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Transitioning Our Pantry from “Recipes First” to “Ingredients First”

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Over the last several months, we’ve been gradually transitioning from a “recipes first” methodology of cooking to an “ingredients first” methodology. Our goal is to make our home cooking much more flexible so we can rely even more on bulk buying of key ingredients and just buying loss leaders from the produce aisle of the grocery store. I’ve written a little about this shift before and I thought a thorough update might be in order.

Let’s walk through what this is all about in detail.

How We’ve Done Things in the Past

In the past, our meal planning and grocery buying and cooking strategy was simple. It was a five step process:

Step 1: Get the grocery store flyer
Step 2: Select recipes and plan meals for the week using our calendar and the items on sale in the flyer
Step 3: Make a grocery list from those recipes, which is basically a list of recipe ingredients minus what we have already on hand
Step 4: Go grocery shopping with the grocery list in hand
Step 5: Prep meals according to the plan

This system came into being over time for several reasons.

One, we were kind of tired of clipping coupons and we found we could get much the same savings if we were careful about buying stuff from the grocery flyer of a low-cost grocer and sticking largely to store brand stuff.

Two, we knew that having a careful meal plan that took our calendar into account made it much more likely that we would prepare meals at home, which is far cheaper than eating out all the time.

Three, we knew that shopping from a grocery list was likely to help us maintain focus on that list and thus were less likely to put unplanned things in the cart.

Four, we weren’t incredibly confident in the kitchen as we moved to this plan and thus having known recipes to follow was pretty important.

This system was one that tolerated our relative inexperience in the kitchen and our crazy schedule while still finding a lot of ways to save money – cooking at home, using a low-cost grocer, sticking to a grocery list, having a grocery list full of items on sale, and so on.

There were still a few flaws with this system, though.

We often wound up with leftover ingredients in odd amounts and we were often unsure what to do with them. Often, partial packages would wind up back in the pantry or fridge or freezer and would eventually be tossed.

There were many food bulk buys that we couldn’t take advantage of because we were unsure how to use them.

Furthermore, as we became more comfortable in the kitchen, we wanted to “ad lib” with the recipes a little more.

“Recipe First” Cooking

What I eventually came to realize is that our method of meal planning and cooking is what’s known as “recipe first” cooking. In other words, our system of designing a meal plan around recipes, buying items to fulfill those recipes, and sticking tightly to the meal plan required us to find recipes before we went to the grocery store.

Basically, if you look at recipes before buying groceries, you’re doing “recipe first” cooking.

Since I’m a huge believer in simply trusting one’s grocery list to minimize impulse buys, I would often go to the store and end up buying package sizes to specifically match our recipes, and that was often a ballpark thing. Often, we’d need an awkward amount, so I’d end up buying a little too much and the excess would just wind up in the back of the fridge or the pantry.

This system also made it very hard to ad-lib. What if I wanted to modify a recipe one night? What if one or two of the neighbor kids was at our house for supper, which happens occasionally? What if a last minute change of events changes the window of time to prepare a specific recipe?

Over time, we came up with some “patches” for this, the big one being that we always had ingredients on hand for a few specific meals that we could quickly prepare any time. We always had ingredients for a simple vegetarian chili. We always had ingredients for spaghetti with sauce.

The perk of those meals was that I knew I could always buy beans in bulk and canned diced tomatoes in bulk and chili seasonings in bulk and dry spaghetti in bulk and pasta sauce in bulk (or, more often these days, tomato sauce in bulk and a variety of spices in bulk). If I saw boxes of whole wheat spaghetti for $0.50, I knew I could just fill the cart up with them and we’d eventually use them.

“Ingredients First” Cooking

Eventually, I came to realize that I wanted that kind of freedom with everything. Whenever I saw a really great sale on something I knew we used more than once in a blue moon, I wanted to be able to just stock up on it without thinking, knowing it would get used. I wanted to be able to buy some frequently used items in huge bulk so that it was incredibly cheap per pound.

This led to the overall realization that we should move toward “ingredients first” cooking, meaning that we just have a pantry and freezer full of staples and thus our meal planning is just about utilizing what’s on sale in the produce section of the grocery store while having the ability to ad-lib lots of meals.

For many quick meals, we’d just always have everything on hand. If I want to make a pot of chili, for example, I’d know that every ingredient I’d need for it is ready to go in the pantry or in the fridge or in the freezer at all times. If I want to make spaghetti, the same is true. Basically, I want this to be true for quite a few meals, and I want many other meals to be similarly ready to go whenever the fresh ingredients are on sale.

