Monday, July 18, 2016

Making a Menu for the Week

One of the most important things you can do to eat well on a limited budget is to plan your menu and shopping trip ahead of time.  All of us have different grocery items in our homes right now, and we have different likes and dislikes in regard to food.  I am going to share what I do, but it is the process that is important more than the actual meals I am preparing.  I will post recipes with a cost analysis as well, occasionally, if you are interested in trying any.

The first thing I did before shopping was to look through my fridge and clean it out.  I like to do this every week.  Since it is the end of the week, there aren't a lot of groceries left in there and it is easy to clean.  I go shelf by shelf, taking the food out, wiping down the shelf, and then putting the food back.  By doing this, I don't have any surprises since I know everything that is currently in my fridge.  I see what needs to be eaten soon, and what I need to use in my meal plan so the food doesn't spoil.  I also look through my freezer and cupboards to see what is there.  My meal plan is developed from what food I already have and what food is on sale that week.  I take the weekly ads and circle the ones that are "loss leaders", or prices where the store sells it at a "loss" to "lead" you into their store hoping that you will buy the rest of your groceries there.

Cereal was on sale for 99 cents each at Albertson's
Cottage cheese and sour cream was on sale for 99 cents each at Albertson's
Juice was on sale for 99 cents each at Albertson's
Salsa was on sale for 3/$5 at Albertson's
Strawberries were on sale at Town and Country for $1.88 for 2 lbs.
Eggs were on sale for 69 cents at Town and Country
Roma tomatoes  69 cents per pound

There were a lot of other sales, but those were the ones I chose for this week.

This week I chose to make the following:

Asian spinach salad - I chose this because we have spinach in our garden that needs to be used.  The only recipe I like that has raw spinach is this salad.

Baked beans:  I had a little bit of ham left in the freezer, as well as some frozen chopped up green pepper and onion.  I want to make a sweet and sour baked beans recipe with them.  I can freeze a couple of containers of the leftovers to have another time.

Pizza rolls:  Cheese was on sale for 88 cents last week.  I just had to buy some pepperoni and made homemade french bread dough to roll them in.  You can make enough for a couple of meals.

Stuffed grape leaves:  We had some leftover grape leaves in the fridge.  We also had half of a cabbage left over.  I will buy a little bit of ground beef and some rice and stuff the grape leaves and make an Arabic dish with the cabbage as well.  That will be two meals.

Breakfast dinners:  I had some older bell peppers and onions, in the fridge.  We will make omelets with them and add cheese and some spinach from the garden.  I also had a bag of potatoes and one of them ended up being rotten that I didn't notice.  I got rid of the bad potatoes and cooked the rest of the bag.  We will make a lot of hash browns this week and may also have baked potatoes with sour cream and butter sometime.

Leftover dinner:  We had a few leftovers that need to be eaten.  We will have a side salad and eat whatever leftovers there are for a meal.

Spaghetti with ground Italian turkey sausage.  (it is less expensive)  I could also make some kind of lasagna type casserole with the cottage cheese and turkey sausage instead if I want.

For lunches, we will have leftovers, hummus, sandwiches or salads.  I have raspberries from the garden, so I won't buy a lot of fruit.  For breakfast, we can have cereal, oatmeal, eggs, muffins, etc.

I threw away my shopping list, so I won't post it this week.  I will post the results of what I got at the store:

Store 1

Pepperoni from the salad bar:  $1.21
Bacon bits from the salad bar  41 cents
Tony Chachere Cajun Seasoning   $2.99

Total  $4.61

Store 2

White rice  83 cents
Turkey Sausage   $2.07
Pork and Beans  59 cents
Tahini  $6.83
Eggs   69 cents
Bulk Organic Yellow Popcorn  $2.62
Organic carrots  $1.19
Roma tomatoes   33 cents
Feta cheese  $1.45
2 pounds of strawberries  $1.88

Total $18.48

Juice  4 at 99 cents each
Salsa  3 at 3/$5
Cereal   6 at 99 cents
Sour cream  99 cents
Cottage cheese 99 cents
Ground beef  $1.74
Grapes  $3.03

Total $21.65

Grand total so far:  $44.74

With the rest of the money, I will probably buy another package of eggs because they are so cheap.  I will also look to see if there is reduced produce on sale.  I like to save a little bit of money each week in case I want to stock up on something or in case there is reduced produce that is a good deal.

I went back to the store and bought the following:

5 pound of potatoes reduced price of 49 cents
Cucumbers 2 at 2/$1.00
Onion and white carrot  reduced price of 15 cents
Organic bananas, reduced for 38 cents
Tomato 46 cents
Rice vinegar  2,37

Total:  $4.85

Grand total for the whole week:  $49.59
When you look at the list of what I bought, you may think that it doesn't look like enough to feed a
family of four for a week.  I have things leftover from previous weeks, so I have more food on hand and don't need to buy more than this.  For example, the cereal is 99 cents a box this week.  I bought 6 boxes.  We will not use those 6 boxes in one week.  So, there will be leftover cereal for the next couple of weeks, depending on what I make for breakfasts.

The cereal on sale at Albertson's is guaranteed.  If you don't like it, you can take it back and get your money refunded.  Because of this, I bought it even though it isn't the brand we usually buy.  You really don't lose anything by trying something new with a guarantee.

Because we have a garden, I am buying less produce than I normally do.  That is one of the benefits of a garden in the summer.  If you do not have a yard, a container garden will work well.  There are so many things you can grow in old milk cartons, plastic bottles, etc.  It also saves money.

It will take me a few weeks to get things going, but this is a start:

Clean out your fridge.
Check what you have in the fridge, freezer and cupboards.
Check the ads and see what is on sale.
Plan a menu around what is on sale and what you have at home.
Write a detailed shopping list, including how much you think each item will cost.
Go shopping and stay in your budget!

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