After a few tangles over the weekend, finding out car repairs were more than expected, and not receiving some income we were looking forward to, it looks like our only adjustable budget slot, a.k.a groceries, has taken a beating. Knowing most of us have “been there” before, I figured it would be a useful topic to visit. In simple terms this means using a little creativity and counting your blessings.

Our dinner menu is below with a little explanation. Husband usually takes leftovers or peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for lunch, daughter eats the school lunch, and I scrape up whatever I can find such as a piece of fruit with nut butter or yogurt. Breakfast will be toast, cereal, or oatmeal and fruit.

Monday – Turkey pizza burgers, Alexia Rosemary Oven Fries, Organic baby lettuces.

I had 4 turkey burgers in the freezer and used pizza sauce and pizza cheese blend to make them into a sort of turkey burger pizza grilled cheese sandwich. These were served with a little less than half a bag of leftover oven fries. I had picked up the organic lettuces when I went for the pizza cheese and pizza sauce for the weekend outing. We were supposed to have pizza mountain pies at a relative’s house but mother nature had other ideas. I had a coupon for a particular brand of organic produce that is available at the store I visited. I also picked up organic celery, bananas and pet food while I was there.

Tuesday – Pasta, Italian sausage and sauce, Organic baby lettuces.

The pasta is from the pantry. I had the sausage and sauce frozen from a meal last week. I’ll probably end up adding the remaining pizza sauce to stretch it. We’ll eat the rest of the lettuce.

Wednesday – Beef stroganoff with onions and organic tri-colored bell peppers over egg noodles, Carrots

I have cube steaks in the freezer but not enough for three, so I’ll cube my cube steaks, brown them and saute with onions and peppers. The one-third of a bag of pepper slices are in the freezer. I always have cream of mushroom soup because I stock up with coupons or when it goes on sale. Tatertot casserole is on the menu at least once a month. Not the healthiest, but everything in moderation. There are also recipes online to make your own. I usually purchase the “more healthful” variety. The beef, onions and peppers will go nicely over the egg noodles with a sort of stroganofflike gravy. I still have carrots left from last week. Carrots are cheap and so good for you. You can read more about that here.

Thursday – Ham and Bean soup, Crusty wheat rolls

I have the soup in the freezer leftover from a “cooking for a month” session. Cooking for a month is a real money and time saver. You can read more about it here. We grew tired of ham over the holidays but now is a good time to pull it out. The rolls are hanging out in the freezer too, purchased with coupons and combined with a deal. The soup is thick and flavorful with lots of beans, some carrots, other seasonings, along with nice chunks of lean ham.

Friday – Pancakes and bacon with orange or apple slices. Banana pancakes are also an option if a couple of bananas make it to the end of the week.

I have pancake mix in the pantry from a coupon purchase. The bacon has been in the freezer for a while. It’s the best bacon I’ve ever had. I guess if you are going to eat something as unhealthy as bacon, eat the best. It’s lean and very flavorful. It’s husband’s favorite and we always get some on our yearly trip to Lancaster County. I usually serve pancake suppers with some orange slices. I have one orange left from a couple of weeks ago. It’s a good thing citrus lasts, but I also have most of a bag of apples, just in case.

We have popcorn for snacks and I made another batch of peanut butter chocolate bars. We shared a lot of the first batch at our weekend outing. You can find the recipe here. I added a half of a bag of marshmallows to it this time just to change it up a bit. We also have the makings for ants on a log, which is the old put peanut butter on celery sticks trick, and top with dried fruit (traditionally raisins), but I like dried plums, cranberries and dates too.

My main nutritional concerns are usually that we get enough fruit and vegetable servings, a variety of color, and that I provide a good source of vitamin C daily. I also try to concentrate on lean protein, fiber and whole grains. If I’m really short on cash I usually turn to whichever 100% vitamin C juice I can find on sale or with a coupon. This week it was provided for us as my parents felt some lemonade they had purchased was a little on the tart side. They know I can’t stand anything too sweet so they gave it over to us. It happened to have 100% vitamin C. Everything happens for a reason, even something as simple as tart lemonade. 🙂

The menu looks like it will do well in the veggie department and I have apples and bananas for breakfast/snacks. We are eating more fatty meats than I’d like, but they are in small quantities, in the freezer, and need to be cleared to make room for healthier fare anyway, so I’ll look at the bright side.

What tactics do you use to stay within your budget?