#TBT: Menu Planning

Whats-for-Dinner

I’ve talked about this before, but in honor of Throwback Thursday, I thought I’d talk about it again!!

Planning is probably the #1 thing that keeps me on track with my dieting. On top of that, I’m trying to save money. Ugh. Easier said than done.

Each week I sit down & I try to plan out a menu for the week. Some weeks are easier than others. And I attempt ask Mr. Chocolate his opinion on dinners, lunches, breakfasts. All the good things I have to shop for each week. What do I get in return??

“I don’t care.”

UGH!! YES YOU DO!! You have an opinion of what we eat for dinner. You have an opinion of what you eat for lunch. Sorry.. I digress. Back to the topic at hand,

When I’m menu planning I like to check out what’s on sale. I try to find “like” items to cook so I don’t end up with lots of waste. I try to factor in lunches also, can I make enough of this to pack for lunch? Or do I need to make sure we have enough lunch meat on hand for the week?? Like this week, we’re having pizza again. I want to put spinach on mine but no where else in my  menu plan does spinach fit. So most likely, no spinach. And that’s ok.

I also like to factor in cooking for friends. I love to entertain and have people over. They cost more in my budget. 🙂

So far this week, this is what we’re looking at:

Saturday – Wedding/Out
Sunday – Open
Monday – Pizza, with salad
Tuesday – Breakfast for dinner
Wednesday – Peanut chicken w/ veggies & noodles
Thursday – Brats, corn, cobbler
Friday – Hamburgers (pineapple & pepperjack cheese, corn

Breakfasts – breakfast English muffins

Lunches – sandwiches, cottage cheese, fruit

Kroger currently has brats & buns on sale. We alrady have the stuff for pizzas, minus needed more crusts & possibly a little more sauce. We have everything to make the peanut sauce for the chicken. We have everything for breakfast night.

I also make a list! My list keeps me from wandering around the grocery store like a crazy person. And it keeps me from buying stuff I don’t need. If it’s not on the list, I don’t get it. I love list making.

I try to also set up my days with meals so I know what we’re eating each day. Not only does that help me meal plan, but it helps me stay on program. If I know what my week looks like then I know where I have time to workout. I know when I’ll have heavier meals vs. lighter ones. I know the days that I can go out to lunch & not blow my diet.

Menu planning. Oh how I love you…

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Eating Healthy on a Budget

I think this is probably the biggest excuse I’ve heard, and given, when it comes to eating healthier. But it’s so expensive.

Yeah, it can be. It can also be cheap if you plan. Check out the sale ads. Check out the coupons. What’s already in your pantry or fridge? What can you make that doesn’t take crazy ingredients? It’s possible to eat healthier and eat cheaper.

In our house, we’re feeding 2 people. Mr. Chocolate and myself. Plus 3 animals. We have had a grocery budget of roughly $100 a week for the past 2 months. And we’re doing just fine. We factor in a night out each week and a meal with his parents. Neither of which come out of our grocery budget. We do also have the luxury of having fresh beef in the freezer whenever we want it. That also helps. That being said, I get tired of beef.

So this week’s menu is as follows (well, at least how it was supposed to be before we have tons of leftovers from last night’s dinner)…

Monday: Beef enchiladas with rice & beans
Tuesday: Soup & hot ham sandwiches
Wednesday: Cheeseburgers & roasted potatoes
Thursday: Leftover burgers
Friday: Birthday celebration for Mr. Chocolate’s dad (out to eat)
Saturday: Wedding dinner for my dad
Sunday: Pork chops with sour kraut & apple sauce

We also have breakfasts, snacks, and lunches that we have to plan for. Usually a combination of leftovers & sandwiches for lunch. Oatmeal and fruit for breakfast or snacks. Mr. Chocolate is a fan of gummy fruit snacks and granola bars. I swear, I think he’s still 12 years old.

With that menu plan, and what I could raid out of our freezer, my grocery list was created.

Hamburger buns
Tortillas
Refried beans
Enchilada sauce
Pork chops
Sour Kraut
Lunch meat
Milk
Bread
Sliced cheese
Oatmeal
Fruit (bananas & oranges)
Veggies (Celery, lettuce, & tomato)
Turkey Bacon
Fruit snacks
Apple sauce
Ketchup
Flatout Wraps

We thankfully already have the ground beef, some Mexican flavored rice & potatoes. The soup is in the freezer and will be thawed out to eat this week.

So my grand grocery shopping trip this week. All of that listed above. It came out to $65 and some change. Not hard to feed 2 people & 3 animals (plus all household needs, like TP & cleaning supplies) on a budget. It is do-able. You just have to plan.

Planning can be a pain. It takes time and patience. Some of the things I try to do when I plan our menu are:

I look at the sale ads. I try to see what I can get for cheap. Or at least get an idea of items I may want for the week.

Check coupons. I LOVE COUPONS! Seriously. I’m better at this than the sale ads. I try to plan our breakfasts, lunches, and sides around what I can find coupons for. This week I only had $2 worth of useable coupons.

Store brands. Seriously, they’re great. I can get a can of Great Value brand vegetables for about $0.65. Whereas the regular are almost always pushing $1.

Frozen fruits and vegetables. Hello cheap! I can buy a bag of frozen broccoli for $1.50, TOPS! And there’s so much broccoli in there! The same goes for corn, lima beans, pepper/onion blends. Fruit that I put in smoothies. All that fun stuff.

