Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Feeding an Army 30 meals a day close to $1.50 per person, per meal

Last week I posted this on Facebook:

LOL, and there was a lot of response.
Asking me meal plans, menus recipes, and all in all, HOW THE HECK do you do that?

I am going to preface, this is how I do things, it may not be the answer for you, it may not be what your family eats,our meals may be too strict for you, or not strict enough, and thats O.K.
I can only speak to what we have found works in our cray-cray casa, what foods work best for our health, our emotional, behavioral, and financial needs.

Our goals are to eat whole, healthy, mindful, meat on the side,primarily organic produce, cassin, gluten and refined sugar free.
I personally eat as vegan as possible.

We CHEAT. We are not perfect, if you are looking for a perfect model of Organic, whole foods NEVER an m&m, passes our lips...keep looking!
Yes we do, because we are human, and we like rewarding ourselves with treats, or are offered to pick or glean free food, we.will.take.it gratefully!
I love the term “flexitaran” my friend Christine uses.
Thats exactly what we are.
If you give us otter pops ( though I may cringe, and let my husband eat the blue and red ones, we will say thank you)

Our goals are healthy, aware of where most of our meat comes from, and yet sticking to a very strict budget, and if free food is available, we will do the hard work to preserve and use it.

I am a crazy person about food waste.
Like, cleaning the fridge out makes me cry.
I don't know if it is my experience working in Orphanages in Haiti, or growing up with a single mom, who supported us with her waitress job while she went to school, but.I.hate.waste.
One of the things I will share is HOW, to use the bits and pieces most people throw out.

One of the ways we limit expense, waste and the constant question of what to make and feed all of the people is a rotating Breakfast and Lunch menu.
I switch it up pending on Season, what we have in the garden, and orcahrd and free food that has come available.
What a rotating menu means is every Monday, we eat the same Breakfast and Lunch combination.
Monday through Sunday, is something different, but weekly that combination is what we and the kids expect to be eating and making.

We take lunches, we can our own jams, salsas, sauces, pickles, relish ect.
We also have chickens for eggs, glean potatoes in the fall, buy in bulk, and stock up on sale items.

We drink water with our meals.
No juice, soda, or milk.

This is what our rotating menu looks like right now:

Monday ~ Cereal ( usually Rice Chex) almond/coconut milk ( we don't drown our cereal, in milk, nothig bugs me more than dumping a bowl of milk down the sink), and banana (this is the only day of the week we eat cereal, and I buy iy in bulk when the boxes are $1.50 each)
Tuesday ~ Oatmeal sweetened with Organic Syrup, sometimes raisins and nuts tossed over ( in the summertime homemade granola)
Wednesday ~re-Heated pancakes or waffles w/ peanut-butter or berries , and eggs
Thursday ~ Baked Oatmeal with fresh or Preserved fruit from our Orchard
 ( summertime zucchini muffins, or oatmeal muffins, and coconut yogurt)
Friday ~ Breakfast Burrito or Hash-brown Casserole
Saturday~ Pancakes/waffles/french toast and Bacon or Sausage ( theses are always doubled or trippled and frozen for Wednesday breakfasts.
Sunday~ German Pancakes w/ fruit salad

Monday ~ P.B. Roll ups ( Peanut-butter in a corn tortilla), baby carrots, string cheese and trail mix ( homemade)
Tuesday ~ Turkey sandwich (
gf bread, romaine lettuce),Apple, Granola Bar
Wednesday ~ Rice Crackers, P.B. ,Snap peas , string cheese, trail mix
Thursday ~ Tuna Sandwich (
gf bread, romaine lettuce) clementine orange, string cheese, granola bar
Friday~ Rice Crackers, Hummus, cut up Cucumbers, string cheese, trail mix
Saturday~ Quesadilla's w/ beans, salad
Sunday~ Pizza and Kale Salad (
sometimes a GF frozen pizza, gilled zuchini homemade pizza, mini homade pizza)

When this rotation gets old, or the seasons change we switch it up.

My kids NEVER have to ask what is for breakfast or lunch...and that makes us all VERY happy.

In the Summer and harvest, meals are planned around harvest.

We large eat salads at almost every single meal, with occasional meat, or grains.
Majority of our meat is from Family raised animals, purchased organically from the Farmers market ( I always buy in bulk from these farmers and they cut me a deal, especially at the end of the market season)

In the Winter and colder months meals are based on food storage items, and we eat a lot of home grown frozen, or bought organic veggies.

In Winter and Colder months soups and chili's, potato's, brown rice, corn tortillas or chips, beans, brown rice pasta are the vehicles for our meals.
I bulk shop twice a month at Costco.

Winter Meals have a theme, I generally stick to:
Monday ~ Mama's break, usually something simple, from the freezer ( pre-made) or left overs, one of my casseroles, pre cut up frozen veggies or salad, over romaine, or pasta.

