Last summer around this time, I was pregnant with my baby boy, and I was teaching summer school. All the while, I was wishing I could be anywhere but where I was doing anything other than what I was doing. It was during that time, I made a promise to myself that next summer was going to be different for me.
So this summer, we (all 6 of us) spent a week together at Oak Island, NC, and guess what, it was awesome. When it comes to going anywhere, I have found that I put it off for mainly two reasons: finances or time limitations. So I am glad that I was determined enough to stop letting these things keep me from making time for and making memories with my loved ones, and to my surprise, it did not take a miracle to make it happen– all it took was a plan and a little effort.
Since money is always a concern of mine, I spent a good bit of my time thinking about feeding everybody and not spending a lot of money by eating out. So I thought it would be fun to plan a week of meals based on certain themes just to make everybody happy. Mainly because I’m kind of a thematic dramatic, but really to make sure we spent family time together eating good food and saving a heck of a lot of money.
Well, when we arrived on a Sunday, I was too tired from the drive to spend a lot of time cooking, so we headed out to find something quick to beat the hunger. We ended up at the closest shopping center to our house, and there was Lowes Foods. Now, I’m not sure if you’ve ever had their fried chicken, but it’s delicious. We ended up getting an 8 pc. box of chicken, some mac and cheese, and dinner rolls. I already had green beans back at the house, so that was our meal, and let me tell you, nothing cures tired like some good fried chicken (and a little hot sauce).
Monday-Night 1- Shrimp Boil in Foil– Now my husband loves seafood, and what’s really sad is that I never cook it (go figure). That is why when I saw this Shrimp Boil video/recipe from Creme de la Crumb on Facebook, I saved it, and I am glad I did. Not only was it super easy to prepare (with the exception of cutting the corn- who knew corn would be so hard to cut), it was deliciously tasty as well! Something about the way all the seasonings and the ingredients blended together made it all that much better. I will definitely be adding this to our regular meal rotation. I got my fresh corn and shrimp from Harris Teeter and my kielbasa sausage and potatoes from Wal-Mart. This meal altogether cost me a total of $18!
Night 2- Mexican inspired Fajitas and Tacos
Now you all know by now that I am a lover of all things slow cooking, but I opted not to travel with mine to save on space. I decided to use aluminum foil to “slow cook” my fajitas in the oven, and they turned out fabulously! I brought my own premixed seasoning from home, a bag of Perdue Short Cuts grilled chicken breasts, and a bag of peppers and onions medley, and pretty much threw this meal together in less than 5 minutes, and using foil makes for such as an easy clean up. I added some sour cream and cheese, and this was so, so, so scrumptious. I even ate the leftovers the next day at the beach, and it was absolutely wonderful; better the second day for sure! This meal cost me a total of $17!
Night 3- Italian inspired- Pizza and Meatball Subs
Now, I know I could have very well ordered pizza, but I enjoy having homemade pizza whenever I can, and I do love a good meatball sub every now and again. I have to tell you that this meal cost me less than $10 because I bought everything on sale and I also used coupons! In fact, the Wewalka pizza crust I used ended up being free! It took me about 30 minutes to prepare everything.
Night 4- Summer Foods- Hotdogs, baked beans, and potato chips
Ironically, I think this night was a success because it was a back to the basics kinda meal. We had spent a good part of the day at the beach, so I think we were ready for something quick to eat, and I needed something quick and easy to prepare. Again, I shopped on sale and this meal cost me about $8, and let me tell you, it really hit the spot! In fact, everybody ate so quickly, I didn’t even get a chance to take a picture! Thanks, Ball Park!
Of course, as our time at the beach dwindled, so did my urge to cook, so our last nights, we left it up to Dominos and McDonald’s to satisfy our hunger needs. Surprisingly, the Oak Island Dominoes was actually quite good, and as usual, McDonald’s was just McDonald’s.
I think my meal planning was quite a success especially because I knew that realistically, we could not afford to eat out every night. I actually enjoyed being able to cook for them all. I didn’t really feel like I was working because I was saving. I know vacations should be about resting and doing as little as possible, but after spending all day at the beach, all we really wanted to do was get clean, eat some good food, and chill, and that’s exactly what we did! It is safe to say that my meal planning paid off- get it? Anyway, I am pretty sure we spent less than $150 on food for the entire week, which I why I would call this week of meal planning a success!