Saturday, June 22, 2013

Week Three... Hanging in There

Last week's shopping trip was right around the $100 mark. I threw in a bottle of wine, and thank goodness. I needed it! (SOMEBODY learned how to crawl and has given me a run for my money.)
Here's what we ate:

Monday: Turkey and Peppers over Rice
One of my favorite easy meals.

Tuesday: Sloppy Joes from a can
The ground beef was real. I have been too lazy to make my own sauce lately.

Wednesday: Ham and Potato Soup
Left over ham in the freezer with purchased potatoes

Thursday: Left Overs
CJ worked late and had dinner out. I had soup.

Friday: Slow Cooked Chicken in Nachos
Thanks to Briana Mills for this one! Had it again it was so good.

Saturday: Homemade Garlic Chicken Pizza
Haven't gotten around to this one yet. Supposed to have it a few days ago but ran out of time. Now the chicken I'd saved for it has gone bad... so I will pick up more at the store today. And in case you were wondering, the crust is store bought and I'm just going to throw some toppings on it!

Sunday: Picnic Dinner
Haven't decided what this will be yet, as this is technically next week! Picking up groceries today. Ideas? Something good for eating in the wilderness and doesn't make you look gross while eating it?

CJ's Lunches: White Chicken Chili with Chips and Green Salsa

CJ's Breakfasts: Breakfast Burritos (at his request)

Valerie and Jim lunches:
Pita and Hummus
Cottage cheese and Fruit
Left over burritos from Week 1
Chicken Quesadillas
Left over soup 

Nightly Deserts: Three Ingredient Brownies with homemade buttercream frosting
I over cooked them. They were dry and hard. However, we microwaved them with the buttercream on them. The frosting melted and turned to chocolate sauce and made it very yummy.

Next week, I start a new term at work. This weekend is very full and busy and I really don't' feel like making ahead anything. Since Jim has been sleeping through the night this week, I am going to be getting up with CJ in the mornings and making him eggs and sandwiches each day. I will also be planning meals that are quick and easy that do not require make-aheads. I'm sure it will still be cheap since I'm planning ahead, even if I'm not cooking ahead.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

We Survived (Thrived?) in a Second Week

So I was very lazy about taking pictures this week... so instead of food pictures, here is a picture of a baby licking his tray.

Anyway, the second week went well. Here is what we ate this past week:

Monday: Grilled Cheese and Roasted Red Pepper and Tomato Soup
Easy food (canned soup) since this day I had doctor appointments
Tuesday: Turkey Chili and Cornbread
Also easy and made in the morning since I worked that night.
Wednesday: Left overs
CJ worked late and ate at work.
Thursday: Chicken Nachos
Put chicken thighs + 1 cup salsa in crock pot on low for 6 hours
Friday: Left overs 
Again... CJ got home around 10:30pm
Saturday: Chicken and Veggies over Wild Rice
All the random left over veggies I could find in the fridge I steamed and heated up old chicken thighs I'd cooked earlier in the week and served them over Wild Rice with butter. YUMMY.

I also planned some lunch ideas for myself and Jim which included:
Cheese & Crackers with steamed Green Beans
Hummus with Pita or Rice Cakes and Steamed Zucchini
Apricots, Cottage Cheese, Peas
Quinoa and Steamed Sweet Potatoes
Peanut Butter on Rice Cakes, Peaches, Peas
Cheese, Chicken, and Bell Pepper Quesadillas

CJ had refried beans, frozen bell pepper&onion medley, cheese, and scrambled egg Breakfast Burritos that I made ahead on Sunday.

I also made Gyros for the weeks lunches for him on Sunday. I used this recipe and prepared them all in little "kits" so nothing would get soggy. The meat, sauce, veggies, and pita were all packed separately, then put in old plastic grocery bags and stored in the fridge door so he could grab one and go.

And I bought a $1.99 brownie mix and divided the cooked brownies into 5 portions for each week night. This really helped our cravings for ice cream after dinner and prevented us eating a whole batch of cookies or brownies on a whim. And it easily saved us 10+ dollars in ice cream alone! 

This entire week cost us 106.52 at Winco (including baby wipes, paper towels, etc.)

I didn't feel quite as much like I lived in the kitchen, mostly because I used almost all old "go-to" recipes instead of being too creative. This current week in progress is even easier -and cheaper- than this one!

