Meal Plan based on Aldi Ad for Wednesday 22, 2017. 7 meals under $45!

Aldi prices may vary by region.

 Meat

  • 5 lb Chicken breast, boneless skinless $1.49/lb (alternatively you can buy 2 whole chickens @ $0.95/lb if you want to use a slow cooker ahead of time and shred the chicken instead)= $7.45
  • 3-4 lb pork roast$1.49/lb = $6
  • 5 lb drumsticks $0.69/lb = $3.45

Produce

  • 2 Garlic head $0.89 ea (or one jar minced $1.99)
  • 1 Broccoli pkg $1.74
  • Ginger, ground $1.69
  • 2 Yellow onion, medium $1.89/bag

Canned Goods

  • 2 box Chicken broth $0.69

Condiments

  • Honey $1.25
  • Lemon juice, fresh $0.25/ea
  • Soy sauce, low-sodium $0.99/ 10-ounce bottle
  • Ketchup $0.99

Baking & Spices

  • Salt and pepper $1.99
  • Brown sugar $0.89
  • Cornstarch $0.89

Dairy

  • Butter $2.69
  • Cheddar cheese, sharp $1.89

Oils & Vinegar

  • Cooking oil $1.59
  • Rice or apple cider vinegar $1.39
  • Balsamic vinegar $1.39

Pasta & Grains

  • 1 bag Rice $0.99

Bread

  • Rolls, bread $0.85

Total $42.73 that’s 7 meals for a family of 4 for under $45 plus leftovers!

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Honey Garlic Chicken Drumsticks

This recipe does not have a make ahead option; however, it only takes 45 minutes from start to table.

You can also use a slow cooker for this recipe! Just place all the chicken drumsticks in the bottom of a slow cooker, season them with salt and pepper, and pour the sauce over the chicken legs. Be sure to mix the sauce beforehand. Cook on low for 6 hours or high for 4. Just remember, the skin does not crisp so you may want to finish it up in the oven for about 15 minutes on 425.

Serves – 6 to 8

Ingredients

  • 5 lbs chicken drumsticks
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
  • Sauce:
  • 1 tsp. olive oil
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 2 tbsp. soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup chicken broth
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 5 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tsp. cornstarch

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 425F. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil for easy clean up. Add a wire rack on top if possible.
  2. In a small saucepan over medium heat, add oil. When hot, stir in garlic and onions: cook for a few minutes, stirring constantly.
  3. Add honey and soy sauce. Stir together the broth and cornstarch. Pour into pan and bring to a boil. Cook until the sauce has thickened, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat.
  4. Pat chicken so it is dry. Place onto rack and season with salt, pepper, and crushed red pepper flakes.
  5. Place into oven and cook for 10 minutes. Flip chicken and cook for another 10 minutes. Coat chicken with some sauce and cook for another 5 minutes. Flip one more time and coat the other side of the chicken. Cook for 5-10 minutes, or until chicken reaches 160F and juices run clean.
  6. Serve chicken with rice and steamed veggies if desired (and do not forget to pour on any extra sauce that is remaining!)

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The Best Baked Chicken Legs

Author: Melissa Griffiths

You can also use a slow cooker for this recipe! Just place all the chicken drumsticks in the bottom of a slow cooker, season them with salt and pepper, and pour the sauce over the chicken legs. Be sure to mix the sauce beforehand. Cook on low for 6 hours or high for 4. Just remember, the skin does not crisp so you may want to finish it up in the oven for about 15 minutes on 425.

Serves – 6 to 8

Ingredients

  • 2½ pounds chicken legs
  • ¾ cup honey
  • ½ cup soy sauce
  • ¼ cup ketchup
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, minced
  • salt and pepper

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Lay the chicken legs out and give them a good sprinkling of salt and pepper on both sides. Put them in a foil-lined baking dish with high sides (the foil is to make clean up easier and is not essential). A high sided sheet pan is the best option because the sides keep everything in but it is big enough that the chicken isn’t drowning in the sauce. It will caramelize best if half of the chicken is poking out of the sauce while cooking.
  2. In a glass measuring cup measure out the honey, soy sauce, and ketchup. Add the minced garlic and stir. If the mixture doesn’t combine well microwave it on high for thirty seconds and stir again. Pour the honey mixture over the chicken legs.
  3. Put the chicken legs in the oven and bake for 45 minutes. Take the chicken out of the oven and rotate it so that the bottom that was in the sauce is now on the top out of the sauce. Put the legs back in the oven. Raise the heat to 425 degrees and bake until the sauce is bubbly and starts to caramelize on the chicken legs. This should take about 15 minutes. Remove the chicken from the oven and allow to rest for 5 minutes before serving.

