Wednesday, June 13, 2012

The great meal prep experiment - the COST

So yesterday I explained how I went about the actual meal prep.  Today I'm going to break down the cost and give a list of the recipes I made.

So I went to four stores.

Aldi: 72.23
Family Fare: 12.36
Walmart: 76.97
meijer: 135.82

total: 297.38

Now I will buy another bag of chicken tenders that are on sale this weekend as well as a couple of ingredients that somehow didn't make it on the list.  And then I will spend about 25 to 30 a week on bread and produce.

My youngest two children are on WIC and so their breakfasts and milk we get with that.

So all told I will hopefully stay just at or under the $400.00 budget I was aiming for for the month.  I used exactly one paper coupon and a couple of meijer mperks coupons.  I also got my string cheese free at Family Fare by exchanging points I'd earned in previous shopping trips.  I buy produce that is cheapest.  My kids will eat just about any kind of fruit so I watch for sales and get two or three of the best sale items each week.  We always have bananas and apples in the house.

Now as for recipes I got my recipes from a variety of sources.  Some were recipes we tried and enjoyed when we were using the 5 dinners in an hour meal plan.  Some are from a cookbook we bought on clearance at an outlet store forever ago called the Slow Cooker bible, and some were from the blogs I linked to yesterday and other recipes that I had printed long ago and never used.

So we have:
2 meatloaves
2 Healthy BBQ chicken
2 Teriyaki chicken
2 pineapple pork loins
2 chili
Chicken & Vegetable alfredo
Chicken and vegetable chowder
Shepherd's pie
Beef stroganoff
Beef and gravy
Hearty chili mac
sloppy joes
2 Turkey and vegetable soup
broccoli and beef (it's actually ground turkey but who's telling? lol) pasta (you add the pasta at the end though)
2 easy chicken parm
french country chicken

And half completed in the fridge I have minestrone soup and Moroccan chicken tagine (I somehow missed a few things I needed for this one).

Also on our meal plan is Mile high enchilada pie, tacos once or twice, we'll do baked chicken with kraft fresh take and fresh sides once and that should cover our dinners until the 11th of July.

For breakfast the kids eat one of the following:

oatmeal and fruit
eggs and toast and fruit
flavored bread, yogurt and fruit
homemade muffins, yogurt or milk, and fruit
cereal and fruit

For lunch the kids get one of the following

chicken nuggets
hot dogs - once in a while
pasta with butter and cheese or cheese sauce if we have some

They almost always get a fruit and sometimes a vegetable with their lunch.  I try to keep things fresh and sometimes do the pb&j in a tortilla as a roll up.  We had cucumber boats one day last week or the week before - that was hit and miss with the kids. Honestly though the kids would eat pb&j just about every day of the week.  Now that I make my own bagels we'll probably have pizza bagels for lunch once or twice a month.

Sierra with her cucumber boat - hollowed cucumber with cottage cheese in the middle.
I eat a bagel and cream cheese and sometimes yogurt for breakfast.  I usually eat baked chicken and crackers with laughing cow cheese, or grilled cheese and tomato soup, or pizza bagels, or whatever I have on hand that sounds good.  And Jay always takes the leftovers from dinner the night before.

I think that the biggest factor in our food costs was waste.  Produce going bad before getting used mostly.  My hope is that by prepping it all and freezing it ready to go there will be little to no waste from this.

I have been turning my over-ripe fruit into muffins and breads for the kids' breakfasts and snacks.  It's been an interesting couple of weeks changing up a few things trying to get to a point of peace with both our menu and our food budget.

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