Wednesday, August 31, 2011

HyVee Ground Beef $1.79/lb

Our local HyVee is having a One Day Sale on September 1st. You can get 80% ground beef for $1.79/lb. It is sold in a 5lb roll for $8.95.

I paid $2.79/lb at Aldi's last week for 80% Ground Beef.

You can check your local ad here.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Shopping Trip Month 2 - Week 1

Total Spent $135.43
Left to Spend $164.57

I spent A LOT this week. I did have my son's birthday party to buy for, but a budget is a budget and if you only have $300 to spend then that must include feeding others.

The upside is I did get a huge 10lb bag of leg quarters for 3.90! That is 39¢ / lb!

Somethings that I am doing this month to reduce cost is to buy less "snacks" and make more. I am going to bake. I love to bake and can bake things a lot cheaper myself. Breads, cookies, muffins, oh my!

Today I made a huge bowl popcorn & raisins with cinnamon & sugar. I made 3 bags for today and later in the week. That mix averages 3¢ per cup.

I love this from "Extend times between grocery shopping as much as possible. If you go every week, make it ten days, then twelve days. Push it as far as you can. Each day you don't buy food reduces your overall expense."

I am also going to try to reduce the amount of milk used by drinking more water. This is my biggest expense. We eat a lot of yogurt and cheese, so I am sure we get more than enough calcium in our diets. Two meals with milk, one with water.

Month 2 - Week 1 Menu

For lunches please see the 5 week rotating menu. I am on week 2.

I do want to add that for me the menu is flexible. Other than Taco Tuesday, the meal can change to a different day depending on time and if we feel like having that particular meal.

Thursday: Pizza
Friday: Grilled Cheese and Tomato Soup
Saturday: BBQ Pulled Pork Sandwiches, peas, grapes
Sunday: Pizza Meatloaf Cups, carrots, apple slices, biscuits
Monday: Crunchy Onion Chicken, green beans, mixed fruit
Tuesday: Taco, red beans and rice, corn, strawberries, refried beans & tortilla chips
Wednesday: Beef Bourginion, rolls, peaches

5 Week Rotating Lunch Menu

This is my at home lunch menu. I rotate it every five weeks. Sometimes what I have changes based on if we need to use up some leftovers in the fridge or freezer.
At some point I am going to sit down and write up a rotating school lunch menu so I can stop planning them as I am packing them.

Wk 1
Monday: Cheeseburger on a bun, Green beans, Peaches
Tuesday: Chicken nugget, Peas, Pears, Biscuit
Wednesday: Bean and cheese quesadilla, Corn, Applesauce
Thursday: Spaghetti w/ hamburger, Grapes, Breadstick
Friday: Pizza, Carrots, Blueberries

Wk 2
Monday: Coldmeat sandwich, Pineapple, Beans
Tuesday: Pancake, Grape, Eggs
Wednesday: Chicken patty on a bun, Broccoli, Apple
Thursday: Porcupine meatball, Mashed potato, Peaches, Roll
Friday: Fishsticks, California veggies, Banana

Wk 3
Monday: Mac & cheese w/ hot dogs, Green beans, blueberries
Tuesday: Tuna casserole, Peas, Peaches, Biscuit
Wednesday: Meatloaf, Mashed potato, Strawberry, Sliced bread
Thursday: Grilled cheese, Broccoli, Pears, Cottage cheese
Friday: Ham & beans, Carrots, grapes, Cornbread

Wk 4
Monday: Chicken salad sandwich, Applesauce, Beans
Tuesday: Ground beef & biscuit casserole, Grapes
Wednesday: Chicken & rice, Green bean, Oranges
Thursday: Ham a cheese roll up, Corn, Strawberry
Friday: Beef stew, Pears, Roll

Wk 5
Monday: Corn dog, Peas & carrots, Applesauce
Tuesday: Sloppy joe sandwich, Mixed veggie, Peaches
Wednesday: Chicken fettucine, Broccoli, Oranges Roll
Thursday: Tuna sandwich, Cucumbers, Strawberry
Friday: Goulash, California veggies, applesauce

Grocery List- Month 2 - Week 1

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

End of Month / 4 Weeks

Tonight I end my first set of 4 week.

My end of the month spending is $368.62
I spent $68.62 more than my allotted budget.

One thing that really hurt the budget was the eating out. I need to stick to packing meals for trips and eating out cheap if necessary.
Another thing I am going to watch this month is wasting of milk. I have made myself aware this week of the amount of milk that goes down the drain.

