March 7, 2011

Meal Planning Monday—Our daughter’s birthday, a party, and two relatives visiting

These are the meal plans for our family of 3 for this week.  We’ll be having some communal meals this week.  Our daughter’s birthday is on Tuesday, and my aunt will be coming in from Memphis for a visit then.  Later in the week, my cousin will be coming through with his band to share a meal with us.  All this means that the costs for our meals will be higher this week than usual.

Sometimes I plan a meal and for one reason or another it doesn’t work out that I actually make that meal.  I’m going to start making note “repeat from last week” when this happens.

Note—Since I calculate the cost of the meal when I first cook it, any leftovers that we eat will have $0 beside them.  When we dine out, the money for those meals are taken from the “entertainment” part of our budget, which is separate from our grocery budget.


Tonight I’m meeting up with many of the women of our church at Shoney’s to send off one of our friends.  She’s moving across the country to be nearer to her daughter’s family, and she will be missed.  I plan to enjoy the salad bar there, and I’ll use a coupon from the school coupon book to reduce the cost of my meal. 

Hubby will make his specialty—whole wheat pancakes for he and our daughter to enjoy

Approximate cost--$1-2

Ways I saved on this meal—We buy wheat in bulk and mill it ourselves.  Eggs for the batter were bought on sale at Three Rivers Market (TRM) and the other dry ingredients are bought in bulk through FrontierWe eat peanut butter on our pancakes, and I bought it at TRM using a $2/1 coupon to reduce the cost for organic pb.  The organic maple syrup was bought online at a fraction of the cost of what it is in the stores.



We’ll celebrate our daughter’s birthday at my dad’s house.  He’s making a roast with potatoes and carrots.

Our daughter requested two things for her special birthday dinner—macaroni and cheese and fruit salad.


Note—normally we would be eating Cajun food tonight, since it is Fat Tuesday/Shrove Tuesday.  However, our daughter’s birthday trumps that celebration for us.  If I get really industrious, I might make us some beignets to enjoy for breakfast with boiled eggs.

Approximate cost--$5

Ways I saved on this meal—I’ll use the Kroger brand cake mix.  Last week, I tried the Kroger brand, which was 12cts cheaper than Duncan Hines because I was shopping for the church and always try to keep that cost as low as I can.  I was amazed—I liked it BETTER than the Duncan Hines.  I know, crazy, right?  I never thought that a boxed mix would be better than Duncan Hines, but at least for the “golden” type, I liked it better.  I’ll make the frosting with confectioners sugar, butter, and cream cheese, all of which were bought with coupons and are store brands.  My dad is taking care of the pot roast portion of the meal.  I bought a case of Annie’s mac and cheese at TRM, and it is on sale and I have coupons.  The fruit salad will be a mixture of home canned fruits and ones we picked locally and froze last summer. 



The children’s program is off tonight so that all might attend the Ash Wednesday service at 6pm (all are welcome to join us at Faith UMC).

We’ll pick up supper for free at McAlister’s tonight.  We have a couple of “supper club” punch cards that will make supper free for us, and our daughter will enjoy their “Kids Eat Free on Wednesday Nights”.  I phoned and asked if we could use them together, and they said that we could!  If I can resist getting one of their awesome teas, we’ll get water and the meal will be completely free!

Approximate cost--$0

Ways I saved on this meal—If a restaurant you frequent offers a punch card of any sort, get one.  I’ve even had other customers offer me their punches when they didn’t have a card to use, making me even closer to getting something for free.  McAlister’s has a supper club and a tea club.


Thursday—repeat from last week

Even though I have planned to do so a few times, I still haven’t managed to make the leg of lamb meal.  I didn’t take it out of the freezer in time to make it on Saturday, and since my dad was also sick and couldn’t come over, we had a simple snack supper that night.  I took it out of the freezer this weekend and plan to cook it all day on Tuesday so that all I have to do is pop it out of the fridge for this night’s meal.

I plan to make lamb stew with carrots, onions, and potatoes

Approximate cost--$12

Ways I saved on this meal—This portion of lamb is much bigger than we usually eat, hence the cost being so much higher than normal.  We’ll most likely have leftovers for another night, and our dog will enjoy any of the large bones leftover.  Friends of ours went in on a lamb purchase with us last year.  We bought half of the lamb and have been enjoying it every week or so.  I’ll add carrots, onions, celery and potatoes to the stew.  We had one more potato box that we hadn’t dug yet, or as I like to reframe it, we stored them outside for the winter.  We’ll use some of the potatoes from it to reduce cost. 



My cousin and his band are swinging by for supper tonight.  Picture at least 4 hungry guys.

