Author Topic: Killing the grocery bill - Share your Meal Plans  (Read 13763 times)

ThatGuyFromCanada

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Killing the grocery bill - Share your Meal Plans
« on: November 20, 2012, 01:26:00 PM »
We're having a hard time getting the grocery bill under control and I'd like to hear from other Mustachians about their meal planning habits. We currently plan out two weeks in advance, buy the corresponding groceries and then stick to our plan, which includes using leftovers as lunches.

I'd love to see what others are doing for their meal plans and what types of meals Mustachians are eating that keeps a grocery bill at $400/mo for a family of 4. 

frugalcalan

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Re: Killing the grocery bill - Share your Meal Plans
« Reply #1 on: November 20, 2012, 02:07:46 PM »
Disclaimer: I over spend on my food, it's something I'm currently working on.  Also I don't have a family (just a hungry, fitness instructor roommate who gladly takes unwanted leftovers!) so I don't really benefit much from the benefits of bulk cooking.

For lunches, I have started making what I call "healthy boxes" on Sundays.  I don't go to the cheap "use it in the next couple of days before it goes bad" grocery store because I make my lunches so far in advance, but the convenience factor is worth it for me.  Lettuce is $1/lb, and I buy it very fresh and clean/dry it with my salad spinner, and so it manages to stay fresh all week without being a huge hassle/ordeal.  These lunches are generally in the $10-$15 dollar a week range.  I could make them cheaper, but that would sacrifice things I find delicious (like farmers' market tomatoes)

Here's some pictures:

http://i.imgur.com/H6W5x.jpg
(Salad with feta and avocado, cottage cheese with frozen blueberries, egg)

http://imgur.com/Sh8Ug.jpg
(Caesar salad with croutons, bagel with cream cheese, capers, tomato, and salmon, and cottage cheese with blueberries)

http://i.imgur.com/r3HHs.jpg (assorted)

For dinner I often make steamed broccoli with teriyaki sauce.  If I have any dumplings all throw them in too, and if I'm craving carbs, eat some popcorn.  My dinner's aren't really what you might call Grown Up Food.

Sometimes I'll chop up a bunch of veg and put it in a cake pan, place some cheap (under $1 a lb) chicken quarters on top), throw on various spices, and bake it.  Cheap, relatively healthy, and it feeds both my roommate and I.  And the bones can be used for stock.  You can also add rice for added cheap bulk.

Soups are also pretty awesome.

totoro

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Re: Killing the grocery bill - Share your Meal Plans
« Reply #2 on: November 20, 2012, 02:35:01 PM »
Great photos!  I love those containers. 


caligulala

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Re: Killing the grocery bill - Share your Meal Plans
« Reply #3 on: November 20, 2012, 04:01:52 PM »
For our family of 4, our average grocery bill is about $600 a month. There are ways we could economize further, like switching to conventional milk and cutting out a lot of the variety we enjoy, but I'd much rather pinch pennies elsewhere.

It's very difficult to compare grocery budgets since people differ in what they include as "groceries". We call any consumables groceries, so paper towels, toilet paper, cleaners, etc. all get categorized there. Although we buy very few processed foods, our diet is pretty far ranging, so we have far more ingredients on hand than average. We also entertain people almost every week, often 10 at a time, so that drives up the budget too. Like I said, it's almost impossible to apples to apples compare grocery budgets!

Fetlock

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Re: Killing the grocery bill - Share your Meal Plans
« Reply #4 on: November 20, 2012, 04:24:46 PM »
I'm single with no kids. Here's what I get at Aldi's (prices by memory):

2 lbs frozen ground turkey - under $2 each
1 box of off-brand Hamburger Helper - $1
1 jar of spaghetti sauce - $1
2 bunches of bananas - $2~3
1 package of 2 cucumbers - $1
1 bag of carrots - $1
1 cantaloupe - under $2
1 pineapple - $2.50
1 bag of apples or oranges - $3.50
1 pizza - $5.99

That usually runs me about $25 per week.

---

Note that I recently added up the calories, and this plan doesn't have enough. Because of that, I've been experimenting with buying more than what I listed above. But this is my baseline. I pretty much get this every time, with occasional variations (e.g. lasagna, tacos/burritos, chili, etc.).

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Saturday: (1~2 hours)
I do my shopping on Saturday. I split the bananas and apples/oranges into 5 bags. I eat most of the pizza throughout the day. The turkey goes in the fridge overnight to thaw.

