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Monday, October 12, 2009

Frugal cooking, even with meat!

Week one of no spend month found us with $246.52 remaining in our budget. With some creative menu planning I cut our grocery budget by 35% last week, but we ate very well - I found some great frugal recipes and pulled out some old favorites. We've cut back on convenience snacks and Sweetpea and I are cooking snacks from scratch instead. This coming week I know we're going to spend more overall because we're going to need diapers - when I chose $300 for our monthly budget it was with the fact that we have 2 in diapers in mind. I do have $6.50 in coupons to use for each big box of diapers but it's still going to be a large portion of the months budget.

This week's grocery bill was almost identical to last weeks - $46 for our family of 4 (though one of us only drinks mama's milk, so I'm not sure she should count when it comes to groceries?). Here's what's on our menu this week:

Monday: steak stirfry and baked potatoes
Tuesday: tuna noodle casserole with green salads
Wednesday: baked spaghetti and garlic bread
Thursday: chicken tetrazzini and buttered peas
Friday: breakfast casserole and pancakes
Saturday: leftover buffet
Sunday: creamy sausage and potato bake

Here are some of the strategies I've been using to keep our food budget low - even though we're eating quite a bit of meat throughout the week:

- shop the reduced meat section - one of our markets has great reduced meats, some of the others I definitely stay away from. Find a market in your area that has good meat and determine the markdown schedule! I purchased the steaks we're eating tonight that way.

- plan your menu so you use ingredients in multiple meals - that way you use up all your ingredients and you can possibly buy larger containers at a lower price per unit. Tuna noodle casserole and chicken tetrazzini use several of the same ingredients. The ground chuck in our spaghetti bake also went into sloppy joes for lunches (on sale for $1.67/lb) Sausage was on sale and will be featured in both the breakfast casserole and the sausage potato bake.

- speaking of potatoes - stretch your meals with non meat "fillers" that add flavor and texture to your dishes, like potatoes, rice, or beans. I added black beans to our spaghetti bake, which might sound unappealing to some, but my daughter loves it and it adds fiber to the meal. The original recipe for Sunday's sausage bake didn't include potatoes, but they add a nice flavor and texture and increase the overall portion size.

What tricks do you use to stretch a buck when planning your menus?

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Victoria said...

Steak Stirfry sounds delish!

Anonymous said...

Great post and great tips!

Stacey said...

Great tips! i want to try out a lower grocery budget as well. :)

Victoria said...

Taco Ring

2 cans crescent rolls
1 lb hamburger
taco seasoning
shredded cheddar cheese

Preheat oven to 350.
Unroll crescent rolls and over-lap them in a circle around a pizza pan
Brown and drain hamburger. Season according to taco seasoning instructions.
Lay hamburger around unrolled crescent rolls.
Sprinkle with cheese and fold crescents over hamburger.
Bake for 18 minutes or until crescents are golden brown.

*top with sour cream, salsa, lettuce, tomatoes, and taco sauce.

Hope you enjoy! If you like black olives you could use them too!

Condo Blues said...

I stretch my grocery dollars by shopping for staples at Aldi. Most of the items they sell are store brands and they don't take coupons but I've gotten some really good deals there. It's small which I like because I can get in and out quickly. You have to bring your own shopping bags or buy them from the store and bag your groceries which might bug some people. I don't mind because it's a great reminder to bring the army of free tote bags I have from events to the store and get into the reusable shopping bag habit.

Eliza Welch said...

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Eliza’s blog

Lisa @ Crazy Adventures in Parenting said...

I like making biscuits to help stretch our money, a big box of Bisquick isn't much, and it adds something to the meal, making it bigger for not a lot of money.

We make a lot from scratch, too, that also helps. Would love to one day get a Nutrimill to grind my own wheat to make bread.

Hot Deals said...

Great post and great tips!