Real Food on a Tight Budget: Week Two

by lydia on October 26, 2012

Let’s see how things went this past week on my tight budget. I did a lot less labor in the kitchen and I felt like I was more in the swing. Since I wrote out my menu plan ahead of time, I felt much more relaxed and it was actually quite freeing. My biggest struggle was finding enough appropriate items to send for school lunches. This week I will focus more on that aspect of my budget. For now, here is a review of my week.


I went to Trader Joe’s and a local produce market for my food and had my milk/eggs delivered.

Dinner – I made 2 homemade pizzas with gluten free sourdough pizza crusts (first time ever – I used the recipe from the ‘Real Food Storage’ eBook). The kids enjoyed it! I had leftovers too.

Food prep – I started a second batch of gluten free sourdough pizza dough in the morning, made a breakfast casserole using lots of random leftovers from the fridge (turkey breakfast sausages, baked potato leftover from the potato skins, 1/2 an onion, 1 jalapeno, carrots, leftover steamed broccoli, some shredded parmesan, milk, eggs and some thyme), started another batch of applesauce.


Breakfast – we had a compilation of the Breakfast Casserole I fixed up and some gluten free sourdough pancakes and homemade hot chocolate. I had pancake batter left over.

Lunch – Pizza for lunch

Dinner – Just me, so Andrew treated me to Thai food, a rare treat indeed!

Food Prep – I picked up some free items from a friend and some items from the farmer’s market to make soups to sell to local friends -I’ll get to that in another post.


Breakfast – Just me, scrambled eggs and a few sourdough pancakes.

Lunch – Random leftovers – Cottage Pie mostly and some carrots and white bean dip.

Dinner -Roasted Chicken, Millet Pilaf (with snuck in chicken liver), Carrots and Hummus, Homemade Applesauce & Homemade Mini Pumpkin and Leaf chocolates.

Food Prep – Started another batch of booch (aka kombucha), finally. I didn’t have any bottles to bottle up my second batch last week – but had enough free today to bottle it finally. It was very tart so I made some hibiscus infusion slightly sweetened to add to each bottle. Sliced up the last 8 apples to freeze for another apple crisp. We carved 4 pumpkins (2 were mine), so I put the seeds to soak in salt water overnight to then dehydrate. Made a batch of hummus for the kids with 2 of the cans of chickpeas I was given and the last of the tahini I had on hand. There was a ton of millet pilaf left (who knew how much 2 cups of dry millet would make – not me, that’s for sure)! I’ll be turning them into another meal later on for certain!


Breakfast – A piece of breakfast casserole for my oldest, scrambled eggs and sourdough toast (that I pulled from the freezer) for my younger 3. I had 3 fried eggs over the last 1/3 of my cooked sweet potato with sauteed onions on top.

Lunch- for my two boys that take lunch, I sent; thermos of chicken, container of applesauce, carrot sticks and the last of the seaweed snax. I had Cottage Pie with a glass of my Hibiscus Booch and my youngest had a peanut butter, butter and honey sourdough pancake sandwich with raw milk.

Snacks – one child had slices of cheddar and some raisins for his after school snack, another had 3 leftover Grain Free Sourdough Nut Butter pancakes. Both had a glass of my Hibiscus Kombucha.

Dinner- Skillet Stroganoff with half a head of cauliflower and snuck in liver. Since I never made the apple crisp I planned for Friday when we had guests, the kids persuaded me to make it – they also couldn’t handle the fact that there was ice cream un-opened in the freezer. So I caved and whipped one up pretty quickly because I had already prepped the apples.

Food Prep- started a batch of chicken stock, started some mung bean sprouts, started a 3 liter batch of water kefir. Thawed a pound of liver, only used 1/4 lb. in our dinner, so I pureed the rest and made one tray of liver cubes for future dinners.


Breakfast – Apple Crisp for the oldest, scrambled eggs and homemade hot chocolate for the younger 3.

Lunch- My two middle boys both got applesauce and carrot sticks (no dip this time), and my 7 year old got grass fed cheddar slices and my 9 year old got some leftover stroganoff in a thermos. My youngest grazed all day when he got home from kindergarten.

