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This Week’s Menu Plan (buying ahead saves us SO much money!)

This Week's $80 Menu Plan

I went to Kroger and Aldi last night and was SO excited to get nine pounds of ground turkey for just $12 total! I came home and browned it and added some seasonings to it and am freezing it in 2-cup bags to use in some of the recipes this week and over the next few weeks.

We didn’t need the ground turkey for our menu plan this week, but at this price, I couldn’t pass it up. This is why I try to leave a little extra grocery money every week — so that I can use it on deals like this when I find them.

The more you focus on buying ahead — a little bit at a time — the easier it is to stick with a lower grocery budget. Having meat in the freezer that I purchased at more than half off makes it much easier to plan next week’s menu… because I already have some ideas to work with based upon what we already have on hand. Plus, it makes our menu plans much less expensive when we are basing them off of staple ingredients that I bought ahead when I found them marked down.

Here’s our menu plan for this week:

Breakfasts

Breakfasts are a big deal at our house. Not necessarily because of what we eat, but because this is the one meal we’ve committed to eat together around the table pretty much every single day.

Dinners are often somewhat grab and go or brown bagged — especially on the 3 nights a week the girls have swimming and skating. But breakfast, it’s a given. We eat, we talk, we read together, we pray together, and we linger around the table. It’s been a beautiful addition to our schedule + a great way to start the day!

Choose from:

  • Oatmeal
  • Smoothies
  • Bacon/Eggs

5 Things I'm Loving This Week

Lunches & Snacks

We’re trying something for lunches during the school year. Our extra refrigerator is going to be 100% devoted to lunch items.

We’re making up a big batch of freezer-friendly PB&J on the weekends and, in addition, I’ll have 4 different bins of items that the kids can choose one from — cheese sticks, snack packs, veggies, fruit, applesauce, chips, cookies, etc.

Each bin will have something different so that when they choose one item from each, they’ll have a well-rounded lunch. I’m hoping this makes things super simple and easy for them to put together their lunches at night.

Kathrynne helped me set this up and she took the initiative to write a board with details on how to put together the lunches. So far, we’re one week in, and I have literally done NOTHING for lunch prep other than help set the system up and make sure we had the items on hand for Kathrynne to get everything into baggies in the extra refrigerator.

And then the kids have been entirely in charge of each making their own lunch every night. I haven’t had to remind anyone and no one has yet to forget their lunch. I know we’re only a week in, but I’m pretty excited at how well this has worked so far — especially because the kids seem to be loving it!

Jesse and I are in charge of our own lunches and I’m going to have items on hand to choose from: fried eggs, toast, chips & salsa, yogurt, refried beans & cheese, salads, fruits, veggies, and/or leftovers.

Snacks:Egg & Sausage Breakfast Bites; Pumpkin Spice Bedtime Drink

Dinners

Jesse and I splitting up the cooking responsibilities for dinner this week. He’s in charge of the first two nights (since I have busier work days on Mondays and Tuesdays). I’m in charge of everything else.

  • Chicken & Cherry Tomato Bolognese, Fettucinne, Fruit
  • Hamburgers/Sausage on the Grill, Veggies, Fruit
  • Breakfast for dinner: Pumpkin Spice Waffles, Scrambled Eggs, Fruit
  • Slow Cooker Rotisserie Chicken, Fried Potatoes, Veggies, Fruit
  • Crockpot Baked Potatoes, Bacon, Sour Cream, Broccoli, Cheese
  • Dinner Out
  • Haystacks, Fruit

Freezer Cooking

I’m doing a Freezer Cooking session on Wednesday where I’m combining dinner prep with freezer cooking. This means that I’ll really only have to bake/cook one day this week. I’ll be making Pumpkin Spice Waffles, Crockpot Baked Potatoes (I won’t be freezing them; I’ll be saving them for dinner the next day.), Slow Cooker Rotisserie Chicken (I won’t be freezing this, either. I’ll be saving it to reheat for dinner two nights later.), and Egg & Sausage Breakfast Bites (we’ll be using turkey instead of sausage), Look for more details on how that goes later this week!

We spent $80 on groceries this week from Kroger and ALDI. Look for my post tomorrow with full details on what all we bought and how much we paid for everything!

What’s on YOUR menu plan this week? Share the link to it in the comments or tell us what you’re most excited about cooking!

Related Menu-Planning Posts:

3 Recipes I Made Recently Using What We Had on Hand
Last Week’s Menu Plan
Last Week’s Freezer Cooking Session
Why I’m Back to Menu-Planning, Grocery Shopping, and Freezer Cooking
Why We Stopped Making Family Dinners a Priority
YEARS of Past Menu Plans We’ve Shared Here
6 Ways We’re Keeping Our Grocery Budget Low
Why We More Than Doubled Our Grocery Bill

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36 Comments

  • Elizabeth @ Wonder Woman I'm Not says:

    I love finding great deals like that! Since I typically plan my meals around what is in the freezer or pantry, buying ahead works well for our family.

