12/14 thru 12/20 #mealplanning - when I asked my husband to plan this week's menu you know what I got? A week's worth of sandwiches. #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

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

6 portions plain pork sausage
1 portions Italian sausage
1 portions ground beef
1 portions made-ahead meatballs
1 portions made-ahead spinach stuffed shells
1 portion made-ahead calzones
2 portions made-ahead pulled pork smothered burritos
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 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

Grilled chicken sandwiches with fresh herb spread
I had leftover arugula from last week's meals and immediately thought of those glorious steak sandwiches with fresh herb spread. But we didn't have steak in the freezer so, chicken it is! I'll have David smoke an extra chicken breast that I'll cut in half (butterfly style) and place on toasted hoagie rolls (in my freezer) with this spread. I needed to purchase fresh parsley (mine froze over this last week - I didn't know I had to cover my herbs!!!) for $0.50 and capers (Just4U deal of only $2.19). I don't serve anything with these sandwiches because they are so full of greens.

Meatball subs with oven-baked tator tots
Another delicious sandwich David wanted on the menu this week that cost me nothing! I have the pre-made meatballs, hoagie rolls and tator tots in my freezer, as well as fresh provolone cheese and jarred marinara sauce on hand.

Chicken tortilla soup
I froze more than half of the beer-can chicken David smoked last weekend and will it up to make this soup. It's actually my "Tex Mex Potato soup" in my recipe index if you are looking for it. It's the copy-cat version of Houston's restaurant's famous tortilla soup. I needed to purchase a can of creamed corn ($0.89) and a can of Rotel (Just4U $1.00 coupon, $0.83), celery ($0.99), as well as a bunch of cilantro ($0.50). I have Russet potatoes in my pantry and homemade chicken stock in my freezer. I also have chives that survived last week's freeze, cheddar cheese, and bacon to top the soup with. David loves dipping garlic bread in his soup, while I prefer to scoop it up with tortilla chips, so I purchased garlic bread today, 2@$3.

Turkey burgers with chips
While shopping my freezer, I saw a large bag of hamburger buns and the bag of pre-formed turkey burger patties and decided to have those this week, too. They can be made in 10 minutes on an indoor grill pan, which I love most. We top them with cheese and bacon and will serve them with chips.

Grilled chicken Ceasar salad
David loves home-made, classic Ceasar salad and requests this meal weekly so, I gave in this week and put it on the menu. I love it, too, don't get me wrong, I just don't think of a cold salad during the winter time. :) I have all the ingredients for the dressing on hand but did need to purchase organic Romaine hearts ($2.50). I'll top the salad with one of the grilled chicken breasts David will grill over the weekend.

Crispy beef tacos with chips and guacamole
Another favorite of David's is tacos and, because this will use up the romaine lettuce and cilantro I needed for meals earlier in the week, it was the perfect addition to this week's menu. I purchased avocados ($1.57/ea) and chips for the dip and a box of crispy taco shells ($1.50).

David's last request for this week was breakfast for dinner or "brinner". We'll have french toast (I make it weekly for breakfast), scrambled eggs, and sausage.  YUM!

What did I purchase this week?

I spent $86.20 this week.  

Yep, way less than $100 for the week. 

We needed milk ($3.49), tortillas ($2.99), deli ham ($5/lb), 6pk yogurt ($1.99), organic fuji apples ($1.99/lb), seedless grapes ($1.19/lb), Kraft singles (Buy 1, Get 1 Free), shredded mexican-style cheese ($5), and popcorn (Buy 1 Get 1 Free). 

I also stocked up on this week's "BOGO" deals:
  • Safeway salsa
  • Vlasic pickles
  • Orville Reddenbocker popcorn
  • Barilla pasta varieties
  • Buitoni fresh pasta 
Do you ever ask your spouse/SO to do the mealplanning and/or shopping?

Or are YOU ever asked to do it?

How does it go? Anything you find appearing on the menu over and over again like my husband's love of sandwiches? 


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