8/24 thru 8/30 #mealplanning for the first week back to #school

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. It also includes flank steak, ground turkey, and boneless, skinless chicken breasts I purchased last week at Costco. I completely forgot to post that shopping trip and to take a photo, sorry about that. I spent $87 and typically spend about $100-$150 on food items once per quarter. 

8 portions ground turkey breast

1 portions pork shoulder/butt
1 portions ground brisket  
1 portion flank steak
5 portions boneless, skinless chicken breasts
5 portions pre-formed turkey patties for burgers
4 portions Brats

1 portion Italian sausage
1 portions made-ahead lasagna
1 portion made-ahead meatloaf

"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

Steak Fajitas
With flank steak and tortillas on hand, I thought immediately of steak fajitas. For the marinade, I had to purchase an orange ($0.99/lb), cilantro ($0.49), and a can of chipotles in adobo ($1.49). I have chips on hand and leftover lettuce from last week that I washed, dried, and stored. For toppings, I had shredded Mexican-style cheese on hand but needed to purchase organic cherry tomatoes and avocados from Dan's ($1.99) to make guacamole (I have frozen fresh lemon & lime juice and onions in my pantry. I'll use up the rest of the cilantro from the marinade to make the guacamole). This meal will leave me with leftovers for at least two lunches this week, my favorite! :)

Turkey burgers with chips and salsa
It's back to school for Emily on Monday and I know I'm going to need all the help I can get so, it's slapping turkey patties on the indoor cast iron grill pan for an easy, quick meal of turkey burgers. I'll top them with condiments and pickles I have on hand, leftover lettuce from last week, and a few slices from the organic Heirloom tomatoes I purchased today from Dan's ($1.99/lb). I have chips and salsa on hand for an easy side.

Lasagna with garlic bread
For another easy weekday dinner, I'll pull a pre-made lasagna from my freezer and serve it with one of the frozen loaves of garlic bread I purchased today (2@$5).


Balsamic-roasted French Dip Sandwiches with twice-baked potatoes
Have you seen this recipe going around on Pinterest? It looks mouthwatering and my husband begged me to use the rest of the stew meat I have in the freezer to make these sandwiches so, I'm going to throw it in my crockpot with the other ingredients (all of which I had on hand!) and serve it on soft, toasted French rolls I purchased today ($1.99). Alongside these sandwiches, I'll serve twice-baked potatoes from the potatoes I have on hand, chives in my garden, butter in my fridge, sour cream in my fridge, and bacon I purchased today (3@$5).

Chicken Piccata with steamed broccoli over gluten-free angel hair pasta
Quinoa pastas are so delicious and we are addicted to them so, I purchased a box today ($2.49) and some capers ($3.99) and will use the frozen, fresh lemon juice and bag of frozen broccoli I have on hand. 

What did I purchase this week?

I spent $92.20 between Dan's and Safeway this week.

At Dan's, I took advantage of their local, organic, very inexpensive produce including:
  • organic Heirloom tomatoes $1.99/lb - for turkey burgers and the 1st day coffee/breakfast event at Emily's school and organic cherry tomatoes $1.99/pint
  • (2) asparagus $0.79/lb for PTA welcome back brunch
  • plums, $0.99/lb
  • organic pears, $0.99/lb
  • organic fuji apples, $1.49/lb
  • organic red & green seedless grapes, $1.99/lb
At Safeway, I took advantage of Just4U deals, coupons, and their weekly sales to stock up on:
  • bacon, 3@$5
  • Kraft snack-sliced cheeses, Buy 1 Get 1 Free
  • Quaker oatmeal squares cereal, Buy 1 Get 1 Free
  • Del Monte fruit cups, 2@$1
  • Danimals smoothies, $3.99/12pk
  • Annie's snacks, Buy 1 Get 1 Free
To feed my family, I had to purchase deli ham ($5/lb), hamburger buns ($1.49), vanilla yogurt ($2.99), crescent rolls (2@$3), whole wheat English muffins (buy 1 get 1 free), organic yellow peaches ($1.99/lb), and bananas.


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