I don’t know about you, but those few weeks before Christmas we seem to really feel the budget crunch of the approaching holiday. We’re good budgeters here in Egypt, so we were prepared for the crunch, but still the addition of the purchase of overseas plane tickets, plus all the expenses that will come with a trip to the U.S., caused a slightly trimmed, and very firm grocery budget for the month. Not to mention, as we will be gone for several weeks, we want to leave a bare fridge and cabinets.
So here’s a good sample of our week before Christmas budget meals. Delicious, filling, and uses mostly things you’ve already got in your cabinets, plus some veggies and a little bit of meat.
Day 1: Garden lasagna
We really like this one, and it makes tons! We were able to get 1 dinner for the 4 of us, 1 lunch for the 4 of us, and a second lunch for my husband. You could use a bag of frozen mixed veggies if you need to trim the budget even more.
This chili has 1 lb of chicken breasts chopped small, so they go a long way. We were able to get dinner & 2 adult lunches out of both the chili and cornbread. It’s got a pretty thin consistency, so you could totally make some buttermilk (sour regular milk with a bit of vinegar or lemon juice) to sub for the whipping cream. Same thing for the cornbread- if you don’t have buttermilk, sour some regular milk.
Day 3: BBQ Lentils over Baked Potatoes
I modified the linked recipe for the BBQ lentils I made. I will post an updated recipe of how I did the lentils later this week, but if you play with her ingredients you’ll get a nice lentil topping for potatoes! We added a little butter and shredded cheese and YUM. So good! Don’t discount lentils as a good sub for pricer meat- still amazing in the taste department! We got dinner plus lunch for all of us out of these guys.
Day 4: Corn and Cheese Enchiladas
GUYS. FOR REAL. These are AH-MA-ZING. My kids could eat and eat these. They are never refused. We used the smaller corn tortillas and were able to get 20 enchiladas (though the last 3 just had cheese in the filling because we ran out of the corn mixture). So I use way more cheese than it calls for I’m sure (I’m always an over cheeser!), and I make my own enchilada sauce in 10 minutes from things I have in my cabinets. FYI- on the corn mixture in the enchiladas- I don’t know what kind of wizarding magic she uses to somehow thicken her corn mixture with no thickening agent. I always add a few tbsp of flour to thicken it once its warm on the stove. We got dinner and lunch for the 4 of us out of this one.
(Another FYI on the DIY enchilada sauce– it calls for some sort of huge amount of chili powder. I don’t use anywhere close to that– I use a T or so to taste. A little zing on the tongue, but not burning my toddler’s mouths off. And I sub butter for veg oil.)
Day 5: Ground Turkey Stroganoff
This one is SUUUUUPER simple. I don’t use the mushroom stems (babies won’t eat them), and if I have sour cream left, I use it. If not, I use plain yogurt, which I always have in the house. Obv you’ve gotta cook some noodles to throw this over. We get a dinner and lunch for the babies out of this one.
The recipe just calls for 2 chicken breasts, but there’s no way my family of 4 would eat just that for dinner. So I’ll do a pound of chicken and we will have leftovers for at least 1 of us for lunch. I always have unsweetened coconut in my pantry, so I’ll use that vs sweetened. Also, the honey mango dipping sauce is amazing, but mango can be $$$, and we find that regular old honey mustard works just fine (honey + brown mustard + yogurt or mayo if you want, but neither are necessary).
Day 7: Breakfast for dinner
This is a great way to have a plan for dinner, but also be able to use up leftovers if you need to. We usually do cheesy scrambled eggs and these delicious eggless pancakes (no allergies here, just a yummy easy recipe), plus whatever fruit we need to use up in the house!
Happy budget crunching and dinner munching!