Planning the Menu According to What’s in My Freezer

Menu Planning with What's in the Freezer at

We have about a week and a half before payday, and the grocery budget is almost gone. There’s enough for fresh veggies and milk and lunch stuff, but it’s time to get careful.

And creative.

(Three family birthdays and a mother-in-law in ICU 45 minutes away kind of does that to a budget.)

Anyway, there’s no reason to worry. Thankfully, I’m a frugal shopper even when things are hunky-dory, so the freezer has plenty of food in it. These times actually help me be purposeful about using up my random finds.

My Menu Plan:

Monday – Chicken and Black Bean Burritos (This is picnic food to eat at my 7th grader’s football game.) I’ll use frozen, pre-cooked chicken.

Tuesday – Something in the Crock Pot with stew meat I found on sale a long time ago. Probably something like this.

Wednesday – Skillet Lasagna (Using pre-cooked ground beef.)

Thursday – Tamales with homemade enchilada sauce. (I have some frozen that someone gave us.)

Friday – Out to eat. Something cheap. (Hubby insists we eat out on Friday nights. I don’t argue.)

Saturday – Fish sticks and mac and cheese. Because we have those things.

Sunday – Homemade pizza

Monday – Chicken and Bacon Sub Sandwiches (another football game picnic and again with the pre-cooked chicken)

Tuesday – BBQ Chicken Sandwiches (in the crockpot)

Wednesday – Beef Stroganoff (using frozen, pre-cooked ground beef)


Whew. Now I can hit that Aldi that’s near tonight’s football game and pick up the odds and ends we need to make this happen.

Yes. I still use eMeals, but that doesn’t work when I’m in this crunch.

Oh, and Zaycon is having a chicken event soon which is a good thing since I am almost out! Not sure what Zaycon is? Go here to see how I manage buying 40 lbs of boneless skinless chicken breasts at once. If you already know what it is, go (affiliate link coming up) here to see if there’s an event near you.

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Outsourcing Meal Planning – (eMeals)

My Experience Using and a Giveaway! at

This post contains affiliate links!

Have you noticed I haven’t shared many menu plans lately? (Like, all year.)

It’s not that we haven’t been eating.  It’s also not that I haven’t been following a plan.

Do you remember back in January when I talked about our new teamwork philosophy? (January was last week, right?)

The overall concept was that I need to start being realistic about how I can’t do it all.

I can’t.  So I don’t.

Last fall, as I was settling in to my routine, I realized that I was relying too heavily on our Survival Meals.

I love my pre-cooked meats and other ingredients that allow me to get home-cooked meals on the table in minutes. And we were only ever eating the very easiest of these meals.

Over and over.

Time always felt squeezed, so I was letting meal planning slide. I would run into the store, grab the ingredients I use all the time, and then decide at the last minute which of my easy meals to throw together.

So when eMeals offered to give me a year’s subscription, I decided that was a good idea.  Partly because it meant I could share my experiences with you, but mostly because I was desperate.

I had heard about eMeals for years, both on commercials during the Dave Ramsey show, and from a friend who used the service. The friend was a huge fan, and said it saved her tons of money and helped her family eat more healthy because she was cooking at home.

Here are the reasons I never thought I needed it:

  • I . . . cook. (Read that with a condescending tone.)
  • I know how to meal plan.
  • I know how to bargain shop.


  • I was cooking, but I wasn’t enjoying it. My family was getting rather bored as well. Every meal was thrown together, and if we ever wanted something different we didn’t have what was needed to make it.
  • I wasn’t meal planning. I know how, and have rocked it at certain times in my life, but I just wasn’t. It kept moving to the end of my list. And then never getting done.
  • I wasn’t bargain shopping. I gave up coupons a while back. I wasn’t even shopping with a list.It’s a documented (by somebody somewhere, I’m sure) fact that shopping with a list saves money. Shopping without one meant I was wasting money AND not having any variety in our meals.

