KATU Frugal Family Meal Plan {& Frugal Workshop}

by Kari on February 13, 2012

For those of you visiting from KATU, welcome!

And for those of you Portland-friends who are interested, our little family will be on KATU Channel 2 tonight at 5pm and 11pm sharing our journey into frugal living.

*Also, Portland-area readers: This Wednesday night, Feb. 15th at 6:00 I’m teaching a workshop entitled Faithfully Frugal – how to live more and spend less. Beaverton SDA church is hosting this event as part of their weekly family night. Dinner and childcare are provided, and the event is FREE. (Such a deal!) Perhaps you might want to join me there? (14645 SW Davis Road, Beaverton)

As most of you know, I’m a bit of a frugal-living enthusiast, not as a goal in and of itself, but as one way to faithfully steward the resources God has given to us. 

One of our greatest privileges, as Christ-followers, is getting to give our earthly resources to join in God’s Kingdom work. Making small, frugal choices in our everyday lives is one way we can free up finances to give more for the glory of God. This is why being faithfully frugal is different from just deal-hunting. We’re not striving to get more we’re striving to give more. We’re not just looking to score the greatest deal, we’re looking to live simply and freely, giving generously, sacrificially, and joyfully.

Lots of our budget line-items are fixed. But household/groceries is one area where we most likely have wiggle room. About a year and a half ago our family did a little Food Stamp Challenge. We wanted to see if it was possible for a family of 4 to eat fresh, local, mostly organic food on a food stamp budget ($275.53). Turns out, it is! This was exciting to me because it gave hope that we can bless our families with nutritious food and bless God’s work with all the money we save.

Now, please hear my heart: I am no master chef and I’m no dietition. I’m a wife, mom and follower of Jesus Christ seeking to feed my family well and faithfully steward the finances and bodies God has given us. Nor am I telling you what your grocery budget should be. There are lots of ways to honor God, so I’m not prescribing a lifestyle for you but describing what we’ve found on our little family’s journey these past few years.

1. A few principles to remember: 

  • Convenience is the budget – and health – killer. Organic whole foods are not that much more expensive, but organic convenience foods are very expensive. If beans are in a can, you’re paying for the work they did to put them there. If they’re in a bag or in bulk, you’ll save lots. This is most clear with veggies. Whole organic carrots are $.60/lb at Costco. But baby peeled organic carrots can be $3-$4/lb. You do the peeling, you save the money. Same goes for oatmeal, homemade bread (easy with a bread-machine). Cutting packaged convenience foods is the easiest way to build health and reduce cost.
  • Be choosy with organics. You don’t have to buy everything organic. See the Dirty Dozen and the Clean Fifteen. The key is this: It doesn’t make sense to buy organic processed food. If a food is processed (think goldfish crackers), then none of the original pesticides (or nutrition!) are left so it really doesn’t matter.  If you can only buy a few organic items, choose the non-peelable fresh fruits and veggies.
  • Part of the challenge is going without. Sometimes we just have to tell ourselves no. And here in America, in the land of plenty, that is not a popular thing to do. But it’s so good for us!

So do we all of a sudden turn our whole diets and budgets upside down on their heads? Perhaps, but maybe a more gradual approach will set you up for success. Consider these five simple ideas:

2. Five Simple Ideas for a Healthy Frugal Diet (click links for more info)

3. Meal Planning and Recipes

Meal-planning  made it that much easier to take the Food Stamp Challenge and really give our budget and diet a handsome makeover. For us, to maximize our budget and keep things simple, we just have 10-12 meals and eat each one twice a month. A switch things up with the seasons but keep things pretty simple. I’m not winning any culinary prize, but my family’s healthy and fed and we have extra dollars to give away. That’s all the prize I need.

**On Friday we’ll talk more about developing a menu plan that’s custom-made for your family.

**ALL the recipes below (and more!) can be printed here for free.

Here is a sample week’s menu of dinners, with price/serving:

Monday: Whole Roast Chicken ($6 total), Organic green beans ($5 for 5 lbs. at Costco), homemade bread (pennies). After dinner shred and save 4 cups of chicken. Make stock overnight or the next day.

