Fall Meal Planning With Michigan Apples

As much as I love summertime at one of Michigan’s lovely lakes {swoon, beach, sand, sunset}, I have to admit the truth.  I really do think I am an autumn girl at heart.

There’s just something so unbelievably special about waking up in the morning, bundled up under the warm blankets, tossing on a pair of jeans and a {insert college of preference} hooded sweatshirt and heading out with the family to one of the many cider mills that surround Metro Detroit.  (Seriously, there are a ton.  No matter where you are in the area, my guess is that you don’t have to drive more than twenty minutes to experience your own apple-cider-and-cinnamon-sugar-donut bliss. Check out Michigan Cider Mills to find one close to you.)  Seriously though, this is not the point of what I want to talk about.  With many of the cider mills come U-pick apple orchards.  Whether you pick a peck, half bushel or full bushel, freshly picked apples are one of the most exciting things about fall in the mitten state.  Other states buy our apples because we have the best……Gala, honeycrisp, empire…. Mmmmm. YUM!

Sharon Apple Picking Colage

But let’s be real.  This post is not about cider mills and apple picking.  This post is about meal planning and prepping.   It’s what you do with the apples that is the best part of the autumn season.

This weekend my family went to Erwin Orchards in South Lyon with another family.  We each picked a half bushel of apples to take home for our families to enjoy.  While on the tractor between the MacIntosh and Gala apples, we all started to rattle off the foods we were hoping to make with our 75+ apples:  applesauce, apple turnovers, pork tenderloin glazed in apples, apple-butternut squash soup {my favorite, especially when topped with crispy bacon!}, apple butter, caramel apples…. The list goes on.  And on. And on.  When hopping off the tractor, I of course was doing the math in my head.

You see, something about me that you probably don’t know is that I love to meal plan.  It brings me great pleasure to score a deal at the butcher or farmer’s market, especially when I can make multiple meals from the bargain or even plan extra freezer meals.

So this apple picking adventure cost us $17 to fill the half bushel bag with apples of our choice.  We estimated we had anywhere from 75-90 apples in our bag.  So, in my mind I was factoring a cost of $.15-.20/apple as being a pretty epic score.

My plan is currently in flight, but from my $17 expense I will be able to make:

  • 2 batches of Apple – Zucchini – Carrot muffins and bread(Read – 48 mini muffins, divided into zip lock bags of 6 count to freeze for easy access for my toddler PLUS four mini loaves of bread for me to freeze in quart sized zip lock bags which each will be a week of breakfast for me at work)  (PLUG – my child hates, hates, hates vegtables.  She loves these muffins.  #WIN!)
  • Marinade for four pork tenderloins as freezer meals

    We love a simple marinades to use in our crock pot.  One of our favorites is to use apples, brown sugar, maple syrup and apple cider vinegar over a pork tenderloin.  I was able to get four 1.5lb cuts of pork tenderloin for $3.99/lb from our butcher, so will be putting each one into a gallon sized zip lock bag with all of the ingredients and tossing in the freezer for easy access to a ready-to-cook meal.

  • Applesauce

    Seriously – using just a quarter of our half-bushel of apples is bringing me three quarts of applesauce.  Using pint-sized mason jars, I’m loaded with twelve jars of applesauce to cater to my picky toddler’s food aversion dinners.

  • Apple Turnovers

    If you are anything like me, you have a wee bit of a sweet tooth.  Ok I lied.  I need something sweet after dinner each day because if I don’t, I dig for sweets after putting my little one to bed.  Using a simple pie crust or cresent rolls, I prepped 50 mini apple turnovers.  I froze them in quart sized bags (so 5 per bag), which means I can have a quick and easy-to-heat dessert whenever my heart desires!

  • Fried Apples

    As a freezer item.  Yes, I have diced up apples to put into quart sized ziplocks with a splash of lemon juice, cinnamon and nutmeg.  I can grab the small bags to quickly sautee up with a bit of butter or coconut oil for a delicious side dish.  I made four freezer bags of diced apples.

  • Apple Cider Vinegar

    Yes, that’s right.  I am making my own ACV.  Using the scraps from the apples I pealed for the above recipes, I have a quart size mason jar sitting in my cupboard, loaded with peals, water and sugar, waiting to turn into the magic that is apple cider vinegar.  This will be a key item in changing how I work our meal budget.  We seriously use a bottle of ACV each week, which costs us around $5/bottle.  If the scraps from our family fun filled apple picking adventure can overlap into making this key kitchen ingredient a DIY cost-savings item, I will stock up now on at least three bushels of apples! {just kidding, I have limited freezer space for freezer meals!}

Of course, I’m keeping about two dozen apples for us to eat raw.  I love seeing my toddler proudly grab herself an apple, rub it on her shirt like her daddy and chomp into it.  And I absolutely needed a few whole gala apples for my lunches this week – apple-bacon-gouda quesadillas.

{Happy fall, happy planning, happy cooking}



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Sharon Maxfield
Hey there Detroit Mamas! I'm Sharon, a happily married mama of a crazy toddler, Elizabeth {Liz, Lizzy}. Born and raised in Livonia, I lived in the Grand Rapids area for college {Go Lakers!} from 2004-2007, which is where I met husband Drew, a west-Michigan native. Although we escaped the mitten for twelve months to live in Albuquerque, we returned to our beloved #puremichigan in 2008 to be closer to family. We got married in 2008 and have been living a life of opposites since that fall. I work outside of the home on a traditional M-F 8-5(ish) schedule and he works Sunday nights – Friday mornings on a 7pm-5am schedule. We function best with a shared google calendar, a written budget {recently changed to cash-in-envelopes!} and a meal planner {yes, I am the woman who pins everything!}.


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