There's no use grumbling about it, I just need to buck up and find some money. I can't/don't want to get a job and so I have to cut from somewhere. I am pretty good at sticking to a grocery budget when I feel like it, but ours has been a little, eh hmm, fluid, lately. So, what does Christmas shopping have to do with my December meal plan? I'm glad you asked. :-) Everything! Stick with me, I'll get there.
I work hard to have a well-stocked freezer and pantry most of the time and right now it is even more so thanks to the Thanksgiving turkey. I took the carcass home and picked the meat and made stock. How much could that possibly be? It was rescued from the trash, for heaven's sake!
Take a gander (see what I did there,like a bird. I'm clever, I tell ya!):
Here we are, just getting started
Yum, after several hours
and after several more hours. I got a total of about six quarts of boiled down stock, that I divided and froze most of (we've already eaten some and it is delightful!)
Look at all of that! I picked enough for five meals
Here is some, just chillin'
Add that to the chicken, vegetables, breads, and vegetable base already in the freezer and we are pretty stocked. Sorry, I got a bit distracted there. Where were we?
Ah, yes, the meal plan. I usually budget $100 per week for groceries, gas, toiletries, and incidentals. This month, I plan to only use half that and use the other half for Christmas gifts. It wouldn't be terribly difficult to do, but I don't want anyone to feel deprived and I also want to have a somewhat fancy Christmas Eve dinner (by itself costing about $65 to feed 7, but with leftovers for one additional dinner) so I am pulling from the freezer a bit more than I would normally do. Here it is, not necessarily in the order we will eat it. The number behind lists how many dinners we will get from each recipe.
- Chicken, sliced potatoes, and salsa served with steamed vegetables - 2
- Chicken pot pie - 3
- Turkey soup with vegetables - 3
- Vegetable soup - 3
- Bean pasta with vegetable base and vegetables - 2
- Frittata with peppers, spinach, and feta - 1
- Tomato, basil pasta with beans - 1
- Chicken thighs with rice in white wine sauce and roasted vegetables - 2
- Spicy chicken curry - 2
- Jambalaya - 3
- Mini pizzas - 1
- Salmon nuggets - 1
- Chicken noodle soup - 2
- Chicken and vegetable pasta - 2
- Christmas Eve - 1
- Christmas Day (at Doug's family) - 1
When I meal plan I don't add breakfast, lunch, or snacks. We eat those things, of course. :-) We make a lot of quick breads (pumpkin muffins, pancakes, biscuits, etc.) and some yeast breads (rolls, cinnamon rolls, etc.) that we use for breakfast and snacks. We also eat a lot of oatmeal for breakfast and fruit for snacks. We always have peanut butter on hand to eat as sandwiches, with crackers, or on pretzels. There is also usually canned tuna. Mostly, we eat dinner leftovers for lunch and the numbers above take that into account.
Here is the Christmas menu:
- Wasabi tuna dip
- Hummus with crudite and pita chips
- Crostinis with pesto, roasted tomato spread, and tapenade
- Beef tenderloin with red wine reduction
- Roasted brussel sprouts, carrots, onions, sweet potatoes
- Mini latkes with sour cream
- Tossed salad (brought by Aunt Sue)
- Cookies (brought by Mom)
- Mini pies (pumpkin, pecan, key lime, cherry, apple)
- German chocolate bon bons
- Coconut milk bon bons
Can this all really be done for under $200? Yuppers! That is, assuming you have a stocked pantry as well as freezer and staples. I went shopping for the month last night and spent $140 and that included a new mini muffin pan, I have about another $40 left to buy of things that won't stay fresh until I need them if I buy them now, leaving me about a $20 buffer for things I'm sure will come up before January. I didn't allot any money for gas since I have a full tank and we can always use some of the regular household money for that. I also didn't allot any for toiletries because I have backups of everything we might need.
Anyone who says eating on a budget can't be delicious and nutritious is full of baloney!