Here's to month # 2!

Monday, August 22, 2011

Why I love freezer meals and Menu-Week 4

This menu will only be three days long. Today through Wednesday. I will not be going to the grocery store this week (unless I run out of milk). This week will end my 4 weeks.
Since I am not going to the store, I will using what I have in my house. This is why I love freezer meals. Whether you just don't feel like going to the store, you are too busy, or have run out of grocery money; you will still have good food to eat.


home- beans, rice, and meat burritos, peas, apple/banana yogurt
school- caramel rice cake, blueberry greek yogurt, black olives, apple slices

Spaghetti, dinner rolls, peaches


home- fishsticks, carrots, pears
school- graham crackers with pb & cinnamon, mash up, apple banana yogurt

Balsamic Roasted Chicken Thighs, brown rice ( I am going to try this recipe), garden green beans, apple slices


home- pb&j, green beans, peaches
school- pb&j, peaches, pretzels

Salisbury Steak, mashed potatoes, pears

Thursday Meals, Friday Meals, and McDonalds


Home- spaghettti, peas & carrots, peaches
School- pb & j, mashup, greek honey yogurt, apple slices

Chicken Club Casserole

The casserole was a dish from the freezer. This meal for me was big! It has tomatoes & spinach and my husband still loved it. The mayo is an unhealthy part of the casserole and I read that you can substitue plain yogurt for mayo in casseroles and salads, but I haven't tried it. Has anybody tried this? I just can't bring myself to ruin an entire meal if it tasted weird.


Home- grilled cheese, broccoli, pears, cottage cheese
School- graham crackers, honey yogurt (used plain yogurt and added honey), peaches & pears, cheese stick

Coldmeat sandwiches, applesauce, yogurt, chips
(I packed this meal for our trip. Score for not catching fast food on our way out)

And then...

We got a late start on our way back home and we were all hungry so we stopped at McDonalds. We managed to stick to the dollar menu, except for the dollar menu because they aren't on there.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Wednesday Meals

School-  caramel rice cake, vanilla greek yogurt, carrot sticks, mandarin oranges
Home- Eggs, Ham, toast, mandaring oranges

Dinner-  Due to last week's lack of grocery shopping. I am pulling things together. I am scouring the freezer.

I found 4 hamburger patties and about a half bag chicken nuggets. So I combined them.

Hamburgers (with lettuce, garden tomatoes, and pickles), chicken nuggets, peas, and apples slices.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Tuesday Meals

Home- Cheese, Apples, Toast
School- Wheat Crackers, tuna, black olives, fruit strip, applesauce.

The fruit strips that we are have are Fit & Active from Aldi. We love them.
I have also found these little containers to work very well for us.  The Glad mini round containers are the perfect helping size for my girls. They are dishwasher safe and can be used over and over. I can buy applesauce, olives, tuna, yogurt, etc in the big containers that I have always bought them in and save money.

Convenience sizes are almost always more expensive.
For example: Great Value (Walmart brand) Natural Applesauce no sugar added {ingredients are apples, water, absorbic acid( to maintain color)}.
46 oz jar = $1.68 = 4¢ per ounce
6-4oz containers = 24 oz total = $1.50 = 6¢ per ounce
2¢ may not seem like a lot, but if you take that times all the single serving food purchased, it can really add up.

Taco Tuesday!  Hard and soft shell tacos with meat, lettuce, cheese, and tomatoes; Beans and rice; Tortilla chips with refried beans; Corn; and Mandarin oranges.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Monday Meals

The weekdays meals are going to be a bit different now. I am going to add what I send in my girls' lunch boxes. This will be a challenge for myself to find healthy foods for my picky eater to eat.

