Thursday, July 5, 2012

July Menu & Pantry Challenge

The execution of last month's menu plan went really well, with just a few meals omitted and a couple frozen pizzas thrown into the mix for good measure.   I'll just admit right now that some days I just don't feel like cooking, and while I usually just push through that feeling and make dinner anyway, it is good to have an option or two that can be thrown in the oven without any work or mess.  And as a family we did not eat out even once!  

For July I'm hoping to do a bit of a pantry challenge and reduce our budget for groceries, household goods, diapers, clothing & shoes, and dining out to $375 for our family of 7.  We had some minor expenditures for an anniversary date last weekend and Starbucks on the road yesterday, but I'm starting this challenge today so I'm not including those expenses.  We have been blessed with a variety of foods from a friend who is preparing to move, with many bags of frozen corn from my family and with meals from my family as we were with them for a few days recently.  We're continuing on with Bountiful Baskets produce pick-ups and have been very pleased with the variety, freshness and quantity of what we have gotten so far.

The game plan for this month:
- Use up lots of stuff from the pantry and freezer.
- Eat lots of produce from our Bountiful Baskets orders and stock up and freeze in-season fruits that I might find at super low prices.
- Minimize grocery shopping trips. 
- Empty and defrost the deep freeze. I got a great start at the cleaning out part when I brought 70+ bags of milk to the milk bank last week.  I'm so thankful that some benefit came from all that work with our baby girl.
- Avoid food waste.
- Enjoy a family splurge (from our budgeted amount), maybe in the form of a meal or ice cream out.

Dinners - served with vegetables from our produce pick-up unless specified
1. ham & pineapple pizza, spinach salad
2. hot dogs, baked beans, carrots & celery
3. balsamic & feta chicken pasta salad
4. spaghetti & meat sauce, garlic parmesan bread sticks
5. chicken quesadillas
6. chicken & wild rice casserole, green beans
7. buffalo turkey meatballs w/mashed potatoes
8. omelets, cranberry orange scones
9. homemade baked beans w/ham, cornbread
10. beans & rice w/lots of toppings
11. lentil soup, fresh rolls
12. chicken soup w/homemade noodles
13. vegetable pasta skillet
14. IKEA meatballs, mashed potatoes & cream sauce, lingonberry sauce, green beans - a little indulgence from a trip to Denver last month
15. beef enchiladas
16. shredded chicken sandwiches w/ tangy sauce, baked beans 
17. carmelized garlic chicken, roasted potatoes
18. hamburgers, chips, fruit salad
19. pizza, veggie platter w/homemade ranch dressing
20. beef roast, mashed potatoes & gravy, peas
21. BBQ beef sandwiches, rice
22. taco salad 
23. bratwurst, potato salad
24. chicken and cheese white spaghetti 
25. Clean out the fridge or eat out!

Lunches - served with fruits and veggies
leftovers Always my first choice since they seem to be less appealing with age, so I try to use them up quickly.
whole wheat ham and cheese braid
egg salad sandwiches
chicken salad sandwiches
salad bar
mac & cheese
snack lunch

Breakfasts - served with fruit and/or homemade yogurt
homemade granola
soaked oatmeal w/fruit
pancakes w/fruit syrup
toast w/jam
green smoothies
whole wheat cinnamon rolls
yogurt granola parfaits
English muffin bread w/jam
egg sandwiches on English muffin bread

Baking, Snacks & Treats
whole wheat bread - 1 batch/week
caramel corn
key lime bars
oat fudge bars
chips & homemade salsa

ice cream cones
pudding, fruit, graham cracker parfaits

This month of making better use of what we have has been inspired by the Pantry Challenge at Good Cheap Eats and No Spend Month at Small Notebook.

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