Budgeting For Macros + Menu

When it comes to making my menu every week I am always searching for good food to cook. I don’t like cooking the same meals every week or eating the same meal all week like your typical hardcore “meal-preppers” make. I don’t want to break the bank cooking tasty meals either. Everyone hates the ‘you spent how much on groceries’ conversation.

Every week I look at the sale paper and see what is on sale and then start my search for different meals to make. Like this week boston-butt and pork loins are on sale, so I will be adding them to my menu. I don’t coupon because coupons are typically for non-perishable items and I don’t use very many prepackaged goods.

It always baffled me when cashiers would ask me what I was going to do with all my produce, make comments like ‘ma’am do you know how to cook’, ask me how to cook different items, or say how I must be a vegetarian. Ha, oh contrarie mon frere (oh otherwise my brother).

When I cook I want the freshest vegetables, but I also keep in mind the prices of produce. Zucchini and squash for instance, are not costly. They are a good source of carbohydrates and you can eat a ton without going over your caloric goal. Zucchini and squash aren’t for just stewing down anymore. You can grill them, roast them, and spiralize them for tasty salads and pasta.

From trial and error I know that 3 heads of broccoli will leave me short and 4 will put me just over for adequate servings. When you first start cooking to meet macros and not to just fill your appetite, you might not always get it right. Josh’s go-to meal to cook before we met was a chicken breast, yellow rice, and broccoli. Very budget friendly, especially when you are cooking for one. A 10 ounce package of yellow rice will cost you less than $2, 32 ounces of broccoli is $6, and chicken is around $2 a pound. There are ways to eat healthy (depending on your portion sizes) and still eat cheap.

Chicken, broccoli, and rice is not a fancy meal by any means, but it gets the job done. One way to keep the favor going and stay healthy is to make a bunch of roasted vegetables for the whole week. The beauty about roasted vegetables is that you can literally do any combination of vegetables. I love a good bowl of brussel sprouts, butternut squash, and sweet potatoes. Vegetables are a great source of carbohydrates, but you need to be aware of the ones that carry more carbs per ounce than others. Sweet potatoes have 20 grams of carbs per 100 gram serving, where as broccoli only has about 7 grams of carbs per 100 gram serving.

If you are looking to eat on a budget and count your macros, don’t think you need to go the fast food route. Cheap food is easy, but it won’t help you meet your goals and stay full.

My goals are 169 grams of protein, 195 grams of carbohydrates, 87 grams of fat, and 2,239 calories. After my pre-workout, breakfast, and snack I roughly have 1,400 calories, 129 grams of protein, 75 grams of carbohydrates, and 65 grams of fat left to eat. If I ate a quarter pounder with cheese for lunch that would be 530 calories, 27 grams of fat, 41 grams of carbs, and 31 grams of protein. I would now have 870 calories to go, 98 grams of protein, 34 grams of carbs, and 24 grams of fat to go.

I love meat just as much as the next woman/man, but 98 grams of protein is a lot of protein to eat at one sitting! The quick hamburger (by itself) isn’t that bad, but it is NOT well balanced. I want my hamburger to have a better protein to carb ratio than that, and definitely LESS fat than that. The hamburgers we make at home typically have 381 calories, 34.5 grams of protein, 25.3 grams of carbs, and 16.2 grams of fat. MUCH better than the McDonald’s hamburger.

Rather than going for a quick meal, plan ahead and cook a big pot of spaghetti, like I cooked this past week. I don’t enjoy eating the same meal all week…but if you are in a pinch, you can make a one pot meal and eat on it all week to avoid the temptation of fast food.

Back to the spaghetti…for every serving there was 22.5 grams of protein, 11.4 grams of carbohydrates, 9.9 grams of fat and 228 calories. I chose to cook spaghetti squash so that added 10 grams of carbs, 0.5 grams of fat, and 42 calories. All total that is 22.5 g of protein, 21.4 g of carbs, 10.4 g of fat, and 270.2 calories.

Top that off with the fact that you can eat more servings if you need more to meet your goals, have more squash if you need more carbs, and you can make a TON of spaghetti at one time. Why wouldn’t you rather cook one huge meal that you can eat on all week that is macro friendly and good, than spend $5 on something that throws your whole day of counting off?(!)

Everyone’s “diet” looks different based on their needs and goals, but I think everyone could agree that although fast food appears to be cheap and easy, it is not the best option for your body or wallet over time. Spending $20 to make a huge pot of spaghetti for the week vs. $5-$10 everyday for one small meal, that will leave you hungry in a few short hours, is the smarter choice for your budget and your body.

M • E • N • U

Pork Chops + Butternut Squash Soup

Pork Tacos

Stuffed Pork Loin + Sauteed Zucchini with Mint, Basil, & Pine Nuts

BBQ Sandwiches

Cabbage Roll Ups 

Pork Chops + Butternut Squash Soup

This soup in itself is a meal, personally if I didn’t need to meet my protein goal I wouldn’t eat the meat. I typically make more of this soup than we need so we can have extra over the weekend and so Anderson can have some. I will probably see if little Ms. Scarlett will give it a try too.

