How Meal Planning Saves You Time, Money & Stress

Meal Planning Saves Time Money and Stress

I started meal planning over five years ago when I was coupon queen.  At the time my sole motivation to start planning my meals was saving money.  I wanted to make better use of the food that I was buying at a fraction of the cost with my couponing strategies. I instinctively knew meal planning would cut down on the amount of food I threw away, and my family would eat out less. 

However, I quickly realized that the benefits of meal planning went far beyond just saving money.  I was saving time in the kitchen, which meant I was less stressed out at dinner time. These days, I’m lucky if I remember to load my digital coupons to my Kroger app!  Meal planning, on the other hand, is one habit I’m sticking with because it never fails to save me time, money, and stress. 

Meal Planning Benefit #1: Save Money

The average American family throws away up to $30 of every $100 they spend on food.  It’s just like throwing dollar bills into the trash can every time we scrape off our plates or throw away leftovers!  Planning your meals in advance allows you to manage your food resources wisely so there’s less waste and more money in your pockets.

Meal Planning Benefit #2: Save Time 

Everyone has jam-packed schedules and cooking dinner can feel like another time consuming chore to check off your list.  For many of us, it seems easier to just pick up carry out or order a pizza.  However, with a small amount of time invested up front, you can ensure that you’ll have everything ready to go for a delicious, nutritious dinner in 30 minutes or less. 

Meal Planning Benefit #3: Reduce Stress

Think about it: the last thing you want to do when you get home after a long day is stress out over what to make for dinner! Wouldn’t it be great to come home to the wonderful smell of dinner in the crock pot, ready to eat?  This way, you can actually enjoy connecting with your family over a nice relaxing dinner.  The only thing you’ll have to stress over is who’s going to the dishes!

Meal Planning Bonus: Healthier Eating

As a bonus, you’ll also eat healthier when you meal plan.  Just by reducing your restaurant meals, you’ll slash your calorie intake by about 30%.  You’re also more likely to stick to a healthy eating plan if your meals are prepped and ready to go.

New to Meal Planning?  Check out my FREE Mindful Meal Planning course inside of Vigoroom!  (Find it inside of the Money Wellness Room on the home page once you’ve registered.)

Summer Meal Planning Tips (Video)

Summer Meal Planning Tips

Like me, do you dread turning on the oven to cook dinner when it’s sweltering hot outside? Sure, you can use the grill and we do use ours quite a bit during the summer.  But what if it’s raining?  Here are some meal planning tips to keep your kitchen cool this summer!

 

  • Pan Frying Meats or Stir Frying Veggies on the Stovetop

  • Toaster Oven – Bake a single piece of salmon, a small batch of sweet potato fries, or a few dinner rolls.

  • Crock Pot – Use it year round!

  • Veggie Steamer

  • Of course, the grill!  Try batch cooking a whole bag of frozen chicken breasts.  Dice up the extras and toss it onto salads for those nights you don’t want to cook at all.

Celebrate Cinco de Mayo with Taco & Nacho Night

Taco Night

With Cinco de Mayo being this week, guest poster Kim Bergeron of Extreme Coupon Professors bring us some Mexican flair to add to May’s meal plan.  Here’s what she has to say:

Am I the only one who goes to a restaurant, reads the menu and says, I’m going to try making this next week?!  Well, once in awhile I do and with great success when the family loves what I bring to the table.

This week we brought our taco dinner up a couple of notches. We do have a large family, so quite often we need triple the amount. I came across taco casserole kits, which comes in handy on a busy night, but I wanted to add more to the table.

Recently, I was away in Mexico and had shrimp salsa. I had it twice a day, it was so amazing. Tonight I picked up a mild salsa seasoning packet and mixed it in a bowl with 4 chopped tomatoes and 1/4 of cup of red onion.( I can’t wait for summer garden tomatoes!) I added 1 cup of cooked medium shrimp to the mix. I sliced up an avocado and served a bowl of multi-grain scoops to go with the shrimp salsa. YUM! I was back in Mexico.

Chicken Nachos

One night I was able to meet a friend for dinner and we had chicken/feta nachos. Perfect for me to add to my taco night and it’s a huge favorite. I make the basic nacho which consists of the chicken, cheddar cheese and feta. Everyone has different likes and dislikes so I offer the black olives, peppers and onions on the side for anyone to add. It was a nice change-up and everyone enjoyed it!

As always, tweak the recipe to your liking! Use ground turkey, sliced steak tips, and/or ground chuck. Something so simple, changes the menu and you don’t feel like you’re having the same thing all the time. There is no right or wrong.

I have a couple other easy Mexican recipes that I like. One of them is from the Food Network site here!  I often like to have a side of rice and have found this recipe super easy and quick.

