Posts tagged ‘Menu Planning’

Monday, November 23, 2009

weekly accounts

from-the-kitchen1

A big part of my keeping to a budget has been menu planning. Each week I take a look at what’s in the cupboard and decide what to make for dinner each evening. Breakfast is every man for himself and lunch is dependent on whether the husband is home or not. Planning dinners has allowed me to shop sales and make sure the food we buy gets used and not thrown away. Plus I love to find recipes and then ignore them when I cook, the menu plan gives me a starting point. So let’s see what’s on for this week…

I am not even attempting a menu plan this week.  We move on Wednesday and I’ve spent the past six days packing boxes.  I hate packing the kitchen so I don’t even want to spend any mental time there right now.  Our meals will come from the freezer and cupboard, be simple, easy and use no more than two pans, a spoon or a spatula as everything else is packed.

felix

We are using a system that is somewhat based on $80/week for grocery and non-edible and the $50 a week budget. Each week we calculate how much we spent overall and I announce if we are under or over budget.

eating out – $49.42

grocery – $7.99

grocery non-edible – $5.42

Apparently sending the husband and Toddler L away for a few days is all my budget needs.  Thanks Grandma and Grandpa for feeding my family.

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Saturday, October 3, 2009

weekly accounts

from-the-kitchen1

A big part of my keeping to a budget has been menu planning.  Each week I take a look at what’s in the cupboard and decide what to make for dinner each evening.  Breakfast is every man for himself and lunch is dependent on whether the husband is home or not.  Planning dinners has allowed me to shop sales and make sure the food we buy gets used and not thrown away.  Plus I love to find recipes and then ignore them when I cook, the menu plan gives me a starting point.  So let’s see what’s on for this week…

Saturday – salmon was on the menu but got left in the freezer so we ended up eating out on our way home from the fair

Sunday – pancakes

Monday – I’m looking for a recipe for the salmon filets I didn’t use on Saturday

Tuesday – black beans and rice

Wednesday – pizza

Thursday – baked pasta

Friday – the husband and I are out, Grandma will be running the kitchen

felix

We are using a system that is somewhat based on $80/week for grocery and non-edible and the $50 a week budget.  Each week we calculate how much we spent overall and I announce if we are under or over budget.

eating out – $174.50

grocery – $54.10

grocery non-edible – $6.53

Not pretty, but not as bad as it could have been.  All of this eating out was because of our travels so there’s not much we could change there.  Now we’re home and back to some semblance of a budget.  I hope.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

weekly accounts

from-the-kitchen1

A big part of my keeping to a budget has been menu planning.  Each week I take a look at what’s in the cupboard and decide what to make for dinner each evening.  Breakfast is every man for himself and lunch is dependent on whether the husband is home or not.  Planning dinners has allowed me to shop sales and make sure the food we buy gets used and not thrown away.  Plus I love to find recipes and then ignore them when I cook, the menu plan gives me a starting point.  So let’s see what’s on for this week…

Saturday – clean-out-the-fridge scramble

Sunday – HOHO

No menu plan for the rest as we leave for Portland on Monday.  Gone all week.  Looking forward to a week of no cooking.  Or at least no real cooking, hotel room lunches don’t count.

felix

We are using a system that is somewhat based on $80/week for grocery and non-edible and the $50 a week budget.  Each week we calculate how much we spent overall and I announce if we are under or over budget.

eating out – $125.01

grocery – $117.37

grocery non-edible – $14.57

We had a very active week.  Which equaled a lot of eating out apparently.  So what were all the groceries?  I did not create a shopping list and am paying the price.  Literally.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

weekly accounts

from-the-kitchen1

A big part of my keeping to a budget has been menu planning.  Each week I take a look at what’s in the cupboard and decide what to make for dinner each evening.  Breakfast is every man for himself and lunch is dependent on whether the husband is home or not.  Planning dinners has allowed me to shop sales and make sure the food we buy gets used and not thrown away.  Plus I love to find recipes and then ignore them when I cook, the menu plan gives me a starting point.  So let’s see what’s on for this week…

Saturday – broccoli brown rice casserole

Sunday – we’ll be at Lampost Pizza – not having a TV means going out when certain teams are playing a certain game called football

Monday – brats, sauteed carrots

Tuesday – tuna casserole

Wednesday – pizza

Thursday – garbanzo beans and ? (I’ve never cooked with garbanzos, I’m not even a huge fan, but I’m trying to change both of those things)

Friday – creamy tomato gnocchi

felix

We are using a system that is somewhat based on $80/week for grocery and non-edible and the $50 a week budget.  Each week we calculate how much we spent overall and I announce if we are under or over budget.

