01/3/14
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freezer meal planning

I feel like I’ve been in a stage of denial with this pregnancy.  Like I’ve got all the time in the world, which is why we’ve been procrastinating like crazy.  Granted the holidays were a busy time, but honestly, I figured I would put preparations off until the new year, thinking I’d have tons of time.  Now that January is here, I’m officially due in 6 1/2 weeks… eeekkkk!  When I put it like that, it sure does not sound like a lot of time.  So last night I began a bit of freezer meal planning for when she arrives.  I haven’t actually made anything yet, but I’m at the first step: planning.  Or should that be cleaning my freezer….???

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I posted this pic to instagram + facebook and got a lot more ideas from people:

  • potato soup
  • breakfast pizzas
  • pumpkin bread
  • chicken tortilla soup
  • meatballs & spaghetti sauce
  • regular pizzas
  • chicken chili Mac (minus the mac)
  • teriyaki chicken
  • split pea soup
  • taco chili from skinnytaste
  • lasagna
  • healthy mac and cheese
  • waikiki meatballs

I also have a whole section of freezer meals on my recipe page that I used when I was pregnant with Hunter.  I don’t plan to make all of the things I did last time, but here are a few I’m considering.

Here’s my plan of attack.

  1. Finalize what meals I want to make.
  2. Clean out the freezer… I guess. ;)
  3. Incorporate one of the freezer meals into our dinner rotation and then make 1-2 extra meals of the same thing so that I’m not spending a whole day making freezer meals.  So if I’m making quiche, I’ll make a couple extra at the same time and put them in the freezer instead of baking.
  4. Spend 1 or 2 Saturday mornings working on breakfasts like waffles and baked oatmeal for the freezer.
  5. Over the next 6-?? weeks I’ll slowly build a supply of dinners, breakfasts and snacks for when baby girl arrives.

While I’m working on planning the freezer meals, are there any that I just HAVE to include?  Meals you made that froze and still tasted great?  Please share links!

Today is a wonderful day… I’m heading out for an hour long massage soon.  It’s been a while since I’ve laid on my stomach and the pregnancy pillow is calling my name.  Happy weekend all!

Heather

10/14/13
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save money by combining ingredients + budget meal plan {oct 14-18}

Did you all catch the yummy cinnamon rolls I shared last night?  They’re mighty good the next day too… just sayin’.

Over the weekend I didn’t cook a lot. I baked cinnamon rolls and pumpkin pie, but made no dinners.  We were treated to delicious dinners with friends and family’s on both Saturday and Sunday night.    But now we’re back to the work week and home in the evenings, so I came up with a meal plan.

One way I’m simplifying dinner and saving money this week is basing most of our meals off of two main ingredients: chicken and black beans.  Let me show you, then I’ll explain.

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Mondaycreamy chicken enchiladas with black beans added in + avocado + sour cream/plain yogurt + fruit

Tuesdaychili egg puff + bacon asparagus + roasted beets

Wednesday – sweet potato/black bean and chicken/black bean egg roll taquitos (adapted from this recipe) with avocado + sour cream/plain yogurt + cucumber slices

Thursday – crockpot black bean soup + cornmeal drop biscuits + fruit

Friday – leftovers

I only planned 4 meals this week since I know we’ll have leftovers and during the weekend I tend to not follow a meal plan very well.  Our plans change up and we end up going away to the lake house or getting together with friends… it’s just easier to wing it.

There’s definitely a Mexican theme going on this week.  Good thing we enjoy it!

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For the black beans that I’m using in most meals, I actually picked up dry beans and soaked 1 lb in water overnight, then covered them with a few inches of water in the crockpot and let it cook low and slow for 8 hours.  Perfectly cooked black beans that are not only cheaper, they have less sodium in them than canned!

I boiled 4 large chicken breasts and shredded the meat.  The plan is to distribute it between the enchiladas, taquitos and also for lunches.  Lunch will be a big batch of curry cream cheese chicken wraps for quick grab and go lunch/snacks.

I ended up actually having a lot of extra chicken and had more than enough enchilada mix, so I made an extra pan of enchiladas for the freezer.  Prep once, eat twice!

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For all of the chicken and beans, it cost me a total of $15.  The chicken was obviously the most expensive part since the beans cost about 95 cents bought in bulk.  I know I could have purchased cheaper chicken for probably 1/2 or 1/3 the cost, but I’m making more of an effort to buy better quality, local foods, so the investment was okay with me.

And in case you’re curious, here’s the breakdown of my grocery shopping trip from yesterday.

