Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Meal Planning Done Cheap - My first Simple, Cheap, Meal Post

Do you ever have one of those weeks (or a whole month) that everything just blows up? I imagine that statistically January is one of the months that this happens the most.

It's no secret that we've struggled over the past 12 years financially. We owned a money pit of a house, the housing market went to crap, and when we finally got into a position that we were ready to sell, the house sat on the market for a year before we took a loss and walked away. We lived in Tiny Barn at my dad's for 6 months while trying to scrape everything to make our finances look good enough to buy the place we have now. It was a great price, a great location to family, and everything we wanted, and it had already been sitting for quite awhile, and by some miracle it hadn't been sold to the many other people we found out later were interested in it. If this house hadn't been available, I have no doubt we would still be in Tiny Barn, working away at our budget to become credit card debt free and looking for a dream house. As it stands, we got the house, which is great, but I'll be honest the budget isn't pretty, and I've been struggling back and forth with the idea of going back to work part-time. Honestly the cons outweigh the pros, but maybe if I could land something seasonal, it would be such a short-term change that we could cope.

Anyways, the point of the post is that this January stunk for us. It is after Christmas, the propane needs refilled (that's at least $400), we had to put Athena down ($65), we had to get Loki fixed ($106) before we ended up with babies, the van needed new front brakes ($100+), and we had to pull wheel bearings off of V2 (our spare van that is practically the same as ours, and was given to us for free), because V1 (the van we use as our daily driver) needs new wheel bearings, but they are about $30ish a piece and need to be pressed in, which is about $45 a piece (or we can buy a press and do it ourselves, which considering we would be doing 4 wheel bearings (V1 & V2, it would be cheaper). All of that took a toll on the budget, and on top of that, Girl Scout cookie selling season started! Which means the girls want to buy cookies!
I've done a lot of Excel spreadsheets, poured over Pinterest for meals, compared prices on Amazon to our local grocery stores, and taken into account how picky our girls can be at eating sometimes. We aren't really the sit down and eat a full meal type of family. We are either home all day, or if we have activities, then we are on the go almost all day, so small snacks and all day grazing seem to fit our lifestyle better. My ideal goal was to find meals that would cost $5 or less and fill the 6 of us, with an overall goal of $20 a day (breakfast, lunch, dinner, and 2 snacks). Now, do I really want to spend $620 for 31 days, absolutely not, and that doesn't even include toiletries or the animals. I wanted to come up with at least a one week emergency meal plan. It may not be the healthiest, but we won't starve.

So with all of that out of the way, I think I've decided that every week I will post a quick, cheap meal, complete with the prices I have found. I admit, I am no cook, and I'm not the greatest at finding a bargain either, but it's at least a starting point.

So, for my first simple, cheap meal....

Grilled Cheese
$0.99 - 1 loaf of jumbo white store brand bread
$3.49 - 16-slice pack of Kraft American Cheese

Pantry Items Needed: Butter ($3.99 for 45 oz of Country Crock)

So for my family of six this meal is $4.48 plus the cost of butter, but we do end up with both cheese and bread left over!

*Warning affiliate link. This is the griddle I use. With this I can make 4 sandwiches at a time. Convenient since I have 4 girls! We've had this griddle for at least 5 years, and it's held up between moving, dishwasher abuse, and sometimes sitting in the sink for awhile. Although I think I want to look for something a bit bigger.

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