How To Plan A Month of Food
Monday, March 16, 2009
We need to restock the pantry in a bad way. I plan to buy a month's worth of food (shelf stable staples), and make weekly grocery runs for the perishables (milk, produce) and loss leaders.

But how much to buy? There are many online calculators you can check, but they weren't specific enough for *my* family. Fortunately, I know how much we eat at a meal, how many meals we eat, and how often we serve certain foods.

So, if I figure out how much it takes to make one meal's worth of a food, and multiply it by how many times per week or month we eat that as part of our meals, I'll know about how much I need in a month.

This is the part where 5th grade word problems come back to haunt you!

Breads, Rolls and Baking:
I make my own bread, and use 3/4 c. AP flour, 2 c. WW flour, and 1/4 c. bran for each loaf. Each bag of flour contains 16-17 c. 5# of AP flour will make 20 loaves of bread, give or take; 5# of WW flour makes about 8 loaves of bread.

We eat about 8 loaves of bread per week (including making pitas, rolls, and pizza crust which use a similar ratio), so I need 5# of WW flour each week to make bread, or 20# a month. 2 bags of AP flour will make bread for the month, plus a little extra for birthday cakes, treats, and gravy making. I'll also need 8 c. of oat or wheat bran, but it weighs nothing so I'm going to eyeball it.

We seem to go through 4# of sugar a week. I know, it's a terrible amount! I blame Texas Sweet Tea, which I can't stand but husband lives off of. So, 16# sugar. (I'll break that up to 12# white sugar, 4# brown sugar)

Oil - 48 oz. canola oil every two weeks, or 96 oz. a month.

We also use about 5# of cornmeal per month.

(How do I know the oil and cornmeal? I saved my receipts and looked back to see how much I bought!)

Rice, Grains, other starches:
We generally eat rice at least 5 times per week, whether it's in soup or stir fry for lunch, or as a side at dinner. My family eats 3 c. of uncooked rice per meal, approximately 2#. So, I need 10# per week, or 40# per month.

We eat oatmeal almost every day. One 42 oz. carton contains 30 servings, and I make 10 servings per day. So, we'll go through 2 cartons per week, 8 per month.

Pasta (whole wheat or fiber enriched) - 2 boxes per meal; eat 4-5x per week. So, 10 boxes per week, or 40 boxes per month.

Other misc. grains: Barley, maybe 1-2 times per month; popcorn, 1 1/2# per week or 6# per month; quinoa, maybe 1x per month.

We eat beans at least once a day, whether it's split pea soup for lunch, roasted chickpeas for a snack, or a side of pintos with enchiladas. I'm guesstimating 30# for the month (although I really thinks it's probably higher!)

I use white beans a lot, because they are so versatile, the kids love garbanzos, pintos are great because we eat a lot of Mexican based dishes. So we'll get a variety.

Seasonings and Extras
These are the key to making those from scratch staples taste delicious!
Salt, pepper, spices, vinegars, chiles, onions, and garlic all need to be stored, as well. We use 12-15# onions a month, and they keep well. I usually buy a giant jar of already minced garlic - it keeps better and is often cheaper per oz. than the equivalent amount of fresh garlic.

Peanut butter - 36 oz. a week, or 144 oz. a month. Jelly - two large jars. Powdered milk (to have on hand, right now fresh milk is cheaper per gallon!), 10 qts., 100 ct. tea bags, and don't forget coffee!

If we were in a dire situation, I'd just stick with rice and oatmeal, but it's nice to have variety!

We also eat a lot of unsweetened applesauce. Mr R won't swallow pills, so we mix it into a cup of applesauce, and I also try to use it in place of oil when I bake sweet breads. I'll guesstimate a large jar per week - it really depends on if I baked or not.

So my "list" includes: (Prices are what I expect to pay, based on past receipts)
25# of Whole Wheat flour (a little more than I *think* I need, after all Easter is coming!) ($15)
15# of All Purpose flour ($5)
oat bran/wheat bran ($5)
5# cornmeal ($2)
12# white sugar ($5)
4# brown sugar ($2)
2# powdered sugar (in case I need to make frosting) ($1.50)
96 oz. canola oil ($5)
40# brown rice ($32)
8 cartons (42 oz.) oatmeal (I haven't found a bulk source that is cheaper than buying it in the cartons, where it costs 5¢ an ounce or 80¢ per pound) ($18)
40 boxes pasta ($50)
2# barley ($2)
6# popcorn ($6)
30# dried beans ($30)
8 sm. jars peanut butter (the small jars are cheaper per ounce than the large jars, I don't know why!) ($11)
2 jars jelly ($4)
salt (.50)
white vinegar ($2)
garlic powder ($5)
cumin ($4)
black pepper (???)
tea ($1.50)
coffee ($6)
powdered milk ($7)
15# onions ($4.50)
400 corn tortillas ($3)
garlic jar ($5)
4 jars unsweetened applesauce

I figure that all this should cost total: $240 (I'll also pick up a bunch of canned goods, TBD, and check out the meat sales. The freezer is part of the pantry!) I'm budgeting $300 total to stock a month of food (plus $100 or so for this week's groceries, produce, meat, milk, etc.)

$240? For 300 meal's worth of beans, rice, grains, and spices? That amount sounds awfully low.

I'll let you know if the planning worked, or if we ran short next month!

Labels: , ,

posted by Milehimama @ Mama Says at 3/16/2009 09:33:00 AM | Permalink | |