It’s been a long long while since I posted a meal plan, but I still live by them. My meal plan for January is up on my personal Pinterest here:
I will work on setting up a Pinterest board for meal plans on the LWM Pinterest soon. All meal plans will be found there in the future.
So let’s see, it’s been a busy few weeks:
I finished out my semester at school with an A and a B. Go me!
Went to the Christmas program for my boy. I’ve got video, but I won’t bore you with it.
And now I’m preparing to head into the new year. Last month I began doing my menu plans as Pinterest boards. Here’s the one from December:
You’ll see that there aren’t quite a full month’s worth of recipes on that one, mostly because of Christmas and leftovers and figuring in at least 1 or 2 nights out. I’ll try to get 30/31 meals per plan in the future, though. There’s bound to be something you don’t like, and for those nights, I recommend substituting one of your family favorites. If you don’t have an Instant Pot, most can be converted to Crock Pot with little added effort.
Here’s a quick lesson in how I meal plan:
I sit at the table and go through my recipe boards. Then, I re-pin those pins to a new board for that month. From there I fill in the blanks for the month with what’s on that board. I try to place easier Instant Pot or Crock Pot meals on the nights I know we’ll be gone (soccer practice, church, etc). Then, I just try to split it up- not too many beef meals in a row, nor too many red sauce or pasta meals in a row. I keep it loose. I might not want to make or eat chicken pot pie the night I have it set for so I’ll rotate that to another night and pick something else. This is the only way I’ve kept meal plans working for so long.
As I fill out my board, I write down what items I need to purchase to make the meals as I go. Then I take that list right to my computer and set up my cart on my grocery store’s online app. I have been using the WalMart Grocery pickup just lately (we have limited stores here on the coast) and I am loving it. If you want to try it, click the link above and you’ll get $10 and I’ll get $10.
So now that we have meal planning out of the way for January, let’s talk about some other ways to cut time out of the cooking game and even save some money.
Quick freezer ideas:
Waffles, pancakes, breakfast sandwiches, breakfast burritos- see a trend? Breakfast is hard, y’all. So when I make pancakes or waffles, I make a bunch extra and freeze them. A short zap in the microwave and everyone is happy. Breakfast burritos are easy too- scramble a bunch of eggs, brown some sausage, layer each in a tortilla and add some cheese. Wrap the burrito and then wrap that in plastic wrap and put in a big Ziploc freezer bag. Breakfast sandwiches are a bit more work, but worth it.
Every time I make soups, stews, or chili, I freeze the leftovers in a freezer bag. We always have leftovers and we are bad at eating them. Freezing them gives me super quick meals on nights I just can’t pull a regular meal off. It also helps when I have exams or am sick because hubby can do those pretty quickly. If you’ll squeeze the air out and lay them flat to freeze and then line them up like books on a bookshelf once frozen, you’ll find they don’t take up much space.
I brown and separate 5-10lbs of ground beef and boil, shred, and separate 5-10lbs of chicken every month. I use those for quick meals like tacos (just add taco seasoning), bbq (add sauce), chicken wraps or burrito bowls, soups, etc. Fast and easy with very little work. To make it quicker, use the Instant Pot and you can have chicken breasts from frozen to shred-able in about 20 minutes. You can then put them in a mixing bowl and use the paddle attachment to do the shredding.
Pre-prep and freeze veggies for Crock Pot or IP meals. Even better, pre-prep the whole meal in a freezer bag and freeze it. Write on the front in Sharpie what it is and what you need to add from the pantry and any cooking instructions. Dump meals are great because you literally dump, add liquid, turn on the pot, and go about your business. This also works for pre-mixing casseroles and freezing them. I just take them out to thaw in the fridge the night before or the morning of and they’re ready to go in the oven when I get home.
Next post we’ll cover some favorite dump/freezer meal recipes and some other ways you can cut costs by making your own versions of quick foods (oatmeal packs, snack bars, breakfast cookies, etc).
I hope your New Year starts off right!
Blessings and love,