So I shared with you my really big grocery run at Central Market (the shopping trip in which I spent $176 on groceries for my 14-day menu plan idea).

And today I’m going to give you a peek at prepping for a two week menu plan, and how I stretched our pantry and budget to feed our family of eight people for fourteen days.

First of all… 

A very savvy reader commented on yesterday’s post with a wise observation: that doesn’t look like enough food for two weeks. 

You’re right, my friend.  Eight bags of groceries will never feed my family of five hungry kids and three munchy adults for two whole weeks.  Not on your life!

My beautiful bunch of food from Central Market!
My beautiful bunch of food from Central Market!

My first step was to take stock of everything I already had on hand in my freezer, pantry, fridge and freezer. 

I wrote a list of everything I found, then combined it with what I bought at the super market.

These are the foods I used to create a 14-day menu plan for our family.

This list includes the foods from my grocery trip to Central Market, as well as staples in my pantry, fridge, and freezer:

Grains: 

  • freshly ground gluten-free flour
  • organic brown rice
  • organic quinoa
  • organic, hulled buckwheat
  • organic coconut flour (1 new bag, 1 partial bag)
  • organic popping corn (for popping and grinding into corn meal)
  • fresh, wheat tortillas
  • 1 package gluten-free pita pockets (in the freezer)
  • 1 large loaf (18 slices) fresh gluten-free bread
  • 1 partial loaf sprouted wheat bread

Produce (fresh):

  • organic okra
  • organic yellow squash
  • onions
  • several stalks of celery
  • organic carrots (5 lb bag)
  • organic baby carrots (1 lb bag)
  • 1 large head of cabbage
  • organic romaine lettuce
  • onions (the only thing from my garden this year!)
  • russet potatoes
  • chard greens (from a friend’s garden)

Produce (frozen):

  • organic broccoli (several bags)
  • organic corn (several bags)
  • organic peas (several bags)
  • organic strawberries (one bag)
  • blueberries (two-pound bag)

Meats (in the freezer):

  •  ground venison (about 2 to 3 pounds)
  • venison steaks, cubed (about 1 pound)
  • 1 small venison roast
  • 2 lbs white fish fillets
  • 3 pounds bone-in chicken thighs
  • pepperonis (1 bag)
  • a few slices of left-over ham

Pantry: 

  • arrowroot powder (for gluten-free baking)
  • glucomannan (for thickening)
  • raw sugar
  • xylitol 
  • raw sugar (partial container)
  • organic stevia (new box)
  • organic tomato sauce (several cans)
  • canned pineapple chunks
  • 1 pound of black beans
  • about 3 pound of pinto beans
  • about 2 pounds of garbanzo beans
  • peanut butter (about 2 jars)
  • almond butter (partial jar)
  • organic coffee (partial bag)
  • organic apple sauce (3 jars)
  • organic coconut oil (1 jar)
  • expeller pressed coconut oil (1 jar)
  • extra virgin olive oil (1 jar)
  • cereal (1 new box, plus one partial bag)
  • tortilla chips (organic and non-organic, about 2 bags)
  • gluten-free pasta
  • dried fruit (partial containers of cranberries and raisins)
  • almonds (partial bag)

“Dairy”:

  • shredded cheddar (partial bag)
  • raw cheddar (about 1 1/2 pounds)
  • sour cream
  • organic whipping cream
  • unsweetened almond milk (2 half-gallons, plus 1 partial half gallon)
  • organic, whole cow’s milk (1 gallon)
  • eggs (2 dozen)

Prepping My Grocery Stock Pile for a 2-Week Menu Plan 

Once I had a good idea of all the food I had on hand, I created a menu plan that incorporated those foods.

My end goal: to feed my family without having to spend any more money or run to the grocery store because I needed something. 

The exception to this was the $24 I had left over from my $200-two-week-grocery-budget, which I saved back for a trip to the farmer’s market.

Obviously, having a stock pile of food and a menu plan won’t necessarily put quick meals on the table. You actually have to cook it.  🙂  

Since my big struggle as a homeschooling mom is finding time to cook during school days, I took a few hours last weekend to prep my foods.

Here’s what I did last week- 

  • Rinsed the black beans, then soaked them overnight in a pot of water.
  • The  next day, I cooked and froze the beans in 2-cup portions.
  • Cooked the chicken over-night in my slow cooker.
  • The next day, I cooled the chicken, deboned it, and froze it in two-cup portions.
  • I thawed and cooked the ground venison, then froze it in two-cup portions.
  • I ground a fresh batch of gluten-free flour.
  • I rolled fresh oats with my Bosch-attachment oat roller (several pounds, to use for oatmeal).
  • I made a really big batch of granola.
  • I sliced the fresh loaf of gluten-bread into 18 slices, then froze it in two bags of 9 slices each (for toast and sandwiches).

How long did it take?

I worked last Friday evening for about thirty minutes, prepping the beans and getting the chicken simmering in the slow cooker.

I also put in a few hours last Saturday rolling oats, making granola, freezing portions of meat and beans, etc.

This week, I’m soaking and cooking up more beans, plus whipping up a few batches of muffin and pancake batter to use for quick breakfasts.

Aside from the actual cooking prep, the biggest investment of time was taking inventory of my pantry and planning the menus.

Was it worth it?

Absolutely! 

I can’t tell you how simple my meal prep has been this week!  Most school days, lunch was prepped and cooking by the time we sat down to eat breakfast.

This lifted such a huge load off my shoulders and really allowed me to focus on my kids and our homeschool lessons all morning long.

Since I had a list of snacks on my fridge, snack time was simple.

Suppers were simple, too, since I already knew exactly what I had on hand and had a jump start on food prep.

Right now, I’m getting ready to make that $24 run to our local farmer’s market for a few fruits and veggies, and I’m pretty excited about our menu plan for next week. 

I’ll share my 14-day menu plan with you on Monday!  Stay tuned throughout next week for a few of our recipes, and the farmer’s market trip (I love our farmer’s market).  🙂  

Do you menu plan?  Does that work for you?

 

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3 thoughts on “How to Prep for a Two Week Menu Plan

  1. Love your plan, and how creative you are with just a list of ingredients! The only thing that would get me would be $24 of fruit from the farmers market. I think some weeks I eat that much fresh fruit myself! 🙂

    Posted on September 7, 2014 at 5:42 am
  2. Last year I took a new approach to menu planning, and I absolutely love it for this busy season of life. We make a single weekly plan for the school year for breakfast and lunch, and a rotating dinner plan based on a daily theme (Asian, Italian, Seafood, etc.) The kids each have a day, and they got to pick our breakfast and lunch choices, and select the dinner theme from a list of choices.

    Now we all know what’s on the menu. I can easily make two weeks worth of most things at a time, and get the freezer stocked for a really busy week.

    Our shopping list stays basically the same all year, so it’s really easy to prepare for our monthly trip.

    If I have time, I can still be creative at dinner time within the theme, or I can stick to the basics.

    Then in the summer, we mix things up a bit before creating the next plan in late July. I’ve found that the kids really like the consistency though, and they are often ready to return to a plan before me.

    With farm animals, homeschooling, taking care of littles and our severely disabled child, along with now a pregnancy, this has been a wonderful solution to keep me on top of meals.

    I’m enjoying your series! It’s nice to see how other families make things work

    Posted on September 6, 2014 at 8:14 am
    1. Lisa, wow, I LOVE your method! What a wonderful way to organize and simplify your homemaking. Thanks so much for sharing that here.

      I agree: it’s fun and inspiring to learn what works for other families. Blessings!

      Posted on September 6, 2014 at 12:10 pm