Menu Planning Monday 9/17/2018

This has been a bit of a different weekend. Everyone was home from Thursday till Monday. All three kids were out of school on Monday so things are a little off. We did manage to eat out only 1 meal (Sunday lunch) and I did prepare a lot of food ahead for the coming weeks and months. You will notice extra soup and soft foods on the menu this week, both Zach and Lily had their braces tighten and need some softer options.

Breakfast- Saturday-Eggs and Bacon, Sunday-Quick meal (we woke up late) Monday- Eggs and toast, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday- Choice of pop-tarts, breakfast burrito bowl, egg muffins, cereal, toast. eggos or grits.
Lunch-Saturday-Baked Potato soup in Instapot  Sunday- Coach’s  Restaurant with friends . Kids have lunch packed including lunchables, uncrustables and wraps. My goal is to only eat out on Friday this week: salad, humus , pimento cheese and crackers . I even managed to take my lunch on the work day which was Monday. 
Dinner – Saturday-Country Style steak  Sunday- left-overs  , Monday-White Bean chicken chill Tuesday- Soft Taco , Wednesday-Chicken and Broccoli Casserole, Thursday- Sloppy joes and French Fries. Friday-cowboy beans and corn bread(I made baked Ziti last week and ate so we just brought this forward.)

Cooking Ahead

I was surprised and excited to learn on Wednesday that due to the impending hurricane, my school system would close early on Thursday and be closed all day on Friday of this week.  The reason for my excitement was the thought of how much I could get ahead with cooking.  I made a trip to the grocery store to grab the stuff I needed to make baked ziti Wednesday night. I also ended up sending Matt to the store Thursday night to get some shells we needed.

Here is what my day looked like:

Breakfast- triple batch of sausage gravy.  The remainder will stay in the fridge for use for either a hearty quick breakfast or breakfast bowls for dinner next week.
After breakfast, I browned 3# of hamburger meat. We bought a new pan at Costco that made this job so much easier.  The meat went into the crockpot with taco seasoning and water while we ventured out to piano.

Lunch- Matt ate an burrito, Zach and Lily had mashed potatoes. Both had adjustments to their braces on Thursday. I had hummus and chips and Kendall a sandwich. After lunch, Matt and I formed an assembly line and made 27 beef and bean burritos. We froze these. Two minute in the microwave and these make a great lunch or quick dinner.

Dinner-I started working on dinner around 3pm. Using my Baked Ziti recipe ( I plan to post and update the link on Saturday). It is very simple to make one ziti to eat and another for freezing. We ended up having friends over for dinner. I was able to pull enough lettuce out of the garden to make a decent salad.

Accomplishment of the day: 3 breakfast meals, 25 frozen burritos and two awesome baked ziti!

Monday Menu Post 8/20/2018

This is the week that I am counting on Menu planning to really pay off.  Matt and I both will be working full time and the kids are don’t start school until next Monday. I did try to stock up on Breakfast foods this past weekend.

Breakfast- Saturday-Breakfast burrito bowls (using gravy from Friday), Sunday- Eggs with pesto and cottage cheese for Zach and me, Pop-tarts for the girls and left over burrito bowl for Matt. Monday- Burrito bowl minus gravy for me, fruit for kids and cereal for Matt Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday- Choice of pop-tarts, breakfast burrito bowl, egg muffins, cereal, eggs or grits.
Lunch- Saturday-lunch out with friends Sunday- Pizza from Dominos. I will be eating out most of the week at my new job, Monday- left over pizza and bagel bites, Tuesday- burritos for everyone but Kendall who is eating a lunchable. Wednesday- Mac and chesses, the blue box kind, Thursday- Sandwiches, Friday- left-overs or uncrustables.
Dinner – Saturday- Hot dogs Sunday- Baked potatoes , Monday- Salisbury steak, mashed potatoes, green beans and watermelon, Tuesday- Chicken Enchiladas from freezer, Wednesday-Slow cooked pepper steak , Thursday- Corn dogs from Sonic after meet the teacher and Friday-Pull pork, veggie and fruit.

Matt and I actually planned the menu for the next six weeks but will make adjustments and changes are we see fit. I am so excited and ready to see the kids every night at dinner!

Cooking Ahead

One of the biggest changes or should I say most difficult change for me, is going to be that I am responsible for dinner most days of the week. Both Matt and I will be working until around 4:30pm each day.  I know myself and realize that if I don’t have something that is already complete in the crockpot or can be placed in the oven with five minutes or less of prep than I will want to eat out. But really after working all day who does want to cook?  With this in mind, I spent most of my day today working on meal preparation. I know there are a couple of people who wander what and how so I am going to provide probably too many details.

First up was left-over chicken and pasta from the beach.  This was an excellent meal made by Amanda but we had leftovers especially chicken breast.  I shredded  1/4 of the chicken breast, mixed in about half a block of cream cheese together with the left-over pasta and this was our lunch today. I shredded the rest of the chicken breast, added a bag of frozen vegetables, cut up a potato, 2 cans of cream of chicken soup mixed with a cup of chicken broth and pour on top. Kendall wrote a index card with the directions for the topping and in the freezer it went.

