Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Menu Plan #1 {Making Do}

A key component in making do this month for us is taking stock of what we have on hand and working a menu plan.  A produce order pick-up won't be possible until the middle of the month, so the first couple weeks are really going to be made up of food we already have stocked.  Here goes.

W - 1/1 (easing in since it is a holiday)
B: bagels & cream cheese, apple slices
L: steak, baked potatoes, baked beans
D: beef & peppers with beans, tortillas, cheese & sour cream (sadly, we're already out of rice)
Snack for a gathering: caramel corn, fruit pizza (sugar cookie crust frozen, left from cut out cookies we made for Christmas)

Th - 1/2
B: homemade granola, apples
L: turkey & cheese biscuits, grapes
D: turkey, mashed potatoes & gravy, green beans
Prep: remove & portion meat for several meals (some to freezer), make broth

F - 1/3
B: homemade granola, apples
L: snack lunch - ham, fruit, crackers & cheese
D: turkey cheddar bake (spaghetti noodles + partial bags of frozen veg. + a roux)

S - 1/4
B: peach crisp (frozen peaches + the end of the granola)
L: leftovers
D: spaghetti & meatballs (sneak sweet potato into sauce), garlic breadsticks, frozen veg.
Prep: egg noodles for soup, batch of whole wheat bread

S - 1/5
B: w.w. toast, fruit
L: turkey noodle soup, crackers & cheese, homemade applesauce (freezer)
D: grilled cheese and/or snack dinner - popcorn, apples, etc.
Prep: make chocolate chip or chewy ginger cookies

M - 1/6
B: steel cut oats with blueberries
L: turkey sandwiches, apples, cookie
D: baked ham (freezer) & beans, cornbread, orange berry smoothies

T - 1/7
B: w.w. pancakes, apple cinnamon syrup (made a huge batch for teacher gifts and have lots leftover
L: leftovers or almond butter sandwiches
D: gourmet mac & cheese (freezer), broccoli

W - 1/8
B: pancakes, apples
L: pizza soup
D: saucy veg. beef (freezer) & garlic mashed potatoes
Prep: batch of whole wheat bread

Th - 1/9
B: cinnamon bread
L: chicken salad sandwiches
D: brat/veg/pasta skillet, apples

F - 1/10
B: pumpkin (freezer) w.w. pancakes
L: leftovers, homemade apple sauce (freezer)
D: homemade pizza

S - 1/11 - pick up produce and plan again
B: sausage, egg & potato casserole

Kitchen goals:
- clean cupboards & drawers, inside and out
- defrost chest freezer
- clear kitchen island and deal with all the paper so I can easily use that space for meal prep

Are you eating from the pantry this month?

A Month of Making Do

With Christmas behind us and a bit too much spending this season, it is time to scale back, use up what we have already purchased, and reestablish some good financial habits.  To that end, I'm challenging myself with a really low grocery budget for January. The goal is to spend no more than $240 for our family of 7 and not eat out at all. That figure includes all food, personal care items, paper products, and diapers.

- Because we've gotten sloppy in our spending and use of a credit card.  We pay it off in full each month, but still, it has become a little too easy to just swipe the card and forget it. 
- To become mindful again about the difference between needs and wants. The line has gotten a little blurry.
- To enjoy what we already have at our disposal and practice gratitude.
- To save from our normal budget to recover from Christmas expenses and set the tone for financial prudence for the new year.
- To get back into the habit of keeping careful records of expenses.  We've been budgeting about $500 per month for all the above expenses for about the last year but I want to know if that is a realistic number given our family size and the ages of our kids. 
- To practice some delayed gratification in our "I've-have-to-have-this-now" culture we live in.

- With careful menu planning, limited shopping, and using up the ingredients and supplies we've already purchased.  Sometimes it is just good to deplete the stockpile to ensure that things don't go to waste.
- By doing without some things that we might really enjoy.  (Dr. Pepper, I'm looking at you.)
- By filling up some of the time I would have spent shopping on creative projects which I already have supplies for.

I'm up for the challenge, so away we go!