Meal Planning for People who don’t like to Meal Plan

I don’t understand why people have to be rebels and not get with the program. Meal planning is where it’s at!!! *Insert clapping hands* It saves time, money and it’s waayyyyy less stressful than standing in front of the refrigerator and squinting and frowning because you don’t know what the hell you’re going to make for dinner! Plus you’ll have less wrinkles. BUT I know it isn’t for everyone so that’s why I am writing this post. Some people just like to live on the edge and they can afford botox so meal planning is not a top priority. However, I want to show you how you can meal plan even if you don’t like it and I also included some meal ideas for when you are stumped on what to make. So here are my tips:

  1. Keep a stocked pantry/fridge/freezer. To be able to cook meals on the fly you have to have inventory. Make sure you have the basics you need to make simple recipes and your favorite recipes. This way you are always able to make the process of choosing what to have for dinner easy.
  2. Make your own recipe book. It doesn’t have to be fancy. You can get a notebook from the dollar tree and write down every recipe you ever made or want to make. Or you can just keep a master list in your phone. Or dedicate a board on Pinterest. The key is to have a list that you can refer to when trying to come up with an idea of what to make for dinner. And even if you DO like to meal plan you should have a list of recipes to refer to when planning out your meals for the weeks anyway.
  3. Assign a theme to every night. Sunday – Soul food Sunday, Monday – meatless Monday, Tuesday – Taco Tuesday, Wednesday – Italian Night, and on and on. You assign it based on what your family usually likes. That way at least you have an idea to start with on what to make. For example for Taco Tuesdays you can make tacos, nachos, enchiladas, chimichangas etc.
  4. Have a Fend for Yourself (FFY) night or nights – I actually include this in my meal plan but it’s an easy idea that everyone should follow. This actually doesn’t involve eating out. It means you get the night off from cooking and everyone figures it out. I have older children and no husband so this is pretty easy for me but this can be done with smaller kids by buying their favorite lunchables and snacks & fruit and letting them eat it for dinner. I promise YOU WON’T GO TO JAIL FOR FEEDING YOUR KIDS SNACKS FOR DINNER! I mean just don’t do it everyday, Or do. I won’t tell anyone. Little kids are usually snack lovers anyway so in my opinion it’s a win/win for everyone. And as far as the husbands, since I no longer have one I probably am not the best person to follow advice from but I’m pretty sure they can figure it out too. I’m just saying! *shrugs shoulders*
  5. My final tip is utilize the internets. Google is your friend. So is Pinterest. And blogs like this one. If you have some ingredients on hand and you are not sure what to make, put it in a search and see what recipes you can come up with. I will warn you though this is truly living on the edge because you may not like what you try but then again you just might. That kind of living raises my blood pressure because I HATE wasting food and my money but if you got it like that…heeyyyyyy.

So those were my tips for meal planning for people that are so against the awesome idea of planning what to eat in advance so they are not stressed and hungry. No judgement from me lol. Below I have listed a few meal ideas for when you THINK there’s nothing to eat in the house. And of course they are all budget friendly. Let me know what you thought of this post and if you meal plan or if you’re a rebel and choose to live life dangerously hungry!

Simple Meal Ideas:

Soup & Sandwich – Can of soup and your favorite sandwich with deli meat or a bowl of Top Ramen with the deli meat or leftover chicken in it.

Quesadillas – Anything can go between two tortillas and some cheese. Beans, meat, veggies, the options are endless.

Baked potato bar – Baked potatoes are super filling and can be plain or topped with whatever you can think of.

Pasta night – You can use any shape pasta you want, any sauce and add any topping and you are even better than Chef Boyardee.

Pizza & Salad – Frozen pizzas (even those cheap ones for a dollar!) and a simple salad can satisfy hunger. Or you can make your own by buying the pre made crusts or using tortillas, bagels, garlic toast or even a slice of bread. Pretend you’re at Mod’s and pile on the toppings, it’s free (kinda).

