|Rustic Chicken Pot Pies Recipe from the Pillsbury Recipe Collection|
The first tidbit of advice I can give is that for the first 4 to 6 weeks of couponing, you should be building a STOCKPILE. A stockpile is NOT hoarding. Can I repeat that?! YOU ARE NOT HOARDING! The best way to figure out if you are stockpiling vs hoarding is actually quite simple. Think about your families habits over the past 2-4 weeks. If cereal is at good price this week, how many boxes did you use during that 2-4 weeks? For instance, my family of 5 used about 4 boxes during that time frame. The sales run on a cycle of about 4-6 weeks, so you are going to want to buy around 6 boxes of cereal. You could go over a little and buy 8, but buying 10 boxes is only filing your pantry space up with food that WILL GO ON SALE AGAIN! Besides, just because Kellogg's cereals were on sale this week, doesn't mean that General Mills won't be going on sale for 4-6 weeks...A lot of times I find them to piggyback weeks...General Mills one week and Kellogg's the next! So don't feel like you have to fill your stockpile with just one brand b/c it is what is on sale. (Disclaimer- this gets easier with experience)
So, now that we have established how to stockpile and not hoard (I mean who needs 100 bottles of ANYTHING?!), you probably want to know WHY you are even doing this. Once you have couponed for that first 6 weeks or so, you will have a decent stockpile of non-perishables, freezer foods, and hopefully some other nice to have items. So, how do you turn all that randomness into meals for your family and how do you keep organized with it all? (yes, I can't stand to not be organized, lol)
I've come across a few good ways to help my family. My ideas may not work exactly for your family, but tweek them to fit your needs! My family keeps a 1 inch clearview (pink! lol) binder. Inside of it, I have the plastic sleeves. The first sleeve is 2 blank calendars, backs facing each other. We update these to help the family keep up with soccer games/practices, doctor appointments, holidays, no school days (or half days), and other special events. The next plastic sheet is a printable weekly calendar with a menu on it. *Note* I'm not 100% liking this one. It is awkward to me because it starts on Monday in the detailed area, but the menu starts on Sunday. But, I've already printed a few of them, so I will use them and then look for something else or make my own.* Then, any recipes that we will be using for the week can be placed behind this sheet facing outward, so you can use it right in the book while cooking without fear of messing up the page due to the plastic sleeve! This also is VERY handy for my family because I'm in school 4 days a week. Two of those days dear hubby has to cook and let's just say he needs all the instruction he can get in an easy to find place! :D Moving on, I also have a copy of my class schedule on the inside pocket of the binder with my breaks and class end times marked so my kids and hubby can get a hold of me if needed while I'm at school. I also have stuck the Grilling Chart for our George Foreman grill in a pocket so that it can be easily referenced.
Moving on again (yes I like to ramble, sorry!), I take a look at my stockpile:
What do we have currently? What is on sale this week as far as fresh veggies, fruits, and meats? For instance, I don't want to plan to have ground beef 5 days if I don't have any in the freezer and its not on sale!
*Frozen Meatballs, spaghetti noodles & Sauce = quick and easy spaghetti. Add a salad and some italian breadsticks if needed! Plus, the meatballs and sauce can be thrown in the crockpot so all you have to do is cook the noodles! We like to use Angel Hair since the cook time is half as much as spaghetti noodles!
*Tacos are always a hit...Just add lettuce, cheese, and chopped tomatoes! We also like to add a can of black beans and corn together. You can use chicken, shrimp, or beef, so it is very universal for sales!
*Chicken +Grill Mates Marinade with Scalloped potatoes, frozen veggies, and crescent rolls are delish as well! Plus, this is almost everything you should have in your pantry except possibly the chicken!
*Diced Ham with linguine and cream of mushroom soup (add frozen peas!) is a favorite as well!
*Pepperoni, Italian Dressing, Garden Delight Rotini noodles, olives, cheese, pepperoncini peppers, onion & peppers chopped is a great pasta salad!
*Any Diced meat or deli meat on tortilla shells with shredded lettuce and any mix of veggies (we like cucumbers and tomatoes with black olives and feta) and cheese wrapped up and sliced in half. Also, hummus or chive cream cheese can be used as a spread before to give it an extra kick! I tend to make these ahead of time and wrap them up in aluminum or plastic wrap for a quick dinner after soccer practice.
*Breakfast! Bacon/Sausage, Eggs, Pancakes, Grits, Casseroles, etc...It is always a favorite!
*BLT's! Add some fruit as a side and you have a quick and easy meal!
*Zatarain's Rice Mixes + Smoked Sausage (or ground beef/sausage)
As you can see, these are all items that we've added to our "monthly staple meals"- or basically, we tend to have these around 1-2 times a month. There are TONS more, but these are just the off the top of my head ones I came up with that we have often. Another good way to find ways to incorporate your "coupon" stockpiles into REAL meals is to look at the manufacturer's website. For instance, I recently have fallen in love with the Pot Pies from Pillsbury and the best thing is that almost everything needed to make comes from my stockpile!
So, I hope this helps you create some meals from your stockpiles, because I know I've heard more than one person complain that it's hard to coupon and make real meals for your family. Also, I know a lot of people don't like all the boxed foods. We do eat Hamburger Helper and boxed meals, but some of these meals are slightly healthier than just a boxed or frozen dinner all the time. Also, we've been making a habit of having bagged greens, tomatoes, onions, feta cheese, and dressings (I just like a light sprinkle of extra virgin olive oil myself though) at every meal to get some fresh veggies.Pin It