Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Food For Thought

I've been trying to figure out what went wrong here. Initially I wanted to "blog" about homeschooling. Having written about four posts now I see that is clearly not the direction this is going. I think what's really in my heart to do is encourage others. Specifically women with families.

So tonight I'm going to share with some not so secret things I do in my home that save me time, money and sanity ! I know lots of women have been doing this for ages but to me I only started menu planning a few months ago when baby number five was born. I never had to before because cooking comes fairly easy for me and it was hardly ever an issue to throw a meal together for my family or even if a group of people popped by unexpectedly.  But once that last baby came my mind was just too cluttered and having a menu set out made one less thing to think about. So here's how I approach it.

I gather my flyers. I make my grocery list. We spend $140 a week for our family of seven. This includes diapers and any cleaning products, toiletries , laundry, pet food, etc. I mark down what I need and on my list I put in brackets which flyer contains the lowest price. On the left margin I write down a dollar figure rounded up. I total my expenses for the necessary items. With any money I have left I plan the extras based on the sales.

This is what my basic weekly list begins like;
20 milk
20 meat
10 fruit
10 vegetables
7 cheese
20 diapers/wipes
5 eggs

Then I continue with the other staples and end with sale items. When I shop I stick to the list, I buy seasonally , sale and bulk. We don't usually budget for snacks so if we want them I either bake them with on hand ingredients or I might use my spending money on that. This works well because I avoid impulsive eating a little ! When you get to the cash put the flyer sale items on the belt with the corresponding flyer - Walmart, Freshco and No Frills will price match.

I make most of our meals and our bread from scratch. When I get everything home I make up the menu based on what I was able to buy that week. I rarely use recipes so if I do I make sure to add that to the list before I shop. I save leftover bread for crumbs that I use in meatloaf, meatballs or as topping on casseroles. The ends of vegetables (carrots/onions/mushrooms/celery leaves/etc) are tossed into a freezer back. I cook them when I boil chicken and then strain. Believe me when I tell you it makes the most delicious stock you've ever had. Toss the mushy boiled veggies and freeze the stock. If you are really clever you measure it into cup or half cup baggies and label it.

When I make muffins, banana bread, cookies ,scones and such baking I measure twice and bag the dry ingredients. I label the bag with what wet ingredients need to be added and the oven temperature and baking time. How impressed are your unexpected guests when you whip up something special like that on the spot and all you did was beat an egg !

Recently I made an awesome breakfast casserole. I sprayed the baking dish with oil, layered leftover bread and whisked together eggs, leftover veggies, hashbrowns and poured it over top and baked it.

Your crockpot will make almost anything amazing with few ingredients and little time ! Chicken or pork chops with a can of mushroom soup, sliced mushrooms and onion flakes (of which I cannot say enough good things about).  Chicken and/or ribs with a bottle of bbq sauce. Even simple meat sauce for pasta tastes so much better when it's been simmering all day !

Wraps, fajitas, whatever you want to call them. I put out a big pile of wraps (whole wheat and sometimes other flavours), put out all sorts of leftovers in little dishes with some shredded lettuce and grated cheese and usually sour cream and the kids eat it all up. They really love making their own food and it makes use of small amounts of leftovers instead of throwing them out.

Fruit that is passing it's time gets chopped up and thrown in a zip bag.Get ready for the GOLD NUGGET : chop up your bananas and dropped them in too. When the bag is full, pop it in the blender with some apple or orange juice and voila ! Smoothie !

Tomatoes get chopped and frozen  to be added to pasta sauce... sometimes if I have the right stuff I make up a bag of stir fry type ingredients or pasta ingredients. Saves time and food does not go to waste. And as  an added bonus the meal tastes much fresher than if you just use canned "stuff".

Here's a sample week;

Sunday - Breakfast : Banana bread, fruit, milk
               Lunch :  Chicken, roasted root vegetables, salad and cake
               Dinner :  Mac & Cheese
Monday -Breakfast : Cereal, fruit, milk
               Lunch : Fajitas
               Dinner : Pork chops, mashed potatoes, sauteed mushrooms and salad
Tuesday -Breakfast :  Scrambled eggs and English muffins
               Lunch : Sandwiches
               Dinner : Pasta
Wednesday -  Breakfast : Croissants, yogurt, milk
               Lunch : Leftover pasta
               Dinner : Tuna casserole with vegetables
Thursday-Breakfast : Cereal, fruit, milk
                Lunch : left over casserole and salad
                Dinner : Ham, mashed potatoes, salad
Friday -    Breakfast : Eggs and toast, milk
                Lunch : Leftovers
                Dinner : Chicken, Rice and salad
Saturday- Breakfast : french toast, fruit, milk
                Lunch : Sandwiches
                Dinner : Shepherd's pie

If anyone is interested I can put up a whole month or give "recipes".

That's it for Food for Thought because I read that blogs are more appealing if they are kept short -oops.

Is there anything you want to know how I do ? I don't want to write braggy posts but I do want to make someone else's life easier if I can.

Daughter of The King
Wife to Richard
Mother to five beautiful boys
My God will meet all your needs according to His glorious riches in Christ Jesus.
Philippians 4:19


  1. Thanks. I like the focus of your blog.

    Yes, I would appreciate a month's worth of menu planning! But mine would have to leave out pork and dairy...

    I like how simple your crock pot recipes sound - just a few ingredients. I'd like to use mine a whole lot more so if you could post a few easy crock pot recipes I would try them out!

    For a new topic: I want to know how my manage to spend individual time with each child... and is it daily or weekly or hit and miss?

  2. Awesome Carolyn! Thanks for sharing. This helped me find the inspiration I need to get a little more organized when it comes to cooking!

  3. I think we should find a book publisher for you! Good work ... I'm surprised you only spend $5 on eggs. How many dozen would that be for that price?

  4. Thanks ladies - I will put up a month long menu and some recipes when I get a bit more time.
    $5 only buys two dozen eggs. We eat decent breakfasts so when I do my add ons I might plan on spending more. Two dozen is maybe one breakfast and the baking. We can use up to four dozen a week if we have them for dinner but then I use less meat so it evens out.
    Good topic idea, Kristina. Definatly can be challenging !

  5. I am again amazed at how wonderful you are. We spend $242 a month for seven, and I struggle with that. I am printing off your pages and going to try your weekly recipe for a week. I have also tried some of your homeschool ideas on the kids. Keep them going, and I still wish to come over to talk one on one!! Love you!

  6. Beverley, You spend $242 per MONTH ? I spend the $140 per WEEK. Hats off to you if that's all you spend in a month !