Top 5 Benefits of Menu Planning

The following is from contributing writer Meagan Newsome

That dreaded phrase – menu planning. Many people cringe at the mere thought of it. . .

“It’s too time-consuming.”
“It’s way too complicated.”
“I don’t want to cook every night.”
“I’m too busy.”

I think if everybody would truly give menu planning a whirl at least once, they would find that it actually saves time, simplifies life, and makes meal time more joyous. Even if there are a few sacrifices involved, the pros definitely outweigh the cons by a long shot. Menu planning has countless benefits. If you truly want to eat well and spend less, it’s a must.

Here are the Top 5 reasons to try menu planning:

1. Menu planning saves you time.

Whether you’re a stay-at-home mom, in the work force, or juggling a million and one activities, menu planning will definitely save you time in the end. You always have the ingredients on hand to whip up a meal from your planned menu. You don’t have to run to the store, run around your kitchen frantically trying to figure out what to make for dinner, or spend an hour trying to find a great recipe. All of that has been done. Simply pick which meal you’ll make, grab the ingredients, and cook it up! If you’re very busy during the week, try once-a-month cooking. Freeze some meals so that they’re ready to go at a moment’s notice. Plan ahead – that is key.

2. Menu planning saves you money.

Even if you don’t coupon, this is the number one way you can save some money on groceries. When you have your menus planned out, you know exactly which ingredients you need to buy at the store. You have a list and you stick to that list while shopping. No impulse buys.

3. Menu planning promotes healthy eating.

When meals are planned out, you will usually end up with a more balanced, nutritious diet. You don’t have to run through a fast food lane, grab a processed food on the go, or skip meals. Instead, you are eating delicious and wholesome meals.

4. Menu planning cuts back on waste.

Often, we buy foods at the grocery store, thinking we’ll use them for something, but they end up getting thrown out. If you’re sticking to the list, you’re not buying anything you won’t NEED for your planned meals. You won’t be overspending on food for “just in case.” Rather, every item that you purchase will be going towards a  meal that you know you’ll be eating. You will find yourself throwing out much less food than usual.

5. Menu planning saves on gas.

With gas prices continually rising, this is a very important factor to consider. Often, if you are not strategic and organized with your grocery shopping, multiple trips per week to the grocery store can become the norm. If you have planned menus, you can buy exactly what you’ll need on a regular interval. You will rarely find yourself saying, “Oh no! I don’t have garlic for this meal. I need to drive up to the grocery store!” No more emergency grocery runs = less driving = less gas money.

Some suggestions to make it easier? Choose an interval of time that works best for you and your family. Maybe it’s once a month, once a week, or once every two weeks. Also, find a time when you can sit down once per interval and plan out your menu. If you plan during your downtime, you’ll find yourself much less stressed on those nights when you are super busy.

So why not give menu planning a go? It might require some creativity, and a little bit of planning-ahead time, but it’s totally worth it!

Do you menu plan each week?

About Meagan Newsome
Meagan authors Frugal Fun & Fortune, where she writes about saving money, giving to others, delicious Vegetarian recipes, simple living, and her life adventures. Her greatest passions include chasing after God wholeheartedly, social justice and being a good wife. You can connect with her on Facebook and Twitter.
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Delicious Cauliflower Cheese Soup

The following is from contributing writer Meagan Newsome

Spring has sprung. Summer is right around the corner. Why not take advantage of the last little bit of cooler weather and fix up a nice big pot of delicious and comforting soup?

This is THE BEST soup in the world.  So creamy, so nutritiously packed with veggies, so thick, and oh-so-yummy. Even those who aren’t your typical “soup-eaters” will absolutely love this soup.  Kids will go back for seconds!

The recipe is simple — very easy to make and a quick clean up. It is also very frugal in the sense that you don’t really need very much for it. It is meatless, Vegetarian-friendly and can be tweaked to accommodate gluten-free diets. You may find that you have many of the ingredients already on hand, especially if you are in the habit of stocking up ahead of time when prices are rock-bottom.  All you will need to do is grab your last-minute vegetables, and you’re good to go!

