11/30 thru 12/6 #mealplanning Restocking and preparing for the final month of school and Christmas #motherhood #kids #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.

3 portions ground turkey breast

6 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
1 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

Steak Fajitas and beer-cheddar queso
Does anyone else pin recipes on Pinterest and build meals around them? No? Just me? Hmmm... well, that's okay! I admit it. I love Pinterest and recently pinned a beer-cheddar queso recipe that I decided to make and serve alongside Steak fajitas. I had to purchase tortillas (Querro 20ct $1.87), an orange ($0.67/each) and cilantro ($0.99) for the marinade, and a beer ($2.99), jalapeno ($0.19), shallots ($1.99), Chorizo ($0.99), and white cheddar cheese ($4.10) for the queso. 

BBQ chicken pizza 
Trader Joe's has the best fresh pizza dough for only $1.00, did you know that? Yum. So, I purchased two packages and decided to make this pizza after I saw that I had BBQ sauce in my fridge. I purchased Colby Jack cheese ($4.20), frozen pineapple tidbits ($2.99), and green onions ($0.99). I'll use some of the cilantro from the fajitas and bacon I have on hand to top the pizza alongside the extra chicken breast I'll have David grill. 

Pad Thai
We love this meal and it's sooooooooo easy! I had to purchase almost everything for this meal including: brown rice noodles ($3.49 - NOT on sale, gah! :( ), roasted & salted peanuts ($3.99), cilantro (I'll use up what's leftover from the fajitas), and green onions (I'll use up what's left from the pizza). 

Buffalo chicken sandwiches with blue cheese dressing and oven-fries
I spied a bottle of Frank's Buffalo sauce in my pantry from the last time I stocked up on a "Buy 1 Get 1 Free" deal and knew I had frozen french hoagie rolls in my freezer so, I decided to make these sandwiches. I'll just have David grill an extra chicken breast that I'll slather in the sauce! I decided to make blue cheese dressing myself so, I purchased sour cream ($1.49), mayo ($2.99), and blue cheese crumbles ($3.99).

Lasagna with garlic bread
With sweet Italian sausage in my freezer and goat cheese in my fridge, I decided to make a couple of lasagnas. I had to purchase ricotta cheese ($2.49), Italian dried lasagna noodles ($1.99), crushed tomatoes ($1.87), and fresh basil ($1.99) for the lasagna. I also purchased frozen garlic bread (2@$3) to serve with it. I should have enough ingredients to make at least two lasagnas. 

Smothered burritos with chips and guacamole
The jar of Hatch green chili Verde sauce has been starring at me every time I open my upper storage cabinet so, I decided to use it as well as the remaining sour cream from the Buffalo chicken sandwiches to make Verde cream sauce to pour over the burritos I have in my freezer. This meal is so yummy, way better than Taco Bell's smothered burritos for sure! I decided to serve them with chip and guacamole so I purchased avocados ($1.67/ea) to combine with the remaining shallots and cilantro I purchased. I have all the other ingredients on hand.

Pizza party play date
My girlfriend's daughter is one of Emily's BFFs and she suggested we get together on Friday night to have a little pizza party dinner play date. I am so excited! It's so hard to catch up with friends when we're all busy with work and school and other things. I'll pick up a few pies and we'll hang out, it's going to be so great! 
What did I purchase this week?
Let me first preface by saying I spent more than half of what I'm about to tell you to prepare for Christmas. 

There. I feel better now. :)

I spent $238. 

Yep. Twice my budget. And I'm okay with that because, like I said, I spent more than half of that to stock up for Christmas. My sister and I drink, a lot, over Christmas so, I took advantage of the 30% wine sale plus the additional 10% off when you purchase 6 or more bottles and I bought 6 bottles. It was just over $100. Then, because I know Trader Joe's runs out every year weeks before Christmas, I purchased all those yummy Christmas goodies including dark chocolate covered peanut butter cups, Flour de sel caramels, Gingerbread Man cookies, Chocolate mint stars, chocolate liquor cherries, and Hazelnut cookies. That was another $57. And I'm okay with it.

And now to the real groceries. The things I purchased in addition to what I've already mentioned in my meal plan above included:
  • Yoplait yogurt 10@$6
  • Orange juice, $5
  • Half & half, $1.49 
  • Milk, $3.49
  • (2) 12ct eggs, $1.99
  • Organic vegetarian refried beans, $2.67
  • Cheese sticks, $1.99
  • Deli ham, $5/lb
  • Maple syrup, $16
  • Frozen "steamers" peas, 3@$5
  • Blueberries scones, $3.99
  • Peanut butter crackers, $2.49
  • Cereal bars, $1.99/ea
  • Seedless grapes, $1.99/lb
  • Sugar snap peas, $1.99
  • Bananas, $0.19/ea
  • (2) 4lb bags organic honeycrisp apples, $4.99/ea
  • Pears, $1.49/ea
  • Alphabet cookies, $3.99  


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