My husband was kind enough to write out my budget for me, so I can see where I'm spending all this money. I found that while I can't help some of the high priced item we do buy, I can certainly make up for it in others. My first thought on how to reduce our budget was to have a skinny week, meaning spend as little as possible. This means no store bought convenience foods. No oreo's, chips, or teddy grahams for us, and no easy cheat foods like Ian's chicken nuggets either. Some meals I made big, and we had leftovers several times, but hey, it's the skinny week, we'll all just have to suck it up. The idea of having no simple "ready to go" items made me nervous, but I did find a solution. Here is what our first skinny week looked like.
First, on saturday, I decided on our menu for the week and wrote out the grocery list. Then it was off to the store. Well, two actually. We have a store called sprouts, and their produce is always priced cheap. Anyway, when I got home and totaled my receipts, I had spend $150 and the real whammy here, is that I bought two weeks worth of groceries! If you want to give the skinny week (or two) a try, here are some super simple, and cheap, recipe's to try.
First you brown a pound of hamburger, drain the grease, then add in a bottle of tomato juice and a couple cups of rice. I generally use minute brand brown rice. By the time the juice has simmered down to a sauce, the rice is cooked and dinner is served. The two of us ate this for lunch Monday through Friday while the hubs. was at work. For under $10 munchkin and I had 5 meals each. That's one dollar per meal!
Monday, we had ham and beans for dinner. All you need is 1 pound dried northern beans, 1 pound ham shanks, and a few shakes of onion powder. Since I already had the onion, I spend $1.15 on the beans and $2.99 on the ham shanks. All you have to do is rinse and sort your beans, in case any pebbles made their way in there, then add everything to your crock pot. Let it cook on low for 8 hours and then pull the meat off the bone and you're done.
Tuesday and Wednesday, we had these delicious pulled pork sandwiches from The Gracious Pantry. My daughter refuses to eat any bread other than ener-g tapioca, so she had hers plain. I served them with a side of corn and apple slices. We all really liked this recipe, but in the future I will either be using less tomato sauce or more meat. There was a TON of sauce left in the bottom when we were done.
Thursday and Saturday nights, we ate this cilantro lime chicken from octobers morning. I made two bags of it ( so double your ingredients) when I got home from the store, the saturday before(I also prepped the runza meat below), and it was my solution to not having any quick meals. I did not purchase any of the toppings she had suggested, we just ate it as is. Since the three of us ate this twice, it ended up costing $3 a plate.
Friday night, saturday and sunday lunch we had runza casserole. It's super simple. I fried 3 pounds of hamburger with 2 onions, salt and pepper, then drained the grease. Add in 6 cups shredded cabbage and continue to stir it around until all the cabbage is cooked through. If you have a food processor, grind the mixture (it helps it stick together) for a few seconds. If not, that's OK. I bagged the meat and froze it, thinking I would use some for runza's and some for ravioli, but I couldn't find a ravioli cutter, so that will be an adventure for another day. Anyways, for the casserole, I made the bisquick biscuits as directed, but with soy milk. Then take half the mix and smash it into the bottom of a 9x9 square pan. Top it with the hamburger mix, then roll out the other half of the dough and put it on top. Bake according to the biscuit directions. I used bisquick because it was already in the house. Crescent sheets would have worked as well, or if I wasn't being lazy I could have made my own bread, but oh well. I spent about $18 on this recipe, which that came out to $2 a plate since three of us ate it three times.
Oh, and for breakfast all week we had homemade banana and zuchini bread. Did you notice I didn't talk much about side dishes? Well, I bought a bunch of fresh fruits and raw veggies, and we munched on them whenever we needed a snack or a side dish.