Meal Planning 201

The idea of remembering everything you need for a week of meals is overwhelming, right? WRONG. Meal planning and money saving is easy when you use a few very simple tools to organize your week (or month), making your time at the store a breeze. Here’s a few of our favorite steps and tips.

Meal Planning 201 at Favado.com/blog

Get Out the Calendar!

You can’t successfully plan a week without looking at the week ahead. See which nights are busy and which nights are free and clear for more complicated meal preparation. Also, do yourself the favor of scheduling a night of leftovers (trust us, it’s so very satisfying). Write in meal ideas for each day with ingredients next to the menu, OR on a master list that accompanies your weekly spread.

Keep a Running List

Remember, lists are your friends. Keep a running shopping list on the fridge for staples and snacks, and then add those to your weekly meal plan items. Use a simple spreadsheet to organize ingredients for a large shopping trip or use Favado.com’s list feature to keep everything in one place from week to week. Organize by store, by floor plan, or by category (dry goods, perishables, bulk items, weekly sale items, etc), then get down and dirty with a cross-reference system to your calendar. Cross things off as you go in case things happen out of order to ensure that you don’t forget anything.

Scan the Store Systematically

Remember that the outer edges of the store are usually the refrigerated, fresh, and frozen items, so if it’s going to be a long trip during a hot day, you want to leave those items till the end. This step also ensures that a thorough list ends up being a complete list.

Keep Things Moving

If you can’t find something at one store, carry it over to the next stop’s list or check Favado to see where the best deal is before you start. If you aren’t sure which brand you liked better last month, make a quick decision and remember to pay closer attention to that item this time around. There’s nothing worse than feeling worn out by inefficient use of time and energy – shopping is supposed to be fun!

Revel in Your Success!

Being prepared feels good, and you just prepared yourself for a whole week of easy meal preparation. Pat yourself on the back, eat that cookie you’ve been saving, and enjoy the ritual of putting your nicely planned groceries away.

In case you missed it, you can find more tips in Meal Planning 101.

8 Ways to Use Leftover Easter Ham

For many families, next weekend will bring a delicious ham dinner to the table.  We know that planning and cooking meals for a whole family goes beyond special holidays – which is why you were smart enough to buy the extra large ham!  Extra large ham = extra large leftovers!  To that end, Favado.com has gathered 8 slam dunk recipes to guide you through getting the most out of your big holiday roast.  With recipes like these, you might just want to cook a ham every Sunday, or at least have it for dessert!

8 Ways to Use Leftover Easter Ham (White Bean and Ham Soup from Simply Recipes) at Favado.com/blog

Hamming it Up with a Soup and Sandwich Lunch

Nothing is easier than a big pot of soup and a yummy sandwich to satisfy a hungry group in early spring.  Pair this White Bean and Ham soup from SimplyRecipes.com with this super fast Ham Salad from allrecipies.com for a cafe-quality lunch combo without the cafe pricetag!

8 Ways to Use Leftover Easter Ham (Ham Breakfast Casserole from Food.com) at Favado.com/blog

Get the Day Started with the Other White Meat

We’re not sure why all eggs aren’t served in a crispy ham shell because this recipe for Baked Eggs and Mushrooms in Ham Crisps from epicurious.com is one of the greatest ways to use a cupcake tin for a breakfast food that we’ve ever seen.

This Ham Breakfast Casserole from Food.com has all your favorite parts of breakfast baked into one easy dish!  Great for attending a group brunch or to pop in the oven while going about your morning routine, you will love this tasty take on a classic breakfast combination.

8 Ways to Use Leftover Easter Ham (Creamy Pasta Shells with Broccoli and Ham from myrecipes.com) at Favado.com/blog

Get Down with Dinner

Keep even the picky eaters happy with this quick-and-easy Creamy Pasta Shells with Broccoli and Ham from myrecipes.com, and satisfy your meat-and-potato lovers with this ultra-creamy Scalloped Potato recipe from Food.com.  For a great side item with a southern vibe, try this Collard Greens with Ham  (and bacon!) from Foodrepublic.com for a double pork whammy with your dinner.

8 Ways to Use Leftover Easter Ham (Honey Cupcakes from cupcakeproject.com) at Favado.com/blog

Ham…for Dessert?

Stay with us: these cupcakes have a ham liner instead of a paper liner, making it the most creative (and delicious!) use of ham on the list.  Try making these Honey Cupcakes with a candied pineapple topper and cinnamon cream cheese frosting from cupcakeproject.com to bring down the house at your next birthday brunch.

