Week 7 of 80 – Not Impressed With Our Debt – September Dinners – Meal Planning

meal planning

Already in September life in the bakery department has been brutal. Two huge weddings and one to go next week and an unexpected order for 50 cookie cakes this week have put me way behind in my personal life. However, I am still plugging away at our debt!

The thing that gets us into trouble the most with spending money is food. It will suck the money out of your wallet quicker than anything! To combat this you need to be organized and that means spending a little time thinking about meals.

Unfortunately it’s probably the same in your house as it is in ours, the question being, “what’s for dinner?” I ask it every afternoon to my husband and son and my son always says, “I don’t know,” or “I don’t care, whatever you want to make” and my husband says burgers or pizza.

*Sigh* Not too inspiring right?

I have tried meal planning before and I have even blogged many times with “What’s For Dinner” posts which I will link later but I still get frustrated and try too hard sometimes to make the perfect meal for us.

What I am going to show you is just a calendar of dinner ideas for the month of September for us. Each day I can look at it and see just “tacos” or “crock pot” or “baked chicken”. It just gives me something to go by for dinner. It’s not a complete meal plan by any means but sometimes you just need an idea. I even took a photo of the meal plan on my phone so I can reference it when I need to bring home the appropriate ingredients if I don’t have them. If I don’t like what I wrote down or it doesn’t fit our mood I just switch the day out with another. Again this just gives me ideas so I am not just standing there in Aisle #3 wondering what to make.

Here is our meal plan for the month:

Sept 4th                    Sept 5th            Sept 6th             Sept 7th                 Sept 8th

Rotiss Chicken         Crock Pot           Stir Fry               Wing it                    Tuna Noodle

Sept 9th                    Sept 10th           Sept 11th          Sept 12th               Sept 13th

Turkey Dinner          Grilled Sands.    Leftovers           Crockpot                Tacos 

Sept 14th                  Sept 15th           Sept 16th          Sept 17th               Sept 18th

Wing it                      Pot Luck              Chili                   Pizza Breads          Soup

Sept 19th                  Sept 20th            Sept 21st         Sept 22nd              Sept 23rd

Meatloaf                    Big Salads           Wing it              Rotiss Chicken      Pork Roast

Sept 24th                 Sept 25th              Sept 26th         Sept 27th              Sept 28th

Breakfast                 Pork chops             Crockpot           Chix Kiev             Wing it

Sept 29th                Sept 30th

Pot Luck                 Spaghetti 

I didn’t get started doing a meal plan as you can see until the 4th. Most of these are pretty generic. Soup could be anything that sounds good or that I have on hand at the time. Pot luck is just a reference for me that it is Euchre night at friends and I have to bring a dish to pass. Rotisserie chicken is something easy I can bring home from the store for dinner. Breakfast for dinner is most likely scrambled eggs and toast because it will just be the hubby and I that night.

Friday “Wing it” nights are nights we are just going to figure it out. Probably just a take out night or leftovers. Crock pot and stir fry are also whatever I want to go into the crock or frying pan.

As you can see this is just a reference. Something to look at and go by. It has already changed a lot so far but it helps me.

Hopefully by the end of this week I will have enough to pay our school taxes. Yay!! New York residents got our property tax rebates in the mail last week and it covers almost a third of the bill for us! I was not expecting it and it certainly was a blessing.

By next week we will be back to paying down the credit card.

Do you have a meal plan or any kind of food plan you use to make your life easier? I would love to hear about it! -MM

If you are interested in reading my previous blog posts about “What’s For Dinner” here are the links

What’s For Dinner Week 1

What’s For Dinner Week 2

What’s for Dinner Week 3

What’s For Dinner Week 4

What’s For Dinner Week 5

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What’s For Dinner Week #5

It’s been a rough couple of weeks for our household. I have been sick for most of it with a nasty cold/virus that made me miss 3 days of work, my mom was supposed to have surgery last week on her shoulder and after waiting for hours at her scheduled time of surgery they ended up not being able to do it due to a complication and now poor Doug is sick with the yuck. So I apologize for the late posting again. Here are week #5’s meal ideas.

