Sunday, March 15, 2009

Day One - Shopping and Meal Planning

This my pantry. Larger than most, I will admit. We are very lucky. If you don't have a pantry the size of a cave, no stress. A cabinet or two works just as well.

It has been my experience that no matter the size of your family, one, two, three or eight, shopping and meal planning is essential. It has also been my experience, that cooking for just one or two is not always easy. I will show you what we do and hope that these tips can help your family avoid eating out as much as possible and save those valuable dollars for more important things.

First, I don't meal plan until I go shopping. For the simple fact that I am never sure what's going to be on sale and I always buy on sale. Second, I buy frozen. Frozen is better than fresh. (See here for scientific data) I even buy frozen fruit like strawberries and melon. The shelf life is a trillion times longer so your money is never wasted. Third, I buy in bulk and store. When things are on sale I buy A LOT! Or at least what my storage space permits. Last, I buy generic. Plain and simple. Unless of course, brand name is on sale and cheaper. Duh.

Once I get everything home and organized into it's respective home, I can plan.

Since Dan and I both work, it is my goal to make dinner as quickly as possible. By the time I leave work, get Emma and get home, it's 6pm. Now, Rachel Ray is great with her 30-minute meals, but have you seen the ingredient lists? Most of the time it's things my store doesn't even have. And while Mac-n-Cheese is fast, it's not the best thing to be eating day in and day out.

The most essential thing for fast easy cooking is to be well stocked beforehand. So, let's go shopping. This is a list of everything in my pantry, fridge or freezer right now for dinner making.

Bread, eggs, milk, butter, bag of potatoes, bag of onions, garlic, Lawry's Season Salt (can't live without it!), cream of mushroom soup, cream of chicken soup, chicken broth, canned tuna, canned salmon, frozen vegetables (whatever you like), frozen fruit (berries and melon), frozen fish (not the Gordon's battered kind) tilapia or halibut, chicken, hamburger, pork chops, pork loin, ham, flour, sugar, baking powder and soda, crackers, big blocks of cheese, spaghetti, rice, yogurt (plain), sour cream and cottage cheese.

I think that pretty much covers the bases for dinner makin'. You can also include oatmeal, honey, cinnamon, peanut butter and jelly, and applesauce if you like. I spend about $85.00 per month on groceries. AND, I don't clip coupons either because who has time for that?

Tomorrow, I start giving you the goods.

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