There is nothing more satisfying then a big plate of homemade bacon macaroni and cheese. This easy pasta dish is loaded with ooey gooey cheese and bits of bacon that is completely comforting on a cold winter’s day. And my friends, we’ve had quite a few of those days lately. Too many in fact.
Happy New Years! It’s been a while since I’ve posted, the months of November and December were more busy than usual. My daughter and I were kept quite busy with Christmas craft shows where we sold our delicious dessert themed soy candles. While it was exciting to have everyone love our creations, it was also completely exhausting at times to keep up with the demand. We even started an Etsy shop! Feel free to stop in for a visit to see our yummy candles.
During these crazy busy months, there were many nights I reached for the phone to order pizza after a long day of candle making. I just didn’t have the energy to make dinner. I was so not prepared. There was not a freezer meal to be found in my freezer, just when I needed it the most! One of my resolutions for the new year is to immediately jump back on the meal planning wagon and fill my freezer immediately.
There are a few things I’m keeping in mind when I’m planning my meals each week.
- Trim my grocery budget (to help pay off debt)
Somewhere between Christmas and New Years, I stumbled upon Jordan Page from FunCheaporFree.com. Inspiration was born. Jordan explains how she budgets for groceries and other miscellaneous items in this post. While I am using an envelope to store my receipts and to help track my spending, I’ve calculated my budget slightly differently. I’m dividing my monthly budget by 5 instead of the typical 4 to figure out my budget each week. This means I trim my budget a little each week but it also gives me room to stock up on certain items, which will help me save money in the long run.
During the first week, I’m using one portion to stock up on meat and the other portion to purchase my regular groceries.
For example: $1000/5 = $200 a week for groceries. During my first week, I’ll have $400 to stock up for the month but then I only have $200 to buy food.
I’m going to try another challenge Jordan does: a spending freeze. Only I’m a little more realistic. I’ve going to try live off $20 one week each month, which will force me to eat what I currently have on hand. I figure that’s just enough for a few bags of milk, fresh bread and lunch meat for the week. I still technically have a full week’s worth of my grocery budget but if I manage to live off my $20, I can put the extra money on paying off debt.
- Reduce the amount I buy each week to prevent food waste
It’s sad to say but I’ve noticed that I sometimes I throw out a lot of produce that’s gone bad in my fridge. I like to buy most of my fresh produce from Costco, which means everything comes supersized. I apparently felt it was also necessary to buy a variety of different fruits and vegetables for my family to give them options. Really though. We’re only a family of four. We really don’t need a bag of carrots, broccoli, zucchini, baby spinach and those delicious fresh peas in a bag. Now I’m limiting myself to one vegetable (and fruit) purchase from Costco each visit – depending on what is already in my fridge. The rest of my vegetables I need for my meal plan will come from The Superstore in smaller quantities. This is also where my meal plan will also help. No more buying stuff I ‘think’ I might need for meals. I’m only going to buy WHAT I NEED to make it through the week.
Don’t get me wrong, if I hit a fabulous sale for non-perishable items I use regularly, I’m stocking up. It’s just the perishable items I’m limiting myself on.
- Sunday is Meal Prep day
This is going to be a non-negotiable. It’s in my agenda. Not in pencil, in ink. Certain days of the week will be designated as meal planning days (Thursday), shopping days (Friday) and then on Sunday I’m hitting the kitchen to get ready for the up-coming week.
Every Sunday I’m going to plan some make ahead meals: one for breakfast (whether it is my chia puddings, fruit parfaits or freezable egg cups), one for lunches (for example my greek pasta salads, chickpea salads or muffins) and I’m going to batch cook a freezer meal. One meal we’ll enjoy that day and at least one additional meal will go into the freezer. I may not use it that week, but at least I’ll have it further down the line when the poop hits the fan and I completely fall off the meal planning wagon again. Or during that week where I only have $20 to buy groceries.
I’m going to be using this FREE printable to help me with my weekly meal planning and grocery shopping.
So what do you think?
I think it’s going to be magical! It’s going to be amazing! It’s going to be freak’n hard. At first. I’m sure after a while it will get easier. And the extra money I’m planning on saving will be totally worth the effort. I also find I eat more healthy when I have a plan in place. So let’s do this!!
