From Donna's Kitchen Meal Planning

Heavenly One-Pan Pasta

Heat in small skilled:

  • 2 T olive oil

Add and sautee:

  • 1 sm onion, chopped
  • ½ green pepper, chopped
  • 1-2 cloves chopped garlic


  • 1  10-¾ oz can Campbell’s Healthy Request Tomato soup
  • ½ soup can of tap water
  • ¼ c of Honey
  • 1/8 c brown sugar

Stir and simmer, and taste,  Add:

  • 1 pinch of each – oregano, basil, sage, turmeric & thyme


  • ½ of a 16-oz pkg of Pot-sized Angel Hair, snapping it in half

Continue to simmer and stir until spaghetti is done

Stirring to kee

p spaghetti from sticking together,

You can add a slice of cheese and stir until it melt in (optional)

Ready to serve. Add a beverage with roll and butter,

In the words of the late Julia Child, “Bon Appetit!”


Budgeting in Tough Times Meal Planning

How to Start A Grocery Pantry & Save

Let’s take a look at your expenses – one important expense you need to factor in is food for you and your family. Food is one of the major factors of life. We are entering a period of hardship I am afraid to think about or even admit, but that is the reality. We must start to take a second look at what we have and ration it out to determine how long it will last us.

1. Check Your Grocery & Household Budget

In looking at mine, I know I have been too loose with dining out and buying food and staple. I need to focus on cutting back that line to function over a period of 2-3 weeks and be maintained for a longer period. As a single person, my grocery & household budget has been about $300 a month – that is a lot I know. So I am going to start by cutting that line in half to $150.00 per month (or $37.50 per week).

2. Look at Your Dining (or Take-out) Budget

This is a big problem with today’s society as we have it is too convenient with both spouses working and come home tired and not excited about cooking meal at home for their family. Even singles, like myself, have grown to enjoy going out and having someone wait on me. This must change for a time. My dining (or take-out) budget is around $150-200 a month.

We can figure about $30 for two people per dining out is about average. Okay, I enjoy eating out so I am going to just cut the budget down to once a week with a friend or family member. One week you can treat, the next they can. This means you are allocating $30 every other week to this line to $60-75 per week.

3. Inventory What You Have on Hand

In my Free_PantryInventoryListing download here, it itemizes what you have in each area of the kitchen (or storage pantry) listing how much available and how much is used per week, from their it calculates how much I need to maintain for a long haul. Once you have this inventory and know what you have and how much, you are ready to start the next phase.

4. Meal Planning for the Week (or Month)

Get a monthly desk calendar to figure how many breakfasts, lunches, and dinners you need to prepare for next month. Knowing what you are doing, and having it written down, makes it easy to know what meals you need to plan for. If I plan on the days I am working at the restaurant, I can have dinner there for half price out of tips. Nothing is cast in stone, so you can make changes along the way, the calendar just serves as a handy guide. Here I am working on my April 2020 grocery and dining out budget planning for four times out (equivalent to $60) and $150 for preparing meals at home the rest of the time ($37.50 per week).

You can make a pot of soup and divide it into batches and freeze them. Be sure you mark and date each batch so you can use the oldest first. To save space, batch them in freezer bags and lay them flat in the freezer. Here you will see I batched some corn chowder and dated it, so I can tell what soups are older and eat those first.

I enjoy a small glass of orange juice throughout the day, instead of filling the glass to the top – fill it half-way and top it with water to stretch your purchase of 1/2gal a week to a gallon. You can do this for just about all your beverages, even milk.

Meal Planning Can Be Fun (and Yes, You Can Plan to Eat Out Too)

Using your inventory of what you have, plan out your meals for the next couple of weeks. Have fun trying new recipes and creating your own with just what you have on hand. The meals you enjoy repeat next month and use that as a guide to replenishing what you have used.

By all means don’t cut out your entire dining out budget, plan for a meal out once a week – whether a breakfast, lunch or dinner – and enjoy! Please comment on how you are planning to cut your grocery budget to share with others here. If you would like to receive my weekly meal planning newsletter in which I will share what I am making and how I am cutting back, just send your request with your name &  email address to   Use it as a guide to planning your meals, and creating some different and budget conscious meals for yourself and/or your family.