*Make more- leftovers are your friends, When you are planning your meals keep in mind the easiest lunch is leftover. My husband is not a fan of sandwiches, or paper bag lunches. I have realized that leftovers are the easiest way to make lunches that fill him up and don’t stress me out. It’s easy to move food from one tupperware to another one. The only thing you need to do is plan ahead. Knowing what you’re making helps a lot. I usually double ALL of my recipes. The only time I don’t do that is when he doesn’t have work the next day or when it’s something that I know won't heat up well (chicken thighs, anything with bones and skin gets rubbery) *Frozen veggies (steamables) one of the things that help me a lot especially on early calls or when I am sick of cooking all day is steamable frozen veggies. I usually go with any brand that is on sale as long as it is STEAMABLE! Pop it into the microwave for about 5 minutes (a couple minutes shorter than called for) then I finish cooking them on the stove so I can add seasoning. I do not buy vegetables with sauces in them because they are not usually very helpful with diets. *Ground turkey (beef), make easy meatballs or patties. You can do whatever works best for your family, I know plenty of people who do not like the taste of ground turkey and if you are one of those people it's ok, but I would say to give it another try. You don’t have to use it in everything but even replacing it in one meal helps. I use ground turkey to replace about 90 percent of the beef we used to eat. The texture is a little different and I am sure that the taste is different but when you’re adding seasonings taste doesn’t make much of a problem. I use at least two three pound packages of ground turkey a week. I usually make meatballs or burgers, both of which can be used as quick lunches especially for those AFHT(Away From Home Terminal) jobs. It definitely gets monotonous sometimes but that it why I switch up the seasonings as much as I can. I can give you a general recipe and seasonings that work together but I change things up so much there’s no point to writing it down every time. *Not everything has to be home made. I have tried to be Suzie home maker, I have had thoughts about making everything myself, from baby food, to jams, to bread, and even cleaning supplies. But I have come to the conclusion that I am not that type of person. I do get satisfaction out of cooking, I like making food that pleases my family. I like trying new things and finding ways to make something that I have made repeatedly taste new. When I first moved in with my husband I didn’t really cook, I was very bad at it (He would love to tell you about vinegar chicken and rice, but I will leave that story alone for now.) it took practice, trial and error, and learning my limits-such as baking, and multiple course meals-I now know where I excel at and how far I can push myself. I also know that I don’t have to make everything from scratch. Frozen veggies, canned tomatoes, store bought baby food, it is all ok. I can only do so much, I only have time and room in my fridge for so much. There are certain things that I will always make myself ( my sauce for lasagna). My advice is to find the simple way, only take on what you can handle, don’t over do it just to prove something. You can make amazing food with a little help from the cans, and frozen veggies of the world. *Keep extra in the freezer (have a stand-alone freezer) When you’re under a budget and that budget changes every pay period it makes it hard to always know that you will have enough to cover groceries all the time, also when your spouse gets called to work when they shouldn’t be you will need some food ready to rock right away. Trader Joe's carries individual packs of fish, all different assortments, they also carry frozen turkey meatballs (and as I stated previously we like our turkey), most stores carry some type of frozen chicken strips that you can use to make a quick stir fry or simply chicken and vegetable. We also usually put a couple pork loins in the freezer as a just in case meal. We enjoy going to Costco (or Sam’s club if that’s your store),It can benefit to have a warehouse club membership. You can buy what stores well in bulk and both save money and have a good stock pile. I will say in my experience buying chicken can be iffy, sometimes the package breaks open or there are punctures that you don’t notice and it creates wasted chicken when you thaw it out. *Pinterest is good and bad- Please keep in mind that getting ideas from different places is a great and easy way NOT to feel overwhelmed in the kitchen, I try and plan out my meals a week in advance and I wind up at the store maybe three times during that week. The weeks I don’t plan in advance, I wind up at the store basically every day. Pinterest has been my saving grace and my biggest downfall. I have made some delicious meals and I have also made some huge misses. Don’t go by the pictures, go by ingredients, time spent cooking, and difficulty of the process. If you don’t have Pinterest it’s okay, there are many different places for recipe ideas on almost every social media platform (I will cover where I like to look for recipes and ideas in another post coming soon) *Full pantry = easy throw together meals – Keeping a few staples on hand make those nights that you don’t feel like thinking up a new recipe or finding an easy one, or if plans fall through and you need a new idea it’s a simple answer. Grab a meat (chicken, beef, ground turkey), add a chopped onion and garlic, sauté, add more vegetables(green pepper, zucchini) a can of diced tomato or other canned vegetable, a little broth of your choice, seasonings of your choice, and a marinade sauce. Cook together till everything had blended and serve over rice or with a side of broccoli or green beans. *Canned sauces = easy throw together meals- Canned sauces means anything from marinara for meatballs, to Asian sauces for easy stir fry’s and marinades for meat, to Indian sauces including Tikka Masala, and Jalfrezi make very easy dinners, at most 25 minutes from start to finish! There are obviously way more options out there these are just a few that our family really enjoys time and time again. If these helped you but you would like me to expand on certain parts please feel free to leave a comment or email us. I plan on adding pictures and recipes soon, so check back and look for updates!