Frugal Meal Planning 101 - Page 11 - Mothering Forums

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#301 of 642 Old 02-12-2007, 11:34 PM
 
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I have totally been forgetting to add up my costs for the month. They have been about average for me though which is around 100 a week.

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#302 of 642 Old 02-12-2007, 11:45 PM
 
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I have spent $340.74 so far this month, which I'm actually pretty proud of considering the past three month I've averaged over $1000 per month on food. :
I actually made a spreadsheet in Excel to chart my food expenditures. The columns at the top are for each month, then down the side I have listed the two different grocery stores I shop at, Starbucks, Pizza Delivery, Fast Food, and Misc. This way I can easily track WHERE I'm spending the money, and make notes to remind myself what I am buying. Yeah, I'm a geek, but it is helping to put things into perspective!
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#303 of 642 Old 02-13-2007, 12:29 AM
 
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I made beef and lamb stock last night then put together a lovely lamb stew. The beef stock needs to be reduced down more befor making soup. I have not needed to go shopping for more than veggies since starting the challange!

$17.40- produce
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#304 of 642 Old 02-13-2007, 01:37 AM
 
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I made vegan Pad Thai for dinner tonight and was missing half the ingredients. But I made it work! Subbed white wine vinegar for rice vinegar, lemon zest for lemongrass, left out the bean sprouts and scallions, skipped the tofu because I'm saving that for another night's dinner. But it was great. Rice noodles in spicy lime-chili sauce with red onions and garlic and topped with peanuts and fresh cilantro. That and a salad and we were good.

My produce box is due tomorrow and I'm really eager to get it. I'm feeling a little anxious because the frig is looking low and I know I'm committed to not grocery shopping until Saturday. Make no mistake, I've got PLENTY of food in the house. It's just my own perception of running low that's a problem.
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#305 of 642 Old 02-13-2007, 04:42 AM
 
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Salmon Patties were good

Couple things I'd do differently next time, but those were due to execution, nothing to do with the recipe or instruction. And I LOVE the Hillbilly Housewife site! Awesome stuff there.
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#306 of 642 Old 02-13-2007, 09:31 AM
 
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Witch's mom - If you don't mind my asking...from where do you get a produce box in February? Do you live somewhere warm?

Thanks!
Jude
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#307 of 642 Old 02-13-2007, 11:16 AM
 
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"If you don't mind my asking...from where do you get a produce box in February? Do you live somewhere warm?"

Yeah, I guess we live somewhere warm, although it doesn't seem like it this foggy, dark morning: Northern Central California. There are several farms in Yolo County that run CSAs. These days my box comes with things like chard and kale, salad mix, turnips, carrots, potatoes, oranges, leeks, cauliflower, cilantro, beets, sunchokes, butternut squash, spinach, arugula . . . all organic. It costs $180 for 12 weeks.
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#308 of 642 Old 02-13-2007, 11:59 AM
 
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Witch's mom - Thanks for letting me know. I was hoping you didn't, lol - as far as I know, the CSAs around here (NYC) don't start until June, and I thought maybe there was hope.

Jude
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#309 of 642 Old 02-13-2007, 12:50 PM
 
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I just got thinking: I'm going to price-compare my CSA box against the natural foods co-op. I should be able to compare apples to apples, so to speak, because the co-op buys local and is all organic and is likely to be carrying the same stuff at the same time.
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#310 of 642 Old 02-14-2007, 07:11 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Buckle up. We're going to make a pricebook.

Make a list of 10 items you buy regularly.

Get a notebook (a loose-leaf one would work best, because you can remove, insert and shuffle the pages, if necessary, but a spiral on will do, as well.)

Write one item at the top of each of 10 pages. Separate the page into sections for each store you frequent.

Use your past receipts, sale flyers, store websites, et cetera to find out how much each item costs at each store.

Visit www.evolutiontosimplicity.blogspot.com to follow my epic saga of single mummahood....

 

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#311 of 642 Old 02-15-2007, 03:46 AM
 
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Buckle up. We're going to make a pricebook.

Woo-hooh a new assignment
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#312 of 642 Old 02-15-2007, 01:11 PM
 
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I just got thinking: I'm going to price-compare my CSA box against the natural foods co-op. I should be able to compare apples to apples, so to speak, because the co-op buys local and is all organic and is likely to be carrying the same stuff at the same time.
Do tell us what you discover! We've got CSA boxes going all year round here and I keep thinking I'd like to get one...but is it worth it ? Do you ever find it's a struggle to figure out what to do with the produce? Can you survive on it all week or do you need to supplement it?
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#313 of 642 Old 02-15-2007, 01:32 PM
 
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I feel like such a failure. I am already behind.

