Thursday, July 28, 2016

Grocery List for the Week: $50 per Week Challenge

As you know, I recently went through my cupboards.  I wrote down some of the things I need to replace and put them on my list for the week.  I checked the fridge and freezer and cupboards and decided on menus that would use some of the things I had already.  After making the menu plan, I looked up the ingredients I needed and added them to the list.  I then add basics like milk, juice, cheese or eggs if needed.  After I write the list, I go through and write down how much I think each item will cost.  I try to make sure I am estimating on the high end, so I will have plenty of money to do what I need.  After that, I am ready to go shopping.

Here is my list:

1.0  Quick oats, 2 cups in bulk
1.5  Oat bran, 2 cups in bulk
1.0  Salt, 1/2 cup in bulk
5.0  Organic dried cranberries
1.5  Sunflower seeds, 1 cup in bulk
1.5  Carrots
4.0  Italian Sausage at butcher block
3.0  Cherry tomatoes
1.0  Orange for juice in salad dressing for one of the recipes
1.0  Bacon for 2 meals, salad bar
2.0  Cream cheese, 2
2.0  Whipping cream
1.5  Sour cream
3.0  Red Wine Vinegar
1.5  Corn on the cob
1.5  Bananas
4.0  Cherries
1.5  Buttermilk for pancakes, muffins, or whatever
5.0  Other produce on sale or reduced

Total:  $45.00

I still have five dollars to stock up on anything I want on sale.  At first I had zucchini and yellow squash on the list, but our garden squash is almost ready so I can use that instead of buying it.  I was going to buy fresh parsley, but I used dried instead since I had it on hand.  I don't have an expensive cheese that is called for in one of my recipes, so I found a clone that uses cream, sour cream and cream cheese instead.

I went shopping today, and this is what I spent:

 .50  Cucumber
1.18  Apples, reduced 2 packages at 59 cents each
2.60  Pineapple
1.18  Yogurt 2 at 59 cents each
 .51  Quick oats
1.02  Oat bran
 .41  Salt
4.95  Organic dried cranberries
1.41  Sunflower seeds
1.19  Carrots
2.27  Cooked sweet Italian sausage
2.29  Tomatoes
 .58  Orange to juice for a homemade dressing
 .24  Bacon from the salad bar
2.78  Cream cheese 2 at 1.39 each
1.89  Whipping cream
1.20  Sour cream
2.55  Red wine vinegar for a salad dressing
2.49  Gallon of Milk on sale
1.00 Corn on the cob, 2 ears
1.04  Bananas
1.79  Cherries
1.49  Avocado
4.99  Rotisserie Chicken
 .54  Pepperoni

Total:  $42.09

Plus $5.79 husband bought ice cream

Total:  $47.88

Instead of buying cherry tomatoes, I bought slicing tomatoes because they were about 1/4 of the price.  I bought a gallon of milk instead of a half gallon because it was a good price and was the amount I estimated for milk.  I bought half as many cherries because I wanted to buy pineapple.  I bought a chicken because I had some extra money and froze over half of it in the freezer in four bags for meals in the future.  I bought less sausage than planned because I really just need it for flavoring.  I still have some money left for the week.  There are some great sales, but I think I will freeze part of the meals this week so I can have meals for next week and spend some of the grocery money on the sale items.  I will go shopping next Tuesday to take advantage of some sale for this week.

By having a detailed list and estimating the amount I think I will spend, I weigh produce to make sure it stays in the estimated amount.  With the buttermilk, I can make biscuits, pancakes, etc. I saved the cranberries and one of the cream cheese packages until the end so I could skip them if I went over.  I had plenty of money to buy them.  Notice I am using the meat more for flavor and not giving anyone a large portion.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Menu for the Week

This week we are going to try some more new recipes.  Some of the ones last week were good; some were not so good.  I am going to try to make some quick recipes this week, so I can spend less time in the kitchen.  It has been warm lately, and cooking isn't as enjoyable when the weather is warm.  Here is a list of what we will have this next week:

Penne with Spinach Sauce
Cauliflower Mac 'n' Cheese
Round and Round Pasta
Spaghetti Aglio e Olio

These recipes will be great.  I can use the spinach from the garden for the first recipe.  I will sneak some cauliflower in some Mac and Cheese and hopefully my husband won't notice...he isn't a cauliflower lover.  The round and round pasta uses veggies from the garden.  The last one is easy with some red pepper flakes to add some flavor.  And, they all take around a half and hour to make. We have LOTS of lettuce in the garden that we need to use, so I will also make the following:

 Grilled Greek Summer Salad
Chopped Grilled Summer Salad
Broccoli Salad  (Only because I have some extra broccoli in the fridge that needs to be used)
Black Bean and Corn
Garden Bean Recipe
Green salad

Most of these salads are meatless, but we may just fire up the grill and cook some of the chicken that is in our freezer to have with it.

