In the past week, two friends said “I just need to find your blog post about budgeting and using leftovers.” I took that as a
sign (okay, I don’t believe in “signs”).. I took it as a slight nudge and reminder. A slight nudge and reminder that what I have to say might actually be interesting beyond my own self.
Anyway, the long absence comes with, hopefully, a long return. On to the actual blog:
Currently, our family has a $70 per week food budget. It has gone up slightly since I last blogged. This is, in part, because we are making a strong attempt to rarely eat out. Prior, our budget was filled with little expenses to the coffee shop or to grab a sandwich at Subway. When we calculated those little expenses, we realized it was a BIG expense. My husband’s employer doesn’t have a microwave so warm leftovers for lunch are out. We are putting the additional $10 toward lunch meat, sliced bread, and chips.
So, if you find all of this interesting, and would like a refresher as to my “budget philosophy” (like that term?), go here.
So how do you “start” your meal plan? Survey.
Here’s what my fridge looked like at the start of the week:
Whoops. Sorry. That’s just a cute 10-month old-eating-yogurt-pic.
Alright, this is what my fridge really looked like:
Here’s the inventory:
- Breastmilk for the cute yogurt-eating baby
- 2 half opened containers of yogurt
- a whole lot of black beans
- 2 eggs (those were immediately eaten after the picture)
- a tiny bit of sour cream
- 2 bunches of almost too far gone carrots
- 1 entire head of lettuce that still should be good
- 1 bunch of celery
- a few apples/strawberries/blueberries
- lots of canned tomatoes and tomato sauce
Alright. Survey’s done. Now what? I start thinking, “what will NOT last and can NOT be frozen?”
- Great. Pretty much everything on the list–except I could probably freeze the black beans.
I cooked the black beans for a soup, so, serving up ANOTHER black bean soup is out for the week. This week, we plan on having them three ways: baked sweet potatoes with black beans, black bean burgers with sweet potato fries (we have fries and buns in the freezer) and taco salad with an avocado buttermilk dressing (we LOVE this dressing).
The taco salad will use up the lettuce and the avocado dressing will use up the sour cream. Which leaves coming up with something for the celery and carrots: SOUP. Lentil soup brings in the protein, will use some of the carrots and celery, and will go well with some leftover garlic loaf bread that I have in the freezer.
See how that happened? Four meals with left over food and TONS of black beans! The only items added to grocery shopping list to complete these recipes were:
- Sweet potatoes (I’m doubling the recipe for lunch)
- Tomatoes (4 total: 2 for the taco salad, 2 for the sweet potato recipe)
- Lime (for dressing)
- Cilantro (for salad and sweet potatoes)
- Tortilla chips (duh. delicious)
- Avocados (3 total for the dressing and the ginormous baby)
- Cheese (for taco salad)
- green onion
- bread crumbs (for burgers)
- 2 dozen eggs (for burgers and mass morning consumption)
Since I will have leftover buttermilk, I will need to think of some ways to use it up: pancakes and buttermilk biscuits for the lentil soup. That leaves two extra meals (veggie meatballs and leftovers). Bam! The list also included snacks, lunch meat, toothpaste, half and half (for coffee!), fruit, and chili powder since we were running low.
The total came to $68 (I had $2.50 in e-coupons).
Again, keeping your pantry stocked up on things like lentils, flours, garlic, onions, and grains helps keep the budget low (for example, the ONLY thing we needed to buy for the lentil soup supper was buttermilk). We avoided meat and tons of dairy this week because of the expense of snacks, lunch meat, soda and chips. Hope this provides a starting point.
Off to feed the super snuggly baby!