I peel and chop carrots, celery, and peppers all at the same time, and put them in these. (Wal Mart has their own version for much cheaper... I should have waited... grr.) I might wash cherry tomatoes and put them in one, too. I don't do cucumbers ahead, though, they get funky too fast. I mix up a couple small containers of dip- very often just low fat mayo and Italian dressing, stirred together. DD likes a little ketchup in hers, makes it more like thousand island dressing. I'll also make granola or trail mix, and a dozen small containers of homemade custard style yogurt or pudding. I'll take a loaf of bread, sliced, and make the whole thing into PB&Js, which I then put in fold top baggies and put them back in the bread bag, which I then freeze. You can take out a sandwich, put it in the toaster oven/microwave for one minute, and it's nice and warm, which is a yummy way to eat PB&J. We also usually have fresh fruit on hand, or, as back up, canned peaches and pineapple. I'll also cut some cheese up, and hide it in an opaque container so it doesn't all get eaten right away. I try to have little melba toasts on hand to eat with the cheese.
Does this save me tons of time? No, not really. But it saves lots of cleanup, since I just do one big cleanup once a week and don't have dishes staring at me after every time someone gets a snack.
Today, while I was making oatmeal and coffee, I made salmon salad (from canned salmon) and pasta with peas (thank you, Clara on YouTube!) for lunch for today and tomorrow, since I know we'll be busy tomorrow. Just spread the bread, or put the little pot on the stove, and it's done. No thinking, fewer dishes at lunch time, and not much more clean up at breakfast. While I was cooking, I figured out what we're having for dinner. I got the soup in the crockpot, sliced and buttered eight peices of bread, and sliced cheese. (We are having tomato-basil soup, grilled cheese, and dill pickles for dinner.) My cooking today is all but done, and other than a couple plates, three bowls, the grilled cheese pan and turner, and some spoons, all my dishes for the day are done (we use water bottles, so no cups.)
Getting it all done and out of the way in the morning helps me get other stuff done during the day, and not feel like a martyr to the kitchen. Plus, after dinner I'm tired, and I don't want to tackle a giant dinner mess. A small dinner mess I can usually handle.
This isn't about saving money, per se, but eating at home saves money, and this helps us to eat at home.
One of my favorite easy meals for dinner is scrambled eggs on toast, with a steamed veggie on the side. It can all be made within 5 minutes of DH getting home.
An old breakfast standby for us: Eggs, milk, cheese, crumbled breakfast meat, chopped veggies, mixed up like a huge omlet and baked in a 13x9 casserole dish. You keep it in the fridge and cut slices and heat it in microwave for a quick easy breakfast or high-protein snack.
I don't mind cooking, but "food prep" is annoying. Making grilled cheese isn't really all that stimulating, so I rely on left-overs as often as I can for lunch, and that just means making large dinners. Breakfast is only a catered affair here on weekends otherwise it's cereal, oatmeal, or reheated pancakes that I froze on a more industrious day.
I really only cook dinner, and we eat a very wholesome, organic diet.
This is the first month that we have not eaten out as a family. Dh was down to eating out to maybe one time a week at work and we ate our maybe twice as a family a month. Dh's work buys them lunch on saturdays, so he gets to eat that food once a week now, otherwise he just comes home to eat for lunch-he works 3 miles away. I also sahm, and now w/dh eating lunch, i am too making/fixing 3 meals everyday. And it doesn't bother me as much, the main thing i would suggest is making enough to last for two or three meals. Also cooking in bulk and freezing the excess is a good idea. I do that with pankcakes and muffins for breakfast-they freeze well.
Our food budget is down to about 175$ a month for 2 adults and 1 child thanks to couponing. Our budget also includes eating out, household/health/beauty items. I have been couponing for a year now, have a decent stockpile too. You should check the sticky about couponing, and hotcouponworld.com it has saved us thousands of dollars in the past year. Start shopping sales only. Sign up for websites homemailers, I just bought 2 lbs of organic carrots for .88 at Walmart after coupon. So you can get decent deals on organic while couponing. I don't buy a lot of organic, but do when the prices are good.
Thats what we spend before coupons about 350-400 on food/household/eating out etc. with only a few organicsQUOTE]
I seriously don't know how some people feed their family on $200-350 a month. I cook all meals from scratch and incorporate dried beans and legumes and rice into many meals. I buy SOME organic and I am always hunting for sales. I use a few coupons per visit. I spend close to $500 a month on groceries. Lately I've been able to get it down to $450 for my family of four. I don't see what else I could do other than turn to cheaper foods like non-omega eggs, frozen vegetables, less meat (we eat meat maybe 4-5x a week but usually chicken). Maybe you all have cheaper supermarkets where you live because here it is just, imo, not possible.
I don't think $450- $500 a month is extreme at all, and depending on where you live (Beach dreamin mum?) it might be really, really low. I just can't fathom why anyone with small children could be spending $1,200+, unless they have a larger family AND lots of allergies AND they live in a high-cost-of-living area AND eat organics.
Where would I get coupons for Whole Foods Market? That's where I get all my organic goods.