I purchased a 10 pound bag of chicken breast from Costco that I pulled out next. I used my insta pot to cook approximately 4 pounds, really as full as it would go. Next, the kitchen aid shredded the chicken. I was able to make 2 containers of Chicken Broccoli Casserole .    I have learned that I needed to chop up the broccoli in order to make everyone happy.  I also made 2 batches of Chicken Enchiladas-  I don’t add the salsa or cheese on top before freezing. Finally made a regular Chicken Pie. Kendall added a card with instructions. I also labeled both the top and side with what each thing was.  I added about another 3 pounds of chicken breast to the instapot and cut this is cubes for Chicken Fried Rice. ( I will try and add the recipe for this soon). I left 6 breast in the bag and added a bottle of Italian dressing. This will marinate for 3 or 4 days and become awesome grilled chicken. That is a total of 8 meals from one bag of chicken and 9 meals prepped for the day.

We, Matt and I did an inventory last night and we have 2 meals of cowboy beans, a meal of taco soup, several meals of Salisbury steak, taco meat and sloopy joes all prepared.   Matt is also excited to find 10 more frozen burritos.

Taco meat is easy, brown 5 pounds of hamburger dump in crock pot along with water and seasoning, cook on low for 3-4 hours. We divide ours into 1# bags for either tacos or nachos.

Sloppy joes are similar with 5 pounds of browned hamburger, this also cooks in the crook pot for several hours. These are also packed in 1# bags, which feeds the 6 or 7 of us easily.

We also have lots of beef from the cow we purchased. I do want to make some easy breakfast this week but am starting to feel more comfortable with our meals. The last stage will be writing out a meal plan for the month some time this week.

Saving on Saturday

Find out the day that your local supermarket reduces the meat and that is when you shop.

I can honestly say, I have heard of this  way to  saved money  but did not believe it was true until this week.  I had planned to shop at Food Lion this weekend due to Lunchables being on sale for $1 each. These are quick and easy lunches that my kids consider a special treat. In the past, I have been able to stock up on these just prior to school starting but that was not the case this year.  My mother was with us and helped to find some of the deals. I was able to purchase over one hundred dollars worth of meat for $66. This is a 40% savings on meat!

I grabbed several packets of thin steaks for Fajitas, a pack of steaks, several pack (ok 6 packs of chicken nuggets with cheese, meatballs and both chicken and pork bites.   These are not the typically way we would eat these items but I am super excited that we have a chance to try some new and different things without breaking the bank.

This meat deal could have not come at a better time for us as we will be purchasing a whole cow in the next 2 months in addition to 80# of chicken from Zaycon. But in the meantime we still need meat and the kids insist that they have meat at least 2 of the 3 meals

What good deals have you found lately? Leave a comment to prove you read!

Six Things On Saturday- 2/10/2018

Yes this is the “day late and dollar short” version of 5 Things Friday. I will be the first to admit that the last couple of weeks have been very stressful and emotionally exhausting in addition to being financially straining.

Yesterday, was our first full paycheck for the month of February. The good news is that we were able to catch up from the snow week. I have a plan in place for both our tax returns and am very hopeful that this will allow us back on a slow but steady track to paying down our huge debit this year. We are working to reduce both our electric and water bills to a more normal level. Matt and I have already worked out a Menu plan for the month which means we should be able to keep the grocery bill on a lower than usual level. Another positive is that Matt has been selling vinyl decals on a very steady basis this month. This is definitely helpful as we have lots of unexpected expenses.

I am battling left-overs in our fridge.  Our super bowl party is always fun but we end up with some interesting left-overs.  This week, I made an effort to make meals of left-overs and strongly suggested that Matt and Lily eat left-overs for lunch. Today, I am repurposing left-overs, we had a bag of carrots, and a bunch of celery, several cups of rice and some pulled pork.  I did a little bit of thinking and decided to make pork fried rice.  I chopped up the pork and realized that we had over 4 cups left which is enough to make 2 full meals for us. I let Kendall help chop up the carrots and celery. I added some green peppers and onions and that became our veggies for the stir-fry. One set for dinner and a second set in the freezer for a crazy day of what is for dinner.

Zach has officially started taking piano. He has been asking for over a year but we really wanted him to wait until he was a strong reader before attempting. Kendall started teaching him this week for fun. He even practiced every day without being told. This is definitely an expense that I don’t mind adding.

I am so ready for spring, in fact I have already planned out our square foot garden and added several more containers. I am very hopefully that with a little extra work this year we will have a bumper crop.  I purchased trees a couple of years ago to start work on a landscape line. The trees came with a 2 year guarantee. I received an email yesterday that a new peach tree is being shipped this week. My mother has also been growing several pecan trees in her flower bed. So we should be able to finish the border without spending any additional money!

