3/16 thru 3/22 #mealplanning Nearing the end of the month and still have money to spend! #kids #motherhood #cooking

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.

I went to Costco after David got paid on Friday 3/1 to stock up on everything they offer cheaper that we were out of. You can read the post and see the photograph with pricing details HERE.
6 portions ground turkey breast
5 portions ground beef
2 portions flank steak
1 portions ground brisket
9 portions boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 portion Italian sausage
1 portion Salmon
1 portion made-ahead spicy shredded chicken
2 portions made-ahead turkey meatballs
2 portions made-ahead enchiladas Verde
2 portions made-ahead meatloaf
1 portion made-ahead chicken & spinach flautas

"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 burgers with grilled sweet potato wedges
Warmer weather lately makes me want cheeseburgers. Bad! So, with buns in the freezer and our favorite accompaniments on hand, I was left only needing to purchase an organic tomato ($1.85) to top my burger and two small sweet potatoes ($0.60) for the side dish.

Mushroom and proscuitto pasta Senese
I was flipping through some copykat recipes on Pinterest (who doesn't do this?!?) and found one called Pasta Senese. It's apparently very popular at Olive Garden (we haven't eaten at one in years) and required very few, inexpensive ingredients including: mezze rigate (on sale $1.00), fresh sage ($0.99), cremini mushrooms ($2.50), and proscuitto ($3.99). I had all the other ingredients on hand.

Calzones with marinara sauce
David requested this meal this week. He loves them! So I purchased some fresh pizza dough at Trader Joe's ($1.29) and will stuff it with half a package of ground turkey that I'll add some Italian seasonings to and some shredded mozzarella cheese I purchased today ($2.99). I have jarred marinara sauce in my pantry so this meal cost nearly nothing. 


Pad Thai
I'll use the other half of the package of ground turkey I needed for calzones in this meal. I had to purchase brown rice Pad Thai noodles ($2.79), green onion ($0.50), and cilantro ($0.49). 

Flautas with guacamole
I'm pulling my last portion of made-ahead chicken & spinach flautas from my freezer to use this week on one of our busiest nights. I'll serve it with fresh made guacamole, which required me to purchase avacados (4@$1 at Dan's). I'll use up the cilantro I purchased in the guacamole. I have frozen lime juice and red onion on hand.

TexMex potato soup

I wanted to use up the leftover Yukon Gold potatoes I have from last week. With all the ingredients on hand (carrot, celery, half & half, cheese, bacon, chicken stock, etc.) except yellow onion ($0.88) and a can of Rotel ($1.00), this meal was a no-brainer.

What did I purchase this week?
 Between Dan's produce stand, Trader Joe's, and Safeway, I spent $72.21, which leaves me with $96.99 for the month. I'm doing really well, I think! :)

Some of my best finds at Dan's produce included:
  • Seedless grapes, $0.49/lb - they came in "moist" which can mean they'll mold more quickly so they were reduced for quick sale
  • Avacados, 4@$1
  • Bosc pears, $1.00/lb
  • Organic pink lady apples, $1.99/lb
Other great deals I got from Safeway's Just4U program and digital coupons included:
  • Barilla pasta, $1.00ea
  • Oscar Mayer weiners and bacon, $2.99ea
  • Annie's Organic refried beans, $1.49
  • Lucerne non-fat yogurt 6pk (expire April 30th), $2.49
  • Odwalla drinks Buy 2 Get 1 Free plus $1.00 off every 3 purchased


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