Sunday: (~2 hours)
I usually have a couple slices of pizza left for Sunday morning. I make the Hamburger Helper with 1 pound of turkey and split it up into 5 cups. Then I make spaghetti with the other pound and split it into 7 cups (more noodles). I eat some of the spaghetti for lunch and dinner. Everything else goes in the fridge for the week.

Monday: (~30 min.)
I cut up the cantaloupe and pineapple, chop the carrots, and slice the cucumbers during lunch break. I split these into baggies for each day.

---

So Monday through Friday, I eat the following, in roughly this order; about one thing per hour while at work:

2~3 bananas
1 cup hamburger helper for lunch
1 baggie of pineapple
1 baggie of cantaloupe
~2 apples/oranges
1 baggie of carrots and cucumbers
1 cup spaghetti for dinner

I eat dinner before I leave work so I don't crave fast food on the way home.

Work buys me dinner on Thursdays, Mmmmm.

---

I like to replace the hamburger helper noodles with my own whole wheat noodles. I put in more than they do, too, to bulk it out.

I use powdered milk + butter for convenience. It doesn't taste as good, but I don't like throwing out milk all the time.

I use disposable cups and baggies. Work provides paper plates and plastic silverware. I know it's wasteful, but I have a much, much higher success rate with this plan if I don't have to wash anything.

Sylly

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Re: Killing the grocery bill - Share your Meal Plans
« Reply #5 on: November 20, 2012, 04:30:02 PM »
I usually plan meals weekly. Occasionally we skip 1-2 days and say we'll figure it out later, but it follows the same general procedures:

- Check out market fliers for what's on sale. Plan around that (usually the meats). Buy the necessary veggies for whatever planned meals 1-2 days ahead. For 'everyday' veggies like onions, tomatoes where the price doesn't vary much with season (and is used in most recipes anyway), we don't plan around their sale too much. For something more seasonal and expensive (e.g asparagus), we do.
- Also stock up on anything we regularly use that's on sale (e.g. chicken, ground beef, pasta, canned tomatoes, etc.). Freeze meat that's not going to get used in the next day or two.
- Fill in gaps with what's in the freezer (may require 1-2 days advance prep in the form of taking things out of the freezer and into the fridge to thaw).
- For even more gaps and last minute or "we don't feel like cooking" nights, we stock up on quick and easy prep meals (e.g. canned soups, rice-a-roni, frozen skillet meals). Not great, but better than eating out.
- We try to bunch meals with a lot of leftovers (e.g. chili, spaghetti, rice & stir fry) in the same week so we can take the leftovers for lunch.
- For weeks when we don't have a lot of leftovers, we make bread for lunch sandwiches.

sol

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Re: Killing the grocery bill - Share your Meal Plans
« Reply #6 on: November 20, 2012, 08:23:11 PM »
We have a couple of cheap standby recipes that get mixed in to standard rotation.

1.  Steamed broccoli with egg noogles, walnuts, olive oil, and garlic salt.  Sometimes we top with parmesan.  The proportions took a while to get right, and we ended up with broccoli >>  noodles and just a tiny bit of walnuts.

2.  Lasagnas.  We typically make them two at a time, cook one and freeze one.  As with most of our recipes that ask for meat, we find we can cut the meat proportion about in half and not notice any difference.  Since meat is so expensive relative to other ingredients, this helps.

3.  In the summertime when produce is cheap we do salads as meals.  With hard boiled eggs, every salad-type vegetable we can find, and cheese.

4.  Tuna melts.  This is super easy to do, and I like the variety of leftover ingredients that tuna fish can soak up and make disappear.  Add cheese, butter the bread, grill for a few.  When canned salmon goes on sale it's cheaper than tuna on sale (due to the boom/bust salmon fishing season) so I stock up.

5.  Our kids love top ramen.  At first they just wanted it plain, but I've always made it to use up whatever other leftover ingredients I have in the house and they eventually came around.  Ramen accepts virtually any meat or vegetable, even eggs, and turns it into an asian-style soup, all for 12.5 cents.

