A Millenial’s take on Meal Planning 

I used to think that I didn’t need to worry about meal planning unless I ended up with an army of children somewhere down the road. However, there is a Pinterest craze on meal planning and I just HAD to know what the big deal was.

I like the freedom of making what I feeeel like eating, not having some schedule that tells me what to eat. I like to be creative and spontaneous…. With my food at least! I love lists and calendars, don’t get me wrong: I AM TYPE A. But a food calendar seemed a little overboard.

That’s when I learned.

Do you KNOW how much time/money/stress this can save you???!!

A big thing is that you don’t let food go to waste. You can plan several meals that use some of the same ingredients. You can prep stuff like cut veggies, make soup stock, portion and freeze excess, and make things that you can eat on the go or at work etc.

I also find that a nice benefit of knowing what you are making is that you have the necessary ingredients on hand, so no last minute grocery trips. (Which add up in cost and contribute to waste.) Not to mention that you don’t have to spend forever deciding or discussing what to make.

Meal planning also really helps you cut back on eating out in excess or grabbing fast food. Plan your nights out into it! Eating out when you don’t want to cook or don’t have groceries adds up FAST.

Prepping on the weekends can also save you from buying premade/prepackaged things from the store. Not only are these things more expensive than DIY solutions, they are generally not healthy either.

IN CONCLUSION!

Meal planning doesn’t have to be crazy strict and save you a lot of money. So I will leave you with some tricks that I, a college student cooking for myself and my fiancé, have learned as I have slowly adopted this practice.

  • Plan, shop, and prep in the same day. A weekend or day off maybe.
  • Keep essentials on hand. Depending on what you generally cook, this may look different for everyone. Some of my essentials: garlic, salt, pepper, butter, flour, baking soda, baking powder, sugar, milk, bread, eggs, oatmeal, olive oil, cheese, spinach, and pasta.
  • Plan according to your schedule! If you’re going to eat lunch on campus, plan a sandwich, veggies, and chips to take with you. If you are working late, plan a meal the day before and plan to have leftovers after work.
  • I like to plan standard things that I can get ingredients that are used multiple recipes. For example, my chicken salad, tuna casserole, and meatloaf all have celery and onions in them.
  • If you are really trying to save money, plan simple things and shop smart. Get a membership card, and shop the sales at Kroger (the Kroger app makes coupons super easy to use and helloooo gas points!). Shop at Aldi, just don’t forget your cart quarter and to bring your own bags.
  • Make soup once a week. It’s great for leftovers and is super cheap.
  • Write it down. Put a list on your fridge or write it on your calendar. Heck! Put it in your phone calendar and make an alarm for an hour before you need to start cooking. Whatever helps you stay on track.

I will be posting new, easy to follow recipes and ways to be more thrifty! So check back soon and share your meal planning thoughts, tips, and tales!

-Shelby

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Light n’ Healthy Chicken Salad

Chicken salad is easy to make and keeps really well! It’s great to have on hand for a quick sandwich before work or with crackers for a light snack. I personally HATE mayonnaise, so this is my version with Greek yogurt!
Ingredients:

2 chicken breasts pulled/shredded

2 stalks of celery

20 grapes halved or quartered

2 Tablespoons of onion

1/2 cup (at least) of Greek yogurt

1/4 cup of chopped nuts (pecans, almonds, and walnuts are great!)

Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

Bake the chicken breasts at 350 for 45 minutes. Try rubbing them with olive oil beforehand so they’re nice and tender.

Meanwhile, chop your onions and nuts and slice your celery and grapes.

Once your chicken has cooled enough to handle, pull it apart into small, thin shreds. You can also chop it, but I like the texture that shredding gives the salad.

Place the shredded chicken into a mixing bowl and add half a cup of Greek yogurt. Add your other ingredients and stir to combine. You may want to add a couple more spoonfuls of yogurt, it’s all up to what texture you want. I like mine reaaaaal creamy!

Now add salt and pepper to taste and violá!

Tips:

Need a quicker fix? Pick up a rotisserie chicken from the store!

Serve with croissants! They’re my fav.

Looking for a low carb option? Try serving it on a salad wrap.

Try craisins if you don’t have grapes!

Butternut Squash Soup

I love cooking fresh, fuhlaaaavorful meals. It’s healthy, thrifty, and a great chance to be creative. I made one of my favorite soups today, butternut squash soup, and decided it was too yummy not to share! Besides, tis the season for soup, is it not?! Let me know what you think!
  
 Makes 6-8 servings

Ingredients:

2 large butternut squashes

2 tablespoons of butter

2-3 green apples

1/2 white onion

1.5 cups of half and half

4 cups of chicken stock

20 leaves of fresh sage

Salt and pepper to taste

1 teaspoon of cinnamon

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. 

Cut squashes in half lengthwise and scoop out the seeds. 

Lightly oil a baking sheet (I used coconut oil), place the squash cut side up, and season with salt and pepper. 

Bake for 30-45 minutes, maybe more depending on the size and ripeness. 

Meanwhile, peel, core and chop the apples as well as half an onion. Then melt the butter in a large pot (cast iron crocks are the best for soup!) and sauté the onion and apple together on medium-low heat then cover to soften them up a bit. 

Use a food processor (or a blender will do if you don’t have one) to combine the sage leaves an half and half. 

Add chicken stock and sage/half and half blend to the onion and apple mixture and keep covered over medium heat until squash is ready. 

Once the squash is tender enough to cut easily, use a spoon to scoop it out of the skin and into the pot. 

Bring the soup to a boil on medium-high heat, then let simmer on medium heat for 15-20 minutes.

Be sure to break up any large piece with a spoon then bring down to low heat and blend using an immersion blender.* 

*If you don’t have an immersion blender, transfer 2-3 cups at a time into a traditional stand mixer or into a large bowl to use a hand mixer. 

Serve with a crusty bread, drizzle some heavy cream on top and garnish with some fresh sage! Yummmmm enjoy!!

-Shelby