One way I cut costs (and make life easier) is to plan my meals a month at a time. When I make my menu plans I make shopping lists at the same time. I do one big trip at the beginning of the month for all the staples I'll need. Then I do small bi-weekly trips for perishables.
Here's January's menu. Notice all the salads. We're on a big-time post-holiday diet this month.
1. Leftovers (from New Year's. I'm making a huge bunch of chinese food)
2. Leftovers (I said a huge bunch....)
3. Pizza (homemade. I make the dough, buy the cheapest cans of spaghetti sauce and use the humongous blocks of mozzarella and cheddar cheese from the superstore)
5. Salad with oat and orange scones
6. Cauliflower stir fry and rice
7. Salad with sliced mangos
8. Salad, potato soup
9. Salad with bacon bits and sliced boiled eggs
10. Garden of Eden soup, rice and veggie stir-fry
11. Pitas with salad and turkey bits (I chop cooked turkey and fry it up with soy sauce, curry powder, garlic powder, cumin and coriander)
12. Salad with bacon strips, cheese rolls
13. Tangerine stir fry with turkey
14. Salad, veggie corn chowder
15. Hoisin turkey stir fry on soba noodles
16. Spring rolls (rice paper rolls with salad veggies inside and peanut dipping sauce)
17. Turkey curry with rice
18. Baked chickens, potatoes, green veggie
19. Salad with chicken, veggie and rice soup with lime
20. Teriyaki noodle soup
23. Salad, cauliflower and cheese soup
24. Spaghetti and meat balls, green veggie
25. Burritoes with chicken and beans(I make my own tortillas)
27. Salad, dill cottage cheese biscuits
28. Pitas with salad (I make my own pitas)
29. Salad, cheddar drop biscuits
31. Salad, oatmeal bannocks
All right; that's a lot of salad, even for us! You'll notice I left a few blanks. That's because there's always a few meals that end up different than I plan. We got out to a friend's house or to a restaurant. The Super Bowl is in there somewhere. We'll probably do a big potluck with neighbors and friends....So I leave room for "life" to happen.
I currently have 8 bags of turkey in our freezer for meals. I could probably get 10 -
12 dinners out of that. The baked chickens will provide most of the rest of the meat we eat. I try to cook meat so that it gets sprinkled on the meal at the end - almost like a condiment. Often I won't even eat it. I have a son who's verging on vegetarian. This method of serving meat gives us a lot of flexibility.
When I base a meal around a salad I serve the greens in a huge bowl and our portions cover our dinner plates. Then we add the eggs, bacon bits, meat or whatever else I'm serving as an addition. Often I serve either rolls or a soup on the side. Again, it all adjusts to the appetites and caloric needs of the people eating. My kids can eat as much as they want (they're all pretty skinny and growing). Dh and I go heavy on the greens and light on the extras. It works for us.
And just to give you a rough idea - there are six of us in our family. When I serve meat in a salad or stir fry I use the equivalent of one to two boneless chicken breasts, or one small steak, or one to two pork chops. About a half-pound of meat.