Friday, August 14, 2015

24 Meals for $176


I have a little secret. When it comes to dinner, it's okay to think inside the box. I know that goes against all things in this world telling us to be meticulous, extravagant, put-together and picture perfect, but lemme just say, it's okay to throw all that elaborate stuff out the window and eat simply.

If you are here, reading this, then you probably are looking for a way to simplify dinner time. You probably have kids that bark orders at you day and night (while inside your head you think, "We are not equals! I am your mother! I am your superior!" ;) ) or you work all day and would like to figure out a way to eat well at night without having to actually cook or really even think about dinner. Enter meal planning. Now your response might be, but I don't like the crock pot because I don't like soup or stew. Oh good! Me neither. I'll eat it here and there but to be completely honest, my kids and I don't really like soup. And if we don't like what's for dinner, that complicates things.

So my advice...think inside the box. It can be basic but still be flavorful and most likely, easily consumed by the tiny army that rules your house. You'll find these meals have very few ingredients. That's what makes it so doable. This round took me 1 hour at the grocery store (with kids) and a little over an hour at home (with their help :) They are great at dumping ingredients in Ziplocs).

This round of meals will give you 24 protein heavy meals for about $176 (averaging a little over $7 per meal). Each meal feeds at least a family of four - many meals will yield plenty of leftovers. If you have a larger family, simply adjust the recipe.

Here we go...

Menu |
4 Memphis BBQ Pit Pulled Pork on pretzel rolls - it's kind of our favorite
2 Spaghetti Sauce
2 Caribbean Jerk Chicken on dinner rolls
2 Sausage Bakes
2 Lemon Pepper Chicken
2 California Burritos or Carne Asada fries
2 Hawaiian Chicken on Hawaiian Rolls
2 Creamy Italian Sausage & Tortellini
2 Jambalaya
2 Creamy Tortellini with Pesto
1 Thai Pork w/ Peanut Sauce
1 Asian Sesame Chicken

Grocery List |

Meat:
1 10 lb. pork loin (to be cut into 5ths)
2 lbs. ground beef
4 lbs. ground Italian sausage
3 smoked sausages
2 lbs. shredded beef
2 lbs. cubed beef
1 bag medium shrimp
3 bags of chicken breasts (frozen, 3 lb. bags)

Produce:
1 Lime
1 bunch celery
2 green peppers

Canned Goods:
2 cans tomato sauce
6 cans diced tomatoes
2 pastes
2 jars Alfredo sauce
1 jar pesto
1 jar apricot preserves
2 cartons chicken broth
Medium salsa (you need 1/2 cup)
Peanut Butter (you need 1/4 cup)
Soy Sauce

Dried Goods:
2 packages of spaghetti
4 lbs. dried tortellini (or 4 packages)
4 cups brown rice

Seasoning:
4 Memphis BBQ Seasoning Packets
2 Caribbean Jerk Marinades
2 lemon pepper marinades
2 taco seasoning
2 Hawaiian Marinades
1 bottle toasted sesame salad dressing
1 onion soup/dip mix
Ginger
Garlic Powder
Sugar
Brown sugar
paprika
Cayenne Pepper
Tabasco
Basil
Parsley
Bay leaves

Refrigerator:
2 packages of cream cheese

Freezer:
2 bags frozen broccoli florets
2 bags French fries

Bread:
4 bags pretzel rolls
2 packages dinner rolls
2 packages Hawaiian rolls
2 packages of tortillas

Other:
Gallon Bags
Slow Cooker Bags

I shopped at Winco, your total should be around $176. Don't forget the gallon-sized bags! You'll regret it. When you get home, lay it all out on the counter. First label all bags then just go through one meal at a time. I usually do the meals that don't require any cooking first.

