Menu Plan Monday: 01.25.10

Somehow it is Monday again. I’m not sure how that happened. Last week was a serious blur. It was AWESOME both personally and professionally, but man did it go FAST! The Princess and My Sweetie survived me being gone, but they did miss me. I got lots of love and cuddles from both of them upon my return. And, the Princess and I spent some quality time together at the mall today. She loves to window shop. Crazy kid. Gets that from her dad – not me.

This week proves to be another busy one, but with more meals at home. Here’s the plan for the week.

Monday: Small Group (I’m not cooking – so thankful)

Tuesday: Chicken Pot Pie

Wednesday: Pork Chops, Mashed Potatoes, Zucchini and Squash

Thursday: Pork Loin, Salad, Roasted Potatoes

Friday: Leftovers

Saturday: Hot Dogs, veggies and dip, chips

Many of you have been following the Eat From the Pantry Challenge that many, many, many bloggers are doing around the country globe. I outlined my goals at the beginning of the month and tried to adhere to them throughout the month. Here we are at the end of the month, and I can say that everything in the plan above is still coming out of my pantry and freezer with the exception of the fresh produce.

However, I added meat to the freezer during the month. There were some great deals on pork loin and pork chops, and I cooked another turkey at the beginning of the month. So, that didn’t help keeping to the budget.

I also did a major cook for meals for my freezer this past week. Three batches of ziti – with the majority of the ingredients NOT coming out of the freezer or pantry. Ya,that ain’t cheap either. Now, knowing the majority of the ziti (if not all of it) will go to families who need help makes the pocket not hurt as much. However, it throws off my numbers.

So, as I’m thinking through how I did on the pantry challenge, I think I did OKAY. Just okay. I see a more detailed post coming later this week. Keep a look out.

I’m going to be checking in on the others who were participating in the pantry challenge over at

I’m also going to be checking out for some addition menu plan ideas.

What are you cooking this week? Anything new?

Menu Plan Monday 01 18 10

Mommy here got a cold last week so needless to say the end of the week did not have as much cooking in it as planned. We were unable to have the guests we wanted to over on Friday because I just wasn’t up to cooking and being social. Anyone who knows me well knows that I must have felt pretty bad to cancel dinner plans. We’ll have to reschedule.

This week, I’ll be at a work retreat at the end of the week. The Princess and My Sweetie will not starve as all their meals will be prepared and ready to warm up before I leave. I get kinda crazy about it. Lots of sticky notes involved. I hate disrupting the household routine in any way, but I’m really looking forward to retreat too.

Here’s the plan:

Sunday: Brinner – Breakfast for dinner. It’s been on the plan twice, but we haven’t done it. We are tonight!

(So – that totally changed when The Princess called to see if she could spend one more night at Grandma’s with the cousins. Another night to ourselves. NO problem. I picked up some wings at Publix, and we watched football. Marital bliss at the House of Hills.)

Monday: Small Group – I’m not cooking. Wahoooooo…

Tuesday: Chicken Quesadillas, salad, fruit

Wednesday: Bratwurst, noodles, green beans

Thursday: BBQ for My Sweetie and Chicken Nuggets for the Princess, fruit

Friday: Leftovers

Saturday: Either leftovers or Chinese depending on if Mommy is home yet

For those of you following along with my eat from the pantry challenge that I’m doing over with Money Saving Mom along with hundreds of others, it’s not going so well. Well, that depends on how you qualify well. We’re eating from the pantry and freezer. However, I REALLY have a hard time not just stopping at the store for one thing which then turns into several things. Do we absolutely NEED what I’m buying? Well, no. Is it nice to have? Well, yes.

Our big purchases this week were pork loin that was on sale at Publix (My Sweetie loves pork loin). I bought several and put them in the freezer. Then My Sweetie was out of ingredients to make his morning smoothie. Hadn’t planned on buying that huge bag of frozen strawberries.


