A plan and a list…

Many of you dear friends have asked me how I manage to do one major grocery shopping trip a month, and somehow manage to have food in the house to work with for a meal each day. When M and I were first married I quickly grew tired of ALWAYS picking up groceries, and NEVER having anything in the house to make a proper meal out of. So I started making a meal plan with a corresponding grocery list. By the time Buddy was born, it was a way of life, and in the past 16 months since becoming mommy to Sissie as well, I really only get one or two days a month to go on that marathon shopping trip, so I want to make it count. To start…

1) I get my handy-dandy notebook out at the beginning of the last week of the month and list 6 different categories: Chicken/Turkey Meals, Beef Meals, Fish/Seafood Meals, Pork Meals, and Vegetarian Meals ( this does not necessarily mean Tofurky, Boca Burger and Notdogs. Any meatless dish can go here i.e. Spaghetti and a tossed salad)

* It’s tres important to me that my family get variety and varied nutrition from different kinds of meals, and ever since my 13 month-old and girl and my 3-year-old disabled boy scarfed down a meal of baked salmon with honey-mustard sauce, sautéed asparagus and mushrooms, and wild rice, muttering “Mmmmm” the entire time, I completely left behind the idea that I was somehow robbing them of the experience of “kid food” (pretty sure everything in this category is in nugget, mashed or fry form and loaded with sodium, MSG and/or sugar). I delight when I see my husband and children ENJOYING Mama’s tasty, healthy cooking, and that their palates are trained to accept more intense flavors than sweet, salty, and ketchup (truth be told, both my kids don’t care for ketchup or ranch dressing).

2) Under each meal category I make a bulleted slot and write in a chicken dish I would like to make like this:

Chicken/Turkey Meals

1) Tuscan Chicken Breasts

3) Then to make it a complete meal, I add two side dishes, making sure at LEAST one if not both of them are vegetables, like this:

1) Tuscan Chicken

– White beans and spinach

-Mashed sweet potatoes

4) I do this in each category until I have at least 28 meals (we have leftovers for at least 2 meals a month). When I need inspiration for meals my go-to is http://pinterest.com/bellemama/ and  www.allrecipes.com. Thousands of recipes at your fingertips for a creative and interesting meal plan!

5) To make my grocery list, I label different areas of the paper (with ample space under each category): Produce, Meat/Fish, Dairy, and Dry/Canned Goods. You can add others if you need them, such as Deli or non-grocery

6) Then  I simply go through each meal and list all the ingredients the recipe(s) calls for in the proper category of my grocery list. After the ingredients for all the meals are listed, I go through the cupboards/pantry, and refrigerator and figure out all the staples (cereal, flours, chocolate chips, olive oil, sugar, coffee ect) than we need and list them. I check the running shortlist we jot things down on the refrigerator, then ask M if there is anything he would like if it’s in the budget once necessities are bought. I also make sure there is a week or two of snacks for the kids like crackers, cheese and applesauce, fresh fruits and some extra veggies for lunches and lunch salads. You also want to make sure you have things like milk, yogurt and eggs, bread and luncheon for breakfasts and lunches. I also have found that making a big batch of muffins once a week is great not only the day you make them, but a muffin with yogurt and a banana is a quick and easy breakfast with almost no cleanup required! I will post our favorite muffin recipes soon, but in the mean time www.allrecipes.com, http://pinterest.com/bellemama/, and http://www.joyofbaking.com/muffins/muffinrecipes.html are FANTASTIC places to get an abundance of Muffin recipes!  Hope I’ve helped!

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UPDATE! September 29th, 2010

 HAD to share this! Today on the Today Show, they featured a family, their website and their new book that is right in line with what I do. I couldn’t go without posting their site so you can further research how to plan, organize and save your family precious pennies! I bring you…. “America’s Cheapest Family”

Their Website: http://www.americascheapestfamily.com/

Their Blog: http://acfblog.homeeconomiser.com/

Their Book: @ Barnes and Noble if you are a member and can use your discount: http://search.barnesandnoble.com/Americas-Cheapest-Family-Gets-You-Right-on-the-Money/Steve-Economides/e/9780307339454

@Amazon.com  http://www.amazon.com/Americas-Cheapest-Family-Right-Money/dp/0307339459

*On Good Morning America: http://abcnews.go.com/GMA/Consumer/story?id=5627122

*On the Today Show: http://today.msnbc.msn.com/id/39405593/ns/today-books/

*On Youtube.com (notice ALL those wonderful Youtube videos that people have posted with shopping tips!): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p5O8ZzJfro4&feature=related

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