WEEKLY MENU || vol 002

Once in awhile I like to share what we eat.  It’s something we all have to do every day and sometimes, when we are trying to think of something to make for dinner, it’s nice to have ideas thrown out there for us to use. 

We live on a very tight grocery budget so our meals are usually simple and kid friendly.

Chili Turkey Mac

Southern Fried Chicken with Mashed Potatoes & Buttermilk Biscuits

Chicken & Rice with Roasted Veggies added

White Wine Pasta with Chicken

Loaded Chicken Nachos

Loaded Chicken Salads with Roasted Chick Peas

Pot Roast with Potatoes, Carrots, & Bread

you can find last week’s weekly menu HERE.

 

A Weekend Recipe

It feels like I haven’t shared a recipe in a while so I figured I would share what I cooked up last night.  Typically, I save pizza for our Fridays, but I was lacking the motivation to make the dough, roll the dough, etc.  

 

I didn’t want to chop or dice anything either, so I reminisced about all the convenience food I used to buy and Hamburger Helper came to mind.  I stopped buying this once I realized I was paying a $1.20 for a seasoning packet and one cup of dry pasta.  
::slapping my forehead as I speak::    

I also can’t begin tell you how versatile this recipe is; making it an added plus in my cookbook!  For example, if you like basil, then add basil!  If you like chili powder, then add chili powder!  You like jalapenos, then add jalapenos!  Want it creamier?  Add more milk!  I could go on forever, I tell ya!
Plus, my son loves me more when I make this so I figured it was reason enough to go with it.  Something about childhood and Hamburger Helper… 🙂
Without further adeiu.

Cheesy Hamburger Skillet
Ingredients
1 lb of hamburger meat
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon oregano
1/2 teaspoon all seasoned salt
1/4 cup all purpose flour
1 cup  whole milk
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1 pound elbow pasta 
1 can of condensed tomato soup
salt & pepper to taste
Method
Brown and drain meat.  Boil pasta and drain. (set aside pasta for later)
Add your seasonings and flour to the meat.  Stir well.  
Now add your tomato soup and milk.  Stir well.
Cook over low-medium heat until it is a low boil and begins to thicken.  
Once it has thickened, add your cooked pasta and mix until it well combined.  Now mix in your cheddar cheese until it is melted.  
Serve with warm bread or coleslaw.

Buying In Bulk | Storage Tips

Let’s hurry to the point.  Buying in bulk for our family is beneficial.  Not only are we on a super duper tight grocery budget, but we are a larger family with a preteen boy who has a healthy appetite.  If you read my meal planning 101 post, then you already know that grocery shopping is typically a bi-weekly ordeal.  However, my husband and I feel that transitioning into buying our groceries only once a month would be a lot easier for us; mainly because we have been splitting our grocery shopping into two days, between three to four stores. 
And shopping for two days at four stores, with three kids (two of which are babies) is EXHAUSTING.  The kids are grumpy by the end of it and usually have to miss out on their naps. 
So, like I said…we are trying to shop monthly.  I don’t know if this will entirely work…this is our first month to try
it, but I have high hopes that it will be a success.
Alright, now that I have that tidbit of information out there for you, I wanted to offer a few tips on how to store your bulk items, and get the most use out of what you purchase.

Four out five of us love eating pineapple, backing me into a corner to purchase it.  Buying canned right now is cheaper, so I make the most of the 6lbs 10 oz can.

  • First, I drain the pineapple and let the juice run into a bowl underneath the colander and set it aside.  (I save the juice to use for our marinades!)  I also save the can to grow my herbs in.
  • In order to make the most out of the little freezer space we have, I bag the pineapple into three quart freezer bags, flatten them, label them, and freeze them by laying them flat.  Once they are frozen, I can move them around as needed.  I also fill one plastic container full and place in the refrigerator.

 

  • Now I take the pineapple juice that I drained earlier and pour it into a gallon freezer bag.  Then I clean a shelf in the freezer, and lay it completely flat to freeze.  Once it is frozen, you can move it around. 

