Today is the last day of January, and thus ends the Pantry Challenge hosted by Life As Mom. I thank all of you for sharing your recipes and encouraging me. With the extra attention and menu planning, I was able to feed my family of four on less than $100 per week and have leftovers.
Here's what worked for me:
For the new year, I bought my husband and I some very low tech planners. The planner had a week view with the hours of the day. Not only did I use the planner to keep us on track with home schooling subjects, I also began placing meals on the calendar. Looking at what activity was planned for the day, helped me schedule what would work for dinner. For example, we all have meetings on Tuesdays so I planned a crock pot meal or leftovers for that day. This eliminated the need for fast food or having cereal for dinner.
What to do with leftovers?
Since I still have small children, most meals I have leftovers. For me, the challenge was better management of these leftovers. My husband does not like eating a meal twice in a row. However, I found if freeze the leftovers and serve them again in a week or two he is none the wiser, and I save time and money. I bought gallon and quart size freezer bags and laid then out flat for easier storage. I also took the time to label and date them with a permanent marker so I could easily identify them.
With having my freezer and leftovers organized, it was easier to plan meals based on what I already had. Before I shopped, I looked in my freezer to see what I could use for a meal. Using my planner, I scheduled those dishes on days I did not have time to cook. Then I added to the grocery list the items I needed to round out the meal like salad items or fruit.
One of my challenges for January was to start baking bread and other items, so I would not be buying them on the store. Other than pizza dough, this did not happen so I guess my challenge for February will be baking bread...
Will you join me?