Recipes |

Memphis BBQ Pit Pulled Pork on pretzel rolls - make 2


1/5 of the large pork loin or a 2 lb. pork loin
1 packet of Memphis BBQ Pit seasoning
1/4 brown sugar
(Freeze the pretzel rolls with the meal)

Add 1 cup of water at the time of cooking. Cook in the crock pot 8 hours on low, shred and serve on pretzel rolls with BBQ sauce.

Spaghetti Sauce - make 2

1 lb. cooked ground beef
1 lb. cooked ground Italian sausage
1 can tomato sauce
1 can tomato paste
1 can diced tomatoes
1 bay leaf
1/2 Tbsp. garlic powder
1/2 Tbsp. basil
2 Tbsp. brown sugar
(store spaghetti noodles in pantry with this meal)

Cook 8 hours on low in crock pot.

Caribbean Jerk Chicken on dinner rolls - make 2

4 chicken breasts
1 bottle Caribbean Jerk Marinade
(freeze dinner rolls with this)

Thaw and grill chicken and serve on rolls OR cook 7 hours on low, shred and serve on rolls.

Sausage Bake - make 2

Freeze one smoked sausage with one bag of broccoli florets

To cook thaw and cut sausage, add cubed potatoes and peppers, frozen broccoli, drizzle with EVOO, garlic powder, sage, salt and pepper. Bake at 425 for 45-50 minutes. (I don't like the taste of frozen potatoes cooked so this is how I make this delicious meal easier.)

Lemon Pepper Chicken - make 2

4 chicken breasts
1 bottle Lemon Pepper Chicken

Thaw and grill.

California Burritos or Carne Asada Fries - make 2


1 packet taco seasoning
1 lb. cubed beef
1 lb. shredded beef
(freeze fries and tortillas with these)

Cook in crock pot 8 hours on low. Bake French fries per package instructions. For California burritos, stuff a tortillas with fries and meat and any taco fixings you like. For Carne Asada Fries, pile meat and taco fixings on French fries and eat with a fork, you'll need it. ;)

Hawaiian Chicken on Hawaiian Rolls - make 2

4 chicken breasts
1 bottle Hawaiian marinade
(freeze Hawaiian rolls with these)

Thaw and grill OR 7 hours on low, shred and serve on rolls.

Creamy Italian Sausage & Tortellini - make 2

2 cans diced tomatoes
1 cup chicken broth
1 package cream cheese
1 lb. cooked Italian sausage
(store tortellini with these)

7-8 hours on low until sauce is combined, cook tortellini per package instructions, mix and enjoy.

Jambalaya - make 2

1 can diced tomatoes
1/2 carton chicken broth
1 chopped green pepper
1/2 of the chopped celery stalk
1/2 bag of medium shrimp
1/2 sliced smoked sausage
3 chicken breasts
A few dashes of Tabasco (or however many you prefer)
1/2 tsp Cayenne or more if you want more kick
2 tsp Garlic Powder
2 tsp paprika
2 tsp basil
1 tsp parsley
(store rice in pantry for this)

8 hours on low in the crock pot. Add 1 cup of rice 30 minutes before it's done cooking, stirring well.

Creamy Tortellini with Pesto - make 2

1 lb. cooked tortellini
1 jar alfredo sauce
1/2 jar pesto

Thaw and warm.

Thai Pork w/ Peanut Sauce - make 1

2 lbs. pork loin, cubed
1/2 cup salsa
1/4 cup peanut butter
Juice of 1 lime
3 Tbsp. Soy Sauce
3 T Water
1/4 cup white sugar
2 tsp garlic powder
(store rice in pantry for this)

8 hours on low. Serve over rice.

Asian Sesame Chicken - make 1
4 chicken breasts
1 bottle Toasted Sesame Dressing
1 bottle apricot preserves
1 packet onion soup/dip mix

7-8 hours on low. Serve over rice.

And you're done. Now go freeze those bad boys and not stress about dinner for another month. ;)

Here's a quick tip: on Sunday night pick the five meals you'd like to eat for the week and get them in the refrigerator to defrost. That way they're ready hop in the crock pot when you're ready to eat them.

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