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Feeding a Family of Four On 100 Dollars A Week! The Menus, Dessert Recipes And The Shopping List! Part 2!
The Basics Explained!
In part one of this family food budget experiment, I promised that you can feed a family of four for a week and spend only 100 dollars. Four people: breakfast, lunch, dinner and dessert, all for 100 dollars. I advocated for stocking your pantry first and told you the items that I have in mine. This allows you flexibility when planning meals and makes it easier to take advantage of sales. Sales-based buying is the key to stretching your food budget! Never plan your menus until you know what meats, fruits and vegetables will be on sale the following week. Plan your menus around sale items only!
The front page of grocery store ads almost always contain the best priced items. They call them loss leaders. These are the items that the store offers at greatly reduced prices (sometimes more than 50% off the normal price). They reduce the prices of these items to get you into the store, hoping that you will do all of your grocery shopping there. Be firm and be motivated! If this store has higher prices than normal on other items, just buy the sale items and get out!
I have shopped all of the major chains, and by far, for the things that I regularly buy, Stater Bros. is the cheapest for me. Albertson's, Ralph's and Von's have significantly higher prices (sometimes as much as a dollar more for one item) on the foods that I need. While Albertson's is the closest store to my home, I go there rarely. Sometimes they will have an item or two as a loss-leader and I will stop and pick up those few things, but nothing else. I have the "Club" cards that each of the stores give. These cards allow you to take advantage of their sale prices. Without one of these cards, you will pay the regular price. The purpose of the cards is to track your shopping preferences, the number of times you come into the store and how much you spend. I gladly give up my name, address and phone number so that I can save some money. So they track my purchases! I am tracked by thousands of people every time I turn my computer on and that doesn't save me any money. It just fills my inbox. So get the cards. They cost nothing!
Stater Bros. is the cheapest store for groceries, but produce items are very expensive. Good food requires fresh fruit and vegetables and in Southern California, Henry's Farmer's Market is a great choice for fresh produce and staples like eggs, butter and sometimes, even meats. Again, I wait for the ads and plan my meals around their sale items. If apples are $1.69 a pound, I don't buy any that week. Instead, they may have pears for 49 cents a pound. We will have pears as one of our fruits for that week. They will always have enough sale items to satisfy a family's produce needs. I don't use pre-packaged frozen vegetables. They are far too expensive. Roasting or even microwaving fresh vegetables is the way to go. The flavor of fresh vegetables cannot be beat!
In Part 1, I illustrated the advantage of spending 10 or 15 minutes at an outlet store for bread products, as well as pastries, doughnuts and cakes. I go to the Oroweat outlet.
You now have the basics and if you follow my advice, after this first week, you should be able to budget and plan 100 dollars a week yourself. If you have the extra money and want to splurge on other items, go ahead! If you want to stick to the 100 dollar experiment, your meals will taste great, be filling and nutritious. Your family will have plenty to eat; some nights you will have leftovers for lunches the next day and you will feel like you have actually saved some money. If you want to measure your savings, write down the regular prices of the items you have purchased and compare that to what you spent by taking advantage of and sticking to the sales.
The Shopping List!
This is the actual list I used last week to get ready for this budget experiment and the prices are what I actually paid. Here we go!
Henry's Farmer's Market:
- green onions @ 3 bunches for $1.00= $1.00
- yellow onions @ 3 pounds for $1.00= $1.00
- romaine lettuce, 2 @ 88 cents each= $1.76
- mushrooms @ $2.49 a pound = $3.75
- cucumbers @ 3 for $1.00= $1.00
- bell peppers @ 3 for $1.00= $1.00
- roma tomatoes @ 2 pounds for $1.00= $2.70
- potatoes @ 10 pounds for $1.50= $1.50
- broccoli crowns @ 98 cents per pound= $2.00
- carrots @ 60 cents per pound= $1.20
- spinach @ 88 cents per bunch= $0.88
- bananas @ 58 cents a pound= $2.00
- pineapple @ 88 cents each= $3.52
- apples @ 2 bags, each 3 pounds= $3.99
- oranges @ 3 pounds for $1.00= $1.80 (if you are planning to make the lemon bread, substitute a lemon or two for some of the oranges)
- cantalope @ 3 pounds for $1.00= $1.20 for one
- pears @ 88 cents per pound= $2.00
- skinless, boneless chicken breasts @ $1.77 per pound= $11.00, bought 2 packs, each with 4 breasts
Oroweat Bread Store:
- 2 loaves of Francisco Sour Dough Bread ($2.00 each) in the grocery store this is $4.39 a loaf
- 1 loaf of Oroweat Honey Wheatberry bread (1.99) in the grocery store $3.49
- 1 package of 8 Oroweat Onion Hamburger buns ($1.99) in the grocery store $3.49
- 1 loaf of Oroweat Country White (free)
Total price: $7.98
The only bread that you definitely need in order to follow the menu is the onion rolls. They are necessary for one of the dinner menus, unless of course, your family hates onion rolls In that case, get hamburger buns of any type. As far as buying bread, buy the kinds your family likes. At this bread outlet, a large loaf of white bread is $1.49. Every day they have specials on different types of breads or sandwich rolls, each costing $1.00 per loaf or package. So for the $7.98 that was spent, you can mix and match depending on the choices that better suit your own family.
