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Monday, February 20, 2012

Meal Planning: An Update

We've been meal planning/intentionally shopping for almost two months now and I've noticed something interesting. Dinner is a lot less stressful, but our grocery bill is higher than when we shopped all willy nilly! What is that all about?

I think the mystery of the growing bill is that we're eating much better than we ever have. We're eating more whole foods and complete meals instead of slapping things together last minute.

Here are some examples of our weekly plans (the ones I can remember)...

Sunday: Grilled chicken Caesar salad
Monday: Eggs, bacon, and pancakes
Tuesday: Chicken fajitas and cilantro lime rice
Wednesday: Black and bleu burgers and sweet potato fries
Thursday: Marinated steak with sauteed onions and mashed potatoes
Friday: Spaghetti, salad, and garlic bread
Saturday: Left overs

Sunday: Eggs, bacon, and waffles
Monday: Chicken enchiladas and spicy black bean soup
Tuesday: Gruyere/Jarlsberg fondue dipping smorgasbord (for Valentine's Day)
Wednesday: French dip sandwiches, coleslaw, and french fries
Thursday: Left overs
Friday: Pizza
Saturday: Lasagna cups, caprese salad, and garlic bread

And this week's menu is...

Sunday: Left overs
Monday: Pulled chicken sandwiches, mac and cheese, and asparagus
Tuesday: Chicken corn chowder in bread bowls
Wednesday: Pot roast, veggies, and mashed potatoes
Thursday: Turkey meatballs, spaghetti, and garlic bread
Friday: French toast and hash browns
Saturday: Pizza

One thing that I have found very helpful in saving money is buying whole chicken (usually $.99/lb.). After roasting it in the oven or crock pot, I pull off the breasts whole for cutlets, fajitas, chicken salad, etc. and then shred the dark meat for pulled chicken, enchiladas, and other yummy dishes. Then, all of the bones and skin go back into the juices and turns into about 8 cups of chicken stock for soups, stews, mashed potatoes - you name it. It makes everything taste so much better! I freeze the stock in a silicone muffin tin (so I can easily pop them out) and store them in a zip top bag for when I need them.

We also coupon like crazy, take advantage of BOGO and manager's specials for meat, and keep our eyes peeled for which stores have the best prices. Most of all, we only shop for what we need that week meaning less food goes to waste. We haven't thrown out forgotten/unused food since starting this....which is a huge savings!

Overall, we're really enjoying the good food and since many of these meals are made in the crock pot or freezer dishes, we're able to come home and make dinner without much thought or energy. A MUST after a long day of work and school.

Do you meal plan? What are your go to dishes?

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