New budget

tortoise

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I'd always lived in poverty, but that last 5 years I got really spoiled. No budget. Put it on my fiancé's credit card, he pays off the balance every month.

Now we're moving to the country (in May) and will be carrying 2 mortgages - 1 for the farm and another on the city ranch house until it sells. Enter budget!

After all the big stuff, he wants me to stay within $800 per month. Gas, groceries (2 adults, 1 child), household, clothing, personal items, etc. Jeez, it's not unusual for us to spend that much just in gas in a month. I know it's a very generous budget, but I'm feeling nervous.

Going out to eat is not going to be an option anymore, so meal planning is in. My fiancé tends to buy everything on sale whether we need it or not. So I'll be doing ALL of the grocery shopping now. Bummer. :D

I am interested what the frugal pros are doing? Especially tips on meal planning. Seems like we already have 5 go-to meals and not much variety. Any simple favorites?
 

Denim Deb

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Get a cook book of easy to make meals. When you're ready to go shopping, see what's on sale and plan your menu from that. Many people do it backwards. They come up w/a menu, then their shopping list.
 

baymule

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Ham. 1st meal-baked. 2nd meal-leftover warmed up. 3rd meal-sliced and fried. 4th meal-cubed up in ham omlettes along with diced onions, bell peppers, mushrooms and cheese. 5th meal-tired of ham yet? slice it up, package and put in the freezer. 5th meal-hambone and beans! Keep all the juices in the pot, add water and beans (I use pinto beans). Can probably get a couple of meals out of this. Serve with flour tortillas or cornbread.

Sides: mac n' cheese, vegetables, baked potatoes (can serve baked potatoes stuffed with ham) sweet potatoes

Whole chicken. 1st meal-baked. Buy McCormicks jerk seasoning and sprinkle all over the chicken, inside and out. That's all you do to it. Bake until meat is falling off bone. Serve with sides ya'll like. 2nd meal-warm up leftovers. 3rd meal-chicken tacos or fry whole corn tortillas and top with chicken, jalepenos (if you like them) cheese and heat until cheese is hot and melted. Serve with salad. Chicken should be pretty much gone, so move on to 4th meal-Soup! The broth is already seasoned, add water and simmer awhile. Remove bones, add chopped onion, celery, bell pepper, pasta or rice or whatever you like.

Lasagna. Make in 2 or 3 pans. Eat one, freeze the other one.

Pancake supper.

Stir fry. Buy meat on sale in family packs, repackage in singles. Keep one out and freeze the rest. Cube meat, marinate overnight in soy sauce, or cooking sherry or whatever you like. Drain. Cook meat in hot oil in skillet, remove to small bowl. Add chopped vegetables and sauté. Vegetables can be anything you like, cabbage, onion, broccoli, carrots, bell pepper, anything. Add meat back in, serve over rice.

Grilled cheese sandwiches with bacon in them. Serve with chips or French fries.

Do you have chickens or will you be getting any? Will you be planting a garden? Both of those will help with the grocery bill.

Budget. Stop going to the store. Really. Just stop. It's so much easier to not have to talk yourself out of buying something if you are not even in the darn store to begin with. Just stop.

Gas. You just stopped going to the store, so that cuts put a lot of trips. Buy your groceries and run your errands ONE DAY out of the week. The rest of the time, STAY HOME. This is (I suppose) your dream home, what ya'll have wanted, so stay home and make it your home. Plant that garden, make curtains for the windows, enjoy your new home.

Personal items. Do you really NEED that? Can you live without it? Can you make do with what you already have? When you buy a lot of little crap, it all adds up and keeps you from buying a big item that you really want.

We are not poor, but I have been there, done that and got the T-shirt. I am frugal by nature. I like being able to get what is important to me when I want it. Buying a farm means that a roll of wire and T-posts look a lot more attractive than that mall shopping trip. :lol:
 

baymule

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Ham thread
http://www.sufficientself.com/threads/ham-5-1-2-pounds-for-9-40-how-many-meals.13018/

Chicken thread
http://www.sufficientself.com/threads/one-chicken-5-meals-for-3-people.12989/

squash pizza
http://www.sufficientself.com/threads/squash-pizza.12437/


This is really good-tastes like apple pie!
Zuchinni Cobbler
FILLING
8 cups Zuc. peeled and seeded use large
2/3 cup lemon juice
1 cup sugar
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp cinnamon
Mix and cook until tender and set aside to cool

CRUST
4 cups flour
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 cup butter or oleo
cinnamon sugar to sprinkle on top

Mix crust till crumbly and pat 1/2 of crust into an oblong baking dish.
Bake that crust for 10 minutes at 375*
Place filling on baked crust and then put other 1/2 of crust mix over filling.
Sprinkle the cinnamon/sugar over top.
Bake at 375* for 30 minutes.
 

tortoise

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We will have chickens and a garden. We eat a lot of venison. We might breed one of the goat girls for a meaty baby? I hope fishing at the riverbank is good.

