Meal Plan and Turkey Club Pasta

This week’s menu is all about repurposing food. It’s easy to get sick of  the same old leftovers, so why not turn them into something new. The meal plan is as follows:

Monday: Turkey Club Pasta (see recipe below) w/meat from last night’s turkey

Tuesday: We have a dinner party tomorrow night. No meal needed

Wednesday: Honey & Spice Baked Chicken, stuffing and green beans

Thursday: Shepard’s pie w/ leftover potatoes from Sunday’s turkey dinner

Friday: Client Christmas Party

Saturday: School Christmas Party

Sunday: Chicken Chimichangas w/leftover chicken from Wednesday

This is going to be a very busy week so I wanted to make the cooking simple.

For more meal planning ideas, check out Menu Plan Monday at Orgjunkie.com

Last night’s turkey came out great. I don’t know what I was thinking when I purchased a ten pound turkey. Oh yeah. I was thinking ‘It’s three dollars. You’ll eat it.’ One of my favorite sandwiches is a turkey club from Nat Hayden’s in Windsor, CT. In the winter, I love comforting pasta dishes, plus I had all this turkey left over. I wanted a recipe that combined my favorite flavors from the sandwich into a hearty casserole. It was delicious. This would also be good with chicken but the turkey and bacon together in a swiss cheese sauce was a home run.

Turkey Club Pasta

1 lb of rotini pasta
8 to 10 slices of bacon
1/3 cup of flour
3 cups of milk
1 cup of half and half or another cup of milk
8 oz of shredded swiss cheese
1/2 cup of parmesean cheese
1 T Dijon mustard
1/2 t garlic powder
1/2 t freshly grated nutmeg
salt and pepper to taste
2 cups cooked turkey, chopped into bite-sized pieces

Heat a large pot of water to boiling and add salt to the water. Cook rotini until al dente. You want to take it off the stove a few minutes before you think it’s done because it will continue to cook when you bake it. Rinse pasta with cold water to stop the cooking process.

While pasta is cooking, cut bacon into thin pieces. I used my kitchen scissors for this and it worked very well. Add bacon to a large frying pan or pot and cook on medium to medium high heat until crispy. Remove bacon from pan with slotted spoon, putting on paper towels to drain. Reserve four tablespoons of bacon drippings in the pan, removing the rest.

Reduce heat to medium or medium low. Add flour to drippings and cook for 1 to 2 minutes until well incorporated. Slowly whisk in milk and half and half. Bring the sauce to a simmer, stirring constantly until thick and creamy. Stir in mustard, garlic powder, nutmeg and salt and pepper. Add cheeses and stir until melted. Finally, return the bacon to the pan and add the turkey.

Pour the pasta into a 9 x 13 baking dish. Pour sauce mixture over the pasta and smooth with a spoon. The sauce will fill the tube pasta, no need to stir. Bake the dish for 30-35 minutes at 350 degrees until heated through and the top begins to brown. Serve with a simple green salad or vegetable.

Menu plan for the week of August 8th

Now that classes are over for the summer, I’m trying to get back into meal planning. It’s been a really busy summer and I haven’t been as frugal as I want to be. It’s time to tighten the belt and get my plan on! After reviewing my schedule for the week, I’ve got a lot of meetings in the evening so we’ll do some quick prep dinners or things I can get done before Jeff gets home. I’m also looking at the weather so I don’t have oven dinners on really hot days. So many things to consider! I know it seems like a lot to consider before before making the plan but the more planning I do before the plan, the less likely it is that I will break from the plan and go out to eat or get take out.

Monday – Chicken Tetrazzini
Tuesday – Patty Melts, carrot sticks
Wednesday – Shepard’s Pie
Thursday – Homemade Pizza
Friday – Ribeye steaks, buttered potatoes and green beans
Saturday – Hot Dogs, beans and veggie sticks
Sunday – Baked pasta and salad

I have very few things I have to buy this week. I already have all the meat in my freezer. I’ll have to pick up some veggies and salad fixings but that’s about it. I will also make some dough this week to make bread for some of these dinners and for the pizza. Should be an inexpensive week. I’m not feeling super creative this week since I am trying to use up some things we have. Hopefully, things will be more exciting next week.

