January 8, 2012

Meal Planning, Getting Back to School

“If we had some eggs we could have eggs and ham, if we had some ham.”--Groucho Marx

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.

Pizzas
Cucumbers
Carrot sticks

Approximate cost—$0, from church budget

Ways I saved on this meal—I bought the cucumbers and carrots at Kroger.  They were “on sale” at $1.25 for a bag of carrots and 59cts each for the cukes.  I am making an effort to give the kiddos at Kid Konnection more fruits and veggies this year, and since I didn’t want to make a separate trip elsewhere, I decided that price was good enough.  The pizzas are from Little Cesar’s with our tax free status, and per pizza this is the best price we’ve seen ($5 each).  We’ve made them in the church kitchen before, but since we feed to many kids and only have one oven, buying out makes more sense.

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Meal 2

Sausage
Sautéed Spinach
Roasted Sweet Potatoes

Approximate cost--$5

Ways I saved on this meal—I bought sausage at Kroger when they were running their last Carolina Pride BOGO sale.  With coupons, they were around $1 for a pack.  In truth, I’m trying to clear this out of the fridge as I’m a little over it. I bought a bunch of sweet potatoes at Kroger right before Christmas when they were 50cts/lb.  This isn’t nearly as good as the price last year (right at 30cts a pound if I remember correctly), but it was the best price I’d seen in a while.  Whenever I see a discount like that,I buy as many as I can store and can spare in the budget.  I bought a very large pack of organic spinach on sale, and we used it for salads and added to sandwiches for half of a week.  When it gets near its expiration, I through it into a pan with a little olive oil (organic, bought with coupon and sale at Three Rivers Market) and garlic (free, given to me by my dad) just until it wilts.  Then I add a little lemon juice (bottled, as I don’t have any fresh).

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Meal 3

Pasta and Sauce

Approximate cost—$1.25

Ways I saved on this meal—Since this week will be pretty packed, and we’ll be accustoming ourselves back into the school schedule, I planned a few easy meals this week.  This is one of the easiest.  I still have a few boxes of whole wheat pasta from Ronzoni that we picked up as part of a Mega Sale at Kroger with coupons for free.  I’ll add to that some sauce that I bought on sale with coupon for less than $1.  We’ll top it with just a bit of parmesan cheese that I bought on clear out with a coupon at Kroger.  Sometimes I’ll add a few veggies to the mix—sautéed green onions and fresh parsley from the garden, a few handfuls of shredded zucchini that I froze from the garden this summer, and maybe a few frozen peas.

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Meal 4

Leftover soup and either sandwiches or crackers

Approximate cost—$3

Ways I saved on this meal—Another one of the easy meals for this week.  I made a large pot of soup this weekend, and I had plenty leftover to freeze.  I’ll defrost it and add a few crackers and slices of cheese to the side, or if the family prefers, we can do some grilled turkey and cheese sandwiches.

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Meal 5

Baked potatoes with all of the fixings

Approximate cost--$3

Ways I saved on this meal—Again, a super simple meal.  I’ll set up a little bar with cheeses, sour cream, butter, slices of meat, steamed broccoli, green onions and salsa.  We’ll add any leftover soup from the container that I defrosted the previous night in cups on the side.  The green onions are free from the garden. The salsa is locally made and was bought in bulk from Three Rivers (10% case discount for being a member).  The organic butter was marked down, and I had a coupon (love that!).  The cheeses and sour cream were on sale, and I had coupons.  The broccoli, potatoes, and meat were on sale.  Notice a theme?  I rarely buy items that I don’t get some sort of discount on. 

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Meal 6

Lamb Roast
Irish soda bread?

Approximate cost--$9

Ways I saved on this meal—I have a small lamb roast in the freezer bought from a local farmer when I last purchased lamb.  I am trying to clean out the freezer and do not want such a delicacy to go to waste!  I’ll cook it in my Dutch oven, seared in olive oil then reduced down to super low heat for most of a day.  I’ll add onions, potatoes, and carrots to the pot.  Near the end, I’ll thicken the drippings with a blond roux to make a gravy.  If I get really industrious, I’ll make a bit of Irish soda bread to go with it.  Notice the price of this meal is significantly more than other meals?  One of the reasons I enjoy couponing is because it allows me to buy more of our foods from local sources.  I can save from our budget by purchasing something for free, say pasta, and then can use that money for other foods that we enjoy like lamb.

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Meal 7

Arroz con pollo—note that I have a very Americanized version (or maybe I should say Gabrielleized version) of this recipe included in the link

Approximate cost--$4

Ways I saved on this meal—I bought the chicken on sale at Kroger and froze a few extra packs.  I’ll cook the chicken in water at a very low heat (almost as if poaching it).  This keeps the meat tender.  Normally one would poach in a flavorful cooking liquid, but since I want to reserve the broth and freeze it to add to other dishes, I’ll keep the cooking liquid as water with a little salt and pepper.  Once cooked, I’ll debone the chicken and cook the rest of the recipe as noted in the link above.  The organic brown rice was bought recently at Three Rivers for just under $1.50/lb.  The onions are free from the garden, and the bell peppers were some from the garden that I froze last year.  The peas and carrots were on sale at Kroger.  The garlic was free from my dad.  The coconut oil was bought in bulk for a deep discount at Mountain Rose Herbs.  I’ll top it with a bit of the sour cream and salsa I mentioned above in the baked potato meal, and some of the jalapenos I put up last year from our garden.

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