Staying on Budget

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Menu 4 – Family of 4

Featured this week: Cheesy Spinach Stuffed Shells ~ ~ Chicken Burrito Skillet ~ ~ Maple-Glazed Salmon ~ ~ Little Meat Loaves ~ ~ Asian Turkey Lettuce Cups

A lot of ingredients are hard to find these days including jumbo pasta shells. I substituted manicotti shells but you could also substitute large shells and mix the filling with the shells instead of stuffing large shells. The serving size would be about a 1.5 cups. This dish is not only satisfying but filling. You wont miss the meat!  

Rice – 

I prefer the taste of long grain rice, basmati rice or jasmine rice versus minute rice. I know cooking rice can sometimes be tricky but just watch your heat to water ratio and you will be just fine. I bought a rice maker and it has taken away the worry of burning rice on the stovetop and generates perfect rice every time. I highly recommend getting one if you don’t already have one.


Dinners for the week

Grocery List - Store brand (Metro Detroit)

Prep the week!

prep week

I like to gather my storage containers before I start my prep.  I love the look of the table with all of the containers and as I make progress the containers disappear leaving me with a sense of accomplishment and encouragement to keep going. This picture is an example of one of my prep weeks.

Storage containers needed:

  • 2 cup container for onions. 
  • 1/4 cup container for peeled garlic.

  • 1 cup container sliced black olives.
  • 1/2 cup container for green onions
  • 6 cup container for broccoli
  • 4 cup container for green beans
  • 1/2 cup container for celery rib
  • 1 cup container for carrot
  • 4 cup container for chopped carrots

Let’s start chopping!

  • 2 onions, finely chopped; refrigerate.
  • 8 garlic cloves, peeled; refrigerate.
  • Slice olives then cover with olive brine; refrigerate.
  • 3 green onions, chopped; refrigerate.
  • 2 pounds broccoli cut into bite size pieces; refrigerate. Do not wash broccoli. 
  • Trim green beans; refrigerate. Do not wash green beans. 
  • 1 celery rib chopped; refrigerate
  • 1 medium carrot shredded; refrigerate
  • Peel the rest of the carrots and cut them into 2 inch pieces; refrigerate

Tips and Tricks for the weekly meals to go flawlessly!

         Always start by reading the recipe all the way through then read my tips.  Doing this before you start will help prevent “surprises” along the way. 

         If I’ve posted it then I have eaten it and called it good.  Also, I know that the portions should work because I have done it.  No guess work here. 

Cheesy Spinach-Stuffed Shells Recipe_ How to Make It


  1. Once the shells are in the oven to bake, chop: tomato, cucumber and 1 green onion then place salad bag in a salad bowl. Top with tomato, cucumber and green onion. 

  2. Serve with salad. Another addition to your salad could be the leftover olives, if you have any so they don’t go to waste. Enjoy!

Maple-Glazed Salmon Recipe_ How to Make It

  1. Peel 4 potatoes add to a pot along with 1 peeled garlic clove then cover with water and bring to a boil. Simmer for 20 minutes until potatoes are tender.

  2. Prep to cook:

    • Mince two cloves of garlic into a small sauté pan then add: grapefruit juice, balsamic vinegar, maple syrup, and minced garlic; set aside.

    • Rinse 1 pound of broccoli; set aside.
    • Set on the counter 1 tablespoon and 1 small bowl.

    • Follow step 1 of the recipe as directed.

  3. If you are grilling then start the grill and follow the recipe as directed.

  4. If you are not grilling then preheat the oven’s broiler and set oven rack about 6 inches from the heat.

    • Line a sheet pan with foil.

    • Add a little oil with a brush to the foiled pan. Save brush for later you will need it to baste.

    • Place the salmon fillets skin-side down on the pan.

    • Cook for 3 minutes. Turn the salmon fillets and baste fillets with the sauce that has oil added to it.

    • Cook for 3 minutes then turn. Baste the fish and continue to cook for 3 more minutes or until the fish flakes easily with a fork.

    • Drizzle with reserved glaze that does not have the oil.  

  5. Once potatoes are cooked do not discard the water. Scoop out potatoes and peeled garlic and place them in a glass bowl.

  6. Add more water to the pot the potatoes were in if needed. Bring to a boil and place broccoli for 3-4 minutes.

  7. Mash the potatoes and garlic with 1/8 cup milk and 1 tablespoon of butter. Salt and pepper to taste. Enjoy!

  1. Warm cheesy spinach-stuffed shells and serve with salad. Feel free to cut up 1 extra tomato for the salad.

  2. If you have additional leftovers these shells make a great and filling lunch. Enjoy!

Chicken Burrito Skillet Recipe_ How to Make It
  1. Gather ingredients and place them on the counter.
  2. Prep to cook:

    • Measure all spices into the same prep bowl, set aside.

    • Open can of beans rinse; set aside. 
    • Chop 2 tomatoes and place in a small prep bowl, set aside.

    • Wash green beans then add to a pot and cover with water; set aside.
    • Season chicken breasts with salt and pepper on both sides then slice into 1.5 inch pieces.

  3. Follow recipe as directed.

  4. At the end of step 2 bring green beans to a boil. Continue to cook until tender about 15-20 minutes. Enjoy!

**There will be leftovers from this dish. I like to add a little hot sauce for zing and take them to work for a filling lunch.
Little Meat Loaves Recipe_ How to Make It
  1. Preheat oven to 350° F

  2. Chop 8 potatoes into quarters
    • Add to a large steamer pot with carrots
    • Add salt and pepper
  3. Gather all of the ingredients for the meat loaf on the counter.

  4. Follow the recipe as directed.

  5. I find a kitchen scale really helps for recipes like this because I can be sure to get all of the individual loaves the same size and weight for an even cook.

  6. After the meat loaves have been in the oven for 15 minutes start cooking the potatoes and carrots. 
**Be sure to set aside 4 meat loaves and 1/2 the carrots and potatoes for Saturday night’s dinner.
Asian Turkey Lettuce Cups Recipe_ How to Make It
  1. Cook 2 cups of rice by following the rice package directions. I like to start my liquid with the leftover chicken broth versus water. The chicken broth will add extra flavor to the rice and eliminate waste of the broth. 

  2. Bring a pot of water to boil for broccoli

  3. Gather all of the ingredients on the counter. 
  4. Prep to cook:

    • Mince fresh gingerroot and garlic clove then put them in the same prep bowl; set aside.

    • In a small bowl whisk soy sauce, sugar, sesame oil, and chili sauce until blended, set aside.

    • Wash broccoli; set aside.
    • Separate the iceberg lettuce and wash then leave in a colander for the water to drain. I use iceberg because I cannot find boston bib lettuce. 

    • Season the meat with salt and pepper.

  5. Follow recipe as directed.

  6. Before you start step 2 add broccoli to the boiling water for 3-4 minutes. Serve on the side of the lettuce wraps. Enjoy!

  1. Warm meat loaves, potatoes, and carrots. Enjoy!
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Christin Lee


It is fun to think that there might be a short cut but the reality is planning plus diligence equals financial freedom.

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