Love Ricki

Light & Easy Pumpkin Spice Latte

It’s almost fall ya’ll even though here in Texas it doesn’t feel like it. We are still experiencing  temperatures in the 100s! But I’m going to pretend it’s a cool 70 degrees from the comfort of my air conditioned house and enjoy a fall favorite, the Pumpkin Spice Latte. But with a twist. I am not a big pumpkin fan. I actually am annoyed how the food industry tries to make so many pumpkin spice flavored items as soon as the calendar hits mid August. I don’t understand the obsession. It’s okay but I don’t want EVERYTHING with pumpkin flavor. And I always chuckle because eventually I see the same products clearanced a few months later because they didn’t sell. But enough about that, I do still enjoy a light pumpkin flavor with my coffee every now and then. And since I don’t want to spend the money for a strong one from you know where I went to Pinterest to find a recipe to make on my own. But most of those recipes featured pumpkin in it and seemed a lot of trouble for one drink so I made up my own. So if you like a light flavor of pumpkin in your coffee, check out my recipe below!

 

Light & Easy Pumpkin Spice Latte

 

I also uploaded a video to my YouTube channel showing you how I decorated my coffee station for fall! Check it out here:

This was a collaboration with my sisters Sheena & Jessica! Make sure to check out their videos linked in the description box!

I hope you enjoy the video and let me know if you try the drink!

Love Ricki

Back to YouTube!

Hi Y’all so you asked and I delivered! I am have relaunched my YouTube channel and I am so excited with all the ideas for content I plan on bringing you! Please make sure you subscribe and check out my first video back below!

Don’t forget to like and comment!

Love Ricki

How to “make” groceries! 10 Tips for grocery shopping on a budget

Now you may be saying Ricki, how do you “make” groceries? Simply put that’s what the old folks say in the south when referring to going grocery shopping. Last week we talked about meal planning but now its time to take that plan, make a list and get the food in the house that you need.

Since I usually grocery shop on Saturday morning, I do my prepping on Friday so I am prepared and stay on budget. So I’m sharing 10 tips with ya’ll. Here we go:

  1. ASSESS YOUR INVENTORY -Before you go to any store, you need to assess your refrigerator, pantry and freezer first. Look at your meal plan, do you have things already that you can use? What staples are you running low on? WRITE ALL THIS DOWN!
  2. WRITE A QUICK LIST-Next take the list you just jotted down and your meal plan and write out your grocery list. Having a grocery list is necessary to shop on a budget. If you have a list you will not buy unnecessary items and you won’t forget the things you actually need. Now this is a rough draft. Because the next step is to…
  3. SET A BUDGET- UGH! I know right but this is usually where we mess up at. If you don’t set an amount I am telling you now, you WILL OVERSPEND! In order to stay on budget set an amount. I usually like to set a few, let me explain. I have a amount I will spend on groceries like $60 for the week, then I may add an additional $10 for stock up items – we have a store here that will discount great things to very low prices so I use this extra amount to take advantage of a great deal. And then I may have an extra $5-$10 for fun items, like a treat for the kids or to try a new product. So my budget for the week would be $75-$80. Look at your rough draft list and maybe remove some things that may cause you to go over budget like do ya’ll really need steak this week? Is there a veggie or fruit in season that you may like that will be cheaper to replace one on your list? When you buy in season you are getting better quality at a better price. Once you’ve set your budget you can make your final list.
  4. KEEP UP WITH YOUR LIST- I won’t tell you how many times I forgot my list at home which defeats the whole purpose so TAKE A SCREENSHOT of your list and your meal plan or write it in the notes section of your phone. I bet you won’t leave that phone! Seriously, when trying to save money you have to make things easy and convenient or you won’t stick to it!
  5. TIME TO SHOP- But before you head to the store you need to make sure you’ve eaten a full meal. When they say don’t shop on an empty stomach no lies were told. Listen, EVERYTHING looks good when you’re hungry! Don’t play yourself! Also, if you can, grocery shop in the morning before you run the rest of your errands etc. Shopping with a clear mind leads to better decisions and if you can leave the kids at home (unless they’re older kids that can help) DO IT!!! And if you know you have a tendency to spend at the store, take out cash and leave your cards at home. Hunny, you will stick to the budget in order not to be embarrassed in that checkout line. Ask me how I know lol.
  6. SET A TIME LIMIT- The more time you spend in the store the more money will part from your wallet. Why do you think they have all those free samples at stores on Saturdays? The main objective is to keep you in the store longer so you will be more likely to spend.  The grocery stores specialize in using psychology to help you part with your money at their establishments. They spend millions of dollars on learning our behaviors. You have to outsmart them and stop letting them win. Set a time period for each store you visit and stick to it. I actually started doing this so my older kids would come help me because they said I took too long but I noticed it actually helped our budget!
  7. DOWNLOAD THE STORE APP AND ANY DIGITAL COUPONS- Now you actually should have checked the store ad when you were making you meal/menu plan however sometimes you may get in the store and find something you really may need. Check to see if the store has a digital coupon. Also you may want to check another store’s app to see if maybe they have the same thing on sale. There also apps that get into cash back. I don’t know too much about them but you can always do a google search. Anyway the technology is available, use it!
  8. TAKE ADVANTAGE OF STORE BRANDS- Honestly the time of being brand loyal is over. Many but not all store brands are made by the same manufacturer. You have to understand there is not a manufacturer for every single product, that’s just not feasible. When you buy a store brand, like butter if you take it out the box you’ll notice it will have the same wrapper as another brand lol. It was made at the same dairy it’s just cheaper because there is no brand label. Now is this true of every store brand, no but it doesn’t hurt to try them out.
  9. USE YOUR CALCULATOR-Again back to that budget thing, if you want to prevent overspending take out your phone and use that calculator function! I usually round up when calculating but it helps to stay on track and you can also use your calculator to determine if buying in a certain quantity is a good deal. Also, every thing that’s on sale isn’t a good deal if you’re not going to use it. Exactly how many time have we thrown away a food item because we couldn’t or didn’t use it prior to expiring. Please remember that when you throw wasted food away you are actually just making a donation to the grocery store. I need all my coins, what about you?
  10. SHOP ONCE A WEEK- Ideally if you shop according to your list for the week you SHOULDN’T need to come back to the store again. I personally don’t like having to go to the grocery store several times a week, that’s my time I can’t get back and my gas! But things happen and sometimes we forget because we are human. If you do need to pick something up quickly try to just bring the cash for that item so you won’t be tempted to spend more.

