I don’t think there should be any doubt that eating a meal at home is way less expensive than eating out. For example, tonight I made oyster stew for four of us for dinner. Total cost $4 including ketchup and crackers so approximately $1 each.
But have you thought about homemade being healthy as well? Matt worked in the restaurant industry for several years and he shared with me one time how a new “organic” restaurant was making there own vegetable stock from the throw away parts of salad ingredients. Now if you know my family, we are not exactly the vegetarian type but it got me thinking and I did some research. I learned that basically chicken broth and beef broth are both water with flavor/fat. So I decided to make my own and save the $6.95 it cost at Walmart. The homemade version contains way less salt and no preservatives!
Last night we enjoyed T-bone steaks from our freezer for dinner. After we finished eating, I simply tossed the remaining bones and fat in several crockpots. I fill with water and turn on low for 12 to 15 hours. No cost really. This morning I turned the pots off and tonight I packaged up the beef broth in Ziploc bags which I was paid to take out of Walmart. Any time a recipe calls for beef broth or a beef bullion cube I use our beef broth. It has no extra preservatives, no extra salt and usually increased the taste of most foods.
I did clean out one of the small crockpots and started a pot of homemade spaghetti sauce. I used up all the tomatoes that we picked last week ahead of the freezing temperatures, green peppers also from the garden. I have dried oregano, frozen basil and parsley leaves that also ended up in the pot. I have this cooking all night and will use the immersion blender in the morning to make the sauce smooth. Again really no cost for us and it contains no preservatives or ingredients I can’t pronounce.
After a really expensive spending week, I am so glad to save some money and keep us on a good financial track.
We usually plan our menu by the month and most times we do the menu planning before going to the store. This Saturday morning we did just that menu plan for the month before heading to Costco. At Costco, we decided to purchase both bagels and Hawaiian Rolls. I definitely did not want these to go to waste so our plan has officially changed twice. But this is life and the ultimate goal is for nothing to go to waste. We are also eating out 3 separate times this week but with a gift card hopefully will still stay on budget.
Breakfast- Saturday- Pimento cheese and Bacon Biscuits, Sunday-Bagels Monday- Bagels Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday- Choice of pop-tarts, breakfast burrito bowl, egg muffins, cereal, toast. eggos or grits.
Lunch-Saturday-Costco Sunday- Mexican restaurant with friends . Kids have lunch packed including lunchables, uncrustables and wraps. My goal is to only eat out on Friday this week: salad, Chicken salad lettuce wraps, grab and go .
Dinner – Saturday-Leftovers Sunday- bagels with choice of topping , Monday-Baked Potatoes Tuesday- Party pop up rolls aka Hawaiian Rolls with meat , Wednesday- Shrimp fettuccine alfredo , Thursday- Chick Filet . Friday-Pulled pork and carrots.
This has been a bit of a different weekend. Everyone was home from Thursday till Monday. All three kids were out of school on Monday so things are a little off. We did manage to eat out only 1 meal (Sunday lunch) and I did prepare a lot of food ahead for the coming weeks and months. You will notice extra soup and soft foods on the menu this week, both Zach and Lily had their braces tighten and need some softer options.
Breakfast- Saturday-Eggs and Bacon, Sunday-Quick meal (we woke up late) Monday- Eggs and toast, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday- Choice of pop-tarts, breakfast burrito bowl, egg muffins, cereal, toast. eggos or grits.
Lunch-Saturday-Baked Potato soup in Instapot Sunday- Coach’s Restaurant with friends . Kids have lunch packed including lunchables, uncrustables and wraps. My goal is to only eat out on Friday this week: salad, humus , pimento cheese and crackers . I even managed to take my lunch on the work day which was Monday.
Dinner – Saturday-Country Style steak Sunday- left-overs , Monday-White Bean chicken chill Tuesday- Soft Taco , Wednesday-Chicken and Broccoli Casserole, Thursday- Sloppy joes and French Fries. Friday-cowboy beans and corn bread(I made baked Ziti last week and ate so we just brought this forward.)
I was surprised and excited to learn on Wednesday that due to the impending hurricane, my school system would close early on Thursday and be closed all day on Friday of this week. The reason for my excitement was the thought of how much I could get ahead with cooking. I made a trip to the grocery store to grab the stuff I needed to make baked ziti Wednesday night. I also ended up sending Matt to the store Thursday night to get some shells we needed.
