Welcome to Penny Pinching Mom

Throughout this blog, you will find meal plans, date night ideas, daily routines, preschool activities, natural cleaning products, crafting and so much more. Essentially, I want to share how I make "everyday tasks" into something to look forward to - except for mopping floors, you're on your own for that one!

Monday, March 19, 2012

March Meals {Week of March 19/12}

Meal planning.

Well, I think I have found my groove!

We using our bread maker almost every week, there is always the right ingredients in the cupboard and the kitchen is organized!

I am always trying to find ways to save money on food. First I thought I would do some research and see if anyone suggests how much I should be spending in the first place.  I have figured out two numbers.
  1. Your weekly budget should be $3-$5 per person, per day.
  2. You should expect to spend 11%-14% of your take home, families income.
What does that look like? (Yearly income) × .11 ÷ 52 = weekly food budget.

Right now we are spending about 11.5% and I think it would be awesome if I could manage 10%.
Now I just need to figure out how to do that!

I have slowly but surely figured out a few things.
  1. No Frills will price match. This was the first week I tried this. I felt a little disorganized - I grabbed the wrong name brand of frozen corn, forgot to get grapes... but I know it will go better next time.
  2. Make food from scratch.  This one is tough.  I remember working a 9 hour shift in Oakville and the 3 hour commute - there is no way I would have been able to make everything from scratch.  Now, I have a lot more opportunities.  I only work about 15 hours outside of the house and about 4 hours at home. Red is sleeping through the night.  I have a bread maker (even though it is technically my husbands!)
  3. Buy in bulk.  I had to hyper-organize the kitchen to make this work.  I needed to have the room to store all that extra food. 
  4. Buy when things are on sale (even if it isn't needed yet).  I don't seem to get a big benefit from this one. I am trying to eat clean so I don't food that is full of preservatives; that has a long shelf life.  Right now, this only seems to apply to my husbands shampoo, toothpaste, deodorant and toilet paper.
  5. Cooking meals once a month and freezing them.  I have just discovered this amazing site that gives you detailed instructions on how to do this.  I just got all the ingredients for the March menu today.  Including our extra snacks, meats and dairy purchases I spent $175. I am hoping this will last us 2 weeks - with a little left over for milk and such in the second week.  Instead of using this menu as the site suggests (spreading out all the meals for the months), I am going to cram it all in for two weeks.
  6. Participate in a Freezer exchange group. If you are on Facebook, there is fan page that explains the whole idea.
So, what's on the menu?

  • Apple Spice Oatmeal
  • Peanut Butter and Banana Oatmeal
  • Pumpkin and Nut Oatmeal
  • Strawberry Rhubarb Muffins *
  • Pumpkin Biscuits *
  • Fruit Smoothies

  • Mini Vegetarian Meatloaves *
  • Broccoli Cheddar Biscuit Muffins *
  • Mini Zucchini Muffins
  • Pizza Dippers
  • Rice Cakes
  • Roasted Chickpeas
  • Popcorn
  • Salmon Frittata and Salad (2 meals)
  • Veggie Pizza and Salad
  • Zucchini/Meat Burgers, Spaghetti Squash and Broccoli *
  • Asparagus and Mushroom Quesadillas *
  • Broccoli Cheese Stromboli *
  • Spinach Meatballs and Pasta *
  • Chickpea patties and Veggies *
  • Greek-Style Quinoa Burgers with Pitas and Veggies *
* www.onceamonthmom.com

    Here's hoping this works!


    1. Good luck! Freshco will also price match, just in case you want a different store (I don't love No Frills).

      1. I've heard good things abot FreshCo... maybe I should check it out

    2. I only buy non dry and canned goods at the Farmer's market. It's way cheaper than most of the super markets, especially when you are looking at feeding your family decent quality meats.

      I've really noticed a difference with chickens. I only buy whole chickens and stretch them into two - three meals and I can buy a chicken at the market that's 2-3lbs bigger than the ones at the supermarket but cost the same. Generally I buy 5-6lb chickens for around $13-$15 and over three meals, that's cheap (roast chicken 1st night, chicken pies second night, soup third night, for instance).

      We also don't stretch meals with rice or noodles.

      We eat mostly in season foods because those are freshest, closest and cheapest. I shop at the local farm shops for the vast majority of my veggies and fruit.

      Also, we just started getting a Good Food Box for $15 a month. The food won't last that long for a family that eats lots of real food, but the food is cheaper because it's a bulk buying programming. So you save about $10 off the top of your veg and fruit purchase. This week I got oranges, apples, a purple cabbage, potatoes, an English cuke, celery, leeks, mushrooms, rutabega, tomatoes and bananas. http://environmenthamilton.org/view/page/good_food_box

      Plus, I run a soup swap every 6 weeks :) We make a big batch of one type of soup, pack it into 1 litre portions and then swap them with others so that you go home with 6 litres of soup you didn't make which gives you an exciting variety to keep in your freezer for a quick meal. http://www.facebook.com/groups/134020856717859/

      1. I aim to eat whole foods too. My friend told me about the Good Food Box but we couldn't find the info for Hamilton - thanks!!
        I just hosted our first freezer exchange group and I hope we get a couple more families involved.
        Thanks for the tips!

      2. Do you have a FB group for your freezer exchange? My biz partner and I and another soup swapper would be interested in this. We were thinking of doing a freezer meal swap in place of a soup swap soon.

      3. That would be great! I don't have a group yet but I am planning on making one...
        I don't know if I mentioned by it is a "meatless" exchange...

    3. My partner will love that! Not hard to chuck some meat into a mixture anyway, right?