Monday Menu Planning: Autumn Pantry Challenge!

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I don’t know about you guys, but this year is really flying by for me! I can’t believe it’s mid-October, seems like just yesterday that I was sitting on the beach soaking up the summer sunshine! Now, even in Florida, it’s windy and the leaves are falling off our northern trees. They look so funny, little naked branches in between the green palms!

Along with cravings for warm comfort food, Autumn also brings a tightening of the budget around here. I’m looking at the calendar and counting down ’til Christmas (9 weeks, 4 days), starting to think about the expense that goes along with all of that Yuletide joy! I’m sure many of you are feeling the pinch as well, maybe still recovering from back-to-school expenses and/or saving for holiday travel. With that in mind, I’m going to be cooking more from my pantry and freezer over the next few weeks, relying on what I have on hand and supplementing with whatever fresh produce is available and on sale. I know that most folks do this sort of challenge in the summer, but I’m suggesting a Fall version. Not only will we put aside a little money, but we’ll be making room for those inevitable holiday goodies!

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I have two pantries, the everyday one shown above along with another in my laundry room. I also have a large stand-up freezer in the garage in addition to the refrigerator version. All of these are chock-full of odds & ends – veggies, beans, grains & canned tomatoes. It’s time to bring all of these ingredients together for some yummy meals!

This week is a hodgepodge of recipes, a little of this & that. We have some traditional southern fare mixed in with international dishes, a little culinary trip around the world! I hope that by the end of the week my pantry and freezer will be as empty as my wallet is full!

How about you? What’s cookin’ at your house this week? Would you like to take the pantry challenge with me?

Note: I follow a WFPBNO (whole food, plant-based, no oil) diet 90% of the time, allowing for a bit of oil here & there when dining out or when I just want a little treat.  When the recipe calls for oil, I substitute vegetable broth or plain water when appropriate. At the moment I am also following the Maximum Weight Loss Diet by John McDougall, M.D.

P.S. For other great menu planning bloggers, please visit Organizing Junkie!

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Menu Planning Monday: Budget Cooking

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Like most folks, I’m always looking to save a buck. There are some expenses I have no control over (gas and the mortgage come to mind), but I do have some say about what is spent at the grocery store! Some weeks the budget is tight and I need to find ways to cut back, other weeks I just would rather put my dollars elsewhere.  Either way, I hate wasting money and I hate wasting food, so this is why I plan my menu and stick to it!

We’ve had some additional expenses lately, making this a “need to cut back” kinda week. Since I keep a well-stocked pantry, the basics on hand, it’s pretty easy to put together a budget-friendly meal plan with just some beans, veggies and a couple cans of tomatoes. Armed with my shopping list, reusable bags and handy-dandy assistant, I headed to the store this morning.

A disclaimer: I am aware of the political and social issues regarding Wal-mart and consider myself a conscious shopper. I prefer to buy local and give my money to companies that I deem worthy. However, I find that Wal-Mart’s prices are consistently low and they are readily accessible to most Americans. So, when money is tight and/or we are traveling in an area where shopping options are limited, I do what I need to do to feed my family. I imagine I’m not alone in this.

10.04.15 Shopping

I bought all of the ingredients needed for the recipes below, along with coffee creamer, Chip’s sandwich buns and wine because no matter how tight money is, there are priorities! *wink* Not shown is a big bag of potatoes, some pet supplies and a sweet treat for the hunny. I minused out those non-food items in the receipt below..

10.04.15 Shopping Receipt

Do you see that? I spent under $50 for delicious, flavorful plant-based meals made of up regular ingredients that can be found in any grocery store and can be prepared quickly using basic cooking skills. Each recipe serves 6 to 8, a total of 32 servings! This would easily feed a family of four for a week, assuming you’d have leftovers for dinner two nights and a couple of lunches as well! You could not get one restaurant meal for that amount! Since there are only two of us, I’ll be freezing some portions and bringing a couple over to my daughters.

Without further ado, here’s my weekly plan. Since the weather has turned gorgeously cool for most of us, these soups and stews are perfect Autumn fare! Though I’m avoiding bread at the moment, a nice loaf of whole wheat or some cornbread would pair nicely with any of these!

What’s everyone else cooking this week?

Have a wonderful day!

Note: I follow a WFPBNO (whole food, plant-based, no oil) diet 90% of the time, allowing for a bit of oil here & there when dining out or when I just want a little treat.  When the recipe calls for oil, I substitute vegetable broth or plain water when appropriate. At the moment I am also following the Maximum Weight Loss Diet by John McDougall, M.D.

P.S. For other great menu planning bloggers, please visit Organizing Junkie!