At home- turkey sandwich, carrots, strawberries

School- pb & j, mash up, greek yogurt with honey (their favorite way to eat yogurt), and a zucchini cookie

My downfall to pb & j is that it really isn't that healthy. I buy Jif Natural (because it tastes better, I think) and Fit & Active Strawberry Fruit Spread from Aldi. It does have 8g of sugar, but no high fructose corn syrup and no dye.  I am not sure how much sugar is too much. I have searched and searched and it seems nobody (in cyber world) really knows. It always just says  "eat in moderation".  Smuckers strawberry jelly has 12 g of sugar and Welch's has 13g of sugar, so I think 8g is doing pretty good.
As far as peanut butter, I figure unless the only ingredient is peanuts then it probably isn't that great. Jif Natural  contains 90% peanuts. The other 10% not so great. So after reading this I learned about Krema peanut butter. It has 100% peanuts !  Now how much is this 100% peanuts peanut butter going to cost me and where do I find it. I spend $3.18 for a 28 oz jar of Jif Natural. The Krema is $3.59 for 16 oz. This may not seem like a big deal to some, but we eat a lot of peanut butter. That is 11¢ per oz vs 22¢ per oz! So now I have to make the decision of whether the cost is worth the healthier product. Some would say "yes, absolutely!" but I have to watch my budget.  As far as where to find it, there is no location finder on the website, but some of the comments on the snack girl blog said they found it at Walmart. Maybe I will give it a whirl. I let you know how it turns out.

Dinner- Breakfast for Dinner!!!! Waffles, Ham steak, eggs, and apples.

I make my waffles from scratch and I (almost) always have those ingredients on hand. The ham steak was in my freezer from an earlier meal.

Here is the recipe for the waffles. I always do the buttermilk recipe. I use butter instead of oil. A quick and easy way to make buttermilk is to put 1Tbs lemon juice into a measuring cup and add milk till it is at one cup. The total amount of liquid is one cup.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Sunday Menu

Sunday was food wise, a little different. I mean that in we kinda forgot about lunch. We were crazy busy and nobody stopped to say "Hey, mom, I'm hungry", so we skipped it. Don't worry my kids didn't starve they had a snack one hour before dinner when they all realized they were famished. Dinner was great though. Since we didn't have lunch I went all out. The best part. The whole meal except for the fruit came from either the garden or freezer.

Dinner:  Asian Flank Steak, Mashed Potatoes, Roasted Veggies, and Fruit Salad

The Asian Flank Steak is one of my freezer meals and a favorite for Jim, Warren, and I. (I would say the girls, but they had peanut butter sandwiches).

This recipe comes from "Don't Panic, Dinners in the Freezer"
One great part about this is a Flank Steak is one of the cheaper cuts of meat, but because it marinade and is thinly sliced you can't tell. (let me know if you can't read the recipe and I will type it out.)

I freeze mashed potatoes. I buy a big 5 pound bag of potatoes. Jim peels them for me because he's awesome like that. I boil and mash them all and put them in several quart size freezer bags (a good size for my family). Now when I want mashed potatoes, I just get them out of the freezer, heat them in the microwave, and fluff them with a fork.

The roasted veggies was just random veggies that I had on hand from the garden. I used squash, zucchini, tomotoes, and green peppers. I sliced them and put them in a bowl. I added olive oil, balsamic vinegar, kosher salt, thyme, and parsley. I don't have measurements as I just eye balled everything. To roast them, place aluminum foil on a shallow pan and add veggies. Make sure to not have anything on top of another because this will cause them to steam. Set oven to 400°, place pan in oven for 10 minutes, gently rotate and then cook for another ten minutes.

The fruit salad is what I do when I have have a small amount of several different types of fruit. We had bananas, stawberries,and blueberries.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Saturday Meals

lunch: leftovers from the fridge
dinner: Casey's pizza, pork tenderloin, spaghettios, and greek yogurt

The pizza, as you can see, was FREE! At Caseys, when you buy ten larges you get the 11th free. We are feeding 3 adults and 3 children at the moment, so we added tenderloins, spaghettios, and yogurt. Not the healthiest of meals, but hey, I was tired, so the easiest meal on the face of the planet seemd like such a great idea.
The spaghettios aren't great but a very big treat for my daughter. The kicker is the sodium at 550mg. Still less than the name brand spaghettios at 600mg. I did make this once. Homemade spaghettios! I let Breanna pick out the noodles and she picked "flowers" aka fiori pasta. They made the texture a bit funny. I was unable to find the little circle shapes, but I will look again.

Shopping Trip Week 3

As you may notice this week does not have a menu.

I didn't do a menu this week. The only menu item will be Taco Tuesday because I would be in big trouble with my kids if we missed that.

This week will be more eating things that we have. So instead of a menu this week. I will post what we have daily.

I did do a bit of grocery shopping for Taco Tuesday, milk, fresh produce, and to supplement some meals I have in mind.

