Thursday, March 21, 2013

Answers and other fine things.

I have been getting a ton of questions about our Operation slash the food budget in half pursuit this month.  It's going great!  Better than great, actually, and I wanted to answer the many questions in one place so I can refer people back to it. I'm going to give a bunch of information, and hopefully hit all your answers, therein. (And probably bore you to sobs.)
Adrain gets paid twice a month and the bulk of one of those paychecks pretty much goes toward our mortgage.  Which means we have a lump sum at the start of each month that we can divide up for food purchases, and that pretty much needs to last us for 30 days.

The first thing I did, was scour my cookbooks, and write up 30 days worth of meals in the form of a menu.  I printed it and hung it on the fridge.  I accounted for leftovers (meals I knew would serve a crowd or have enough for freezer extras) and special events.  (Such as St Patrick's Day, Easter, and Joe's birthday.)  I wrote up a grocery list and double checked all my pantry staples, spices, cleaning supplies and toiletries to make sure we had enough for the month.  I figured out what recipes I could buy fresh items, prepare and store in the freezer, and what items I'd need to have ready cash a few days before making, in order to purchase fresh produce, etc.  Once my list was complete, I withdrew cash and headed out. 

I stopped at Costco and stocked up on things for kid lunches, chicken breasts, milk, and other items we like to purchase in bulk. Then the grocery store. 

Once home, I shared in this post, how I organized everything.  I am not going to lie.  Those four bags that we pull out weekly to restock, have been the smartest thing I've ever done.  Seriously.  I want to smack myself for not thinking of it sooner. 

After completing our big grocery shops and doing all that prep, we had $100 for the month.  (Keep in mind a ton of things went into the freezer chopped and prepped and that eliminated many trips to the store throughout the month. Which was the entire genius behind that plan.)

I had to show my little grocery shop above.  I had a bag of Alexis sweet potato fries in there too (I had a great coupon for that) but they were melting so I popped them into the freezer before this photo.  I only splurged on one thing and that was my shampoo.  This "fun brand" was on sale and I needed some anyway.  I spent three extra dollars to get the kind that makes my hair smell like Hawaii.  Couldn't resist. The item I wouldn't have normally bought were the kettle chips, but I had a coupon about to expire AND they were on sale so I grabbed them.  Everything else in the bag was basically produce.
Since we had already used the first half of that $100, during the first half of the month, I had $50 left to cover the next two weeks.  Because I have all our meals planned and prepped, spending only $50 was a lot easier than I thought.  I didn't veer off my list for even one item.  And I came in under budget, which is great because my refrigerator light just burned out and I forgot to buy salt.  Oops. So there ya go.

Many of you have wanted to know exactly what we have been eating.  Here you go. I pasted it directly from the menu I printed up. Enjoy. 

March Menu:

TH:   rotisserie chicken, sw.potato fries, green salad
F:      rice wraps with thai peanut sauce
S:      holli ice cream cake/  veggie quesadillas
S:      corn and black bean salad with bbq chicken
M:    bean curry and rice
T:      “
W:     green curry chicken, rice, green beans (frozen)
TH:    “
F:      eggs, sausage, etc.
S:      greek vegetable stew
S:      ST PATTY’S rotisserie, dijon taters & brussel sprouts
M:    “
T:      stir fry with chicken and veggies
W:    leftover stew
TH:   stew or stir fry leftovers
F:      garden vegetable soup
S:     Brisket, roasted potatoes and asparagus
S:     "
M:   salmon patties, sweet potato fries, random veggie
T:     FAMILY SEDER/ Latkes, honey mustard chicken, asparagus and charoset with matzah, etc.
W:    “
TH:   JJ BDAY! Carrot cake with cinnamon cream cheese frosting /pancakes & bacon
F:      teriyaki turkey burgers, veggie and plain rice (leftover peanut sauce)
S:      leftovers and resurrection cookies
S:      EASTER! Eating at mama's house!
M:    frozen leftover garden veg soup
T:     omelettes 

W:    FRIDGE/FREEZER clean out!!

For those of you following my somewhat silly camera saga, my man thinks he has come up with a plan.  I'm gleeful with anticipation.  And also, one of my besties, Betsy, has rescued me in the mean-time, with her spare camera.  Have I mentioned that I have amazing friends?  Indeed I do.  I have been so lonely this winter, barely seeing friends that I used to see frequently.  After a while of that behavior, people kind of give up on you and quit calling you so I have decided to put a proactive plan into action because when you are going through hard things, they (whoever "they" are) say that you tend to isolate yourself.  Umm... guilty!  Anyway, my plan.  I am making a huge effort to begin calling, texting, emailing, inviting or making plans with my local girlfriends over the next couple of weeks.  (If you are my local friend, be warned.  I am coming. Muwhahahahaha!)

