Meal Planning Thoughts

Happy Monday! I hope you all enjoyed your weekend. It was one of our nephews birthdays, so we celebrated on Sunday and I found him the cutest dinosaur lego set and paper mache dino he can color and paint to display in his room. The gift bag also had animals on it, so I was feelin' pretty good about the coordination going on ;)
Over the last couple of months, I've really focused on meal planning for us. This was a very different approach for me, since I was used to going to the store a couple times a week! When I first moved here and didn't have a ton of work, I was pretty bored (just being honest!) so I actually liked going to the grocery a couple times a week for an outing. Well, that habit stuck, even when I became much busier, which wasn't working out! The time + the fact that I knew I could save so much more money if I shopped once a week is what made me change up my game plan. 
For us, we try to stay at about $100-$120 / week on groceries. This includes all breakfasts, lunches for both of us (my husband brings his lunch to work 4/5 days), snacks and dinners. I'm really not sure if this is a lot or not for 2 people, but it works for us. Some weeks I spend a lot less, too, which I always feel great about ;)
A few things I keep in mind:
- I find Trader Joe's way cheaper than other grocery stores! There are a few things that aren't cheaper, but for the most part this holds true.
- Varying the meats/main courses, except I also have to factor in that sometimes red meats make my husband react poorly, so I try to limit that.
- Lots of veggies
- 1 or 2 lunch snacks
- 1 dessert for the week
- If a meal on the list calls for an herb that comes in bulk, I try to make two dishes with that herb so I'm not throwing away a pound of basil or rosemary! 
- I try to do one or two very quick meals / cheap yet semi-healthy from Trader Joes or do Breakfast for Dinner one night to save on cost! These might include grilled cheese and soup, frozen orange chicken and rice, bbq chicken and rice, frozen fried rice, 
I thought I'd share a few of my favorite recipes with you that I've been rotating so you can try them for yourself!
Monday: Crockpot Chicken Gnocchi Soup -- serve with french baguette and salad
Tuesday: Cheesy Tex Mex w/ Cauliflower Rice Skillet -- SUCH a hit!! We fill tacos with the skillet concoction. 
Wednesday: Grilled Cheese & Tomato Soup (No recipe for this one! I'll just get some yummy cheeses and if we're feeling fancy, add bacon, chicken or ham. I get the Roasted Red Pepper Tomato Soup at Trader Joes)
Thursday: Greek Stuffed Chicken -- serve with roasted veggies and quinoa
Friday: Make Your Own Pizzas on Naan Bread-- Get all ingredients at Trader Joes as well! Husband does pepperoni, cheese and green pepper and I do margarita style. I'll do this with a salad. I'm LOVING the kale and shredded broccoli salad at TJ's.
Ladies, I also need your help! Who has an instant pot? What are your thoughts on it if you already have a crockpot? Worth it? I like the idea of things being cooked quickly and we have a gift card to Bed Bath & Beyond ;) HELP!
Let's do a recipe swap and share recipes in the comments! Link to any good ones you love :) 
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  1. That chicken gnocchi soup looks SO good! Crockpot soups are one of my favorite things to make because they're so easy, satisfying, and there are lots of leftovers. Plus great excuse for a crusty loaf of bread. ;) Here are two we have on repeat that couldn't be easier: and

    As for the instant pot, YES! I still love my crockpot because I love to set it and forget it, but we got an instant pot for Christmas and it's been a great addition. We've made a bunch of dishes in there, too, if you need any suggestions. I just started posting my weekly menu every Monday (beginning yesterday!) -- nothing fancy, but I like to try at least one new recipe a week:

  2. Trying that chicken gnocchi soup very soon- it looks delicious! I just went to Trader Joe's for the first time ever a couple of weeks ago and I love it!! So many great things there and for great prices!

  3. We loooove Trader Joe's! I think I suggested the Sally's Baking Addiction Slow Cooker Chicken Chili before on here (so simple and delicious! And the leftovers freeze beautifully).

    Quesadillas are a staple in our house, just because they are so quick and easy. We end up with breakfast for dinner on the regular, too.

    Pasta dishes are always a favorite of mine, and we really like the Our Best Bites Tortellini Spinach Bake in lemon sauce.

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  4. Oh, and not sure if you like salmon or not, but we love the Taste of Home Mediterranean Roasted Salmon served with their Lemon Feta Angel Hair Pasta. and

    If you make the salmon, I suggest tenting it with foil since it makes a mess of the oven or grill.
    Hoping to get some more ideas from the comments, too!

  5. This is probably mine and my husbands favorite meal. We serve it over angel hair noodles and steamed broccoli.

  6. Also, these are another favorite. (Kids opinions don’t count.)

    1. Oh man!! I so wish I ate fish, but sadly I don't like anything from the sea :( I bet a lot of other people will love these recipes, though! Thanks for sharing!

  7. I have used the topping on the Roasted Mediterranean Salmon to put over chicken and it's just as delicious!

  8. I love chicken and gnocchi soup! Meal planning definitely cuts down on cost! Keep sharing recipe ideas! I love knowing what others are making because it gives me new ideas! :)


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