January 30, 2012

Meal Planning, First week of February

“Food is central to how we operate as a culture.”~Alice Waters

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.

This is the time of the year that I work on eating from our stores of food.  I clean out the fridge, dry storage, freezer, and pantry as much as I can to make way for the growing season.  Since we’re planning on purchasing even more beef this year than we did last, I’m also reserving a bit of our savings for that purpose.

Kid Konnection Meal

One night a week, we help with the children’s program at church.

Sandwiches on whole wheat bread
Carrot sticks, tomatoes, and cucumbers
Grapes, Pears, or Bananas

Approximate cost—$0, from church budget

Ways I saved on this meal—I caught a fantastic deal on whole wheat bread (priced at $1.35 and then I had a 35ct coupon which was doubled).  I’ll pick up some cheese and meat for the sandwiches.  We have a child with food allergies or else I would plan on a PBJ.  I’ll pick up some vegetables (BOGO at Kroger this week) and either pears, grapes or bananas for the kids.

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Meal 2

Cottage Pie

Approximate cost--$6 (this will make enough for two meals)

Ways I saved on this meal—Using ground beef instead of lamb turns shepherd’s pie into cottage pie.  I bought the local, grassfed beef at Three Rivers during the member discount days, making a pound right at $4.  The onions came from the garden.  The organic carrots and celery, potatoes, organic butter, and peas were all bought on sale.  Using a can of cream of mushroom soup (bought for around a quarter late last year with a coupon and sale) keeps things a tad easier than making my own white sauce.  Though, really if you haven’t ever made your own white sauce/bechamel sauce, it isn’t hard.  One should try it at least a few times as a good cooking skill to master. 

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Meal 3

Leftover Cottage Pie
Leftover Salad

Approximate cost—$0

Ways I saved on this meal—Cook once, eat twice.  Love that!

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Meal 4

Chicken Fajitas
Black Beans
Guacamole Salad

Approximate cost—$8

Ways I saved on this meal—Hubby saw that avocados were on sale and made a request for this meal. The chicken is on sale, and the ingredients to make the fajita sauce were free.  The onions are from the garden, and the bell peppers were some that I froze from the garden.  I’ll pick up some tortillas when at the store, and I’ve found that if I look for them in the refrigerated section they are usually less than if I look on the ethnic food aisle.  I almost always make my beans from dried beans because they are SO MUCH CHEAPER than buying individual cans.  Simply soak them for about 24 hours (less will do), discard the water and rinse.  Then cover them with water and put them on the stove to cook.  You can add salt and seasoning at the end and leave the pot uncovered if you don’t want them to become mushy and split.  Also, you can add a bit of whey or baking soda to the soaking water (NOT cooking water!) if you like.  I find that they taste a little better if you add a bit of bacon grease or olive oil to the pot.  For the guacamole salad, I’ll keep it pretty simple with avocado mashed with lemon or lime and salt and pepper.  I’ll serve it on top of some chopped lettuce.

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Meal 5

Pasta with broccoli

Approximate cost--$2

Ways I saved on this meal—The whole wheat pasta was free last year with a Mega Event and coupon.  I bought broccoli crowns for $1/lb last week, and I still have a bit leftover.  There is also a little in the garden that I’ll add to this.  I’ll cook the pasta, reserving a bit of cooking water.  At the last minute of cooking, I’ll throw in the chopped broccoli.  I’ll drain, add some organic butter, a bit of the cooking water, and parmesan cheese.  I bought the parmesan on sale with a coupon and have some leftover from when I made pumpkin pasta. 

I usually try to plan at least one meal a week that is meatless.  This helps reduce the cost per week that we spend on food.

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Meal 6

Date Night

Approximate cost--$0, from a different part of the budget

Ways I saved on this meal—I’m not sure where we are going, but we have a free movie ticket at Regal.  I’ll look for coupons and group buying deals for reducing the cost of the meal.

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Meal 7

Super Bowl Food

Potato Skins
Crudités and Ranch
Deviled Eggs
Chips and Salsa
Buffalo Chicken

Approximate cost--$8

Ways I saved on this meal—I saw a pretty simple recipe for buffalo chicken in the last edition of All You, and I think I’ll try it.  Hubby loves buffalo chicken, and so I’m hoping this is a good one.  I tried to think of other finger foods that I already have on hand, hence the potato skins and deviled eggs.  I have some sour cream that I bought on sale, and the Ranch dressing mix was free after coupon and sale.  The salsa is locally made, and we buy it by the case (10% discount) at TRM.  Whenever I am trying to make a special meal, I think about one stand out recipe (in this case the buffalo chicken) and then using sides that will go with it but are less expensive.

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