Monday, January 26, 2009

Menu Plan Monday

I've only planned four lunches this week, since I have two different soups on the menu. Both should make enough to have leftovers for a couple of lunches. I have the warm potato salad with smoked sausage on the menu again this week, since I didn't make it last week because we decided to eat out one night. We'll be having meatloaf tonight, thanks to some leftovers from Sunday lunch at my aunt & uncle's house. It's great having family nearby! :-)

I'm so glad I found a great waffle recipe on Money Saving Mom's site last week. They're made with all whole wheat flour, and I used half applesauce and half oil for the fat and they turned out great. Kenton even turned down syrup and chose to eat his plain this morning!

Here's our plan for the coming week:

scrambled egg on english muffin
cold cereal
Kashi TLC bars
waffles and sausage
carrot bread (I'm still working on a recipe for this. I have a ton of carrots and am looking for a healthful way to use them up. If I come up with a good recipe, I'll share it.)

grilled cheese sandwiches, applesauce, chips
brown rice & spinach casserole, salad, fruit
baked potatoes with broccoli & cheese sauce
sausage pizza, salad, fruit


meatloaf, mashed potatoes, green beans
potato soup, bread, fruit
black-eyed pea soup, bread, fruit
warm potato salad w/ smoked sausage, steamed broccoli & carrots
vegetable pot pie
nachos with black beans, pepper jack cheese, salsa, and guacamole (We need a junk food fix every now and then!)

For tons of menu planning ideas, take a look at OrgJunkie's Menu Plan Monday site!

Sunday, January 25, 2009

A little more Krogering

Since we have extra money to spend this week, Edward ran back to Kroger Saturday for some more apples before the sale price ends on Sunday. He bought 8 apples ($2), gallon of organic milk reduced for quick sale ($2.98), and a bag of spinach ($1.79) for a total of $6.77. That brings our weekly total to $17.89.

While I am obviously thrifty, we almost always buy organic milk and cage-free eggs. No one in our house is a big milk drinker, but we find organic milk to be far more tasty than the conventional stuff. The same is true for eggs--I love them but I think there's a huge taste difference between the two kinds. A coworker buys eggs for $1.25/dozen from a local farmer, which is something I'd like to look into.

We wouldn't normally buy a gallon of milk, organic or otherwise, because we simply don't use that much. However, I plan to do some serious baking today and that will use up quite a bit of it. Since it was about the same price as regular with the markdown, I figured it was a worthwhile purchase.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Weekly shopping at Kroger

We went Krogering today for our big weekly grocery shop. Edward usually does the shopping, sticks to the list exactly, and gets out of the store as quickly as possible. Since I have today off from work I tagged along too and messed up his plans considerably. He'll probably never take me to the grocery again!

Here's what we bought:
4 cans of Chunky soup .59/ea (from the scratch & dent bin) -.50/4 coupon (doubled to 1.00)
mayonnaise 2.99 - .75 coupon (doubled to 1.00)
Frank's red hot sauce 1.69 -.50 coupon (doubled to 1.00)
Kraft ranch dressing 1.98 -1.00 coupon
Milk 2.98
Rotel .87 - .30 coupon (doubled to .60)
pinto beans .29 (scratch & dent)
5 blocks of Kraft cheese 1.99/ea
Ronzoni pasta 1.64
bag of popcorn 2.09
2 bags of Green Giant steamers vegetables 1.49/ea -.50 coupons (doubled to 1.00)
2 pkgs Johnsonville sausage 3.00/ea - .50 coupons (doubled to 1.00)
strawberry preserves 1.99
canned peaches 1.00
eggs 1.59
apples 1.00
grapes 1.62
organic baby greens 1.79 (reduced for quick sale)

We got $5.00 off for buying ten of the "Mega Savings" items, which made our total $31.12. However, in an unexpected surprise, we had a $20 pharmacy reward on our Kroger card from transferring a prescription a while back. It's been several weeks since we've spent more than $20 at a time at Kroger, so it hadn't shown up the last few times we were there and we'd just forgotten about it. That made our total out of pocket expense for a week's worth of groceries $11.12!

