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Meal Planning Shortcuts (and Free Printables!)

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Hey guys! I know I talk a lot about meal planning and I want to revisit the topic again today. This time though, I want to talk about using your homemaking binder and doing it without apps and digital tools. You do have a homemaking binder, right? If not, it’s ok because it’s never too late to start one and in this post I’m even including meal planning worksheets to help get you started. 

Meal planning has always been a way of life for me. Growing up I spent a lot of time with my grandparents in West Virginia and developed a strong love for big family meals and lazy Sunday mornings. I also learned how to make delicious meals using very humble ingredients. It’s just the way of life in this region. Everything has a purpose and nothing goes to waste. Everything is either eaten raw, cooked, or canned for later. I can’t even begin to tell you how many days I spent in the kitchen with my grandmother stringing beans, making biscuits, and canning tomatoes. She knew a lot about homemaking and taught me a lot of shortcuts for meal planning. In fact, my first housewarming party was actually focused on stocking the kitchen, not building a home.

The meal planning shortcuts you need to make this homemaking chore super simple! Including free meal planning printables from Honey & Pine

When I moved into my first apartment my family and friends threw me a “Pound Party.” It’s sort of like a housewarming party but the emphasis is on stocking the kitchen with essentials. Anyone bringing a gift was encouraged to bring a “pound” of anything – butter, flour, sugar, ground beef, chicken, etc. Of course, some people went way overboard and brought things like 10 pounds of potatoes while others brought a variety of baker’s chocolate, honey, maple syrup, etc. I’m telling you, when that party was over, my kitchen was full! Other than picking up perishables when I went to the store I didn’t need to buy pantry essentials or canned goods for over a year. For real. 

I miss my grandmother daily but the rules for easy meal planning that she taught me are ones I still practice today and that help keep me on budget (and don’t forget to download your free meal planning worksheets):

  1. Use what’s on hand in your pantry or refrigerator
  2. If it calls for an ingredient you won’t use in 3 or more recipes, skip it and make something else
  3. Reuse or repurpose leftovers
  4. Buy in bulk, freeze, and follow the FIFO method (first-in, first-out)
  5. Eat seasonally for the best prices
  6. Grow, eat, and cook with your own herbs and vegetables. There’s always enough room to grow your own although sometimes you have to be a bit creative with your space. 
  7. Follow portion control and snack on fruit or vegetables if you’re still hungry after meal times.
  8. Don’t drink your calories! We prefer to drink smartwater with our meals.
  9. Learn to cook with humble ingredients
  10. When in doubt, make a soup

I’m adding my own rule #11 – keep it simple!

The meal planning shortcuts you need to make this homemaking chore super simple especially when you use Healthy Choice Power Bowls for lunch! Including free meal planning printables from Honey & Pine #PowerfullySmart #ad

My grandmother was a housewife and stay-at-home mother with the ability to grow a huge garden and focus her time and energy on caring for her home and her family. For the fabulousness of that life, it came with downfalls too. She never learned how to drive, never went to college, and never built much of a life outside of her home and hometown. Her whole life was wrapped up in her family. While she loved it, I don’t think I could live quite like she did. I love being at home and caring for my family but my lifestyle is a lot more on the go. 

In addition to wife and homemaker, I work a full-time career and have other personal responsibilities. I have a small container garden I grow on my patio and I rely on the surplus from my parents garden to keep my produce baskets full. I repurpose leftovers where I can and make a lot of soups for dinner since they are easy and light. I’ve also learned not to stress too much on the days when home-cooked meals just aren’t possible. This is especially true at lunch time which is why I’ve come to rely on Healthy Choice® Power Bowls which I grab when I’m shopping at Walmart. You can get a great deal on them right now and earn .75 cash back when you purchase Healthy Choice® Power Bowls at Walmart (any variety – any size).

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The Adobo Chicken Bowl is my favorite. I eat it for lunch a couple of times per week because it features antibiotic free chicken and it’s so quick and easy to cook. Every Healthy Choice Power Bowl is made with an intentional balance of vegetables, proteins, and whole grains so you feel powered to get through your to-do list. My to-do list seems to be never-ending so I appreciate having a quick go-to lunch of bold flavors and simple ingredients that I can whip up fast. 

The meal planning shortcuts you need to make this homemaking chore super simple especially when you use Healthy Choice Power Bowls for lunch! Including free meal planning printables from Honey & Pine #PowerfullySmart #ad

My grandmother’s meal planning rule #8 was not to drink your calories. Now, she definitely indulged in a soda or tea here or there but most of the time it was water. We follow the same rule and 99% of the time drink water. This became an even more strict habit of ours after my husband’s illness a few years back. We typically rely on smartwater because we prefer the taste of it to the water that comes from our tap here in the mountains. If you haven’t had it, smartwater is is the accomplice on the journey toward the things you want to accomplish. It is vapor-distilled for purity with just the right amount of electrolytes for a uniquely clean taste. I like to keep a couple of bottles of smartwater in our refrigerator so I can grab a cold bottle as I’m heading out to run errands and take care of business. It keeps my hydrated while I’m on the go and has a clean pure taste I love.

I’m also sharing meal planning worksheets which you can download for free (you don’t have to subscribe) to help you get your meals planned and on track so you can avoid overwhelmed and stay on budget. One of my favorite tips is repurposing leftovers. I frequently cook a homemade meat sauce for pasta night but I reserve some of the cooked ground beef before combining it with the tomato sauce. The next night I’ll heat up that ground beef with a little seasoning and serve it over a bed of cornbread for a dish referred to as “sloppy jose.” Obviously, that’s just a play on sloppy joe. Then, I’ll use the leftover cornbread as a side with a bowl of soup beans (an appalachian classic) and green beans or I’ll top the cornbread with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and drizzle it with honey and praline almonds for dessert. When you’re planning your menu it’s important to build your meals on the day before to maximize your ingredients and get the most out of your money.

The meal planning shortcuts you need to make this homemaking chore super simple especially when you use Healthy Choice Power Bowls for lunch! Including free meal planning printables from Honey & Pine #PowerfullySmart #ad

Of course, I always pencil in Healthy Choice® Power Bowls for weekday lunches! Above all else, keep your meal planning simple. Before you go, remember to earn .75 cash back when you purchase Healthy Choice® Power Bowls at Walmart (any variety – any size)!

The meal planning shortcuts you need to make this homemaking chore super simple especially when you use Healthy Choice Power Bowls for lunch! Including free meal planning printables from Honey & Pine #PowerfullySmart #ad

The meal planning shortcuts you need to make this homemaking chore super simple especially when you use Healthy Choice Power Bowls for lunch! Including free meal planning printables from Honey & Pine #PowerfullySmart #ad

Try the Healthy Choice Power Bowls and be #PowerfullySmart! If you have any meal planning tips to share, tweet me @ashleyfromhp or drop them in the comments below.

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