MEAL PLANNING FOR A FAMILY OF FOUR (or six)


Later on, as we moved to another state and family members changed, we tried new methods of saving money by planning our meals.  The tips below (as well as the menus to follow) were originally printed to fit on 2 1/2 X 5″ recipe cards.  I kept those in a little metal file box many of you have seen on teacher’s desks.

MENU PLANS FROM HUNT’S TOMATO SAUCE PEOPLE (printed back in 1964)

These tips and menus (to follow) worked well even into the late 1980’s, when I was careful not to do any impulse buying.

4 SERVINGS APPROXIMATELY $100.00 PER WEEK (~$450 today)

EVERY WEEK, DO YOU WONDER HOW YOU’LL MAKE IT?  OR WILL THURSDAY NIGHT FIND YOU WITH A POUND OF HAMBURGER IN THE FREEZER AND NO IDEAS IN YOUR HEAD?

TO HELP YOU “GO THE WHOLE WEEK” ON YOUR FOOD BUDGET, HUNT’S HAS DONE SOME FOOD AND BUDGET FIGURING. WE’VE WORKED OUT A MONTH OF MENUS FOR HOUSEWIVES THAT ARE EASY TO FIX, ATTRACTIVE TO SERVE AND GOOD TO EAT.  BEFORE WE GAVE YOU ALL THESE MENUS, WE JOTTED DOWN EVERY PENNY IT COSTS FOR EVERY INGREDIENTS IT TAKES TO PUT THEM ON THE TABLE; SO WE KNOW YOU CAN REALLY DO IT.  AND WHILE COMPUTERS HAVE DONE OUR ARITHMETIC FOR US, EVERY DISH ON OUR LIST WAS PREPARED, SAMPLED AND APPROVED BY PEOPLE AS FUSSY AS YOU ARE ABOUT SERVING MEALS WITH PLENTY OF APPETITE APPEAL.

WE’VE ALSO POOLED WHAT WE KNOW ABOUT SAVING MONEY ON FOOD AND MADE UP A LIST OF POINTERS.  SMART THINGS YOU CAN DO TO CUT DOWN ON WASTE AND AVOID PAYING MORE THAN YOU HAVE TO WHEN THE GIRL RINGS UP HOW MUCH IT ALL COSTS.  REMEMBER THE ONES THAT MAKE SENSE TO YOU.  WHEN YOU FOLLOW THESE TIPS AND YOU GO BY OUR PLAN, WE’RE SURE YOU’LL AGREE:  YOU DON’T HAVE TO BE RICH TO EAT WELL.  IT’S WHAT YOU MAKE WITH WHAT YOU MAKE THAT REALLY COUNTS.  THINGS TO DO IN THE STORE AND AT HOME TO CUT DOWN THE HIGH COST OF EATING.

