7/22/19 Meal Plan Monday!

stemarie_1650skitchen

Summer School is over, so we are enjoying our first “real” week of summer break! Besides our usual weekly appointments, we’ll be checking out the zoo, and the local library has some fun events coming up that we’re checking out!

For those of you that are new to meal planning, I’ve got an easy 101 style post here with super easy tips and steps. After you get that down, here is info about batch or freezer cooking.

I’ve gotten a pretty good inventory of the pantry, freezer, and fridge done, so I’m able to plan meals and use up what we’ve got with little waste. If you are looking for kitchen inventory printable, I like the kitchen inventories here. They are great printables.

You may notice a lot of plant-based meals- We are not vegetarian, but I am trying to get more veggies into our diet. I do a lot of cooking from scratch- I find it easier to get veggies and fruit into recipes that I can have 100% control over.

I only post our dinner plans for the week, because our other meals are usually the same each day:

Breakfast: Coffee with heavy cream for me, and pancakes or something along those lines for the kids (they love the Kodiak Cakes Mix).  I also keep sandwich Ziploc bags of other frozen fruit on hand to make the kids smoothies when they request them (a few times per week). Berries, peaches, and mangos are pretty popular.

Lunches are leftovers, salads, or soups for me. The kids will be enjoying free lunches all over the county with free activities and playtime before or after lunch.

For dinner, when we’ve got busy days (like Mondays), I’ll try and put something in the crockpot (I am picking up my new crockpot this week) in the morning, or pull something I’ve already prepped out that can be quickly cooked.

  • Monday: Breakfast for dinner: Bagels with cream cheese, fruit salad, scrambled eggs with cheese
  • Tuesday:  Leftover Night- I’ve got leftovers of the Orange Chicken I made last night. It was a meal kit from my recent visit to Dream Dinners.
  • Wednesday:  Mexican Cesar Salad with chicken (I’m planing a trip to Costco and I’ll be grabbing a rotisserie chicken)
  • Thursday:  Black Bean Soup and Quesadillas
  • Friday:  Date Night- I’m going to the PMJ Concert with a friend- We’ll stop for tacos after the show.
  • Saturday: Homemade Pizza Night (I have leftover dough in the freezer from last week)
  • Sunday: Bolognese Sauce with Zoodles. I planned on making the sauce last week, but never got around to it.

I also plan on doing some batch cooking this week to get some crockpot meals in the freezer.

Talk Back: What are you planning to cook this week?

Recipe: Homemade Chicken Soup!

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Yummy soup made with my favorite Seasoning Blend from Penzey’s

I love making chicken soup from scratch. The cook time is lengthy, but, you don’t have to pay a lot of attention to the soup for most of the cook time.

You can use whatever kind of spices/herbs you fancy. I love Penzey’s Arizona Dreaming, it’s a great smoky, rich compliment to the veggies in the soup.

Speaking of veggies, I use carrots, onions, celery, Italian squash/zucchini, but you can use whatever is in your fridge. Good additions would also be diced bell peppers, diced fresh tomatoes (or canned diced tomatoes).

You can omit the noodles/macaroni is you don’t care for them or are GF/low carb.

Ingredients:

  • 5 lbs of chicken parts, bone-in or a rotisserie chicken with some of the meat removed and set aside
  • 2 cups of carrots chopped, divided
  • 2 cups of celery chopped, divided
  • 3 cups sweet onion diced, divided
  • 2 cloves garlic diced, divided
  • 1 large shallot diced, divided
  • 1T. cooking oil, your choice. I’ve been using grapeseed oil lately
  • 12 cups of water
  • bay leaf
  • salt & pepper
  • 2 cups Italian squash/zucchini, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 1 14-ish ounce can of diced tomatoes with juice, or 2 cups diced fresh tomatoes (optional)
  • other herbs/spices as desired
  • 1 cup uncooked pasta/noodles/rice (your choice)
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After cooking all day! Yummy Chicken Stock!

Directions:

  1. If starting with 5 lbs of raw chicken, place 1/2 of the carrots, onions, and celery into a large stock pot with the cooking oil.
  2. Cook on medium until veggies are soft, and onions are clear.
  3. Add 1/2 of the garlic and shallots, and cook until fragrant.
  4. Add raw chicken, and cook for about 10 minutes, until chicken browns.
  5. Turn stove down to low, add 12 coups of water, bay leaf, salt & pepper, and cover. Cook stock on low for about 4-6 hours- you can cook it for up to 12 hours in your crockpot if you wish instead).  Pull out a few pieces of chicken, pull off the cooked meat and set aside (you want about 2 cups of chopped cooked meat). Put bones back into the pot. Cook for another 20-30 minutes.
  6. Take the stock off the heat, and once cool, strain off the solids, and discard. The remaining liquid is your chicken stock. While you start with 12 cups of water, after cooking the stock down, you may end up with 6-8 cups of rich, velvety stock.
  7. Place chicken stock on the stove in a large pot, add in chopped chicken, remaining veggies, and any herbs/spices.
  8. Once veggies have started to soften/cook, add noodles/macaroni/rice if desired. Salt and pepper to taste.
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Mire Poix- Aka carrots, celery, and onions with a bayleaf, garlic and shallots. The perfect start to any soup!

As soon as noodles/macaroni/rice is cooked, remove soup from heat. Serve with hot bread (and butter).

*If you are starting with a rotisserie chicken, pull off 2 cups of meat, and add the carcass after the veggies are cooked and fragrant. proceed with remainder of recipe.

Saving money at Costco!

DSC07871-BMost of us Costco shoppers love it for the good deals (and the samples- COME ON!), but ever wonder if there is a way to save more money at Costco?

First off, let’s be clear: Costco doesn’t accept coupons, other than their own. So don’t pick up a Sunday paper and get clipping thinking that you’re going to save a ton of cash at Costco that way, because… no. Not gonna happen. And most of the time, you don’t actually need the paper coupons from the Costco Flyer/Coupon book. The coupons come off at checkout OR the checkers all have the coupon books at their registers.

Here are my tips for saving money at Costco:

  1. Keep a Price book. You can learn more about them here. It will tell you if that 5 gallon drum of hummus is a better value than the small 16 oz tub at your regular grocery store. Sometimes bigger isn’t better. Top money savers at Costco for my family include Fat Free Milk and PB2.
  2. Make sure to use money saving and rebate apps! There is a full list here, but my favorites for Costco include Mobisave and Ibotta.  Any rebate app that is not store specific can be used to save extra cash at Costco. I cruise all my apps before I hit up the store. It takes just a few minutes, and I usually save $5-$10!
  3. Shop from a list. I know it’s an oldie, but a goodie. And it will help you save money.
  4. Don’t shop hungry. Or with hungry kids.
  5. If you’ve never had a membership, before you shell out the cash, check Groupon and see if they are offering their discounted Costco Memberships. A few times a year you can get a membership for $55 (which, btw is the regular price), but it comes with a $20 cash card, and a booklet of coupons for free merchandise- including their rotisserie chicken, which we love. You can only buy it if you’ve never had a membership. TRUST ME.

Talk Back: What are your tips for keeping the grocery bill down at Costco?