Spring Meal Plan: Oven vs. Grill

With the spring weather so up and down, I find that there are days to turn the oven on and days to grill. So I’m keeping my two-week meal plan flexible. That means that I can move things around as desired, but I’ve already bought all the groceries we need to have all of these meals. I make a second trip to the grocery store during week two of the cycle to replace our milk and produce, but I’ve been great about sticking to our $600/month grocery budget so far this year. If you’re thinking about reducing your grocery spending, first learn How to Set a Food Budget. Then, you can watch my short series of videos Grocery Savings Strategies and learn how to read store circulars, prep your grocery list, and more.

Spring Meal Plan

Here’s my two-week meal plan:

Sunday–Grilled Mediterranean Chicken with peppers, onions, and mushrooms and feta, pita bread
Meatless Monday–Spinach & Feta Pasta Salad
Tuesday–Pork Roast, baked potatoes and green beans
Wednesday–Spaghetti & Meatballs, broccoli
Thursday–Chicken Fajitas in the DCB, black beans and brown rice
Friday–Baked Mac & Cheese Casserole with broccoli
Saturday–Green Chile Chicken Casserole and salad

Spinach Feta Pasta Salad

Sunday–Chicken Penne al Fresco in the DCB and green beans
Meatless Monday–Crustless Italian Spinach Pie and cornbread
Tuesday–Meatball Subs and salad
Wednesday–Slow Cooker Pork Ragu & Fettuccine and cauliflower
Thursday–Beef Tacos (from the freezer) with fixings, black beans and brown rice
Friday–Leftovers from the week
Shepherd’s Pie

What’s on your spring meal plan?

Linked up to Menu Plan Monday at OrgJunkie.

Meal Planning: What’s the Point?

meal planning

I was all ready to switch to the spring Menu Plan Monday graphic, but lo and behold–it’s snowing like crazy this morning! One of the biggest questions I get from those who don’t meal plan is “What’s the point?” They say they don’t like the structure and don’t want to have to eat certain things on certain days. Well, either do I! It can be as flexible as you’d like. Some days, I have a crockpot meal planned but something comes up and I didn’t load the crockpot in time. Since I’ve already done the shopping for a week’s dinners, there’s always something else ready to go. For us–it saves so much money because we don’t eat out on the weeknights. I also find that menu planning reduces stress because I don’t spend any time during the day worrying about dinner. I know I’m feeding my family wholesome meals. It also helps during times of chaos, we always have food to eat.

Why do you meal plan?


Here’s my two-week meal plan:

Sunday–Lawnmower Taco Casserole (which my family loved but I thought was just okay), corn
Meatless Monday–Vegetarian Baked Ziti and salad
Tuesday–Herbed Pepper Rub Pork Roast, baked potatoes and broccoli
Wednesday–Shrimp, Artichoke Spinach Dip, and green beans (birthday requests from my girls)
Thursday–Chicken Fajitas in the DCB, black beans and brown rice
Friday–Leftovers from the week
Saturday–Chicken Caesar Casserole

 Corn and Potato Chowder

Sunday–Chicken Sausage Pesto Pizzas and salad
Meatless Monday–“Real” Macaroni & Cheese with broccoli
Tuesday–Green Chile Chicken Casserole and salad
Wednesday–Spaghetti and meatballs, garlic bread and leftover salad
Thursday–Corn and Potato Chowder
Friday–Chicken Penne al Fresco in the DCB
Hoisin Pork Wraps

If you’re a Pampered Chef Deep Covered Baker fan, I just started a new board on Pinterest for the microwave recipes I can find online. One of my goals for the year is to get 10 DCB recipes in my repetoire for busy nights. So far, the Chicken Fajitas are the only one I do regularly. I want to get some new recipes especially for the summer so I don’t have to turn the oven on.

Linked up to Menu Plan Monday at OrgJunkie.

