If you follow me on Facebook then you know I spent about 4-5 hours today preparing food for the week. Well maybe a more than a week since a few of the recipes I will get 2-3 dinners from. I love the encouragement you all give me as I am plugging along putting these meals together. I especially love when you get inspired yourself to cook ahead and start posting your own pictures!!
Anyway, throughout the day many of you were asking (okay begging) for recipes along with many other questions. I listed all the recipes (with links) below that I made today. And because I love you all dearly I even put together a grocery list and some detailed make ahead instructions. I hope you find it helpful.
Here some answers to some of the other questions I was asked.
That is a lot of food. Is that really for a week? How many people are you feeding?
We are a family of 4. The breakfast recipes will most likely get us through till next Sunday or Monday. Wraps will only be for the week. However the dinner recipes will get us through about 2 weeks. The mac n cheese, sloppy joes, and stuffed shells made 2 dinners each. Also, I always plan to have leftovers for hubby’s lunches. We all eat 1 portion (kids are usually smaller) and I serve salad and/or a vegetable with each dinner.
How much do you spend?
My monthly grocery budget is $600 and that includes toiletries and cleaning supplies. I should also say that I purchase only grass-fed organic meats and almost all organic fruits and vegetables. Even with all that I stick really close to a $600 budget for a family of 4. Sometimes I go over and sometimes I have a little left. I only purchase food that we will eat in the next couple weeks so you will never find me stocking up on food really. Keeping a menu plan and cooking all our own foods helps tremendously with keeping in budget.
What freezer pans do you use?
The pans you saw me using were Glad Ovenware that I purchased off Amazon and a couple foil pans I got from Wegmans. This is my first time using foil pans so I will let you know how that goes. I love the Glad Ovenware. They are BPA free just in case you are wondering.
How much time does this take?
I started around 7:00am took a couple breaks and was done (for the most part) by 12:30pm. I did have another slow cooker meal going till around 4:00pm. So I would say around 4-5 hours – give or take. I know that might seem like a lot of time and it kind of is. However, trust me, you will feel such a sense of accomplishment and relief when all of your cooking is done for the week. My advice is to get started early – that way you don’t feel like you are taking up an entire day cooking.
Why do you do all your cooking on a Sunday?
Because I work full-time during the week. I would like to try and cook more at night during the week but I have not found that balance yet. Sunday works for me right now.
Do you cook meals straight from the freezer?
They can be however I try to take them out the night before to reduce cooking time.
Hope I answered everyone’s questions.
You can print out the menu plan, grocery list, and make ahead instructions here. Nutritional information is listed in each recipe post.
1 ounce of cheese and 6 Triscuits
Vegetables and hummus
¼ cup Almonds
Salsa Chicken Quesadillas
**Serve a salad or side vegetable with each dinner.
Suggested Make Ahead and Freeze Plan
** Depending on your schedule, breaking up sibling fights, and everything else you need to do this might look different for you. Use this as a guideline and switch it up as it fits your needs.
When you wake up start the slow cooker sloppy joe recipe (it helps to have all the ingredients put together the night before) and bread machine pizza dough recipe.
Next put together the ingredients for the spinach and egg oven omelet. While that is cooking make the pancakes (I suggest making a double batch so you can feed the kids breakfast). After the omelet is done let it cool then cut into squares, wrap, and store in the refrigerator. You can also freeze if not going to eat right away. **Don’t make into sandwiches because bagels will get soggy.
Do a quick clean up.
Start preparing the hamburger macaroni and cheese. I usually make a double batch so I can use up a whole pound of hamburger meat. Eat one this week and save the other for a later week. First prepare the hamburger meat and pasta then divide between two 8 x 8 pans. Place in the refrigerator. Next put together the cheese mixture. Let the sauce cool slightly on the stove. After it is cool, divide between both pans, let cool completely, then put in the freezer.
While the cheese mixture is cooking for the hamburger macaroni and cheese start putting together the ingredients for slow cooker sloppy joes. After the sloppy joe ingredients are prepared you can decide whether you want to cook it that day (after the salsa chicken) or put it together as a slow cooker freezer kit. To put it together as a slow cooker freezer kit just wait until the mixture is slightly cooled then transfer to a gallon size freezer bag and freeze. I will cook it after the salsa chicken and then portion out into 2 dinners and freeze.
Almost done! Do a quick clean up.
At this time the pizza dough should be done (If you don’t have a bread machine you can always purchase fresh pizza dough from the grocery store). Put the dough in a gallon size bag and stick in the freezer alongside a portioned out bag of mozzarella cheese. Make sure pizza sauce is available as well. I usually make and freeze pizza sauce but this week I will use jarred.
Next put together the chicken parmesan and stuffed shells. First turn the water on for the shells and oven for chicken. While that is heating up trim and pound out the chicken. Cook the chicken. While the chicken is cooking prep the filling for the stuffed shells. At the same time cook the pasta (keep your eyes on these because you want the pasta to be very al dente). When pasta is done set aside and let cool. When chicken is done take out then let cool a bit. While the chicken is cooling stuff the pasta shells with filling and place in baking dish. Cover with sauce (make sure sauce is on the bottom of the pan as well) and mozzarella cheese and then stick in the freezer. This recipe makes 24 shells which is enough for 2 8 x 8 freezer meals. Or you can make 1 9 x 12 meal and have some for leftover for lunch (that is what I do). I use Gladware Ovenware dishes. After that is done finish the chicken parmesan in the same manner. Put sauce on the bottom of the pan, add the chicken, cover with more sauce, then mozzarella cheese. Stick in the freezer. **Please note both of these recipes call for homemade sauce however this week I am using organic jarred sauce.
After slow cooker salsa chicken is done, let it cool slightly, shred, then place into gallon size freezer bag. In separate bags, place taco cheese and tortillas. Freeze all components together as a quesadilla freezer kit.
So close to being done!
Last but not least make the turkey ranch club wraps. Cook the bacon. While the bacon is cooking you can cut up the cheese and vegetables for mid-morning snacks and then take a little break. After the bacon is done you can prepare the wraps. In order to make these ahead of time you need to layer the wraps cheese, turkey, bacon, dressing, tomatoes, and then lettuce. You need to make sure liquid stays away from the wrap.
Your meals are prepped for the week! Besides the slow cooker meals all of this should take about 4-5 hours to put together.
Let me know if you have any questions.
Skinny Mom’s Kitchen participates in Menu Planning Mondays hosted by the Organizing Junkie.