Our busy schedule has returned. Some days, I am honestly thinking how do we actually do this. This week, Lily has practice for her play, 4 nights and a party the 5th night. Kendall has 2 days of extra curricular activities in addition to church on Wednesday night. Matt has also doubled his hours at work for this week. Yikes, better rest up today!

Monday Menu Planning 1/22/2018

I have to admit that last week’s snow threw a wrench in my meal plan for the week. The good news is that I decided to cook and use items we already had on hand!  This week our crazy normal schedule returns with at least 3 days of evening activities.

Breakfast- Saturday-Fried Bologna and scrambled eggs , Sunday- Cereal and milk , Monday-baked oatmeal,  Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday- Choice of cereal, eggs or left-overs, Thursday- breakfast burrito bowl.

Lunch- Saturday- pizza snacks , Sunday- meal at friends house , Monday- left over pizza for everyone. The kids are taking 2 day of sandwiches and 2 grab and go days.  I plan to eat at work a couple of times this week as they have my favorite sandwich.

Dinner – Saturday- Pizza , Sunday- Chicken parmesan with spaghetti noodles  Monday- Bacon Ranch Chicken casserole , Tuesday- Taco Tuesday, Wednesday-Left over night , Thursday- Pulled pork or pork chops , Friday- Hamburger and French Fries.

Menu Planning Monday

Back on a tight budget means back to menu planning for us!  I was able to spend some time on Saturday and get a good idea of what foods we have in addition to doing some extra food prep that should come in handy when things get busy in the spring again. If you want to check out the new recipes I used you can!

Breakfast- Saturday- left-over pancakes and sausage balls from dinner on Thursday. Sunday- Bacon and Pimento cheese biscuits. Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday- Leftovers (baked oatmeal or pancakes) or choices. Thursday- Omelet, Friday- Baked oatmeal.

Lunch- The kids have 2 sandwich days, 2 grab and go days and soup. I am taking left-overs each day. Lily has left-overs, mac and cheese or ramen noodles.  Saturday lunch- left-over wings and pizza from Amanda. Sunday- Mexican rice and Chicken Enchiladas

Dinners- Saturday- Italian Cream Chicken, Sunday- Lazy Day beef Stew, Monday Spaghetti, Tuesday Salisbury Steak, glazed carrots and rice, Wednesday- Chicken Fried Rice and Friday- Pulled Pork.

So far so great on our grocery budget for the month, we have spent $21.61 which includes the purchase of a Sunday paper.

Saving on Saturday

Today, I am saving time and money by cooking ahead! I am also sticking to items that I have in the pantry or freezer as I have a very small grocery budget this month. Today, I focused on using frozen chicken breast.  I  was very pleasantly surprised when my instapot was able to cook 10 breast from frozen to done in less than an hour (30 minutes actually pressure time).  I shredded those in my kitchen aid and used for a Chicken Taco Casserole and Chicken Enchiladas. I also froze 2 packs of shredded chicken. The casserole is one of our quick easy items to use on a busy day. Chicken Enchiladas will be lunch tomorrow. While the instapot was working, I started dinner for tonight, which was Creamy Italian Chicken. This is a recipe that Amanda has made before so I knew that it was good. That is a total of 5 meals in less than 2 hours of total time.

Matt made a batch of homemade pimento cheese that we will use for breakfast in the morning . I also pulled out the ingredients for a beef stew for dinner tomorrow night. This recipe is from Zach’s calendar so he is excited to try it.

The best part of all these meals is cost today is $0!   We used all the ingredients from the pantry and freezer. First week of January behind us with a  total of $20 spent in groceries!

Monday Menu Planning 12/11/2017

Menu Planning has taken on a new level and meaning this week. I “forgot” to record the paying of a bill last week. This mistake meant that we were not able to make our huge restocking trip to Costco on Thursday as we had originally planned. Instead, we scaled way back and spent less than $100 to purchase meat and several other items that we were completely out of.  This week, the plan is to shop on Saturday. I know this is not the smartest thing we could do but it will be easier this Saturday as opposed to next Thursday prior to Christmas. This weeks menu plan is simple and uses what we have or were able to purchase last week.

Breakfast- Saturday- Cereal and milk. Sunday-Big Breakfast ( eggs, bacon, grits and toast), Monday thru Thursday Choices or cereal and milk, . Friday- Baked oatmeal-Choices of eggs, fried bologna, grits, French toast or toast.

Saturday- Kids ate at Amanda’s, Matt had Burger King and I had Biscuit King (both Matt and I ended up working) Sunday- Baked Potato Soup in Instapot. I am so excited that this worked and turned out awesome!  Lunch are planned out with a special treat on Thursday of IHOP since everyone has doctor appointments and we have a gift card left over from our trip!

Dinner- Saturday- Chili from crock-pot. Sunday- Burger King (total of $5 after gift card), Monday- Pork Chops with stuffing and green beans. Tuesday- Spaghetti Wednesday- Salisbury Steak, rice and fruit. Thursday- not sure yet but it may just be left-overs. Friday- Church dinner!