Meal Planning: The Ultimate Strategy That Will Save You Money and Make Life Easier

Meal Planning: The Ultimate Strategy That Will Save You Money and Make Life Easier By Zena Amundsen

October is about the time that I start to get off track with a few things: my time management, going to the gym, eating healthy and you guessed it, money.   

Want to know what I found is the #1 thing that helps in all of those departments?  

Meal Planning.  

This is not only a money saver, but I consider it a sanity saver.   

When my daughters were in middle and high school, they both swam on competitive swim teams. We were out the door in the morning at 5:00 A.M. and home after swim practice at 7:00 P.M. I have never been so busy in my life!  

This is when meal planning started in our house. We were spending way too much money on takeout. My waist and bank account were suffering.  

I learned to prep a few meals on the weekend and I bought a slow cooker. My family has not let me forget my first slow cooker meal to this day. I had prepared chicken noodle soup and turned it on in the morning.  

By the time we sat down in the evening for supper, the soup was a mushy dumpling of goo because I had added the noodles in the morning to cook for 10 hours. It was disgusting but I made everyone sit and eat at least half of their bowl. I was determined to stick to the plan. That is how I remember the beginning of our meal planning.  

Here are a few ideas to help you get back on track in the meal department.  

I’ve also included my new favourite slow cooker recipe. Don’t worry, it’s not my chicken noodle goo soup! 

  • Check your fridge and pantry to see what you have in stock 
  • Plan out the week of meals with recipes you like and know 
  • Make a shopping list and stick to it 
  • Prepare meals on Sunday or tomorrow’s meals at the end of every day. 
  • Plan for leftovers! 
  • Get the family involved and on board  
  • Try a meal planning app: Menu Planner, Cooksmarts, Plan to Eat 

Zena’s Favourite Beef Barley Stew

Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cooking Time: 6-8 hours
Makes: 4 servings 

Ingredients:
1-2lbs beef stew meat (1-inch cubes)
Canola oil
1 small onion, diced
3 celery stalks, chopped
3 carrots, medium size, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
6 cups beef broth
3 bay leaves
1 tbsp soy sauce
1/2 tsp ginger, minced
1 cup barley
Salt and pepper 

Directions:
1. In a skillet over medium-high heat add your oil, and brown beef in small batches. Remove from pan, and place in slow cooker. Continue until all beef is browned.
2. Turn heat down, pour a little more oil into pan, and add your onions, carrots, and celery stirring for about 5 minutes. Toss in garlic.
3. Pour in a splash of beef broth, and scrape up all the brown bits from the pan. Add contents into your slow cooker with beef.
4. Add remaining beef broth, bay leaves, soy sauce, ginger, and a pinch of salt & pepper to the slow cooker. Toss in your barley and cover.
5. Cook on low for 6-8 hours. Serve with mashed potatoes, noodles or rice. 

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