Basically, this means filling up our pantry with staples purchased in bulk, buying loss leaders from the fresh items at the grocery store, buying nonperishables in bulk particularly when on sale, and then assembling meals out of what we have on hand.

This changes the five step process above into this:

Step 1: Get the grocery store flyer
Step 2: Identify loss leaders that will make for interesting meals
Step 3: Make a grocery list from the loss leaders and from whatever’s low in the pantry
Step 4: Go grocery shopping with the grocery list in hand
Step 5: Make a meal plan based on what I have on hand and what fits our calendar

In other words, I buy the ingredients before even deciding on recipes or a meal plan. Instead, I just know I have a lot of staples on hand and that I can assemble a lot of meals from those ingredients.

The key to this is that the ingredients on hand become the constraint on deciding what to make, not what I can buy at the grocery store. I keep my shopping to bulk staples and on-sale ingredients and then use them to make something for each meal which I can figure out after grocery shopping but before cooking.

What Changes in Our Food Buying and Prep Time?

So, what does that mean in terms of actual changes in our food buying and food preparation?

Obviously, the focus changes to keeping a healthy pantry full of staples and supplementing that with on-sale produce. When we fully transition (this is still ongoing, for reasons I’ll note below), our grocery list will basically be staple refills along with on-sale fresh produce.

We’re still figuring out what staples we need to have on hand, but this is a really good list to work from that we’ve been using. Obviously, some items are in larger quantity than others depending on the types of food we make regularly. For example, we’ll always have tons of diced tomatoes and tomato sauce and tomato paste on hand, whereas we have very little need to have clams on hand.

The thing to notice is that almost everything on that list is staple foods, not prepared foods. Staple items are almost universally cheaper to buy at the store than prepared items. The more basic the item, the cheaper it is.

We still do meal plans, but meal plans can now be done after the grocery shopping. I can meal plan before or after grocery shopping. It becomes much more of an issue to make sure that the meals we plan fit our calendar rather than figuring out what we need to buy.

Our “meal prepping” is more about preparing basic ingredients for future meals and also about making duplicates of the same meal when we’re making one for supper. We’ve kind of moved away from just making lots of batches of the same meal; instead, if we’re making one meal from scratch, we’ll just make three or four of it (limited by what we have on hand) and save the extra two or three for later, which usually triggers a need to restock specific ingredients in the pantry.

For example, if I’m making lasagna, I’ll probably just go and make several pans of it at once, and the number of pans is usually limited by the ingredients we happen to have around. How many pans can I make based on what’s on hand in the fridge and pantry? This usually means we run out of something, and thus it’s a staple that I can replenish by buying in bulk next time.

I’ll also spend some time straight-up prepping ingredients for future use. For example, I’ve found that it’s a great idea to store small batches of chopped onions and bell peppers in the freezer in small containers. I can just pull them out when it’s convenient and toss them right into the skillet or crock pot or whatever. This means that every once in a while, I’ll spend an hour just chopping onions – tons of them. There are also times where I’ll just buy frozen diced onions and diced green peppers at the store when they’re on sale and divide them into smaller containers when I get home.

Lessons Learned

Ingredients-first cooking will save you a lot of money, but transitioning to it has a number of challenges and some unexpected expenses. We’re still in transition – we’re mostly doing it, but we often run into little problems and make last-minute runs to the store to fix things. While I think it’s already cheaper than our previous situation, it will get even better when we shave off the rough edges.

Here are some things we’ve learned.

Familiarity with the kitchen is absolutely essential if you’re trying to do this with time constraints. If you’re a single person or you’re retired and you don’t have a whole lot of time constraints on meal preparation, it’s not nearly as big of a deal. The reality is that we often have to get meals made in a pretty narrow timeframe, and that means that we need to be pretty adept in the kitchen at a wide variety of tasks.

The reason is that quite often, you’re not following an exact recipe. You certainly can follow recipes with this strategy, but it almost nudges you not to do so and to trust your own instincts in the kitchen. If you’re leafing through Serious Eats or AllRecipes or something like that and come up with a recipe, you’ll often not have exactly what it calls for, which means you need to be knowledgable and comfortable enough to make reasonable substitutions if you want to make it. In other words, almost everything you make becomes a slight variation on a basic recipe. You’ll almost never make the exact same pasta meal twice – it’ll slightly vary based on what ingredients you happen to have and, as you become more experienced, what flavors you want to accentuate.

