Tuesday, February 5, 2013

February Weekly Menu - Pt. 1

School is OFFICIALLY back in session for me, and with that comes a lot of packed lunches and plan-ahead dinners.  I spent the bulk of last week meal planning and grocery list organizing to prepare for the busy week ahead of me (Stay tuned for a future post regarding meal plan organization tips), because there is nothing that ruins a diet more than an unprepared college student!  Since I spent the weekend with family in Lancaster - thanks to Super Bowl - I was able to buy all of my bulk food items, staples, and food storage items on Saturday at Winco Foods and Walmart, which both have extremely low prices on these items.  With all of the major shopping behind me, all I had left to purchase were my perishables, which was done in one 30 minute trip to Ralphs around the corner.   I like shopping at Ralphs, Fresh & Easy, or Vons for fresh fruits, vegetables, and meats, because these items are a lot fresher and cleaner at these stores, than Food4Less or any of the other low-advertised meat/produce stores (in my opinion).  Plus they have a wider variety of organic fruits and vegetables - in addition to some of the nonpopular picks.

Take a look at my menu for the rest of this week (Feb 5 - Feb 9):

  • Breakfast:  Egg & Sausage Breakfast Muffin
  • AM Snack:  Tropical Fruit Salad
  • Lunch:  Leftovers - Chicken Chili
  • PM Snack:  Bowl of Special K "Red Berries" with Unsweetened Vanilla Almond Milk
  • Dinner:  Southwest Chicken Chimichangas
  • Breakfast:  Egg & Sausage Breakfast Muffin
  • AM Snack:  Green Apples with Almond Butter
  • Lunch:  Sweet & Crunchy Chicken Salad Wrap
  • PM Snack:  Simple Trail Mix
  • Dinner:  Teriyaki Mini Meatloaf, Creamy Mashed Cauliflower, and Green Beans
  • Breakfast:  Bowl of Oatmeal - with added Blueberries & Almonds
  • AM Snack:  Bowl of Special K "Red Berries" with Unsweetened Vanilla Almond Milk
  • Lunch:  Leftovers - Teriyaki Meatloaf Sandwich
  • PM Snack:  Simple Trail Mix
  • Dinner:  Family-Syle Chicken Pot Pie
  • Breakfast:  Baked Fruit & Oatmeal Casserole with Turkey Sausage
  • AM Snack:  Whole Wheat Crackers w/ Sliced Cheese & Ham
  • Lunch:  Create-Your-Own Mini Pizzas
  • PM Snack:  Tropical Fruit Salad
  • Dinner:  Leftovers - Chicken Pot Pie
Thanks to HowDoesSheDoIt.com, after inputting these recipes, saving them to my "meal categories," and adding each item to my weekly menu, I was able to generate a personalized shopping list to take with me on my shopping adventures.  My shopping List included:  assorted flours, spices, fruits/veggies, canned beans, cheese, lunch meat, rolled oats, various meats (chicken, ground beef, turkey patties), almond milk, nuts, dried fruit, tortillas, cereal, chicken broth, tea, raw sugar, and a few condiments.  Plus I added on a 12-pack of mason jars to store some of my bulk items and homemade snacks, and food storage containers for lunch. 

image provided by microsoft office
As mentioned before, I purchased all of my staples and bulk items (basically everything except my meat and produce) at Winco (with the exception of the mason jars, plastic storage containers, almond milk, cereal, and breads - which I bought at Walmart).  Prior to entering Ralphs, I only spent $90.00 (only $45 at Winco!).  Keep in mind that most of these items I will not need to purchase again this month, which will make my mid-month shopping trip less expensive.  At Ralphs, I filled my cart almost half full with fresh fruits and vegetables (organic for dirty dozen items - stay tuned for info on the "Clean 15 vs Dirty Dozen"), and then topped it off with 5 pounds of 80/20 ground beef, organic chicken breasts, turkey pepperoni, sliced deli ham, canned organic beans & chicken broth.  After scanning my Ralphs Club Card, my total came to $70 - making my overall total $160.  More than likely, the only items I will have to replenish with my next paycheck will be fresh produce, and perhaps one or two more pounds of meat - depending upon next week's menu.  I anticipate that I will more than likely spend a maximum of $50-60 for the rest of the month, as long as I avoid making last minute store runs.

I find that when you avoid those convenience items - like frozen vegetables, pre-packaged seasonings, brand-named pre-packaged meats & canned fruits, you can save a lot of money!  Sure, it requires a bit more time in the kitchen than I may have initially hoped for, but it's definitely worth the extra cash in my pocket.  Plus, by preparing more of your own foods and snacks, you can rest assure that your food is clear of preservatives and other unnecessary added chemicals and ingredients.  The result is fresh tasting "clean" food - not to mention you lose quite a few calories working in the kitchen! 

All in all, I'm very satisfied with this shopping trip.  This was my very first time menu planning and shopping with a specific list in mind, and I did very well!  Once I am able to stock up on more of my staples, and get a better grip on menu planning and deal shopping, I am confident that my monthly grocery budget will be decreased drastically!  Stay tuned for more of my shopping and meal planning adventures...

What was your shopping experience like so far this month?  Feel free to share your adventures or any shopping tips/tricks you have found so far.  I am always open to new ideas!

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