Those were my 10 tips to have a successful grocery shopping trip on a budget. Let me be real with ya’ll it takes a few times to get this down so please don’t beat yourself up if you mess up. I do all the time lol. But eventually you will find a system or routine that works for you and. your family. Take all the tips and apply them or a few. Depending on where you are in life every tip might not apply. The number one thing is to have a plan and that will set you on the right path! Make sure you follow me on IG (@severalpeoplesmama) because on Saturday I will be headed to the grocery store on my stories so you can see exactly how I shop. What grocery shopping tips can you share? Comment below!

Love Ricki

How bad do you want it? Let’s talk about WORK!

It’s Labor Day and for most people that means a welcomed Monday off from work. Me, I WAS most people. However, today I’m putting in work, I’m planning content and writing recipes and shooting insta stories, etc. Why? Because it’s time to put in work. I’ve played skating around my dreams for too long. This leads me to this post, how bad do you want it? Everyone has dreams whether it’s being an entrepreneur and working solely for themselves or getting their dream job or being a first time home buyer. The issue arises when it’s time to put in the work, discipline & consistency to make those dreams a reality.

Dress: thrifted  Shoes: Forever 21

I am a firm believer that you can have the life you want but it won’t happen saying affirmations, writing in a planner or even making a business plan. It only happens when you take ACTION. I have been listening to James Clear’s book “Atomic Habits” (I highly recommend) on Audible and he wrote something that took me clean out! He said and I’m paraphrasing, smart people often make the mistake of being in motion instead of taking action. For example, I may plan out 5 new blog posts (motion) but when I actually write the blog post and publish it, that’s action. He also pointed out that motion is important (because duh) we need to plan or research BUT motion does not produce results, only action does. Motion feels like we’re doing something but in actuality WE ARE NOT. In other words motion keeps us comfortable with a false sense of accomplishment. But action, now that’s stepping out of our comfort zone and on faith. I don’t want to keep going on an on because I’m sure you get the point, go read the book for yourself or check out this article here. It’s time for me to work or take action, I’ve done enough planning aka procrastinating. If I want to have the life I have dreamed of it’s time to put in the work. Even on Labor Day. And I wrote (and published lol) this blog post to encourage you to do the same. Tell me below in the comments what kind of actions are you taking towards your dreams?

Love Ricki

5 Reasons Why You Need a Meal Plan

So for the past few weeks on my IG account (@severalpeoplesmama) I have been sharing my meal plans, how and why I meal plan and some of my family’s meals. It was only right I make a blog post about it so you (and I lol) could refer back to it. I even attached a meal planner I created to go along with the information I’ll share in this post. So let’s get started on the reasons why you NEED to meal plan and some tips on getting it done.