Now I have to decide how to deal with this unexpected money left in our budget. I'll probably look to stock up on some things we use regularly like juice, flour, butter, etc. We might also go to Sam's and replenish some spices that are starting to get low. When we cook at home a lot, like we're doing now, we go through those really fast and I haven't been able to beat Sam's prices on most of the ones we use regularly.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Homemade Pizza

Tonight's supper was homemade pizza with a wheat crust, topped with fresh spinach and goat cheese. And it was gooood! We love pizza and it's really easy to make dough in the bread machine and sauce in the crockpot. Pizza's also a great way to use up little bits of leftovers meats or veggies, especially if you make everyone in the family an individual-sized crust and let them top it as they want.

Here's my sauce recipe, adapted from Not Your Mother's Slow Cooker Cookbook by Beth Hensperger.

3 6-ounce cans of tomato paste
15-ounce can of tomato sauce
3 Tbsp olive oil
2-4 cloves of garlic, chopped (I use 2 tsp of the chopped stuff from a jar, and I'm sure 1/2 tsp or so of garlic powder would work, too)
1/2 tsp salt
2 Tbsp dried oregano
1 Tbsp dried basil
1 Tbsp dried parsley
1 Tbsp sugar
1/4 c water, or as needed

I use my two-quart crock for this. You'd probably be okay making it in a 4-quart, but it might cook a little faster. Put everything except the water in the slow cooker and stir well. Add just enough water to make a smooth sauce. Cover and cook on low for 6-8 hours, stirring occasionally. Try the finished sauce and add salt and pepper to taste. When finished the sauce will be very thick and brick red. It's just right for spreading on a pizza crust and also makes a great dipping sauce for breadsticks or cheese sticks. We find it makes enough for 3 or 4 large pizzas, and it freezes well.

You can find more frugal recipes and tips at Frugal Friday.

Kroger deals and steals!

Edward got everything in this picture for 15 cents at Kroger today! They're having "Mega Savings" this week. That means in addition to the weekly sale prices you get an additional $5 off if you buy ten items from a certain selection. Our Kroger doubles coupons up to 50 cents, and everything from 51 cents to 99 cents they raise to $1.

Here's how it all worked:
4 bags of Green Giant Steamers @$1.49/ea - 50 cent coupons doubled = 1.96
Chex Mix 1.99 - .60 Cellfire coupon (not doubled) -.50 coupon doubled = .39
Snapple 1.00 - .75 coupon doubled to 1.00 = 0.00
3 cans Rotel @.87/ea - .30 cent coupons doubled = .81
Fiber One bars 2.49 -.50 Cellfire coupon (not doubled) -.50 coupon doubled = .99
2 bags Quaker Quakes @1.00/ea - 1.00 coupons = 0.00
Total = $4.15 - $5.00 "Mega Savings" = NEGATIVE .85
When the cashier told Edward he had negative .85 cents, he grabbed a couple of 2/$1 candy bars, which brought the grand total up to .15.

We get multiple copies of coupons in a couple of different ways. We subscribe to the Sunday paper and the local Dollar Tree sell copies, too. Usually the ones from there don't have all the coupon inserts though, so it pays to thumb through if there's a particular Q you're looking for. We also ask our non-couponing friends and family to save their inserts for us.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Menu Plan Monday

For our $40/week grocery budget to work, I need to have a plan before we do our shopping. I've found it works best for me to have a list of things that I can choose from, rather than assigning each meal a day of the week. I plan six lunches and dinners, because there always seem to be enough leftovers to cover at least two meals during the week. Here's our plan for the coming week.

scrambled egg on english muffin
cold cereal and fruit
fiber one bars
peanut butter on toast
carrot-raisin bran bread (my variation on this recipe)

vegetable-cheese soup
tuna salad sandwiches, chips, fruit
spicy peanut noodles with broccoli
omelets, biscuits, fruit
baked potatoes with broccoli & cheese sauce and bacon bits
black bean & corn stew over brown rice (my turkey-less take on this recipe)


homemade pizza with goat cheese & spinach
salmon, brown rice pilaf, green beans
homemade corn dogs, french fries, fruit
warm potato salad w/ smoked sausage, steamed broccoli & carrots
red beans & rice
homemade spinach-alfredo pizza

