Yesterday seemed to be "food day" around here... The kids (and Joe) are still loving the homemade waffles I've been making with my new waffle iron, so I made a triple batch of waffles this morning... that should be enough to last them several days.
Then the kids and I headed out to do the monthly shopping. Because we are on a limited budget (I don't work outside the home, and our income has done down a bit over the past couple of years... even though expenses keep going up), but the kids just keep getting bigger and eating more... and M needs more "expensive" foods now because of his GI problems, I've had to carefully plan for our food expenses.
So I do a "BIG" shopping trip once a month. Before I go, I plan a month's worth of meals, adding any ingredients I don't already have to my shopping list, and look through the Costco ad for any coupons for things on my list. I mostly just shop the warehouse stores... I start at Sam's Club and get all I can there, then Costco for anything I can't get at Sam's, and finally stop at the super Wal-Mart for the few things I can't buy at Sam's or Costco, or things I just need a little of.
I try to keep my pantries well stocked with the basics... I buy very little prepared foods, instead I stock up on the raw ingredients I need to make, from scratch, whatever we want. The kids love macaroni and cheese so I always have elbow noodles and cheese around to make some for a quick lunch, and I keep turkey pepperoni and mozzarella cheese in the freezer for pizza (it only takes a minute to mix up some bread dough and set it to rise for the crust). They love frozen burritos, so I keep a big bag of pinto beans in the basement and make my own... I use the pressure cooker to cook the beans, sometimes I add meat to the burritos, and sometimes they are just beans, cheese, peppers and rice (it's a great way to use up leftover spanish rice). The kids love them... and they are so much healthier for them than the frozen ones. Burritos are another thing I make a BIG batch of, then freeze to heat up later for a quick easy lunch.
I don't buy much beef or pork, this month I bought 5 lbs of hamburger for the month, and a small package of pork...but we do eat a lot of chicken breasts, and I plan at least one or two meatless meals each week.
I buy LOTS of produce... We can go through 30 lbs of potatoes in a month, and I stock up on carrots, celery, peppers, lettuce, and fruit. I also stock up on frozen veggies and fruits... for the end of the month, when the fresh produce is gone. I still have a lot of home canned and frozen food the I put up last summer, and I almost never buy tomatoes, pickles, green beans, or anything that I grow... instead I try to put up enough to last us through the year.
Usually, about half way through the month, I'll have to stop at Sam's or Costco and pick up milk, or fruit, and sometimes bread... but I try stop as seldom as possible. The more I run in for "just one thing" the more I come out with a half dozen things! ;)
So yesterday was shopping day... We got ALL the shopping done (filling the back end of the car twice!) and got everything home and unloaded. I still have a lot to put away, but the freezers are full, and the kids are loving having so many choices again. (By the end of the month, eating is getting pretty boring... since all the "good" stuff gets eaten fairly quickly!)
Shopping day ended with a simple dinner of hamburgers, a big salad and green beans. We totally decked out the burgers with all the fixin's (all that fresh produce.. you know) and even added some guacamole on top just because it sounded sooooo good.
I love having the pantries full... it can snow all it wants, or M can have one of those miserable rough spells, and I don't have to stress about not being able to get to the store. It's a good feeling... kind of the same feeling I get when I buy the year's worth of hay each summer and have it stacked in the barn. The feeling that everything we need is here...