Exciting Change (yes, already)

I work just a few miles from two different Aldi’s stores. So why haven’t I been shopping there? Because I always shop on Saturday, and I’m not at work on Saturday, and I don’t feel like going to the Big City to shop. I like going to the Big Town, because our bank is there (it’s one of those one-branch, one-location, one-size-(doesn’t always)-fits all bank…) and I have to deposit my check every week. (On a different note, I’m thinking about switching to one of the national chain banks that are all over in the Big City… we’ll see. Must ask B.)

Our shopping bill for me, B, and almost-two-year-old G /tears up a bit/ is usually close to $100 a week. That. Is. Ridiculous. (This is groceries, as well as household essentials, dog food, cat food, cat litter, etc., plus everything we need for all the other parts of  our lives.) I’ve read several articles about “How to Reduce Your Grocery Budget in 10 Easy Steps.” But you know what!? I’m already doing those things! So something’s gotta give. My family has shopped at Aldi’s for years. So I’m going to give it a try for a few months.

I stumbled upon a couple of different reasons why I am going to give Aldi’s a shot. First, I was listening to the Dave Ramsey show yesterday afternoon and I kept hearing these ads for “E-Mealz“. Pay $5 a month and they provide you with 5-7 (depends on the plan you pick) dinner meals, complete with shopping list, to a store of your choice (THEY MATCH THE SALES UP WITH THEIR MENU!). Plus, they claim that they very rarely repeat menus, though they will go back to certain extras. I’m HIGHLY considering signing up for the 5-meal plan for a family of two (it says it can feed 2-3 people) to Aldi’s. You pay for three months at a time, so I could try it out for three months and go back to what I’m doing if I don’t like it. The 5 meals means that I can still add in some of our favorites, plus I’m still in charge of lunches and such. It’s definitely worth checking out if you are even slightly interested.

Also, while I was trying to decide if I wanted to go the E-Mealz route, I went snooping around on Aldi’s website. Wowzor. I’m in love. You wanna know what I found?! AN ALDI MEAL PLANNER!!! Sorry for the bold and caps, but I’m psyched about this. I haven’t checked it out in detail yet (just signed up and haven’t received the confirmation email), but I can tell you if the store has meals based on its own products, that’s super awesome! That COULD help with the extra couple days of planning I would need to do with E-Mealz, or it could be so easy that I wouldn’t even need E-Mealz. We’ll see.

Anyway, just wanted to let you know that I think a drastic change is coming to our menu!

Stir Fry Recipe

So this is my basic recipe for Stir Fry. Remember, I’m all about the easy!

Stir Fry
serves 4-6 (we always have leftovers for B to munch on)

1 lb steak, cubed, or stew meat (when I buy this from the store, I go over to the Manager’s Special section and buy the cheapest meat they have.)
1/2 bag Birds Eye Oriental Stir Fry Veggies (in the frozen veggie section)
sauces to accompany (we have a bottle of stir fry sauce, sweet & sour sauce, teriyaki sauce, soy sauce and some really hot stuff. All purchased at Walmart, in the oriental section)
2-3 cups dry rice (depends on how much rice you want to eat)

1. Start rice, according to directions on bag (different rices have different water:rice ratios).
2. Brown steak in wok. (You can also use a large skillet.)
3. Add frozen veggies and one packet of sauce from veggie bag. Stir often to distribute sauce and heat up veggies. Cover with lid while not stirring.
4. Cook rice until all water is gone (directions on bag give you a rough estimate).
5. Serve stir fry over rice. Add sauces to taste.

Steak

So in true form, I’ve already had to deviate from my meal plan. Luckily, I had deviated from it this weekend, so I had something to make!

My husband is a carnivore. He loves meat. Plain and simple. The best way for me to satisfy that urge for him is to have steaks. But pulling out the grill for two measly steaks is just such a waste. Which is why I love my George Foreman countertop grill! In about 10 minutes, we can have a steak cooked the way we want sitting on our table.

I have several different dry rubs sitting in my pantry. I simply throw the frozen steaks into the fridge in the morning before I head to work, then pull them out and put a little dry rub on them and cook them on George.

Along with the steaks, I had corn and a baked potato. I know, I know. Two starches. Bad me! But it’s what happened last night. So here’s what I needed:

2 T-bone steaks, thawed if frozen
1 Russet potato (B did not want one, and I shared mine with G)
1 pre-cooked chicken tenderloin, thawed & reheated (for G, who can’t quite do steak yet)
1 bag frozen corn

1. Preheat George. Rub steaks with dry rub.
2. Throw a washed, poked potato into the microwave and cook. My microwave has a button for baked potatoes. I just hit it. I think it’s for 6 or 7 minutes.
3. Throw steaks onto George when it beeps. Close lid and cook for 5 minutes. Check steak done-ness and continue cooking if you want yours more cooked. (I do… I like my steak well done.)
4.  Put corn in microwave-safe dish with lid. Add a couple tablespoons of water and a dollop of butter. Microwave for about 2 minutes. Shake/stir and repeat if corn is still cold.
5. Serve steaks with corn and baked potato.

Basic Taco Recipe

There is NOTHING complicated about this recipe. It’s easy to make on a busy night or do a couple batches at once and freeze for later. Then you can have dinner on the table in LITERALLY five minutes.

1 lb hamburger
1 packet taco seasoning (I use Great Value or Kroger)
amount of water called for on packet
tortillas or hard taco shells
shredded cheese, sour cream, refried beans, guacamole, salsa (or whatever you want on YOUR taco!)

