Helpful Tips

Betty Crocker’s ChartsIt’s like having a personal chef help every step of the way.

Kitchen Cheat Sheet
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Handy Baking Conversions and Equivalents

Substitutions

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Freezing Food

Cooking Time Table

Food Conversions From Pounds to Cups

Cooking Weights and Measures

Cooking Liquid and Dry Measure Conversion Tables

Slow Cooker Conversion Chart

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Meal Planning Basics

Meal planning is the best way to ensure your family is eating nutritious quality food. It is important to make purposeful decisions about the food you bring into your home and serve to your family, but life can definitely get hectic and makes this a lot harder.

If you feel overwhelmed with meal planning on your own, I really like 5dinners1hour.com or superhealthykids.com ! It has done all the work for you! These meal planning site is complete with pictures of every recipe, shopping list, and nutrition info!

Why Meal Plan?

These are my top 3 reasons for meal planning:

1) To make sure your family is getting nutritious meals that taste good! As parents we want our children to get the most nutrition as possible so that they can grow into healthy, strong, disease-free adults. We also want them to develop healthy habits along the way so they will make good food choices on their own someday. Providing healthy balanced meals is one of the best ways to do this.

2) To help you decrease the amount of money you spend on food. If you know exactly what you are going to make for your meals, you don’t end up buying extra ingredients that you won’t use. Also, making seasonal recipes decrease on costs because you are buying things at a better price when they are in season. You also will also find yourself eating out less!

3) To save you time, effort and stress! Knowing what you are going to make ahead of time allows you to prepare by having ingredients on hand, letting food thaw if needed, and saving you from the 5 pm ‘What am I going to make for dinner’ crisis!

Meal Planning Methods

There are a lot of different methods to meal planning. These are the methods I have found to be the most successful.

1) Weekly Method

Begin by taking an inventory of ingredients you already have on hand.

Choose meals for each day of the week and make a shopping list that reflects the ingredients needed to to make these meals.

Shop

Bring groceries home – wash, chop, and prep for the week.

The next week, go through the same routine, plan out your shopping for what you plan to make that week, and so on.

2) Two-Week Method

Begin by taking an inventory of the staples in your pantry and freezer foods that you have. You will do a large shopping trip at the beginning of the month.

For the first week of the month, plan meals for that week and make a shopping list that coincides with the meals you planned and what you already have.

When you go to the store, buy what is on your list, but also look for deals. If something is on sale, stock up to use that item later in the month.

To plan your second week of the month, there is no shopping involved. Instead, take a careful inventory of what you already have that needs to be used up and plan your week of meals around those foods only.

3) Monthly Method

Choose 30-40 of your favorite recipes that you can rotate through. You can add in a new recipe or make something twice if your family really loves it, but generally stick to your tried and true 30 recipes.

Take a brief inventory of staples and basic ingredients before you go grocery shopping.

Start the month with a large shopping trip, buying anything that won’t go bad and perishables to also for 1-2 weeks. After that, just refer to your meal plan and shop weekly for needed items.

4) Freezer Cooking

Freezer Cooking in 7 Easy Steps

Or you could join a meal exchange group. This where you make the same dish like 10 times over. The you and friends get together and swap. You go home with 10 different meals. I have been in a some kind of meal swap since 2008. For my family of 5 I use those meals for the week days when time is more of a factor.

I do organize 2 meal swap exchanges in Minneapolis. Let me know if you are interested. If I get enough interest I could start another group.

Simplifying Meal Planning Hints

Do Seasonal Meal Plans. Plan your meals by what is in season. You will save money this way and also get the most flavor from your food.

Create a fall back menu. Make a meal plan that has all of your families favorites that you can use in a pinch.

Make meals that can work together. Try to plan your meals so that you can use leftover parts of one meal to supplement another meal.

Enjoy this meal planner template and worksheet!

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