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Meal planning before baby arrives: Breakfasts

Yehoshua (5) making waffles
Yehoshua (5) helps make and cook waffles

Before our last child was born (nearly 2 years ago) I made extensive menu plans. These included 2 weeks of easy meals and 12 weeks of "regular" menus, rotating our favorites and including lots of meals that we prefer to enjoy on a more infrequent basis.

Even though I didn't follow the menus exactly as I had planned, it was so helpful to have already thought about our meals and have something on paper to turn to as needed! :)

This pregnancy, rather than making weekly menu plans, I have made lists of meal ideas. I've then set about preparing as much of these meals in advance as possible!

Here is my breakfasts list:

Breakfasts made ahead:

My mom's homemade granola (double batch!)
Cinnamon Crunch Granola (quadruple batch, already half eaten though!)
Breakfast Burritos (ran out of freezer space to make these)
Homemade waffles (no freezer space for these either...)
Homemade bagels (again... no freezer space left!)
Energy Bars (still need to make these)

Breakfasts partly made ahead:

Challah French Toast (our favorite; still need to make Challah and freeze the leftovers for this if possible!)

Easy breakfasts:

Scrambled eggs
Oatmeal
Cold or hot cereal
Whole wheat berry pancakes

Banana muffin mixes

Dry mixes made ahead:

Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins (done!)
Oatmeal Apple Raisin Muffins (done!)
Mocha Frappuccinos (for Joshua) (done but gone... need to do again!)
Hot cocoa mix (for me!) (done!)
Herbal pregnancy tea (on the list for tomorrow!)

Coming next: Lunches and Main Dishes for the freezer

Filling the spice bottles...
After making some dry mixes, Yehoshua and I decided to make sure the spice bottles were all filled (I buy most spices in bulk). He enjoyed the challenge! :)

Grocery Shopping, Week 6 (Costco)

Amid the busyness of life, I've fallen behind on documenting my grocery shopping! Here is December's second shopping trip.

I have actually gone shopping once since this trip, and bought items needed to make food for the freezer for when our new baby's born. Even though we've spent a bit this month on groceries, I am happy to say that we haven't eaten it ALL, yet, and my freezer is getting fuller!! :)

Is it any surprise that I went to... Costco for groceries?! Living 3 miles from Costco means I can go weekly. :| :)

Bread flour (50#)    $15.49
Basmati rice (20#)    $19.99
Sugar (10#)      $5.99
English muffins (12ct.)    $3.45
Mission tortilla strips (3#)   $3.35
Mission flour tortillas    $4.99
Yellow onions (10#)   $3.49
Broccoli florets (3#)    $3.99
Bananas (9#)      $3.96
Large eggs (5 doz.)   $6.49
Milk (2 gal.rBST-free)  $4.12
Darigold sour cream (3#)  $3.79
Butter (4#)    $6.59
Tillamook shredded cheddar (5#) $10.99
Shredded mozzarella cheese (5#)  $10.59
Whole chickens (.99/lb)   $11.00
~6lbs. Ground beef (12% or less fat)  $15.57
Organic frozen corn (5#)      $4.99
Organic frozen green beans (5#)    $5.99
Organic frozen peas (5#)     $5.35

Total: $150.17

The bread flour is my favorite for making challah and pizza dough! While I use fresh whole wheat flour in most other things, we like white flour for challah and pizza. :)

I don't consider the sugar to be a good price, BUT I was out of sugar and didn't want to make a separate stop. This bag should last us a while, since we mostly use brown sugar or honey. :)

And Joshua said I could blame the English muffins on him! ;) He loves egg sandwiches with a slice of cheese, on a toasted English muffin. I need to learn to make English muffins, since they are rather pricey and the package of 12 made less than 3 servings for each of us... :)

Grocery Shopping, Week 5 (QFC & Costco)

I didn't get around to sharing photos and prices from my grocery shopping last week, so here it is, a bit late. :)

Joshua and the boys walked to QFC for bananas and came back with this assortment of goodies:

Groceries...