 

Tips for Freezing Fresh Produce

Tips for Freezing Fresh Produce at Favado.com/blog

Getting a great deal on seasonal produce can be super satisfying, but there’s nothing worse than throwing that last bundle of asparagus or box of raspberries away because your family simply couldn’t eat it all before it spoiled.  Solution?  Make friends with your freezer!  Here are some tips for freezing fresh produce successfully.

What You’ll Need

  • Freezer bags
  • Glass or heavy plastic containers with a tight lids
  • Sharpie for labeling

What You’ll Do

1. Clean the fruits and vegetables like you would if you planned to eat them fresh.  Wash berries, trim beans, slice mangos or apples, take the peels off bananas, chop greens and herbs, etc.

Note: Raw vegetables with a high water content (zucchini, mushrooms, potatoes) don’t freeze as well as ones with low content (beans, carrots, corn) because when vegetables freeze, the water inside their cells expands and bursts.  When those vegetables defrost, the burst cells = soggy, weirdly textured foods.  Proper preparation helps minimize this problem.

2. Prepare the fruits and vegetables.  Blanch the vegetables (this step is skipped with all fruits) by dropping them in boiling water for 3-4 mins and then plunging them into ice water to stop the cooking process.  This keeps the cell bursting mentioned above to a minimum.  Also, any fruit or vegetable that turns brown when you cut it (like an apple or avocado) should be quickly brushed with a lemon/water mixture. The acid helps maintain the normal color and texture when freezing, but be sure to let the liquid dry fully to prevent freezer burn.

3. Pack um up! For whole/dry items, fill large freezer bags with a single layer of vegetables and lay flat in the freezer. The more air circulation and the colder the temperature, the better.  For items like fruits in syrup, pureed vegetables (think baby food!), or fresh salsas, use the heavy rigid containers and be sure to leave space at the top to allow for expanding.

4. Label bags and containers with item name and the date.

That’s about all there is to it!  Feel free to go for the 5/$1 deals on avocados this spring and take advantage of the low cost of apples this fall. With a few simple steps, you can stretch those savings by freezing your fresh produce items for later use.  Your future self thanks you!

 

 

 

 

3 Great Recipes for St. Patrick’s Day Leftovers

Let’s face the facts. Even the Queen of the Meal Planning Universe can get stumped on how to use up leftovers from time to time. This week, we have a few great ideas that can make standard St. Patrick’s Day leftovers into a week-long adventure through Ireland! You waste less, save more, spend less time cooking – an all around win!


3 Great Recipes for St. Patrick's Day Leftovers (Corned Beef Hash from Food Network) at Favado.com/blog

1. Corned Beef Hash! When the Corned Beef and Cabbage have parted ways, here’s a fast solution to breakfast AND to clearing that last pound of corned beef from the fridge. Hint: you can use leftover potatoes instead of fresh potatoes to make this recipe even faster!

2. Colcannon! Can’t get your kids to eat kale or cabbage? We’re pretty sure you can if you mix it into creamy mashed potatoes. Use leftover ham, bacon, and cabbage to make this old Irish standard into something extra flavorful.

3. Shepherd’s Pie! When the corned beef has officially left the building, use the leftover potatoes from both dishes listed above to make the cheesy top of this delicious comfort food. Let the leftover revival begin!

With new ideas for getting the most from your meals, we know you’ll be inspired when it’s time to plan, shop, and cook this week! Slainte!

Spring Break Dinner Plans (without leaving your kitchen)

Sometimes Spring Break means trips to exotic locales and warmer climates…and other times it means staying home and just dreaming of warmer climates. We like to think that if you can dream it, you can do it, so meal planners rejoice: here are three recipes that yield 4 servings. All are inspired by international cuisines, and all use chicken as a main ingredient.

These 3 easy-peasy recipes will help you plan ahead on shopping day and enjoy great dinners all week long during Spring Break! Let yourself travel without ever leaving the kitchen!

Spring Break Dinner Plans (Chicken and Cheese Enchiladas from food network) at Favado.com/blog

photo credit: foodnetwork.com

Chicken and Cheese Enchiladas

  • 1/2 small red onion
  • 1 1/2 pounds tomatillos
  • 1-2 serrano chile peppers
  • 1/2 cup low-sodium chicken broth
  • Kosher salt
  • Pinch of sugar
  • 8 corn tortillas
  • 3 cups shredded, cooked chicken
  • 2 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella and/or Monterey Jack cheese
  • 1/3 cup fresh cilantro
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for greasing
  • 3/4 cup crumbled queso fresco or feta cheese

View the full recipe at foodnetwork.com.

