Food Budget and Meal Planning

iVillage Member
Registered: 12-04-2006
Food Budget and Meal Planning
8
Wed, 11-25-2009 - 12:59am

I have found that meal planning has helped to reduce my food spending, since I tend to plan around the specials and whats in the cupboards rather than just deciding what I want to do for meals while I'm at the store or even worse on the day that I'm cooking the meal.

I'm wondering what others do to help them stay on track with their meal plans - I work in fast food, so usually don't particularly feel like cooking when I get home.
One idea I've come up with is to set aside a night or two a week to cook meals for the week or at least the next few days, and freeze/refrigerate them (kind of like home-made and healthier TV dinners).

Lyn

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Lyn

iVillage Member
Registered: 04-21-2003
Thu, 11-26-2009 - 10:54pm

I do the same thing as you!! This does help save a lot of money. This week I found a 10 lb bag of onions on sale for $1.77. I can cook a lot of great meals with these! French onion soup, homemade (that should use up about 3 or 4 lbs)and I already have some baguette bread and Swiss cheese in the freezer!
I can make perogies (have a bag in the freezer) they taste lovely smothered with caramelized onions, lasagna, spaghetti sauce etc...
I'm off work for one more week. I'll be making a master list of what's in my pantry and freezer to use up what I can before Christmas I will need a bit more room to store some of the food I cook in advance.

I write down the meal plan on a calendar and post it in the kitchen. I get BF to help me pick the meals and on what days. He likes to do it with me. He also likes to look at the grocery store flyers with me on Friday night. We talk about what we like that is on special and what we want to make with it.
I always cook some things ahead for the coming week. On Saturday and Sunday I'll make some sort of muffins(BF likes them for his break at work) I also like to cook a pot of either brown rice or potatoes or some other grain like quinoa or noodles(we rotate this
weekly) That way when we get home from work it is ready and just needs to be reheated. I eat meat but BF is vegetarian. We sometimes eat completely different meals on the same night.
I buy and cook my meat in bulk and freeze it in 4 oz portions. I like to have a variety and it saves time on meal making during the week. I buy the organic meat when it goes on sale and then I cook it all up at once....I'll season it in different ways so it doesn't get too boring. Chicken breasts I'll skin and de-bone and then marinate a few with lemon and garlic and oregano, the next few I'll do with soy sauce, ginger, green onions and 5 spice powder and I'll do a few with paprika and garlic, or Cajun spice mix.
Twice a month I will make a big pot of soup in the crock pot....enough to last two meals and two lunches. It's quick and easy.

Frozen vegetables are always great to stock up on and can round out a meal nicely.

I like to try a new recipe once or twice a month...sometimes it's a keeper and sometimes it's not. It keeps things interesting and not so boring. I find that over the course of a few meals will get repeated.

Nathalie

iVillage Member
Registered: 08-04-2008
Sun, 11-29-2009 - 6:16pm

Wow, Nathalie, you sound like a great cook! I'm still learning, so we tend to have the same meals over and over again. Although it makes shopping easy, because I buy many of the same items every week. And our cost is very predictable.


For now, I shop from the weekly ad, menu plan, and buy in bulk when I can. Our freezer is full right now, but in a few weeks, I'm going to make and freeze a New Brunswick Stew and an assortment of heat-and-serve snacks (like pepperoni rolls and a beef/sausage/cheese mixture on rye and pumpernickel squares) to have on hand over Christmas and New Years.


Thanks for the question and the tips, Lyn and Nathalie! You inspire me!


Colleen


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iVillage Member
Registered: 04-21-2003
Sun, 11-29-2009 - 7:18pm

Learning is good Colleen! Just keep trying new things.
Your menus always look good and tasty to me :)
I was fortunate to grow up in a family where both of my parents loved to cook and came from different ethnic backgrounds (Portuguese and french Canadian) so that helped a lot. My sister loves to cook too.
One of my ex-boyfriends owned a restaurant. I learned a lot about cooking ahead and prepping from him.
I think it helps to have a partner who is also willing to try new things.
I'll be going back to work in a week so I want to get myself ready for that. With my new fitness regime I am eating a lot of fresh fruits and vegetables and I'll need to make sure that I'm prepped and organized for the week ahead of time. I think I need a bigger lunch cooler!LOL!

Today I made French onion soup from scratch .....I made it vegetarian style for BF. It is really tasty! I took the time to really caramelize the onions slowly. I also used some beer and mustard to add flavour.

Nathalie

iVillage Member
Registered: 12-04-2006
Mon, 11-30-2009 - 1:03am

Thanks Nathalie and Colleen. I'm trying to stick yo my meal plans, both of your replies have given me food for thought.

I live alone, and use leftovers to try and keep the cost of food down. I do find this difficult sometimes since most recipes tend to serve either 4 or 6 (and there's only so many times you want to eat the same food for dinner in one week, at least for me).

Lyn

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Lyn

iVillage Member
Registered: 08-04-2008
Mon, 11-30-2009 - 6:35pm

Hi Lyn,


I always lived by myself before I got married at 35, so I know exactly what you mean about cooking for one. I never figured it out!


Colleen


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iVillage Member
Registered: 08-04-2008
Mon, 11-30-2009 - 6:40pm

My parents were great cooks, too, actually, and they cooked every day. But, they didn't trust me with their pans! They would let me use the deep fryer, though, for french fries, and I could use the Corningware to make Hamburger Helper. :o)


I didn't find out until my dad passed away that

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iVillage Member
Registered: 12-12-2006
Tue, 12-01-2009 - 5:08pm

I, too, live alone!

"I know God will not give me more than I can handle, I just wish he wouldn't trust me so much!" Mother Theresa

 

iVillage Member
Registered: 07-25-2008
Wed, 12-02-2009 - 1:00pm

Lyn,
This is a great question!

It is SO easy for my DH and I to grab fast food because we don't have a lot of time to cook - bad for our budget and our waistlines, LOL!
We use our crockpot a lot - and we'll make several days worth of food at a time and either freeze it or just keep eating leftovers until its gone. It really saves time on cooking and helps keep us from eating out. And if we get tired of it, we just freeze it for later. I like to make home made pea or bean soup, too - you can throw whatever leftover meat or veggies you have in it and it tastes great. :)

Amanda