Sausage, Peppers and Onions

Whether slow cooked in the Crockpot all day or grilled on the grill pan, this is a hearty and relatively inexpensive meal. Add some steak fries and yum!!

Tuna Noodle Casserole

I use a whole bag of wide egg noodles, 2 cans of white tuna packed in water, drained, 1 can of cream of mushroom and one can of cream of celery soup with milk added to both cans and a small bag of frozen peas. After you cook the noodles add in all of the rest of the ingredients stirring gently together then pour into a casserole dish. Top with crushed Ritz crackers or crushed potato chips. Salt and pepper to taste and add fresh parsley if you like too. Bake at 350 degrees until hot and bubbly about 30 minutes.

Spaghetti and Meatballs

In lieu of most people either using their own family recipe or preferring the jarred kind I will let you use whatever recipe you like for this. Meatballs are good homemade or from a freezer bag. Hey it’s a meatball how can you go wrong either way right?

Chicken Stir Fry

Remember those little, tiny corn on the cob that Tom Hanks chewed on in the movie “Big’? This dish always reminds me of that because I can’t resist using a can of baby corn in this recipe.

For the Sauce: Combine 1 cup water, ¼ cup soy sauce, 2 Tbsp cornstarch, 1 tsp instant bouillon granules, ¼ tsp ground ginger. Stir to dissolve everything and set aside.

Chunk or thin slice boneless skinless chicken breast. Salt and pepper to taste. Preheat a few Tbsp of cooking oil in a wok or stainless steel frying pan. Add chicken and stir fry until cooked through about 10-15 minutes. Remove from pan and set aside.

To the hot pan add veggies such as broccoli, julienned carrots, mushrooms, onion and/or garlic. Stir fry until the crunch is just gone. Remove from heat.

Next, add the sauce to the center of the pan. Stir and cook until thickened and bubbly.

To the sauce add more veggies like the corn, bamboo shoots, water chestnuts, frozen snow peas and bean sprouts. None of these take long to cook that’s why they are added at the end. Cook for a couple of minutes in the sauce to warm everything up and defrost the peas.

Add in all of the rest of the veggies and the meat to warm up and finish cooking. Cook another few minutes in the sauce then serve over rice.

Deluxe Turkey BLT Clubs

An easy meal! Get your favorite deli turkey, cooked bacon, tomatoes and your fanciest lettuce plus mayo of course and start stacking it all on your favorite toasted bread. Three slices of bread make it a club! Put a frilly toothpick through it, add some sweet potato fries and you have dinner. Enjoy!

Crockpot Chili Sauce Chicken with Mashed Potatoes

This has got to be the easiest recipe ever! If you can your own homemade chili sauce like I do just pop open the jar and dump it over cut up pieces of chicken in the Crockpot and that’s it! Turn it on low and let it cook until the meat just falls off the bone. If you don’t have your own chili sauce you can buy a variety of kinds at your local grocery store. Whip up some mashed potatoes and a veggie and you are all set. Easy peasy!!

Leftover Night

Take the night off from cooking and enjoy those leftovers!

 

I would love more ideas for dinners. What are you making for dinner? Please post in the comments. -MM

 

All of these recipe amounts are based approximately on 4 people and might have to be adjusted if you have teenagers with a healthier appetite.

What’s for Dinner Week #4

Sorry this is a day late! I was under the weather all last week and I am just getting caught back up. Here are the dinner suggestions for week #4.

What’s for Dinner Week #4

Chicken Kiev

Ingredients:

Boneless Skinless Chicken Breasts

Salt and Pepper

Cold Butter

Chives and Parsley, Dried or Fresh

Bread Crumbs

Eggs

All Purpose Flour

Frying Oil

In between 2 pieces of wax paper flatten multiple breasts with a flat kitchen mallet or rolling pin. Once flattened and thin enough to roll easily set aside and finish flattening all of the chicken. On a cutting board lay one of the breasts face down and put a pat of cold butter at one end. Sprinkle breast with salt and pepper and parsley and chives. Carefully pick up one end and roll the butter and herbs up into a short log. Secure with toothpick if it doesn’t want to stay closed. Repeat until all of the breasts are used. You will have some large and some small when finished.