Portion it yourself. Why buy the single serve packs? I was looking at applesauce this weekend. I wanted some to have for dinner one night & then possibly for my lunches. Ounce for ounce, the same brand, same flavor, was $0.75 more for the prepackaged. I bought the big container.

Check your cabinets!! This is by far the biggest money saver for me. I raid our cabinets before I go grocery shopping. Our menu may change several times before I actually leave the house as I find out what we already have on hand versus what we need to get. I try to stock my cabinets when there are sales and I have coupons. This really helps when money is tight & I need to raid the cabinet even more.

We have $60 in our account for next week’s groceries. Mr. Chocolate asked me if we should put more money in the joint account for next week. I told him no. My goal is to spend no more than $50 next week.

I got this.

Pantry Clean-Out

So for some reason money is tight this month. Very tight.

I’ve decided to do a pantry clean-out to help save some money. 

Typically, the arrangement between Mr. Chocolate & myself is that I buy groceries and he pays when we get take-out or go out to eat. This month, because of tight funds, he will be paying for groceries for the rest of the month. But to help cut down on the amount of groceries we need, I’m planning to do a pantry clean-out. 

I’m hoping that we can get through the rest of the month with very little trips to the grocery store. We will need the basics for breakfasts & lunches. We’ll need things to make side dishes for dinners. Hopefully, though, our dinners will be taken care of with what we already have stashed away in the pantry. By just having that out of the way we’ll cut down on food costs big time.

On the menu for the rest of the month are things such as:

Crock Pot Beef Stroganoff  (tonight)
Crock pot Chicken & Dumplings
Pintos & Fried Potatoes 
Crock pot Salsa Chicken 
Tacos with beans & rice
Chili 
Spaghetti 
Cube Steak 

All of the items listed above we already have stuff to make them. Like I said, dinners are covered as far as pantry eating. We will have to go shopping for some veggies, bread, or some other small things to go along with some of these meals.

For the things that we do have to purchase I plan on using coupons when possible. I’ve been trying to coupon shop as much as possible, and I’ve been doing fairly well with it.

So this month will be an experiment in how well I can cook on a tight budget. And function on a super tight budget. And cook HEALTHY at that!

Who knows, maybe if this goes well I’ll try to do a big pantry clean-out a couple times a year.

I can do this.

What are some ways you try to save money in the kitchen?
Is a pantry clean-out a regular thing in your household?

Menu Planning is HARD WORK!

Seriously though.

It’s really hard.

Esp when the one I love is at work & can’t chat. And I’m trying to take into consideration what he might like for dinner.

And how do people menu plan for the weekends? HOW! I seriously have no freakin’ clue what to put for the weekend. Monday thru Thursday I got this down. Friday during the day I’m good. But Friday dinner thru Sunday night, I’ve got no clue. None.

Monday
Breakfast – Waffle w/ 1T PB, coffee, banana. -5pts
Snack – Greek Yogurt.  -2pts
Lunch – Tuna Salad Sandwich, SF pudding, Veggies & Hummus -9pts
Snack – Apple -0pts
Dinner – BBQ chicken, mashed potatoes (& cauliflower), steamed broccoli – 11pts
Dessert – ??
Total Pts – 27pts
Activity – WATP 2 miles (30 minutes)

Tuesday
Breakfast – Waffle w/ 1T PB, coffee, banana. -5pts
Snack – Greek Yogurt. -2pts
Lunch – Tuna Salad Sandwich, SF pudding, Veggies & Hummus -9pts
Snack – Apple -0pts
Dinner – Chili w/ cheese & corn bread -13pts
Dessert –
Total Pts – 29pts
Activity – 45 minutes of Cardio Kickboxing

Wednesday
Breakfast – Waffle w/ 1T PB, coffee, banana. -5pts
Snack – Greek Yogurt. -2pts
Lunch – Cabo Fish Taco – 2 Soy Ginger Shrimp Tacos (13) + Side Dish (3ish??)
Snack – Apple -0pts
Dinner – Chili w/ cheese. -8pts
Dessert –
Total Pts – 31pts
Activity – Rest (school)

Thursday
Breakfast – Waffle w/ 1T PB, coffee, banana. -5pts
Snack – Greek Yogurt. -2pts
Lunch – Tuna Salad Sandwich, SF pudding, Veggies & Hummus -9pts
Snack – Apple – 0pts
Dinner – 2 egg omelet w/ sautéed veggies & 1/4c RF cheese. Toast w/ Apple butter. -10pts
Dessert –
Total Pts – 26pts
Activity – Walk w/ the Dog (30 minutes)

Friday
Breakfast – Waffle w/ 1T PB, coffee, banana. -5pts
Snack – Greek Yogurt. -2pts
Lunch – Tuna Salad Sandwich, SF pudding, Veggies & Hummus (or Ranch) -9pts
Snack – Apple -0pts
Dinner –
Dessert –
Total Pts – 16pts
Activity – WW Belly, Butt, & Thighs (30 minutes)

That’s what I have so far. It all looks good & sounds yummy. It’s very do-able.

But for real. It’s hard work.

And then you have to make a grocery list & figure out everything you need.

And it’s complicated by the fact that the one I love & myself don’t live together. We live about 30 minutes apart. So when I cook for him, at his house, it’s a pain. And when I stay with him over night I have to pack lots of food.

This take tons of planning.

***

Today’s Plan of Attack:

B: Greek yogurt & Coffee. -2
S: Applesauce. -0
L: Chicken salad sandwich, salad, SF pudding. -10
S: Apple. -0
D: 2 slices of pizza & a salad. -18
S: I have 5pts left for something yummy. 🙂