Meal Plan Monday #1

After Friday’s post about meal planning I thought I would start sharing my meal plan each week. So welcome to the first Meal Plan Monday! Every Monday I will be sharing my meal plan for the week. This week on my Meal Plan we have:

Monday – Tuna Pasta Bake
Tuesday – Honey Mustard Chicken
Wednesday – Tacos
Thursday – It’s my son’s Christmas Concert so we’ll be having dinner at his school. I think we will have a choice between sushi or a sausage sandwich.
Friday – Pizza Party Friday Night!
Saturday – My husband is having a boy’s night so it will just be me and my little man. I think I will do something simple like oven baked fish and sweet potato fries.
Sunday -Honey Soy Chicken

What’s on your menu this week?

Meal Planning

I’ve mentioned before that meal planning makes cooking dinner each night easier for me and helps me save money so I thought I should share  how it helps me do these things and how I plan our menu each week.

Grocery shopping happens every Sunday or Monday in my house, just depending on what we have going on that week. This means our “week” starts on Monday and so my meal plan goes from Monday to Sunday.

I start by filling in Pizza Party Friday Night. This was a tradition we began when my son first started kindergarten.  He was not at all happy with the idea of having to spend 5 days a week at school, so to make it a little easier on him, we started having pizza (his favourite food) every Friday night. We also usually watch a movie together as a way to celebrate making it through another week. Then I write in anything we have going on that week that will affect dinner. If we’re eating out, having friends over, or going somewhere special.

Next I ask my husband if there’s anything in particular he would like to eat this week and also what he is thinking for Saturday. I mentioned in my 5 Ways to Make Cooking Dinner Each Night Easier  post that my husband usually cooks on Saturday nights. If he has an unusually stressful/busy week ahead I will plan something else, usually  just something simple I can throw together or take-away, just to give myself a break. Then I ask my son what he thinks he might like to eat this week. I make no promises but I do consider the suggestions they both give me.

After that I take a  look at what we already have in the cupboard and fridge for ideas. If there’s something that needs using and I make a mental note to add it to the weeks meal plan.

Finally I look at what’s on special for the week. If something I know my family loves to eat is on special I will usually stock up, or if something I have been wanting to try is on special I will try and incorporate it into our menu for the week.

When I’ve done all of this I sit down and write out our meal plan for the next week, making a grocery list of anything I’ll need to purchase as I go. This sounds like a lot of work but really it only takes a few moments and saves me time through-out the week.

So that’s how I meal plan, let me know in the comments below how your family plans their menu for the week 🙂

5 More Ways to Save

Today I’m sharing another 5 things my family does to save money. If you missed my first 5 Ways to Save post click here to have a look.

  1. Menu Plan – I mentioned in my previous post 5 Ways to Make Cooking Dinner Each Night Easier, that having a menu plan helps make dinner time easier in my house, but it also helps us save money. Knowing in advance what we’re going to have for dinner that night means we don’t resort to take-away, unless it’s part of the plan. A treat every now and then is much more enjoyable than grabbing something quick on the way home because it’s 6pm and you haven’t had time to think about dinner yet.
  2. Spend an afternoon playing board games. It can be tempting to make sure you’re always doing interesting  things to entertain your kids but the reality usually is they are happy just spending time with you playing games. Kmart has a great range of board games for about $10 and you can enjoy them again and again (although it helps to have a few on hand so you can mix it up a bit). Skip the trip to the movies and pull out Checkers or Trouble. Enjoy just spending time doing things with your family (before it becomes “uncool” to hangout with Mum and Dad).
  3. If you do decide to go on an outing (let’s be honest we can’t stay home all the time), pack your own snacks to take with you. If your kids (or husband) are anything like mine, they always seem to get unbearably hungry the second we leave the house. Save yourself from having to stop for expensive (and often unhealthy) snacks by taking your own.
  4. YouTube workouts – Gym memberships can be an extra expense a lot of families can’t stretch the budget for. Save yourself money without having to skip your workout by taking a look at some of the work out videos available on YouTube. One of my favourites is Lucy Wyndham-Read, but there are plenty of others out there. (Always remember to check with your doctor before embarking on any new sort of fitness routine.)
  5. Switch to energy saving light bulbs. Energy saving light bulbs can use up to 50% less energy, saving you money on your electricity costs! Any reduction in our power bill is a big win in my book.

