Around the House Finding My Vacation Pre-Cruise Diet

Our meal routine saves us money

This week my oldest daughter returns to preschool! This means we reinstate our school routine, from morning wake-ups to the bedtime routine. I figured this would be a good week to introduce you to my routines. I crave routine as much as my children, so I’ve developed several of them to make our life a little easier. Today, we are going to look at my meal routine.

I like to pre-baked potatoes so I can have them during the week without having to wait an hour or longer after I get home to have dinner.

My husband and I, like everyone else just about, want to save money. We find that one thing we waste lots and lots of money on is eating out. Not to mention, it really doesn’t fall within the pre-cruise diet. To cut costs and calories, we try to eat out only once a week–if that. In order to do that, it requires me to do some serious planning.

I start out each week by determining what we are going to eat, making a list and heading to the grocery store. I only buy what I need to make what is on the list. A while ago, we cut out pre-packaged food as well, mostly because of the calories and the sodium, and we try to make everything fresh. Try. Hard. That means my grocery list is often pretty long, but we budget about $100 a week and I’m often under that. Not to mention, our cupboards aren’t full of food we won’t/don’t/can’t figure out how to eat.

On Sundays, I prepare as much as humanly possible to make the evenings run smoother.Most of the time, it’s dinner food. Dinner is a really tough meal for us. ┬áThe second I walk in the door, I have a two-year-old asking for snacks, milk and dinner. I want to get in the house, make the dinner and be on my way.

I like to brown ground beef, or in our case ground turkey, in advance. Sometimes I’ll purchase about five pounds for the week and brown it all with some onion and put it in Pyrex bowls in the fridge. If I don’t need the whole five pounds, I’ll freeze it. It’s great as an additive for spaghetti, goulash, lasagna, tacos, whatever.

I like to brown a bunch of ground on Sunday to save time during the week.

I also like to cook potatoes ahead of time. I love potatoes, but they take too long to cook once I get home from work. So I throw them in the oven on a Sunday and let them warm up until they are good and soft. Then I let them cool and throw them in the fridge. During the week, I can warm them up and they make a great side dish.

To prepare my family for what lies ahead, I make a list of all of the dinners we are having on a dry erase board. For example, this week we are having rotisserie chicken with sweet potatoes and green beans, chili, nachos, pot roast with potatoes and carrots and grilled pork chops.

The rotisserie chicken was cooked at the store and picked up on Sunday so we can just warm and eat tomorrow night. As I stated above, I already cooked the sweet potatoes and the green beans will cook in the time it takes me to reheat the rest.

One Tuesday, we’re having chili. My family loves chili and this is the one night a week my husband is home so I chose this night so he can enjoy it with us. I premade the chili on Sunday. It’s all set to go. As chili pros, my husband and I think it tastes better after sitting a few days anyway.

Wednesday is nachos night. I love these nachos. It’s a Rocco recipe, which I love because it’s low in calories. It’s easy to make and my kids love it because they can take it apart and eat each piece at a time. We top it off with some chips and salsa just to dip and enjoy.

Thursday we are having roast beef in the crock pot. I throw the frozen roast in the crock pot the night before, add some beef broth, onion and a pinch of garlic. I let it defrost in the fridge overnight. That morning, I get it out, add some carrots and potatoes and set it on to cook on low all day. It’s always done when we get home from work.

A meal schedule helps me know what to plan for each evening.

Friday, since we have more time, we either eat out, or make a more complicated meal. This week, we are having grilled pork chops, which we will probably season with seasoned pepper. We’ll pair it with some left over sweet potatoes and corn or green beans or something we can get from our garden.

The week starts over again on the weekend. I don’t necessarily plan the weekend meals because I am home during the day and also because our plans can turn on a dime on the weekends.

Breakfasts for my kids consist of dry cereal on the way to day care and something healthier once they are there. I often send hard boiled eggs or fruit or something. They are provided lunch. For my breakfast, I try to eat something healthy at home, if not, I take one cup of rolled oats and make oatmeal at work or I take a hard boiled egg. I am also provided lunch at work.

My husband is the only one not provided with his at-work meals. His schedule is so unpredictable that making him a lunch is pointless. To get around him eating out and spending lots of money on food, he has a mini-fridge in his office and I send bread, lunch meat, mustard, cheese, jelly and peanut butter, along with snacks. He fills his fridge and lets me know when he is running low on anything. It works out great.

I’d like to add some couponing into this mix, but I’m not sure where to get started.

Do you coupon? Can you see how I can modify my routine to include some coupons? I’d like some advice on how to get started.