Do you remember when I was challenged with one month of reality cooking? Toni, Kate and I embarked on our 3 Moms, 3 Kitchens, 31 Day Challenge. Specifically, I shared how I shopped, cooked and fed a family of seven on $500 a month. My biggest challenge was to begin lowering your grocery budget by tracking your food expenses, and then to change your concept about how you shop – my # Grocery Guru tip. Admittedly, tracking expenses is pure drudgery, but it’s very revealing to see where all the money disappears. And somehow, it does disappear quickly, doesn’t it?
So much has happened since that month, including the end of our year of unemployment,hosting our spontaneous family reunion, painting the laundry room, and redoing the bathroom for $20.
With a very laid back approach to meal time, I realized this past summer that I need to have some kind of plan, even if it’s quite flexible. “Fail to plan and you plan to fail,” and yes, that completely affects the budget.
My three sons (hmm….anyone remember that TV show?) have all started their football season. With this time of the year comes a crazy chauffeur schedule, and even crazier dinner times. It also means being prepared for a house full of hungry guys at any given time. Out of the last eight days, I fed a crew five of those nights, including some extra breakfasts and lunches (or I should say brunch since they didn’t wake up till almost noon.) What this means for my blog is that I will be sharing some meal ideas that feed a bunch without breaking the bank.
One of the main things I have changed up is the kind of chicken I buy. Even though I love the convenience of boneless, skinless chicken breast, the cost can add up quickly when feeding fifteen people. I’ve been buying chicken quarters (legs and thighs), and throwing pounds and pounds of meat on the grill. Often, quarters go on sale for as low as $0.50/pound, so you can really get a big bang for the buck. Yes, the bones are a bit of a pain, but I’ve been serving them bone in right from the grill, but then I take the left overs (which I plan for) and pick the meat off to use for chicken salad, chicken burritos, and chicken pot pie etc.
For breakfast, we stocked up when peaches were on sale, and have been enjoying tons of smoothies.
Our chickens have been on strike with the heat, so I’ve had to buy eggs for my yummy breakfast skillets. Do you know how frugally frustrating that is to raise your own egg layers and then have to buy eggs? As wonderful as raising chickens can be, it’s honestly, not as frugal as you may think.
I apologized to the football guys for serving taco soup on a hot summer night. Beggars can’t be choosers. They were grateful and gobbled up nearly two huge pots full of soup.
It’s such a good thing that I stockpiled all those groceries two weeks ago. Honestly, I was counting on stretching the gazillions of pop tarts a bit further, but hey – they were only a few cents.
So that is a little 3 Moms update. Don’t forget to check out what the other moms are doing. Kate is busy filling up her freezer before her new blessing arrive, and Toni is sharing her August grocery budget update.
How are your meal plans and grocery budgets coming along? Did summer through you for a loop, like it did me?
I’m excited to get back on track, and as I do, I’ll share some of the organizational tools that are helping me along the way.