Sunday, January 1, 2012

Pantry Challenge & Menu for the Week

Last year (can you believe we can say last year already!) was a year of great strides for me.  Two blogs, Life as Mom and I'm an Organizing Junkie, jump started me on a journey that I'm happy to say has led to a more organized house and a more conscious awareness to the way we approach our menu planning.

The journey started when I participated in the Pantry Challenge issued by Jessica at Life as Mom and Good Cheap Eats, I chose actually cleaning out my pantry for my portion of the challenge.  You can read that story here.  The next step was thinking about actually menu planning ahead of time, not waiting until I walk in the door to stand in front of the freezer and then order a pizza.  Participating in Laura at I'm an Organizing Junkie's weekly menu planning and 52 Weeks series has helped keep me on the path.  One of my projects in the 52 Weeks was to organize my spice rack within the pantry, it was really driving me insane!  You can see my success story here.  Let me tell you, a clean and organized pantry never felt so good!

So, let me get to the guts of this post.  A new Pantry Challenge has been issued, one that I feel needs to be answered.  Since the pantry has stayed clean and organized, I've decided to make my food budget and menu the focus of this pantry.  Here are my fundamental issues:
  • We are always over our food budget, our food budget of $200 a week!  I'm sure some of you are gasping at the amount of our budget and wondering how on earth we can go over that amount.  Let me tell you, it's easier than you think!
  • We tend to get into a food rut and eat the same things over and over and over and over.......  Now, one of the reasons we do eat the same things time and time again is because my husband is resistant to change.  This is a man who can eat two cans of plain tuna a day for months on end.  Does he sound like someone who enthusiastically tries new recipes?
  • I need to lose some weight.  Yeah, I know I say that all the time but I really do need to lose some.  1) We're taking a big trip this year and I'd like to look halfway decent in pictures 2) My 25th class reunion is this summer 3) I needed to start taking medication for my blood pressure and I'd really like to get it down naturally, without medication.
Based on the above issues, here is my plan.

1.  Make it impossible to go over budget

I have allocated a special checking account to grocery shopping, through payroll deduction I am putting $400 per paycheck in that account.  It will be like the days when money was tight and I would tell my husband, I have X amount in my purse.  If we go over that amount something will have to go back at the checkout.  Whatever is in that account is what can be spent.  Period, end of story.

2.  Look for new recipes I think the family will eat

Just because he isn't thrilled with new recipes doesn't mean my husband isn't willing to occasionally try them.  My plan is to spend some time scouring the Internet for recipes that I think he may like and introduce some of them over time.  If he likes them (like the haddock), we'll add them into the rotation.  If he doesn't (like the Tuscan Stew), we'll ditch them.  I won't be adding new recipes every week because a) I don't have that much ambition and b) I don't want him to start twitching.  I'll be sure and share the new recipes as well as what we think about them with you.

3.  Eat healthier

This is much easier said than done.  One of my biggest issues is my lack of planning.  If I plan ahead I can eat breakfast at home versus McDonald's.  I can eat a healthy lunch versus one from the vending machine.  When eating out I can order a healthier choice versus what looks fabulous on the menu.  I will also be looking for ways to make the food I serve at dinner slightly healthier without taking away the taste.

With all that being said, here is our menu for the week.  Take note - I've added a new recipe into the repertoire!
  • Dinner with family (my FIL was a New Year's baby so we have a get together every year on the 1st)
  • Baked chicken, mashed potatoes, corn, applesauce, bread
  • Pork carnitas - NEW RECIPE
  • Meatloaf (the poor meatloaf that I've been saying we would eat for weeks and never get to), rice pilaf, glazed carrots, cranberry relish, biscuits
  • Left overs
  • Take out
  • Holiday party
Are you planning on making any changes to your eating habits or menu planning this year?  Feel free to link up any food related posts in the comment section.

I'll be linking this up at Good Cheap Eats and I'm an Organizing Junkie


  1. I'm impressed - and can totally relate to a hubby resistant to change. If I put chicken on our menu twice in one month, I have to be prepared for hubs to balk... gotta love our guys!

  2. Mine won't eat 'rabbit food'... any salad fixins' he refuses to eat. Also, it's hard when he is home only every other day & on the weekends. I know it can be done - I just have to really make the effort. Two things that we talked about to improve our health this year (even though I didn't mention THAT as a reason) are to add fish to our menu and to go on a family hike/walk/geocache at least once a month.

  3. Ooh, your menu plan looks so good! How do you menu plan each week? If you have a post about menu planning tips, tricks, product reviews, please be sure to link it up to our monthly linky: