Monday, March 2, 2015

Best laid plans and all that..........

I had been muttering on all week that I was going to do a big batch cook and bake on Sunday when the hydro (electricity) is cheaper.  When I got up on Sunday morning, I had as much enthusiasm about doing that as flying to the moon.  However after lunch I did do a mini batch cook of sorts and made some things.

I had picked up a six pack of nice and thick boneless pork chops on clearance for $7.25 and a five pack of boneless skinless chicken breast on clearance for $6.50 at Wal-Mart.  I quite like their meat there and I generally buy from the clearance bin.

With the pork chops I made a pork and bean stew and two packages of bbq pork and onions.

The pork and bean stew consists of two pork chops cut up into cubes and browned off in oil with a sliced onion and a yellow pepper sliced.  To that I added four small diced up potatoes, a couple tablespoons of tomato puree and a can of baked beans in tomato sauce.  To season it I added salt and pepper and an OXO cube.  Cooked it over a simmer heat for around half an hour until the potatoes are cooked through.  
The bbq pork chops and onion, is basically an onion sliced and popped into a plastic bag with the pork chops and some bbq sauce.  To cook them I will pop them in a dish and cook in my toaster oven for half an hour at around 350 oF until cooked through.
With the five chicken breasts I made a chicken, mushroom and onion pasta sauce and a chicken pot pie using two of the chicken breasts.  I had three chicken breasts left over which I individually wrapped in cling wrap and popped into a bag and put into the freezer
I cut two chicken breasts into pieces and browned them off in a pan with two finely diced onions and half a pound of mushrooms chopped up until nice and soft.  In another pan I made a white sauce using 1/4 cup of marg, melted.  I added 1/4 cup of flour and whisked it together, along with a teaspoon of minced garlic.  I whisked in two cups of half and half, but you could use single cream and or milk.  I had probably 1/4 cup of Parmesan which I added in along with salt and pepper.

I added the chicken, mushroom and onion mixture to the sauce and then divided into two.

For the chicken pasta sauce, I added some frozen peas and it will be put over pasta or rice.  If it is too thick I will water it down with some milk.  There will be enough for the two of us for a meal and probably a lunch.

For the chicken pot pie I added a couple of diced cooked potatoes and some frozen mixed veggies.  I will add a sheet of puff pastry and bake in the oven at 425 oF for around 25 minutes......but will check it after 20 minutes.  
I closed out the month of February grocery totals yesterday and my figures were the following.

Total Spent: $310.45

Total Saved: $88.03

I am beginning to see that trying to keep my budget under $300 a month is getting harder and harder to do.

Now I do include all food, toiletries, over the counter medications, and all cleaning products in my monthly totals.  I think I will keep all receipts for the month of March and see what I buy over the month.  I really do need to plan a week's menu at a time.  I also need to be more focused with this.

I "think" this week's menu will be as follows:

Sunday: BBQ Pork chops, potato salad and salad
Monday: Chicken Pot Pie
Tuesday: Chicken with pasta or rice
Wednesday: Pork Stew
Thursday: Mac and Cheese with garlic bread
Friday: Spaghetti Bolognese
Saturday: Chicken burgers and salad

Now the chances of me sticking to this menu is slim to nil but I will try to do it!!

Do you do a menu plan and does it help with your grocery budget

(I am planning on popping some cake/cookies in the oven when I am cooking the chicken pot pie on Monday)


DeniseinVA said...

You did well Gill. I always plan ahead and enjoy making lists. I have quite a few meals in the freezer now and love taking one out so there is not much effort when I don't feel like cooking.

Deborah OBrien said...

Aren't the prices of groceries just flying through the roof? I reckon I'm paying about 40% more than a couple years ago and keep looking for the cheaper options without compromise on quality and taste. As a vegetarian, pulses are much cheaper than meat but I now shop for the dried variety instead of precooked canned. Sadly, my ethics of fair trade and organic are falling victim to rising prices. ~~~Deb in Wales

Sabrina - Frugal Italian Family said...

I am focusing on my menu plan and on my shopping list in and trying to stay within my budget. I hope it will work. You did a good work with your batch cook! Thanks for sharing!

Maggie said...

Your food looks delicious :-)

I would like to say i meal plan but with only me (and mum too on Wednesdays) its hardly worth it, I do sort of have in mind what i want to cook when i go shopping though.

Lynda D said...

I plan to plan and then it all comes undone. Similar to you, i guess. It just doesnt happen and then i get caught. Having Aspies with food preferences doesnt help and sometimes no amount of planning can incorporate their "i dont want that". Not because they dont like it, im not that stupid to cook unliked things but just because at that moment that's not what they want. Arghhhhhhhh

I wouldnt call that a little batch cooking.