6.  We recently took on of those classes on how to prepare a month's worth of freezer meals in a single day.  We went shopping on a Friday night and spent all day Saturday cooking 15 different freezable recipes, each one making two batches that each serve four.  That was like three months ago, and we're only like halfway through.  Things like carrots are dirty cheap when you're buying them in 15 pound bags at WinCo, so this sort of bulk cooking really cuts down on costs.


stealmystapler

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Re: Killing the grocery bill - Share your Meal Plans
« Reply #7 on: November 21, 2012, 06:19:31 AM »
We plan meals weekly, usually on Sundays. Instead of planning meals from the sales in the circulars, we assess what we have and what we will be getting in our CSA bag that week. I find that this works really well to jog our memory of what we have on a weekly basis. We also keep a "freezer inventory" with items listed by shelves for that purpose as well. Our meals end up being pretty diverse and interesting. We do have homemade pizzas every Sunday, but we have strayed pretty far from more traditional Italian toppings there. As an example, I've copied last week's meals to the bottom of the post (we keep them in our shared google calendar).

We spend about $200 a month for the two of us. We take a big, bulk buying trip every month and a half or so. Otherwise, we shop based on the sales (and when we're lucky sale plus coupon!).

1) Pumpkin Mac and Cheese http://www.bhg.com/recipe/pasta/pumpkin-mac-and-cheese/
2) Bibimbap (ground turkey) http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Bibimbap-352271
3) Radish Green Pasta http://www.schoonerberries.com/recipe/pasta-with-radish-greens
4) Roasted Beets / Beet Greens / Quinoa http://www.poorgirleatswell.com/2009/09/recipe-roasted-beet-farro-salad-with-feta-and-caramelized-onions.html
5) Flounder with Arugula, Garlic and Tomato http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Orange-Roughy-with-Arugula-Garlic-and-Tomatoes-196
6) Carmelized Daikon & Bacon Pizza http://www.food.com/recipe/carmelized-daikon-and-bacon-pizza-490571

Saving mom

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Re: Killing the grocery bill - Share your Meal Plans
« Reply #8 on: November 21, 2012, 07:26:06 AM »
We buy high quality meat and use it more for an accent than having it as the main event at dinner. Here is a sample menu for the week:
Breakfast is Greek yogurt and homemade granola (all week). Might add a little fruit but just 1/3 of a banana to make it last. Lunch is always leftovers.
Dinner on night 1 is bone in split chicken breast but we only eat 1/2. Side of beans (made from dried beans) and veggies.
Second night is chalupas ( corn tortillas crisped in oven, purée the leftover beans, add cheese and shredded leftover chicken, bake until cheese melts and then add salsa (we make our own pico de gallo) and avocado if its on sale.
Third night might be a veggie bake (like ratatouille- fast with a mandoline and cheap with squash, carrots and tomatoes on sale). We don't miss the pasta and put a small amount of cheese on top. Other option might be baked potato night (I stuff with broccoli).
Fourth night is a quiche (without crust) that uses all the veggies that might go bad otherwise. Might include bacon or chorizo if we have it - a little goes a long way.
Fifth night is pizza with homemade dough. Have a great recipe for NY style dough that makes enough for three pizzas and comes together in under a minute in food processor. Kids have cheese and we have topping of whatever is in the fridge (we have made bacon jalapeño, feta tomato, etc.).
Sixth night might be BLT sandwich and soup. We love challah bread and use 1/2 for sandwiches and other 1/2 makes awesome French toast for Saturday breakfast.

Three years ago we started serving ourselves 1/2 the portion size and realized we were content at the end rather than "stuffed". Last year we massively increased the amount of veggies and felt better, produced less household garbage, and spent less (no buying refined crap in boxes). Now fast food makes us ill and seems outrageously expensive. Bonus is that we both lost weight and are the thinnest we have ever been.

totoro

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Re: Killing the grocery bill - Share your Meal Plans
« Reply #9 on: November 21, 2012, 09:56:59 AM »
I love this thread.  Stealmystapler, the recipes you have posted look very good.  I'm intrigued by the bibimbap - I've tried it but never cooked it.  I have these ingredients in my kitchen and may try this tonight but would add some chili paste.   I also like the PGEW website.

Matt K

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Re: Killing the grocery bill - Share your Meal Plans
« Reply #10 on: November 21, 2012, 10:51:23 AM »
Here is our menu for two adults for this week. Total cost was under $75.