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SLOW COOKER PORK ROAST

Ingredients

  • 1 3-4 lb pork roast (mine was bone-in pork shoulder)
  • 1 cup broth
  • ¼ cup balsamic vinegar
  • ¼ cup soy sauce
  • 2 TBSP honey
  • 2 tsp minced garlic

Instructions

  1. Place roast in slow cooker. Combine remaining ingredients in a 2-cup measuring cup. Whisk together and pour over roast. Cook on low 10-12 hours for that fall-apart, insanely tender type of meat. (Or on high 6-8 hours.)
  2. Prior to serving, ladle out about ¼ cup of the juice in the crock pot and strain into a measuring cup. Whisk in 2 tsp cornstarch. Add in enough juice to make 1 cup. Microwave on high for 30 seconds and whisk again. Drizzle sauce over meat prior to serving.

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Garlic Chicken

Serves 4

  • 1 pound boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • 1 tablespoon butter

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 425°F Line a baking dish or cookie sheet with aluminum foil and lightly coat with cooking spray or lightly brush with oil.
  2. In small sauté pan, sauté garlic with in the oil until tender.
  3. Remove from heat and stir in brown sugar. Add additional herbs and spices as desired.
  4. Season chicken with salt and pepper. Place butter in a pan on medium heat and brown chicken. Place breasts in a prepared baking dish and cover with the garlic and brown sugar mixture.
  5. Bake uncovered for 15-30 minutes, or until juices run clear. Cooking time will depend on the size and thickness of your chicken.
  6. Broil for the last 5-10 minutes to make the skin crispy and golden.

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Quick Teriyaki Chicken Rice Bowls Recipe

Servings: 6

Ingredients

  • 2 lbs boneless skinless chicken thighsor breasts or mix of both
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 1/2 cup low-sodium soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup rice vinegar
  • 1 Tablespoon freshchopped ginger OR 2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • 1/2 cup sweet onion chopped
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 3 Tablespoons cornstarch + 1/4 cup cold water
  • Broccoli (optional)
  • Rice (optional)

Instructions

  1. Place chicken in slow cooker.
  2. In a mixing bowl, whisk together honey, soy sauce and vinegar. Add ginger, garlic, onion and pepper. Whisk well. Pour the mixture over chicken. Cover slow cooker. Cook on LOW for 6 hours or on HIGH for 4 hours.
  3. When done, DO NOT turn off the slow cooker. Shred chickenwith two forks.
  4. In a small measuring cup, whisk cornstarch with cold water. Add to slow cooker and stir. Let cook for 10 minutes and stir again. The mixture should thicken.
  5. Serve over rice with a side of broccoli

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One-Pan Cheesy Chicken, Broccoli, and Rice

Serves: 4-6

Ingredients

  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • ½ medium yellow onion, diced finely
  • 1 pound boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite sized pieces
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon of kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 1 cup uncooked extra long grain white rice
  • 2½ cups broccoli florets, cut into bite sized pieces
  • 2½ cups of low-sodium chicken broth
  • 2 cups shredded extra sharp cheddar cheese

Instructions

  1. In a large skillet or pan, sauté onions in two tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat. Season chicken with salt and pepper.
  2. Once onions soften, increase the heat to medium high and add chicken to the pan.
  3. Brown the chicken pieces and add the garlic. Cook for about 1 more minute.
  4. Push chicken to one side of the pan and add additional tablespoon of olive oil to other side.
  5. Add the uncooked rice in the olive oil and sauté it for a couple of minutes.
  6. Add the chicken broth to the pan and bring the mixture to a boil. Lower the heat to a simmer and cover the pan with a lid.
  7. Cook chicken and rice mixture covered for about 12 minutes.
  8. Sprinkle the broccoli evenly over the chicken and rice mixture and stir to combine.
  9. Continue to cook covered another 8 minutes on low or until broccoli and rice are both tender.
  10. Remove from heat and stir in half a cup of cheese.
  11. Sprinkle remaining cheese on top and cover with a lid, letting it sit for 1-2 minutes or until cheese has melted.

