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Top 10 tips on planning weekly meal

Updated on July 15, 2009

Tips on planning meals on a weekly basis

As a mother with two kids, well they're both grown up now and with my husband, I have myself plus three mouths to feed to worry about on a daily basis or at least 5 days a week. We try to eat out on weekends or just buy to go or fast food, just to have something different for the week plus I need a break too, don't you think? As the years go by and being married for almost 19 years, I have learned some tricks, techniques to make life much easier especially when doing housechores and cooking meals for the whole family. I have been living here in the U S of A for almost 19 years and my husband who just followed us in year of 2000. I was born in the philippines and grew up there until 19 when my mother have petitioned me to live in Hawaii. My husband and I used to live in the philippines where we were living comfortably, so to speak due to a lot of help around the house. We have our own driver/chauffer, nannies and maid to help us back at home. I didn't have to worry about doing all the chores except cooking. Cooking is my passion and what I really love doing. It is a therapy for me and no matter what, I would always go to the "wet market" to get fresh fish, meat and poultry and cook them regardless of how much help we have around the house.

Eversince moving here in America, lifestyle has changed drastically. You do everything here unlike back home. As for me, I lived here for the first few years before my husband could even join us due to some business issues back home. Living here was never easier since you have to do everything and no help to rely on. The result? Stress and fatigue.That's right! I hear yah.

For me, eventhough I love cooking, I consider it the most difficult chores of them all. The fact that for that alone, it includes planning meals, doing the groceries, loading and unloading stuff, putting them away, cooking all the necessary ingredients, and washing all the "equipments" used just to put food on the table. Isn't that too much work? Is it really worth it to cook or to just buy fast food, or to go out to dinner instead? Some would say yay and some would say nay.

These days, times are really tough for most people and not only here in America but the whole entire world is feeling it. Each one of us has to learn to be really smart and wise in every penny we spend especially when it comes to food. Statistics show that at least on average, every household throws or wastes $100-$400 dollars worth of food a month with leftovers thrown away, spoiled fruits, veggies, etc. That's $1200-$4800 dollars a year right there! Enough to feed the whole starving population in Africa or even Philippines for the next 10 years! I am one person who refuses to toss any single piece of food that's still edible. I raged when I see my kids waste a piece of meat and just throws them or not being able to finish their plate. I always think there are a lot of people starving around the world and here we are, doesn't even bother to think twice throwing pieces of food where some would even grab and take it just to put something in their stomach even it's already in the trash. There's a saying by Benjamin Franklin, "A penny saved is a penny earned". Totally agree. So planning your meals for the whole week will definitely save you lots of dough in the long run. No more spoiled/rotten veggies, less leftover to throw and minimizes buying take-outs. Plus you become more productive since you have more time in your hands than being stuck in the kitchen the whole night, prepping and washing dishes. Here are some tips on planning meals on a weekly basis:

1. First of all, be willing or rather start learning to eat leftover foods. If it's edible and not spoiled, it's still okay to eat it. Train your kids while they are still young and your husband? Ignore his face. He'll get used to it. Think of Africa, Philippines, other third world countries who has people that's dying because of poverty. Be thankful that we have so much option to consume good food that we want to eat.

2. Plan your meals ahead of time. I know bad habits are really hard to break. Quit the habit of just last minute cravings and that's when you only starts preparing for food. This does not only waste your time but also, it's not saving you money in the long run.

3. Write down all the ingredients needed. If you have everything listed, you are less likely to buy stuff you don't really need. Again, that saves you another dollar.

4. Never go hungry! Don't ever go to the grocery store when you're starved. Your eyes are going to get bigger than your stomach can handle. So you end up stuffing your cart and paying for something you don't really need.

5. Once in a while, cook meals that are in the same family like let's say kids want some spaghetti. Cook a little bit more of the pasta than the sauce so that you can make the extra pasta for a cheesy garlic noodles with lots of parmesan chees on top. Kids will love it! Or If you baked/roasted a prime rib larger than usual, you can make the rest of them, a prime rib sandwich. All you need is a mayonnaise and a bread. Voilah! Yummm! That's already 4 different meals you have there and good for one week and I'm sure one of those days you might have to eat previous day's menu. So you skipped one step of boiling the pasta for the cheesy garlic noodles, you skipped baking/roasting the prime rib for making a sandwich plus, less washing all the dishes! You have more time to do other stuff.

6. Think of menus that can be frozen for weeks or months. You can freeze veggie soups or any type of soup you prefer. The beef stew or chicken teriyaki for BBQ, or any marinated meat that you have. This way you can always have what I call "Emergency food" instead of having canned goods, which are not actually good for your health. Canned goods are very convenient and gets cheaper sometimes when they go on sale but it is a trap to being unhealthy.

7. Eating lunch out is great but bringing home-cooked meals to work is a greater deal! A lot cheaper, better and healthier than take outs or to-go.

8. If you love eating breakfast i.e. eggs n sausage with bagel, or ham n eggs with toast, try cooking or making them good for 2-3 days in one cooking. Buy those small plastic containers in same sizes and stuff them in there and stack in the fridge. This way it's just a "grab-and-go" for the both of you.You're lucky if you have toaster in your office kitchen, if not just don't eat with the bread and forget the carb! You'll loose weight as well. If you and your husband will bring and eat it to work, you're gonna need 6-10 of them since there are 5 days of the week. Okay, okay maybe only 8 coz you deserve a break. Fridays, it's a break so you're excused to buy that breakfast burrito you're craving from that deli next to your office.

9. Buy lots of food containers. They come in very handy and so easy to plan your meals/snacks with them. You can also cut up fruits like cantaloupe, pineapple, papaya, watermelon, etc ahead of time to bring to work. You can stack them up in the fridge so it's just, again, a "grab n go" for you.

10. Last but not the least - refrain shopping and buying bulks of perishables from wholesale club i.e. Costco, Sam's Club, Smart and Final. If there's only two of you who's gonna eat a certain type of food and if there's a dozen of them, or one huge box or packaging, how much could you really eat for the next week or so? Then it will end up stocked up in the freezer/fridge for months and before you know it, it's expired or you feel you don't want to eat it anymore since it's been there for the last 6 months, so you end up throwing them away eventhough it's not expired yet. Sounds familiar? So instead of thinking with buying in bulks to save $$$, just go to the regular grocer closer to your home unless it's necessary. Trust me because 99.9% they just end up in trash.


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