Sunday, January 7, 2018

Meal Planning on a Budget - Take 1

Meal planning. It seems simple enough. Find yummy food and cook it. So why is it such a complicated task?

I used to sit down once a month and dig through cooking magazines, food blogs, and a massive pile of cook books. I would scribble out recipes on a note pad, clip things from magazines, and bookmark a ton of links on my computer. Then I married a man who doesn't eat most foods and I had 2 babies back to back. I got out of the habit.

2018 is the time to get back on track and back on budget.

Here are a few tricks and tips to help you plan out you meals for the month, stock your freezer, and stay within budget.

  • shop early in the morning and buy clearance meats if possible
    • aim for 4 or 5 cuts of each type of protein
      • I get 5 pork, 5 poultry, 5 seafood, 5 beef and then plan for 5 vegetarian or pasta dishes as well for a total of 25 meals per month. A few nights of leftovers and a date night fill in the remainder of my calendar
  • print out a blank calendar
  • use Google, AllRecipes, America's Test Kitchen, Pinterest, or your other favorite site to find recipes for each cut of meat you purchased
  • save the recipes in whatever manner you prefer
    • make a note of any ingredients you need to buy for the recipes as you go
  • Now get that blank calendar, write out one pork meal and any sides for each week, repeat with the other proteins until your calendar is mostly filled, making sure to include  "left over clean-up" and/or pizza nights
At the end of the month I will be sharing my monthly menu and shopping list, complete with cost for each meal.

First recipe up this week will be a delicious Sausage Ragu with Pappardelle (coming in at under $2.75 a serving!)

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