This soup most certainly needs the bacon, without the bacon the flavor just wouldn’t be there. I don’t put goat cheese on top anymore, but it is so delicious with it.

This meal is one that is easy for meal prepping and can easily last you all week if you make a big enough pot. When I am meal prepping I will start out cooking this meal first so it can cook in the oven while I prep other meals. After it has roasted in the oven, you simply blend it all together to make a smooth soup and enjoy! I wait and cook fresh bacon to top my soup with, but you can cook that ahead of time and chop up like bacon bits.

For our protein I am going to cook pork chops from the pork loin. I am going to simply season them since the side dish is a heavy hitter. With meals like this I have to eat my protein first or I will be too full by the time I finish the soup. I create a recipe in MyMacros for the soup to keep my goals on track.

Make sure to weigh out your vegetables and bacon before you roast them and add them to your recipe in your app. Once you have blended your soup, weigh out the ideal serving size you would like to eat. Then weigh the remaining soup. Divide the remaining weight of the soup, by the weight of your ideal serving you scooped out. This number will tell you how many servings you have left in your pot. Add that number and the ideal serving you scooped out to get your total amount of servings.

Pork Tacos

I love cooking in the crock-pot, granted the only thing on rotation lately in my crock-pot is a boston butt. Maybe when deer season comes back around, there will be some good deer stew in there. I am not a fan of cooking a boston butt for the sole purpose of slicing it into steaks. I would much rather have a messy BBQ sandwich or these tacos.

Josh turned me onto these tacos one day when we had some extra meat left over from sandwiches. It is as simple as adding some green Mexican sauce to the meat and sauteing peppers and onions. Pick a low carb, high fiber tortilla, top with your favorite hot sauce, and enjoy!

I will saute my onions and peppers during my meal prep. The onions and peppers are not going to be crispy so there is no harm in reheating them.

I like to rub my boston butt down with yellow mustard, garlic powder, Pike’s Peak Seasoning, salt, and pepper. Put the butt in the crock-pot fat side UP. Pour in a vinegar based sauce up to 1/2 an inch deep in the crock-pot.

Cook on high for 4 hours, then turn down on low and cook to temperature. The bone should pull clean out when done. Separate the meat from the fat once the butt has cooled down. Make sure to save some for sandwiches later in the week!

Stuffed Pork Loin + Sauteed Zucchini with Mint, Basil, & Pine Nuts

As far as stuffed pork loins are concerned, this is the healthiest pork loin I have found. According to my last recipe per serving there were 391 calories, 54.6 grams of protein, 108 grams of carbs, and 16.9 grams of fat. This is a bit tricky to weigh out and get perfect servings.

When you are stuffing a pork loin, you need to cut out the center to create a boat to fill, leaving the ends on to keep the filling inside. Since the ends are left on, that slice of the pork loin will obviously have more meat than stuffing. If you can cut it leaving only a thin layer of meat on the ends, the more accurate the macros will be. If you have very thick ends on your pork loin, your macro count will not be accurate because you are still accounting for the pine nuts, mushrooms, and spinach in the recipe.

As I stated above in my post, zucchini and squash are not just for stewing down anymore. This recipe is such a refreshing take on the traditional pan fried or stewed zucchini and squash. Our neighbors gifted us a bag full of zucchini and squash so we will be putting them to use this week. I am going to skip the pine nuts on the zucchini and squash since they will already be in the pork loin, although they are small pine nuts add a lot of fat to a meal. For me the walnuts and capers are also optional. I have never used them and never found that the recipe was lacking anything.

BBQ Sandwiches

To make life easy (who doesn’t need that) I am going to use the left over meat from the boston-butt to make BBQ sandwiches.

I season the meat so that it can be used for tacos or sandwiches. I don’t add a fancy slaw, just pickles and my favorite BBQ sauce. We like to get fresh baked whole wheat buns from the bakery section. I will only eat one bun, but get a second helping of just meat and sauce.

Cabbage Roll Ups 

My brother in-law isn’t a fan of cabbage but wants to cook this meal. If you are like him don’t like cabbage, just skip it. To me it does take away from the meal, but you can eat this without the cabbage and it will still taste good.

It is hit or miss around here with the quality of napa cabbages and I have had to skip the cabbage before. When I skipped the cabbage I simply put the mixture into a 11 x 9 Pyrex dish and baked until the meat was cooked through. Make sure you don’t skip the sauce, because it is crucial to this recipe.

In good faith that our local grocery stores will pull through, the napa cabbages will be perfect for cabbage roll ups. What I have found to be the easiest way to get the cabbages to stay rolled up is to make two breaks on the cabbage leaves. The first break should be about 1 inch from the bottom and the 2nd break a 1/2 inch to 1 inch from the first break.

To make a recipe for MyMacros I weigh out all the ingredients before cooking and input them into my app. I measure out equal servings to fill the cabbage leaves. The amount of leaves I fill, is the amount of servings made.

Don’t forget the list!

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