Simplified Meal Planning | Low Ingredient Meal Plans – EP 416

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The summer has begun, and the laziness, or perhaps, as we would like to call it, a “restful” season, has finally kicked in. I know many of you want to rest and slow down this summer, so let’s capitalize on that! In this episode, Jen and Jill share tips on simplifying your meal planning and recipes that require fewer ingredients!

Take what you want, leave what you don’t. Some things are going to work for you, some things don’t.


  • The offspring of the Trichoplax and water flea. The first being the simplest animal on earth with no mouth, no stomach, no muscles, no blood, and no veins. They also have no front or back. Whereas the water flea is the most complex, with about 25% more genes than humans, their offspring, the radical middle of the simplest and most complicated beings on earth, are sponsoring this episode to remind you about their cousin, the Friendletter.

    Also being the radical middle of helpful personal finance tips with humor and actionable steps sprinkled in. Cuz’ you don’t need trichoplax or water fleas in your life. You need the Friendletter.

13 Practical Ways to Simplify Meals

This article by Raising Simple discusses practical ways to simplify meal planning, combining useful tips with new ways of thinking about meals.

What Jen + Jill have to say:

Start with realistic expectations, especially when aiming for simple and low-ingredient meals. Jen advises to consider their current life season  and choose recipes that meet their family’s needs, steering clear of complicated dishes with hard-to-find ingredients.Finding  a versatile sauce that can be added to different meals to cater to varying preferences within the family. Jen personally suggests planning for 3-4 cooked meals each week, allowing for flexibility with freezer meals, sandwiches, or leftovers on other nights.

Jill recommends using one-pot recipes, whether in an Instant Pot or a crockpot, to reduce the number of dishes and streamline preparation. Batch cooking is a great way to simplify weekly routines. For those who enjoy a bit of a challenge, Jill proposes gamifying meal planning, which can foster creativity and help people think outside the box. For instance, choosing recipes with ten ingredients or less, which can save time, money, and reduce barriers to cooking.

Low Ingredient Resources

There are various ways to simplify cooking and save money by using fewer ingredients in recipes. Jen starts by recommending an article titled “28 Five-Ingredient Dinner Recipes That Are Oh-So-Simple” from Tasty. You may also search for five-ingredient recipes online, noting that even Instagram can be a great resource for visual references.

Jill highlights the Minimalist Baker website, emphasizing its extensive recipe index that allows users to filter by season, diet, cuisine type, and simplicity. The site can cater to various needs, including those looking for vegan and vegetarian options or recipes with ten ingredients or fewer. For those who might still find meal planning overwhelming, Jill suggests considering services like Cook Smarts. It is designed to help users reuse ingredients throughout the week, which can be both time-saving and cost-effective. Jill recommends trying out Cook Smarts for a month to see if it inspires more creativity and ease in cooking at home.

Your tastiest, cheapest, and healthiest low ingredient meal that can be made in <5 minutes with zero prior work

Jen suggests chicken potstickers, turkey sandwiches, instant pot spaghetti, kale salad with chicken, and chicken nuggets with sweet potato fries. Jill recommends charcuterie, fried rice, egg tacos, salad with avocado, and hot dogs.

Bill of The Week

Thank you Carissa for sharing your bill about your financial accomplishments AND being able to afford a tattoo!

Thanks so Much for Listening!

Thanks so much for listening. We love love love reading your kind reviews and we especially loved this one from:

Great for people in non-traditional lives

We live in Asia and can’t relate to most financial podcasts. We have no desire or ability to own a home for example. This podcast is so practical, and helps you to evaluate your own values and goals and then take practical and attainable steps. Thank you so much!

Thanks for listening. If you enjoyed this show, please take a minute to leave a rating and review, it helps potential new listeners know what our show is all about!

And don’t forget to share your favorite quote from the episode by using the hashtag #FrugalFriendsNote. 😉

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