articles / Frugal living

Meal planning: Getting the most out of your $

I wrote about meal planning last week and it got so long that I didn’t want to cram any more into that one post. I do have one more thing about meal planning that is important.

Look at what you’re buying this week and plan for meals that have overlapping ingredients. For example, when I buy a block of Velveeta, that means I will be eating Chicken tetrazzini and having cheese dip and tacos throughout the week. That $5 I spent on Velveeta made two meals. Also, if you’re planning on having hamburgers and you buy lettuce and tomato, plan for tacos and sandwiches because they both call for lettuce and tomato (if you like that stuff obviously).

Typically if I have spaghetti I will also have pizza that week too. When I fry hamburger meat for spaghetti, I have enough leftover that I can refrigerate and use for pizza topping. Also, spaghetti sauce and pizza sauce are basically the same thing (plus a little more of a few spices). So, when I make spaghetti sauce, I just make enough to save and use for pizza.

This is not only good for your grocery bill, but it’s also a time saver.

Last week I did discover a new large item to purchase to create SEVERAL meals: ham. When Jimmi worked as a butcher, all the employees would get a ham for Christmas. In the past, because I don’t eat ham much and certainly don’t cook ham much, it’s just sat in the freezer. Finally, we decided to get it out and heat it up.20130726-163217.jpg

So one night during the week we had ham, mashed potatoes and gravy and baked beans (I was craving protein that day). We saved the ham hock and some ham for me to store some pintos for a later date. Throughout the week, Jimmi had ham sandwiches for lunch…or breakfast…whatever he eats at 7 a.m. after work. One night during the week I make pintos with ham (separate from the pintos and ham I was storing), ham slices and cornbread. We also ended up having breakfast for dinner one day during the week and had ham with it. Not to mention the several egg, cheese, and ham omelets Jimmi had during the week.

Sadly, because I was unprepared to plan for so much ham-related meals, there was a lot of ham that went to waste. But, I know better for next time. After all, one $15 ham was the main course for at least three dinners, several days worth of lunch AND breakfast for our WHOLE family! Talk about stretching a $1. Obviously you don’t want to O.D. on ham (or any other particular food), but if you do that once a month, think of all the meals you can have.


Oh, the cornbread IS gluten-free and dairy-free….it was UH-mazing! I’ll share about that later!

In the future what I will probably do is buy a thawed ham and then portion it and freeze it. That way I could have two weeks worth of meals that can be made throughout the month. Beans and cornbread is probably one of the cheapest and easiest meals ever. As long as you add a vegetable (potatoes are a veggie right? LOL) it’s a pretty healthy meal.

The same thing can be done with things like turkey or other foods that can be bought bulk (who every thought to buy two turkeys at Thanksgiving — one to eat and one to eat later?).


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