6/29 thru 7/7 #mealplanning and hoping to spend less than $100 - did I do it? #motherhood #cooking

Brand new to Meal Planning?

Start by reading all about Meal Planning (Link at the topin 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

1 portions ground beef

1 portions pork shoulder/butt
4 portions ground brisket  
6 portions boneless, skinless chicken breasts
4 portions Brats

2 portions made-ahead lasagna
2 portions made-ahead calzones
1 portions made-ahead chimichangas

"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

Brisket cheeseburgers with oven-fries
It's about a thousand degrees here with NO air conditioning so it's all about the least amount of cooking during the early part of this week. I picked up some gourmet buns ($1.99) so David has everything he needs to grill these outside this weekend.

Grilled chicken salad with blue cheese and bacon
Keeping with the "cooking outside" them, I'll have David grill up two more chicken breasts for me to slice and serve over bagged salad (10@$10!), topped with blue cheese ($2.99), bacon, croutons, dried cranberries, hardboiled egg, and my herb vinaigrette. 


**4th of July** BBQ with friends: Tequila-soaked shrimp tacos
We celebrate with our friends/neighbors every year and they have requested our shrimp tacos again this year. I have corn tortillas on hand (they freeze beautifully!) but needed to purchase large shrimp ($5/lb) and for the salsa I had to purchase mangos (5@$5). I have everything else on hand. They are bringing sides and dessert.

Chicken Piccatta over brown rice pasta with a side salad
On a cooler night this week, I'll make this, my favorite pasta dish! I have fresh lemon juice that I froze weeks ago and the dried brown rice pasta in my pantry. I'll use up some of the bagged salad I bought and dressing I made.  

Take-out for Campfire night 
Emily's in day camp at the beach again this week and Wednesday night is Campfire night and performance for parents. Some of my friends have their kids in camp this week, too so we will grab a pizza and eat on the beach. 

Pretzel-coated honey mustard chicken over mashed potatoes with side salad
David and the kids loved this meal so much it's on the menu again! I have all the ingredients for this meal on hand, including the organic yukon gold potatoes in my pantry leftover from last week.
What did I purchase this week?

 I spent exactly $100.38 this week (yea!!!) and I only spent that much because of the HUGE "bogo" (Buy One Get One free) specials on condiments, breads, and spices! 

As with any week, I had to purchase:
  • Fat-free organic milk, $4.99 (Just4U $1.50 off coupon)
  • Smithfield bacon, $2.99/ea, limit 4
  • Lucerne 12ct eggs, $1.49, limit 2
  • Deli ham, $5/lb
  • Organic apples, $2.19/lb
  • Organic berries, BOGO
  • Grapes 2lb cartons, $5
  • Bananas, $0.67/lb
  • Whole wheat bread, BOGO
  • Organic, fat-free yogurt, $3.99  
  • Lay's potato chips, BOGO 
  • Corndogs, $5
I also stocked up on the HUGE BOGO sauces and spices sale including:
  • Vlasic pickles, normally $5.99/ea
  • Mustard, normally $3.49/ea
  • Buffalo wing sauce, normally $4.49/ea
  • Worcestershire sauce, normally $5.49/ea
  • Stubb's chicken marinade, normally $5.49/ea
  • Herdez salsa verde, normally $2.49/ea
  • Baby Ray's BBQ sauce, normally $3.29/ea
  • McCormick rubs, normally $2.99/ea
  • Island spices, normally $7-11/ea
  • Rotel canned tomatoes with green chilis, normally $1.99/ea
These are all shelf-stable for years and things we use frequently so it was important to stock up and take advantage of 50% off.


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