It is the holiday season and our family is definitely feeling the money pinch that comes with this time of year. One of the few areas we can cut back on is the food budget. I find that when I'm pregnant, I either have a ton of energy and am able to cook up a storm, or am completely exhausted, and would much rather order take out. Not a whole lot of middle ground going on.
Like a lot of families, our is living from paycheck to paycheck. I hate it...stressing out over money is not a fun activity. The more I thought about cutting back, the more I felt convicted that it was resting on my shoulders as the meal planner to find ways to cut back.
I thought it might be handy to list what our budget meals are for those that might be in the same boat. A lot of my budget meals are also make ahead meals that can be frozen or refrigerated for eating later that week, which is a giant plus, if you ask me.
We get a lot of basics at Costco. The reason we use Costco as opposed to a grocery store (where there is no membership fee) is that my husband gets a free membership through his employer every year. We take advantage of that!
I am married to an extremely picky eater, so that really limits what I am able to make for meals. Take that into consideration when you view this list -- this is just what works for our family and tastes.
Basic Budget Ingredients
Large Bag Shredded Cheese
Bag of Precooked Meatballs
Bread (Two loaves come in a pack)
Peanut Butter & Jelly
Hot Dogs & Hot Dog Buns
Spaghetti Sauce & Noodles
Roaster Chicken (Normally you could just roast your own chicken, but the roaster chickens at Costco are HUGE and I get two meals easily out of all the meat from one chicken. The cost is the same as a prepared small chicken at the grocery store. I also like to save the time, as I don't have a ton of energy these days)
Ground Beef with Taco Seasoning and Corn - Cook ground beef, prepare with taco seasoning as directed. Add corn and stir. (If my husband wasn't so picky I'd also add diced red bell peppers) Let cool. Fill a freezer bag with meat mixture, laying flat in the freezer so once it freezes it can stack easily. Serve with warm tortillas, shredded cheese, sour cream.
Slow Cooker Sloppy Joes - Cook ground beef. Drain. Prepare Slow Cooker Sloppy Joes recipe. Let cool. Fill a freezer bag with meat mixture, laying flat in the freezer so once it freezes it can stack easily.Serve with onion buns, shredded cheese, sour cream.
Make Ahead Meat Sauce - Cook equal amounts ground beef and Italian sausage. (I also recommend spicy or sweet Italian sausage, or adding diced red bell peppers to the sausage and cooking them all together) Drain. Add spaghetti sauce and heat until warmed through. Serve with cooked noodles of your choice, or if saving for later, let cool and fill a freezer bag with meat mixture, laying flat in the freezer so once it freezes it can stack easily
Amish Meatloaf - Prepare Amish Meatloaf recipe. Serve with butter noodles and corn.
Chicken Pot Pie - Prepare Chicken Pot Pie, skipping the step for preparing the puff pastry until you are ready to actually cook the pot pie for dinner. Fill a freezer bag with filling mixture, laying flat in the freezer so once it freezes it can stack easily. Serve with puff pastry, or rolls of your choice.
Quesadillas - Butter tortilla. Add butter side down to pan. Add shredded cheese of your choice. Add diced pickled jalapenos. Once cheese has melted and tortilla is browned and crunchy, fold over tortilla. Serve with salsa or sour cream.
Tomato Soup and Grilled Cheese Sandwiches - Nothing fancy here! I use canned tomato soup but instead of adding water I use milk as I find it gives it a better flavor.
Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwiches - Hard to get more basic than this one. :)
Hot Dogs and Fries/ Chili Dogs or Chili Fries
Slow Cooker Meatball Subs - Combine meatballs with spaghetti sauce, using enough sauce to cover meatballs. Cook until warmed through. I will turn it on high for a few hours and check back, that usually does the trick. Serve with hoagie rolls and sliced provolone cheese.
Do you have budget recipes or ideas to share? Please leave a comment and share!