13 April 2015

What we ate last week

I post my meal plan for the month on the Cheapskates website, in the Member's Centre. I was asked a few years ago if I could share what we ate - I was a little bemused because we don’t eat anything terribly fancy and I'm not really sure why anyone would find it interesting. My lot are definitely old school "meat and three veg" types, although they do like their food to have flavour.

Since the ACA segment I've been inundated with requests for information on my meal plan, and how it fits within our grocery budget of $320 a month (there are five of us, so as per the $300 a Month Food Challenge it should be $375, but I don't have that much to spare - $320 does us well with plenty to eat and some to spare).

This is what we've eaten for the last week:

Sunday: Greek style roast lamb, baked potato, pumpkin & onion, broccoli & cauliflower, glazed carrots, beans, gravy & mint sauce
Monday: Rissoles, pumpkin mash, beans, corn, broccoli, onion gravy
Tuesday: Pasta bake, garden salad, garlic bread (should have been Spag Bol but I felt like pasta bake - sauce the same, different pasta)
Wednesday: Crumbed fish pieces, MOO wedges, coleslaw
Thursday: MOO pizzas
Friday: Vegetable curry over steamed rice
Saturday: Savoury mince on toast

How did this fit into my grocery budget? Very well.

The lamb was bought a couple of months ago when Tasman Meats had a great sale. As we had visitors for the weekend, I used all the meat and put the bone in the freezer for stock. Normally I'd get at least another one, often two, meals of meat from the leg.

I did buy the fish pieces a few weeks ago when Coles had them on sale - bigger pack and the same price as Aldi so I picked up 5 packets - enough for 6 meals for the five of us.

Most of the vegetables have come from our garden. Looking over the list the only veg I have bought has been potatoes, onions, carrots and frozen corn.  Everything else has been home grown right here in our backyard. When I have a glut of fresh produce from the garden I either freeze, dry or bottle it, depending on what it is.

This week we have enjoyed broccoli, cauliflower and beans from the freezer and pumpkin, lettuce, capsicum, spring onion, tomatoes, garlic and basil from the garden, saving me around $30 at the greengrocer.

I make the pizza bases using the Penny Pinching Pizza base recipe, usually a triple recipe. This makes enough pizza bases for three weeks, and they freeze really well. I can make six family sized pizza bases for under $2.00, less than the price of one fresh pizza base from the supermarket, and much nicer than the frozen bases you can buy.

The sauce for the pizzas is homemade using tomatoes and herbs from the garden and onions I buy in 10 kilo bags for between 30c - 40c per kilo. The toppings are whatever are leftover in the fridge - sometimes there is meat or chicken, sometimes they are just vegetarian. They are always good.

Making pizza on a Thursday night instead of buying it saves another $22 a week off the food bill and everyone gets their fill of "junk" food.

Pretty much everything we eat is made from scratch, using ingredients. There are exceptions: spaghetti and the noodles for pasta bake, I always by those two items from Aldi the occasional box of crumbed fish, bread and breakfast cereal: wheat biscuits, ricies and bran cereal.

In the tinned department I use baked beans, tomato soup, tuna, salmon, beetroot and pineapple. Oh, and apricot nectar.  All of these items either come from Aldi or the SPC outlet.

Once a week I buy fresh milk and top-up the fresh fruit and veg we need and I allow $15 a week for these top-ups.

Would I be able to stick to our grocery budget if I didn't cook so much from scratch? Definitely not. Would we eat as well if I didn't cook so much from scratch? Definitely not.

I realised a long, long time ago that I could spend my time at home, in the kitchen, with my family, preparing our meals or I could spend my time waiting in line at the supermarket or the fish'n'chip shop or the local Indian restaurant or waiting 30 minutes for pizza or Chinese takeaway to be delivered.

I'd rather be at home with my family and keep the money we're not spending for "convenience" food on things we really want and love.

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