Set up your breading station with three wide mouthed bowls. The first with flour, the second with 2 beaten eggs and the third with the breads crumbs. Coat a rolled breast first in the flour then move it to the eggs to coat it and then to the breadcrumbs. Repeat until all of the chicken is coated and ready to fry. This is a messy process so be prepared to wash your fingers multiple times along the way.

Heat oil such as canola or peanut oil in a cast iron skillet. Oil should come to about halfway up the sides of the pan. Fry each breast until thoroughly cooked and golden brown on each side. About 15 minutes for the largest down to 8-10 minutes for the smaller.

Serve with mashed potatoes and my dad’s favorite, green peas.

Build your own Pizzas

I love using pre-baked Naan flatbreads for this because they are quick and easy and come in lots of different varieties. My store carries white, wheat and garlic and two come in a package.

Cheese and pepperoni may be your favorite but don’t hesitate to try something different like artichoke and feta, or spinach, tomato and ricotta. There are endless possibilities!

Stuffed Shells

The reason I like writing this series is to not only give you new recipe ideas but also to perhaps remind you of recipes you haven’t made in awhile for whatever reason.

Stuffed shells is one of those recipes for us. If you have made them in the past, I urge you to go find your recipe in your recipe box and go to town with it. If you have never made them before, here is a classic recipe for stuffed shells from Chrisy at Homemadehooplah.com.

http://homemadehooplah.com/recipes/ricotta-stuffed-shells-with-marinara/

Chili

Everyone has their own favorite chili recipe. I bet some are even award winners. Am I right? Or passed down from previous generations?

In any case here is mine.

Brown 1 lb. of lean ground beef in a heavy bottomed pot along with 1 chopped medium onion, 1 clove of minced garlic and 1 whole sweet green or red bell pepper chopped small.

Add a large can of crushed tomatoes (28 oz. I think?) and a small can of tomato paste, plus water to fill the small can.

Next I add a can of black beans and a can of red kidney beans, including all of the liquids from the cans.

Then, the spices. I swear it takes almost a whole container of chili powder to get it tasting right but let’s just say it is at least 3 Tbsp. Then a couple of bay leaves, salt and pepper, red pepper flakes, a couple of Tbsps. of sugar to mellow it and cut the acidity and fresh parsley if you have it otherwise dried will do.

Simmer over low heat for at least 2 hours stirring it frequently to prevent scorching.

Serve with sides of sour cream, shredded cheese and oyster crackers.

If you like it spicier by all means add all the jalapenos or chili peppers you like.

Beef Stew

Beef stew is another one of our cold weather favorites. Stew with warm buttered bread…Yum!

Coat 1-1/2 to 2 pounds of stew meat in flour, shake off excess. In a Dutch oven heat 2 Tbsps of oil. Add the floured meat and brown meat on all sides. I deglaze the pan with a cup of beef stock just so I can scrape up the flavorful drippings on the bottom of the pan. It will also start to thicken because of the flour. If you prefer a bolder flavor you can deglaze the pan with a good red wine.

Add a can of whole peeled tomatoes along with the liquid in the can. Then add 2 celery stalks chunked including the greens and 3 carrots peeled and chunked and 2 medium to large onions chunked to the pot. Add your choice of herbs. I like parsley, and Thyme or Sage. Salt and pepper to taste.

Cover and let simmer on low for a good two hours in the Dutch oven, stirring occasionally to prevent scorching.

About 1-1/2 hours into the cooking process I usually add potatoes chunked up. They don’t take as long as the rest of it does and then if you like mushrooms you can add them then too. Mushrooms add that rich earthy flavor to a stew.

Serve when meat is tender and breaks apart easily with a fork. Add more stock if the stew boils down too much and becomes dry.

