9/21 thru 9/27 #mealplanning and stocking the freezer to make school nights easier on the parents! #cooking #motherhood #kids

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.

6 portions ground turkey breast

2 portions boneless, skinless chicken breasts
3 portions pre-formed turkey patties for burgers
4 portions Brats

2 portions flank steak
1 portion Italian sausage
3 portions gulf shrimp
1 portion made-ahead meatloaf
1 portion made-ahead lasagna
1 portion made-ahead enchiladas Verdes
1 portion made-ahead chicken spaghetti

"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

Kung Pao shrimp and snow peas over brown rice
With all the crazy that was last week (Girl Scout meeting, PTA meeting, soccer, swim lessons, and a play date PLUS 40min homework every night!), we ate my made-ahead calzones instead of this meal last week. I'm adding it to this week's menu but substituting shrimp (Large, raw Gulf shrimp $5/lb). I purchased snow peas ($0.50 coupon off the sale price of $2.99) to saute with the shrimp. I have all the ingredients for the sauce and long grain brown Jasmin rice on hand.

Grilled flank steak sandwiches with fresh herb chimichurri and oven-baked fries 
Flank steak (Rancher's Reserve brand) was $5.00 off when you purchased $25 so, I purchased two steaks and will use one in this meal. Just4U was offering a FREE loaf of their made in-house Artisan french bread (score!) and I knew I had a plethora of fresh parsley in my garden, freshly squeezed lemon juice in my freezer, and capers in my fridge so, this sandwich with fresh herb chimichurri was quickly added to the menu. It's a Cooking Light recipe that is TO DIE FOR! I just hollow out the bread (save it for bread crumbs!) so it's less dense and easier to eat. I also purchased a $1.99 bag of frozen crinkle-cut fries today that I'll bake some of in the oven to serve with it. My husband will be in heaven!


Tequila-soaked shrimp tacos with mango salsa
I'll use another portion of the shrimp I purchased today in tacos that David will grill for us over the weekend. I have all the marinade ingredients on hand so I just had to purchase corn tortillas ($2.49 plus $0.50 coupon), a mango ($1.00 at Trader Joe's) and cilantro ($0.49).

Brats with oven-baked fries
I'm pulling this meal directly out of my freezer: the brats, hoagie rolls, and fries! Super easy, yummy meal one night we are home late.

Chicken-fried steak with mashed potatoes and cream gravy
I saw cube steak ($3.19/lb) on the Butcher's cart while shopping and immediately thought of this meal. Comfort food to the max and I'm drooling typing this! I still have about half a bag of the giant 10lb bag of organic Yukon gold potatoes I bought at Costco a month ago plus butter, milk, and all the other ingredients to make this entire meal on hand. 

Chicken enchiladas Verdes and chips with guacamole
While shopping my pantry and fridge I found Verde Salsa and sour cream. I also have the 30ct corn tortillas and cilantro (I won't use all of it in the mango salsa) I purchased today so, this meal came to mind. I cooked the chicken breasts in my crockpot all day, shredded them up, made the sauce, and shredded the Monterey Jack cheese I purchased today ($2.99) to create two portions: one to eat and one to freeze. I still have pre-made guacamole in my freezer from last month's Costco trip and an entire bag of tortilla chips unopened.
What did I purchase this week?

The steaks, turkey breast, and shrimp put me up over $161.23 this week but it was money well spent to help stock my freezer!

The milk and yogurt I purchased last week won't expire through this week so we will use it up before purchasing more. I did purchase my weekly deli ham and cheese (both $5/lb), eggs ($2.99/18ct), and fresh Organic fruit for the week's meals including:
  • bananas, $0.46/lb
  • Organic strawberries, $2.50
  • Plums, $0.99/lb
  • Organic yellow peaches, $2.19/lb
  • Organic honeycrisp apples, $2.99/lb
  • Pears, $0.99/lb
  • Organic nectarines, $1.09/lb
I stocked up on the following deals:
  • Ground turkey breast, $5/lb
  • Safeway vegetable oil, Buy 1 Get 1 Free
  • Kashi 7 grain frozen waffles, 2@$5
  • Frozen corn dogs, $5/ea
  • Honey-maid Graham-fuls, Buy 1 Get 1 Free
  • Cheeze-Its, Buy 1 Get 1 Free
  • Frozen blueberries 4lbs, $11.99
  • Seedless red & green grapes, $0.99/lb
  • Sara Lee Soft & Smooth bread, $1.99
I was out of Chili & Garlic paste ($2.49), rice vinegar ($1.79), Pop-Tarts ($1.99 for 12ct), snap peas ($1.99 plus $0.50 coupon), French toast bread (Buy 1 Get 1 Free- it freezes really well!), and flour tortillas ($2.49 for 20ct).


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