Back on a tight budget means back to menu planning for us! I was able to spend some time on Saturday and get a good idea of what foods we have in addition to doing some extra food prep that should come in handy when things get busy in the spring again. If you want to check out the new recipes I used you can!
Breakfast- Saturday- left-over pancakes and sausage balls from dinner on Thursday. Sunday- Bacon and Pimento cheese biscuits. Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday- Leftovers (baked oatmeal or pancakes) or choices. Thursday- Omelet, Friday- Baked oatmeal.
Lunch- The kids have 2 sandwich days, 2 grab and go days and soup. I am taking left-overs each day. Lily has left-overs, mac and cheese or ramen noodles. Saturday lunch- left-over wings and pizza from Amanda. Sunday- Mexican rice and Chicken Enchiladas
Dinners- Saturday- Italian Cream Chicken, Sunday- Lazy Day beef Stew, Monday Spaghetti, Tuesday Salisbury Steak, glazed carrots and rice, Wednesday- Chicken Fried Rice and Friday- Pulled Pork.
So far so great on our grocery budget for the month, we have spent $21.61 which includes the purchase of a Sunday paper.
Today, I am saving time and money by cooking ahead! I am also sticking to items that I have in the pantry or freezer as I have a very small grocery budget this month. Today, I focused on using frozen chicken breast. I was very pleasantly surprised when my instapot was able to cook 10 breast from frozen to done in less than an hour (30 minutes actually pressure time). I shredded those in my kitchen aid and used for a Chicken Taco Casserole and Chicken Enchiladas. I also froze 2 packs of shredded chicken. The casserole is one of our quick easy items to use on a busy day. Chicken Enchiladas will be lunch tomorrow. While the instapot was working, I started dinner for tonight, which was Creamy Italian Chicken. This is a recipe that Amanda has made before so I knew that it was good. That is a total of 5 meals in less than 2 hours of total time.
Matt made a batch of homemade pimento cheese that we will use for breakfast in the morning . I also pulled out the ingredients for a beef stew for dinner tomorrow night. This recipe is from Zach’s calendar so he is excited to try it.
The best part of all these meals is cost today is $0! We used all the ingredients from the pantry and freezer. First week of January behind us with a total of $20 spent in groceries!
Menu Planning has taken on a new level and meaning this week. I “forgot” to record the paying of a bill last week. This mistake meant that we were not able to make our huge restocking trip to Costco on Thursday as we had originally planned. Instead, we scaled way back and spent less than $100 to purchase meat and several other items that we were completely out of. This week, the plan is to shop on Saturday. I know this is not the smartest thing we could do but it will be easier this Saturday as opposed to next Thursday prior to Christmas. This weeks menu plan is simple and uses what we have or were able to purchase last week.
Breakfast- Saturday- Cereal and milk. Sunday-Big Breakfast ( eggs, bacon, grits and toast), Monday thru Thursday Choices or cereal and milk, . Friday- Baked oatmeal-Choices of eggs, fried bologna, grits, French toast or toast.
Saturday- Kids ate at Amanda’s, Matt had Burger King and I had Biscuit King (both Matt and I ended up working) Sunday- Baked Potato Soup in Instapot. I am so excited that this worked and turned out awesome! Lunch are planned out with a special treat on Thursday of IHOP since everyone has doctor appointments and we have a gift card left over from our trip!
Dinner- Saturday- Chili from crock-pot. Sunday- Burger King (total of $5 after gift card), Monday- Pork Chops with stuffing and green beans. Tuesday- Spaghetti Wednesday- Salisbury Steak, rice and fruit. Thursday- not sure yet but it may just be left-overs. Friday- Church dinner!
The first way I am saving is the easiest and I have blogged about it several times. I am staying at home. Even if I decide to run out just to grab one item, I am 100 times more likely to spend money than if I simply stay at home. I should also add that I am avoiding online shopping as well. Unless I find a deal that is below stock up price I simply do not shop.
I am saving time and money both my cooking ahead. This morning, since we are at home. I made a batch of Breakfast Burrito bowls. Totally cost for at least 3 mornings of breakfast for all of us $4. I was able to use green pepper from the garden which helped reduce the cost. The kids love Banana Chip Bites. These are basically milk and bananas blend and frozen in muffin tins. They also add chocolate chips to make them special. My using bananas that were previously frozen, this makes a really cheap breakfast or desert. Some of our other favorite for cooking ahead right now are meatloaf muffins and chicken enchiladas.
The final way I am saving money this Saturday is by shopping my pantry and freezers. I am trying to dramatically reduce our grocery budget over the last several month of this year. In order to accomplish this I am trying to make sure I use what is in our freezers and pantry. I headed out to the building this morning to bring up stew beef, cubed steak, roast, ground beef, chicken and chicken fried rice. We have a menu plan but I usually don’t plan ahead for weekends or Thursdays. This gives us a chance to eat up leftovers or be a little bit more creative, the only problem is that I forget what we actually have in the freezers. This morning I brought up several items that are not on the plan but that I can use to create a meal. I also made sure to restock our snack drawers and found three additional boxes of pasta that can be used over the next several months. I know myself well enough to realize that if my freezer’s are full than I won’t “think” I need to go shopping even if that is really not the case. At least for the next week or so, I know we have plenty of food so I will continue to try and use what we have to make meals.
