Meal Planning Reviewed

Feeding our families well, simply, and on a budget is on every mama's mind. I am a mama of seven hungry children and four of them are boys! Just when I've finished washing the counter-tops and loading the dishwasher after a big, wonderful dinner, one of my teenage sons is already pouring himself a bowl of cereal. C'mon! They can eat me out of house-and-home and I need to be prepared. I have no options but to be organized when it comes to feeding my family, keeping costs down, and all without compromising on the quality. 

I have three important tips up my sleeve that every mama must do in order to keep organized in the kitchen and I have some tried-and-true family-friendly, recipes to share. This was my post was over at Serenity Now, when I was a guest at her lovely blog. But I've added some new content and wanted to share in case some of my friends didn't make it over there! :)

A Baking Day
Incorporate one day each week for a baking day and create some baked goods from scratch. I love to bake muffins, waffles, cookies, breads, and pizza crusts, making some for the week and then enough extra to freeze. This creates great foods for the week for your family, the bread is wonderful for lunches and compliments your dinner meals, and freezing the extras creates homemade meals you can pull-out in a snap on a busy day. 
Get inspired by your favorite magazines, foodie blogs, and the season, and plan-out each week what you'll bake on your baking day and get it on your grocery list so you can make sure that you'll have your ingredients needed on hand. 
This also saves money. Planning a baking day each week means I don't need to buy the processed cookies in the store, a hundred boxes of cereal and 5 gallons of milk, store-bought pizza crust, or Bisquick for breakfast.

Another great tip for saving time when preparing pancakes and waffles is to mix your dry ingredients together of your favorite pancake recipe in a plastic container, labeled with the wet ingredients left to add. Easy and fast to prepare on a quick morning before school or before a morning Saturday soccer game. When it comes to waffles. When I make them for my family, I quadruple the batch so I can serve them that morning and to freeze them for an easy, nourishing breakfast to pop in the toaster any day of the week. Add some quick scrambled eggs with any of these baked goods and you've got an easy, wonderful breakfast!

Pizza crust is great to prepare on your baking day and can be kept dormant in your fridge in a bowl, covered in plastic wrap until ready to prepare on the quick!

Baking each week keeps you organized, saves you money, and keeps you in control of the ingredients in your family's meals. And the best part is when my children run over to the oven as I'm  pulling out my homemade bread; begging for me to cut them a hot slice with butter and honey. Believe me. You'll be their hero!

Plan Your Menu
Planning your menu ahead of time is a necessity if you want to save time and money. Plan a day each week to be your grocery day. I love Mondays, so I spend a little time on my menu the day before and write out the days of the week with what I'd like to make for dinner each night with careful consideration of what the happenings are each evening with my family. (I also list out some breakfast menu plans and lunch.) Soccer games and kids' schedules usually seem to interfere with dinner-time. With menu planning, you won't have to be relying on fast-food joints to feed your family anymore. Be prepared, plan quick meals on those fast nights (use some of your freezer goods to help) and you will be organized and feeding them well!

I like to also write a baking day list on my grocery list. This way I know what I'll need for my baking day as well and to remember what I'll be baking. I also keep this baking day log in my planner; this keeps me organized.

Remember to be inspired by the seasons...fall is the perfect time for baking-up some apple muffins or pumpkin spice bars. Let the season inspire you in your cooking and baking! 

Buy in Bulk
I found these tips on-line, here. I buy in bulk once a month and keep my list in my planner's monthly pages so I can add to what I need throughout the month.

* Look through local newspapers to see what is on sale. Write those amounts next to the items on your list so you can compare the membership clubs with local prices. Usually the bulk prices (per unit price) will be cheaper, but that’s not always the case.

* Common items that are consistently money savers when buying in bulk include paper products (toilet paper, paper towels, tissues), cleaning products, generic medicines, frozen vegetables, and frozen hamburger patties. With other items on your grocery list, you’ll want to comparison shop to ensure you’re saving the most.

* Some membership clubs accept manufacturer’s coupons. They may accept in-store coupons, coupons sent as a membership benefit, or traditional manufacturer’s coupons. Be sure to use coupons on bulk items that you’re already planning to buy and you’ll save even more!

* Avoid impulse buying. If it isn’t on your list, don’t put it in your basket. You’re likely to be bombarded with food samples - go ahead and try them, but don’t allow yourself to be enticed to buy them if they aren’t pre-planned.
There are several benefits of buying in bulk. Buying the same item in larger packages means saving up to 30% on your purchase of your price. Less packaging also benefits the environment because there won’t be as much packaging placed in landfills. People buying in bulk generally eat better because they’re not depending on convenience foods which are considered less healthful.

Now you know the advantages of buying in bulk. You will enjoy the benefits of saving money, helping the environment, and preparing healthier meals. So, what’s holding you back from giving buying in bulk a try?

Drum roll, are some of my favorite, family-friendly, recipes. Just click on the links for the printable recipes:

Pizza bites

These pizza bites are shaped into a muffin tin, and topped with my family's favorite toppings. They are a kid-hit sensation and big kids like them, too!

The most amazing cookies in the must make some of these and the rest, if don't get gobbled up, can be frozen in a Ziplock bag for another time.

Bread Sticks...
The great thing about bread sticks is that they can accompany almost any meal and be a hit. These are fast, and easy with no rise time! Your family will love these bread sticks.
Breakfast wraps...
I love flour tortillas because of their versatility. This wrap was made with some baby tater tots and scrambled eggs. My kids love this!
Quick glazed doughnuts and doughnut balls...your children will go nuts and you can make this in under 30 minutes.

Multi-grain bread that can be made into muffins, too.
 Pesto Italian Sausage and Chicken Pizza
Your children will even love this pizza. But, to adjust the recipe if need be, I always have some of my favorite tomato pizza sauce on hand with pepperoni and mozzarella (just in case). 

You can find all these printable recipes and much more at Planner Perfect Meals (

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