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Mixed Grain Pancakes

One of our favorite things to eat any time of day is pancakes. It's also one of the few foods that everyone in the family eats well. This recipe came in a booklet with my immersion blender, and it's become one of our favorites. These pancakes are cheap to make, hearty, reasonably healthy, and very tasty. With some fruit and maybe a slice of bacon or piece of sausage, this is one of our favorite meals.

1 egg
1 cup milk
1 tbsp vegetable oil
2/3 c all-purpose flour
1/3 c whole wheat flour
3 Tbsp cornmeal
3 Tbsp sunflower seeds or nuts
3 Tbsp rolled oats
1 Tbsp sugar
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt

Beat egg, milk, and oil together. (I usually add a splash of vanilla too.) Add dry ingredients and mix well. (I use the immersion blender so the sunflower seeds/nuts get broken up pretty well. You'd probably want to chop them finely if you're mixing by hand.) Heat lightly greased pan over medium heat. Pour batter by 1/4 cup fulls and cook until bubbles form on surface and edges begin to dry. Turn and cook until underside is light golden brown. We've eaten these topped with applesauce, pumpkin butter, cooked apples, sliced bananas and peanut butter, and even plain old maple syrup.

Check out lots more great recipes at Grocery Cart Challenge's Recipe Swap!

Rite Aid Deals

We had a $20 gift card from Rite Aid from a rebate deal and used it tonight to pick up some food items they had on sale with no out of pocket expense. We bought the following at 99 cents each:
3 Mott's applesauce (24 oz)
4 Wyler's lemonade mix
4 Sun Maid raisins (8.5 oz)
1 Bumblebee Albacore tuna
We had two coupons for $1/2 for the raisins, which lowered our total a little more. Raisins and applesauce are on the very short list of foods Kenton will eat right now, so we were happy to get these deals.

The only other food purchase we made today was $1.99 at Aldi for some goat cheese. I think that leaves me with about $1 in this week's food budget.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

41 cent crackers

Edward got three boxes of crackers at CVS today for a total of 41 cents out of pocket. Both of the kids love crackers, so these will be great for snacking. They were $1.97 each and he had a coupon for $3 off any CVS brand purchase, and $2.50 in Extra Bucks. He also earned $3 in Extra Bucks on this purchase that we can use in the future. With a little planning, CVS Extra Bucks and Walgreens Register Rewards and rebates really help stretch our budget.

Earlier this week we got drinks to feed my caffeine addiction at Walgreens. They had Pepsi products on sale five 12-packs for $15. We had a $3 off any purchase coupon and had enough on a gift card from their Easy Saver rebates to pay for them, so there was no out of pocket expense for us. We also earned $5 in Register Rewards on the purchase, and got a prescription filled that earned us another $25 gift card.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Super Deals at Kroger

Edward ran to Kroger today to pick up a few things and got a box of tissues, a can of tuna, two boxes of Green Giant frozen veggies, and two tubes of toothpaste for 28 cents! The veggies were on sale, but there were no rebates or anything fancy like that--just plain old couponing. He had coupons for all of the items from Cellfire, which are loaded directly onto your Kroger Plus Card. They can be combined with print coupons, so you can use two coupons for the same item. It can obviously add up to some fabulous deals, especially if an item is on sale. Cellfire is also great because they often have coupons for store brand products, which are really hard to come by.

You do have to register with Cellfire and give them your cell number to get their coupons, but we've never received any spam text messages or any contact at all from them since signing up. They offer coupons for a couple of different grocery chains, so even if you don't have a Kroger nearby they may have some you can use. They also have coupons for restaurants and attractions, but haven't tried any of those.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Meijer Deals!

