2/16 thru 2/22 #mealplanning with more than 50% of the ingredients from my pantry and/or freezer! #cooking #motherhood

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.
3 portions ground turkey breast
3 portions ground brisket
3 portions boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 portions salmon
1 portions brats
2 portions Italian sausage
1 portion made-ahead stuffed shells
1 portion made-ahead spicy shredded chicken
1 portions made-ahead orange chicken sauce
2 portions made-ahead roasted red pepper puree

"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
Grilled chicken fajitas and chips with queso
With family still in town over the weekend and gorgeous, 70 degree weather, I'll have David outside on the pit! I have tortillas in my freezer and most of the ingredients for the marinade. I just needed to purchase an orange ($0.49), two limes (a bag of 6 was only $1.49 at Trader Joe's!) and cilantro ($0.49) as well as bag of chips (on sale for $2.49 and I had a $0.50 Just4U coupon) to serve with some queso that I had all the ingredients on hand for.

Stuffed shells and a salad
We ate a meal out that wasn't planned for (Gram paid!) last week so, this meal is still in my freezer. I'll make it on the night Emily has a Girl Scout meeting and David has a soccer game. I have leftover organic spring mix leftover and all the ingredients on hand for my herb vinaigrette dressing. 


Chicken Piccata and a salad
With our lemon tree bursting and capers in the fridge, this was an easy meal to put on this week's menu. I have all the ingredients for this meal on hand including butter, chicken base, white wine, and fresh parsley leftover from last week so, this meal cost me nothing! I'll use up the remaining organic spring mix and vinaigrette to serve a salad with this meal.

Pad Thai
I have all the ingredients I need on hand to make this meal except fresh limes and cilantro, which I was already planning to purchase for my fajita marinade so, it was put on the menu. I only use half a package of ground turkey breast for this meal so, I'll use the other half to make tacos later in the week. 

Crispy tacos and chips with salsa
I have taco shells, taco sauce, and shredded cheese on hand. I only had to purchase cherry tomatoes ($2.99 at Trader Joe's!) for this meal. I have salsa in the pantry and will use some of the chips I purchased this week for an easy side dish.  

Salmon burgers and oven-baked tater tots
Our favorite whole wheat buns were on sale for $2.00 and I had a $0.50 Just4U coupon, which made me think of burgers. I have salmon in the fridge as well as the other ingredients to make this meal so, on the menu it went. I'll serve it with the tator tots I purchased on sale last week. This meal cost me nothing!

What did I purchase this week?
I spent exactly $76.00 this week. Yes, you read that correctly. Only $76.00!
Because so many of this week's meals came from ingredients I had on hand and because we have organic apples and bananas from last week, I needed very little at the store this week.

I stopped at Trader Joe's first, after knowing the prices of these items were higher at Safeway:
  • 3lb bag mandarins $1.99
  • 2lb bag baby carrots $2.00
  • 12ct farm fresh eggs, $2.19
  • 6ct limes, $1.49
  • Apple sticks snack, $1.99
  • Organic cherry tomatoes $2.99
At Safeway, the deals I took advantage of included:
  •  Boneless, skinless chicken breasts $2.49/lb
  • Oscar Mayer bacon, on sale $4.99 plus a Just4U deal making them only $3.99, limit 5
  • Gallon of Odwalla 100% orange juice $5
I also purchased deli meat and string cheese, both things we were out of. Later in the week I'll have to hit up the store for some fresh fruit, I'm sure. But I have $50 of my $125 budget left to do so!


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