I am proud to say that I’m spending less this week than previously on groceries. However, I had hoped to spend even less than I am. It’s a learning process – right?

Check out for more menu plans and lots of great recipes.

Visit Life As A Mom to see how other bloggers are doing on the Pantry Challenge. They’re all doing better than me!

Menu Plan Monday 01.11.10

When I made my January meal plan, I knew I’d have to change it. I mean, seriously, things are gonna come up right? I remember looking at my calendar on January 2nd and thinking, “I do NOT have all the invitations for the month yet.” And, I didn’t. We added two birthday parties for the month this week plus several other events that we will be attending. That means the plan needs to change. That’s one of the things I love about planning. It gives you a basic framework, and then you move things around to make them work for your current circumstances.

This week’s plan (now that all events are scheduled):

Sunday: Spaghetti (made w/Italian sausage), salad, breadsticks

TOTAL FAIL on Sunday – forgot to make the breadsticks in time. Was too busy playing Polly Pockets and Little Pet Shop with the Princess. Bummed. I was looking forward to those. Wonder if I can fit them in anywhere else.

Monday: Small Group – Somebody else is cooking – wahoo…

Tuesday: Leftovers – we’ve still got stuff in the fridge from last week that needs to be eaten

Wednesday: Roast, Noodles, Green Beans

Thursday: Leftovers – now we’ve added spaghetti and roast to the mix – gotta eat that

Friday: (Company Coming) Fried chicken, wheat rolls, salad, steamed veggies, blackberry cobbler

Saturday: Brinner (Breakfast for dinner) or leftovers – depends on what’s left

I’m taking the Eat from the Pantry Challenge and one of my goals was to only buy milk and produce for the first two weeks of January. Well, that didn’t exactly happen. I bought some meat. It was on sale. And, I bought a turkey. It was on sale. The cool thing about the turkey is that it was huge and gave me lots of leftovers with which to make no less than four casseroles for the freezer. So, I’m not feeling too bad about that.

Last night I made two pans of Turkey and Rice (recipe to be posted this week) and two pans of Cheesy Broccoli and Rice with Turkey. All four went into the freezer for when somebody needs a meal – or I want to eat one. I was also able to freeze four cups of chopped turkey meat. Love how much you can get out of one turkey!

This week, I’m trying to only buy the basics. I need milk, eggs, lettuce, and chicken for Friday. We’re having company, and I really want to make the chicken I made the other day for them. I know they’ll love it. Everything else on the plan, I have in the freezer or pantry.

So, I’m giving myself $30 for the week. That will get me back on track. Some of you will think this is a huge amount. However, compared to what I normally spend in a week. It’s so not. Baby steps folks. Baby steps.

How is your pantry and freezer? Making anything yummy this week?

To see how folks are doing on the pantry challenge head on over to

For more great recipes, visit I’m an Organizing Junkie’s Menu Plan Monday.

Menu Plan Monday: 1.04.10

Time to post the weekly menu plan. I’m not sure how many folks out there in Internet land actually read my menu, but it SO helps me to write it out each week. And, by putting it out there for all eyes to see, it makes me a little more accountable to stick to it. I do like accountability – most of the time – as long as it doesn’t have to do with me not having chocolate… I digress.

Some people have asked me why I menu plan. Three main reasons – it saves me time, money, and my sanity. There is NOTHING worse than walking in the door at 5 and not knowing what I’m going to feed my family for dinner at 5:30. Well, maybe there are worse things, but that really makes my heart race. For a great article on meal planning visit my friend LeighAnn on her new blog. She nailed meal planning and its benefits.