M&Ms    $2.99
Whole grain bread  $2.50
Orange juice   $1.50
Bananas    $2.83

Total:  $9.82

Joshua said he knew we were low on bread and bought some so I wouldn't have to make any the next day. :) The M&Ms were supposed to be a treat for me... and we ate some and put the rest on cookies! :)

Later in the week, I went to Costco and bought:

Organic apples  (10#)    $6.29  (x2)
Broccoli florets  (3#)   $3.99
Organic frozen green beans (5#)  $5.99
Brown sugar (the "real" kind!)  (4#)   $3.13  (x2)
Grapenuts cereal (4#)    $5.95
Granulated garlic  (18 oz)   $3.95
American cheese slices (5#)    $8.79
Applesauce (106 oz)    $3.65
Shredded mozzarella cheese (5#)   $10.39
Large eggs (5 dozen)   $6.49
Darigold sour cream (3#)    $3.79
Whole chickens (9.5#)    $9.41
Whole milk (2 gal.)    $4.34
Bananas  (6#)    $2.64

Total: $88.22

The American cheese is something I don't usually buy, but I love using it for grilled cheese sandwiches and broccoli cheese soup! :)

Grocery Shopping, Week 4 (Costco & QFC)

I've had fun typing up my grocery shopping trips from the past few weeks. It has actually helped me be much more aware of what we're buying/eating. :D

I hope some of you find these posts interesting, because I plan to continue sharing our grocery trips for at least a few more weeks! :)

This week's groceries were from Costco and QFC. I spent a lot at Costco, but I got a lot of food, too... but I always say that after going to Costco! :P


Here is what we got at Costco:

Organic red delicious apples (10#)     $6.29
Oranges (13#)                   $9.49
Fresh broccoli florets (3#)      $3.99
Bananas (3#)                  $1.32  x2
Tillamook shredded cheddar (5#)     $10.99
Shredded mozzarella (5#)         $10.29
Tilla-Moo cheese snacks (2#7oz)     $9.99
Cream cheese (3#)               $5.35
Darigold sour cream (3#)       $3.79
Whole chickens (10#)          $9.94
C&F Pinto beans (25#)          $12.99
Bottled water (35ct.)        $3.59
Dry yeast (2#)                 $3.89
Organic chicken base (1#)       $6.89
Mission tortillas (5#14oz)       $4.99
Organic frozen peas (5#)        $5.35
Canola oil (5qt.)                  $7.99
Dishwasher liquid (250oz.)        $8.99

Total: $128.29

However, I returned a half-used bag of Frigo Sting Cheese because it wasn't good and got $9.35 refunded to me. I mentally used that money toward the Tillamook cheddar cheese snacks (which aren't something we regularly eat since they're pricier... but they are SO yummy!). :)

So my adjsted Costco total is $118.94

The bottled water at Costco is a really good price (about 10 cents for each 1/2-liter bottle) but we wash and re-use the bottles, so a case lasts us a couple months. We like the bottles for Joshua's lunches or when we're in the car or away from home. We almost always have water with us! :)

The organic chicken base is Better Than Bouillon brand, which someone told me about here a while back, when I mentioned having difficulty finding chicken bouillon with an acceptable ingredient list (for me). :) We found it at Costco recently, and I love having chicken base on hand again!! :)

The dishwasher liquid is probably about a year's supply for us; we've had a dishwasher for just over a year and our previous Costco dishwasher soap is almost gone! :)

QFC groceries

My stop at QFC was just to get milk (lactose-free for Joshua) and use a freebie coupon:

Darigold lactose-free milk (1/2 gal.)        $2.99   (x4)
Always Infinity pads                        $5.79 -- but FREE with my coupon!

QFC total: $12.51

Yes, I get charged tax on the item I got for "free" with a coupon! :P :) The Always pads will go in my stash of free pads for after the baby is born. It is amazing how a year's worth of free sample pads adds up!

