Archives For In the Kitchen

Fresh Produce

The statistics on food waste are staggering to me. Approximately 14-25% of food is wasted in American households. Based on a $400/month food budget, the average American wastes around $56-100 each month. That’s a huge chunk of money, especially for families living on single incomes!

While our family has always lived frugally, only in recent years have I really made preventing food waste a priority. Sure, we used to eat leftovers, but we’d still throw some leftovers out, let produce go bad frequently and just weren’t conscious of preventing waste.

Now that feeding our family high quality, nutrient dense foods is a major priority, we truly value our food and I strive to have almost no food waste.

I’ve gotten really good at planning our meals around the produce that needs to be used before spoiling, make eating leftovers a priority and enjoy creating new dishes out of leftovers. We serve our boys small portions to prevent a lot of waste (and give them more food once they eat what was initially served) but they’re not the neatest eaters. In fact, the biggest source of food waste around here is the food that our boys drop on the ground.

Being conscious about how much food you are wasting is the first step to preventing food waste.

After we decided not to put any food/food waste in our trash can, instead choosing to compost and feed our chickens, we had a more accurate visual of the amount of food that was being put in the trash. Sure, a lot of it was scraps (peelings, seeds, etc.) but we also had a visual on the ‘real food’ that was being wasted.

Knowing how much food is being wasted serves as a motivator to reduce waste. When you start thinking about the money that is being lost by not consuming food, you start viewing food a little differently and preventing food waste can become a fun money saving challenge!

Are you aware of the food waste in your home? Is preventing food waste a priority in your home? 

We all have to eat, there’s no way around that. Food, however, can become a source of stress in a household. When I’m not in the habit of meal planning, every meal time becomes stressful!

For me, meal planning goes hand in hand with living intentionally simple. By having a meal plan and following it, I’m being intentional about making my meals and meal prep less stressful.

Day 28 Project : Commit to making menu planning a habit.

In the past, I did my meal planning on Sunday. It’s the day the sale ads come out so I would use that in planning my meals for the coming week.

Now that I have a 2 week meal plan in place, I simply reference that when making out my grocery list. I no longer have to sit down every week to come up with a new meal plan.

I may not be coming up with a meal plan weekly but I am committed to following the meal plan that I have.

Benefits to meal planning:

  • No stress related to deciding what to eat. I no longer ask ‘what’s for dinner?’ every single day!
  • Saving money. We’re not tempted to eat out when we have a plan in place.
  • Makes hospitality easier. Having a list of meals that we have ingredients for makes it easy to feed last minute guests!
Is menu planning a habit for you? Do you want to get in the habit of menu planning? 

We’re taking a break from simplifying in the master today and are going to work on a meal plan. Sundays are the beginning of the week and a great time to start implementing changes, such as getting into the habit of meal planning.

Day 7 Project : Create a meal plan.

Meal planning saves time, money and prevents stress.

I’ve had times where I meal planned faithfully (in fact, before children I loved meal planning each week) and there have been times when I’ve gone months without meal planning, which led to a lot of stress about what my family was eating. I definitely prefer the organization and simplicity that comes with a meal plan.

A few months ago, I finally sat down and created a two week meal plan for breakfast, lunch and dinner. The menu for week one and week two are different but we repeat the same plan every two weeks.  It sounds boring but the reality is we were eating the same or simliar foods every week or two anyway. This plan has kept meal and food preparation super simple, I just follow the plan which makes meal times a little less stressful (preparing the foods with little ones underfoot and feeding the little ones is still stressful but at least I’m not stressed about what I am preparing!)

If you’re in the routine of meal planning, today’s project should be simple for you.

If you’ve not been meal planning, sit down and draft a meal plan. It could be as simple as writing out a list of 10 of your family’s favorite meals, creating a detailed plan for a week or drafting your own two week meal plan to repeat (so you don’t have to make time to meal plan weekly!)

If you have any meal planning tips or resources, please share!

Meal planning seems like such a simple task. You come up with a simple plan to follow and then follow it. For the past 2 years or so, I’ve really struggled in the area of meal planning. Each week I dreaded coming up with a meal plan and some weeks I simply avoided the task which always results in the ‘what’s for dinner’ question being asked and meal time stress!

A few months ago, I realized that we tend to eat the same foods fairly regularly. Most of the things I prepare are super simple and we enjoy eating the foods. It finally dawned on me that it would make sense to come up with 2 weeks worth of meals and simply repeat the same meal plan over and over. Yes, it seems boring but the reality is I can’t remember what I wore yesterday much less what I ate 2 weeks ago!

Last week, I came up with a 2 week meal plan and this week was the first week following it.

One week in and I’m sold! We’ve simply been following the plan. And, I’ve been happy to have the detailed meal plan this week since we all had colds at the beginning of the week with John David and I ending up quite sick (he had a sinus infection and I had a double ear infection plus sinus infection.) Even with those challenges, we followed the plan. John David simply looked at the posted meal plan and knew exactly what to lay out, what to prepare and knew that we had the ingredients for the meals!

Here’s one week of our meal plan:

Monday
Breakfast- Omelets
Lunch – Leftovers/Quesadillas
Dinner – Chicken Tacos with Refried Beans
Tuesday
Breakfast – Yogurt and Granola
Lunch – Leftover Tacos
Dinner – Chicken and Veggie Soup
Wednesday
Breakfast – Chicken Biscuits
Lunch – Leftover Soup
Dinner – Roast with Carrots, Potatoes and Onions
Thursday 
Breakfast – Bacon, Eggs, Yogurt & Granola
Lunch – Leftover Roast
Dinner – Bean and Cheese Quesadillas {a light dinner since John David works late on Thursdays}
Friday
Breakfast – Pork Chops with Hashbrown Casserole
Lunch – Clean out the fridge/ Snack Lunch
Dinner – Buffalo Chicken Dip
Saturday
Breakfast – Pork Chops with Hashbrown Casserole
Lunch – Leftovers
Dinner – Hamburgers and Chips
Sunday
Breakfast – Omelets
Lunch – Leftovers
Dinner – Pizza

And of course we have lots of snack options like fresh fruits and veggies, nuts and dried fruits!

If you’re struggling with meal planning, I suggest writing out a list of your family’s favorite meals as well as some super simple meals to prepare and come up with a week or two worth of meal plans!

Week 9 Project: Streamlining Breakfast and Lunch

Getting a decent breakfast on the table each morning has been a struggle of mine. As you can tell by looking at my meal plan, I’m actually beginning to plan what we’re eating for breakfast! I’ll be sharing how I’m streamlining that as well as sharing my tips to make lunch easier.

Visit Mary Jo at Covenant Homemaking to read about simplifying her meal planning! She has a list of 23 main dishes she loves to prepare for her family and links to many recipes!