1. Brown hamburger.

2. Add taco seasoning and water as per directions on packet and simmer until water is all gone.

3. Serve on taco shell or tortilla with your choice of toppings.

We always do a “taco bar” kind of thing, where we each make our own plate. G gets a bowl or plate with a scoop of meat, a scoop of each of the toppings I feel like giving her, and a handful of tortilla chips or a small tortilla. B is happy eating one or two burrito-sized tortillas every time we eat this. I mix it up by having small flour tortillas, hard taco shells, and sometimes even corn tortillas or tostada shells.

For batch cooking: 1. Brown two or three pounds of hamburger in the same (big) skillet.

2. Add the corresponding number of packets of seasoning and water (I usually use slightly less water than instructed so I don’t have to wait as long).

3. Let the water simmer away.

4. Allow the meat to cool, then divide it into 2 or 3 freezer bags, labelled with the name of the recipe (Taco Meat) and the date you made it.

5. When you’re ready to eat it, pull it out of the freezer, crack open one corner of the bag, and throw it in the microwave for 2 minutes. Check to see if it’s heated through, and reheat if necessary. Pull out the tortillas/shells and toppings while the meat is nuking. You will seriously have dinner on the table in 5 minutes if you do that.

November Meal Plan

The weather is finally starting to act like fall! Which means I can pull out more stews, soups, casseroles, and things that make my heart (and belly!) warm. As always, this is Saturday-Friday dinners. Lunches and breakfasts are added on the weekly plan.

Oct 30 – Meatloaf
Oct 31 – Steaks
Nov 1 – Tacos
2 – Stir Fry
3 – B out of town
4 – Chili (in the slow cooker)
5 – Hamburger Helper

6 – Breakfast for dinner (Quiche or French Toast?)
7 – Steaks
8 – Spaghetti
9 – Chicken, Rice & Broccoli Casserole
10 – Curry
11 – Roast
12 – Hamburger Helper

13 – G’s 2nd Bday Party today. Lunch party, dinner with in-laws (most likely).
14 – Steaks
15 – Tacos
16 – Sloppy Joes
17 – B out of town
18 – Stir Fry
19 – Hamburger Helper

20 – Steaks
21 – Pantry challenge
22 – Spaghetti
23 – Breakfast (no leftovers that way)
24 – Most likely out-of-town
25 – Thanksgiving
26 – With in-laws

27 – With in-laws
28 – Something simple
29 – Tacos
30 – Chili
Dec 1 – B out of town
Dec 2 – Steaks
Dec 3 – Hamburger Helper

My method

I’m in a rut! But sometimes, ruts are a good thing! We have a fairly regular schedule for our meal plan.

Saturday and Sunday are when I try new things, or when I make things that are either too busy for a weeknight or cook in the slow cooker for a short time (less than 8 hours is short to me!).

Monday we have either Tacos or Spaghetti.
Tuesday we have something in the crock pot.
Wednesdays we have a chicken dish.
Thursdays we have either Curry or Stir Fry.
Fridays we have Hamburger Helper or Leftovers.

No, it’s not very exciting. And maybe at some point it changes. But what we have works for now. When B and I were in college, as newlyweds, we had an even more simple plan. It was the same. Every week. We always had Spaghetti, Frozen Pizzas,  Hamburger Helper, etc. It made shopping super easy. But it was BORING!

Now that I try new things on the weekend, I can add them to the rotation if we like them. And every now and then we get tired of having something. Like Thursdays – stir fry and curry are very similar. Some weeks I just don’t feel like making it. So I’ll throw in a monkey wrench and do something totally different.

Which is why it’s so nice to have a monthly plan, but then a weekly plan, too. I might think I can make it all month having stir fry/curry. But then, by week 3, I’m beat and decide I want, oh, beef pot pies instead…

So when I’m making my weekly meal plan, I’ll deviate from the monthly plan. This is also a great way to do mini-pantry challenges. If I notice I’ve had a box of potatoes in my pantry for a few weeks, I can think of a meal to incorporate them in to. My meal plan isn’t set in stone, it’s just a structured guide that can be twisted, manipulated, and bent to my will. But it prevents me from having to panic when I get home from work to try to figure out what to make.

And so it begins

Welcome to my blog! I started this blog because I have had a hard time finding blogs by working moms that focuses on how they get everything done at home, too. So that is my mission.

My “About A Full Serving” page give you a little information about me and what I plan to do here.

I leave my house every morning at 7 am and return home just before 6 pm every Monday through Friday. I am responsible for all the housework and most all the meal preparation at my house. B is in charge of getting himself and G breakfast and lunch during the week. I never very rarely eat out for lunch.

I shop at Dillon’s (a Kroger company) and Walmart. I do not shop at Sam’s Club or any discount stores (I know there is a discount bakery near my mom’s and . I don’t actively coupon. However, if I see something on one of the coupon database websites that I will use, I’ll print it off and use it. The Dillon’s weekly ad comes out on Wednesdays, and I have it delivered to my inbox. I make my grocery list on my lunch breaks on Wednesday and Thursday, and finalize it on Friday. I will buy more than I need when a good sale comes along (peanut butter 10/$10, for instance). I haven’t got it all figured out, though. I don’t know the sale pattern. I know several other bloggers who have, and eventually I will too.

I get paid every Friday, so either Friday evening after G goes to bed or Saturday morning I go grocery shopping and deposit my check in the bank. My meal plan week is Saturday to Friday. So I will post my weekly meal plan on Fridays. I will add recipes after I make the meal, so I can provide feedback if it was a new recipe. At the end of the month, I will post the next month’s meal plan. Once I figure out the cycles of sales at Dillon’s, I know that the monthly plan will help me make the most of those sales.