I was so excited and pleased when Amanda purchased me a electric pressure cooker for my birthday and even let me start playing with it early. I have been watching for about a year and it was on my list of things I wanted but could not justify. I was planning to LOVE it! But I have waited a full two weeks before writing this post because I really don’t love it. I am not even sure I like it. I am also thinking that once I learn this appliance and find the right uses for it I will LOVE it. For the present here are some things I have learned.
- When reading a recipe I really wish that it would say, Allow 30 minutes to pressurize. This is major reason that I am not in love with it. I have been searching out recipes and reading where it says Cook for 15 minutes. So my brain says ok I can make this in less than an hour. Nope hold up, I need to add 30 minutes to my time in order for the pot to pressurize.
- BBQ Chicken legs will be the bomb. I even cooked chicken wings today without unthawing so this will be a great thing to remember when I have not laid out meat to unthaw and need a good meal in an hour.
- Cheesecake is the bomb in the pressure cooker. I can’t wait to try this desert again.
- Sunday Soups are going to be much easier especially beef stew. I made a trial run on Sunday and it was easy and really good!
- Frozen ground beef is easier to unthaw and fry in large batches or even small batches and makes less of a mess than trying to use the electric pressure cooker.
I guess in the end, I prefer my Crock pot for the ease, clean up and convenience.
I am continuing to try and find ways to love my instant pot. On Friday, I read that you could brown ground beef using frozen meat, so I gave it a try. I will have to say that honestly it was more work than it was worth. I did have success with beef stew on Sunday so at least I can make a new delicious Sunday lunch now.
Our other really good food news of the week is that our garden is continuing to produce, not huge amounts but just enough. I have already frozen what I hope is enough diced tomatoes for the winter. My goal over the next couple of weeks is to collect enough tomatoes to make a batch of spaghetti sauce a week, this means I need to collect 8 pounds of tomatoes. We are also eating tomatoes on a daily basis, if I cant collect the 8 pounds I will continue to freeze half cup packages for the winter. Matt harvest pimentos and made an awesome homemade pimento cheese but my favorite still remains the watermelon we are getting.
Finally in food news, we are continue to plan and eat out of the pantry and freezer, I currently have a meal plan until September but with school starting we may have to make some small changes to this.
Breakfast– Saturday-Biscuit King-treat before the swim meet. Sunday- French toast with a freezer stash made as well. Monday-Choice Tuesday- Sausage biscuits and gravy Wednesday- Choices . Thursday- Pancakes . Friday- Baked Oatmeal with blueberries?. Choices include : eggs, grits, left-overs , toast or cereal, pop-tarts
Lunch- This week sandwiches and left overs make the list for lunch. No special plans at all.
Dinner- Saturday-Lunch-Pasta salad . Dinner- -Pizza from gift card
Sunday- Lunch-Beef stew in instapot . Dinner- left-overs
Monday- Hamburger helper and fresh green beans
Tuesday- Taco Tuesday
Wednesday- Breakfast casserole
Thursday- Coconut shrimp if I am home.
Friday- Pulled pork and glazed carrots.
As hard as I try not to think it and dare not speak it, my life continues, I know that I will continue to mourn and miss my dad forever but time does not stand still so I keep praying and stepping out in faith. We have our typical busy week going on with four evening of multiple activities this week and most likely a cheer competition on Saturday. Menu planning is the only way we can function.
Breakfast– Saturday-French toast. Sunday- Cereal for kids and baked oatmeal for me. Monday-Baked oatmeal for everyone Tuesday- Choices Wednesday- choices. Thursday- Scrambled eggs, bacon and biscuits. Friday- Choices. Choices include : baked oatmeal, eggs, grits, French toast, toast or cereal.
Lunch- Zach and Kendall have chicken and stars soup, chicken nuggets, , homemade lunchable and chips w/salsa. I am taking left-overs this week. Zach has decided he wants to purchase lunch at school this week, he will be using his own money as well. We did limit it to one time per week.
Dinner- Saturday- lunch chicken wings, fried pickle chips and cheese sticks. Dinner- Grilled chicken
Sunday- Lunch- Panda Panda (local Chinese place) Dinner- choice of left-overs
Monday- Rice Creole
Tuesday-Steak and baked sweet potato
Wednesday- Roast in crock pot
Thursday- Corn dogs (Sonic has for $0.50)
Friday- Spinach Ravioli .
Do you have your plans made?
Today is Snow Day #2 for us. The kids school has already been cancelled for tomorrow and I would bet a delay or closure again on Tuesday. I have a really short day at work tomorrow to begin with so even if I go regular schedule, we should still enjoy another day with extra time at home. I feel very confident and satisfied with our breakfast choices. I am also extremely hopefully to keep our grocery budget less than $100 this month as we have finally completed a plan for the month. You will notice more elaborate, read time consuming, meals at the beginning of the week.
