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Meal Planning

Welcome to Day 1 of my new series  A Month Of Frugal Living: An Experiment and Honest Report of Living Well on Less, or the abbreviated version: Living Well on Less. Click HERE for the beginning.

Today was grocery shopping for me, and I am happy to say I had great success at saving lots of money, and was by far my smallest bill in almost 2 years! We’re talking around 60 dollars. Mind you, it helped that I had all the meat I needed from last week.

Anyways, I’m excited about the savings because for a while its been really difficult to spend under a hundred for the last year. For the next three days or so, I’d like to share with you what I did to cut down my bill considerably. For today, I thought I’d start with the menu by sharing the tips I used to cut-down our overall grocery bill.

I didn’t want to sacrifice the health of my family, so I still came up with healthy, well-balanced meals. The goal is to still live well, not to live as cheaply as possible.  At the end of the post will be our menu.

The top 3 frugal principles I followed in making my menu were:

  1. Aim to have around three vegetarian meals a week. This should be interesting for us, seeing as my husband is a meat-lover, but by simply halving a traditional ground beef recipe with beans we can considerably lessen the overall bill. Meat is probably the most expensive thing you could purchase.
  2. Make one of your meals “an egg dinner.” A carton of eggs is super cheap, and you can think beyond the standard fried eggs and toast. Some of my favorite are huevos rancheros, Quiche, skillet strata with cheddar and thyme, and ham hash.
  3. Plan your recipes around the ingredients you already have in your pantry, freezer and fridge.

Our Frugal Menu

Black Bean Soft Tacos (source: Allrecipes.com)

Black Bean Soft Tacos Recipe

Lentil Shepard’s Pie. This recipe is from Aimee over at Simple Bites in her post Eat Well, Spend Less: My Top 5 Frugal Meals. It’s a great article that I’d highly recommend checking out!

Pork Vindaloo, served with rice. I’ll be honest, the recipe I used was from The Best 30-Minute Recipe book, by America’s Test Kitchen. I found one online that looked very tasty.

Source: Kitchen Flavours blogspot

Easy Vegetarian Bean Chili

Easy Vegetarian: Super Bean Vegetarian Chili

Source: BHG

Ham Hash and toast…this is how I’ve been making use of my frozen ham I have from Christmas. I sometimes throw in several cups of spinach to add some extra nutrients. You really can’t tell its there, so why not?

Bacon, Ham and Egg Hash

Source: Midwest Living

Homemade Pizza (I use this recipe), Spinach Salad and Garlic-Herb Vinaigrette dressing. I Simply preheat my oven to 350 F, and bake it for about 21 minutes. I like to top it off with what I have in the fridge, as long as it goes.

Pinned Image

Indian Style Lentil Soup. The recipe I used was also from The Best 30-Minute Recipe book, by America’s Test Kitchen. But this one I linked to is shockingly similar! Looks yummy.

Source: Cooking for the week blogspot

I know with each week our grocery expenses will ebb and flow, and that this week was certainly on the low-end, however I do believe using these frugal principles helped in lowering our overall bill. In the next Part II I’ll share the other ways I was able to cut it down.

Thanks for reading,

Amanda.

I’ve been making a switch over the past year from planning my meals around flavor, flavor, flavor! With hit or miss on the nutritional side, to wanting to be more conscientious about eating healthy without sacrificing the taste. I’ve been that person who was so focused on eating exclusively healthy that I’ve skimped on the flavor, and I don’t want to go back there. I know if it’s not enjoyable for my family and I, it won’t stick, and I want this ‘healthy living’ push to be…well…permanent.

I started by opening my mind to ground turkey. At first, the sound of it turned me off and I would normally only swear by 80/20 ground beef for optimum flavor. I gave it a try, and I’ve since then become a believer!

It really doesn’t have that odd turkey flavor that I remember about turkey…it just needs a little extra TLC and its delicious. Another bonus is that it’s pretty cheap!

These days when I plan my meals I want them to be healthy, tasty, fast (I’m a new mom), and affordable (we’re on a Dave Ramsey budget). Below is a meal plan  using a lot of ground turkey (sorry), and organized to save money because the ingredients are on hand- pantry staples- and tie into each other. All are winners at our house.

I also included some changes I made, but they don’t need to be followed, I just change recipes all the time when I don’t have everything a particular recipe calls for. Cooking is all about being flexible and creative.

Rememer to give ground turkey a chance (and other healthier options) before you write it off. Who knows, you might find a new recipe or food you love and can use in your repretoire!

And so the hunt for healthy, tasty, fast and affordable recipes continue…. Hope this helps, and happy cooking!

Note: You can find the links to the recipes for the first three by clicking on the meal (sorry if that’s obvious).

Monday: Juicy Turkey Burgers with turkey bacon, and sweet potatoe fries…. My Changes: I use whole wheat buns, and whatever cheese I have on hand.

Juicy Turkey Cheeseburgers Recipe

Tuesday: Turkey Meatloaf …My changes: I cook it in a loaf pan,  and use whatever milk I have on hand.

Turkey Meat Loaf With Mashed Potatoes and Green Beans

Wednesday: Turkey Sloppy Joes, fresh veggies

My changes: I used extra ketchep (hunt’s)  instead of tomatoe paste.Fresh veggies for a side.

Also, for wednesdays recipe, I substituted ground turkey instead of beef, doubled the recipe to ensure leftovers and used the same whole wheat buns I used for the turkey bugers instead of slider buns. But the recipe by itself is a winner for being healthy, easy and yummy.

Sloppy Joe Sliders Recipe

Thursday: Turkey Burritos Con Carve

This is where you can use the sloppy joe leftover filling.  Use one 15 ounce can of refried beans (low in sodium), empty and put in microwave save bowl (or in saucepan to heat) with 1/4 cup of shredded sharp cheese, cover tighly with plastic wrap and heat for 2 minutes. Before rolling up  your whole wheat wraps, place 2 to 4 tbs of sloppy joe filling in a line across the center of each burrito, leaving a 1-inch border on both sides. Top with your choice of chopped onion, pepper and lettuece. *recipe from Joy of Cooking p.104.

Friday: Huevos Rancheros (from America’s Test Kitchen “The Best 30-Minute Recipe”  *slightly modified)

Ingredients:

4 *whole wheat tortillas (instead of corn tortillas), salt and pepper, 1 tbs unsalted butter, 4 large eggs, left over refried beans with the sharp cheddar, store bought salsa, 2 green onions sliced (opt).

Directions: Heat the wraps on a skillet or in the microwave for about 10-15 seconds. Cook eggs, by melting butter in small skillet, swirl to coat, salt and pepper eggs, and cook over low-med heat, covered (2 min for runny yolk, 3 min for soft yolks, 4 minutes for set yolks). Spread heated refried bean mixture from previous night on tortillas, along with one egg, and garnish with salsa and some green onions.

*Express meal: Turkey Bacon wraps with avacado.

I always like to have turkey slices on hand.  On each wrap: throw about 3 slices of turkey, 1 slice of turkey bacon, some letteuce, a tid bit of mayo, some avacado or some guacomole. Very easy, very yummy and very nutritious.

 

 

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