If you need suggestions for your meal plan, head on over to Meal Planning Monday where lots of bloggers post their meal plan for the week.

Meal plan and lasagna recipe

We’ll, I’ve already changed the meal plan that I set up this  month. We had some friends over for dinner tonight so things got moved around a bit from the plan I posted last week.

Sunday: Build-your-own-casserole with ground turkey
Monday: Pork chops, stuffing and veggies
Tuesday: Hot dogs, baked beans and veggie sticks
Wednesday: Chicken Parm, pasta, salad
Thursday: Pancakes and sausage
Friday: Mac and Cheese, veggies
Saturday: Meatloaf, mashed potatoes and corn

Sunday and Tuesday got switched. I haven’t made it to the grocery store yet, but I don’t need much this week. Just a few veggies and some mac and cheese. Not bad. Not bad at all. I’m hoping to come in way under budget this month.

Saturday, I made lasagna. I have three or four different ways I make lasagna. Sometimes I make sauce from scratch. Sometimes I use ricotta cheese and sometimes I make a bechamel  sauce instead. It really depends on how much time and money I have to spend on the endeavour. This week was quick and cheap lasagna.

What you’ll need:

1 box of lasagna noodles (not the not bake ones but the real ones)
2 jars of your favorite pasta sauce
1 lb of hamburger
minced garlic to taste (I use about 1 – 2 tablespoons)
teaspoon of dried basil
teaspoon of dried oregano
a pinch of red pepper flakes
3 tablespoons of butter
a drizzle of olive oil
teaspoon of garlic powder or granulated garlic
teaspoon of onion powder
salt and pepper to taste
pinch of nutmeg
1/4 cup of flour
2 – 3 cups of milk
Parmesan cheese (optional)
2 cups of mozzarella cheese

You can boil your lasagna noodles if you want but I think it’s a pain and the noodles tend to get overcooked. Instead, I fill my lasagna pan with hot water (boiling if you got it) and soak the noodles in the water until everything else is ready to go. The noodles start to soften and you don’t have to dirty another pan. You’re already making enough dirty dishes, don’t need any more. Plus the noodles will finish cooking in the oven and they won’t be mushy.

If you have precooked hamburger in the freezer, defrost it. Add a bit of oil to a pan that’s large enough for all this sauce we are going to make. Heat the oil on medium low and add your garlic. Cook the garlic for a minute or two, until you can smell it. Don’t let it burn. Then add your ground beef (cooked or raw). Cook until no longer pink. Add the basil, oregano, pepper flakes, salt and pepper. Then add the jars of sauce. Move this to the back burner on medium heat so just make friends for a few minutes.

Time for bechamel. A bechamel is just a white sauce. It’s the foundation for a ton of other awesome sauces, like alfredo and sausage gravy. In a sauce pan, add a bit of olive oil and your butter. Let it melt on medium so it doesn’t burn. Adding the oil will help to prevent the butter from burning. Add the garlic powder, onion powder, salt and pepper and a bit of fresh ground nutmeg. I know it sounds odd, but just a touch makes it so good. Stir into the butter. Now add the flour and stir constantly for a few minutes until the flour takes on a bit of color. Cooking the flour helps to get rid of all the raw flour taste and just leaves the thickening goodness behind. Now slowly add the milk and raise the heat a bit. Start with two cups and bring the sauce to a simmer until thickened. You may need to add more milk if it’s too thick. You can always add more but you can’t fix it if it gets too thin. At this point you can add some Parmesan cheese to your sauce to give it some more kick.

