How To: Four Easy Recipes And One Easy Meal Plan
If you’ve ever walked into a grocery store and thought…hmm, where do I start?? How do people know how to meal plan, or grocery shop? Then this post is for you. Let’s ditch the zig zag shopping, picking up random items that look good and getting lost in the middle of the grocery store. Let’s get down to the basics of meal planning, grocery shopping and creating delicious and EASY dinners on a budget.
Meal planning, shopping, prepping, cooking, cleaning up; it’s a lot and I completely understand why ALL of the work behind making good food deters most people from ever doing it. Plus, if you’re just starting out or cooking for yourself it’s overwhelming! It takes some practice, and as you grocery shop more you’ll get faster and you’ll know where to find things (pick one store so you can get to know it!)! As our own family schedule has filled up I’ve been creating Super Easy Meal Plans that require cooking one night but give us delicious easy meals for the rest of the week.
Say hello to the
Tex-Mex Meal Plan
Butternut Squash Nachos (trust me!!! They are packed with flavor, and meat is included)
Taco Salad (throw together the easiest salad with all the fixings from the Nachos!)
Tex-Mex Pasta (see recipe below!)
Start off the week with an evening of chopping, sautéing, roasting and prepping. Butternut Squash Nachos are like the highest class Fanciest Nachos AND once you take the time to make all the individual elements you’ll have a fridge stocked with everything you need to throw together the rest of the super easy meals for the week. Depending on how many people you are feeding, double, triple or quadruple the recipes so you only have to clean up a super messy kitchen one night this week!
Here are a few other tips to make Grocery Shopping easy and quick!
make your meal plan first - how many meals will you actually be eating at home? Only buy what you’ll need to make that week. And be honest with yourself, are you really going to have time to make 5 full dinners? Plan to eat leftovers and for eating out!
make your shopping list WHILE standing in your kitchen, that way you can check to see what ingredients you already have! Hello budget - this is the easiest way to save money, don’t buy duplicates of what you already have ;)
when making your list write it out in the same way you walk thru the grocery store. This will keep you from zig zagging and back tracking because you forgot something!
Try to spend 60% of your budget buying from the perimeter of the grocery store. Almost everything around the edges of the store is REAL food in it’s original state which means it’s going to have the most amount of nutrients, it will fill you up the longest and give you the most bang for your buck. The middle of the grocery store is primarily processed foods which are good to help fill in the cracks, but not the best for your health or waistline ;)
save money buying products where YOU do the work. It costs less if you’re willing to chop your own salad greens, slice your own cabbage, cut up the head of broccoli, grate the cheese or cook your own chicken. Yes it takes you a little more time but get this, you’ll be getting more nutrients in your broccoli and chicken if you cut and cook it yourself, plus you’ll be saving money!
go shopping when you are are NOT hungry - you won’t be nearly as tempted to buy all the cookies, cakes, ice cream and extras that aren’t on your list
if possible, go shopping in the morning so you aren’t coming home right before dinner, trying to unpack bags of groceries and wishing you had bought something that was already prepared. Plus, the grocery stores are EMPTY early in the morning, it’s way faster to shop and pay and get done!
STICK to your list, it will be so much faster if you aren’t distracted looking at all the pretty labels, and shocker, you’ll spend less.
Buy in the bulk section. I’m not talking buy bulk amounts, I’m talking about the section where you can buy the exact amount you need. Especially if you’re trying a new ingredient or spice, buy only what you need so you aren’t stuck with a $7 bottle of a spice you’ll never use again
Now let’s put some of those leftovers to use from your Fancy Butternut Squash Nachos! I wrote this recipe exactly how I show my kids how to make it…super simple with every step explained. You can do this friend!
½ lb ground beef cooked with taco seasoning
1 (8oz) jar of salsa, or 1 cup
1/2 lb of Rotini Pasta (the spirals - a small bag of pasta weighs 1lb, so cook half the bag or better yet get what you need in the bulk section! ;)
3/4 cup Cheddar Cheese, grated
Set a large pot filled 3/4 of the way with water and 2 teaspoons of salt on the burner. Cover with the lid and set on high heat to bring the water to a boil. Once the water is boiling, add in the Pasta. Stir immediately so the noodles do not stick to the bottom of the pan or to each other. Check the directions on the package for how long the noodles should cook, set your timer and turn the temperature on the stove down to medium so the water does not boil over. Leave the lid off.
In a large frying pan, cook the ground beef with taco seasoning (or maybe you’re using your pre cooked meat from the Nachos! If so, simply add the meat and salsa into the pan together), add in the salsa and let it simmer for a couple minutes. Then turn the burner off, remove the pan from the burner and set it aside until the noodles are done cooking.
Once the noodles are done, strain them in a colander, then add the noodles back into the big pot, pour the meat and salsa mixture over them, add in the shredded cheese and stir to combine.
You can add Sour Cream, Cilantro and fresh lime juice on when ready to eat.
This pasta tastes great as leftovers. If you want to make extra double all of the ingredients!
Now, guess what you’re ready for…. inviting friends to join you. Make dinner together, it’s so much more fun when cooking gathers people not just to eat but also to prep and talk and be together enjoying time slowed down. Cheers to Dinner my friend, it really can change everything.
If you want even more inspiration for meal plans check out my Cookbook, dinner invites so much community and beauty into our lives!