Mary, who blogs at Owlhaven, has been one of my favorite bloggers ever since I discovered the world of blogging a few years ago. She is Mom to 10 children - four by birth, and 6 by adoption from Korea and Ethiopia. She does a great job of feeding her lovely brood with tasty, healthy, yet frugal, meals. Her chicken enchilada bake is one of our family's favorites (divided by 1/4, of course!).
Mary recently wrote a book called Family Feasts for $75 a Week. For the month of September, Mary is challenging her readers to feed our families for just that - $75 per week (or any amount that we feel is reasonable). I've decided to take the challenge!
For new readers visiting my blog, we are a family of 5 - Dad, Mom, and three girls, ages 10, 7 and 5. All three girls are in school, though only two carry lunches to school (our Kindergartener goes in the afternoon after lunch at home). I stay at home full-time, so I am able to spend a good part of my day in meal planning and preparation.
I am adding an additional challenge for our family. We will not eat out this month, unless truly necessary (like a day trip). We did quite a lot of eating out or eating takeout during the summer, and it definitely had an impact on our budget.
I was telling a friend of mine about the challenge, and she asked me to get back to her at the end of the month and tell her the 5 top ways I was able to accomplish this goal (she seems pretty confident I'll be able to do it!). I can think a few things already...
1. Plan meals. If I write out a menu plan for the week, then shop only once for that week, I don't have to keep running to the store, which usually results in extra purchases I didn't really need to begin with. And we don't have to resort to takeout or eating out because I have nothing planned for that evening.
2. This is directly related to #1 - shop the pantry and freezer first. Sometimes I'm amazed at how much food I have in the house already that will make complete or almost-complete meals.
3. Make more food from scratch. Now that school has begun, I'm back at home a lot more, and am able to cook and bake more foods. Definitely cheaper, as well as healthier and yummier.
4. Make larger amounts of foods and then freeze meals for those busy nights when it would be much easier to order a pizza or pick up a rotisserie chicken at the Jewel.
The challenge officially begins tomorrow. I did a stock-up shopping yesterday, but followed the challenge rules and stayed within my usual weekly grocery budget to do so (actually, I was well under!). Here's my menu plan for this week...
Sunday - hamburger stroganoff on noodles, sweet corn from the local farm stand
Monday - pot roast, potatoes and baby carrots in the crock pot
Tuesday - garlic basil chicken in the crock pot, rice, sweet corn
Wednesday - tacos
Thursday - ravioli, salad
Friday - chicken and stuffing bake, sweet corn
Saturday - baked fish, pasta salad, sweet corn
(Yes, I know I listed sweet corn four times. It's been a great year for sweet corn, and we won't be able to get it much longer.)
Lunches are usually sandwiches for the big girls, and anything I can improvise for the rest of us, including leftovers. Breakfasts are also pretty simple, except for our big Sunday breakfast that Al prepares for us every week. Desserts are a treat, not a requirement (as I keep telling our girls), but now that I have time for more baking, they may appear more frequently on our menu!
I forgot to mention - the $75 per week includes paper goods, cleaning supplies and health and beauty products. Eep!
I CAN do this! I WILL do this! Stay tuned...