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Tuesday, March 3, 2015

$65 a Week Challenge, Week 5

 Welcome to week 5 of my $65 a week challenge!  To read how and why I'm doing this, you can read week one's post, here.

The first week of a new month always brings new promise, and this month is my birthday month, which is always more fun!  I did my weekly shopping on Monday this week, right before we got a nice layer of snow on the ground.  I'm not the fondest of driving in the snow, so I was especially happy that I did my shopping yesterday when I woke up this morning. 

 I've been trying to be a bit more strict with what I've been eating and trying not to think too much about it.  Since we're going to Disneyland in late April, I want to be comfortable walking around the parks for 3 days straight, so I've been eating a bit differently lately.  I swear, I'm the queen of always eating a different diet.  Whatever...  I guess I get bored with things and need to change it up?  So, I've been eating Special K in the mornings with fat free milk and fruit and then vegetable soup for lunch and a regular dinner.  I'll eat a couple of snacks during the day, either yogurt, fruit or a protein shake, usually trying to keep it around 100-150 calories for snacks.  So, the things I've been making and buying are a bit different, but that's okay.  

Here's what I bought for this week's groceries:
2 boxes Special K, 4 gallons milk, 3 two liter sodas, 14 yoplait yogurts, 2 boxes sugar free jello, 2 boxes sugar free pudding, 2 bottles taco bell hot sauce, 1 box graham crackers, 
1 bottle peanuts, 3 packages cheese, Nature's Season, 2 avocados, 1.4 lbs roma tomatoes, 2 lbs strawberries, 1 package mini pepperoni, 1 tub light cool whip, 3 lbs halo mandarin oranges, 1 package mini marshmallows, 1 package sugar snap peas, 1 bunch bananas, 3 lbs apples, 1 package mushrooms, 1 head cabbage, 1 bunch asparagus, 8 oz light sour cream, 2 lbs carrots, 12 oz package bologna, 2 zucchinis and 2 dozen eggs.

I have been shopping at Walmart for the past few trips and have been plugging in my receipt into their Savings Catcher  which scans your receipt to see if there was a lower price on anything at local stores.  I racked up a whopping $5.54, which I redeemed for a gift card and took that in to use on some of my groceries.  I also checked and Kellogg's Family Rewards before leaving my house and found a few coupons that I used.  I had also heard on a money saving facebook page that Albertson's had asparagus on sale his week for .98 cents a pound.  I forgot to check the ad before I left, but the cashier still let me price match! 

My total spent out of pocket for all of the groceries pictured above was $69.20

I guess I got a little carried away with my coupons and whatnot and wasn't paying as close of attention as I should have been.  Oh well.  Since my monthly budget is $275, it actually leaves me with a little more than $65 a week, more like $68.75 a week.  In the end, everything will even itself out and $69.20 is much better than I was doing.  

Here's What I've been cooking this past week:

On Saturday I roasted a turkey that someone gave us around Thanksgiving time.  I injected it with some Creole Butter that my husband got from his work for free.  I then roasted it according to the turkey wrapper directions.  

This gave us lots of leftovers, which I love!  On Sunday night, I made an enchilada casserole, that I forgot to get a picture of.  I made the enchilada sauce homemade.  I found a recipe on Pinterest that we like, but of course I've tweaked it a little.  You can find the original recipe over at Gimme some Oven.  I basically make it the same way, but substitute one of the cups of chicken broth for 8 oz of tomato sauce.  This give me the traditional enchilada sauce flavor that I was looking for. I've made this recipe a few times and we really like it!

Last night I made roasted broccoli and a creamy gnocchi bake.  I created this recipe myself and I'll be sharing that with you soon, so come back and check for that!

Right now, as I type this, I'm using up the rest of the leftover turkey, making two big pots of soup.  One is a traditional turkey noodle and the other is a variation of this recipe, with turkey added.  I also have whole wheat rolls rising.  If those turn out well, I'll share that recipe later this week!

Another thing I made today are these Faux Ice Cream Sandwiches.  They are a great low calorie sweet treat that helps with my sweet tooth.  To make these I mixed together 1 key lime yolpait yogurt and about 1/3 of a tub of light cool whip.  I then put a spoonful of the mixture between graham cracker halves.  Then wrapped them up in plastic wrap and froze them.  Now they are in the freezer waiting for a late night snack!  You could use any flavor yogurt and any variety of graham crackers to mix it up.  I'll be looking for chocolate graham crackers next time I'm in the store.  I didn't find them at walmart yesterdy.  

Early last week I made a big pot of Weight Watchers Zero Point Soup.  I don't really follow a recipe, but that one is similar.  I just throw in whatever veggies I have in the fridge and then cook until tender.  I also added a can of kidney beans for more protein.  This has provided me with a week's worth of lunch!  I actually just ate my last bowl of this soup for lunch today.  This week I'll be eating the soup I spoke of earlier and when that runs out I'll make another type.  Soups that are low calorie are always a good option for a quick lunch.  

So, there you have it.  That's what's been cooking at my house!  
What did you cook this past week?  
Were you able to stick to your grocery budget this week?

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Week 4 of the $65 a Week Grocery Challenge!

Here we are at the end of February and the beginning of my fourth week of the $65 a week challenge.  If you're new to the blog and want to know why I'm spending only $65 a week on groceries, you can go over to my first week's post and see why I'm doing this. 