Notes

You need a large skillet or pan with a higher edge for this dish to hold everything.

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EASY HEALTHY BAKED LEMON CHICKEN

serves: 4

INGREDIENTS

  • 4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • ⅓ cup chicken broth
  • 4 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • salt and pepper to taste (I used 1 teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon pepper)

Intructions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees and grease a baking sheet or large casserole dish.
  2. Melt butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add chicken and cook chicken 2-3 minutes on each side just until browned. Transfer chicken to prepared baking sheet.
  3. In a small bowl whisk together chicken broth, lemon juice, honey, garlic, Italian seasoning, and salt and pepper.
  4. Pour sauce over chicken. Bake 20-30 minutes (closer to 20 for smaller chicken breasts, closer to 30 for larger) until chicken is cooked through. Every 5-10 minutes spoon the sauce from the pan over the chicken.

 

 

Eggs, Eggs, Eggs!

Eggs are an amazing source of protein and can be made so many different ways. Along with protein, they are rich in many vitamins like A, B, and even Iron.

This week, Dillon’s (Kroger stores) has a great sale on eggs. A dozen for $0.79 and no limits!

In honor of the sale and the 6 dozen eggs I now have in my fridge, here are some great budget friendly meals you can make with ingredients bought while picking up the eggs.

Dillon’s ad 2/15/17 to 2/21/17

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[Source: http://www.eatingwell.com/recipe/252328/hilarys-heavenly-eggs/]

Heavenly Eggs

Delicious eggs in a rich tomato sauce served on toasted bread for breakfast or delicate angel hair pasta for a light lunch.

2 Tbsp Cooking Oil – $1.59

1 Medium Onion – 2 for $5 (ad price)

2 Cloves Garlic, minced – whole garlic $0.89, minced in a jar $1.99

2 Cups Marinara Sauce – $1.29 (ad price)

4 Large Eggs – $0.79

1 Tsp Basil -$2.19

1 Tbsp Parmesan Cheese – $2.24

1/4 Tsp Black Pepper – $1.99

4 Slices Bread (any choice), toasted (Breakfast) – Wheat Bread $1 (ad price)

2 Servings of Angel Hair Pasta, cooked (Dinner) – $1.94

2 Slices of Bacon, crumbled – Black Label Hormel, 1 pound package $3.99 (ad price)

Total – $20.41 – Serving 2 eggs – $3.40

A lot of these prices are for more than what is needed and some of the items are staples that will already be bought. Most blogs don’t include the pantry. This makes it seem like the meal costs less than it actually does. If buying everything mentioned here, this recipe can make 3 times the amount of eggs mentioned. Making it 6 servings for just under $20.

 

  • Heat oil in large skillet over medium heat.
  • Add onion, garlic and bacon. Cook 4 to 6 minutes.
  • Reduce heat to medium-low. Add marinara simmer.
  • Crack an egg into a small bowl, making sure not to break the yolk. Make a well in the sauce roughly large enough to hold the egg and pour it in so that the yolk and most of the white is contained. Repeat with the remaining eggs, evenly spacing them around the pan.
  • Sprinkle the sauce with basil; cover and cook 6 to 8 minutes for medium-set.
  • Remove from the heat and sprinkle with Parmesan and pepper.
  • To serve, top each slice of toasted bread with an egg and sauce. Serve immediately.

 

 

 

Meatloaf Mondays

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Mondays aren’t always for meatloaf but these days the kids are always asking for one recipe in particular. What they don’t know is that they are eating a TON of Vegetables. This moist, delicious recipe freezes quite well and is exceptionally easy to double and keep for another time. Or make the recipe early and pop it in the oven straight from the freezer for about an hour and a half. Or put it in a cupcake tin and make several little meatloaves to eat small portions when needed.

The prices listed are for Aldi, February 2017.

Ingredients

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Total Prices – $19.39 – 8 Servings – $2.42

A lot of these prices are for more than what is needed and some of the items are staples that will already be bought. Most blogs don’t include the pantry. This makes it seem like the meal costs less than it actually does. If buying everything mentioned here, this recipe can make 3 time the amount of meatloaf mentioned. Making it 24 servings for just under $20.

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  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C).
  2. Combine almond milk, ketchup, onion, green pepper, parsley, minced garlic, and black pepper in a blender and blend until a smooth liquid.
  3. Combine ground beef, ground turkey, eggs, rolled oats, and milk mixture in a bowl until thoroughly combined.
  4. Transfer mixture into a 5×9-inch loaf pan. If the recipe is doubled, place in a 13X9-inch pan.
  5. Bake in the preheated oven until a meat thermometer inserted into the center of the meatloaf reads at least 160 degrees F (70 degrees C), about 2 hours. Meatloaf may still look pink inside due to ketchup.
  6. Pair with mashed potatoes and turkey gravy for a delicious meal.

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Delicious Chocolate Cake

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Sometimes, we really need something sweet and decadent to make our days better. After scouring the internet for something delicious and cheap, poke cakes really stood out as something yummy and not nearly as expensive as a store-bought cake.

To keep the cost down, skip the condensed milk and stick with some delicious, creamy instant pudding.

  • 1 box Baker’s Corner, Devil’s Food Cake Mix 18.5 Ounce – $0.69
  • 1/2 cup Carlini Vegetable Oil 48 Oz. – $1.59
  • 2 Gold Hen Grade A Eggs – $0.69
  • 1/2 Cup Water
  • 1/2 Cup Friendly Farms Sour Cream 16 Oz. – $0.99
  • 1 box Mr. Pudding Instant Pudding Mix, Chocolate – $0.29
  • 1 1/2 Cup Almond Milk original, vanilla or unsweetened 64 oz. – $2.49
  • 1 pint Heavy Whipping Cream – $1.39
  • 1/2 Cup Baker’s Corner Baking Cocoa 18.6 Oz – $1.49
  • Chocolate Syrup to Drizzle – $0.99
  • 1/2 Cup of Baker’s Corner Chocolate Chips 12 Oz. – $0.99

Total – $11.60 – 12 servings – $0.97 per slice

Of course, several of these items should be a staple in the pantry and that should also off-set the cost.

Instructions:

Combine cake mix, eggs, water, oil, and sour cream in a bowl and mix until combined. Bake cake in the oven according to the directions on the box. (350 degrees for 25-28 minutes). Once completely baked, use the back of a wooden spoon or dowel rod to poke holes in the cake. Add milk to pudding mix and pour on the cake once it is cool. Put the cake in the refrigerator for 1 hours to chill. Once the pudding has set, whip heavy cream wit a mixer for several minutes. Once it starts to set, add the baking cocoa and continue to whip until it firmly sets up. Spread on the cake and drizzle with chocolate syrup and sprinkle with chocolate chips.

Add a scoop of ice cream and dig in!

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Breakfast of Champions

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Mornings can be hectic for most families. Trying to get kids off to school and people to work can be a hassle. While cereal and cold milk can work for a while, it turns into a dreaded meal after several months. A great decadent alternative to cereal is overnight oats. They are quick, easy to prepare the evening before, and delicious. Overnight oats are exactly what the title says, oats soaked overnight. They usually consist of oats, yogurt, and milk with an endless supply of toppings available.

Our family enjoys berries as a topping more than anything else, but berries can be expensive so it is important to buy them during sales and while in the season. Since these yummy treats can be made many days ahead of time (as long as they are stored in an air tight container), we make ours 2 weeks at a time.

To make 2 weeks’ worth, you will need:

  • 2 plain Fit and Active 32 oz. yogurt tubs – $1.99 apiece
  • 1 container rolled oats 42 oz. – $2.49
  • 1 Almond Milk original, vanilla or unsweetened 64 oz. – $2.49
  • Blueberries 6 oz. – $2.99
  • Strawberries, 16 oz. pkg. – $1.75
  • Raspberries, 1 pint – $1.99
  • Blackberries, 1 pint – $1.99

Total – $17.68 for 2 full weeks (14 servings) of breakfast and/or snacks – $1.26 per serving

 The recipe is really fantastic and easy.  It is equal parts yogurt, milk, and oats (1/2 cup to 3/4 depending on the size of the container) mixed together. The milk can be substituted with whatever milk you like. Layer the yogurt and fruit into an airtight jar and refrigerate for up to 2 weeks. Some people enjoy adding 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla to the yogurt mixture, also.

