A week or two ago, I posted about ways to save money on food. I mentioned menu planning for the week, using ingredients that you already have in house, as well as ones that are on sale, which minimizes the number of products you need to buy at the grocery store, as well as your out of pocket expense.
I thought I could give you a look at my menu plan for the coming week (I usually aim for 5-6 dinners), along with a little insight to the thought process that happens as I plan my meals.
Menu for Week of 11/7/11
Homemade Chicken Tenders with honey mustard sauce, Sweet Potato Fries, Broccoli
* We already have chicken breasts, which I will cut into strips, panko crumbs (you can buy for $0.19 at HT using this printable coupon for $1 off any Kikkoman product), and spices. We also have honey and dijon mustard to whip up a dipping sauce. I plan to pick up sweet potato fries at Harris Teeter, where I will be able to get them FREE using a doubled printable coupon. The only item in this meal that will need to be bought at the grocery store is broccoli (will also be used in another meal later in the week).
Curried Chick Peas, Quinoa, and Sauteed Zucchini and Squash
* We already have chick peas and the tomato sauce and spices needed for the curry (I stock up when prices are low) . We also have a box of quinoa. I will just need to pick up the veggies, which I will also use in another meal later in the week.
Chicken Fajitas, Black Beans, Chips and Guac
* We already have all of the ingredients for fajitas in the house. I bought and froze bell peppers when they were on sale a few weeks ago, and we have packs of tortillas and cheese left from last week's shopping trip. I picked up some free chips and guacamole from Harris Teeter using doubled coupons, which means that black beans will be the only item needed from the store.
Beef Stew (easy crock pot meal)
*I bought the ingredients to make this last week but didn't get around to doing it. The idea came because I already had potatoes and carrots in the house (making baby food). I was also able to find beef stew meat on sale at Kroger. Since the stew is a complete meal on its own, I might not serve it with anything else. If I change my mind, I'll serve some good, crusty bread, which I picked up for free today at Harris Teeter, using a coupon I received from La Brea after e-mailing them a compliment.
Veggie Stir Fry
*I will use the veggies bought for the other meals mentioned to throw together a stir fry. We have rice and stir fry sauce in the house, but if I'm feeling in the mood for a different flavor, sauce is easy to whip up using common ingredients, like soy sauce, brown sugar, and hot sauce.
*We have nearly everything needed for this meal already in the house. The sauce calls for kalamata olives and capers, which we already have (both jars last for a long time). I will use tomato paste (FREE at Harris Teeter using a doubled printable coupon), canned tomatoes, and pasta I stocked up on when prices were low. I'll serve the meal with the previously mentioned bread and with a veggie that is still left in the house. I will need to buy fresh basil and a can of anchovy fillets for the sauce.
Looking at my menu, I have a very small number of items to add to my grocery list. I already have weekly staples like milk and juice, which I stocked up on for free at Harris Teeter this week, so I'll just need to add in some fruit and lunch foods, like sandwich meat. You'll notice that most of the things I'll need to buy for dinners are fresh produce items. That's because I menu plan around items in my cabinets and freezer, which are bought during sales, often combined with coupons. I also try to include a number of meatless meals each week and use the produce I buy in multiple meals, so it doesn't go to waste.
Reader Response: Do you have strategies for saving money on dinner time? Please share!