Why you need to meal plan:

  1. You eliminate stress and set yourself up for success.

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We have way too many other things to stress us everyday, don’t make what’s for dinner one of them. By taking a few minutes while watching TV you can create a plan to feed your  family and get rid of the most annoying question ever asked in adulthood, “What’s for dinner”. Take the pressure off yourself and plan ahead.

2. You save money. I don’t care if you shop the grocery sales or not, when you are prepared you save your coins. When you make a menu plan it keeps you from buying unnecessary items that may or may not get eaten and prevents you from wasting food. It also keeps you from eating out when you know you have a meal planned and ready to cook.

3. You make better choices. Like it or not we become what we eat. Fast food has become so convenient to get. We have Postmates & Doordash and other delivery services that make where we don’t even have to leave the house to get our fix.  However we all know eating those things day in and out will not just cause us to gain weight, it will KILL US (eventually). You are in control of your diet and meal planning is a tool you can use to make better and hopefully healthier meals for your family.

4. You encourage variety. When you take the time to plan your meals (and keep a record) you can really think about what you can prepare for you and your family. It will also keep you from making the same things over and over again. I also believe it’s important to write down meals so you can give your family an overview and make necessary changes.

5. Saves time. Time is the one thing we cannot get back and I personally have other things I could be doing than wasting my time in the kitchen or doing a last minute grocery run because I don’t have my shiggity together. Knowing what you’re going to cook let’s you know what you need to buy and prep ahead of time. Why wouldn’t you want to save yourself time to do some things YOU want to do?

Now that we know why we should meal here are a few tips to get you started.

  • Make two lists, one of every recipe you know how to make and then make a list of the things you already have in your freezer, fridge, pantry, etc.
  • Look at your schedule. You have to be available to cook the food you’re planning. If it’s going to be a busy evening then maybe plan for a crockpot meal. If you know you’ll have more time, like for me a Sunday afternoon, then plan a meal that may require more time or try a new recipe.
  • Grab your grocery sales ads and look at the “loss leaders” These are the items usually on super sale which grocery stores actually lose money on but they get you in the store. Those are the items you want to focus on adding to your menu plan that week, and it it’s a great sale buy at least 2, one for now and one for later.
  • Now it’s time to plan! Take your lists and use the menu planner I’ve created here to write out your plan for the week. If you need inspiration follow me on IG, click some popular hashtags like #dinnerinspiration or go to Pinterest and pin away! There are so many resources available to get it done!

I hope you enjoyed this post. Use the hashtag #cookyomeals on IG if you share your meal plan/meals/recipes or tag me! If you have questions, I’ll be happy to answer, comment below!

Love, Ricki

 

 

 

 

Special Occasion

Hey ya’ll!!! I know it’s been awhile but I am back to blogging…with a new perspective. If you noticed I changed the blog’s name to Several People’s Mama a few months ago. The reason for the name change was to reflect my new position in life as a seasoned single mama of four. The blog will still cover style and beauty of course because that’s my first love but I will also include more posts on cooking, lifestyle and managing life as a single mom. I hope ya’ll will stay tuned. There will also be some YouTube videos! I’m so excited!!!

Now about this dress! I bought this dress from H&M (sold out) almost two months ago. It was love at first sight and I knew exactly how I wanted to style it but still never wore it. I was saving it for that non-existent special occasion. Let me say this we have to stop living our lives and not enjoying the things we love because we’re waiting on something special to happen. WE ARE THE SPECIAL OCCASION. Everyday we wake up, open our eyes and take a breath is special because someone somewhere didn’t get that opportunity. We are what makes life special. We create the experiences and the memories we want. We are the magic! So whatever it is you’ve been wanting to try, wear, go or do, don’t wait! Life is short, YOLO, etc – in other words, MAKE IT HAPPEN FOR YOURSELF!!! Sorry for the all caps but you have to understand the only thing in your way is YOU. PERIODT like the City Girls say.  And you’ll discover thru the new blog content I’m on a mission to live life for me on my own terms. So what’s something you were saving for a special occasion?

Earrings & bangle : Paparazzi (Contact me to purchase)

Love, Ricki