This is the plan for this week at the House of Hills

Sunday: Pork Roast, Roasted Vegetables

Monday: SMALL GROUP NIGHT – MY TURN to cook – Chicken and Rice Casserole, Salad, Whole Wheat Rolls from the bread machine, cake

Tuesday: Hot Dogs, Pasta or Chips, veggies w/dip

Wednesday: Lightly fried chicken thighs, pasta, green beans

Thursday: Leftovers

Friday: Leftovers (or grab something using dine-out money  – depends on activities)

Saturday: Turkey (got one on sale this week – it’s thawing), Stove Top Stuffing, Gravy, Roasted Veggies

What’s exciting is that the majority of the items on my menu came from my pantry. I’m participating in the Eat From the Pantry Challenge with many other bloggers out there. We’re trying to reduce our January grocery spending significantly and use up what’s in our pantry and freezer. To read more about the challenge and my goals, you can go here.

I did go to Aldi for the first time this week and got some of their things to round out my menus and to try and see if we like the quality. There is no sense deciding to shop there for the deals if my family won’t eat it. In addition, I did what was going to be a small run to Publix but ended up buying a turkey (since it was .68 a pound) and a pork roast (which was also on sale). By making those two things this week, my hubby will have meat for lunches this week and next. I succumbed to the after Christmas sales at Publix and bought several things in their .50 baskets. However, I do know they will be used so don’t feel so guilty about that. Spices for .50 – seriously!

Want some other great meal ideas? Head on over to to see what everyone else is cooking.

Want to know more about the Eat from the Pantry Challenge and see how everyone is doing? Click here.

Have a great week!

January Menu – Using the Freezer and Pantry

The Eat from the Pantry challenge is ON, and I’m taking part. It was started by and Everyone taking part is attempting to use up their stores and save money in January. Sounded like a great idea to me! You can read all about my goals here.

I’ve inventoried my pantry and I’ve inventoried my freezer. Now, it’s time to do something with all this information. It’s time to do some menu planning. I love menu planning. Well, let’s face it. I just like planning. There are usually lots of lists involved in planning, and I LOVE LOVE lists.

I’ve put together a rough menu plan for the month. The key to planning is knowing that NO plan is going to stay exactly how you write it down the first time. The first draft is just that – a draft – it’s gonna change. And, you need to be okay with that. If you’re not, you think that planning doesn’t work for you. And that’s probably not the case. You just need to know the plan is a framework, a guideline, a boundary. And, it’s okay to change it!!!

All that being said, I’ve made a list of what I’m hoping to cook this month. I still plan on participating in Menu Plan Monday and that is where I will post links to recipes. That is also where the tweaks are going to show up. I can guarantee that there will be changes near the end of the month as things have moved around. Right now our schedule is pretty light in January with extra stuff. I have a feeling invitations just aren’t out yet.

Here’s the plan:


3: Pork roast, zucchini, potatoes

4: Small Group – I cook – Chicken Wild Rice Casserole, Whole wheat rolls, salad, cake

5: Hot Dogs, salad, pasta/chips

6: Chicken thighs, pasta, green beans

7: Leftovers

8: Leftovers

9: Turkey, Stove Top Stuffing, Gravy, Roasted Veggies

Lunches for David: Taco Soup, Pork Roast, Hot Dogs

10: Spaghetti (use Italian Sausage), salad, bubble bread

11: Small Group

12: Pot Roast, noodles, salad

13: Frozen Pizza

14: Tacos

15: Leftovers

16: Brinner (Breakfast for dinner)

Lunches for David: Spaghetti, Pot Roast, Turkey w/ gravy

17: Chicken Quesadillas

18: Small Group

19: Turkey with Noodles

20: (K out) Bratwurst and noodles (pre-cook)

21: (K out) BBQ and chicken nuggets (warm up)

22: (K out) Leftovers

23: (K come home) Chinese

Lunches: Taco Soup, Turkey w/noodles, Chicken Quesadillas

24: Italian Sausage and Stuffing, Bubble Bread,

25: Small Group

26: Brinner (Breakfast for Dinner)

27: Hot Dogs, salad, chips

28: Chicken Pot Pie

29: Appetizer night: Pigs in blanket, popcorn shrimp, veggies, fruit

30: Pork Loin, roasted potatoes, green beans (Will need to buy – Hubby’s favorite. Celebrate the end of the month.)

