Menu Planning Monday: My menu for the week of 2/28

One of the most common questions I see posted on some of the “frugal” and “debt free” message boards I belong to is “How can I save money on or cut my grocery expenses?” In addition to using coupons, of course, one of the biggest ways to save money on groceries is to start meal planning and to plan your meals around what you have and what’s on sale (check out my “menu planning tips” post for more information about this).

If you’re new to meal planning or trying to cut your grocery budget, I’ll be sharing a “frugal” or “from the stockpile” recipe EVERY day this month (at least that’s my goal!). To help me with this task, I’ll be having guest posts (if you’re interested in sharing a guest post/frugal recipe, e-mail me!) from some of my favorite frugal bloggers, too!

For those of you who may be doing Weight Watchers, I have included the points per serving calculations for each of my recipes this week. I used the “Recipe Builder” feature on the e-Tools program to input all of the ingredients and calculate the points, so it should be pretty accurate.

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! Check out hundreds of other meal plans at!

SUNDAY ~ Creamy Corn Chowder – I found this recipe on Our Best Bites (if you haven’t checked out Our Best Bites yet, you really should because they have some great recipes!)

2 Tbsp. butter (I’m going to use I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter)
1/4 c. all-purpose flour
1 c. water
2 1/2 c. milk (I’m going to use skim)
2 regular-sized chicken bouillon cubes, 1 Knorr chicken bouillon cube, or 2 tsp. chicken base
1/2 lb. bacon (optional, I’m going to use crumbled bacon pieces)
1 onion, minced
2 red potatoes, diced into small cubes
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
1 can corn, drained
Salt and pepper to taste (you’ll need a considerable amount of salt–probably at least 1/4 tsp. More about this later – when I made this, we didn’t need any extra salt)
A few dashes of hot sauce (like Tabasco or Cholula)

Fry bacon until crisp. In the meantime, melt butter over low heat in a soup pot. When melted, add flour to make a roux and whisk until it comes together in a little ball. Add water and whisk until completely combined and there are no lumps. Add milk and chicken base or bouillon and bring to a simmer. Add potatoes, onions, and garlic, and simmer (but don’t boil!), stirring very frequently, for about 20 minutes or until potatoes are tender. Add crumbled bacon and corn and heat through. Add a few drops of hot sauce and then salt to taste.

The reason why I don’t have an exact measurement is that while the soup REALLY needs salt, bacon also really differs in its saltiness, so it can be super easy to make this soup waaaaay too salty. Start with about 1/4 tsp., give it a few minutes, and then add more if you need it.

Ladle into bowls and sprinkle with extra bacon and/or cheese if you want.

WW points – On the Our Best Bites site, it lists this as being 3 points per serving, but when I put all of the ingredients into the Recipe Builder on, it came out to 8 points per serving (for 4 servings).   The bulk of that was from the bacon pieces, so you could cut down the points by cutting that.  You would need to add additional points if you add cheese.

MONDAY ~ Golden Chicken & Noodles (slow cooker) – This is another Taste of Home recipe.   I haven’t tried it yet, but I have yet to have a bad experience with a Taste of Home recipe, so I’m hoping it wil be good!

6 boneless skinless chicken breast halves (1-1/2 pounds) – I’m going to use 3 for my family
2 cans (10-3/4 ounces each) condensed broccoli cheese soup, undiluted (my husband is not very fond of broccoli, so I’m going to use cream of mushroom and cream of chicken  – both 98% fat free – instead)
2 cups milk (I’m going to use skim)
1 small onion, chopped
1/2 to 1 teaspoon salt, optional
1/2 to 1 teaspoon dried basil
1/8 teaspoon pepper
Hot cooked noodles

Cut chicken pieces in half; place in a 5-qt. slow cooker. Combine the soup, milk, onion, salt if desired, basil and pepper; pour over chicken. Cover and cook on high for 1 hour. Reduce heat to low; cover and cook 5-6 hours longer or until the meat juices run clear. Serve over noodles. Yield: 6 servings.

WW points = 3 points per serving (add 2 points for 1/2 cup noodles and 4 points for 1 cup noodles), serve with green beans and a salad

TUESDAY ~ Shepherd’s Pie (slow cooker) – This recipe comes from the 101 Things to Do With a Slow Cooker cookbook

1 pound ground beef, browned and drained
1 can (10 ¾ ounces) tomato soup, condensed
1 can (15 oz) whole kernel corn, drained
1 can (15 oz) French cut green beans, drained
2 cups instant mashed potatoes, prepared
2 cups grated cheddar cheese
½ tsp. basil


In a separate bowl, combine beef, tomato soup, corn, beans, and basil.  Pour mixture in the bottom of a greased 3 ½ to 5 quart slow cooker.  Spread mashed potatoes on top.  Cover and cook on low heat 5-6 hours.  The last hour of cooking, sprinkle cheese on top of potatoes.

