Another whirlwind of a week down, and a 3-day weekend to bring the summer to a close. Even without any major meal prepping, we managed to succeed in our mission to eat well on a $60 budget for two people. Want to see what I learned this week?
Lesson One: Keep It Simple
Using my slow cooker has been really really great. With being out of town two weekends in a row, we had acquired some not-so-fresh looking vegetables, like eggplant and tomatoes, and since neither of us really likes eggplant except in meatballs or as rollatini, I wasn't sure when we would actually get around to using them. But then, I thought the smartest thought: slow cooker ratatouille. Reduce hands-on cooking time and use up all the veggies! Two birds // one stone.
Lesson Two: Snacks are SO Important
I really wanted more snacks. Like all the time. We didn't even have bananas. I was pretty satisfied with our supplementary snacks of salad and homemade bread, but I didn't realize how important they were until halfway through the week.
Lesson Three: Be flexible.
For example, granola needs yogurt. But sometimes you can't afford yogurt and so granola gets milk and also that's great. Seriously. #firstworldproblems I was deciding between buying bread and buying Greek yogurt while at the store, and then realized that I couldn't actually afford either if I wanted to buy peanuts & raisins for Zac...so I skipped them and decided to figure it out later. Solutions: homemade bread and we used milk in the granola.
Tzatziki Pasta Salad (inspired by Budget Bytes, but without the mayo)
Slow Cooker Ratatouille + Baked Garlic-Basil Meatballs
Leftover Slow Cooker Quinoa Enchilada Casserole (from the freezer)
One last slice of Philly Cheesesteak Pizza from the freezer - it was SO GOOD.
Snacks: We were so low on snacks this week! We had: strawberries, leftover homemade whole wheat buns, plantain chips, peanut & raisin trail mix, peanut butter pretzel "pillows" (a treat!), cherry tomatoes, dark chocolate PB cups from the freezer. Plus peanuts + raisins for Zac (I can't really bring nuts to my job!)
Cheats: I get about half a meal's worth of food on Thursdays and again on Fridays, if I have time to take advantage of it. Also, I brought back 2 delicious bagels from Jersey ($1 each), which we added to our Monday breakfast. Friday at work I got free lunch because one of the parents brought pizza for all the teachers/staff. And finally, we went out for ice cream after dinner one night this week. Not part of the budget or the meal plan, but those calories should certainly be considered. So even though we had just two main meals this week (Tzatziki Pasta Salad + Slow Cooker Ratatouille), we had a lot of random supplements from outside sources.
I also completely forgot to take photos most of the time. Sorry about that!
This week was pretty easy because pasta salad is filling and it used up a lot of produce we had, and then the Slow Cooker Ratatouille used up the rest of it! So that was kind of exciting. We are starting to get low on some staples, like whole wheat flour, and we are totally out of salt, so it is time to stock up some of the pantry essentials, which will definitely have an effect on the budget next week. Stay tuned!