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Menu Plan: What Our Family of 4 Eats on $200 a Month (Post #3)

Saturday, April 6th, 2013

Update:  You can read all my Menu Plans under the Menu tab and all the recipes that I’ve posted under the Tasty Tuesday tab.

Finally got another menu plan posted for you all!  We were gone for 6 weeks at the beginning of the year to a small Bible school where my husband taught and while we were there all our meals were provided so I didn’t have to do any cooking.  Although I usually enjoy making food it was a nice break!  And then there were a couple of weeks that were just too busy to keep track of everything that we ate and well…so it goes.

You’ll notice that we ate a lot of leftovers during these four weeks.  Typically we enjoy leftovers and in fact I often make enough of a recipe to last us more than one meal.  But somehow I went a little crazy this month and we had leftover so often we were all getting a bit tired of it!  So I’m sorry.  I know that it will make it harder for you to implement the menus but hopefully it will still give you some ideas and can still help inspire you!

A couple of things that will be helpful for you to know up front:

  • Our family of four consists of two adults with fairly big appetites, a 4-year-old boy and a 15-month-old girl.  Often times one or both of our children will eat as much or more than me.  Obviously this fluctuates with growth spurts but typically they are big eaters.
  • I buy lots of fruits and veggies in bulk from local farmers/orchards in the summer and then freeze or can them. This is not only much cheaper it is also healthier too. But that is why if you look at my Weekly Spending Summaries you won’t always see lots of fruits and veggies.
  • The other factor is that I have a stockpile. My cupboards are full from previous shopping. Here’s why. When I can get pasta for free with coupons I buy as much as I have coupons for. When I can get flour for really cheap (last year I got about 6 bags for $0.50/bag and put it in the freezer) I buy as much as I think is reasonable. I do this as much as my budget allows, on as many items as I can and as a result save lots of money. So when I go to plan out what we eat, I just try to plan my meals around what I already have in the cupboards. Obviously I still might have to buy a few things at regular price here and there but by stocking up when the price is at rock bottom I save a lot. And that is why it might appear just by looking at a couple of week’s worth of my groceries that we don’t eat very well or very balanced.
  • We rarely snack.  By eating “heavy” food like granola at breakfast we don’t get hungry until lunch time.  And the same goes for the afternoon…our lunches are big enough that we rarely need a snack before dinner time.  When we do snack I try to keep it mostly healthy by offering fruit, nuts or maybe No Bake Energy Bites or a homemade granola bar.  I do have iced coffee or a homemade latte almost every day… I don’t really consider that a snack, but maybe you do.  :)
  • Our breakfasts consist of Homemade Granola or Homemade Grape-nuts, the occasional bought cereal that I was able to get for $0.50/box and sometimes some fruit too. I know that might seem awfully boring to some of you, but we actually all really enjoy it and prefer it over other breakfast food.

The lunches you see below for Monday-Friday are just for the children and me. My husband takes sandwiches, fruit, leftovers and the like in his packed lunches.

WEEK 1

Sunday

  • Invited to a friend’s house spur of the moment :)
  • Grilled Tuna Salad and Cheese Sandwiches with 100% Whole Wheat Homemade Bread; Corn Chips; Homemade Applesauce; Grapefruit

Monday

  • Homemade Vegetable Soup; Cheese; Homemade Yogurt; Home Canned Peaches; Frozen Blueberries (that I preserved)
  • Homemade Taco Soup served with corn chips and sour cream; 100% Whole Wheat Homemade Bread; Homemade Applesauce; Grapefruit; Various Homemade Christmas Cookies (from freezer)

Tuesday

Wednesday

Thursday

Friday

  • Leftovers; Homemade Yogurt; Home Canned Peaches; Frozen Blueberries (I preserved)
  • Various Leftovers

Saturday

—————————————————-

WEEK 2

Sunday

  • Lunch and Dinner at the in-laws

Monday

Tuesday

  • Leftovers; Homemade Yogurt; Home Canned Peaches; Frozen Strawberries (I preserved)
  • Store bought pizza; Lettuce/Spinach Salad (with cheese, almonds and croutons) with Homemade Mexican Dressing; Homemade Applesauce

