It's really helping out that my mom is volunteering at the food pantry and able to bring us some items that would otherwise be labeled as "waste" (they only are open on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, so what's left on Thursday in terms of fresh produce is usually tossed because it won't hold until the next week, but it's still good.). Most of this, we end up processing for the freezer or dehydrating and using at our leisure.
Just a few of the items we've been gifted from the food pantry include: Panera bread and bagels, jalapeno peppers, potatoes, pomegranates, kiwi, citrus, bananas, fresh herbs, turnips, carrots, mushrooms, and many others. It's not like we get a whole crate, but even a small grocery sack helps to offset our grocery bill and round out our meals.
Here's the menu plan for the month, including some gifted items:
Breakfast: bagels with cream cheese, quiche with gifted eggs from friends, gingerbread muffins with dried cranberries, banana breakfast bars, oatmeal with dried fruit, lemon poppy seed muffins, smoothies, egg and cheese sandwiches, homemade yogurt with cereal and fruit, and "big boy breakfast" of eggs, grits and sausage or bacon.
Lunches: leftovers, egg salad sandwiches, fruit and hard boiled eggs, pasta salad with olives, canned salmon, and veggies
Dinners: lasagna soup with bread and salad, baked potato soup with fixin's, beans and rice with fixins and corn bread, veggie stir fry over rice or noodles with egg rolls, bean tacos/quesadillas with fixins, lentil sloppy joes with cheese and steamed veggies, hot dogs/sausages with sauerkraut and oven fries, Asian ginger chicken with rice, breakfast casserole with smoothies, waffles with fruit and sausage, open faced meatball subs over homemade bread with oven fries, pizza with pesto and veggies, pasta with pesto, and any gifted meals from friends/family once the baby comes.
Snacks: popcorn, dried fruit, yogurt, fresh fruit, carrot sticks and dip, tortilla roll ups with guacamole, sour cream, and salsa, smoothies, crackers with peanut butter
The plan is to make the more labor intensive meals (waffles, lentil sloppy joes, stir fry) early in the month and save the "quick and dirty" ones for once the baby arrives. Many of the easy meals are crock pot meals or one pot meals on the stove, so they will come together quickly. Unlike many of the "recommended" ideas for when you first bring baby home, we will not be doing paper plates, etc. I find this really wasteful on so many levels, and am blessed to have a wonderfully helpful husband who does dishes and knows his way around the kitchen (sometimes more than I do!). So, we'll use our regular stuff and run the dish washer like we always do. We are hopeful that having some meals from friends and family will help to ease the kitchen cleanup, so that it's just plates/silverware we're cleaning up and not the whole kitchen.
Here's what we'll need to purchase this month to make this menu work:
- salad greens (we'll use a gift card so we can buy organic and in bulk)
- avocados/guacamole (HT has this on super doubles this week, so we'll stock up)
- whole grain hot dog buns (I usually make these, but am too tired right now to think about that!)
- organic milk or almond/soy if it's on sale with a coupon
- canned tomato products if they're on sale or have a great coupon
- 5 lbs potatoes (these are on sale at Lowes Foods this week, so I'll probably get them there)
- paper towels (these are on sale at HT)
- diapers (not a food item, but necessity before baby fits into our cloth ones... on sale at HT w/ super doubles)
- large bag of popping corn (still can't find this locally in bulk... ideas for online?)
- kefir (for smoothies and general health in recovering after the baby arrives)
- yogurt (if deeply discounted, there's some at HT this week for less than 20 cents a carton)
And here's what we'll be making from scratch:
- whole grain sandwich bread (I may cheat and use a gift card to buy a loaf from the local bakery, if I'm too tired)
- cooking dry beans (lentils and either black/pinto beans) for easy use later
- of course all our regular meals, as mentioned above