I started off the second 10 day meal plan with a bang. I was excited to see if all of my planning, list making, coupon clipping, etc. would actually pay off for more than one week. So it came time for shopping day, and I must admit, I was a little nervous. My list was pretty long...there were a lot of new ingredients to purchase for all of these new meals. But, I was also confident. I shopped with an open mind, looking for the deals and making smart decisions. Again, I paid attention to the per ounce pricing information, and checked my coupons to see if purchasing the name-brand item with a coupon would really save me any money, or if the store-brand would be the better deal. Again, I was surprised at the difference in prices when you purchase say, the giant yogurt tub (at 6 cents an ounce) compared to the individual cups (at up to 40 cents an ounce) Yikes! The same for block cheese vs. sliced or shredded cheese (although on this particular day, the shredded cheese was a great deal, so I got some of that, too). I know I've mentioned this before, but it still amazes me that I never noticed it all that much prior to now. Ignorance is not bliss....it's expensive!!!
By now, my cart is getting full, and the kids are getting restless (yes, I shop with my children, but if you can shop without, you may save more money. I hear that shopping alone can really help, but alas, that is but a fantasy to me). Their stash of bakery cookies and stolen fruit is winding down and it is time to head to the cashier. As she rings up my purchase, I watch the screen with hope. Can I do this again? Am I really able to save us money this way, or was the last time just a fluke? The total.....$88.98. For 10 days worth of food. Hallelujah!
So, I can do it. I did do it. And this time, we went back to the store once, and had my hubby pick up more milk on his way home from work, so that added to my total...giving me, when all was said and done, a grand total of $105.26. $10.53 per day, $3.51 per meal, $.88 per person. I fed my family for 10 days for $.88 per meal. Less than a buck! And we are eating REAL food!! I am not making this up!
The Menu. For this 10 day period, I used the following cookbooks: "Wholesome Meals for Babies and Toddlers" by The Bridgewater Book Company, "Deceptively Delicious" by Jessica Seinfeld, and a few recipes from Parenting magazine.
Oat Bran Cereal with Fruit.
Cheddar Stuffed Turkey Burgers
w/ Sweet Potato Fries.
Double Banana Crepes w/ Coconut Creme Syrup.
Grilled Cheese Sandwiches.
Winter Sausage Casserole.
Yogurt and Fruit.
Hot Dogs and Cheese.
Tomato Gnocchi with Chicken.
Banana Bread and Applesauce.
Ham and Cheese Sandwiches.
Moroccan Chicken Couscous.
Cereal and Fruit.
English Muffin Pizzas.
Macaroni and Cheese w/ Peas.
Peanut Butter and Jelly Muffins.
Muffins and Applesauce.
Chicken Nuggets and Mashed Potatoes.
A Few Observations. I have noticed several things during the 20 days of meal planning. Here are two that are most significant.
We are eating more vegetables. I've always tried to serve a veggie at every meal, but I'll admit, it didn't always happen. And when it came to my food (especially when it was a night when I was eating alone) I ate very little in the way of veggies. The meals that I have been preparing have several veggies in them, and almost all are from scratch, using fresh ingredients. Although I did skip a step or two some nights when we were getting home late, for example: using jarred tomato sauce as opposed to homemade sauce, or packaged gnocchi instead of fresh. I try to keep jars of tomato sauce (organic) around for times like these. On gnocchi night, I used some of the jarred sauce and then the rest later on for the English muffin pizzas. I also keep organic macaroni and cheese boxes when I am really rushed (but I always give it a veggie boost with butternut squash or sweet potato baby food puree, which I also always have on hand). I won't lie and say I stick completely to the menu, because I don't. We often switch meals around or skip it altogether if we just aren't feeling it. So don't be a slave to the menu; it totally takes all the fun out of it.
We don't snack as often. More veggies and more hearty homemade meals equals fuller bellies and less snacking! It has literally been 20 days since I've heard Bobo say, "Mom, I want something to eat." 5 minutes after she just ate. I give them large enough portions, but don't push if they don't finish. I know that the meals are filling and hearty, so even if they don't eat all of the portion that I have given them, they are still full. If we do snack, it's on dry cereal, fruit, or crackers and cheese, but, snacks seem to be fewer and further between.
All in all, I feel that we have made these 20 days very successful. Prior to this, we would have easily spent $400 - $600 on food, and still have been looking for what's for dinner! 20 days + 60 meals + $230 = 1 very happy family!