Thursday, August 9, 2012

Simple and Affordable Meals

In an effort to save for a big family vacation, I've simplified our menu and prepared easy, affordable meals. Whatever the reason, anyone can cut back on groceries while still providing their families with healthy meals. I tested out a few methods, but feel free to share how you cut costs, too. I'm always learning!

Here's how I did it:

First, I "shopped" my pantry and took note of what I had available. I created a list of the pastas, beans, and rices I had and anything extra in the freezer.

Then I plugged in different ingredients at With what I had on hand already, I had quite a few choices!

Second, I calculated how much money I wanted to spend and limited myself to spending only up to that amount and no more. I shopped first at a very low-cost store and picked up spices (which tend to add up in more expensive stores), dry goods, eggs, milk, etc. I shopped a second store for everything else.

I stuck to the list, and made sure to compare prices.

Third, I wrote out all the possible meals on a sheet of paper and placed it in view. I always felt like there was something to make. The list said so.

Fourth, I prepared as much as possible beforehand.

My husband leaves for work super early and used to forget breakfast, resulting in a trip to Subway or Burger King. One evening, I made him several whole-grain blueberry pancakes, cooled and tucked them in sandwich bags and froze them. In the morning, he pops a couple in the toaster, slathers it in maple syrup, and HAS breakfast.


I also made a few Crockpot dishes, especially on days I worked.

I made an easy Turkey with Bean Soup. I used two cans of red beans, one can of kidney beans, a mammoth turkey breast, onions, garlic, and spices and let it cook for six hours. I shredded the turkey and stirred it in. The meal lasted a few days.

I threw in some chicken breasts with BBQ sauce in the Crockpot, shredded it, and used it to make BBQ Chicken Sandwiches (with some bread I had in the freezer).

Fifth, I kept cooking meals even when leftovers were available. I wanted to always have a ready-supply of food for my husband to take to work and to help us avoid relying on fast food dinners on busy days.

Other Easy-Peasy Meals/Side Dishes Include:

oatmeal with fruit                       fruit
pancakes                                     chicken pasta
baked french fries                       PB&J sandwiches
roasted potatoes                          Apple Cake (I'll have to post the recipe sometime!)

Relying on my cupboards, low-cost stores, and easy meals, I only spent $66 on food for the week!

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