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Menu planning…

We did it! We bought a brand new car! Now comes the hard part – budgeting so we can actually keep our standard of living.

Like anyone who just made a major purchase, we now have to start watching where our money goes. Things like utility bills, mortgage, car payments, etc are pretty much set in stone, so we can’t touch those. So the best place to start (hopefully) saving money is by planning our meals. No more buying daily lunches for Hubby. This alone can save $600 to $800 a month (in our dollars, not in US funds). This means I need to plan meals so that he can bring healthy and filling meals to work with him.

I spent hours scouring the web, looking for frugal and tasty meals. There were tons, BUT, we don’t live in North America. There are no dollar stores here, no discount stores, and not even coupons! Also, many of those “cheap” meals would cost almost double the price here since things like “tomato soup” and “cream of mushroom soup” are about $17 a tin (that’s about $3 US)! Caribbean grocery stores rarely have sales, and since a lot of it is imported, it can get really expensive. Forget home made macaroni and cheese – I can’t even find Velveeta on any shelves!

So what’s a woman to do? Get creative! We also have some issues with Peanut, who won’t eat meat (with few exceptions), won’t eat veggies, and has an aversion to certain food textures (autism does that!). Hubby also has an allergy to beef, so that eliminates a lot too. We also want to start eating a bit healthier, more veggies and less salt.

This coming week, I made a tentative menu, and I hope it comes in under budget, and tastes good too. I didn’t include any breakfasts or lunches for the weekend, we tend to have an early dinner and sometimes eat street food when we’re out and about.

I pulled a lot of recipes from Mom’s Bistro, and I’m probably going to subscribe to her monthly menus if we like these! Most meals seem to be easy to make, and they look yummy!

I didn’t include lunch for Hubby, since he will hopefully be taking leftover dinners for his lunch. I’ll always plan to put a portion of dinner away just for him! If there is still leftovers, I can freeze them in individual portions so we can have either a leftover day, or Hubby can have a choice of lunch instead of always having yesterday’s dinner. Gotta plan ahead!

One more thing, I make my own bread, usually 4 loaves a week. Two loaves on Sunday, two loaves on Wednesday. I use my bread maker on the “dough” setting to do all the kneading, then split the dough into two pans, let them rise for an hour, then bake in the oven. Yummy home made bread without the hard work! If anyone is interested, the recipe is:

  • 1 1/2 cups of water (or 3/4c water and 3/4 cup milk)
  • 6 tablespoons of milk powder (omit if using milk above)
  • 2 eggs
  • 5 cups of flour (up to 2 cups can be whole wheat, but no more)
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 package of yeast

Place in bread maker in the order above, set on “dough” setting, then after the cycle is done, punch it down, divide into two, and place in prepared bread pans (I just line them with parchment paper or wax paper, easy to take out and no mess). Let rise in warm place till double, then bake in 350 degree oven for 30 – 35 minutes (or 20 – 25 minutes if you preheated the oven, I don’t preheat because I let them rise in the oven)

This recipe also makes wonderful buns, and you can also add to it to make herbed bread, or even roll it out, cover it with melted butter, cinnamon, brown sugar, and raisins, then “jellyroll” it to make yummy cinnamon bread!

Here is our meal plan for May 28 – June 3:

Sunday:

Monday:

  • Breakfast: Pancakes (from a mix or from scratch) – make enough to freeze a few
  • Lunch: Hotdogs (for Peanut)
  • Dinner: Chicken, veggie, and egg fried rice (cook extra chicken and freeze it for friday)

Tuesday:

  • Breakfast: Eggs (scrambled for Peanut, sunny side up for everyone else) with toast
  • Lunch: Kraft Dinner (one of Peanut’s favorite foods!)
  • Dinner: Slow cooker chicken tacos

Wednesday:

  • Breakfast: Baked oatmeal
  • Lunch: Mini pizzas on bread
  • Dinner: Sloppy Joe’s (using ground chicken or pork) and homemade oven fries

Thursday:

  • Breakfast: Home made muffins (save some for lunch tomorrow)
  • Lunch: Pasta salad
  • Dinner: Creamy bacon and peas pasta 

Friday:

Saturday:

 

So, I’ll check in as the week goes to give a review of the dishes, and also a breakdown of how much the week’s worth of groceries cost. My goal is to keep our monthly groceries to about $1000 a week( about $150 US), or $4000 a month (that’s about $600 US). So until next time, bon appetit!

 

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