Saturday
Breakfast: scrambled eggs and fried potatoes
Lunch: Left over friday night dinner
Dinner: Beef taragon with potatoes and fresh salad

Sunday
Breakfast: Porridge with honey, cream, and raisons
Lunch: Left overs
Dinner:Roast chicken with potatoes, steamed cauliflower, and fresh salad

Monday:
Breakfast: Greek yogurt with store bought granola, canned peaches, and fresh raspberries
Lunch: left overs (remaining chicken is being saved for soup)
Dinner: Turkey burgers

Tuesday:
Breakfast: Same as monday (same all week)
Lunch: same as monday, using $2 frozen lunches if no left overs
Dinner: Gnocchi with 4 cheese (all fancy cheeses), and salad

Wednesday:
Home made pizza

Thursday:
Soup

Friday:
Frozen lasagna (we always have one handy and plan it for friday, but we almost never use it, having some left overs or grand idea to cook friday instead)

We could totally have saved some on this, $20 of our menu went to cheeses (for gnocchi and pizza). Bu we won't use them all, so there will be plenty of snacking and use in next week's meals.

stealmystapler

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Re: Killing the grocery bill - Share your Meal Plans
« Reply #11 on: November 21, 2012, 04:23:29 PM »
Totoro - thanks! We make various Asian dishes fairly often, but the bibimbap was new. This recipe was easy, and delicious!

We allowed ourselves a dinner out last week, so perhaps it wasn't the best example. Still, it has to be more typical than Thanksgiving feasting week. That presents a different challenge: repurposing leftovers!

ThatGuyFromCanada

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Re: Killing the grocery bill - Share your Meal Plans
« Reply #12 on: November 22, 2012, 08:27:33 AM »
Thanks everyone for the numerous and detailed replies. I really like the variety that everyone has and the focus on healthy eating. I think we'll add more vegi-based meals and mix up our routine of 1 meat 1 carb 1 veggie a little bit.

jwystup

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Re: Killing the grocery bill - Share your Meal Plans
« Reply #13 on: November 22, 2012, 09:42:26 PM »
Like many others, I'm still working on increasing the healthy and decreasing the costs. I shop and cook for myself and my picky picky boyfriend who has no interest in vegetables  (But loves onions and will eat peppers/tomatoes/etc just nothing remotely "icky"). I've been keeping it around $300/month (including tp/ paper towels/toiletries). I noticed going from a weekly shopping trip to a bi-weekly one helped a lot, now I only shop on pay weeks. Even though it *should* save money, our BJs membership seems to have cost us more in the long run, since we'll buy name brand things and some snacks we wouldn't have otherwise purchased. So I've been working on a super analysis of where to buy everything. I have a spreadsheet going with prices of a lot of staples that I buy often and I am checking prices at all of our available options (save a lot, aldi, tops, wegmans, bj's, sams club, even amazon.com). Then I will determine where to do the majority of my shopping (probably save a lot or aldi), bulk shopping (I don't think bj's will win), and some one-offs that might be way cheaper to go get once in a great while, like steel cut oats that no one likes to sell around here, I'll probably have to go to wegmans for that stuff.

My basic food plan has been working pretty well. I make big batches of soup and freeze "bricks" of soup in a silicone mini loaf pan for single serve chunks.

Breakfast:
- Steel Cut Oats (sometimes this turns to cheerios in the summer)
- Hard boiled egg(s)
Lunch:
- Soup (usually lentil)
- Homemade roll
- Homemade granola bar (which has somehow wound up with more and more chocolate in it lately, hmm)

And then dinner varies a lot but the base is very cheap and healthy. I need to add in more fruit/veggie snacks too.

totoro

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Re: Killing the grocery bill - Share your Meal Plans
« Reply #14 on: November 22, 2012, 10:34:07 PM »
The bibimbap was very good.  I added kimchi and steamed broccoli.  I think that sauce is great overtop.

N

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Re: Killing the grocery bill - Share your Meal Plans
« Reply #15 on: November 22, 2012, 11:10:25 PM »


My basic food plan has been working pretty well. I make big batches of soup and freeze "bricks" of soup in a silicone mini loaf pan for single serve chunks.
/quote]

I Love the idea of freezing soup in bricks! gonna have to try that! thanks!

N

mm1970

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Re: Killing the grocery bill - Share your Meal Plans
« Reply #16 on: November 23, 2012, 08:46:47 PM »
I've had a hard time keeping our family of four (dad, mom, 6 year old, nursing baby) under $500 per month lately.  For a few reasons:
I'm tired. Two kids, job, and breastfeeding.
We eat mostly organic dairy and at least half free range meats. And I crave meat when I'm nursing. Usually I eat more vegetarian.
Extra prepared food. I'd all but eliminated it a few years ago. It's crept back in. I don't make my own yogurt anymore.

