I was recently encouraged by a fellow blogger and homeschooling mama when I read about a spending freeze she and her husband tried.

I felt immediately convicted because I am an impulsive spender, craft hoarder, and grocery-budget buster.  
And I really want to do better.
Doing better would bless my husband and show him, in a very measurable way, that I appreciate and respect the hard work and sacrifices he makes for our family, so that I can stay home, keep my babies close, and do what I love as their mom and teacher.

So I went to him and suggested doing a spending freeze for one month.  He and I talked about and agreed upon what spending we would seek to eliminate, and what spending was allowable for the month.

These are my biggies: no craft supplies, no extra homeschooling supplies, and rein in the grocery bill to $150/week.  Those of you who keep a budget are probably aghast at how high that is (plus we’re still allowing ourselves to eat out once a week), but even maintaining those wide boundaries would be a HUGE improvement from what I currently spend on groceries.

In order to do this successfully, I knew I needed to plan out my menu for February, otherwise, I know I’d totally end up winging it and blowing the plan.
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I started by using Google Calendar to create my menu, but thought I’d share it here with links to recipes.  Who knows, maybe this will help someone else too.  

And for the record–
Once upon a time, I spent a whole lot of time planning and prepping and searching for and coming up with delicious recipes.  My kitchen has put out some tasty foods over the years.  But I’m not going to lie–this menu is full of shortcuts, because, well…life is super busy right now with 4 extra little mouths to feed 3x a day, and add homeschooling to that…oh man.  I just don’t have time to make everything from scratch anymore. So– if you’re looking for a totally gourmet meal plan where every night delicious, different and ultra-healthy fare is being served, this may not be a meal-plan for you. But if you’re a fairly health-conscious but super busy mom who doesn’t mind cutting a FEW corners, you might want to check out what I’ll be serving up this month.  If my planning makes your life a little easier too, I think that’s wonderful!  

So–Here is my February Meal Plan.  

WEEK 1

Sat. Feb. 1st ~ Arugula Salad with Warm Goat Cheese Medallions
This salad is to-die for.  

Sun. Feb. 2nd ~ Superbowl Party with lots of bad/good food! My girlfriend is bringing the munchies, dips and desserts, while I’ll be cooking up Backyard Babyback Ribs, Homemade Chips, and a Classic Caesar Salad.


WEEK 2

Mon. Feb 3rd ~ Tomato Bisque with Cheesy Garlic Toast
Another classic here in our house.  Probably our longest standing favorite soup.  Tastes gourmet, but could not be any easier!

Tues. Feb. 4th ~ Black Bean Soup in the Crock Pot, 
served with Soft Taco shells and all the trimmin’s, especially fresh Pico de Gallo .  I’m linking in my go-to bean soup recipe, which my family LOVES, but lately, I’ve been doing my bean soup a new way–Here’s the gist of it: To the crock pot, add:
8 cups hot water, 1 onion, chopped, 1 bag dried pintos, 1 bag dried black beans, 1/2 lb bacon, 2 tsp cumin, 2 tsp creole seasoning, 1 tsp. garlic powder, 2 chopped jalapeños.  Let simmer 5 or so hours until beans are soft. Remove cooked bacon.  Salt to taste.  Add cilantro and 2 fresh squeezed limes. Oh my. SO.GOOD. It has a creamier (from the pintos) and heartier (from the bacon) taste than the full-vegetarian recipe.  We put it in tacos, make burrito bowls,  or serve over a salad or rice.  My kids go nuts for beans.  

Wed. Feb. 5th ~ London Broil on the grill, and Crock Pot Veggies.  
We serve our London Broil with au jus and a homemade Horseradish Sauce. London Broil sounds fancy but is seriously SO easy to make.  All my boys love it.

Thurs. Feb. 6th ~Salad and Homemade Pizzas.
My kids love a loaded “house” salad w/ all the veggies, boiled eggs, cheese, nuts, & croutons, so we do it once a week at least.  Thursdays are super busy for my typically since that’s when our co-op meets and we’re out of the house for several hours.  So my goal is to serve a house salad w/ homemade pizzas every Thursday indefinitely.
We do our pizzas with Sam’s Club frozen dough (buy it up front where they sell pizza) and add our own canned marinara sauce, cheese and whatever else we feel like putting on it each week. Everyone is happy on pizza and salad night.

Fri. Feb. 7th ~ Baked Ziti and my favorite Greek Salad

Sat. Feb. 8th and
Sun. Feb. 9th ~ Kitchen’s closed
We’ll be in Ohio for my husband’s induction to our alma mater’s Hall of Fame for his outstanding accomplishments in football, woot, woot!  It’s going to be like going back in time, only we get to bring out kids along with us, which will be tons of fun.  They’ll be serving us a fancy shmancy dinner and then on Sunday, we’ll eat out w/ family before heading home.


