Sunday, May 22, 2011

Meal planning

With the price of gas, and the cost of groceries skyrocketing it seems there is less and less of a budget these days. I have been asked by several friends to post how we stretch our grocery $$$. I, by no means am an expert in the matter but I can offer my two cents on how we manage the grocery budget.

I DON'T do coupons! I would clip them and then forget them. I never found $100+ of savings on things I use. I don't find it worth my while to clip coupons and spend money on things I don't usually buy or use, so I just avoid it.

I also LIKE food! I don't want to eat like I am on a budget, no ramen sandwiches, and tuna potato chip casseroles. I like nice tasty food. I like to try new recipes. I like to eat healthier. We eat a lot of fruit, veggies, and yogurt and still pinch our pennies.

While my mother inlaw was here over Christmas she got me started on freezer meals. In February I started eating healthier. SO between reading up on these two subjects I started to realize I needed a plan.
With these two things in mind, I planned. I planned every meal for the pay period. In so doing I created a shopping list. I then add what I need to replenish and to restock our food storage closet to my grocery list (I take a quick inventory every pay period). This takes me about 20-30 minutes, now that I have compiled my recipes in one place, and now that I am familiar with my storage closet and kitchen contents.

As general budget crunching ideas go, I try to do
1. one spaghetti meal
2. have the kids eat oatmeal a few times a week for breakfast
3. we have laying hens so we eat eggs once a week
4. try to make a few meals with the same type of meat in them beef/pork/chicken so you can buy in bulk
5. make some lunch snacks from scratch cookies/muffins/brownies and freeze them
6. find something you are good at cooking/baking that you can do from scratch to cut costs (I make bread. It costs me appr. $1.50/whole wheat loaf bread, over the $3 I pay for the good stuff we liked at the grocery store. You can soak dried beans instead of using canned beans, make your own soup stock, make your own ice cream, grow a garden and freeze produce to last all year. What ever your niche is!)
7. I make 2-3 of the exact same meal at one time and freeze the extra portions on a few meals. This gives me the option for a quick meal if I don't want to cook, I just remove from the freezer, defrost and bake. No pizza or trip to McDonald's required!
8. Don't go shopping hungry. I always eat befor heading into town for groceries. Then we usually start our trip to Walmart with a quick stop for something to munch while shopping getting a popcorn chicken at the deli (I know not so healthy!). For the extra $2 it works for us!

I have borrowed several recipe books from friends and the library. I have stalked several food blogs. I have complied a good variety of recipes my family likes. Now, I am slowly learning what recipes freeze well and others that don't.

This recipe from a previous entry is a great freezer meal! My husbands and the boys favorite!
Here are three other families favorites. I'll try to add three more later this week.
I always add more veggies than the recipe requires, and less meat. Not for the economical reasons but because I like veggies more.

Feel free to send me your family's favorite recipes!


  1. What's the secret to cooking dry beans? I just can't seem to do them right and end up tossing them rather than ruining the dish I am making.

  2. Great ideas. I like to cook up lots of ground meat or chicken and freeze it in 1 lb. portions so I can just grab it and put it in the pot. Makes coming home to cook an ez task.

  3. I am so with you on all of these recommendations! My "niche" is making homemade stock - tastier and less salt, and super easy! ...but I'd really love to develop bread-making skills. Do you have one or two standard recipes you always use (and would share)? Or do you try lots of different kinds?