WW points = 9 per serving (for 4 servings) 

WEDNESDAY ~ Creamy chicken tortilla soup (slow cooker/you can also freeze this one)
3 cans chicken broth (100% FF)
3 cans cream of chicken soup (98% FF)
3-4 chicken breasts
1 can Rotel
Mrs. Dash original seasoning
salt and pepper to taste

Place chicken breasts in the bottom of the crock pot. Add Mrs. Dash’s seasoning to taste. Add broth and cream of chicken soup, and Rotel. Cook on low 6-8 hours. Shred chicken in crock pot.

To serve: (if frozen)

Defrost in refrigerator. Reheat on stove. Serve and top individual bowls with desired toppings (tomatoes, green onions, avocadoes/guacamole, cheese, tortilla chips, sour cream, etc.)

WW points =  3 per serving – this makes a TON of soup (at least 8 servings for my family), the 3 points, of course, does not include any “toppings” such as cheese, sour cream, and chips!

THURSDAY ~ Peppered steak – this is a family recipe that came from my mother in law
3 cups hot cooked rice
1 lb lean beef round steak (cut into 1/2 inch thick strips)
1 T Paprika
2 T butter
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 1/2 c. beef broth
1 cup sliced green onions
2 green peppers, cut in strips
2T cornstarch
1/4 c. water
1/4 c. soy sauce
2 lg tomatoes (cut in eighths)

Pound steak to 1/4 inch thick. Cut into 1/4 inch wide strips. Sprinkle meat with paprika. Let stand. Brown meat in butter. Add garlic and brother. Cover and simmer for 30 minutes. Stir in onions and green peppers. Cover and cook 5 minutes. Blend cornstarch, water and soy sauce. Stir into meat mixture. Cook, stirring until clear and thickened, about 2 minutes. Add tomatoes and stir gently. Serve over beds of fluffy rice.

WW points = 7 points/serving  (add an additional 2 points for 1/2 cup rice and 4 points for 1 cup rice), this makes 4 servings.

FRIDAY ~ Enchilada casserole – This is a recipe that my sister came up with. She uses canned chicken when she makes it. I came up with a little bit of a variation.

2 chicken breasts (shredded) – or 1 can chicken
1 large can red enchilada sauce
corn tortillas
shredded cheese – I use reduced fat

Directions: (this is what I do) – I put my chicken and the enchilada sauce in the crockpot the night before and then shred it when I get up in the morning. If you are using canned chicken, you can just shred it as you are making the casserole. I spread some of the chicken/sauce mixture along the bottom of the casserole dish so it doesn’t stick. Break corn tortillas into four pieces and layer across the bottom of the casserole dish. Spread a layer of the chicken/sauce mixture and cheese. Add another layer of corn tortillas. Continue until you are out of the chicken/sauce mixture. Bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes until the cheese is bubbly.

WW points = 8 points per serving (for 4 servings) – serve w/ green salad and grapes

SATURDAY ~ Bourbon chicken – This is a “carry over” from last week.  I made this a few weeks ago thanks to a link Keli posted in my comments section.  We all loved it and I decided it’s time for a repeat!

1 1/2-2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken breasts (cut into bite size pieces)
1-2 T olive oil
1 garlic clove, crushed
1/4 tsp ginger
3/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1/4 c. apple juice (in the comments section on Recipezaar, some people substituted pineapple juice or orange juice)
1/3 c. light brown sugar
2 T ketchup
1 T cider vinegar (in the comments section on Recipezaar, some people substituted balsamic vinger or did half and half)
1/2 c. water
1/3 c. soy sauce

Heat oil in a large skillet. Add chicken pieces and cook until lightly browned. Remove chicken. Add remaining ingredients, heating over medium heat until well dissolved. Add chicken and bring to a hard boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes. Serve over hot rice.

NOTES: On Recipezaar, some people mixed cornstarch and water and added it at the end to thicken the sauce.

WW points = 7 points per serving (for 6 servings), add 2 points for 1/2 cup of rice and 4 points for 1 cup of rice

Serve w/ steamed broccoli or other steamed veggies