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The Slow Cooker Can Be a Friend

One thing I tell people who don’t have the time or people like me who just don’t want to spend a lot of time cooking, “use the slow cooker.” Those delicious, albeit sometimes tough, cuts of inexpensive meat can become amazing, tender, delicious morsels.

When using the slow cooker, don’t choose recipes that need a lot of preparation. There are tons of recipes out there specifically for the slow cooker, but many can be adapted for it also. If you want a meal that needs prep after the meat is cooked, consider slow cooking the meat throughout the day and setting it up right before the meal. Or even cooking the day before and storing in the fridge for an easy setup.

If it is hard to set everything up in the mornings, put everything in the cooker dish, cover it, and store it in the refrigerator overnight. Then, simply remove it from the fridge as soon as you get up and turn it on right before you leave.

Slow cookers don’t need extra oil or fat. As long as there are liquids, the food will not burn to the sides or bottom. The fat on meat will not go away so you want to trim it, too. Be careful with the liquids, though, they don’t reduce, and don’t thicken, meaning you don;t need much and you will probably want to place chicken and other poultry on a stand or aluminum foil balls so it does not sit in the liquid and become squishy.

Try to choose recipes where most of the food can be added in the very beginning. Every time the lid to a slow cooker is removed, it loses some heat and the water rolls off the top. So don’t check on it constantly or worry about stirring often. Usually, the only things that will need to be added at the end would be pasta and rice.

If the recipe is not meant for a slow cooker, here are some times to help set it up.

  • 15 – 30 mins, cook it for 1 – 2 hours on High or 4 – 6 hours on Low
  • 30 mins – 1 hour, cook it for 2 – 3 hours on High or 5 – 7 hours on Low
  • 1 – 2 hours, cook it for 3 – 4 hours on High or 6 – 8 hours on Low
  • 2 – 4 hours, cook it for 4 – 6 hours on High or 8 – 12 hours on Low

Don’t Be Scared of Chicken Thighs (And Other Inexpensive Meats)

Being on a budget doesn’t mean you have to cut out meat and proteins completely. It just means you need to be smarter about the types of meat you eat. Also, try buying meats that you can braise like pork butt. The cheaper price does happen to coincide with a larger time investment to make the meats tender but we will talk about ways to get around this issue when the time is a crunch.

One trick to making the money last is to buy a whole chicken. Buying bone in thighs can be less expensive but the whole chicken offers many more possibilities. The meat can be roast and served as a meal on its own or cut apart and used for several different meals. And the bones can be kept and cooked down to make a delicious broth that can be used in many other things.

Lamb Shoulder Chops are a great rich flavor that can be relatively cheap. The trick is to pick the shoulder and not the prime cuts. These pieces are often larger than the rib and lamb chop and the chewy texture can be tenderized quickly.

A great, cheap alternative to hamburger meat is ground chuck. Ground chuck has less fat and still tastes amazing and tends to have a lower price tag than the sirloin, bison, and other beef cuts. It comes from the primal cut, shoulder mainly with just enough fat to give a great flavor but not enough to be used in those $15 dollar burgers.

Chuck roast, which is a preferred meat for pot roast and beef stew recipes, also comes from the shoulder. These muscles contain long fibers and have a tendency to become tough if not cooked correctly. Long, low-temperature cooking in juices tenderizes the cut and gives it a great beefy flavor without the cost of a typical pork roast.

Flank steak is from a cow’s stomach and has long tough fibers. It’s far more flavorful than some of the more expensive cuts and is a great meat for marinating. The trick with the flank steak is thin slices across the grain and quick sears making sure not to overcook the steaks to keep it from being tough and drying out.

Try to find recipes that use these cuts, or that you can substitute with a cheaper meat to make your money stretch further.

