Simple Menu Plan: July

We tried something different for July meal planning. In an effort to give healthy meals and varied meals, balanced with a hectic schedule in June (and the past year) we were overspending in our food budget.

We have been completely off  in our budgeting practices in the past two years, and are trying to get back on track. We follow the Dave Ramsey methods and use cash only (well we are working on that part). We used this method 6 years ago to get out of debt, and I am happy to say that shortly after the birth of my first child we were debt free. It is a sound Christian method to budgeting, saving and getting out of debt. I highly recommend you check it out.

Part of the system is using cash for you normal expenses (groceries, activities, clothing etc). We tried to use our debit/credit card and simply record receipts, but someone (ahem, me) was not very diligent in reporting and saving receipts. So we are going back to the cash.

budgeting

Very simple system. Once you have figured out your budget (literally right down every necessary expense (mortgage, utilities, medical, insurance and then set a limit for other items like grocery, date night, clothes, eating out, entertainment, etc per month). We use the Numbers  program on our MacBookPro, which my husband can utilize much better than I. In our family my husband handles bills. He just does. He likes numbers, like excited to do taxes, likes numbers. Probably makes sense that he left his career in engineering to teach math. We have an estimate about how much we utilize each month for each category. But our family has grown by two since the last time we utilized this system well, so right now it is a fluid estimate that may change in the months to follow.

That being said we are just not sure what we need to set aside for groceries for our family of 6. So in an effort to understand realistic pricing and what not I have done 2 things.

  1. Price Comparisons– I spent a kid-free Saturday traveling all over creation with a notebook and a list of items we regularly purchase. I compared prices for Walmart, Aldi, Kroger and Meijer (our local stores- or rather the ones in the next town over). Then I figured out where was best place to buy various items and compiled it into a list. Then the next month I promptly lost said list. I followed in my mother’s footsteps and placed it in a “safe” place and am now unsure where that is, and nearly certain it got tossed during one of my great paper purges. Now to redo this, ugh!
  2. Meal Plan– Now we regularly meal plan, but really struggle with consistency in expenses and purchases. So we made a “Poor Mans Meal Plan” and decided for one month we would eat whatever was left in the house and only purchase a few new items to stick to our cheapskate plan. This is not because we can’t have more or afford more, but we want a baseline to start our budget and meal plans in the future. The theory is if it costs x amount of money to purchase the “poor man meals”then we need to budget [x + $50 to $100] for future months in order to buy more fresh produce and meat. We just want to be realistic in our estimate. Also we have almost no room to store things, so we cannot buy much in bulk otherwise we would.

When I asked my husband what his cheapest meal ideas were he said rice and beans and pasta (not necessarily all together.) So we decided on 4 main dinners each week.

Meatless Spaghetti, Rice & Bean Tacos, Meat/Potato dinner, Soup.

We decided PB&J would be cheapest lunches, and I proved to my husband how eggs and toast are cheaper than cereal when eaten by 5 of us. Now if you throw in meat or fruit then cereal is comparable, but we were going for cheapest. Also, oatmeal. But my husband is not a fan of oatmeal or anything with similar texture, so we needed an alternative too.

As I have mentioned before I have to plan snacks and trips too, or we are just not prepared. So included are some cheap snacks. I also include a vegetable and fruit for most meals. For dinners the vegetables will all be canned this month as that is cheapest. Fruit will be fresh for first part of month (bananas, watermelon, pineapple) and will be canned the last few weeks. I’m not going to lie the will not be our “healthiest” month or the “real food” I want it to be, but we will lean towards healthy as we can. Also, we are working on portion control. Which should work itself out as we get bored with the meals.

So are ready for the super simple plan? Here it is

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Now if you’re wanting the actual recipes for certain meals. I’ll do my best to help out.

Meatless Spaghetti

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  • sauté onions, celery and carrot (if on hand), add Tbsp of minced garlic (I buy the jar of minced garlic as it lasts a long time and is surprisingly economical for heavy garlic users)
  • add sautéed veg, large can of tomato sauce, small can of tomato paste, 14.5oz can diced tomato. Cook in large pot for 15-30 minutes. Season with your favorite herbs. This summer we are using our fresh oregano and basil, then add kosher salt and coarse ground pepper.
  • cook noodles in preferred method.
  • Serve with parmesan cheese (if on hand and desired)

Bean & Rice Tacos

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We love some fresh cilantro and add it whenever we can. Sometimes in lieu of lettuce. Unfortunately our cilantro plants have already bolted and gone to seed, now to wait for new ones.