I’ll admit that it took me a little time to warm up to the idea of someone else planning our meals.

eMeals has a BIG variety of meal plans. Some are for specific stores, some can be used at any store, and they have vegetarian plans, gluten-free plans, clean eating plans, classic family plans, etc.

I started out signing up for the clean eating plan. BIG mistake. I might think that sounds noble, but one look told me my family I wouldn’t eat anything on it. I switched to the Aldi Classic Family Plan.

(Be sure to check out sample menus for plans you’re considering, because you can only switch plans once per month!)

In my experience, the plans  are pretty realistic. There is a variety of difficulty each week, though none of the meals on my plan require amazing cooking skills or lots of time. Each week generally includes at least two VERY easy meals like sandwiches or breakfast-for-dinner.

At first, this offended me a little.

I felt I didn’t need someone to tell me what to buy to make sandwiches for a quick supper.

I know. I have issues.

But then I figured out how to use the plan for our family, and I got over it.

Basically (as really picky eaters), I choose 3-5 meals when I get my meal plan. Then we eat our family faves on the other nights.

Having those 3-5 meals planned for me means that I’ve tried new recipes. I love this and my family loves this. We’ve found some new favorites.

Here’s where I should explain the picture at the top of the post. That’s a marinade for chicken. I made chicken before I started using eMeals, but only ever sprinkled it with some seasoning. My meal plan helped me break out of that rut and try something more involved (though still easy). My family raved about that chicken.

Sure, I could search the internet for new recipes, but I don’t.

Every Wednesday morning (which just happens to be my errand day anyway), I get an email with my week’s meal plan. Each meal has a number. I choose the meals that sound good, and then look on the shopping list for those numbers. The email attachment is a PDF that opens in my Kindle App on my phone, and I don’t even have to remember to print anything out.

Sometimes I don’t even open the email until after I walk into the store.  

Another thought: Soon after I started using eMeals, I heard someone saying they were trying to start cooking at home. Like, they never cooked, and were starting from nothing. I think emeals would be PERFECT for someone in this situation especially. You could truly go from never cooking to eating at home 7 nights a week fairly painlessly.

The giveaway’s been over for a long time, but eMeals is running a great discount code through Dec 8!

Save 30% with code Cyber

I’m so excited that eMeals has offered to give one of you a free 3 month dinner subscription! 

All you have to do to enter is leave a comment!

You can get bonus entries by:

Liking emeals on Facebook

Following emeals on Pinterest

For each bonus entry, just leave an additional comment. Comments must be on this post on the blog.

This giveaway will end on Monday, Sept. 16, 2013 at 9 p.m. Central time. The winner will have 48 hours to reply to my email or I will choose a different winner.  Winners will be randomly selected using the And the Winner Is WordPress plugin.

See my giveaway policies here.

They’re also giving away a Yeti Cooler on the eMeals blog!

eMeals gave me a year’s subscription to their service and I earn a small affiliate commission when you purchase a plan after using my link (though the price is the same for you), but all opinions and experiences are my own.


Ugh. Time to Cook Again.

We’ve been well/over fed for the past week on our cruise, but it’s time to get back to real life.

Sort of.

On Tuesday, I’m heading up north for a few days with Maytag, so this menu plan is mostly to keep my family alive while I’m gone and to ensure there are at least the ingredients for my mom to make a few meals while she’s here helping out.

If she wants to.

And I definitely don’t expect her to make exactly what’s on the plan.

I inherited my recipe-who-actually-uses-recipes? issues directly from her.

Monday – Chicken Chunks and veggies

Tuesday – Frozen leftover jambalaya

Wednesday – Crockpot BBQ chicken sandwiches.

Thursday – Chicken Soup. (It’s just a suggestion, Mom . . . but you do make great chicken soup . . . )

Friday – Out to eat.

Saturday – Not sure yet, but it will involve egg nog since we’ll be decorating the tree!

What’s on your menu plan this week?

I’ll be linking this up to Menu Plan Monday.

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