My final kitchen project for 2013 was a cheese and meat tray, inspired by A Thoughtful Place, and by the lovely serving tray that my daughter gave me for Christmas. And before you feel intimidated by the fancy shmancy, let me tell you– no way I’d have thought I could pull together something like that before I watched this video and found out it isn’t actually hard! This one was for a New Year’s Eve party. I had so much fun making this one that I’m planning to make a similar one when we have the kids’ friends over to hang out for games in a couple days.
Now, on to January menu planning! I’m planning on spending no more than $400 for the month, which is going to be lots more doable if I spend as little as possible during the first half of the month. I’ve been digging through the cupboards and the freezer, looking at how far I can get using what we have. I canned lots of tomatoes and pickles this fall, and have lots of butter and a reasonable amount of meat in the freezer. We also have beans, pasta, potatoes, cabbage, onions, canned applesauce, canned pears and frozen green beans. We have a good stash of baking ingredients including WAYYY more chocolate chips than is strictly necessary– literally 10 bags of different chips, including butterscotch. (Hello, Butterscotch Chip Cookies!) There will be no cookie shortages around here.
Since the chickens aren’t laying terribly well right now, I’ll probably need to buy eggs, and doubtless I’ll think of a few other things. If I happen to see ground beef on sale for $2.29/lb or less, I’ll be grabbing it, since I doubt I have more than two weeks’ worth right now. Another goal of mine is to use more bone-in chicken, both to take advantage of the affordability of whole chickens and to make chicken broth for winter soups. But here are the meals I can make with the current provisions.
- Pasta carbonera & salad
- Cheesy Corn and Potato Chowder (Family Feasts for $75 a Week, p. 192)
- Chili for a Crowd and cornbread (double batch)
- Make-your-own pizza
- Cauliflower Tom Kha Gai (Thai soup)
- Split pea soup with bacon (Family Feasts, p. 190)
- Hearty Beef Dumpling Stew
- Hamburger lo mein (from Family Feasts, p. 161 )
- Korean vegetable pancakes (Family Feasts, p. 204)
- West African Sweet Potato Soup
- Tuna sandwiches (with grated carrot and cheese, toasted)
- Beans and rice
- Tacos with refried beans, ground beef/lentils and soft shell tacos
- Biscuits and hamburger gravy
- Ethiopian Sloppy Joes and Injera
- Grilled cheese and tomato soup
- Korean sushi using smoked salmon I got for Christmas (yum!)
Lunches tend to be leftovers from previous dinners as well as sandwiches. Our youngest got a panini grill for Christmas, which she adores. So we have been doing lots of grilled cheese sandwiches with soup. For breakfast we mostly do eggs and toast, and occasionally cereal, waffles or pancakes. I also want to make Lemon Cream Cheese Pancakes (GF). I’m sure I’ll be adapting this menu a bit as the days go on, but I’m pleased to see how much food we have in the house at the moment, and am planning to dig through the freezer and use up more odds and ends during the month as well.
Are you setting a spending goal for January? I’d love to hear what it is, as well as how it compares to your usual spending habit. My $400 goal is about half of what I usually spend. We’ll see how it goes!