I am also going to try these peanut butter granola bars.  They look better than the ones I have made in the past.  Maybe it's all the butter in the recipe.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Preparing to go Grocery Shopping: Step by Step Meal Plan and Grocery List

After going through the cupboards, freezer and refrigerator to see what I have first, I have chosen to make the following meals:

Vegetable Pizza
Asian Spinach Salad
Spinach and Feta Orzo
American Macaroni Salad   (I wouldn't try this one again...unless you really like vinegar)
Large green salad with Aunt Trish's dressing
Mediterranean turkey burgers, but substitute ground chicken
Warm Chicken and butter bean salad, but substitute great northern beans for butter beans
Hummus and homemade pita bread

I made substitutions above because I already had something on hand that would work.  You can see I am using the spinach from our garden in a few recipes.  Last week I bought tahini, so I have it available for the hummus and the Babaganoush.  Crescent rolls are on sale and so is broccoli, so I am making the vegetable pizza since I already have some cream cheese and grated cheese.  I just need to buy a tiny bit of cauliflower for it.  I am trying several new recipes since it is easy to get sick of making the same things week after week.

Now that I have my menu planned, I will write down the ingredients that I need.  I also write down about how much I think it will cost.  I always estimate on the high side.

2.0  Little bits of Cauliflower and bacon (salad bar)
3.0  Milk
1.5  Three lemons
3.0  Parmesan cheese
3.0  Eggplant
0.5  2 stalks of celery
1.0  Red onion
1.5  Red pepper
1.0  Green pepper
2.5  Feta cheese

19.0  total

Since the cereal sale and the eggs last week were so good, I decided to get some before they went off sale last night.  My husband and I went together so we could each get the limit of 6.  We will not eat all this cereal.  We still have 4 boxes left over from last week as well.  I am just stockpiling because I can get them at a rock bottom price.  I also bought a couple of other things.

5.94  6 boxes of cereal  (me)
5.94  6 boxes of cereal  (husband)
 .45  Tomato
1.38  Two cartons of eggs at 69 cents each

Spent so far:  $14.70
Amount needed for groceries this week:  $19.00
Amount left to buy lost leaders and extra produce:  $$16.30

The next thing I do is to write down the best sales of each store.  After writing these things down, I choose what I will buy with the rest of the money for the week.


Chicken  1.69 per pound
Broccoli  99 cents per pound
Green peppers  59 cents per pound  (notice I will need one from my list above - good price!)


Blueberries  4 pints for $5
Sour cream 1.00
Cottage cheese  1.00


Fruit snacks 99 cents and 1.25 depending on the brand
Seasoning/gravy packets  25 cents each
Yoplait yogurt  3/$1.00
Paper towels  25 cents each, limit of 12
Crescent rolls 75 cents
Canned tomatoes, beans, green beans and corn 50 cents each

Before I decide what to get with my extra money, I will wait until tomorrow, since there is one more store that I regularly go to that has good sales.  To be continued.....

I went shopping and bought the following:

5.29  Flour 10 lbs.
4.00  Whole rotisserie chicken
 .59   Green pepper
 ,30  Bacon bits from the salad bar
 .12  Chicken from the salad bar
1.01  Broccoli
2.04  Cauliflower head
1.77  Lemons  3 at 59 cents each
2.49  Eggplant
1.69  Milk, 1/2 gallon
2.99  Feta cheese
1.00  Tilamook yogurt, reduced at 25 cents each
3.06  Parmesan cheese
 .59  Red onion
 .35  Mushrooms
 .18  2 stalks of celery
 .99  Red pepper

Add to it the cereal and eggs at $14.70

Grand total of $44.38

I still have $5.62 left, which I won't spend right away.  The only other thing I NEED is some crescent rolls on sale for 75 cents.  I will either buy some of the loss leader items this week or some reduced produce.

Monday, July 18, 2016

Making a Menu for the Week

One of the most important things you can do to eat well on a limited budget is to plan your menu and shopping trip ahead of time.  All of us have different grocery items in our homes right now, and we have different likes and dislikes in regard to food.  I am going to share what I do, but it is the process that is important more than the actual meals I am preparing.  I will post recipes with a cost analysis as well, occasionally, if you are interested in trying any.

The first thing I did before shopping was to look through my fridge and clean it out.  I like to do this every week.  Since it is the end of the week, there aren't a lot of groceries left in there and it is easy to clean.  I go shelf by shelf, taking the food out, wiping down the shelf, and then putting the food back.  By doing this, I don't have any surprises since I know everything that is currently in my fridge.  I see what needs to be eaten soon, and what I need to use in my meal plan so the food doesn't spoil.  I also look through my freezer and cupboards to see what is there.  My meal plan is developed from what food I already have and what food is on sale that week.  I take the weekly ads and circle the ones that are "loss leaders", or prices where the store sells it at a "loss" to "lead" you into their store hoping that you will buy the rest of your groceries there.

