3/2 thru 3/8 #mealplanning $600 grocery #budget this month and $300 has already been spent at Costco! That leaves me with only $60 each week. #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.We had leftovers a second time last week because our schedules were just too hectic so, the sausage tortallini with roasted red pepper Alfredo is going back on this week's menu.

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.
9 portions ground turkey breast
3 portions flank steak
1 portions ground brisket
12 portions boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 portions brats
1 portions Italian sausage
1 portion Salmon
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
Steak fajitas with chips and guacamole
Warmer weather = grilling. Always! And now that I have flank steak in my freezer it means steak fajitas. Yum! For the marinade I needed an orange ($0.60) and cilantro ($0.79); for the guacamole I needed avocados ($3.00), red onion ($1.00), cilantro, and chips to serve it with (on sale $1.88); and for the fajitas I needed tortillas (on sale $1.79), organic baby spinach, and cherry tomatoes (not pictured as I bought them at Dan's produce stand over the weekend for $0.99).

Spinach stuffed shells
With the crushed tomatoes, organic spinach and goat cheese I scored for next to nothing at Costco and the dried jumbo shells I have in the pantry, I decided to add this meal to our menu. I had to purchase fresh basil ($1.99) for the sauce and ricotta cheese ($4.99) for the filling. I have everything else including mozzarella cheese on hand. And the filling is enough to freeze and make a lasagna or another batch of stuffed shells when pasta is on sale in the future!

Apricot-BBQ glazed grilled chicken, balsamic potato salad, grilled asparagus
David grills chicken every weekend to take in his lunch for work all week so, I'll just have him throw two more breasts on and in the last 5 minutes of cooking he will brush on this very delicious apricot-bbq glaze. I have all the ingredients on hand for the glaze. I decided to serve grilled asparagus ($2.99) and my Balsamic potato salad with it. I needed Organic Yukon gold potatoes ($4.99) and green onions ($0.99).

Brats with oven-baked tator tots
This meal cost me nothing this week as I have the french rolls and condiments as well as frozen tator tots on hand. 


Sausage tortallini with roasted red pepper Alfredo and spinach salad with herb vinaigrette
This meal cost me nothing this week, though I will be using up the remaining organic baby spinach I purchased at Costco so, I guess that would be about $1.50. :) 

Turkey chili with cornbread

This meal cost me nothing this week as I have all the seasonings for the chili and all the ingredients for the cornbread on hand. I will use up the red onion I purchased for the guacamole.

What did I purchase this week?
Safeway was offering their famous "Spend $75 and get a $10 coupon to use towards your next purchase" deal this week and though I didn't NEED some of the items above, I had to purchase them to get to a total of $75 as dairy products are excluded and they were nearly $20 of my list this week.
I purchased our usual deli meat, yogurt, and fresh produce for the week's lunches and snacks. I also purchased half & half, organic flaxseed waffles, and goldfish crackers as we were out of them. To help me reach a total of $75, I also purchased corn dogs (at the full price of $7.49, ugh!), Poptarts (on sale $1.99), brownie mix (on sale $0.99), rolled oats (on sale $2.19), brie ($7.89) and crackers (on sale $2.99), hamburger buns (on sale $1.99), and hash browns (on sale $1.49). All of these things are shelf- and/or fridge-stable, things we love and WILL eat, and {almost all} were on sale. So, it was a win. 

When I went to check-out, I left all the dairy products in my shopping cart and had the Cashier ring up everything else. It came to $75.49. Talk about exact! I paid, got my $10 coupon, and had the Cashier ring up all the dairy. It came to $18.61 so, minus my $10 coupon, I paid $8.61. So, my total spent for the week was $84.10. That leaves me with $215.90 for the month. 


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