GENERAL

  1. CHECK THE MID-WEEK GROCERY ADDS AND TAKE ADVANTAGE OF”SPECIALS”.
  2. PLAN YOUR MEALS BEFORE YOU SHOP INSTEAD OF IN THE STORE.
  3. MAKE A LIST (AND REMEMBER TO TAKE IT WITH YOU).  THEN STICK TO IT.  IMPULSE BUYING CAN PUT YOU IN THE POORHOUSE.
  4. WHEN MAKING UP YOUR LIST, CHECK RECIPES FOR THE AMOUNT YOU NEED.  OVERBUYING CAN COST YOU EXTRA MONEY, ESPECIALLY IF IT IS WASTED.
  5. MAKE YOUR LIST A LITTLE FLEXIBLE THIS WAY.  IF YOU FIND A LOWER PRICED FOOD OR EQUAL NUTRITIONAL VALUE,YOU CAN SUBSTITUTE AND BE MONEY AHEAD.
  6. CLIP AND USE COUPONS THAT FIT IN WITH YOUR MENUS (or make your menu fit the available coupons IF they are fantastic deals). KEEP THEM TOGETHER, AND GO OVER THEM WHEN YOU MAKE UP YOUR LIST.  TAKE JUST THE ONES YOU’LL BE USING THIS WEEK TO AVOID FUMBLING (AND MAYBE DECIDING TO FORGET ABOUT IT) AT THE CHECK-OUT COUNTER.
  7. BE A LABEL READER.  LABELS CONTAIN A LOT OF USEFUL INFORMATION, SUCH AS WEIGHT IN OUNCES, NUMBER OF SERVINGS, GOVERNMENT GRADING, AND WAYS TO SERVE. YOU CAN OFTEN SAVE BY BUYING THE LARGE SIZE OF A PRODUCT YOU USE FREQUENTLY.  BUT BEFORE YOU BUY IT, BE SURE TO COMPARE PRICE PER OUNCE TO SEE WHICH SIZE IS THE BEST BUY FOR YOU.
  8. WHEN DECIDING WHETHER YOU SHOULD BUY SOMETHING FRESH, FROZEN OR CANNED, TAKE INTO ACCOUNT THE LIKES AND NEEDS OF YOUR FAMILY, THE SPACE YOU HAVE IN YOUR FREEZER, AS WELL AS PRICE AND WHAT’S IN SEASON.

MEATS

SINCE YOU SPEND A GOOD PART OF YOUR FOOD MONEY ON  MEAT, IT WILL HELP TO KNOW AS MUCH AS YOU CAN ABOUT CHOOSING IT, STORING IT AND PREPARING IT.  AS FAR AS THE AMOUNT OF MEAT YOU’LL NEED GOES, USE THIS AS A GUIDE:

PER SERVING

BONELESS MEAT (E.G. GROUND BEEF)  – 1/4 LB.

BONE-IN-MEAT  (E.G. CHOPS)        – 1/2 LB.
    BONY MEAT (E.G. SPARERIBS)   – 3/4 TO 1 LB

  1. WHEN YOU’RE TRYING TO FIGURE OUT THE BEST VALUE, WORK IT OUT TO COST PER SERVING RATHER THAN COST PER POUND.
  2. PRICE ISN’T EVERYTHING.  YOU CAN ADD VARIETY TO YOUR MEALS BY LOOKING FOR CUTS SUCH AS CHUCK OR FLANK WHICH ARE JUST AS NUTRITIOUS AS THE MORE EXPENSIVE CUTS.  AND AS YOU’LL SEE WHEN YOU TRY OUR RECIPES, THEY CAN ALSO BE AS TENDER AND FLAVORSOME. IT’S ALL IN HOW YOU COOK THEM.  SLOWLY.  SIMMERING IN A DELICIOUS SAUCE, THE KIND WE COOK FOR YOU AT HUNT’S.
  3. FISH FOR COMPLIMENTS.  REMEMBER THAT FISH IS A GOOD LOW COST SOURCE OF PROTEIN.  FOR BEST RESULTS, USE A MODERATE TEMPERATURE AND DON’T OVERCOOK IT.  SINCE FISH DETERIORATES RAPIDLY, IT SHOULD BE COOKED AS SOON AS POSSIBLE AFTER YOU BUT IT.
  4. POULTRY, WHICH YOU CAN GET ALL YEAR ROUND, ALWAYS IS A GOOD BUY.  WHEN BUYING CHICKEN OR TURKEY FIGURE ON 1/2 TO 1/4 POUND PER SERVING, DEPENDING ON THE SIZE OR YOUR FAMILY’S APPETITE.
  5. PORK IS PLENTIFUL, THEREFORE IT’S USUALLY A GOOD BUY. BUY PORK LOIN ROAST WHEN IT’S ON SPECIAL.  CHOP IT INTO PORK CHOPS YOURSELF.  THIS IS CHEAPER THAN HAVING THE BUTCHER DO IT FOR YOU.
  6. EXPERIMENT WITH NOODLES, ALL SHAPES AND SIZES. THEY CAN GIVE YOU GOOD VARIETY AND THEY HELP SHARE THE COST OF MEAT.
  7. EVERY ONCE IN A WHILE USE CHEESE, NUTS OR EGGS INSTEAD OF MEAT.  ACCORDING TO HUNT’S NUTRITIONIST, YOU CAN DO THIS WITHOUT SACRIFICE TO A BALANCED DIET.
  8. IF YOU HAVE THE FREEZER CAPACITY, BUY GROUND BEEF AT BULK SPECIAL PRICES.  DIVIDE INTO SERVING PACKAGES OR HAMBURGER PATTIES AND FREEZE.
  9. USE UP EVERY BIT OF MEAT YOU BUY.  BACON FAT DRIPPINGS ADD MORE FLAVOR TO A FRIED EGG THAN BUTTER OR MARGARINE. INSTEAD OF THROWING OUT THE BONES, USE THEM TO FLAVOR AND ADD NUTRITION TO SOUP.

