Friday, August 21, 2009

Master Meals Lists

My friend, Toni, the Happy Housewife is doing a series on menu planning and she had an "assignment" of coming up with a list of 15 meals for helping with the ease of menu planning. Since I have been doing menu planning for some time, I already have my list of meals made up. I took the time to divide up my meal list into three--one for breakfast, lunch and dinner. I found that since I liked to have different sides with the main course that it was easier to make up a different list of the different side dishes that I make up. I also found that having a master list of snacks makes it easier to keep my snack basket full with different items rather than the same old things.

Here is links to each of my lists! You will also find the links down in my right sidebar!

As for keeping up with my menus, I have a copy of the menus on my computer as well as on a piece of paper. The piece of paper gets stuck up on my refrigerator so that the family knows what to expect for each of the meals and for the daily snacks. Having that piece of paper has been a sanity saver for me because I don't hear THAT same old question(Mom, what's for___?") over and over again!

I sit down on Saturday afternoon and plan out the meals for the next week using my freezer and pantry inventories of what I have on hand to plug in the different meals. Using the inventories first to make up the meals helps me to not have to rush to the store last minute for something. Also using up the inventories first helps me to save money on my grocery bill each week.

I also make sure that I don't plan 3 chicken meals in a row! There is lots of whaling and gnashing of teeth from the family if I don't pay attention to that detail.

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Weekly Shopping Trip--Savings $38.04

After doing a big shopping trip last week and going to Sam's earlier in the week, I did not need a whole lot from the store this week because my pantry and freezer are pretty full. That means that for this next week our meals will be from "shopping at home". I love having the stockpile from buying ahead so that I can just make a quick trip to the store for needed items or not have to go shopping at all.

I made just a quick trip to the stores this week. Colds and coughs have come upon my household so I had to get more throat spray for hubby to use and didn't have coupons or sales to work from so it was full price! Some of my the health products I haven't been very good at keeping a stock of in my house because when I did have a stock of them--they went bad/expired before we used them up.

Here is what I purchased this week:

Family Fare:
  • 6 dozen eggs $5.28
  • 4 gallons milk $7.52
  • 5.41 lbs bananas $2.11
  • 2 lbs baby carrots $1.98
  • .69 lbs beef stir fry strips $3.44
  • 1 lb strawberries $2.00
  • 2.99 lbs beef cube steak $7.74
Total OOP: $30.07
Total Savings: $14.56
Total without sales: $44.63

  • 3 pks Kotex maxi pads $6.79(with sales tax)
  • 1 bottle Chloraseptic spray $6.24(with sales tax)
  • 4-12pks Pepsi products $15.88(with bottle deposit)
  • 5 bags frozen corn $5.00
~~used $2.50 off shopping order Catalina coupon
~~used $3.00 off shopping order Catalina coupon
~~used $4.70 bottle refund slip

Total OOP: $23.84
Total Savings including bottle refund: $23.48
Total without sales & coupons: $47.32

Grand Total OOP: $53.91
Grand Total Savings: $38.04
Grand Total without sales & coupons: $91.95

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Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Something More than Restaurant Meals!

My friend, Kate, at Cooking during Stolen Moments posted her top 10 freezer recipes today so I thought I would explain and share what I have done in the past to help my grandmother and my parents have healthy meals in the freezer to eat rather than eating nothing or eating out at restaurants every day.

I make sure that I had some freezer containers that are acceptable for the freezer and could be used in the microwave. My best bet is getting some Rubbermaid type containers because those probably will last longer than getting just Gladware or Ziploc brand plastic containers. I get various sizes and types of containers, so that you can have some for soups, and some for a full meal(maybe look into getting one that is divided into compartments). I also get some quart size freezer bags for those food items that don't need to go into a plastic container. I get enough so that I can do a week's worth of dinner meals. Now I have my containers I can fill them!!

What are good things to put in those containers?:

Things with a cream or milk based, I have not had good success with freezing them. Also anything with noodles in it, I don't cook the noodles all the way. That way the dish doesn't end up with mushy, broken down noodles.

