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?

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

The Best Buttermilk Biscuits You'll Ever Make!

Dinners this week have all been pretty laid back.  Not much cooking has been going on.  Sunday I baked some chicken thighs and made mashed potatoes and gravy, served with corn.  Monday we had leftovers of that for dinner.  And last night we had leftover sausage gravy with these homemade buttermilk biscuits.  
I don't cook much when my husband isn't home, which is okay with me!

A few years ago I was at our local library and I stumbled upon this cookbook.  
Cooking Up a Storm

It has lots of old fashioned recipes and fun stories to go along with it.  I liked it so much, that I bought it and have made a few recipes from it.  But let me tell you, I found one recipe in it that is the BEST recipe I've ever stumbled upon for Buttermilk Biscuits.  Look no further if you've been on the hunt for a good biscuit recipe!  It's in this book!  

I didn't have any fresh buttermilk on hand, but I did have a can of dry buttermilk, so I mixed some of that up and used it in place of the fresh.  The biscuits still turned out just as good as ever!  If you decide to use reconstituted buttermilk or even regular milk with vinegar or lemon juice in it, to sour it, you will have to use less.  Real buttermilk has a thick consistency, and the other two options are thinner, so you have to gauge by feel how much liquid to put in.  If you use real buttermilk, then just put the amount in the recipe and they will come out perfect!

Buttermilk Biscuits
As seen in the cookbook Cooking Up a Storm (Good Old Days)

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
Sift together:
1 3/4 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking soda

Cut in:
5 tablespoons butter or 1/4 cup lard (I always use lard)

Add and lightly mix (25 strokes only):
3/4 cup buttermilk or regular milk mixed with 1 tablespoon vinegar or lemon juice

Turn dough onto floured board and knead gently for about 30 seconds.  Pat dough to a thickness of 1/2 inch.  Cut with biscuit cutter or a glass.  Bake on greased cookie sheet for 10-12 minutes.  
    Note: It is best to stack to cookie sheets, one on top of the other, to prevent over-browning the biscuit bottoms.

Breakfast for dinner was a quick and easy meal to put on the table with leftover sausage gravy over hot biscuits and scrambled eggs with cheese on top.

Total cost for this dinner: about $2