Planning meals is important if you want to save money at the grocery store, but most people admit they don’t do it.
I know people who have 10-20 meals that they know their family likes and they just rotate them throughout the month, adding in seasonal foods and specials. Others just buy food when it is on sale and then plan meals based on what they have that needs to be used up or how much time they have. I am in that last bunch. I grocery shop about once a week rotating between two stores that I think have the best prices. When there is a good sale, I stock up. When planning meals, I include at least one food from each food group and sometimes more than one vegetable.
The Spend Smart. Eat Smart. web site has a whole section on planning meals. You can find a 5-day menu planner, and sample meal planning calendars.
-pointers by Peggy
Memorial Day makes me think of backyard barbeques, picnics, and having friends over. When I have guests, I don’t want to spend the whole day cooking and I don’t want to overshoot my food budget. Amanda, our dietetics student, and I figure we can to do the meal below for about $2 per person, or $16 for a group of 8. We figure it will take about an hour and a half of advance prep, not counting making the burgers since that will be part of the party. If I can limit myself to one deviled egg and one cookie or brownie, my diet should be in good shape, too!
Here’s the menu:
- Hamburgers and Buns – There’s nothing better than a juicy burger right off the grill. Just make sure you cook them long enough and don’t put the cooked burgers back on the plate you used when they were raw.
- Rhonda’s Deviled Eggs – My sister Rhonda makes the best deviled eggs—and because of requests, she brings them to many of our family get-togethers. This is about the least expensive appetizer I know because the ingredients are inexpensive.
- Vegetable Tray – You can buy these already made, but they cost 3-4 times more than washing the vegetables yourself. Kids can help with this task.
- Watermelon – I usually check out the seedless variety. Last summer, they were often on special for around $4.
- Sugar Free Lemonade Drink Mix (from a tub) – I buy the store brand. I like the taste and it saves a ton of money. (Or, if you prefer, you could serve sun tea for your beverage.)
- Cookies or brownies – I will buy a mix of cookies or brownies and stir them together unless I have some homemade in the freezer.
Before the party
- Bake the brownies or cookies.
- Make the hard cooked eggs.
- Rinse and prepare the celery, radishes, carrots and onion slices (dice enough onions to make 1/3 cup and save for the deviled eggs). Put all the relishes on a serving tray or ready-to-serve container.
- Make the hamburger patties and return to refrigerator.
- Stir up the powdered drink mix (or make sun tea) and refrigerate.
- If you don’t have to travel, make the deviled eggs and put them on the serving tray, cover and HIDE in the refrigerator. If you have to transport the eggs, carry whites and yolk mixture separately in cooler. Fill eggs on the spot, pressing filling out of snipped corner of bag.
Substitutions that will cost more:
- Buy carrots and celery sticks already prepared at the grocery store
- Buy cookies or brownies from the bakery
- Add dip for the veggies
- Buy soda and beer instead of drink mix.
Hamburgers (8 – 4-ounce servings)
2 pounds ground beef – $4.48
Wheat buns – $1.59
Deviled Eggs (12 servings)
12 eggs – $0.49
1 1/3 teaspoons mustard – $0.02
1/3 cup light salad dressing – $0.12
1/3 cup pickle relish – $0.35
Onion (counted below)
1 pound baby carrots – $0.99
1 celery stalk – $0.99
1 bulk bunch radishes – $0.79
1 yellow onion – $0.50
Seedless Watermelon – $3.99
Sugar Free Lemonade Drink Mix (from a tub)
Mix for 1 gallon of drink – $0.95
Cookies or Brownies (from a mix, makes 8-9 servings)
Brownie mix – $0.69
1/3 cup vegetable oil – $0.12
1 egg – $0.06
Total – $16.13
-pointers by Peggy