Monday, July 09, 2012

Weekly Menu: Eating Well and Maintaining a Budget

Staying on a budget and eating good home cooked meals seems like a daunting task to some folks. It certainly used to be for us! 

We we would spend so much money at the grocery store and come home with boxed up frozen (often sodium loaded) meals. We were cooking at home finally, but what we were eating was awful! If we bought anything fresh it often went in the trash due to lazy nights of frozen pizza and  Hamburger Helper. I look back on that now and cringe at the thought of some of the crap we would eat and the amount of money we wasted!

We needed a change and we needed to do it fast....neither of us are getting any younger and we needed to make these changes now before it became that much more difficult. 

We buckled down and really started to dive into making food...slowly but surely we were actually cooking with fresh ingredients. We noticed how much better we felt after eating something that we put all the work into and how much of the crap we were cutting out of our food!  However, we needed a little more structure...coming up with fresh and good meals with little to no planning was better for you but not always better for our bank account. We were still wasting food! 

We started planning out meals for the week on Sunday mornings while eating breakfast and watching Food Network, browsing the many cooking magazines and cook books we had obtained on the quest to eating better.

After the meals are planned for the week we head to the stores...yes stores not just one giant superstore stocked full of name brand crap! A key to saving money is shopping around and finding local or small business items! 

Our favorite stores and farmer's markets for the best products in our area are: 

We try to work with around $90.00 a week for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Our week starts on Sunday night and goes through Thursday night. We usually leave Friday and Saturday open for plans and if we don't have plans we usually end up with leftovers. To make the most of that $90.00 budget we make enough of a dinner item to have for lunch at work the next day.  If we are making smaller portioned meals we buy sandwich and salad fixins' for lunch. We try as hard as we can to steer clear from buying lunch out as it is insanely expensive and unhealthy! As far as breakfast goes on weekdays I stick to green smoothies and Alex sticks to Nature Valley Bars. I will share some of my smoothie recipes in a future post.  

Another key to saving money is finding recipes that are gonna use similar ingredients that week.Unless you grow you own herbs and spices it's hard to get just the small amount you need at the store. Of course if you aren't gonna use that massive bushel of parsley then you can always save it for later.  I'll post soon on how to preserve herbs in olive oil or water! 

AND just so there is no confusion, I'm not guaranteeing that these recipes and menus are a healthy option for you or that they WILL you save money. I just want to share what we find works for us.  Our idea of healthy eating is moderation (you can have that cheeseburger once in a blue moon, it really won't kill you!), minimally processed food (whole wheat pasta, unbleached foods), free range/organic meats, etc. We don't believe in the low fat, zero calorie, added nutrients crap. All of that stuff is engineered to be "good" for you, it's actually just a tone of chemicals! I seriously have a personal vendetta against things like margarine and artificial sweeteners. 
Go natural, you'll feel better! 

So with all of this being said I'd like to share our weekly menu's and recipes from those menus. I hope that by sharing what helped us get on a more healthy and money savvy track will help others do the same! 

Menu for 7/8 to 7/12

  • Grilled B.L.T. Pizza on Wheat Crust
  • Lemon Marinated Chicken and Spinach/Feta Orzo Salad
  • Bison Brats with Grilled Onions and Peppers
  • Turkey Sandwiches with Provolone, Red Onion, Tomato and Basil Pesto Mayonnaise
  • Philly Cheese Steak Stuffed Peppers 

Check back throughout the week for recipe posts from this weeks menu! Enjoy!

**Please bear with me as I get my site back up and running to its former pretty self. For now enjoy the posts! **


The Ellwood Avenue Chronicles said...

Great idea for a blog Ashton! We shop at several different stores in a couple blocks radius for fresh stuff also so I know how that is to get the best... not however fun when getting two kids in and out of a car :/ but worth it. It can be very challenging to eat well on a budget and most people don't realize how important what they're consuming is! Looking forward to your posts :) Also don't know if you've ever seen this blog- but Stone Gable has recipes each week that are awesome!

Banana Peppers said...

Thanks for the feedback Blair! That means a lot coming from a friend and someone who's blog I truly admire!!

It took me a while but I think I finally found the direction I want to take my blog in. After years of just posting random things I wanted it to be helpful to others. Now I just have to figure out how to make it look good! So many things have changed since I made any layout changes.