"How I'm Revising my Food Budget by Planning Meals" (see previous two posts if you want some background information)
- Come up with ten generic main-dish ideas that you like, know how to make (or have go-to recipes for), and have the time to make with regularity. Here are my ten:
6. Something on the grill
9. Picnic foods
10. Breakfast foods
- Think of generic side-dish ideas that follow the same rules, and pair them with the main-dish ideas. Again, here's my list:
1. Casserole with vegetable
2. Mexican with rice/beans
3. Soup with bread
4. Pasta with salad
5. Pizza with french fries or salad
6. Something on the grill with vegetable
7. Vegetarian with egg
8. Roast/Chicken with potato
9. Picnic foods with chips
10. Breakfast foods with breakfasty side (I did say generic!)
-Now, within each generic main/side dish combo, think of just three things that would fit in that category. It's OK if they're similar ... just try to think of things you'd normally cook up. I'll give you a couple of examples based on my list, but obviously it's not comprehensive.
1. Casserole with vegetable -
I could do a broccoli/chicken/rice casserole, a chicken pot pie, or a quiche ("casserole" is a loose term, obviously). For a vegetable side, there's green beans, squash, or roasted vegetables.
2. Mexican with rice/beans -
Quesadillas, burritos, or enchiladas. Seasoned rice or plain rice, rice and beans together, or just refried beans with some cheese.
3. Soup with bread -
Chili, vegetable soup, or "look what leftovers I threw in the crockpot" soup (this last one is particularly good towards the end of the 10 days, when the leftovers don't necessarily go together well). Bread can be grilled cheese, crackers, or cornbread.
You get the idea.
Finish the list, and all of a sudden you've got an entire month's worth of meals.
And, it informs the 10-day shopping list. If you make your list while looking at the meals AND looking at the grocery store sale circular, it's possible to coordinate the two so that you're planning to eat what's on sale ...
On top of that, it's easier to estimate what you'll be needing for those 10 days ... like two loaves of bread, three pounds of meat, one bag of chips, etc.
But what about breakfast and lunch, you ask? Because, we all know that I would be the last one to cut out a meal for any reason.
Breakfasts around here are typically oatmeal with fruit, yogurt with fruit, bread and jam, or cereal.
Lunches tend to be leftovers from dinner the night before. So really, the only real cooking is dinner.
This may not work for everyone, but so far it's worked for us. It helps to just have an idea of what to expect for the next 10 days when going to the store. And I've been able to keep food in the fridge, pantry, and even sock some away in the freezer for later with the plan so far.
I'll try to post an update in the coming months about whether or not this seems to be working long term. Until then, I'd LOVE to know what grocery-budget trimming tips you have!