A complete pantry reboot is often necessary. If you’re accustomed to just following recipes or instructions on the backs of boxes for everything that you make, it’s very likely that you’ve accumulated a lot of partial containers of things that have gradually shifted to the back of your pantry, filling it up with a bunch of junk that you’ve forgotten about.

In order to switch to ingredient-based cooking, you need to pull all of that nonsense out of your pantry and either use it up or toss it.

One good way of doing this is to get several large boxes and put everything that’s currently in your pantry that isn’t a staple in there. All of the half-used containers, all of the strange ingredients you bought to follow one specific recipe, all of that stuff – put it in a box or two or seven that’s outside of your pantry. Then, you can restock your pantry with actual staples while also trying to get through and use up all of the stuff in boxes.

Storage containers become very, very useful when you switch to this strategy. Many of the staples you buy at the store will actually just serve to refill a storage container in your pantry. We have lots of containers for different kinds of flours, different kinds of pasta, and so on.

The reason for this is that it keeps you from having a pantry full of half-empty bags and containers of various kinds. When you buy oatmeal, for example, at the store, you just bring it home, dump it in the oatmeal container, and toss the package.

Even better, this system makes it really easy to move to using the bulk bins at the grocery store. Almost always, the stuff that comes out of those bulk bins is cheaper and higher quality than the packages on the shelves. It’s definitely fresher most of the time, too.

The drawback, of course, is the startup cost of having so many food storage containers. Our solution is to go cheap at first, using cheap flimsy containers from the grocery store, and then buying better sets as holiday gifts (my wife and I have become absurdly practical with most of our gift-giving to each other, where it becomes mostly an excuse to upgrade things around the house that we use a lot). Basically, go cheap, then gradually upgrade your frequently used containers to better stuff like OXO Good Grips POP containers (my favorite for things like flour and pasta, but expensive) and these airtight spice containers.

Another thing that will happen is that you’ll constantly be learning what should and shouldn’t be in your pantry. You’ll have ingredients in there that you scarcely use and will sit for years, while you completely missed the boat on other staples. That’s why we have been often running to the store for last minute items as we make this transition.

Final Thoughts

Most Americans approach home food preparation from a “recipe first” perspective. They buy items to fulfill a specific recipe, whether it’s one found online or in a book or magazine or a recipe card or even the back of a package. While this is certainly less expensive than eating out constantly and it does require less creativity and skill in the kitchen, it does create the problem of having extra ingredients left over and you’ll also find it’s harder to always stick to the on-sale items when grocery shopping.

Ingredients-first cooking solves both of those problems, which further reduces long term food costs, but it comes with some challenges, too. It requires some skill and creativity in the kitchen, for starters, and there’s a hefty startup cost. There’s also the challenge of dealing with a pantry full of items that you need to use up as you’re “rebooting” your pantry.

In the long run, it can definitely save you a lot of money as it means that further food buying is either bulk purchasing or loss leaders from the grocery flyer, but it requires some transition if you currently have an overstuffed pantry and refrigerator.

Whether you think that “ingredients first” cooking is a good choice for you or not, it’s a worthwhile approach to understand and keep in your back pocket for times when your food costs are about to become tighter or when you want a bit more freedom in your home food preparation and want to stretch your cooking skills and creativity a little.

Good luck!

The post Transitioning Our Pantry from “Recipes First” to “Ingredients First” appeared first on The Simple Dollar.



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For 5 years we have tracked every single transaction in and out of our accounts using YNAB. The results are revealing.

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Hi all, I was reading a post on another sub of someone sharing their expenses for last year when it got me thinking about my own and it hit me: this month marks 5 years that my wife and I have been using YNAB! So I decided to take some time and reflect and figured I would share. By all means let me know if there are things I miss in this data!

For starters, wow what an absolute change 5 years has made and not just financially. YNAB itself brought upon us the concept of budgeting and tracking out finances when up until that point our lives had consisted of a "buy it, figure out how to pay for it later" mentality. Thankfully we were never really big spenders so we started from a decent spot. Secondly, looking at this it's relatively easy for me to see life changes along the way. From renting to mortgage, from having non-mortgage debt to having none. Life uh, finds a way.

