1/19 thru 1/25 #mealplanning and #stockpiling on the cheap!

Brand new to Meal Planning?

Start by reading all about Meal Planning (Link at the top, or just click here) in order to familiarize yourself with the steps! There, you will find a link to a detailed example of my own weekly meal planning where I walk you through step-by-step.

The first thing I do each week is look back over the week to see if we did indeed eat everything on my meal plan (I write down each night's meal on our family calendar) and adjust my inventory, reducing it by what we ate and increasing it by anything I purchased and/or made-ahead. 99% of the time if a meal that was planned for wasn't eaten it's automatically added to the next week's plan. Last week, after smoking a whole chicken, I had enough of the chicken leftover to make a pan of enchiladas that I took to my neighbors who just had a baby and 2 cups of chicken, that I'm using this week in Houston's famous tortilla soup. Yum!

6 portions ground turkey breast
1 portion ground pork
2 portions ground beef
4 portions ground brisket
6 portions boneless, skinless chicken breasts
2 portions salmon
1 portion cube steak
1 portion made-ahead spicy shredded chicken
2 portions made-ahead orange chicken sauce
2 portions made-ahead roasted red pepper puree
1 portions made-ahead smoked, shredded chicken

"Portions" for my family typically mean 1/2lb to 3/4lb of meat and it feeds all four of us at one meal. To keep my freezers organized and make things easier on myself, I divide up my bulk purchases into portions and label everything before freezing it. For example: meatloaf requires 1lb of ground beef where Goulash only requires 1/2lb so, I package 1lb of ground beef and write "meatloaf" on the outside of the bag to ensure I don't accidentally thaw out an entire pound of meat for a recipe where I only need half. You could also write "1lb" on the bag.

Next, I shop my pantry, freezer and fridge for ingredients to come up with some meals off our Master Meal List. As I mentioned above, I write down each night's meal on our calendar so, I look at it first to sort of rule out meals we've recently eaten to cut down on monotony. Then, I read the weekly ad and look through the coupons and Just4U deals from Safeway via the iPhone app to see what is on sale that might complement and/or substitute for what I came up with. Lastly, I determine how I can stretch ingredients, specifically fresh produce and expensive items over enough meals to use them up to prevent waste.

Weekly Meal Plan
Brisket and bacon cheddar cheeseburgers with grilled sweet potato fries
When I saw a Just4U coupon offering $5 off your $20 purchase of Rancher's Reserve meats, I immediately knew I would be purchase about a 4-5lb brisket that I would have the Butcher grind for me so David could make us his famous bacon cheeseburgers. I'm salivating as I type this because I can smell the smoke from the pit outside. The nearly 5lb brisket that I purchased only cost $17 so, I decided to also purchase about 1lb of cube steak (see "Chicken-fried steak" below). I have bacon in the freezer, cheddar cheese in the fridge, buns in the freezer, and pickles in the pantry, which left me only needing to purchase a fresh Organic tomato to complete this meal. Trader's Joe's had a 3lb bag of sweet potatoes for only $1.99, which I purchased (not pictured below) and am having David grill alongside the burgers.

Houston's famous tortilla soup
Trader Joe's always offers a 5lb bag of Organic Yukon Gold potatoes for dirt cheap ($2.99), which I purchase several times per month. When meal planning this week, a can of Rotel tomatoes was starring back at me, begging to be used and I thought about a recipe I saw, a Copycat recipe for Houston Restaurant's famous tortilla soup. The base of this soup is potatoes and boy is it worth all the steps to make. I checked the spice cabinet and noticed I had everything I needed; however, I was lacking a can of cream-style corn ($0.99), Organic celery ($1.99), fresh lime juice (6@$1), and cilantro ($0.49). I'll use the 2 cups of smoked, shredded chicken in my freezer that I had leftover from the chicken David smoked last week. I'll use up the remaining cheddar cheese I have on hand. 

Crispy beef tacos and chips with queso
Two soccer games and a last-minute late-running play date had us miss this meal again last week so, it's back on the meal plan this week. Because I stocked up on taco shells (Just4U deal 15ct shells for only $1.99) and have 3 portions of ground sirloin in my freezer, we may be having tacos a lot this Winter. I have Velveeta and all the remaining ingredients on hand to make a side of queso.


Kung Pao Chicken and snow peas over brown rice
I was running low on rice but lucky me, Just4U was offering a 5lb bag of extra long-grain rice for only $2.00. This plus the inexpensive price of snow peas ($1.99) made me think of Kung Pao chicken. This is a new recipe for our family that I've only made twice but we loved it so, it's in our monthly rotation. I will use some of the limes I purchased for the tortilla soup and green onions leftover from last week.

Spinach-stuffed shells and salad with herb vinaigrette
I needed to use up the leftover baby spinach I purchased last week as well as the fresh mozzarella. With my favorite sauce on sale (2@$5 plus another $1.00 off, limit 2) and goat cheese leftover from last week, I decided to make stuffed shells. I had to purchase ricotta cheese ($2.00 coupon on the package!) and jumbo shells dried pasta ($2.49). I'll use even more of the baby spinach in a side salad with my herb vinaigrette that I have all the ingredients on hand to make. 

Chicken-fried steak and mashed potatoes with cream gravy
Oh my gravy do I love this meal. I grew up on this meal. Seriously. We ate it weekly. Because I needed only $3 in Rancher's Reserve meat to get my $5.00 off, cube steak was a no brainer at less than $3 per pound. With corn starch, bouillon, and milk on hand plus butter and the remaining potatoes from the 5lb bag I purchased at Trader Joe's, I had everything I needed to make this meal. Straight up comfort food, y'all!

What did I purchase this week?
I spent just under $180 this week ($32 of it at Trader Joe's on eggs, 5lb bag potatoes, 3lb bag sweet potatoes, blackberries, blueberries, whole grain apple straws snack, and sour cream, not pictured here)
Our regular, weekly purchases included: deli meat, bread, tortillas, and fresh produce for the week's meals and the kids' lunches and snacks. Oranges were only $0.49/lb and green, seedless grapes were $1.99/lb. I also purchased Odwalla bars for Emily's school snacks, zucchini to make zucchini bread, and turkey dogs for the kids' lunches. We were out of Kosher salt, Truvia sweetener, corn dogs, Organic flaxseed waffles, onion, macaroni & cheese, and sugar snap peas.
Some of the things I did NOT NEED this week but stocked up on because of the very discounted pricing include:
  • Ground turkey breast, only $5.99 per package
  • Nitrate-free turkey hot dogs, $1.99 each
  • Boneless skinless chicken breast, only $2.99/lb
  • Pre-cooked and crumbled turkey breakfast sausage, Buy1 Get1 Free
  • "O" organic marinara sauce, 2@$5 plus an additional $1.00 for every 2 purchased
  • La Victoria verdes salsa, $1.79 each
  • Danimals smoothies, $1.49 each
  • Toaster strudels, $2.00 each
  •  Star oils, Buy1 Get1 Free
  • Puff's facial tissue, $0.89 each, limit 3
  • 15ct taco shells, $1.99 each


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