Pay Attention to When You Buy

Cooking with fresh produce is amazing, but it can be expensive. Buying seasonal only makes sense in that case. Just because you can find it in the grocery store, doesn’t mean it is a good idea depending on the time of year.  Look at what’s in season and choose your recipes based on it.

January: Apples, Beetroot, Brussels Sprouts, Carrot, Cauliflower, Celeriac, Celery, Chicory, Clementine, Grapefruit, Jerusalem Artichoke, Kale, Kiwi Fruit, Leeks, Lemons, Oranges, Parsnips, Passion Fruit, Pears, Pineapple, Pomegranate, Potatoes, Rhubarb, Satsumas, Spinach, Swede, Tangerines, Turnips

February: Arugula, Asparagus, Beets, Bok Choy, Broccoli, Brussels Sprout, Cabbage, Cauliflower, Carrots, Celery, Cilantro, Clementines, Dill, Fennel, Grapefruit, Kale, Lemons, Lettuce, Leeks, Oranges, Onions, Parsnips, Pears, Shallots, Sweet Potatoes, Tangelos, Tangerines, Turnips, Rhubarb

 

March: Arugula, Asparagus, Beets, Bok Choy, Broccoli, Brussels Sprouts, Cabbage, Cauliflower, Carrots, Celery, Cilantro, Clementines, Dill, Fennel, Grapefruit, Kale, Lemons, Lettuce, Leeks, Oranges, Onions, Parsnips, Pears, Shallots, Sweet Potatoes, Tangelos, Tangerines, Turnips, Rhubarb

April: Artichokes, Arugula, Asparagus, Beets, Carrots, Cauliflower, Celery, Cucumbers, Fava Beans, Parsnips, Rhubarb, Scallions, Spinach

May: Apricots, Artichokes, Asparagus, Broccoli, Collards, Leeks, Rhubarb, Spinach, Spring Onions, Spring Peas, Strawberries

June: Apricots, Beets, Blueberries, Cherries, Corn, Green Beans, Kiwi, Peaches, Peas, Nectarines, Strawberries, Watermelon, Yellow Squash

July: Apricots, Blueberries, Cantaloupes, Cherries, Corn, Crenshaw Melons, Cucumbers, Green Beans, Figs, Nectarines, Peaches, Plums, Strawberries, Tomatoes, Watermelons, Yellow Squash, Zucchini

August: Apricots, Avocados, Basil, Bell Peppers, Beets, Blackberries, Blueberries, Boysenberries, Cantaloupe, Carrots, Chard, Cherries, Chiles, Cilantro, Corn, Cucumbers, Eggplant, Fennel, Figs, Garlic, Grapes, Green Beans, Geen Onions, Kiwi, Lemongrass, Limes, Mangos, Melons, Nectarines, Okra, Onions, Peaches, Peas, Plums, Potatoes, Radishes, Raspberries, Rosemary, Scallions, Shallots, Strawberries, Summer Squash, Tomatillos, Watermelons, Zucchini

September: Apples, Artichokes, Blackberries, Blueberries, Broccoli, Cabbage, Cauliflower, Carrots, Chile Peppers, Cucumbers, Curly Kale, Figs, French Beans, Garlic, Horseradish, Leeks, Lettuce, Mushrooms, Nectarines, New Potatoes, Peaches, Pears, Plums, Pumpkins, Red Onion, Spinach, Squash, Sweet Corn, Tomatoes

October: Apples, Beets, Blackberries, Broccoli, Brussels Sprouts, Butter Lettuce, Cabbage, Cauliflower, Chicory, Collard Greens, Corn, Cranberries, Cucumbers, Dates, Eggplant, Figs, Grapes, Kale, Melon, Peaches, Pears, Peppers, Persimmons, Plums, Pomegranates, Potatoes, Pumpkins, Raspberries, Sweet Potatoes, Tangerines, Tomatillos, Tomatoes, Watermelon, Winter Squash

November: Apples, Artichokes, Arugula, Brussels Sprouts, Cabbage, Carrots, Cauliflower, Celeriac, Celery. Clementines, Cranberries, Dates, Endive, Figs, Garlic, Kale, Leeks, Lettuce, Onions, Parsnips, Pears, Peppers, Persimmons, Potatoes, Pumpkins, Radishes, Rutabaga, Squash, Sweet Potato, Swiss Chard, Turnips, Watercress

