Yeah, we’ve got a lot of mouths to feed. We also entertain a couple of times a week. Combine those two elements and you have a faint-worthy grocery bill. The “average” family of four (does this family actually exist?!?!) spent about $1,000 per month on food items at the grocery store each month in 2012. Our family, by rights, ought to more than double that figure. But we don’t even come close– not even with regular guests at our table.
Our biggest factor in savings is a no-brainer: we avoid pre-packaged foods. Our budget (and our bodies) are healthier thanks to foregoing much of what fills the center aisles of the typical grocery store. We make our own spice blends and seasonings at home. You’d be shocked at how easy it is to adapt a recipe that calls for “cream of _____” to a homemade version! We bake our own cookies, cakes, pies, etc. We don’t eat frozen meals or most convenience foods. What started as a way to keep our budget trim is now so ingrained as a preference that paying for an inferior product seems, well … not worth it.
Our second tool in keeping money in our pockets when it comes to food is planning. While Mary Hannah and Mathaus have stepped up to take on the challenge of cooking a couple of times a week, I’m still the one who makes out the meal plan, collects recipes, writes up the list, and does the bulk of the cooking. (I am not the main shopper, however. Christopher has been doing our grocery shopping for six years now. Go ahead and be jealous.) In truth, I love finding recipes and managing a meal plan. My Pinterest boards tell you everything you need to know about my obsession with trying new dishes from all over the world. Thankfully, my family is game and doesn’t mind the whiplash of Mexican one night, Indian the next.
Whenever possible, I serve leftovers for lunch. Lately, it hasn’t quite happened. We’re in the midst of another season where I need to bulk up the amounts I’m serving at supper time to make sure there’s enough for the next day. When I get that adjusted properly, we’ll go back to leftovers on a regular basis.
We shop twice a month, and I rotate a series of pre-planned meal lists. I leave slots open for new dishes, and work around events to make sure that what’s on the menu works for the day. There’s no use planning a complicated new meal on AWANA night, right? I consider my crock pot to be one of my Proverbs 31 servant girls (like my clothes washer) and I employ her often. Finding unique, flavorful, and healthy meals that I can prepare in the morning makes this Momma one very happy wife!
Below is an actual 2-week menu that our family will be following. You’ll see desserts specifically noted some nights. Those are days when we either have guests scheduled, or I’m planning something special for our family Bible Study time. (We always have a treat during Bible study. Sometimes it’s just a cookie Mary Hannah baked that afternoon, other times it’s a scoop of ice cream, and sometimes it’s something really yummy!) I’ve included links to specific recipes in some places.
Breakfast: baked pumkin spice doughnuts
Lunch: pasta primavera
Dinner: slowcooker chicken enchilada soup & salad
Breakfast: banana bread
Dinner: black bean tortilla stackups
Dessert: chocolate lava cake
Breakfast: biscuits and gravy
Lunch: snack plates
Dinner: bbq chicken sandwiches & chips
Breakfast: monkey bread, bacon, fruit
Lunch: chili dogs
Dinner: creamy crockpot chicken soup & salad
Breakfast: yogurt, granola, & fruit
Dinner: Nepali Curry & Naan
Breakfast: breakfast casserole
Dinner: curried chicken, broccoli and cauliflower with mango chutney
Breakfast: baked hashbrowns, eggs and sausage links
Lunch: taco salad
Dinner: dijon chicken linguine pasta, braised root vegetables, salad
Breakfast: french toast sticks
Lunch: English-muffin mini pizzas
Dinner: cheeseburger macaroni, broccoli, and asparagus
Breakfast: bagels & cheese
Lunch: tuna noodle salad
Dinner: lasagna, roasted carrots & salad
Breakfast: slow cooker sausage breakfast casserole
Dinner: white chicken chili
Dessert: Granny’s Chocolate Cobbler & ice cream
Breakfast: bacon, eggs, and hasbrowns
Lunch: momo party!
Dinner: fried rice
Breakfast: yogurt , fruit and granola
Lunch: black bean burritos
Dessert: apple enchiladas
Breakfast: mamaw’s egg casserole
Cheesy potato and smoked sausage casserole, roasted cabbage, salad
Breakfast: bagels, cream cheese, and sausage links
Lunch: cheesy orzo
Breakfast: baked peaches and oatmeal
Lunch: grilled cheese
Breakfast: mamaw’s egg casserole
Dinner: chicken and stuffing casserole
Dessert: pumpkin pie
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