Sunday, June 5, 2016

Are you part of the 70-80%?

As a mom with a full-time job, a husband who works full-time, and two sons 6 and under, getting organized for dinner every night can be frustrating and overwhelming. There have been weeks where I have just said, "Forget it," and we ate out a bunch. But I realized two things. First, this is expensive (duh), and second, coordinating that can get overwhelming too (drive time, traffic, waiting, who wants what, where are we going).

It's like every night they want dinner...
Did you know that 70-80% of people don't know what's for dinner by 4 p.m.? Usually if that's the case, what do we do? We either get food out or order in, or we run to the store and get something that we can make that night (hello lines and spending way more on groceries than we should). But I challenged myself to do all 7 meals for a week at home, just to see if I could do it (and save the time of going out and money).

Start Meal Planning, Yo!

To rid myself of the stress and to save money, I started meal planning. I take an hour on Sundays to figure out what I want to make for the week, make a list of the required ingredients, go through my pantry and fridge to figure out what I don't already have off the list, then create a shopping list based upon my grocery store. As you've probably realized, it's much easier to shop when you have all of the items that are together grouped together on your list. I also look at what I have on hand and search for recipes that use those things so I can save on shopping (and use up what we already have).

I post what's for dinner for that week on our wipe board and check it the night before to see if anything needs to be defrosted. I also overbuy things that are on sale that we use often and freeze them (such as pork chops, bread, butter, or frozen chicken). I make sure to take into account things that we have going on (karate on Tuesdays and Thursdays, pizza night every Friday with our family) so that I can plan for those nights specifically. For example, karate nights I typically have a freezer meal ready to go so that my husband can cook it while Silas and I are at karate and dinner can be ready when we get home. I usually pre-make the freezer meals on Sunday after the boys have gone to bed - ahhhh uninterrupted cooking.

To find my recipes I typically search for recipes with a specific ingredient or I search for meals that have few ingredients (time is of the essence here people!). I have a pile of recipes I have used before and I write on them whether they turned out well, if we liked them, or even recycle the ones that are just NO.

Meal Planning Not DIY

A friend introduced me to a new idea though that I'm pretty excited to try - Tastefully Simple, an online company, offers meal collections that give you the ingredients to make meals along with recipes, a grocery list, and suggestions for sides. The tough work (finding recipes, making the list) is done for you, and you literally have to choose your meals for the week and shop. Unlike the subscription boxes that send you all of the ingredients including vegetables, you don't have to worry about the products you receive going bad before you use them.

There are different options too - you can get a 30 meals and more collection or you can choose one of three 10 meals and more collections. I chose the Fix It Fast 10 meals collection because all of the recipes are ready in 30 minutes or less. There is also a family favorites collection and a grilling collection. We may have to try the grilling collection next because Mike loves to grill.

You can even choose to use TS To You, a subscription service, where you receive a collection every other month (and receive a discount for continuing to use it). You get to choose the collection you want every other month, and each collection comes with different recipes (so the next time I order Fix It Fast, it won't have the same recipes). And you can find new recipes to use the products you receive with your collection on the Tastefully Simple website (click Recipes and Blog). Using the collections makes each serving about $3 and obviously you can save and/or freeze the leftovers for lunch.

Dinner is decided!

It's really a no-brainer. We used to order a subscription service that sent out 3 weekly meals for the same price as the 10 Meals or More collection. The recipes available are amazing (and there's over 1200 of them), and you can also purchase other Tastefully Simple products such as Beer Bread Mix (my family's favorite because it's so versatile), dip starters, drink starters...the list is endless (as is my wish list). I hosted an online TS party and found that a lot of my friends were looking for easy meal solutions as well. This is a universal thing (hence the 70-80%)!

I love all of my Tastefully Simple products so much, I signed up to be an independent consultant (because who doesn't like a discount on your own dinner products, helllllloooo?). When you purchase a collection you have the option to join as a consultant for $39.95 - you can get your products discounted and receive commission on the products friends and family love. Again, it's a no brainer.

I have to say, making dinner is way more fun and less stressful when you know what's coming and that you're saving money doing it!

What's your favorite recipe from the Tastefully Simple recipe collection? Post it in the comments below!

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