Dec. 29th, 2014

strryeyedgrrl: (Default)
Last year, as many of you may know, we finally moved out of cramped apartment living into our equivalent of a big kid bed - from one bedroom to three, a roomy kitchen and dining area, and finally a living room to fit that giant couch that had our names on it.

We'd spent the last 2.5 years in a tiny apartment owned by my father - it served its purpose see us through a tough financial time where the best we could afford for a roof and four walls was roughly $500 a month. By the time we were back on our feet, we were making far more combined than our monthly bills...add in a cramped living and eating space and we were prime for the trap we fell into:

Eating dinner out as often as possible.

When we moved, our rent doubled - and with that meant the end of eating out so frequently. I recognized that the hardest parts of cooking for my family had not only been the lack of space in the kitchen, but also a matter of having time, a plan, and the right ingredients for meals on hand. In years past, I could never guarantee what time I'd get home from work, but now my schedule had evened out.

So we made a family pledge to eat at home more than we went out. I bought a crockpot, started making a biweekly menu, and began shopping wholly online from Safeway delivery to give myself better opportunity to be slow and methodical about ingredients.

We've had our missteps along the way - there were times we went out more than we ate from home, but those were the exception rather than the rule. I learned from each stumbling block - I needed to plan better for soccer practice nights and those 2.5 weeks of cookie booths. Holidays and family visits threw the same monkey wrenches at times. Leftover Days needed to be abided by and not made into excuses to run out for fast food or for the kid to cook up ramen or Spaghettios. When the fridge started to run too full of leftovers, I took a hard look at the menu items and pared them down to suit our family of three.

As I look towards the end of December, I'm pretty pleased to say that we achieved our goal. I'm the primary dinner cook in our house and I'll admit that I was daunted by the possibility of having to make this meal every night after a long day at work. To have made as many meals as I did...well, let's just say that I'd like my homemaker medal now, thank you very much.

What's the point of this post, besides to pat myself on the back? Well, I wanted to share all of the meals we made this year. Some were staples that required little prep, while others were culled from that internet masterpiece called Pinterest. I managed to keep hold of just about every two week menu (save for a couple that I may have inadvertently saved over when creating the next week's) I put together in the last twelve months. There's even links if I have them!

Some were winners, some were losers. I'm not going to go into full reviews here, but if you want to ask, I can try to remember if something sucked or was declared a keeper.

If you're looking to reduce your meal costs, I can't stress enough how well this worked out for us. I know it seems simple - duh, make a plan and stick to it, right? I'm a girl of little willpower, though, you see. So this was crazy talk at first. It worked, though, and I'd recommend it to anyone.

All right, enough from me. Onto the foods!

What the Knaacks Ate in 2014 )


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