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

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

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!

Do you need delicious but easy recipes that don’t use complicated ingredients? I got you – check out my cooking available for purchase here: https://payhip.com/b/WN19

Love, Ricki

 

 

 

 

Easy Shrimp Fried Rice

Shrimp fried rice is a favorite at my house and easy meal to whip up even on a weeknight. I wanted to share the recipe with y’all and a little tip I recently discovered. This recipe comes together quickly and uses basic ingredients but you can definitely turn it up a notch or two by adding specialty flavorings found at your local Asian market. Let’s cook!

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup of vegetable oil
  • 1 package of medium size shrimp, peeled and deveined. I used larger shrimp for this particular recipe because I was serving it as a main course instead of a side dish
  • 1/2 tsp of minced garlic
  • 1/4 cup of onions (I used a shortcut, a bag of frozen onions cause I was too lazy to chop veggies)
  • 2 cups cooked white rice
  • 2 eggs lightly beaten
  • 1 bag of frozen peas and carrots
  • Soy sauce
  • 1/2 tsb of sesame oil (this is optional but it gives it great flavor and is easy to find. I found mine in the Asian food section of Walmart)Ingredients

Directions

Began by heating the vegetable and sesame oil in a large skillet on medium high heat

Add the beaten eggs and lightly scramble. Then move eggs over to a cooler part of the pan.

Add frozen peas and carrots and sauté til warmed through. I also added the onion and garlic to the frozen veggies.

Add shrimp and cook. I seasoned my shrimp with a light sprinkle of soy and teriyaki sauce, garlic and onion powder and a dash of ground ginger and rice wine vinegar but season however you like just be careful with the soy sauce cause it will cause your dish to be salty and we will be adding some later.

After the shrimp are cooked thru add leftover COLD rice. This is the trick to good fried rice. Fresh or warm rice will just become mushy so this is the perfect recipe to use up those leftovers in the fridge. You can add whatever kind of frozen veggies you like and leftover chicken or make it strictly vegetarian. You can also make it low carb by using riced cauliflower just make sure it’s cold!

Now mix everything together and add soy sauce to taste. I usually only add a few dashes and let the kids add more if it isn’t enough for their taste buds.

Now you’re done and you have a very delicious meal or side dish and it’s easy, quick and budget friendly!

We like to eat ours with homemade egg rolls and this time we also added homemade crab rangoon.

Please let me know if you try this recipe and also what other recipes you’d like to see on the blog!!!

Love Ricki

Stuffed Chicken

Hey y’all this recipe is delicious but it is also special. A friend/co-worker shared this with me almost 10 years ago. She made it for our team at work and when I asked her how to make it she wrote out the recipe for me. Now you already know people don’t like to share their stuff sometimes but she did it with no problem and also gave me a cake recipe which I will be sharing with y’all in the future. But the real reason this recipe is so special is sadly my former coworker passed away in 2017. But she will live on in my heart and I think about her generosity every time I make it! I truly hope you make this and share with your friends and family because I know she would have wanted that.

Ingredients:

  • Chicken- Note: I normally use Chicken breast but they weren’t on sale (I feed six ppl who all eat like adults) so this was my very first time trying it with chicken thighs and I’ll never go back to breasts! I prefer boneless skinless but the bone is fine just pull off the skin.
  • Chopped onions, bell peppers and mushrooms
  • Olive oil
  • Seasonings of your choice
  • Dry ranch dressing seasoning
  • Worcestershire Sauce
  • Shredded Italian cheese mix
  • Frozen spinach, cook it in the microwave and squeeze out excess water
  • 8 oz block of cream cheese

Directions:

  • Sauté your onions, bell peppers and mushrooms in olive oil or butter

  • While your veggies soften mix up your cream cheese and spinach. If you forgot to take out your cream cheese earlier like me then pop it in the microwave for about 30 seconds or so with the spinach and that will make it soft and easy to mix.

  • Now add the softened veggies and cheese to the spinach and cream cheese and mix together. Add the dry ranch seasoning. Season to taste with your spices of choice. I used garlic powder, Tony’s, black pepper and onion powder.

  • Set your oven to 350 degrees and in a large frying pan on about medium high heat place in about 2 tablespoons of olive oil or oil of your choice.
  • Set your mixture aside and wash your chicken. Now I know washing chicken can be controversial but it’s what I do. Do what you do and we won’t have any issues.
  • Cut a small slit in your chicken. It doesn’t have to be real deep and PLEASE don’t cut yourself. You just want to make a pocket to put the stuffing in. Season your chicken.