Recipes are endless, but I really have been enjoying looking at restaurant menus and seeing what I can put together that is easy and tasty!

Next week on our menu we’re having a Pizza Bar night! I’ll have to share that with you next time! It’s fun and everyone can have their favorite crust and toppings.

Enjoy these great Mexican favorites for Cinco de Mayo or your next Taco Tuesday dinner!

Kim Bergeron and family

I’m a wife, mommy and a lover of life enjoying everything from playing board games to cooking to traveling. Finding deals for our family has allowed us to do the fun things in life with enjoyment and less stress. When I find a deal I’ll always share it on my blog, Extreme Coupon Professors. Hop on over to see all the ways to save!

 

Beet Mania

Beet Mania

I have to be honest, as a kid, I did NOT like beets at all.  In fact I’m a very recent convert to this nutrient-packed gem of a vegetable.  According to health expert, Dr. Mercola, beets lower your blood pressure, fight inflammation, boost your stamina, contain anti-cancer properties, properties, support detoxification, and contain valuable nutrients and are a good source of fiber. 

Frozen Beet Berry Smoothie Ingredients

I’ve taken to tossing in half of chopped beet into my berry smoothie, which I have a few times a week.  I add a scoop of vitamin packed Daily Lift to my shake which almost completely masks the earthy flavor of the beets.  Here is my recipe:

  • ½ fresh raw beet, diced

  • 1 cup of frozen mixed berries (strawberries, raspberries, blueberries are in my blend)

  • 1 scoop of vanilla protein powder.  I’m currently crushing on this brand: Vega Clean Protein.

  • ¼ cup of unsweetened cranberry juice

  • 1 cup of water

  • Optional: 1 packet of Berry Flavored Daily Lift

Beet Berry Smoothie

Not into smoothies?  I recently made this recipe for roasted beets with a honey balsamic glaze.  I think you’ll enjoy it too!  You can also grate a little fresh beetroot onto your salads.  And don’t waste the beet greens!  They pack more iron than spinach and can be tossed into salads, smoothies, or lightly sautéed in a little bit of olive oil and fresh minced garlic.

Can I Freeze Dairy Products? (Video)

Can I Freeze Dairy Products

Some dairy products freeze well and others will curdle and separate. Here’s the rundown of which ones make good freezer candidates:

• DO NOT freeze half-and-half, sour cream, cottage cheese, and buttermilk. They have a tendency to separate, become watery, and sometimes curdle.

• Milk – 1 month. Make sure you take 1 cup per gallon of milk out of the container since it will expand when frozen. Milk should be consumed in a week once thawed.  Whole milk and 2% freeze better than skim milk.  If your family goes through multiple gallons of milk per week, stocking up when it goes on sale and freezing it could save you a bundle!

• Cheese – Up to 6 months.  Yes, you can freeze cheese! The National Dairy Counsel suggests freezing cheese for six months or less. Freezing can change the texture of some cheeses, making them crumbly once thawed, and the firmer varieties (cheddar, Gouda, and Swiss) seem to hold up best. As I like to say, “The firmer the cheese, the better it will freeze!”  Stock up on shredded cheeses that you’ll be using for cooking and freeze – you won’t notice a difference in taste or texture in your recipes. You can even freeze cheese slices!

• Butter – up to 12 months. I frequently stock up on sticks of butter when it goes on sale in November and December during the holiday baking season. Spreadable butters also freeze very well, too. I pop them directly in the freezer, no need for a freezer bag or container!

St. Patrick’s Day Meal Plan

This week’s Meal Plan Monday is from Amy over at Savvy Saving Couple.

St Patricks Day Meal Plan

Can you believe that St. Patrick’s Day is already this week? Time is flying by super quick with the first day of Spring already this week as well. When I think of St. Patrick’s Day, corned beef is the first meal that comes to mind. My family enjoys corned beef so much that I find myself making it all year. I try to make a large batch so we have tons of leftovers which inspired some of these dishes.

 chicken-and-broccoli-pasta-bake

Chicken Broccoli and Pasta Bake:  Ok, so I am sure you are thinking, “Well this is certainly not corned beef.” This is certainly true, but I figured I would throw in a non-corned beef meal idea for the week. This dish also incorporates broccoli which is naturally green so it is fitting. The flavors of this meal are similar to Chicken Alfredo, but in a slightly more convenient form that reheats well. 

corned-beef-and-vegetables

Slow Cooker Corned Beef and Vegetables: I love slow cooked corned beef because it produces a tender, and flavorful cut of corned beef. The fact that I added russet potatoes, celery, onion, and carrot rather than cabbage was also a fun twist. By cooking this meal on low heat for 6-8 hours the vegetables and meat will truly complement each other. If you decided to use a larger cut of corned beef (either point or round) you can have plenty of leftovers which brings me to my next two meal ideas. 

