10 Essential Things for Budget Meals

    1. Big Vintage Slow Cooker
    2. Kitchenaid Mixer
    3. Freezer
    4. Artisan Bread in 5 minutes a day cookbook
    5. Bread Stone
    6. The Internet
    7. Menu Board
    8. Weekly Sales Flyers
    9. Bread machine
    10. Public Library

A food processor would also be nice, but looking at my list, I’ve aquired most of the expensive items in a frugal-rockin’ way:

  1. Slow Cooker – traded with my mom for a newer, smaller model.  Original one was purchased from a returned Christmas present
  2. Kitchen Aid Mixer – gift from my ex-husband
  3. Freezer – secondhand purchase from a relative
  4. Artisan Bread in 5 minutes a day cookbook – birthday present request
  5. Bread Stone – gift from DH
  6. The Internet – and my blog list; self explanatory and self exploratory
  7. Menu Board – freebie with a basket from Welcome Wagon
  8. Weekly Sales Flyers  – they just arrive every week!
  9. Bread machine – gift from my mom, she got it at a silent auction at a seniors fundraising event, I bet it was less than $20 old but unused
  10. Public Library – In Toronto we have a great system where we can reserve a book from the entire library system on-line and have it delivered to our local branch


Weekly Budget Menu Planning


Pulled Pork

As I mentioned in my first post, I superplan my weekly menus for my family to shop within a budget.  I try and keep my weekly food budget around $100, including household cleaners, pet food, paper items, etc.  To do this I shop the weekly flyers for sale items & I use the price match feature recently introduced at our local discount grocery chains.   I also occasionally shop at asian grocers which can offer great value on fresh produce, although the shopping experience is a bit more gruelling than in a ‘regular’ grocery store! 

In my weekly planning I try to buy something that I can make in bulk & freeze or just be a ‘value pack’ that I can portion up and freeze.  This way I’m not buying an expensive meat portion for each night of the week.    For example, this week I had frozen prepared apples slices and frozen blueberries available for the crisp, I had chili in the freezer (and was able to easily accomodate impromptu dinner guests both Saturday and Sunday) and made a big batch of pulled pork; there was enough left to freeze for a second meal.  I like to buy local when available if it meats my budget.

Here’s my system:

1) Thursday night scan flyers for specials

2) Friday night take a look at the specials and plan meals for Sunday through Thursday (Friday is DH’s night to cook, he ususally likes to buy the food for that separately).  This is when I look through my cookbooks, recipe binders and the web for inspiration. 

3) Saturday am – look at recipes & ingredients needed for the meals; prepare the grocery list.  Plan shopping route & organize list for price matching (which involves taking the flyers with you to show the cashiers)

4) Saturday/Sunday shopping day depending on schedule – with this new price matching I don’t often have to shop at every store to pick up deals.  I can also hit a few grocery stores on my way home from work.

5) Post my menu board – nothing fancy, a little whiteboard attached to the side of the fridge.    This helps keep me organized with my meals so I can do night or morning prep easily.

Next post, I’ll cover my essential kitchen tools for budget menu planning; but here’s an idea of my menu board this week:

  • Chili over baked potatoes, green salad; homemade corn bread; apple/blueberry crisp & ice cream
  • Pulled pork, homemade rolls, corn on the cob, home grown green beans; sauteed apples and raisins in carmel sauce over ice cream
  • Salmon portions wrapped in prosciutto, broccoli, penne with parmesan
  • Korean-style BBQ beef short ribs, sauteed bok choy, coconut rice
  • Pork stir fry with noodles

I’ve also added a great budget-food site from Australia with interesting home-cooked recipes from ‘Down Under’ as a link!

About Me

Cheese Bread - Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day

I’ve started this blog as a (hopefully) helpful record of how I shop & cook for my family.

I love to cook and bake – but I have a full time job, a blended family with 5 kids, a dog and many hobbies.

As it is with many families now and quite probably given the future economic climate; continuing into the future, we are on a tight budget.   One of my frustrations is that I’m a horrible at budgeting.  I  hate doing it.  I hate that most of my paycheque goes to utility bills that continue to spiral up and up that I have absolutely no control over.  (as a matter of fact, just writing about it has made my stomach clench up.  And not in a “I have supertight abs” kind of clench)  So one of my ways to combat that is to superplan my weekly food menu.

The Cast of Characters:

Where we live: In the suburbs of Toronto, Ontario.  Population 2.5 million.  Toronto is very multicultural city

DH – great cook, doesn’t bake but appreciative eater of baked goods, creative chef, does not cook with recipes. Non-picky adventurous eater. Dislikes: raw tomatoes, zucchini and eggplant

Me – eats anything.  Likes to cook and bake, especially ethnic food.  Sweet tooth.  Dislikes: liver.  I have never eaten or prepared it as an adult.  Except for pate.

DS 1 – picky eater but loves comfort food & ethnic food. Go figure.  Voices issues with food before trying it .  Will decimate a snack cupboard like a swarm of locusts.

DSS 1 – picky picky eater.  No onions, raw tomatoes or anything he has a philosophical issue with, which apparently includes  any fatty stuff on meat and celery.  Can cook, but works full time and is usually home for meals on weekends only.

DS 2 – was like DS 1 until he was about 13 or so.  In last year he eats anything, in copious quantities.  His favourite meal would be bacon wrapped bacon with bacon sauce served with bacon.

DSD – likes most things but will voice issues with it before trying.  Severe candy tooth.

In this blog I hope to share with readers my techniques, equipment and helpful blogs I use to plan and feed this motley cast of characters.  For example, the photo above is a picture of cheese buns that I made from the Artisan Bread in 5 minutes a day master recipe.  I’ve added a link to their fantastic blog.  If you don’t have this book, go buy it now, or go to your library now.

Oh, and I have another blog at:  http://sewstashsew@wordpress.com which is my sewing blog.