Wednesday

  • 5 Lunch Guests (mom-in-law and sister-in-laws) — Leftover Tomato Basil Parmesan Soup; Creamy White Chili; Whole Wheat Muffins; Home Canned Pickles; Home Canned Peaches
  • Breakfast Wraps (eggs/sausage/cheese in tortilla); Fruit Slush; Homemade Yogurt

Thursday

  • Leftovers; Homemade Yogurt; Home Canned Peaches; Frozen Blueberries (I preserved)
  • Bagel Casserole (a recipe I tried but wasn’t crazy about- it was kind of an Italian type of dish with ground beef and tomato sauce and cheese); Green Beans (I preserved); Homemade Applesauce; Leftover Chocolate Cake with Caramel Icing

Friday

Saturday

—————————————————-

WEEK 3

Sunday

  • Invited to a friend’s place
  • Sandwiches; Potato Chips; Home Canned Pickles; Various Homemade Christmas Cookies (from freezer)

Monday

  • Leftover Soups; Homemade Yogurt; Home Canned Peaches; Frozen Blueberries (I preserved)
  • Leftover Bagel Casserole; Spinach/Lettuce Salad with almonds and cheese and Homemade Mexican Dressing; Homemade Applesauce

Tuesday

Wednesday

  • Leftovers; Homemade Yogurt topped with granola; Home Canned Peaches; Frozen Strawberries (I preserved)
  • Salsa Chicken Soup; Spinach/Lettuce Salad; Homemade Applesauce;

Thursday

  • Leftovers; Homemade Yogurt topped with granola; Home Canned Peaches
  • Chicken Casserole (chicken/bread/and a kind of white sauce and seasonings); Corn (I preserved); Home Canned Pickles; Homemade Applesauce

Friday

Saturday

  • 3 lunch guests– Herb Roasted Chicken; Spinach/Lettuce Salad with almonds/cheese/eggs and Homemade Mexican Dressing; Homemade Coleslaw (my friend brought); Homemade Applesauce;
  • Leftover Chicken Casserole; Corn; Homemade Applesauce; Homemade Bars

—————————————————-

WEEK 3

Sunday

Monday

  • Leftover Tuna Salad in Tortillas; Leftover Tomato Soup; Homemade Yogurt; Frozen Blueberries (I preserved)
  • Various Leftovers

Tuesday

Wednesday

Thursday

Friday

Saturday

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Menu Plan: What Our Family of 4 Eats on $200 Month (Post #2)

Saturday, December 8th, 2012

Update:  You can read all my Menu Plans under the Menu tab and all the recipes that I’ve posted under the Tasty Tuesday tab.

After reading my post on 4 Things I Do to Keep Our Grocery Budget at $200/mo. for a Family of Four, quite a few of you asked if I could please post what we eat. So I’ve attempted to record it for you.

A couple of things that will be helpful for you to know up front:

  • Our family of four consists of two adults with fairly big appetites, a 4-year-old boy and a 11-month-old girl. The baby is eating mostly all table foods but is still partially breast fed. She usually eats whatever we are eating or things like bananas, peaches, yogurt and bread.
  • I buy lots of fruits and veggies in bulk from local farmers/orchards in the summer and then freeze or can them. This is not only much cheaper it is also healthier too. But that is why if you look at my Weekly Spending Summaries you won’t always see lots of fruits and veggies.
  • The other factor is that I have a stockpile. My cupboards are full from previous shopping. Here’s why. When I can get pasta for free with coupons I buy as much as I have coupons for. When I can get flour for really cheap (last year I got about 6 bags for $0.50/bag and put it in the freezer and am just now using the last of it) I buy as much as I think is reasonable. I do this as much as my budget allows, on as many items as I can and as a result save lots of money. So when I go to plan out what we eat, I just try to plan my meals around what I already have in the cupboards. Obviously I still might have to buy a few things at regular price here and there but by stocking up when the price is at rock bottom I save a lot. And that is why it might appear just by looking at a couple of week’s worth of my groceries that we don’t eat very well or very balanced.
  • We rarely snack.  By eating “heavy” food like granola at breakfast we don’t get hungry until lunch time.  And the same goes for the afternoon…our lunches are big enough that we rarely need a snack before dinner time.  When we do snack I try to keep it mostly healthy by offering fruit, nuts or maybe No Bake Energy Bites or a homemade granola bar.  I do have iced coffee or a homemade latte almost every day… I don’t really consider that a snack, but maybe you do.  :)
  • Our breakfasts consist of Homemade Granola or Homemade Grape-nuts, the occasional bought cereal that I was able to get for $0.50/box and sometimes some fruit too. I know that might seem awfully boring to some of you, but we actually all really enjoy it and prefer it over other breakfast food.

