1/4 thru 1/10 #mealplanning The #kids are back at #school so meals have to be quick AND delicious. #motherhood #parenting #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 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.

7 portions ground turkey breast

1 portions New York strip steak
2 portions ground sirloin
7 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 portions made-ahead pulled pork smothered burritos
1 portion made-ahead chicken spaghetti
1 portion made-ahead stuffed shells
1 portion made ahead sun-dried tomato pesto

"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

Buffalo chicken sandwiches
I'm using the leftover, homemade blue cheese dressing from last week to slather on hoagie rolls I have in my freezer that I'm going to stuff with baked chicken tenders (in my freezer) that I'll toss in Buffalo wing sauce (in my pantry). We'll have chips on the side. This meal cost me nothing this week!

Sun-dried tomato pesto pasta with grilled chicken
Another meal that has me utilizing leftovers from last week is this one. Sun-dried tomato pesto is scrumptious when tossed with Farfalle and grilled chicken, something else I have leftover from last week. 

Sloppy Joe's with oven-fries
When you use a can of Manwich, sloppy Joe's are a 10-minute meal. I purchased some potato buns ($1.99) and a bag of frozen curly fries ($2.50) and I have everything I need for a super quick weeknight meal. I'll brown a portion of the ground sirloin that's in my freezer with some fresh onion ($1.49/lb) and garlic and ta-da!

Lettuce wraps
Iceburg lettuce was only $0.83/ea at Safeway, which made me immediately think of lettuce wraps. I have ground turkey in my freezer (I'll only use half) as well as all the ingredients to make the stir-fy sauce and dipping sauce. I decided to purchase a bag of broccoli slaw from Trader Joe's ($1.49) to stuff inside the wraps because it's just such a delicious, light, crunchy addition. 

Chicken enchiladas Verdes with chips & salsa
I noticed a can of Verde sauce in my pantry and several stacks of tortillas in my freezer and thought of enchiladas. I decided "yes" once I saw sour cream was $1.00 off and all 32oz shredded Lucerne cheeses were only $5. I had to purchase cilantro ($0.49) to complete this meal. I'll have enough to make one for dinner this week and one to put in my freezer. I love when that happens!

Pretzel-coated chicken and honey mustard sauce with garlicky mashed potatoes and a salad
While browsing Pinterest, I saw this meal that I remember making a few months ago and LOVING. I had a bag of honeywheat pretzels in my pantry plus Dijon mustard and raw honey so, with the purchase of a 5lb bag of Russet potatoes ($1.49 Just4U special!) and Romaine hearts ($1.99), I had everything I needed. This is a spin on baked chicken strips and it's sooooooooooo good. The kids really love this one!

Turkey Bolognese with a salad
I shredded up the zucchini I purchased last week but only needed half of it for the zucchini bread. I was trying to think of a way to use up the other half when I saw my Turkey Summer Pasta Bolognese in my recipe box. Even better: I can use up the other half of the ground turkey from the lettuce wraps. I have everything on hand to make this meal so, it cost me nothing this week.
What did I purchase this week?

I spent $112.45 this week, mainly to stock up for school lunches and after school snacks during play dates.

The weekly staples I purchased again this week included:
  • (2) 12ct eggs, $1.99/ea
  • Milk, $2.49
  • Deli ham 2lbs $5/lb
  • Mini Wheats cereal, $1.49 when you buy 4
  • Lucerne 32oz shredded cheese, $5 - I bought Mexican, Monterey Jack, and Mozzarella
  • Breakfast quiche, $2.99 at Trader Joe's  
  • Blueberry scones, $2.99 at Trader Joe's
  • Danish pancackes, $3.99 at Trader Joe's
  • Bananas, $0.19/ea
  • Golden apples, $0.99/lb
  • Pears, $1.49/lb
  • Organic strawberries, $4.99/ea
  • Raspberries, Buy 1 Get 1 Free
  • Blueberries, Buy 1 Get 1 Free
  • Blackberries 18oz, $5
  • Seedless purples grapes, $1.49/lb  
I was out of a few items that I also purchased this week:
  • Half 'n half for french toast
  • Dreyer's ice cream, 2@$5
  • Maple syrup, $16 at Trader Joe's
  • Cheetos varieties, Buy 1 Get 1 Free
  • Bread crumbs, $1.49
  • Canola oil, $1.99
  • Frozen steam-in-the-bag green beans, peas, and broccoli, $1.99/ea
  • Frozen waffles, $1.99
Are you restocking your home to prepare to send the kids back to school? Was your bill higher or lower than normal?  


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