09 January 2012

Cooking Like A Pro On A Budget

Isn't as easy as it sounds. I recently dropped hella cash on tuition and stupid house insurance and taxes and life and my hours got cut at work, so I'm broke. I mean, I'm not exaggerating -- I'm brooooooke.

But, we still have to eat around here, and I am not into the whole hamburger helper scene, so I have to plan two weeks worth of meals and make an iron-clad shopping list that sticks to an even tighter budget. It's not that I can't do it, because I do, it's that it's really hard to find quality ingredients when your friendly commissary is three hours away. That leaves local stores and Walmart to get me through the rough times.

Without an arsenal of hoarded coupons, I usually manage to save around $150 every two weeks on the essentials. There's no junk food or packaged snacks. Everything we have here is 96% homemade. I even make potato chips and tortilla chips myself. Yeah, that broke.

So, in order to showcase my mad shopping skills and the meals that result, here is my two week plan that started Thursday of last week:

-Chicken in wild mushroom cream sauce, wild rice & barley, fresh green beans & almonds sauteed in olive oil.
-Spinach, Italian sausage, and mushroom pizza with a mozzarella, feta, and parmigiana cheese blend.
-BBQ shredded chicken sandwiches and veggie pasta salad -- broccoli, carrots, Chinese cabbage, baby corn,  fresh green peas, and squash.
-Taco Night -- ground beef tacos with green leaf lettuce, fresh green onions, black bean and white corn salsa, sour cream, taco blend cheese, and tortilla chips.
-Butterbeans and cornbread with ham for the pork eaters in the family.
-Spaghetti with homemade sauce and spinach vermicelli, garlic bread, and mixed green salad.
-Fresh rosemary & garlic baked chicken with mashed potatoes, gravy, and grilled asparagus.
-Fresh green bean casserole with salad and homemade french bread -- includes ground beef.
-Fend-For-Yourself-Night (essentially leftover night, because I hate wasting food) several times.
-Four-cheese pizza with mixed green salad.

So, that's a lot of food; all of which is pretty impressive. I set myself a $150 budget for two weeks of groceries. I have a lot of it at the house already, so I usually just buy up the fresh veggies and fruits, dairy products, and odds and ends I will need to make meals.

I went to Walmart and Dill's this time. I skipped Bi-Lo because they just didn't have the things I needed on sale, even with the Bonus Card. I spent $76 at Walmart with a savings of $126 off the original price, and I spent around $20 at Dill's with a savings of $26. That brings two weeks worth of groceries down to under $100 and I didn't use one coupon. I even bought a few little things that I really didn't need, like my beef teriyaki noodles and two cans of Pringles.

Okay, okay, I'm pretty much bragging on my skills, but I know if I can make it work, more people in my situation can make it work. Things are going to pick back up, but my budgeting is always the same. I cut corners like they're illegal to make sure there's always a little extra. A cushion is always nice.

I've already made the spinach pizza and tonight is the chicken in wild mushroom sauce. I really hope the rest of the next two weeks is flavorful enough to keep everyone happy.

1 comment:

  1. I feel your pain on the budget. Thankfully Mr.Manwithagun got 3 deer during hunting season. Its saved a bit on meat the past couple months :)

    Hope things get better in the future!