Chuck’s Produce

  • Organic milk
  • 2 dozen cage free eggs
  • 4 local, hormone free chicken breasts
  • Organic plain yogurt
  • Whole wheat tortillas 2x
  • Grapes
  • Pears
  • Apples
  • Bananas
  • Asparagus
  • Organic kale
  • Onions
  • Garlic

Total spent at Chuck’s Produce: $43.39

Winco

  • Bulk black beans
  • Bulk corn meal
  • Bulk peppercorns
  • Sea salt
  • Ground pepper
  • Organic low sodium chicken broth
  • Cream cheese
  • Lunch meat
  • Orange juice
  • Sour cream
  • Cheddar cheese

Total spent at Winco:  $33.99

Total spent so far: $77.38

I’m pretty happy with the number.  Last week (and what seems like most weeks lately) I’ve been doing another small grocery trip on Friday’s once we know our weekend plans and it usually comes in around $20-40, so knowing how much I’ve already spent for this week, I can keep the budget under $100.

What’s on your meal plan for this week?  Do you ever base your meals off of a few main ingredients?

Have a wonderful night!

Heather

09/23/13
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budget meal plan {sept 22-27} + spending more on quality food

Hello and happy Monday!  I hear it’s officially fall as of yesterday.  It’s definitely fall weather here and was all weekend long.  We had another low key weekend and actually all did a bit of sleeping in (8am one day, then 8:30am the next – thank you Hunter!).  How was your weekend?

Here’s a look at what we’re eating this week.

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Sunday: tacos with ground beef, beans, cheese, tomatoes, garden fresh lettuce and sour cream

Monday: quesadillas using leftovers from taco night + avocado I forgot to include with our tacos!

Tuesday: herb crusted beef roast + broccoli quinoa casserole

Wednesday: apple and potato dinner hash + eggs

Thursday: roast beef sandwiches + avocado, mango, pineapple quinoa salad

Friday: leftovers

I’ve been bad about taking pictures of my grocery loot, but I do have a breakdown of what I picked up yesterday.  And it was kid free shopping, gotta love that.

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Chuck’s Produce

  • cage free eggs x2
  • apple chicken sausage
  • corn tortillas
  • 2lb bag of mini avocados
  • tillamook individual yogurts x6
  • shredded parmesan
  • broccoli
  • bartlett pears
  • jonagold apples
  • celery
  • carrots
  • sweet onion
  • red grapes

Total spent at Chuck’s Produce: $30.53

Total saved (9 out of the 13 items were on sale) : 22%

Target

  • seventh generation toilet bowl cleaner x2
  • lindt hello chocolate bars x2
  • wine

Total spent at Target: $12.06

Total saved (free chocolate and coupons for 7th generation): 44%

Walgreens

  • AAA batteries, big packs x2
  • tums x2
  • maple syrup
  • vanilla extract
  • raisins x2
  • lay’s chips x2 (very happy hubs)

Total spent at Walgreens: $22.28

Total saved (sales, BOGOs, coupons, register rewards and balance rewards used): 54%

Grand total spent so far: $64.87

I still have a little bit of produce to pick up later in the week, but I think the most I’ll be spending will be $10-15.  Keeping the weekly budget under $100!  Whoop!

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Buying better quality, spending less money

Couponing has definitely allowed me to spend a little more on quality, since I’m saving on pretty much all of my toiletries and most pantry items.  I also haven’t shopped at Costco in quite some time (except for pet food and litter), so that’s a big money saver.

I’ve been buying pretty much all my meat at Chuck’s Produce (local to Vancouver, WA).  I’ll base what I buy either on their weekly specials, or meats they mark down that just need to be used/frozen within 1-2 days.  When it’s a good price, I’ve been stocking up and just keeping extra meat in my freezer.  This week’s beef roast was on sale a few weeks ago, but I didn’t have a plan for it.  Into the freezer it went, and now we’re going to have it all week long.

I’ve been investing in organic milk, sometimes organic yogurt and cage free, local eggs.  I’m not at the point where I’ll spend $4 a dozen on organic eggs (but when they go on sale, I’ll get them!).  We go through a lot of eggs.  I’m happy when the eggs I buy typically go on sale, like they did this week.  I already had 2 dozen eggs in the fridge, but since they were $1 less this week, I picked up 2 more dozen.  We’ll be down to just those 2 by the end of the week I’m sure.  We need chickens.

How do you allocate your food budget (if you have one)?  Will you spend a little more on quality?

I’m trying my best to make choices that fit into our food budget, and that I feel good about.  I’d love to buy all organic fruits/veggies, but right now it’s just not realistic.  I’d rather invest that money in meat and diary products.  However, with all of the savings I’ve been having with other items since I began couponing, maybe down the road that will happen too.  We shall see!

Two classes down, then BodyCombat to teach tonight.

Have a great rest of the day all!

Heather