Meal planning has been my key to success. We (by that I mean Josh) do a bigger grocery run every other week. And by bigger, I mean it's still less than $100, or right around there. That usually consists of all the groceries we will need to make dinner for the next two weeks except for some fresh produce and things we run out of. On the in between weeks, we spend $30-$50 on fresher items or Josh's go-to milk and cereal. Side note: I don't know what I'll do when/if I have a boy one day because J already goes through two gallons of milk a week by himself! We will have to buy a cow! I don't drink milk.
I'm not a couponer. I wish I was but just can't get it together. However, meal planning really helps and does save us money. Every Saturday or Sunday morning I sit down at the computer and decide the meals for the next two weeks. Do they change? Yes, sometimes. But I try to stick with it as much as possible. Changing will only cause me stress, more money, and more running to the store. More store trips equal more things you don't need and again more money spent. I plan the same with now that I have H as I did before. And we actually stick to the meals more now because we don't time to think about what other possibilities are available.
Another way I help myself out during the week aside from meal planning is to prepare early. For example, Sunday H took a good nap. Not only did I make dinner during her nap, but I also set everything out I would need for the chili the next day (minus the refrigerator items). This allowed me to easily put the chili together on Monday. In the case that I'm using the crockpot, I will often put all of the food in the night before, put the whole thing in the fridge, and then just pop it in the warmer the next morning. This will be my life the first few weeks when I go back to school. Anything I can do to prepare ahead when I have the time, I do it. Whether it's cutting up onions, cleaning veggies, or just laying things our for the following day. It saves me time and that is time I can spend with my family.
Here are a few meals that I've made over the past few weeks:
Pioneer Woman Spaghetti Sauce- So easy, makes a lot, freezes well! Before I make anything, I see if Ree has a recipe for it first!
Pioneer Woman Frito Chili Pie- We eat it as chili (I add a little more tomato sauce) and go light on the Fritos. Still delicious!
Outback Copycat Steak Sandwiches-I've made these before and they're delicious. Definitely takes more time though because I make my own focaccia bread.
Slow Cooker Chicken and Dumplings- Super easy and delicious. I would half the recipe if it's for two people.
Zupa Toscana Olive Garden Copycat-Takes a little more time but such a good soup. Love that it has Kale in it as well!
Are you a big meal planner? How do you plan dinner? Are you a working mom as well? If so, do you have any tips on how to prepare dinner with a little one while working?