A few weeks ago, I shared my new technique for meal planning with you. I don’t use this technique every week, because sometimes spontaneity in cooking is the way I relax. However, during weeks that I realize that I have a lot of leftovers and/or perishable ingredients, planning ahead can save me a lot of time and money. This particular week, I spent less than $20 on groceries for all meals (and feeding 2 people for dinner most nights)… and it was mostly on cheese for various meals. Oops. By planning ahead, I also made sure that I had enough leftovers for lunches and I could prep things in bulk, like chicken, to use in meals the rest of the week.
- On Monday, for lunch I had Pho leftovers from over the weekend. That night, I cooked 6 chicken breasts- one I seared, butterflied, to eat right away; the other 5 I baked (straight from frozen) to almost-done to be used in meals the rest of the week. I only almost-cooked them so they wouldn’t overcook when reheated later in the week (if using chicken in cold dishes, please cook to doneness!) I also made Spinach and Artichoke Dip (I had all the ingredients except the ricotta and cream cheese) with tortilla chips that I made from left over tortillas. This provided me with a nice side for dinner as well as snacks and lunches throughout the rest of the week.
- Tuesday, I used a bit of that leftover cream cheese on a pumpkin bagel (that I impulse-bought at Trader Joe’s) for lunch. For dinner, I made skillet pizzas, using the chicken I had cooked the night before, some mozzarella and ricotta left over from the spinach dip, and some other toppings I had lying around the kitchen. Actually, the pizza dough was some I had frozen months earlier as well! Pizza is a great way to use up random veggies that don’t have a place anywhere else. Also, the dough was enough for 3 personal pizzas, so I had enough for 2 lunches later that week left over.
- That night, I also made a lot of extra olive oil/garlic sauce and saved it for dinner the next night!
- On Wednesday, leftover pizza was lunch. For dinner, I made a dish with the leftover chicken, some broccoli I already had, and some premade fresh ravioli that I got with a coupon at Wegmans. I tossed in the olive oil/garlic sauce to pull the meal together, and it was surprisingly delicious!
- Thursday, I ate leftover spinach dip for lunch. That night, I had an online exam (it was a weird experience), so my boyfriend ordered take-out for me. It was very sweet! (There were also leftovers from that that we ate for lunch over the weekend.)
- Friday, I had leftover pizza again. Dinner was on my own, so I used up some more frozen spinach, the rest of the ricotta and mozzarella, and some not-so-great marinara for stuffed shells, which were delicious and made enough to freeze and use for dinner on Sunday and lunches the whole next week!
- Saturday was a fun day in Princeton, topped off by grocery shopping for the following week (which, I’ll admit, was more than $20) and homemade margaritas!
- Sunday was a very busy day fueled completely by leftovers. I had to work, go to Mass, write a bunch of blog posts (you’re welcome), and go to a Riveters game, so I’m glad I had some healthy options to rely on!