  • Stuff your chicken with the mixture and then set aside until you’ve stuffed each one. Don’t try to overstuff because you will have stuffing left over. Don’t worry, my family doesn’t let me waste food so we will use it!

  • Now I place each piece in the pan to sear and brown. This sears in the juices and also I don’t like light chicken. It is just not appetizing. Put some brown on that chicken so I know it’s real!!!
  • Also don’t worry about the stuffing coming out. Just use your tongs and stick it back in. Or leave it out. I wouldn’t but you are an adult so you make that decision.

  • After you have browned the chicken place it in the baking pan. Pour the leftover stuffing over the chicken. Told you we would use it! Bake for about an hour. You may need more time if you used breasts as those are bigger pieces. I encourage you to try the thighs though because they were so juicy and tender! Chicken is done at 165 degrees but if your seasoned like me you know to just cut it open in the biggest part to check lol.

And you’re done!!! I served this with roasted potatoes and a salad but I just had the salad because I am not eating carbs (sad face). This dish is Keto and Low Carb friendy for all my people trying to lose weight in the new year like me! No judgment! I hope you try this and make sure you share this post so my friend’s generosity can live on thru her recipe.

Love Ricki

Mexican Stuffed Shells

Enjoy this easy and quick meal any day of the week!

So when I first shared this recipe on my Instagram stories (@rickiloves) a few weeks back it was going down in my DMs! Finally I was able to make it again so I can share it with you all! Please let me know if you make it and I hope you enjoy!

You’ll need:

Ground meat (I used about 2lbs)

Taco seasoning

Ranch dressing seasoning (not pictured)

Salsa or Picante Sauce (It’s a TX thing!)

Enchilada Sauce

1 block of cream cheese

Jumbo Shells

Colby Jack or Mexican Blend Shredded Cheese

Fixins (toppings like sour cream, guacamole, etc)

Directions:

  • Cook ground meat in a skillet and season with taco and ranch dressing seasonings while you boil the jumbo shells
  • Add block of cream cheese and mix thoroughly
  • After Shells have finished cooking drain, rinse with cold water and let cool.
  • Pour salsa or picante sauce in the bottom of a pan (I used the pan I make lasagna in) until the bottom is complete covered
  • Take cooled shells and stuff with ground beef mixture and add to pan over the salsa.
  • After the pan is filled pour can of enchilada sauce over the shells. Top with cheese.
  • Bake covered with foil in oven set on 350 degrees for 15-20 mins then remove foil and bake for another 5-10 minutes until cheese is melted thru.

I topped mine with fresh cilantro and served it with fixins and charro beans!

This is an easy and quick recipe that is a different twist on Stuffed shells and my family loves it. I have included the link for the video I used for this recipe below because she gives great tips on how to freeze it. Give this meal a try and make two so you can freeze one for later because you WILL want to eat it again!

Love Ricki

Easy Garlic Lemon Trout

So I did an Instagram live a few weeks back where I showed how I made my trout for an easy light dinner and I got so many messages asking for a recipe! So I decided to make it again (and my family definitely didn’t mind) and write a blog post. I initially started eating trout by mistake, I thought I had bought salmon (#seasonedwomanproblems) but it turns out we prefer trout because it is lighter in taste and less fishy. You can definitely use this recipe with salmon tho!

Ingredients:

Trout

Olive oil (or whatever oil you prefer)

Butter (I use salted)

Lemon juice or fresh lemons

2-3 garlic cloves or minced garlic from the jar

Seasonings of your choice: I used Tony Cacheres, montreal chicken seasoning, garlic powder, New Orleans style seafood (from Dollar Tree, if you see it, get it!), and garlic salt

Directions:

Pour about 2-3 tablespoons of oil all over the fish and rub in.

Season fish with seasonings (1/2 tsp to 1 tsp of each seasoning) of choice and rub into the fish along with minced garlic.

Cut lemon and pour juice over the fish. Make sure you get all you can out that lemon. Tip: you can either roll a lemon with your hand a few times to warm it up or place it in the microwave for about 10-15 secs and you will be able to squeeze more juice out.

Cut up butter I used about 3/4 a stick and place pats of butter all over the fish. Also take a lemon and cut up in slices and place on the fish.

Put in oven on 400 degrees for about 15-20 minutes then turn on the broiler and broil fish for about 2-3 minutes (Don’t leave watch closely so you don’t burn it!) When it comes out the oven you may notice some black specs don’t worry that’s just the butter it’s perfectly normal.

Your fish should look like this!

Serve with a starch (we like roasted red potatoes or rice) and a salad or green beans! When I’m on my Keto diet I will just eat it with a salad.

Hope you enjoy and if you try it please let me know!!!

Love Ricki