8/17 thru 8/23 #mealplanning Back from Vacation and finally crawling out from under all the laundry! #cooking #motherhood

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.

We have been home from vacation for a few weeks BUT it's taken me this long to unpack the suitcases, do all the laundry, and get us back into our routine here! I've updated my inventory below to reduce it by all the food David ate while we were gone and to include anything I purchased below.

2 portions ground turkey breast

1 portions ground beef

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

1 portions made-ahead lasagna
1 portions made-ahead calzones

"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

Spinach calzones with marinara sauce
When I had an abundance of baby spinach a few weeks ago, I browned up 1lb of ground sirloin with onions and garlic and wilted in about four cups of baby spinach which I then stuffed inside small rounds of rolled-out pizza dough. I shaped them into half moons and crimped them shut and "ta da!", calzones. I layed them on parchment and froze them and then bagged them up to have at will. I'll pull the last of them out of my stash on the night I have a meeting and David has a soccer game so I can NOT deal with the stress of dinner. We will dip them in little bowls of marinara sauce that I have jars of in my pantry. So, this meal cost me nothing this week.

Tequila-soaked grilled shrimp tacos with mango salsa
84 degree weather, our final days of summer before school starts and all I can think about is spending the evening eating shrimp tacos outside with a frozen margarita so, that's exactly what we will do on Saturday! Jumbo shrimp was on sale $8.99/lb so I purchased one pound. I also needed cilantro ($0.49) and mangos (2@$1) for the mango salsa, an orange ($0.35) for the marinade- I had all other ingredients on hand- and avocados (10@$10) to make guacamole to serve with some chips (2@$4). I have lime juice in my freezer that I squeezed into ice cube trays last month and I have corn tortillas in my freezer. 

Meatloaf with garlic mashed potatoes and a side salad
A family favorite that we haven't had in a while and I thought of when I saw bell peppers were on sale for $0.25/ea. I had ground sirloin in my freezer and organic fresh thyme in my garden and I knew I would use up some of the onion I bought for $1.49. To complete this meal, I had to purchase 4lbs organic Yukon gold potatoes (1/3 for mashed potatoes with this meal, the rest for potato soup later in the week) and seasoned bread crumbs (on sale $0.99). 

Brats with oven-baked tator tots
With frozen brats and tator tots in my freezer, all I had to purchase was french hoagie rolls, which were on sale for $2.49. I'll freeze the remaining 4 rolls to have two more times in the future. 


Spaghetti with Italian sausage meatballs and garlic bread
David requested spaghetti with Italian sausage meatballs, which is no more than uncasing the browning small chunks of Johnsonville's sweet Italian sausage. So, I purchased Quinoa spaghetti (my favorite gluten-free pasta alternative!) for $1.79 and Italian sausage ($3.99). I have crushed tomatoes and tomato paste in my pantry, organic fresh basil and parsley in my garden, and will use up some more of the large onion I purchased today. I also have a loaf of garlic bread in my freezer from a few weeks back. 

Potato soup topped with bacon, chives, and cheddar cheese
Pioneer Woman has perfected potato soup in our eyes and I make this dish of hers all the time! I had to purchase quite a few ingredients including: carrots (2lbs for $0.99), organic celery ($1.49), bacon (3@$5), and of course the organic Yukon gold potatoes that I'll use the remaining of. I have chicken bouillon, cream, and cheddar cheese on hand as well as fresh organic chives in my garden.

What did I purchase this week?
I spent just over $212 this week at Safeway, still trying to restock my pantry and freezer after being gone on vacation for so long!

Besides our weekly meal staples of milk, half & half, deli ham and cheese, and fresh produce, we were out of turkey weiners ($1.99), bacon, Stubb's chicken marinade ($1.99 when you buy 3 or more), bread crumbs, Mini wheats cereal (save $4 when you purchase 4), Danimal's smoothies (2@$5 plus $2.00 off when you purchase 2), sandwhich bread ($2.49), and tortilla chips (Tostito's $1.99).

I took advantage of some Just4U specials and coupons to stock up on:
  • Crescent rolls (the kids love "pigs in a blanket), $0.99 
  • Rotel, $0.99
  • Van's brands frozen waffles, 2@$5
  • Jennie-O frozen turkey burgers, $5
  • Safeway brand canned beans, $0.49
I also purchased canned organic corn and ranch salad dressing mix in order to make Taco soup in my crockpot for me to eat this week. I was craving it, I just love it!


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