December: Apples, Beets, Belgian Endive, Bok Choy, Broccoli, Brussels Sprouts, Cabbage, Carrots, Cauliflower, Celery, Collard Greens, Cranberries, Dates, Escarole, Fennel, Grapefruits, Kale, Kiwifruit, Leeks, Lemons, Mushrooms, Mustard Greens, Onions, Oranges, Papayas, Passion Fruits, Pears, Persimmons, Pomegranates, Potatoes, Radicchio, Radish, Rutabaga, Spinach, Sweet Potatoes, Swiss Chard, Tangelos, Tangerines, Turnips, Winter Squash

Fruits and vegetables aren’;t the only foods that have seasons! Eggs, Dairy, and Meat are also seasonal.

Eggs are “in season” during the lighter times of the year, end of Spring into Summer and beginning of Fall. Of course, they are always available during the winter months, however, you can see the jump in prices as winter progresses.

Did you know milk is seasonal? People expect milk all the time, so to remain competitive, conventional farms have to feed the cows with a concentrated feed during the winter months and ends up costing the consumer.

One of the most important seasonal foods behind fruits and vegetables is meat. While a good idea is to choose great inexpensive meat all year long (like chicken thighs!), certain meats, poultry, and fish should only be purchased during their “season”

January: Brill, Clams, Cockles, Haddock, Halibut, Hake, John Dory, Lemon Sole, Mussels, Oysters, Plaice, Scallops, Turbot, Venison

February: Brill, Clams, Cockles, Haddock, Hake, John Dory, Mussels, Oysters, Turbot, Salmon

March: Cockles, Cod, Hake, John Dory, Lemon Sole, Mussels, Oysters, Salmon, Sea Trout

April: Cockles, Crab, Cod, John Dory, Salmon, Sea Bass, Sea Trout, Spring Lamb

May: Cod, Crab, Dover Sole, Duck, Haddock, Halibut, Herring, John Dory, Lamb, Lemon Sole, Mackeral, Plaice, Salmon, Samphire, Sardines, Sea Bass, Sea Trout

June: Cod, Crab, Dover Sole, Grey Mullet, John Dory, Lamb, Lemon Sole, Lobster, Mackerel, Plaice, Salmon, Sardines, Sea Bass, Sea Trout

July: Clams, Cod, Crab, Dover Sole, Haddock, Halibut, Herring, John Dory, Lamb, Lemon Sole, Lobster, Mackeral, Monkfish, Pike, Plaice, Rabbit, Salmon, Sardines, Sea Bass, Scallops

August: Crab, Crayfish, Cod, Dover Sole, Grey Mullet, Haddock, Halibut, Herring, John Dory, Lamb, Lemon Sole, Lobster, Mackeral, Monkfish, Plaice, Salmon, Sardines, Sea Bass, Scallops, Squid

September: Brown Trout, Crab, Cod, Dover Sole, Duck, Grey Mullet, Haddock, Halibut, Herring, John Dory, Lamb, Lemon Sole, Lobster, Mackeral, Monkfish, Plaice, Salmon, Sardines, Sea Bass, Scallops, Squid, Turbot, Venison

October: Autumn Lamb, Brill, Clams, Crab, Duck, John Dory, Grey Mullet, Goose, Haddock, Hake, Halibut, Lemon Sole, Lobster, Mackeral, Monkfish, Mussels, Scallops, Sea Bass, Squid, Turbot, oysters, Venison

November: Brill, Crab, Goose, Haddock, Hake, Halibut, John Dory, Lemon Sole, Lobster, Monkfish, Mussels, Oysters, Plaice, Scallops, Sea Bass, Squid, Turbot

December: Brills, Clams, Duck, Goose, Haddock, Hake, Halibut, John Dory, Lemon Sole, Monkfish, Mussels, Oysters, Pheasant, Scallops, Sea Bass, Squid, Turbot, Turkey

Obviously, some of these things are not correct in other areas of the country or even the world. This is only what is seasonal in the midwest regions. Please look at your local grocery prices and make your decisions based upon your own research. Also, yes, greenhouses and factory farms exist and therefore you can get several of these items all year round without a huge change in price. This is up to you as the consumer, however, please note that the qualities of the produce, meat, and eggs are slightly off.

