We did some of our grocery shopping today. My meal plan? Wait... I'm supposed to have one, right?
We got a bunch of corned beef at $0.99 a pound and two heads of cabbage at $0.09 cents a pound. Now see, I see both and think, "Darn it! I need to stock up!" But the problem is that you don't want to get so much that you end up being wasteful. The corned beef we got on sale for $1.49/lb was much nicer in size and marbling and now we have a total of 4 or 5 heads of cabbage waiting to be made into something. No worries though. Cabbage stays good for a long time! (I guess I should move them to the fridge eventually...) We might go back and get more cabbage and corned beef (either the $0.99/lb or the $1.49/lb). Corned beef stays in the freezer for a long time. Also, cooked meats tend to handle being frozen better for longer periods of time, supposedly.
Normally, I try to have a general rule that I buy meat, fruits, or veggies for $0.99/lb or (preferably) less. If it's that price, then I jump on it. These days, that's so much more difficult. Sure, fresh produce will go down in price soon for a while, but who knows if they will hit that mark? Frozen store brands seem to stay pretty close. Knowing I can get chicken for $0.49 to $0.79 per pound is a comfort. The main thing there is being willing to do the extra work (deboning, making broth, etc) and not worry if you aren't getting a lot of white meat. When you aren't getting enough fat in your diet, having dark meat isn't such a bad thing! Also pork loin tends to be pretty inexpensive too and can be used as a substitute for chicken or beef in a number of recipes.
We spent about $15 on food for the next week (I'll give a proper total soon), and will be only picking up a few more things tonight or tomorrow. Cornmeal, butter, milk, onions, perhaps some frozen veggies, and maybe some eggs. I don't think we need anything else really.
As for the milk and butter: We were supposed to pick them up last week, but didn't. I decided we could just make due, and we did. We really didn't need either (and the one time I could have used butter, I used olive oil and was fine). With the milk, I might try a trick that some other people do, which is start drinking reconstituted powdered milk. Some people mix it with regular milk to stretch the milk while saving on cost, and I'm wondering how well that works. I'm not sure I'm ready to just go for drinking chilled reconstituted dry milk straightup. However, if it has the same nutrients, then I'm willing to work towards that. Normal milk would then be used for cooking.
I'm also trying to figure out how to cook lentils. They seem pretty easy. I used to love when my mother would make them with rice, but she used the prepackaged mixes. I have a bag of lentils. Just need to decide what to do with them.
Right now, I have a huge crockpot cooking a goodly amount of corned beef. It's one of the easiest thing to make, in my humble opinion. Lightly coat a pan with vegetable or olive oil and heat on medium to medium high. Take the corned beef, rinse it and pat it dry. Place in the pan and brown all sides. Turn off the stove. Put the corned beef into the crock pot; you may sprinkle in the seasoning, but it's not required. (Trust me, both ways taste great!) Add hot water to the pan (about 1 or 2 cups) and gently scrape the bottom of the pan. This is call deglazing the pan, which allows you to get all the nummy bits the meat left (with all the amazing flavors). Pour the liquid, with the bits of meat stickings, into the crock and add enough water to cover the meat. Cook on high for several hours, until the meat is done (I believe the meat should register 160+ degrees on a meat thermometer). Remove from the liquid, cut, and serve. You can use the leftover liquid from the crock as a base for soup or to cook cabbage and potatoes in. Both are delicious! Very easy, very tasty, and quick prep time. What more can you ask for?