Here is how I make it, with a little bit of tweaking from the original recipe

Cauliflower Cheese Soup:

Ingredients:

  • 1  1/2 cups filtered water
  • 2 cups chopped cauliflower
  • 2 cups cubed potatoes
  • 3/4 cup chopped celery
  • 3/4 cup chopped carrots
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • couple cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3 cups whole milk
  • 6 – 8 ounces shredded cheese (your preference of how cheesy you want it)
  • sea salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. Prep all veggies – cut, chop, and mince.
  2. In a large (and deep) saucepan, combine all the veggies and water.  Boil until tender (about 10 – 15 minutes).  Add extra water as needed while boiling.  Keep an eye on it so that all of the water does not boil down completely.  Once they are done cooking, set the pan aside.
  3. Melt butter in a separate pan over medium heat.  Then stir in the flour.  Cook, while continuously stirring, for about 2 minutes.
  4. Remove the pan from the heat and gradually stir in the milk.
  5. Return the pan to the heat and cook until it is thickened, stirring frequently. That is the key to this recipe.  If you do not let it thicken, it will not be creamy like it is supposed to be.
  6. Stir in all of the vegetables (and any cooking liquid that is remaining).  Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  7. Stir in cheese until it is melted and well incorporated.

Serve hot, and ENJOY!  It goes great with some fresh bread and butter.

About Meagan Newsome
Meagan authors Frugal Fun & Fortune, where she writes about saving money, giving to others, delicious Vegetarian recipes, simple living, and her life adventures. Her greatest passions include chasing after God wholeheartedly, social justice, being a good wife to her sweet hub, books, and music. You can connect with her on Facebook and Twitter.

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Everyday Worship.

The following is from contributing writer Meagan Newsome

As we go about completing our day-to-day tasks, checking off our to-do lists, and fulfilling our duties – wife, mom, teacher, business woman, errand runner, keeper of the home, maid, cook, nurse, the list goes on – we often find ourselves wondering if we’re even making a difference in this GREAT BIG WORLD.

Take heart, dear one. Our God transforms seemingly mundane tasks into glorious acts of worship. He uses the small things in mighty ways (1 Corinthians 1:26-31). He utilizes the tiniest moments to change lives forever.

The truth of it is this: God can use any situation, walk of life, or circumstance to bring glory to Himself. He can use you to shine His magnificence on the world. He can pour out His love through you. That’s right – YOU.

It’s not about what we’re doing or what great things lie ahead of us. It’s about who we are in Christ, and becoming more and more like Him all the time. It’s about letting God use each of us right where we’re at.  You are where God has placed you and He can use you there.

Why are we here on earth? What is our ultimate purpose? To know God and make Him known. To love God and show this love to others (1 John 4:7-21). Do we not realize that we can do these things, no matter our place in life? We can “be the fragrance of Christ” where ever we are (2 Corinthians 2:14-15). We can “shine like stars” in a very dark world from day to day (Philippians 2:15).

So often, we feel useless, purposeless, and hopeless as we go about our daily lives feeling like we’re not making much impact on the world. But we are making an impact. We can make an impact. If we are walking with and loving God, then every act of our lives is an act of worship. Worship is living life.

Worship is praying, reading His Word, and singing praises. But worship is also: loving your husband, changing your child’s diaper, going to work each day, COUPONING, saving money, being a wise financial steward, keeping your home clean and orderly, blogging, RESTING, cooking dinner, enjoying time with others, laughing, crying, exercising, being healthy, smiling at strangers, and so much more.

Worship is becoming who we are in Christ, regardless of our circumstances. Worship is letting God bring meaning to our everyday existence. Worship is loving and bringing glory to God in our “mediocre” lives.

