About a week ago (I have no idea..I'm so fucking sick it's all a blur) one of my very lovely readers, Shirley, asked me how I can get my groceries under $100 for two weeks and how do I plan meals so it's not a nightmare. And I'm going to tell you. Because I'm awesome.
Coincidentally.... today is Shirley's birthday. So go to her blog HERE and wish her a happy birthday!
OK. So my first piece advice is always going to be to PLAN what you eat. If you go to the store trying to figure out meals as you go you will always buy more than you need but not enough to make all your meals. It's that simple. You can menu plan in two ways:
1. Get out your calendar- plan by day. (This is what I do because I need structure)
2. Get out a list, number it 1-14 and then each day pick a meal off that list to eat.
I prefer the calendar but sometimes I just don't feel like eating fucking porkchops on a Tuesday. So maybe I'll make it Thursday and make my Thursday thing on Tuesday. No biggie. Sometimes you end up going out to eat last minute- no biggie. Just circle that meal so you know that for the next two week cycle you have that stuff on hand, so it's one less day to shop for. Make sense?
It also helps to have one day a week be the same. Meaning, every single Saturday we have spaghetti in our house. It's my favorite food, I make damn good spaghetti, but more importantly-- it's VERSATILE. Let's say we have spaghetti Saturday. I make a double batch of sauce. Save it. It's good for 3 days or so in the fridge. But some tortellini and bam- one dinner you can have tortellini (OR you can have that as a lunch). Use the sauce to make your own calzones (email me or comment with your email if you want my recipe for that- GHETTO EASY) for lunches. You can use the sauce as the base for meatball subs- just add meatballs. Basically- look at your leftovers and figure out how to use them in something else.
We also love chicken. But chicken boobies? Are expensive. I'm picky about my boobies so the ones I like are the Golden Plump or whatever that you get 3 mini boobies for almost $7. yeah. Not cool. BUT what I've ended up doing is cubing chicken up in everything. Unless we're having chicken breasts (which then I buy big boobies at Sam's Club where you get 6 huge boobs for under $10 and I cut them each in half, freeze separately) I always cube chicken. People eat less but you can make a big supper adding other things like veggies, rice, noodles, etc. Stretch it out.
The crockpot? Is your friend. I hate cooking in a rush so on days where I'm working until 4? You can bet I use my crockpot. You can cook just about anything in there so use it.
OK. So here is the menu I've used the last two weeks:
1. Chicken Stew
3. Chili dogs, macaroni, corn *
4. Hot ham and cheese sandwiches, peas, baby red potatoes mashed
5. Rice Oriental
7. Pork Roast in the crockpot with gravy, scalloped potatoes, green beans
8. Beef Stew
9.Calzones with a salad*
10. Pancakes, sausage, fruit
13. Pot roast with rice, gravy, mixed veggies
14. Pulled BBQ beef sandwiches*
Almost every day Matt had left overs to take with him for lunch the next day, and the kids had a little bit too. If we didn't have leftovers for the kids (or they didn't want it) I will always have the stuff to make all kinds of sandwiches, I always have a fruit (usually grapes or apples- I switch from week to week) and we have a cracker or something. I give them 3 things on their plates for lunch. Breakfasts are usually cereal, sometimes they want frozen waffles, so I'll have that on hand because that goes on sale for cheap here (I can get the store brand box for $1.29 or less for 12 waffles at least once a month). If a meal has a * by it, that means I used left overs from a previous meal to make it.
Example- roasts. Invest in a good roast with little to no fat on it. If you get a big one, cook it in your crock pot, you will have the makings for pulled beef sandwiches for the next day. Just save the meat and add BBQ sauce into the crockpot (or stove top) OR you can make your own sauce like I do.
Make a friend who has a garden. We're lucky my inlaws are big gardeners so when they start harvesting I'm over run with tomatoes, potatoes, green peppers, corn, peas, etc. FREEZE what you can. I'm serious. If you can't do that- buy them when they go on super sale in the summer. Green peppers actually have more flavor after you freeze them. AND these are things that if you put them in freezer bags? They don't take up a lot of room so you can do that even if you don't have an extra freezer like I do. I have also discovered if I buy my ground hamburger at the meat market in town- it's almost a dollar cheaper per pound than the grocery store. The meat market smells like dead animal- but a dollar is a big deal especially when I buy about 10 pounds at a time because I use it a lot. If I make beef stew, stir fry, or anything requiring pieces of beef? It's sometimes easier to buy a steak and cube it yourself OR buy chow mein cut meat. It's small pieces so you get more for your money and there is little to no fat on it. Bonus.
My other major tip? Coupons. Now- don't roll your eyes. You have to get in touch with the coupon world. Shirley started using Krazy Coupon Lady and it really does work. If you are lucky to have a Target near you then you are in great luck because Target has great coupon savings and a lot of times- their cereal is cheaper than a grocery store. The thing to remember is that it's not a deal if it's not something you were going to buy anyways. So... just because you have $1.00 off cereal... if it's not something you need, use or were planning to buy- skip it. And while clipping "cents off" coupons may not seem like a whole lot- stores like Target will let you double up on coupons. So you have 4 cents off coupons? That could mean a dollar or more off of one item. And when you have a lot of these coupons on one shopping trip? You might save $20 or more. That's $20 put into your savings or in your gas tank. Whatever. But it all adds up and it does make a dent.
OK. So that's kind of my thing. If you have questions- please email me and I'll do my best. firstname.lastname@example.org . OH! AND I need questions for this Friday's Dear Sara post homies! Get those into me soon.
Don't forget the giveaway- it ends tomorrow.
And I will leave you with this:
I dare you to watch that and tell me goats are adorable. These fuckers hop sideways!