Most of the questions I get aren’t actually about the recipes themselves, but about how I plan and budget. So this is an area where I can address some of those things and hopefully help you with your meal planning! I’d love to hear more of your questions, so please leave a comment!
Q: What is e-meals? How is it useful?
A: Emeals.com is a wonderful cooking and budgeting resource, and I mention it a lot. They have tons of meal plans to pick from (e.g. Family of Four, Low-Fat, Gluten-Free, Meals for 2, etc.) and you pick the one that best describes your family’s needs. The plans have varying costs, but a subscription is typically around $5/month. Each week, the emeals website will have a new menu with 7 meals (including side dishes) and a grocery list. You simply go to the website and download that week’s PDF menu and BAM there are your dinners for the whole week! And since you can save them on your computer, you will begin to have lots and lots and LOTS of old menus you can refer back to for ideas! I love emeals because it continually gives you new ideas, keeps you within a very reasonable budget, and has simple, easy-to-follow recipes.
Q: Where do you get your ideas for meals? Are you going through a cookbook?
A: I’m not really going through any cookbook or using a specific method. I use emeals a lot, as well as pinterest recipes, cooking apps on my phone, cookbooks, and other food blogs. I like the variety all these different resources offer. I rarely cook the same thing twice.
Q: How do you plan your meals? Daily or Weekly?
A: I plan our meals weekly. Each week, I gather all my resources together for meal planning. I first look at emeals.com and download the current week’s menu. It has 7 meals on it, but I don’t always like every single one so I will just pick and choose. Then I will fill in the rest of the week’s dinners using other resources such as pinterest, cookbooks, my saved emeals recipes from weeks past, etc.
Q: How much does it cost to cook dinner every single night? How do you stay within a budget?
A: Well, obviously this will change with each family’s needs. For us, we spend about $100/week on groceries. Even though there are only 2 of us, I usually cook 4 servings and then we both have leftovers for lunch the next day. That means that Blake and I have lunch and dinner every day for only $100. That comes out to about $3.60 per plate. There are, of course, weeks when we spend more than this and weeks we spend less than this, but this is the average for our specific needs. One way to stay within budget is to always plan your meals with your on-hand ingredients in mind. While I’m getting ideas about what I want to cook for the week, I go through my kitchen and find items that we already have and then find recipes that use those items. Nothing makes me more irritated than throwing out food (and money) so always check your pantry and fridge before making the grocery list!