Monday Menu Planning

May be an image of text that says 'If by "meal planning" you mean "constantly planning in my my mind what I'll eat next" then, yes. I do meal planning.'

This describes Zach completely!  I will admit I stole this off Facebook this morning!

One of my long-standing goals for each summer is to meal prep for the following year!  Last year this was off the table due to not having a stove and in 2020 we were receiving school lunch deliveries every day, so I did not need to do much meal preparation at all.  This year I am going to set a goal of 100 prepared recipes that we just need to thaw heat and eat. Some of these like Salisbury steak, and taco meat will have to wait until after we receive our cow but with having some extra time today. I wanted to get started as well as use up some various items in the fridge.  This should allow enough flexibility to eat what we feel like and also speed most dinners along.  If I am able to store more that 100 than that is even better.   One more side story, I needed to get a baked ziti in the freezer to use on our beach trip this summer. When I checked the freezer and cabinets for spaghetti sauce, I realized we were completely out.   As I was scanning the internet, I did find a bolognaise recipe, so I decided to make that in the crockpot to use for the baked ziti!  After making the baked ziti, I still had almost 40 oz left so that was the reason I decided to go ahead and make the million-dollar spaghetti pie.  Today, I have made 2-million-dollar spaghetti pies, 2 chicken/broccoli rice casseroles and prepared the baked potatoes for Wednesday. (Washed and wrapped- we are going to add cheese, sour cream and sloppy joe mix to the top).

Official food preparation count: 9

Breakfast- Saturday- BLT sandwiches (Matt made bacon on his new Blackstone.)    Sunday- Eggs and sausage (on the Blackstone) Monday – Cinnamon Toast sticks from Sam’s Club. Tuesday- Peanut butter baked oatmeal (I also need to prepare another 12 bags to use during the school year).   Wednesday Gravy biscuits (I found frozen biscuits and need to use the milk) Thursday, Friday- find your own with what we have. I did buy cereal and pop tarts so this should be easy!

Lunch- Saturday-Grilled Italian sausage with onions and peppers Sunday- Lunch at friends. For the week, Lunch will either be   sandwiches/ roll up or quesadillas or left overs or hot pockets.

Dinner- Saturday- Lily was at work, Kendall and Zach were at Haley’s so I had chips and salsa   Sunday-Tortellini Alfredo, Monday- Broccoli and Chicken casserole.  Tuesday Pasta salad    Wednesday- Baked potatoes with sloppy joe mix.  Thursday- Grilled Chicken Salad Friday-Dinner at Red Robins for Kendall’s birthday.

 

Happy Summer!

Free Meal

I am very honest about my struggles to not waste food. My family has gotten fairly good at eating the left-overs from a restaurant in fact sometime you have to claim ahead of time. However, we are terrible about using the left-over bits of food that  are cooked at home.

Today I am going to declare a win in the zero food waste  along with the free dinner meal we enjoyed. I took left-overs to make pulled pork tator tots and pulled pork mac and cheese.  I used the remaining bits of a veggie tray, single squash and handful of green beans to make a veggie stir fry.  To complete the meal, we added cole slaw from the fridge.

Total out of pocket ZERO!

Monday Menu Plan

Menu planning is going to look a little different during the summer. Instead of just sharing what we are eating, I am planning to also share what we are doing in terms of food preparation and storage as well. My goal for this week is to continue to work on cleaning out the deep freezer as well as slower, time permitting start to re-stock some convivence food and of course the ultimate goal of not wasting food.  This morning I have already frozen the remaining strawberries from the fridge.  I made a large pot of rice to use with several meals this week.  I did have a long talk with the kids yesterday about reducing the amount of eating out that we have been completing.  I need to step up my game for breakfast and make sure that we have something plan to grab before heading out especially with taking Zach to camp.

Breakfast- Saturday- Sausage crescent rolls with donuts    Sunday- Left-overs   Monday- Blueberry baked oatmeal (blueberries from garden) Tuesday- banana muffins and maybe apple sauce muffins?     Wednesday sausage and eggs   Thursday- breakfast pizza, Friday- Special treat likely! Which means Biscuit King unless I decide to try a breakfast casserole.

