A week of eats on the cheap

It's that time of the month again - the time when things are tighter and moods are grumpier.

It's that week that always gets wives in a tizzy and leaves their husbands wanting more.

Ladies, you know what I'm talking about. It's the week before the big P comes to visit and then flits away again.

Surely we're not the only ones who act a little crazy in the days before Pay Day, right? When the budget is as tight as it can go and there are bills yet to be paid, we get a little grumpy. Ok, it's mostly me who gets a little grumpy. Without a solid plan of action for how to feed us for the days leading up to Pay Day, I get all fussed up trying to figure out exactly what the plan is for dinner every night, and inevitably, my last-minute meals of leftovers leave my husband hungry and wanting more to eat.

Thankfully, though we're broke with a capital B, the Lord has faithfully provided (as he always does) for us and our meals this week. Thus, here's our week's "eats on the cheap" plan. I apologize if you have no desire to read our menu for the week, but I'm proud of the planning and how it's going to all work out!

Monday: The seminary where I work provides free food from local grocery stores to seminary families on Saturdays, so while Mom and I were selling stuff at the yard sale this weekend, I was also grabbing some goodies for us to eat this week! I was able to grab a big hunk of beef for a pot roast, as well as some apples and mashed potatoes. While Mom was in town, we also took my first trip to Aldi, where I got a can of Cream of Mushroom soup for $.50. So, for Monday's dinner we had this pot roast with leftover mashed potatoes from last week. Yummy and filling.

Tuesday: Last week at Target, they had a sale ($.99) on eggplant, so along with our staples of pasta, parmesan, eggs and breadcrumbs, I'm going to be making some eggplant parmesan tonight. The only other thing I had to buy was a jar of pasta sauce for $1.40. Altogether, that's a cheap meal, and one that fills us up. One eggplant makes a lot of eggplant parmesan for two people.

Wednesday: I made a pot of black bean soup over the weekend, again, using leftovers and cheap buys from the store. At $.60 a can, I had bought five cans of black beans last week. I combined those with some diced red and yellow onions, some chicken broth, some white wine, a splash of white vinegar, an adobo pepper (for some smoky heat!), some garlic powder and cumin and a little taste of brown sugar. I loosely followed this recipe (you should know by now I don't use recipes as-written. Ever.) For a little added protein, I threw in some shredded, leftover rotisserie chicken. Top with a dollop of sour cream and some shredded cheese and it's delicious! Even my husband, who told me he only likes Panera's black bean soup, said it was his favorite black bean soup ever. We've already gotten one meal off of it, then we'll eat from it again tomorrow and hopefully have just enough left over for Friday.

Thursday: We're going to a conference Wednesday and Thursday and after it finishes on Thursday, A is meeting with a group of men from Summit for their regular church planting cohort. I'm meeting with our Summit Denver family group and hopefully going to Moe's to enjoy a $3 Cinco de Moe's burrito. Check and see if that deal is going on in your area. If it is, enjoy a $3 meal of chips, salsa, water and burrito!

Friday: When Friday rolls around, we almost always do Fajita Fridays. It's a tradition in the VanderHouse, but I always make them with chicken. Since we don't have any chicken (actually, I just remembered we have two breasts in the freezer), I'm going to use the leftover beef from Monday night, simmered in the remnants of the spicy black bean soup. From that, I'll make some other delicious Mexican-y concoction for our Fajita Friday.

Saturday: If the paycheck hasn't come in yet, I'm going to lobby for us to use some gift cards on ourselves. Thanks to generous family members, we're well-stocked with Olive Garden cards. Thanks to Noodles & Co. for taking a long time on a (free!) birthday order, we also have two cards good for free noodle bowls from there. THAT'S some excellent customer service. I'm going to lobby we go there after church and enjoy a free meal of pad thai or the like :)

So, if you're in the throes of the week before Pay Day, too, what are you doing for meals? How do you feed your family on a budget? While I'm proud of this week's menu - I always have room for improvement!



Megan Barley said...

Noodles and Company-so good!!

Anonymous said...

Ugh. This is my constant struggle. Maybe if I didn't hate the kitchen so much I would be more committed to making weekly menus on a budget, lol. My staple is chicken and rice. It's the one thing I know how to make that isn't too difficult. I always want to branch out and try new recipes....buuut I just hate cooking. hah.
I will say that one thing that helps with the budget is eating a few vegetarian dinners a week...meat is expensive and if we can eat a meal with no meat it really helps.

Ginny Alley McCullough said...

We have a monthly budget for grocery items so I divide it by 4 and that's what I spend each week. Using coupons we save 50% on each shopping trip so sometimes I don't even spend my budgeted amount (like last week for super doubles). I make a menu each Sunday afternoon off of what is on sale. I also buy all my produce at the produce stand for much cheaper. That way, I never run out of food at the end of the month :)

Matt and Lindsay Bledsoe said...

I think you did a great job, I am impressed! If you have Olive Garden gift cards, here is an idea to make them go even further. It's hard to sit at a table for longer than 30 minutes with Hannah...:) so we've been getting Olive Garden to go, they pack nice little salad kits and your meal and you save on drinks and a tip, so it's at least $5-15 cheaper.

Lauren V. said...

Those are great ideas! Kristel - How do you make your chicken and rice? It sounds easy and do-able, so I may have to give it a whirl! And Ginny, when you say produce stand, are you talking about farmer's markets? I go sometimes but they often seem more expensive than the grocery story, plus, I never have cash. I wish I was a better coupon-er. We like what we like, and that's a problem sometimes. Getting food to-go is a great idea to stretch the gift cards, Lindsay! I can't believe I haven't thought of that :) The nice thing about the OG gift cards is they're usable at Red Lobster and Bahama Breeze, too!

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I'm a 20-something transplanted Southerner - in love with my Savior and in love with my husband. As we move from urban-loft dwellers to home-owners and parents, feel free to share in the happenings around the VanderHouse.

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