hey guys! HAPPY GROUNDHOG DAY! do you miss me? hope so ;)
welcome tina, from carrots’n’cake! i asked tina if she could talk about how she manages to meal plan for two (tina lives with her husband and her cute dog, murphy). i think she came up with an awesome game plan!
Meal Planning for Two
I’m all about saving money at the grocery store, but much of it happens before I even leave my house. On Sunday afternoons, I take the time to meal plan for the week. Meal planning saves me time during the busy work week and, of course, it saves me money. Here’s how I plan my meals for my husband and I even before I set foot in the store.
Step 1: Put It On the list!
As soon as I run out of something, I immediately add it to The List, which hangs on the side of the refrigerator. So, when I use the last of the peanut butter on Monday morning, I don’t forget about it by Sunday afternoon. This system works like a charm!
Step 2: Assess Your Kitchen
The first thing I do in my meal planning process is see what I already have in my cabinets, freezer, and refrigerator. I even take the time to move things around and really see what I have on hand. Most of the time, I am surprised by what I find– a jar of marinated artichoke hearts, a can of pinto beans, a half-used bag of coffee… you get the idea. So, instead of buying these items again or letting them go to waste, I incorporate them into the coming week’s menu.
Step 3: Consult Recipes for Meal Ideas
I love trying new recipes, so I am constantly ripping pages out of magazines and bookmarking recipes online. I actually keep torn out magazine pages on the refrigerator right next to The List as a little reminder to test out some new meals. I also keep a separate folder in my Gmail account for recipes. I check it at least one a week for ideas.
Step 4: Incorporate On-Hand Ingredients Into Meals
A jar of marinated artichoke hearts, for instance, is a perfect addition to a pasta dish or topping for a homemade pizza. Basically, I build my meals around what is already in my kitchen instead of buying more ingredients. This also helps me get creative with my meals!
Step 5: Check Out the Coupon Situation
I basically collect coupons as a hobby! I get a lot of questions on Carrots ‘N’ Cake about coupons, so here how I get a hold of them:
- I cut coupons from the Sunday paper, magazines, and other print publications
- I look for coupons online to print
- I sign-up online for my favorite companies’ newsletters, which often include coupons
- I save coupons from boxes, bags, lids of products that I buy
- As a food blogger, companies send them to me
- My mom gives me coupons
- My sister and I trade coupons
- I check out store flyers (like Whole Food’s Whole Deal) before shopping
- I save the store coupons that I receive with my receipt at check-out
Step 6: Schedules meals around your schedule
Before I visit the grocery store, I look at my calendar as well as my husband’s for the upcoming week and create a menu around when we will be home for dinner. We typically plan a meal for each night at home and take into account meals with lots of leftovers, like chili or homemade pizza. I then schedule one or two nights, typically Fridays and Saturdays, as ‘wing it’ nights because we usually end up going out to dinner or meeting friends for appetizers and drinks.
Step 7: Cut recipes in half
Many recipes serve between 4-8 people, which is typically too much food for my husband and me to eat. (Hey, we love leftovers, but after two or three days of eating the same thing, we get bored!) So, instead of wasting food, I cut the recipes in half and only buy half as much as I need to make a recipe. For example, I recently made Coffee-Braised Brisket with potatoes and carrots (http://carrotsncake.com/2011/01/crockpot-rookie.html), but instead of buying 2.5 pounds of beef brisket like the recipe called for, I only bought 1.25 pounds. It was more than enough for my husband and me, and none of the leftovers went to waste because we were sick of eating them!
thanks so much for the information and ideas, tina! i know i will incorporate these tips into my own meal planning for marshall and i.
how many people do you meal plan for? how do you manage this?