Lunch- Saturday-Hot Dogs    Sunday- Applebee’s    For the week, Lunch will either by left-overs or sandwiches/ roll up or quesadillas .  Today- Monday- I made egg salad with the last boiled egg and eat it with pretzels.

Dinner- Saturday- Left-overs   Sunday- Bacon and Tomato sandwich   Monday- Taco Rice   Tuesday Pasta salad    Wednesday- Sloppy joes. Thursday- Pork stir fry with veggies from garden over rice   Friday-Tortellini Alfredo

Saving On Saturday

I wanted to update and blog what we are doing and continue to do in an effort to save money. I am watching lots of news stories talking about inflation and how the country is not going into a recession.  Sorry the more you say it does not make it true.   Anyway, here are a couple ways we have found to save money and I will talk a little more about food saving and waste at the end.

  • Running our dishwasher and washer/dryer in the middle of the night. This also helps to keep the heat out of the house so it is easier to cool.
  • Turning off the stove just before food is cooked. For example, I usually cook pasta for 8 minutes to use in dishes. I will turn the stove off after 6 minutes to save just a tiny bit.
  • Using the rain barrels to water the gardens.  This week we have been watering at least every other day so this is a huge saving.
  • Hanging swim suits and towels up to dry only washing one time per week.

Now on to  the food, one of the best ways to save money on groceries is to  eliminate as much food waste as possible. Today, I hope to have gotten at least one step closer to that.  We have a really busy week ahead so I was able to eliminate and use up some different foods this week and prepare ahead.  I have a jar on my cabinet that collects the half containers or less of pasta that does not get used in one meal. It was full of pente, small elbows and medium size elbows.  So today, I cooked it up instead of opening new boxes of pasta.   I used the taco meet from last week, added pasta, the Mexican cheese that had been left open, and couple of other ingredients to make taco pasta. I also cooked a package of Italian sausage I purchased last Sunday to try a new recipe called “Pumpkin Pasta” The recipe made a large batch so I placed half in the pan and froze a bag for later use. I ended up removing the meat from chicken legs that had sat in the fridge to make a Alfredo chicken bake we ate for dinner. This also used up mozzarella cheese that had been sitting in the fridge. We also pulled out watermelon for desert instead of opening a package of cookies.  We froze the remaining grapes in the refrigerator along with the 2 bananas that have been left this week. Unfortunately, I did have to throw out a container of strawberries that were shoved to the back of the fridge and forgotten.

Small things do add up!

Menu Plan Monday

We are heading into the final stretch of school, I can feel summer break already!  Actually I have about 15 days left but this week is our final baseball game, Kendall and Zach finish school on Friday! The weather has also turned summery.  I  just do not want to cook and eat when it is so hot outside. This week you will notice lots of summer foods and minimal effort being placed. We have been steadily working through the left-overs and this weekend I discovered we would not have enough to use for lunches. Lily has begun working at the pool so that adds another meal that needs to be fairly easily to transport.  I decided to make up a couple of pasta salads.  We ended up eating these for lunch on Saturday and dinner on Sunday. They should also last at least 2 days for me!

Breakfast- Saturday-Biscuit King  Sunday- Find it yourself, I made a fried egg to go over my grits.  Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday- eggs, sausage, bagels, bacon, grits, breakfast burritos or waffles are the current choices available.  I will likely make a final loaf of zucchini bread to use one morning. This will also clear out the frozen zucchini in the building.

Lunch- Saturday-Pasta salad  Sunday- Arby’s. Pasta salads will be the best choice this week. I may also make a couple of grilled chicken wraps. This is the last week of preparing lunches for the kids so the amount of convenience foods we need will significantly decrease. They will be able to make their own lunch at home for the next couple of weeks until I finish with school.

Dinner- Saturday-  Dinner at Izzy’s Graduation party Sunday- Pasta Salad.   Monday- Salad with choice of grilled chicken or pulled pork (both meats are leftovers)  Tuesday-McDonalds for the kids, Matt and I will have a date night. My choice will be sushi. Wednesday- Chicken Tacos. Thursday- Fish sticks  Friday- Homemade pizza!

