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The words “healthy” and “budget” usually don’t pair well together in the same sentence, but with some extra planning it can certainly be accomplished. Christmas landed on a weekend this year so we had off on Monday, which certainly makes for an easier week of meal planning. I tend to plan the week from Sunday to Sunday when I go grocery shopping (on Sunday, surprise!, with the rest of the North Jersey population).

First, I go through the fridge and freezer first to see what meals I can make or what leftovers we might enjoy again. Then, I go through the cabinets to see if I need to re-stock on the staples (beans, cereal, pretzels). Next, I pick out a few new meals or a go-to favorite, trying to keep in mind if I have any potential late-nights at work. Last, I assume we’ll go out to eat either Friday or Saturday so I don’t plan a meal for that. Once you do it a few times, meal planning can be fun and easy! This week I had my heart set on significantly slashing the grocery bill due to ample amounts of leftover turkey, ham, Mom’s homemade frozen pizza, and a rather full freezer of leftover chili, stew, lasagna, oh my!

tubs of chili, frozen shrimp, more bread than a bakery

This week I spent a total of $38 on groceries, that is AHHHHmazing for us! However, I did have some major help from the amount of leftovers we currently have jammed stored in that freezer.

Sunday: Christmas dinner –> Leads to leftover turkey and ham which was lunch on salads and sandwiches for the week

Monday: Homemade pizza with red peppers and mushrooms

Tuesday: Escarole & Sausage Stew –> all I needed was escarole!

Wednesday: Easy weeknight salmon and asparagus (recipe below) –> had some frozen salmon fillets, all I needed was asparagus!

Thursday: Mexican at East LA’s in Hoboken, great night with friends!

Friday: Spinach and Tomato Pasta with salad –> had all ingredients!

Spinach Tomato Pasta (adapted from Eating Well)

Ingredients

  • 1 pound whole-wheat pasta
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 14-ounce can diced tomatoes, undrained
  • ½ tsp garlic powder
  • ¼ tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1 block frozen spinach, thawed
  • Salt & freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 1/3 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese

Preparation

Cook pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water until al dente, according to package directions. Meanwhile, heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat and sauté onion. Add tomatoes, spinach, garlic powder, and red pepper; simmer for 10 minutes.

simmer spinach and tomatoes together

Drain the pasta, toss with sauce and season with salt and pepper. Top with cheese, then stir again to melt the cheese.

mix it all together

Notes: 30 minutes from start to finish. Nutrition: 350 calories, 7 g fat, 60 g carb, 17 g protein

I enjoyed with a salad of mesculan greens, banana peppers, cucumbers, snap peas, and croutons with some balsamic vinegar

And a lovely glass of Stew Leonard’s House Jam red wine, it’s a fruity, slightly sweet red wine that tastes very similar to sangria. I usually don’t like sweet wines but this is tasty and you drink it cold. It went better with the Mexican food, but it did the job last night!

best part: only $5.99 a bottle!

Today, we’re going to finish our registry at Macy’s then head over to our friend’s for some New Year’s festivities, followed by more celebration for the lad’s 26th birthday! He’s getting old!

Happy New Year!

Do you meal plan for the week? If so, do you do all 3 meals or just dinner? I just plan dinner and grab things like lettuce, rolls, deli meat, cereal, etc. for the other meals.

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