Monday, May 19, 2014

Let's talk money - suppers

Post 1 on breakfasts here
Post 2 on lunches here

This post is probably the easiest of the lot because we all eat together and yay, it's all the same food.

Except for Connor with his hatred of potatoes.

Yes, I also don't know where he gets that!

I took the time over the years to make a list of favourite foods everybody likes - first time years ago when it was just the two of us - and then again late last year.

If I'm stumped, I have a look at my list and add some of those things into the rotation.

So what do we eat?

Rice X 2 - we cook 2 cups a week - that's enough for the two meals
Pasta X 2 - we cook 1 500 g bag - that's also enough for the two meals, when I add some garlic bread into the second rotation
Pizza X 1 - I buy one bag of swiss chard, Nanny S chops it and we make a lot of pizza bases once a month, partially bake it and freeze)
Potatoes X 1 - 6 - 8 potatoes lasts us two weeks....
Sandwiches/ wraps X 1 - wraps are expensive (R28,99 for 6 for the small ones, and R39,99 for the big ones) but we like to make cheese and apple quesadillas. Just discovered Se7en's wraps so will try later this week.

chicken, fish, beef stir-fry, sausages, mince, probably one night meat-free (not really intentionally about being "meat-free" but more about convenience).

My one friend has a set menu for every night - "oh, it's Tuesday, that means it's bobotie". I can't do that because I'm way too spontaneous. Yes, the one place I'm unstructured is the kitchen - the menu plan is the last bit of structure - and yet if it's followed 5 nights a week, I'm very happy. At some point, I just like to clear out the fridge so we'll eat a hodge-podge of things. Someone will have one set of leftovers, another will eat something else and the kids will eat something else.

A typical menu:

M - stirfried beef, veggies (a bag of coleslaw and some broccoli) and rice
T - pasta and bolognaise sauce (in summer, with a salad; in winter, I make the sauce with more veg. My sauce has onions, tomatoes, carrots and sometimes pumpkin and broccoli but no-one knows!)
W - baked potatoes/ spinach pizza, chicken/ fish in a box, carrots
T - rice, chicken casserole with mushrooms/ broccoli, carrots
F - soup, toasted cheese and tomato/ toast with baked beans/ toast and egg
S - creamy pasta like macaroni cheese (again, I hide carrots - no one knows - shhhh!) because it's the day I get weighed so there's a whole 7 days to fix my eating)
S - light supper with whatever needs to get finished

When I cook, I cook 500g of chicken at a time, and 500g of mince (ground beef) for bolognaise sauces.

Chicken - feeds us all properly for one meal with rice (300g), and for the second, will feed us all if I use pasta.
Mince - I add so many other things including 2 cans of tomato that it makes a TON. E.g. I cooked a big pot last week of April and we'll finish that tomorrow because we had about 4 - 5 portions. We can all eat at least 2 meals and there's enough for a D and M portion too.

I portion out things immediately. When the pot of food is cooked, I dish, put the rest into a container, label and when it's cool, put into the freezer and add to the "inventory".

Bolognaise sauce - same story. I usually cook this in addition to something else so I'll have about 4 containers out of food when this pot is done.

I know there are a lot of you who eat no carb and low carb and whatnot... I eat carbs! I follow Weigh-Less portion sizes; the rest eat as they want but we all eat everything.

haven't made this for a while; will make it tomorrow, I think :)
Laura was very good at estimating how much it cost for each meal for the month; I have no idea because I don't think like that.

Because we eat such a variety of things, I don't buy meat and chicken every week, or even every month.

So my best guess is about R125 - R150 for the meat portions  per week. Actually that's scary because I spend that on ME ALONE eating out once at Doppio Zero....

We buy extra lean everything as far as the red meat is concerned... and de-skinned, de-boned chicken br.easts, usually the Goldi frozen 2 kg bag of br.easts for R90 at Checkers once every 4 - 6 weeks because our PnP just never seems to have it anymore. The chicken/ fish in a box is about R40 a box for one meal for us. If there's an extra piece left, the kids will have that one to share the following day for their protein with lunch.

Has this helped anyone? I feel like I'm going into my default - too much detail!
Did you get any tips on what to do or what not to do?


  1. To label food! My mom does it but I never thought to do it. Now I'm going to start. I always just hope that I get out the food in the right order in which I want them eaten. Of course I fail dismally :(

    What so you use to label? My mom uses plain masking tape

  2. Me too! The best tip ever from "confessions of an organized homemaker". I do jazz it up now and again with washi tape, but plain masking tape is still the best!

  3. I love your favourite recipe folder and the detail with which you went into . I think we will save loads if we can stop eating out, but that is something we are still working on. How do you prevent your food from getting freezer burn?

    1. Thank you!

      You could try setting an eating out goal - either R value or x number of meals.

      My food isn't in the freezer long enough for freezer burn :) I get impatient after a bit and then we eat from the pantry and freezer for a week or two to entirely use up all the food (that is my best - I get way too excited by an empty fridge :))

  4. Shooo! I use 1 kg of meat at a time. (i cook for 4 adults and 2 kids). I also try one meatless meal a week. General I make veg pizza...or our favourite "cheese and tomato" Omelettes. I also used to use tins but now I use "fresh grated tomatoes" instead. (tomatoes must be grated otherwise it takes longer to cook). Must add some spicy sausage into our meals

    1. I've linked to that spicy sausage recipe before but it's also on my "virtual recipe book" board on Pinterest ----->>


  5. Thank you for doing this! It makes so much sense now - remember in my post I said I think the difference is portion size and this proves it for me :))

    We use 500g mince per meal with a tin of tomato in - if I do a pasta then there is usually a little left over.