Tuesday: Hobo Dinner ($6 total). One pound local, grass-fed beef ($4.50 at Afton Field Farms), one pound organic potatoes, one pound organic carrots ($5.99 for 10 lbs. at Costco). Brown and season beef, slice potatoes and carrots, layer in Dutch oven and bake until potatoes are soft. Serve with ketchup.

Wednesday: Chicken Rice Bake ($4 total), Organic peas ($5 for 5 lbs. at Costco)

Thursday: Tortilla Soup ($4 total)

Friday: Quick and Easy Pansit ($4 total)

Week’s dinner cost: $24 total. $6/person. Less than $1/day per person. (Scroll to bottom for grocery-shopping list)

If these recipes aren’t your cup of tea, here are a few other great ones:

Barley Risotto ($3 total)

Baked Mac ‘n Cheese ($6 total)

Delectable Banana Bread ($1.50 total)

And more ways to use any extra chicken stock:

Herbed Chicken and Dumplings (Just use the shredded chicken (from above) and this comes together in a flash.

Tarragon Chicken-in-a-pot Pies (With or without tarragon this is delicious. This is also a great way to use that frozen zucchini from last summer!)

Chicken Vegetable Soup (I skip the parsnips and turnips. The leeks make this delicious!  Just use shredded chicken (from above) and your homemade stock.)

Winter Lentil Soup (You can tweak this soup to use anything. I don’t usually use tomatoes, and often substitute frozen spinach if I don’t have kale on hand–and who usually has kale on hand? I always add chopped carrots or carrot puree.)

Feeling overwhelmed? Check back with the Five Simple Steps and choose just one to do this week. Or, simply try the 5-day Meal Plan listed above and see how much you save. It’s amazing how a few simple changes can revamp our budgets — and diets — in phenomenal ways.

Thanks so much for visiting, hope to see you again soon!


5-Day Dinner Plan Shopping List

(Assuming basic cooking staples are already in your pantry. Please check recipes to be sure you have these on hand. Also, I rely on FrugalLivingNW for the latest updates on deals around the Portland area.)

:: Thriftway, Azure Standard, online, or other grocery source:

  • 1 Whole chicken (Draper Valley & Zaycon are quality, affordable choices)
  • 1 lb. local grass-fed beef (Afton Field Farm $4.50/lb.)
  • 1 lb. Organic potatoes (Azure)
  • Organic Fuji apples (Azure)
:: Costco:
  • 5 lb. bag organic green beans
  • 5 lb. bag organic peas
  • Yeast (if making homemade bread)
  • 10 lb. bag organic carrots
  • 5 lb. bag organic corn
:: Winco:
  • Whole-wheat flour
  • Tillamook Cheese
  • Bananas
  • Organic Brown rice
  • Onions
  • Taco seasoning
  • Dried black or pinto beans
  • Whole-wheat or brown rice spaghetti noodles

*More Links:


{ 21 comments… read them below or add one }

bethanyf February 13, 2012 at 10:45 am

What an AWESOME post Kari! You are a wonderful wealth of applicable information! :) So excited to see the segment on Katu Wed night.


bethanyf February 13, 2012 at 10:46 am

oops, meant tonight. :)


Janae February 13, 2012 at 11:01 am

Just set the dvr to record! :)


Kari February 13, 2012 at 12:51 pm

Bethany, you will probably recognize the Chicken Rice Bake, yes? :) I’m sorry I should have named it the Bethany Fegles Chicken Rice Bake. BTW, I meant to tell you, we have also been slowly moving toward removing all gluten from our diets, so I’d love to chat with you more about all that and learn from what you’ve discovered! Love you!


Becky February 13, 2012 at 5:28 pm

Set the DVR, can’t wait to watch!


Kimberly February 13, 2012 at 9:42 pm

Just watched the 5pm KATU clip online. We are proud of our frugal friends!!! Love this post, also. Always love ideas on how to eat healthier for less :-)


Kari February 16, 2012 at 5:09 pm

Thanks friend!