Plowing Through Life (Martha) said...

I think you're doing great. Food prices keep going up and it's getting really tough to keep up. I sometimes plan ahead, so I can pick up what I need when I go grocery shopping.

Scarlet said...

You did well to say you didn't really feel like cooking! I menu plan for the month before I place my online grocery order. That usually comes to around £50, which leaves another £50 for buying fresh stuff, and things that I can get cheaper elsewhere, like toiletries. I'm still managing to stick to the £100 per month mark for food, toiletries etc,but that's helped by the fact that there are an awful lot of things that we choose not to eat or buy.

EG CameraGirl said...

Looks to me like you are eating very well. I think planning ahead is a super way to be frugal.

Linda aka Crafty Gardener said...

I'm sure your house smelled delicious while all that cooking was going on. I take advantage of the cheap rates on the weekend too and always cook up meals for the week.

Rachel said...

I think you are did well considering you said you didn't want to cook. :)

As for me, the way that I menu plan is I take stock of what we have and I plan what meals I could make from that. I don't plan certain days for certain meals though. In the mornings, I look at our list and see what sounds good and thaw it out to cook that night. That is what works for us. As sales come up on meat, then I will buy meat and add those meals to our list. I currently keep about 8-12 meal ideas on the side of our fridge that we can choose from. I found that menu planning by assigning days was way to constrictive to me as I wouldn't want what I had planned for that day.

One Family said...

I do a menu plan each week. I'm really not sure that it helps with my budget, but it does really help with having everything on hand I need to make meals and it's easier knowing ahead of time what's on the menu and I can plan accordingly - like take something out to thaw before it's needed.

Stella Jones said...

There's a lot of work gone into that menu Gill and the pre-cooking. I'm like you, I cook and freeze. I suppose it harks back to having a family to cook for and it is definitely cheaper to buy and cook in bulk.

My Simple Life said...

i made our(monthly) meal plan with what i have in my freezer and pantry. if there any other ingredients I need to complete a meal then I write them on a shoppinglist.
your meals looks delicious . you did a great job!!!

SuperLux said...

You're well organized. I wish I could be like that too. :)

These foods look so yum!

Frugal in Essex said...

I've done a quick calculation and you spend £ 155-160 a month on groceries. This includes your toiletries etc which is reasonable. Its taken me a while to bring my bill down but I do use mysupermarket app to get the most from my money and available offers. I don't beat myself up if we don't have meat everyday.My average spending is £110-120 a month at the moment. Like you I stretch expensive ingredients by adding more veg to the dish etc. Planning and using only cash is the key to success for me.

Enie Dub said...

Brilliant! That is super organised

Bee Lady said...

We started planning a menu a few months ago and I love it. We come up with five meals on Sunday evening for the week. We always have leftovers for a day or two. I bought half a hog and I find it's cheaper buying meat from a local farmer like that rather than the grocery store. Plus I like knowing where it comes from. I also can and freeze produce in the summer months. I still can't keep it below $100 a week! I'd say you're doing a great job.

Cindy Bee

Karen said...

Brilliant Gill! A batch cooking session is a great way if saving time and money, you have some lovely meals there, sticking to your menu plan should be easy for you now.

William Kendall said...

A good number of those dishes are really good comfort food for a cold day, Gill.

angela said...

Prices are going up all the time. I think you did very well. It looks yummy. I can't wait for winter so I can get back into comfort food. It's too hot to cook or eat here. On the flip side I'm still losing weight

Anonymous said...

We spend $400-500 a month for the two of us so that should make you feel better! We menu plan and don't waste a thing. The cost includes all cleaning supplies, paper goods and personal care stuff. Still a lot though, given that we are veggies!

Belinda said...

Wow, you were very busy, Gill. I love days like that which are so productive. Everything looks so good, especially theonions with pork in bbq sauce. I need to try that soon.

I'm with you, it is hard for me to keep our groceries under $300 a month now. I will keep on trying though. :)

Jane said...

We're managing on $280 per month and I usually have a few dollars left at the end of the month. I don't batch cook but I do make large pots of soup.

PJ said...

All looking good! Must be so accomplished doing a batch cooking!

Linda said...

Gill, it sounds as if you got some great deals in your shopping. I love everything you made, it all looks so delicious. Too bad we don't live closer. :)

I like the fact that you created a menu for the week. Thank you so much for sharing, I always enjoy your posts. :)

Nora @ Teacup Tales said...

I am so happy you found my blog as now I have found both of yours! I menu plan but need to pre- cook more entrees and freeze them. This will really help me on busy nights. Love the variety of this week's menu. Thanks for sharing.

Erica said...

My! That all looks sooo good!

I wish I could get that organized! Mealtime is always such chaos here.