So this week we did the March menu. We substituted one recipe and changed a few details (for example, making regular lasagna instead of lasagna rolls to keep things simple). Instead of everyone buying so many different ingredients, we each took a section of the list. For example, I bought all the dairy products to make the meals for 4 families. Some of the things we had access to for free, such as chickpeas and applesauce. The night before, we each had a few tasks to do such as soaking and cooking beans, making dough, etc. That way we saved money by not buying the canned beans and biscuits.
We haven't crunched the numbers yet (I'll update when we do) but we think we spent about $120-130 per family to produce the 15 recipes. Perhaps a little more if you include things like freezer bags and containers. Each recipe was supposed to produce 2 meals worth per family, but some of the recipes seemed to produce a lot more than that. I think I have 4 containers of quesadilla filling, and 3 of the zucchini pesto. Everyone took home 2 big broccoli stromboli rolls and 1 little one. The lasagna recipe and the cinnamon rolls had some rabbit-like qualities to them (in quantity, not flavor)....I think I put together the equivalent of eight 9x13 pans of lasagna (some of the pans were smaller so it was actually more than 8 pans). Jamie spent most of Thursday rolling out cinnamon rolls.
(photos by Sheila)
15 recipes x 2 meals worth of each recipe x 4 families = 120 meals
120 meals x 5 people per family = at least 600 servings of food, more if you count leftovers
Some of the recipes are basically a meal in themselves, and some would need buns or a vegetable or various condiments to go with them. We had some extra bags of some of the veggies though that we split up among us, so some of those are already paid for too. I think this was an economical way to try new recipes!
Next month (or at least sometime) our goal is to plan our own menu. We can make some adjustments to have it run more smoothly with so much quantity and limited freezer space, as well as using some of our personal favorite recipes or hits from this month or last month's menu.
Besides the convenience of having all this healthy food in the freezer, it was a fun time getting to talk with others while we were cooking! The kids played (and built things, and bothered the chickens, etc.) in the fenced backyard and didn't get into too much trouble.
If you're thinking of trying this with friends, look at onceamonthmom.com. They now have some 5 and 10 day mini menus, so you could start small and then expand, instead of starting big and then trying to simplify like we did!