Tag Archives: planning

Planning A Cook-In: The 5 X 3 Way

picture of pork meal.

Pulled and diced chicken with rice and veggies are three key ingredients for many 5 X 3 meals. ‘K-Bobs and Stuffed pepper are pictured here.

by donR  October 14, 2016

Choosing meals for a Cook-In is made easier by creating a 5 X 3 chart. It is just a list of featured ingredients which you cook and package to use as a base for three future meals.  A well-stocked pantry provides additional ingredients to complement the featured items 

Previously, we described how pork loin roasts can be cooked  and packaged for use in many different ways. Chicken and turkey, are featured in this article. Read more about these and other versatile ingredients to  use when planning 5 X 3 Cook-Ins. Continue reading

Assemble a Family Dinner For Under $10? Yes. And Here Are 5 Suggestions To Make It Healthier

Winter squash is easy to prepare and a good source of vitamins A and K

Winter squash is budget-friendly in season, easy to prepare and a good source of vitamins A and K

by donR May 5, 2016

Cooking wholesome meals on a limited budget can be challenging.  By “wholesome” we mean the meal satisfies the nutritional needs of family members. The $10 meal price is calculated by keeping  the cost of the main ingredients under $8 and simply add $2 for the pantry items like flour, condiments, planned-overs, and spices.

So, if at the end of the month, you have spent, on average, $10 per main meal and have eaten a rainbow of whole foods, you deserve a “Gold Star” and are welcome to share your ideas with the rest of our audience! Continue reading

A well-Stocked Pantry: Part 2

picture of soup

Egg drop soup is light, easy to prepare and nourishing.

Is Your Cupboard Filled with Cans of Soup? OK. Kids love chicken noodle, and alphabet soup. Canned soups are easy to store, require no refrigeration and are simple  to prepare. However food that comes in a can tend to be more expensive, contain lots of salt, preservatives and hidden sugar. The nutritional value is questionable since we can’t tell if the food was canned at its peak ripeness.             Read more as we share  ways to make natural soup outside the can. Continue reading

Stretch Your Food Budget With A Well-Stocked Pantry

This salmon & salad meal was prepared room ingredients we found in our pantry.

This salmon & salad meal was prepared from ingredients we found in our pantry.

Putting together a well-stocked pantry may strain your budget at first but save you hundreds of dollars over time. In this five-part series we’ll explore ways to assemble a pantry that fits your cooking style, meal plans and budget. By having ingredients readily available you avoid a trip to the grocer,  can change your meal plan, and be ready if company shows up. To get you started here are a few reasons for assembling a pantry and some ingredients you may want to keep on hand. Continue reading

The Revised Family Meal Planner: Download & Use It

The  Revised Meal Planner: Download & Use It.

cartoon of a messy desk

“Now if I just had a plan for finding my planner, I could start dinner.”

Using our planner will make it easier when your family gathers to share ideas about next week’s meals. But, you might be asking “Is meal planning really necessary?”

There are many reasons for planning your meals, especially before you shop. You  will save time and energy by making fewer trips to the market. By applying smart buying strategies, you will be able to take charge of how your food dollars are spent.  You will save even more when you coordinate your plans with friends; shopping and preparing meals together. But there are two hidden advantages for planning ahead. Continue reading

Your Meal Plan: Is Simpler Better?

Simple Meal Plan

Meal planning can be a simple task when basic recipes are repeated each week or month. To the adventurous cook, planning  could be a complex process with new and exciting meals each day. Either way, planning meals ahead of time will save you money, time, energy and give you peace of mind. You can save even more by using some of the following tips and tricks. Continue reading

Cook Once For Three Meals

plate with pork roast

Rebecca roasted a pork loin and used it in three delicious meals.

Can a family really cook once for three meals? 

After publishing our “Meal Planner,” my daughter and her good friend took up the challenge to see if they could cook once for use in three meals. They each were delighted to get several meals out of the main ingredient and did it for around $10 per meal. Continue reading

Let’s Talk Turkey: Part 2, Planning

picture of shredded poultry

If planning to use turkey for several meals, keep a few slices of breast and shred the rest.

Let’s Talk Turkey: Part 2, Planning

Before buying a turkey, it helps to have an idea about how you are going to use it. My former Principal always said, “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.” That bit of wisdom applies to cooking as well as teaching.

If you and your family usually eat too much at Thanksgiving dinner, and want to change, a trick from a dietician’s manual recommends that you serve restaurant-style instead of passing the bowls around the table. You can then control portion size and less turkey will be needed. Starting the meal with sparkling apple cider for toasting thankful messages, a quality soup and leafy green salad means less room for heavy mashed potatoes and gravy. If you prefer to pass the bowls and have free choice, you will plan differently. Here are 5 tips and tricks for meal planning. Continue reading

Use Planned-overs in Your $10 meals.

“If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.”

Planned-overs are extra foods that are prepared when you cook a meal and then set aside to be used in future meals. This not only saves you time when cooking once for several meals, you save money by purchasing larger quantities and minimizing trips to the market. Here are some tips for using planned-overs:

  • Make a calendar and plan meals for a week or longer
  • Get the whole family together and make planning an important event.


  • Choose recipes that are simple and allow for some ingredients to be made and stored.


  • Search your pantry and plan to use those ingredients if possible


  • Put labels on food needed for your planned meals. Indicate the date it is to be used. It can be frustrating when preparing a planned meal and discover that your tomatoes and cooked roast beef has disappeared.


  • And finally, when you cook a double batch of food, divide the planned-overs, label, and store them BEFORE you sit down to eat the rest.


picture of a bbq pork dinner

Here is an example of a meal assembled mostly from pre-cooked ingredients.

Here is an example of how we used planned-overs for a nearly “free” meal.     

We  had relatives over for a pot luck dinner and had enough food for another meal after they left for North Carolina.

  • Lettuce with mushrooms, onions, avocado, and tomato was left by Aunt Wanda.
  • Biscuits were made earlier from a Master Biscuit Mix.
  • The ice cream in the biscuit sandwiches was purchased at Rite Aid for $2,75 with plenty left for 2 more desserts.
  • Tomato soup was in the cupboard and we threw in planned-over rice and veggies before heating it up.
  • The canned peas were also in the cupboard.
  • And rounding out the meal is pulled pork in a BBQ sauce over biscuits. When we had company we served slow cooked BBQ pork and using those “leftovers” as a base, I sautéed onions and three bell peppers found in the refrigerator and added that to the BBQ pork. It was delicious and we still have some for lunch.Note:

This meal was not really a planned-over but we did have pre-cooked ingredients available to make it an easy dinner. And other than the ice cream, we spent no money.