Let's start at the top and look at total spending over the past 5 years https://imgur.com/LVlo2DY

Nearly $500k, ouch. Breaking it down further though it looks like 32% of that went to Savings which is our largest top-level category followed by Monthly bills(ouch again). Debt was a pain and everyday expenses really added up as well. Instead of looking at raw totals though I think taking a look at how things have changed over time is better https://imgur.com/geobw9v

Apologies but it looks like YNAB does not include a legend so here is what the colors mean:

  • Red – Monthly bills
  • Orange – Everyday Expenses
  • Green(Beige?) – Savings
  • Blue – Debt

A couple of trends/events I am able to pluck out of this:

  • Non-mortgage debt was eliminated mid-2018(yay) meaning up until that point it was much more than a 17% expense that the totals had shown
  • Monthly bills were pretty bang on until mid 2016. Correlates with a cross country move. Everyday Expenses took a beating for a couple of months as well
  • Monthly expenses spiked in mid 2017 and haven't really come down. This reflects the transition from renting to owning
  • Savings is highly irregular. Spikes I can mostly explain as IRA contributions.. but the more frequent minor irregularties not so much The last couple of years the bulk of the savings comes in the first couple months of a new year when contributions can be made

That provides a pretty good high-level overview, let's take a peak at the 4 different master categories individually. Starting with savings https://imgur.com/pfTyopB

Sounds about right, looks like IRA contributions have made up about 50% of the category. I'm also assuming this has some 2014 contributions in there as well given the totals. After that the totals seem to get a bit smaller with other things we have saved up for including purchasing a home, going on vacation, gifting and donating and thankfully we really haven't had to use our emergency fund all that much in the last 5 years! Woohoo. What in the world is going on with Services/appliances/Electronics though? I did a little digging and it looks like it mostly breaks down thus: * $15k landscaping and house projects * $5.5k "we bought a house now we need a washer/dryer/lawn mower etc. for it" * $5k one-time luxury purchases * $4k electronics (phone's/TV/routers etc.) * $2k furniture * $2k misc services (plumbers/chimney sweepers etc.)

I would not have guessed we spent that much on electronics. Holy hell. : Moving on to the next category: Monthly bills https://imgur.com/iaHtkvS

Right off the bat: putting a roof over our heads is expensive. To the tune of nearly 82% of the entire category over the last 5 years. Second observation.. these subcategories are all over the place. "Electricity" and "Utilities"? Oh right.. we basically got lazy sometime in 2016 and decided to stop tracking electricity and lump it in with gas/garbage/water in the "utilities" category. Looking closer at utilities:

  • Nearly $4.5k is from LP.. which just began in 2017 with the home purchase. We need to switch, that's ridiculous!
  • Another $1k in natural gas for the previous 2 years(MUCH CHEAPER)
  • Rest mostly electric with water/trash combining for not even $50/month over the period

Nothing else too exciting about this category. Next up.. every day expenses https://imgur.com/leMPHm7

This one I'm kind of proud of. This is where I feel like we have a lot of control over our spending. Right off the bat, our largest expense is groceries consuming nearly a quarter of the entire subcategories cost. Over 5 years though, that comes out to around $400/month. Not too shabby if I do say so myself! The next highest, homegoods is a bit high for my liking as is miscellaneous but they are what they are I suppose. For our budgeting homegoods is basically things like cleaning supplies, paper products, decorations, health and beauty and so on. Misc are things like car registrations, haircuts, credit card fees, amazon prime etc. For the last year we have only budgeted $50 a month for this category, although looking at purchases from a few years ago it looks like we were just throwing random junk in here that belongs better elsewhere. Maybe I'm not so proud of this master category. Oh well, live and learn I suppose! Last observation: pets are cheap, awesome. Sub categories are clothing/work expenses/and laundry from when we used to have to go to a laundromat.

Now the last category, and my least favorite: debt https://imgur.com/bytFahV

As previously mentioned this was tracking non-mortgage debt. That came down to 2 types for us, a car loan and the dreaded student loans. Actually, I think this category is the one to be the most proud of. We paid off $70k in student loan debt in 3 years. Hell ya. I know that there was at least another $30k dent put in the 3 years before that as well. Took longer than we had hoped, but in the end it's good to have that boat anchor off of our necks. Other than that, not really much to see/say for this category.

Well.. this post got uh.. long and a bit of rambling. I apologize. I more or less did this live. A couple of big takeaways.

