Saturday, October 22, 2011

This Week's Menu

Every once in a while I receive an email asking about menu planning.  Generally people want to know if I have tried any of the menu planning software on the market.  Although I am curious about how they work and have heard great things about programs such as MacGourmet Deluxe and Living Cookbook, I haven't tried them.  Generally I sit down sometime between Thursday night and Saturday morning to make a menu and shopping list for the coming week. Before I decide on the menu, I take into account what I can use that's frozen, sales and coupons, work days and after school activities that don't land us home until six o'clock.  Here's this week's menu complete with links and a shopping list!

Saturday:  Chicken Enchiladas, served with rice, carrots sticks and a salad

Sunday:  Michigan Pot Roast, PW mashed potatoes, green beans

Monday:  Slow Cooker Chicken and Dumplings, sauteed spinach (I've never made this recipe before, but it gets good reviews.  I'm going to read the reviews and adapt the recipe accordingly!)

Tuesday: Autumn Pork Chops, cous cous, steamed broccoli

Wednesday:  Paula Dean's Lasagna Soup, salad

Thursday:  Oven Baked Shrimp Scampi, roasted zuchini with olive oil and garlic

Friday:  Make Your Own Pizza, salad

Shopping List:
Lots of these items may be in your kitchen cabinets and fridge already.  I wanted to include everything that would be needed for the recipes in case my pantry staples are not yours!

2 packages (10 count)  flour tortillas
(2)8 ounce cream cheese
shredded mexican cheese blend
rotisserie chicken
brown rice
4 pound chuck roast
onion soup mix
beef broth
corn starch
5 lb bag russet potatoes
green beans
half and half
6 center cut pork chops
brown sugar
4 apples
cooking sherry
2 cans cream of chicken soup
1 can biscuit dough
5 boneless chicken breast
olive oil
green pepper
1 pound ground beef
2-14.5 ounce can diced tomatoes
lasagna noodles
15 ounce can tomato sauce
2 -16 ounce bags mozzarella
2 pounds frozen, raw shrimp
2 shallots
white wine
crushed red pepper
panko bread crumbs
5- 7 inch pizza crust
jar of tomato sauce
lettuce and salad fixings

Friday, October 14, 2011

A different kind of pizza night...

I should preface this post by explaining that providing my family with homemade, all natural and organic food is of utmost importance to me.  However, a weekly shopping trip to Whole Foods where I can easily spend upwards of $600 on groceries to feed our family of five, simply isn't realistic.  I shop farmers markets and store brand organics to save money but fall and winter are seasons where I am looking to save even more.  Quite frankly, back to school clothes, shoes, fleeces, backpacks and more have us spending a ton.  It seems like as soon as we're done with that long list of must-haves, it's time to Christmas shop.  Ugh.

This post is a little different than my other "prep ahead" posts in that I'm sharing more of a food budget strategy than an actual recipe.  In all honesty, I've never been a great sale shopper.  I get a 40% off code for Gap and spend 5 times as much as I normally would because of the "sale." Retailers love people like me.  My lack of money saving abilities is one reason why I'm particularly proud of my most recent pizza night revelation!

For as long as I can remember, Friday night has been pizza night in our house.  Most weeks, we order out.  On average we spend about $35 on two large pizzas.  This adds up to about $1820 a year!  Crazy, right!?  In an effort to save money, we have started "make your own pizza Fridays." The concept of making your own pizza is not new to us, my girls LOVE it and we do it often.  It was only a few weeks ago, that I calculated the savings.  In order to mimic the convenience and simplicity of ordering pizza, I buy pre-made crusts, jarred or canned sauce and store brand cheese totaling  $13.47 per week or $700.44 per year.  That's a savings of $1119.56 per year.  Not bad, right?  If you're looking to save even more, make your own dough!  Chances are if you're ordering pizza it's because you're looking for a quick and easy dinner.  If I do have the time, I use my bread machine and make my own crust using the recipe found in my Oster bread machine book found HERE!!!

Even better than the savings, was the excitement and pride amongst my little girlies as they enjoyed their delicious creations made with their own two hands.   No cheese was picked off, crusts were eaten and plates were EMPTY at the end of the meal.  Impressive for my kids. 

The shopping list and prices from my local Stop and Shop:

Mama Mary's Traditional 7" Crusts / 3count - (2 packs)  ($4.49 each):   $8.98
26.5 oz can of Hunts Traditional Sauce:  $1
Store Brand Mozzarella (16oz):  $3.49
TOTAL:  $13.47 per week
(Feeds 5-6 People)

****Just follow the baking instructions on the pizza crust package!

Often, you can find coupons for these items in your local paper and HERE!  Last week I found a Ragu coupon online that I could print twice and found the same one in the paper.  After cashing both in, I got the sauce for free!  

I hope you find this post useful!  Happy pizza night!!!

Monday, October 10, 2011

Chicken Tortilla Casserole

My quest to find casseroles my family will actually eat continues!  Personally, I love the idea of a casserole.  Having your protein, vegetables, dairy and grain all neatly packaged in one 9 X 13 baking dish simplifies those chaotic hours before dinner needs to be on the table.  I especially like serving casserole type dishes on Mondays.  I feel like it helps me ease into the week.  We tried this recipe from Southern Living last week and it was a huge hit!  I adapted it slightly and prepared it last Sunday night. On Monday night, I took it straight out of the fridge and threw it in the oven.  Definitely give it a try!

Prep Ahead Plan:  Make the casserole up to 2 days ahead of time and refrigerate until ready to bake!

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 red pepper, diced
1 small onion, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 1/2 teaspoons cumin
1/4 cup all purpose flour
1 1/2 cups chicken broth
1 cup sour cream
meat from one rotisserie chicken, diced
12 flour tortillas
3 cups shredded cheddar and monterey jack blend cheeses

1.  Saute pepper, onion and garlic in oil until tender (about 5 minutes).
2.  Stir in cumin and flour and cook about 3 minutes.
3.  Add chicken broth and sour cream and simmer 5 minutes, stirring often.
4.  Add in chicken and stir to blend.
5.  Spray a 9 X 13 dish with cooking spray.
6.  Arrange 4 tortillas in the bottom of the pan.  Top with 1/3 chicken mixture and then one cup of cheese.  Repeat tortilla, chicken mixture, cheese layers 2 more times (ending with cheese).
7.  Cover and bake at 350 degrees fro 45 minutes.  Serve with salsa!

****FREEZE IT****
Follow the make ahead directions and freeze the pan after preparing.  When you're ready to bake it, remove it from freezer and bake (covered) for one hour and 15 minutes.