10/26 thru 11/1 #mealplanning over #halloween while our family is in town. Can I do it for under $150? #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.

8 portions ground turkey breast

3 portions flank steak
2 portions pork shoulder
3 portions boneless, skinless chicken breasts
3 portions pre-formed turkey patties for burgers
3 portions Brats

4 portions plain pork sausage
2 portions Italian sausage
4 portions made-ahead meatballs
2 portions made-ahead spinach stuffed shells
1 portion made-ahead meatloaf
1 portion 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

Chicken Picatta with grilled asparagus over quinoa pasta
I stocked up on Meyer Lemons at Costco a few days ago and, when I saw asparagus was on sale again this week ($1.99/lb), I immediately thought of this meal. I have everything on hand to make this meal including the quinoa spaghetti I use instead of regular flour-based pastas. So good!!!

Meatball subs with oven-baked fries
I have everything on hand to make this meal but I did purchase frozen criss-cut fries (2@$3) to serve with it.

Houston's famous chicken tortilla soup
My copy-cat version of this soup is sooooooooo good, I can't believe I'm only just now pulling this out of my recipe box! I needed a can of cream-style corn ($0.80), cilantro ($0.49), and half 'n half ($3.29) that was already on my list as we use it throughout the week in french toast and our coffee. I had the potatoes, Rotel, lemon pepper and other ingredients in my pantry. I'll slice up some of the grilled chicken breasts David grills every weekend and serve with tortilla chips for dipping - the best part!


Sloppy Joe's with chips
Another meal I have everything on hand for! This meal cost me nothing this week.

Pad Thai
A family favorite, this meal costs next to nothing to make. I only needed to purchase brown rice Pad Thai noodles ($2.79). I'll use the remaining cilantro from the tortilla soup in this meal.

Brinner, that's Breakfast for Dinner! 
Part of the 2@$3 deal at Safeway this week had me purchasing a bag of seasoned hashbrowns to serve alongside the bacon and cheddar frittata I'm making. I have everything on hand to make this meal.

What did I purchase this week?

I spent $138.90, just under budget!

Safeway's Just4U app had some amazing discounts this week that I decided to stock up on to help me prepare for Thanksgiving and Christmas including:
  • Baker's baking chocolate, $1.49 each when you buy 4+
  • Carnation Evaporated milk, $0.99 each when you buy 4+ 
  • Eagle brand condensed milk, $0.99 each when you buy 4+
  • Crisco 3pk, $1.99
  • Fresh pumpkin, $0.99 each when you buy 4+
  • McCormick spices, Buy 2 Get 1 Free
  • Safeway french toast bread, Buy 1 Get 1 Free (if I had more room in my freezer, I would've bought two more!)
  • La Victoria taco sauce, Buy 1 Get 1 Free 
  • Pork shoulder, $0.69/lb

For our visiting family, I stocked up on freezer & pantry goodies from Trader Joe's including:
  • Swedish pancakes, $2.99
  • Quiche, $1.99
  • Whole grain waffles, $2.99
  • Pappardelli and vegetable dried pastas, $1.99 
  • Organic peanut butter crackers, $2.49


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