The week-end is really when i can do all the planning and we were out and about for most of it. I did only spend $65 on groceries for the week. And even though I did not write my menu out I based my shopping list on my inventory and will be using my freezer stock for meals rather then continuing to let it sit in there "just in case." Changing old wasteful habits is hard.

Hang in there! I am really having trouble with this challenge too. We can do it though.....we just have to keep trying!

Mama to 9 so far:Mother of Joey (20), Dominick (13), Abigail (11), Angelo (8), Mylee (6), Delainey (3), Colton (2) and Baby 8 and Baby 9 coming sometime in July 2013.   If evolution were true, mothers would have three arms!

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#314 of 642 Old 02-15-2007, 01:36 PM
 
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Witch's mom - If you don't mind my asking...from where do you get a produce box in February? Do you live somewhere warm?

Thanks!
Jude
I heard on a radio program here in MN that you can still get produce from farms here as well. Mostly root veggies.....potaoes, carrots, parsnips.....I can't remember what else...oh onions...more too.

Mama to 9 so far:Mother of Joey (20), Dominick (13), Abigail (11), Angelo (8), Mylee (6), Delainey (3), Colton (2) and Baby 8 and Baby 9 coming sometime in July 2013.   If evolution were true, mothers would have three arms!

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#315 of 642 Old 02-15-2007, 01:37 PM
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What if we only shop at one store? :

I mean, is it worth it to travel to 5 different stores in order to save $.30 on a gallon of milk? And then to go to a totally different store to save a quarter on chicken? I understand if I am only going out for one thing, to go to the cheapest store, and to only stock up on certain things when they are on sale and the like, but it seems that it might cost more in gas, not to mention wear and tear on the kids and me.

I'm not trying to be difficult, I'm just trying to understand.

Mama to: Katie, Emily , and Abby
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#316 of 642 Old 02-15-2007, 01:38 PM
 
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I am sure others are wondering too.

Mama to 9 so far:Mother of Joey (20), Dominick (13), Abigail (11), Angelo (8), Mylee (6), Delainey (3), Colton (2) and Baby 8 and Baby 9 coming sometime in July 2013.   If evolution were true, mothers would have three arms!

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#317 of 642 Old 02-15-2007, 02:25 PM
 
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The verdict on the CSA box: Slightly cheaper this week.

It costs $180 per quarter, which is 12 weeks, so I figure that's $60 a month, or $15 a week. This week, my box had carrots with tops, two rutabagas (yes, to the question about whether I sometimes struggle to figure out what to do with the vegetables!), about 3/4-lb braising mix of kale and other bitter greens, about 3/4-lb salad greens, two small leeks, one small cauliflower, one small head of broccoli. I went to the natural foods co-op and felt like a weirdo, weighing these things and putting them back on the display, but I determined that all these items would've cost me about $19. I'm going to continue to price-compare, and will keep you all updated.

I do have to augment the box. I drink green smoothies (fruit with greens whirred up in the VitaMix), which is one reason I like the box. It's full of less-common greens, or things I would never BUY. I put the braising mix in my smoothies, and the carrot tops and turnip tops and beet greens. So I truly use almost every scrap from that box.

Let me share one success story from this week: On Monday night, there I stood in the kitchen after work, knowing we were out of flour, knowing I'd made a commitment to stay away from the grocery store til this coming weekend and knowing I had committed to make cupcakes for DDs Valentine's party at school. Also, both DDs needed to make some valentines for some dear friends, and we discovered we were out of red and pink construction paper and had no pretty lacey paper or jewels or any of that other valentiney stuff. I was tired, and it all seemed overwhelming and annoying. Dinner also was a challenge. There it was Monday night, no store til the weekend, and I had no idea what to make for dinner because I had not done my meal plan. I'd loosely planned on leftovers, but there weren't really enough to feed everyone.

So I carved up some homemade wheat bread and made grilled cheese sandwiches and salad. While we were eating, I posed the valentine problems to the girls and we realized we would have to go to the store for supplies. We were talking ourselves into it by claiming a trip to Michael's for art supplies wouldn't count, and I was figuring Michael's would have some junky candy we could bring for the party instead of cupcakes . . . Surely we could do this for about $10 total, plus the gas to get all the way over to Michael's?

Then I (figuratively) slapped myself. WHAT was I thinking? We had white paper in the printer, and plenty of watercolor paints. The mainstream grocery store is just a block away, and it wouldn't be a CRIME to go in there and purchase the one bag of flour that was preventing us from creating yummy (and cheap) homemade cupcakes--especially since I had all the other ingredients and half a jar of frosting already in the frig! So while the girls got busy with the paints, I raced to the store and bought a 5-pound bag of flour ON SALE for $1.25.