  • cook rice to package directions (tried baked rice last night and did not work out so well, need to try again)
  • we drain and rinse a can of black beans and a can of corn then add 1-2 Tbsp water, cook in small pot on the stove till warmed (or microwave if you prefer)
  • shred some cheese, dice some tomatoes, tear some lettuce and whatever else that you have on hand or prefer on tacos
  • we top ours with a variety of salsas depending on the day, this week the Herdez Guacamole Salsa was on sale. It is a favorite ever since a student bought some for my husband last year. It’s got some kick to it and is delicious!
  • If I have any peppers or onions on hand I might sauté them too.
  • Then serve with tortillas (Aldi has some decent flour ones for cheap) or eat it in a bowl with chips or extra lettuce (my preferred method.

Meat & Potato Nights

  • baked/fried/grilled chicken, baked/mashed potatoes, green beans, corn, pineapple
  • baked salmon (we buy frozen), roasted potatoes & garlic, green beans, pears
  • meatloaf, mashed potatoes, corn, applesauce
  • baked/fried/grilled porkchops, baked/mashed/roasted potatoes, green beans or peas, pears

Soup

ThreeBeenTacoSoup

Three Bean Taco Soup

(will share recipes another time)

  • Beef Veggie Soup, Baked Potato, Soup
  • Chili, Baked Potato, Cornbread
  • Poor Mans Soup, Baked Potato, Bread
  • Worlds Best Soup, Bread, Salad (if lettuce in garden has rejuvenated)
  • Also a great but we had at end of June, is the pictured above Three Bean Taco Soup, tortilla chips and guacamole

We are almost through the first week and it is working out well. But we have leftovers from the past week, and a church pitch-in (which I forgot about) Sunday.

Will add a copy of receipts next week and an update on how we are doing.

How do you save money? Do you have any budgeting tips? What are your best ideas for frugally feeding a large family?

 

 

Simple Summer Meal Plan

Did you see yesterday’s post?

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I gave my super simple weekly dinner plan and the slightly more complicated version for those who want more variety. However, those plans (like so many you see on pinterest) only cover dinner! I don’t know about you, but my family has to eat many more times a day. How do I plan for that? What if I have food allergies? What if Mama is trying to eat healthy, but Daddy doesn’t quite want to give up the junk? So many things to consider when you make a menu/meal plan.

In general I make a simple grid on my computer. This is if there are no special diets and everyone is eating the same. Then I fill in, as needed.

M

T

W

R

F

S

S

Breakfast

Snack

Lunch

Snack

Dinner

Snack

I will then go through and make my grocery list by category depending on how the store is laid out, as depicted in yesterday’s post. I find scrap paper works best for that.

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So for our super simple summer plan?

M

T

W

R

F

S

S

Breakfast

cereal & banana

oatmeal and berries

cereal & banana

oatmeal and berries

cereal & banana

oatmeal and berries

cereal & banana

Snack

cheese and crackers animal crackers cheese and crackers animal crackers cheese and crackers animal crackers cheese and crackers

Lunch

peanut butter & jam, fruit, veggie lunch meat, tortilla wrap, fruit, veggie peanut butter & jam, fruit, veggie lunch meat, tortilla wrap, fruit, veggie peanut butter & jam, fruit, veggie lunch meat, tortilla wrap, fruit, veggie peanut butter & jam, fruit, veggie

Snack

graham crackers & applesauce celery & peanut butter graham crackers & applesauce celery & peanut butter graham crackers & applesauce celery & peanut butter graham crackers & applesauce

Dinner

Tacos & Corn leftovers Chicken & Potatoes leftovers Spaghetti & Salad Soup & Salad leftovers

Snack

usually this is just for Daddy and maybe mama, we just eat whatever is on hand

There you go super simple. And fairly budget friendly. If only we could figure out how to balance our meal plan with our activities that seem to change on a daily basis.

For my dairy free alternatives I just write that in as needed.

Maybe I will remember to take pictures of the food next time:)

***update: Went really well, but once again trying something different for July. Will update soon!

Simple Meal Planning

Have you ever meal planned? It is so great, but can become time consuming and get out of hand quickly. I feel like I have tried all the plans.

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One that was great but didnt work so well for our family was the Once a Month Cooking. I’m glad I bought the book and tried it, as it taught me a lot about meal prep and freezing foods. But I don’t work outside the home, so I don’t necessarily “need” the meals ready at a moments notice. The other problem was that I would often forget to thaw them.