Tuesday ~ Taco night ~ which pretty much means anything with Mexican food influence, stuffed bell peppers, Tortilla or black bean soup, Enchiladas, Taco Salad, Tamales

Wednesday ~ Rice. Usually a Vegetable Stir-fry, maybe Sweet Thai Meatballs from the crock pot, Haitian Rice and Beans, Risotto.

Thursday ~ Soup, Chili, Potatoes, Something created out of the pantry...
(we always have the makings for a Baked Potato, or a Roasted veggie Melody, or a Potato Soup or Chili)

Friday ~Veggie-mania, sometimes fresh sauce over pasta, sometimes as a dip-dip night with lots of fresh vegetables, and a lot of fun dips. Cold pasta salad, Artichoke Hearts in a dairy free Alfredo Sauce.

Saturday~Clean out the fridge, and eat left overs, Get creative, check out what is around, and use it.Sunday~ Big meal. Usually Crock pot or grill a meat, a whole baked chicken, Asian BBQ Chicken wings, Pot Roast, Shredded Pork sliders, Grilled Steak, or Salmon, Open face Burgers, or BLT's....its a meat day. :)

To extend specifically ground meats I use brown rice, lentils,and beans. I never use more than 1 lb of ground meat during a meal.

One thing I have learned over the last 5 years cooking for 10 people, 30 meals a day , is CUT IT ALL UP.
If you are already in the kitchen, chopping up, an onion, peppers, cucumbers, pineapple, watermelon. Take the extra 5 minutes and cut all of it up.
You aren’t going to want to chop up a half used week old onion in a plastic bag in your fridge...BUT you will toss in fresh frozen chopped onion in a soup, or while browning meat, or in a stir fry.
You will eat that already chopped up pineapple waiting for you in the fridge, if you are already in the kitchen use the time.

If you are already making a big pot of Potato soup, make 3, and freeze it.
Enchiladas? Lasagna? Tuna Cassarole? MAKE 3 and FREEZE them!
Oh my goodness will you be singing yourself praises, of already making your family a meal you just have to heat up, on a rough day.

You made a baked chicken? Save the bones, toss them back in, and make a broth over night to use in a soup the next day, or freeze for fresh broth.

Here is a great example of flexible meal planning:
On Mothers Day Sunday my husband took 4 steaks too many out of the freezer, and grilled them up, anyway, and chopped them into strips.

On Tuesday I cut bell peppers and red onion in strips, and made Fajita's with the leftover steak.
We had 3 peppers and half an onion left, and so I chopped them up, and tossed them in a plastic saver.
Saturday I sauteed the peppers and onions, and garlic in butter, and used 6 cans of black beans with juices, chili powder, cumin, and other spices..and made an amazing black bean soup served with tortilla chips.

Good staples I always have in my pantry:
Organic Brown Rice
Organic Black Beans
Organic Kidney Beans
Brown rice Pasta
Maple Syrup

I can, and freeze:
Spaghetti Sauce
Jams- savory and sweet
pickles and relish
Grape Juice
Hash browns
French fries
Veggie melodies
Stirfy veggies

We constantly double or tripple batches of:

Black bean veggie bugers
In the fall we don't say no to anything.... if someone is allowing people to glean potato fields, we are on it,someone has grapes they dont want to pick, extra produce, that we have to work for or process...we do it.

We eat cherry cobbler at Christmas from our Cherry trees, frozen.
My kids eat Peanut butter and Plum jam, sandwiches , from our trees.
Our freezer is full of Elk Sausage, Organic Whole chickens, gallon bags of frozen pea's, corn, green beans, pumpkin, berry's, hand processed hash-brown's and fries from fall harvest.

It isn’t easy.
We do fancy meals for holidays and birthdays.
We realize the “American expectation of Meat, starch, and side veggie, isn't whats most important in a meal.
We eat an entire broccoli salad until we could burst.
We have a full meal of grilled corn, asparagus, and tomatoes, and know that, is a full meal.

We make an amazing trail mix, full of protein and fiber for snacks, we also pop organic pop corn, eat fruit, and oatmeal cookies with raw honey, and peanut-butter.

Things we cheat on:
String Cheese.

Skippy Peanut-butter ( I know its total crap, but it is a concession in the war on health I am willing to make. )
Kirkland Mexi-Cheese
non organic Eggs when my lady's aren’t laying as much in cold weather.


Heck yes, we occasionally buy our kids ice cream cones, or chocolate, we make homemade snow cones with juiced watermelon or homemade peach, or lemonade.

Junk food, is a novelty, as it should be.
Potato chips are a giant treat, for a trip, or a family BBQ.
Sugar cereal too, a special snack that they are excited for.

My kids LOVE and live to eat, they also have developed such a taste for real, and good, the times they have BEGGED for school lunch, they have never asked again.

I don't know if I helped a single person, or made an sense of our madness...but this in a little blue print, in the how's, of what our clan eats.

Lets me know if you have any questions.
<3 Linds