Most of my print-offs came from all those great preparedness LDS sites I shared. A treasury of information on storing foods and using what you store. The whole binder plan and thinking came from Prepared LDS Family blog, as did most of my bunny trail links.
The Menu Plan:
Here are our 47 meal variations, main dish only...I play with sides and desserts alot, so that's totally free range,
- Sticky Chicken
- Poor Man's Chicken Parmesan
- Fried Chicken
- Pot Pie...Chicken or Beef
- Taco Soup
- Taco Casserole
- Wet Burritos
- Chicken & Broccoli Pasta
- Stroganoff...Beef or Chicken
- Mock Steaks & Gravy
- Beefy Vegetable Soup
- Pork Loin
- Chicken Santa Fe
- Tater Tot Casserole
- Ham & Bean Soup
- Chicken & Gravy
- Baked or Smoked Chicken
- Hamburgers & Mac-n-Cheese
- Spaghetti & Meatballs
- Ham & Veggie Scalloped Potatoes
- Ham...could be turkey ham, could be the real deal
- Beefy Nacho Casserole
- Sloppy Joe...could be sandwiches, could be casserole form
- Sausages & Potatoes
- BBQ Sausage
- Homemade Pizza
- Sweet & Sour Meatballs...on rice or pasta
- Sweet & Sour Chicken...or could be pork from that loin
- Chili Chicken Casserole
- Chicken Vera Cruz
- Tuna Casseerole
- Chicken Bruschetta...or plain chicken & stuffing, no pizzazz
- Spicy Sausage & Rice
- plain ol' fish sticks
- Sausage & Potato casserole
- Sticky Ribs
I did my own version of what I found on several LDS sites. I haven't really played with the set-up much from when I first put things in, but there's a reason for that. I realized that I'm not shopping like those LDS Pantry Queens are ;o) Not that that's a bad thing, mind you, but my goal was shop every 6 months and stock the main needs for longer...not necessarily weekly or monthly, with ads and coupons and what not. I will still grab things as I find good sales and all. I have all those coupon sites I'm still wandering through, plus the Kroger sales as they pop up...but for actual grab-n-go weekly usage, that isn't my plan for the binder. You should have seen the actually shopping trips with that binder in tow on the cart. I was stopped more than a dozen times with questions about if i was shopping for a business, a day care or what. I gave a nutshell explanation of the large family, limited income stock up and be prepared thing. You can tell by the person asking, as well as how it's asked if they want to know the real truth, or just want you to agree with the idea they've already formed. But, I was on a mission, so it didn't matter if they thought I was wearing tinfoil under my headcovering and waiting on the mother ship to pick me up :o)
I suppose, looking at those great LDS binder ladies, I don't have a good flow in my binder. Things are just tabbed where they are. As I said, I'm not really a binder type of person. I should work them in far more to my daily routine here as I have seen the benefits of organization and all, but I just don't roll that way. I have lumps, folks. There. I said it out loud. I don't roll any better than the square wheel.
Ok...so you know what's IN my binder now. And Donna...thank you thank you thank you!!!! I found the index card sheets at Staples and I love them. I have a well grouped batch of recipe cards in my binder now. Ahhh....one bump on my wheel rubbed down a bit ;o)
What I did:
Just basic nuts & bolts, kitchen 101 stuff. I sorted through my many boxes of recipes cards, my million and one cookbooks, online recipes and kitchen sharings from some of my go-to blogs for good eats, etc. I gathered our favorites, our common meals, our stand-bys for canning and large group feeding, an overall year-supply planning list...those sorts of things. We then made out the list. It was going to be just 30 meals, but we ended up adding a few things here and there and got a month and half instead. All the better for keeping the rotation a bit more fun.
From that menu listing, we wrote out every ingredient needed for every single meal. That master list of ingredients was the base for the shopping trip. We wrote it out, then went to the pantry with the inventory sheets and made a list of what we had on hand already, as well as hitting the freezers and listing their stock. I took the inventory list shopping with me...it lists what I have on hand and how many more I needed to complete my menu plan. Those lists are now laminated and taped up in the kitchen doors...we will mark off every pound of hamburger, every whole chicken, every jar of salsa and can of mushrooms we use until I need to buy more. Nothing, not even a loaf of bread, will be made without ingredients ticked off the master inventory.
We are not set in stone with this, even with the shopping plan based on this menu. A spicy chicken dish can be easily altered and played with, fine-tuned, as it were. And I am not settled on exactly how we will execute the menu yet, either. I have never been a 'chicken on Monday, beef on Thursday, beans on Friday..." sort of planner. We know, right now, there are ingredients for every meal on that listed menu, and that we can easily have each meal 4 times, for a 6 month plan. Our plan right now is to simply pick 7 every week, and tick off as we go, knowing each meal can have 4 check marks before it's 'gone' from the rotation.
Plus you have the whole garden and fresh eating season. Even if the garden here is a no-show again this year, I have farm markets and Amish gardens here to shop from. I still plan to stock my pantry with home-canned goodies, and move to a lot of salads and fresh and raw items as summer moves in and takes over. However, worse comes to worse, there is a 6 month plan in place to go to. Honestly, this is the first time in a long long time my pantry has seen this much store-bought food....and I don't much care for it, even if it is food and well-stocked. I miss a pantry of MY canning jars. All these Great Value white labels, colorful Save-Alot cans, and so forth just don't look as pretty.
It was varied, and I lost a couple of receipts already, but all in all, we were right in the area of $1300.
I could have done way better had I shopped more at Save-Alot/Aldi's, but still, when you break it down, I know for a fact there are 6 months of foods in the pantry, and that averages out to around $217 a month. For a family of 11. That is totally amazing as far as I'm concerned. Most families spend that on 2 people...not even 4 or 5. I did it for 11, with 2 adults, and 17, 14, 12, 10, 8, 7, 5, 3.
Now, I could have butchered...and still may...those onery chickens out there if they stop egg laying on me again. I am buying eggs, so that is not necessarily figured in the total above. I will still shop and see what sales I find and stock more as time goes on. I am looking at this as a great base, a foundation for that year-stocked pantry I want to get back to. Those 10-for-$10 sales, any great coupon buys, BOGO sales and such...I will still keep on those, but if there was no income persay above the tightest of bills here, we are well-fed and taken care of for a while. That alone is a good thing.
I had bucket of grains and rice here already, so I did not need to purchase more. I stocked things like 16 large boxes of instant powdered milk, flax seed in large tubs from Sam's Club, 12 jars of wheat germ. I stocked over 2 dozen packages of ground turkey, 4 large pork loins to use as roast as well as chops, my bulk yeast. We have sugars (white, brown and powdered), we have flour (unbleached bread flour and whole wheat...King Arthur and Bob's Red Mill on sale at Kroger....yes, lots and lots of 5# bags) restocked in my 6 gallon buckets. I bought out our Wal-Mart's shelves of salsa, diced tomatoes and tomato juice...literally. I did buy spaghetti and elbow pasta, but we will make every other need ourselves. I have 16 large double-pack boxes of raisins for granola...a special buy at Sam's Club.
We will, like I said, adjust the menu and tweak as we go. I don't always follow a recipe anyway and add or subtract things while putting a dish together. And we will shop along as we go, but it's totally for added stock-up things and the like, it is not a "must get food" sort of thing. There is a great deal of freedom in having a stocked pantry. There is a lot of comfort in it.
I like comfort :o) That's another bump off my square wheel.
So....did I cover everything folks were asking about? Any questions?