Other items that could be put together...

For sloppy joes, and BBQ pork or beef, I put these into individual serving type containers. Then I put the container and a hamburger bun in a ziploc bag so that the person I am making the meals for would know that the two things go together.

For the meatloaf, I make them into individual mini loaves and cook them and then once cooled wrap in foil or plastic wrap and then stick in a freezer bag labeled "meatloaf". That way they could take out the individual loaves and heat up rather than a big loaf. I would also do up some burgers by cooking them and then individually wrapping them and placing them into a quart size ziploc bag.

As for other meals, like breakfast type things, I do up pancakes, french toast, breakfast sandwiches(english muffin or biscuit, cheese, eggs, and a meat), and breakfast burritos. Wrap the sandwiches individually and place in the ziploc bags. For the pancakes and french toast, I would just put wax paper between the layers or flash freeze them and place them in a freezer bag.

Don't forget to add some baked goods to your meals! Homemade breads, quick breads, cookies, coffee cakes, and cakes freeze very well! I even take the time to slice and wrap the breads and cakes into individual servings. Then I put them in a ziploc bag with a label.

The main thing to remember with doing freezer type cooking is that some meals will have a bit of texture change with being frozen compared to being fresh. So I do not make up too many meals ahead of time. Also make sure that you get your containers back so that you can do "refills" for your loved ones!

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Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Monthly Sam's Run--August

This is the month of trying to get back on a schedule after being on summer break. One of the things that I need to get back on schedule is my grocery shopping. I have been going every week but with the needing to get started with schooling it is difficult to find time to go every week. So I switch to every other week with a small trip in between for milk and other perishables. I did this towards the end of last school year and it really kept my budget on track and kept my shelves rotating the stock. At the end of last week, I went to the grocery stores and purchased items to last me two weeks. Then this week, I went to Sam's to finish the stocking up along with getting things to last over the next month so now my pantry and freezer are bursting at the seams!!

Here is what I purchased for this month from Sam's:
  • 30lbs Ore-Ida french fries $17.28
  • 4.65 lbs beef round roast $12.37
  • 4.04 lbs beef sirloin tip steaks $11.96
  • 13.87 lbs boneless/skinless chicken breasts $27.33
  • 5 lbs Country Crock margarine $4.16
  • 52 oz Planter's honey roasted peanuts $6.12
  • 3-40 oz bottles Heinz ketchup $6.23
  • 60 ct Eggo waffles $7.79
  • 48 ct Gogurt $7.64
  • 72ct Kraft American cheese slices $6.37
  • 16 cans Del Monte green peas $13.04
  • 5 lbs mild cheddar cheese $8.98
  • 4 boxes Honey Maid graham crackers $7.22
  • 6 lbs spaghetti noodles $5.12
  • 48 ct String cheese $6.63
  • 4 boxes Ritz crackers $6.14
  • 24 oz Tone's Onion powder $3.88
  • 24 oz Tone's minced onions $4.64
  • 12 cans Del Monte green beans $9.46
  • 12 ct Red Baron mini pizzas $10.76
  • 3.5 lbs Ball Park Beef Franks $6.97
  • 140 ct. Totinos Pizza Rolls $8.98
  • 4-6ct bagels $8.72
  • 6lbs Ore-Ida shredded hashbrowns $5.38
Total: $213.17

Chicken Pot Pie

One of my newly found favorite meals is chicken pot pie and homemade bread! Aside from chocolate, I classify it as a comfort food! I love taking the bits and pieces of leftover veggies and chicken and using them to make something so comforting.

There has been times though where I just make up chicken pot pie from scratch because there is no leftovers to be found to make up the pot pie.

I know how to make pie crust from scratch but sometimes it is just nice to be able to take a box of ready made out of the freezer to put this dish together. It just can make life so much easier especially when you find them on discount for $1 per box and you have a coupon making them 50¢ a box!