5 Minute Trip to Albertsons for Top Sirloin:
- Top Sirloin Steak @ $2.49 per pound, one package containing 2 steaks= $9.98
Total price: $9.98
So far, the running total is $61.26. That leaves $38.74 for regular groceries. It is going to be tough! See how I did it! It wasn't easy because I had already designed my menus, based on the sales, of course, but knowing that I needed to keep a family of four filled up! My pantry would come in handy and at the end, I will let you know how much my pantry items cost (the items I use).
- cereal @ $1.99 for a store brand box of Krispy Rice= $1.99
- eggs @ $1.29 a dozen= $3.87 ( 3 dozen eggs)
- butter @ $2.49 per pound= $4.98 (2 pounds)
- milk @ $2.79 if you buy 2 gallons= $2.79 (2 gallons of whole milk)
- Bacon @ $2.99 per pound= $5.98 (2 packs, each 16 ounces)
- Yoplait yogurt @ 10 for $4.00= $4.00 (for the lemon bread, make sure 2 of your yogurts are Yoplait Original Lemon Yogurt)
- lunch meat @ $2.49 per 16 ounce package of store brand= $4.98 (one ham, one turkey)
- sour cream @ $1.49 for 16 ounces= $1.49
- corn tortillas, package of 30 for 99 cents= $0.99
- sharp cheddar cheese @ $2.99 for an 8 ounce block= $2.99
- hamburger @ $1.99 per pound= $2.49
Total: $36.55 Left with $2.19 from my $100.00 target, I ran (not really because I can't run) back and got a second box of cereal: Store brand Frostie Flakes for $1.99. Kids not only eat cereal for breakfast, but sometimes like it as a snack after school or even while watching TV at night. I had 20 cents left when I finished.
Now The Dinner Menus! The Dinner Recipes Are In Part 3!
When planning your menus for the week, have the ads from the stores by your side. I start my menu planning based on the meats that are on sale, since most American dinners are centered around the meats. I look for chicken first (usually enough for 4 meals) and then pork or beef (usually enough for 2 or 3 meals). Most of the meals served for dinner in this country are chicken-based, because that is the least expensive dinner protein. Everyone looks for new ways to make chicken and there are literally thousands of chicken recipes. I usually stick with chicken breasts or thighs and very rarely buy whole chickens. Yes, a whole chicken can feed a family of four, but if everyone goes for the breasts, there are not enough available on just one chicken. If whole chicken is on sale for 77 cents a pound, I will buy one or two and use them for the weeks that I plan to make chicken soup. I will roast the chicken and serve that the first night and then with the leftovers and carcass, I will make a huge pot of chicken soup. The chicken soup will make enough for two meals, so I divide the pot up. I fill two containers and freeze them both for later meals. It is great when you can make three meals from one chicken! It is also the most economical way to go, but this experiment is designed to have great tasting meals and not know that you are on a budget!
- Grilled top sirloin, oven roasted potato wedges and green salad with fresh cucumber and tomato, canned green beans and beets, with a red wine vinegar and oil-based Italian dressing (grill both steaks, saving one third to one half for the Fajitas to be made later in the week).
- Breaded, baked chicken cutlets, long grain white rice (risotto style) with sauteed mushrooms, garlic and green onions, cooked in chicken broth, and a salad with cucumbers, tomato, kidney and garbanzo beans with olive oil and red wine vinegar-based Italian dressing ( 2 breasts, each sliced into 3 or 4 cutlets).
- Grilled chicken breasts on onion rolls served with pickles, onions, tomato slices, lettuce, ketchup, mayo and mustard, roasted carrots and a side of hot german potato salad ( 2 breasts, each cut into 3 or 4 cutlets).
- Linguine with chicken sauteed in an olive oil, garlic, mushroom, green onion and fresh tomato sauce served with a simple green salad and toasted garlic bread ( 2 breasts, cut into one-inch squares).
- Macaroni, diced chicken breasts and fresh broccoli and diced green onions mixed in a sauce made with cheese, milk and chicken broth (a one pot meal, with 2 chicken breasts, cut into one inch squares).
