Wednesday, December 22, 2010


December 22, 2010

I’ve previously posted about how I am on the email list. Recently a discussion was brought up by Ashley that she would like to try working her food budget and meals for the year, while laying in a year’s supply of non-perishables based entirely on loss leaders.

I asked if she would like a partner in this challenge. She thought it a great idea not only because things go better if you have a partner, but because we live on the opposite sides of the US and each has a family of 3 to feed. While living in two different areas with different stores to deal with and different economic basis to work with in our areas.

We have agreed to write about our journey through 2011 in building our one year’s worth of food storage by purchasing loss leaders as they become available, while maintaining a very, very strict budget.

Ashley posted her first blog entry this morning, with her challenges to herself at:

This, of course, is my first entry on this challenge. With the cost of groceries going up the $1 a day may be a mite stringent for us, but I am definitely going to do all I can to try and meet her challenge.

The first thing to do, as Ashley pointed out, is to educate yourself. I too am reading various blogs by people who have done this. I’m also checking online information for all types of good basic information to aid me in the challenge.

My first stop on the information train was:

This website lists month by month what items are normally on sale, not just food, but various things. Of course for the task at hand the food items are what I am most interested in. Knowing ahead of time what “loss leaders” will be coming can be a real help in planning the menu.

Meeting the challenge at $1 a day with two meat and potato men in my household is going to be a HUGE challenge. I can get them to eat meatless occasionally, but not all the time. My husband, is NOT a huge fan of vegetables.

Doing so healthily is another challenge, especially when you include my son’s allergies to deal with and our true love of food.

So the first menu planning basic step for me was figuring out the entrées and dealing with them while also maintaining my busy schedule as a merchandiser and mystery shopper. All too often it is too tempting to eat out.

This means not only do I need to plan my meals on the $1 a day budget, but I need to plan on refilling my freezer with homemade “convenience” meals. Knowing we have foods in the freezer we could quickly thaw and eat will eliminate the temptation to stop and grab a calorie laden fast food item or six.

So following Ashley’s theme here is what I want to accomplish this next year:

1. Bring our food budget down to as low as it can possibly go.

2. Lay in one year’s supply of non-perishable food

3. Make up ALL of my Master Mixes, this in itself is a HUGE challenge.

4. Fill the freezer with homemade “convenience” foods

5. Raise a large organic garden and go to year round gardening.

Going back to the entrées listings. I started out trying to figure out an exact order of what types of entrees I’d serve and in what order for a month alternating meatless meals and leftovers in as often as I thought I could get away with it. That became hugely complicated and failed miserably.

So then I tried to do it for every two weeks, same results, I wasn’t getting the rotation I wanted. Plus when you do a very set in stone menu plan it does not allow for spontaneity and this family doesn’t do well with that. We want the foods we want when we want them.

So I finally decided on the following seven categories:

1. Beef

2. Chicken

3. Pork

4. Variety meats (hot dogs, smoked sausage etc)

5. Meatless

6. Leftovers

7. Fish

Gee look at that seven days worth of entrées with one meatless and one leftovers day built in simple, simple.

So I now can plan a week’s worth of meals with those items as the main ingredients, prepare what I can ahead of time and we can eat them in the order we want each week. One week must be completed BEFORE we start the rotation for the next week. That way if we score a free meal out with the mystery shopping (read free meals—great for the budget) then I still have a meal in the roatation to eat before moving on to the next rotation.

So then I started making a list of the various family favorites for each of those seven. An example of this is below.


1. Biscuits and gravy

2. Vegetable soups (I have a bunch of recipes for these)

3. Pancake suppers

4. Salad suppers

5. Macaroni and cheese

6. Cheese and/or veggie pizzas

7. Bean meals

My list included a lot more than this, but you get the idea. I did this for each of the seven categories. Guess what I came up with a year’s worth of meals without duplication quite simply.