WEEK 3

Mon. Feb. 10th ~ Breakfast for dinner! 
Always a favorite in our house, and even if I didn’t plan it out on the menu, it would still happen, so why not include it from the get-go.  We’ll be serving eggs and French Toast WITH Berry Butter.  Since breakfast is on the menu weekly, I think it’ll be fun to whip up a batch of Pioneer Woman’s Berry Butter.  I love that it’s simple, and I can freeze it and have it ready when I need it.  It’ll make things extra special.

Tues. Feb. 11th ~ Bean Soup in the crock pot
Yup, it’s a weekly thing around here- and this time, we’ll make up some “naked” burrito bowls, Chipotle style.  This means I’ll be making this Homemade Spanish Rice, plus adding in some guac, sour cream, lettuce, cheese, fresh salsa.  My mouth is watering as I type this, I’m not even kidding.  We love southwestern food so much it’s ridiculous.  Plus it’s healthy and vegetarian.  Love.

Wed. Feb. 12th ~ Lemon and Garlic Roasted Chicken with Mashed Potatoes.
I made this last month and it was a hit.  The gravy you make at the end? It uses all the lemony, garlicy, herby goodness from the cooked chicken, and has you add white wine and reduce… oh my word, heavenly.  We drizzled it all over the chicken and the mashed potatoes, and I even added sauteed mushrooms and let me tell you–the husband was very, very happy with this meal.  Such hearty winter fare. *A note about the recipe: Ina has you use a whole roasted chicken, but I just use whatever bone-in chicken I happen to have.  Last time it was thighs. This month I’ll be using split breasts, plus drumsticks for the kiddos.  It really doesn’t matter as long as it’s chicken on the bone.

Thurs. Feb. 13th ~ Salad and Homemade Pizza 

Fri. Feb. 14th ~ Spicy Stuffed Peppers 
I have my own recipe, which is a modified, spiced-up version of my mom’s.  I’ll have to write out the whole thing start to finish one of these days.  Instead of bells, we stuff hot banana peppers and oh man, are they good.  

Sat. Feb. 15th ~ Chicken Tikka Masala with Rice and Garlic Naan
I love me some Indian.  Shortcut: Trader Joe’s sells some pretty great frozen naan and that’s what we use. 

Sun. Feb. 16th ~ Eat out as a family
{again, our goal is to keep it under $40}


WEEK 4


Mon. Feb. 17th ~ Breakfast for Dinner!

This time, along with our eggs and veggies, I’ll be serving Berry and cheese blintzes / crepes.  I only make these every once in a while, because it takes a bit of time to get the filling and sauce ready and my people are always so hungry when they come down for breakfast.  But you can actually prep everything for crepes ahead of time, which is what I plan on doing when I make it for dinner.

Tues. Feb. 18th ~ Tacos and Crock Pot Bean Soup.
Taco Tuesday!  Always a favorite.  Fill crunchy shells with beans or ground turkey, plus trimmings.

Wed. Feb. 19th ~Herb and Parm. Crusted Tilapia with Homemade Chips
Recipe coming for the Tilapa!

Thurs. Feb. 20th ~ Salad and Homemade Pizzas again.

Fri. Feb. 21st ~ Meatball Subs
I use frozen meatballs from Trader Joe’s, my own marinara sauce, shredded Italian Cheese, and Hoagie buns from Sam’s Club for this major shortcut-meal.

Sat. Feb. 22nd ~ Mandarin Orange Chicken with Rice
Feeling guilty.  Another ready-to-go meal from Trader Joe’s.  It’s their all time, best-selling item, and my people love it.  Portion control is a must, because it is not low fat.

Sun. Feb. 23rd ~ Eat out as a family
{Keep the bill less than $40}


WEEK 5


Mon. Feb. 24th ~ Breakfast for Dinner!
Repeat the Eggs + French Toast w/ Berry Butter plan from 2 weeks ago

Tues. Feb. 25th ~ Chicken Tortilla Soup
The one that is linked in is my creamy, Max & Erma’s style Tortilla soup, but typically, I make it as a traditional broth soup (lower fat and easier).  I will post that recipe for you guys soon I promise.  Tortilla soup is def. a menu staple in our house and a family favorite.

Wed. Feb. 26th ~ Channa Masala with Rice and Garlic Naan
YUM. Indian again, this time vegetarian.  

Thurs. Feb. 27th ~ Salad and Homemade Pizza
I’m sorta tired of typing it–hope we won’t be tired of eating it!

Fri. Feb. 28th ~ Spaghetti and Italian Style Homemade Meatballs
My family loves this meatball recipe. I make tons of mini meatballs from one batch, and I only use about 1/2 for one meal, and freeze the rest.  It’s so nice having a whole other meal ready to go in the freezer.  I use my own canned marinara sauce, and for the meatball mix, I don’t fuss with the veal– I usually use ground turkey and sausage, or beef and sausage.

That’s it.  Hope you find the menu and links to be helpful!  I am doing this just as much for me as I am for you.  I reeeeeallly want to stay on track this month and keep on the dinner round-up and budget!
I know it will bless my husband and children to sit at the table every night and enjoy homemade food that was prepared with love.

Happy cooking, everyone.