- Meatloaf, baked potatoes, a side of canned corn and a spinach salad with 8 ounces of bacon.
- Fajitas made with thinly sliced, grilled top sirloin, sauteed green peppers, onions and diced chilis, served with grated, sharp cheddar cheese, sour cream, diced tomatoes on corn tortillas.
These are time-tested, yummy meals that kids as well as adults love! I have been making these for years and have continued to update them from time to time. With most of these meals, you will have leftovers, especially with the two pasta dinners, the fajitas and the german potato salad. The leftovers should not be wasted. They are meant to be incorporated as part of the lunches for the week.
Eleven pounds of chicken were purchased in the form of 8 skinless, boneless chicken breasts. Each breast weighs 1 and one-third pound and there is no waste or cooking away of any fat , so if you are questioning the number of breasts used for each meal, don't. The use of these amounts fall well into nutritional guidelines.
Dessert And Snack Recipes!
Leftovers will be a part of the lunch menus. Desserts and snacks will also play into the choices available during the week for lunches, because people are usually not home for lunch. Each person, on any different day, may end up having a different lunch than other members of the family. Lunch menus are, therefore, more flexible and not set in stone. It is important to list the dessert and snacks for the week prior to the lunch and breakfast menus, because the desserts and snacks will require preparation and if some of them are made on weekends, they can be mixed and matched and available throughout the week. We all like choices! I am also a firm believer that dessert is not a requirement every night of the week, maybe every other night or even two times a week. The following make up the desserts and snacks for the week.
- Stove top rice pudding: This recipe was a suggestion as to what you can do with leftover rice. In the absence of leftover rice, cook one cup of rice in the normal way. Allow it to cool a little before making the pudding.You can make it on top of the stove and it is so good! Beat 3 eggs. Add 1 cup of sugar and 4 cups of milk or a combination of half and half and milk. Stir this all together with the rice in a large pot. Allow the mix to sit for about 10 minutes. Bring the mixture to a boil, stirring so that the eggs don't separate and the milk doesn't burn the bottom of the pan. When the pudding boils, turn off the heat. Add a couple of teaspoons of vanilla and a teaspoon or two of cinnamon. Stir. Allow it to cool and then pour it into a plastic container and refrigerate. The pudding will thicken and the rice will absorb most of the milk. You can serve this warm when you first make it or cold, as a nice dessert with some whipped cream or with some fresh fruit over it. It is really good-nice and creamy! My grandma and mother used to do this all the time. I made it for my kids when they were little and my grandkids love it!
- Chocolate pudding recipe that I have been using :
- 1/2 cup white sugar
- 3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1/4 cup cornstarch
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 2 3/4 cups milk
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- In a saucepan, stir together the sugar, cocoa, cornstarch and salt. Place over medium heat, and stir in the milk. Bring to a boil, and cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture thickens enough to coat the back of a metal spoon. Remove from heat, and stir in the butter and vanilla. Let this cool briefly, and serve warm, or chill in the refrigerator until serving. This serves 4. I recommend doubling the recipe. This is not the recipe I have always used. To be honest, I have always used chocolate pudding in a box that you just add milk to, but I like this more. There is something about cocoa that I really like!
- baked apple crisp recipe: This one is good and easier than you might think! It is the one I use all the time:
6 cups of apples, peeled, cored and sliced
2/3 to 3/4 cups of brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup of oats
1 teaspoon of cinnamon
1/3 cup of butter, room temperature
Spray an 8 X 8 square pan or a 2 quart casserole. Put the apples in the pan. Mix all of the other ingredients and put them into a preheated 375 degree oven. Allow this to bake for about 30 minutes. Remove it from the oven. It can be served hot or cold from the fridge. It is great with a little bit of heavy cream. The recipe serves 4- 6 people.
- churros (for recipe link to: http://hubpages.com/hub/Churros-Easy-And-Fun-Just-So-Darned-Good)
- oatmeal cookies, link to: http://hubpages.com/hub/Snickerdoodles-Peanut-Butter-and-Oatmeal-Cookies-Recipes-From-Grandmas-Kitchen-The-Best
- snickerdoodles, link to: http://hubpages.com/hub/Snickerdoodles-Peanut-Butter-and-Oatmeal-Cookies-Recipes-From-Grandmas-Kitchen-The-Best
- lemon yogurt bread (for recipe link to: http://hubpages.com/hub/Easy-Bread-Davids-Favorite-Lemon-Yogurt-Pound-Cake)
You do not have to make them all. Depending upon the eating habits of your family and available time, you can pick and choose. The recipes are all easy and none of them take a lot of time. Remember that they can also be used to fill part of your lunch menus.