Corned-Beef-Hash-Sandwich

Corned Beef Hash & a Breakfast Sandwich Serving idea: Homemade corned beef hash is one of them meals that my husband lives for. He could eat it every day for any meal because it is hearty and jam-packed with flavor. I love that you can literally use the very same potatoes, onions, and corned beef from dinner the night before to produce a lovely brunch the next day. 

Breakfast-Nachos-meal

Breakfast Nachos with Corned Beef Hash: Who doesn’t love nachos? Mix things up by adding leftover corned beef pieces, or some hash to these brunch favorites. With topping like bacon, sausage, corned beef, salsa, cheese, and even scrambled eggs, you can enjoy breakfast and leftovers in such a fun and unconventional way. 

Pistachio-cake-slice

Pistachio Bundt Cake with Lemon Glaze: Now that you are likely ready for dessert, I have the perfect choice! This moist Pistachio cake is made with extra pudding in the mix for a tasty and festive treat that is sure to make your friends smile. Glazed with lemon and cream cheese; this is sure to be a hit! 

What are some of your St. Patrick’s Day traditions? 

Meal Planning Leads to Weight Loss (Video)

Meal Planning Leads to Weight Loss

If you are trying to lose weight or just eat healthier, meal planning is essential for lasting success! Planning your meals in advance ensures that you are heading to the grocery store with a detailed list. Shopping with a list curbs impulse buys which is good for both your wallet and your waistline!

If you’re meal planning on a regular basis, you’ll be less likely to eat out. Restaurant dishes have an average of 30% more fat and calories than the same dish prepared at home. You’re more likely to eat at home if you know you’ve got everything ready for a meal that will take 30 minutes or less to put on the table.  Even better if dinner is in the crock pot waiting for you! Preparing meals at home also means that the rest of your family is eating healthy along with you.  The bonus is that you’ll have quality family time around the dinner table.

Meal Planning helps you to become mindful of your food, which means you’ll be making healthier choices. Check out my website for upcoming Mindful Meal Planning Webinars.

Cleaning and Organizing Your Deep Freezer (Video)

Cleaning and Organizing Your Freezer

Your freezer can be your best friend when it comes to meal planning – but only if you keep it properly maintained. It’s important to keep your freezer organized so you can make the most of the space available and find the items you’re looking for. I suggest that you put the heaviest items on the bottom of your deep freezer. This will ensure that more delicate items, such as loaves of bread and other baked goods don’t get crushed or otherwise damaged. It’s also a good idea to put meat on the bottom of your freezer, so if something happens to leak before it’s frozen, you don’t have chicken juice leaking on all of your other containers. This will be less likely to happen if you properly package your food for freezing.

Be sure to clearly label EVERYTHING with the date and contents.  Arrange your items in the freezer so that you can see labels and expiration dates. This will make it easy for you to identify and grab the item with the closest expiration date. This is especially important for your freezer cooking meals. If you don’t know what’s in a container, chances are it will languish at the back of the freezer and not get used.

It’s also a good idea to keep an inventory sheet of what you have in your freezer. You can write or type in your items and meals and check them off as you pull them out. This will also tell you when you’re about to run out of something. There’s nothing more frustrating than planning a meal around bone-in chicken breasts you swear you’ve got in your freezer – only to find out later you used the last of them several weeks ago.

It’s a good idea to defrost your deep freezer at least annually. Depending on the humidity where you live, you may need to do it more often than that. Any time you notice frost/ ice starting to build up, it’s time to defrost. If you don’t defrost on a regular basis, you are running the risk of increased freezer burn, plus your freezer won’t be working at optimal efficiency. I usually do this in January or February, when it’s freezing cold outside. I borrow a few extra coolers, load them up with my food, and put them out on the back deck (or in the garage if it’s cold enough) for a day or two while I let my freezer defrost. I scrub out the freezer really well before I load my food back into it. Certainly, you could let your freezer inventory get nice and low before you defrost. Or if you have friends or family with extra freezer space you could borrow for a few days; that will work too.

Want a copy of my Freezer Inventory sheet? Email me at Christine@ChristineLuken.com and I’ll gladly send it to you!

Best Foods for Strong & Healthy Joints

Best Foods for Health Joints

Today’s post is by Katleen Brown.

Most people recognize exercise as a great way to strengthen the bones and joints. In addition to exercise, the food eaten by an individual also contributes to the general body strength right from the bones, joints and muscles. Exercise for strength can be useless if there is no consumption of power-giving foods. Therefore, as you work on strengthening your joints and bones, consider adding energy providing foods to your diet in addition to exercise. Below is a list of the best foods for strong bones and joints

1. Natural Organic Oils

Natural oils including coconut oil, olive oil, and almond oil are great for general body health. Coconut oil is excellent in reducing inflammation and pain, plus hydrating the body tissues hence keeping the skin ever moisturized.  It also works against fungi, bacteria, and viruses that can attack the joints and the bones. Olive oil contains omega-3 fatty acids and antioxidants that are beneficial for joint and bone health. These oils can be eaten as a part of your daily diet, or applied topically to the skin.

