Monday, December 24, 2012

Menu Plan: Winter (Dec. 23-29)

     This week we've got a lot of tasty recipes planned! We also have some special Christmas treats and activities planned for this week ('tis the season!). A few strategies we used this week to maintain our goal of having real food on a real budget include:

  • We're utilizing meats we purchased in larger quantities and froze previous weeks. Purchasing meat in larger cuts or as a whole bird is often much more affordable than the precut packages (not to mention a bit more fresh since less is exposed). So, this week we just had to purchase the ground chicken even though we'll also be using sausage, ham, and bacon.
  • Out of our grocery shopping only three items are processed/packaged (Tortellini, Pasta Sauce, and Tomato Paste). In the future, we intend to can our own tomato products, but  we'll continue to purchase those items until then. I love tortellini, and will have to do some searching at another time for a more cleaned up version. For now, only three processed/packaged products isn't too shabby.
  • We prefer to buy cheese in the blocks instead of pre-shredded. Cheese in the bags are pricier, less fresh, and coated with more preservatives, colorings, and anti-caking agents. Shredding cheese myself is way more worthwhile. 
  • We're trying to incorporate more meals that utilize in season produce. This week we're having a meal with roasted winter vegetables (acorn squash pictured & butternut squash we already had in our pantry). We're also taking advantage of the availability of fresh cranberries this time of year. We'll be using some to make homemade cranberry sauce and the rest will join the other bags in our freezer. 
*Note: The items at the top right (candy, marshmallows, and cereal) aren't part of our normal grocery list. These items will be used to make some fun Christmas treats and a gingerbread house!)
    Our goal is to maintain a well stocked basic dry goods pantry, and then obtain fresh items each week. Learning how to work with the food items themselves versus a processed/packaged versions does take some time and practice, but it is absolutely worth the effort! Real food is more affordable, healthier, and well...tastes so much better. With this said, it doesn't have to be an all or nothing endeavor. Do what you can and start slow. We still buy processed/packaged foods and accept less than the absolute best. It's a matter of making progress not perfection! :)

     When I originally started the menu plan posts, I did it mostly for me to keep up with things and have a quick reference. Very quickly these posts became one of the most viewed subjects on the blog! I am still so pleasantly surprised at how much attention these posts receive! Thank you! My hope is that they will encourage and inspire you to rediscover food in it's natural form and believe that real food on a real budget is possible. 

Now, for this week's plan:

-Gingerbread Scones (Tis the Season! :) )
-Eggs, bacon, biscuits, orange/juice
-Warm Pear & Grains Cereal
-Oatmeal with Maple Apples and Walnuts
-(Repeat dishes above for remainder of week)

-Italian Wedding Soup (Thanks for the idea, Angela!)
-Meaty Broccoli Manicotti (I may use sausage if I have enough, but if not then I may use whatever ground meat I have in the freezer already)

-BBQ Portobello Quesadillas, Cole Slaw (Homemade BBQ sauce, tortillas, and mayo)
-Ham, Asparagus, Potatoes, Cranberry sauce, Rolls {Christmas Day dinner}
-Split Pea and Barley Soup (leaving out the meat in the recipe to make this a meatless meal this week)
-Repeat Christmas Day dinner

-Cookies (Snickerdoodles, Salted Caramel Cookies)
-Rice Krispy Treats
-Hummus with flatbread, carrots, celery

Linked up at: A Mama's Story

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