Monday, December 20, 2010

Menu Planning- Extreme Frugality Style

Today's Monday, the day where throughout the bloggosphere, people get their act together and post their menu plans for the next week. Occasionally I do the same, but I prefer sharing my menus in retrospect. I thought you might appreciate my train of thought and menu alterations that I make because of  my extremely frugal lifestyle.

Original Menu Plan:
Monday: Pasta with rattatouille and meat sauce
Tuesday: French fries, tuna, and veggie spears
Wednesday: Baked beans, rice, and cauliflower.
Thursday: Split pea soup with barley and veggies
Friday: Homemade bread, tahini salad, chicken soup, rice and meatballs, and some veggie.
Saturday: Stew.
Sunday: Leftovers.

Ok, that all looks very well and good. But what happens in actuality?

Monday: You spent a whole day dealing with the 300 pounds of bulk bought food  that just arrived.
You feel dead and have no energy to cook supper. Kids  and hubby have to eat, even if Mama is collapsing from exhaustion. You throw together some of the bulk bought instant mashed potatoes, powdered milk and hot water,  add spices, tomatoes and cucumbers and call it a day.

Tuesday: A friend arrives to buy some of the bulk bought food off of you. She barters 2 eggplants that she bought as loss leaders in exchange for some of the bulk food. You now have less bulk food to store and some  more fresh veggies, which is a good thing, as you haven't been to the grocery store in a week and your produce pickings are getting slimmer. Once she leaves, another friend comes to get bulk food. And another. And another. And before you know it, your whole day is gone. Lucky that you thought to put up some split pea soup in the pressure cooker. It's chilly out and your heating isn't on (though you're dressed in enough layers to restrict movement- just kidding!), so a soup definitely hits the spot. (Note that I don't live in the US. It has remained warmer than freezing so far this winter, so I'm not being as extreme as it sounds.)

Wednesday: The weather is a lot nicer today, so after being cooped  up inside the house for two days in a row, you decide to go for a long foraging walk with the kids. You pick lots of mallow, not exactly sure what to do with it, but sure that you'll find something to do with it.
When you get home, you put up a pot of rice that you bought as a loss leader. (Correction- your dear sister bought 25 pounds at 12 cents a pound, and because she already had 150 pounds of  rice at her house, she sold it to you at cost price- 12 cents a pound.) With that, you cook scrambled eggs that you cooked together with that foraged mallow. Tasted yummy, that's for certain.

Thursday: You still have a bunch of  potatoes that are sitting out. Because you don't want them to get old (and face it, you just got in the mood for a "junk" style dinner), you chopped them up and made them into french fries. You serve them with tuna made with homemade mayo, and to assuage any guilty feelings, you serve carrot sticks on the side.

Friday: You're awfully busy, but you get the itch to forage again. So you go with your boys to the abandoned lot across the street and pick some milk thistle. You also forage some mallow as well. For supper, you serve a salad made with milk thistle and cukes and tomatoes and a dressing made with your homemade mayo and some organic passionfruit that a neighbor grew but had too many of, so passed them on to you.
Along with that, you make a soup made with foraged mallow, more milk thistle, some potatoes, and a radish that is getting really old (that you got from someone in the community who got so many veggies from her husband's work that they were coming out of her ears). Along with that, you serve a raw beet salad (made with loss leader beets and grapefruits), pickled radish salad, and pickled lemons made with foraged organic pickled lemons, rice pudding, and chicken rattatouille. The food, fortunately, was very much enjoyed by all.

Saturday: At the last minute, some friends in the community invite your family over for dinner, because they want to give the families some time to bond. There goes the planned food...

Sunday: Yet another foraging trip. This time you come home with mallow, wild fennel, oranges, and milk thistle. You decide to be adventurous and make stuffed mallow leaves, only staying away from the traditional recipe. Instead, you mix orange zest, orange chunks, rice, onion, wild fennel, and ground seitan and try to stick them inside the mallow leaves, but no matter how hard you try, they won't stay shut. Grape leaves are much easier to work with, you conclude, and just plop the whole thing in the pot as a lasagna of sorts. Once cooked, you serve that along with some sauted and buttered milk thistle.
Oh, and the results? The "stuffed" mallow was absolutely delicious! Wild fennel, mallow, orange, seitan and onion is an absolutely winning combination.

Yes, our meal plans definitely get juggled around, and  in many cases, not followed at all, because of the extremely frugal lifestyle we live. Sales come up, you end up with food you didn't know you'd be getting, and you make do with what you have in the house and which needs finishing. Oh, and as a note, tomorrow it will have been 3 weeks since my last grocery shop, and  I don't intend on going shopping this week either. The foods I bought in bulk (instant potatoes, whole wheat flour, powdered milk, oats and baking powder) combined with veggies I forage will be supplementing the stockpile we have in our house already.

So yes, that's why I rarely menu plan. Because things never go as planned anyhow!
So, how does life affect your menu plan? Or do you usually end up sticking to what you'd planned on serving anyhow?

Linking up to Menu Plan Monday.

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