VEGETABLES

I want to add something here that the meal planning system did not have.  IF you prepare your vegetables for storage right after you get home from the grocery store (washing being the most important part of the preparation process), you can save your peelings as you make a meal.  Those peelings may be frozen for boiling later into a wonderful vegetable stock. Don’t worry about mixing these.  That is what happens in soup anyway!

  1. HERE AGAIN, TRY TO BUY IN SEASON.  SQUASH IS A WINTER VEGETABLE.  “HOT-HOUSE” TOMATOES, LOCALLY GROWN, ARE EXPENSIVE,.  FOR A REAL TOMATO FLAVOR, ALL YEAR ‘ROUND. MAKE USE OF HUNT’S TOMATO SAUCES.  WE PUT THEM UP IN AUGUST, SO YOU CAN SERVE BETTER MEALS EVERY MONTH OF THE YEAR.
  2. CABBAGE IS LESS EXPENSIVE THAN LETTUCE; IS MORE NUTRITIOUS; AND KEEPS LONGER.  SO WHEN YOU’RE PLANNING A SALAD, HOW ABOUT HAVING COLESLAW?  OR TRY CHOPPED CABBAGE AND APPLE MOISTENED WITH (LOW-CAL) FRUIT AND SLAW DRESSING?  THIS IS EVEN BETTER WITH A FEW RAISINS TOSSED IN AND SPRINKLED WITH PAPRIKA.
  3. IF YOU’RE LUCKY ENOUGH TO HAVE A FREEZER OR A LARGE FREEZER SECTION IN YOUR REFRIGERATOR, BUY FROZEN VEGETABLES IN THE LARGE PLASTIC BAGS.  IF YOUR FREEZER SPACE IS SMALL, BUY IN PORTIONS THAT WON’T BE WASTED.
  4. KEEP YOUR EYE PEELED FOR THE “ALWAYS GOOD” FRESH VEGETABLES SUCH AS CARROTS, GREEN BEANS AND ONIONS.
  5. BE  FUSSY.  ONLY REALLY FRESH VEGETABLES GIVE YOU THE VITAMINS YOU’RE LOOKING FOR.
  6. COMPARE THE PRICE OF IMPORTED VEGETABLES AGAINST THOSE WHICH ARE FROZEN OR CANNED.  THIS COULD SAVE YOU A LOT OF MONEY.