Sandy February 14, 2012 at 11:23 am

Wow, girlfriend! This is so cool! Can we have you do one of your seminars at WCC?


Kari February 16, 2012 at 5:08 pm

Thanks so much, Sandy! You know, I would love to do one of these at WCC sometime! We’ll see… Bless you, thanks for your encouragement.


Janine February 14, 2012 at 11:52 am

I saw the segment on the news last night it was amazing! Thank you so much! I actually had sort of the same realization a while back and started trying to do the same thing. I even started my own blog with a friend. I have not been able to be as dedicated to it as I have wanted to be and just started praying for some more inspiration and help. Then wha lah! There you were. I put the text from the segment on my blog and am looking forward to spending more time learning from yours. God Bless you and all you are doing! I so very much wish we were close enough to Beaverton to make it to your event tomorrow. I hope you can make it down to Salem some time. :)


Kari February 16, 2012 at 5:09 pm

Janine, I”d love to talk to you more about this! What’s your blog? Let’s connect about this! Thanks… Love, K


Sharon O February 14, 2012 at 1:03 pm

I watched the show and didn’t realize you live in West Linn? we are just a stone’s throw away in Newberg. I should meet you sometime for a cup of coffee. It would be fun. Take care


Kari February 16, 2012 at 5:10 pm

Yes! Let’s do it, Sharon. That would be fun. We’re so close. Maybe March? Let’s email ….


Amy February 14, 2012 at 6:11 pm

I love how you make lots of meals out of one thing. I try and do that too. Not only to save cost, but to simplify dinner the next night. I now have 2 teenagers, so I had to laugh when you said you said you had 4 cups of left over chicken. I miss those days. I did manage to save almost a cup last night though. :)
Thanks for the meal plans. I always like to see what others are doing. Off to check out the rest of your stuff.


Kari February 16, 2012 at 5:11 pm

Thanks, Amy. Yeah, already my kids eat so much more than they did then! I can’t imagine the teenage years, I’m saving up for them now! :) Thanks for coming here, it’s great to meet you!


Kim February 14, 2012 at 7:13 pm

I look forward to reading your blog everyday. It was fun to see you on the news last night. I admire you sharing your frugal tips while also giving the world a glimpse of Christian generosity. The newscaster even commented on your desire to save money so you can give more. I began my frugal journey over a decade ago with “the tightwad gazette” so that we as a family could have ‘more’. You’ve helped me understand the blessing of saving so we can GIVE more. Thanks and God bless!!


Valerie Aschbacher February 15, 2012 at 12:12 am

Saw your segment on KATU. I am Board President of a nonprofit in Clackamas Co. providing support and services for teen parents and their children. They are putting on the first-ever teen parent organized resource fair on Friday, Mar. 16 and expect about 75- 100 teen parents to attend. Most disadvantaged teen parents do not get food stamps, due to being under age 18. The ones who become eligible are often finding themselves with a sudden cut in amount or loss in them for a month at a time.

Would you be interested in having a table/space at their resource fair – showing them how to make better use of their limited food resources?
Other workshops/demonstrations/resources there will be Oregon Poison Control(childproofing) Ledding Library (storytelling) Clackamas Credit Union(budgeting/credit) Parenting Now!(baby sign language) Fashion Bug (wardrobe essentials) and typical government-assistance/nonprofit social service programs.


Alicia Jones February 15, 2012 at 8:51 am

This is great Kari! So inspiring! Thanks for sharing. And thank you for promoting Afton Field Farm :) Hope to see you around.


Lacey February 15, 2012 at 4:40 pm

It was so fun to see you on KATU, Kari!! And this post is very inspiring and helpful. Thank you!


Cornelia Becker Seigneur February 22, 2012 at 12:28 pm

Hi fellow WriterMom Kari- loved this segment- GOOD FOR YOU to question! – …and test it out for yourself- I want to write about this for The Oregonian- which means I need a phot0- let’s meet if we can next week (and get that coffee we have spoken of) I’ll email you!! -cornelia


Kari February 22, 2012 at 2:00 pm

Cornelia! That’d be great, thank you! Yes let’s meet up next week. I’ll email you …


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