  • Tracking your spending like this not only has the power to change your behavior and life, it also allows you to reflect on the life changes that occur and how they impact your finances. The spending over time chart is my favorite I think
  • Refinement along the way is key. When you begin your budget categories may be too granular for you or not granular enough. Tweak as you go and keep moving forward
  • There are always things you can do better and things you rock at. Your assumptions may not always match the facts. The way to tell is to first have the data and secondly to analyze. Short of that you're just guessing. I know I wish I had started sooner to see what the 5 years before this looked like
  • Plan long term where able with your budget. This is not reflected in the numbers posted, but initially we used to plan 1-month ahead in our budget. Then we need a new car. Or furniture. Or <insert expensive thing we had not saved for over the last x months>. The result: scrambling to find the money and spiking the funding of a subcategory for that month in order to cover the expense. Now we try to plan ahead all of those purchases, even the ones that are many years out like a new vehicle so we can spread the cost out over time
  • 5 years is a loooong time.

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The Cheapest Renters Insurance Companies Georgia 2020

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Georgia is one of the most expensive states for renters insurance, as they’re the sixth most expensive state, with premiums around $243 annually in 2017 compared to the average premium of $180 in the United States. Even with the extra cost in Georgia, renters insurance can be affordable and can save you a lot of money if something happens that would require you to use your coverage.

Find the Best Renter Insurance

Enter your ZIP code below and be sure to click at least 2-3 companies to find the very best rate.

When considering renters insurance, there are several things to consider:

  • Personal property: This is the amount that covers your items should they incur damage from fire, flood, weather or other covered events
  • Personal liability: Personal liability covers medical bills for anyone who’s injured in your home or on your property. It can also protect you from expenses if you’re legally responsible for damage on someone else’s property.
  • Loss of use coverage: This provides financial assistance for temporary living expenses if your apartment becomes uninhabitable.

With these factors in mind, how much renters insurance do you need? This depends on the value of the items in your home. To demonstrate, if you’re a college student who doesn’t have many valuable items, you could afford to have a lower personal property amount. Or, if you have collectibles, artwork or other high-priced equipment, you’ll want more protection to cover them. Likewise, if you have a dog that might bite someone, more personal liability protection could be useful.

Best rental insurance companies in Georgia

When searching for the best renters insurance companies in Georgia, consider a provider’s reputation for delivering customer service (the J.D. Power & Associates customer satisfaction survey is a helpful resource), it’s financial strength that indicates if they can pay out claims (AM Best rating) and their price offerings. With this in mind, here are the best of the best:

  • Liberty Mutual: Liberty Mutual earned top marks for its financial strength, as it rated A with AM Best. This indicates the company has strong financial health and should be able to pay its policyholders’ claims.
  • Nationwide: Nationwide made the list on the strength of its customer service. That said, Nationwide tends to be a more expensive option when compared to State Farm or Liberty Mutual.
  • State Farm: State Farm makes the list because they earned a five out of five rating with J.D. Power, demonstrating a high level of customer satisfaction. What’s more, when we did a quote with State Farm, it was the cheapest traditional provider available, with rates beginning at $242 annually.
  • USAA: Last, but certainly not least is USAA. It’s the gold standard for insurance companies because it earned a five out of five overall in J.D. Power’s customer satisfaction ratings. USAA is also among the least expensive providers with some of the most responsive customer service. This company only serves military members and their families.

Taking these things into account, here’s how the top Georgia renters insurance companies measure up to each other:

Provider J.D. Power Rating AM Best Rating BBB Grade
Liberty Mutual 2 out of 5 A A
Nationwide 2 out of 5 A+ A+
State Farm 5 out of 5 A++ A+
USAA 5 out of 5 A++ Not rated

When comparing renters insurance, you will have certain things that are more important to you than others. Because of this, we want to help you in the right direction by providing the best carrier depending on your situation.

Cheapest Georgia renters insurance: State Farm

State Farm is by far the least expensive option available. When we did a quote for them using an Atlanta zip code for $20,000 in personal property coverage, we received a quote for $243 annually. If you combine this policy with an auto policy, it drops the price down to a little over $16 per month.

Best Georgia renters insurance for online options: Nationwide

Nationwide makes it simple to receive a quote within minutes. You visit the website, go to “start my quote” and fill out the required information. Nationwide also offers a mobile app where you can make changes to your policy at any time, which is a simplified way to manage your policy on the go.

Best Georgia renters insurance for customer service: USAA and State Farm

Insurance can be difficult to understand. If you don’t know what coverage you’re receiving, it helps to go with a provider that delivers exceptional customer service. This is where USAA and State Farm separate themselves from the rest of the pack, as both earned top marks in J.D. Power’s customer satisfaction survey.