The lunches you see below for Monday-Friday are just for my son and I. My husband takes sandwiches, fruit, leftovers and the like in his packed lunches.

WEEK 1

Sunday

Monday

Tuesday

  • Leftover Turkey/Gravy/Potato Filling; Leftover Green Beans; Homemade Applesauce; Leftover Gingerbread Cake

Wednesday

  • Out with relatives

Thursday

  • Leftovers; Homemade Yogurt; Home Canned Peaches; Frozen Blueberries (I preserved)
  • Dinner with in-laws—took 3 qts. Frozen Fruit (peaches/strawberries/blueberries) that I preserved—I like to mix these three fruits together and serve them slushy…it’s so good and refreshing!

Friday

  • Leftovers; Homemade Yogurt; Peaches/Blueberries/Strawberries (I preserved)
  • Rehearsal Dinner (we coordinated a friend’s wedding)

Saturday

  • Brunch of various leftovers
  • Dinner at wedding

______________________________________

WEEK 2

Sunday

  • Lunch at in-law’s

Monday

Tuesday

  • Eggs in a Nest (an egg fried in bread); a few leftovers; Homemade Yogurt; Banana; Home Canned Peaches
  • Soup Bucket Soup (as talked about here); Cheese/Crackers; Homemade Applesauce—This was the first time I tried the Soup Bucket thing and I was fairly impressed. It was easy to add some tomato juice, cooked hamburgers and some seasonings to the soup bucket contents to make a tasty soup.

Wednesday

  • Surprised my husband and took lunch to him at work. We ate with him. It was a last-minute decision and I bought sandwiches and chips at a local deli. (If you want to make your husband’s day, try this!)  :)
  • Crock-pot Tamale Pie; Green Beans (I preserved); Homemade Applesauce; Homemade Cookies (from freezer)

Thursday

  • Eggs in a Nest (an egg fried in bread); Cheese Sticks; Homemade Yogurt—didn’t have any fruit as I made too many Eggs in a Nest and we were full!

Friday

  • Leftover Crockpot Tamale Pie; Homemade Yogurt with Homemade Granola; Frozen Strawberries and Peaches (I preserved)
  • Cheddar Cheese Chowder (meatless); Lettuce Salad with Homemade Dressing; Homemade Applesauce; Pumpkin Trifle (used graham crackers instead of Biscoff cookies). This chowder is supposed to have ham in it—for some reason I forgot to add it and discovered that it is really good meatless too! So we got a bonus meatless meal in for the week.

Saturday

  • Leftover Soup; Homemade Yogurt—this was just for me and the baby as my husband and son were gone
  • Eggs; Homemade-From-Scratch Pancakes with Homemade Gravy, Homemade Pancake Syrup and Peanut Butter; Fruit Slush; Homemade Applesauce

______________________________________

WEEK 3

Sunday

Monday

  • Leftovers; Homemade Yogurt; Frozen Strawberries and Peaches (I preserved)
  • Leftover Vegetable Soup; Lettuce Salad with Mexican Salad Dressing; Cheese and Crackers; Homemade Applesauce

Tuesday

Wednesday

Thursday

  • Leftover Cauliflower Cheese Soup; Homemade Yogurt; Peaches and Blueberries (I preserved); Cookies (bought)

Friday

Saturday

  • Leftovers for the hubby and baby; Our 4-year-old and I went out on a date for lunch :)
  • Leftovers

______________________________________

WEEK 4

Sunday

  • Both lunch and dinner at my in-laws

Monday

Tuesday

Wednesday

  • Leftover Salmon Soup; Homemade Yogurt sprinkled with Granola; Home Canned Peaches and Blueberries (I preserved)

Thursday

Friday & Saturday

  • Forgot to record what we ate…yup, I really am quite human!

