What I Spent, What We Ate

What I Spent

Since my last post I spent $18.82 on groceries. This brings me $1.67 over my goal of spending $100 on groceries for the month of March. There is almost a full week left in the month, but I am closing my grocery budget out a bit early this month because I want to take advantage of some coupons for items at BJs that expire before the end of the month (and that we need to stock up on). I have lots of thoughts about my pantry challenge for the month AND for this exercise in maintaining a $200 grocery budget (on average) throughout the year. The short story is that I really am at the point where I’m annoyed about several things. I do keep reminding myself that this is 50% less than I allocated for groceries last year and the reason I cut so sharply was because I was concerned about food waste. It might have been too much of a cut — but I can always revisit that and make changes if necessary. I want to go six months on this budget as much as possible, just to get an idea. Anyway. I’ll go on (and on) about that in another post, probably. Here is what I actually bought!

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At Aldi I spent $7.94 on peppers (a really good price and I love them), cottage cheese, garlic and oyster crackers. I thought I would make seasoned oyster crackers but I’ve just been snacking on them plain out of the bag. I also picked up a pizza and chips, but that is in the take-out/eating out budget. Which took a beating this month. More on that another day. I was annoyed that they didn’t have a few advertised items, especially Pink Lady apples as we were totally out of fruit for my husband (still plenty of grapefruit for me).

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At Save-A-Lot I picked up a small bag of halos and bananas. We promptly polished these off during our trip to Cumberland Island, so we’re out of fruit again. I spent $4.10 there. And finally, another bag of coffee — this time the brand and roast we prefer (we’re drinking the Aldi coffee and it’s not bad, but we really prefer a dark roast and they did not have any dark roasted beans). I’m not sure if we’ll need to open it before I get to BJs later this week, but it will be a close thing. I also grabbed an avocado as they were $.79 and nice on top of our oven fajitas!

What We Ate

Honestly at this point I don’t remember too much what we ate each day. We did treat the week a bit like a staycation and used the travel budget to underwrite some take-out purchases. Here are some highlights of what I cooked at home.

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Beef Stew and Herbed Popovers 

So good. It was a bit thin in the this photo; for some reason this batch took a long time to really cook down and thicken up, but once it did it was amazing. The recipe I (loosely) follow calls for a box of Knox gelatin to help make a really silky, unctuous broth and it definitely works. Its not a cheap meal, but it’s also not that expensive and it’s SO WORTH IT.

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Cinnamon Streusel Pancakes

This was an experiment using the leftover streusel from making the banana pecan muffins the other week and it worked out so well! I’ll definitely do this again when I have leftover streusel.

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Lentil Sloppy Joes over Roasted Cabbage Steaks

This was my new recipe dish for the week. Another success; I’d been a bit skeptical about the lentil sloppy joes (I’ve tried lentil tacos before and…I was seriously underwhelmed) but this was amazing. Really tasty over the cabbage steaks, too.

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Butternut Squash Soup

This made use of the roasted squash I had in the freezer and some sorrowful looking apples lingering in the fruit bowl. Always one of my favorite soups.

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Pork Chili w/Red Sauce and Kidney Beans

This is my new recipe for this week. And holy cow. Two weeks in a row the recipes have really been great. I didn’t know exactly what to do with the sirloin pork chops I’ve had in the freezer because they had a deeper, gamier flavor that the leaner cuts I’m accustomed to, and that’s why I’d let them hang out in the freezer for so long. This was a fantastic use of that cut, and it was so good that now I’m wishing I had more pork in the freezer!!

What I Spent, What We Ate

What I Spent

I went to the grocery store twice this week, once was more of a random trip to check out the grocery outlet/salvage type of store in town and the other was my regular trip to Aldi. I spent a total of $51.75 — WAY more than what I spent the previous two weeks. This brings my total to $82.85 and leaves me just $17 for the rest of the month. While I hadn’t planned, exactly, on this scenario, I AM glad that I went to the grocery outlet. I did purchase a few things that were unnecessary and fall outside of the dairy and produce categories. But…I don’t plan on hitting this store up more than once a month at most and wanted to take advantage of what I found. And the Aldi trip just reflected our need for produce. We’ll see how I do!

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At the grocery outlet I picked up a case of organic plain yogurt, two containers of organic cottage cheese, a jar of organic peanut butter, a bottle of chocolate sauce, two boxes of chocolate Moravian cookies (to use for a pie crust although Michael found them…) and a bag of cinnamon imperials which I can NEVER find here during Valentine’s day and they are one of my favorite candies. Obviously not everything was required, but for $10 I am okay with the splurges.