Our new budget week doesn't really start until Friday, but the forecast is for bitterly cold weather for the next few days so we decided to go ahead and do the shopping today. Edward really didn't want to drag the kids out in 5 degree weather to go the grocery.

Despite my disappointment last week with Meijer, Edward headed back there today because they have some great 11/$10 deals advertised again this week. Their sales run from Sunday to Saturday and unlike some other chains, they are really good about restocking throughout the week. He was able to find all but two items on his list.

The total for everything in the picture was $25.54! At regular price, which we'd never pay of course, the English muffins were $3.59 each, so the 5 pkgs we bought would have been $17.95! (Since my bagel stash has now been completely exhausted, my new breakfast of choice will be egg on english muffin.) According to the receipt, the total before sale prices and coupons was $98.21. Our refrigerator and freezer are stuffed full and we still have $14.50 left to spend, which is good since we need to restock some staple items like butter and flour.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

More Crazy Days

It's been another wild couple of days with doctor's visits and such. We've mostly existed on carry-out and snacks. I guess this is one way to cut your grocery budget, but not one I would recommend. However, Edward finally won the battle with the kidney stones today, so we should be getting back to normal tomorrow. Yay!

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Crazy Days

Edward had another flare-up with his kidney stones yesterday, so we've had a crazy couple of days. We spent several hours yesterday at the ER which didn't leave much time for cooking or eating at home. Someone stayed here with the kids and they ate lots of snacks yesterday but no real meals. We picked up pizza for supper and ate it with some salad and fruit we had here. I spent $1.98 for some salad dressing when I went in Kroger to get a prescription filled, leaving us $5.03 in the weekly budget.

Today wasn't much better as far as eating normally. My dad's here to help out, so he ran out and got breakfast at McDonald's. I ran to Kroger again (it's right around the corner--too convenient sometimes!) and spent $2.98 for a pound of ground beef and made some chili and cornbread. That was lunch, and we had leftover pizza and salad for supper. The kids ate their usual snacks like yogurt, pretzels, and soy joy bars. We have $2.05 left in the budget for the rest of the week.

Friday, January 9, 2009

What we ate

cold cereal
turkey (leftovers from our freezer), stove top stuffing, au gratin potatoes, green beans
(Kenton refused to eat anything)
omelets with swiss cheese & lightlife "ham", biscuits from a can, fruit
yogurt, soy joy bars
Edward and I also had a late-night snack from McDonalds--we each had a double burger from the $1 menu and split a large order of fries. We had $3 left on a gift card that he earned from a Post-It note rebate a few months ago, so we only paid 78 cents for our junk food fix. I have to admit it was pretty good.

We ate lots of convenience foods today, and not many fruits and veggies. I usually do a lot of cooking on the weekends, so I'll try to get some healthier foods made tomorrow so we can eat a little better.

Kroger Shopping

After resting while I was shopping at Meijer, Edward decided he was up for a quick trip to Kroger. We scored a couple of good deals there.We got Lightlife vegetarian "ham" slices for 38 cents after a $1 coupon, saltines for 54 cents after coupon, 3 cans of Hunt's tomatoes from the "scratch and dent" bin for 15 cents each after coupons, and 4 Reese's Whips candy bars which were on sale 2/$1 and completely free after coupons.

We also picked up canned fruit and applesauce, a bag of tangelos, tortillas, frozen peas, a can of creamed corn that will go in a soup recipe later this week, 6 cans of tomato paste, and tried out 2 of their 43 cent cans of "Kroger value" biscuits. The grand total was $13.32, leaving us with $7.01 in this week's budget.

While at Kroger I saw they had Red Gold tomato products for 75 cents a can, a much better price than the sale I went to Meijer for. They also had 10 lb bags of potatoes for 50 cents less.

