In response to the blog post Accomplishments by age 18 submitted by a reader who goes by the name of "Matilda," some people expressed an interest in knowing how exactly this family plans meals for a family of eight for $200/month. So I invited Matilda to send in her techniques. (Her children's names have been changed.) Here is her response.
Sure! I'll make it a homeschool assignment for the kids to write up - they'd get a kick out of seeing their words online and are quite proud of how well they did - Elvis is helping a friend build a pole barn south of town, so Susan and Betty (our newly adopted daughter) will write a five-paragraph theme (remember those?) overnight and email it to you in the morning.
We actually gave them the following as an assignment on Oct 7th this year:
a) Scenario: the economy has grown far worse overnight because of dollar collapse, oil shock, whatever;
b) We can only afford to drive to the store once a month now because gas is scarce;
c) Using the inventory we have from our preparedness food storage program as a base, come up with a meal plan for a week per each one of you (we have three teens at home cc'd above) for $200 per week max;
d) They used Hillbilly Housewife's meal plan website;
e) They planned so well that they were able to buy all three weeks for $204 total!
f) They each cooked their respective meal plans for a week;
g) It helped that, like you, we have cattle so we have a beef in the freezer, & eggs from our chickens and venison, elk & such from hunting;
h) We had leftovers for lunch, pancakes, eggs & steak for breakfast, and darn good suppers every day - we ate very very well :>)
i) The kids liked this so much (and Mommy too!) that they now each have a week of cooking, a week of dishes and a week off on a rolling basis - at ages 13, 14 & 15 we have children who can consistently plan meals, rotate food storage, prepare the meals and shop smartly;
j) I was counting on this as a weight reduction scheme - however, to my pleasant surprise the meals have been so good (with only a few exceptions) that I have not lost one of my extra 20 lbs .... last night was venison backstrap teriyaki fried in buttermilk pancake batter, sautéed green beans (we canned) over white rice.
We gave them a max budget of $200 each for a week. However, with coupons and smart shopping they came in at $204 for the remainder of that month (Oct 7th to Oct 31st). Again, having a steer, venison, elk in the freezer along with fresh eggs helped that budget to no end
Here is the post sent in by Matilda's teens:
This is Susan and Betty:
We wanted to let you know that we really love your blog. We enjoyed seeing pictures of your animals. =)
When we got this assignment, we first went through websites to see what would be quick, easy, and yummy. We all used (www.hillbillyhousewife.com)&(allrecipes.com) which were both very helpful to find recipes that would serve enough, and would take less time; like crockpot meals.
Then from there we made a outline of what we would make every day. For breakfast we made bacon, eggs, and toast. For lunch we had leftovers. For dinner we did a meal, veggies of a sort, and a side dish.
We went through the outline & recipes, and made a list of what we needed. From the list we went through our inventory list, and shortened our list. We also have meat in the freezer so we took those things off the list.
Now we looked through the newspaper to see what store had the lowest prices. When we got to the store we took our list, and shopped. We came out with all we needed, we spent $204 on food, for a family of eight, for one month.
Now looking at those steps its seems very easy, and it is. A good thing to do is have a budget, we were only allowed to spend $100 a piece for the rest of the month. However, we only spent $204 together for the rest of that month.
Sample dinners we had were:
Lentil Soup with fresh homemade baked bread
Ham, au gratin potatoes
Pulled Pork sandwiches with cole slaw
Beer Can Chicken
Chili and corn bread
Beef Stew and fresh bread
Thank you so very much for letting us write this for your blog.
Susan & Betty
I think you'll agree that Matilda and her husband are doing a splendid job raising these kids!