31: Leftovers

Lunches: Chinese leftovers, Sausage & Stuffing, Hot Dogs

(Please note that the Princess of Picky will not eat everything that I’m making. The majority of these dishes have a “her” version that I just whip up on the side. It usually involves leaving off a sauce. She’ll eat meat and pasta – just not with any sauce on it that melds it together.)

If I planned correctly, the majority of what is in my freezers will be gone. A major majority. That is awesome! I’ll also use up a good bit of what’s in the pantry. Exciting! I can’t wait to hear what others are doing as well.

Pantry Inventory

We’re back from our quick couple getaway in Tennessee. We had an AMAZING time, and ate AWESOME food. I want to tell you all about it, but to do that I need the pictures. And, the good ones are on my husband’s phone. And, he’s gone to bed. And, the phone is his alarm so I don’t want to risk messing anything up. I’ll try real hard to get to it tomorrow.

Let me just say this: If you are married, and have children, and have not left them and gone to be on your own for a couple of days, I HIGHLY recommend taking a short little getaway. We have a pretty strong marriage – good communication, date nights, time alone, but both of us commented on how WONDERFUL it was to just date for a couple days. Like it was way back when.

Anyway, on to to my post:

If you haven’t already heard, I’m taking part in an Eat from the Pantry Challenge started by and These ladies have gotten a whole slew of bloggers working to save money and use up their stores in the month of January. I have my own reasons for wanting to clean out everything – like hopefully moving at some point – and you can read about my reasons and goals here.

Tonight, I took an inventory of my pantry. You can’t use everything up if you don’t know what you have! I’d already inventoried my freezer so that list was done.  Combining it with my pantry list, I now know what I truly have on hand. Here’s what’s in the pantry.

Canned Goods:

Cream of Mushroom – 9

Cream of Chicken – 7

Evaporated Milk – 1

Refried beans – 1

Chicken Broth – 1

Beef Broth – 1

Petite Diced Tomatoes – 2

Rotelle – 1

Tomato Paste – 1

Pumpkin – 4


Dill Pickles – 3

Corn, Black Bean Salsa – 6

Spaghetti Sauce – 2

Chili Sauce – 6 (GREAT deal after Christmas)

Italian Dressing (for marinade) – 4


Pasta – lots of various

Stovetop Stuffing – 3

Uncle Bens Long Grain Wild Rice – 3

Brownie Mix – 2

Cake Mix – 3

Cookie Mix – 2

Crackers – 3 various

Ice Cream Cones – 1

Cereal – 5 various




Rice – various bags

Icing – 6 tubs

Hot Cocoa Mix – homemade – yum!

Marshmallows – 5 bags mini (GREAT deal after Christmas)

Plenty of baking items for the month

Chips – plenty for the month

I’m working on a menu plan for the month as I watch tonight’s football. Let’s see what I can come up with. I can already tell I’m going to have to buy some green beans. That’s one of the few veggies the Princess of Picky will eat. And, I’m out!

Freezer Inventory

Well, I did it. I went through both freezers and wrote everything down. Then I categorized and typed it up. Actually, extremely helpful! And, I only had to throw a couple things away. Not bad really. Have no idea why I would even want to do that. Read about it here.  I’m thinking of creating a better “Household Binder” for 2010. This list would definitely have a prominent place in it. The key being to update the list as I add and take things out of the freezer.

