Confession: This conundrum may very well fall into the category of "Just get yourself together, Paitsel."

Still, I think it's worth a quick brainstorm. 

Eating at home (and doing it well) is a multi-step process, from shopping sales, possibly gathering (and using) coupons, planning meals and then cooking those meals.

Make dinner.

Easier said than done, Jack.

I contend that organized meal planning is the most efficient way to save money on your household groceries. But what happens when that plan doesn't work?

Here's my example: Meatballs in the crockpot are on the Paitsel family menu for today. In preparation, I pulled out a package of ground beef to thaw in cold water for just a bit last night. I then went to bed and fell asleep.

Whoops. No meatballs today, boys.

Not only is that a waste of the $6-$7 I spent on that package of ground beef, it's just plain frustrating.

One way I combat against further waste is to plan for these failures. My family will eat frozen pizza, so I always have one stocked in my freezer. This helps prevent a $6 failure from becoming a $30-$40 failure when we have to remedy the situation at a restaurant.

Aside from that, there must be some "thawing" system to put in place so these hiccups happen less often. Maybe I should use an electronic reminder on my phone to tip me off 18 hours in advance that the meat needs to move from the freezer to the refrigerator. Perhaps a louder timer would do the trick.

Share your meal planning frustrations in the comments below, and let's brainstorm solutions together.

(Here's a reminder of food handling safety rules from the U.S. Department of Agriculture).