1. Cheap Groceries=cheap meals
2. Cheap food gone to waste=expensive garbage.
3. $$Prepackaged/convenience foods > $food from scratch
The first law of cheap meals is cheap groceries. So, if you haven't read my November posts "So many mouths" 1 and 2 (A Day late and a dollar short) STOP! Do not continue reading this post until you have read those ones.
Do you prepare a different meal every night? Do you hate leftovers? Do you feel you have nothing to make for dinner even when your refrigerator is full? Do you ever find old or rotten food in your refrigerator? Why? You are wasting food. Even if it's cheap, wasted food is just expensive garbage. Therefore, the second law of cheap meals is planning how to most efficiently consume your cheap groceries.
I like to make a meal plan while, or shortly after making my grocery list. My plan is usually quite simply penciled into my daily planner or written on the back of my grocery list. I don't need to plan breakfasts or lunches because they are the same every week: all our breakfasts are hot or cold cereal and all our lunches are sandwiches or leftovers with fruit and vegi. This leaves me with only dinners to plan.
Over the years our family has developed two weekly food traditions, I write these down first. Sunday is breakfast for dinner, Friday is Pizza night. I also try to have a soup/salad night and a vegetarian night every week.
Next, I check the products on sale and decide if I will use any of them this week in my meals. Always make sure to use the fresh produce and meat you've purchased and fill in with what's in the freezer and pantry for the other meals. If you've made a mass quantity purchase of fresh foods and can't use them all before they spoil freeze them. You could make a double recipe of a favorite dish to freeze or if, for instance, you purchased 5 pounds of onions you can chop or slice them and freeze them in ziploc baggies.
So let's say that this week Pork Roast, potatoes, tortillas, and cabbage are a few of the items on sale. This week I'm shopping on Friday and of course Friday is Pizza night.
Saturday-I make use of the tortillas and serve Celeste's bean and cheese burritos,
Sunday-I make eggs and hashbrowns (potatoes),
Monday-pork roast with roasted potatoes,
Tuesday-BBQ pork sandwiches with coleslaw,
Wednesday-Creamy broccoli (on sale 2 weeks ago in the freezer)potato soup and rolls, and Thursday-vegi stir fry over pork fried rice
You see that I have planned to use my fresh meat and produce right down to the last small scraps of pork thrown into the fried rice. Though I am using the same ingredients several nights I am planning them in different ways so I call them "planned-overs" instead of leftovers. One night make tacos and two nights later make sloppy joes with the leftover meat, rice, salsa, etc. Or, Roast chicken on a Monday, Chicken and Dumplings on a Wednesday and BBQ chicken pizza on Friday! Pot Roast one night, stew another, and BBQ beef sandwiches on another. You get the idea, the possibilities are limitless.
The third law of cheap meals is the hard sell: cooking from scratch. Cooking from scratch will save you more money than you could imagine and it is so much easier than Duncan Hines, Kraft and Rice-a-Roni, would have you believe. I will go in depth more on this next time but a little food for thought until then . . . .homemade bread .26 cents a loaf, 3 large homemade pizzas and soda for $3, Homemade oven baked mac & cheese (with Stove Top topping, serves 6) $1.25, Incredibly moist homemade brownies .50 cents/pan. . . . . . . .