 

3 Mondays of school left and next week is Memorial Day!  The final Monday is a workday and Kendall leaves for camp.

Saving on Saturday

Today has been a very busy but productive day!

Garden/ Yard

  • Used pavers that we had stored to make the boundary for the new Raspberry bed, used the 2 large bags of dirt and 7 small bags of dirt from the greenhouse in the raspberry bed.  We decided to use some stakes and string that we already had as well so we ended up spending  ZERO on the new bed.
  • Purchased 3 raspberry stalks and 25 bare root strawberries from Stark Brother’s nursery for 1/4 of the cost of what I saw locally.  I ended up planting all of these today!
  • Purchased 3 zucchini plants for $1.50 and a 6 pack of marigolds($4.50) from the local farmer’s market and planted these today.

Food/ Meals

  • Made breakfast bowls for breakfast, used left-over KFC gravy on top. We made 15 breakfast burritos and placed them in the freezer to use as a quick breakfast in the coming weeks.
  • Made a batch of cowboy beans in the crockpot.  We had these for dinner, froze one additional meal and have 4 lunch bowls in the fridge
  • Used a pound of ground beef given to us to make stuffed green peppers for a meal this week. I will need to top with cheese before baking. This should be an quick and easy meal.
  • I found 1 pound rolls of sausage priced at $1.99.  I purchased 15 rolls with most going in the freezer for future use.  In comparison the next cheapest option as $3.49 for a roll and this was a sale price. I will likely be stopping by Food Lion again to see if they continue to carry the sausage at this price. If so I would like to collect about 30 rolls for the freezer in anticipation of prices continuing to rise.
  • Used the chicken legs from dinner this week to make chicken enchiladas that even Lily will be able to eat.
  • We have made at least 10 full meals today and did not need to purchase one single item! In fact our grocery spending for the month is at $60!
  • I was able to find a source to purchase a whole cow from this summer. The price per pound it $4.80 which is $1 higher than we paid 3 years ago so I am super excited to finish cleaning out the freezer so we can order the cow!

Zach discovered a water leak under the house this morning. Matt was able to fix with items already on hand. This saved us not only on the cost of calling a plumber but it will also help reduce our water bill as it was a major leak.

Matt purchased new tires for the camper from Amazon ($250 for 4). He took both the old tires and the new tires to a local shop and had the tires mounted for $40.  I am going to estimate this saved over $300 on tires. He did purchase a special tool that he needed. But this will be used in the future as well.

Friday Food Five

  1. We have tried 3 new recipes this week. One of the reasons is that I realized that we have been able to have a different meal every night for the entire month of February. This is quite an accomplishment and a way for us to use up items in our freezer that we would not normally do.
  2. Rotel Chicken Spaghetti I really had high hopes for this dish. I thought that Zach would love it. But it turned out ok. It was the favorite one of mine of the week, but I honestly don’t think we will repeat it again because no one was thrilled with it. And we have so many awesome Mexican recipes that we really enjoy!
  3. Tater Tot Breakfast Casserole- This is a recipe that I found on Facebook. The difference is that it uses sausage links and bacon. This actually turned out to be very good and filing. However, it was very time consuming. Matt made it for dinner, and it took almost an hour to prepare so even though it was good. I don’t think it will be a repeat especially with our very busy schedule.
  4. Chicken casserole- layer in order 4 cups shredded chicken, can of cream of chicken soup, can of cream of celery soup, packet of onion soup mix, frozen vegetables and a box of already prepared stuffing.   Matt made the stuffing at lunch. Kendall ended up assembling this while we did some quick planting outside.  She did forget the onion soup mix, so I simply threw it on top.  This took almost an hour to cook but was good. We probably will not repeat it again either, but it may be one of those meal we make just to eat and run.
  5. I have already made a list of 42 meals that we are going to plan to use during the month of March. The best news is that we already have all the ingredients needed so I am not planning on spending much for groceries in March!

Monday Menu Plan

This is going to be a different sort of week. One of the reasons is that I found several new recipes to use with all the items we have on hand.  I will probably most likely do a post on Friday about all three of the recipes. Otherwise we have things picking up with Zach starting to manage the middle school baseball team and Lily has practice at LYT every day this week. Sticking to the plan will be nice and make things run much smoother this week. I also made several salads on Sunday to use for lunch this week to make my mornings go much easier.

