Friday, June 22, 2012

What's For Dinner??

I try my hardest to feed my family on a budget,
sort of,
we have a budget,
but I really have NO idea how to use it!
I have the nifty Quicken software
and I have put what we normally spend on groceries
under the grocery category.
Then what? 
I have no idea of knowing how much groceries are
going to actually cost when I check out
at the store.
I usually stay within a certain range.
But how in the world am I supposed to know how
much I am actually going to spend
until I am there?

I am sure there are ways to do this,
but I already spend about 6 hours (at least)
on the entire shopping experience:
menu planning
list making
actual shopping
post shopping prep:
fresh greens
snack packs

I already carry around a big ole binder with me
do I really need/want to add a calculator into the mix?
And walk around the store with a calculator
adding things up as I go?
Not really!

When we lived in NC, I could budget by doing my
shopping on-line first.
I would make my list,
then I would sit with my coupon binder
and do my menu planning based on what
was on sale that week.

Then I printed it off
took it into the store and did my shopping.
I knew EXACTLY how much I was going to spend.

Now - not so much...
due to this monopoly that this ONE grocery store has down
here and they have mega stores here.

I have had to change things a bit.

I could do our menu more simply,
more processed foods,
more cheaply 
more bland...
BUT - 
I choose to be a little creative.

This past shopping experience 
I shopped for:

Taco Salad with homemade tortilla bowls (see below)
Sausage & Kale Pasta (we love!!)
Mel's Stuffed Manicotti*
Kielbasa, Mashed Potatoes and Cabbage
Mel's Beef with Broccoli*

(we have not tried the ones with the * beside them -
I will let you know what we think)

these will hopefully produce enough leftovers
to cover a couple of dinners too...
as these kids get bigger, 
they are definitely eating more.
Every once in a while I will get a glimpse
into our future...
and there will be no leftovers
when I thought there should be PLENTY leftover!!

Side note on the Sausage & Kale Pasta -
this is a HUGE hit in our house!  HUGE!
So much so that apparently daddy and I are
now fighting over the leftovers!
There was 1 serving left,
I was so looking forward to those for lunch
the next day.
Things were crazy and I didn't get around to making
daddy's lunch for him.
So he made it himself and took MY leftovers
Yes, MY!  (haha)
What a disappointment when I went to the
fridge at lunchtime the next day
and couldn't find them.
I already use an entire box of pasta,
and entire bunch of kale
and a pound of sausage.
I don't think I have a big enough pot
to double this recipe!

So far this week we have tried two new things:

Homemade tortilla shell bowls
Scratch made blueberry muffins

Homemade tortilla bowls
They were ADORABLE,
but kinda hard to eat
for everyone!

I popped the corn tortillas in the microwave
to soften them up and make them pliable.
Then pressed them in between an upside down muffin pan.

Bake at 325° for about 10 minutes (check often though)
And this is what you get.

Unfortunately while Mr. T was trying to figure out 
exactly how he was supposed to eat this thing...
he dumped the entire contents of his bowl
in his lap!

 That morning I decided to try some homemade
blueberry muffins, with whole blueberries.
These were VERY time consuming and somewhat
labor intensive.
But I really like them!
So did J,
the rest of the family, not so much.
I did not use the sugar topping it recommended.

But they looked pretty!

Mel's Best Blueberry Muffins


  1. I struggle with menu planning, budgeting, etc all the time. I have done the whole thing where I planned for a full month, cut coupons, stocked up on sale items, etc. It was exausting! I have tried some freezer cooking. Even that is exausting. (After a full day of cooking, cleaning, homeschooling, etc)
    What has been working for me lately is finding meals that use the some of the same ingredients. Such as tomato sauce, ground turkey, onions, potatoes, certain soups, etc. And I stock up on those items. I also cook a lot from scratch and make some freezer breakfast, lunch and snack items for the kids and hubby. I have recently stopped using a lot of coupons because I shop at Sams Club. I did the research and a lot of times the coupons were for the junk or processed foods we dont eat, so the coupons we were using weren't saving nearly as much as buying in bulk. I now buy most of our groceries at Sam's Club and very few at Walmart. I have been able to cut back our grocery bill between $100 & $200 a month. (Varies between months) It also helps with me making a lot of food from scratch. I feed my hubby, 2 boys (10 & 14), myself, a cat and a Gecko.
    I am working, slowly, on making more items from scratch. I make my own Laundry detergent, I am gonna try hand soap, I just tried tooth paste (thats still a work in progress), I made homemade Vanilla (buy the vanilla beans from Amazon, a lot chaper). I want to be able to grow our own veggies too, but I am not a very good gardener.
    Just try to think simpler on the meals. Not boring, just similar ingredients. It really makes a difference. From the items I have on hand I coupld probably make 5 or 6 (maybe more) different meals, using the same ingredients.
    Well, hope it all works out.

    1. Thanks so much for the ideas! We, too, are a work in progress. I hate getting stuck in a dinner rut. So I am trying to keep things changing on them. There are staples that come around but with 8, 6, 3 & 1 yos in the house...dinner time gets interesting sometimes without the food even being involved! ;)