Sunday, May 19, 2013

Grocery Planning On An Emergency Budget

Every so often things happen and money goes away. Often it is a result of us not managing our money or not planning our meals. When we fail to plan a meal and end up buying something premade we feel the effects in a very painful way. The money runs out.

First things first, find out what happened and fix it so that it doesn't happen again. If it is a matter of will,  you must resist your urges, and make planning meals something you enjoy and have a scheduled time for. Set a specific time each day that you will plan each meal. Stick to that plan no exceptions and do something to make it a time you enjoy. You will save so much money and avoid emergency weeks.

Some ideas on foods when the money is slim

If you have made your master grocery list - the one where you walk through the store and jot the prices down of everything. Type it into a spreadsheet online and sort it by least expensive. Having that master list not only tells you which coupons to toss, it also can be quite the time saver in menu planning. Take the couple of hours it will take to walk through the store and jot down prices. Make a spreadsheet with those items and then learn to sort by title and price. It will save you so much time and money.
For those of you letting your menu planning conquer you each week here are some simple ideas.

The following ingredients are inexpensive and something you can make lovely meals with.

eggs/cereal - don't skip breakfast on budget weeks. It is one of the cheapest meals you can make - hot cereals, grits, eggs fried, in casseroles with milk and cheese and meats/veggies, egg sandwiches, egg burritos, eggs boiled and mixed with tuna or mayo. sliced on green salads, deviled
potatoes-mmmmm cheap and delicious for potato salads, mashed potatoes with various accompaniments - cheddar, chives, sour cream, spices, etc, homemade french fries, potato pancakes, sliced and fried, twice baked, baked with loads of onions and butter,
tuna- casseroles, croquettes, salads. as an appetiser on crackers. Have fun
hotdogs- the 50s had frankfurter recipes often. It was a standby for women back then when times were tight. They are lovely sauteed with the right seasonings... on top of pizzas, in spaghetti sauces, topped with sourcraut and loads of sauted onions.. etc. ;) You can even make creative recipes with mashed potatoes, cheese and hot dogs... just make it look pretty and no one will know you're on a budget. Never let it show ;)
homemade breads/sandwiches/pizzas- inexpensive and delicious. When your family has delicious breads, they never feel hungry. many breads and cookes can be made with just flour eggs and a few ingredients.
cakes... homemade will be simple and you will likely have the ingredients. There's no way around it ladies...from scratch is the way to go to save money in your budget.

apples- baked, in cereal, cider, in custards, chopped with mayo/sugar/cream cheese combinations, homemade turnovers, apple sauces boiling and blending with sugars and butter to pour over dishes.. apples are wonderful and very inexpensive.
bananas- saute with brown sugar and butter and cinnamon for a heavenly treat, mix into fruit salads, pancakes, french toast etc. Bananas make every dish taste fancy.
spinach- love in eggs or raw with fruit vinegrettes,
green bell peppers- throw into eggs, pastas, on pizzas, saute and throw into meatloaf, burgers etc. make tortillas with cheese and peppers, make fajitas
onions - onion rings are simple and wonderful. creamed onions etc.
homemade cookies with basic ingredients
rice pudding - love this and so easy. just basic ingredients to make
bread pudding - same. easy and just need some egg, milk, vanilla and cinnamon literally.
oranges- salads, juices, sauces,
lemons- lemon bars, flavoring various dishes, lemonade
jello- love to use in my fruit salads for flavor, mix with whip cream or cream cheese and stir in some fruit... deliche
beans- chili, baked beans, burritos on tortillas, mix into eggs, mix into soups, make things like hummus or bean dips with cheese and sour creams etc.
spicy rice and hotdog dishes with beans and peppers so fun. just saute, throw in everything hot and delicious enjoy.
homemade soups using boullion and various veggies/meats etc
tomatoes - easy to make soups with milks and butter look up recipe very simple and easy. sauces for eggs or pizza/spaghetti easy as well. Think sugar, salt, herbs like oregano or italian seasoning. parmesan etc. and my family loves to throw in a bit of bite... cayenne or hot sauce as well.
cream cheese is only a dollar and can make a vast assortment of inexpensive items homemade crepes with cream cheese filling, cream cheese is lovely with fruits, there are many desserts using basic ingredients and cream cheese that are heavenly.
peanut butter. - desserts using peanut butter, if you have chocolate as well, make a bunch of candy and enjoy and how can you resist peanut butter and banana fried sandwiches
grilled cheese sandwiches... have fun and get creative. I like to make hot spicy mayo/sugar combinations with peppers and sauteed onions on mine.
granola bars are very easy to make using oats you have in the house and a few binding ingredients. Great snack to snack on
pastas with white sauce. if you have the funds, add cheese and veggies
cinamon rolls are very simple and you usually have the ingredients. Pick your favorite bread recipe, add the cinnamon, sugar, butter and brown sugar or nutmeg... voila
apple turnovers
egg casseroles
you may as well stock up on ground beef on such weeks, get the largest amount for the cheapest price per lb. Beef can be used in so many things.... shepherds pie, hamburgers, spaghetti, chili, meatloaf, etc etc etc.
chicken thighs tend to be cheap and my favorite meat on the chicken. make chicken with sticky asian sauce... usually just brown sugar and whatever other sauces you have... ketchup etc. very easy.
hot wings... add pepper sauce etc.
learn to play with mustards, sugars, hot sauces, mayo etc to make sauces you love.
homemade salad dressings are very simple and taste so much better.
cucumbers with oil and vinegar and a bit of sugar onion and herbs. ;)

basically, if it's a budget week.... get creative. You have no choice. Make it work. Look at what you have. look at your cheapest grocery items on your master list and learn to cook. The sooner you learn to make a menu on instinct, the sooner you'll be able to handle the budget challenges that may come your way.

Interesting side note. If you want to feel truly domestic. Make your own butter and mayo. Both are actually quite simple. Butter is literally whipped cream beaten past the whip cream stage with a bit of salt. Beat it until the liquid starts to strain. Make a ball and hold it under cold water until it is a solid ball and all of the liquid has been strained and voila... homemade butter.

Mayo is the same... boil an egg and use the egg yolk. look up your favorite homemade mayo recipe voila. ;)

Much love,

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