Meijer Shopping

Edward does most of our shopping, but I went to Meijer this afternoon since he's still recuperating from the whole kidney stone experience. I went there primarily for their "10 for $10 and get the 11th item free" sale. My eleven items for the sale deal were 5 cans of Red Gold tomatoes, 3 lb bag of carrots, celery, two bags of Dole romaine salad mix, baby portabella mushrooms, and pretzels. I also got 10 lbs of potatoes for $3 and Dannon yogurt 10/$4. We had a coupon for the $1 off the yogurt, too. Things didn't go quite according to plan. First, I forgot the coupon, then I grabbed the wrong kind of celery and it rang up at $2, so I didn't get the free 11th item. I was wrestling with Emery at the checkout and didn't notice it until I got in the car and looked over my receipt. My total was $19.67. Overall not a bad shopping trip, but I spent $3 more than I had to.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Edward had to go to the outpatient clinic today because he was having treatment for kidney stones, so he and I spent most of the day there. He wasn't allowed to eat after midnight last night so our eating was really off schedule. My aunt watched the kids at our house, so they were much closer to a normal today.

Keesha--egg on a bagel (I really like eggs and we have a stash of bagels in the freezer from when Kroger had them on sale for 90 cents a bag a few weeks ago, so that's become my standard breakfast.)
Kenton & Emery--cereal
Kenton & Emery--pb&j on whole wheat, manadarin oranges
Keesha--really overpriced pre-made ham & cheese sandwich that was not really very tasty
Keesha--something resembling fried rice made from leftover brown rice pilaf and eggs
Kenton--shredded mini wheats
yogurt, soy crisps (My aunt brought these with her and the kids love them. They're similar to a rice cake, but made from soy so they have some protein. I'll have to check the price at Kroger this week.)

I was proud that we ate at home tonight, despite the crazy day. We didn't eat particularly well, but we ate at home. Prior to this week I would have picked up fast food. We didn't resolve to cut down on our eating out (and it's not included in our $40/wk grocery budget), but it's hard to justify spending $30 on a meal out when you're only spending a little more than that for a whole week. I really haven't missed the eating out and no one else has complained, either.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Edward & Emery--pumpkin-apple bread
Keesha & Kenton--cereal & banana
Edward & Keesha--leftover pasta with broccoli & chickpeas, apples
Kenton & Emery--cheese, whole wheat toast, mandarin oranges
Edward & Keesha--salmon with garlic & dill, brown rice pilaf, steamed broccoli & carrots
Kenton & Emery--pb&j and apple slices
cheddar rice cakes, shredded mini-wheats, fruit chews

Supper tonight was really good. Aldi sells a 1 lb package of wild-caught salmon (4 fillets) for $4. Given the tight budget it felt like a bit of a splurge when we shopped last week, but it was definitely worth it. It was nice to have something on the menu we were both looking forward to. The leftover pasta today at lunch was the least successful leftover we've had so far. The pasta got too soft overnight, but it was still edible. PB&J is always our back-up plan in case a meal doesn't turn out too well!

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

It's day 5, and we're still feeling well-fed! We're also doing a great job of using up our leftovers, which I think is going to be crucial to staying in our budget. Edward made a loaf of whole-wheat bread in the bread machine today, and I think Kenton would be happy eating nothing but that if we'd let him. The boy loves bread.

Edward & Emery--pumpkin-apple bread and bacon
Kenton--banana & frosted mini wheats
Keesha--egg and bacon on bagel
Edward & Keesha--leftover warm potato salad w/ smoked sausage (I cut the recipe down a little, using about 2 lbs of potatoes and 1/2 lb of smoked sausage), apple slices
Kenton & Emery--Mac & cheese, apple slices
Edward & Keesha--pasta with chickpeas and broccoli
Kenton & Emery--Mac & cheese, green beans
cheddar rice cakes, pancakes (leftover from Sunday), whole wheat toast

Monday, January 5, 2009

We spent $1.67 on food today for yogurt and a 2-liter of cola. That leaves a whopping $1.05 in our budget. I think we're finished shopping for the week.