Here’s what I inventoried yesterday:


1 pack bratwurst

3 2cup bags of chopped, cooked chicken

2 1 lb. bags Italian sausage

1 1 lb. bag cooked ground beef

2 packs hotdogs

1 pot roast

7 packs of bacon

2 packs of sausage links

3 mini-packs of sausage patties

3 packs little smokies

Cooked and Frozen:

2 qt containers taco soup

2 pt containers taco soup

2 pt containers gravy

1 qt bag BBQ pork

1 pan Cheese, Broccoli, Rice and Turkey

Waffle Sticks

Pancakes – going to my brother’s (non-dairy)

Quick Prep:

Sister Schuberts rolls

2 frozen pizzas – full size

1 frozen pizza – single serving

1 box chicken nubggets

½ box popcorn shrimp – Maggie ate tonight

Frozen Fruit/Veggies:

1 bag broccoli

2 bags onions

1 bag peas

1 bag mixed veggies

2 bags kernel corn

2 bags cranberries

2 pints blueberries


Phyllo dough

½ bag ice

1 ½ lb shredded Mexican cheese

6 1 cup bags Monterey Jack and Cheddar cheese

2 cups Colby Jack cheese

½ loaf white bread

Ice cream

1 bag homestyle rolls

Today I added some stuff to it. I had to use up the rest of the turkey from dinner on Saturday and this bag of apples that I had in the pantry before they went bad. So we now have two gallon and one quart bags of Turkey and Noodles as well as four small German Apple Cakes. I made double batch of the apple cake and then split it into four smaller pans rather than two 9×13. That way, I can pull out one pan, let it thaw, slap some cream cheese icing and YUMMY!

I plan on listing everything in the pantry when my sweetie and I return from our couple’s weekend.

Happy New Year everyone!

Pantry Challenge Goals

Back in early September, I cleaned out the pantry. I mean REALLY cleaned out the pantry. As in found stuff from early this decade. Scary stuff. It looked great when I was done. You can see it here. Then, we put the house on the market. And, everything that was in my big stash in the garage had to come into the house. It looked better in the garage that way. So, more stuff into the pantry. Then, I got some good deals with the coupons. More stuff into the pantry. Let’s just say the pantry no longer looks as good as it did.

Then, there are the freezers. They really aren’t that bad. However, there is stuff in there. Both the inside and the outside are about 3/4 full. And, I had said months ago that I wanted to get down to just buying what we were going to eat that week/month. Wouldn’t it be easier to move without having to move an entire pantry of food? I think so. However, I’ve never done it.

So, when I cam across the Eat from the Pantry Challenge hosted by and, I was in. It will be great to have some accountability and to see what others are doing in order to clean out their pantries and freezers.  You can follow the tweet thread for the challenge by using #pantry. There are already over 100 ladies signed up! I’m so excited – three of my favorite things – cooking, blogging, and meeting new people. Wahoo!!!!

Every person’s goals are different, just like each one of is coming from different circumstances. One lady has like a third of a pig in her freezer – she’s not gonna need any meat. However, I’m pretty sure I’m gonna need some meat near the end of the month – either that or have a serious revolt by my husband. And, I’ve got to feed the Princess of Picky, the Mags. She looked at the list of what was in the freezer and said, “Mom, there’s nothing there that I’ll eat.” So true, so true. She may be living on mac & cheese!

Here are my goals for the challenge:

1. Only buy produce, milk, eggs, and Princess Picky’s specifics for the first two weeks of January. By week three, I’m gonna need to add meat and maybe pasta.

2. Meal plan each week of January using what’s already in my pantry, realizing I may need to add meat by the end of the month.

3. Buy things not on the meal plan ONLY if they are an amazing deal – like less than $1 with coupons.

4. Stick to fast food budget (we have one – I can never stick to it – I’m a sucker for the drive-thru).

5. Take breakfast and lunch items to work more consistently to help with #4. Sweet hubby already does this. I heart him for that.

I’m really looking forward to the challenge, and think it will save us a TON of our grocery budget this January. I’m not going to try to put a dollar amount – I have no idea. If it’s less than December, (well, it couldn’t be any more than December – ya, we had a lot of folks over to eat) then I’m very excited. If it makes me more disciplined – especially in the breakfast and lunch category – I’d be THRILLED!

So, you wanna play?

Let’s do it together!

We can swap recipes and stories!