Sunday

  • Ham Loaf (partially homemade); From Scratch Mashed Potatoes; Cooked Carrots; Pumpkin Cake; Ice Cream
  • Various Leftovers

I’d like to periodically do these “What We Eat” posts.  If you have any suggestions on how to make it more helpful or readable please do let me know! 

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Menu Plan: What Our Family of 4 Eats on $200/mo.

Monday, October 15th, 2012

You can read all my Menu Plans under the Menu tab and all the recipes that I’ve posted under the Tasty Tuesday tab. 

Before you read this, I want to acknowledge that some of you may eat even more healthful than we choose to.  Some of you may not enjoy eating the same thing for dinner and then again for lunch the next day.  Or you may be vegan or choose to eat totally organic.  That is wonderful and absolutely okay!  However, this how we’ve chosen to eat; we like it and think it is providing us a healthy, balanced diet.  So please keep that in mind if you want to leave a comment.  I really DO love when you comment and share your thoughts on my posts- even when they don’t agree with mine-, but please  just be kind and considerate.  It is just nicer for everyone!  Thanks so much!

After reading my post on 4 Things I Do to Keep Our Grocery Budget at $200/mo. for a Family of Four, quite a few of you kindly asked if I could please post what we eat on such a small budget

I also got quite a few comments like this, “$200 a month w/ coupons, sounds like a lot of packaged foods and/or lots of meatless meals” and “I’m not going to starve my family to save a few bucks” and “I think I’d rather be an inmate than to live at your house…. ‘here kids, is your slice of toilet paper for the day’….’Save some of this pickle slice for tomorrow!!’”  (Yup, someone actually left that in the comments!)

So in order to help those of you that truly do want to get ideas of how to feed your family for less and also to show that we do actually eat pretty decently- no toilet paper eating here!, I thought I’d do a series of menu planning posts to give you an idea of exactly what we do really enjoy eating on our $200/mo. budget.

A couple of things that will be helpful for you to know up front:

  • Our family of four consists of 2 adults with fairly big appetites, a 4 yr. old boy and a 10 mo. old girl.  The baby is partially breast fed but is also eating a lot of table food too.  I don’t buy baby food but instead make my own or give her what we are eating, mashed up.
  • I buy lots of fruits and veggies in bulk from local farmers/orchards in the summer and then freeze or can them.  This is not only much cheaper it is also healthier too.  But that is why if you look at my Weekly Spending Summaries you won’t always see lots of fruits and veggies.
  • The other factor is that I have a stockpile. My cupboards are full from previous shopping. Here’s why. When I can get pasta for free with coupons I buy as much as I have coupons for. When I can get flour for really cheap (last year I got about 6 bags for $0.50/bag and put it in the freezer and am just now using the last of it) I buy as much as I think is reasonable. I do this as much as my budget allows, on as many items as I can and as a result save lots of money. So when I go to plan out what we eat, I just try to plan my meals around what I already have in the cupboards. Obviously I still might have to buy a few things at regular price here and there but by stocking up when the price is at rock bottom I save a lot. And that is why it might appear just by looking at a couple of week’s worth of my groceries that we don’t eat very well or very balanced.
  • We rarely snack.  By eating “heavy” food like granola at breakfast we don’t get hungry until lunch time.  And the same goes for the afternoon…our lunches are big enough that we rarely need a snack before dinner time.  When we do snack I try to keep it mostly healthy by offering fruit, nuts or maybe No Bake Energy Bites or a homemade granola bar.  I do have iced coffee or a homemade latte almost every day… I don’t really consider that a snack, but maybe you do.  :)

This is the typical amount of fruit and yogurt that my son eats at lunch each day.  Often he’ll even ask for seconds on top of this.

