Planning and budgeting: A rant and a meal plan

We have seven children, and as you can imagine feeding a family of nine can get expensive.  I am a nurse – not a stock broker or neurosurgeon a nurse. Our family doesn’t believe in debt, so we save every penny and buy only what we need and can afford in cash. I tell you all of that to tell you this: I feed this family the same way I feed myself. It’s not “mom’s on a diet, this is my food, you eat that garbage”. My passion is teaching children habits that they’ll take with them into the future. It’s about spending a little more now, if needed, to not pay huge healthcare costs later. Our immune systems are better than 95% of all our peers, and our future will less likely be  full of medication and doctors visits. It’ll be full of outdoor playtime because we make great choices now.

I went to the grocery store this weekend, just after a debate on Facebook about the so-called “high cost” of feeding a family healthy food. I walked around the store looking at all the processed junk that I haven’t so much as looked at in years.  I was expecting to have a real fight on my hands. I don’t. One pound of bananas was 54 cents (on sale, normally .69). Frosted Flakes were 3.99 per box.  Free range organic eggs were 3.69 per dozen. (Frosted flakes surges blood sugar, and leaves kids hungry in about an hour. Eggs have healthy protein, fats, and vitamins to fuel the brain, and leaves kids and adults satiated for hours.)  Sweet potatoes were 99 cents each for HUGE potatoes (I fed three of us on ONE tonight.)  Organic Romaine was 3.99 for a pack of 3 stalks, and Organic baby spinach was 4.19 for a giant box.   Conversely, One Digiorno Pizza and cookies in a box (enough to feed 2-3 of most of us) was $8.19. A 12-pack of Coke was on sale for $2.99.  I got a whole Pork Tenderloin (fed 6) for 7.99. I bought 24 distilled waters for 2.99. How much was that 12 pack of coke again?  I made a crock pot full of pulled pork tenderloin, sweet potatoes, and fresh picked green beans for $11.89 this evening. There are enough leftovers for the adults of the house to have for lunch tomorrow. That’s 2 meals for $11.89.

I made a salad today for the two of us from 1/2 organic romaine stalk, a handful of spinach, organic tomato, avocado, and olive oil with half a chicken breast. In my estimation, it cost about $ 5.75 for lunch for the two of us. I challenge you to take $5 to your local fast food restaurant and attempt to feed two people. You may get one “value” meal to share, and feel awful for the rest of the day.  I used to feed my family the same “cheap” grocery store food. When I switched to real food, I spent a LOT of money.  I realized after some research I had to simply plan better. So, after making a meal plan (breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks) for 7 days, I set out for the grocery store. I spent exactly $11 more than the budget we’d set before, that I had been keeping with the sugar-filled, processed, gluten-laden, JUNK. While standing in line, I got up the courage to ask the lady in front of me  for how many people she was buying groceries. She said 2, herself and her husband, and that her grand baby comes over twice a week.  She had the usual: Soda, bread, hamburger, buns, Cereal, yogurt, spaghetti sauce and noodles, mac and cheese, etc.I asked if it was for the whole week, and she said yes, do you think it’s enough? (insert bitten tongue here)…Her total for 2 (and a half) people for the week was $129.67 while my total for a family of 9 was $198.76.  If you’re tracking with me, that’s a difference of $69.09  for 7 additional people.

We  also decided to make a couple of sacrifices in other areas to make up for the extra $11…Because this ‘temple’ and my children are worth it. Every. time. Some cost cutting techniques are: make your own laundry soap. For $19 worth of products from Wal-Mart, I can throw together a laundry soap that lasts us 3 months. Tide or Gain at Costco is $13-18 and only lasts 6 weeks at best. The great thing is, this homemade laundry soap actually works better and is great for people with sensitive skin. We also make our own toothpaste and don’t have cable, but that’s a post for another day.

