5/31 thru 6/6 #mealplanning to use up everything you have before going on vacation! #motherhood #cooking

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
1 portion flank steak
2 portions baby back ribs
2 portions wings & drumsticks
2 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
2 portions made-ahead meatballs
3 portions Brats

1 portions Italian sausage
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

Ribs, loaded mashed potatoes, grilled corn
With my family still in town and celebrating Nolan's 3rd birthday with a party here at home, I needed an easy meal that could be made almost entirely on the pit outside. Baby back ribs were on sale ($1.99/lb), I had leftover twice-baked potatoes from last week's Girl Scout bridging ceremony and potluck that I would turn into mashed potatoes and fresh corn was 6@$2 so this meal was added to our menu. I had to purchase smoked paprika ($1.99/ea) for David to make his pork rub.

Chicken spaghetti
I have literally every ingredient on hand to make this meal and had already planned to make a batch for the Girl Scout potluck so, I made a double batch to have one for my family. This meal cost me nothing this week.

Turkey burgers and oven fries
In order to not purchase too many groceries as we are going on a three-week vacation at the end of next week, I searched through my freezer to find this meal. I have pre-formed turkey patties and frozen hamburger buns as well as a bag of frozen french fries. I just needed to purchase a tomato to slice and serve on top of mine. I have cheddar, lettuce, pickles, and bacon to go on top of the burgers on hand.


Enchiladas Verdes with chips and queso
I'm pulling this pre-made meal from my freezer in a second attempt to clean the freezer out a bit and make life easier this week as we come to the end of the school year. I can whip up queso with the Rotel, Velveeta and seasonings I have on hand, I just had to purchase fresh limes (3@$1).

Chicken and sun-dried tomato pesto over brown rice pasta with steamed broccoli
While smoking the ribs over the weekend, David is also grilling up some chicken breasts so, I'll have him set one aside for us to have this pasta dish. I found a container of pre-made pesto (I have got to start taking better inventory!) and have dry brown rice pasta in my pantry and thus, this meal was born. I also have a frozen bag of broccoli I will steam with butter to serve along side it.

Brisket chili and cornbread/corn chips
The finale meal on this week's menu is also from my freezer. Corn chips were Buy 1 Get 1 Free this week and it reminded me how awesome that brisket chili was I made a few months ago. I will thaw it out overnight and warm it in a pot. I have sour cream, green onion, cheddar, and of course the chips to serve it with.

What did I purchase this week?
Not wanting to waste any time shopping when we had a birthday party to put on, I shopped at Trader Joe's for 90% of the above items, going into Safeway for only those items that TJ's didn't have. I spent $146.70 mostly on fresh produce and the items we consume in our weekly breakfasts, lunches and dinners. Stocking up was NOT this week's focus as I mentioned we are going on a lengthy vacation soon and I don't want anything to go to waste.

Items purchased include:
  • French toast bread, $1.50 - for french toast breakfasts
  • 2, 12ct eggs, $1.99
  • Vegetable radatore pasta, $1.99 - it's the only one the kids like
  • Refried beans, $0.99 - for nachos and quesadillas
  • Frozen "steamers" peas, green beans, Buy 1 Get 1 Free
  • Bananas, $0.19/ea
  • Plums, $0.39/ea
  • 3lbs gala apples, $2.99
  • Yoplait yogurts, 10@$5 plus $1.00 off 3 or more, no limit
  • Peaches, $0.59/ea
  • 2lb strawberries, 18oz raspberries, 18oz b lueberries, $5/ea
  • Seedless watermelon, $2.99/ea
  • Seedless grapes, $1.99/lb 


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