Monday, November 14, 2011

Meal Planning & Pizza Soup

I spent the better part of the day meal planning. I think most people do this, some do it daily, I do it weekly (usually on Sunday night), and we all regret when we don't do it at all (but that's what Kraft Macaroni & Cheese is for!).  Meal planning has been a great way for us to keep on budget & to cut down on the number of trips I make to Sobeys & Costco during the week. It also stops me from having to throw out expired food. Before I started meal planning (when Molly arrived) I threw out at least $30 in food each week. Usually fresh vegetables & condiments. I also didn't mind making several trips to the store each week. Now I grocery shop weekly and today I came in $20 (and an extra jar of pickles) under on our weekly grocery budget which I state loudly (and repeatedly) to Brian until he pays me compliment.

Seven meals ready to go. They can be shuffled around, if I don't feel like roasted chicken tomorrow I can switch to pulled pork, but I know that I have the ingredients to make seven different meals in my fridge & pantry. If you don't meal plan I would suggest considering it as a New Years Resolution. Just try it.. honestly, when I do it I feel so much better about cooking & being organized in the upcoming week.

One thing I love is hunkering down with a stack of cookbooks to help me pick my meals. I am a bit of a cookbook addict but I use them all religiously. I bought the new Donna Hay at Costco last month ($20!) and hadn't cracked it open until today (I love that sound). I found loads of meals I would like to try but put just two (That's restraint!) into my weeks plan.

This weeks lucky seven
 1. Pizza Soup
 2. Garlic Roasted Chicken & Quinoa salad
3. Pulled Pork, Glazed Carrots & Mozzarella-baked Tomatoes
4. Cottage Pie
5. Turkey Chili & Spinach Salad
6. Orecchetti with Brussels sprouts and pancetta
(From my new Donna Hay cookbook...I'm so excited to try this!)
7. Potato & Bleu Cheese Frittata
(Also from the Donna Hay cookbook!)

If you noticed a trend, you are right. We will eat spinach twice, potatoes twice, mozzarella twice & carrots four times. If I repeat the ingredients I can still buy in bigger portions (saving money) but I have to work hard to make sure it doesn't feel like we're eating the same thing each night. I try not to double up on the meats we eat, and go meatless at least one day (Day 7 in this case).

If you have a meal plan that you love to follow, or tips, I would love to see it (post a link). I am a sucker for buying magzines that already have built-in meal plans (Real Simple has fabulous ones.).

Tonight we had pizza soup for dinner (above). I had been waiting all week to make it (I guess that's the downfall to meal planning). It was good as it looks. And it does look good doesn't it??? The main ingredients were vegetable broth (although the recipe called for chicken), mozzarella, carrots and crushed tomatoes so it was right up my alley. Super easy to make (about 25 minutes total) and an excellent way to break in my new stonewear! The recipe can be found in the Chef At Home cookbook.

Tomorrow Miss Molly & I are headed to the Children's Hospital for a procedure (she's fine everyone!). I just need to keep my emotions in-check so I am off to bed (with a full tummy) to get a good nights sleep... and to spend a couple minutes perusing the Sears Wish Book ( I can't help it!).

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