"Not all of us can do great things. But we can do small things with great love."
Mother Teresa

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Menus and Meatballs

I have been making a weekly dinner menu for many years.  I think I started doing it when I went back to work after a break to stay home with my young kids.  I love making lists and feeling organized.
I looked at store ads in those days but pretty much made the menu based on what sounded good to me, not what was on sale.  It worked pretty good....one trip to the store for all the ingredients.  Everyone knew what was for dinner and Hubby could start the prep (since he got home first).  My goal was organization more than savings.
These days, living on a fixed retirement income, I've been trying to shop smarter as well.  I still make a weekly menu list but I approach it a little differently.  I first look in my pantry and freezer to see what I have on hand to base meals on.  Then I make a list of any ingredients I need to complete the meals.  I also try hard not to waste food.  I used to buy a bag of potatoes and often threw away half because they went bad before they were used.  Now, if I have a bag of potatoes, you can be sure there will be lots of potatoes eaten that week.
Another thing I take into consideration is our schedule for the week.  Will Hubby be gone for dinner?  Will we have a grandchild to feed for a meal?  Once that is all sorted out I take a look at the store ads and finish my shopping list.  I look for the sale items that we will use and try to stock up on those.  If pork chops are on sale I will buy enough for several meals.  On my last shopping trip I found Kraft ranch dressing for $1 a bottle, and store brand spaghetti sauce for $1 also. That is about a 50% savings.  I bought 8 bottles of each. Once you develop a stockpile of these items you really start to see the savings.  I do limit myself to only buying sale items that I would buy anyway.
  This is one of my favorite recipes, perfect for a busy day.

                                                     PORCUPINE MEATBALLS
1 1/2 lb. Extra lean ground beef
1 Tbsp. Garlic powder
1 to 2 Tbsp. Dried minced onion
1/2 Tbsp. Salt...or to taste
1 cup uncooked rice (I use brown)
1 egg
1 15 oz. (425 g.) can Tomato sauce
1 cup water

Mix together meat, egg, rice, and seasonings.  Wash your hands and get right in there, like making meatloaf.  Smush it around until well mixed.  (I think there is something theraputic about it).
Form into balls about the size of a plum.  Add all meatballs to the crockpot.  Depending on crockpot size, make meatballs large enough (or small enough) to cover the bottom of the crockpot only (not piled on top of each other).
Pour cup of water between and around the meatballs.  The rice will absorb this.
Pour the can of tomato sauce over the top of each meatball.
Cook on high for about 4 hours.  Check at about 3 hours to make sure it hasn't absorbed all the moisture and starts to burn.  I often add another 1/2 cup of water.  You can cook up to about 6 hours but no longer or they will dry out.
Throw together a salad and warm up some garlic bread and dinner is ready.

They were so yummy I forgot to take a picture before we ate them!  Sorry.  I will try to do better next time.

No matter how hard I try I always leave the store feeling like I should be able to save more.  How do you save money at the grocery store?

I also want to welcome my new follower Betsy at The Simple Life of a Queen.  Thanks for your lovely comments Betsy.  I am looking forward to making many new friends in Blog Land.

'Til next time


  1. I used to be much better about making dinner menu's when the kids were home but now that it's just the two of us I have a tendency to just cook "on the fly". I need to improve in this area. I don't waste much food, but we tend to eat out several times a week with friends from church. That gets to be expensive after awhile. Thanks for the recipe, the meatballs look delicious and I'll be trying this out.

    1. Eating out is so tempting isn't it? We have scaled way back on that since trying to get our budget under control. We do eat out a couple times a month and I think that is probably better for our waistlines too.