It is quicker to use a bag of frozen mixed veggies when making this dish, however, I usually do not have any on hand so I use fresh carrots and potatoes that I dice up and cook together in a pot until tender. I drain them but reserved the water just in case I need more liquid for the pot pie.

Chicken Pot Pie

3-4 chicken breasts, cubed and cooked
5 potatoes, diced and cooked
4 carrots, diced and cooked
2 cups frozen corn
1 cup frozen peas
1 cups frozen green beans
2 cans cream of chicken soup
1 can chicken broth
salt & pepper to taste
2 tsp. garlic powder
3 TBSP minced onion
1 tsp. poultry seasoning
1 box of Pillsbury pie crust

Mix altogether. Put in a 9x13 pan. Unroll pie crust and cover mixture with pie crust. Cook at 400° about 30 minutes or until the pie crust is golden brown.

Notes: You will need to use both rolled pie crusts. I use one whole one and 1/2 of the other to cover my 9x13 pan. The other 1/2 I use to make hubby an individual size one in my Pampered Chef small oval baker so that he can take it as a leftover for work lunch. You can also substitute a couple bags of frozen mixed veggies for all the veggies. You can also make your own pie crusts I would make enough for a "double" crust.

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Monday, August 17, 2009

Menu Plan Monday 8/16-8/22

Last week's menu plans went off without too much trouble. The kids enjoyed the kid friendly meals. Thursday night’s dinner of pizza was the lazy cook way of pulling pizzas and French fries out of the freezer. It was nice not having to stress over trying to make an elegant meal for everyone. I even pulled out the paper plates so there wasn’t any clean up to worry about after eating.

This week my shopping trip was working at getting all the items that I needed for two weeks. The school year is fast approaching for us and I am wanting to get back into doing a major shopping trip every two weeks with the in between weeks being just for the restocking of perishable items like milk, eggs, and fresh fruit.

This week’s menus are some of our favorite simple meals! There is not much going on this week so it will be nice to have the old routine in place. I am going to be doing meals at the beginning of the week that I know will have leftovers so that my hubby has some lunch choices for the end of the week. Last week, I didn’t have much in the way of leftovers so it is time to do some catch-up so hubby has something more than just deli meat or peanut butter sandwiches for lunches.

For this week’s lunches (that are listed below), are for the kids and me! Unless we are having leftovers, our lunches are served with fresh fruit or carrot sticks along with fruit juice or water. Hubby usually takes a dinner leftover along with various snacks for his work lunch so I don’t take the time to plan his lunches. He just takes the next oldest leftover on the stack in the fridge.

A special thanks to Laura-Organizing Junkie for hosting Menu Plan Monday! Need help with your menus; go check the over 300 other delicious meal plans that have been linked at Laura-Organizing Junkie’s site or look down in my right sidebar for my menu suggestion lists!

Sunday (8-16)

Breakfast: eggs, sausage or steak, hash browns, and chocolate donuts

Lunch: McDonalds

Dinner: chicken tenders, fish, or cordon bleu, served with fries and carrot sticks

Snack: snack basket

Monday (8-17)

Breakfast: cereal and toaster strudel

Lunch: leftovers

Dinner: oven fried chicken served with mashed taters and corn

Snack: snack basket

Tuesday (8-18)

Breakfast: waffles and sausage

Lunch: sandwich & chips

Dinner: saucy pork chops served with rice and green beans

Snack: snack basket

Wednesday (8-19)

Breakfast: bagels, cereal, eggs

Lunch: leftovers

Dinner: grilled chicken & fish served with potato pockets and corn

Snack: snack basket

Thursday (8-20)

Breakfast: Pancakes and sausage

Lunch: sandwich & chips

Dinner: pizza subs

Snack: snack basket

Friday (8-21)

Breakfast: cereal and toast

Lunch: sandwich & chips

Dinner: Taco Bar with chicken & beef meat, lettuce, tomatoes, rice, cheese and tortilla chips.

Snack: snack basket

Saturday (8-22)

Breakfast: “Cook’s Choice”

Lunch: ???

Dinner: chicken clubs served with French fries and corn

Snack: ice cream or popsicles