Doing the broke dance – a week of meals for $100

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We all have fears and things that create anxiety in our lives. For me it’s money or the lack thereof. I hate being broke more than anything and I can tend towards obsessiveness around finances. Not that I’m good at it. In fact I kind of suck and that really doesn’t help. It takes me a million hours to create a budget and make sure the bills are all paid.

Looking back my concerns probably started in university. I had next to nothing and there were times where the best meal plan I could create was rice with either hot sauce or soy sauce. Coffees were an absolute luxury and I snuck on the train to get to school. I hated it and everything I thought it said about me. Since then I’ve always squirrelled a little away or stockpiled toilet paper and pasta to get us through the little bumps that all families face.

Until now… when I’m facing my fears head on.
Finishing maternity leave then returning to work and paying for two kids in daycare, along with my hubby’s job insecurity have stretched us pretty thin. Plus there always seems to be something that happens taking away any last bit of safety net we had. And now we are broke. Not broke like “I really shouldn’t buy these boots” broke, but broke as in “me and my broke ass rolled change for gas”. God, my stomach just turned writing that.

It is so deep in me to never admit that I can’t cut it and never talk about money that I actually feel nauseous writing about it. I know I’m not the first person to have this happen, so many of us are stretched super thin right now. Even more so if keeping up appearances is a priority. No one wants to have to say, “I can’t get coffee I have no money”, or pass on a dinner date because it’s just not in the budget. It’s embarrassing and opens ourselves up to potential judgement on how we do spend our money. But the reality of hiding our financials means either being a recluse or causing an ulcer trying to pay for a latte. I’ve even been stalling on taking a class with a potential new friend because I can’t bring myself to tell her the drop in is too much for me. Seems kind of silly when I write it all out huh. I mean really, what do I actually think will happen?

And at the same time having my worst fear come true has been kinda freeing. I have no control over what happens next because there is no wiggle room. I’ve done my best to budget, cut back and tighten those belts but after that it is really out of my hands. And I’m still happy, my life is still good. The earth didn’t open up and swallow me whole and the banks didn’t rush over and take my house. Weird…

I definitely don’t want to live like this for long and trust me I am planning on clawing my way out of this hole tooth and nail. Until then though I’ll take comfort in the little things. I still have a super tasty meal on the table each night, my kids are clothed and happy and we have a roof over our head. Small blessings right, although to some I think those are pretty huge and I sure won’t be taking them for granted any more.

Once again crappy circumstances have provided me a chance to reflect on what I do have and I find myself pretty grateful for the life I live.

So here is my broke ass meal plan for the week. I only spent $100 on groceries and the rest I am taking from our deep freeze, garden and cupboard. My husband and I took leftovers every day this week for lunches and breakfasts were mostly cereal, fruit or toast with PB&J. I also got some amazing suggestions for making incredibly nutritious and yummy oatmeal breakfasts on my Facebook page. Hopefully I can share those too because I sure know I’ll be trying most of them.

Sunday

Roast Beef Supper

Roast Beef Supper

Roast Beef
The beef that I bought over the summer is a real saving grace right now. I can do an amazing Sunday supper and barely spend a dime. Served with garlic mash, peas, sauteed kale from our garden and for the first time successful Yorkshire puddings! It’s my uncle’s recipe and if he gives the okay I will share it because they turned out amazing.

Monday

Chickpea Tacos
Cutting out the meat saves money and these tacos are good enough for even most die hard carnivores. I use a combination of corn, red peppers, tomatoes and spices with the chickpeas to make a not only healthy but flavourful taco.

Tuesday

Beef Dips with sauteed Green Beans

Beef Dips with sauteed Green Beans

Beef Dips with Green Beans
I made two roasts on Sunday and here’s where the second got used. I sauteed an onion in a little butter and balsamic and once soft I added the left over gravy. Then I poured in half beef stock and half water until it was perfect for dipping. To make the sandwiches I toasted buns, slathered them with mayo and horseradish and then dipped thinly sliced roast beef in the sauce. Once it had a little hot tub I piled it onto the buns and served the rest of the sauce on the side for dipping. With sauteed green beans this was a super delicious way to use leftovers and it probably only took 20 minutes to throw together.