Thanks for the ham idea! That would be a nice change of flavor for us. Lots of meals from a ham too!

We still have squash from last year's garden that needs eating. I hate squash. :( But hey, it would be variety, and we already have it!

Non grocery items: I will need some spring and summer shirts and some farm clothes. Good thing I prefer shopping at Goodwill, but I'll have to plan for it and spread it out over a couple of months.
There won't be any "making it a home" until our city house sells. Then I can breathe easier and make some curtains or something. :)
 

baymule

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Curtains.... newspaper and duct tape? :lol:

Is the squash frozen? Soggy? :sick I found a good way to get the soggy out. Let it thaw completely. open or cut a corner off the bag. (I use food saver bags) Squeeze the squash, the water will drain out. Wring the bag like a washcloth. The squash is now ready to cook. Roll in cornmeal and fry. Sprinkle with salt. Yummy! :drool

Fish fillets-smear with mayonnaise and top with parmesan cheese and bake at 400* until fish flakes. Can do same thing with chicken breasts.
 

moolie

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Just off the top of my head, hope these help, you are probably already doing some of these:

Stretch ground meat in dishes like lasagne, shepherd's pie, tacos, chili, etc. with lentils--you can go up to half meat/half lentils and no one can really tell if the lentils are cooked soft. Ups the fibre content of dishes too, bonus!

Eat fewer meat meals, tons of vegetarian recipes out there that taste great but are way cheaper to make. Work with your family likes/dislikes and try to re-work fave recipes to be meatless.

Make soup out of anything you can think of, serve with home-made bread. Keep a bag in your freezer to pop in leftover bits and pieces for soup.

Breakfast for dinner (pancakes, waffles, bacon & eggs--whatever you family likes). Be creative, we ate some weird cheap dinners when I was growing up and I didn't think anything of it--and do the same now with my family.

Make your own cleaning products if you don't already--a huge budget saver. My faves are liquid laundry soap (1 bar grated Sunlight laundry soap, 1 cup borax, 1 cup washing soda, 5 gallons hot water) and tub/tile cleaner (1 part Sunlight dish soap, 1 part vinegar, 1 part hot water in a squirt bottle--spray on, leave for 5 minutes, wipe off and rinse--super for hard water/soap scum).

Curtains? Make a pocket hem at both ends of an old flat sheet, run curtain rod through one pocket, then twist sheet over once and run rod through pocket on the other end--pretty upside-down curved rainbow shaped valance that will cover most windows. (Hope that makes sense!) Or cut it in half, make a pocket hem with the cut end, and slide onto curtain rod--two instant curtains if your window is short enough. Sheets are usually cheap cheap cheap at thrift stores if you don't have any old ones to do this with. Or check the "bargain wall" at your big box fabric store--usually some super deals on pretty fabrics there. Or IKEA often has some super cheap curtains that are easily customized, check their website.

Entertainment--instead of going out for dinner, have a family night. Make a special dinner, doesn't have to be expensive just something special to your family. Follow up with a family games or movie night--Netflix, a fave video--my library has a great (free!) DVD collection. Use your library for books and magazines as well! Make not going out for dinner special--go on a picnic to a special place, have a "family cooking night" for dinner from time to time where everyone helps make dinner together, pack lunches for work/school and add in surprise home-made extras like squares/cookies/pudding/pie/canned fruit/yogurt etc.--way cheaper than buying.
 

moolie

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Missed the bit about the squash--steam till mushy, add it to pasta sauce, makes it thicker and adds fibre without affecting the taste. Add chunks to casseroles (stew, shepherd's pie, chili) in small amounts--stretches a dish and again adds fibre.

A few more dinner ideas:

One of my favourite English meals is a baked potato with baked beans poured over top--they call it a "jacket potato with beans". Can do this with chili as well.

Scalloped ham and potatoes--further stretches those ham leftovers and tastes delicious!

Pasta--so many shapes, so inexpensive. Be creative with sauces--tomato, tomato meat, veggie marinara, alfredo, pesto--and you have a dozen different meals.

Eggs. Fried, scrambled, poached, Benedict, custard pudding or sauce, quiche or frittata, it's almost spring and your chickens will be producing some high quality food in great numbers!
 
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FarmerJamie

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Dang it...the ex-wife took the meals on a budget cookbook, not that she every really used it. LOL. Whenever we got a side of beef, I used a meatloaf recipe in there to get 3-1lb meatloaves out of 1 lb of ground beef and a LOT of veggies. :D Very filling and satisfying. Made a lot of meals. Lots of recipes in there like that. I couldn't find it online.

I got hungry reading Baymule's list. :drool

Venison. chili chili chili! :)

Leftover veggie side dishes go into the freezer for soups later.

I know pasta is a cheap filler, but for those of trying to go low carb, it's not necessarily a good option.
 
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