This week's grocery/household total: $131.45

Next week will be... MUST BE... less, however. I'll let you know how I do! :)

Grocery Shopping, Week 3 (Costco)

Groceries from Costco
(Click on photo to enlarge)

I did my grocery shopping this week at Costco. I spent quite a bit, but we also got quite a lot of yummy food! It totally filled our kitchen table when I tried to take a picture! :)

Here is a price breakdown of what I bought:

Baking potatoes (20#)            $4.49
Organic red delicious apples (10#)    $6.49
Romaine lettuce (6 ct.)          $2.99
Bananas (3#)                $1.32 (x2)
Mission tortilla strips (3#)      $3.35
Mission flour tortillas (5#14oz)   $4.99
Butter (4#)                             $6.39
Tillamook sliced swiss cheese (2#)    $7.29
Shredded mozzarella cheese (5#)    $9.79
Whole milk (2 gal.)                       $4.34
Darigold cream (40% fat) (1/2 gal.)   $5.99
Whole chickens (2)  (9.52#)         $9.42
Frozen strawberries (5#)              $8.85
Organic frozen green beans (5#)      $5.99
Applesauce (106oz)                $3.65
Quaker rolled oats (10#)          $6.89
KS "enviro-friendly" dish soap (135oz)    $7.99
Toilet paper (36 rolls)      $17.99
Vaseline Intensive Care lotion set  $8.99 (w/coupon)

Total: $132.32

Romaine lettuce is one of my favorite things to get at Costco, since it's so affordable! And the Red Delicious apples... we tried some from this bag and they are so fresh and crisp! Yum! :)

We seem to go through a lot of toilet paper, but the dish soap and lotion will last us quite a long time (about a year for the dish soap, and probably 4+ years for the lotion). :)

Grocery Shopping, Week 2

Groceries from QFC

This week's grocery shopping is rather sparse, but I'll (hopefully) be heading to Costco early next week to make up for that. ;)

Pictured above is what I bought at QFC this week:

Darigold lactose-free milk  $2.99 (x2)
Sweet potatoes ($0.99/lb)   $2.32
Bananas ($0.59/lb)       $3.60
Red onion ($1.49/lb)     $0.98
Cucumber                $0.99
Leaf lettuce                $1.99
Cilantro                    $0.99

Total: $16.85

The lactose-free milk is a regular purchase for us at that price. Everything else is pricey BUT I didn't want a Costco-sized portion and/or it was just to hold us over until I do go to Costco (like the bananas and lettuce). I can walk to QFC so I often go there between Costco trips to re-stock our bananas or get specialty food items (like when I just need 1 lemon, or 1 tomato... that sort of thing!). :)

Not all of the bananas are pictured, since right outside the store we peeled and ate 3 bananas as we walked home! It isn't uncommon for us to eat a whole bunch of bananas by the time we get home from the grocery store. I don't mind, though, since they're healthy and we're outside getting fresh air and exercise! :)

From Rite Aid this week...

I also went to Rite Aid Pharmacy.

Kotex $2.99 -- used $1 coupon
Crest $2.69

Tax:  $0.54
Total:$5.22

Rebate amount: $4.69
Final total: $0.53

Since we have a Rite Aid store near our home, I watch for their weekly Single Check Rebate items, which are easy to stack with coupons for great deals! I keep careful track of the receipts/rebates due and have never had any problems with their program. :)

I had 3 Kotex coupons, so I actually did this deal 3 times (on separate receipts) -- for myself, my mom, and a sibling. My mom and I usually take turns going to Rite Aid, to save separate trips. :) We will give away the free (tax-only) toothpaste since none of us need more toothpaste... :)

Bulk fish order -- through Joshua's employer

Halibut steaks (10#)     $14.90
Hot smoked salmon (9#)   $6.75

Total: $21.65

We had also ordered some mahi mahi fillets but weren't able to get them after all. Joshua's place of employment sometimes has sales like these to clear out partially-used or defective cases of fish. It's such a blessing! :)

This week's total:  $39.03 

I'll be going to Costco again next week, so this week's low total will be put into perspective. :P ;)

See last week's groceries (Costco) here. :)

This week's grocery shopping

This week's grocery shopping trip
(Click photo to enlarge)

One of my favorite features of Crystal's blog is when she photographs and shares about her weekly grocery shopping trips! :) I love the great deals she finds, but mostly I just like seeing the yummy food she got. ;)

I thought it would be a fun experiment to document all of our family's grocery/household purchases for a while. Those of you who have asked about how I shop, or what my grocery budget is, this will give you a firsthand look! :)

Some of these things will last much longer than a week, so as I share our grocery trips in future weeks, hopefully it will give more of a complete picture of what we buy and use! :)