Shopping in the cupboard and freezer has really helped again this week.  I can only hope to see more weeks like this one at any time in the future.

eating out – $39.74

grocery – $35.46

grocery non-edible – $1.2o

Wow, I’m loving those numbers.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

weekly accounts

from-the-kitchen1

It’s Sunday night.  Actually it’s late Sunday night.  I’m sort of behind this whole weekend.  I blame Toddler L.  He’s two, I can blame him for most anything.  Actually, he’s not two for another two days.  And I can only blame myself for the amount of work spent on his birthday party yesterday.  (It was totally worth it and I loved every minute of the prep, but more to come on that in a future post.)  Planning, executing and recovering from the party have put me behind schedule so please excuse the lateness of this week’s menu.  Let’s see what we’ve had and what’s to come…

Saturday – we broke down and picked up something, Mama was just way too tired for all the above-mentioned reasons

Sunday – buttermilk puff (I modified a Joy of Cooking recipe and came up with something wonderful.  I’m working on a name and will probably add it to the cooking page when I have it perfected)

Monday – baked pasta with spinach and roasted cauliflower

Tuesday – pineapple pork (I have no idea what this means but I’ll come up with something by Tuesday)

Wednesday – pizza

Thursday – chicken tenders

Friday – pesto pasta with shrimp

felix

We are using a system that is somewhat based on $80/week for grocery and non-edible and the $50 a week budget.  Each week we calculate how much we spent overall and I announce if we are under or over budget.

Again with the birthday excuses.  Because my head was in party planning mode I wasn’t paying as much attention to this category as I should.  I’ll find out as I tabulate it here if that was a kind-of bad or really-really bad thing.

I did do one good thing though.  We only bought fruit, veg and some dairy groceries this week.  Our cupboards have become a little to well stocked and I decided it was time to eat them down.  I’m hoping that helped the budget, let’s see…

eating out – $160.84

grocery – $37.20

grocery non-edible – $12.06

Apparently buying from the cupboard can really make a dent in the grocery spending.  Maybe I’ll just keep doing that until there’s no food left.  Also apparently, going out for two birthday dinners for the husband (one with friends, one just us for sushi) is a killer on the eating out budget.  At least all the birthdays are behind us now.  Life in the kitchen can get back to normal.  No, really.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

weekly accounts

from-the-kitchen1

We’re having a heat wave in Southern California.  We don’t have air conditioning.  We’re going out to dinner.  But wait, those two things are not related.  No really.  It’s the husband’s birthday today and he shares it with a friend so the annual tradition is going out for dinner.  Today, I don’t mind at all.  What will we be eating the rest of this too hot week?

Saturday – out for dinner

Sunday – crepes (made them for husband’s breakfast, being super loverly and making them again for him)

Monday – madras lentil (from a box) and rice

Tuesday – pineapple chicken (I don’t know what this is, I’m making something with pineapple and chicken)

Wednesday – pizza

Thursday – sloppy joes

Friday – pesto pasta with shrimp

felix

We are using a system that is somewhat based on $80/week for grocery and non-edible and the $50 a week budget.  Each week we calculate how much we spent overall and I announce if we are under or over budget.

We are typically over budget recently.  Either this means the budget isn’t realistic for us or we just don’t follow it.  I’m going to go with a mix of the two.  Yeah, that works for me.  This week we are…

eating out – $70.36

grocery – $104.59

grocery non-edible – $6.87

$31.46 and $49.95 over budget depending on which system you count.  I can only guess that I’m spending too much time planning Toddler L’s party to properly review what is coming into this house.  I’m loving the party planning but this spending has got to go.  I’ll be working on that next week.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

weekly accounts

from-the-kitchen1

I am pretty good (or pretty bad depending on your perspective) at making decisions that have a major effect on my family.  Joining the Compact was a big one.  Now I’ve decided that we are limiting our meat intake (at home) to what is healthiest for our bodies and our planet.  Namely organic.  Needless to say, we aren’t eating a lot of meat anymore.  I was vegetarian for years so this doesn’t really bother me, the husband on the other hand has been adjusting.  More because I had gotten into the habit of cooking meat with almost every meal than because he was a die-hard fan.  I could make plain spaghetti every night and he would be pretty happy.  Now that meat is no longer a habit (and that’s really what it had become, strange I know), what will we be eating?