Meal Planning: 2 Weeks at a Time

meal planning

Two Mondays ago, I shared a two-week meal plan with the idea that I’d only have to head back to the store to get dairy and produce. It worked! We had a rough weekend eating the dregs of our produce, but we made it through. This morning, I shopped for the next two weeks, mostly non-dinner foods since I have boneless skinless chicken and precooked beef in the freezer.

Sunday–Taco Cornbread Casserole
Meatless Monday–Tortellini with pesto and peas, salad
Tuesday–Lemon & Dill Crockpot Chicken, brown rice and broccoli
Wednesday–Spaghetti & Meatballs, angel hair pasta and homemade breadsticks
Thursday–Slow Cooker Pulled Pork Sandwiches and salad
Friday–Baked Mac & Cheese Casserole with broccoli
Saturday–Chicken & Rosemary Stew in the Deep Covered Baker (a Pampered Chef recipe)

Sausage Pesto Pita Pizzas

Sunday–Chicken Sausage Pesto Pita Pizzas and veggie tray (carrots, celery, cucumbers and dip)
Meatless Monday–Spinach & Feta Omelets and Rosemary Potatoes
Tuesday–Slow Cooker Tortilla Soup and cornbread
Wednesday–Baked Ziti (from the freezer) and salad
Thursday–Slow Cooker Pork Ragu & Fettuccine and broccoli
Friday–Eating out (my mom is visiting)
Chicken & Green Chile Casserole and salad

I’m still using my favorite get-dinner-on-the-table tricks–like setting up the slow cooker in the morning so there’s no prep to do at dinner hour, doubling up on recipes to freeze the other half for a busy night, and cooking ahead.

What tricks help you get dinner on the table?

Linked up to Menu Plan Monday at OrgJunkie. Next Monday, you’ll see my Make Money Mondays feature.

Two-Week Meal Plan

meal planning

Happy Monday! I’m going to try something new–doing a two-week meal plan to keep with my goal of shopping less often. I did a big grocery shop on Friday that should give me everything we need for the next two weeks, minus a trip to pick up more milk and produce. So you’ll see a two-week meal plan posted every other Monday, and other Mondays I’ll bring back the Make Money Mondays feature.

If you want to give a two-week meal plan a try, here are some FREE printable planners to help:

  • MoneySavingMom has a 2-week planner that includes space for breakfasts, lunches, and snacks.
  • The Peaceful Mom has a 2-week planner that you can customize by changing the days or typing in your meals (plan out two weeks now, then print it out and use it again another month!).
  • Craft Sew Create has a great planner that includes a shopping list, but it’s only for 1 week at a time (below)

Weekly Menu Plan

Obviously, since we have all the food in the house, I can be flexible about which nights we eat certain meals. I do like to stick to my schedule of using the slow cooker on our busy nights. It’s so nice to walk in the house after Tae Kwon Do and have dinner ready to go. So easy!

Sunday–Herbed Pepper Rub Pork Roast, mashed potatoes and salad
Meatless Monday–“Real” Macaroni & Cheese with broccoli
Tuesday–Slow Cooker Beef & Broccoli with brown rice
Wednesday–Chicken, leftover mashed potatoes and green beans
Thursday–Heart-shaped Homemade Pizza with sausage, mushrooms and olives with salad
Friday–Sausage Lentil Soup and cornbread


Saturday & Sunday–we’ll be out of town visiting the new baby nephew! My kids can’t wait to meet him.
Meatless Monday–Crustless Italian Spinach Pie and Homemade Italian Breadsticks
Tuesday–Chicken Fajitas in the DCB, whole grain tortillas and black beans
Wednesday–Slow Cooker Taco Pie (from More Make it Fast, Cook it Slow)
Thursday–Pineapple Pork Chops with brown rice and green beans
Friday–Corn and Potato Chowder
Baked Ziti (I’ll make two and freeze one)


How is your meal planning going?

Linked up to Menu Plan Monday at OrgJunkie.

Meal Planning this Rainy Day

meal planning

Hard to get my meal planning done today–it’s another freezing, rainy day, and the kids are so tired of being stuck inside. I’m writing this with wrestling and a tea party going on behind me since there’s no school today or tomorrow and there’s a collection of friends over.

