Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Grow.Swap.Share featuring Sarah!

Hey Gais!
Today, I'm participating in the Grow.Swap.Share. I'm posting over at Fantastical Sharing of Recipes about Menu Planning! I'd like to welcome Sarah from Fantastical Sharing of Recipes.

Hi everyone :) I'm Sarah from Fantastical Sharing of Recipes.


I'm super stoked to be swapping with Mrs. White and posting over here on Little Homemade Housewife. Mrs. White threw out some amazing ideas and we decided to share our expertise on meal planning - and then share 5 go-to awesomesauce recipes. Yup, that's right - there's awesomesauce involved! I figure I can just walk ya'll through what I do and give you as many tips as I can! :)

I am a list person, by nature.
I have lists for everything, so meal planning was a given. In high school, my family went through a bit of a rough spot where it was just my mom, younger brother, and I. My mom was never great with handling finances, so I took over. All three of us worked and my paycheck went to groceries. Obviously a high schooler isn't going to make much money, so I had to learn how to be frugal from the get-go.

#1. Recipe Index: One of the biggest tips I have is to have a recipe index. Know what recipes/food you have and are capable of making. When I first was married, I had my recipe index on a piece of college-ruled notebook paper. Now I have a 26-page list of all the recipes I've acquired over the last 10+ years that are sorted into different categories, like breakfast, main dishes, side dishes, etc. This helps because it gives you all of your choices right in front of you.

#2. Frequency of Shopping: Figure out if you are going to shop once a week, once every other week, once a month, etc. Whatever works for you. I used to go once every other week when it was just my husband and I - and baby Matthew. Now that my baby is a preschooler and he has a partner in crime, his sister Cami - I shop once a week, so my fridge isn't busting from the seams. You can still make your menu plan months in advance, but I find I like to do it for each week because I may be craving something totally different from week to week.

#3. Menu Type: Decide what you kind of menu you are planning. How many meals are you going to plan? Will you plan breakfast, lunch, and dinner? What about snacks and dessert? Will you do themed nights, like Meatless Monday or Taco Tuesday? Are you going to plan around your store's weekly sales? Do you have coupons you want to use?

#4. Write it Down: Sit down with your index, a pen, and paper - and go for it! Plan your week, two weeks, month, etc.

#5. Make a Grocery List: After you have everything you want to make, walk through your plan and write down exactly what you'll need for each meal. I pull out my recipes and write down exact amounts and double check what I have on hand. I don't want to run out of ingredients or have way too many taking up space in my fridge - this helps so food doesn't go bad and you're able use what you have on hand!

Here's a quick peek at my recipe index and handy dandy calendar that I use for my menu:

My menu plan consists of at least 3 breakfast recipes, like pancakes, muffins, etc. We do cereal or oatmeal for the other days. For lunch, we rotate leftovers, sandwiches, spaghetti or mac 'n cheese, wraps, chicken nuggets, etc. For dinner, I plan one meatless or leftover night each week, one to two red meat dinners, one ham, pork, or tuna, and the rest chicken. I also try to do only one pasta or rice dish and one soup a week. Each week, I try to make 2 extra recipes - a snack and a dessert or something like that. I also plan to grab 2 to 3 different things for snacks each week like yogurt, graham crackers, chips, cheesesticks, etc. I strive on variety! And by planning everything, I don't get a bunch of extra food and I don't have two hungry kids begging for something to eat :)

Now my top 5 go-to recipes:
Homemade Pizza Dough - I am in love with this recipe, that makes two pizzas.
Our favorite pizza is bacon, pineapple, and jalapeno.

Source: fantasticalsharingofrecipes.blogspot.com via Sarah on Pinterest

Quick and Easy Cinnamon Butter Buns - 4 ingredients for these delicious babies :)

Source: fantasticalsharingofrecipes.blogspot.com via Sarah on Pinterest

Jalapeno Popper Grilled Cheese - we have these almost every single weekend!

Source: fantasticalsharingofrecipes.blogspot.com via Sarah on Pinterest

Fauxtisserie Chicken - you can do many variations with this one and it's a crockpot recipe!

Source: fantasticalsharingofrecipes.blogspot.com via Sarah on Pinterest

and last...
Ranch-Style Spaghetti - this one is packed with flavor and we have it a lot for lunch.

Source: fantasticalsharingofrecipes.blogspot.com via Sarah on Pinterest

I hope I was able to give you all some handy tips - just remember once you get the hang of menu planning, you'll never go back to not menu planning. It saves you so much food (from spoiling) and so much money. Plus you don't have to worry about what's for dinner and make last minute decisions or go hungry!

And a special thank you to Mrs. White for being a total sweetheart and letting me take over her blog for a day - bwahahaha!


  1. Omgosh! That grilled cheese is just oozing awesomesauce!!! I have jalapeƱos in my garden ;)

  2. I am diggin' this blog swap! Meeting so many awesome bloggers! Love your site! Thanks for sharing! Following via GFC!

    Jill @ Create.Craft.Love.