Breakfast– Saturday- French Toast- made some for the freezer as well.    Sunday-Bagels   Monday-Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday -choice of breakfast muffins, eggs, sausage, oatmeal, cereal, pancakes, French toast or grits or breakfast burritos. We are back up to a full stocked freezer for breakfast.
Lunch- – Saturday- snacks and left-overs Sunday – Lunch at East Coast Wings   Monday- Thursday Salad for 2 days and left-overs for a third so that covers most of the week.
Dinner- – Saturday- The Cheesecake Factory with a gift card. Sunday- Snacks and left-overs again.  Monday-Rotel Chicken Spaghetti. Tuesday-New breakfast meal.  Wednesday- Soup Thursday- Hamburger Helper   Friday-New chicken casserole.

Saving on Saturday including More Recipes!

I have spent the entire day inside… yeap that makes it a good day!  We have spent a lot of extra time today working on food prep and on making some new and different things to try out!

We started this morning or actually last night working on “burrito bowls” that Matt and Zach could eat for an easy lunch. We actually used a bag of black beans from the pantry to make the re-fried beans, rice from the pantry and made taco meat from already cooked ground beef. Zach had one for lunch that he actually shared with Matt. Both agree that it is a definite repeat.  We made 8 original bowls, but Zach thinks he would be fine with just half of one!

We tried “Keto Pickles”

May be an image of ‎food, indoor and ‎text that says '‎متزد‎'‎‎

These did not turn out what they looked like here and actually Matt thought they were also too salty.  We will not be repeating this.

I saw these cucumbers on Facebook today

They were an all-around hit!  Cucumbers with cream cheese, bacon and Everything bagel seasoning!

And finally, the crockpot in the back is full of this deliciousness which we all enjoyed for dinner!

bowl of cheesy sausage potato soupCheesy Sausage Potatoes   

A couple of changes or things we did differently- I used breakfast sausage, frozen hashbrowns (small strips) canned corn, diced tomatoes, beef broth and left off the cilantro. I am so thankful that we were able to freeze a container of this to use for a future meal. The thing that made this soup even better was the homemade bread that looks perfect

The plan is to end the night by backing some 3 ingredient bagels for tomorrow morning.  No spending at all because everything was from the pantry or freezer!

 

Saving on Saturday- written on Sunday

This has been a crazy long and fun filled week.  After spending Friday night partying for Lily’s birthday. Saturday was spending cleaning up from said party and finding ways to  save and use as much of the food in my refrigerator as possible.  Food waste is one of the biggest areas that I can save money.  Lily’s birthday party was not on the frugal side so anything we can save and use.

We had purchased 3 veggie trays for the party at Lily’s request.  We came home with extra carrots, broccoli, cauliflower and rainbow peppers. The peppers were placed in the fridge because I am positive that the girls will use these for lunches and snacks over this week.  Matt was in charge of cutting up the baby carrots for freezing we were able to package a total of 9 cups of baby carrots in the freezer.  The packages of frozen carrots to purchase are $1.25 each.  The veggie trays are $14.99. By saving these we were able to re-coup the cost of one of the trays. I was able to steam and puree 5 cups of broccoli which was labelled for use in one of our favorite soups. another $2.25 found.  The cauliflower is not a preferred food for any of us however, I plan to take it with hummus and some ham salad to use as a meal this week as well.  We had purchased 3 bags of potatoes for baking. We ended up with approximately 25 potatoes that had been fully cooked. I made a baked potato salad to go with the pulled pork, Lily received for her birthday.  We also used this as a lunch meal.  We will use some of the potatoes for a baked potato soup this week. By adding some butter, cream cheese and sour cream we have 10 additional dishes of mashed potatoes to use for future meals.   Finally we took the left-over turkey combined with celery, carrots and onion made a casserole for dinner on Tuesday of this week.

The other area that we are focusing on is electricity use. Our electric company has joined the modern age and I am able to monitor our use daily. We have currently increased our usage by 7.77% over last year. I want to figure out what is different and how we can decrease this use as rates are also increasing.

Any suggestions or ideas are appreciated!