When I started thinking about this week’s menu, I had one thought on my mind…Cooking Meals On Less Money. I’ve always tried making our meals for less and for the most part, I think I do a pretty good job. But, I know I can do better. This week’s menu inspiration comes after watching a movie over the weekend about Evelyn Ryan, the Prize Winner of Defiance, Ohio. It’s an inspirational true story of an enterprising mother of ten who kept poverty at bay with wit, poetry, and perfect prose during the “contest era” of the fifties and sixties.
After winning one of the many contests she entered, Evelyn won a 10 minute grocery shopping spree and netted $411.44 worth of food (the equivalent of around $3,000 today), which is a fortune back then, and that 10 minute grocery spree filled their new freezer to capacity, not to mention several cupboards. Wow! Can you imagine winning a 10 minute shopping spree? Would you splurge on items you’ve never had before or would you stock up on items that your family needed and would last?
On the average, when it comes to grocery shopping, we all (I’m assuming) try and look for the best deals on the everyday items our families use. But when you have little or no income, it can be a struggle. Especially in this day’s economy. When you live on just the bare minimum, you have to budget all your spending and groceries are at the top of the list.
I felt sad for this family’s situation during many points of the story, but as I kept watching it, I felt increasingly angry with how current-day families who are stretched to the limit on credit yet still buying luxury items as if they need them. If the Ryans didn’t have the cash, they didn’t buy milk or new shoes. They never went out to dinner. Twelve people slept in a two-bedroom house before Mrs. Ryan won a $3,000 grand prize that afforded them the opportunity to buy a home with four bedrooms.
The movie (also a book written by Evelyn’s daughter Terry Ryan) is mainly about Evelyn’s contesting: how Evelyn manages with 10 children, a drunken husband and a car that falls apart for years, washing machines and other appliances that die every month, not enough money for food and constant trips to the emergency room.. and yet everyone survives. That alone inspires me.
I don’t have ten kids or an alcoholic husband, but there’s something about Evelyn’s story that is very relatable. We’ve all been there at some point in our lives. Maybe it’s the feeling of being judged, trying to make ends meet or sacrificing your own plans because of a kid crisis that so many of us moms can understand. Whatever it was, I have to admit I was brought to tears on more than one occasion during the movie.
Cooking Meals On Less Money
Hopefully, you haven’t gotten bored from reading so far or overwhelmed and will find a little inspiration from this week’s meal plan. Nowadays, there are a lot more resources at our fingertips for creating meals for our family on less money and I hope to be included as one of those resources. We won’t be eating fish sticks with ketchup every night or have the luxury of salmon filets but we’ll have delicious homemade cooked meals for less together as a family. It’s something to appreciate because not everyone can have that.
Here’s our meal plan for the week:
I meal plan at the beginning of each week. For me, it’s Sunday mornings when the house is quite and everyone’s still sleeping. I try and manage a decent frugal grocery budget and not go to the grocery store on a weekly basis unless we need dairy products like milk. Weekly meal planning saves our family money, reduces food waste, and keeps us from the urge to say, “Let’s eat out!”
My weekly meal plan and shopping list is completed and posted on our fridge:
(served with fruit)
French toast casserole
Biscuits and Sausage Gravy
Scrambled, Fried, or Hard-Boiled Eggs
Mini Apple Pies or Turnovers
Sandwiches or Wraps (Tuna salad, egg salad, chicken salad, turkey salad, leftover meats, grilled cheese, blt, pb&j)
Leftovers from dinner
Homemade Pizza Pockets
Suppers Your Family Will Love
Need ideas for your weekly meal plan? It’s time for another weekly menu. I enjoy menu planning because of the simplicity it provides for my life. It enables me to decrease my grocery shopping excursions to twice a month and it allows me to have more free time to focus on my family and home. For ideas in the weekly meal plan, we’ll be focusing on a variety of family meals. You’ll find the recipes on the weekly meal plan also available on my Recipe Index page with a grocery list included.
Dinner (recipes will post throughout the week, given time to cook and photograph )
Note: an asterisk* means it’s from the freezer
Sunday: Sunday Supper~Crockpot Turkey, Rice and White Bean Soup – made turkey stock with the turkey bones from Easter dinner and added some veggies. Quick soaked white beans on the stove since they were a last minute add. Store any leftovers in freezer and save some for lunch this week. It’s raining here in the sierra foothills. Nothing like a warm bowl of soup on a rainy day.
Monday: Skillet Cheesy Potatoes with Eggs, served with simple crostini (small toasted bread)
Tuesday: Chicken Tenders, served w/homemade honey mustard sauce and salad wedges with Homemade Ranch Dressing – Sometimes you don’t have a lot of time to prepare meals during the week. This dinner time favorite recipe in our house doesn’t take long to make.
Wednesday: American Goulash – simple recipe to make; it’s affordable and a dollar stretching meal!
Thursday: Macaroni and Cheese Casserole - serve with applesauce and fresh veggies
Friday: Family Favorites Night~ Meatloaf - one of those comfort foods almost anyone can relate to. It’s one of those recipes that gets created over and over. Serving with broccoli and creamy mashed potatoes.
Saturday: Romanian Style Stuffed Cabbage – I recall my grandmother making these quite often when I was growing up. would like to continue that family tradition. Will serve them with pan juices and leftover creamy mashed potatoes. Already bringing back favorite childhood memories as I’m typing this.
Dessert of the Week:
Homemade Puff Pastry Roll Pastries -filled with cinnamon, sugar and cream cheese or jam
For more great family recipes, be sure to visit my new recipe box page.