This week's menu plan is brought to you courtesy of my freezers. Someone I follow on social media is hosting a freezer challenge this month, challenging her followers to use up as much from our freezers as possible in January. This actually made for a very easy menu planning session, too.
Here's what I did. I went through my freezers (the small side-by-side freezer attached to our fridge, and the small "starter" chest freezer), and wrote down everything that I wanted to use up, which included things like random meats that I bought because they were on sale, but I didn't have a specific plan in mind for (I'm lookin' at you, chicken thighs), leftovers, both from Boy Scout camp-outs and us, small quantities of convenience foods that aren't enough to make a meal on their own, and veggies and fruits that I froze because they were about to go bad, among other interesting things. I was a little surprised about the variety of things I found in the upstairs freezer. No wonder it felt so full for the past several weeks!
Once I had my list, I started writing down meals that would use up those ingredients. If I couldn't think of something immediately (hello, 3 pounds of boneless, skinless chicken thighs), I searched the ingredient on Pinterest (hint: on some recipe sites, like allrecipes.com, you can search by ingredient, both ingredients that you want included in the recipe and ingredients that you want excluded).
As I wrote the meal ideas on the menu, I highlighted the ingredients that the meal would use, on my list. That way, I'm not writing down 3 different meals that are going to use the same thing. Because then I'd have to buy more of that thing. The thing I'm trying to get rid of. After the ingredient is actually used, I will cross it off the list. Menu planning this way, I managed to get two weeks of meals planned, and I haven't even gone through the refrigerator or pantry goods yet. Yay!
So, here's what's on the menu this week:
- Turkey dinner leftovers
- Pasties (frozen rutabaga, leftover carrots, and maybe some shredded frozen cabbage) with gravy--this meal will actually add something to the freezer--the leftover pasties--but AKD is home, and assures me that he will eat them before he leaves.
- Beef barbacoa (leftover from a couple of months ago), guacamole (from the freezer), tortillas, corn (also from the freezer), black beans
- French toast (French bread leftover from a Boy Scout campout), sausage links, fresh fruit
- Hamburgers, buns, chips, carrots, caramel apple salad (from the freezer)
- Spaghetti and meatballs (zucchini noodles), garlic knots and garlic toast, green beans
- Grilled pork chops and chicken breasts, salad, grilled veggie, mashed potatoes (I think I'll be sufficiently recovered by then)
- Chocolate caramel layer bars--yep, I must make these because I've got frozen evaporated milk to use up. I have no choice.
- Hamburger broccoli casserole (switching up my lunch a little bit, and also using four ounces of cream cheese that I found in the freezer)
How about you? What do you have lurking in your freezer, fridge, or pantry that you need to use up?
P.S. There are three slices of apple pie in my freezer. Sure hope I can find someone who's willing to eat those.