Here is what my day looked like:
Breakfast- triple batch of sausage gravy. The remainder will stay in the fridge for use for either a hearty quick breakfast or breakfast bowls for dinner next week.
After breakfast, I browned 3# of hamburger meat. We bought a new pan at Costco that made this job so much easier. The meat went into the crockpot with taco seasoning and water while we ventured out to piano.
Lunch- Matt ate an burrito, Zach and Lily had mashed potatoes. Both had adjustments to their braces on Thursday. I had hummus and chips and Kendall a sandwich. After lunch, Matt and I formed an assembly line and made 27 beef and bean burritos. We froze these. Two minute in the microwave and these make a great lunch or quick dinner.
Dinner-I started working on dinner around 3pm. Using my Baked Ziti recipe
( I plan to post and update the link on Saturday). It is very simple to make one ziti to eat and another for freezing. We ended up having friends over for dinner. I was able to pull enough lettuce out of the garden to make a decent salad.
Accomplishment of the day: 3 breakfast meals, 25 frozen burritos and two awesome baked ziti!
We have added several kid activities this week and anticipate that I will begin skype in Guam some time this month. We are adjusting our plans and hopefully will find a new normal very quickly. I have discovered that I simply do not have the time to fix eggs in the morning. I also do not like cereal and a eggo waffles is not enough food. Matt and I cooked up breakfast burrito stuff and egg muffins to make our morning much easier.
Breakfast- Saturday-Biscuits (choice of toppings), Sunday-Men’s breakfast and gravy biscuits. Monday- Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday- Choice of pop-tarts, breakfast burrito bowl, egg muffins, cereal, toast. eggos or grits.
Lunch- left-overs Sunday- Gregg’s Restaurant with friends . Kids have lunch packed including lunchables, uncrustables and wraps. My goal is to only eat out on Friday this week: salad, humus , pimento cheese and crackers . I was successful with only eating out last week on Friday.
Dinner – Saturday-steaks and sweet potatoes, Sunday- left-over or breakfast food prep , Monday-Rice Creola, Tuesday- cheese quesadilla and Mexican rice , Wednesday-Bagel bites , Thursday- Pork fried rice and egg rolls Friday-cowboy beans and corn bread.
We stuck to the plan for most of last week, except we decided to eat Chinese on Friday night as a treat! The kids really like the pepper steak so it will go on the menu again. I am really liking the ability to head to the building on Sunday night and pull up items for dinner for the week. I am finding the theme for this week is clean out the small amount of this and that left in the fridge.
Breakfast- Saturday-Pimento cheese and bacon biscuits , Sunday- Left-over gravy and biscuits. Monday- Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday- Choice of pop-tarts, breakfast burrito bowl, egg muffins, cereal, eggs. eggos or grits.
Lunch- Saturday-hot dogs at Big Toy Day(see pictures) Sunday- Pasta salad and orange mandarin salad. Kids have lunch packed including lunchables, uncrustables and wraps. My goal is to only eat out on Friday this week: salad, tuna salad, pimento cheese and crackers and left-overs
Dinner – Saturday-left-overs from Amanda, Sunday- general left-overs , Monday- Bacon cheese burger pasta, Tuesday- steak fatijias , Wednesday-Chicken pot pie and cole slaw, Thursday- Spaghetti and garlic bread and Friday- stuffed green pepper casserole.
This is the week that I am counting on Menu planning to really pay off. Matt and I both will be working full time and the kids are don’t start school until next Monday. I did try to stock up on Breakfast foods this past weekend.
Breakfast- Saturday-Breakfast burrito bowls (using gravy from Friday), Sunday- Eggs with pesto and cottage cheese for Zach and me, Pop-tarts for the girls and left over burrito bowl for Matt. Monday- Burrito bowl minus gravy for me, fruit for kids and cereal for Matt Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday- Choice of pop-tarts, breakfast burrito bowl, egg muffins, cereal, eggs or grits.
Lunch- Saturday-lunch out with friends Sunday- Pizza from Dominos. I will be eating out most of the week at my new job, Monday- left over pizza and bagel bites, Tuesday- burritos for everyone but Kendall who is eating a lunchable. Wednesday- Mac and chesses, the blue box kind, Thursday- Sandwiches, Friday- left-overs or uncrustables.
