April's Meal Plan

As I planned April's meals, I realized it was time to share the details of what this looks like for me. I have the OAMC How do you start? post, but I know it's also nice to see EXACTLY what one does and how it's accomplished.

So bare with me as I fumble through my memory to recall all my steps. :)

Before you begin:
I made sure the kitchen was clean. No one can think about prepping 24 meals in a dirty kitchen. Trust me here, it just makes it easier. 

I made sure all my measure cups, bowls, spoons, pans and gallon sized freezer bags were ready to go. Good rule of thumb is to have one WHOLE BOX of freezer/storage bags available when you do a whole month of meals. Because most of the time you want to bag your meal in a freezer bag, then put another on the outside. IF you are tricksy, the doubled bag on the outside can be reused next month. But trust me when I tell you it's needed, because if one of those bad boys spring a leak, holy buckets. Just don't trust a single bag with liquids.

Now it's time for family involvement. Oh, I've done it without family input, but then I end up with a few meals that someone won't eat. Usually, I ask for what they're craving or what they liked from last month (because we nearly always have a new recipe) and what they hated. The Clam Chowder from last month was a big NO from the kids (that was only because they found out I made them eat clams). But at least we had some likes and cravings to go off of.

So I grabbed my pen and paper and wrote down the things they wanted.

Italian Pork Chops
Corned Beef

You'd think with just five meals, it might be too hard to plan a whole month, but actually these are just your base starters. So I look at the fajitas and Carna Asada, and think, hummm peppers, onions, tortillas. Okay, what else has these ingredients?

Tatery Goodness has peppers and onions and it also has potatoes. So I should probably buy a big bag or potatoes and make a double batch because it's cheaper that way. And the corned beef will need potatoes.

Now what about the two pork meals. Well, buying a large pork loin from Costco for $20 will give me 2 Kalua Pork meals, 1 Italian Pork Chop, and what if I made Pork Fajitas too? Never had pork fajitas! Let's do it.

Now, let's jump back to the chicken fajitas. If I buy the large $20 pack of boneless skinless chicken at Costco, I can get 6 meals out of that. If I do two chicken fajitas instead of one, then that still gives me four portions of chicken.  But I also have tortillas that I need to use again. Ah! Mexican Chicken. Perfect.

And if I use two portions of chicken in Mexican Chicken, I'll have plenty of  left overs to make Enchiladas  which means I can buy the super big bag of corn tortillas and make my own taco shells too for tacos!

And it's been a while since we've had enchiladas, so I'll make two Mexican Chicken's and two enchiladas. Which takes care of all my Costco sized chicken.

Now, if I buy the ground beef for tacos at Costco, I will have taco meat left over for... OHH! Jill made us Taco Bake once... oh and Taco Soup! And Nachos!

Oh and I should probably make some more refried beans this month since I'm almost out. But that means I need bacon. What else can I do with bacon and I still have those other three chicken portions left in my freezer. Oh! Bacon Wrapped Chicken! And it's been a while since we've eaten the Chicken Caprese!

And with the last chicken portion in my freezer, I will make my Alfredo Bake (not a freezer meal) and then I can make some alfredo just for the kids because they love it.  SO to recap my meals:

Pork Fajitas 1
Kalua Pork 2
Italian Pork Chops 1
Tatery Goodness 2
Corned Beef 1
Carna Asada 1
Tacos 3
Nachos 1
Beans (large pot makes about 20 cups)
Chicken Caprese 1
Alfredo Bake 1
Alfredo Pasta 1

And there you have it. You've now spent an hour in my brain.

Time for shopping
I made a list of all the ingredients in excel and grouped them in two ways.

First by meal then under each meal I did ABC order ingredients That way when I looked at my list, I would be able to mark off each of the items quickly. I do precount my items and write on the first meal that needs onions: "onions 6" if I need six onions. The reason I keep them in MEAL order though, is for the unforeseen BUMP in the meal plan. If I can't find an ingredient or it's wayyyy more then I budgeted for, then I nix it. Just like today. The Carna Asada was 6.99 a pound. Ouch! I picked up Spareribs instead at half the price and just noted to buy more BBQ sauce.

Now it's prep time!
Write I write all my meal names on my gallon zip locks. It's important to do it now because sharpies don't like wet zip locks.

The corned beef just goes straight to the freezer. I don't have to deal with that until the day of. But I will need a bag of potatoes, carrots, and cabbage for that day. So all those will go in a bag next to the corned beef.