Speaking of my precious friends.  I want to wish my girl Trudy a tremendously happy early birthday.  Girl, I love that we've been friends through thick and thin.  I miss having you next door SO MUCH, but I love that we still have "porch time."  I love giggling with you about how weird it is to watch our boys becoming little men. And I love that you put polka dotted straws into my water just because you know I like them.  I love you my friend.

While I'm here, I also have to send out another big happy birthday to my sweet sis-in-law, Holli.  I am so thrilled that you are in my family and can't wait to see how the next few years unfold.  Love you girl!!


  1. This is some SWEET ACTION. We, too, have been operating under a tight grocery budget. It's helpful on the wallet and on the waist, as now we rarely eat out. I scored a wicked awesome Sam's Club membership/gift cards through Living Social and it has become such a timely awesome help to us. And bonus! Now I can buy "real" foods! So much so that I have to urge my husband and daughters to eat all the strawberries, apples, oranges and such instead of being a Food Nazi everyday. It's awesome! Also, I think I need more info on these miracle grocery bags, because sadly, I am still not your neighbor and therefore cannot be in your presence aside from this cyber comment.

  2. This could not have come at a better time. We're in a major financial crunch I need this now! I nearly cried when you said you planned a whole months worth of menu so I'm really glad you listed it!

  3. Wowza, I am so completely impressed. And inspired! I have been wanting to badly to work on my grocery budget. It's in a shambles. We eat a gluten/dairy/allergen free diet, and our grocery budget is out of control. Thanks so much for this.

  4. The list looks delicious! Though what do you do for other meals and snacks? My kids are older and eat a ton, so it's hard to be on a budget.Great dinner ideas and to stock up at Costco for bulk items is really a good idea.I know I waste more food than I should for sure.A budget would help that as well.

    Yes I agree when times are rough you do isolate yourself.Good for you for reaching out.It's much healthier for you too! Do enjoy those peeps :)

    New to your blog from istagram.Nice to meet you! ~K.Marie

  5. You're my inspiration to jump start my "slash my grocery budget" which is totally ridiculous. You gave me some great meal ideas. So sweet of your friend to loan you her camera. Friends are the best. Especially front porch friends. You're blessed.

  6. i like the way your brain works. i think you and i would do well together. i love your listiness and bugetingness...even tho i'm NO GOOD at the latter. well, done. i've been working on my grocery bill too. i've started couponing again...and i love it.

  7. You are rocking this meal and grocery plan! I'm inspired.

    I completely understand the isolation tactic! Why do we do that? I always feel so well loved and so much better after spending time with or chatting with I'm confused why I always fall into those slumps. *sigh* Yay for you making plans!

  8. woo woo! yay for YOU!
    i am in need of some SERIOUS training in this area!
    come teach me and i will feed you and craft with you! :)

    also, the isolation thing? yikes. yep. that's me.
    i'm always afraid of getting hurt and it's just easier to stay in my comfort zone. BUT...definitely not the way God intended for it to be.
    thanks for the push, girl. i love your honesty.

  9. After a suffering with a friend through her daughter's leukemia diagnosis/treatment (she's doing great, btw), I've become the food nazi! Consuming REAL food and cutting out dairy, wheat and sugar has been a personal goal. It's also been the absolute hardest thing to do while on a buget. :) So thank you for your meal suggestions and the How To's that you use!

    On another note, your son's bin of Nerf guns would be a welcome at our house! We have Nerf wars every other day!

  10. Love the picture of your son and the Nerf guns, my sons used to have a bin of nerf guns like that. Can you tell me what the name of shampoo you use that smells like Hawaii? Sounds wonderful!

  11. I need that super cute grocery bag in that picture! I think that would make it so much more fun. :) Love reading your ideas on slashing the grocery budget. We need to be so much better about it than we are. We won't even talk about how much we have spent on food in past months...crazy!

  12. I am very impressed with your cooked some great things on a budget!!!
    Do you dare even want to know what I spend a month on groceries/toiletries/cleaning supplies? I'll tell you if you tell me. :)
    I need help.

    I'm so proud of you for honoring your budget and making this work!!!!

    winter time is bad about encouraging all of us to isolate a little...too hard to get out in the cold.
    I've been calling more local peeps, too, and trying to get together for coffee.

  13. I am so struggling in this area! I am trying to cut our budget WAY down and it is so hard for me!! Trying to buy "real" food and stay on budget is proving very challenging, thanks for the ideas!

  14. WOW. Your menu alone is impressive to me, let alone the fact that you prepared those meals while on a budget. You always inspire:-)

    Thank you so much for sharing the nitty gritty, it helps and encourages me to try (again!) to cook at home more and reduce our grocery spending. I'm terrible at budgeting but sickened enough at our wastefulness to be motivated to try harder!

  15. I love this idea. I don't like the grocery store at all. I'd rather do laundry any day. To cut down on my visits there is reason alone.