Welcome to a typical busy week at Frugal Upstate! Most weeks (I’ve been bad the last few) I try to make a meal plan for my family on Monday. I find that it really helps to reduce food waste (because I actually have a plan to use up things in the fridge and freezer) and to cut way down on the evening chaos (because I know what I’m making for supper). I highly encourage you all to try meal planning for a few weeks–I think you’d be happy and surprised at how much it can help!
The first step in meal planning is always to make sure that the meals you choose actually work with what’s going on in your life–both by considering your schedule and by considering what foods you have on hand that you need to use up. I also add in some weekly “Meal Plan Goals” to ensure variety and efficient utilization of meat that I buy in bulk annually.
Here’s what I’ve got to plan around this week:
1. Although soccer for Buddy finally ended yesterday, we go right back into Cub Scouts instead (which we’ve been missing for soccer). Princess only had a couple of weeks until the school play, and she’s got a major role, so we pretty much have play rehearsals every evening.
2. Halloween is this week–which means supper that night needs to be early and quick before the kiddos head out to trick o treat. Also we are having family and friends over immediately post trick o’ treat for our annual party–just a quick hour or so of kiddo and parent wind down time–so I’ve got to plan some non sugary snack foods.
3. Monday and Wednesday night I’ve got classes. Wednesday night Yankee Bill has pool. Thursday is Halloween. Friday’s a half day for one kid. Saturday I’ve got two events. Yankee Bill has training and will be gone all weekend. Isn’t this stuff supposed to slow down at some point?!?
4. My 1/2 organic pig is ready–so I need to clear the remainder of the pork out of the deep freeze. That will mean doing some canning I’m sure–but I’ll probably use pork at least twice in this week’s meal plan.
5. In the fridge I’ve got some of the end of the garden produce to deal with. Eggplant. Beans. Summer Squash (yes, one made it until last week!) a few tomatoes. Some shelled beans. Some regular beans I cooked and marinated. Oh–and I went a bit nuts with buying cranberries at the store. . . And I’ve got plenty of eggs to use up as well!
Taking all that into account here is my game plan:
Monday: Crockpot Pork Chops, Rice and Green Beans with Tomato
Since I’ve got class tonight, my meal needs to be something that is ready without a lot of fuss and that Yankee Bill can easily feed to the kids if necessary. Since I also want to use up some pork, I’ll just do chops in the crock pot. Not exactly super healthy completely from scratch–I’m doing the good old “toss some cream of mushroom soup over it” method. I’ll probably add some of the mushrooms I dehydrated last spring as well. For a side I’ll just make some rice in the crockpot (which will be a planned leftover for tomorrow) and cook up the last of the fresh green beans with some diced tomatoes.
This is my Pork meal for the week
Tuesday: Egg Drop Soup and Fried Rice
This will be a basic chicken broth soup with farm fresh eggs drizzled in for egg drop soup. I’ll use some of the veggies left in the fridge (to include any leftover green beans from Monday night) and make some homemade fried rice with a bit more egg. Filling, simple and meatless.
This is my meatless meal and my soup meal for the week
Wednesday: Italian Venison Pasta Bake with Shelly Beans
I don’t have a particular recipe in mind for this one–I’ll make something up on the fly with a bit of venison stew meat from the freezer, red sauce (home canned), pasta and cheese. Who knows what else will wind up in there–maybe some leftover fresh tomato, onion, garlic. . . I’ll see what my mood is. For a vegetable side I’ll boil the shelly beans (aka green beans where the seed got too big to eat as a green bean, and yet isn’t dry enough for dry beans), toss with some butter, salt and pepper and call it good!
This is my venison meal for the week
Halloween is chaotic around here. We typically get 300 kids. Seriously. I am on the street that everyone from all the surrounding farm communities bring there kids in to trick or treat on. Anyway–it’s always a juggling act with getting our kids ready, eating, dealing with trick or treaters ringing our bell, someone taking the kids out to do their stuff. . . and then having our annual get together afterwards. So making my Wanna Be Wendy’s chili in the crockpot and having it ready not only for whenever my family is ready to eat, but also to serve anyone who is hanging out at our house afterwards who needs to combat a sugar high just really seems like a good idea. I’ll whip up some quick Sweet Northern Corn Bread for the side.
This is my Bean meal for the week
Friday: Old Fashioned Tuna Loaf, Biscuits, Marinated Beans and Sauteed Eggplant
I haven’t made this in a while–and with colder weather it just sounds good! I just use my Old Fashioned Salmon Loaf recipe and use canned tuna instead of the canned salmon. Easy! I’ve gotten back in the habit of making my own bread–I’ve been playing with sourdough–and cutting real loaf bread always provides you with plenty of natural breadcrumbs as well as odds and ends of bread that are great for making homemade breadcrumbs--which is great for this loaf! I cooked some beans and set them to marinating on Sunday night–so those will be good, and I’ll just peel, cut and saute a bit of eggplant as an additional side (and to use it up) . Then it seems like there should be a starch, so I’ll bake some biscuits along with the tuna loaf.
This is my fish meal for the week.
Saturday: Leftover Stirfry
There should be enough drips and drabs of different things left to toss into a stirfry or a curry. If not–I’ll just use up some more of the veggies in the fridge to make something good.
Sunday: Garlic Pork Balsamico, Mashed Potatoes and Steamed Squash
Pork, garlic and balsamic vinegar. Mmmm! I’ll pair it with homemade mashed potatoes (from the 2 big bags our potato growing friend gave us) and the final summer squash that needs to be used up. Pretty respectable for a Sunday night dinner!
Are you interested in learning more about menu planning? Check out my post “Why Plan a Weekly Menu” .