Sunday, April 3, 2011

Meal Planning


this is going to be a long post. 

partly because i'm going to vomit my thoughts all over this blog and partly because it just is. 

ok. for one, i love to meal plan. it feeds into my OCD like none other. it allows me to make a chart and cross things off, which makes me feel all warm inside. also it helps me keep to our grocery budget because i am only buying what we need and we are eating what i buy. sparkles and rainbows are flying out of my kitchen on a nightly basis. it couldn't get any better than weekly meal planning right?!?! NO! ever heard of monthly meal planning?? what!

 several weeks ago i came across this blog post about monthly grocery shopping. (sorry about the poor link. i tried to give her credit and she has good things to say about monthly shopping but her blog is not functioning right. try again later!) it caught my attention because the idea of shopping only once, preparing all your meals, and freezing them sounded not only like a fun project for this OCD mama, but also because it seemed like you put in all the effort at the start and get the rest of the month off from cooking. VACATION? yes. 

now...i LOVE to cook, but there for sure are days when i am not prepared for a certain meal, or just plain old don't feel like cooking. i have a process that goes on in my head and if i don't follow it i get easily overwhelmed. dinner time is not one of those time i should be deviating from a process. i'm also not one of those special people who can look in the cupboards and be all "bippity boppity boo" and come up with something that will blow my family's minds... i need a recipe. like, every time.

so i decided to go on the adventure of attempting to monthly meal plan. only my meal plan will be bimonthly because, joy kill, i don't have a separate deep freezer. our freezer is ridiculously tiny so i just can't fit that much in there. it's ok, it's still awesome.

wow, still with me? it's gonna start getting good now, promise. 

last year i stumbled upon this wonderful creation that i use religiously. it's a grocery list that is pretty and allows for me to plan my week like Jesus isn't coming back anytime soon. you should get it and love it like i do. after printing my grocery list i embarked on a hunt for healthy freezer friendly and crockpot ready meals. then i filled out my form for double the amount to make it two weeks worth. AH-MAZE-ING. 

now, i will give you all my recipes for the next two weeks and how i altered them to either be freezer or crockpot friendly. 

the link calls for pork, but after watching Dirty Jobs with Mike Rowe with my Mr. about pig farming {gag} we decided to take a break from pork for a while. i substituted the pork for chicken thighs. i will have to go back to the store to pick up fresh bell peppers and snow peas next week since i don't expect them to keep for two weeks. 

we had this last night. the collards were nasty. i think i will try adding kale next week. also, the link calls for andouille but i just put turkey kielbasa in instead.

i make this all the time and we all love it. to make this one freezer friendly i just put all the first 6 ingredients, except the oil, in a ziplock. i also substitute zucchini for black beans and omit the jalapenos to make it more kid friendly.

i also make this one pretty regularly. i didn't think i would ever like meatloaf until i had this one. this recipe is for a single serving, so in order to make two family sized batches i had to multiply everything by 8. (who says you never use math!) to make it freezer friendly i put it in foil tins. so easy. i will serve it with freshly steamed green beans and roasted yams. 

here is my spaghetti recipe. i forgot to take a picture. it's the best. my son does a little fist pump when he knows it's spaghetti night. i usually add zucchini and substitute the ground beef for mild italian turkey sausage. doubling this recipe was gave me enough for 4 calzones and 3 family size batches for later. 


i purchased some premade pizza dough. i rolled it out and filled it with the spaghetti sauce, mushrooms, olives, and fresh mozzarella slices. to make them freezer friendly i wrapped them in plastic wrap and put them in freezer bags. 

first time making calzones. 
mmm. can't wait to eat you.

i'm not sure why this is the only picture i took. it doesn't look like all the rest and it's giving me a little twitch. but i guess i'll just have to deal with it. anyway, to make this freezer friendly i browned the chicken and put the first 6 ingredients in, except the oil. once it's thawed i will follow the remaining steps. 

chili. i also don't have a picture of this because i'm making it tonight. i usually make cornbread with this. love this recipe. 

 here's my freezer, minus the meatloaf. the meatloaf tins are in the door. i'll still be able to squeeze the second batch of chili in right up top. nice. 

so right around 4:30 when i'm usually sweating over chopped carrots you can just find me playing with my kids in the yard. 


***UPDATE: in case anyone is wondering, i spend $200, give or take for the few non food related items like deoderant and stuff. we are a family of four so it may be more or less depending on how many are in your family and how far these recipes go for you. i purchased my meat at Costco and did all my other shopping at Fresh & Easy. i heart Fresh & Easy. ***


  1. I'm SO impressed Tara, you inspire me too...WOW WOW WOW!!!

  2. Oh my goodness. This is amazing!!! When I'm done with my student teaching, I'm gonna be all over this. I imagine you'd save a lot of money, and not just time. Thanks for this post!

  3. may i PLEASE borrow some of your OCD??? PLEASE?? this is fabulous. i really need to be more disciplined... thanks for the reminder. sort of. :)


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