Menu Planning Monday December 6, 2010: Making the most of your ingredients

One of the things that I think is most important when trying to eat on a budget is to really utilize your ingredients. If you don’t plan to use your all of your ingredients then the extras of raw ingredients will be thrown away and cooked ingredients will just sit in the fridge. The coconut chicken we had last night used coconut milk in the dredging process, but it only used about ¾ cup meaning that there was at least a cup left in the can. In our house coconut milk is not the sort of ingredient that we use in large quantities or on a regular basis so I have to plan another meal during the week that uses the remaining amount. I decided to go ahead and improvise a Pad Thai with a “creamy sauce” that will utilize the rest of the coconut milk.

I also take in to consideration the proteins I will be using, even though I buy it on sale meat is too expensive to just cook it all and maybe eat the extras. Instead, I look to see exactly how much is in the package I will be using so that I can make the most of it. The chicken package I am using this week has 9 breasts in it, that works out to be 3 for last night, 2 chopped up in the Pad Thai, 3 baked to have with risotto on Wednesday and the remaining piece I will bake at the same time as the others but reserve it for pizza on Saturday. That means that one package of chicken will make 4 out of 7 meals this week.  When I make slow cooker Carnitas on Thursday I will reserve part of the meat for the other pizza this weekend. Since we are making baked onion rings on Friday I will cut those onions up on Thursday and use the small or broken rings with peppers for the fajitas, otherwise I would have no use for that part of the onion and it would get wasted.

Not only does planning this way help the budget but it also helps me come up with ideas for what to make. I start with the ideas that I have and then see what the extra ingredients are and search for recipes that use the specific type and amount of the food I have. I know that a lot of people plan for a leftovers night to use up the extras but for us that really has never worked. At the end of the day the one thing that really helps our budget is reducing waste.

This week we are having…

For more menu planning ideas check out organizing junkie

Much Love, Aislinn and Emily

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