    I use 5-6 deboned breasts per meal so buy 3-4 of those trays at PnP per month - they average R75 each. Again depending on what I cook will determine the left overs.

    I used to use 2 cups of rice per meal for us but now that D and I are cutting down on the carbs (and rice contains gluten I discovered) I use 1 cup for the kids and often it's not enough (depends on the meal)

    What fish do you buy? I battle to get fish under R55 and thats on special - we don't do the crumbed one - so I usually get the 5/6 portion Hake - depends whats on special. Jack and Kiara have fish fingers and there is always a brand on special at PnP so I usually only buy once ever 2 months.

    PS The only reason I knew the prices was because I had just done the shopping and the till slip was next to me :))

    THANK YOU for doing this - I was getting a bit obsessed about it

    1. It's a pleasure just for you!

      Please go get the Goldi chicken - I will email you a pic in a few minutes. You will save TONS on the chicken alone.

      I buy any fish (I & J, Sea Harvest, whichever is cheaper on the day. I buy fish fingers and fish pieces, but I don't like to pay more than R40 a box. If nothing is cheap enough, I skip it).

  6. This helped me. We eat too much meat. And I don't buy frozen chicken and fish etc, I tend to buy fresh. I also have started to keep an accurate log of exactly what I'm spending my money on so I can see where I am hemmoraging money. So far this month I've spend nearly 6k on groceries (including cleaning materials etc). I'm mortified that my bill is SO excessive!

    1. Wait til you read the cleaning stuff version next week!

      I'm DELIGHTED you're tracking your spending (seriously, I get happy when people track anything...)

      I used to buy fresh chicken for a LONG time til it got so expensive. No more.

  7. You get frozen deboned chicken breasts? For R90 for 2kg? I think you have just made my day! I cook 1kg mince and then we have two meals. 1 and a half chicken's pieces is one meal for us. And I also want to know re fish? So expensive

    1. I checked the slip now because I bought a bag of chicken on Sunday and it was R79,99. It's in that region. I started buying them when they were R49,99 each years ago. Those days are gone forever.

      According to W-L, 60 g is one portion of protein (beef). When I learnt that, I adjusted my portions accordingly so from a 500g pack of mince, I need to get at least two meals (for 4 people each), and now I do.

  8. You are organised.i hatecooking. If I had loads of money I would hire a cook.

  9. Thank you so much for linking to our wraps... I think they are nearly all my kids favorite feasts, first choice of meal at every single birthday!!! I'm with you on the mince... stuff it with so much stuff and... never ever use more than 500g to feed us at a meal. We have a very flexible meal schedule: Monday mince (cottage pie, lasagne, spaghetti); Tuesday the kids have mac'ncheese,Mother in law Wednesday - always roast chicken pieces - feed her what she likes!!! Thursday curry or something new, Friday - burgers or wraps; Saturday - we are teaching starving student friends to cook at the moment - so whatever they want to learn and Sundays soup or eggs on toast. So we have a schedule - stops all the folk who have to know "what's for dinner?" or they can't face the day - and it is flexible enough for those of us who like to go with the flow!!! Fab series - interesting to see what everyone really eats!!!

  10. Dinners here are typically spontaneous as well. Aaron eats leftovers for lunch, if there are even any. And then usually once a week we'll have everyone do a 'make it yourself' kind of night, where the kids can eat whatever leftovers, a sandwich, etc.

    We get paid 2x a month, so I grocery shop twice a month, and from there make the meals. We tend to order pizza once during the pay period, and sometimes eat out one other time.

    Typical meals:

    Tacos & refried beans
    Chicken & Broccoli braid
    Chili w/rice
    Pasta/sauce/ground beef/veggies
    Baked chicken w/potatoes & veggies
    Mac & cheese, hot dogs, veggies
    Breakfast casserole - eggs, sausage, hashbrowns, cheese in the crockpot
    Burgers on the grill, potato salad
    BBQ chicken sandwiches, coleslaw
    Tatertot casserole
    Chicken, rice, veggies stir fry

    And usually each paycheck I get one *big* meal- like a big ham, giant roast, etc. We'll do that on a Sunday and have the leftovers whenever.

  11. We do beef, pork, chicken and fish. Nothing frozen or boxed - I don't even buy fish-fingers anymore. It's all fresh - this is where a lot of my money goes. I go to a Pnp with a Fish shop or I buy straight from the fisherman. I no longer buy rice either - I don't really eat it and they were wasting too much. I also made about 2 cups per week. As soon as they start wasting something then I stop buying it. They don't ask for it which means that they don't miss it.
    We do lots of sweet potatoes and wraps and we(OK they) do pasta. I tend to take leftovers to work OR I freeze and keep it for soup. I DEFINITELY need to get back into bulk/batch cooking. And I need to explore things like cooking my own stock and making my own mayo.


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