Start by reading all about Meal Planning (Link at the top) in 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.
Are you following me along in my gluten-free 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, 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.
1 portions ground sirloin
8 portions ground turkey
1 portions stew meat
6 portions boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 portion New York Strip Steaks
2 portions ribs
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
3 portions Italian sausage
1 portion made-ahead lasagna
3 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 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
Going gluten-free isn't for everyone and like I've said before, I'm not going to force my husband or child to give up their favorite, familiar foods; however, I am swapping out as much as I can for gluten-free alternatives.
Chicken Parmesan with roasted cauliflower
I was starring at the leftover fresh mozzarella cheese in the fridge, wondering what I could do with it and decided to melt it over oven-baked chicken breasts with some jarred marinara sauce. I have gluten-free bread crumbs, which are Panko and awesome! I will roast the entire head of organic cauliflower I purchased at Safeway today ($1.99) to serve with it.
Ribs, potato salad & rolls
Often times on Easter we will make barbeque, just to switch things up from the traditional ham meal. This year, we are smoking ribs ($2.99/lb at Costco)! I'm whipping up potato salad so I had to purchase red potatoes $1.49/lb and a sweet onion $0.99/lb. I have dill pickles, celery, mayo, mustard, and paprika on hand. I also purchased a package of Hawaiian sweet dinner rolls ($2) at David and Emily's request. We plan to make two of the three racks of ribs to have leftovers all week for lunch. YUM!
Organic Iceburg lettuce was only $0.99 this week so, I purchased 20oz of cremini mushrooms ($3.49 at Costco), green onions ($0.99), and a can of water chestnuts ($0.79) to make this meal. I will double the recipe and use an entire package of ground turkey ($2.19/lb at Costco!) so we'll have leftovers for lunch this week. Another YUM!
Enchiladas Verdes with chips and guacamole
So silly but, my freezer was stuffed FULL from everything I purchased from Costco on Thursday and something HAD to come out of it. I chose the remaining 2 portions of bone-in split chicken breasts. I purchased sour cream ($1.49) and cilantro ($0.49) to combine with the Verde salsa in my pantry in order to make the sauce. I have Monterrey Jack cheese in my fridge but had to purchase corn tortillas (hand-made 8ct were Buy 1 Get 1 Free!). I also purchased avocados (2@$3) and limes ($0.79/ea) to whip up guacamole to serve with chips (2@$5). I doubled the Verde sauce recipe and ended up with three pans of enchiladas: one to eat this week and two for the freezer!
BBQ chicken pizza
For a super quick, easy, delicious weeknight meal that would use up all the little bits of leftover ingredients I was going to have, this pizza was the perfect choice! I have dough in my freezer as well as frozen pineapple. I will use up the remaining green onion from the lettuce wraps, BBQ sauce from the ribs, cilantro from the guacamole, and bacon that I'm always frying for breakfast. I will use some of the cheddar jack cheese I purchased from Costco (2.5lbs for $11.99). I'll also top the pizza with one of the chicken breasts David will grill over the weekend for his lunches this week.
A friend from the PTA is in desperate need of metal cans for an art project so, because I have everything on hand, I decided to make taco soup this week in order to donate 8 cans to her cause. Funny, but true! :) I have canned beans, corn, tomato sauce, ranch dressing seasoning and taco seasoning on hand. I'll brown half a package of ground turkey with the remaining onion and cilantro to beef up the soup a bit. I plan to top mine with a little cheddar jack cheese and leftover guacamole and scoop it up with corn chips! This recipe makes enough for us to eat on leftover night plus to have for a lunch or two this week.
What did I purchase this week?
My first stop this week was at Costco where I spent $209.
In addition to everything mentioned above, I also purchased:
- 12ct Sara Lee hoagie rolls
- Krusteaz pancake mix
- 10lbs boneless, skinless chicken breasts
- Frozen chicken nuggets
- Precious string cheese
- 4lbs organic pears
- Organic maple syrup
- 2pk organic ketch-up
- Organic baby spinach - I plan to wilt with garlic and onion and make stuffed shells with it!
- 24ct organic eggs
- 3pk organic honey
- 6lb watermelon
- 8lbs organic gala apples
- Kraft singles
- Tillamook cheddar
- Organic strawberries
- 2pk organic raspberries
- 10lbs granulated sugar
Saturday morning, I wrapped up my shopping at Safeway where I spent another $186.77 on weekly necessities as well as to stock up on some great deals including:
- Bananas, $0.49/lb
- 2 Life cereal, $1.88
- Barilla jumbo shells, $1.00
- Kettle corn, 2@$3
- Sun-dried tomatoes, $5.99
- 2 Rotel, $0.79
- Tillamook yogurt, 4@$5
- Mountain High vanilla yogurt
- Parmigianno-Reggiano cheese and Fontina cheese
- Breakfast sausage, $1.99
- Danimals smoothies, $1.88, limit 3
- Act kids mouthwash, on sale $3.99 plus Just4U $1.00 off each, limit 4
- Breyer's ice cream, $2.99
- Fresh pineapple, $2.50
- Seedless grapes
- Sweet potatoes, $0.99/lb - I bake these and eat them with veggies and taco soup