Jul 1, 2012

What's For Dinner?

Corey and I have been doing the once a month cooking thing since February and we love it.  He is off work almost two hours before I am he just picks a zip lock bag and throws it in the crock pot or on the grill and dinner is ready before I get home.  We used to eat out a lot because we were too tired to cook a real meal after a long day at work.  

When I posted this picture on Facebook, people had a lot of questions so I figured I would walk you through how my mega cooking day works.  Corey and I make a list of what we want to do for dinner and fill in the empty spots with meals with similar ingredients.  We usually hit Aldi, the Meat & More Outlet, and Harp's to get all of our ingredients and I pick a day to cook.  It is a completely ridiculous undertaking the first time you do it but don't get discouraged.  It gets easier once you figure it out for your family.  

Our food budget is $200 a month and we haven't hit it since we started budgeting in March.  We barely have any food waste anymore either.  The picture above was $142.00.  We'll really only have to go back out for milk and bread.

I don't have a picture of every meal but I'll give you the recipes.  Some of the recipes are pretty self explanatory.  I'm sure you can figure out some sides to serve on your own.  We love homemade fries and serve them with a big chunk of our meals.

Our July meals:
Pizza Bagels - 2 meals
Baked Ziti - 2 meals
Salmon Patties & Mac & Cheese - 2 meals
Meatloaf - 3 meals + leftovers
Hot Dogs - 3 meals
BBQ Chicken - 2 meals
Hamburgers - 2 meals
BLT's - 2 meals
Buffalo Chicken - 2 meals
Spaghetti Chicken - 2 meals
Chicken Alfredo - 2 meals
Popcorn Chicken - 2 meals
Chicken Sandwiches - 2 meals
We eat plan to eat out 3 times this month.

I put an entire bag of chicken breasts in the crock pot on high, throw a load of laundry in and take a shower. By the time my hair is dry and I'm ready to go, they're on their way to being thawed.  This next step is the most important part.  

Crank up the music and pour yourself a glass of wine.  You're going to earn it.  We're taking it easy on our air conditioning so the ice cubes were a must this time.


Pizza Bagels:
Pepperoni (or whatever topping you'd like
Mozzarella cheese
Pizza sauce - I used spoonfuls of the sauce from the next recipe in the list before the meat was added.

Cut your bagels in half, add sauce, toppings, and cheese in that order.  I added the toppings last on the first batch and they didn't hold on as well.

Baked Ziti:
1 lb. ground turkey
1 can of pasta sauce

Brown the turkey and stir into sauce.  Let cool for a few minutes and divide into two gallon size zip lock bags.

The day you're having this for dinner: Prepare your noodles and warm up the sauce.  Combine everything together and serve.

Salmon Patties:  Recipe here however, I really need to get the one from my mom.  We grew up on these.
1 can salmon, drained and flaked
2 eggs, beaten
1 T black pepper
3 TBSP vegetable oil.

Mix everything except the oil together and shape into about 7 or 8 patties.  Heat the oil on the stove and cook each side for about 5 minutes.  Let dry on a paper towel.

 Meatloaf:  I modified the recipe from this site.
3 lbs. ground beef
3 lbs. ground turkey
3/4 cup bread crumbs
6 eggs
1 cup BBQ sauce
6 T worcestershire sauce
4 T garlic salt

I find that it's easier to make this amount in two batches.  Let everything thaw completely and mix together in a large bowl.  Separate into two loaf pans.  Bake at 350 for 45 minutes.  Let cool completely and I just cover the pans with foil and find a place for them in the freezer.

The day you're having this for dinner: cover in ketchup and cook for 20-30 more minutes at 350.

BBQ Chicken:
Chicken Breasts
BBQ Sauce.

Put chicken breasts in a gallon zip lock bag.  Pour BBQ sauce over to marinate.

The day you're having this for dinner: Grill or crock pot.  Your choice.

Buffalo Chicken:
Chicken Breasts
Ott's Buffalo sauce

Shred chicken breasts with two forks.  Put into gallon zip lock bag and pour buffalo sauce over.  We've tried other sauces and the Ott's brand is our favorite.  You can find it at Walmart.  It's the only thing we buy there anymore.  This is my husband's favorite meal and it is EASY.  This makes two meals for us.

The day you're having this for dinner:  Stove or crock pot. Your choice.

Spaghetti Chicken:  Found recipe here.
Chicken Breasts
1 package Italian salad dressing mix
4 TBSP. melted butter
1 can cream of chicken soup
8 oz. cream cheese
1/2 cup chicken broth
Penne noodles

Mix everything but the chicken and noodles together.  If you're like me, the mix WILL look funny to you.  It'll look lumpy and you're going to wonder if you really want to eat it.  When it heats up, everything will be fine. :)  Don't prepare your noodles if you're just getting everything ready on your cooking day.  Cut your chicken into bite sized pieces and separate into two gallon zip lock bags.

The day you're having this for dinner: Prepare your noodles and warm up everything on the stove.  Mix noodles, sauce, and chicken together and serve.

Chicken Alfredo:
Chicken Breasts
Jar of alfredo sauce

Cut chicken into bite sized pieces and separate into two gallon zip lock bags.  Pour your sauce into the bags.

The day you're having this for dinner: Prepare your noodles and warm up everything on the stove.  Mix noodles, sauce, and chicken together and serve.

  • Make this as easy for yourself as possible.  
  • Pick your meals before you even go to the store.
  • If you're wondering if you have enough space in your freezer to do this, know that we have the "cute" sized model refrigerator from Lowes.  If we have room, you have room.
  • Change it up.  We never have the same list of dinners two months in a row.
  • Try something new.  I find at least one new recipe every time we do this.
  • I'm still not kidding about that wine.
Let me know if you try this and how it went!  I would love to hear about it!  Send awesome recipes over to me too.  It's not to early to start thinking about August's dinner plans.


  1. I'm still trying to get over your $200 food budget.... I have a lot to learn. Thanks for posting so much info. on monthly cooking- I'm really wanting to try this now.

    1. My mother thinks that we're insane with a $200 food budget too. Haha! Please let me know how it goes if you decide to try it. :)