The Art of A Meal Plan

It’s getting to the time of year when new crops begin to grow in our area…The herbs are starting to grow, the asparagus is popping up through the ground, strawberries will be ready to pick in early June. I love love love this time of year.

It also means that we need to get serious about finishing up the last of the frozen items in the freezer from last year. This week will be full of baking and canning jam (from blackberries I picked last August and forgot were in the freezer), which I’m totally ready for after last week’s busyness.   Banana bread/muffins, apple bread/muffins jam, apple fritters, smoothies (strawberries, cranberries, apples) like smoothies are going out of style, Maple Butternut squash,  baked squash, Pumpkin soup.

Basically we’ll be eating squash 14 times a week.

We have a bit of venison, a bunch of chicken and fish (bought at our awesome meat market) and peas in our kitchen freezer along with some other already frozen smoothie ingredients.

The last couple I think I fell off the meal planning wagon somewhere along the line. Last week’s craziness was just incompatible with a meal plan unless you count lunch meat and Chic-Fil-A as a meal plan. If so, then we were right on target.

Meal planning, I’ve learned over the years truly is cost effective and helps us be good stewards of what we have.

To write our meal plan every Sunday afternoon I:

  1. Look through the newspaper for coupons and store flyers (grocery and Rite Aid). I used to spend a lot of time printing online coupons, but it got to be too much.We have also changed our eating habits from a lot of boxed/pre-packaged items to real food.
  2. Gather what store coupons I have from other shopping trips and compare to this weeks flyers.
  3. Look through the freezer, cupboards and refrigerator to see what we have that we can base meals on.(ex: a jar of spaghetti sauce will def. mean pasta sometime in our week)
  4. Take a look at our schedule for the week and base meals around that.

This week we were given 2 milk crates full of local potatoes from a local farmer, so potatoes are def. on the menu. We also bought 25 lbs of brown rice from a local store and we have lots of citrus fruit for snacking and breakfast.

Generally, I will spend on average $100.00 for groceries including toiletries, paper products (tp/pt), cleaners for the week for the four of us. Some weeks are a little more, some a little less depending on what we need or if there is quite a sale on things like canned veggies (I just can’t eat any kind of green bean that isn’t i a can from the store. I don’t know why….). Meal planning is a massive aid in keeping this grocery amount down to a minimum.

Like any art…meal planning takes creativity and resourcefulness, a bit of planning and list writing and a bit of appreciating what you have. Worth the time and effort!

 

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