I have searched and printed many different types of planners  and cute little grocery lists, but really it just became a time waster. Now don’t get me wrong. I will spend extra time on something to get something pretty, but I couldn’t seem to settle on one that looked pretty and worked for me. So I keep trying.

We are stream lining our summer eating plan in the name of simplicity. And when we were in week 2 and it had already gone awry, but oh well. It’s a plan right? Not a military itinerary.

Let me go through my process with you first and then I will share our simple plan!

First I start by listing meals (duh), but I go the extra bit of listing breakfast, morning snack (for kids), lunch, afternoon snack, dinner, and grown up bedtime snack. Sounds insane right? But I do. Check in tomorrow to see exactly how I do this.pencilnotebook.jpg

Then I divide a scrap piece of paper into “invisible” categories….because Im to lazy to measure and to OCD to draw sections that are not perfect. Free hand words I’m ok with. I list my produce first, then the meats, then canned/boxed items, dairy and frozen are last. Sometimes I look at my menu and go through each individual meal and write down the items needed (ex: spaghetti- noodles, large tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, 1# beef), and then put them in correct categories. Other times I go through and list all produce from each meal, then meat, etc. Really just depends on my mood. But no matter what I double and triple check my list.

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Yes, I use paper. Every now and then I will transfer it into my phone, but really I just like paper and crossing it off. I am known to go to store with notebook or clipboard because its easier to keep track of the page, while pushing that infuriating “car cart,” keeping baby from climbing out of straps, and keeping eye on oldest.

Now are you ready for the menu? I know, I know. That is the whole reason you are here. So here it goes.

The simple dinner menu…

Monday- tacos           

Tuesday-leftovers

Wednesday- baked chicken and potatoes

Thursday- leftovers

Friday- spaghetti

Saturday- soup/salad

Sunday- leftovers

That’s it and repeat each week.

 

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However, sometimes I can’t handle the lack of variety, so here is the slightly more complicated version. (Listed with week 1, 2, 3, 4)

Monday- Mexican (beef tacos, chicken fajitas, pork carnitas, chicken enchiladas)

Tuesday-leftovers

Wednesday- Chicken & Potatoes(baked chicken/potatoes, fried chicken/ mashed potatoes, grilled chicken/roasted potatoes, pulled BBQ chicken/fried potatoes) 

Thursday- leftovers

Friday- Italian (spaghetti & beef marinara, homemade pizza, penne rosa, Roman style chicken)

Saturday- Soup & Salad (Creamy Chicken & Rice, 3 Bean Chili, Southwest Chicken, Chicken & Noodle)

Sunday- leftovers

But this is just dinner!?!?!

I have four kids and a hungry husband who eat like 6 other meals in a day! This is just the tip of the ice berg.

Tune in tomorrow for the full week plan…

Purposing to Glorify Jesus

Searching and seeking to honor God completely! Purposing to bring Him glory through my calling, homemaking.

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It is overwhelming somedays. The things to do, the things to clean, the things to plan…

How can we in this day and age ever truly find contentment? Simplicity is a popular movement these days. From Whole30 and Paleo diets that strive to simplify our eating, tiny homes to simplify our living, “KonMari” to simplify our stuff, and a plethora of other fads, ideas, and gimmicks all reaching for the desirable simplicity of life! Things to buy, things to do, ideas everywhere, what do you do?

I am a mother of 4 girls ages 9 months – 6 years. We live in the midwest at a modest income level. In the past year we moved from an 1800 square foot home to an 1100 square foot home and my husband left a decent paying job to a modest paying job. We moved to be more active in the new church & school in which my husband is serving, the job change was in pursuit of God’s calling for my husband and our family. We are still trying to juggle these changes and find our way. Searching for God’s calling in our lives, and finding so many distractions along the way.

We as a family are still unsure of God’s plans for us. We know he has called us here for this time, but our future plans are still up in the air. We see a life in full time ministry in the future, but are unsure as to what aspect. In an effort to better understand God’s calling I want us to simplify our lives so that we are not distracted from God calling. I want to hear His call as clearly as Samuel, and not to miss it by the distractions of our modern, busy life.

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Today, we will begin. Today we will seek Him. Today we will make changes.

Follow along as I share our path to contentment, purpose, and whole hearted living in pursuit of living like Jesus. I will share our favorite meals/planning, pre schooling at home, cleaning, decorating, decluttering, and whatever else comes along the way.