Friday, February 03, 2012

Budgeting for Organic Foods-Menu Planning

The key to a successful budget is planning. My biggest problem is waste and overbuying and you can combat both of these with a great plan. The other thing I notice is that when I plan I am more inspired to make more new and interesting foods.
My first step to planning is taking stock of what I have in the fridge/pantry that needs to be used up. This week I have some leftover beef stock from making crock pot roast beef sandwiches, zucchini and ham that I want to use up.

So lets start from there with the leftover beef broth, I'd like to make Risotto. I found a great recipe online that sounds delicious! Now I'm not using tenderloin for this, I'm using leftover chuck roast. That's another one of my big ways of saving money, really stretching our meat and using cheaper cuts. We really just use meat to add flavor and see it as a side not the main component. Pinterest has been a great source of inspiration and I saw these healthy Zucchini chips that I'd love to try. The ham is just begging to be made into Spit Pea Soup, YUM!!

Beef Risotto-I'll be using some mushrooms we have in the fridge for this, so we have everything in house to make this except for the wine. I'm also using Aborrio rice instead of the carnaroli rice the recipe calls for (Aborrio is also a great Risotto rice). As a side I want to make Zucchini chips because I think that would brighten up the heaviness of the meal, Also I'd like to bring them to the Superbowl party we are going to Sunday but want to try out the recipe beforehand.

SUPERBOWL!! We were invited to a friends house so I just wanted to bring a couple things, the first being the Zucchini chips and the second is Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Dip. These look delicious! For the Cookie Dough Dip I'll bring some apples as well as Graham Crackers to dip.

Monday I'll be babysitting so its a great day to use my crockpot for some Split Pea Soup. We have some Ezekiel bread that will hold up nicely toasted with this soup! Another meal we don't need to buy anything for.

Spicy Honey Chicken, Brown Rice and Broccoli. For this we buy our Chicken from Trader Joes and get Organic Cage Free thighs for 4.99 lb. It is a bit pricy but this will be the only meal this week that is featuring meat and using more than a lb.

Another Pinterest find is Coconut, Shrimp and Corn Chowder. This looks delicious and we happen to have some wild caught shrimp in the freezer and all the ingredients in the pantry.

Dahl with Spinach served with brown rice. One of the hubs favorite foods is Dahl, which is awesome because its cheap and nutritious! We often do vegetarian nights to save cash. Thankfully the hubs will eat everything! If your family isn't big on the vegetarian bandwagon try to cook foods from other cultures, they might be so fooled by the new flavors that they will not even realize that they are eating vegetarian!

Pizza! Pizza crust is cheap and easy to make yourself. Pizza is also a great fridge emptier; take your veggies, leftover meats, cheese ends and use them up! One of my friends parents instituted pizza night at their house when we were younger. Everyone was invited and they just made pizza after pizza. It was so fun and delicious and everyone ended up there on Friday nights! Something I definitely want to start doing in our house!

So as far as our menu plan goes here is what I need to buy: Garbonzo Beans, Graham Crackers, Onions, Garlic, Broccoli, Spinach, Chicken Thighs and Corn. As you can see I'm relying heavily on what is in my pantry so I really only need to pick up a few things to make our dinners. Now I go through and add in some of the other things we'll need this week: fruit, yogurt, milk, eggs. For our breakfasts we either eat eggs, oatmeal or smoothies so I try to have those things in the house at all times. Lunches generally are leftovers. Now that I'm all done figuring what we are eating this week I go through my house and see what needs to be re-filled. I like to keep a well stocked pantry (flour, sugar, oatmeal, beans, coffee, butter, peanut butter, tuna, jelly, baking needs, tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, chicken broth, olive oil, etc). Once I see what I need to replenish I check the sales and see if there is anything there that I can buy in bulk. This week my groceries I need will probably only cost $40-45 so I have about $30-35 to restock my pantry or stock up on sales items. Sometimes I'll use this extra if I see good sales and sometimes I will roll it into the next weeks budget to save up in case there is a good sale on meat or I'm close to needing a high priced item (maple syrup, oils, etc). I'll also use the surplus to sometimes treat us to takeout.

What are you making this week?

Grocery List
Garbonzo Beans-3 cans (1 for the dip and 2 for pantry as I used mine up this week on hummus)
Graham Crackers
chicken thighs

Red Wine

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