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At Aldi, I bought a bit more than I expected because of some sale prices and I picked up corned beef and coffee beans. Eggs were $.69/dozen, so I grabbed the limit of six dozen. I also picked up two bags of carrots ($.69/2lb bag), onions, a cabbage, bananas, strawberries, 2 pounds of asparagus, romaine lettuce, a large container of organic mixed salad greens, frozen raspberries, half & half, 2% milk, fake club crackers and tortilla chips. I also grabbed a pack of hamburger buns, which aren’t pictured. I  spent $41.75. Usually I get coffee beans at BJs, but the bag is expensive because it’s huge and I knew I would probably be tempted to purchase more than I needed. So we’re trying Aldi whole coffee beans, which are also organic and fair trade. We’ll see. You know I’m picky about coffee. 🙂 The raspberries were not strictly necessary, but I wanted to make smoothies using that yogurt and I don’t like blueberry only smoothies (cry me a river, right?). The corned beef was also not a necessary purchase, but Michael really likes it and it’s not easy to find at other times of the year, so…I indulged. And then the prices on carrots, eggs, onions, and asparagus had me stocking up. I noticed that quite a few items have reduced prices through 4/11, so I’ll be back next month to take advantage of those (cream cheese is $.85/pack). Anyway, without the coffee, raspberries and corned beef I would have been closer to just $20 for the week.

What We Ate

This week was not one for culinary wonders. We ate out quite a bit — a combination of birthday treats for Michael and then me just being totally off-kilter with my school schedule. It was mid-term and projects and exams took up most of my time. Our eating and my cooking was definitely kind of sad. As an FYI, our eating out budget is NOT the same as the grocery budget, although I do look at those numbers together.

Saturday: Vietnamese (out)

Sunday: Pizza (take out)

Monday: Tacos (take out)

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Tuesday: Cabbage Fried Rice

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Wednesday: Spaghetti with Sausage & Peppers Sauce, Green Salad, Garlic Bread

Thursday: Leftovers (Laura at class)

Friday: Bookclub (Laura), Soup & Salad (Michael)

One thing I realized this week was that prepping just a bit on the weekend really saves me during the week. This coming week is spring break and while it won’t be as busy as a normal school week, I’m really looking forward to getting some projects around here taken care of. That means that prepping over the weekend is going to be just as important as it would be during a regular school week. Also, you’ll also notice that my posted meal plan and the actual meals cooked bear little to no resemblance to each other. Ah, well. It was mostly an exercise to spark my interest and motivation. There’s a reason I usually post what we’ve eaten after the fact, not what we’re going to eat.

 

 

 

What I Spent, What We Ate

What I Spent

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I spent $10.15 at Aldi this week for groceries. As you can see, we needed fruit and half and half plus I really wanted to get some asparagus. A neighbor gave us a lot of grapefruit so we have plenty of fruit in the house. I will probably head there this weekend for berries and dairy, but overall we are good on most things during this pantry challenge. Of the $100 produce/dairy budget I have for the month, I’ve spent $31.10.

What We Ate

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Saturday: Lemony Greek Pasta Salad (lunch), Margherita Pizza

  • I was so pleased with this pizza! Also I successfully froze this dough a couple of weeks ago and two wonderful things happened: I remembered to use it AND I froze it in a plastic container instead of in a bag. I think the different container made it so much easier to use and also much less likely to get lost in the freezer. I will do that again for sure! The basil is from loeftover pho; they always give so much basil and cilantro along with the broth and meat and this time I brought home the extra (in addition to the extra soup — even the small is a huge portion). I was able to use the basil in several meals, although this was the last.

Sunday: Stir-Fry Noodles w/Asparagus, Mushrooms & Tofu

Monday: Cajun Red Beans and Rice

  • I used this recipe for the red beans and rice, but omitted the andouille sausage because I wanted to keep it vegetarian. This turned out really, really well!

Tuesday: Egg Roll in a Bowl

  • This may be a new favorite for us — it was really good and really yummy! I kind of did a mash-up of different recipes, but they are all pretty much the same, I think. If you haven’t tried it, I highly recommend. Also it’s a great way to take advantage of the cheap cabbage that’s available now.

Wednesday: leftovers

Thursday: leftovers

Friday: Tilapia (not sure if we’re having Parmesan or Horseradish Crusted), Roasted Asparagus, Baked Potatoes

  • Or maybe I will do a Cajun spiced and pan fried thing with the fish. I’m not sure yet, but we’re definitely having fish as it’s thawed in the fridge. Don’t want it to go to waste!

 

Busy, Busy

My parents are visiting, and as is usual when they are here, it’s been go-go-go! My sisters and I call them the “traveling work crew” because even when they say they are just here for a relaxing visit, we always end up doing some kind of project. Today they helped Michael and I straighten up our front garden beds and lay down new mulch. We took advantage of the 10 for $10 sale on mulch that Lowes has going right now and our front beds really look fantastic. We also picked up some lava rock to act as a barrier between the foundation and the mulch — something recommended by our pest/termite people that we have been meaning to do for a while.

While I was out picking up the mulch, I also stopped by Winn-Dixie for beef stew meat and smoked sausage. I now have four packs of beef smoked sausage and 12 pounds of beef stew meat in the freezer.I think my storage squirrel should be satisfied for a while, now.  I have really been craving beef stew, so at some point next month, that will be on the menu.

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For dinner we had NY strip steaks with mushroom marsala sauce — really yummy. Garlic mashed potatoes and buttery green beans on the side. It was a nice meal.

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Of course, I still had school work to do today and so part of my day was spent on the computer while everyone else was outside. I would have rather been outside. 🙂