Friday, July 24, 2009

Budget update

Time to tally up what we've spent so far this week. We've had yet another change of plans for the weekend, and this time it may cost us, so what do I have left?

Spending so far:
  • Acme: $61.25
  • Mom's dinner out: $17.00
  • Ice cream treat mid-week: $10.34

Total so far: $88.59

Left to spend: $11.41

To finish the week, we'll need: bread, milk, lettuce (maybe), granola bars and other trail snacks for hub's hike.

Can we do it? We'll see!

Monday, July 20, 2009

Tentative menu for week of 7/20

I think I have some ideas for a menu for this week. It's a little up in the air, but it's a particularly low-budget menu, so I'll use up the extra cash to go out with some moms from a local homeschooling group tonight, and to stock up on chicken which is 50% off at Acme this week!

Breakfasts: cereal, oatmeal, maybe some homemade bagels if I'm feeling ambitious

Lunches: Sandwiches, soup from the stash and freezer, and cut veggies

Monday: Hot dogs, pasta salad, and fresh cukes from the garden for DH and kids (I'm going to Cheesburger in Paradise!)
Tuesday: Salads with grilled pork and homemade ranch dressing (I'm so craving this right now! And I'll substitute whatever meat fits in the budget if need be)
Wednesday: Homemade pizzas with sausage and spinach (for the grown-ups) and plain cheese (for the kids). Dessert night: Chocolate cake
Thursday: Leftover night (most likely salads - and cake, of course!)
Friday: Baked ziti with tomatoes (this is ridiculously easy, which is good because I'm babysitting until 8pm)
Saturday: Finish up whatever salad stuff is left and have some more pasta
Sunday: Grilled or baked chicken, potatoes and veggies with homemade salsa (have to use up some garden hot peppers!)

One of my goals this week was to start using the sweet italian sausage I have in the freezer. I love to eat it on sandwiches with peppers and onions, but no one else in my house does! So this week I'll try it on pizza. How would you use up that kind of sausage?

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Plans are made to change, right?

I will say that Week 1 of the All You Grocery Challenge was a success for me! As I approached the end of the week, I realized that I hadn't checked my pantry as carefully as I should have before setting out for the store, but a few little substitutions, and we made out a-ok!

Our week also included one unplanned stop at McD's for coveted Dawn of the Dinosaurs Happy Meal toys. Even with that splurge, our grand total for the week was $74.65!

The end of the week had me scrambling to change things up, though. We decided to visit my parents for their church's first block party in quite a long time. So other than breakfast, we didn't use or buy any of our own food on Saturday and Sunday.

That gives me some leftovers to work with this week. In fact, I'm feeling a little under the weather today, so I'm glad I won't be rushing off to the grocery store tomorrow morning. My upset tummy doesn't even want to look at food ads or recipes right now. Not sure whether I've got a bug or I had one halupki or bleenie too many at the party, but tomorrow it'll be broth and tea for me, hot dogs for hub and kiddos!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Cutting the bill with coupons

I can remember sitting at my parents' kitchen table cutting out coupons for my Dad who was the primary grocery shopper in our house. I don't know that it did us much good then. Dad was a sale shopper, and if it was on sale, or he had a coupon, it was in the cart whether we would use it or not.

A few years later I found myself working at the corner grocery store, a small, family-owned local shop. When I worked my way up to helping out in the office, part of my job was to take all of the coupon fliers out of the leftover Sunday papers and cut and sort them. No doubt the owners of the store sent them to manufacturers as if they had been used. I'm pretty sure that was fraud, but the lottery caught up with them for fraud before any food manufacturer did. But I digress...

I started cutting coupons for myself about two months ago. So far they're only organized in a manila envelope. I depend on a few blogs to help me with deal matching since the big sites like Coupon Mom and Grocery Game don't match my local stores. But mostly I end up doing most of the matching myself. For the first few weeks, it was an absolute exercise in frustration. Going through my coupon pile over and over, and page after page of flyers from 3 different stores, trying to guess at regular prices, and wondering if Wal-Mart or a generic brand would be cheaper in the end anyhow.... I drove myself nearly to tears.

So I began to formulate a better strategy. I don't go wild with the coupon flyers. I still only buy a single copy of the Sunday paper. And when I sit down to clip, I ONLY clip things I know I can use. I hang on to the rest of the flyer and tuck it in the manila folder just in case, but it gives me a lot less to go through on match-up day. There are lots of sites with printable coupons as well, and this can get really crazy! I visit those sites only after I've made up my menu and shopping list and then see if there's anything I can use, maybe even adjusting an ingredient here or there if a coupon is available.

When I did this week's shopping and spent that grand total of less than $50, I had only saved $6 from coupons, and $4 of that was a catalina from the store for spending a certain amount 2 weeks before. So I think it is absolutely possible to do grocery shopping on a budget without stress about couponing! But of course I'm always looking for tips and tricks to do even better!

How do you coupon? Do you find it invaluable or frustrating? What about the idea that coupons are often for boxed or other processed foods? How do you fit those into your family's lifestyle? I'd love to hear from everyone and anyone out there!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Week 1 of All You grocery challenge

This is week 1 of the All You Grocery Challenge from All You magazine!

I took care to plan ahead this week and try to get my spending as slim as possible. I left room for milk and bread runs later in the week, and other ingredients I might find I'm lacking (such as yeast and flour).

I've been grocery shopping once this week to my local Weis Markets and my total was: $47.18

I'll comment on my planning and challenges in a later post, but for now, here is my menu plan:

Breakfasts this week:
  • cereal
  • bagels or english muffins
  • eggs (have some in fridge to use up)
  • bacon (taken out of freezer to use in soup, so now I have to use up the rest)


  • sandwiches
  • soup
  • salads

Dinners (I'll link in any recipes I used where possible):

  • Monday: soup (homemade Ham and Bean), salad and bread
  • Tuesday: salad, stuffed squash, and probably sandwiches for the kids
  • Wednesday: grilled chicken, peas and beans from the garden, rice
  • Thursday: turkey meatloaf, roast carrots and potatoes
  • Friday: leftover night
  • Saturday: soup and salad
  • Sunday: penne ala "not"-ka

Give me a challenge...

Ok, ok... so I'm lousy at this blogging thing. Ah, but give me a challenge and you're sure to bring me out of the woodwork!

For the next month, All You magazine has challenged readers to limit their grocery spending to $25 per person in their household. For me, that means $100 per week, which is above where I actually want to be. They're offering a contest (though I believe sign-ups have closed) and one lucky winner will receive $1000 in grocery prizes!

Bring it on!!!