Friday, July 11, 2014

A Menu Plan for 4 Weeks [Including Recipe's & a Budgeted Grocery List]

I figured since I shared How I Got Myself Organized for 4 Weeks of Meal Planning that I'd also share my menu plan and grocery list from a random past. My goal is to always keep our grocery bill in the range of $150 - $200 (It helps that we have a freezer full of deer meat my husband killed and prepared himself; and also Nebraska beef from a local rancher we know and love; each paid for in full. It's a large upfront sum, but it's cheaper in the long run, so much tastier than store bought meat, and it's much better for you.)

I always plan the first two weeks of meals with fresh produce and the last two weeks with items that can sit in the pantry (like canned items, rice, pasta, frozen vege's, pre-prepped & frozen meals, &etc.) 

* Before planning I make a list of all the items that are already in the fridge, freezer and pantry that need to be used. So many of the dishes listed were picked because I already had many of the ingredients. I'm including my grocery list so I'll also indicate which ingredients are not on the list.

Hopefully by seeing my thought process and organization you'll be inspired to do the same, or whatever works best for you! Since we live in a small community where the price of milk is double what we can get it in the city, we shop once a month and buy in bulk. It saves us so much $$$ to take a couple hours out of a day to plan ahead and put in the time and effort to DIY (like make my own laundry soap, bread, &etc.).
It's quite the process that "requires" a cup of coffee, Pinterest, my recipe book, menu journal, and something to eat. :) 
Week 1
Monday - Crockpot Meatloaf with salad
Tuesday - Turkey on a Throne (Kyle earns a free turkey at the holiday's and it took us awhile to use it!) with a vege melody: potatoes, carrots, onion and zucchini (which I already had)
Wednesday - Turkey Pesto Panini (I had avocado and tomato ready and waiting to be used.), with leftover vege melody and salad
Thursday - Lemon Roasted Chicken Salad Wrap (Replace chicken with turkey, and I left out the water chest nuts - yuck.) 
Friday - Leftovers
Saturday - Grilled hamburgers with all the fixins' and potato salad
Sunday - Frozen Pizza 

Week 2
Monday - Taco Salad (tortilla chips - which I already have, lettuce, avocado, tomato, and onion) with Lazy Chili Rellenos
Tuesday - Smudder Fish w/Johnny Cake and avocado (I have lime juice and the fresh fish my hubby caught while in the Bahamas.)
Wednesday - Chicken Broccoli Supreme  (This is my daughters favorite, so I never count on leftovers here, haha.)
Thursday - Cowboy Casserole
Friday - Tattertot Casserole (cream of mushroom, mushrooms, mixed with hamburger, topped with potatoes and cheddar cheese) with corn 
Saturday - Leftovers
Sunday - Frozen Pizza

Week 3
Monday - Honey Sriracha Glazed Chicken with rice, broccoli, and egg rolls (We always have teriyaki sauce, honey, and sriracha on hand, so they're not included on the grocery list. I also buy rice in bulk, so I rarely include it in the monthly list. And I don't purchase the stir fry - I'm having broccoli another day so I'm digging into that bag. Also, I have frozen cabbage leftover from last month. Nothing goes to waste in this house, if I don't use it, I freeze it and use it in my meal planning for next month.)
Tuesday - Sloppy Joes (Sriracha, Ketchup, a dash of mustard, garlic & onion powder, worcestershire sauce, all items kept in stock and not needed this month) with homemade fries and baked beans
Wednesday - Farmer's Casserole (with deer meat, I also add green peppers) & toast
Thursday - Angel Hair Pasta (chicken, garlic, carrots - we have some in the freezer, broccoli, chicken broth, basil, parmesan cheese - which we have on hand - & angel hair pasta) with garlic bread
Friday - Possibly Out of Town - otherwise Frozen Pizza
Saturday - Possibly Out of Town - otherwise tuna salad sandwiches (we already have tuna) with chips
Sunday - Leftovers

Week 4
Monday - Crockpot Cheesy Chicken & Yellow Rice with garlic bread
Tuesday - Shepard's Pie (I brown a pound of hamburger with onion and a bit of garlic. Add tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, layer green beans, mashed potatoes and top with cheddar cheese. Easy and yummy.)
Wednesday - SausageZatarain's Red Beans & Rice with Corn
Thursday - Leftovers
Friday - Spinach Artichoke Pizza with Chicken (I make my own dough, and we buy baking items in bulk so those items I do not need, if you do, add it to your list, but it will make your overall expense a tad more than the original budget laid out. Also, I had leftover spinach and a can of artichoke hearts I stocked up on when it was at an unbeatable price, so these items are not in my budget because I already have them, but I did go ahead and include them on the grocery list.) *Time to meal plan again!*
Saturday - Grocery shopping (Our one night out on the town so we'll eat out - our once a month treat!)
Sunday - And we start over with frozen pizza...

Grocery List

  • Potatoes
  • Onion
  • Lettuce
  • Green Pepper (x2)
  • Sprouts
  • Avocado (x3)
  • Tomato (x5)
  • Cilantro
  • Sausage
  • Chicken Breast (x4 meals)
  • Cheddar Cheese
  • Monterey Jack Cheese
  • Sour Cream
  • Butter
  • Milk (x4) - We freeze it.
  • Eggs
  • Greek Yogurt
  • Tomato sauce
  • Diced Tomatoes
  • Green Beans
  • Cream of Chicken 
  • Artichoke hearts
  • Chicken broth (x2)
  • Whole Roasted Green Chili's
  • Baked Beans
  • Black Beans
  • Cream of Mushroom
  • Mushrooms
  • Corn (x2)
  • Spinach
  • Broccoli (x3 meals)
  • Pizza (x3)
  • Zatarain's Red Beans & Rice
  • Zatarain's Yellow Rice Mix
  • Egg Roll Wrappers
  • Angel Hair Pasta
  • Walnuts
  • Dried Cranberries
  • Tortillas
  • Jiffy
When I get home I spend the next few days prepping for the month. For example, I wash the lettuce - shred it, cut tomatoes and green pepper for the salad. I find that by doing this ahead of time and storing it in an enclosed dish in the fridge, it keeps a couple weeks, ready to eat. 

More tips for keeping your budget low:
  • We purchased an air tight food saver that keeps food longer once opened or pre prepped for later in the week. 
  • Lunch is always leftovers from the week. 
  • Also, I don't "prep" for breakfast, we simply purchase items in bulk we know we'll use like oatmeal, eggs, bacon, syrup for pancakes, cereal, &etc. 
  • OH, and I make my own bread (I'm thinking I need to share this easy recipe...).
  • I always search for coupons on any of these items. My best couponing experience was when my grocery bill went from almost $300 to $175! Sweet.
P.S. This is for a small family of 3, but with the way my hubby eats I plan for 5 people.