5/24 thru 5/30 #mealplanning over #MemorialDay and when guests arrive! Staying in budget and eating well for less than $200 #cooking #SAHM #motherhood

Brand new to Meal Planning?

Start by reading all about Meal Planning in order to familiarize yourself with the steps! There, you will find a detailed "how to" in a Step-By-Step format as well as a link to an example - from start to finish - of my own weekly meal planning where I walk you through it. I perform the same steps every week which I briefly outline below.

This week's news:
Are you following me along in my gluten-free-as-much-as-possible healthy lifestyle journey? If not, I encourage you to read it HERE as it will effect my meal planning though not by much, surprisingly. :) I'm still cooking my family's favorite meals, which you can find in my Recipe Index, I'm simply substituting gluten-free and/or healthier options in place of those wheat products that contain gluten. I've been reading the book Wheat Belly along with assessing my own health and have decided that a gluten-free life is really what's best for me and my family. I'm doing my best to get my whole family involved though I'm practically dragging my garlic-bread-loving husband along at this point. haha!

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 to avoid wasting those ingredients.


2 portions ground sirloin
1 portions ground turkey
1 portions stew meat
4 portions boneless, skinless chicken breasts
3 portions pre-formed turkey patties for burgers
4 portions pre-formed chicken patties for burgers
3 portions frozen breaded chicken breast pieces
2 portions made-ahead brisket chili
3 portions made-ahead meatballs
3 portions Brats

1 portions Italian sausage
1 portions made-ahead spinach stuffed shells
2 portions made-ahead enchiladas Verdes
1 portion made-ahead smoked pork tenderloin

"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 which I can frequently find cheaper at my local farmer's market (Dan's). Why? Well, on shopping day, I stop at Dan's first and buy the items he's offering at a lower price. If I hadn't written down the lowest price of the fresh produce ahead of time, I wouldn't know if Dan's was really offering me a bargain. Then, I either drive over to Lucky's (across town and typically cheaper overall) or stop at Trader Joe's and/or Safeway (they are next door to each other!).

Lastly, I determine how I can stretch ingredients on that list, specifically fresh produce and expensive items, over enough meals to use them up to prevent waste. This helps fill in the gaps when I need another meal or two and/or change my menu to avoid having waste.

Weekly Meal Plan

Steak sandwiches with fresh herb spread and oven fries
Because I was due for a Costco run with the new coupon book and our dwindling freezer and pantry stock, I decided to put this meal on the menu, which required me to purchase flank steak ($7.99/lb) - we will cook one and freeze the other for a future meal - and mini baguettes ($4.99). During my stop at Lucky's, I also purchased arugula (Buy 1 Get 1 Free), parsley ($0.50) and capers (Buy 1 Get 1 Free for the spread and a bag of frozen fries ($4.99) for the side dish. This meal will make leftovers for the week for David's lunches.

Chicken Picatta over brown rice pasta with roasted cauliflower
Brown rice pasta was $1.00 off at Lucky's and having already planned to buy capers and parsley, this was the perfect meal to use up those ingredients. I have a lemon tree in the backyard and chicken in the freezer so, with the purchase of a head of cauliflower ($1.79), I had everything I needed for this meal.

Sweet 'n Spicy wings with hot-crash potatoes
Lucky's was offering wings and drumsticks for only $0.89/lb so I purchased two value packs (we'll smoke half over Memorial Day and freeze the other for a future meal) to make this meal. I also purchased red potatoes ($0.67/lb) to make Pioneer Woman's hot crash potatoes as a side. I'll only have one or two potatoes and fill my plate with the arugula and strawberry salad I'm serving with quiche later in the week.

Orange chicken and snow peas over brown rice
Tomato sauce in the pantry, an orange in the fruit bowl, and green onions only $0.50, aha! This is the easiest meal ever to make from scratch, I just needed a bag of snow peas (mix and match with snap peas, 2@$3).

Meatball subs with oven fries
To use up the fresh mini baguettes and pull a portion of my made-ahead meatballs from the freezer, I chose this meal this week. I just needed marinara sauce (3pk organic Classico sauce, $6.99), which was already on my list for my Costco trip. I also purchased provolone cheese ($1.99 at Lucky's). David loves oven-fries with subs so I'll bake another batch to serve with this meal. I'll have a side of leftover roasted cauliflower.

Quiche and an arugula and spinach salad with strawberries and fresh herb vinaigrette
While we had a handy-man here to fix our broken ice maker and it was being emptied out, I found a 2pk of quiche from a few Costco trips back. I love when that happens! So, a quiche and a salad it will be and it will make perfect breakfast leftovers a few days later.

Spinach-stuffed shells with garlic bread
We have family in town at the end of this week so I'm pulling the huge portion of made-ahead spinach-stuffed shells from my freezer as it will feed an army! I also purchased garlic bread ($1.99) and will serve leftover arugula and strawberry salad with it.

What did I purchase this week?

I spent $186 at Costco and mostly focused on stocking up on pantry, freezer, and fridge staples including:
  • 4pk bacon, $16
  • Organic vegetable better-than-bullion, $6.99
  • 2-gallon fat-free milk, $5.39
  • Half 'n half, $3.49
  • 6pk mini baguette, $4.99
  • 60ct Precious string cheese, $8.99 
  • 3lb bagged fresh garlic, $3.99
  • Honey, $11.99
  • Soy sauce, $3.59
  • 2, 3pk organic marinara sauce
  • Tillamook cheddar, $8.99
  • 32oz cremini mushrooms, $3.59
  • Flank steak, $7.99/lb
  • Cooked edemame, $4.99
  • 4lbs strawberries, $8.99
Then, I drove across town to Lucky's as they had the lowest prices on everything on my list this week, again and spent $78.40! Items purchased included:
  • Breyer's ice cream, 2@$6
  • Salmon, $8.99/lb - baked for my lunches this week
  • Deli ham, $6.99/lb
  • Pears, $0.79/lb
  • Sunyside greek yogurt, $2.99
  • Canned pumpkin, $1.29 - pumpkin muffins for the kids
  • Seedless grapes, $1.50/lb
  • 6oz raspberries, 2@$3
  • 12oz organic blueberries, Buy 1 Get 1 Free
  • Zucchini, $0.79/lb - zucchini bread for the kids
  • Whole wheat bread, $1.99
  • Red cabbage and parsnips, $0.49/lb for salad and oven "fries" for me
  • Gala apples, $1.29/lb


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