Category Archives: Inside Champion

Articles about Champion Energy electricity rates, plans and promotions, along with money saving how-to’s and frequently answered questions.

Meal Planning

New Year, new you? Did you set your New Year’s resolutions to save money and eat healthy? Eating healthy and saving money at the same time can be extremely difficult and can sometimes seem impossible. Meal planning is the best solution for both of these challenges.

What is meal planning?

You may have a good understanding of what it is but in case you don’t, meal planning is asking “what’s for dinner/lunch/breakfast” once. After that, the next steps are to shop and prepare the ingredients for the week’s food.

This all comes down to three simple steps:

Step 1) Select your meals for the week

You can do this all at one time or you can do this throughout your week but you should try to make sure that you have it done at least one day before you go to the grocery store to purchase your ingredients. The reason is that it will allow for you to make your shopping list and any last minute changes to your meal plan.

Here are some meal prep strategies on how to meal plan your week.

1. Cook and freeze
  • Soups, stews, casseroles and lasagna can all be made in large batches and then frozen and defrosted for a quick dinner.
2. Don’t start from scratch
3. Check the refrigerator
  • Use what you have. There is no reason to buy more garlic when you have it. That cucumber you have in your produce drawer isn’t going to eat itself. Incorporate the food you have in your meal plan to save some money.
4. Use portion planners
  • If you are trying to control what you’re eating, this can be helpful. It will help you know exactly what to purchase for each of your family members prior to shopping.
5. Have you ever heard of a “hero” sauce?
  • Basically, a “hero” sauce helps change up leftovers (hopefully intentional leftovers) so that way you don’t have any complaints on your hands. No one can say, “But we had this yesterday!” because the flavor profile is different. These can include barbecue sauce and peanut sauce.
6. Building blocks to healthy meals
  • Like the food pyramid helps you know what to eat, building blocks will help you with a solid base on scheduling healthy meals. Try to have two types of protein, one or two grains, and vegetable medley to make into 3 different meals. An example of this would be some broccoli and peppers from one time would be delicious in some enchiladas on another night.
7. Schedule a lazy night
  • Sometimes we just need a lazy meal. Instead of going through the drive thru, make one or two nights easy. Something that means only popping it in the oven or reheating. Sure, save money, but also be kind to yourself.
8. Fresh fruit.
  • Bananas require no prep. Mandarins are portable and delicious. Fresh fruit is a great healthy option and it lasts longer than more fresh vegetables. It can be part of a meal or as a refreshing snack or desert.
9. Use frozen ingredients
  • Specifically referring to vegetables but this could also refer to fruits as well. Most fruits and veggies are flash frozen so they don’t have excess salt, but they will last longer than fresh vegetables.

Step 2) Shop for Ingredients

Create your shopping list around whatever you ended up with. We have an example meal plan and shopping list (as well as a blank downloadable meal plan template and shopping list) below if you need to see an example.

Buy in bulk of foods that are non-perishable if they are more affordable to buy that way (like whole wheat pasta or frozen veggies).  If you are low on an ingredient at home, use what you have first but it might be a good idea to pick up extra, just in case.

Pssst. Really, there is a secret step between here because it’s easier said than done.

Schedule time for the next step. Depending on the difficultly of your meal plan, it could take 1-3 hours and if you don’t end up scheduling a block of time for you to prep your ingredients, you may end up breaking your diet and your budget.

Step 3) Prepare those Ingredients

You will probably need a cutting board for this step. With that being said, the world is accepting the fact that a large majority of people are on budgets. Depending on your meal plan, you may have very different veggies, fruits, and meats to cut up. This might be a hack for you (though it does increase your grocery bill by $3) – Disposable Cutting Boards.  This may be a slight time saver if you don’t want to constantly clean your cutting board.

It is helpful to wash all your fresh vegetables and fruit at one time, and start chopping for whatever recipes you need. If you are cooking ahead for your meals, go ahead and start scrambling that ground beef or boiling that water at the same time.

According to the Mayo clinic, you should make sure to eat cooked food within 3-4 days. So if you are planning for the whole week, you may have to freeze some of your meals. Make sure you have some freezable containers (that should also be microwaveable). If you do freeze your, make sure that it’s in the refrigerator at least 1-2 day(s) prior to that meal so it will be defrosted and easily reheated. Otherwise, that’s what the microwave is made for.

Packet includes: Meal plan sheet and shopping list.

Download your packet!

Happy New Year and good luck with your goals!

Save Money On Your Energy This Winter

Depending on the person, you either love the cooler weather, or hate it. Universally, there are days where you just want to be warm. Here are a few tips to help you save money on your electricity bill.

  • Wear layers. Not running your heating units at all will save money most effectively.
  • If you just need the extra warmth – space heaters. Space heaters can be more efficient than modern heating units. If you have a smaller room to heat, a smaller space heater will save you money and energy.
  • Maintain your HVAC unit. Summers can be hard on your HVAC system. To ensure you won’t be surprised by your energy bill, this would be a good time to schedule a tune up of your heating units.
  • Take advantage of your programmable or smart thermostat. When you are home and awake, set the thermostat to a comfortable temperature. When you are asleep or out, set your thermostat back about 10° for 8 hours. If you do this all year long, you can save about 10% a year. If you don’t yet have a programmable or smart thermostat, but are interested in getting one, you can save $50 here.
  • Take advantage of natural heat. On sunny days, open your curtains and/or blinds and allow the sun to heat your home. Close them during the evening to reduce the opposite effect.
  • Apply plastic wrap and tape to the inside of your draftier windows. It helps reduce infiltration of the cooler air and keep the heat inside.
  • Double check your fireplace (if you have one). There is a damper in the fireplace that lets the smoke out of your house when you light it. Double check to make sure it’s sealed when you aren’t using it to prevent your warm air from escaping your home.
  • Switch your fan blades rotation. Hot air rises so if you switch the rotation, it can actually push the heated air back at you.

8 Christmas Gifts For The Person Who Has Almost Everything

We all have those people in our lives that are complicated to buy for. They claim they “have everything” but we all know that’s not true. Here are some options that could inspire you for that difficult person.

Breakfast Sandwich Maker

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Sure, you COULD make all of these things separately but why not just use one tool to do it all?

Comes in red, black and silver.

$24.99

Link

Microwaveable Slippers

Microwaveable booties will help any cold person get through the winter. They also work well without the added heat.Comes in white, gray, black, spotted white or spotted leopard print.

$26.39-$32.95

Link

Heated Blankets for the Car

Heated blankets for the car for the person who is always cold when someone else is always hot. Control the environment with this car powered heated blanket.Colors come in a variety of colored plaids (black, orange, green and red) and blue.

$19.95

Link

Heated USB Mouse

Keep your cold person’s hands warm at the office with a heated mouse!

$23.95

Link

Chai Tea Set

If you like tea they will eventually run out of it. This set was listed as one of “Oprah’s favorite things” so you know it has to be good.

$34.99

Link

Hot Sauce

Everyone likes to change up the flavors they use every once in a while. Use it on chicken wings or on sausage.

$27.99

Link

BeatsX Earphones

If you have someone who loves to stay active or needs the ability of having a great Bluetooth speaker, BeatsX Earphones have it all. They come in satin silver, red, white gold or black.

$99.95

Link

Ember Mug

Never let their coffee get cold! Ember Temperature Smart Mug has an hour and a half battery life and can be controlled by an app on their phone.

$99.95

Link