“Cooking gives you control over what you put into your body and it’s cheaper than eating out or taking in. Food you make yourself tastes better, and it’s better for the environment, for your body, for your family. It’s just plain better.”~Mark Bittman
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.
Carrots and dip
Milk and juice to drink
Approximate cost—$0, from church budget
Ways I saved on this meal—This year, my goal is to feed the kiddos healthier meals. Right now I’m in the process of cleaning out the shelves and using up some of the more processed foods. Tonight I’ll counterbalance the Spaghetti O’s with vegetables, and milk and juice to drink. The green beans were donated from a church member who canned them from the veg she picked out of her garden. The last time I made these for the kids they were a huge hit! I’ll pick up some corn and carrot sticks to serve as well.
One Skillet Dinner
Approximate cost--$6 (this will make enough for two meals)
Ways I saved on this meal—I bought some local beef and organic apples when I was at Three Rivers Market last week, and I scored 10% off of my purchase as part of their membership appreciation days. The rice that I’ll use for the dish was also bought there a couple of weeks ago when it was on sale. The black beans were some leftover in the freezer and the other veggies were from the garden. The cheese and carrot sticks were bought on sale. The Ro*tel was on sale, and I used a coupon as part of a Mega Event sale last year around the Super Bowl.
This is one of those cook once eat twice kind of dishes. I’ll add it to the freezer or save it in the fridge for later in the week. The photo above is what a doubled recipe will make.
Ways I saved on this meal—I saw a recipe for pumpkin pasta recently, and I’ve been wanting to try it ever since. Because it is my first time to make it, I’ll use canned pumpkin, but if I like it, I’ll later experiment by using butternut squash from our garden. Instead of cream I’ll use whole milk, which will reduce the cost and calories (and maybe the taste, but we’ll see. I do love real cream!). The organic butter was bought on close out sale. It doesn’t expire for months, but it looked like the grocer wanted to make room for other products. Bonus for me! The canned pumpkin was bought on sale and with a coupon after the holidays two winters ago (January 2011). I always watch for those seasonal items to go on sale and then stock up. Canned pumpkin is a great addition to your food storage because it is versatile and full of vitamins. It gets a bad reputation because so many people add tons of sweeteners to it when baking, but that isn’t necessary. The pasta was free when bought as part of a Kroger Mega Event with coupons. The Parmesan that I’ll use for this was on closeout and I had a Sargeanto coupon for it, making it around $1 a bag. Normally I buy Parmesan in big blogs and grate it as needed, but I couldn’t resist this price.
Ways I saved on this meal—At least one time a week I try to pull something out of the freezer or use up any leftovers that are in the fridge. This not only reduces waste but it makes mealtime a little easier on busy nights.
Breakfast for dinner
Approximate cost--$3-$4, depending on the type of bread
Ways I saved on this meal—I like to plan at least one of our weekly meals as a breakfast type of meal. This reduces cost, and the dishes are usually a cinch to make. I’ve been in the mood to bake lately, and I suspect that the bread for this meal will be a whole wheat loaf from the bread maker. Super simple, inexpensive and yum! The wheat is some that I’ll mill from grain that we bought a few years ago as a bulk purchase. The yeast is some that I need to use before it expires, and the honey was bought from Pratt’s Market. I get it by the quart and it is right at $10—the cheapest I’ve found local honey. The eggs are from a local farmer and the veg will be from the garden and from what we froze from the summer garden. I recently read the idea to use your waffle iron to make hash browns, and I’ve been tempted to try it. I almost always overcrowd the pan and the hash browns end up steaming instead of developing a nice golden brown crust. I’m hoping this cooking technique will help. The potatoes were bought on sale. The fruit will most likely be assorted berries from those we picked last summer and froze.
Roasted Rosemary Potatoes
Ways I saved on this meal—The venison is some that my sister and brother-in-law gave us from a deer he took last year. I’ll top it with some dijon mustard (on sale with coupon), and onions and rosemary from the garden. To make full use of the oven heat, I’ll roast some potatoes (bought on sale) with a big of olive oil (organic, bought at TRM on sale with coupon) and rosemary (free from the garden). The peas are some that were bought in the freezer section for $1 a pack. How I look forward to fresh peas in just a few months!
I know game meats aren’t for everyone, and I know not all of us have access to them but they are a great money saver! See the link above (“venison”) for some of my game meat tips.
Meal 7—Repeat from last week. My dad took us out for Asian food last week, and I never made this meal.
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
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.