A lovely image I put together for your pinning pleasure
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So, we're arranging things, STILL, and we're finding what works for us now that I'm back at work. I started cooking once/week about two weeks before I went back to work so that I could get the hang of things. Cooking once (or twice) per week will definitely help keep stress from creeping in. For now, I cook one day over the weekend (usually Saturday morning) and it usually takes two hours or less depending on what I'm making that week. And get this...I've even had food last for a full week and a half! Talk about impressive!!!
I have things baking in the oven, all the burners going on the stove and something slow-cooking in the crockpot all at the same time. I don't try to make it complicated at all and there is no real "menu planning":
2-3 lbs of Chicken:
- Baked (thighs) or drumsticks
- Cooked in olive oil and cut into strips (breasts)
Thighs and Potatoes (baked)
Chicken w/ onions and peppers (chopped)
Chicken and Rice (crockpot)
2-3 lbs of Beef
- Browned and seasoned
- Browned w/ tomato sauce
- Chopped and cooked
- Rice (lots of rice)
- Green beans
- Black beans
- Chopped veggies (onions, peppers, etc.)
- Pasta (salad, noodles)
Lots of fruit / snacks
- Bananas (tons)
- Strawberries (a whole lot)
- Cookies (homemade - prepared, portioned and frozen)
Throughout the week we just throw things together as we see fit or I'll go ahead and combine things so we can just grab and go...
We can fill quesadillas, make tacos, have chicken over rice, spaghetti, sausage over rice and just pairing sides along the way. So far it has really worked out for us. We still have days where we just don't want what we have so we might make some kind of sandwich (i.e. peanut butter/jelly, chicken/cheese, etc.) or salad, and once or twice a month we order a pizza ($10 or less - usually w/ a coupon and that's the only coupon(ing) I do b/c it comes in the mail)! Obviously, the lists above aren't all inclusive, we have pork chops, and tilapia and broccoli, cauliflower, kidney beans, soup, you name it....it just depends on what I decided to grab when I went shopping for the week!
Again, no planning, I've found that I just don't have time. I know how much I can spend every two weeks and I add it up as I'm shopping and pick and choose things to put back if I'm starting to go over a bit.
If you're wondering about breakfast we tend to eat a lot of fruits, smoothies, eggs, bacon (if we're splurging that month, ha!), pancakes and homemade muffins !
We have a pretty strict budget right now of $250/month (on average). I know that sounds crazy, but it's been working for us for forever now. It's definitely hard and some days I feel like all we're eating is a bunch of chicken, rice and beans, and homemade cookies, of course, but it can be done. Cooking a lot of things from scratch certainly helps, going meatless some nights and not wasting food are all essential!
I must admit that we'll be upping our budget to $350/month now that I'm working again. I think that's still pretty reasonable for the size of our family. Basically, I'll be using that extra bit of money to really stock up on staple items (i.e. flour, sugar, oats, nuts, honey, etc.)!
So yeah, that's that! I know you have a lot of thoughts, maybe even some questions, so comment away!