We had a great time making cupcakes and valentines, and I overcame the "just throw money at it" solution that would've left us far shorter of our goals. Our grilled cheeses were delicious, DH ate the leftover pad thai, and we achieved it all for $1.25.
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#318 of 642 Old 02-15-2007, 03:07 PM
 
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I just called our local CSA group and just signed up for a local CSA box. This is what they told me:

It works out to $17 a box. The local group comparison shopped weekly and said the produce at the local healthfood stores/coops would be $25-30 in the winter and $30 and up in the summer. Plus - this local group has a surplus box where you can put and take locally grown produce for free and a trading scheme where you can trade your Rutabaga, for ex., for an extra serving of potatoes...They also do organic meat once a season! I'm sooooooooooo excited. : It's costing us $275 which includes meat and will take us to the end of May.

There is NOOOOOOOOOO way I'm counting all of that in my February grocery shopping - just the $34 for the weeks in February and the meat...
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#319 of 642 Old 02-15-2007, 03:30 PM
 
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What if we only shop at one store? :

I mean, is it worth it to travel to 5 different stores in order to save $.30 on a gallon of milk? And then to go to a totally different store to save a quarter on chicken? I understand if I am only going out for one thing, to go to the cheapest store, and to only stock up on certain things when they are on sale and the like, but it seems that it might cost more in gas, not to mention wear and tear on the kids and me.

I'm not trying to be difficult, I'm just trying to understand.
I Had this same thought!

Mama to (DS 7) and (DD 5), wife to DH

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#320 of 642 Old 02-15-2007, 03:30 PM
 
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Those CSA boxes sound neat.

Mama to (DS 7) and (DD 5), wife to DH

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#321 of 642 Old 02-15-2007, 03:43 PM - Thread Starter
 
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What if we only shop at one store? :

I mean, is it worth it to travel to 5 different stores in order to save $.30 on a gallon of milk? And then to go to a totally different store to save a quarter on chicken? I understand if I am only going out for one thing, to go to the cheapest store, and to only stock up on certain things when they are on sale and the like, but it seems that it might cost more in gas, not to mention wear and tear on the kids and me.

I'm not trying to be difficult, I'm just trying to understand.
That's why we're making a list of our 10 most-often-purchased items. To see if we're really getting the best price at the store we most often frequent.

The search for "rock-bottom-gotta-stock-up" prices is coming later.

Visit www.evolutiontosimplicity.blogspot.com to follow my epic saga of single mummahood....

 

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#322 of 642 Old 02-15-2007, 05:29 PM
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That's why we're making a list of our 10 most-often-purchased items. To see if we're really getting the best price at the store we most often frequent.

The search for "rock-bottom-gotta-stock-up" prices is coming later.
Ok. I'll behave now.

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#323 of 642 Old 02-15-2007, 05:29 PM
 
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I have the enthusiasm of a zealous convert! Here is a list of what was in the CSA (community supported agriculture) boxes for the last 4 weeks:

Feb 12
Planned harvest: Navel Oranges (4), Purple Garlic (1 head), Carrots (1 bunch), Black Spanish Radishes (1 bunch), Beets (1 bunch), Hon Tsai Tai (1 bunch), Tokyo Bekana (1 bunch), Cilantro (1 bunch).

Feb 5
Sweet Bermuda Onions (2), Garlic (1 head), Yukon Gold Potatoes (4), Navel Oranges (3), Grapefruit (1), Kohlrabi (1 bunch), Carrots (1 bunch), Rapini (1 bunch), Spring Mix (1 bag).

Jan 29
Tangelos (4), Sweet Bermuda Onions (1), Dry Beans Mix (1 bag), Daikon Radishes (1 bunch), Beets (1 bunch), Carrots (1 bunch), Red Russian Kale (1 bag), Watercress (1 bag), Romaine Lettuce (1 head)

Jan 22
Navel Oranges (3), Yukon Gold Potatoes (5), Beauregard Sweet Potatoes (3), Garlic (1 head), Pinto/Mayocoba Beans (1 bag), Hakurei Turnips (1 bunch), Broccoli Raab (1 bunch), Salad Mix (1 bag)

YUMMY, eh?


So - my question is this - how can I meal plan in advance for 2 weeks or more, not knowing until I pick up my box on a Monday or Tuesday exactly what it will contain? Do I meal plan on Monday/Tuesday after I've examined the box ? Do I always have staples like rice and beans and carrots and potatoes and onions and lentils so I can make anything?
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#324 of 642 Old 02-15-2007, 05:41 PM - Thread Starter
 
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...So - my question is this - how can I meal plan in advance for 2 weeks or more, not knowing until I pick up my box on a Monday or Tuesday exactly what it will contain? Do I meal plan on Monday/Tuesday after I've examined the box ? Do I always have staples like rice and beans and carrots and potatoes and onions and lentils so I can make anything?
If you get the box every Monday/Tuesday, and the supermarket sales flyers come out on Wednesday, I would meal plan on Thursdays, and shop on Friday mornings. (I think in your case, a weekly meal plan/shopping trip would be the most efficient way of doing things.)

