Sunday, September 13, 2009

Budget Busters and Meal Ideas

I work very hard on monitoring my grocery budget. I allow myself $75 per week on groceries, which in turn gives me $100 per month at Target for diapers, toiletries, cleaning supplies, and such. Now I do not count drinks in this budget. When Coke products are on sale I try to stock up. I also shop at Costco for a lot of our snack foods and items like paper towels and toilet paper and that is a separate budget. I must confess though, I could shop at Costco every week. I don't, but I so easily could-I love that store.
So that being said, here are some of my tricks.
-I cut coupons every Sunday from the paper
-I shop mainly at Kroger with my Kroger card where you get special offers and they double and triple coupons
-I sometimes do my purchase my fruits and veggies at the farmers market or even at a store called Sprouts where they are super fresh and much cheaper and sometimes, if time is not an issue or I see an advertisement, I get my meat at Walmart
-I watch my condiments so that I don't run out of everything at once
-I buy the store brand as much as possible-but truth is, some items you just can not substitute-there is a difference
-I try and plan my meals and left overs
-Mark travels alot, which does help, and quite frankly, when he is here he is not a picky eater and can scrape together weird things out of the pantry if need be (thank goodness because I am not a good cook at all)
-I go to the store alone on Wednesday's when both boys are in Mother's Day Out/Preschool-it takes concentration to watch for prices and keep a tally in your head
Doesn't this look like a good eater? A messy one, but good most of the time.
So all that being said- in the last month or so my budget has gone out the window. I think part of it is the boys were out of school and I had my little helpers with me at the grocery (probably my least favorite thing to do with kids). Also, Mark has been home a lot more in the recent weeks, sometimes only out 1 night of the week. And the big change is I was trying to cook more. I have quickly realized that buying all the ingredients for a nice dinner or two adds up fast! Not to mention the fact that is hit or miss if the boys will eat it. Even if they (Connor) ate it the week before, it will be loathed the next time it is served. For example-pot roast. I love to make pot roast because it is quick, easy, and cheap. Plus I love the way it makes the house smell. Oh, and it's a one-dish wash. You just can't beat it. But the last 2 times I made it, most of it went to waste. Connor refused to touch it. Colton wouldn't eat the left overs. So it was overall a BUST!
This would be the picky eater! Notice the bowl-chances are it has oatmeal in it which is what he eats most of time. I gave up fighting the food battle for now.
So I am trying to cook more for the family. I want to be better at it and I want to enjoy it. I think I could enjoy it if I were better at it. But I am all about simple and quick meals! But trying to incorporate that with a budget is not always so easy. What I really want is several meal options that I can make that use the same ingredients so that nothing goes to waste. I try to make 3 meals per week. With leftovers that can get us through all 7 nights. It seems like when I buy an onion, tomatoes, or special cheese or meat that half of it goes to waste.
So if anyone has a couple of meal ideas that use they same ingredients please share!!!
Happy Shopping


Donatelli98 said...

Cous - our go to meals are:
Tacos - either ground beef or chicken ..
Pasta - i.e. lasagna or manicotti, or stuffed shells; I usually make enough homeade sauce to freeze some
Chicken Parm - goes along with the pasta ... pretty easy and can make enough for leftovers. Plus we eat a ton of grilled chicken.

starnes family said...

Great tips, Jann. I make my meals with leftovers in mind b/c I pack Blake's lunch almost every day to save money. Casseroles and such make that easy. I've made your Enchiladas twice since getting the recipe. Thanks!

I've been making chicken dishes, cooking it once for at least 2, first, chicken spaghetti.....and then next, for your Enchiladas.

I, too, shop at Costco, but always have a list before going in. Otherwise, I could go in there, spend $200 and leave not knowing a single thing I bought. All fluff.

Deelsu said...

I'll always keep a big bag of frozen chicken breasts, spaghetti sauce, bread crums, chicken broth and rice and pasta.
You can make all sorts of dishes with just those ingredients.
Also, buy the big amount of ground meat at Costco - it's cheaper. Then divide it up into smaller ziploc bags so it doesn't go to waste and ruin and pull one out when you need to.
also, a co-worker of mine does - is go ahead and brown the ground meat and put in ziploc bags and freeze and you can pull out when needed and make fast tacos, spaghetti or other dishes.