By: Wendy Kuchnicki, Independent Consultant Pampered Chef

Meal planning can always be challenging, but it can save you significant time and money when you go to the grocery store.  When you stock your house with staples that you can use for multiple meals it’s easier to have all the ingredients you need on hand.

First, think about the foods you like to cook and your family enjoys.  You can’t go wrong with one-pot meals - one dish, pan, or pot and dinner is done. One-pot meals let you spend less time in the kitchen cooking and cleaning up and more time with your family. Plus, they’re usually very affordable, about $2 per serving, and cook in about 30 minutes or less.   If you keep pantry foods like onions, carrots and celery along with rice, pasta, potatoes and a few different seasonings or sauces you can make a variety of soups, stews or casseroles.  It might be the same basic ingredients but when you mix it up mealtime is never boring!

There is no need to meal plan for every night of the week, after all sometimes things happen and change our plans.  Try listing out 5 meals you want to make for the week, then add the ingredients you need for one or two of your go-to favorites that you may or may not end up cooking (but this gives you a back-up plan). 

When you have ingredients that you have to buy in larger quantities plan 2 or 3 meals using that ingredient and mix up the others.  For example, when you get a head of cabbage to make with corned beef half of it will be left over.  Plan another meal, or make coleslaw, with the other half.  You can even shred the entire head of cabbage at once so it saves you time for your second meal.

When possible buy family favorite proteins in larger batches.  For example, if you eat a lot of meals that use chicken buy the family pack, then when you get home slice and package the chicken the way you usually would use it and put each meal portion in a separate freezer container so it’s ready to use once it’s defrosted.  If you eat a lot of beans buy extra when they are on sale – whether they are dry or canned they will last for months in your pantry.

A great time saving tip is to make large batches of one-pot meals so you have leftovers for a second meal.  You can freeze the leftovers in freezer containers or you can have it for lunch or dinner within a day or two.  Soups, stews, chili and casseroles are all great one pot meals that taste just as good the next day.

Feel free to search my web site for recipes and other cooking tips to help you get a meal on the table.  After all, the less time we spend cooking the more time we can spend with our families at the dinner table!

Questions? Reach out to Wendy Kuchnicki, Independent Consultant Pampered Chef here:

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