Breakfast– Saturday- pancakes. Sunday- French toast Monday-Egg muffins Tuesday- baked oatmeal Wednesday- choices. Thursday- Choices Friday- Choices. Saturday- Pancakes Choices include : pancakes, baked oatmeal, eggs, grits, French toast, toast or cereal.
Lunch- Zach and Kendall have chicken and stars soup, chicken nuggets, ham and cheese roll up, homemade lunchable and chips w/salsa. I am taking left-overs this week.
Dinner- Saturday- Chicken Stew Dinner- Chicken Stew.
Sunday- Lunch- personal pizza on bread Dinner- shoulder roast with carrots and potatoes, deviled eggs and broccoli corn bread.
Monday- Copy cat lettuce wraps
Tuesday- Alice Springs chicken with sweet potatoes and pineapple
Wednesday- Sloppy joes and FF
Thursday- Stuffed green peppers
Friday- Leftovers or pizza.
Matt will be going to pick up buns for our sloppy joes along with eggs this week before our local Aldi closes for remodeling.
Today was officially a snow day in NC, that definitely helped with the saving as our cheerleading competition was cancelled which at minimum saved us $30 in admission.
I mentioned that I am participating in a low spend challenge, I have budgeted $100 for groceries this month. I did spend $14 on Monday at CVS and my plan was to hold on to the rest until it was a need. The need and some wants found me on Thursday, I went to our local Aldi to grab some plastic wrap and realized that they will be closing next week for 6-8 weeks of construction. We decided to go ahead and grab some items that will be needed before March. We spent a total of $42. The need that came about today is for labelling tape, so another $5 on Amazon. My totals are now at $61 for the month which leaves an $39 for any need that may arise.
The second challenge is Eat from your pantry. This is actually a very easy and doable challenge as we have a pantry full in addition to several full freezers. We have actually have two full weekends at home, thanks to the snow, therefore I have been trying to stock up on some prepared foods that we really like and can use during the hectic weeks ahead. Last week in my menu plan, I share how we started this process. This weekend, I have already made a huge pot of chicken stew, which we ate for two meal before freezing the remainder for a quick dinner. This morning, Matt made a triple batch of pancakes and the plan is to make French toast in the morning. This should definitely help with breakfast in the next couple of weeks. I am planning to share our menu plan, once we decide on it for next week.
We have started working on making our now dinning room more functional. I am determined not to let this project take over either time wise or financially this year, so small steps. We mover our smallest refrigerator to the outside building, which allowed us to re-position the black refrigerator, removed the cabinets that we hung last year, and placed a shelf back over the black refrigerator for storage. During the process we had to paint the wall. I am proud to say that this was all completed without spending anything. Before sending the cabinets to the dump, we removed the hinges and handles which are going to be reused for the custom buffet I want to complete. I was able to earn a $50 gift card to Lowes last month and Matt grab a $25 one this month. These should allow us to place new electrically and build a “tower” for the internet and cable that comes into the house in this area. The current goal is to have this completed by the end of January with zero out of pocket. In an effort to make goals that are achievable this year, I am going to wait till then to look ahead at the next step.
Our crazy life continues but it appears that we may slow down just a bit after this week. One of the advantages to doing a monthly menu plan is that it allows us to adjust if wanted or needed without running out to the store. I made some big changes from our original plan this week for two reasons. The first was that I was given several food items that need to be used in the next week. Secondly, the weather has finally turned to fall and our garden should be much slower in production in the next couple of weeks. We have been letting our green peppers grow and were rewarded with a HUGE harvest today. I actually had enough to make stuff green peppers for dinner, put away a bag to freeze to use in soup and have enough left to make breakfast burrito bowls later this week.
reakfast– Saturday- Sausage Cresant Rolls(the fill was actually left-over from last week). Sunday- Choices. Monday-Overnight Apple French Toast. Tuesday- Choices Wednesday- choices. Thursday- Breakfast burrito bowl Friday- Choices. Choices include : leftovers, eggs, grits, French toast, pop-tart or toaster strudel, Breakfast croissant, toast or cereal.
Lunch- Our lunch menu has changed as Kendall had a really rough time with her braces and we decided to buy thermos for both Zach and Kendall to use. Monday-Egg salad for Kendall and chicken nuggets for Zach. Tuesday- Macroni and Beef, Wednesday- Kendall wants left over soup and Zach has chicken nuggets again. Thursday-Tomato soup and goldfish, and Friday- Spaghetti O’s. I have already made two salad for this week and will take leftovers otherwise.
Dinner- Saturday- Lunch- leftovers. Dinner- Kimonos(eating out).
Sunday- Lunch- Broccoli- Cheese Soup. Dinner- Stuffed green Peppers. (I also frozen enough stuffing for another meal.)
Monday- Squash peperoni pie. ( Made this up trying to use what we had, if it works will be awesome and easy to throw in again)
Tuesday-Mexican casserole- already in fridge
Wednesday- Kielbasa and rice
Thursday- pulled pork and carrots
Friday- country style steak and gravy or leftovers depends on how the week goes.