11/9 thru 11/15 #mealplanning to empty the freezer in order to make room for #thanksgiving #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

3 portions flank steak
10 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
3 portions made-ahead meatballs
2 portions made-ahead spinach stuffed shells
1 portion made-ahead chicken & spinach flautas
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

Steak fajitas with chips and guacamole
Have you tried my fajitas marinade yet? It's so easy and so good and you can make fajitas indoor should you not own a grill/pit or are having bad weather! This meal came to mind as I saw the flank steak and prepared guacamole in the freezer, leftover Cilantro in the fridge, and a 20ct. of soft flour tortillas on sale for only $1.49. I had to purchase organic tomatoes and organic spring salad mix (on sale only $2.49) as well as a bag of tortilla chips (only $2.00) to complete this meal. I will cut the flank steak in half and marinate only half but have David grill both pieces (he will coat the other piece in Kosher salt and black pepper) so I can use the non-marinated piece later in the week.

Goulash and a salad with herb vinaigrette
My kids love my turkey goulash so, I purchased a bag of brown rice penne pasta from Trader Joe's (only $2.99) and will use half of it in this meal. I have everything else on hand to make this meal including canned, organic tomato sauce and sour cream.


Chicken & spinach flautas with chips and queso
I'm trying to empty my freezer to make room for all our Thanksgiving foods so, I'll use up a portion of these on a busy weeknight. I'll serve them with delicious Chili's copycat queso that I have everything on hand to make including Velveeta, Hormel chili with beans, and fresh lime juice. This meal cost me nothing this week!

Baked meatball pasta
In another attempt to empty my freezer, I'm going to bake a portion of my made-ahead meatballs and combine them with the fresh mozzarella cheese and jarred organic marinara sauce I have on hand, and the other half of the brown rice penne I'll have from earlier in the week. I'll mix it all together, top it with cheese, cover it in foil, and bake it for 45 minutes at 350 degrees. Yum!

Orange chicken over brown rice
I saw that I had some leftover green onions in my fridge and thought of orange chicken. I have everything on hand to make the sauce from scratch and will serve it over hearty brown rice. This meal cost me nothing this week!

Steak sandwiches with fresh herb spread and baked oven fries
The easiest and most delicious way to use up leftover grilled steak is these sandwiches! I'll be posting the recipe this week so stay tuned! I needed organic arugula ($1.99), capers ($2.19), and Parmigano-Reggiano cheese ($9.89) to complete the herb spread. I also needed a fresh loaf of french bread ($1.99). I'll top the sandwiches with the remaining organic tomatoes from our fajita dinner.

What did I purchase this week?

I spent a mere $61.45 this week between Safeway and Trader Joe's. Can you believe that?!?!?

It's all due to careful meal planning around my stocked freezer.

Besides the items listed in the meal plan above, I also purchased the staples we needed for this week's meals:
  • Lucerne yogurt 6pk, 2@$5
  • Danimals 6pk smoothies, $1.29 - I only purchased one as they were too close to expiration
  • Turkey corn dogs, $2.99 at Trader Joe's
  • Deli ham, $5/lb
  • Organic pears, $2.49/lb
  • Organic honeycrisp apples, $2.99/lb
  • Green & purple seedless grapes, $1.19/lb
  • Organic raspberries, 2@$6
  • Bananas, $0.19/ea


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