Using the same example of the meatless meals I can also prepare a lot of this ahead of time.

1. Biscuits and gravy

a. Make up biscuit Master Mix (recipe is listed in my search engine on the left) while flour is on sale this month. Then for a quick dinner I only need to add oil and water and bake.

b. Make up gravy butter balls ahead of time and freeze. I’ll post this recipe when I do this.

2. If we do well in the garden the fresh produce will be used for this as it grows and the dried produce will be used when it is out of season.

3. Pancake suppers

a. Pancake Master Mix (recipe is listed in the search engine at the left as well), add oil, our home grown eggs and water as needed.

4. Salad suppers can be the green leafy type, or made with homemade pasta, or a combination of the two.

a. Make up pastas ahead of time

b. Homemade salad dressing Master Mixes (which will be added to the blog as time goes on)

5. Macaroni and Cheese

a. Homemade pasta

b. Freezer cheese sauce mix, recipe will be added at a later date

6. Cheese and/or veggie pizzas

a. Pizza dough Master Mix (recipe to be added later)

b. In season veggies from the garden, frozen or dried veggies from the garden off season

c. Loss leader cheese (April purchase according to link listed above) purchased and frozen.

7. Bean Meals

a. I have a bean cookbook, and there are numerous recipes for beans of all sorts on the web. Beans freeze tremendously well. So this is an item that will be cooked in bulk and frozen for quick meals as time goes on.

Add to these entrées loss leader fruits and vegetables, and keeping portions at a reasonable size should enable us to eat cheaply and healthy. Homemade breads will also add to the meals.

I’m now in the process of listing those various meal ideas on color coded 3X5 cards. Ie: pink for beef, white for chicken, green for meatless etc. This will allow me to mix and match menus each week without having to figure it out each week.

The 3 x 5 cards will also list the ingredients for that entrée so I can watch closely for the loss leaders for it. As I lay in a supply of the loss leaders I will then mark each one as I have it in inventory.

Having the menus all figured out in this manner will also let me see how much of what I need to lay in a supply of.

Can I do it on $1 a day like Ashley, in truth it seems pretty hard, but I’m going to do it as closely as I possibly can. Even if I spend slightly over that, I am definitely going to come out the financial winner on the grocery budget.

So will you join us to eat our way to a better state of health both physically and financially?

Jan who thinks the plan will work in OK


  1. Wonderful plan! I'm also interested in your year round gardening.
    Eastport, Maine

  2. thanks,

    For year round gardening or gardening of any type I recommend the following books:

    Lasagna Gardening: A New Layering System for Bountiful Gardens: No Digging, No Tilling, No Weeding, No Kidding! by Patricia Lanza

    Four-Season Harvest: Organic Vegetables from Your Home Garden All Year Long by Eliot Coleman, Barbara Damrosch, and Kathy Bray

    All New Square Foot Gardening: Grow More in Less Space! by Mel Bartholomew

    Also another blogger has joined our challenge, check out Alyneen's blog at:

    Hope you will join us in our year long journey. Jan who is preparing her home for the holidays today in OK

  3. Thanks Jan. I also wanted to let you know that I am on a gluten free diet. It looks like we have three very different diet types doing the challenge. That should make things interesting!!

  4. This is great, because with our varied diets, locations and life styles we'll be able to show people that ANYONE can do it.

    Anyone reading this Alyeen has started a yahoogroups list for this challenge at:

    Come join us.

    Jan who is posting on the new email list for this challenge right now in OK.

  5. We've had a fourth blogger join our challenge. You can follow Angela's progress on this challenge at:

  6. Sounds like you have a great plan! I too am doing a challenge in January. 30 days of nothing. We are going to live as simply as possible halting all spending and only spending $1 a day for the month (I have a lg stockpile both in the freezer and pantry-due to lots of loss leader stocking up).

    Good luck. I look forward to reading your progress. Feel free to head over to my site and read about our journey.