to meal plan is one thing I LOVE – saving money. You may think using meal planning is a waste and won’t really save you much, but I have literally slashed my grocery bill in half by using some careful planning. The best part is, it only took me around 30 minutes to plan out two weeks worth of meals and complete a grocery list. It may take your more time the first time, but once you get the hang of it, it is easy peasy. Here are some ways meal planning will save you a ton:
Less shopping – less time in the store, less purchased
Using a list – using a list helps you stop randomly throwing things in your cart
Less waste – plan with what you already have and go from there
Less take out – no more Chinese food and pizza runs
Let me just say, I LOVE Thanksgiving food and I always stuff myself to the point of no return! I have hosted Thanksgiving a few times and it is hard work with a lot of fun and family mixed in. We are not hosting this year, but I am still planning on cooking a small Thanksgiving dinner for my family to enjoy together. With that being said, I am not a huge fan of spending over my budget for one meal.
Some ideas to save money this Thanksgiving include serving frugal side dishes and waiting to buy your turkey until one of your favorite stores has a sale – most do around this time of the year. If you are hosting, make it a potluck style dinner and all of your guests can bring a side dish or dessert to share and you can cook the main dish, turkey. Nonetheless, if you decide to cook everything it is a MUST cook up some side dishes that will not break the bank!
I have compiled a roundup of frugal Thanksgiving dishes from some of my favorite food sites to help you on your money-saving quest. If you are playing hostess, know that you can keep your budget in check and still make a delicious spread. Here’s to you and your family enjoying Thanksgiving and worrying less about your bills!
This avocado, turkey sensational sandwich is one of my favorites! Do you like meals that are easy to make, healthy and filling? How about meals that are budget friendly? Me too! This sandwich meets the criteria and your family will love it!
One of the best reasons to eat this sensational sandwich is it includes a super food: avocado. Avocados have been found to have so many health benefits, it is hard not to eat them! Their unique texture and flavor leave you wanting more and this sandwich will not disappoint.
Reasons to Eat Avocados
Healthy monounsaturated fats
Rich in other nutrients like Vitamin k, C, B6, and E
Helps cut bad cholesterol
Reduce risk of heart attack or stroke
Lower your weight by reducing hunger
Great source of energy
Kids love the cool green color
There are many other reasons avocados are beneficial to your health. There is also research linking avocados to fighting certain types of cancers. Why not eat one of these babies every day? Therefore, it is essential to find ways that will keep your family interested in this amazing super food!
When I was in college, I was on an extreme budget. I was taking out student loans and worked forty hours a week at a daycare making $5.15 an hour to make ends meet. I was especially excited when I received my first – drumroll please – $.05 raise. Making an extra $.40 a day really helped out with the bills. (ha ha)
After one year I left the dorms and the “meal plan” I had grown accustomed to was left back in Trout Hall. For the first time in my life, I had to start buying groceries on my own. The budget for my weekly groceries was a little less than $20 a week and that included everything. How did I make it work? At the time, I shopped at Wal-Mart and bought the same thing every week. Occasionally, my cousin would go shopping with me. I knew what the exact total would be when we arrived at the checkout and my cousin found this hilarious.
This was my first experience with meal planning. I wasn’t as organized as I am now, but I pretty much ate the same thing from week to week and stuck to a budget.
The college years were rough but I am now an adult and have experienced what it is like to make a decent salary. Nonetheless, I continued to use my frugal ways to budget for groceries and other areas of my life. However, since I made more my budget was higher than $20 a week for groceries. Funny enough, I still had a good idea of what my grocery bill would be when I passed through the check out because I allocated myself a certain amount of money for food and household items and used meal planning.