I have no idea how it happened that I ended up $30-$50 over budget for almost three full weeks in a row in February, but this has got to stop.

Oh, sure, I made up for it, mostly; but the fact remains that it’s just been a month of me spending more money than I intended to at the grocery store, not feeling like we got much to show for it, and getting frustrated in the end with the whole process.  So when I sat down to write the March meal plan, I was DETERMINED not to let another month get away with me — particularly knowing that there will be at least one family dinner out at a restaurant this month, to celebrate my birthday and P.’s.  (I may love to cook, but I’m not making my own birthday dinner!)

This month’s plan reflects my idea about how to practice a little austerity, so to speak, when shopping and cooking.  I’m pulling out a bunch of my favorite money-saving techniques: Cook once, use twice; meatless meals; simple soups and stews; and judicious use of my freezer stash.  The goal is to come in UNDER budget every week in March.  We’ll see how that goes.

Thursday, 3/1: Baked potato bar and side salad
Friday, 3/2: Fend night
Saturday, 3/3: I have a performance tonight, so we’re going to do something super-simple.  I’m planning to test a “food rumor” I have heard, and use the waffle iron to make waffled panini sandwiches.
Sunday, 3/4: Another performance!  I’ll put beef bourgignon in the slow cooker before I leave.
Monday, 3/5: Whole-wheat pasta with beets and goat cheese, salad, fruit
Tuesday, 3/6: Slow cooker — chicken tagine with couscous
Wednesday, 3/7: DIY salad platter
Thursday, 3/8: Minestrone soup, breadsticks
Friday, 3/9: Fend night
Saturday, 3/10: Fun night — I recently inherited my grandmother’s ancient (but pristine) fondue set, so we’re making fondue!
Sunday, 3/11: Sunday Roast Chicken dinner
Monday, 3/12: Chicken and broccoli alfredo, salad
Tuesday, 3/13: Slow cooker — Midwest lentil soup, cornbread
Wednesday, 3/14: Salmon filets with “Miss Sydney’s” marinade (a delicious Asian-inspired marinade made and sold locally by a friend of my parents’), crushed potatoes with herbs, vegetables
Thursday, 3/15: Quesadillas, skillet corn, fruit platter
Friday, 3/16: Fend night
Saturday, 3/17: Slow cooker — Corned beef dinner
Sunday, 3/18: Eggplant parmigiana, salad
Monday, 3/19:Corned beef hash
Tuesday, 3/20: Slow cooker — cheeseburger soup
Wednesday, 3/21: Birthday dinner 🙂
Thursday, 3/22: French onion and mushroom strata, salad
Friday, 3/23: Fend night
Saturday, 3/24: Kid’s choice night
Sunday, 3/25: Ham dinner
Monday, 3/26: Steamed mussels, garlic bread
Tuesday, 3/27: Slow cooker — Mom’s meat sauce over whole-wheat spaghetti, salad
Wednesday, 3/28: Vegetable-cashew stir fry, brown rice, fruit
Thursday, 3/29: Scalloped potatoes with ham, vegetables
Friday, 3/30: Fend night
Saturday, 3/31: Homemade pizzas

Feel free to ask questions, request recipes, or share your own favorite “austerity” measures for saving the family food budget!  And if you haven’t already, make sure to check out the conversation on the RRG Facebook page, where we’re talking about breakfasts and lunches as well — not to mention a hefty dose of food-related news and other awesomeness from all over the internet.