This is a part of 'Fight Back Friday'
Every few months or so, over the last 5 years, I have revamped my menu plan. Trying to make it more simple and inexpensive. And when I started learning about nutrition, I added that to my criteria. It started out as a power point document with the calendar months. I made a menu for all 3 meals every month. It was really overwhelming, but I knew I had to start somewhere. So every month I'd take out all of my cookbooks and my calendar and start writing down meals, along with page numbers, etc. It took me a few hours, but I somehow knew it would get more simple over time, but I had to start at the bottom and work my way up. And I have, ever so slowly.
Eventually I simplified breakfast and supper. And lunch has been simplified as well. But, I'm ready to simplify a bit more, and to add more fresh veggies from our garden and the farmer's market to our weekly menus.
I've gotten so I spend closer to $600 a month on food, and that extra $200 really should be spent on our debt. I have come to the conclusion that the 4 of us have gut dysbiosis and we do not receive the necessary nutrients from most 'harder to digest' foods, such as beans and grains. Which means that we are especially in need of animal products. I would much rather spend more money on food then insurance and doctors/medicine. But I need to find a balance, esp while we are trying to pay off our debt. I am hoping to start buying a pig and cow by the side with our tax return, but we are not there quite yet. So for now I buy at Whole Foods and will start buying at the Farmer's Market as soon as it opens in June. Woo hoo! I only started doing that some last year, but now that I have a better idea of how much meat we eat a month, and how much it costs at WFM, I can make better choices at the Farmer's Market.
My weekly overall meal plan the last 6 months has been: one roast chicken, one chicken leftover meal, one canned salmon, one white fish (cod is the cheapest at WFM, but still expensive!), one liver meal, one 'other' meat like ham or roast or hamburger, and one usually with eggs or leftovers. It's worked well, but I have to be home every day for at least an hour before lunch to cook. Which hasn't been a problem. But, I would like to be able to enjoy the great outdoors some, go to the beach once a week, have picnics, etc. Which means having more freedom from the kitchen.
So... I want to cook less, enjoy more raw veggies, eat more picnic-friendly foods and spend less money. All without giving up animal products and good nutrition. Soups were great for the winter, but now that it's getting warmer, I can't really justify that, and salads seem a great switch.
I have worked out a new 'template' that I want to try. It's not going to be a big change for us, but it gives me something to work with to try to accomplish my above stated goals/desires.
For every week I want to buy approximately 8 pounds of one type of meat - hamburger, chicken, roast, pork or ham are what we prefer. I want to cook all 8 pounds at once. I don't have a crock pot or oven right now, but I will hopefully have an oven someday... And then use that meat for 3 family meals (lunch) and 5 meals for Drew to take to work (dinner). Weekly, I also will continue to have us eat a meal of liver, canned salmon, white fish and eggs/bacon.
Meat options: taco meat, meatloaf, hamburgers, meatballs, hamburger, chicken, roast, steaks, pork chops, pork shoulder, sausage, ham.
Meal options for meat meals: Fried potatoes, potato pancakes, soup, pasta, sandwich, salad and dressing (I hope to find and post a bunch of salad and dressing options as I collect them), rice and salsa, rice and sauce, potatoes, tortillas.
I plan to chop up some veggies at the beginning of the week for a salad and then use them throughout the week for a few more simple meals.
Specifically, I am leaning towards:
Saturday, a cobb salad with leftovers, bacon, hard boiled eggs
Sunday, a meat and veggie meal after church
Monday, some of the meat of the week added to a chopped salad (from Saturday) with appropriate dressing
Wednesday, some more leftover cut up veggies/salad with meat
Thursday, canned salmon
Friday, white fish
The days can and will change around, depending on when I cut up the veggies I bought that week, our schedule, etc. But I find it really helpful to have it written out that I can just rearrange. Plus it makes getting groceries easier.
I'll buy 4 cans of canned salmon, 4 fish frozen fish fillets, 4 pounds of liver and 4 cuts of meat, 8 pounds each, and the usual incidentals. Nuts, cheese, olive and safflower oil, veggies, tortillas, butter, rice, milk and eggs, salt, spices, etc.
So, that is the template I hope to work with for the next few months. Hopefully I'll save time and money, while continuing to heal our guts.