September 19, 2012
I have received a handful of emails in the past couple of weeks about meal planning and budgeting. I know I have said it before – but, meal planning really is the best way to cut your spending. I thought I would touch on a few tricks to help you on those weeks when your grocery fund might be a bit tight.
Remember, just by shopping the sales you will easily save 30 – 50%. If you will create a menu based on what you have on hand and add in the sale items you can reduce your spending even further!
Another tip that you can do to help you save time and money is to find ways to stretch your meat. Meat can be the most expensive cost in a meal so why not look for recipes that will give your family the protein they want/need without requiring large portions!
Why not grab 2 whole chickens and turn them into 4 meals. With an estimate of around 4.65 pounds per bird, you will spend $12 for both birds. That is only $3 per meal for a family of four (or 75¢ per person)!
With those chickens and some pantry staples, you can cook them up and have 4 meals ready to serve when you need them. I decided to throw together some meals last night and I thought that you guys might find it useful too.
With my two chickens I whipped up the following in about an hour and a half. I did not use the exact recipes below – but, I wanted to give you guys some options to see what you can do with just a few ingredients. Use your favorite recipe or search for versions with items you have on hand.
I used a combination of fresh and frozen veggies and used the stock that was made when I boiled the chicken. All the other ingredients were things that most of us have on hand in our pantry and fridge!
Had I just roasted the chicken, we would have probably eaten one entire bird in one meal. Because I am pairing the meat with other items, I can use less and still have a meal that will satisfy all of my guys! What is even better is that on nights when I don’t have time to cook, I can grab one of these meals from my freezer. All I have to to is toss it in the oven to bake or heat it on the stove.
Tip – You can freeze these meals in throw away tins or in your baking dishes. If you use your baking dish, just spray the glass dish with some baking spray and then line with parchment paper or plastic wrap. Stick it in your freezer overnight. Once the meal is frozen, you can just lift the wrap and easily remove the big frozen meal. Throw it in a ziploc or use your Foodsaver to store in the freezer. That way you’ll still have your dish available for every day use. When it is time to cook the meal, you just place it back in the dish where it will fit perfectly. Then, defrost your meal and cook.
I’d love to hear what your favorite recipes are for freezer cooking or when you cook once and eat twice. Feel free to share them in the comments. I bet lots of folks can use the tips!