Serve with homemade French bread.

Baked Ham

There are many different types of hams out there. Some boneless, some bone-in. Some are sweeter like honey or brown sugar, some are saltier. Some are pre-sliced and some are do-it-yourself. Either way any ham you get is already fully cooked so all you have to do is put it in the oven covered until the internal temp is satisfactory. Easy peasy right?

I like the simple approach of just putting the ham in a roasting pan and covering it with tin foil until hot and browned. But for those of you that like to pretty your ham up with things such as pineapple slices, cloves and cherries go for it. Any kind of ham is good to me!

Serve with a side of potatoes or perhaps squash.

Leftover Night

Ham sandwiches anyone?

 

Note: All of these recipe amounts are based approximately on 4 people and might have to be adjusted if you have teenagers with a healthier appetite.

 

 

What’s For Dinner Week #2

doug food

Doug’s school project last year for Home Ec – Not bad huh?

After my first post last week for this series I have decided to write this week’s a little differently.

I removed the total cost for each meal because it was very time consuming and I wanted to be able to use my own items in the recipes especially in the summer when our fruits and vegetables are in full swing. I also did not want to be limited to just what was available in the ad. I wanted to use the ad as inspiration not for total food costs.

So here goes for Week #2.

On the menu this week:

CROCKPOT MEATLOAF – I love this version of meatloaf. The crockpot makes it so tender and when we have an away game I throw it in the crock and set the oven to turn on automatically for the potatoes and by the time we get home we have a wonderful meal waiting for us.

BREAKFAST FOR DINNER – Who doesn’t like breakfast for dinner? I make our waffles and pancakes from scratch and any leftovers get frozen and used for breakfast another day. The pancake batter can be made up the night before and stored in the fridge.

SCALLOPED POTATOES AND HAM – I ask the deli counter to slice nice thick slices of ham so I can chunk them up for this recipe. Deli ham quality is particularly good and much cheaper than ham from the meat department.

CHUCK ROAST IN THE CROCKPOT – It’s crockpot week it seems doesn’t it?Right now being on the go with basketball practice this seems to be the only way we eat without getting takeout every night. I love the mushrooms in this recipe. It makes for very rich and flavorful meat and sauce. Warm blueberry muffins with this roast instead of bread are a wonderful treat.

TACO NIGHT – Make taco night fun for everyone by having a build-your-own taco line with all of the ingredients in separate bowls. So many choices helps with picky eaters.

FRIDAY NIGHT FISH AND CHIPS – Make it easy and more healthful to bake instead of fry your favorite fish and chips. If you like, make a yummy fish sandwich complete with homemade tartar sauce too.

LEFTOVER NIGHT – Take the night off from cooking and enjoy those leftovers!

I would love to hear from you if you have any meal suggestions that you love to cook for your family. You can email suggestions to me at marymargaretripley@yahoo.com.

Here is the link to Week #2’s “What’s for Dinner?” What’s for dinner week 2

-MMR

What’s for Dinner?

Funny enough, this new series called “What’s for Dinner” was a suggestion a few months ago by my husband. He knew I struggled sometimes with what to have for dinner and he knew everyone probably had days they struggled too.

We both decided that using my store’s ad to plan these meals would not only give inspiration but also be a tool to see how much each meal would approximately cost.

I have given you 7 meal choices this week. Pick and choose any that sound good to you. These are just suggestions and can be modified to fit your lifestyle, food preferences and budgets. Also in the summer with your own  home gardens and farmers markets the costs of these meals with be even less.

I have typed the meal suggestions into a Word document for easy printing. They each include a shopping list, breakdown of costs and the instructions or recipe needed to prepare the meal.

Hopefully these suggestions will give you some inspiration and help make your evening meal planning less stressful. Believe me I have heard plenty of times “I don’t know” or “whatever you want to make honey” more than my fair share.

I would love some constructive feedback if you are willing. I would also welcome any meal suggestions that are favorites of your family’s .

Here is the link to What’s for dinner week 1

Enjoy! -MM