11/23 thru 11/29 #mealplanning to prepare for Thanksgiving completely blows the budget! #motherhood #parenting #cooking

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

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

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

Crispy tacos and chips with queso
A super quick, easy meal that I had everything on hand to make thank goodness because our Thanksgiving fest blew my budget this week!

Hawaiian burgers with oven-baked tator tots
Another meal I had everything on hand to make including the canned pineapple slices, frozen hamburger buns, and ingredients for the delectable sauce I purchased a few weeks ago. The only thing I purchased was a bag of frozen tator tots ($4.49) to serve with the burgers. 


Chicken Picatta and broccoli over quinoa pasta 
We ended up not eating this meal last week, we had leftovers a second night due to an unexpected soccer game, so it's on the menu again this week. I have fresh lemon juice I froze weeks ago and a bag of frozen broccoli. This meal cost me nothing this week! Noticing a theme, yet? In order to put as much of this week's budget towards Thanksgiving as I possibly could, I purposely chose meals that I already had on hand or could prepare with what I had in my pantry, fridge and freezer. :)

Meatball subs with chips
And yet, another meal that cost me nothing this week, except for choosing to purchase Lay's potato chips (Buy 1, Get 1 Free!). I still have frozen hoagie rolls and provolone cheese on hand.

This year's menu includes:
  • A savory orange & rosemary brinned SMOKED turkey (David smokes the 6lb bone-in turkey breast, $16.84 for 5-6 hours outside to free up my oven. And also because, other than a fried turkey, it's the best turkey I have ever had!) using the naval oranges I purchased today ($0.99/lb) and rosemary from my garden. After the brine, it will be rubbed with a fresh herb blend of the thyme, sage, and oregano I purchased today ($5.00 total).
  • Traditional cornbread dressing from my grandmother's recipe box. It's the dressing I grew up on and my absolute favorite part of the entire feast! I purchased cornmeal ($3.49) and organic celery ($2.99) for this dish. I have onions, garlic, and chicken stock on hand. I'll use some of the fresh thyme, rosemary, and sage I have remaining from the turkey.
  • Home-made whole berry cranberry sauce goes perfectly with this meal. I needed 1lb of fresh cranberries ($2.99) and will use some of the naval oranges I purchased.
  • Mashed potatoes and brown gravy is a must-have! I purchased a 5lb bag of Russet potatoes today (only $1.47!!!), half of which I'll use in this dish. I have canned evaporated milk and butter on hand. I make the gravy from scratch with the drippings from the smoked turkey, flour, butter, and seasonings I have on hand.
  • Macaroni & Cheese is a family favorite and another must-have. I purchased Italian elbows ($0.99), medium cheddar ($6.49) and smoked fontina ($4.19) for the sauce. I also purchased bacon (Buy 1 Get 1 Free!) to top of the dish with before baking it. 
  • Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Balsamic glaze. No one eats these but me and I love them so I'm happy to go the extra effort to make this dish just for myself! I have everything on hand for this dish.
  • Heavenly biscuits. At least that's what my grandmother called them. They are a buttermilk yeast biscuit I make from scratch every year. I make my own buttermilk with whole milk and white vinegar and have everything on hand to make the biscuits. 
  • Pumpkin pie. It's a given. I purchase pre-made pie crusts as the time-savings is worth the $2.99. I have pureed pumpkin and all the other ingredients to make the filling on hand.
  • Cream cheese cherry pie, my daughter's favorite! I needed a graham cracker crust (again, the $1.49 is worth my time not to make this myself!), cream cheese (4@$5), and canned cherry pie filling ($1.79). 
  • Champagne. This is also a given for David and I. It's how we get through the two days and relax enough to enjoy it! :)
Potato soup with leftover turkey 
A simple, delicious meal that takes no time to throw together the day after Thanksgiving! I'll use the rest of the potatoes I purchased for mashed potatoes and while mincing onion and celery for my cornbread dressing, I also mince up some carrots and set a portion of the three aside for this soup. Need it twice? Chop it once! Thanks, Rachel Ray! Once prepared, I toss in some of the remaining turkey, chives from my garden, and some of the bacon I prepared for my macaroni & cheese. 

What did I purchase this week?

I spent $214.16 today.

Yep, about $100 over budget but it's all in the name of delicious Thanksgiving! :)

Things we purchase weekly that I purchased this week include:
  • French toast bread, 2@$4
  • 18ct eggs, $3.29
  • Milk, $3.49
  • Half 'n half, $2.19
  • Frozen corndogs, $5.99
  • Frozen waffles, $2.99
  • Popcorn, Buy 1 Get 1 Free
  • Bacon, Buy 1 Get 1 Free
  • 6pk yogurt, $2.49
  • Blueberries, Buy 1 Get 1 Free
  • Seedless grapes, $1.99/lb
  • Organic honeycrisp apples, $1.99/lb
  • Pears, $0.99/lb
  • Bananas, $0.19/each
  • Naval oranges, $0.99/lb
Everything else was for Thanksgiving! 


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