So whether you’re a foreign missionary feeding hungry children in Africa…

Or a stay-at-home mom who is using financial resources wisely, couponing to help provide for the family, and tackling all those daily tasks…

Or a business woman, just trying to balance it all…

God created and formed us all with a purpose in mind. We have diverse gifts, talents, personalities, and desires. We are united as a body. (1 Corinthians 12:12-27)  Diversity is beautiful, and we must learn to embrace where God has uniquely placed each of us. And embrace it wholeheartedly, stirring up passion and truth everywhere we go…

How are you worshiping today?

*Photo Credit: the Italian voice

About Meagan Newsome
Meagan authors Frugal Fun & Fortune, where she writes about saving money, giving to others, delicious Vegetarian recipes, simple living, and her life adventures. Her greatest passions include chasing after God wholeheartedly, social justice, being a good wife to her sweet hub, books, and music. You can connect with her on Facebook and Twitter.

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God Of ALL Seasons

Written by contributing writer Meagan Newsome of Frugal Fun and Fortune

“Every drop of sun is full of fun and wonder. You are summer…

I will offer thanks for what has been and what’s to come. You are autumn…

And even now in death, You open doors for life to enter. You are winter…

And everything that’s new has bravely surfaced, teaching us to breathe. What was frozen through is newly purposed…

With every season’s change…You are re-creating me. Summer, autumn, winter, spring.”

This beautiful song, by Nichole Nordeman, speaks volumes about our glorious Lord. He is the master of all creation, the One who turns the seasons. He brings the change of weather, the dancing leaves on the ground, the white blanket of snow, barren trees, rain, blooming flowers, and more. Yet there is a deeper meaning to all of this. God is not only the Creator and Overseer of the seasons in this physical world, but also of our hearts and minds.

January is a contemplative month as we look back on the old, and look forward to the new. We make goals, plans, and resolutions. We feel renewed and refreshed. Yet for many of us, it’s also a time of depression – “Winter blues” as some people might say. It’s hard to start moving forward with momentum once again. We anxiously await Spring with all its beautiful colors and feelings of being “newly purposed.”

Are you experiencing a season of depression? Maybe it’s a temporary one that is simply a result of being stuck in a new-year contemplative state as mentioned above. Or maybe it’s a long season that has lasted for far too long…possibly even years now. Depression is real, difficult, and debilitating.

There is never a perfect solution, and depression affects different people in various ways. As one who has battled depression for a couple years now, I can offer you some words of hope:

1. There IS hope in our Savior. Even if we struggle with depression all our lives, we await a glorious hope afterwards. This life is a temporary home. (2 Corinthians 4:16-18)

2. The joy of the Lord is our strength. Such a common phrase, but have you ever really thought about it? If we are walking with God, we should be able to find at least some glimmer of joy that He brings. And we must cling to that joy with all our might, for it is our greatest strength in this battle. (Nehemiah 8:10)

3. God knows your heart better than you know it yourself. What a comforting realization. (1 John 3:20)

4. True contentment in Christ is found outside of external circumstances. If your depression stems from your circumstances, this is a powerful thought to remind yourself of daily. (Philippians 4:11-13)

5. God is constant. He has always been, is, and always will be. He is the only absolute truth we can count on. When everything is changing and swirling around us and we are overwhelmed, He is still there as our firmest foundation. (James 1:17)

6. You are LOVED. Dearly. Your are blessed, beautiful, and redeemed. (Romans 8:37-39)

7. You are not alone. Not only is God with you, but there are more people than you could ever imagine struggling with this exact same issue. Talk to somebody. Let somebody pray for you and with you. Don’t hide – it just makes the issue even worse. (2 Corinthians 1:3-5)

Above all, remember that God is the God of all seasons…even the one of depression. Soon you will “bravely surface, breathe easily once again, and be newly purposed.”

*Photo Credit: Seth Anderson and Josiah Mackenzie

About Meagan Newsome
Meagan authors Frugal Fun & Fortune, where she writes about saving money, giving to others, delicious Vegetarian recipes, simple living, and her life adventures. Her greatest passions include chasing after God wholeheartedly, social justice, being a good wife to her sweet hub, books, and music. You can connect with her on Facebook and Twitter.

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