I plan meals weekly, and that helps. It's incredibly repetitive, but we eat the same thing for lunch every day. One week, sandwiches. Next week, rice and beans. Then pasta. Then burritos.  I cook a big meal, like a casserole, on Saturday for dinners, lasts till Monday. Tuesday is a microwaved veg and baked chicken tenders. Weds dinner is crockpot day, lasts till Friday.  Leftovers after three days go into the freezer for emergencies.

PJ

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Re: Killing the grocery bill - Share your Meal Plans
« Reply #17 on: November 23, 2012, 09:04:52 PM »
I plan meals weekly, and that helps. It's incredibly repetitive, but we eat the same thing for lunch every day. One week, sandwiches. Next week, rice and beans. Then pasta. Then burritos.  I cook a big meal, like a casserole, on Saturday for dinners, lasts till Monday. Tuesday is a microwaved veg and baked chicken tenders. Weds dinner is crockpot day, lasts till Friday.  Leftovers after three days go into the freezer for emergencies.

I'm sure that eating the same thing every day for lunch is a timesaver because you can get in a routine for the week, but have you considered continuing the "cook one thing per week" process but serve into portion sized containers to freeze, so that you can break up the monotony on a week by week basis?  You could end up with a set thing for each day of the week, such as sandwiches Tuesday and Thursday, Monday rice and beans, Wednesday pasta, Friday burritos.  And you could even prepare both sets of sandwiches each Monday night :-)

happy

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Re: Killing the grocery bill - Share your Meal Plans
« Reply #18 on: November 23, 2012, 10:07:17 PM »
Thanks for all the suggestions: my food and grocery bill is still somewhere between $800-$1000/month Australian for 1 adult and 2 teenagers and 5 guinea pigs. This year I've focused on cutting out takeaway/ meals out, making bread, making jam from cheap fruit in season, taking lunch from home, stockpiling on special,   increasing the amount of cooking from scratch, and starting to grow some veges. I've looked for bulk food outlets but costco is 75 km away, and Aldi helps but doesn't stock a full range of items. I did an internet search for bulk online but didn't get anything useful. 

I'm not tracking accurately, but the amount left over from $250/week is starting to increase.  However this is still pretty bad - I'd like to get food (only) down to Aus $125/week at least. It really has helped for me to see your menus and ideas..... keep them coming. 2013 I am going to track very accurately and really push hard to get this down.

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Re: Killing the grocery bill - Share your Meal Plans
« Reply #19 on: November 24, 2012, 10:42:03 AM »
This is something easy I've been doing for lunch/dinner recently:

1. Look for a clearance meat at the store.  I have used ground turkey that was maybe a dollar/lb, and recently got about 18 lbs of excellent pork for like 15 bucks!

2. Slow cook the meat.  I just put it in the crockpot, but I guess you could do it however you want, brown it first, roast it in the oven, whatever.

3. Meanwhile, soak a lb of black beans. 

4. Combine (in the crockpot) up to 1lb of the meat with the soaked beans, a couple chopped onions  and potatoes, can of green beans and whatever spices you like: salt/pepper, or whatever type of cooking you like.  I prefer cajun seasoning, salt/pepper, and pepper flakes.

I guess I could have made this shorter by just saying make a soup with meat, beans, green beans, onions, and potatoes.  I'm really digging the meat, potatoes, and beans combo.

garnetfree

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Re: Killing the grocery bill - Share your Meal Plans
« Reply #20 on: November 24, 2012, 09:40:09 PM »
For fun (and as a personal challenge) I've been participating in the food stamp budget on and off for years (with varying degrees of success). So we (two people) vary between $70-100/week. Lately I have it in my head that we can do it for $50 a week. All is local, organic and often made completely from scratch. Recently...

Last week, I made quiche (threw in all sorts of veggies). Cheese purchased in bulk. With leftover dough that was refrigerated, I turned it into pizza for tonight complete with homemade pizza sauce.

Crockpot makes beans in some variation one or two times per week. So pinto beans goes into enchiladas (for lunch) and also is a side for a Mexican style breakfast. And finally can be an appetizer for nachos.