Dinner- Salmon Cakes, the rest of the cauliflower steamed in broth, sauteed green beans with garlic.

Food Prep- Drain mung bean sprouts, feed sourdough pancake starter, start a 3 liter batch of beet kvass, cool chicken stock and put away, start pumpkin seeds in the dehydrator. Made some homemade mayo.


Breakfast- Sourdough Pancakes & Hot Chocolate for the younger 3 boys, Breakfast Casserole and a glass of raw milk for my oldest. I had 3 fried eggs with minced fresh parsley and pickled red onions along with a glass of beet kvass. I fed the rest of the parsley bunch to our pet guinea pig, Jimmy.

Lunch- sent my youngest to school with a lunch because he had a field trip. The other 3 got lunch at school. I had the leftover salmon cake and some cauliflower and a small mug of chicken broth. 1 bottle of booch.

Dinner- Just me, so more leftovers! I made up some millet cakes from the leftover millet pilaf, re-crisped some chicken skin and made some gravy out of the pan drippings from the roast chicken on Sunday. I topped the millet cakes with warmed up chicken, the skin and the gravy and it was SO good! Nettle infused water kefir to drink.

Food Prep- Made up 2 dozen Pumpkin Muffins. Second fermented the water kefir. Put away the pumpkin seeds, rinsed the mung bean sprouts (since I didn’t want to waste the rinse water, I used it to water my house plants and kill two birds with one stone – I always forget to water my houseplants so this is a good way to remember). Put some rice aside to soak. (photo- didn’t have a food photo for today, but we carved these pumpkins on Sunday and that’s where I got all the seeds from – boy was that a lot of seeds!)


Breakfast- Pumpkin Muffins and kombucha for the younger 3 boys. My oldest ate the rest of the Breakfast Casserole. I had 3 fried eggs topped with shredded parm, pickled red onions on the side, mug of chicken broth and a glass of beet kvass.

Lunch- Finished the rest of my chicken liver pate and had a glass of kombucha. A few pieces of 90% dark chocolate.

Dinner- Chicken Fried Rice with carrots, ginger, peas and soaked white rice topped with eggs and mung bean sprouts.

Food Prep – soup prep for selling to locals. Beef Vegetable & Chicken Florentine – started on the stock making part. Rinsed sprouts. I did end up picking up a bag of frozen organic peas last minute just to make dinner – it just would not have done without the peas, I spent $2.


Monthly Goals: I like to always have fermented beverages on hand and at least some homemade yogurt or sour cream on hand too. I plan to try to squeeze in at least 2 veggie ferments per month. This month I hope to make another batch of sauerkraut – I’ll need 2-3 heads of organic cabbage and that can be somewhat expensive. Plus, I am usually the only one that eats the veggie ferments. My youngest loves kraut, so that will be my priority.

I plan to make kombucha and beet kvass once a month. Water kefir weekly. Yogurt & sour cream bi-weekly. Milk kefir once or twice a month – whatever kefir or yogurt I don’t use gets made into cream cheese, which I can use in various ways or freeze for future uses. I’d also like to try and make one jar of sprouts per week and work that into our menu, but first I’ll see how the mung bean sprouts from this week work out.

Saving $ For Bulk Purchases/Stockpile: I am finding that I am not leaving any room in the budget to save money for future bulk purchase. Nor am I able to ‘stock up’ on deals or seasonal items only available now, like the organic BPA free canned pumpkin at Trader Joe’s for only $1.99. I really don’t want to deplete my stock completely while managing a tight budget, so in the coming weeks I will try to designate a set amount per week to save. Additionally, I will be making homemade soups for local friends to save some money for bulk meat purchases.

Stay tuned for the upcoming week of my Real Food Budget. Are you on a tight budget and trying to eat real food? I’d love to hear from you in the comments.



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{ 1 comment }

Tara October 27, 2012 at 9:38 am

I found this post very interesting and inspiring. I would love for YOU to write an e-book about how to do this. I feel like I am pretty disciplined when grocery shopping, but I still end up spending around $200 – $300 a week.

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