Friday, October 3, 2008

Frugal Meal Planning

If you read my story on BeCentsible last week, you know I don't plan meals in a traditional way. I don't like to plan meals for weeks in advance because I like to be flexible, but I do have a general idea of what I have and what I want to make. Here are some things that I do to plan meals that are quick, frugal, and delicious.

Plan your meals around items your surplus items. For example, last Sunday we had both sides of the family over for Mexican food. We had a lot of leftovers which we ate for lunch and dinner the next few days. Some things that we still have leftover are tortillas and shredded lettuce. We also have a lot of tomatoes from our garden that we needed to use. Keeping that in mind, this week we had BLT's for dinner using the lettuce and tomatoes. Tonight we are having chicken wraps with cooked cubed chicken breast, lettuce, tomatoes, shreded cheese and ranch dressing in a tortilla.

Make extras on purpose so that you have leftovers. A good example of this is whenever I make Poppy Seed Chicken Casserole, I make extra rice and leave it in the fridge. There are so many things that you can do with rice! I love to eat it for breakfast with butter, cinnamon, and sugar or with butter and brown sugar. I also have a great recipe that uses cooked rice - make a white sauce, add peas, mushrooms, celery, onion, and cooked cubed chicken breast. This is a delicious comforting meal. You can also make a gravy to serve over rice with hamburger, cream of mushroom soup, onion soup mix, and sour cream. So yummy! Also, if you are making one thing anyway, make two and put one in the freezer, this will come in handy on those days you really don't want to cook.

Use items from your stockpile. Be creative too! I have a ton of spaghetti sauce. I have used this to make lasagna, spaghetti, and chicken parmesan. I also have a lot of boxed dinners, see my article about how to dress them up here. I also have a lot of salad dressing which can be used for marinating, dips, pasta salads, etc.

Go meatless...or use less meat! Meat can be a frugal person's budget buster. I always use less that what is called for in most recipes. I use about 1/2 pound of hamburger in Hamburger Helper, spaghetti, etc. I use about 1 cup of cooked cubed chicken breast in casseroles for my family of 4. You can also plan delicious meatless meals - vegetable lasagna, home baked macaroni and cheese, potato soups, baked potato bar, there are alot of possibilities.
Whatever you do, you have to do what works best for you and your family!

2 comments:

MondayCampaigns said...

Hey Michelle,
I've been going meatless for the past week or so in an effort to save money and be healthier and it really works - It's so much cheaper when you're eating out and you don't have to skimp out on nutrition either. I also work for a public health campaign called Meatless Monday - we advocate going meatless one day a week to reduce your risk of cancer, stroke, diabetes, and heart disease but it is also a great way to save money and do something good for the environment. I thought you might find our recipe archive helpful - we have a ton of meatless meal ideas. Just go to www.meatlessmonday.com/reciparchive for more info. Enjoy!

Andrew said...

Great post, I especially like to eat local as much as possible. I intern with the Eat Well Guide, and we've teamed up with Consumers Union (publisher of Consumer Reports) to issue the Local, Organic Thanksgiving Challenge this year. Will you join us? And share a recipe? Read more on the Green Fork www.blog.eatwellguide.org/2008/11/take-the-local-organic-thanksgiving-challenge

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