I made a millet and lentil soup a few nights ago, and after one night in storage was not as liquidy so was turned into a spread on slices of bread for an appetizer (sprinkled with some spices for more "interestingness")

When bread becomes too hard, I fry slices of it in a bit of butter and serve with soup - its quite tasty.

N

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Re: Killing the grocery bill - Share your Meal Plans
« Reply #21 on: November 24, 2012, 11:15:11 PM »
Today I went to the store and spent 82.00 on groceries. My general meal plan for this week is:

Chicken soup
Spagetti and Meatballs, green salad
Chicken breasts and rice a roni, couple of steamed veg sides
Hamburgers and baked potatoes
beef stew in crockpot
Chicken pot pie (in freezer, made on a bulk cooking day)

we have fruit for snacks, eggs for breakfast, plenty of ramen noodles for the kids (their current go-to hot meal for lunch/breakfast)
and leftovers from turkey day.

liquidbanana

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Re: Killing the grocery bill - Share your Meal Plans
« Reply #22 on: November 25, 2012, 12:38:50 AM »
I gave up meal plans long ago. I'm just too flaky and disorganized for that kind of thing. I think the best thing you can do is see what is going for the cheapest prices when you are shopping and stock up on those things. Then just google for recipes that fit what you have in your cabinets. After a while, you'll get the hang of cooking food you like and you can throw together meals with the stuff you have on hand without recipes.

It's also good to just keep cheap/healthy staples all the time like beans, rice, whole wheat pasta, oatmeal, canned tomatoes, tomato or pasta sauce, onions, garlic, olive oil (ok, not cheap, but healthy and delicious!), the cheapest veggies you can find (sweet potatoes, carrots, greens, cabbage,etc), lots of dried spices, some type of sweetener, soy or almond milk, free range eggs, etc. Quinoa is not always cheap, but it's about as healthy as you can get (unless you prescribe to a paleo diet then you may disagree). And you can do all kinds of things with quinoa.

I'm torn about meat. I really don't have the budget for organic/free range, but my SO and child like eating meat. I try to limit it to a few times a week because it costs more, and I just feel guilty about the impact on the environment and the ethical and potential health implications. Pork, chicken and turkey are the cheapest, though. So figure out how to work with those meats and avoid beef except for rare occasions.

Anyway, basically my meal plan is buy what is healthy and cheap within my budget, and then I keep repeating to myself: "Use It Up, Wear It Out, Make It Do, or Do Without."

I'll also add that we always have a few "splurge" items each week so we don't feel deprived or compelled to eat out when we really don't need to. Like, I'll buy a few convenience/junk foods like pad thai in a box for myself and ice cream for my SO. My son is happy with anything with sugar in it. Sometimes he gets something terribly unhealthy like donuts. This week he got some concord grapes. He was a little bummed but still happy because I hyped it up really well.
« Last Edit: November 25, 2012, 12:48:14 AM by liquidbanana »

Use it up, wear it out...

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Re: Killing the grocery bill - Share your Meal Plans
« Reply #23 on: November 25, 2012, 07:00:11 AM »
Anyway, basically my meal plan is buy what is healthy and cheap within my budget, and then I keep repeating to myself: "Use It Up, Wear It Out, Make It Do, or Do Without."

*hat tip*

Worsted Skeins

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Re: Killing the grocery bill - Share your Meal Plans
« Reply #24 on: November 25, 2012, 09:18:39 AM »
I suspect that many of the Americans on this board will be enjoying turkey soup this week. Although we did not cook the turkey, we came home with leftovers including that all important carcass.  Last night we had turkey tetrazini (using dark chunks of meat and leftover gravy--I added kale because that is the kind of person I am).  The massive stock pot has had the carcass and some veg simmering all morning. There will be sufficient stock for this week's soup and freezer portions.

This is green season for us.  I plan on making a large quantity of egg rolls (freezing most) this week out of bok choi, mitzuna and celery (all from our CSA), maybe adding some shrimp if I can find US ones as well as some carrot and onion.  Here is a case where a few chopped shrimp add great flavor, essentially using them as a condiment.  We brush eggrolls with sesame oil and bake them.  (You can also boil the shells to make a stock for soups or as a flavorful liquid for cooking rice.)

I tend to make a pot of beans weekly which we incorporate into our menus.  This week I think I'll make mujadarah since we have not had lentils in a while. 

http://www.food.com/recipe/lentil-rice-dish-mujadarah-arabic-dish-202573

Roasted roots are a great and inexpensive accompaniment to any meal.  I roast a combination of whatever is on hand:  white potatoes, sweet potatoes, carrots, parsnips, turnips, golden beets.  Our CSA box had rutabagas in it this week. Not a fan of the rutabaga in general but one chopped and mixed with an assortment of roasted roots is just fine.