Total Spent: 66.10

Month One Continues- Week 2- Tentative $

So I have decided to keep going with Month 1. I am going to see how far over my $300 I end up going. I will use this as a learning lesson as to what I need to do next month to lesson my spending.

Total = 40.35

Friday, August 12, 2011


OK, readers, I obviously failed this months goal. I still have $10.20 left to spend for two weeks. I spend more than that on milk for one week.

So I have been debating. Should I just start over with a new week 1 or continue on for the next two weeks and see how far over the $300 budget I go?

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Shopping Trip Week 2

This week I spent a bit over board on my total this week. I am shopping for 1 extra adult this week.

Total - $ 134.43
Left to spend- $10.20

I fear that this month isn't going to be under $300, but I will keep trying. This is definitely a learning experience.  More pantry and freezer shopping  than grocery shopping for the next two weeks.

Week 2 - Tentative $

Shopping template week 2. You can click on each tab to see the different stores.

Week 2 Menu

Sometimes a meal will repeat from last week. This is due to us eating leftovers.
This weeks menu will also be shortened due to our trip.

Lunch: PB & J, carrots, grapes
Dinner: cheeseburgers, corn, strawberries & blueberries

Lunch: Mac & Cheese w/ hot dogs, green beans, blueberries
Dinner: Tacos, Refried Beans with Tortilla Chips, peas, apple slices

Lunch: tuna salad sandwich, peas, peaches
Dinner: Spaghetti, garlic bread

Lunch: meatloaf cups, mashed potato, strawberry, biscuit
Dinner: Chicken & Dumplings, green beans, applesauce

Lunch: Grilled Cheese, broccoli, pears, cottage cheese
Dinner: Asian Flank Steak, carrots, grapes

Unable to Post Comments

I have had some people say that they aren't able to post comments. I found these to links about what may (or may not) be the problem.

Here and Here

Since I am far from a techie and I ask my husband 50 questions a day, the second just confused me. I will ask him about it tomorrow.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Nothing Like a Trip to Kill the Budget

On our little trip we took this past weekend it costed us. Costed us $70.25 in food.

Here are the reasons why:

-Dinner. Note to self, no matter how late you are running, pack dinner. Spending $24.81 at McDonalds just isn't worth it. Although I know that there are cheaper ways of eating at McDonalds and we usually do that, but well. Long trip, running late, lack of motivation.
How we eat cheap at McDonalds if interested: For our family we could have gotten 1 McDouble, 3 apple dippers, 2 McChickens, 2 small fries, a ten piece nugget, and waters for about $14. That would have fed us just fine and is normally what we get. The kids share the 10 piece nugget.

-I forgot to pack my ingredients. I chose to make an oriental salad for a class reunion because I had those ingredients on hand. I didn't have to buy anything. Well, I realized 2 hours away from home that I forgot the ingredients. Talk about a "darn it" moment. So here I go to Walmart. $17.32 later I walk out with my ingredients, cereal (because we don't eat sugar cereal and wanted to make sure we didn't have to), and some other items that you see scratched off because they aren't food. Yet another reason why I should never go to Walmart unplanned.

So almost an entire weeks budget on barely anything.

Healthy Living and Running

I am going to jump on my soapbox for a bit and then I will step down.

Heathly living, healthy eating, and running. I have a confirmation that these three things go hand in hand. I went back to my hometown this weekend. We arrived Friday night and Saturday morning I went for my run. I ran for 30 minutes in a town that is hillier than my own and it felt great (well other than almost getting hit by a car, I don't know how he didn't see me, I was wear bright pink and it was light outside). Sunday on the other hand was a whole other story. I could barely make it 15 minutes before I felt like my lung were going to explode and my legs were going to give up on me.

What was different?

I didn't eat well. I barely had any fruits, veggies, or grains. Most was proccessed and filled with all the junk that I don't normally eat. I also hung out for bits of time  in a house that is smoked in. Granted the person wasn't smoking while I was there, but I could feel the thickness as soon as I walked in the door. Probably not so good for the lungs.

It made me "officially" realize that food is fuel. It's not that I haven't always known this but I felt it first hand what happens when your body doesn't get the fuel that it needs.

It has made me feel even stronger in my views that we need to eat healthy and to make sure that I can help other to be able to eat healthier when they feel that they can't afford it.
Cut out all the junk that for some reason manufactures decided to put into to make it sweeter, prettier, last longer, etc.
Less proccessed more whole. Less invented, more real.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Mash Ups and School Lunches

I have a daughter who refuses vegetables and if we can get her to eat them it consists of one green bean or one spoonful of peas. Thank goodness for spaghetti sauce because the tomato in it is the only vegetable that she gets a good amount of.