Horizon Organic horizonorganic.com
Organic Valley organicvalley.coop
They also have coupon books at the entrance of WF. Those coupons are only for use in WF whereas the ones listed above work at any grocery.
I always seem to have $1 Organic Valley eggs coupons, so I only pay like $2.65 for a dozen organic eggs. Organic Valley has some good ones on their Web site right now, too.
I notice you describe your dh in your signature as "hardworking surfer dude." Sounds like someone who needs a lot of calories. Maybe part of the difference is that your dh eats unusually big quantities.
I agree though, that $900 a month is excessive and I have to wonder if there is a lot of packaged foods. I gave up frozen stuff like Amy's a long time. Even on sale at 2/$7 it is way too expensive. I try to break it down into daily amounts. $15 a day to feed us 3 meals and snacks is my max, so 2 Amy's dinners on sale is already half my daily budget, and only for 2 people, and frozen prepared meals are never enough food for dh. He needs a side dish to go with it, so our freezer is very empty except for some frozen fruits/veggies and frozen chicken breasts, that's it.
Basic Tortilla Mix:
¼ cup cornstarch
¼ cup tapioca flour
¼ cup potato starch flour
¼ cup white rice flour
¼ cup brown rice flour
1 teaspoon salt
1-½ teaspoon xanthan gum
1 generous teaspoon baking powder
1-½ Tablespoon vegetable oil
½ cup water or more as needed
Measure all dry ingredients in a sealed container and shake to mix. Add oil and water to mix. Let the dough rest 10 minutes for easier handling. Divide dough and roll into 10 to 12 balls. Flatten a ball slightly and place in the press and follow the press instructions. This recipe says to cook 30 seconds on each side, but you need to check and see if your press cooks on both sides at once.
I can only add a few things. I meal plan, too, but loosely. I find there are are 3 or 4 meals we eat regularly, so I make sure I have those staples on hand. Those meals are:
pasta with white beans, rosemary, and tomatos
veggie chili (which can turn into veggie tacos or burritos)
soysages with peppers and onions
DH is vegetarian so I don't cook a lot of meat, but I usually buy a rotisserie chicken and keep it in the fridge. I can use it for a few meals usually--fast dinner or lunches for DD and myself.
Usually when I meal plan, I think about those staples and then I try to pick one new recipe I want to try or make again and buy those ingredients too. Definitely spend some time at the bookstore or on Amazon and buy some good cookbooks. I started with Fanny Farmer too!
I do some shopping at a warehouse club every other month or so--I buy things like canned tomatos and sauce and frozen enchiladas and raviolis that are either non-perishable staples or easy to cook things for days and nights I don't feel like cooking.
Another thing we do a lot of is soup, salad, and bread. Depending on how much salad you all like, you can make a big fun salad with lots of toppings and keep it in the fridge to nibble on at lunch. Bring it back out for dinner with some soup. I make some really easy fresh soups (tomato soup out of just canned tomatos, broth, and garlic--broccoli soup out of broccoli, onions, mushrooms and broth) and my DD loves chicken noodle soup from the can. We also really like some of the Amy's soups, and some progresso soups. It's easy and filling! DH makes awesome grilled cheeses, too! My biggest switch has been from big meals to making dinner lighter. Sometimes we have a salad and rice and black beans.
I also suggest making it a game--it doesn't sound like you are in bad shape financially, you just realize that your grocery bill could use some taming. So why not set aside $600 for next month, and when it's gone it's gone! See how you can do on what you have in your pantry when it runs out. Get creative. I find that when I get into the deep recesses of my pantry and freezer I can pull out some...interesting...meals. Some of them are great, some are duds, but you know--we wake up another day and eat again.
Also, frozen meals aren't cheap, but they are cheaper than going out, so I'd get some of those to be what you make when you think "how about we just go out?" As an added bonus, unlike many restaurant meals, you can get organic versions of the frozen meals.
Mom to two beautiful boys, now in school to be a therapist and help other women with PPD.
$900 is a lot for groceries? For a month? Wow. I don't know how you could even begin to do better than that... I spend at least that much, even on a GOOD month. We go through at least $300 a week...
We do virtually all whole foods, very little processed/prepackaged stuff, and I choose local and/organic when I can. I'm curious what sort of things you're buying?
My addiction is Diet Coke, but that's a 12 pack every two weeks.
Things are just really expensive here.
Mom to two beautiful boys, now in school to be a therapist and help other women with PPD.
Diapers $40 a week
Milk (organic) $8-12 a week
Bread (3 loaves) $12
Cheese (3 pkgs shredded and 2 sliced) $20
Fruit and veg. $40 a week, probably...
That's just a few of the things I usually buy. There are many others of course, cereal, pasta, pasta sauce, etc. And of course some frozen convenience food and cleaning products and contact solution, toothpaste, mouthwash... so it really does add up. I've actually slimmed it down from $1600 a month a few months ago, so I think that's pretty good!
I just live in a really expensive area, I think... we are affording the food fine, but it sure would be great if the food prices went down! The same groceries used to cost me only $150 a year and a half ago...
