food budgeting & a great recipe

let's talk food. mixed with budgets & meal planning for the entire family, it can be a bit of a challenge. our family began meal planning & budgeting before luke & i got married when we began the discussion of sharing our money.  i've had a little over four years to make mistakes, jump for joy in my successes, spend one week's worth of food on thrift store finds (oops!) & eat only beans the next. sometimes i get really into meal planning & watching our dollar stretch; other times, we're lucky to have spaghetti with store-bought sauce. i believe it's all part of life's rhythm, but i am trying to be more consistent for our health & our sanity.

we spend about $65 every week on food for the two of us. this includes every meal at home, any meal or side we may prepare for a potluck or party, our booze, & our household needs including cleaning supplies & toilet paper. this does not include date night, which we allow $40 for each month. we do have a few advantages- we have a surplus of meat from the farm, which i don't utilize enough because i am so used to preparing vegetarian meals. we have a flock of chickens who provide our eggs & sweet potatoes to feed an army along with a handful of other vegetables fairly consistently. our $65 does not allow for a completely organic diet, although we do make many sacrifices to fit organic dairy & as many fruits & vegetables into our budget as possible. 

with that said, it does take a lot of strategic planning to meet our $65 budget each week. i want to share with you a versatile recipe that has allowed me to make our budget work while providing a seasonal dinner & a lunch on-the-go option.

black bean sweet potato burritos
adapted from simply in season, winter chapter
makes 8 burritos

4 cups sweet potatoes, diced
1/2 onion, chopped
2 cups cooked black beans 
1 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
8 whole-wheat flour tortillas
1 cup cheddar cheese

just a few tips: always prepare more beans than the recipe calls for. black beans are a great lunch starter or can be used for another meal idea such as friday night vegetarian taco salad. try to soak your beans overnight, although this step is not absolutely necessary. you can always do the quick boiling method or simply plop them in the pot to cook at the last minute. i prefer my beans soaked, but sometimes we forget. also, i cook my beans in a crockpot on high during the day when i am at work. when i get home, i have beans ready to go.


preheat oven to 350F.

saute your sweet potatoes & onions in the largest frying pan you can find in 1 tablespoon of olive oil until tender. this takes about 30 minutes. add water as needed to prevent sticking.

once potatoes are tender, add your cooked black beans, cumin, cinnamon, & salt. cook until all is heated, about five minutes.

lay out your flour tortillas & disperse shredded cheese. divide your sweet potato-bean mixture equally among the tortillas & roll up burrito style. place in a lightly oiled 9 x 13 inch baking pan. cover pan with foil & bake in oven for 20 minutes.

garnish with plain yogurt or sour cream & salsa. dinner's ready!

with your leftovers, roll them up in tinfoil & freeze. these guys make PERFECT lunches. set them out the morning before your lunch hour to thaw. unwrap the aluminum foil & pop them in the microwave for a few minutes or keep the foil on & heat them in the oven for five minutes at 350F.

with this recipe, we can have one delicious dinner for two & 6 on-the-go lunches. 

do you have any easy, affordable, whole recipes to share? & as always, let me know if you have any questions! 



Unknown said...

Yum! I love anything with sweet potatoes, and what a great idea to make extras and freeze for lazy days or quick lunches.

fawn & fern said...

I remember you & Luke made these for me at the love nest when you were pretty newly dating : ) so delicious! I love the quesadilla recipe from the book, too.

Laney Butler said...

I'll have to try those! I'm always looking for cheap/healthy meals. Thanks for sharing!

Julia said...

This sounds great- we spend too much on food, even with eating most meals at homeland cooking from scratch. I do try to make things like bread, hummus, and a potof beans almost every weekend- and we have been eating a lot from our freezer and canning pantry lately. I would love some tips on creating a weekly meal plan since I have never been able to get into the swing of it, despite numerous attempts :)

Natalie Freeman said...

julia, i will try to work on a few tips for meal planning :)!

tara said...

i can't wait to try this recipe. looks yummy! I agree with julia and would love to see some of your tips on meal planning. even though i meal plan and we mostly eat at home, i still feel like we spend way too much on food!

Jess said...

I love sweet potatoes and black beans - great combo!

Roller Mill Farms said...

I love this. Impressive weekly budget!! Good thinking to make extra, so handy. I can always use encouragement on this subject, it seems to go in ebbs and flows. I blame it on entertaining a lot and that seems like a worthy cause, but there's certainly room to improve.

melania said...

Oh! I put black beans on to soak the other night, then the next morning started them cooking...and forgot about sad about my burnt beans but will add this recipe to the options for next time. Thanks for sharing, I definitely need more ideas for simple food that goes further.

Luke Freeman said...

I can attest that these burritos are delicious! I practically lived on them during college.

Leah said...

Always interesting (and informative!) to see how other budget themselves.
I feel like it gives me a better chance at doing well when it's my turn.

Something I usually make for myself for lunch that is similar to your meal (you might like it) is brown rice and lentils with cumin added. Then I make a greek yogurt sauce with cilantro and/or just lemon. Wrap it in a brown rice torilla.

Cassy said...

I made these this weekend! I made them more savory with an onion and some plain yogurt and sriracha. Great post! These are going to become a staple in our menu.

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