Monthly Menu Planning and Grocery Shopping

Thursday, September 6, 2012

     This month, I decided I was going to plan our menus and shop for the whole month! I did a lot of research online and read other bloggers experiences with shopping for the whole month. It was my hope to come in under $400 which is technically our food budget but I know good and well we spend more than that  by eating out when I just don't feel like cooking. I worked for two weeks researching and printing recipes. I picked recipes we'd never had before, and even printed recipes to make our own ketchup and mustard, some muffins and cookies.
     On Friday, I went out with my grocery list. I used a printable I found online to help me stay organized. I hit Aldi first and bought everything on my list they had available. I spent $117 roughly. I filled up my cooler in the back of my car and headed to Walmart. At Walmart, I spent about $240 on food. I bought all my meat here.  I didn't shy away from the items that I love and are staples in my kitchen: Good quality meats, King Arthur Flour, Ghiradelli chocolate chips, and Organic milk. Even though I was shopping for a whole month and  was concerned about the bottom line, I am more concerned about what my family is eating on a regular basis. This whole experiment is pointless if my family isn't staying with our healthy eating and minimal processed foods. I came in at about $50 under my goal of $400. I was really proud of myself!! $50 may not seem like a huge deal but over the course of the year is $600 we can save. That sounds pretty good to me!
    I froze three gallons of milk. I also cut the peppers and onions I purchased and put them in freezer bags in the freezer. I froze Asparagus and the other veggies I purchased. I also processed my avocados for future recipes and froze it in freezer containers.

     So far, I have made three new recipes of things I printed and I wanted to share them with you because they are SO yummy!!

Crockpot Santa Fe Chicken
   Adapted from
   Yield: 4-6 Servings
2 Chicken Breasts
1 14.4 oz can Rotel
1 15 oz can Black Beans
1 can Shoepeg Corn
2 cups Chicken Broth
1 Onion, chopped
1 Pepper, Chopped (Any color will do, I used Orange)
1 tsp each: Garlic powder, Cumin, Cayenne Pepper
Salt to taste

Combine Chicken broth, beans, corn, Rotel, onion, pepper, and seasonings in the crock pot. Season the chicken breast with salt and lay on top. Cook on low for 10 hours or high for 6 hours. Half and hour before serving, remove the chicken and shred, return to the slow cooker and stir in. Serve over rice, tortillas, or chips for nachos.

Creamy Chicken Marsala
Yield 4-5 servings
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite size pieces
1 package Baby Bella mushrooms, cut up
1 small onion, diced
3 cloves of garlic, minced
3/4 cup Marsala cooking Wine
1/2 cup Chicken Broth
1/2 cup Half & Half or Heavy Cream
1 Pound dry pasta
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
5 tablespoons of butter
Salt and Pepper to taste

Season chicken with salt and pepper. Melt 1 tbsp in a large skillet. Cook chicken until lightly browned. Transfer to a plate. Boil water, and cook pasta according to the directions on the box.

Melt additional tbsp of butter in the skillet, add garlic, mushrooms and onion and cook for 6 minutes. Add cooked chicken back into the skillet. Add the Marsala, chicken broth adn cream and bring to a boil. Simmer until sauce is slightly thickened.

Drain Pasta and reserve 1/2 cup cooking water. Add the Pasta to the skillet along with 3 tbsp butter and 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese. Cook until the pasta has absorbed some of the sauce, add the reserved pasta water as needed.

Season with Salt and pepper and serve with additional Parmesan cheese if desired.

"Instant" Pancake Mix
     Adapted from Alton Brown,
6 cups All-purpose flour (I used 1/2 King Arthur White Whole Wheat and 1/2 King Arthur All Purpose)
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
3 teaspoons baking powder
1 tablespoon kosher salt
2 tablespoons sugar

Directions: Combine all ingredients in a lidded container, Shake to mix.  Use the mix within 3 months.

"Instant" Pancakes
2 eggs, separated
2 cups buttermilk (I used Almond Milk and it was so yummy)
4 tablespoons melted butter
2 cups "Instant" Pancake mix
Heat an electric griddle or frying pan to 350.

Whisk together the egg whites and buttermilk in a small bowl. In another bowl, whisk the egg yolks and melted butter. Pour the liquid ingredients on top of the pancake mix. Using a whisk, mix the batter just enough to bring it together, don't try to work all the lumps out.

CHeck to see that the griddle is hot by places a few drops of water onto the griddle.  It's ready if the water dances across the surface.

Lightly butter the griddle, wipe off thoroughly with a paper towel.

Gently ladle the batter onto the griddle. At this point you can sprinkle chocolate chips or fruit into the pancake if you'd like. When bubbles begin to set around the edges of the pancake, it's ready to flip. Gently flip the pancake and continue to cook for 2-3 minutes.

Serve with yummy maple syrup! :)

Yield: 12 pancakes

***This post also appears on our family blog:


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