Beyond this week…

I have a confession to make: I don’t make a weekly meal plan.  It’s after 2pm at my house right now and I still don’t know what we’re having for dinner tonight.  But I’m not panicked because my freezer is stocked, and my microwave’s defrost button works rather well.

Instead of a meal plan, I have everything on hand I need to make pretty much any recipe that we make regularly.  Is that strange?  I would be upset if I had only one week’s worth of food to choose from.  I’m way too spontaneous to eat something that I planned to eat a week ago.  Sounds boring to me!  I know that the “experts” say to make a weekly meal plan (and I’m even developing a monthly meal plan).  But let’s move beyond that to the “whatever we may be hungry for” plan. 

This is what I do: make a list (mental or otherwise) of my family’s favorite meals and stock up on the ingredients – that is, the ones that don’t spoil – when they’re on sale.  It’s like this… if you know you cook chicken pot pie every Tuesday and your family expects it like clockwork, you may want to stock up on the ingredients when they’re at the lowest price.  That way, you have what you need to make your Tuesday Night meal every Tuesday for the next 6 or 8 weeks (and you’re not running to the store on the day of to buy a main ingredient at full price).

Truly, I could go into my kitchen at almost any given moment and make most any recipe that is made with standard spices and typical ingredients.  No, REALLY. 

  • I always have pasta, potatoes, and rice. 
  • I always have ground beef and chicken in various forms. 
  • I always have cream of mushroom soup and canned tomato products. 
  • I always have a variety of cheeses.  
  • I always have frozen vegetables.
  • I always have flour, sugar, and eggs. 
  • And do I need to say that I always have milk?  I do.  I have 3 under 3 after all. 

So… what’s for dinner at our house?  Chicken probably.  I like chicken because you can fry it, boil it, grill it, or bake it.  My favorite is probably fried, but that’s just the Southerner in me. 

When do I know to stock up?  What is the lowest price on chicken?  Well, here’s what I’ve found in my area…

Whole Chicken – $0.79/lb

Breast w/ Bone – $1.49/lb

Boneless Skinless Breast (fresh) – $1.79/lb

Boneless Skinless Breast (frozen) – $1.49/lb

Chicken Tenderloins – $1.99/lb

Legs/Thighs – $0.99/lb

How much should I buy?  That would totally depend on your family’s appetite and which cuts of meat they like.  For example: my husband eats 2 – 3 legs or thighs for dinner, I eat 1 usually or 2 if I’m breastfeeding or pregnant (which is all the time) and 1 for each of the 2 toddlers.  So I will put 7 or 8 legs or thighs in a freezer bag so dinner is at my fingertips.  I have two meals from each cut available most of the time (unless it’s time to go shopping).  So right this minute, I have 2 bags of 7 legs, 2 bags of 8 thighs, 2 bags of 2 breasts, and 2 whole chickens in my freezer.  My inventory is in my head.  I just know it’s there, but if you need to write it down, do so!

Let’s get something straight.  I do not consider breaded, cooked, frozen chicken tenders food.  I don’t always recognize the ingredients that Bo pridefully puts in his chicken so I don’t waste my money.  I cook real food at my house.

Some of you may not like cooking so I’ve put together some of the easiest things to do with each the aforementioned cuts of meat.  If you have an oven, I know you can do this.  I will eventually write a post just about Whole Chickens and the wonders thereof.  But for now…

Roasted Chicken

Chicken and Rice

Chicken Parmesan (a little more complicated)

Fried Chicken Tenders (HOMEMADE)

Oven Fried Chicken (Legs/Thighs)

I hope that these ideas can help you not only save money, but feel better because you’re eating not-so-processed foods.  My kitchen is my favorite room in the house.  I hope you learn to love your kitchen too.  It will save you a lot of money in the long run!

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3 Comments

  1. Rebekah said,

    May 4, 2009 at 3:08 pm

    I’ve got a good chicken recipe I just tried out today. I have to make a weekly meal plan because I get pretty bored making the same things. So for at least one meal a week (usually two), I need an ingredient or more that I don’t normally stock up on. Tonight I made barbecue chicken calzones (18 of them!) with four chicken breasts, a bottle of barbecue sauce, cilantro, onion, and bacon. Plus, the dough was homemade. I haven’t done the math, but I’m pretty sure they’re pretty cheap. I made nine big ones and nine little ones (for Jude). I put them in freezer bags and popped them in the freezer. Now Michael can grab one the night before and have it for lunch the next day and I have a stockpile for the little guy too. I LOVE my kitchen. I love being in it, baking, prepping for the week. My goal is to spend Monday making goodies for the week (bread, granola bars…). With a weekly meal plan, I know what to prep. Thanks for the chicken tips Clara! Still loving the blog.

  2. Kim said,

    May 4, 2009 at 6:31 pm

    We eat a LOT of chicken here too and usually just split a breast between the two of us. I’ve learned that with a lot of meals, especially Mexican-type, I can shred the meat and add in onions, peppers, spices, etc and one breast will make 3 adult sized meals. We’ve also moved more toward using meat as a condiment than a main dish, which has really helped the budget. I have a request for another blog…bean recipes. We typically eat beans as a main dish in some form each week and I’m always looking for new ideas.

  3. Laura said,

    May 5, 2009 at 5:24 pm

    will you start saying even when stuff is on sale?


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