Now we can start layering. Drain your noodles and dry off your lasagna pan. Spray the pan with nonstick cooking spray or grease your pan. Put a layer of noodles on the bottom of the pan, making sure they overlap a bit. Now put a layer of the bechamel. I smooth it out with a spatula or a frosting spreader. Now add a layer of your red sauce on top of that. Repeat your layers until you are out of pasta. I try to finish with a layer of bechamel, then a layer of red sauce. Top with cheese and bake at 350 for 30 to 45 minutes depending on how dark you like the cheese on top.

You can substitute the bechamel for a ricotta mixture. I add an egg, some garlic powder, dried parsley and some Parmesan and mozzarella to the ricotta and chill it until I’m ready to assemble. I’ll make this before the sauce to let the flavors get friendly.

October meal plan

This month, I decided to try something different. I’ve seen people do monthly meal plans and it’s always amazed me. So this month, I gave it a try.

I printed out a monthly calendar and went down to the pantry and freezer to see what I had. I’m trying to clear out the pantry and freezer to save some money this month and use up some of the stuff we have. I started by pulling everything out of the freezer. Before putting something back, I had to assign it to a day. I had a few things that I wanted to use up, like frozen swedish meatballs, a pork loin and breaded chicken tenders. I also had a box of lasagna noodles so I put lasagna on the list. Once I got through the specific things in the freezer, I added  a few things that we have to have at least a few times a month, like pizza and mac and cheese.

I then filled the rest of the calendar with meals we had most of the ingredients for, like peanut chicken stirfry and shepard’s pie. I filled the last few spots with spaghetti or a build-your-own-casserole.

This process sounds like it took a long time but I actually did the entire thing in about 20 to 30 minutes. Once it got rolling, it went really quickly. Here is what I’ve got:

Week 1:
Sunday: London Broil, rice-a-roni and veggie
Monday: Grilled Cheese and Tomato Soup
Tuesday: Chicken Parm with pasta, garlic bread and salad (see recipe tab)
Wednesday: Tacos
Thursday: Swedish meatballs, egg noodles and veggies
Friday: Pizza
Saturday: Lasagna, garlic bread and salad

Week 2:
Sunday: Hot dogs, beans and veggie sticks
Monday: Pork chops, stuffing and veggies
Tuesday: Build-your-own-casserole with ground turkey
Wednesday: Chicken Parm, pasta, salad
Thursday: Pancakes and sausage
Friday: Mac and Cheese, veggies
Saturday: Meatloaf, mashed potatoes and corn

Week 3:
Sunday: Spaghetti
Monday: BBQ Chicken, buttered noodles and veggies
Tuesday: Shepard’s pie
Wednesday: Pizza
Thursday: Pork loin, rice or stuffing and veggies
Friday: Hamburger skillet
Saturday: Peanut chicken stir-fry

Week 4:
Sunday: Stew and Rolls
Monday: Pork Chops, spatzel noodles, veggies
Tuesday: Chicken Parm, pasta and veggies
Wednesday: Mac and Cheese with corn
Thursday: Pancakes and Bacon
Friday: Pizza
Saturday: Build-your-own casserole with ground turkey

Menu plan August 2-August 8

I’m finally getting back into the grove of making a menu plan. I’ve just been going with the flow and cooking out of the freezer but there are some things I want to use up and I need to make sure I have enough leftovers for lunches for Jeff.

I did a ton of baking today. I made chocolate chip cookie bars and some sandwich bread. I have an extra loaf’s worth of dough so I can make another loaf later in the week if we need it. It’s in the freezer.

I got a great deal on flour this week. A while back I had called Betty Crocker to complain about the new Suddenly Salad recipe. I got  a coupon for up to $6 off any Betty Crocker product so I took that coupon to BJ’s. They sell a two pack of 10lb bags of flour for $8.49. Deduct my coupon and I just got 20lbs of flour for 2.49. I was just thrilled. I see lots of baking in our future.

