Because I teach classes about Meal Planning and Couponing, I know quite a bit about those subjects. However, I know that I don’t know everything and there’s always more to learn! In fact, I am always looking for new Meal Planning and money saving ideas. Part of this is hard-wired into my personality. I was and still am a nerd, who loves to read and learn new things! Some of the best tips and ideas I’ve learned from the students of my Coupon Workshops and Meal Planning Classes, and from my beloved fans of the Confessions of a Coupon Queen Facebook page. I am always asking people what they do to save money for their families.
I learned recently from a man named Joe, who attended one of my Coupon Workshops with his wife and daughter, that Pet Smart will match competitor prices. He said he’ll just show them the competitor price on his Blackberry and they’ll match it. Joe also said that sometimes Pet Smart’s prices on their website are cheaper than in the store, so he’ll show them their own web prices on his phone. Being the smart shopper that he is, Joe uses coupons in addition to the price-matching strategy to score great deals his pet food.
I recently taught a Meal Planning class at Wal-Mart in Dry Ridge, KY and learned from one of the store employees that plastic peanut butter jars make good freezer containers for soup and chili. This lady said she also uses butter tubs to freeze leftovers with good results. That would definitely save some money on purchasing containers for your freezer cooking endeavors! On that note, I frequently buy lunch meat that comes in the Gladware containers and re-use those for storing leftovers and freezing foods once the turkey or ham is eaten.
This week I asked my Facebook fans to share with me their best ideas for saving time, effort, and money on their Meal Planning. Here are some of them:
- My MOMS group has a meal planning, coupon exchange, and shopping list planning meeting every Tuesday. We all have helped each other save an average of $70 per week. And the kids play together while we “work!” ~ Cindy Carroll
- I buy bigger cuts of meats that can be used for multiple meals for the week! ~ Erin Barnes
- My best meal planning works when I use free and almost free food items as my fillers to help meals stretch further! ~ Brittany Walker
- I cook for two days at once. Time= money here! ~ Heather McFeely
- With it just being my daughter and me, we always have leftovers. To save time in the morning, I always pack leftovers away in lunch size portions so it’s quick and easy to grab in the morning and stick in my lunch box. ~ Amanda Maurer
Learning about Meal Planning and saving money with coupons is an on-going process! So keep your eyes peeled for time and money-saving ideas on blogs, websites, and in magazine articles. (“All You” magazine has some great articles on couponing and meal planning in almost every issue!) Ask your friends and family for their tricks and tips. You may be surprised what you learn!
Here is my Meal Plan for the week:
Monday ~ Pasta with Chicken Sausage. I love the new Johnsonville chicken sausages, especially the Three Cheese Italian variety! There were coupons for these in the Sunday paper just recently.
Tuesday ~ Soup & Sandwiches. I have a Financial Coaching appointment in the evening, so I’ll need some quick and filling for dinner.
Wednesday ~ Fend for Yourself Night! I’m teaching bible study tonight, so it’s everyone for themselves. I’ll likely eat some leftover pasta from Monday.
Thursday ~ Chicken Fried Rice
Friday ~ Fish Tacos
Saturday ~ Beef Stew in the crock pot. I’ve got a painting class today, so I’ll throw everything in the crock pot before I leave. I’ll come home to a delicious-smelling house and an easy dinner.
Sunday ~ Black Bean Chili, see recipe below. If you use the vegetable broth, this is a great vegetarian meal!
Black Bean Chili
1 Tbs olive or canola oil
1 green pepper, chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 small can of mild green chilies
1 tsp. of cumin
1 tsp. of oregano
2 tsp. chili powder
1 can of black beans, drained
1 can diced tomatoes, undrained
1 can of vegetable (or chicken) broth
1/4 cup of water
2/3 cup of barley
Sauté onions and green pepper over medium heat in oil until onions become translucent. Add the garlic, green chilies, cumin, oregano, and chili powder. Sauté for one minute. Add the beans, broth, tomatoes, water, and barley. Stir, cover, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes until barley is soft. Serve with shredded cheddar cheese and tortilla chips.