Last week we had my husband's birthday and I was sick most of the week.  On my husband's birthday we used a gift certificate that we got at Christmas to go out to dinner as a family to celebrate his birthday.  And then since I was sick most of the week, I didn't make anything too exciting that I thought was worth taking pictures of to share the recipe with you all.  Hopefully this week will be a little different!  

I went shopping today for this week's groceries.  I spent a total of $66.48.  $1.48 over my $65 a week budget, but I'll take it.  I had Diet Mt. Dew on my list, which is my husband's special treat that we splurge on.  I wasn't able to find it in the smaller 12 pack at a good enough price for me to justify buying it, so I had to spend a little more, $5.48 for the bigger pack.  But, on the bright side, I won't have to buy that next week, as this should last him a bit longer.  So, that's why I went over budget a bit.  

Here's a breakdown of what I got this week:

3 gallons of milk, 3 dozen eggs, 3 packs of shredded cheese, 8 yoplait yogurts, 20 pack diet mt. dew, corn tortillas, flour tortillas, 2 liter soda, 1 loaf bread, 1 bag onions, 1 green bell pepper, 3 pack romain lettuce, 1 bunch bananas, 1 bag apples, 1 bag halo oranges, 1 lb strawberries, zucchini, broccoli, 2 special K cereals, mushrooms, tomatoes, hot dogs, animal crackers and yogurt raisins.  

Total spent this week: $66.48

Total spent week 1: $62.66
Total spent week 2: $68.04
Total spent week 3: $64.71

Total for the month of February: $261.89

That is well under my $275 a month budget!  I'd say I'd call this month a success!  
I'm pretty happy that I was able to only spend $261.89 for the entire month for my 
family of 5.  Which is much better than the $600+ I was spending before!  

Do you think you could feed your family on a reduced budget?  How much do you think you could comfortably spend a month?  Or a week?

Monday, February 16, 2015

$65 A Week Challenge, Week 3!

You can see how this week's shopping went at the bottom of this post.  In the meantime, here's what's been cooking lately.

One night for dinner I made brown rice pasta with ground venison and added veggies to my canned pasta sauce.  No recipe for this, just a simple quick dinner to put on the table.
Total cost for me to make this meal: about $4

Last week a friend and I hosted a Valentine's Day party for the little kids in our area.  We had a great turn out and it was lots of fun.  I was responsible for cookie decorating so I made a couple of batches of sugar cookies and some frosting and the kids had a blast decorating them and were able to take them home.  

I searched pinterest for a sugar cookie recipe that didn't need to be refrigerated and found this really good recipe over on In Katrina's Kitchen.  It is titled 
Best Sugar Cookie Recipe EVER and I'd have to agree that these were pretty much perfect for what I was wanting.  Go check out the recipe!  Since I was able to get butter for $2 a pound last week, these cookies weren't too expensive to make.  Two batches cost me about $3.25 to make, extra for the frosting.

One of the nights that my husband was out of town last week I made homemade pizza for the kids.  They loved it!  Pizza is always a special treat!  I topped the kid pizza with Antelope sausage that my husband and I made during hunting season along with cheese and olives.  It was super good!

My pizza was a bit more adventurous.  It has the sausage and olives along with zucchini, garlic, green bell peppers, onion and mushrooms.  Then I topped it with fresh tomato after it baked.  SO GOOD!  
Total cost for our 3 big pizzas: about $7

Here's a good pizza dough recipe:
Pizza Dough:
2 1/2 C. Medium Hot Water
1 Tbsp. Yeast
2 Tbsp. Sugar
3 Tbsp. Oil
1 tsp. Salt
6 C. Flour (you can do half all-purpose and half white wheat or 100% whole wheat)
Preheat oven to 425 degrees
1. Pour medium hot water in mixing bowl. Sprinkle yeast on top and allow to dissolve.
2. Add sugar, salt, and oil. Gradually add approximately 6 cups of flour.  Let mix in electric mixer for about 6 minutes.
3. Place dough on sprayed cookie sheet or pizza pan and press to fill pan, top with sauce, cheese and your favorite toppings.
4. Cook for 12 to 14 minutes or until cheese is bubbly and crust is cooked through.
Makes 3 to 4 pizzas.

Now onto this week's shopping.  My husband pointed out to me that I wasn't technically over budget last week since the week before I was actually under budget!  So, I stuck to my $65 budget for this week.  Everything I purchased for this week is pictured above.  The total for this week's groceries was $64.71!  So, I stuck to budget and got a few things I wasn't even planning on getting.  

Here's what I got:
5 dozen eggs, 2 gallons milk, twirly lollipop (not pictured), ham lunch meat, 3 packages shredded cheese, Cinnamon Toaster cereal, celery, 8 oz mushrooms, mayo, 2 liter soda, sliced cheese, taco bell hot sauce, saltine crackers, fresh salsa, tortillas, 1.1 lbs roma tomatoes, strawberry syrup, 1 lb brown rice pasta, 1.79 lbs broccoli, 3 avocados, .61 lbs banana chips, .65 lbs mixed nuts, 2.13 lbs tangelos, 2 lbs carrots, 1.20 lbs yellow delish apples, 2.44 lbs bananas, 2 lbs green cabbage, raisins, hot dogs and Smucker's jam.

I'm so used to buying a FULL cart of groceries every time I go shopping, so I'm getting used to only getting what I need and leaving with a very empty cart compared to what I'm used to.  But, I think it's been going pretty good so far!  

How did you do on your grocery budget this week?