Frequently asked questions

How much renters insurance do I need in Georgia?

The amount of Georgia renters insurance you need depends upon the value of the items you have. If you have more valuable items, you’ll want a bigger amount to cover you in the off chance they incur damage.

What’s the cheapest renters insurance company in Georgia?

For traditional carriers, you won’t beat State Farm. It offers the lowest rates with the highest customer satisfaction scores. If you’re in the military or have a family member who is in the military, USAA is your best bet. However, your circumstances might make some companies cheaper than others. Get several quotes and ask about discounts you might be eligible for to find the cheapest coverage.

The post The Cheapest Renters Insurance Companies Georgia 2020 appeared first on The Simple Dollar.



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We Spent $68.24 at the Grocery Store This Week (+ our dinner menus)

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Want to see what we bought for this week’s $70 grocery budget? I’m currently challenging myself to stick with a $70 budget for our family of five. This includes almost all of our breakfasts, lunches, snacks, and dinners + most household products (toiletries, laundry soap, etc.).

For live updates, be sure to follow my Instagram Stories. See all posts on my $70 Grocery Budget here.

I was excited to find some great deals at Kroger, be able to stock up on a few things, and stay under budget. Here’s what we bought this week:

Kroger Shopping Trip #1:

  • 4 boxes Creamette Pasta — $0.49 each with the digital coupon
  • Duncan Hines Microwave Cakes (I thought these would be fun to have for a movie night) — marked down to $0.39 each
  • Kroger Hashbrowns — $1.79
  • Fresh Salsa — marked down to $0.99
  • 1 bag of apples — marked down to $0.99
  • 4 jars Kroger peanut butter — $0.99 each after digital coupon
  • 1 jar natural Kroger peanut butter — $1.79
  • Kroger cheese (16 oz.) — $3.99
  • Pillsbury Pie Crust — marked down to $0.99
  • 3-lb bag of Gala apples — $3.99
  • 2 lbs ground beef — marked down to $1.99 each
  • 3 bottles Odwalla juice — marked down to $0.99 each
  • 2 boxes Kroger cereal — $1.49 each
  • Milk — $2.79
  • Half & Half — $1.99
  • Total with tax: $38.38

Kroger Shopping Trip #2:

  • 2 boxes Kroger cereal — $1.49 each
  • Hostess Cupcake Dessert Mix — marked down to $0.39
  • 2 cans Chef Boyardee — marked down to $0.19 each
  • Simple Truth Refried Beans — marked down to $0.39
  • 4 bags Kroger Frozen Veggies — $1 each
  • Lemi-Shine Dishwasher Tabs — marked down to $0.89
  • 5 packages of Pampers wipes — $0.99 each with Friday-Saturday digital coupon
  • 2 Stayfree pads — $1.69 each when you buy 5 participating items, used $3/2 Kroger digital coupon = $0.19 each
  • 2 Suave shampoo/conditioner — $0.99 each when you buy 5 participating items, used $1/2 Kroger digital coupon = $0.49 each
  • Kellogg’s Raisin Bran — $1.79 when you buy 5 participating items
  • Milk — $2.99
  • Simple Truth Eggs — marked down to $1.49
  • Total with tax: $29.86

Our Menu Plan This Week

Note: When you see the meals below, please remember this: I buy ahead often. Which means that when I find a great deal on something I know we’ll use, I buy as much as I can afford in our budget to have on hand.

This means that you aren’t going to see all of the groceries my shopping trip that I used to make all of the meals we ate.

Please also remember that I’m putting this out there and it’s not a perfectly balanced menu. This is just really what we ate — and I hope that it encourages you to see the real-ness and lack of perfection here.

Breakfasts: Cereal

Lunches: Leftovers, Salad, Apples/Peanut Butter, Mac & Cheese, Yogurt, Cookies, Chips, Random other markdowns/sale items 🙂

Dinners: 

Sunday: Leftovers + Mac & Cheese

Monday: Breakfast Casserole (recipe sent to me by a follower)

Tuesday: Fend for yourself + leftovers

Wednesday: Tyson Anytizers, Broccoli, Brown Rice

Thursday: Chicken Tetrazinni, Green Beans, Bran Muffins

Friday: Pumpkin Waffles, Bacon (Jesse & I went out to dinner with a gift card we were given by his parents — we’re trying to get in some dates before the baby gets here!)

Saturday: Dinner out (Kathrynne had an out of town basketball tournament)



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