As focused as I’ve been about packing lunches for school, I get stuck on days like this when I have 4-6 kids to feed. It’s like cooking a whole meal! I’m keeping it frugal with bean burritos with carrots & celery sticks today, then homemade pizzas tomorrow. I’d love some other ideas–please leave a comment below with your favorite frugal home lunch ideas.

I’m heading out of town next weekend to see my new niece or nephew (we don’t know what it is yet!), so I won’t be posting a meal plan next Monday. If you’re looking for more family-tested, frugal recipes, head over to my Recipe Index. I’m leaving my hubby with a couple of meals in the freezer (like taco meat and baked ziti) to keep everyone fed and keep him from spending money at a restaurant or the grocery store.

Crispy Honey Chicken

Here’s the plan for this week:

Sunday–leftover Chicken Tortilla Soup and homemade bread
Meatless Monday–Breakfast for dinner–scrambled eggs, Pumpkin Pancakes, and fruit
Tuesday–Pineapple Pork Chops, brown rice and green beans
Wednesday–Meatball Subs (using frozen meatballs from the freezer and whole wheat hot dog buns) and salad
Thursday–Crispy Honey Chicken Drumsticks, leftover salad and broccoli
Friday–Trying this Pork Moo Shu Slow Cooker recipe–hope it’s good!
Tacos, leftover brown rice, black beans

What are your favorite home lunch ideas?

Linked up to Menu Plan Monday at OrgJunkie.

Meal Planning with a Food Budget

It’s not the end of the month, but I’m at the end of the monthly food budget–how did that happen? It’s a good time to take inventory of what’s on hand and plan meals around that. I took a look in the freezer and found chicken, pork, and ground beef. I want to use up what we have on hand over the next 11 days and only spend money on fresh produce and dairy. That should take me right down to the penny on my monthly food budget. Are you working off a monthly budget? Learn how to set a food budget.


Here’s our meal plan for this week:

Sunday–Herb Pork Roast and Spinach & Feta Twice Baked Potatoes
Meatless Monday–Homemade Calzones and Caesar Salad (kids’ choice!)
Tuesday–Slow Cooker Beef Stew, everything’s in a zipper bag in the freezer, so it’s a quick prep!
Wednesday–Stroganoff-Style Chicken, egg noodles, and green beans
Thursday–Spaghetti and Meatballs, salad and broccoli
Friday–Slow Cooker Tortilla Soup (a double batch, so there will be leftovers for weekend lunch)
Vegetarian Baked Ziti (a double batch, so one pan goes in the freezer)

I’m continuing my goal of shopping less/making less trips: I only did one trip to the grocery store and CVS, though I did go back to Costco (shame!). I went with a friend who was checking prices compared to local stores. We lamented together the high price of beef. All the more reason to eat less, I say. My husband doesn’t agree…

Do you stick to a monthly food budget?

Linked up to Menu Plan Monday at OrgJunkie.

Meal Planning with Comfort Food

I’m feeling energized for meal planning with the New Year, and I’ve tried setting some weekly goals to get motivated. We’re still eating lots of veggies, but last week’s plan to use dinner prep time to make food for the freezer was only half successful. I got lazy at the end of the week and was just pleased to get dinner on the table, not taking the time to double up. I may be better off trying to freeze 1-2 meals a week than try to do it all at once like that (I’ll try that this week with my soup recipe). We have crummy weather this week, lots of rain and chilly temps, which makes me want comfort foods like soup, homemade bread, and mac & cheese.


Sunday–Crockpot Beef & Broccoli, brown rice noodles
Meatless Monday–Crustless Italian Spinach Pie, salad, and homemade bread
Tuesday–Baked Pesto Chicken, green beans, and mashed potatoes (I’ll make double)
Wednesday–Chicken Sausage & Lentil Soup and cornbread
Thursday–Balsamic Mushroom Pork and leftover mashed potatoes
Friday–Macaroni & Cheese Casserole and salad
Chicken Fajitas in the DCB, tortillas, brown rice, black beans

I did do better on my goal to shop less–just one trip to the grocery store and one trip to Costco (and I won’t have to do that again for several weeks).  I’m trying to stick to my monthly budget for groceries while going out less, and I’m considering going back to drugstore shopping (either CVS or Rite Aid). I haven’t done it in ages and need to decide whether the time & effort is worth the savings and extra trips.

