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Meals for One: Weekly Meal Planning

26 August 2008 1,155 views 4 Comments

While not immediately obvious when reading foodtouring, I’m actually a big fan of home food preparation. For the first half of this year, I was a “Cook Once, Eat All Week” gal and would make 3-4 recipes at home on a Sunday, portion them out, and enjoy them for lunches or dinners. Since I’ve moved four times this summer and most of my kitchen tools are in storage, I’ve been cooking much less often.

This weekend, while grabbing a quick lunch at Whole Foods, I picked up “the whole deal,” a monthly bulletin with articles, coupons, hints on getting the most value out of grocery shopping, etc. They have a great section with meals for one, two or four including grocery lists and simple recipes. I decided to try my own version of “Meals for One: 7-day Dinner Planner.”

The menu for the week includes chicken satay, pizza margherita, chicken chef salad, goat cheese and zucchini frittata, and lamb sausage pita wrap. I enjoyed the chicken satay with steamed green beans on Sunday so last night decided to whip up the frittata.

prep_001I raced home from work and had a total of 1/2 hour to feed both dogs, make dinner, and change for an Austin City Limits taping with My Morning Jacket. I impressed myself by successfully slicing some red onion, chopping a roasted red pepper and fresh parsley, slicing 1/2 a zucchini, and throwing everything together with eggs and fresh goat cheese for the perfect fresh summer dinner.

Here are 5 Money-Saving Quick Tips adapted from Whole Foods:

frittata1. Avoid waste. It’s the #1 cash killer. Buy only what you need and will use. I used to throw away so many vegetables but learned that when I prepare and cut them in advance so they are ready to eat or add to a salad, they rarely go bad.
2. Break the eat-out habit. This is a tough one for me because I love to try new restaurants and enjoy time with friends out on the town. I’m pretty good about bringing my own lunch to work every day though (usually a salad with yummy stuff in it, yogurt, and fruit).

3. Think in twos. Look for recipes or ideas that use some of the same ingredients so that you can do the cooking or chopping for both. Cook once, eat twice!

4. Make friends with your freezer. Frozen vegetables, seafood, chicken, etc. reduces waste and cost.

5. Buy in bulk. I love the bulk food section because there are awesome deals to be have and I only buy what I need. I can’t remember the last time I bought an entire jar of spices because it’s so much cheaper in bulk– and that way it’s fresher than if it has been languishing in my cabinet for years.

What tips do you have for saving money while still enjoying delicious food?

UPDATE: This post was featured on the “What We’re Reading” section of the Whole Foods Blog: http://blog.wholefoodsmarket.com/2008/09/what-were-reading-4/.

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  • Adam Norwood

    Jodi! Glad to have found your blog, it might come in handy for our continuing Friday lunches :) You should join us some time.

    Marsha and I definitely enjoy eating on the cheap when we can, and you’re right that a lot of that is solved by planning and prepping some easy foods for the week. We’ve also been buying a lot of produce from Boggy Creek Farm, which is right next to where Marsha works, and is paradoxically cheaper (and better!) for us on average than buying from HEB or Fresh Plus. There are good deals to be had at the two or three weekly farmers’ markets in town, too, especially for veggies that are in season.

    Non-vegetarians might want to check out this recent post on The Simple Dollar about making the most of a whole chicken purchased at the store (cheap! usually between $3 – $10, and can easily provide two people with four meals or more). Not sure that I approve of their beer can method of cooking, but hey maybe it’s good…

  • Jodi

    Thanks for the awesome tips, Adam! I agree with you about Farmer’s Markets! My favorite is the Sunset Valley Farmer’s Market on Saturdays but I haven’t made it down their in a while.

  • rachf

    Have fabulous cooks like Jodi invite me over for dinner– and then reciprocate, of course. Great blog, Jod!

  • Lunch Lady

    Jodi – great post! You might also be interested in seeing the Whole Deal weekly reader tips: http://wholefoodsmarket.com/socialmedia/wholedeal/
    Every week, Whole Foods chooses several reader tips to highlight the Whole Story blog. If you submit a tip that is posted Whole Story, you’ll receive a $25 gift card.

    One of my personal money saving tips is to make your own iced coffee drinks instead of buying them at a coffee shop. Simply brew a large double-strength pot of coffee (use 2x as much coffee as you would normally use), refrigerate it until chilled and you can then use the chilled coffee for iced coffee drinks over the next few days (store unused coffee in a covered container in refrigerator). To make your iced coffee beverage, simply fill a glass of ice, pour chilled coffee over ice, top with milk and stir in your favorite sweetener. When I’m feeling indulgent, I’ll make an iced mocha (cup of ice, 1/2 coffee, 1/2 milk, couple spoonfuls of chocolate syrup and topped with whipped cream). Feeling extra-indulgent? Blend a little chilled coffee with Baileys Irish Cream and a scoop or 2 of ice cream for a milkshake that will give you *wings*.