2. Bananas

Whether the bananas are cooked or  raw, they yield the same nutrients to the body. They are rich in potassium, an essential substance for the joints and bones. Bananas are also rich in fiber which is good for digestion and keeps you feeling fuller for longer periods of time. Fiber helps prevents weight gain which in turn prevents joint pain as a result of excess weight. It is also a pure substance for overcoming cravings for unhealthy, sugary foods.

3. Onions

Surprisingly, onions play a significant role in strengthening the bones and joints. They contain sulfur which works against pain and inflammation hence right for joint relief.  Also, it helps us to reduce the amount of salt that we put on our meal using its flavor. Ordinary table salt contains sodium which can cause arthritis and high blood pressure. Garlic and leeks also have a high Sulphur content. Therefore, consider adding more of them to your regular diet  to strengthen your bones and joints.

4. Pepper

Pepper is an American spice rack staple and most of us use it regularly with our meals. Did you know that pepper contains vitamin C, which is great for removing spots on the surface of the skin and well known for pain relief? It also contains vitamin K and A that play the role of the antioxidants for joint relief and shielding the bones against damage by bacteria. All these vitamins work together with the immune system to protect the body against diseases.

Must watch video: Foods That Fight Arthritis Pain: 

5. Ginger and Turmeric

Both ginger and turmeric have the anti-inflammatory properties. It makes both of them effective natural substances to work against arthritis. Arthritis is characterized by inflammation of the joints accompanied by pain. Turmeric is also known to shield the body from heart disease and cancer. Curcumin is the substance that gives the turmeric the yellow color and is the main healing agent. Ginger, on the other hand, can also prevent nausea and plus adds a bright flavor to your meals.

6. Green Vegetables

Kale, a flavorful and healthy leafy green, contains manganese and vitamin C which reduce joint pain and repair damaged bone tissues. The presence of copper in the kale makes it great for building collagen, the primary agent in cartilage and ligaments. Kale has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. These two properties are required for general bone and joint health. Vegetables are great for controlling weight gain; hence prevent arthritis due to excess weight. Spinach is also another green vegetable that is known for building strong bones.

7. Avocado and Papaya

These two fruits contain antioxidants that prevent the joints from damage. Papaya is rich in Vitamin A and C that possess antioxidant properties and reduce the risk of arthritis respectively. Avocado contains omega-3 fatty acids that protect the joints against inflammation and reduces joint pain. Also, it contains potassium compound that is great for the general health of the bones.

8. Milk and Dairy Products

Milk is a good source protein, calcium, and vitamin D. Drinking a glass of milk every day is a perfect way to build and maintain strong bones. Dairy products like yogurt are also great for the health of the bones. Therefore, taking them in moderate amounts can help you build your bone strength and avoid arthritis at the same time.

Conclusion

Whenever you think about healthy bones and pain-free joints, exercise and energy giving foods should be top of mind. Consuming food with antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties is the best for joint relief. Additionally, food rich in vitamins, potassium, manganese and calcium is great for stronger bones. Healthy food alongside exercise is perfect for strong, healthy bones and joint pain relief. They are also great for controlling weight gain.

 

About the Author

Katleen Brown

Katleen Brown is a health, beauty and fitness writer. She loves to publish her articles on various health related websites. In her spare time, likes to do research to bring awareness. Recognizing the unity of body, mind, and outlook, she helps empower women to tune into their innate & inner wisdom to transform their health and truly flourish. Get in touch with her on Google+, Pinterest and Twitter.

 

References

https://www.consumerhealthdigest.com/joint-pain/how-to-keep-your-joints-healthy-and-strong.html

https://www.glozine.com/lifestyle/health/natural-joint-pain-relief-supplements.html

Meal Planning Helper: Rotisserie Chickens (Video)

rotisserie chicken

 

One of my favorite meal planning tricks is to go to Sam’s Club (or Costco!) and purchase several rotisserie chickens for $5 each. We’ll eat some of the chicken for dinner that night. Then I will strip the meat off of the bone for all of the chickens and freeze it for later use.

 

 

I will take some of the chicken and mix it with either BBQ sauce or gravy and put it in the freezer. I’ll chop up the chicken breast meat and freeze it in one-cup portions. This makes it easy to thaw out and toss into soups, casseroles, stews, etc. I can hardly buy a whole uncooked chicken for $5 at the grocery store, so Sam’s rotisserie chickens save me money as well as time!