Save Money by Creating a Meal Plan

If you are trying to find ways to save money, one way to accomplish that goal would be to create a meal plan.

Everyone knows that it is a lot cheaper to cook meals at home than it is to eat out, but many people still do it. When I work with a client to organize their schedule, we usually start by creating a meal plan.

meal plan

 

The problem is not that they don’t want to cook at home…the problem is that they don’t know what to cook or they feel like they don’t have time to cook.

Having a meal plan can make a HUGE difference in your eating habits and your bottom line. You and your family will begin to eat healthier meals and you’ll be saving money at the same time!

I’ll share with you the tips I give my clients when we sit down to create their meal plans.

  1. Think about the meals your family likes to eat. Jot down as many meals as you can off the top of your head. The goal is to come up with at least 25 meals. They don’t have to be elaborate meals either- hot dogs, crock pot meals, and sandwiches work well for those busy nights when you don’t have a lot of time to prepare a meal.
  2. Now grab your calendar and write down a meal for each day of the month. Spread the meals out to offer variety. For example, if you have 4 chicken meals, write one meal each week. (My calendar fills up quickly because I only have to come up with 4 chicken meals, 4 sandwiches, 4 shrimp meals, 4 meatless meals, 4 turkey meals, 4 beef meals and 4 fish meals.)
  3. Be sure to take note of your actual schedule to see which nights you won’t be home for dinner or those nights when you will be coming home late and won’t have much time to prepare a meal. Also,think about which meals can be prepared quickly and which ones need more time. Keep filling up the calendar until all the meals you’ve written down are gone.
  4. If you couldn’t think of enough meals to fill the entire month, you could repeat a few favorites or treat the family to a few, inexpensive nights out. Eating out a few nights a month won’t break the bank as long as you have budgeted for the cost.
  5. Look into recipe websites like AllRecipes.com or Better Homes and Gardens for inspiration for new recipes. You can slowly add new recipes you’d like to try into the rotation.
  6. Purchase a binder to store all of your recipes for the month. Label each section (chicken, fish, pasta, etc) to help you find and prepare the meals quicker. Pick out a pretty binder that coordinates with your kitchen.
  7. Once you have your calendar complete and your binder set up, you’re ready to go shopping. Jot down the ingredients needed to prepare all of your meals for the week and you’re all set!

The great thing about creating a meal plan is that you only have to do it once. Once you have your meals on the calendar, just keep moving them to the following month and you’ll always have an answer when your family asks “What’s For Dinner?”.

Do you currently use a meal plan? What additional tips would you like to add? Enlighten us with your comments below! 😉

Organize Your Entire Home with IKEA

Hello again!

I was planning to write a post about ways to organize your entire home with IKEA and remembered this wonderful article I pinned on my Pinterest page.

organize your entire home with IKEA

This article shows 37 inexpensive items you could use to organize your entire home with IKEA products!

I love many of the ideas in the article, however, there are a few items I will be adding to my next shopping trip.

I really like how #4- vases can also be used as utensil holders or a pitcher in the kitchen.

 

organize your entire home with IKEA

#6 is another one of my favorites. You can use the spice racks to hold books or nail polish. I plan to use them to hold books in the playroom and as nail polish holders in my daughter’s room.

organize your entire home with IKEA

And last, but certainly not least, is #15. This ledge is just what I need to put under a chalkboard decal I have in the playroom. It will hold erasers and lots of multi-colored chalk with ease!

organize your entire home with IKEA

 

This article has so many great ideas to organize your entire home with IKEA products. Check it out and let me know which one is your favorite. :)

 

*photo credits: buzzfeed.com and ikea.com

**Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Begin Reducing Your Debt Today!

In my opinion, there’s nothing more stressful than worrying about how you’re going to get the bills paid by the end of the month. Trust me, I’ve been there and it’s not fun.

However, there are easy steps you can take to begin reducing your debt so you can sleep better at night.reducing your debt

  • The first step to reducing your debt is to create a budget. It’s really not that hard to do and it will give you a clear perspective about where your money is going each month. Click here or here to get started.
  • The next step to reducing your debt is to stop all new spending. This will allow you to use all available cash to pay down your debts. Remember, you can’t pay them off if you keep using them. I do recommend, however, that you allow yourself a weekly or monthly splurge as a reward for not spending. Just make sure it’s something small, like an ice cream cone, not a new pair of shoes!
  • After completing your budget, go over it again and look for bills you can eliminate or reduce. Examples would be dropping cable, cancelling gym memberships, or downsizing your cell phone plan. You can always sign up for them again after you are out of debt. The key is to find any available money to add to your debt-payoff plan.
  • Another way to begin reducing your debt is to look at the small, unnecessary purchases you make on a daily basis. You may not even be aware that you are purchasing them- expensive coffee, vending machine snacks, and fast food meals are small purchases that add up.
  • Contacting your creditors and asking for lower interest rates is another excellent tip to reduce your debt. If you are in good standing and have been with the company for at least a year, your creditors may be willing to work with you and lower your rate for a specific period of time. Use that time wisely and payoff as much as you can before the rate increases. If you haven’t paid the amount off before the rate goes back up, call and ask for an extension. It can’t hurt to ask, right? :)
  • This step is a biggie when it comes to reducing your debt-eat more meals at home. Everyone knows that it is so much cheaper to cook meals at home rather than eat at a restaurant. If you feel like you don’t have the time to cook after a long, busy day, experiment with slow cookers. All you have to do is put the ingredients in the slow cooker early in the day and a hot-cooked meal will be waiting for you when you get home. I personally love the 40 Meals in 4 Hours Recipe Collection. The meals are designed to be prepped and frozen in advance, but they can also be prepped the same day.

These are just a few ways you can begin reducing your debt today. By following these tips, you will be on your way to financial freedom.

What steps do you take to reduce your debt? Feel free to add your tips in the comments below!