Well, I did it! I made a month’s worth of dinners and breakfasts over the weekend, and I’m exhausted. It took me a month of planning, a week of shopping, and 3 days to cook everything. In the end, I have 24 dinners/dinner starters, and 3 different breakfasts to eat for the entire month of March. Here’s what I ended up with:
- BBQ Chicken x2
- Chicken and Black Bean Chili x4
- Baked Ziti x2
- Spaghetti meat sauce x5
- Pizza dough x4 and homemade pizza sauce
- Enchiladas x2
- Taco meat x2
- Pulled pork x3
- Banana pancakes x46
- Banana oat muffins x24
- English muffins x14
It cost me $96.73 to make all of this, which sounds REALLY low. Here’s what I did to cut down costs:
- I already had all the staples like flour and yeast, the freezer bags, and cheese and bananas in the freezer. I try to stock up on these things on weeks when I have a little extra money, so that helps! I also use Sam’s Club gift cards from Swagbucks to get all the cheese and freezer bags when we need them.
- I make a lot of homemade things, especially using my bread machine. You can do all this below without a bread machine, or you can even buy your own pre-packaged muffins or pizza dough, but remember that’ll cost a little extra.
- We’re also a family of 3, so some of these may not feed a larger family for one meal! Keep that in mind and plan accordingly.
- I only made the main dish for dinner, no sides. I have money set aside for the rest of the month for fresh produce and anything else we might need.
If you follow the grocery list exactly, you may end up spending more, but always check to see what you have first. I’ll break down everything I did plus give you a link at the end of this post to a Google document with a grocery list and recipes!
My goal January and February was to grocery shop for $50 a week instead of $60, saving $10 a week to help with the upfront cost of buying everything. I managed to save up enough for more than half of the grocery list! The whole week leading up to the cooking session, I went to quite a few different stores. I visited the Dollar Tree for the foil casserole dishes, Sam’s Club for the tomato sauce, and Aldi twice for the rest. Aldi usually has special meat buys on Wednesdays, and this Wednesday was chicken breasts and pork- just what I needed! Here’s how the cooking started.
Friday was one of my easier days, because I had Allison with me. I cooked 2 pounds of ground turkey and added it to my slow cooker with a huge can of tomato sauce, 4 cans of tomato paste, water, and a bunch of seasonings to make spaghetti meat sauce. This made 5 bags, and will be used with pasta in my pantry for a simple meal.
I made good use of my bread machine today and made 4 batches of pizza dough! Each recipe makes enough for 2 medium-ish pizzas, which gives the 3 of us dinner plus leftovers the next day. This part was easy, but it took over 4 hours because each batch takes an hour in the bread machine.
Today was my biggest cooking day, because John was home and I had the help of my amazing mom to give me a couple uninterrupted hours to cook! I first chopped all the veggies for the BBQ Chicken and the chili, then kind of worked on them simultaneously while Allison was eating breakfast. Chili went in the slow cooker, BBQ Chicken went in 2 bags and straight in the freezer, laying flat to save space.
Next up: 46 banana pancakes and 24 banana oat muffins while my mom kept Allison busy. I had extra zucchini so I blended it with the muffin mixture; they turned out very soft after baking but tasted good, so we’ll see if Allison eats those. =)
As soon as Allie went down for a nap, I worked on the baked ziti, which unfortunately has a lot of steps, while shredding the chicken in the chili and pouring it into 4 bags. I finished just in time to leave for church and leave John with a huge mess in the kitchen, which he lovingly cleaned for me!
Finally done! Before I left for church that morning, I put the pork in the slow cooker with all the seasonings. Came home a few hours later and started the pizza sauce in the slow cooker and the dough for English muffins in the bread machine. I then cooked the muffins, set them aside, and started to cook all 4 pounds of my ground turkey- 2 were being separated into 2 bags for taco meat, and the other 2 went into the 2 pans of enchiladas (Only one is shown above because we ate the other one).
As you can see, I’m a little crazy! I probably didn’t need to make ALL the homemade sauces and breads, but I love how mine tastes and it’s so much cheaper. Feel free to mix and match these recipes as you see fit, and click below to access a Google Document with an entire grocery list plus recipes and links! Any questions? Feel free to ask!
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Jaime is a Nutrition Coach and professional writer. She enjoys cooking easy meals, running, and learning more about food.
Jaime specializes in helping women with ADHD learn to meal plan and cook healthier meals without getting overwhelmed.