Sunday, August 5, 2007

All American Meal

I am writing again about the Pen of Jen dinners. I am not writing to drive all crazy but to give a window on how we can budget and still eat yummy meals.

This a meal I refer to as 'The All American Meal'. Bill is not a big fan of hot dogs, but if we grill them he loves them.

The menu is: Hotdogs, mac and cheese, rice, watermelon(garden)zucchini, and crookneck squash(garden), salsa, sliced pickles.

In the photo I have the containers etc. that I use so one can see my method. We have memberships to Sam's Club and Costco, and the annual membership for both is $90.00. By shopping at the price clubs, I can buy one gallon of Ketchup for $2.98(which I then use to refill 3 containers). I can buy 3 packs of Oscar Meyer hotdogs for $5.98.The Velveeta cheese I paid $3.00. I also buy the pasta and rice in bulk. I store them in plastic juice jugs.(in case you haven't noticed). We were stationed at Fort Polk Louisiana, and the bugs were terrible, so since then everything goes in a container,then I put a creative label...Now I am the low cost no cost champ, so I use what I have on hand, when planning the menus and the snacks.

Back to the meal, I make my own pickle relish, because it needs more onions than store bought!

As you can see, we have plenty of food. An abundance if you will, and it was absolutely delightful. Bill added a last minute addition of grilled potatoes. He sliced 2 potatoes, covered them in olive oil and grilled them with the zucchini, and crookneck! Yummy.

So, whenever I shop, I look for bargains and buy in bulk. Barbecue sauce was on sale over Fourth of July so I bought 10 bottles. Even though I only have 4 kids, I live like I have a large family. Both Bill and I came from large families so the concept has never left us. I also pre-plan menus, down to the spices,and go from there. I have a weeks worth of menus on the fridge, so at the last minute I can switch the dinner to something else based on family's needs.

It has been a priority of mine to be respectful of the fact that Bill works very hard to bring the money in, so I do not have to work. I am not always on target, but come very close. I have tried to instill in the children this idea too, because they have seen their dad strap on a duty vest, and were very conscious of the risk. A very good friend of ours was killed on duty in front of Bill. So spending the money is something I was careful to do.

Now Bill works in an office, and the risk is not there, but the pain from his accident is, so I still work very hard to appreciate all that I have been given.

I hope that this helps. By the way the total cost of this meal was $3.70. The hotdogs were the most expensive item, yet all was very affordable!


Anonymous said...

This looks delicious, too!! For the 3 different meals I've seen (these 2 plus the spaghetti meal with the different old fashioned plates and denim place mats) I've noticed you do different styles of table settings, which I would love to start doing, too!! I bet that adds a lot to the ambience of the meal.

I have been wondering if getting a Sam's membership would save enough to pay for the membership, and it sounds like it would!! This was a fun post, thank you!!

jennifer said...

Kitty, I started doing this years ago. Planning pretty settings with little or no cost. Sometimes we place a flat sheet on the table and then my daughter and I will make placemats. Or flowers if it is winter.

By setting the table so festive, I let my family know how important that they are. Although when I had a baby it was harder, so give yourself time.

I collect pyrex older dishes from yard sales, antique shops(very reasonable) and around town. I love different eclectic dishes too, and I have only spent probably $200.00 in 19 years for kitchen ware...pots, pans, dishes etc.(my appliances have cost more, but I am a bargain bin shopper.

Sams allows a guest pass so that you can check out the store before buying the membership.

I save on all paper products...At, papertowels, and napkins.

At Sams I save on meat, and produce the most. I avoid the items that are impulse areas...but I buy all Bills pants at Sams(12.00 for wonderful jeans)

Have a wonderful day Kitty!

Jackie said...

Love these posts. Since we moms spend so much time preparing meals, it's nice to see the inner workings.

I am a HUGE Costco shopper, but have had a hard time shopping after we moved to a place with (gasp) no Costco. However, we're getting one in soon and I can't wait!

Pam said...

Well, since I'm a real food coniseur, I had to enlarge the photo! YUM! I love hotdogs on a grill too! The mac and cheese made me drool!

Thanks for sharing this. And the sunflowers in the middle of the table were an extra special touch.

Oh by the by:Did I see a "MOO" apron hanging behind the table? *SMILES*

Dawn said...

jen, I may have missed somewhere that you posted earlier, but how much a month do you spend on groceries? and this is a family of six, correct? I am finding I spend around 400/month for five of us, and am trying to cut that down.