So far we've saved $200! (That's approximately 2 full nights of work for me!)

Wish me luck as we continue with Week 3 :)

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Eating On a Budget - One Week In

We spend a lot on food. A LOT. I compared what we spend to other families our size, in our area, and although it wasn't more than what others spend, it was more than I want to spend and more than we should really afford if we want a new house someday. So I decided to try to eat (and buy cat food and diapers, etc.) on $100 a week and see what happens. Here is the documentation of what we did, what worked, and what did not.

On Sunday I made a menu for the week and picked out what CJ would eat for his breakfasts and lunches. Then I went shopping. Here is what I bought for $96.52:

We already had a few ingredients (like some canned tomatoes, etc.) but I did mostly buy everything needed for the week plus other essentials not on the food list.

Here is what we had this week:

CJ's lunches were Make Ahead Wraps that froze and microwaved well. This recipe made 10 wraps! So I have some still in the freezer since CJ only ate 5.

On Monday morning I cooked a huge pan of bone in chicken thighs, took the meat off, and divided them among ziplocs for anything that called for chicken that week. I added it to the pasta recipe for protein, saved some for tacos, it went in the wraps, and saved some for the "roast" on Sunday.

CJ's breakfasts were this Breakfast Casserole cut into portions and put into separate containers in the fridge. I modified the recipe quite a bit though. I added mushrooms, olives, frozen pepper and onion medley, only used a small bit of breakfast sausage, and used some turkey ham as well.

Monday: Broccoli with Rigatoni, french garlic bread, salad with ranch

This was delicious, easy, and very cheap. Would have prefered to use gluten free pasta so Jim could eat too but Winco doesn't carry it... so I made an exception this week. Next time I'll plan ahead.

Tuesday: Spanish Rice, Corn and Black Bean Salad, Chicken Thigh Meat Tacos

Monday's chicken tossed with some taco seasoning in a ziploc waiting in the fridge. I also made the rice and bean salad ahead of time so that CJ and Jim could eat while I was at work and I wouldn't have to do anything on my work day.

Wednesday: Burgers, Corn on the cob, Potato Salad

Made the potato salad in the morning but it just didn't have time to sit before we ate it so the flavor was lacking. Will probably make this ahead next time.

Thursday: Leftover Broccoli Rigatoni pasta

I had actually planned a meal for this night (Slow cooker BBQ) but failed to put it in the crockpot at 4am (yeah... 12 hours to cook. oops) Thats ok, that meal easily is a double recipe.

Friday: Ham and Potato Soup

This was amazingly good.

Saturday: Slow Cooker BBQ on rice with Potato Salad and Green Beans

Will never make this again. We haven't eaten it yet... but our entire house smells like a giant poopy diaper.

*UPDATE: This was the BEST pulled pork we've ever had. EVER. After letting it cook in the apple cider vinegar for 7 hours (not 12) I pulled it apart and added Bullseye BBQ sauce (skipped the rest of the recipe), served over rice along side the homemade potato salad. CJ said it was worth making the house smell like a diaper.*

Sunday: (Supposedly) Roast Chicken Thighs with Mashed Potatoes and Gravy

Not sure if I'm going to have the time and energy for this. Might roast the chicken and serve it over creamy rice. (Rice with butter, heavy cream, and pepper added.)

So... conclusion. We cut our grocery bill in half so far. I do feel like I've been a slave to the kitchen though, and like my life has revolved around food for the last seven days. While this is not something I want to do for the rest of my life, I will keep it up as long as I can to help reach our goal for the New House fund as soon as possible!

Some tips if you try this:
- Check the expiration on the meats you buy and plan accordingly.
- Plan only 4-5 meals for 7 days. You will get tired and revert to leftovers or a grilled cheese sandwich at least twice a week.
- Try to spend 10-15 dollars LESS than what you have budgeted. Inevitably you will realize you forgot something or you ran out of baby wipes on Thursday and can't wait till Sunday's shopping trip!

Things I'm doing differently next week:
- Planning some lunches and breakfasts for myself and the baby.
- Making some go-to recipes instead of new ones (I'm burned out already.)
- Making ahead LESS than last week for two reasons: I have a very busy weekend full of parties to attend, and my week ahead of me is the start of my two week summer break, which means I won't mind some cooking during the days.

Stay tuned for how this continues to "pan out" over the coming weeks!