Saturday – spinach and rice

Sunday – buttermilk french toast

Monday – yellow curry with cauliflower and tofu

Tuesday – brown rice salad with tofu

Wednesday – pizza (still doin’ but requires more thought as I am off dairy until Baby S has better digestion)

Thursday – pork fried rice (last piece of pre-organic pork in the freezer)

Friday – brats with homemade buns (I love that I have homemade buns – sad and geeky I know, but true)

felix

Using a system that is somewhat based on $80/week for grocery and non-edible and the $50 a week budget of $125 we are well and truly overextended this week.  It’s amazing how it adds up at the end of the week.  I wasn’t really paying attention this week as I knew we weren’t buying meat (although I did buy almost 3 lbs of organic ground beef for an upcoming party).  I thought it would be easier to stay under budget without that expense.  Not so much apparently.  We did go to Costco as I needed vanilla, yeast and apple juice – all great buys there.  We also had several fun events, including major league and minor league baseball games, that hit our eating out budget.

eating out – $116.13

grocery – $120.87

grocery non-edible – $7.65

All in all a bad week.  But a good reminder that we need to pay more attention as the week progresses.  And make the shopping list early and stick to it.  And spend less money.

felix

In other news, I’m having a great time planning Toddler L’s birthday party.  I can’t believe he’s already 2.

I am probably more Martha Stewart than Edith Bunker when it comes to throwing a party but I am loving the challenge of doing it on a budget, with thrift store finds and in an eco-friendly manner.  Since we don’t have a backyard we are hosting at a wildlife preserve, so we’ve got that part of the green theme covered.  If all goes well I may post some pictures when it’s all said and done.  More planning and thrifting and crafting before we’re there though.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

correct change required

from-the-kitchen1

Alas, Monday Menus is no more.  I knew when I started that this would be an evolving process.  Not that I’m giving up my menu planning, it has become a key factor in keeping to a budget and keeping me happily in the kitchen night after night.  It’s more a matter of what I consider our week to be.  It used to be Sunday through Saturday, then it became Monday through Sunday.  Now our week is Saturday through Friday.  Why?  Does it really matter?

So, I am without title alliteration.  I thought about Saturday Splurge as this post covers the spending as well, but that didn’t really seem to portray that we have a pretty conservative budget and I’m trying to stick to it.  But that doesn’t really matter either.

On to business.  What’s on the menu?

Saturday – Nicoise pasta (kind of like a Nicoise salad with noodles instead of lettuce)

Sunday – buttermilk pancakes (I am really loving the Sunday breakfast for dinner thing)

Monday – beef stir fry

Tuesday – Indonesian style noodles

Wednesday – game food (also known as whatever can be found at Dodger Stadium that isn’t a Dodger dog)

Thursday – pizza (yes, pizza night is Wednesday but husband would be sad to skip a week)

Friday – hamburgers (organic, grass fed beef was on sale this week – even at $3.99/lb I’m happy to have it)

felix

I’ve also decided (at least for now) to only show what was spent in total instead of the store by store breakdown.  I don’t know that it’s all that interesting to me to have the greater detail, but I do like feeling accountable to stick somewhat close to our $80 budget.  And I think, as a compromise to the $50 a week kids I’m going to look at food (in & out) separately from our non-edible groceries.  Let’s see what this looks like…

eating out – $78.37

grocery – $62.42

grocery non-edible – $24.50

Saturday Splurge is actually pretty accurate for this week.  In our defense we were traveling through Monday and didn’t get to the grocery store until Wednesday.  That eating out total will be waaaaay less in the weeks to come.  Or else.

Monday, August 3, 2009

monday – menus and more

from-the-kitchen1

We bounce from normal to not-normal weeks around here quicker than most people… well, I don’t know quicker than what.  But it’s pretty darn often.  This week we are off to the UP.  (That’s the Upper Peninsula of Michigan for you non-Michiganders.)  That means lots of eating out.  Yay, to a break from cooking.  A much bigger YAY to no dishes. Let’s see what we’ll be eating before we leave…

Monday:  pasta and egg round-up (cook pasta, toss in scrambled eggs and whatever else looks interesting)

Tuesday:  pizza (we’ll miss pizza Wednesday, plus I have dough in the fridge)

felix

Our budget was $80, we spent…

Trader Joe’s – $28.76

Sprouts – $16.71 (used bag credit = $0.05)

