Updated: Jul 6
When I work full time, my budget for food is pretty flexible. We love food. Every person in my family is happy when food is around. We pick routes for vacations based on where we can get yummy food. My favorite of the week is grocery day. Where shall I go? Sprouts? Trader Joe's Sam's Club?
Summers are different. My budget is stricter. We still love entertaining and we try to have people over as often as our schedule allows.
You guys know how we love our protein, but it's fairly costly to make a steak dinner for 10 people, so in the summer I pare down on extravagance. It's an excellent idea to eat with the seasons both for food quality and for budgetary reasons. We will eat a lot more produce in the summer because it is bountiful and inexpensive.
Instead of blowing over 400$ on whatever suits my fancy (I rationalize that I have to come up with new recipes quite frequently and need to try new foods!), I'll try to come in under $150 for my family of 6 each week.
This doesn't include monthly purchases like nuts and seeds and gluten free grains and alcohol, natch, so it is a pretty easy goal to hit with some planning on my part.
We do have some food sensitivities in my house, so I will try to keep gluten and dairy to a minimum, but I also want people to feel at home when they walk through my door. I love to have candles and Bossa Nova going, the jacuzzi heating up, a lovely table set, wine in glasses, and a pleasant mood in place, but I also know that people like their bread and I'll have it for whoever wants it. This also helps stretch the summer food budget. All of our friends have lots of hungry kids.
Let's break down the dinners:
Dinner 1: for a crowd
Beau BBQ'd some amazing burgers. I chopped up an onion I already had, sauteed some mushrooms and onions in butter and coconut aminos and salt, and tore up some lettuce leaves that were in the refrigerator. I had a big hunk of cheese too, so we sliced some to put on a few of the burgers too.
I roasted corn with taco seasoning, chopped up the potatoes into oven fries and roasted them at 400 degrees for about 40 minutes with 20 or so cloves of garlic in the mix.
The coleslaw was made with a bag of coleslaw veggies, 3 tbsp avocado mayonnaise, 1 tsp mustard powder, 1 tsp salt, and 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar.
I had a few zucchinis from my Pickalittle box, so I cut them into fries, tossed them with seasoning salt and olive oil, and roasted them at the same time I roasted the potatoes. They came out crispy and delicious. My girlfriend and I, um, ate them all ourselves.
For dessert, I simmered cut peaches with cinnamon, pumpkin pie spice, butter, water, and maple syrup until they were soft and delicious. Rebecca made some homemade whipped cream. Dessert was divine!
Dinner 2: light and easy
Next is lettuce wraps. Yum. I'll saute the park with some minced garlic, coconut aminos, dried lemongrass, fish sauce, and lime.
Arrange all of the veggies on a huge platter. Open up the lettuce into cups and arrange these on the plate as well.
I will usually put out a tiny bowl of sesame seeds to sprinkle on top.
If you are feeling saucy, you can make this:
1/4 cup sunflower butter
1/4 cup water
1 tbsp honey
1 tbsp coconut aminos
1 squeeze fresh lime
Heat in a saucepan for 4-5 minutes, or until soft and pourable. Add more water if needed. Pour into a tiny cream pitcher and serve with your wraps.
This meal serves plenty, and comes in under $20. I'll spend more on that myself if I go out to eat, so this one is a win!
Dinner 3: oven easy
This meal will be made on a baseball night. It takes less than an hour.
Rub the chicken generously with salt, pepper, onion powder and garlic powder.
Chop potatoes and peppers into uniform cubes and sprinkle with the spice mixture. I always throw in dozens of cloves of garlic into this veggie mix too.
Lay the veggies on a huge cooking tray, place the chicken on top, and bake for 50 minutes at 375 degrees.
Toss the coleslaw mix with a bit of olive oil and plenty of apple cider vinegar for a cold and crunchy foil to your hot chicken.
Serve leftover watermelon from earlier in the week.
Dinner: done. For right about $16.00 total. Yes, please!
Dinner 4: sweet apple pork
Season the pork loin generously with mustard powder, garlic powder, onion powder, salt and pepper. Briefly sear all sides in a buttered cast iron skillet for a few minutes on each side.
Roast in the oven in the same cast iron skillet for 35 minutes at 375, or until juices run clear.
Meanwhile, slice apples and toss into a medium pot. Add 2 tbsp butter, 1 tsp cinnamon, and 1/4 cup water. Let reduce and soften for a good 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
When pork is done, slice and spoon a generous portion of the homemade applesauce over the top. If that's not your thing, serve with mustard.
For the carrot salad, toss shredded carrots with apple cider vinegar, 1 tbsp melted coconut oil, some salt and some pepper.
Dinner 5: summer sausage dinner with fresh salsa
This one is super easy- you are in and out of the kitchen in less than 15 minutes.
Toast the sausages in your toaster oven for 10 minutes at 450. They will come out with a crispy top. Perfect.
While you are heating the sausage, make your salsa: chop tomatoes, avocados, and mangos and toss with some fresh lime juice and some salt and pepper.
Serve with a big communal bowl of chips and a big communal bowl of cold carrot sticks.
For breakfasts, I grabbed some pork sausage links, eggs, bananas, oatmeal, more chicken apple sausages, and apples. I'll do oatmeal one or two days a week with chia and flax seeds, collagen powder, and loads of butter to balance blood sugar.
Lunches are leftovers or salads or snacks.
Your summer menu can be uncomplicated, inexpensive, homemade, and pretty darn delicious.
What do you think?
To your kitchen amazingness-