These menus were from August when I was crazy busy with canning and freezing.  I tried to keep things really simple and we had some repeat meals too, which doesn’t typically happen.  But I figured it was better than getting take-out.  Our breakfasts consist of Homemade Granola or Homemade Grape-nuts, the occasional bought cereal that I was able to get for $0.50/box and sometimes some fruit too.  I know that might seem awfully boring to some of you, but we actually all really enjoy it and prefer it over other breakfast food.

The lunches you see below for Monday-Friday are just for my son and I.  My husband takes sandwiches, fruit, leftovers and the like in his packed lunches and the baby eats whatever is around that she is able to digest.

Alright…without further ado, here’s what we ate!  :)

WEEK 1

Monday

  • Creamy salsa chicken wraps with rice; homemade yogurt; home-canned peaches; frozen blueberries (I freeze my own); grapes
  • Homemade Ham Loaf (made with ground turkey and ground pork); herbed cooked potatoes and carrots; homemade applesauce; fresh locally grown peaches

Tuesday

  • Leftover creamy salsa chicken wraps; homemade yogurt; grapes; fresh peaches
  • Hot Dogs (Oscar Mayer no preservative, no fillers variety) with Nature’s Own hot dog rolls; spinach, mandarin orange, almond and feta cheese salad with homemade dressing; homemade applesauce; fresh locally grown peaches; homemade triple mocha cheesecake

Wednesday

Thursday

  • Leftover ham loaf; leftover potatoes and carrots; homemade 100% whole wheat bread; homemade yogurt; frozen crushed strawberries (I freeze my own); frozen blueberries (I freeze my own)
  • Deep Dish Taco Squares (similar to this recipe); green beans (I freeze my own); fresh locally grown peaches; homemade applesauce; homemade from scratch brownies

Friday

Saturday:

  • Various leftovers including veggies
  • Various leftovers; lettuce salad with homemade dressing; fresh locally grown peaches

———————————-

Week 2
Sunday:

  • Carry-in meal at our church- I took 9×13 dish of peach dessert and enough cabbage salad to feed approx. 20 people
  • Leftover pizza; leftover cabbage salad

Monday:

  • Egg in a nest (basically an egg fried in a piece of bread); cheese and crackers; homemade yogurt; strawberries; blueberries; peaches
  • Dinner at the in-laws

Tuesday:

  • Breakfast wraps from freezer; cabbage salad; banana; homemade yogurt
  • Zucchini Quiche; fresh locally grown sweet corn; homemade applesauce; locally grown cantaloupe

Wednesday:

  • Leftover zucchini quiche; cheese sticks; homemade yogurt with granola sprinkled on top; homemade from scratch brownies
  • Homemade turkey filling; spinach, almond, mandarin orange and feta cheese salad with homemade dressing; homemade applesauce; ice-cream

Thursday:

Friday:

  • Meat and Cheese Sandwiches; homemade yogurt; banana/peaches/blueberries
  • Leftover turkey filling; spinach, almond, mandarin orange, feta cheese salad with homemade dressing; homemade applesauce; leftover Gingerbread Cake with Caramel Icing topped with crushed strawberries

Saturday:

———————————-

Week 3:
This week I also made 2 cheesecakes for a bridal shower that I helped plan.

Sunday

Monday

  • Breakfast wraps made with leftover sausage; homemade yogurt sprinkled with homemade granola; peaches/blueberries/strawberries
  • (My sis-in-law and her 3 children ate with us) Leftover deep dish taco squares; baked potatoes with sour cream; green beans (I freeze my own); homemade applesauce

Tuesday:

  • Leftovers; homemade yogurt; strawberries/blueberries
  • Dinner out- Date night!!

Wednesday:

Thursday:

Friday:

  • Egg in a nest (basically an egg fried in a piece of bread); homemade yogurt sprinkled with homemade granola; banana; frozen crushed strawberries
  • Homemade vegetable soup; cheese and crackers; fresh locally grown peaches

Saturday:

  • Gone to my parent’s for the weekend and took: 1 gallon orange juice, 2 loaves of homemade French bread; 1 peck of locally grown peaches

So, what do you think?  Could you eat like us?  Or would you rather be an inmate?  (See 3rd paragraph above.)  :)

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How to Buy Baby Food on a Budget
How to Buy Baby Food on a Budget

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