Tight Budget Menu

I frequently get asked how we feed our family on our tight budget. I always explain that I plan and really pay attention to meat sales. Also we don’t buy many packaged food stuffs or pre-made meals. So here is an actual menu from a recent week. I spent about $40 for our family of four, including paper products and household supplies. A few things to consider …

1.Chicken leg quarters were on sale for $0.39/pound for a 10 pound pack at a local shop – $3.90!! An amazing deal.
2. We have leftovers (about two meals worth) from a huge pork loin in the freezer that I bought when it was on sale for $2.99 / pound a couple of  weeks ago.
3.We get lots of fresh veggies and fruit – usually whatever is in season plus a few “standards” like carrots, celery, brocolli, onions, etc.
4. We drink mostly water, tea or iced tea.
5. Breakfasts are usually oatmeal, toast or cold cereal with fresh fruit. Sometimes eggs when they are on sale.
6. Lunches are usually sandwiches with soup (homemade chicken noodle or tomato) plus veggie sticks and ranch dressing.
7. We have fresh fruit, veggie sticks, popcorn (air popped) and bake for snacks.
8. It can seem a bit boring and repetitive but it helps us through when we are tight.

Here are the dinners with recipes:

Crockpot Chicken with Rice & Veggies
2 to 3 pounds of chicken (breast, thigh or tenderloin – whatever is on sale)
1 medium onion, sliced
1 teaspoon Italian Seasoning
Salt & Pepper to taste
Place chicken on bottom of crockpot, season with Italian Seasoning, salt & pepper. Place sliced onions over chicken. Cook on low for four to six hours or high for 2 to 3 hours, until cooked through. Save half pound to whole pound for leftovers.
Make Rice and steam veggies (frozen, fresh, whatever kind on hand) and serve with chicken.

Crockpot Chicken Soup
After making above Crockpot Chicken recipe keep broth, onions and 1 /2 pound leftover chicken (or more) in crockpot. Shred or chop chicken and return to crockpot. Add 1 /2 cup to 1 cup chopped carrots, 1 /2 cup to 1 cup chopped celery, and 2 to 3 cups water (or chicken broth if on hand). Cook on low 3 to 4 hours or high for 1 hour. Let cool and put into container(s). Make favorite noodles, reheat soup and serve over noodles.

Spaghetti with Homemade Sauce & Salad
1 can tomato sauce (plain)
1 cup frozen spinach, thawed
1 /2 cup shredded carrots
1 /2 cup chopped onions
2 teaspoon Italian Seasoning
Salt & Pepper to taste
leftover meat if have on hand – chicken, pork or hamburger
Mix tomato sauce, spinach, carrots, onions, seasoning, salt & pepper (and leftover meat) in a sauce pan. Add 1 /2 cup of water or chicken broth (if on hand) to pan, mix and simmer until veggies are tender. Serve over spaghetti noodles and a side salad.

Tacos with whatever meat (chicken, pork, hamburger, beef)
1 packet of Taco Seasoning
1 pound hamburger OR leftover meat if on hand
1 /2 head lettuce, shredded
1 /2 cup onions, chopped
1 large tomato, chopped
1 avocado, chopped
1 small can black olives, chopped
1 green pepper, chopped
(Any other taco topping your family likes)
Enough favorite taco shells for each person (we like flour tortillas for soft tacos)
Cook meat and add taco seasoning to taste. We serve this meal as a taco bar, each topping in a small container or bowl. Each person can make their tacos how they like.

Pancakes for Dinner
Whichever pancake recipe you like, fresh fruit to top or have on the side. We might have eggs also if they are on sale.

Ginger Garlic Stir-Fry with Rice
1 to 2 pounds meat (chicken, pork or beef – whichever is on sale or if have leftover)
1 to 2 tablespoons oil
1 /2 cup onion, chopped
1 cup brocolli, chopped
1 /2 cup carrots, chopped
1 /2 cup bell pepper, chopped (can be green, red, orange, yellow or combination)
1 /2 teaspoon ground ginger OR 1 teaspoon minced ginger
1 – 2 teaspoons minced garlic OR 1 /2 teaspoon garlic powder
1 / 4 cup soy sauce
1 /2 cup to 1 cup water or chicken broth (depends if like watery or thick sauce)
Heat oil in frying pan to brown meat. Add onions, brocolli, carrots and peppers. Mix ginger, garlic, soy sauce and water/broth in a small bowl. Pour over meat and veggies in pan. Simmer for 10 minutes or until veggies are tender. Serve over rice.

Left-Over Salad Bowl
1 to 2 Heads Lettuce, shredded – depends on family size
Left over chopped veggies from previous meals
Left over chopped meat from previous meals
Left over rice from previous meals or make rice
If on hand – shredded cheese, salsa, cottage cheese
Chop any other veggies like to have on salads. Put lettuce in individual bowls, add rice (cold or warmed, whichever prefer), add meat (cold or warmed, whichever prefer), add veggies, add cheese. Serve with favorite salsa, salad dressing, vinegarette, or Mustard Dressing (equal parts mustard, olive oil, and vinegar – add Italian Seasoning, salt & pepper to taste – put in container and mix/shake/blend well).

I hope this helps if you need help planning meals when things are tight.

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