1/11 thru 1/17 #mealplanning Three meals using one, $5.68 whole chicken! How to stretch one ingredient deliciously #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 also find a link to a detailed example from start to finish of my own weekly meal planning where I walk you through step-by-step. I perform the same steps every week as I have outlined below.

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. Last week, I injured my foot (you can read about that HERE) thus, I couldn't stand at the stove and make meals at the end of the week. We didn't end up eating the lettuce wraps on last week's menu (it's on this week's!), we threw the pork-stuff burritos in the oven and smothered them in Queso instead, which I have removed from my inventory below. I also ate the remaining portion of sun-dried tomato pesto smeared on turkey wraps and mixed into Quinoa for easy, quick lunches for myself. You'll see I've removed it from my inventory below.

6 portions ground turkey breast

1 portions ground sirloin
2 portions boneless, skinless chicken breasts
3 portions pre-formed turkey patties for burgers
3 portions Brats

2 portions plain pork sausage
1 portions made-ahead spinach stuffed shells
1 portion made-ahead chicken spaghetti
1 portion made-ahead stuffed shells

"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

As I mentioned in the title, I scored a whole, 7lb chicken for under $6.00 because Safeway was offering them for only $0.79/lb. I had David smoke it over a can of beer on the pit for just under four hours and I cut it up to have three meals out of it. First, we ate the whole breast alongside potatoes Au Gratin and a salad. Then, I picked all the remaining breast, thigh, wing and leg meat and chopped it up really finely. I got over three cups of meat! I'll top a salad of Romaine hearts leftover from last week with half of it and my home-made Caesar salad dressing. I'll then mix the other half into my Tex-Mex Potato Soup, which is actually a copy cat version of Houston's restaurant's Tortilla Soup. The base of their soup is potatoes and extremely dense and creamy, which is why after I altered it, I just couldn't call it tortilla soup anymore. :) 

Beer-can smoked chicken with potatoes Au Gratin and a salad with herb vinaigrette
As I mentioned above, I got a whole chicken for only $5.58 that David smoked on the pit on Saturday and I took the breasts from to serve with potatoes Au Gratin, which I had all the ingredients for on hand. I had two leftover Romaine hearts from last week that I'll chop up with some of the cherry tomatoes I purchased today ($2.99 at Trader Joe's) as well as the bacon and croutons I have on hand and top it with my herb vinaigrette that I also have all the ingredients for on hand.

Stuffed shells with garlic bread
I am pulling this meal from my freezer to make for a quick, easy weeknight meal. This meal cost me nothing this week.

Lettuce wraps with broccoli slaw
Thankfully, the Iceburg lettuce and broccoli slaw I bought last week stayed crisp and fresh so I can use it in this meal this week. I'll only need half a package of ground turkey but I will brown up all the meat with onions and garlic at one time and use the other half in taco soup later in the week. 

Tex-Mex Potato Soup with leftover smoked chicken
I'm using some of the Russet potatoes and cilantro I purchased last week to make this soup. I also needed a can of cream-style corn ($0.79). I'll use about 1.5 cups of the smoked chicken to mix into this soup to make it a protein-packed meal. 

Calzones with marinara sauce for dipping
I'll use up one of the portions of pork sausage I have in my freezer as well as the canned pizza dough I have in my fridge leftover from Christmas, and the shredded mozzarella I stocked up on last week in my fridge to whip up these easy Calzones. I have a jar of organic Classico tomato and fresh herbs sauce in my fridge, which is the only sauce we like to dip calzones in, to serve alongside it. 

Taco soup with tortilla chips
Being forced to stay off my feet as often as possible called for easy meals this week for dinner as well as lunch and this soup immediately came to mind. It's as easy and throwing all the ingredients in the crockpot and leaving it to cook all day! I'll use the other half of the ground turkey from the lettuce wraps and add to it the canned beans (4@$4) I purchased today and the Rotel, organic frozen corn kernals, tomato sauce, taco seasoning, and ranch seasoning I have on hand. I also needed to purchase tortilla chips (2@$5) to use like spoons for this meal. This recipe makes enough to eat some, freeze some, and save some for lunch leftovers. It's a huge win-win!

Caesar salad with leftover smoked chicken 
I need to use up the two leftover Romaine hearts I have in my fridge from last week and my husband suggested Caesar salad. He loves it so much and so do I. I have everything for the dressing as well as croutons and Parmaginao-Reggiano cheese to shave on top. I normally slice up leftover grilled chicken but will use the leftover smoked chicken to top this salad with instead. It should bring a delicious twist to this meal.

What did I purchase this week?

I spent $111.87 this week between Safeway and Trader Joe's.

From Trader Joe's, I purchased the items that were cheaper than they were at Safeway (like I said above, I check Safeway's prices on the Just4U app first thing and write those prices down and then, compare when I get to Trader Joe's) including:
  • Sparkling wine, $6.99 and a Heifervizen for the beer can chicken, $1.99
  • Inner Peas dried snap peas, $1.99
  • Organic vegetable dried pasta, $1.99 - Nolan loves this with marinara sauce
  • Parmesan cheese, $2.49
  • Multi-grain frozen waffles, $1.99
  • Organic snap peas, $1.49 - for Emily's lunches
  • 24oz carrots, $1.49 - for all our lunches
  • Organic celery hearts, $1.99 - for all our lunches
  • JoJo's cookies, $2.99
  • Organic peanut butter crackers, $2.99 - for snacks
  • Green onions, $0.99
  • Bananas, $0.19/ea
  • 12oz blackberries, $3.49
  • 4lb minneolas, $2.99
At Safeway I purchased:
  • 100% whole wheat sandwich bread, $0.99
  • 10ct Mission tortillas, $1.79 
  • Deli ham, $5/lb
  • (4) 10ct super stuffer taco shells, $0.99/ea
  • (4) Bush's bean varieties, $0.99/ea
  • Amy's organic refried vegetarian beans, $2.67
  • Danimals smoothies, $3.99 - for Emily's lunches
  • Pears, $1.49/lb
  • Green Giant frozen Steamers peas, Buy 1 Get 1 Free
  • Organic raspberries, 2@$8
  • 18oz blueberries, $5
  • Seedless green grapes, $1.99/lb
  • Organic fuji apples, $0.99/lb


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