Menu Planning Monday: My Menu for the week of 12-27

You can read more about my $40 weekly budget in this post here.

If you have blogged a menu plan for the week (or even just a favorite recipe), please feel free to comment and share your link. I’m always looking for new ideas and inspiration and will be happy to share a link to your blog if we try your recipe!

I got a few new cookbooks for Christmas (yes, that’s what I wanted – I LOVE cookbooks). So far, my favorite one is Erin Chase’s “The $5 Dinner Mom Cookbook.” If you’re new to menu planning, she has lots of great tips, and she gives great ideas for using leftovers, too (which is one of my goals for the new year!). You can check out her blog here (she’s giving away a copy each day right now) or buy your own copy here.

If you need inspiration, check out the weekly meal plans here at Organized Junkie.

SUNDAY ~ Appetizers galore! We’re having a family get together at my parent’s house. Here’s what I’m bringing:

*Bean dip
1 package cream cheese (I use the 1/3 less fat version)
1 can refried beans (I use fat free)
I lb browned ground beef
1 taco seasoning packet
1 16 oz tub of sour cream
Avocado salsa (see recipe below)
2 cups shredded cheese
Sliced olives
Diced tomatoes

Directions: Spread cream cheese along the bottom of serving dish. Heat refried beans and spread them on top of the cream cheese. Brown ground beef and add 1/2 of the taco seasoning packet. Layer the browned ground beef on top of the refried beans. Spread the avocado salsa over the ground beef. Mix the remaining taco seasoning with the sour cream and layer on top of the avocado salsa. Add tomatoes and/or sliced olives. Top with shredded cheese.

Avocado salsa
2 T vegetable oil
1 T lime juice
1 T lemon juice
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp onion powder
1 large avocado, pitted and chopped
1 tomato, chopped

In a small bowl, combine all salsa ingredients and stir together. Cover and refrigerate for at least one hour.

*Sausage Balls
1 lb hot pork sausage (I’m using Jimmy Dean)
3 cups Bisquick
4 cups grated sharp cheese

Combine ingredients and shape into walnut sized balls. Bake on cookie sheet at 400 degrees for 10-15 minutes.

*Little Smokies with BBQ sauce (in the slow cooker)

*Tomatillo salsa
*Herdez Green Sauce (They sell this at Walmart here. If they don’t have this brand in your area, you can probably substitute another green sauce….look for something with tomatillos and serrano peppers)
*1 or 2 avocadoes (peeled and pitted)
*1 bunch cilantro, washed very well
*8 oz sour cream
*1/3 white onion
*garlic powder and salt to taste

For spicier version: add one serrano pepper

For a more liquidy version: add another jar Herdez Green Sauce

For a creamier sauce: 16 oz sour cream

I dump everything in the blender and mix well. I also add a dash of lime. It is SO good!

*Veggie tray w/ ranch dip

MONDAY ~ Country ham & macaroni casserole – We’ve got ham left over and this is quick and easy to make (plus my kids love it), so I thought it would be perfect!
Thanks to Sandy~Bettyinthekitchen ( Cooking for Your Family Board)

1 lb country ham slices or regular smoked ham in one piece
1 large onion, diced
1 lb elbow macaroni
2 cups shredded extra sharp cheddar cheese (8 oz)
1 cup sour cream
1 can cream of chicken soup
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) margarine, melted
1 cup dry plain bread crumbs

1. Heat oven to 400º.
2. Bring 4 quarts water and ham to boiling in large pot. Once water begins to boil,
remove ham to a plate. Add onion and macaroni to pot. Return water to boiling; cook 8 minutes, stirring occasionally.
3. Coarsely chop ham, discarding any fat and bones.
4. Drain macaroni and onion and return to pot. Add ham, cheese, sour cream and soup. Scrape into a 13x9x2 baking dish. Pour melted margarine over top. Sprinkle with bread crumbs.
5. Bake in heated 400º oven 30 minutes or until heated through and top is golden brown.
Let stand 5 minutes before serving.

Note: Prepare in two 8×8 casserole dishes, bake one and freeze one (unbaked) for another day. If freezing, top with crumbs and margarine right before baking.

TUESDAY ~ French dip sandwiches (slow cooker) – This is a family favorite and I love it because it is SOOO easy to make!

beef roast
2 cans beef broth
1 tsp dried rosemary
1 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp garlic powder
4-6 hoagie buns
(we also add some swiss or provolone cheese)

Place roast in a greased slow cooker. Pour broth over the top of the roast. Add spices. Cover and cook on low heat 8-10 hours (or high heat 5-7 hours). Remove roast and save extra juice. With a fork, break the meat apart and serve on hoagies. Use excess juice for dipping sandwiches.

WEDNESDAY ~ Provolone wrapped chicken – This is a recipe from my new “$5 Dinners” cookbook that I got for Christmas, so we haven’t tried it before.

8-10 chicken tenderloins
2 T extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper
4-5 slices provolone cheese (cut in half)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Place the chicken tenderloins in an 8X8 inch glass baking dish and drizzle the olive oil over the top. Sprinkle with salt and pepper (I will probably add garlic powder and onion powder, as well). Bake in the preheated oven for 25-35 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through. Remove the chicken from the oven. Carefully wrap half a piece of provolone cheese around each chicken tenderloin. The cheese will melt over the warm chicken strips.

*She suggests serving it with peas and dinner rolls as sides.

THURSDAY ~ FONDUE! Our New Year’s Eve tradition since we got married has been to have fondue. We use “kid friendly” fondue recipes. In addition to our fondue, we’re going to have “family game night” taking advantage of all of the great new games we got from the Amazon deals and we’re going to let the kids stay up a little bit later than usual!

