At the beginning of the month I read about trying to use things from the pantry as much as possible instead of grocery shopping like I normally would. I looked through my cupboards and refrigerator to see what I could do. A new month starts in one week and my cupboards are almost bare!
I've been thinking about menu planning, grocery shopping, and budgets. We have a monthly combined budget for groceries (all food, paper supplies, etc), eating out, and coffee. With this challenge I know that we've saved money but I'll be curious to see what happens in February when I restock. I typically do my big grocery shopping at Winco and Walmart every other week but I haven't been there since the middle of December. Shopping in town, I am reminded that things are less expensive at Winco and Walmart if I need to buy in larger quantities. I have a menu I plan for two weeks at a time and supplement if I need milk, bread, or produce at local stores.
When I menu plan, there are certain meals I always do: when Ryan has evening class each week I make breakfast for dinner (simple, good, and easy to clean up). I'd like to add a Friday evening "make your own pizza" and that would be one other "I know what I'm making" meal. I usually use my crock pot once a week, sometimes twice. When I can make one meal and split it into two, I do. I keep a whiteboard in the kitchen and change the menu list every two weeks. I also have a list of possible meals like we like and are easy if something doesn't work out--it is taped inside a cabinet door and it jump starts my cooking if I can't think of something to make. Planning has been such a big help because I know what I need to get out of the freezer the night before or when I need to start a meal in the crock pot.
Here is some of what we did this month:
Su:Salsa Chicken (crock pot meal)
M: Italian Salad with fruit
T: Indonesian Chicken (crock pot meal)
W: Sausage and fruit
Th: Lasagna (freeze 1/2)
S: Out of town
Su: Grilled Cheese Sandwiches and fruit
M: Breakfast for dinner
T: Chicken Stir-fry
W: Lasagna (the other 1/2 from the week before)
Th: Meatloaf and mashed potoatoes
S: Dinner out
Su: Birthday meal
M: Dinner with family
T: Chicken Soft Tacos
W: Breakfast for dinner
Th: Ham, mashed potatoes
F: Salsa Chicken (crock pot)
S: Dinner with family