Eat At Home: The Basics + A Recipe

eat at home the basics

I haven't worked full-time in 4 1/2 years & many days, I still find myself getting out of bed at the same as if I did work full-time. It's become a state of mind I guess, because I look forward to a dark quiet house in the morning with a cup of coffee & some me time to scroll my Facebook feed or Pinterest dream, as I like to call it.

However, a few mornings leading up to payday are a little different in our house.  We get paid twice a month, which for us means, I only do two large grocery hauls a month, with a small trip here & there for essentials.  Those mornings before payday, I meal plan.

Meal planning has become a way of life & second nature to me.  Over time, you learn tips & tricks to make it easier. Over time you find meals that your family loves, so you work them in every meal plan. Today, I'm sharing the basics to get you started in our series.

What you'll need:

A calendar/planner
Notepad or sheet of paper for your grocery list
Your Phone/Sales Ads
Meal Inspiration

In the following weeks, I will go more in depth on the last two. This post is showcasing meal planning for dinner only. I always have enough from dinner for leftovers for Damon & breakfasts are planned, but I'll share those another time.

First, you will need to decide the frequency of your meal plan. Our frequency looks like this: the 10th of the month thru the 24th & then the 25th of the month thru the 9th of the following month, because we get paid on the 10th & 25th. Your meal plan frequency can be one week, two weeks, whatever works for your budget & family.

Once you decide how long your meal plan is, get your sales ads out. Sales for us are important. I'm not an extreme couponer & rarely use coupons, but sales help you save money. My main purpose of sales ads are meat purchasing. We only buy grass fed beef & antibiotic, healthy chicken, so it can be expensive. When I see meat on sale, I stock up. The flipp app is my go to app for sales ads.  For example, Sprouts has beef & chicken on sale currently, so Friday when we get paid, I'll make a trip to Sprouts for meat.

I still always get both, so we have variety on our menu, but if one is on sale & the other isn't, say chicken is on sale, that meal plan period, we have more chicken items than beef. I also check for roasts, pork chops, etc to be on sale to work in, so don't rule those options out either.

Now that we have our sales ads in hand, we can start planning. Take inventory what's in your freezer also, so you can use what's on hand before adding it to your grocery list.

As you look at your days on your calendar, see if you have activities going on that conflict with you cooking a large meal.  We are a busy family too; we have baseball practice twice a week in the evenings & Damon typically works til 7 one night a week. On our busy nights, I make sure I have an easier to make meal listed or have something in the crockpot that is ready to go when it's time to eat. Also, look to see if you have family meals, birthday, etc, that won't need a meal for that evening.

Here is a favorite Crockpot meal of mine. Great for tortillas, sandwiches, salads or just eat with some crackers.

Crockpot Shredded Buffalo Chicken:

1 lb. chicken breasts
1 bottle of Frank's Red Hot Sauce (we personally use the Aldi brand)
1 ranch dressing packet
1 stick of butter, cubed up

Place chicken and entire bottle of red hot sauce in crockpot. Cover and cook for 8 hours.

One hour before serving, shred your chicken. You can shred on a cutting board or shred in the crockpot. 

Add ranch dressing packet & cubed butter to shredded chicken & sauce.  Stir. Let cook additonal hour.

Serve & enjoy.


Now let's start picking meals!  My favorite places for meal inspiration is my brain, my husband's brain, Facebook & Pinterest.

I always ask my husband if he's craving anything. They change, plus, adding meals that we're craving on the meal plan, keeps us from running out to a restaurant. We have what I call fancy dinner (decide what yours is), once a month. Ours is shrimp scampi or "shrimp off the barbie." Thanks Outback.  If it is a meal I'm not familiar with, Pinterest y'all! It really is your best friend for meal planning.

As I start picking meals for our menu, I start making a grocery list. No one likes going back for a missed item, myself included. Write down every ingredient that you need that you don't have in your pantry; even spices!

After filling in our "craving" meals, I start looking at pins I have, things on Facebook I've saved.  Is there something that catches my brain that I recently saved to make one day? This is the time to make them. The plan I'm currently working on includes that bacon cheeseburger casserole that has been floating around Facebook.  This is where most people get stuck; don't quit, ask for help or move to the next option.

Add your/your family's favorite meals! Or do you always have Taco Tuesday? Put that down for your Tuesdays. We always have a pizza night in our rotation. So there is another day occupied.

eat at home the basics

Slowly, but surely, your meal plan/calendar will fill in.

As you finish, go over your plan with your grocery list again to ensure your not missing any items.

*Side note: Your meal plan is fluid! For instance, Monday shows Meatloaf & you're just not feeling it. Swap it with another day, but remember to put Meatloaf back on that day you took from. 

And just like that, you have meal planned. Yes, it takes time. Yes, it takes work. But, the reward is so much greater. No more crappy dining out food & you're saving hard earned money at the same time.

Again, need help? Email me! I'm always saving pins & such for future inspiration. Also, follow us on Instagram (I'm always doing live videos for meal ideas!) & our Pinterest boards.

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