Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Budget Meals

For some, an easy way to trim up the monthly budget is to spend less on groceries.  One has to be careful though because without a plan for the food budget (or any budget I will argue) he or she might spend even more than planned. Having a menu or shopping list in hand at the grocery store is a great start to staying within budget.  Going in the store with cash only is very helpful too!

Don't get me wrong, my husband and I love food, especially desserts--see the cookies in the background?  But we're willing to sacrifice on food to put some money to other goals--like the kids' college fund we will open next month. 
Ruth and Paul B at Wymount
But, if you asked us to cut back on utilities--air conditioning and heat in particular--no way.  We'd rather eat rice and salt then cut back on air and heat.

In January I spent about $217.  Since we bought a LOT of food for Christmas, we were able to use the surplus in January.  For example, last week we had split pea soup for dinner.  I bought some dried, split peas at the store for about $0.70 a bag and used the ham hock from the Christmas ham.  I just bagged it up and put it in the freezer till we used it.  I added an onion and some celery to the soup and made some rolls.  Dinner cost just a few dollars.

Here is my dinner menu from the last week of January:

Sunday: Fried chicken,  frozen green beans--but of course heated up before we ate them!, jello while listening to a Conference talk
Monday: Grilled cheese sandwiches, baked beans, homemade cinnamon rolls for Family Home Evening dessert
Tuesday: Beef stroganoff, broccoli
Wednesday: Split pea soup, rolls, pudding for bedtime snack
Thursday: Rice with gravy, canned green beans, applesauce for bedtime snack
Friday: Linguine with alfredo sauce (or white sauce), corn, chocolate chip cookies and popcorn for game night 
Saturday: Spaghetti (ran out of veggies!)

Here is the break down of the menu items I didn't have to buy for that week.  Lee and I each allotted ourselves some "play money" before Christmas. I don't buy very much meat as it saves money and occasionally he will buy some with his play money.  He saw the chicken and wanted to try his hand at fried chicken.  Also the baked beans that we had with our sandwiches I had bought a few months back, along with the canned green beans we had with rice and gravy (I just used 2 cans of cream of chicken soup--bought them at Target for $0.50 each--added milk and seasonings to taste).  I will admit rice and gravy isn't my favorite meal, but it filled the belly and the kids liked it.

Here is the recipe for the split pea soup.  My kids liked it--they ate it all!  Lee and I of course really liked it.

Split Pea Soup
1 1lb. bag of dried, split peas
1 medium onion
1 cup chopped celery (or however much you want!)
ham hock or bacon
9 cups water
olive oil
for taste: thyme, garlic powder, cumin, salt, pepper

I sauteed the onion and celery in olive oil, then added that bag of peas, 9 cups of water and the ham hock. I just put in some thyme, garlic powder, salt and pepper.  I rarely measure, but a rough guess would be 1/4 tsp. of thyme, 1/2 -1 tsp garlic powder, 1/4 tsp. cumin, 1-2 tsp. salt, 1/2 tsp. pepper.  Of course you could throw in some fresh minced garlic at the beginning along with the onion and celery.  Bring to a boil and turn to medium heat, cooking for about 1 hour and 45 minutes, stir occasionally.   If you use bacon, I would cook it first in the pan before you add in the onions and celery.  I think the ham or bacon gives it a nice smoky flavor. Would serve about 6 adults.

For February I will spend about $230 for groceries. I am saving my receipts and will post them on the blog so if interested, you can see exactly what I will buy/have bought.


Bryan & Ashley said...

Ruth, how do you do your beef stroganaff? Also, do you plan the entire month out ahead of time (ie, do you have the whole month of February planned out)?

Emilee said...

Soup is always a good budget-friendly meal for us. Even when the recipe involves meat, we can spread it through so many meals because we have leftovers in the fridge and then I can freeze another meal or two worth for later.