I promised a friend to teach her how to design a menu for a week. Well it a cured to me that others could benefit from this as well. If you don’t have the money to spend on a lot of food staying with in your budget is critical. So once again, I can’t stress the importance of keeping an accurate inventory of what is in the house enough. After all what is in your pantry has already been paid for, so why not use what you already have.
I have done this throughout the pages of the Urb An Cook but up till now, I have not drawn out a week long menu, because it never a cured to me that a weeklong example menu would help anyone. My wife and I don’t eat breakfast, but in case someone out there dose, it would be a good idea to keep things simple. If you like eggs, scramble them, because the eggs portion out better. Omelets are also another good way to portion eggs out. The thing is even though three eggs served in any way still equals three eggs, if the eggs are cooked together people tend to eat different portion sizes.
The same concept works with cheese and potatoes. If you spread the potatoes or cheese people tend to eat less. The smaller portions are healthier for both your body and your pocket book. Cheese is used for flavoring and if you slice cheese rather than spread it, more of it gets wasted. These are things that you should keep in mind while you plan your menu.
If you are going to buy protein, you should make sure that you can portion it out. If you are a family of 2, you should be able to one 8 pound roast last for 16, 8 oz portions. Wrap the portions in plastic wrap and freeze them until you need it. If you mix up the menu by adding other kinds of meats, the portions become surplus that rolls over into the next week. That meat becomes money that you don’t have to spend.
You may also want to invest in a smoker to preserve the food you have. Also by buying better food humans tend to eat less because we don’t need to eat as much to get what we need out of the food. With that said it is time to help my friend with a menu for one week.
Sunday 6:00 Pancakes, Juice, Toast, Eggs and Sausage
Make extra pancake batter. You will use it for lunch. Scramble the Eggs because you can stretch the egg with sour-cream.
Sunday 12:00 Breaded Pork Strips, Water, Hash-browns
Bake the pork for 10 minutes @ 425°F then cover the meat in a thinned out pancake batter then cover in bread crumbs and fry in 1″ of oil. Now shred as many potatoes as you need, one for each meal.
Sunday 16:00 Salmon on Rice covered in Cranberry Sauce
People like to tell me that Salmon is expensive, but the fact is you well not eat as much Salmon as compared to Tilapia or other lite fish. Salmon is a denser meat that has much more nutrition packed into it than farm raised Tilapia. In other words, you may need to eat 12 oz of Tilapia to get the same benefit that you get from an 8 oz serving of Salmon.
If you buy a whole filet of Salmon and portion out into 8 oz servings you can get several meals out of the $22.00 purchase. If you figure that the meat will keep in the freezer, depending on how much you eat Salmon over other meats, you can reduce your average food cost for the next week by $8 dollars.
Planing out your menu is not as important as understanding where your money is going. Prepared foods are always more expensive than the raw materials to make the meals. Fresh produce goes along way if you serve it with every meal. But canned foods tend to be cheaper in the short term. My wife like to try and save money by get more for the buck. However, if you only have $8.00 and the milk you need is $3.00 but you still need cheese and green pepper, it is not a good idea to spend $5.00 on an extra 5 oz of cheese when the meal still depends on the pepper you need. after all you need a variety of foods to keep your family healthy. The $15.00 extra that you spent on the Salmon may have taken away from your smoking or drinking habits but there comes a time when you must choose between the welfare of your family or your addictions.
Only you can make that choice. I can give you the tools needed to put together a menu for your family but you must choose to learn from them. The key is to eat healthy. Although there is some truth behind the myth that any foods that are good for you are more expensive, it is not completely true. If you put about 40% of your food budget into fruits and vegetables you well be eating healthier. However, you must have a food budget and stick to it. You must always be looking for ways to redirect your income to food and not your addictions. I have a friend who is always broke but she spends all of her money on her smoking habit and premium gas for her cars. She figures that $800.00 a month is spent on these addictions and that is the bulk of her income that could have been used to pay bills of buy food. The truth is you can’t start a menu until you get a handle on your spending.