This week's groceries, from Costco:

Oranges (13#)                   $8.99
Organic Jonagold apples (7#)    $5.49 x 2
Bananas (3#)                    $1.32 x 2
Mini peppers (2#)               $3.99
Organic baby spinach (1#)       $3.69
Large eggs (5 doz.)             $6.55
Shredded mozzarella cheese (5#) $9.89
Shredded cheddar cheese (5#)    $10.99
Whole milk (2 gal.)             $4.24
Butter (4#)                     $6.69
All-purpose flour (25#)         $6.79
Organic raisin bran (56oz.)     $7.69
Sundried tomatoes (2#)          $7.59
Organic frozen green beans (5#) $5.99
Organic frozen peas (5#)        $5.35

Total: $102.06

I love the selection and quality of Costco!

For example, the organic frozen baby peas are so sweet and tender. The pre-shredded mozzarella cheese usually makes perfect pizza, with long stringy cheese when you pull out a piece of hot pizza. Other things (butter, milk, bananas) are comparable to other stores' sale prices, but without the "limit 2" or the hassle of driving through traffic to make numerous quick stops. :)

I have also found quite a number of items that can easily be frozen when bought in bulk. A few weeks ago, I bought a 2.5# bag of feta cheese at Costco for about $7 -- a good deal, but only if none is wasted. I froze half of it, and planned several recipes involving feta cheese for the next couple weeks! :)

This week's food outlook

Freshly picked blueberries!

I loved having a menu planned for last week, and was actually successful in making most of what I had planned! :)

This week's menu plan is very different, since we're starting the week with a couple meals' worth of leftovers in the fridge. We'll also be getting a large order of frozen fish some day this week (discounted specials through Joshua's employer; who can resist fillets and smoked salmon for $0.99/lb. ?!) so I'll be getting creative with the freezer space and we'll probably be eating fish several times this week! :)

And to top it all off, yesterday we went blueberry picking with family and I came home with several gallons of fresh and frozen blueberries... and garden goodies from Joshua's mom and grandma as well! What a blessing to have an abundance of delicious food! God is so good to us! :)

Weekly menu; August 17, 2009

Cheesy Chicken Vermicelli recipe

Most of the time I am horribly neglectful when it comes to planning our menus. Usually I manage to pull through in the end but especially recently, the downsides have been apparent. Little variety from week to week, not as healthy overall, and just a general "I don't know WHAT to make" every afternoon. Uhg! I need to plan better!!

Veggie bean soup with spinach recipe

So, yesterday I planned a menu for this week. Here's my plan:

Monday

  • Grilled cheese, cooked peas, apples, grapes (a quick meal since we're supposed to be out the door right after!)

Tuesday

Wednesday

 

Seasoned baked potato wedges recipe

Thursday

Friday

  • Pizza, cooked peas, fruit smoothies for dessert

Saturday

Sunday

 

Strawberry green smoothie recipe

Breakfasts: Green smoothies, cold cereal, or oatmeal with fruit

Fruit for the week: Grapes, apples, bananas, and oranges (fresh); blueberries or strawberries (frozen).

Something I normally neglect: Planning the week's menu.

One of my biggest struggles in the kitchen is with menu planning. Oh, I am great at planning extravagant menus for dinner guests (and we do try to have dinner guests weekly if possible!) but what really stumps me is the day-to-day dinner plans.

I want our dinners to be:

  • healthy (Joshua and I are both still working towards losing a few more pounds!)
  • balanced (protein, fiber, veggies, fruits, and carbs!)
  • varied (serving pizza twice in one week is a no-no for me!)
  • easy (60-90 min. of dinner prep time, max!)
  • affordable

I usually plan the day's meals when I get up in the morning. Many days, nothing really sounds appealing to me and I'm still trying to decide what I should make, mid-day! Menu planning is the hardest part for me; I always say that I'd be glad to cook whatever's "on the menu", if only someone else would make up the menu. ;)

But. I want to do better. And I can, if I put more effort into it. So, here's this week's menu! :)

Monday

Tuesday

Wednesday

Thursday

Friday

  • Pizza, salad, fresh fruit

Saturday

Sunday

There. Now that feels MUCH better!

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