    Here is our plan for the week.

    http://www.wonderwomanimnot.com/2016/08/weekly-menu-week-8212016.html

  • Mackenzie says:

    Trying this week to make meals out of what we have in the pantry and fridge. Tonight it is baked chicken, quinoa, and vegetables 🙂

  • That’s a great deal on turkey! I love finding markdowns like that. Do you find that Kroger has a specific day of the week with more mark downs or are they just random? Kroger is an hour away for me but I hit it up any time I’m near.

    • Jo says:

      You might ask your produce and meat managers… it’s pretty hit or miss for me. I usually always find something good, but it’s only every 3rd or 4th time that I find deals I’m super, super excited about!

  • Katie @ My Joy in Chaos says:

    This is our dinner menu this week: http://www.myjoyinchaos.com/home/2016/8/weekly-menu-plan-27

  • Jen says:

    Love this! I’m in a long period of only buying perishables when I go grocery shopping and eating down my freezer and pantry. If I go to the store, I have such a HARD time passing up deals like your turkey deal. 🙂 It’s always hit or miss, but last week I found a 16oz. package of premium tomato and basil chicken sausages for $1 and a 10pack of babybel gouda cheese for $1. I can’t pass this kind of stuff up! 🙂 Thanks for posting your deals!!!

    • Jo says:

      It’s hard to pass up a good deal! But I love that you are passing them up with intention — to use what you already have on hand! That will likely save your family MORE money in the long run!

  • Erin says:

    I really wish I could buy ahead. I’m on food stamps and on permanent disability. I have a 17 year old son that is constantly eating so I have to supplement by going to food pantries. Any ideas on what I can do to get more for my 145. Monthly food stamp budget?
    Desperate…

    • Elizabeth says:

      Have you ever checked out The Prudent Homemaker website? She has a lot of low cost ideas. We are 5 ppl , two teenage boys, and often just have $30 for the week. You are probably going to keep supplementing with the food pantry bc it looks like you have less than five dollars a day for food. My suggestion would be that if your son is still in school, and can get free breakfast or lunch, I would require him to do so. I am in South Florida and we have a dollar store called Dollar Tree. If you have this store by you, it can be a lifesaver. The do accept ebt payment. Some meals from there that we do are:
      2-Pound bag of dried beans and a 2-pound bag of brown rice, with hot sauce. This is several meals for us.
      Take any leftover beans and rice, and make burritos with Dollar Tree tortillas.
      A dozen eggs, a pkg of turkey bacon, and a bag of peppers and onions. Scramble this up maybe with some toast.
      Pasta and sauce with a bag of frozen veggies. They have frozen garlic bread if you are feeling fancy.
      A couple bags of frozen veggies and a bag of brown rice and soy sauce for stir fry.
      These feed all of us so you will probably have leftovers you could have for lunch.
      For breakfast, you could do another dozen eggs and a container of oatmeal. They also sell frozen mixes berries.

      Hopefully you could squeak out a little bit leftover to get some deals at your local grocer or some fresh produce.

      Hang in there. All the best to you.

    • Rachel says:

      We also have to work on a limited budget after I was laid off work. Here are some of the things we have found that are filling and relatively cheaper, especially if on sale (we shop at Aldi to help keep cost down):

      1. Eggs
      2. Potatoes
      3. Bulk rice
      4. Bulk beans
      5. Frozen vegetables — the non steamable big bags
      6. One pound hamburger in the plastic tubs (still tastes good)
      7. Bananas
      8. Bulk regular oatmeal
      9. Bulk pasta
      10. Bulk pasta sauce
      11. Peanut butter
      12. Canned tuna
      13. Apples

      • DJ says:

        Rachel, you are so kind to post this list. I had to laugh cuz it looks exactly like my weekly list. I guess I’m doing a good job stretching my $$$. I would add whole chickens to get thru a couple meals.

    • The Jewish Lady says:

      Have you read “Cut Your Grocery Bill in Half” by Steve and Annette Economides? They also wrote “America’s Cheapest Family” and are wonderful! I love both books and learned a lot. Amazon has cheap used copies. Worth every penny.

  • Elizabeth says:

    Oh i forgot to add, for snacks,popcorn kernels on the stove or in a air popper. They sell popcorn at Dollar Tree too.

    Hopefully you have a similar store near you.

