Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Meal Planning & a Couple New Favorite Recipes

Since Ethan and I are in the process of building a house and having a baby, we decided it was finally time to stop wasting money on eating out for dinner and start being responsible adults that cook dinner at home! 
So.. enter our challenge for ourselves of meal planning, smarter grocery shopping, and more dinners at home! We still enjoy weekends out with friends and family, but for the most part we are shooting for dinner at home 4-5 times a week and bringing our lunches to work too!
Meal planning is the hardest part for me. Ethan's not the type to know what he wants to eat until almost the day of, but that had to change and he's being more than amazing with our "new" way of eating. Pretty much, every Friday I ask him what he wants for dinners for the following week. If he doesn't respond, well.. then it's up to me to decide! I do always run my selections by him, just in case he isn't feeling something!
Once I have our menu, it's time to make our shopping list. I know a lot of people say you should check the sales papers first, then make a menu, but this method is working for us for right now. Maybe Phase 2 of all this can be sales first, then menu!
But back to the shopping list. If you register with Publix online, you can make an online grocery list and view their sales ad for the week. The online grocery list is literally the best thing I've ever found! You type in the search box what you want and it gets added to your list WITH the aisle it's located on! {Make sure you have your store selected!} My grocery shopping trips take less than 20 minutes now! And I'm saving money because I'm not distracted by something that catches my eye!
Also, Publix has virtual coupons you can use, if you sign up for that too. Every week I load up the new coupons to my account and at checkout I type in my phone number on the keypad and it deducts my coupons automatically for me! Always a nice way to save a buck or two and I don't have to worry about whether or not I remembered my coupons!
Another tip, I always add all my ingredients to my shopping list before I check out the sales ads. That way, I'm more likely to catch an ingredient on sale rather than if I were to check out the sales first! You have the ability to add sales items to your shopping list while looking at the sales ad!
When my list is ready and my coupons are loaded, it's time to shop and prepare for the week ahead! Some things I've learned along the way:
+ Be flexible. Just because you said "taco Tuesday" does not in fact mean tacos can only be consumed on Tuesday!
+ Don't get lazy! Meal planning and preparing only works if you do it.
+ Prepare some things ahead of time. I like to have at least 1 crock pot meal each week. Those recipes can be combined the night before and put in the refrigerator for quick access the next morning!
+ Bring stuff to work you know you'll want every day! I know I eat a granola bar every day at 4:30. So why not bring all 5 for the week to work on Monday? It's less for me to think about each day and I'm guaranteed not to run to the vending machine when I don't have my snack!
+ Experiment and research! Pinterest is an amazing tool for meal planning and it's where I find most of my recipes! Not every meal has to be chicken!
And now that I've rambled for 25 minutes about meal planning, here's a couple recipes that will be on repeat in our weekly menu! Let me know what you think and enjoy! Oh, and both these recipes are 5 ingredients. #winning
Hidden Valley Ranch Porkchops
{Note: this is not a sponsored post, just something I've found helpful to me that I hope you find helpful also!}
Linking up with Jenn at Peas and Crayons
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  1. That pork chop looks WAY better than the ones I made with the ranch packet. I mean wayyyyy better! Thanks for sharing!

  2. These are great tips! I've done some meal planning but I need to do better and be more consistent with it! I need to do the online stuff with Publix, I love the idea of it telling you where to find everything, that would save me so much time!

  3. I do love a good crockpot recipe- so easy and it makes the house smell amazinggggg.

    Le Stylo Rouge

  4. I mean Publix for the win always right? What is going on in that first crockpot picture? It looks delicious!

  5. The pork chops recipe sounds good!

  6. Good luck with the meal planning - I love to cook, and love meal planning but I just wish I were home more to enjoy it.

  7. I'm always a sucker for crockpot recipes. Nothing is better than coming home after a long day to dinner being ready :)