 

Spring Break Dinner Plans (Honey Cashew Chicken from My Recipes) at Favado.com/blog

photo credit: myrecipes.com

Honey Cashew Chicken with Rice

  • 1 cup rice – instant or long grain
  • 2 (6-ounce) skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 1 tablespoon dark sesame oil
  • 2 cups broccoli florets
  • 1 cup frozen shelled edamame (green soybeans)
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 medium yellow onion
  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 1/2 cup dry-roasted cashews, unsalted
  • 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons honey
  • 2 tablespoons lower-sodium soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon Sriracha (or omit for non-spicy eaters!)

View the full recipe at myrecipes.com

 

Spring Break Dinner Plans (Tuscan Baked Chicken and Beans from My Recipes) at Favado.com/blog

photo credit: myrecipes.com

Tuscan Baked Chicken and Beans

  • 1 (3 1/2-pound) roasting chicken
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 slices center-cut bacon
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 cups packed torn spinach
  • 1/2 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary
  • 2 (16-ounce) cans cannellini or other white beans
  • 1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes

View the full recipe at myrecipes.com.

With Favado, you can plan ahead to get the best prices on great dinners during Spring Break and all year long.

No Coupon? No Clipping? No Problem. 5 Ways to Save!

If you are new to the world of coupons or if one week finds you too busy to plan ahead, fear not – there are still plenty of ways to save on groceries without ever clipping a coupon.

No Coupon? No Clipping? No Problem. 5 Ways to Save! at Favado.com

1. Sign up for the rewards programs in the stores you frequent.

This ensures that you will automatically get sale prices just by swiping your card at checkout. Also, some stores track your shopping habits and send you cash back or vouchers specifically for things you already use.

2. Eat seasonally.

Produce prices fluctuate based on their harvest season and availability. Do some research to become familiar with which fruits and vegetables are in season in your area, and avoid those that aren’t. This practice keeps only the freshest foods on your table and gives you a chance to mix things up during the year.

3. Keep an eye on sale cycles.

Items typically cycle into sales every 8 – 12 weeks, which means you want to stock up for 2 – 3 months at a time when you can. Also remember that items usually stay on sale for a week, so check the end date on sale items, if you need to stretch the budget and save those items for next week’s shopping trip.

4. Check the reduced price shelves on every visit.

The items on these shelves vary daily and can often include big discounts on anything from wines to meats to baking supplies. Sometimes a simple bent corner will put an item on the reduced price shelf, while other times it is because a perishable item is nearing its expiration date. Be strategic and use perishable products asap, or stockpile those bent boxes of tissues for cold season.

5. Take advantage of BOGO offers.

Stores sometimes offer BOGO deals on certain brands, so keep an eye on what products are made by each brand in order to maximize the buy one, get one opportunities when they come up. These sales often happen at the start of a new year or for the school season, which helps make space in your budget for some splurgy celebration items!

It’s easy to noticeably reduce your grocery bill with these few easy steps, but it’s even easier to use the Favado App to see huge savings with less effort than ever before. With Favado you know exactly where the lowest price is each week, and instantly get the savings of coupons without having to clip a thing!

5 Shopping Frustrations and Solutions

There’s nothing more satisfying than those perfectly timed and executed grocery runs. The parking lot is a breeze, your kids (and yourself!) are fed and well-rested, the aisles are cleared in anticipation of your shopping route, and that new register opens at the precise moment you decide to checkout. So satisfying, so delightful – and so, so rare. For the other 364 days in the year, Favado brings you the top 5 potentially day-ruining scenarios and their perfectly zen-like solutions.

5 Shopping Frustrations and Solutions at Favado.com

Scenario #1: Saturday Afternoon Strolling

Yes, it’s enjoyable for people to be out and about after a hard week. They meander down the aisles, call their friends to see which cheese would go best with which crackers, and stop unannounced to reply to any and all social media stimulation. Life is good for these casual shoppers, but for a seasoned veteran shopper like you, this behavior is a major roadblock. What do you do?

Solution #1: Take a deep breath – you got this! Politely maneuver past the lingering cheese deciders and the cell-phone leaners. Steer clear of any and all sampling stations to maximize your efficiency, but if those tiny grilled cheese sandwiches smell too good to walk past remember: if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em.

Scenario #2: Your Day is a Ticking Time Bomb

You think you can just ‘grab a few things’ on the way home, but quickly realize that your coupons are forgotten, your list is on the back of a napkin in your car, and your window of time is slowing slipping away while you try to scan the weekly ads mid-shopping session. It’s not fun when you (or your family) are tired, unprepared, and hungry. Ever. What do you do?

