Thursday, January 17, 2013

the debt reduction diaries: meals.

are you wondering how on earth we'll survive on $300 a month for groceries?  I wonder it every month. :)

right now we have $69 left in our grocery envelope, and I have groceries (except for some avocados and a couple pizzas and maybe milk if we run out) for this week and next.  but then there's that last week in January that wasn't a part of my first 2 weeks of meal planning, or these 2 weeks of meal planning.  So I'll have like $50 or so for that last week.

I get aksed a lot about what we eat, either because of our budget or because we eat plant based.  so, since you might be curious (but prepare yourself for some serious boredom), our weekly plan looks like this (for suppers):

Monday: beans of some sort.  usually actual beans (like lentils) or sometimes bean soups or something
Tuesdays: whatever I want to make/find on pinterest/learn about from my sisters
Wednesdays: spaghetti (it's quick and easy and we need that on "church night")
Thursdays: rice and beans
Fridays: aldi pizza (we buy the $5 cheese pizza and load it up with veggies (which we almost always have on hand) or pineapple)  I realize it's not very healthy, but seriously, really good pizza for five bucks?  I can't afford not to! ;)
Saturdays: pancakes for breakfast!  and then usually pasta w veggies, or leftovers if they survived the week, or whatever we can find for lunch and supper.
Sundays: we have lunch with our life group, so I bring whatever I want to that, and then we have toast for supper. yep, toast.

So, for example, next week monday we'll be having honey baked lentils.  And Tuesday will be these quinoa burrito things.  and then wed, thrurs, and fri are already set.  and we scrounge on weekends.

yes, we get sick of eating the same foods.  But mondays and Tuesdays usually give us some leftovers to carry over into lunches or saturdays, so it's not THAT bad.  and we use chips to scoop up the rice and beans on Thursdays, and everyone knows that chips are awesome, so there ya go.  it's the spaghetti that gets me the most.  I just get sick of it.  but we manage.  we all love pizza night because PIZZA.  and it's the rare occasion that we eat cheese. (am I allowed to call every single friday a rare occasion???)  :)

can I jump on a soap box here???  please don't go grab your calculator and add up how many grams of protein we're eating, because we probably have different ideas about protein.  (and nobody seemed to care about that until we went "vegan-ish!!!!")  The protein we eat is plant based, so our bodies can use it much more easily than they could use animal based protein, so we don't need AS MUCH protein as you think we do.  and no, not every single meal is going to have a main source of protein.  but when we used to eat blue box mac and cheese that never seemed to cross anybody's mind.  and honestly, we're probably getting more protein than we ever were before because we just pay waaaayyyy more attention to what we're eating.  We try to make good food choices.  We eat whole wheat and whole grain everything, we eat a variety of vegetables (yes, even the kids), and TONS of beans, and nuts (except Lillian).  so, don't worry about us. :)  and don't ask me how we get our protein. :)  actually, you can, but don't expect me to leave the conversation thinking that we should eat meat and eggs.  deal?

ok and if you've ever read any post on this blog ever, it has probably mentioned that I hate cooking.  I do it because I have to.  I don't enjoy any part of it. and no, I'm not lying.  and no, I'm not exaggerating either.  It brings me NO PLEASURE.  So this whole plan thing is also a stress reducer because I only have to come up with TWO ideas every week.  Mondays and Tuesdays.  so that works out nicely.

ok and what I didn't mention is that we usually add vegetables to whatever we're eating.  like, on wednesdays, we have spaghetti, broccoli (usually), and biscuits (which I get at Aldi for .49 for the whole pack of 10.  no, I don't look at the nutrition label for those....). :)  it's not like I just put out spaghetti and that's our only thing.  well....usually. :)

ok, so anyway, since I know there are lots of people out there in similar financial situations, so if you THINK you can't cut down your grocery budget at all, try doing what I do.  If you know me in real life you know that PLANS of any sort are not my specialty.  But this is a time of sacrifice for us, and I will sacrifice my "go with the flow" tendencies to make a plan and stick to it.  yes, it sucks.  really bad.  especially because 'Chipotle' is not allowed to be in the plan.  :)  but it actually makes meal planning and shopping much easier.  and there will probably come a day when I change up what our "usuals" are, but for now it works.

and even if you don't eat how we eat (plant based, except for pizza) :) you can still do this!  You probably think that because we don't buy milk and cheese and yogurt and meat and all that we can get buy on less!  The truth is that we do still buy milk and butter, just plant based versions, which actually cost MORE, and of course we buy other things to eat while you're eating meat and yogurt. :)  so try not to use that as an excuse.  of if you do, then just eat plant based!!!! ;)

alright, so to leave you with a little inspiration, let me give you one of my favorite recipes right now.  I'm eating it right now for lunch as leftovers, and it's seriously so good I could eat it every day for a week.  and it's cheap.  I get all the canned stuff for like $2.14 if I remember correctly (I added it up once but lost the paper, like I always do. I see you rolling your eyes Steve Hydeen.....) and then you just add whatever veggies you have in the house and the herbs(?) spices (?) (is there a difference???) which are usually on hand as well!  and it's made in a crock pot, which makes it super easy.  it's called "Jenny's 3 bean soup and/or rice topper" because we had it at my friend Jenny's house and soemtimes we eat it as soup and sometimes we put it on rice, and...wait for's made with 3 kinds of beans. :)

1 can each of kindney beans, great northern beans, and black beans, rinsed and drained
1 chopped onion (I always use sweet onions but use what you have)
3 cups water or more for soup, or 2 cups water for rice topper
2 cans (8 oz ea) tomato sauce
4 celery stalks, which I never do
a few handfulls of baby carrots (or like 2 cups chopped carrots)
1 chopped zucchini (Jenny's addition)
whatever other veggies need to get eaten before they go bad :)
3 t. chicken bullion granules (now, obviously, I don't do this, but I found this veggie concentrate stuff at Hyvee that I squeeze into it, or you could also use veggie broth instead of the water)
4 t. minced garlic -or more :)
2 bay leaves
1 t. pepper, unless of course you're feeding Lillian, who thinks that pepper BURNS her mouth
1/2 t. dried oregano
1/2 t. dried thyme

put it all in the crock pot, stir it up, and cook on low for 6 hours (or high for 4, but your carrots won't be soft yet).  discard the bay leaves, add a little sea salt, and enjoy.  oh, and put it on rice if you want.  that's good too and it makes it last a little longer.  but sometimes I just like soup.

let me know if you try it and how you like it!  I've learned from my sisters to never expect anyone to love things quite as much as I do, but I think you'll like it, even if you don't LOVE it like me. :)

keep pinching pennies people!  it'll be worth it! (right????  that was more for me than for you I think...)

1 comment:

amy sterk said...

Sounds like you are working hard at feeding your family in the most healthy way you can, and I love that about you! (this from a meat eating, dairywife :) Stick with what you feel is right for your family, and enjoy being able to pay down debt!