Swiss Cheese fondue – I found this recipe in Family Fun magazine a couple of years ago – It is “kid friendly” in that it is milder than regular cheese fondue and uses milk as a base instead of wine.

* 12 oz. Swiss cheese (or Cheddar, Gruyere, or a combination)
* 4 tbsp. all-purpose flour
* 1/4 tsp. paprika
* 1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
* 1 garlic clove
* 3 tbsp. butter
* 2 1/4 to 2 1/2 cups milk
* Juice from a lemon
* Salt and pepper to taste
* Dippers, such as French bread, carrots, peppers, broccoli or cherry
* tomatoes

First, grate the cheese into a bowl. Toss with 1 tablespoon of the flour. Set aside. Ask kids 10 and up to grate the cheese. Hold the handle firmly, grip the cheese, tuck fingers back and rub against the holes

In a separate small bowl, stir together the remaining 3 tablespoons of flour, paprika and nutmeg.

Ask your child to peel the garlic clove. Next, rub the cut clove on the inside of a medium-size saucepan until the bottom and sides are completely seasoned (a fun job for kids).

Melt the butter in the pan over medium-low heat and stir in the flour mixture until it is smooth. Explain to your children that this is called a roux (pronounced roo) and serves as the base that will help the fondue thicken. Add the milk, 1 cup at a time, and stir constantly until the creamy sauce is warm.

Next, add the grated cheese by the handful, stirring well after each addition. Continue until the cheese is used up and the sauce is thoroughly combined. Once the cheese has melted, stir in the lemon juice and salt and pepper to taste.

Meanwhile, prepare the dippers for the fondue. Cut the bread into cubes. Cut vegetables into bite-size pieces and steam for a few minutes, if desired, to bring out the flavor.

Arrange the vegetables on a large platter and the bread cubes in a basket or bowl. Pour the fondue into a fondue pot. Invite everyone to spear the bread or vegetables on their fondue forks, then dip into the cheesy sauce. Serves eight people as an appetizer or four as a main course.

Chocolate Marshmallow Fondue – This is another fun, easy recipe from Family Fun which has been a hit with my kids!


* 3/4 cup milk
* 1 (6-ounce) bag semisweet chocolate chips
* 3/4 cup marshmallow cream

* Hulled strawberries
* Banana slices
* Apple wedges
* Fresh pineapple chunks
* Graham crackers
* Pretzels
* Vanilla wafers


Heat the milk in a medium saucepan until it just starts to simmer. Remove the saucepan from the heat.

Add the chocolate chips and let them stand for 1 minute to soften. Then stir until they’re melted and the mixture is well blended.

Stir in the marshmallow cream. Then whisk the sauce until smooth.

Pour the sauce into a fondue pot and set the flame to keep it warm. Serves 4 to 6.

FRIDAY: Cowboy’s Pie – This is a recipe from my new “$5 Dinners” cookbook that I got for Christmas, so it’s new to us. One of the things that I struggle with is using up leftovers. If it’s a casserole or something like that, I take it with me for lunch, but when it’s leftover meat, like the meat from the french dip the other night, I’m at a loss and it often goes to waste. One of my goals for the new year is to meal plan better so leftover meat DOESN’T go to waste!

4 large, long white potatoes
1 to 1 1/2 cups milk
3 T butter
salt and pepper
2 cups of shredded, leftover beef roast
3 T BBQ sauce
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

Peel and quarter the potatoes. Boil them in water to cover for about 10 minutes, or until tender. Drain and return them to the saucepan. Add the milk little by little, the butter, salt, and pepper, and mash with the potato masher. Add the milk 2 tablespoons at a time, until the mashed potatoes reach the desired consistency.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Shred the leftover, cooked beef roast and mix with BBQ sauce. Spread the mashed potatoes in the bottom of an 8X8 baking dish. Top with BBQ shredded beef roast. Sprinkle the cheese over the beef.

Bake in the preheated oven for 15 minutes, or until the cheese begins to turn golden.

She suggests serving this with a side of steamed broccoli.

SATURDAY ~ Bacon wrapped chicken – I found this recipe on a Babycenter Crock Pot Cooking board, but haven’t tried it yet.

3-4 chicken breasts (I use frozen)
3-4 slices raw bacon (I will use turkey bacon)
1 can cream of chicken soup (I will use the 98% FF version)
1 cup sour cream (I will use the fat free)

Wrap chicken in bacon and place in the bottom of a greased slow cooker. Mix chicken soup and sour cream together and pour on top of chicken breasts. Cook on low for 6 hours. Serve over rice or egg noodles.


  1. LatteLaura says:

    Your week sounds yummy! Chocolate Marshmallow fondue sounds delicious- I love Family Fun magazine. They have cute crafts too.

    I really need to check out the $5 Dinner cookbook as I like her blog.
    Have you read the "Family Feasts for $75 a Week?" That's another one I need to get a hold of.

    Have a great week! 🙂

  2. mom2priceboys says:

    I have all the ingredients for the french dip sammys but what do you serve with? I hate getting stuck on french fries but maybe potato wedges instead?? steamed brocoli or garden salad?

  3. We do fondue monthly as a girls night in. We do a cheese with swiss and cheddar. For dippers we use green apples and asiago cheese bread from Panera Bread. It is yummie. You reminded me we need to set our next fondue night!

  4. Laura – I haven't heard of the Family Feasts for $75 a Week, but it sounds like I need to check it out!

    mom2priceboys ~ We had ours with fresh veggies (carrots, celery, broccoli, etc) and dip and some cut up cantaloupe – nothing too exciting, but the kids liked it.

    Nicole – the asiago cheese bread from Panera sounds like it would be AWESOME with the fondue!

  5. Bernadete says:

    I tried the bacon wrapped chicken and it was yummy! What did you think?

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