I’m not really sure if this is the order things are going to stay in for the week, but this is the plan for now. Remember with menu planning, you don’t have to eat things on the nights you plan to make them unless you are planning for leftovers for lunches.

Sunday – Hot dogs and baked beans.

Monday – Baked Rigatoni

Tuesday – Grilled cheese and tomato soup

Wednesday – Chicken parm with pasta

Thursday – Pork chops, stuffing and corn

Friday -Sloppy joes, corn chips (must have corn chips with sloppy joes) and carrot sticks

Saturday – Pizza

This week’s meal plan and grocery shopping results

I had a great week at the grocery store. Big Y is having a buy 1, get 2 free sale. Plus there were three double $1 coupons in the flyer. Here are some of the deals I picked up:

3 dozen large eggs – 1.99
6 cans B&M baked beans (the larger cans) – 1.99 (B1, G2 plus a 1.00 off coupon when I bought 4, which the store doubled).
3 packages of bagels (6 in each package) – 3.79
3 bottles of BBQ sauce – 1.99
3 boxes of pasta shells – 1.99
3 bottles of cranberry juice – 5.00
3 large bottles of pancake syrup (for Jeff, I use the real stuff) – 5.19
3 bags of salad mix – 3.59

I think the deal of the week was this one: Hormel pork chops were B1, G1. I bought two small packages, each containing 2 bone in pork chops for 3.82. I had a $1 off coupon which the store doubled. So I got 4 pork chops (roughly 2.5lbs) for 1.82. That works out to about 72 cents a pound. I don’t know how things are where you live, but that is wicked cheap around here.

Total before savings and coupons: 142.76. I paid 69.23. Savings 73.58. Plus I got a $5 off coupon for next week. We had a ton of groceries so the next few weeks should be light. Just meat and veggies unless the sales are good. My pantry was pretty well depleted before this trip. I’m still low on a few things so hopefully the sales and coupons will be good for the next few weeks.

This week’s meal plan:

Monday – Spaghetti and Meat Sauce You should really try this one. It’s so easy and so good.

Tuesday – We are going out with a friend tonight. Last minute plans so things are getting moved around a bit. We were supposed to have sweet and sour chicken. I guess we’ll make that next week, which is a good thing since I used the onion and pepper I bought to make the sauce last night. Oops.

Wednesday – Pork chops, rice-a-roni and salad. I’ll probably just marinate the pork chops in BBQ sauce or sprinkle them with grill seasoning.

Thursday – Beef stroganoff, made with leftover london broil from Sunday, egg noodles and salad.

Friday – Pizza with salad (gotta get rid of all that bagged salad!)

Saturday – Cornish Game Hens, stuffing and, you guessed it, more salad!

Sunday – Chicken Tetrazzini and if we have anymore left, how about another salad? I love this chicken recipe since it’s really easy to make. I don’t use as much chicken as Susanne uses to help keep the cost down. I generally make this when I have a small chicken breast or two and cut the chicken up really small. There are a ton of creamed chicken variations on this page so check it out.

If you don’t feel like cooking restaurant.com is offering another great deal. This time, 80% off the certificates. It’s pretty early in the month so the selection is still really good. Just in time for father’s day!

80% off of $25 Gift Certificates when you use code PRESENT.Pay $2 thru 6/15/09 only at Restaurant.com.

Don’t forget to check out all the new coupons at coupons.com. I’ve gotten some great ones this month.

Menu planning, grocery shopping and a dead battery

I was giving a final exam yesterday, so I decided to bring the Sunday coupons for clipping and do my meal plan. I’m pretty sure my students thought I was crazy, clipping all these coupons, flipping multiple times through the Price Chopper flier and every so often beaming when I realize what I great deal something will be.

I made the menu plan for the week:

Tuesday: Chicken fajitas

Wednesday: Jeff’s on his own. I’ve got a business women’s networking meeting.

