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a challenge for me: 16-day menu

August 16, 2010

I’m (almost) always up for challenges, whether it’s trying to run faster or managing my time/schedule better. The challenge up ahead? A 16-day menu.

This is a challenge for me because of two reasons: 1) I usually only plan a week’s worth of lunch/dinner meals at a time and 2) we’re tightening our budget/spending even more. I’ve tried meal-planning for a month but it’s never been executed successfully. Plus, a lot of the food we like to eat are fresh items, and you just can’t buy a month’s worth of fruits and vegetables without it going to waste (at least, I haven’t found the secret to this!). Buying groceries once a month would be a dream, but we also don’t have the storage at our little apartment and a lot of the things that would last a month are more of the processed items, which we try to avoid. Anyways, though I end up making several more trips to the grocery store each month, it seems that weekly meal-planning has worked well for me. But, because I want to be (and need to be) a good steward of our money, I decided to give myself the challenge of planning two weeks’ worth of meals. Specifically, sixteen days/nights. You see, I work well with plans and parameters. I’m not so rigid that I can’t be flexible with changes, but I’m able to “run” well with structure. So, armed with some recipe cards, the spreadsheet program on my netbook and the Internet, I made two lists – a grocery list and a meal list. This may work fantastically well or it may blow up in my face. I’m hoping for the former, since this will help save our household a good deal of money. We may have to say “no” to going out to restaurants with friends, but we can opt for something cheaper, like hanging out at a coffee shop.

*Since my husband and I both work at the local university, we save money during the school year by eating at the cafeterias, only paying $3.50 each per meal. The cafeterias won’t be open until Aug. 26, so I’m having to make do with lunch alternatives (instead of just eating fast-food). Thankfully we live close enough to work that we can just drive home for lunch easily!

Menu (August 16-31)

8/16/10 (Monday)

  • Lunch: fried rice & vegetable spring rolls (already made the fried rice with veggies tonight, so I just have to cook the spring rolls in the oven really quick during lunch time)
  • Dinner: pan-fried chicken & tomato sautee with orzo & zucchini (special dessert: broiled peaches with goat cheese, honey & almonds)

8/17/10, Tuesday

  • Lunch: turkey sandwiches
  • Dinner: chickpea curry & brown rice (make enough for frozen lunch leftovers)

8/18/10, Wednesday

  • Lunch: turkey sandwiches
  • Dinner: beef, spinach & salsa burritos (make enough for frozen lunch leftovers)

8/19/10, Thursday

  • Lunch: chickpea curry leftovers
  • Dinner: harissa chicken with tabbouleh

8/20/10, Friday

  • Lunch: beef, spinach & salsa leftovers
  • Dinner: chicken with garlic pasta

8/21/10, Saturday

  • Lunch: mid-east tomato pasta with grilled chicken
  • Dinner: leftovers

8/22/10, Sunday

  • Lunch/Dinner: bistek with broccoli & brown rice

8/23/10, Monday

  • Lunch: bistek leftovers or sandwiches
  • Dinner: balsamic chicken & green bean almondine

8/24/10, Tuesday

  • Lunch: sandwiches
  • Dinner: black beans & rice

8/25/10, Wednesday

  • Lunch: sandwiches or leftovers
  • Dinner: grilled pork chops & new potatoes

8/26/10, Thursday

  • Lunch: eat at the cafeterias
  • Dinner: roasted chicken leg quarters with new potatoes & turnip greens

8/27/10, Friday

  • Lunch: chicken leftovers
  • Dinner: TREAT! go out to eat (like, Chipotle or Pei Wei – no tip required!)

8/28/10, Saturday

  • Lunch: whole wheat penne with Newman’s Own “Sockarooni” sauce (we love this stuff!) & garlic bread
  • Dinner: leftovers

8/29/10, Sunday

  • Lunch/Dinner: black beans & rice with lime chicken

8/30/10, Monday

  • Lunch: eat at the cafeterias
  • Dinner: TREAT! eat at Panera Bread (no tip required!)

8/31/10, Tuesday

  • Lunch: sandwiches
  • Dinner: fried chickpeas with turkey meatballs & kale

Grocery List for staples (and some fresh stuff for the next few days)

1. one pack of turkey lunchmeat
2. one bag of salad greens (for extra dinner side & for sandwiches)
3. one yellow onion
4. one zucchini
5. three peaches
6. one bunch bananas
7. one lb lean ground beef
8. one lb tenderized, cubed steak
9. six small, boneless pork chops
10. six chicken leg quarters (at $0.45 a pound, a total of 5 lbs at $2.25!)
11. one pack of turkey meatballs
12. one small bag of garlic bread (six slices)
13. one 16 oz bag of frozen spinach
14. one box of vegetable spring rolls (five rolls)
15. one 10 oz bag of mixed veggies
16. one jar of picante sauce
17. one can of turnip greens
18. one jar of spaghetti sauce
19. one can of black beans
20. one can of chickpeas
21. one pint of homemade vanilla ice cream
22. one jar of less sodium soy sauce

Grand total? $48.10 (and by using my local grocery store’s savings card, I saved $5.80 and also got $0.20 off my bill because I brought in my reusable bags – it’s not much, but every dollar counts!)

I’ll have to make a few more trips to the store to pick up some vegetables to accompany some of my recipes, like tomatoes, parsley, broccoli, etc, and milk, bread, eggs & more fruit in about a week, but that should be it.

I really, really want to stick to this meal-plan so I will be updating this blog often to let you know how well (or how poorly) I am following the menu items.

Wish me luck! (And tell me, how do YOU meal plan?)

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Stephanie permalink
    August 20, 2010 1:47 pm

    wow!!! all that sounds great and for $50! nice job girl!!! 🙂

  2. August 20, 2010 4:59 pm

    Thanks, Steph! So far, we’re only a meal off because had lots of leftovers for dinner. And, we treated ourselves to some frozen yogurt last night – for two people, it cost us $6.42. Not bad!

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