Looking for more time and money saving suggestions? I put together an entire ebook with all my tips and strategies. You can also get 6 weeks of meal plans already made up for you and they include shopping lists. Check it out here for all the details.
As you can tell, I’m excited to hit the ground running. I’ve already started reorganizing my freezer for my meals. I’m making a list of my family’s favorite meals and even trying some new ones (like this amazing homemade bacon macaroni and cheese… drool) I’m so excited I’m dragging everyone along for the ride.
On that note, I have some exciting news to share. The lovely Kaitie from Fuchsia Freezer has agreed to co-host a Virtual Freezer Meal Party with me on Sunday January 21st! We’ll each be preparing 5 freezer meals from our own kitchen that day but sharing what we’re doing online.
To give you an idea of what’s coming your way! Kaitie and I each are creating a Freezer Meal Package. It will include:
- 5 delicious, freezer-friendly recipes completely FREE (including some new recipes that haven’t been featured here on the blog yet),
- FREE printable recipe cards,
- a FREE printable shopping list, and
- FREE access to our Facebook event: Virtual Freezer Meal Party
This is COMPLETELY FREE (if you haven’t guessed by now). Between now and January 21st we will be sharing the above, giving you tips and tricks on what’s freezer approved, we will answer any questions you may have and the best part?! We are doing it with you! Sunday January 21st from 9am until 4pm we will be LIVE ON FACEBOOK sharing videos, taking questions, and preparing our own recipes along with you!
We would love for you to participate in our virtual party. We’re even going to make it easier for you to join in the party by providing printable recipe cards of all the recipes we’re going to be making AND our shopping lists. You will have a selection of 10 different freezer meals to choose from. You can try our recipes or you are welcome to use your own favorite freezer meals. Make sure you watch our live videos on Fuchsia Freezer’s Facebook page and 365 Days of Easy Recipe’s Facebook page the day of the event to follow along.
Come over to the events page to share what you’re doing at home. Share the recipes you’re going to be using and post some pictures of the meals. Kaitie and I will be on hand between 9 am and 4 pm EST to answer any questions you may have. We’ll be sharing all our tips and you’ll get to see what we do to stock our freezers with delicious meals. Leading up to the event, we’ll be sharing wonderful new recipes and sharing how we get ready for a freezer meal prep day. Make sure you check out Kaitie’s new recipe for Chunky Monkey Oatmeal Cups for the perfect freezer meal breakfast.
I truly hope you can join us for this fantastic event. One of the recipes I’ll be batch cooking is this super yummy homemade bacon macaroni and cheese. My husband is already excited that he’ll have some lunch size portions to bring to work.
Homemade Bacon Macaroni and Cheese
- 1 pound elbow macaroni
- 1/2 lb bacon diced and cooked
- 1 pound sharp cheddar cheese shredded
- 1 egg slightly beaten
- 2 ounces cream cheese cubed
- 1/2 cup half and half warmed
- 1 ⁄2 teaspoon kosher salt
- ½ teaspoon pepper
- 1 ⁄2 cup parmesan cheese
Bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil and cook your pasta until there’s still a bite to it. Drain and set aside. You’ll reuse your pot so set aside.
Meanwhile, fry up the diced bacon until crispy. Drain the bacon and set aside but reserve the bacon grease.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Brush a 9x9 baking dish with some of the bacon grease.
Add 2 tablespoons of the bacon grease into your pasta pot. Add in the shredded cheddar cheese and melt over low heat. Stir in the slightly bean egg until well combined.
Add in the cooked pasta and stir until the pasta is well coated. Stir in the half and half, cubed cream cheese and parmesan cheese. Stir until incorporated.
Stir in the bacon, reserving a bit for the top of the dish. Transfer the pasta into the prepared casserole dish. And sprinkle the remaining bacon on top.
If you’re freezing, allow the dish to completely cool before covering with foil and storing in the freezer for up to 3 months.
If you are enjoying right away, place in the oven and bake for 20 minutes until the top gets golden and crunchy.
Tip: Measure out all your ingredients so you don’t leave your cheese sauce unattended.
|Did you make this recipe? Have a meal planning tip to share?
Tag @365daysofeasyrecipes on Instagram . I’d love to see!