  • Brittney says:

    We are a family of hunters, I even started hunting myself last year, so we have a free supply (factor in the cost of hunting licenses) of wild game year round. I have to admit that I was hesitant to hunt for meat, but when I thought about the sources of meat in the stores, I agreed to go with my husband last fall. It’s a great bonding thing for us and we save a lot of money. I still buy some meat from the grocery store but not nearly as much. So this week we’re having:

    Wild Boar roast( it’s really so much better than farm raised ham)

    Ground Venison tacos, (nobody can tell the difference between venison and beef with all those spices)

    Wild boar meatballs(these are so good, I was really surprised with the outcome)

    To anyone who thinks they can’t eat wild game, I understand. I was so anti-hunting in my younger years, but I’ve researched the benefits. You have fresh meat, no additives and the game is controlled on a level that helps the local ecology. I never thought I could be a hunter, but it helps provide for our family in a way that saves money and helps the local environment. And there is really nothing healthier or tastier than fresh venison.

    • Maryalene says:

      I don’t think I have it in me to be a hunter myself, but I am jealous of those who do. Seems like the most natural way to get your meat! Alas, no one in our family hunts now. My boys are getting older though so maybe one of them will take it up.

    • Jo says:

      I LOVE the fact that you are hunting together! What a cool idea and fun memory to share together!

  • Catherine says:

    Keep these posts coming Crystal. This is the msm I have always loved. I am so enjoying hearing about all your deal shopping finds and freezer cooking. I hope I can join you again like I use to.

    • Jo says:

      Thank you so much for your kind encouragement! I’m so glad you’re enjoying these posts! I’m having fun putting them together!

  • Uma @ Centsible India says:

    My weekly menu planning is up as well. The lunch and dinner meals are mostly Indian.

    http://www.centsibleindian.com/2016/08/indian-meal-planning-make-ahead-plans.html

  • CarolSue says:

    I find that it is so easy to get in a rut with meals. Sometimes I feel we have the same foods over and over. My husband (and most of my extended family ) hunts and fishes and we process and freeze all of the meat that is brought in. My husband is a meat eater, so our meals are planned with meat as the main item and sides to go with it. I also purchase beef, chicken and pork that is on sale and freeze these. Recently, I went through our freezer meat inventory and listed all the types of meat available, such as venison, bear, fish, wild turkey, etc. I was so excited to be able to list at least 50 different meal ideas !! My garden is producing and I am canning and have been making a list of pantry items and adding the side dishes to the menu. No more boring meals for us, and we can eat up the wild game in our freezer, just in time for hunting season to begin again in our state.

  • Aimee says:

    YES – such a good post! Planning our meals and having a regular day to go to the grocery store has saved so much time, money and has made life with 3 littles MUCH easier. We never arrive at 5 wondering what we are having for dinner. I am going to try your lunch ideas! We are just getting back into the routine of school and I would love to simplify lunch prep.

  • Kimkerrmpt.com says:

    I love the lunch prep for your kids!! So awesome!!

  • Kristen says:

    I absolutely LOVE your system for lunches! How brilliant! We homeschool, so we just eat leftovers, but if we ever switch to school or for some reason need to pack daily lunches, I am definitely stealing your idea!!

  • Beth says:

    Hi! I was reading your post about your recent shopping trip. You mentioned you bought eggs at Aldi’s for .49 a dozen. And then bought the simple truth brand at Kroger for 2.99 a dozen, if I read it correctly. Would you be willing to write about what made you buy the two different types of eggs, how you feel about both purchases, and what purchase you will be , making on eggs in the future? I guess I am interested in hearing your thoughts on these types of choices as I personally struggle with them, thanks!

    • Jo says:

      I use the brown eggs for scrambled eggs and the Aldi eggs for baking. That’s usually how we do it — unless I find a really great deal on the brown eggs.

  • Heather says:

    I love the ideas for school lunches!

  • Amy says:

    Hey Crystal, how much do y’all budget for eating out? And what do you do if you have money left over from it? Thanks!

  • Stacy says:

    The bare essentials this week for meals. Makes me be create and less wasteful and thoughtful of what we have or need.
    We did a simple spaghetti this week with ground chicken and home made bread from my bread machine. Makes it filling.
    Then I seem to always have chicken!! We split up the nights but we did 2 nights of grilled chicken, potatoes (one night baked and the other mashed), then a steamed veggies like broccoli and frozen green beans.
    Tomorrow is homemade pizza. The bread machine has a recipe for bread dough that we love! I get tomato sauce (not spaghetti sauce). It was 50’cents! Then I grate a block of mozzarella cheese! They are usually $1.70 at aldis. We will do some cut up fresh veggies with it!
    Oh and it’s for a family of six. I also had enough ingredients for brown sugar oatmeal cookies and banana bread.

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