Monday, August 25, 2014

Running our house - food and meal planning

I was asked to write a post about how we manage to run our house with all seven people in it. Now, it somewhat depends on the season. During the summer we don't have to worry about school lunch meals (which Joshua faithfully packs every day for the each of the kids, along with making bread daily for their sandwiches).

We rarely buy bread products; we have a bread maker for sandwich bread, things like buns and dinner rolls are easy enough to make by hand, and you really can't compare the flavor of homemade corn tortillas to anything you buy at the store.

The really big secret for us is ingredients.  This is our freezer section (we have another little freezer entirely devoted to rhubarb, mostly for Rhubarb Chicken Risotto, a family favorite).

Last year we got a half steer, two pigs, 10 chickens (beef, pork, and these chickens are all pastured and near-organic; I prefer my farmers to be able to treat their animals when they need it than get something with an organic seal), about 240lbs of chicken breasts, 4-10 ducks, quarters of parmesan wheels. We also get bags of fish (I'm still looking for a good local bulk source of fish, but it's hard), and as you can see, Fla-Vor-Ice.  Because hey, kids!

Then there's the dry goods:

Yeah, we buy in bulk (side note to self: out of sesame oil!). You'll see gallons of olive oil and duck fat, five different kinds of rice in two to five gallon containers (regular long grain white, short grain japanese sushi rice, arborio for risotto, basmati, and brown), five gallon containers of flour (all purpose) and quinoa, one gallon containers of everything from whole wheat flour to mushrooms (shitaake, maitake, porcini, and when we're lucky morels), quarts of nuts, sesame seeds, various herbs and spices, polenta, masa harina, panko crumbs, liters of rice vinegar and soy sauce, and shelf-stable chicken and beef broth concentrate in ~gallon packages (seriously, this stuff is wonderful, best flavor next to homemade -- which I make as much as I can and it isn't enough).

Joshua and Duncan prepare to Farmer's Market!
So from these stocks of ingredients I start making my plans for meals. Next, during the not summer (most of the year) I look through the grocery store circular to see what veggies are on sale/special that week and check To Your Health to see what organic veggies are in stock; during the part of the year when the farmers market is open we go down to one of the local ones and see what's available.  Many times we also end up visiting Sam's Club (sigh, what I wouldn't give for a Costco) to see what they've got veggie-wise too. Here's what we ended up with for this week:

That's 3 red peppers, 3 banana peppers, two avocados, two limes, two lemons, five tomatoes, 10 tomatillos, six sweet bells, two bok choy, a bag of grapes (we usually go through fruit faster than anything; it's one reason multiple trips to the store are needed in a week), a bag of spinach, a bunch of carrots, two bunches of green onions, 13 ears of sweet corn, and multicolor swiss chard.

We have two half gallons of milk, but we'll be getting more milk and some cheese on Tuesday (the day the milk comes to To Your Health).

So here's the dinner meal plan for the week:

Monday: Tacos with Carnitas, salsa fresca and guacamole
Tuesday: Chicken and pork jambalaya
Wednesday: Hamburgers with creamed swiss chard
Thursday: Chili Verde (it's a pork-y week)
Friday: Yakisoba
Saturday: PROFIT!! Oh wait, no. Probably ribs or schwarma or something.

And... that's about it. Total cost per meal is usually around 10 bucks (wine always blows the budget, but it's yummy!)


Anonymous said...

I love this! What are your go-to recipe sources?

I'm so hungry right now.

Tasha said...

I've read through a bunch of cookbooks (my meatball recipe is Henry Hill's. Not kidding), but when I come to wanting to try something new I tend to google a bunch of different recipes, and I use my judgement to discover which parts of which recipes I want to use, and make my own version. After a couple of times making the dish I use the recipes I've come up with and try to write them down (many of them are on here) - or, if I'm making a dessert, I go to my mom and get her recipes.