MISCELLANEOUS

  1. EGGS.  WHEN THE DIFFERENCE IN COST BETWEEN TWO SIZES OF EGGS IS MORE THAN 7 CENTS, YOU’LL BE SMART TO BUY THE SMALLER SIZE.
  2. FORTIFIED MARGARINE HAS ALL THE NUTRIENTS CONTAINED IN BUTTER AND IS MUCH MORE ECONOMICAL.
  3. STORE LEFTOVERS CAREFULLY IN AIR-TIGHT CONTAINERS. SINCE THEY OFTEN GET PUSHED TO THE BACK OF THE REFRIGERATOR AND FORGOTTEN, CHECK BEFORE PREPARING ANY MEAL FOR WAYS IN WHICH TO USE THEM.
  4. CHEESE.  BUY BRICK CHEESE INSTEAD OF SLICES.  A SIMPLE WAFT OF A KNIFE CAN SAVE YOU MONEY.  SAVE THE END PIECES IN A COVERED JAR AND USE LATER TO ADD RICH CHEESE FLAVOR TO SAUCES OR CASSEROLE DISHES.
  5. MILK.  IF YOUR FAMILY DOESN’T LIKE “POWDERED MILK” FOOL THEM BY MIXING IT HALF AND HALF WITH FRESH MILK.  IF YOU ARE BIG MILK DRINKERS, THIS WILL ADD UP TO A REAL SAVING. BUY THE 3 QUART JUGS OR PLASTIC BAGS TO SAVE EVEN MORE.

ALTHOUGH FEEDING FOUR PEOPLE MAY SOUND EASY.  IT’S NOT EASY TO DO WITHOUT WASTING FOOD.  HERE ARE SOME HINTS THAT HELP YOU OUT.

(1)  PLAN AHEAD.  DON’T THROW OUT LEFTOVERS.  MAKE THEM “PLANNED” LEFTOVERS.
(2)  INVEST IN A FEW SMALL SKILLETS AND POTS TO MAKE SMALL-SCALE COOKING EASIER.
(3)  AVOID WASTE OF CANNED, PACKAGED OR FROZEN FOODS BY PURCHASING THE SIZE SUITED TO YOUR NEEDS.  MANY ITEMS ARE MADE TO ORDER FOR ONE, TWO, FOUR, SIX OR EIGHT.
(4)  BUY CHICKEN BY THE PART EVEN THOUGH IT MAY COST A LITTLE MORE PER POUND.  YOU CAN JUST GET THE PARTS YOU PREFER AND SAVE MONEY BY HAVING LESS WASTE.
(5)  FREEZE YOUR MEAT WITH FOUR SERVINGS IN EACH PACKAGE.
(6)  COOK A ROAST OCCASIONALLY ON WEEKENDS.  WHAT’S LEFT WILL MAKE GREAT SANDWICHES, PLUS AN INTERESTING MEAL OR TWO THE NEXT WEEK.
(7)  WHEN USING CONVENIENCE FOODS SUCH AS CAKE MIXES, PREPARE HALF NOW AND FREEZE THE REMAINDER FOR SERVING LATER.
(8)  MAKE A LARGE CASSEROLE, THEN FREEZE IT IN QUANTITIES, JUST RIGHT FOR FOUR.  YOU’LL BE TIME AND MONEY AHEAD.
(9)  KEEP INSTANT NON-FAT DRY MILK AND EVAPORATED MILK ON HAND, THUS AVOIDING FRESH, MILK SPOILAGE.
(10) KEEP YOUR BREAD IN THE FREEZER SECTION.  FROZEN BREAD STAYS OVEN FRESH, SPREADS MORE EASILY FOR SANDWICHES, AND CAN GO DIRECTLY INTO THE TOASTER.  FOR TABLE USE, JUST TAKE OUT THE NUMBER OF SLICES YOU NEED.  THESE WILL THAW IN A JIFFY.

THESE ARE JUST A FEW OF THE WAYS YOU CAN SAVE MONEY WHEN YOU SET YOUR MIND TO IT.  REMEMBER, THE MONEY YOU MAY HAVE BEEN WASTING ON FOOD, CAN GO TOWARD FUN THINGS LIKE AN EXTRA NIGHT OUT EVERY ONCE IN A WHILE OR SOMETHING YOU’VE SEEN THAT YOU’D LIKE TO BUY FOR YOURSELF.  GOOD LUCK AND GOOD EATING!  WITH THE RECIPES WE’VE PLANNED HERE FOR YOU, WE KNOW YOU’LL ENJOY BOTH.

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