10/5 thru 10/11 #mealplanning when you have PTA training and a 2yr old hanging from your leg! #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.

3 portions ground turkey breast

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

1 portions flank steak
1 portions pork sausage
1 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

Steak fajitas with chips and guacamole
The flank steak I have in my freezer has been staring at me, begging me to have David grill it and make it into scrumptious fajitas so, with the purchase of an orange ($0.89/lb), a bunch of cilantro ($0.49), and a package of flour tortillas (Guerro 10ct $1.79), I had everything I needed to make this meal. I also have the last of the pre-made guacamole in my freezer and a bag of tortilla chips to serve with it. I'll eat the leftovers for lunch throughout the week.

Grilled chicken Ceasar Salad
I love the recipe I have for this home-made Ceasar dressing and only needed to purchase a tin can of anchovies ($1.99), a bag of organic Romaine hearts ($2.50), and a wedge of Parmagiano-Reggiano cheese ($9.15) to complete my ingredient list. I'll top the salad with the extra grilled chicken breasts I'm having David smoke on the pit for me over the weekend. Super easy, super fast meal! We'll have this the night I have PTA training so David can eat with the kids and I can eat once I'm home. The dressing will stay good in your fridge for up to 3 days!

Lasagna with garlic bread
With the amount of homework and juggling Emily's needs for help with Nolan's needs for play time & attention, I don't have a lot of hands-free time to stand over the stove and cook so, I'm using things I've made ahead and frozen to help me through this week. Once being this lasagna. It's my last portion. I'll have to spend some time on an upcoming weekend to make a few more! I purchased a loaf of fresh sourdough bread today ($1.49) that I'll split lengthwise, spread with butter, and sprinkle on granulated garlic, Kosher salt, and dried Marjoram before baking at 400 for 6-8 minutes. 


Chicken fried brown rice
To further ease my mid-week stress, I'm whipping up this super easy meal with the extra chicken breasts I'll have David grill over the weekend for me, a few scrambled eggs, an easy sauce with ingredients I have on hand, and the green onions ($0.79) and remaining cilantro I purchased today. I will steam the brown rice I have on hand the day before and allow it to sit overnight in the fridge. 

Chicken & spinach flautas with queso 
I'm tossing three raw boneless, skinless chicken breasts into my crockpot with carrots, garlic & onion I have on hand plus some of the organic celery I purchased today ($2.49) so it will make chicken stock while it cooks. I'll use the chicken stock to boil the potatoes for potato soup later in the week! I'll shred the chicken once cooled and mix it with the organic spinach I purchased today ($5) - I'll saute and wilt down the spinach with onion, garlic, and chicken stock - plus some Monterey Jack cheese I purchased today ($6.99 for 32oz). I'll fill the rest of the tortillas I purchased with a small amount of this filling, roll them tight, and freeze them on parchment paper. When ready to eat, I'll spritz them with baking spray and bake at 450 for about 15 minutes until brown, crispy, and oozing with melted cheese. I'll dip them in queso (Velveeta and Rotel plus some fresh lime juice, garlic, and ground cumin). YUM! I'll have plenty to freeze for later.

Potato soup
Because of our hectic week last week, we didn't eat this so, it's on the menu this week. I have everything I need on hand so this meal cost me nothing this week. It makes enough to have leftovers so I'll make this mid-week when we have a PTA meeting and I'll be home semi-late.

What did I purchase this week?

I spent $118.23 between Trader Joe's and Safeway.

I purchased our weekly staples including:
  • Sara Lee sandwich bread, 2@$4 (will freeze one loaf)
  • Philadelphia cream cheese, Buy 1 Get 1 Free
  • Deli ham and honey turkey breast, $5/lb
  • Mild cheddar and Monterey Jack cheese sticks, $3.99
  • Yogurt squishers, $1.99
  • Shredded Mozzarella and Monterey Jack cheese, $6.99 32oz
  • Tortillas, $1.99 10ct
  • Organic honeycrisp apples, $1.99/lb
  • Organic pears, $1.49/lb
  • Bananas, $0.19/ea
  • Organic sugar plum tomatoes, $2.99 18oz
  • Organic blueberries, $2.99 8oz - for pancakes
  • Red & green seedless grapes, $1.68/lb
  • Canned peaches in 100% juice, 5@$5
  • Organic spinach, $5
I also stocked up on some great deals on things we were out of or would use before their expiration date including:
  • Blue cheese crumbles, $1.99 6oz
  • Parmagiano-Reggiano cheese, $9.18
  • Frozen Danish pancakes, $3.99
  • Sour cream, $1.79
  • JoJo's Halloween cookies, $2.49
  • Raisins, $3.99
  • Red wine, white, and apple cidar vinegar, $2.99/ea
  • Deli mustards, Buy 1 Get 1 Free
  • 5lb All-purpose flour, $2.99
  • EasyMac, $3.99
  • Star anchovies, $1.99 


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