Cereal was on sale for 99 cents each at Albertson's
Cottage cheese and sour cream was on sale for 99 cents each at Albertson's
Juice was on sale for 99 cents each at Albertson's
Salsa was on sale for 3/$5 at Albertson's
Strawberries were on sale at Town and Country for $1.88 for 2 lbs.
Eggs were on sale for 69 cents at Town and Country
Roma tomatoes  69 cents per pound

There were a lot of other sales, but those were the ones I chose for this week.

This week I chose to make the following:

Asian spinach salad - I chose this because we have spinach in our garden that needs to be used.  The only recipe I like that has raw spinach is this salad.

Baked beans:  I had a little bit of ham left in the freezer, as well as some frozen chopped up green pepper and onion.  I want to make a sweet and sour baked beans recipe with them.  I can freeze a couple of containers of the leftovers to have another time.

Pizza rolls:  Cheese was on sale for 88 cents last week.  I just had to buy some pepperoni and made homemade french bread dough to roll them in.  You can make enough for a couple of meals.

Stuffed grape leaves:  We had some leftover grape leaves in the fridge.  We also had half of a cabbage left over.  I will buy a little bit of ground beef and some rice and stuff the grape leaves and make an Arabic dish with the cabbage as well.  That will be two meals.

Breakfast dinners:  I had some older bell peppers and onions, in the fridge.  We will make omelets with them and add cheese and some spinach from the garden.  I also had a bag of potatoes and one of them ended up being rotten that I didn't notice.  I got rid of the bad potatoes and cooked the rest of the bag.  We will make a lot of hash browns this week and may also have baked potatoes with sour cream and butter sometime.

Leftover dinner:  We had a few leftovers that need to be eaten.  We will have a side salad and eat whatever leftovers there are for a meal.

Spaghetti with ground Italian turkey sausage.  (it is less expensive)  I could also make some kind of lasagna type casserole with the cottage cheese and turkey sausage instead if I want.

For lunches, we will have leftovers, hummus, sandwiches or salads.  I have raspberries from the garden, so I won't buy a lot of fruit.  For breakfast, we can have cereal, oatmeal, eggs, muffins, etc.

I threw away my shopping list, so I won't post it this week.  I will post the results of what I got at the store:

Store 1

Pepperoni from the salad bar:  $1.21
Bacon bits from the salad bar  41 cents
Tony Chachere Cajun Seasoning   $2.99

Total  $4.61

Store 2

White rice  83 cents
Turkey Sausage   $2.07
Pork and Beans  59 cents
Tahini  $6.83
Eggs   69 cents
Bulk Organic Yellow Popcorn  $2.62
Organic carrots  $1.19
Roma tomatoes   33 cents
Feta cheese  $1.45
2 pounds of strawberries  $1.88

Total $18.48

Juice  4 at 99 cents each
Salsa  3 at 3/$5
Cereal   6 at 99 cents
Sour cream  99 cents
Cottage cheese 99 cents
Ground beef  $1.74
Grapes  $3.03

Total $21.65

Grand total so far:  $44.74

With the rest of the money, I will probably buy another package of eggs because they are so cheap.  I will also look to see if there is reduced produce on sale.  I like to save a little bit of money each week in case I want to stock up on something or in case there is reduced produce that is a good deal.

I went back to the store and bought the following:

5 pound of potatoes reduced price of 49 cents
Cucumbers 2 at 2/$1.00
Onion and white carrot  reduced price of 15 cents
Organic bananas, reduced for 38 cents
Tomato 46 cents
Rice vinegar  2,37

Total:  $4.85

Grand total for the whole week:  $49.59
When you look at the list of what I bought, you may think that it doesn't look like enough to feed a
family of four for a week.  I have things leftover from previous weeks, so I have more food on hand and don't need to buy more than this.  For example, the cereal is 99 cents a box this week.  I bought 6 boxes.  We will not use those 6 boxes in one week.  So, there will be leftover cereal for the next couple of weeks, depending on what I make for breakfasts.

The cereal on sale at Albertson's is guaranteed.  If you don't like it, you can take it back and get your money refunded.  Because of this, I bought it even though it isn't the brand we usually buy.  You really don't lose anything by trying something new with a guarantee.

Because we have a garden, I am buying less produce than I normally do.  That is one of the benefits of a garden in the summer.  If you do not have a yard, a container garden will work well.  There are so many things you can grow in old milk cartons, plastic bottles, etc.  It also saves money.

It will take me a few weeks to get things going, but this is a start:

Clean out your fridge.
Check what you have in the fridge, freezer and cupboards.
Check the ads and see what is on sale.
Plan a menu around what is on sale and what you have at home.
Write a detailed shopping list, including how much you think each item will cost.
Go shopping and stay in your budget!

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Eating Well on Welfare

The purpose of this website is to share ways that people can eat well on a limited budget.  We will discuss different strategies and skills that will help you to get more for your money.  The focus will be to feed a family of four on 50 dollars a week.  I will also provide sample menus, grocery lists and recipes to give you ideas and help you to see that you can succeed.