Taco night on a budget!

Now that Marv’s back from his deployment and it’s not just “me” cooking for the kids – it’s now our “family” eating together again – I’ve decide to get back on track and  implement a monthly meal calendar which will also greatly help with our grocery shopping and food budget!  We’re strong believers in Dave Ramsey and try to budget monthly for everything.  Lately, I’ve fallen off the grocery budget bandwagon so, this is my food budgeting rebirth I guess you could say!

To begin with, I started by purchasing a nice, practical dry erase board from Target ($15).  Then, I looked through our fridge and freezer to see what types of meals I could throw together with ingredients already on hand. (Don’t you just hate it when you forget something’s in the fridge and it ends up going bad? Talk about $$$ going down the drain!) I was able to come up with a weeks worth of meals on hand (give or take) before needing to go to the grocery store again.  (I keep this dry erase meal calendar in my kitchen right next to my fridge for easy meal planning).

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On tonight’s menu – tacos!  A few weeks back, I purchased a taco kit from the commissary – complete with 6 crunchy taco shells, 6 small soft tortilla wrappers, a salsa packet, and taco seasoning.  Usually I don’t purchase these pre-packaged meals and instead opt for buying it all separately – since it usually comes out cheaper – this time I opted for a quick “convenient” packaged meal….AND it was only $3.  This weekend, on a small Costco for necessities, I also picked up a 4-pack of ground turkey.  Every time I would go to Costco – I would browse the meat section for ground turkey (we don’t eat much meat…but could stretch ground turkey pretty far, and it’s a nice lean protein…).  Anyways, I’ve never been able to find it! I FINALLY found a meat-man putting some meat out, and he pointed me in the right direction. It was under my nose the entire time 😦  I was able to pick up this 4 pack (just under 6lbs) for $16.

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Now, I know what you’re thinking – that’s a LOT of ground turkey! But here’s what I did (and what I do with chicken that come in packs like this as well).  I took 8 ziplock bags – folded over the tops to keep them clean, cut each package of meat in 1/2, and placed them in the ziplock baggies – being sure to write the date on each bag heaven forbid they get lost in the bottomless pit of the freezer only to be found months from now…. 😉

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And voila! 8 portions of ground turkey in perfect meal amounts (for my family of 4 eaters…baby doesn’t count just yet…)  At just $2 per meal, I would say this isn’t that bad and SO easy to just reach in the freezer and grab one of these baggies to prep dinner!

So, here was our dinner tonight – ground turkey tacos and burritos. It was the kids’ 1st time having “build your own taco night” and they loved it!

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Dinner breakdown:
– taco kit $3
– ground turkey – $2
– homegrown tomatoes from my parents’ garden – FREE
– small bowl of cheese – 25 cents?
– 1 head of lettuce sliced up (from Costco pack of Romain lettuce) – $1.25

Total cost of meal: $6.50 
Kids had fun, we all were fully fed and satisfied, and we got our veggies and lean protein in 😉

By planning out our monthly meals on this calendar, I anticipate saving time, money, not having to make as many trips to the grocery store, and not wasting foods/ingredients that we already have on hand.  I plan on having dedicated “leftover nights” as well as “eat-out-on-a-budget” nights!  (Denny’s on Tuesdays from 4-10pm for kids eat FREE meals anyone?)  This will encourage our family to get more creative with meals and think outside the box (especially towards the end of the month if our food budget is dwindling down).

Here’s to no longer standing in front of the fridge thinking “we have nothing to eat”.  All I have to do now is turn to my left, look at the food calendar on the wall, and start fixing whatever it says to fix – since I would have already shopped accordingly and should have all those ingredients on hand!


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