by donR May 18th, 2016
The Family Meals Project originally shared ideas with health-conscious families to plan, prepare and share budget-friendly meals. The goal was to assemble family meals for less than $10 using whole foods in the menu plan. That was four years ago and it’s now time to revisit the idea of preparing a $10 meal*. Yes, it’s still very possible to keep healthy meal costs under $10. To prove it, we spent $50 at WinCo and assembled 5 family meals using these ingredients plus a few planned-overs and pantry staples.
Author’s Note: We are merely demonstrating how to assemble inexpensive meals using common ingredients from your pantry and left-overs from previous meals.. You will not be able to create the same dinners because your pantry is different. Rather than shop for exact ingredients, simply substitute what you have in your cupboard, can, glean or find on sale. Be creative to save money and use fewer processed foods for healthier meals.
ingredients We Chose to Assemble 5 or 6 Complete Dinners.These were purchased at WinCo.
- 9 lb Pork loin strip- $13
- 3 lbs chicken breasts $5.99- for the pantry
- 4 cans diced tomatoes $2- for the pantry
- Salsa & corn tortillas $5.10
- Cottage cheese $1.99
- 4 lbs frozen veggies of choice $2.89
- Asparagus $1.59
- Assorted fruit $5.70
- Egg noodles and spiral whole wheat pasta $2.05 (bulk)
*Planned-overs put away from previous meals: cooked brown rice, Soba noodles, chicken stock, cooked pinto beans, roasted root vegetables, taco sauce. * These are not counted in the meal cost.
Loaned from the pantry but to be replaced when shopping later: butter, shredded cheese, canned peaches, specialty bread like baguette, carrot, Spring lettuce mix (or from your garden), oil, flour, crackers, baking powder, eggs, tomatoes, tea, Knox unflavored gelatin, condiments seasonings.
Ready? You have everything you need to assemble 5 or more family dinners using pork loin as a base. To accomplish Here are six entrees we chose to assemble from oven roasted pork slices and slow-cooked pulled pork: Pork-n-veggie stir fry, Pork-n-noodle stroganoff, BBQ pork sandwiches, sliced pork loin, pork sliders on baguette bread and enchiladas.
When the pork is cooked and divided into meal-sized portions,(about 1 lb each), packaged and labeled you the base (1) ingredient foe each of the above meals. To complete the dinner you can choose: 2) salad-making’s, 3) soup bases & grains, 4) desserts and 5) veggies . Some are best stored in deli containers or glass jars stored in the refrigerator. use within the week or freeze for future meals.
You have now created a base for 5 X 5 meals and ready for the week. During the upcoming weeks we will post the recipes.for cooking pork and the sides.
*To calculate meal costs we spent $8.50 for unique ingredients and allocated $1.50 to restock the pantry. The chicken was on a deep discount, so we bought 2 bags and put it into the freezer for future meals. Remember the food budget is calculated on a monthly basis. By planning ahead and keeping a look out for bargains, you can stretch your budget! Stay tuned to see what we do with the chicken you now have in your freezer but first we will post the 6 pork recipes.