Thursday, March 3, 2011

Menu Planning with the MARTIN’S Ad

Menu planning and saving money really can go hand-in-hand.  It is important to realize that you can still enjoy some of your family’s favorite meals by menu planning with a sales flyer, you just need to be flexible. 

I am including ideas and recipes for four meals for the week.  As I’ve mentioned before, I have found that I really only cook on average four meals a week and that we end up having at least one left-over night, one meal out, and something easy like homemade pizza. 

Have you tried any of the recipes that I have posted?  Do you have a family favorite that you would like to share?  I finally got to try the Spaghetti with Parmesan and Bacon last week.    This is what my version looked like.


I had started the recipe then realized while the pasta was cooking that I didn’t have any frozen peas.  Steve came up with the idea to pick the peas out of a bag of frozen mixed vegetables.  He willingly stood over the sink with a colander and measuring cup and said I think we are only going to have 1/2 cup of peas instead of a full cup.  :)  I thought the pasta was good, Steve said he would like for me to make it again, the girls weren’t in love with it. I did reduce the black pepper to only 1/2 tsp (I was using the stuff from a can, not freshly ground).  I would probably reduce the garlic next time– 3 cloves was a little overpowering and I think that may have been what turned the girls off.  I also substituted fat free evaporated milk for the 2% milk.  I was hoping the sauce would have a creamier flavor if I used the evaporated milk.  I think that my mistake was using the fat free milk.  I think it needed a little bit of fat to thicken the sauce more.  I obviously didn’t use spaghetti either – I used the spirals because that is easier for the girls to eat, and I was hoping the shape would hold the sauce better as well.

This week’s meal ideas are all about pork.  I have mentioned that I buy the eye of the round roast to grind and make my own extra lean ground beef.  I also do the same thing with a boneless pork tenderloin.  I cut it myself (although every time I tell myself I am going to have them cut it next time) and cut a roast, tenderloin chops, and grind the rest.  I know some people don’t eat pork for various reasons.  I encourage you to read on even if you don’t eat pork because some of these recipes can be adapted for chicken.

Roasted Pork:

I found this recipe on  for Garlic Herb Roast Pork and thought it sounded so easy, delicious, and could impress your family or guests.  I like to read the reviews of people who made the dish and read that several people did not use the fresh herbs and thought it still tasted delicious.   I think you could adapt this to your slow cooker.  I only read one reviewer who did that.  They said they cooked it on low overnight with enough water to cover the meat so that it didn’t dry out.  I don’t see why you couldn’t cook it on low for 6-8 hours.  Just make sure you keep an eye on the temperature of your pork.  I am one of those people who doesn’t like to see pink in pork.   This would be great with roasted potatoes (buy the  5lb. bag of all purpose potatoes for $2) and frozen green beans (GIANT brand is $1) or fresh asparagus ($2.99/lb.).

Asian Lettuce Wraps:

I got 2 heads of butter lettuce last week at Costco with the idea to make lettuce wraps.  I was searching for a recipe and this is one that I thought looked delicious.  I think this is a recipe that is easy to adapt to a different protein – instead of ground pork try ground turkey or diced chicken.  I personally am not a fan of tofu – I know it is probably a mental thing – so I appreciate the footnote at the bottom of the recipe with suggestions for making this recipe one your family will like.  I don’t have sesame oil or hot chili paste in my kitchen.  I read that you can substitute olive oil for the sesame oil, but if you are going to the store it was highly suggested to buy the sesame oil, it evidently has a distinct flavor that will enhance the dish.  I read that you can substitute red pepper flakes, cayenne, or bottled hot sauce for the hot chili paste.  I would serve this with some asian stir fry vegetables or steamed edamame and rice.

Pork Chops:

I remember eating pork chops for dinner as a child, but I don’t really cook them on a regular basis.  I have trouble cooking my pork chops so that they don’t turn out dry.  I found this recipe about a year ago and it turned out really good.  I think that frying them just a little bit and then baking them is the secret.  I have made chicken breast or chicken tenders following this technique in this recipe.  You just have to adjust your cooking time.  You could serve one of the Knorr Pasta or Rice sides (just $1 this week) if you need a quick side dish.  You could also make mashed potatoes from the 5lb. bag of all purpose potatoes for $2.  I always like to have something “green” on our plates so you could use a bag of GIANT frozen vegetables for $1 or get a Dole salad kit for $2.50. 

Pork BBQ:

I like to pick up a Fresh Whole Shoulder Pork Roast when they are on sale ($0.99/lb this week) and just stick it in my slow cooker with a bottle of barbeque sauce (Kraft is on sale this week for $1.99 and part of the spend $15 get $5 off promotion).  Depending on the barbeque sauce I may add some brown sugar, soy sauce, hot sauce, or whatever I am in the mood for.  I cook it on low for 6-8 hours (varies with size of the roast), then I take it out and chop it.  You could make you own potato wedges with the all purpose potatoes on sale for $2 for something green you can add the GIANT frozen vegetables that are $1 this week or eat some fresh broccoli that is $1.69/lb and baby carrots that are $2.99 for a 2 lb. bag with some Ranch dressing (the Kraft is on sale for $1 and part of the spend $15 get $5 off promotion) .  This usually makes lots of barbeque, more than we need for even two meals so I routinely freeze the leftovers.   The leftovers make a great quick weekend meal.  (If you aren’t a pork eater I have done the same thing with boneless skinless chicken breast, they just cook up faster so keep an eye on them.)

Happy Menu Planning!


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