Yay, for small budget weeks.  Of course, this goodness is inversely proportionate to how much we will be spending while away.  I am packing as much as I can in snack food for our flight though.  It’s a good thing yogurt raisins are not considered liquid or gel.

felix

Now, excuse me while I go pack 12 suitcases and 4 carry-ons for our 5 day trip.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

monday – menus and more

from-the-kitchen1

Okay, I know it’s Tuesday.  But I like order and systems.  Chaos makes my head hurt.  It makes my eyes go all twitchy.  Menus go up on Mondays.  I’m sure it must still be Monday somewhere.  Even if that’s only in my head.  Bear with me while I get through this.  I’m sure things will be back to normal next week.  (yeah, you can stop laughing now.)  Let’s see what we’re eating…

Monday:  stir fry

Tuesday:  chicken parmesan sandwiches (actually monterey jack, but who’s checking?), mashed cauliflower

Wednesday:  pepperoni pizza

Thursday:  something from the pantry, sauteed carrots  (some days are just harder than others)

Friday:  london broil, green beans (didn’t get to this last week either)

Saturday:  beef stroganoff

Sunday:  french toast

felix

Our budget was $80, we spent…

Vons – $25.81 (savings = $25.69)

Target – $3.60 (savings = $2.49)

Trader Joe’s – $11.49

Sprouts – $30.33 (savings = $0.05)

Cost Plus – $9.46

Smart & Final – $21.03

Okay, so I actually thought we were on budget, then I realized I was missing a receipt.  At $101.72 I should feel pretty good about the 27% savings of $28.23 but it really just shows that we aren’t really taking this budget thing to heart.  Too many “want” items that put us over the edge.  More fruit than was really needed (is there really such a thing?), canned soda and bottled specialty root beer, English Heinz beans… all makes for a delightful fridge but not exactly being our most frugal.

felix

On the topic of eating well.  I was introduced to Cari, Adam and Emily this week.  I encourage you to make an introduction.  They all seem to be lovely people with some interesting things to say about food.  And how much to spend for it.  I feel a true kinship with Cari because she is trying to feed her family well without sacrificing things like organic vegetables, eggs and dairy.  She is also making the bread her family eats and grows many of her own vegetables.  I know, I don’t actually do the growing thing, but I still relate to her thinking.  And I would at least consider trying it if we didn’t live in a small apartment on the second floor with a balcony that works really well for storage but not potted plants.  I don’t anticipate I would be successful but I would consider trying.  That’s something right?

I’m also considering a hiatus from my $80/week grocery budget to try $50/week food challenge.  Now that’s $50 per week per adult (plus an additional $25 dollars/week for Toddler L).  Sounds like a lot huh?  But considering we buy organic eggs and dairy and produce when we can, it goes fast.  Also, that $50/week is for all food.  So that’s groceries, restaurants, snacks when out and about, the whole enchilada.  Sounds a bit tougher now, huh?  Not that we eat out that much, definitely less than once a week, but a single meal out can be half that budget.  I am thinking we’ll be rolling over our savings for the times we do go out to make up the difference.  So really, the budget could be considered $200/month/adult (unless it’s those weird months that have an extra week and then it throws everything off, like pregnancy, which is considered 9 months but it’s 40 weeks so really wouldn’t you say that’s 10 months because most people consider one month to be 4 weeks).  Conscious stream writing is really just one long run-on sentence isn’t it?!  At least when it’s my conscious stream.

For a while now (certainly since seeing Food, Inc.), I’ve been re-evaluating what our family eats.  We are really cutting back on meat so that we can stay within a budget but still be good stewards to our health and environment.  We are going to try only buying organic meat, which means not buying it very often.  I would also like to buy mostly local produce from the farmers market instead of the grocery store specials.  It may not be organic but at least it’s helping our community and not being transported from other continents, countries or states.  We have made huge strides in eliminating the processed food we eat but I’d like to keep working on that.  The husband loves him some granola bars, I’m going to try making those and see if they will meet his satisfaction.  Also, I’m a real 1970’s kid in that I love mac n’ cheese from a box (the one with the cheese sauce mind you, not the powdered crap).  I am going to try to kick that habit and bring in the homemade.  We all have to make sacrifices.

Which would you choose, $80/week for all grocery including paper goods and toiletry or $50/week/adult for everything you put in your mouth?