4/20-4/26 #mealplanning during #earthweek - busy, busy, busy with activities but there's always time to plan! #cooking #motherhood #kids

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
4 portions ground beef
7 portions boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 portions chicken drumsticks
1 portion Salmon
1 portion Italian sausage
1 portions made-ahead enchiladas Verde
1 portions made-ahead meatloaf
1 portions made-ahead lasagna

"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
Smoked baby-back ribs, grilled zucchini, and sweet potato wedges
Baby back pork ribs were on sale ($2.99) and are perfect to let smoke on the BBQ pit for 3 hours while we garden and let the kids run around in the sprinkler. It was so hot this weekend here in the Bay Area! I'm keeping the entire meal outside by throwing zucchini ($0.99/lb) - halved, oiled, and seasoned - and sweet potatoes ($1.29/lb) - quartered, oiled, and sprinkled with spices and brown sugar - on the grill the last 45 minutes of cooking time.

Spinach and sausage calzones with warmed marinara sauce
I'll be making these again this week at David's request. They couldn't be simpler and are oh, so yummy! I purchased garlic and herb fresh pizza dough ($1.49 at Trader Joe's), and Organic baby spinach ($2.99) that I'll cook with the Italian sausage I have in my freezer. I have jarred Organic marinara sauce in my pantry.

Grilled chicken over mashed garlicky cauliflower and a salad with herb vinaigrette
There's nothing like a juicy, marinated, smoked chicken breast! We haven't had them in a while eventhough David makes them every weekend for our lunches throughout the week so, here they are this week! I'll roast a head of cauliflower ($1.79 at Trader Joe's) with some garlic, onion ($0.65), thyme and oregano (both from my garden) before mashing them up with milk and butter. They are better than mashed potatoes! I'll also serve a simple salad of organic red leaf lettuce ($1.99) with dried cranberries and croutons (I have on hand) with my home-made herb vinaigrette, which I only had to purchase Balsamic vinegar for ($8.99).


Earth Day Movie Night & Pizza Party

Turkey crispy tacos 
I only had to purchase organic cherry tomatoes for this meal as I have all the ingredients (half a package of ground turkey, taco shells, taco sauce, and shredded cheese) on hand. I will use up the rest of the organic red leaf lettuce remaining from salads and the remaining onion in this meal. 

Sloppy Joe's and oven-baked french fries 
This meal cost me nothing this week as I have all the ingredients (the other half package of the turkey, Manwich sauce, buns, frozen fries) on hand. To save time, when I brown the ground turkey with the onion and garlic for my crispy tacos meal, I'll split it in half to use in that meal and this one so that I don't have to cook the same thing twice.

What did I purchase this week?
*~* Excuse the very hungry little boy in the photo!*~*  :)
I spent $131.86 total this week - so many amazing deals!
Besides the organic fat-free milk, deli ham & cheese, bread, and fresh produce I buy every week for all our meals and snacks, I had to purchase a few things I was out of including:
  • buttermilk, $0.99
  • Balsamic vinegar, $8.99
  • canned corn, $1.00
  • canned, seasoned black beans, $0.89
  • Gluten-free all purpose baking mix, $4.99
  • enchilada sauce, $1.99
  • organic mini peanut butter crackers, $2.99
  • frozen Steamers (peas and broccoli), Buy 1 Get 1 Free
A few items I purchased this week that aren't normally on my list include:
  • kale, parsley, beets, green apples, ginger for juicing in the morning
  • sprouted flaxseed bread, bulger and quinoa for healthier lunches during the week


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