So there you have 5 more ways to save. Let me know in the comments your best tips for saving money.

5 Ways to Make Cooking Dinner Each Night Easier

This meme gets me every single time I see it. We all have those days (or weeks) where cooking dinner just seems like way too much work. Here are a few tips I use to make cooking every night that little bit easier.

  1. Tidy your kitchen
    There is nothing worse than trying to cook in a messy kitchen. A find doing a quick tidy up before I get started makes preparing dinner so much easier. Don’t go over board, just make sure any dishes are done before you start and clear the bench of those pesky items that always seem to gravitate to an empty space.
  2. Menu plan
    For me dinner is much easier when I don’t have to think about what I’m going to cook. Taking some time out to menu plan once a week saves me a lot of stress trying to figure out what to have for dinner each night when tummies are starting to grumble.
  3. Prepare ahead of time
    How many times have you gone to cook dinner at 5pm and realised  your meat is still frozen? Or that you are missing a key ingredient? Put an end to this by taking a few minutes in the morning to get anything you need to out of the freezer and doing a quick ingredient check. I like to pull out anything I know I’m going to need, such as sauces or spices and pop them on the bench as well. Obviously don’t do this with things that need to be refrigerated or they will be ruined by dinner time.
  4. Delegate cooking every now and then.
    Do yourself a favour and take a break by assigning dinner duty to someone else when you can. In our house this means my husband cooks once a week, usually Saturday night. If for whatever reason that’s not doable one week, it becomes take-away night. Or if money is tight we have eggs on toast. It’s okay to take a night off.
  5. Clean up once you’re done to make sure you’re ready for the next meal.
    This links back to number one. I know how tempting it can be to just leave the dishes until the next morning after a big day but this just starts you off on the wrong foot tomorrow. Make the effort to wash up, give the bench a quick wipe down and empty the garbage after dinner each night. Enlist your kids and partner, it’s a much quicker job when everyone pitches in a little.

So there you have my 5 ways to make cooking dinner each night easier. Let me know in the comments below things you do to make your dinner routine stress-free.

5 Ways to Save

I thought I would kick this off by offering up 5 things my family does to keep our costs low and save money.

  1. Skip the dryer and hang your clothes on the line. It’s easy to get into the habit of just transferring everything straight from the washing machine to the dryer but the cost of each load adds up! It’s also easier on your clothes and better for the environment. Win, win, win! Save yourself some money (and the shock that comes when you open your next electricity bill) and pop your next load on the line.
  2. Stop buying takeaway coffee and make your own coffee. I know how tempting it can be to buy a cappuccino or a latte every morning but they all add up! If you need something a little bit fancier to get you going look at investing in a pod machine. With the savings you make by not buying a coffee every day, it will soon pay for itself.
  3. Along those same lines is pack your own lunch. A treat every now and then (maybe one day a week) is fine but the weeks we slack off on this and my partner or I  buy our lunch a couple of times or more makes a big difference in our budget. If you don’t have time in the morning try packing it in the evening while making dinner.
  4. Freeze leftovers. If you know you won’t eat your leftovers in the next few days (or can’t stand eating the same thing the next day for lunch), pop them in a container and freeze them. Saves you having to throw them out when you find them at the back of the fridge next week and saves you money on a future meal. This also provides a quick go to when you haven’t had time to prepare your lunch the night before.
  5. Check out your local library. My family loves going to the library. My partner isn’t a huge reader but he loves to check out the comics and anime they have, our son loves the DVD and puzzle collections and I usually come home with a new book and magazine. It’s a great way to keep us all entertained and it doesn’t cost a thing! Just make sure you renew or return any items you borrow on time, those late fees can add up quickly!

So there we have 5 ways my family saves money. Let me know in the comments things your family does to save.