1/18 thru 1/24 #mealplanning - end of the month and funds are limited so every ingredient counts! #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 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.

4 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

1 portion made-ahead chicken spaghetti
1 portion flank steak

"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 queso
While cleaning out the freezer and re-organizing it, I found a flank steak frozen. How did I miss that on my last inventory check?!? What a find! :) So, I'll marinate it in my fajita marinade (I had everything on hand except cilantro, which cost me $0.49) and have David grill it until medium-rare. We'll eat half of it sliced thinly and stuffed into soft, flour tortillas ($1.99) and topped with lettuce (organic Iceburg was only $1.49), tomatoes (leftover from last week), cheese, and salsa. I'll whip up a quick Tex-Mex queso (made with the Rotel, Velveeta, cumin, lime juice, garlic, and salt I have on hand) and serve it with tortila chips ($1.99).

Chicken spaghetti
For a super quick, rib-sticking meal one night this week, I'll thaw out this casserole I have in my freezer that morning so it's ready to bake that evening. This meal cost me nothing this week.

Red wine braised beef over mashed potatoes
I caught an episode of Ten Dollar Dinners one afternoon and Melissa's red-wine braised pork has been on my mind ever since. A friend of mine had some extra stew meat she wasn't using and offered it to me. I happily accepted and knew I'd be making this dish! I have all the ingredients on hand except red wine ($11.99 90-pt 2011 Cabernet) I had to purchase. I'll serve it over garlicky mashed potatoes made from the potatoes I have on hand. I'll finish off the red wine throughout the week. :) 


Pad Thai
I need to use up the cilantro I purchased for our fajitas and when I saw brown rice noodles, peanuts, and fish sauce in my pantry, this meal came to mind. I'll use half a package of ground turkey, saving the other half for early next week. I have everything else on hand to make this meal including leftover green onions from last week.

Steak sandwiches with fresh herb spread and oven fries
Parsley is flourishing in my garden with all this 70-degree weather we've been having so, I'll whip up my fresh herb spread to slather on hoagie rolls (in my freezer) topped with thinly sliced leftover steak from our fajitas. I have frozen curly fries in my freezer that I'll bake to serve with it. The only thing I had to purchase was a wedge of Parmagiano-Reggiano cheese ($9.20) that will last for a few months spread out over several great meals. 

Chicken Picatta over quinoa pasta 
I love Quinoa pasta and was lucky enough to score two boxes of angel hair for half price (only $1.79)! I have fresh lemons on my tree in the backyard as well as plenty of parsley and a jar of capers in my fridge so, this meal went on the menu. 

What did I purchase this week?
We are coming to the end of the month and my grocery funds are dwindling so, I used what I had on hand so that my grocery list would be as short as possible. It's so easy to spend $200+ every single week and I use to do that without even blinking but, over the years I have found how easily a bit more planning could cut my budget almost in half. 

I spent $79.35 at Safeway this week and purchased:
  • 6pk beer, $5.99
  • (2) loaves french toast bread, 2@$3
  • 8ct. flour tortillas, $1.99
  • Cabernet, $11.99
  • Milk, $3.70
  • Quinoa pasta, $1.79/ea
  • Deli ham, $5/lb
  • Tortilla chips, $1.99
  • Fritos, Buy 1 Get 1 Free
  • Green Giant steamers sweet peas, Buy 1 Get 1 Free
  • Half 'n half, $2.79
  • Parmagiano-Reggiano cheese, $9.20
  • Bean dip, $0.99
  • Cilantro, $0.49
  • Danimals 6pk, $1.88 limit 3
  • Frozen peaches, $2.99
  • Zucchini, $0.79/lb
  • Pears, $0.99/lb
  • 20ct Eggo nutri-grain waffles, $3.99
  • organic Iceburg, $1.49
  • (2) Totino's pizzas, 5@$4
  • (2) 6pk Lucerne yogurt, $2.19
  •  Seedless grapes, $1.99/lb
  • Bananas, $0.79/lb
  • organic Pink Lady apples, $2.19/lb


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