Solution #2: FAVADO to the rescue! Let Favado keep you organized and ahead of schedule by telling you what’s on sale and where to find it. No need to track down clippable coupons or wonder if the price of chicken is lower at the other store. With your Favado.com app handy, you have it all under control!

Scenario #3: Great Shelf Massacre

You saw a great deal online in the morning and you headed out to cash in on the savings that same afternoon. As you turn into the paper products aisle to score those almost-free paper towels, you realize a very sad thing: sometimes the early bird really does get the worm. What do you do?

Solution #3: Check in with management on when the shelves will be restocked and get strategic. Most sales last for a week, and shipments come in daily. Most of the coupon clippers will have satisfied their needs with the first batch, leaving you to reap the benefits of a mid-week restock.

Scenario #4: Fresh Food Fiasco

You like to shop once a week and eat healthy, but by Thursday you either suffer from empty-fridge or smelly-fridge syndrome. There’s a delicate balance that must be reached, but your Sunday shopping excursion seems to always overdo it or fall a little short. What do you do?

Solution #4: Plan out those meals! Go into your store armed with weapons of mass-organization so that every ingredient has its place in the week and is bought in the right quantity.

Scenario #5: One-Two Checkout Punch

You’re in the home stretch, but your relay team is letting you down as they come around the final lap. Your cashier is confused by your couponing strategies, while your bagger seems to have a greater interest in his weekend plans than making sure your loaf bread doesn’t turn into pita bread. What do you do?

Solution #5: Channel your inter yogi and your outer sensei and turn this moment into an education for this unfortunate pair. If your enthusiasm and expertise still doesn’t make headway, calmly ask for a more experienced cashier or manager to finish your transaction.

Not so hard, right? No matter what scenario pops up on your shopping and savings journey, know that Favado has your back! Keep these 5 scenarios in mind the next time you hit the aisles to ensure you leave feeling victorious. Let your inner coupon and shopping master shine!

Meal Planning 101

Remember when you had a meal plan during college? You woke up and stumbled to the dining hall or rolled in to grab a huge dinner with absolutely no effort on your part. Life was good! Now that you have moved onto the “real life” portion of living, having a meal plan is something you must put thought and time into, for yourself and your family.

While it might seem tricky at first, planning your meals makes preparation easy, helps you stay on budget, and is a simple way to streamline your day. Here’s a few basic suggestions to guide your way.

Meal Planning 101 at Favado.com/blog

Get Motivated

Be it the notion of saving money, saving stress, losing weight, or gaining time with your kids, planning your meals needs to come from an inspired place for it to be a satisfying endeavor. So? Start by getting your meal-planning groove on. Look for ways to use that slow cooker! Ask your kids about their all-time favorites! Try new ways to use go-to ingredients! Whatever gets your brain pumped to plan is the right way to go.

Get Strategic

Are you a stockpile person who needs to figure out 14 new ways to cook rice? Are you trying to eat more greens? Does your family function almost exclusively on red meat? First know what you like, then decide how you want to achieve it. Always consider which days you have 3 hours at home to prepare, and which days you barely have 15 mins. Decide how many meals can be made and frozen for a later date, how often you are happy eating leftovers, and how often you want to eat raw vegetables or fresh fish. You know best for you and your family.

Get Organized

There is no meal plan without the planning! For Type As, this might actually be the motivating factor (see above), but even if planning doesn’t come naturally to you, it’s not impossible if you are organized. First, get a calendar and write in theme nights, family favorites, or main items like chicken or pasta. Then, make a detailed shopping list (for the week or month, depending how far ahead you decide to plan) so every ingredient is accounted for. When sticking to a budget, organize around sale items and coupons, using Favado to guide you to the best deals for each ingredient.

Get Prepped

Coming home with bags of groceries can be overwhelming, if you don’t attack the prep right away. Peel carrots, chop onions, and wash lettuce for the week. Divide larger packages of chicken or beef into labeled containers (or freeze it if on sale) with or without marinades so it’s easy to grab and get started when time is tight. Prepare components of your upcoming meals, like tomato sauce, roasted vegetables, and slow-cooked meats, that normally take longer amounts of time. Doing this in a Henry Ford sort of way conserves your time and consolidates your efforts.

Get Fed!

Reap the fruits of your labors throughout your week and enjoy knowing that you have those upcoming meals figured out. Planning your meals is an easy way to save time and money. When you use Favado as part of your meal planning strategy, your savings will skyrocket!