Thursday: Pizza

Friday: Chicken and mushroom alfredo, salad

Saturday: Hamburgers

Sunday: Steak, potatoes and corn

I made a huge list of all the awesome deals at Price Chopper this week (Thanks to Wicked Cool Deals for an awesome list of sale items and coupons!) That reminds me! If you can’t find your grocery store on one of the big grocery store watching websites, look for a smaller site. Wicked Cool Deals is an awesome site with great deals. I don’t know how she does it, but it’s a great site.

So I’ve got my list and I purchase all my stuff. I’ve got Suave deodorant, 2 of them for 38 cents each. I got the Suave shampoo, 6 of them for 30 cents each. I got the Knorr pasta side dishes for 60 cents each (I like those for lunch). I got the Wheat Thins for 50 cents a box. I got the Friendly’s ice cream for 99 cents. I also got two bottles of Wisk detergent for 4.68. I got five 12-packs of coke for $11.  I even got two boxes of Superpretzels for free.  The Superpretzels were B1G1 then I had two coupons for 75 cents off one box and Price Chopper doubled them. I got $146 worth of groceries for $72 and I got a coupon for $7 off my next trip because I spent $20 on Unilever products. I spent more than I normally do but I got to stock up on some things I needed. Next week, I’ll use my $7 to get some meat for the freezer. Free meat is always a good thing. I take my very full cart of groceries to the car and lug it all into the house.

I get everything home and “stage” my groceries on the kitchen table. I barely get everything to fit. I’ve got cases of coke stacked up with shampoo and conditioner bottles on top of that, boxes and bags of things all neatly displayed. I run upstairs to grab the camera and I realized that after spending all that time… the battery is dead. Sigh. So no picture of all my awesome grocery deals. Technology defeated me yesterday. Note to self: always put the battery back in the charger when done using the camera.

So my question today: have you found any awesome blogs to help you with your grocery deals or good coupon summary sites? I had a lot of coupons printed off the internet this trip which saved me a ton. I had $31 worth of coupons this week, which is a lot for me. Internet coupons rock!

Meal plan and groceries: Great week at the store

thor-groceries

Thor is inspecting the groceries to make sure everything is safe for human consumption. Good kitty!

I got caught up on some things over the weekend but didn’t have time for grocery shopping. Finally got that done today. I did really well at the store today. Some of my best deals:

  • Split chicken breast, regularly 2.99/lb was .99/lb. Savings:  $7.08
  • Eggs were only .99/dozen
  • 2 boxes of frozen pierogis, regularly 3.19 a box, with sale and coupons I paid $1 per box.
  • 4 boxes of coffee filters, regularly 2.29/box, with sale and coupons I paid .65/box.
  • BBQ sauce was only .49 a bottle after sales and coupons.
  • Chicken grill seasoning was 2.29 per bottle. It was B1G1, plus I had a 1.00 coupon and a .75 coupon. They tripled the .75 coupon, so I got 3.25 off which means they paid me .96 to take it home for them.
  • Carolina rice was 1.oo per bag. I bought four bags. I had two .75 coupons which they tripled. They paid me to take that home, too. I made .50 on that deal.

I love when the store pays me to take things off their hands. There were only two things I bought this week that weren’t on sale, the mushrooms and the peppers. Those are for salads and pizza. Everything else was on sale or I had a coupon, even the store brand stuff which worked out well since I had no idea the lasagna noodles and the stuff I needed for enchiladas would be on sale. Total before coupons and sales: 96.49. Cash paid: 45.43. Total saved: 51.06 or 53%. My coupons savings alone were $15.50 which is a good week for me.

This week’s menu:

Monday: Chicken enchiladas, yellow rice and corn

Tuesday: Crockpot swedish meatballs

Wednesday: Lasagna and salad

Thursday: BBQ chicken and stuffing

Friday: Deep dish pizza

Saturday: Hamburgers

Sunday: Pancakes and sausage