How are you doing on your meal planning so far in 2013?

Linked up to Menu Plan Monday at OrgJunkie.

Meal Plan for the Freezer

Last week’s goal of eating lots of veggies was successful, and this week I’ve set a new short-term goal: to use my dinner prep time to make food for the freezer. With all the families we know sick with the flu or whathaveyou, it’s inevitable that we’ll end up with something. I like to have some soup and other simple meals ready to go in case I’m incapacitated. If it doesn’t happen, great! We’ll just have dinners ready for busy nights.

I have a few meals I regularly freeze (like ground beef with onions/peppers that I use for tacos, sloppy joes, pasta dishes, etc.), but I need some new ones for the rotation. I picked up a few freezer cookbooks from the library and have some recipes to try out. I got a few my family with like from Once a Month Cooking Family Favorites and will read Don’t Panic–Dinner’s in the Freezer tonight.

Mini Broccoli Quiches

With my freezer goal in mind, each meal we’re having this week is being made as a double-batch so I can freeze the second portion:

Sunday–We had lasagna and salad with neighbors while the Redskins lost :(
Meatless Monday–Mini Broccoli Quiches and salad. Will double the recipe and freeze half.
Tuesday–Slow cooker Chicken, spinach and tomatoes served over angel hair pasta. Will make a zipper bag with same ingredients.
Wednesday–Cashew Chicken (from OAMC Family Favorites) and brown rice. Will make two, bake one and freeze one in a zipper bag.
Thursday–Meatball Sub-Bake and salad. Will make two, bake one and freeze one.
Friday–Super Easy Chicken Soup with cornbread. Will double the recipe and freeze half.
Stuffed Shells (I mix ricotta with pesto), then freeze them on cookie sheets individually. Once frozen, you can store them in a zipper bag, then place in a pan with spaghetti sauce to bake.

Another goal I mentioned last week was only shopping once a week. That was a huge fail–I went four times! I’m aiming to do it this week and the rest of the month. Wish me luck!


Linked up to Menu Plan Monday at OrgJunkie.

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Meal Planning in the New Year

Dinner Every Night
As we head into the New Year, I’m personally dealing with some meal planning challenges–maybe you are, too? My ultimate goal is to feed my family healthy meals within our budget ($550/month for our family of five). I’m feeling a little burnt out, however, with coupon shopping, multiple stores, trying to fit cooking around evening activities, cooking when I’m tired or sick, etc. So I’ve spent a little time this week thinking how I want to approach my goal in the New Year. My three big strategies will be:

  1. Utilizing freezer and crockpot cooking to avoid stress between 5-7pm.
  2. Keeping up with what I have on hand in the pantry/freezer so I can shop for groceries only once per week.
  3. Set limits on couponing/multiple stores (I think I’ll set a time limit and only shop once per week, since I’m not willing to give it up completely).

On the short-term, my goal this week is to fill us up with vegetables to counter all the sweets we ate over the holidays, so I chose simple recipes off my Master Meal List that are veggie-heavy:

Tortilla Soup

Sunday–Slow Cooker Tortilla Soup and cornbread
Meatless Monday–Greek Pita Pizzas on whole wheat pita bread
Tuesday–Chicken Sausage sauteed with veggies over angel hair pasta
Wednesday–Slow Cooker Beef Stew and homemade bread
Thursday–Chicken Fajitas in the DCB, wheat tortillas, black beans and brown rice
Crustless Italian Spinach Pie and salad
Pork Roast, baked potatoes and green beans

What are your meal planning challenges as we head into the New Year?


Linked up to Menu Plan Monday at OrgJunkie.