Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Meal Deal Menu Plan

(This book looks interesting!)

I'm trying to make better use of leftovers these days, as well as taking advantage of store specials when I plan meals. I also try to plan meals around what's already in the pantry/freezer. This does sometimes really put my ingenuity to the test! I know a lot of you already do this and are really good at it! My domestic education was rather lacking.

I am so envious of Kat and Matt's GENIUS ability to generate really fabulous, creative food based on their weekly CSA box of fresh veggies! Do check out their wonderful blog, A Good Appetite.

I am working on a better system for organizing and keeping track of my pantry & freezer, which should make strategic menu planning a little easier. Also working on an easy way to determine price per serving for my recipes. Now, if I could just remember the little things, like limes for marinating my London broil, while I'm still at the store, rather than at the stove, I'd be in good shape!

The best deals on meats this week in my area are at Lowe's Foods and Kroger. It's a little hard to define "this week" since the sales cycles vary at the different stores. The Kroger shopping week (along with CVS, Rite-Aid and Walgreens) runs from Sunday through Saturday. The shopping week at the Teeter and Lowe's Foods (also Food Lion) runs from Wednesday through Tuesday. I hit Kroger on Sat. and the Teeter yesterday, and will run into Lowe's later today. (They are almost never out of their specials, even on the last day.) We're in a new week at Kroger, but at Lowe's and the Teeter, the specials are still good through today.

At Lowe's, London broil is on sale for $2.49/lb, 58% savings (today only, as prices change tomorrow). At Kroger, the deals (good until Sun.) are boneless pork loin for $1.77 /lb (61% savings) and Tyson boneless skinless chicken breasts, 1.97/lb (51% savings). The boneless pork loin is fantastic, because I can ask the butcher to cut them into thick pork chops, which I can freeze and pull out as I need them for DS and me.

Here's the plan:

Monday: Chicken fried rice (with leftover boneless chicken breast, frozen brown rice, broccoli and mushrooms).

I got the BirdsEye Steam Fresh frozen brown rice on sale last week at Lowe's Foods for 64 cents with a coupon. Monday morning I had to run into the Teeter to pick up bananas and found the mushrooms reduced "for quick sale" to 99 cents for a half-lb. package. They looked and smelled perfectly fresh.

The stir-fry, which I flavored using garlic, onions, soy sauce, dry sherry, and dark sesame oil, was quite tasty. DS is crazy about anything resembling Japanese food, and he cleaned his plate (except for a small pile of sliced onions, oy vey!) Scallions are good in fried rice, too, but DS objects to them. Sigh. After learning what we were having, he inquired hopefully "with egg??" Yes, with egg. I think his favorite part is the beaten-egg "pancake" I slice into strips and toss in at the end. This recipe goes well with egg-drop soup into which a few handfuls of baby spinach are tossed just before serving. Unfortunately, DS's braces and spinach leaves don't get along.

Tuesday: Chicken noodle soup and muffins. (Cook once, eat twice-- see Sunday.)
I'm making homemade soup with a whole chicken that was on sale Sat. at Kroger for $.59/lb., along with a bag of frozen mixed veggies (64 cents at Lowe's last week) and some free egg noodles I got a while ago. I have a few packages of muffin mix in the pantry that I think I got for 17 cents each at Food Lion, but if I have the ingredients, I will make some Brown Bread muffins, which DS likes. DS has the sinus crud and this soup should be just the ticket for him.

Out of my $3 chicken, I will not only be able to make this soup, but also have plenty of homemade chicken stock left for other uses. It does not fit in my teeny-tiny freezer, but we've found anything we shove in the very back of the fridge will freeze. This lovely "feature" lets me hang onto homemade broth for a week or two.

Wednesday: Apple pork loin chops (Coleen's recipe) on brown rice with green beans and baked sweet potatoes.
I just love Coleen's blog. It's a gem, and she is a wonderful cook. I can't wait to try this recipe. When I saw that Granny Smith apples were on sale at Kroger on Sat. (.99/lb), I knew this would be the perfect recipe! I got some Birds Eye SteamFresh green beans for 45 cents with a coupon at Lowe's last week. Birds Eye Steam Fresh veggies are on sale this week at the Teeter (60 cents each with a coupon: SmartSource 9/19, sale ends today)

Thursday: Double tacos (with homemade guacamole & marinated London broil) with rice and beans.

I got the tacos on sale a couple of weeks ago during the SuperDoubles at the Teeter. Kroger has Haas avocadoes ($2.49/4) and slicing tomatoes ($.99/lb) on sale this week. The Teeter has Mahatma rice mix on sale (FREE with a coupon, RedPlum 8/29, sale ends today). I have some Bush's Grillin' beans in the pantry that I got on sale a couple of months ago.
You can see my taco-making technique here.

Friday: split Chicken Breasts with Tomato, Garlic & Vinegar sauce, whole grain white rice, & avocado and tomato salad.
This is a great chicken recipe, sort of vaguely Spanish-style, from an ancient Brooke Dojny & Melanie Barnard cookbook called Cheap Eats. Although it's not especially blogworthy, I will post the recipe and photos Friday or Saturday.

Got the split breasts on sale at Kroger on Sat (.99/lb), as well as the Uncle Ben's whole-grain white rice (75 cents with a coupon). The Teeter has both Del Monte canned tomatoes and Hunts canned tomatoes on sale this week (sale ends today; 60 cents a can for the Del Monte with a coupon: RedPlum 9/19, and 70 cents a can for the Hunts with a coupon: SmartSource 10/3)

Saturday: Idaho sunrise (egg baked in a twice-baked potato) and tomato soup.
The Idaho sunrise recipe is here. It is one of DS's favorites. Born-Free Cage Free eggs are on sale at the Teeter ($1.48 with a coupon: RedPlum 9/12; sale ends today) and I got some Progresso soup on sale with a coupon at the Teeter a couple of weeks ago for 50 cents a can.

Sunday: Chicken "pot-pie" popovers (made with "planned-over" chicken soup from Tuesday) with steamed fresh broccoli and salad.
I love this popover recipe, even if it is a bit "ladies-who-lunch"-ish. It is such a nice way to use up small amounts of cooked chicken and veggies. Lowe's usually has bagged salad mix on sale, so I'll pop in Sunday to pick some up. I do have some frozen broccoli on hand, but the texture of it is rather unpleasant to eat it by itself, though it's LOADS better than frozen broccoli used to be. It works wonderfully in recipes (DS loves it in "quiche"-- I will have to share that super easy dairy-FULL recipe sometime). Zelda also likes it mixed in with her dog food.

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