Chicken with pasta $4-$7

Salad $5

Homemade bread $1

Cobbler $1

Approximate cost--$11-$18

Ways I saved on this meal—What to feed hungry guys that won’t break the bank?  That’s the question I asked myself.  Since I don’t have a huge selection to pick from in my stockpile of foods after cleaning out the pantry last month in my challenge, I went to my coupon pile for some inspiration. I knew that I needed some sort of carb to help spread out the meat and make it a little more filling.  I have about 4 boxes of pasta in the pantry that were free after coupons and sales.  I have some herbs in the freezer and garden and some more dried in the pantry, and I have a few bags of tomatoes in the freezer from last year’s garden.  I even have some dried zucchini that I can rehydrate.   I thought that chicken would work good with that, and I have a few $1.50 off coupons for organic chicken.  I’m hoping to find some marked down when I shop, but even if I don’t, this will help reduce my cost.  I’ll bind all those ingredients together with some cheese, olive oil and butter.  For the salad, I’ll buy some organic salad greens and add in carrots, celery, pecans, mandarin oranges, a bit of cheese and make a homemade vinaigrette using the last of the cranberry mustard that I canned late last year.  The bread will be inexpensive because, let’s face it, all it takes to make bread is flour, salt, water, and yeast. I’ll use some of the frozen berries from our picking last summer for the cobbler. 

I’ll also add any leftover lamb that we have from the previous night to this meal.  Again, there will be at least 4 hungry guys present.



Grilled cheese


Approximate cost--$1-2

Ways I saved on this meal—Bread was bought on sale with coupon.  Cheese will be bought as part of the Kraft catalina deal with coupon.  Soup was free after coupons.



Today we’ll be celebrating our daughter’s birthday with a get together.  It is fiesta themed, and the menu is below.  Since it is late in the afternoon, this food will most likely be our supper.



Taco bar

Ro*Tel dip

Black bean salsa

Regular salsa

Black beans

Spanish Rice



Pineapple Juice

Tea for the grownups


Ice cream

Approximate cost--$60-$75  This might seem like a lot of money, but we’re serving quite a few people at the party.  Had we ordered pizzas it would cost this much and that would still not include drinks, cupcakes, and ice cream.  Plus, some of the foods will be organic, which usually costs a little more.  I’m just hoping that we have enough food.  People rarely RSVP anymore, which means that we won’t know who all will be there until they show up.  ;)

Ways I saved on this meal—See above for info on how to save with the cupcakes.    I’ve been buying a little here and there for this party when I found good deals and had great coupons. 

Taquitos—bought with a $2.50 Facebook coupon when they were on sale at Kroger last month. 

Burritos—El  Monterrey bought on sale at Kroger with the $1/1 coupon from the paper. 

Taco bar—I’m hoping the 1/8 steer that we are buying from a local farmer will be ready for pick up.  It will make the ground beef for this meal cost $3.10 for organically raised pastured beef (a very good price!).  The taco shells were bought on sale with a coupon, as were most of the taco seasoning packets.  A few of the packets were free with peelie coupons.  I’ll buy a few packets of flour tortillas using the great Mission coupon that came out a few weeks ago.  The sour cream and cheese will be bought with coupons.  Organic onions were bought on sale at Three Rivers last week.  The lettuce and tomato will probably be regular price—oh well!  Olives were bought at Walgreens last week for 99cts each, and I think that this is the best price I’ve found anywhere.  The quality of the olives is also really good. 

Ro*Tel dip--Ro*Tel was very cheap after Mega Event and coupons.  Velveeta cheese for the dip will be bought with coupon and Kraft catalina deal at Kroger this week (yes, I know it is the processed stuff, but every so often we like it). 

Black beans and black bean salsa--I’ll make a huge pot of black beans from dried beans that I caught on sale at Kroger.  Corn was bought on sale. Ro*Tel discount was mentioned above.

Salsa--The salsa is locally made, and I buy it by the case at Three Rivers one time a year. 

Spanish rice—I’ll buy this if I can find a good price for it. 

Chips—bought with the $5 store brand coupons handed out at the Kroger table at the coupon fair. 

Drinks--Limeade and pineapple juice were bought frozen at Walmart using some of the overage from my portion of the coupons.  Tea—I buy orange spiced tea through Frontier and mix it with Lipton decaf which I buy at Walgreens using their RR deals and coupons. 

Ice cream—will be bought with Kroger mailer coupons.

Notice that there isn’t any guacamole on this list.  As much as I love it, avocados are expensive, and I would pay more for that dip than I would want.  I’m hoping I won’t hear too many grumbles.

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