I was raised in a family that spared no expense with food. My parents shopped at tony grocery stores and bought all kinds of lovely foods at outrageous prices. Unfortunately (sort of) I've been broke pretty much my entire adult life. One day, when I was complaining about my first-year-of-college diet of ramen noodles and rice my dad said to me, "I don't want to hear it kid. Every major cuisine in the world is based on making magic out of whatever happened to be cheap and available. If they can do it you can do it." Not exactly the sympathy I was fishing for, but it was an eye-opening moment for me. Ever since that day I've made it my goal to eat what I like on a budget I can afford. With two kids and two adults eating, right now that hovers around $300 a month, give or take.
I normally really love to cook, but while I was pregnant I kind of lost my mojo. Between exhaustion and gestational diabetes, cooking from scratch lost it's allure, and we paid for that big time in the budget. Now that I am recovering from having my baby I am finding myself once again drawn to the kitchen. I am back in the game.
My first rule about cooking is that I have to know my limits. Right now one of my biggest obstacles to cooking from scratch is a lack of predictability. I'll go to make a salad and the baby will cry. I'll go to chop carrots and a kid will come and tell me that her sister just broke a glass in the bathroom. With this in mind I decided my best defense would be to plan ahead and prepare as much as I could in advance. Of course, this involves having a menu.
Monday-Roasted chicken with Northwoods Seasoning, mashed potatoes and gravy and carrots
Tuesday-Creamy chicken and wild rice casserole (Hot Dish for you Minnesotans) and carrots
Wednesday-Thai style noodles with broccoli, carrots and grilled chicken
Thursday- Pasta with garlic and shrimp, salad
Friday- A lady from church is bringing a hot dish, salad
Saturday- Date night. Zach and I will have asian beef lettuce wraps
Sunday: Cheeseburgers, salad and chips
Lunches: Salmon spread sandwiches, baguette with blue cheese pecan spread and sliced apples, leftover thai noodles.
Breakfast: Homemade cherry almond meusli, banana bread, hard boiled eggs, cottage cheese, yogurt.
After the menu was made, I sliced up the veggies. I chopped the lettuce for salad and peeled and cut carrots. I left one of the romaine hearts whole for Sunday's lettuce wraps.
I decided when I was grocery shopping that instead of cutting up veggies for the noodle salad, I'd just use the Trader Joes broccoli slaw. It's $1.79 and we'll get two full meals from that salad. Some convenience items are worth it to me.
I hard boiled the eggs for breakfast and baked the banana bread and made the spreads.
It's been a week of lovely meals and I only spent $60 at the grocery store. It's good to be back!