Monday, September 26, 2011

What's for Dinner This Week?

This week's menu was a bit of an experiment to figure out exactly how much our dinners actually cost.  I try to make tasty, not too complicated, and thrifty meals.  I cook most everything from scratch because that is usually the cheapest way to cook, and I can control what my family eats; less salt, no MSG, etc. 

I spent a few days with my Aunt when I was back in Missouri the beginning of September, and she wanted more info on how I keep my grocery bill so low...I told her I can feed the family for $100 a week.  Now I have to put my money (and menu!) where my mouth is.
One way I keep my food budget in control is buying my staples in bulk and by alternating weeks for certain purchases.  This takes some organization, of which I'm a bit hit-and-miss in.  I've broken these dinners down by cost.  Most of the prices are what I would buy if it is on sale.  But, a little disclaimer here, I usually spend even less than this per meal because I use coupons and plan my menu with the sale ads, my coupons and other deals.

Roasted Chicken (Costco has whole fryers in a two-pack for 99cents a pound, average price is $8-$10 per 2-pack) Cost of one Chicken: $4-$5
Spinach & Pear Salad Cost of Spinach: $1.00, Cost of 2 pears: 25 cents, Homemade Vinaigrette:  25 cents
Rice with Mushrooms Cost of 3 cups of rice: 30cents, 5 mushrooms: $1.00

Total Cost for Monday's Dinner:  $6.80 to $7.80 to feed a family of 6 (depending on cost of chicken)

Taco Salad Tuesday (This is actually one of my more expensive meals because of the meat and dairy, but sometimes I make it meatless.)
Cost of Taco Salad: 1 lb. Hamburger: $2.00 (Bought in bulk and cooked in bulk) Taco seasoning:  25 cents, Lettuce:  75 cents, 1 cup shredded cheese: $1.00, 1 can corn: 50 cents, 1 can beans: 65 cents, 2 tomatoes: 50 cents, 1/2 onion: 25 cents, salsa: 50 cents, Sour cream:  75 cents, Chips:  $1.00, Ranch Dressing:  50 cents
Total Cost for Tuesday's Dinner:  $8.65 to feed a family of 6

Sausage and Lentil Soup (CrockPot)
Adapted from Sausage and Lentil Soup recipe from Rachael Ray's October 2011 Magazine
1 package Jenny-O Smoked Turkey Sausage (or similar brand) $2.00
1 onion, diced  50 cents
2 large carrots, diced  10 cents
2 cloves garlic, minced  10 cents
1 pound yellow lentils, rinsed  75 cents
4 cups homemade chicken stock (made from the roasted chicken on Monday!)  50 cents
2 tsp. dried rosemary  10 cents
10 oz package frozen spinach, thawed $1.00
Salt and pepper to taste  Freebie
4 cups water  Freebie

Rinse the lentils and put in crockpot.  Add the diced onion and carrot, minced garlic and rosemary.  Add the water and chicken stock.  Slice the sausage in half lengthwise to make a half circle, then slice into 1/2 inch pieces and add into crockpot.  Stir in the spinach, salt and pepper.  Cover and cook on low for 8 hours.

Bread Sticks with dough made in the Bread Machine  $1.00

Total Cost for Wednesday's Dinner:  $6.05 to feed a family of 6

Chicken Tetrazzini
 Adapted from Turkey Tetrazzini recipe from Rachael Ray's October 2011 Magazine
1 lb. linguine 75 cents
1 lb. chicken  99 cents
4 T. Butter  50 cents
1/2 lb. mushrooms $1.25
2 tsp. Italian Seasoning  10 cents
3 T. flour  5 cents
2 c. milk  40 cents
1 1/2 c. chicken stock  25 cents
1 c. parmesan cheese $1.50

2 c. frozen peas and carrots  50 cents

Spray a 9x13 inch pan and preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Cook pasta according to package directions until al dente.  
While past is cooking, cut chicken into bite sized chunks and season, (or use leftover chicken) and cook in a large skillet until browned.  Remove and put in the 9x13 pan.  Dice or quarter mushrooms and cook in skillet with 1 Tablespoon of butter for 3-4 minutes and add into turkey.  
Melt the remaining 3 Tablespoons butter in the skillet.  Whisk in the flour and cook for 1 minute.  Whisk in the milk and chicken stock then bring to a boil and simmer for 2 or three minutes until thickened.  Stir in 1/2 cup of the parmesan cheese and season with salt and pepper.  
Add the pasta and peas and carrots to the chicken and mushrooms in the 9x13 pan and pour on the sauce, tossing to combine.  Sprinkle the remaining 1/2 cup parmesan on top and bake until the top starts browning and the sauce is bubbling, 12-15 minutes.

Serve with Green Salad Cost: $1.50

Total Cost for Thursday's Dinner:  $7.80 to feed a family of 6

Homemade Pizza  I haven't figured out the cost for this yet, but will be working on it! With homemade crust and sauce, the big ticket items are the cheese and meat since the veggies aren't all that expensive.  I think I can keep it to my usual $6-$7 for the meal.

Hamburger Stew (CrockPot)
1 lb. hamburger  $2.00
5 carrots, diced 25 cents
5 mushrooms, diced 75 cents
2 stalks celery, diced 10 cents
1/2 large onion, diced  25 cents
1 lb. potatoes, diced 40 cents
1 can condensed tomato soup, 60 cents
3 soup cans of water (or more if it looks too thick)  Freebie
3 Tablespoons flour  5 cents
2 beef boullion cubes 10 cents
1 Tablespoon Italian Seasoning  10 cents
Salt and Pepper to taste  Freebie

The bluriness is steam because it's so hot!!!
Brown hamburger (can be done in the crockpot in bulk ahead of time and then use some for other meals) and add into the crockpot along with the diced vegetables.  Empty the soup into a medium sized bowl and whisk in the water, flour, boullion, Italian seasoning and a teaspoon of pepper.  Pour over the meat and veggies in the crockpot and stir.  Cook on low for 8 hours.

With Bread Sticks or Bread,
Total Cost for Friday's Dinner:  $5.60 to feed a family of 6

Grand Total Cost for 5 days worth of dinners to feed a family of 6: $34.90 (Pizza night isn't included)

I left out Sunday, because we usually have leftovers on one day and shift the menu accordingly.  I'll also add a dessert or treat one or two nights a week, so that will up the ante a smidge.  And I did not spend that $34.90 this week.  Most of what I used was in the pantry or the freezer, so weekly grocery cost for the dinners was basically spent on the perishables like fresh produce, the whole fryers, and the dairy.  Then when the meat and frozen foods are on sale for a great price I'll put some more in the freezer, and stock up on canned foods as I find them.   

I'm linking here: Gooseberry Patch Recipe Roundup

Tempt my Tummy Tuesdays

1 comment:

starsunflower said...

Wow how awesome! I've definitely learned to be more frugal lately, but you have it down to a science. I've never been able to plan my meals out like this. You are very inspiring!

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