5/18 thru 5/24 #mealplanning summer produce is what keeps my costs these days so low! #motherhood #kids #cooking

Brand new to Meal Planning?

Start by reading all about Meal Planning (Link at the top) 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.

4 portions ground turkey breast
2 portions ground beef
4 portions ground pork
2 portions pork tenderloin

4 portions ground brisket 
8 portions boneless, skinless chicken breasts
5 portions Brats

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. I also jot down the price of things I plan to buy that I can frequently find cheaper at my local farmer's market (Dan's) or at Trader Joe's. On shopping day, I stop at Dan's first and buy whatever is cheaper than Safeway; next, I stop at Trader Joe's; and then, I purchase everything left on my list at Safeway. 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

Pixar's movie premier party - dinner out

Girl Scout Day at Six Flags - dinner at the park

Meatloaf with mashed potatoes and steamed broccoli
While my mom is in town, babysitting while we are at our annual movie premiere party AND to celebrate Nolan turning 2 years old, I'm pulling this meal out of our freezer because it feeds us all generously and doesn't require me to do anything but preheat my oven. I'll serve it with mashed potatoes ($3.99 at Trader Joe's) and a package of frozen broccoli that steams in the microwave.

Chicken Piccata over brown rice pasta
I've had a package of brown rice spaghetti in my pantry, starring at me for weeks now so, with capers only $1.99 at Trader Joe's and my lemon tree bursting, I chose this meal. 

Bulgogi sliders with broccoli & carrot slaw
I only spent $1.49 on a package of broccoli & carrot slaw at Trader Joe's for this meal this week. I had the pre-marinated Bulgogi in my freezer for two weeks as well as the miniature burger buns I purchased recently so, I decided to pull them out and make sliders. Any easy meal for one of our warmest days here.

Girl's Night Out - dinner out

What did I purchase this week?

I spent $64.02 at Trader Joe's on things that are MUCH cheaper than anywhere else including eggs ($2.09/doz), bananas ($0.19/ea), fresh pineapple ($1.99), a seedless watermelon ($3), Organic potatoes ($3.99), onions ($0.49/lb), grade A maple syrup ($14.99/32oz), honey, capers, fruit preserves, cheddar cheese, chocolate chips ($2/ea), and pretzels. We were out of peanut butter crackers, citrus vinegar, raisins, and gluten-free pasta so I purchased those items as well. 

Then, I spent another $77.64 at Safeway on the remaining items I needed that were either not available at Trader Joe's OR were cheaper including:
  • Kettle corn popcorn, 2@$3
  • Tyson frozen chicken varieties, Buy 1 Get 1 Free
  • Deli turkey, $5/lb
  • Red, seedless grapes, $1.99/lb
  • 18oz blackberries, $2.99/ea
  • 12oz raspberries, $5
  • 4lbs Organic strawberries, $5
  • Vlasic pickles, Buy 1 Get 1 Free
  • New York Style breakfast sausage, $1.99 
I also purchased powdered sugar, buttermilk, half & half, organic celery, cilantro, kale, beets, carrots, and organic apples because we were out of them. David makes fresh juice every morning lately so I'm buying more "rabbit food" these days. The mango is for Emily because she loves them and the limes are for the Mojitos we love to drink. :) 


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