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Monthly Meal Plan, 400.00, input PLEASE

post #1 of 15
Thread Starter 
I used to meal plan really well, but such planning took a couple days. The last few months I have just made a general list, sometimes mental only , and went from there. The results, you can imagine, was a lot of random missing ingredients, and a way blown budget. Another aim is to maximize my purchases to supplement my pantry. We never really run out of food, but I would like to contribute more to our reserve in light of the current economical uncertainty, even if it means changing the way we eat.

I like to do one major shop at the beginning of the month, with a couple supplemental shops for produce, dairy/eggs. I am looking for input with the meals I have listed to be able to buy a bigger cut or package of one meat to spread out over additional meals, or using a meat as a more equal component of a meal rather than the center piece iykwim. I am also looking at shopping tips for this, such as better ways to buy bulk, or items that can be purchased in a greater quantity that may not seem as obvious.

Dietary considerations:
-No HFCS (avoided at all costs)
-No MSG (aaac)
-No artificial colors, flavors (aaac)
-No Nitrates/Nitrites (avoided as much as possible)
-No Transfats (not as militant about this. For example, will use Crisco brand shortening as I cannot afford Spectrum all the time)
-No Sodium Benzoate (avoided as much as possible, especially with a citric acid combo)
-No Preservatives (avoided as much as possible)
-One family member cannot have any dairy, so meals that are easily substitutable, or easy to do separate. (We DO NOT sub cheese as the only cheese subs without any dairy taste like toes)

-I am a pretty good cook and am willing to try most anything. We do nearly all bread from scratch, except occasional artisan breads, but am eager to attempt.
-We enjoy deserts, so inexpensive ideas much welcome.

These are the types of things that we typically eat in a month, and are on my tentative meal list. (I mostly have the main dishes listed. Would love for input on sides) :

1. Lasagna
2. Spaghetti
3. Tacos (usually shredded pork)
4. Chicken Parmigiana
5. Macaroni and Cheese (homemade)
6. Chicken fried steak
7. Breakfast for dinner (waffles/pancakes/eggs and bacon/sausage) We usually do this at least twice per month
8. French Onion Soup
9. Potato Soup
10. Chili
11. Mole
12. Fried Rice
13. Pizza
14. Beef in mushroom sauce
15. Wonton Soup
16. Pot Pie (usually chicken)
17. Pasta Carbonara
18. Pork Chops in adobada
19. Enchiladas
20. A big sandwich (usually with a soup)
21 Frijoles Borrachos
22. Hobbit Pie
23 Pad Thai
24. Cabbage rolls

Any suggestions, substitutions, input of all kinds is VERY much welcome.
post #2 of 15
how about a black bean soup with rice? That is quite inexpensive. I can usually throw it together with things I have on hand.
Roasting a chicken and having that the first night, making stock from the carcass and then soup with the stock another night.
post #3 of 15
Thread Starter 
Yeah, so I generally buy several whole chickens, pork roasts, about 10-15 lbs of ground pork (we use that to replace most ground beef) and other larger packages of meat. We buy eggs by the 5 dozen...

Items we buy in bulk already are:
baking powder
baking soda

Any other thoughts on what I can buy in bulk that I don't already?
post #4 of 15
yeast is usually cheaper in bulk if you are making your own breads
post #5 of 15
Thread Starter 
Oh yeah, that too. I buy yeast in bulk at 5.25/lb
post #6 of 15
subbing and bumping......
post #7 of 15
post #8 of 15
Originally Posted by Mackenzie View Post
Oh yeah, that too. I buy yeast in bulk at 5.25/lb
That's insanely expensive. I think I pay like $5 for 3 lbs in a vacuum packed bag at Smart & Final.

8. French Onion Soup
9. Potato Soup
I would love to see your recipes, I've never seen either dairy free that tasted good.
post #9 of 15
Thread Starter 
Well for the French Onion, we just leave the cheese off hers cause... well, according to her, vegan cheese tastes like @$$... can't say I disagree either...

For potato, I just sub soy... everyone has liked it so far...

And the yeast... that is the absolute cheapest I have found. Our co-op was like 12.00 and I was excited then... until I found the 5.00/lb stuff..
post #10 of 15
what does you garden and spring/summer canning/freezing ritual like? My garden and canning extras people give me is the only way I haven't gone to the poor house, or bought many canned things in a while!

$400.00 seems like a lot, I live in SW ohio so cost of living may just be a lot cheaper here.
post #11 of 15
Thread Starter 
Kriket... CoL... haha... I live in the Seattle area... Yeah our CoL is absurd....

But to answer the direct question... I have no gardening program as I have no yard to speak of...
post #12 of 15
crap. I've vacationed in the Seattle/ Vancouver area. I feel for you.

Have you tried container gardening? You will be surprised what you can get off just a postage stamp of land!

I live in Dayton and we have like a 1/16th of an acre. It's not even a yard to let the dogs play in but we wouldn't eat if I didn't find a corner to grow a tomato and a ledge to grow some cucumbers! It can be done and it's a lifesaver!
post #13 of 15
We eat beans about once a week. I can only cook beans in my crockpot (everything else is a failure), so that's my go-to meal on busy days.

Split pea soup
Hopping john
Red beans and rice
Black bean soup or black beans and rice (moros y cristianos)
Pinto beans, as "soup beans"
pino beans over rice, with salsa
Bean burritos
Lentil soup
Senate bean soup
Cassoulet (I usually use smoked sausage and a leftover porkchop in this)
post #14 of 15
What about an Indian curry with a small amount of chicken, a large amount of chickpeas and vegetables, over rice? Pataks Mild Curry paste is pretty good.
post #15 of 15
I'd add a few good casseroles to your list. You can make double recipes and freeze one.

And if you're cringing and thinking of the soggy tuna noodle casserole with peas they served in your high school cafeteria, think again! Check the Cooks Illustrated cookbook "Cover and Bake" out of your library -- it has umpteen ideas for casseroles, many of which are very cost-effective... and good!
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Mothering › Mothering Forums › Natural Living › Nutrition and Good Eating › Meal Planning › Monthly Meal Plan, 400.00, input PLEASE