Dinner – Saturday- Hot dogs Sunday- Baked potatoes , Monday- Salisbury steak, mashed potatoes, green beans and watermelon, Tuesday- Chicken Enchiladas from freezer, Wednesday-Slow cooked pepper steak , Thursday- Corn dogs from Sonic after meet the teacher and Friday-Pull pork, veggie and fruit.
Matt and I actually planned the menu for the next six weeks but will make adjustments and changes are we see fit. I am so excited and ready to see the kids every night at dinner!
- The past week has really flown by. I was able to accomplish almost everything on my list for this second vacation week! Including hair cuts for all of us and a nail trim for Rugar!
- Starting Monday, both Matt and I will be working full time. This will be the first time in our marriage (13 years) that we will both be working full-time.
- One of the main things I am concerned about is cooking and groceries. We will all continue to take lunches as well as eat the majority if not all of our meals at home. I have spent a considerable amount of time and money on groceries this week. I have visited Costco twice, Food Lion three times and Walmart and Harris Teeter. I have spent a total of $467 just this week. I will probably end close to $500 as I am going to stop at Food Lion for more Diet Cokes over the next several day. I am able to purchase 10 2L of Diet Coke for $9.52 until Tuesday. After doing most of the cooking on Monday, I have continued to add simple things by cooking double most of the week.
- We finally got around to weeding and watering the garden today. I discovered that my lettuce had self seeded and I have a bunch of small plants. I am going to leave and see if any grow larger enough to eat. We also harvested several watermelon and two full buckets of green peppers. I am hopefully that we will continue to harvest tomatoes, pimentos and peppers for at least another month. I was also very excited to see that my sweet potatoes are starting to grow. They can stay in the ground until the first frost which is around the end of October.
- I was also able to complete a picture collage using pictures from our Disney 2015 trip. I have only had the collage picture for 4 months!
Did I mention how excited I am to start at Davie County Schools on Monday?
One of the biggest changes or should I say most difficult change for me, is going to be that I am responsible for dinner most days of the week. Both Matt and I will be working until around 4:30pm each day. I know myself and realize that if I don’t have something that is already complete in the crockpot or can be placed in the oven with five minutes or less of prep than I will want to eat out. But really after working all day who does want to cook? With this in mind, I spent most of my day today working on meal preparation. I know there are a couple of people who wander what and how so I am going to provide probably too many details.
First up was left-over chicken and pasta from the beach. This was an excellent meal made by Amanda but we had leftovers especially chicken breast. I shredded 1/4 of the chicken breast, mixed in about half a block of cream cheese together with the left-over pasta and this was our lunch today. I shredded the rest of the chicken breast, added a bag of frozen vegetables, cut up a potato, 2 cans of cream of chicken soup mixed with a cup of chicken broth and pour on top. Kendall wrote a index card with the directions for the topping and in the freezer it went.
I purchased a 10 pound bag of chicken breast from Costco that I pulled out next. I used my insta pot to cook approximately 4 pounds, really as full as it would go. Next, the kitchen aid shredded the chicken. I was able to make 2 containers of Chicken Broccoli Casserole . I have learned that I needed to chop up the broccoli in order to make everyone happy. I also made 2 batches of Chicken Enchiladas- I don’t add the salsa or cheese on top before freezing. Finally made a regular Chicken Pie. Kendall added a card with instructions. I also labeled both the top and side with what each thing was. I added about another 3 pounds of chicken breast to the instapot and cut this is cubes for Chicken Fried Rice. ( I will try and add the recipe for this soon). I left 6 breast in the bag and added a bottle of Italian dressing. This will marinate for 3 or 4 days and become awesome grilled chicken. That is a total of 8 meals from one bag of chicken and 9 meals prepped for the day.
We, Matt and I did an inventory last night and we have 2 meals of cowboy beans, a meal of taco soup, several meals of Salisbury steak, taco meat and sloopy joes all prepared. Matt is also excited to find 10 more frozen burritos.
Taco meat is easy, brown 5 pounds of hamburger dump in crock pot along with water and seasoning, cook on low for 3-4 hours. We divide ours into 1# bags for either tacos or nachos.
Sloppy joes are similar with 5 pounds of browned hamburger, this also cooks in the crook pot for several hours. These are also packed in 1# bags, which feeds the 6 or 7 of us easily.
We also have lots of beef from the cow we purchased. I do want to make some easy breakfast this week but am starting to feel more comfortable with our meals. The last stage will be writing out a meal plan for the month some time this week.