If you have any ingredients to prep (like cutting onion, peppers, etc..) do it  now, or have your minions. I only had onions and potatoes to cut this time around because I found already cut peppers in my freezer aisle.

When it comes to meat, I always deal with raw first. Since the spareribs are the easiest, I start there. And the meal is ready in 60 seconds with just BBQ sauce and onions in the bag.

Then, I separated the chicken in all their own bags with labels (except for the chicken bake and caprese, those were frozen in the freezer so I will have to do those later). I then added the peppers into all the appropriate bags. Then onion added where needed. Then while the husband and daughter cut potatoes,  I started adding broth and seasoning to the ones that were needed. Potatoes go into their meal bags and one for the corned beef with chunked carrots. I'll get cabbage the day before.

The Mexican Chicken is just taco seasoning, garlic, and enchilada sauce, so that meal is slapped together in the time it takes to open the can and seal the bag.

When all the chicken was taken care of, I cleaned the counter and took out my pork loin and cut it up. The side with the most fat will be the two Kalua porks and the side without will be my pork chops and my pork for the fajitas. Into the bags they went. I won't put the Liquid Smoke in at this point. I'll put it in the day of. So really the Kalua Pork is just meat in a bag.

I grab my Italian seasoning, throw it over the top of my pork chops and put the other pork into the last fajita bag.

At this point I've already made 10 meals(plus the two enchilada meals will be taken care of with the mexican chicken, so we could call that 12 since slapping enchiladas together is like buttering bread-- oh and we can't forget the corned beef--13.)! I double bag all the rest of these and send the kids to the freezer to get them off the counter.

Next I open my frozen veggies and put them into the bag for taco soup. Add in onions, seasonings, beans, broth and seal is up and send it out. No meat in this bad because I'll use left over WHATEVER I have :) Taco meat or chicken, it's a mystery ;)

Now that all my raw meat is out and packaged for meals, I brown the mongo thing of ground beef. It takes two 12 inch skillets to get it all done. While it's browning I whirr up my roasted red peppers for the Mock Spaghetti sauce I've just decided to create and add to my meal plan. I was thinking about Tex Mex Spaghetti, but knew I couldn't do tomatoes, so I'm trying it my way. Three jars of roasted red peppers, 3 cups of cooked taco meat, onions and some spices over corn pasta and topped with cheese, I think so. But I'll just package the sauce for now. Cook the pasta the day of.

When the meat is done, I package it in 4 cup portions (enough for tacos for three nights), the mock spaghetti sauce gets 3 cups of meat, and I have 4 cups of meat saved back for the taco bake I will make tomorrow.

That leaves only the Caprese Chicken (Which will have to be put together day of), the Bacon Wrapped Chicken (Which I have to make from scratch my own cream of chicken with no wheat or soy) and the Alfredo's to make. The taco bake will be made ahead and frozen (so I can see if it works as a freezer meal and put it on the blog) but the alfredo's might be saved for the day of. Mostly because Alfredo is an easy sauce to make and I can make it on the fly. And Nachos take the melting of cheese and the defrosting of meat, no assembly required.

So there you have it. My April Meal Plan. 24 meals (which gives my husband leftovers for lunch every day and us at least 5-6 days of left over meals-- specially when we have enchilada since it makes a ton).

And no, we don't plan for eat out meals ever. Since I have allergies the safest place for me to eat is at home.

I also purchased all my monthly breakfast meal items, lunch items, butter, veggie sides, quinoa, fruit,  non essential food stuffs (like chips, hummus, popcorn,  etc), some paper products (TP, Trashbags) and some treats (Jellybelly beans, aussie bites--it was a long day, don't judge me!)... I spent about $500 for a month of meals for a family of 5. Not bad. That is $100 a week per family or $14.29 a week per person. Broken down per day, that is $2.05 a day at around $.68 a meal.

This is a good system! It works! We eat smarter and healthier. Even if I wasn't allergic to the world, we would eat out less because when you take a meal out to defrost, you know it's ready for you. Or if you've already put it in the crockpot, you shouldn't have to stop anywhere because the meal is waiting at home.

I'm usually exhausted after my OAMC days... but it's so worth the effort to have a healthy family and a happy freezer!


Carolyn said...

I have a question. I noticed you freeze potatoes. How do you keep them from turning black? Thank you.

Homeschool Mom said...

Hi Carolyn! I rinse my potatoes after I slice them to cut down on them turning black. However, the red variety of potatoes doesn't seem to have the same blackening features the russet do.