Here's what we had today:
Edward & Emery--pumpkin-apple bread and bacon
Kenton--frosted mini wheats
Keesha--egg and bacon on bagel
ham & bean soup for the adults
pasta, cheese slices & mandarin oranges for the kids
Lightlife vegetarian bbq (got a great deal on it last week at Kroger) on whole wheat buns, mac & cheese, and green beans
Kenton had plain pasta, peanuts, and mandarin oranges
cheddar rice cakes, yogurt, popcorn, apple

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Here's what we had to eat today:
Breakfast--Multigrain pancakes (one of Em's favorites!) and bacon
Lunch--Warm potato salad with smoked sausage, tossed salads
--Em ate the potato salad; Kenton had plain pasta, raisins, and peanuts
Snack--Bean dip and corn chips for the adults
--Cheddar rice cakes and bananas for the kiddos
Supper--Cheddar cheese, wheat toast and apple slices for Edward and Kenton
--Veggie burger and yogurt for Emy
--Scrambled egg on a bagel and apples slices for me

Edward made a shopping run to Walgreen's this morning and picked up four boxes of cereal, 11 Soy Joy bars, and a pint of Ben & Jerry's ice cream, in addition to several household items. After store coupons, manufacturer's coupons and Walgreen's register rewards, the total was $1.84 which he paid with a gift card he received from Walgreen's easy saver rebates. He has the Walgreen's shopping down to a science and gets lots of things free, and sometimes even makes a profit on his purchases!

We also spent $6.10 at Wal-Mart this afternoon on apple juice and fruit, leaving us with $2.72 in our weekly budget.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Edward and I are really enjoying the ham and bean soup. Which is good since it made a bunch and we'll probably be eating it at least one more meal. It's day two of our challenge, and we're rolling right along. Here's what we ate today.
Me--Scrambled egg on a bagel
Kenton--wheat toast
Edward & Emery--Pumpkin-Apple Bread

The kids had a morning snack of yogurt, and I snacked on some of the pumpkin-apple bread. For lunch Edward and I had leftover ham & bean soup (we thought it was even yummier today, as many soups are). Kenton had jam on wheat toast, peanuts, and apple. Emery had cheese on wheat toast and apple. Em had pumpkin apple bread for an afternoon snack and Kenton had saltines.

For supper Edward and I had salads of romaine lettuce, carrots, cheddar cheese, and bacon with homemade ranch dressing. They were very good. We also had Campbell's tomato soup, which was not so good, even after I doctored it up with lots of garlic and herbs. We bought it a couple of weeks ago because it was just a few cents after coupons, but I don't think it was a good investment. The stuff has 12 grams of sugar per serving, which is about the same as a pop-tart! The kids had plain macaroni noodles, and Kenton had peanuts and raisins. Em had a few slices of carrot and a couple bites of bacon with hers. They split a cup of yogurt for their bedtime snack. I'll probably snack on some popcorn before going to bed tonight.

Friday, January 2, 2009

We kicked off our $40/week grocery challenge today. For budgeting purposes, our week will run from Friday to Thursday. We went to two stores today, Aldi and Kroger, spending a total of $31.18. At Aldi we bought white cheddar rice cakes (a favorite snack for the kids), saltines, frozen salmon filets, ketchup, and broccoli for $8.81. We got several staple items at Kroger, including brown rice, whole wheat flour, eggs and apples. No super deals in our shopping today, although we did have a $1.50 coupon for the yogurt (which is why we have the Dora variety) and I got Tabasco sauce for only .39 cents after a .50 cent coupon was doubled.

Here's what we ate today:
breakfast: frosted mini-wheats
snack: cheddar rice cakes
lunch for the kids: cheddar cheese, whole grain crackers, and applesauce
lunch for the adults: ham & bean soup
snack for the kids: yogurt
For supper tonight, it was clean out the refrigerator time, so everyone had something different.
Emery--veggie burger, whole wheat toast, apple slices
Kenton--french fries (left over from eating out yesterday), whole wheat toast, and apple slices
Me--red beans & rice, apple slices
Edward--ham & bean soup, apple slices

Of course a lot of what we'll be eating this week are things we'd already purchased before today. Our challenge will probably get more challenging in a few weeks, when our well-stocked pantry starts to look a little bare.