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#325 of 642 Old 02-15-2007, 06:00 PM
 
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If you get the box every Monday/Tuesday, and the supermarket sales flyers come out on Wednesday, I would meal plan on Thursdays, and shop on Friday mornings. (I think in your case, a weekly meal plan/shopping trip would be the most efficient way of doing things.)
Sorry to be a difficult student...but...I'm confused. How can I plan meals if I don't know what I'll be getting the following week in my box??? And on a Friday, my box will be almost empty...Apparently the success of using a CSA box is having ingredient based meals not recipe based meals...So - I need to look at what I've got and plan accordingly...And - what would we use the local grocery store fliers for??? If I've got produce and meat covered, is it for other staples? Like flour, sugar, etc.? Help! :
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#326 of 642 Old 02-15-2007, 06:42 PM
 
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I've been a member of a CSA before (and again in May! Woohoo!), and what I did was pick up the box, take a look, then meal plan that evening and grocery shop the next day. We picked up at 5 pm, or I would have done it all on the same day.

In my opinion, as long as you actually look at the sales flyers, you don't have to shop the day that the flyers come out. I mean, the same stuff is on sale on Tuesday as it was the previous Wednesday. You're just catching the end of a sale, instead of the beginning. If your store tends to run out of stuff or not stock things until the first day of the sales, then that's different.

My stores' flyers start on Sunday. I shop on Wednesday. This works for me.
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#327 of 642 Old 02-15-2007, 07:57 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Sorry to be a difficult student...but...I'm confused. How can I plan meals if I don't know what I'll be getting the following week in my box??? And on a Friday, my box will be almost empty...Apparently the success of using a CSA box is having ingredient based meals not recipe based meals...So - I need to look at what I've got and plan accordingly...And - what would we use the local grocery store fliers for??? If I've got produce and meat covered, is it for other staples? Like flour, sugar, etc.? Help! :
Alright, let's start at the very beginning, it's a very good place to start (suddenly I'm Julie Andrews! )

If you get your CSA box on Monday/Tuesday, you consult the sale flyers on Wednesday and plan for the week using what's in this week's CSA box.

Then next week, when you get another box, you plan for the upcoming week.

This week's CSA box is incorporated in the upcoming week's meal plan.

HTH

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#328 of 642 Old 02-16-2007, 01:16 AM
 
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Alright, let's start at the very beginning, it's a very good place to start (suddenly I'm Julie Andrews! )

If you get your CSA box on Monday/Tuesday, you consult the sale flyers on Wednesday and plan for the week using what's in this week's CSA box.

Then next week, when you get another box, you plan for the upcoming week.

This week's CSA box is incorporated in the upcoming week's meal plan.

HTH

Thanks! HTH????
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#329 of 642 Old 02-16-2007, 03:56 AM
 
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We tried a CSA this year, but canceled it. It was $25/wk for a large share. I did enjoy trying some new things, but I found some items I wouldn't use and I'd get every week. Then I added up the cost of the same items at the local HFS and it was the same cost. I mainly did it because I thought it would be a cheaper way of buying produce, but it wasn't, also I ended up buying all our regular staple food that it rarely had in it (zucchini, tomato, bell peppers, onion) so I was spending about $200/m on produce! There are several local CSA's and I only tried one of them, I'm sure some of them are a little cheaper. I plan on having a big garden this year, so hopefully that will be the cheapest and freshest way!

twogreencars- you could plan a stir-fry or soup on Mon/Tues when you pick up the box, that way you could use up leftovers from last week and maybe even through something from the new box in, then meal plan the next day? Just a thought!

witch's mom-Thanks for sharing your success story! It's hard to break old habits, especially in the name of convenience! I struggled a little the last couple days (including this morning...coffee and a bagel out ), but am back on tract now!

Happily married, Waldorf-inspired homeschooler to Kylan (8yo), Everest (6yo), and Bodhi (2yo)
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#330 of 642 Old 02-16-2007, 04:12 AM
 
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Originally posted by twogreencars
Quote:
I have the enthusiasm of a zealous convert! Here is a list of what was in the CSA (community supported agriculture) boxes for the last 4 weeks:
I have CSA envy (do we have a green-eyed monster smiley?!) There's nothing like that here and it sounds great Particularliy when we have a bad year with our garden -like last year:
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