December 19, 2011

Meal Planning, Week of Christmas

“In my experience, clever food is not appreciated at Christmas. It makes the little ones cry and the old ones nervous.”~~Jane Grigson

This meal plan is for a family of 3.  We often have at least one friend or family member over to share a meal with us during the week.  Since I factor the cost of the meal when I first prepare it, leftovers will be marked as $0.  When we dine out, it comes from a different part of the family budget and those expenses will also show $0.

I’m still not believing it is going to be Christmas in just a few days!  As you notice by the quote choice, I usually stick with the tried and true favorites for our family.  While I love experimenting with recipes and new ingredients, if I don’t make the lime congealed salad, or “green stuff” as our family affectionately calls it, then my dad is going to be asking where it is.  The most unusual thing that I do is substitute some of the ingredients to make them a little lower in sugar for the benefit of my dad.  I make sure that we still have all of our favorites—black olives for our daughter, Sister Shubert’s rolls for Hubby and daughter, summer corn for Hubby…  And after the meal is done, all is cleaned up, and I sit down in the evening to reflect on the day, you’d better believe I’m going to have a glass of ice cold boiled custard to enjoy. 

The biggest advice for cost savings for holiday meals is to plan ahead.  I’ve been shopping for Christmas dinner for months.  If you count what I reserved from what I put up this summer, I’ve been planning for a half a year.  Given that it is only a few days until Christmas, you can’t really use that information to help you much right now.  Yet, think ahead to future holidays when shopping after Christmas sales.  You might catch a deal on a ham that you can freeze for Easter’s meal.  Some of the red wrapped candies can be used for Valentine’s gifts.  Sugar, butter, flour, and other baking staples are all good things to keep on hand for meal prep and baking.  When shopping, look at expiration dates and sale prices and see how they might work to your advantage.

Kid Konnection Meal

The KK meal is cancelled for this week because of Christmas break

Approximate cost—$0, from church budget

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Meal 1

Baked Potatoes

Approximate cost--$2

Ways I saved on this meal—Since daughter and I had an afternoon snack with friends to celebrate Christmas, I decided to keep supper super simple and make baked potatoes.  I caught these on sale a week ago at Kroger. 

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Meal 2

Sausage
Red Potatoes
Broccoli
Pears
Approximate cost--$5

Ways I saved on this meal—I paid $1.50 for the kielbasa after coupon and sale price.  The red potatoes were some that were marked down last week at the store.  The broccoli is on sale at Kroger this week, and the pears are some that I canned this year.  I simmer the pears in their canning liquid for about 30 minutes to an hour with a bit of butter (about a tablespoon or two or three) and a bit of cinnamon (maybe 1 t).  You can see that this isn’t exact.  I just kind of add what I have and what feels right that day.  As the juices cook, they thicken and the pears soften.  The result is something scrumptious. 

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Meal 3

Daddy makes pizza
Crudités
Apple Slices

Approximate cost—$6

Ways I saved on this meal—I caught a great deal on frozen pizza a few weeks ago and bought a few extras.  This is an easy meal for Hubby to make, as I know that at least one night this week I’ll be at a late meeting. The veggies were all on sale when purchased, and the apples were $1/lb.

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Meal 4

Breakfast for Supper

We’ll either have pancakes or eggs, toast, fruit, jams and jellies, and brie.

Approximate cost--$1-$6, depending on the choice

Ways I saved on this meal—When Hubby makes pancakes, he makes a large batch and freezes some.  If we choose to eat those, the cost will only be a bit of syrup (organic that I bought on sale with coupon at Three Rivers Market) and peanut butter (also bought on sale).  I know, I’m weird, I like pb on my pancakes.  The brie was some I bought at Kroger with a great BOGO sale and coupon.  We’ve so enjoyed eating it with the pomegranate jelly I made.  The fruit will be some of the berries we froze this summer.  The whole wheat toast was bought for a little less than $2 a loaf.  I didn’t have any great coupons, so this was just the sale price.  The eggs are some we received free from friends.

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Christmas Dinner—Meals 5, 6, and 7

This is an expensive meal, but we will dine on it a few nights.  Last Christmas we had part of the turkey and dressing on Christmas Eve, which was a nice relaxing way to enjoy a day’s worth of cooking.  We’ll most likely do the same this year and enjoy this meal the day after too.  I’ll freeze the ham bone and turkey carcass to make beans and soup, respectively, in a few weeks. 

Ham
Turkey
Dressing
Green Bean Casserole
Corn
Cranberry Sauce
Gravy
Sister Shubert’s Rolls
Relishes
Sweet Potatoes
Lime Congealed Salad (my dad’s request)
Deviled Eggs
Desserts TBA—I keep waffling back and forth on what to make.  Chess pies? Red Velvet Cake? Cream Cheese Pound Cake? Southern Chocolate Pie? Banana Pudding?
Boiled Custard 
Approximate cost—Since I haven’t fully decided on what dessert and I haven’t bought the turkey yet, it is hard to estimate.  I’m guessing this meal will cost between $35-$45.  Since my dad is going to help with the cost of the turkey and some of the other ingredients, this lowers our out of pocket cost.

Ways I saved on this meal—I bought the ham for only $8 with coupon, sale, and finding a small ham at Kroger.  Since it is just the 4 of us, we didn’t need a large one.  The turkey was a last minute decision.  I wasn’t sure if I wanted to stick with just doing a ham, but I decided that since Christmas only comes one time a year it was worth it.  I do a pretty simple turkey with a bit of butter, spices, and some herbs from the garden.  The cans of green beans were about a quarter a few weeks ago with a Kroger Mega Event sale, the cream of mushroom soup was even less than that, and the French fried onions were on sale with coupon.  The corn is some that I put up in the summer and was bought from a local farmer.  The relishes were all ones I canned from foods out of our garden or bought locally.  The gravy will be made with the pan drippings.  The eggs are some that a friend passed on to us for free.  Most of the dressing vegetable ingredients came from my garden.  The cornbread mix was on super sale, and the sausage was less than $2/lb with coupon.  The cranberry sauce was a little less than a dollar after sale and coupon.  The rolls are a request from Hubby and daughter, and even when bought with a coupon are still about $1.50.  Since my dad is a diabetic and this is already a carb laden meal, I’ll make roasted sweet potatoes instead of sweet potato casserole.  The ingredients for the lime congealed salad were all bought on super sales—cream cheese, gelatin, pineapple, cool whip, and sugar.  I’ll make it with as much as I can that is sugar free since my dad is the main one who likes this.  The desserts are still up in the air.  I’ll probably decide what I have a hankering for the day before and go from there.  My guess is that either the chocolate pies or the chess pies would be the easiest and most cost efficient. I’m sure we’ll also have some gingerbread cookies and assortments of other cookies from this week’s baking. 

What is boiled custard you ask?  My Grandmother Jesse made homemade boiled custard every year for Christmas, and she would serve it as we celebrated with extended family.  It is quite similar to egg nog, but I find it a bit smoother.  It also doesn’t have the nutmeg flavor in it.  She never served it with any alcohol, and I prefer it “straight” as well.  It is becoming harder and harder to find in grocery stores, and I’ve yet to find it made by an organic manufacturer.  One of these days I’ll break down and make it myself, but this  year I’m going to stick with Kroger doing the work for me.  Unfortunately I do not have her recipe, and if you are also a boiled custard lover and have a good recipe you would be willing to share, I would so appreciate your passing it on to me. 

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