A couple months ago I found these. Mash Ups. My kids LOVE them. I love that they love them. I love that they contain a fruit, a vegetable, no sugar, no high fructose corn syrup, and no dye. What I don't love is the price. $4.49 a box. That is 1.12 per pouch. A sucker punch to the food budget.

I bought some today. And here is my receipt.

I am going to put them in their school lunches.

Which leads me to my next topic...

I have been struggling with the decision to pack my girls' lunches or have them eat school lunch.
Lunch cost at our school is $1.90 per meal. For us that comes to $76 a month and they don't even really use it. For example: Last year Breanna would come home and I would ask her what she ate for lunch. Crackers, cheese, and milk. WHAT!!! I am pretty sure I can get her crackers, cheese and milk for a whole lot less than $1.90. And did I mention a half pint of milk is .50, that comes to $8 per gallon. Would you pay $8 for a gallon of milk?

So this year, new plan. I will take the extra time to pack them a nutritious lunch that I know they will eat. The hard part is figuring out what to pack. A hot lunch at home is so much easier than a cold lunch to take to school. I will take any suggestions. Abigail will eat most anything, but Breanna, miss picky. No raw veggies and no meat. I would rather her not have PB & J everyday. So the search is on for healthy, cold foods that my daughters will consume.

So an added trial to my $300 a month budget is school lunch. I'll let you know how it all works for me. And seriously on the ideas for lunches will be greatly appreciated. Just keep in mind we are shooting for healthy here.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

chocolate chip zucchini cookies (because we all need a little something sweet now and then)

I made chocolate chip zucchini cookies and they were so good. I got the recipe from here, but altered it a bit. Note: these are more of a soft cookie than a hard cookie.
I used butter instead of margarine, unbleached vs bleached flour, and chocolate chips instead of raisins.

These versus Chips Ahoy turn out to be a much better value and are healthier in most areas. They also, in my families opinion, taste better. This is a cheap cookie that can be  made and frozen. I tripled the recipe and froze 2 portions. I do this because it is so much easier to buy a package of cookies than to have to get all the ingredients out and bake them from scratch. So I baked a whole bunch and when I want cookies, I will take how many I want/need out, defrost, and enjoy.


Chocolate Chip Zucchini Cookies- Total= $1.83
                                                      per cookie=.05
Chips Ahoy- Total= $3.69
                     per cookie= .28

Huge difference! 67% savings!

Nutrition per serving (because I am suppose to be frugal and healthy):

Chocolate Chip Zucchini Cookies-
     89.6 calories
     3.84g fat
       - 2.94g saturated fat
     13.34g carbs
     .5g fiber
     1.24g protein
     70mg sodium

Chips Ahoy-
     160 calories
     8g fat
      - 2.5g saturated fat
     21g carbs
     1g fiber
     2g protein
     105mg sodium

        For my bff who stood up twice, stubbed her toe, and consumed chocolate chips just so I could know how many servings I used in this recipe. Thanks, Brie!

Monday, August 1, 2011

Shopping Trip Week 1

I was very proud of myself this week. I managed to stick to my list except for flour and lunch meat. I wanted to make cookies and bread and wouldn't have had enough flour to do all that. I added the lunch meat simply because I forgot and didn't want my poor husband to starve as this is what he eats for lunch.
I spent a bit more than I had hoped, so I will have to adjust my menu and budget the next weeks.

Grand Total: $86.30
Left to spend:213.70

Milk was .20 cheaper! Big deal when you buy on average 18 gallons a month.

The poly bags on the Walmart receipt is popcorn. This is such a great snack or munchie. It is high in fiber, so cheap (at .05 per serving), and can easily be altered. Our favorite toppings are kosher salt, parmesan cheese, and cinnamon & sugar. I am excited to try to make chocolate popcorn. I will have to omit the peanuts since Warren can't have them yet. Not quite healthy, but a great frugal dessert.
What's you favorite popcorn flavor?

In case you are wondering why in the world I have two Walmart receipts. I made a mistake that I had never done before. I left an entire bag on the turn style. Oops. Luckily, Walmart believed me and let me have my items back for free. Lesson learned.

If there is anything on the receipts that you are curious what it is feel free to ask.