Surf n Turf Valentine’s Dinner On Your Own Turf

Surf & Turf Valentine's Dinner with Favado

It’s February, and love is in the air! We love dinners, we love quality time, we love paying a lot for our meal…wait, what? Let’s back it up. While going out to dinner on Valentine’s Day can be delicious, it can also be expensive and involve high costs, long waits, and extra busy servers – this year it falls on a Saturday, an extra special one-two punch. Save your time and money by ordering your Surf N Turf at the most exclusive table in town – your own home! Let your savings be sexy.

Favado is here to help!

We’ve come up with a great dinner menu complete with sides and dessert – while a traditional “Surf N Turf” night for two at a restaurant might cost $60 or more, our menu brings it on home for about $30. YEP! With a delicious dinner that costs at least half of an average night in a restaurant, there’s plenty left over in the budget for flowers, or a night at the movies, or that fancy little shiny thing you’ve been eyeing.

Anything is possible at Chez Homemade!

The Menu:

  • Broiled Flank Steak with Scampi Shrimp
  • Baked Potatoes
  • Oven Roasted Green Beans
  • Raspberry Parfait

While this menu screams high costs and chef-like skills, let Favado whisper a little secret in your ear: you can prepare this at home for half the cost. Start with pre-making your dessert and work backwards so that your meal timing rivals any fine-dining establishment.

Step One: Raspberry Parfaits

  • 2 oz. cream cheese, softened
  • 2 Tbsp raspberry jam
  • ½ cup whipped topping, divided
  • ½ cup fresh raspberries

In a small bowl, beat together the cream cheese and raspberry jam. Fold in ¼ cup of the whipped topping. Layer raspberries, cream cheese-raspberry mixture in a small glass, and top with remaining whipped topping. Keep refrigerated until serving.

Note: if you have the time and willpower to ignore the parfaits in the fridge, do these as early as the night before.

Step Two: Oven Roasted Green Beans

  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • ½ lb. green beans
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • Salt and pepper.

Preheat oven to 425. Line a baking sheet with foil.

In a mixing bowl, toss the olive oil, green beans, garlic, salt and pepper. Spread out on the lined baking sheet and roast in the oven for 8 minutes, tossing once. Serve as side dish.

Note: This also can be done in about 15 minutes with a sauté pan over medium-high heat if your oven is too busy with potatoes and steak.

Step Three: Baked Potatoes

  • 2 large baking potatoes
  • Butter, sour cream, chives, cheese

Preheat oven to 425. Wrap the potatoes in foil and cut a slit into each one. Bake in the preheated oven for 50-60 minutes, or until tender. Serve with favorite toppings like butter, sour cream, chives and shredded cheese.

Step Four: Flank Steak and Shrimp Scampi

You’ll need a broiler pan in your oven for the Flank Steak, but this could also be done on the grill if you are feeling particularly outdoorsy (or it isn’t buried in snow). If done in the oven, move the oven racks as close to the top as possible, as that’s where the broiler heat element is.

For the Flank Steak: 

  • 3 lbs. flank steak
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • Salt and pepper

Preheat oven to Broil. Melt the butter. Combine melted butter, garlic powder and salt and pepper; brush evenly over raw steak. Place steak on a broiler pan coated with cooking spray; broil until desired degree of doneness, turning once. Keep thickness of meat in mind when cooking – thinner cuts take less time. When you’ve reached desired temp, remove steak and let rest at least 5 minutes. Cut steak diagonally across grain into thin slices to serve.

A Note: For steak cooked Medium or above, rub with melted butter and then stick it in the freezer while the oven preheats. The freezer time makes the outside of the steak colder and therefore cooks slower, allowing you to cook the interior to medium-well without overcooking the exterior of the steak. You’re welcome!

For the Shrimp Scampi:

  • 3 to 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • ¼ cup butter, cubed
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 6 large jumbo shrimp, raw and defrosted
  • ¼ cup lemon juice
  • Salt and pepper
  • ½ cup Parmesan cheese
  • ¼ cup dry breadcrumbs

In a hot skillet, sauté garlic in butter and oil until fragrant. In a separate bowl, mix cheese and breadcrumbs. Add the raw shrimp, lemon juice, salt and pepper; cook and stir until shrimp turn pink. Remove shrimp from heat, then immediately sprinkle cooked shrimp with mixture. Serve over the broiled flank steak.

Note: This step is simple, so if the smell of garlic and butter in a skillet doesn’t motivate you we simply don’t know what will.

When it’s time to serve dinner, make it fun! Use that cute tablecloth with matching cloth napkins! Light the expensive soy candles! Thanks to Favado, you’ve saved about 50% on your Valentine’s Day dinner without sacrificing an ounce of delicious.

We love you, too!

{Photo Credit}