Well, it's a change of season, a change of foods and also time for a change of menu planning techniques. Summer went well. I hope to do better next summer, but I enjoyed preparing one meat a week and seeing how far I could make it stretch, and what I could come up with for picnic friendly foods.
I am really trying to get back to cutting our budget so we can pay off some debt. The only thing we can really cut is the grocery budget, and that is hard to cut without losing ground on our health and healing. I really am not willing to do that. But, with winter here, I realized it's a perfect excuse to do more soups/stews, which tend to make the meat go further. I am also trying my hand at adding beans and lentils to our meals. Not as a substitute for the meat, but as a way to make that same meat stretch just a little further. I am using only navy beans, as they are GAPS friendly and supposedly ok to consume with a messed up gut. They also allow lima beans, but, in the words of the great Alexander 'Yuck, I hate lima beans!', so I'm not ready to add those yet. :)
I decided to go back to my original 4-week menu planning. I am much better at it now and found it quite a simple process to 'fill in the blanks'. I like 4 weeks, because we get 2 paychecks in that period and only one is available for food. So I have to get it all with that first paycheck or it's gone. Which means that I need to know what I am planning to make for the next 4 weeks, or I can't make sure I have it on hand.
I also want to get better about what the kids and I eat for supper. We have been doing a LOT of peanut butter on leftover pancakes/waffles and granola. The granola is still fabulous, but nuts shouldn't be a regular meal, so I would like to add more variety to our suppers, without adding much expense or cooking. Plus with Myia's possible wheat-induced asthma, I can't justify pancakes or waffles (even if they are sourdough and soaked for 24 hours) on a regular basis. That is my one meal that I don't have to spend an hour + on, and I'd like to keep it that way. So that means more advanced planning and preparing of course.
Breakfast stays the same-any variations on eggs and bacon I can come up with, or a kefir smoothie.
I also decided to try and make meals for Drew for the entire month and freeze them individually. It is so nice to just grab one out of the freezer when I'm making lunch and heat it up in the cast iron skillet with some broth while we're sitting down to our family meal.
So if I'm cooking and freezing a bunch of meals for him, why not make extra of the same foods for the kids and I?
Which lead me to create the following meal plan for the 4 week period of November 14th to December 11th. And I plan on following the same general outline for the rest of the winter if it goes well. With necessary tweaking of course. The actual days we eat them may vary, depending on our schedule, etc.
I have my grocery list all worked out and it should come to just over $400. I hope it does!
It's similar to summer, in that we have the same foods every week-white fish (cod usually as it's the cheapest)/canned salmon, liver and I'm also adding a chicken soup every week and a fish chowder every week. I can make them at once and freeze them for easy meals throughout the month. Two chickens should be enough for a soup a week as a family meal and a meal for the kids and I for supper every week (luckily, the kids and I love chicken soup and Drew will tolerate it). And fish chowders need a lot of various cans of seafood at once, so making them up at once is more economical and easier. The other 3 family meals will be one meat like this summer also.
For Drew for work, I will pick 4 different meals and make them all at once, and make enough for the kids and I to have as leftovers for a set amount of meals also.
I hope to do a lot of cooking at the beginning, which means less later on. I have the freezer space, so that really helps. And cold weather cooking lends it self to that type of meal nicely.
Also, I'm working on getting probiotics with every meal. Breakfast we do kefir. Lunch is kombucha, fermented veggies and bitters. And for supper I'm hoping to serve 1/2 cup of yogurt, sweetened or not.