I started making up a weekly menu for our nightly meals about two months ago. I noticed that I was going to the store, buying a lot of food and then coming home to find that I didn’t have enough stuff to actually make up one meal. For example, I would buy ground turkey, which is pretty much a staple at our house, and then decide I wanted to make tacos. I had the meat, but no tomatoes, taco shells or cheese. So back to the store I would go and buy those 3 things. I was spending at least $200 – $300 a week on groceries with all of the trips I was making. I’m a generic or store brand buyer, I use my store discount card and I’ll use coupons when available, but I was going about the buying all wrong.
Once I started making a menu for the week, it was so much easier to go to the store and I was spending so much less money, it was shocking. In addition to my menu making, we started charging all of our purchases on a credit card to get the cash back and then paying it off each month. It’s also nice to see where all of the expenses are. Last month, I spent a grand total of $442 at the grocery store!
I have run into a couple of problems in regards to my menu making. For one, I don’t like making the same thing over and over again. We have had something different almost every night since I started doing this. The one exception is pizza. Because of my neuroses in regards to repeat dinners, it’s hard to decide what to make. Every Sunday I sit with my little notebook and laptop scouring through recipe blogs and websites to find something I think my family and I will enjoy. My go to sites are always foodnetwork.com, allrecipes.com, realsimple.com and any blog that discusses the wonders of the crock pot.
Here is a sample menu with links to the recipes:
Monday – Chicken Cashew Lettuce Wraps – these are pretty good, but I had to adjust the honey to soy ratio quite a bit. It was a bit too sweet for me.
Tuesday – Shrimp Leek and Spinach Pasta – this pasta is absolutely amazing. Follow the recipe EXACTLY. I tend to leave out the lemon zest because I usually don’t have one on hand, but this time I did and it added so much to the taste. Also – use the heavy cream. It’s not a lot – you won’t get fat.
Wednesday – Burritos – these are really good too and freeze wonderfully. This recipe makes a ton of burritos. You can easily get two or maybe three meals out of these.
Thursday – Pizza – I make my own dough because it’s so cheap. The link is for the dough recipe. For the record, I do not have a stand up mixer – I don’t even use a mixer when I make this. Also, I make it around noon and let it sit for about 5 hours, not the 30 minutes they say. One more thing, I add about a tablespoon of Italian seasoning to the dough. It is sooooooo good. I also split the dough in half to make 2 pizzas.
Friday – Crab Cakes – these were just okay. If I wanted to spend $20/lb on lump crab to make them better, I would just go out to eat and order them somewhere. However, if you ever find yourself with leftover crab, this could be pretty good.
Saturday – Baked potato bar and salad – I baked the potatoes in the crock pot! I rubbed them with olive oil and salt, wrapped them in tin foil and threw them in the pot. I set it on high for 5 hours and they were pretty much perfect. Some of the skins that were touching the sides of the crock pot got a little hard and burnt, but those were my favorite parts – kind of like a potato skin.
Sunday – Gyros – I made this entire recipe (sauce included) and again, followed the recipe to the “t”. The only thing I did differently was making the lamb loaf in my crock pot instead of the oven. And, to make it even better, I actually made my own pita bread. I stumbled upon this recipe when I was looking for the pizza dough.
I know this is much easier for me because I don’t have a job outside the home, but even so, I still try and save the more involved recipes for the weekend. Like the gyros. Also, anything I can do in advance, I do. One thing I saw in regards to crock pots was plugging them into an automatic timer so you could program them on and off as you please.
I’m going to try and post my weekly menu each Monday. If I promise to do it, it will keep me honest and I won’t get lazy about it. This week is tough because we just got back from a trip to Iowa and I am a bit under the weather with a cold so I haven’t had a chance to go to the store yet, but next Monday it’s on like Donkey Kong!