11/16 thru 11/22 #mealplanning : Can a family of four eat 3 meals/day for under $100? Yep! #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.

5 portions ground turkey breast

9 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
2 portions made-ahead meatballs
2 portions made-ahead spinach stuffed shells
1 portion made-ahead meatloaf
1 portion made-ahead calzones
4 portions made-ahead pulled pork smothered burritos

"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 and 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

Peach-BBQ glazed grilled chicken, macaroni & cheese, roasted Brussels Sprouts
I have been crazing home-made macaroni & cheese, with Italian-made macaroni (no whole wheat anything in this meal!) so, I purchased a bag of elbows ($0.99) and a block of Grueyere ($4.10) to use with the ingredients I already had on hand to make this gloriously thick, rich side dish. I'll whip up my peach-bbq glaze for David to spread on the chicken breasts he plans to grill over the weekend, which is simply 1/4 cup peach or apricot preserves, 2 Tablespoons bbq sauce, and 1/4 teaspoon onion powder. I plan to roast the bag of Brussels Sprouts I purchased at Costco recently to round out the meal.

Meatloaf with Balsamic potato salad and a salad with fresh herb vinaigrette
Cooler weather and more relaxed weeknights this week means comfort food! I'll use the pre-made meatloaf from my freezer to save myself some time. Then, I'll use some of the potatoes I purchased at Costco combined with bacon, chives from my garden, and other ingredients I have on hand to make David's favorite potato side dish. We have leftover organic Spring mix from last week that I'll use up in a side salad.

Chicken Picatta over Quinoa angel hair pasta
My favorite lemony guilty pleasure! I have everything for this meal on hand so this meal cost me nothing this week!

Stuffed shells
In continued efforts to clear out my freezer in preparation for Thanksgiving, I'll use this pre-made meal from my freezer. It's stuffed with sauteed spinach and beef- it's a complete meal in one neat little package! So, this meal cost me nothing this week.

David requested breakfast for dinner again this week so, I'll bake off some of the quiche I have in my freezer, previously purchased at Trader Joe's, and fry up some bacon and dinner will be served! This meal also cost me nothing this week.

Grilled chicken Ceasar salad
With everything I need to make this meal on hand plus the chance to use some of the grilled chicken breasts David will grill over the weekend, this meal was a no-brainer. I only needed to purchase organic Romaine hearts ($2.00 from Trader Joe's).

What did I purchase this week?

I spent $90.85 between Safeway and Trader Joe's this week.

Most of what you see above is what I purchase weekly to serve with breakfast, pack in Emily's school lunch and David's lunch, and what we all eat for afternoon snacks:
  • Safeway 100% whole wheat bread, $0.99 - for sandwiches & grilled cheese
  • Safeway french toast bread, $2.00 - I make french toast most days
  • 12ct local, free-range eggs, $2.19 at Trader Joe's
  • 4lb bag of organic apples, $4.99 at Trader Joe's
  • Cheddar Rockets, $2.49 at Trader Joe's
  • Whole-grain frozen waffles, $1.99 at Trader Joe's
  • (2) 6pk seedless raisings, $2@$3
  • Kraft singles 16oz cheese, $1.99 on sale
  • (2) frozen turkey corndogs, $3.49 at Trader Joe's
  • Frozen Swedish-style pancackes, $2.99 at Trader Joe's
  • In-shell peanuts, $2.99 - Emily requested these for her school lunch
  • Banana chips, $1.99 - another request from Emily for school lunch
  • Grade A maple syrup, $7.99 at Trader Joe's
  • (10) Luna bars - both kids love these for snack
  • 2lbs deli ham, $8
  • organic Romaine hearts, $2.99 at Trader Joe's
  • 6pk Lucerne yogurt, $1.99 on sale
  • 6lbs seedless grapes, $1.19/lb
  • Raspberries, Buy 1 Get 1 Free
  • Organic pears, $0.69 each at Trader Joe's
  • Bananas, $0.19 each at Trader Joe's
  • Naval oranges, $0.99/lb - great for kids' lunches
  • Sugar snap peas, $1.49 - great for kids' lunches
  • Peeled & cut carrots, $1.99 - great for snacks! 


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