The breakfast menu, like the lunch menu, is not set in stone. The following menu assumes that for the most part, the family eats breakfast together. If the only time your family sits down together is on weekend mornings, I heartily suggest that on those two mornings, you give your family the treat of the homemade pancakes and the Bacon and egg sandwiches on sourdough toast. By far, these are my two favorites!
- cereal and fruit, and cinnamon toast
- scrambled eggs, toast and fruit
- oatmeal and fruit
- yogurt and fruit, with a glass of milk
- fried or poached eggs, with fruit and toast
- homemade pancakes with syrup
- Bacon, egg, bell peppers, diced onions and mushrooms, all scrambled together and served as a sandwich on buttered toast with fruit. If you like, you can make a cheese sauce with Velveeta and a little bit of milk to put on top of the scrambled eggs. Instead of that, you can dice up a little bit of Velveeta and scramble it together with the rest of this breakfast scramble. It will melt and spread throughout the eggs and other ingredients. This is my favorite way to have this sandwich. Instead of breakfast, you can serve this as a lunch or dinner with some fried potatoes or homemade hash browns.
With two boxes of cereal on your shopping list, you have enough cereal for more than just one day, but with your stocked pantry you have the items available to offer the above menus to your family. The point of this budget experiment is variety and flexibility while spending less money.
The fruit that I offer in the breakfast menu is a fruit compote which consists of the pineapple, cantalope and some of the oranges, cut into bite-sized pieces at the beginning of the week and stored in a large plastic container. At the time you serve it, put some of it in a medium sized bowl, core and chop an apple or two and a banana. Mix those in at the last minute so that they don't turn brown. With 4 chopped pineapples (on sale) and a cantalope that weighs over 3 pounds, plus the addition of some chopped apples and sliced bananas, you will have enough fresh fruit compote to last your family a week.
Lunch Choices And Possible Menus!
If you use the dinner recipes that will be offered in Part 3 of the budget experiment, you will have items left over to incorporate into your lunches for the week. You will have leftovers from both of the pasta dinners that are wonderful for lunch. You will also have leftover German potato salad. I can eat a bowl of this particular potato salad for lunch by itself and be extremely happy!
With the fajitas, you will have enough leftover to serve 3 or even 4 people lunch with no problem. Pack the leftover fajitas into small (lunch) containers and on the night you make the fajitas, take the leftover (from a pack of 30) tortillas, cut them into triangles and fry them in a little bit of canola oil. When they are crisp, drain them on paper towels and sprinkle salt over them. When they cool, they are just like the tortilla chips that you buy in a bag and are great to scoop up the leftover fajitas. Making tortilla chips takes less than 10 minutes.
Instead of sprinkling salt over them, the homemade tortilla chips can be sprinkled with cinnamon sugar and make a great snack with a cup of tea or coffee. Be creative!
You have purchased two pounds of lunch meat and several loaves of bread. Sandwiches will serve as the major lunch choice. Mayo and mustard are in your pantry items. There are fresh tomatoes, raw carrots that can be peeled and cut into carrot sticks, apples, pears, yogurt, oranges, fresh raw mushrooms and extra eggs that can be made into hardboiled eggs or even egg salad.
If you have made desserts and snacks, you will have cookies and lemon yogurt bread to put into lunches, as well as leftovers. The only limitations are the time you are willing to spend mixing and matching the items from your shopping list.
Part 3 Previewed!
This experiment is not meant to be rigid; instead it is designed for flexibility and to take advantage of your pantry items on any given week. If you don't like the two cookie choices in the snack menu, look online or in your favorite cookbooks. There are countless recipes available that made with a little effort and time. Homemade products provide cleaner eating for your family. There are usually no additives or preservatives, just whole foods for the most part. If you want to stay away from fast food, this is your opportunity to do it. If you want to stay away from pre-packaged fake food meals, again, here is your chance! It doesn't have to cost a fortune.
I have worked my whole life and raised 3 children by myself. I found the time to cook. You can, too. Average families do not expect gourmet eating as a lifestyle. They just want to be fed. Certainly, your children will not like fresh vegetables if they are never exposed to them. Even when you have a picky toddler, you must just continue to offer the fresh foods. Eventually, they will grow accustomed to vegetables (if that is their issue). Here come the recipes!
Link to Part One: http://hubpages.com/hub/Can-You-Feed-a-Family-of-Four-On-100-A-Week.
Link to Part Three: http://hubpages.com/hub/Feeding-A-Family-Of-Four-On-100-Dollars-A-Week-Part-4-The-Recipes. This is the link to part three, in spite of the URL inconsistency. Grandma knows cooking, not computers, or how to correct URL's!