Each week, I read posts from a handful of my favorite money saving blogs. Every now and then, I’ll stumble on a line that goes something like this, “This month I ended up with $128.36 left in my grocery envelope.” Gulp. Seriously? I get excited if I have $2.83 left at the end of the month. And odds are that I will splurge and buy a bag of Sunchips with it. Preferably French Onion.
Kudos to those of you who have extra change rattling around in your grocery budget. I am seriously impressed. More often than not, when the end of the month rolls around, I have zip left in the ol’ grocery envelope, and we eat pancakes for dinner.
It’s not for lack of planning or effort. I am a hard core menu planner and from-scratch cook. Each Monday morning I sit down and sketch out the week’s dinners. I check my pantry and freezer and cookbook, matching up recipes with store deals and seasonal produce. Like many of you, though, I’m working with a slim budget and hungry appetites. I love the challenge of making the former feed the latter, even if I don’t have $128.36 to show for it at the end of the month.
To spare your family from eating cold cereal or ramen noodles for the next three days, Kate and I have pulled together a list of our favorite end-of-the month dinner ideas. Some use just pantry staples. Many add a handful of fresh ingredients. Some cook all day in a crock pot. Others can be thrown together in ten minutes. All are easy to make and delicious to eat.
Spaghetti with Roasted Marinara Sauce
Chicken with Tomatoes and Garlic – I made this for dinner last night without setting foot in the grocery store first. It was super simple and delicious.
Macaroni & Cheese – This is my favorite recipe for classic Mac n’ Cheese from scratch. I skip the baking step so it’s extra creamy and cheesy.
Breakfast for Dinner
Biscuits & Gravy
Waffles – I’m a big fan of Bob’s Red Mill whole grain mixes (Amazon)
Eggs, Bacon, Hashbrowns, and Toast or Muffins
Super Simple Suppers
Simple Roast Chicken – When whole fryers are on sale around .70/pound, this is an incredibly easy and economical main dish.
Pizza – I keep a stash of toppings (shredded cheese, pepperoni, ham, sausage, olives, pineapple, etc.) in my freezer at all times to make assembling pizzas a snap. My pizza dough loving heart belongs to Artisan Bread in Five Minutes. Or call in the Pillsbury Dough Boy for back-up. Your secret is safe with me. Whatever method you prefer, you can have a delicious pizza on the dinner table in no time flat.
Shepherd’s Pie – I have been on the hunt for the perfect Shepherd’s Pie. After four mediocre attempts, this recipe is the next one on my list.
Find more vegetarian dinner ideas here.
Crock Pot Creations
Pulled Pork Sandwiches – Serve these on Moomie’s Beautiful Burger Buns, and your husband will shower you with diamonds and roses. Or… do the dishes and put the kids to bed, which I’d take over diamonds any day of the week.
Simple Beef Stroganoff
Tortellini Soup – This is stockpile soup at its best.
Six Can Chicken Tortilla Soup – If you can operate a can opener, you can make this soup. Mix and match ingredients to fit your pantry and preferences. Take it up a notch by topping the finished soup with some tortilla chips, sour cream, and/or avocado slices
Cheddar Corn Chowder – Comfort in a bowl.
Rice & Beans
This list is just a start, but hopefully it’ll give you a few ideas to tide you over until payday and also inspire you in the new year. Find tons of weekly menu plans here.
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