If you’re anything like me, that question can often make you cringe. Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely LOVE cooking…it’s just the things that come BEFORE cooking that give me a headache. It’s coming up with good meal ideas, making a shopping list and staying within a budget that gets me down. Actually perhaps I should say GOT me down, because it all changed last Christmas.
My husband gifted me the new edition of the Betty Crocker cookbook, and with this book a door opened into a magical land of dinner bliss. I opened each page in awe at the new and yummy recipes to try out. They all looked fairly easy, rather healthy and completely reasonable for a stay at home mom to cook up while staying within budget. This one book easily solved my problem of trying to come up with fresh dinner ideas. All I had to do was flip through the pages and stop on any random one to find a delicious recipe right at my finger tips. Next I needed to figure out how this wonderful book could solve my other woes: list making and budget meeting…and then it came to me.
I started flipping through the pages picking out enough dinners to last me a week. With each dinner I chose I would mark it with a sticky post-it note. This way I could write the recipe name at the top of the post-it and would be able to easily turn right to the recipe when it came time to make it. On the post-it I also wrote what side dish I would make to go along with the main recipe.
Making the list.
The next step was to get out my Iphone and the amazing new app I use for grocery shopping called “Grocery IQ“. This application allows me to build a paperless shopping list (amongst many other helpful features) that is both good for the earth and enables me to cross things off and keep a running total without having to carry around a pen or calculator (which counts for a lot when I am already trying to push a shopping cart and balance a 3 month old baby on my front). The program also categorizes all of the items into grocery store sections allowing me to get each item I need from each area of the store in one swoop. This means no more running back across the entire store to fetch the carrots I forgot to grab while previously in the produce section.
I sit with my cookbook in my lap flipping to each recipe I plan to make for the week and input the ingredients and side dish items into a list on my phone. Once finished with the recipes I add on some basic items that I need in the house to make lunch, breakfast and so on. (ie milk, eggs, bread) What I then have is a nice, precise list of exactly what I need for that week to make wonderful meals for my family.
How does this save money?
Well, when you plan out your cookbook meals you can specifically look for recipes that call for a lot of the same ingredients. For instance, I know that the chicken pot pie recipe and chicken tetrazzini both use items such as flour, butter, chicken breast, milk and chicken broth. I also can note that chicken pot pie and beef barley soup both use frozen mixed vegetables and so on. This allows me to buy these items in larger amounts, and most of us know by now that bulk amounts often = DEALS! Making such a thought out list also helps ward against impulse buys, and planning home-cooked meals from scratch allows you the option to make extra which you and your spouse can have for lunch the next day, cutting down on the amount of money you may spend on lunches.
I have recently begun to incorporate the art of coupon clipping into my list making and grocery shopping regime, however that in itself is enough content for a future post. ;)
So, next time you hear “honey, what’s for dinner?” stop cringing, and instead grab that cookbook and get inspired!