I’ve been really trying to cut back on my grocery bill. I spend waaaay too much on groceries for a household of two. Cooking is my entertainment, my hobby, my sanctuary and my reward. I love to cook. However, due to a major change in my job, I’ve had to cut back on everything and groceries was one of the first places to start. I’ve long suspected I was spending too much at the store, but having my income cut, made me get much more aggressive about cutting my spending there. Not to mention the fact, that most weeks, I throw out food. One of many different dirty little secrets I have. LOL. And, it pains me every. single. time. It’s like those limp green onions rear their white heads at me, and scream ‘why??? I would have been so good atop your baked potato, or your salsa!’ But alas, I go shopping with my eyes, and not with a list 9 times out of 10. Not good. Any pro-budgeter states to do the exact opposite.
So, in a concerted effort to reform my overspending habits, I have tried to jump on the meal plan bus. I’ve used, with varying success, a meal planning template from the blog I Heart Organizing, which I love. When I use it. On the weeks I’m really on my game, I grocery shop with a highly specific list, come home and meal prep. By the end of the week I am thrilled that we haven’t gotten take-out or been forced to go out to dinner. Of course, this takes discipline, which I do a dance with on the daily. But, if I try to focus on my end goal of saving money, and eating healthier, I do better.
This has also meant ‘shopping’ my own pantry and freezer. Previously, I liked my freezer, as in Pee Wee Herman telling Dottie he ‘liked her,’ but you could tell, not in that way. Ha.I just did not use the freezer as the tool it is. My shopping preference, all things being even, would be to shop every day a la the French. However, my life is not set up like that, particularly right now as I am working full-time and going to grad school 3 nights a week. If I don’t want my son eating cereal those nights, and me eating out of a vending machine, it is necessary for me to use my weekends to create healthy, budget friendly meals. This is where my freezer has come in handy. Being able to capitalize on sales, and popping those items into the freezer for later use, has proved to be invaluable.
I’ve also tried to look into my pantry and use those items in there first, even if what’s in there is not my first preference. We’ve also turned towards left-overs. Which, after growing up on left-overs, has not been my preference. As I’ve stated before, my mother was a TERRIBLE cook. So, the first time around, the food wasn’t great, and the 2nd pass at it was worse.
So, in a round about way, the above info leads me to the above pictures of pasta. For NYE 2017 my sister and her children came for a visit. We decided on personal pizzas adapted from Bobby Flay’s easy recipe. All of it could be prepped ahead of time, from dough to toppings. We went through a lot of the pizza toppings, but as I found myself looking for something the following Monday for dinner, and I didn’t want to the go to the store, I saw that I had lots of crumbled sausage already prepped as well as baby spinach and sautéed mushrooms. This all came together quickly and easily. I was so thrilled with the resulting pasta.
This meal re-inforced what I had been attempting to do. A bit of meal prep, and shopping my own refrigerator, can lead me to a lovely meal with little effort. It was twice as nice when one of my houligan boys came home with a friend and inhaled it!