Have a look at the seasonal items for this month and begin to look for recipes surrounding these items. Try to cut out recipes that involve some of the more expensive out of season items. Of course, not everything can be cut out from month to month but that will be based on what your family is comfortable eating.

 

 

Meal Planning

One big essential part of budget cooking is meal planning. When you plan ahead, you will make everything from cooking to shopping much easier for yourself and for the family. Think about how much time you plan to spend on cooking. Do you have a lot of time to spend cooking dinner? Do you want to make meals ahead of time to heat up for dinner? It all depends on how your days go and it does not matter what you do! It doesn’t matter if you work 10 hours a day and only have 15 minutes to cook dinner or if you just don’t want to spend more than a few minutes because you don’t like to cook or if you have hours to cook. All that matters is that you plan your meals and figure out what needs to be bought for the week instead of just throwing together food throughout the week and being stressed. Stress over food almost always ends in ordering out or spending more money than needed.

I’ll spend quite a bit of time on meal planning throughout the site. I’ll share my meal plans and try to help you come up with ideas on what you can plan too!

The great thing is there are no rules!  There is no right or wrong to meal planning. Just set aside a few moments each week to plan out what you want to do for the next week based on the next week’s appointments – after-school activities, evening plans, travel. Figure out how many meals you will need to have planned ahead of time.

Next, think about how much time you will have each day to make the meal. If you don’t have much time, consider slow cooker recipes or freezer meals you can prepare at the beginning of the week.

Come up with a budget for the week. This is where budgeting for your entire family comes in handy. I won’t go into that here but figure out how much money you have available and check out sales and seasonal produce for the next week in order to make sure you can make the most of your money. I budget my meals about $50 for 4 (It used to be $50 every 2 weeks but now I have 2 near teenage boys and one has to eat 3k calories a day for Track and Field so we had to up the amount of food we make for them.)

Find recipes you will need and keep them all in one spot (I recommend Pinterest) Once you know what you plan to make each day, you’ll be ready for food prep. I’ll share ways to do that in another post. For now, I want everyone to take out a piece of paper or open a notebook on their computer. Write down every day of the week on the left-hand side and start figuring out how many meals you need and how much time you’ll have to cook for each one. We will get into the rest next!

 

 

Who Am I?

My name is Gigi. I used to be an accountant. Once upon a time, I was married, with 2 children, living my dream as an accountant for a large fortune 500 company. That’s right, I was the boring one who has wanted to be an accountant since I was 5. I was ridiculously happy, too. Then, the economy fell apart.

I lost my job, even though we had always joked about how accounting was recession proof.

And then, I lost my husband.

Suddenly, I was a single mom of 2 growing boys, unemployed, with no idea how to do basic household tasks like grocery shopping and daily cleaning. I’m not proud of it, but my husband was a stay at home parent and he kept us clean, happy, and well fed.

So, I set off on a journey to become THAT mom. The one who could do it all. And, after falling and crashing a million times, I found a way to make it work. Now, I run my own design business and budget on an income of around 30k.

Recently, I have seen a lot of new blogs about budgeting that have made me laugh…. and cry. Blogs about living scare because they make 100k. Or blogs that tell us all we need to budget is cut out the daily coffee runs (honestly, most of us who budget don’t buy a coffee at a store every day). I saw a lot of blogs that shamed moms and dads who didn’t do and know everything already. I felt like people just didn’t actually understand how to budget, and they didn’t understand the intended demographic. So, I decided to try my hand at it. I’ve been working with families in my area, helping them budget for food and bills, so I figured I should branch out.

Now, a lot of this will be specific to my area of the US. Lawrence, Kansas. However, it should work out for a lot of other areas. I’ll be mainly focusing on cooking great meals for at least 4 on the cheap and a bit of focus on other ways to manage debt and making a bit of extra money on the side.

So join me on this journey. I promise to make it fun and no parent shaming. Budgeting is hard by itself. Budgeting with kids is harder. Everything with kids is harder. The sooner you stop and realize that the sooner you can make a change.

 

See you around!