If you read My Menu Planning Challenge last week, you know that this started out as more of a challenge to myself. I’ve never been one to come up with any kind of meal plan and I would literally start thinking about dinner at 4:30 that day. However, in the interest of saving time and money, I really wanted to try this. I love the idea of saving time by making only one weekly trip to the grocery store instead of going every couple days once I decided what was for dinner that night. On that same note, it should save me money because even when I go in for just a few things, I end up with a cartful (much like my trips to Target)!
So while this started out as a challenge to myself, I’m inviting you to join me! Here’s the challenge:
1. Plan out your nightly dinner menu from Monday through Sunday
You are welcome to plan breakfast & lunch too but I’m focusing on dinner…baby steps! I shared a great printable menu plan last week but if you’re looking for more options, Money Saving Mom has a list of 14 different menu plans. You can choose a one week menu plan, two weeks, monthly and lots of other options.
2. Prepare a thorough list of everything you need and make just one trip to the grocery store…yes, one trip for the entire week.
This is the most challenging part for me because I’m used to just going whenever I need something. I rarely make lists but I’ve started now because if I forget something, it could mean another week of living without it.
3. Make a grocery budget
When I stopped teaching to become a SAHM, we talked about budgeting and came up with a set amount grocery expenses. It was a great talk but then nothing ever became of it. Part of this menu challenge is about saving money so I’m really planning to stick to a budget (for once in my life). I’ve budgeted $100 a week for my family of four (but will adjust that number later if I don’t think it’s doable).
So here’s how I did last week:
Last week I started off easy and only planned for the three nights when my hubby would be home (he works in a restaurant so sometimes he’s late and just eats there…saving us more money). Here’s what was on the menu:
Pork Tenderloin w/ Zucchini & Red Peppers – I made this the first night and it was delicious! My MIL was over for dinner too and we all absolutely loved it (though my girls passed on the zucchini). I roasted some potatoes to go along with it and there was so much food that we had leftovers for the next night.
Turkey Meatloaf – We had a lot of leftovers from the pork tenderloin meal so I put the turkey in the freezer and pushed this recipe back a week.
Goat Cheese Stuffed Chicken – This was delicious! My three year old wasn’t a fan of the stuffing but the rest of the family thought it was awesome. This is a recipe that I would definitely recommend!
So I stuck to the menu except for the fact that we pushed the turkey meatloaf back a week, essentially saving a little money since that was one less meal I cooked.
The Grocery Store:
I am very excited to report that I only made ONE trip to the grocery store all week…that has not happened in YEARS! This is pretty monumental!
While I only made one trip to the grocery store, I failed in this department. I was trying to stay below $100 but I ended up spending $140 so that was a fail.
Here’s this weeks menu. I had it super easy last week and only planned three real dinners (the girls are easy…they’re happy with pizza or spaghetti). Out of those three, I only had to make two. This week is completely the opposite because my hubby will be home for dinner all seven nights! Here’s what I have planned…just click on the links for the full recipes.
I thought this Ginger & Cilantro Baked Tilapia recipe from The Kitchn looked really good and also healthy. However, since I’ve never made tilapia before, the kids have never even tried it so we’ll see how it goes! I’ll put some rice in the steamer (rice is a favorite in my house) and cook some green beans that I already have in the fridge.
My husband loves to grill out and we’ve been dying to try some Beer Can Chicken (we even bought a contraption at Home Depot that holds the beer can steady on the grill). This Beer Can Chicken recipe from Olives & Okra was linked up at our Share The Wealth Sunday Blog Hop so I’ve decided to try it out. My girls LOVE corn on the cobb and it so easy to grill. I just take the unhusked corn, set it on top of some aluminum foil, add chunks of butter and then roll it up in the foil…so yummy! Sometimes will take whatever veggies we have in the fridge and throw them on a skewer with some olive oil. I have some mushrooms and onions that we need to use up so I’ll skewer them and throw them on the grill. We don’t usually do a starch when grilling out but of course you can do one if you’d like.
I really want to try this Healthy Beef and Cashew Stir Fry recipe from ifoodreal. Stir fry is usually pretty healthy and my family enjoys it. It looks like this recipe makes a lot so I anticipate having enough for leftovers the next day.
Stir Fry Leftovers
Let’s make it a Fajita Friday (and maybe throw in some margaritas too)! We love fajitas not only because they’re so delicious, but they are so easy to make. I usually just saute chicken, mushrooms, green peppers and onions in a pan with some olive oil. Then I put out some shredded lettuce, chopped tomatoes, sour cream and of course, shredded cheese. Everyone just grabs a tortilla and makes their own. If you prefer to have a recipe to follow, this recipe for Easy Chicken Fajitas from Spend With Pennies looks pretty good!
I didn’t end up making this last week so I’ll make the Turkey Meatloaf for this meal since I already have all the ingredients. I’ll add a tossed salad and some roasted red potatoes on the side. Just quarter the potatoes, mix in some olive oil and spices, then roast in the oven. If you don’t want to wing it with the potatoes, South Your Mouth has a super simple recipe using Lipton Onion Soup Mix (Easy Lipton Onion Roasted Potatoes)
Leftover Turkey Meatloaf
Whenever I make meatloaf, we usually have enough leftover for dinner the next night. I just try to make sure that I make enough of the side dishes too.
So far I’m pretty happy overall with this whole meal planning thing. I’ve been having fun planning ahead and picking out recipes and overall I think it’s gone pretty well (except for going a little over budget). If you decide to take up this challenge with me, feel free to post in the comments and let me know how it’s going!