I guess I am another in the club of use what is in season and what is on hand.  Push the envelope and try new things. Some may flop but oh well...

kudy

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Re: Killing the grocery bill - Share your Meal Plans
« Reply #25 on: November 25, 2012, 01:02:25 PM »
I'm going to use some extra chicken from the freezer, curry powder left here by an old tenant, and some vegetables to try out making curry this evening.  The only special ingredient I bought today was coconut milk (I hate recipes that consist of things I don't already have).

I used to try and make smaller meals because I am not feeding a family, but now I try and make big meals so that whatever I make has lots of leftovers.

I have a large amount of frozen tomatoes from my garden, so I plan to make a big batch of bean chili every few weeks this winter.

Use it up, wear it out...

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Re: Killing the grocery bill - Share your Meal Plans
« Reply #26 on: November 25, 2012, 01:55:09 PM »
Our lunch today - curried turkey salad (including apple, dried cranberry, and cashews) on toasted whole wheat bread (from the bread machine) with black tea that came with the our takeout thai food last month.

kkbmustang

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Re: Killing the grocery bill - Share your Meal Plans
« Reply #27 on: November 25, 2012, 07:43:23 PM »
We are a family of 4: 2 adults, 10 year old boy and 8 year old girl. (The food for our 11 pound dog comes from a separate budget.) 

We budget $450/month, but regularly come in around $400-$420. This is post-discovery of MMM. It used to be $800-1,000/mo.

We typically have the following:

Breakfast (Depending on whether it's a school day or weekend)
-cold cereal with milk
-yogurt with granola
-turkey bacon and eggs
-pancakes
-fruit smoothies (frozen strawberries, banana and vanilla soymilk)
-oatmeal sweetened at home with a little bit of brown sugar and maple syrup, made with a small scoop of vanilla protein powder and vanilla soy milk
-toast

Lunch
-leftovers for adults
-sandwiches, fresh fruit, salad/raw veggies, popcorn and bottled water for kids

Dinner
-taco/burrito night with homemade guacamole (hamburger, beans (refried or cooked from dry beans), shredded cheese and salsa)
-spaghetti night with salad
-roast chicken, steamed or roasted veggies and fresh fruit
-homemade soup or chili (using chicken stock made from the roast chicken carcass, potatoes and any frozen veggies on hand)
-rice/quinoa casserole with leftover chicken and veggies, cooked with homemade stock
-quiche
-stir fry with shrimp and vegetables served with brown rice

I use Madhadron's recipe for the roast chicken from this thread:
http://www.mrmoneymustache.com/forum/share-your-badassity/convenience-food/msg25853/#msg25853

It totally rocked my world. I've made it almost weekly since it was posted here.

The stock is easy, just remove the meat from the carcass, throw it in a big pot with the lemons, an onion, a few carrots and some celery and put in enough water to cover everything. Cook on medium to low heat for a few hours. It usually makes three servings for me. One to use that week which goes in the refrigerator and two to freeze.

Several times each week I make homemade juice with our juicer. We always purchase lots of apples, oranges, pears and carrots. I'll also make a green juice using cucumbers, spinach or romaine, celery, carrots, apples, a lemon and a little bit of raw ginger root if Aldi has it that week. The kids aren't huge fans of the green juice, but you can sneak a half of a cucumber in with some carrots and oranges and they drink it right up. Apple/pear is also another fan favorite. This week Aldi had pineapple on sale for $0.99 so we did pineapple/orange/apple. They loved it. I store the juice in mason jars and they last in the frig for about 2 days. Much better than store bought juice, for sure.

We alternate between juice and smoothies for the kids to make sure they are getting plenty of plant based foods. My son won't eat a vegetable if it isn't corn, so I try to sneak some in his juice. My daughter actually requests salads be included in her lunchbox, so we lucked out there. They both love fruit, so we always have plenty on hand for snacking.

badassprof

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Re: Killing the grocery bill - Share your Meal Plans
« Reply #28 on: November 26, 2012, 10:13:18 AM »
Thank you, everyone, for these great ideas!  We have knocked quite a bit off our grocery bill, but still have a long way to go. I'm inspired!!