I thought I would try something a little different this month. We were able to keep our food budget really low last month and I wanted to do it again this month (aiming to spend about $50 each week or $200 for the whole month). Most of the responses I've gotten to my Monthly Menus has been, "How do you only spend $50 a week?". I love putting together menus from my cookbooks but, especially lately, it's just not affordable to do all of my recipes out of my favorite cookbooks or from my favorite foodie blogs. On the other hand, I got pretty bored last month only eating potatoes and beans! Today I decided to go to the store with no list. I decided just to buy veggies that are fresh and organic and in season (and local when possible) and only buy protein that was on sale. I tried to let the food inspire the meals. I took my time and walked around slowly thinking over what I could use each ingredient for. I'm sure I will use some of my cookbooks for a special dinner here or there but this is for basic, healthy meals. I hope this is somewhat instructive or inspiring...
Bread: I usually buy Dave's Killer Sprouted Grain Bread but at $5 a loaf it's too much for us right now. These whole grain loaves were on sale. I froze one.
Eggs: Our farm egg connection is hit and miss these days so I bought two dozen Organic, Free-Range eggs on sale.
Split Chicken Breasts: Buying your chicken breasts with bone in and skin on is a great way to save money. They are way less expensive and I actually prefer them too the boneless skinless kind. You can roast them, peel the skin off and cut them from the bone and they are moist and great for shredding for salads or pureeing into baby food, making chicken salad, enchiladas etc. These packages of four large breasts were about $6 each. They were on sale for $1.29/lb so I bought two and froze one.
Tofu: Organic tofu for Gigi. Not on sale.
Local, Grass Fed Ribeye Steak: I bought one for us to share. It was on sale.
Vanilla Yogurt: Kyle uses this with granola that I make. Not on sale.
Ben and Jerry's: Okay, so I splurged a little. I've been waiting for weeks for this to go on sale so I could but the Red Velvet flavor and they were finally on sale. Really, I saved money by not buying them before!
Organic, Local Beets: Not sure what I'm going to do with them yet. Maybe something like this, or maybe just roasted up with honey?
Organic, Local Kale: I'll use this in egg scrambles, make Kale Chips and indoor Kale Ceasar Salad.
Organic Yellow and Red Onions: For scrambles, soups and everything else
Organic Zucchini: For Gigi and for egg scrambles
Organic Broccoli: For Gigi and for egg scrambles and snacking
Organic, Local Mushrooms: For Portobello Sandwiches
Organic, Local Celery Root: I'm going to make soup from this. Never done it before!
Organic, Local Leek: For making soup with the celery root.
Organic Sweet Potatoes: I'm going to bake these up for us and Gigi.
Organic Bell Peppers: For Portobello Sandwiches
Frozen Organic Corn and Edamame: For Gigi
Organic Lettuce, Organic Potatoes, Organic Garlic
With all these things I bought I will be able to make the following: Baked Potatoes (my recipe coming soon), sauteed veggie egg scrambles, Celery Root and Leek Soup, Enchiladas, Portobello Sandwiches (my recipe coming soon), Grilled Kale Ceasar Salad (with chicken), black bean quesadillas, steak and salad, roasted beets or a Fall version of this, Kale Chips, Potatoes Au Gratin (my recipe coming soon), Veggie Pasta, Baked Sweet Potates, Chicken Salad Sandwiches (my recipe coming soon), and hopefully more! We obvisouly have some things already at the house, pasta, beans, tortillas, broths and other pantry items that will supplement this weeks shopping. All the veggies I bought should last us through the next couple of weeks, and the protein should last for a few. I only spent $105! $33 was spent on protein and $61 was spent on Organic veggies and $11 on other stuff (bread and icecream). I'll obviously have to add a few things throughout the month to get us through, milk, fresh veggies, fruit, etc. but this solid grocery trip is a great start to a month of healthy eating.
I'd love your thoughts on this style of menu making!! Is it helpful to see what I bought and how I plan to use it? I know that for a lot of people the idea of going to the grocery store with no list is not doable. I'm hoping that with my menu ideas above you may be able to make a list while also seeing how I do it on such a tight budget. What are your favorite meals to prepare when you're on a budget? I'd really love feedback about this! Happy cooking!