Mom to two beautiful boys, now in school to be a therapist and help other women with PPD.
Cut Your Food Bills in Half
Lots of basic information, but I thought it was a good read.
I kept running out of my 150 a week budget, so I decided to keep all my grocery/take out receipts for a month, and make a note of how much I'd spent when I didn't get a receipt. For myself, DH, and our mostly-breastfed toddler, I spent close to 600 euro over the course of a month. Maybe we can cut back, but I'm not sure it would be worth it. I like nice food, and organic groceries are quite expensive.
This thread has inspired me to make a list of meals I could make regularly, and there are an awful lot of them, probably too many! I also really like to explore new foods and cook different things, so we have a larger than average (especially for Ireland!) array of spices and sauces. I should simplify. I will really need to when I get an out-of-house job!
Also the Whole Foods coupon books... I have used the coupons in several other non WF stores... never had anyone say no.
Sorry I forgot to multi-quote the OP's on those two subjects.
Oooooh and don't forget the "Trash Bucket" -aka- "Soup Container". Keep a container in the freezer for all the little scraps of food that are too small for a serving and when the bag/bucket/container gets full... make soup from it! :
How has March been going for you?
Breakfast is usually eggs, fruit, and plain yogurt or cottage cheese. For a change, sometimes I'll make oatmeal, or savory waffles or muffins (reduce the sweetener to practically nothing, and add diced fresh or dried onion, grated cheese, etc. to the batter). On the weekend, we'll have the same type of thing, with extra treats such as sausage or bacon.
Lunch is the sort of thing most people have for dinner. Depending on how far in advance I'm preparing it, it could be any of the following:
Crock pot: Pot roast, chicken soup, Irish stew
Oven: Meatballs, baked fish & oven fries, baked chicken thighs, meatloaf, salmon loaf, tuna casserole, homemade mac & cheese
Stove top: hamburgers, salmon burgers, pork chops, lamb shoulder chops, beef stew, clam chowder, stir-fry, split pea soup with sausage
If the meat or fish is frozen, I don't thaw it before cooking (unless the packaging is sticking, or I need to make meatballs or something). I just add some extra time, and keep checking until it's done; it always seems to come out tasting fine. To repeat what others have said, our "side dishes," if any, are just plain vegetables and grains, and they're cooked in an electric steamer or a rice cooker. The timer and auto-off features are wonderful features for those of us who tend to get distracted.
Dinner is served early, around 5:00, and it's pretty much an afterthought. I just serve up any odds and ends that are left over from lunch and breakfast, along with some sort of quick and easy child-friendly food, e.g.:
- Oatmeal, if we didn't have it for breakfast
- Baked potato (or sweet potato) topped with ham/tuna/etc.
- Cheese on toast; tuna or salmon melts; quesadillas
- PB & J
- English muffin pizzas: ketchup, sliced veg & meat, cheese
- Bread with homemade liver pate
- Baked beans & sliced nitrate-free hot dogs
- Homemade cream of vegetable soup: carrot, squash, potato, etc.
- Black bean soup: homemade stock, canned beans, sour cream
- Pasta with frozen peas, cheese, & a little cream
- Trader Joe's refrigerated pre-cooked lentils, frozen rice, & plain yogurt
Before the children went gluten-free, they sometimes had Amy's frozen burritos, which are pretty cheap at Costco -- even cheaper if they split one.
If that doesn't look like enough food, I'll add some of the following: milk, cottage cheese, yogurt, fresh fruit, dried fruit, canned fruit, vegetable sticks, guacamole, whole grain crackers. Basically, I just keep shoving food at the little munchkins until they're full. This can take a surprisingly long time, especially if they're extra hungry from playing outside (or from having turned up their noses at lunch ). My 3 yo DS, in particular, is like a gannet. "I'm stiw hung-a-wee!!!"
After the children are in bed, DH and I will often have a grown-up treat such as some special cheese and sliced fruit, and possibly a relaxing beverage, LOL.
Mama to 10 so far:Mother of Joey (23), Dominick (15), Abigail (13), Angelo (10), Mylee (8), Delainey (6), Colton (4), ID girls Dahniella and Nicolette (2 in July), and Baby 10 coming sometime in July 2015.
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If evolution were true, mothers would have three arms!
If you can stick to these ideas for making healthy & delicious food at home, you will make it a habit instead of paying more to eat out as the kids get older.
It is hard to post a budget and take the advice. Kudos to you for being open minded to other people's ideas.
We spend way more than the OP on food a month, of course, we have 6 kids who eat at home every day and a 7th who comes by for dinner fairly often. And we have friends, and their kids, over for dinner, and the kids have friends over for dinner etc.
And, we eat completely organic, and fair trade when it's available.
We even get organic vegetables, fruit, eggs and a few things like that delivered on our door every week. Organic food subscription is brilliant.
When we eat out (not often, but a few times a month) we eat at places with high quality, healthy, good, and sometimes organic, food.
So that adds to the budget, but hey, we wanna keep it like that.
But we can improve some things.
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