  • I use this same technique for our hamburger meat.  We bought a 9.38lb log of lean beef, divided it up to roughly 1.25lbs per/bag, flatten them, label the packages, then freeze. (And no, we will not use all of this meat in one month.)

  • For our cheese, we cut the block into chunks, wrap them in sandwich bags/plastic wrap, place in a gallon freezer bag. 

We do a lot of other things, too.  I just figured this would be a good starting point on storing the items we purchase in bulk.  I hope you find it helpful!

Meal Planning 101

I figured I would write how I plan our meals.  I know I’ve shared our weekly menu’s before, however, I never documented the process.


If you’re wondering why I choose to share this, the answer is very simple.  


I used to never budget for groceries and I never made a grocery list.  Once my family grew and my budget shrank, I relied on trial and error in order to find what works best for my family through budgeting, making lists, and meal plans.  By sharing my process, I feel like I can help others.


Alright.  On to step one.  The most important thing is to know your budget.  Every budget is different.  Whenever I first set our budget, it was way to low.  We found ourselves out of food days before pay day.  We also spent a lot of time running back and forth to the store for goodies to satisfy a sweet tooth, etc.


Our budget is $200 every two weeks.  (We are a family of five.)  Usually, I can stay a little under, however, we moved to a new state and prices here are a little higher on most of the food staples.  


Now that you have a budget in mind, the next step will be to create a menu.  I make a numbered list for 14 dinners.  I also make a category for breakfast, lunch, and sides.


Here is one of my meal plans.

 Next, I make  the grocery list.  I look to see what I already have in my pantry and then go from there.  I shop at 3 different stores: Sam’s Club, Aldi, and Wal-Mart.  I find that I can buy most of what we need from these three and stay within the budget.


My list usually spills onto two pages.  I also purchase non-food items along with the groceries, which I set aside additional money for.

For additional savings, you may want to price match and use any coupons that match up to your list.  Also, I had roast on my menu.  While I was at the store, pork chops were on sale, so I purchased those instead of the roast which was twice the cost of the chops.  I do this for other items on my list as well.

My total estimate for this shopping trip was $206.82

My ACTUAL total cost for food items only were, $203.23


My NON-FOOD items cost me $57.75
This included a xmas gift, toilet paper, tissues, paper towels, and two boxes of diapers.

Two Week Meal Plan

 Two Week Menu                  Click here for my printable grocery list!
Dinners:
Hot dogs w/ corn
Baked chicken breasts with salad & rolls
Pasta w/meat sauce and salad & bread
Ham & cheese on rolls w/roasted veggies
Tacos w/ rice, or taquitos
Chicken fried steak w/mashed potatoes & gravy
Sloppy joes w/tater tots
Pork chops w/green beans & mashed potatoes & rolls
Chicken enchiladas w/ beans
Chicken alfredo pizza w/ bacon
Pancakes w/ eggs & potatoes
Meatloaf, corn & green beans
Pizza w/bread sticks
Chicken fried steak sandwiches w/ gravy
Breakfasts:
Mexican Burrito w/ chorizzo
cereal
eggs
toast
waffles
Lunches:
Chicken salad
Wraps
BLT
Soup & grilled cheese
Sandwiches & chips
Beans & cornbread
Veggie pasta toss
Chicken & Bacon Pizza w/ Alfredo Garlic Sauce

For those of you who do not know, I used to work at Domino’s Pizza, and there was a specialty pizza called the Chicken Bacon Ranch that my husband loved.  Despite the title of this pizza, it is NOT made with Ranch.  It is made with Domino’s  garlic sauce.  Anyway, this is a recipe on their pizza, made my way.


First, you will need to make yourself some chicken.  Flavor how you want to, but this is what I used on mine.

Next, you will need to fry your bacon.

Next, gather your rolled out pizza dough and add your favorite Alfredo Garlic Sauce in a spiral pattern by using a resealable plastic bag that has the tip cut off.  Do not worry about spreading out the sauce, it should spread out on its own while it cooks.

Next, add your toppings: Cheese (I used Mozzarella, Parmesan), Shredded Chicken, & Bacon and then cook at 350-375 degrees until cheese is melted and dough is slightly browned.
Viola! You’re done! Enjoy

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