At the end of the day, the key to saving money is planning. If you already have a meal planned and prepped at home, you’re much less likely to fly through the drive thru or order take out, saving your wallet and your health! After all that, here’s this week’s meal plan and shopping list:

Sunday is meal plan and cook ahead day at our house. For this week’s plan, cook several chicken breasts and use half to make chicken salad and cut up the other half into stir fry pieces. Also, cook a pound of ground beef, ground chicken and sausage for tomorrow’s crock pot chili. This way, you’re all ready to make dinner in a flash all week. When you cook dinner, always cook a little extra so you can have left overs!

Monday –

Breakfast: No-Oat meal

Lunch: Chicken salad on romaine, side of grapes

Dinner: Crockpot chili :

Recipe: one pound ground beef, one pound ground turkey, one pound Italian sausages, browned; half a white onion, 2 tbsp chili powder, tsp paprika, salt and pepper to taste, one bottle of V8 juice. Place in crock pot on low for 6-9 hours.

Tuesday –

Breakfast: Sweet potato hash and bacon

Tip: Bake your bacon while you get ready for work: Heat oven to 400ª , place bacon on a cookie sheet, and in 20-25 minutes, it will be crisp and ready to serve!

Lunch: Left over chili

Dinner: Chicken apple stir fry

Wednesday –

Breakfast: “Garbage omelette”  – Any veggies you have in the fridge sautéed and thrown in with the eggs.

Lunch: Large salad with the leftover chicken from last night’s dinner

Dinner: Burgers topped with fried eggs and grilled zucchini spears

Thursday –

Breakfast: Frozen fruit smoothie and hard-boiled egg

Lunch: leftover burgers and veggies

Dinner: Seared pork and sweet potatoes

Recipe : Preheat oven to 325. Rub both sides of pork with onion, garlic, paprika, chili powder,  salt and pepper. Sear on both sides then place in a baking pan with onions and garlic. Bake for 30. min. For added flavor, add apples to pan.


Breakfast: Scrambled eggs and sausage

Lunch: Leftover pork

Dinner: Crockpot  beef rump roast with onions, carrots, and small potatoes

Saturday –

Brunch: Banana pancakes and sausage!

Dinner: BLT UNwiches – Bacon, lettuce avocado and tomato on romaine

Sunday –

Breakfast: Bacon and fried eggs with apple pear sweet potato hash

DInner: Mongolian beef  made with leftover beef roast and coconut oil in place of sesame oil as recipe suggests.

Groceries:  *

You’ll remember from the last meal planning article to write all ingredients down the the quantities and last detail, then cross off the quantities you already have.

Staples and spices:  These are things you may already have or only need to buy a few times per year




Chili powder



Coconut aminos (or gluten free soy sauce)

Flax seed

Raw organic honey

Almond butter

Coconut or arrowroot flour

Mixed nuts: Almonds, pecans, cashews, macadamias

 Meats and cheeses : Amounts will depend on number of people you’re feeding


Pork chops

Large rump roast

3 lb grass-fed ground beef

1 lb ground chicken or turkey

1 package Applegate italian sausage

4 lb uncured nitrate free bacon

One package breakfast sausage (no fillers)

1-2 doz eggs

feta cheese


Organic romaine lettuce

organic tomatoes

bushel green onions

seasonal veggies for salads and sides ( broccoli, carrots, bell peppers, etc)

2 large onions (one white one red)

4-6 large sweet potatoes

One head of cauliflower

5 lb bag organic apples

grapes/other seasonal fruit

Frozen organic berries

bunch bananas


Almond or coconut milk  ( you can make your own)

I encourage you to browse the internet for sales, visit  to find locally sourced ,eats and vegetables, get a Costco membership (even split with a friend), take advantage of Target’s Red Debit card for 5% off, and buy local at farmer’s markets as much as possible.

Again, your first trip for staples may be a bit pricey. However, with some planning  it can be done on a budget. I encourage you to visit your bank statement and add up all the restaurant and drive through/take out trips, protein bars and last-minute shopping trips along with your regular grocery bill. I promise you will be saving money. Bon Apetit!





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