Start by reading all about Meal Planning (Link at the top) in order to familiarize yourself with the steps! There, you will find a link to a detailed example of my own weekly meal planning where I walk you through step-by-step.
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.
4 portions ground turkey breast
2 portions ground beef
4 portions ground pork
2 portions pork tenderloin
5 portions ground brisket
10 portions boneless, skinless chicken breasts
5 portions Brats
1 portion King crab legs
1 portions made-ahead enchiladas Verde
1 portions made-ahead meatloaf
1 portions made-ahead lasagna
"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 ad 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
Smoked brisket cheeseburgers with grilled sweet potato wedges
David picked up a freshly ground 6lb brisket that he magically smoked into THE best cheeseburgers either of us have ever had. It's one of our favorite meals. I divided up the remaining meat and froze it. The brisket was $6.99/lb. We also paid $4 for gourmet burgers buns from Feel Good Bakery and $1.85 for an organic heirloom tomato. I had cheddar cheese and pickles on hand. I also paid $0.90 for 2 large sweet potatoes that we will parboil, slice, season and then grill. YUM!
Crab boil with corn and red new potatoes
A Southern, Coastal favorite that we can now easily afford with King crab legs going for only $6.99/lb! I bought 1lb plus organic new potatoes ($2.99), and fresh local corn (3@$1). It will be boiled in those famous Louisiana spices then, drained out on brown paper bags for us to dig into with our hands.
Turkey goulash and a salad with herb vinaigrette
Honestly, my suddenly very picky 6 year old forced me to make this meal this week. It's not that we don't like it, it's not difficult nor expensive to make, it's just not something we chose because our weather is SO HOT lately and a steaming hot bowl of hearty pasta is just not at the top of the list. However, Emily is no longer eating a few of her long-time favorite meals and it's left me with not many choices. She loves goulash so, I'm making a double batch to have for dinner and for her to have leftover 1-2 more times later in the week. The box of dried macaroni was $0.50 and the sour cream was $1.49. I have all the other ingredients on hand including organic Romaine lettuce leftover from last week to combine with dried cranberries, carrots, walnuts, and croutons for a simple side salad.
Grilled chicken sandwiches with chips
I stocked up on boneless, skinless chicken breasts because they were on sale for $1.99/lb. I bought as much as my freezer could hold, which is 10 portions (20 breasts). We will grill two extra this weekend and slap them on the other 2 gourmet burger buns we'll have leftover for an easy chicken sandwich. Chips were on sale (Buy 2 Get 2 Free) so, we will eat them with our sandwiches. Outside. At night, when it's cooler outside. :)
Gnocchi and grilled mushrooms with vodka cream sauce and garlic bread
After seeing a restaurant commercial, David confessed that he's never had Gnocchi and didn't even know what it was. After I guffawed, I put it on my grocery list because Trader Joe's had it pre-made for only $2.99. I also picked up an 8oz package of cremini mushrooms at Trader Joe's for $2 and a jar of their vodka cream sauce to smother it all in. Yum. I have a loaf of garlic bread in the freezer that I'll serve with it. Easy.
Mother's Day dinner out
What did I purchase this week?
I spent just under $150 this week and got so much food to stock my pantry and freezer with! I had to purchase bottled water because Emily has a field trip this week and they are requiring her entire lunch be disposable. We were also low on cheese nips, popcorn snacks, chicken marinade and Greek yogurt (Emily's lunches) so, I purchased those items as well. Organic golden apples were only $2.19/lb and I grabbed deliciously sweet mangos 3@$1 at Dan's. I'm making zucchini bread for the kids this week so I grabbed a few for only $0.49/lb and David and I are having Mojito's this week so, I purchased limes 6@$1.
The best Just4U deals this week included:
- Boneless, skinless chicken breasts, $1.99/lb
- Ground turkey breast, $5.99 each
- Luna bars, $0.88 each
- FREE 16oz Lucerne American cheese when you buy 2 cans of Grand's biscuits ($2 each)
- Lay's potato chips, Buy 2 Get 2 FREE
- Organic strawberries, $2/lb
- Open Nature English muffins, Buy 1 Get 1 Free
- Blackberries, $2 for 16oz