By: Josh Rutledge
Okay, so the goal is to make seafood the centerpiece of two meals per week while staying within a tight budget. Week 1? Smashing success. The other night, Meredith and I whipped up some tuna sandwiches. But not just any tuna sandwiches — you know, the boring, school-box lunch types? No, we cherry-picked from a few different recipes and came up with a sun-dried tomato tuna melt on ciabatta bread. Took about twenty minutes to put together. And it was divine. Best part? Leftovers. I had enough ingredients to make another sandwich for lunch the next day. Happiness all around. Did I just knock out Week 1 with one prepared meal? Yes, I did.
Now, was it cheap? Well, if you look at the total cost of the meal, not really. But the key with weekly budgeting is preparation. You have to meal plan. And that is how you can pull off meals like this and still stay within budget. Because you cannot maintain a budget if all you do is find a recipe each night and then go to the store to buy all the ingredients. Does not work like that. The key is working with what you have, slowly building up a stock of commonly used ingredients, and then committing in advance to meals you want to make in a given week.
In this case, we already had the sun-dried tomatoes because we love sun-dried tomatoes. We use them often, so we keep a stash handy in the pantry. And for the ingredients we did not have, we incorporated some of them into other planned meals for the week. Spread the dollars out over a few meals and the cost of each meal drops quickly.