February 5, 2012

Meal Planning, Sweet Celebrations

“Give us this day our daily bread...”~The Lord’s Prayer

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.

This week we have a Valentine’s party for Kid Konnection, a Valentine’s Potluck at the church one evening, a birthday party, and a marshmallow roast at a friends.  Don’t you just love celebrating?  I sure do!

Kid Konnection Meal

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

Heart shaped cheese quesadillas
Heart Shaped Fruit Pizza
Heart Shaped Cookies

Approximate cost—$0, from church budget

Ways I saved on this meal—Rather than celebrating Valentine’s Day with the kiddos a day late, I thought it would be fun to have our V-day party a day early.  I’m still debating what we’ll have, but at this point, this is the tentative menu.  If you have any ideas for fun Valentine’s food, please send them my way!

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Meal 2

Shrimp and Salad

Approximate cost--$3

Ways I saved on this meal—My dad surprised us with a shrimp dinner over the weekend, and this shrimp is some of the leftover that we didn’t eat. When my dad has a shrimp boil, he cooks enough for 10 people even if only 4 are attending.  ;)  The garden salad is a simple one with lettuce, leftover cherry tomatoes and carrot sticks from a meal last week, and a bit of celery.  The salad dressing was 50cts a bottle with coupon and Mega Event sale last week at Kroger. 

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Meal 3

Chicken and Vegetable Soup

Approximate cost—$6 (this will make enough for at least two meals and then some to share with a friend)

Ways I saved on this meal—Soup is probably one of my favorite foods to make.  There is something therapeutic about spending an hour lazily chopping vegetables and adding them a little at a time to a pot simmering on the stove.  I have a friend who is slated for surgery in a couple of weeks, and I’ll be storing a big dish of this in the freezer to bring to her during that time.  I’ll add some tomatoes, grated zucchini, and lima beans that I froze from our summer garden (free from the garden). I’ll have the base of the soup be some chicken that I caught on sale last week.  The onions, a bit of kale, and some parsley will come from the garden (again essentially free).  The rest of the ingredients were mostly bought on sale—celery, carrots, potatoes, various beans, peas, corn, and green beans.

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Meal 4

Second Chance Buffet

Approximate cost—$0

Ways I saved on this meal—At least one time a week I try to plan a meal based on leftovers.  Hubby said that he saw online where a mom started calling this meal the Second Chance Buffet.  I like that idea and have adopted the title. 

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Meal 5

Breakfast for Supper

Breakfast burritos
Fruit

Approximate cost--$5

Ways I saved on this meal—Breakfast is some of the least expensive and easy to make food out there.  On this day, I’ll use some leftover tortillas from a fajita meal last week and stuff them with eggs that I scramble with some vegetables and cheese.  I’ll add a little fruit salad to the side with some canned mandarin oranges, pears, bananas, and berries from the freezer.  The oranges and pears were bought on sale. I almost always buy bananas that are marked down (or not at all).  The berries were some that we picked during the summer months and froze.  The eggs were bought from a local farmer, the cheese on sale, and the vegetables will be from the garden and from what we froze from the summer garden.

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Meal 6

Potluck dinner at the church

I’ll bring mashed potatoes, cookies, and a few pots of tea.

Approximate cost--$6

Ways I saved on this meal—It always seems like we run out beverages at potluck dinners, and so I’ll make a few pots of tea to bring with us.  Ever since I was pregnant with our daughter, I have been making pots of tea that were mostly decaf.  I find that decaf Lipton tea lacks a little flavor, and so I mix some of the Stash brand Orange Spiced tea with it.  People seem to really like it, and given that this is an evening meal, they appreciate that they won’t be up for much of the night.  I buy Lipton tea when I catch a sale and have a coupon.  I buy Stash tea from Frontier, and they have the best price I’ve found for it.  I’m making mashed potatoes because the last few potlucks have run low on side dishes, and I figured this is a dish that most everyone likes.  The potatoes and butter were on sale.  The milk that I prefer is Cruze Dairy Farm milk, grown with organic means but priced lower than organic milk at the store.  I’ll whip up some of these cookies, and I’ll double the recipe so that I have some extras to bring to a marshmallow roast at a friend’s house.  The organic oats were bought in a 25 lb bag last year when on sale and split with a friend.  The organic butter was on closeout sale.  The chocolate chips were some I bought last fall with a sale and coupon.  I almost always buy my organic raisins at Three Rivers Market.  They have sales on them a few times a year, and I can score organic in bulk for lower than regular packaged at the store. 

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Meal 7

Snack Supper

Boiled Eggs
Crudités and Dip
Leftover fruit salad

Approximate cost--$2

Ways I saved on this meal—Since I know that there is one day this weekend that we have both a friend birthday party and a marshmallow roast at a friend’s house, we’ll keep supper light on that evening.  I’ll bring some of the cookies that I made for the potluck supper as a treat to share.  The eggs are bought from a local farmer.  The Helluva dip cost less than a dime after the 50ct printable coupon and Mega Sale last week at Kroger. 

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