Wednesday

Grill Cheese and Soup
A hidden can of soup from the back of the cupboard made for a quick and easy mid week meal.

Thursday

Mexi Hash and Eggs

Mexi Hash and Eggs

Hash and Eggs with a Mexi twist
My hubby wanted nacho fries but I think this is the closest I’ll get. I diced an onion, three medium russet potatoes and 4 strips of bacon. I first crisped the bacon and then added the onion and potato plus a big spoon of chili powder and a dash of chipotle (some are super spicy) over medium-medium high heat. Once the potatoes were close to cooked I added a handful of thinly slices mushrooms and a diced red pepper. I kept this cooking and tossed it only occasionally so that the potatoes could brown and start to crisp a little. Once everything was happy and cooked I reduced the heat to medium-low, tossed in some chopped cilantro then sprinkled the top with cheese and cracked an egg per person on the top (2 for hubbers). I covered the pan and let the eggs cook but kept the centres runny. I had plain yogurt, hot sauce, salsa and fresh diced tomatoes on the table to top it all off. It was delicious, took 20 minutes and only cost a couple of bucks to make.

Friday

Dinner at the Parents
I was planning on making split pea soup with home made biscuits but really, who’d say no to free food, no dishes and a vissie?? So woo hoo a jump on next week.

Saturday

Marinated beef with curried yogurt

Marinated beef with curried yogurt

Curried Yogurt Marinated Beef with Feta Sauce
A new recipe for this week. I had stewing beef that I really didn’t want to make stew with. Instead I marinated it in this amazing, flavourful marinade that kind of makes me think of shwarma and donairs having a baby. Served in multigrain roti with diced tomatoes, and cucumbers and feta yogurt sauce, I will be making this a staple for now on.

So that’s how I fed my family on a super tight budget. I know some people get by on a lot less so I am beyond thankful for what we do have. If you ever have a few extra bucks you may want to consider donating it to a local food bank. No family should go hungry

PS. I’m too broke to do anything for awhile but I’ll happily go for a walk and I make a mean chai so come on over any time, I still love company.

If you want to join the conversation we’ve got a little food community over at www.facebook.com/myweeklydish. I love to hear from everyone and I post daily supper ideas. I’m also on Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest:)

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4 thoughts on “Doing the broke dance – a week of meals for $100

  1. So sorry to hear that you’re going through a rough patch financially. You are absolutely not alone. I’ve been doing the financial security dance since before I could spell the word finances.

    One thing that I’ve learned is that dried beans and legumes are my friends. Rice is wonderful, but sometimes I needed some protein and I couldn’t afford meat. Other things, like learning to roast a chicken and then use the bones for stock, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been able to feed me and my husband on about $11 for two chickens, then home-made bread (pennies for a loaf) and if we had some extra cash, some veggies.

    Eventually I found we could eat pretty well for a dollars on the day. If you ever want some pointers, I’ll be happy to pass some recipes your way.

    Hang in there.

    • Thank you for your thoughts.
      Each week we find new ways to stretch that dollar a little further, especially with suggestions from those in similar circumstance.
      Home made bread is next on the list to tackle!
      It’s always nice to know we’re not alone and I think we’re all rooting for each other.
      I wish you the best as well and here’s to having nothing and everything at the same time:)

      • I have a few basic bread recipes that are very simple. If you are looking for a good starter’s break making book, I’d recommend “Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day”. I still use the same basic recipe, except that I do an overnight rise which allows me to use significantly less yeast (1/2 tsp instead of 3/4 Tbs per batch). If you ever start making bread a lot, you’ll find that yeast, even in jars, is large part of the cost of bread making.

        I wish you luck and happiness in your bread-making ventures. I’ve found that home-made bread tastes so much better than almost anything you can buy.

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