Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Falling off the wagon

Needless to say after a week without updates, my husband and I have fallen off the wagon and out of the grocery challenge. We've started a search for our first house which has led to some busy days and not feeling like cooking or not being in a position to cook. I plan to continue this blog (although probably not on a daily basis), because I really enjoy coming up with cheap recipes and spending as little as possible on our groceries. But we do enjoy the occasional meal out, and it wasn't much fun feeling as if we couldn't do that when we wanted to.

Today is our 2nd anniversary, and I've made us a dinner almost entirely out of the Angel Food Ministries box we picked up Saturday. I cut a 6 oz New York Strip into two 3 oz servings, chopped up one of the baking potatoes, and added some of the frozen sliced carrots into the slow cooker. I seasoned the steak with some Grill Mates seasoning I got free after coupon from Kroger, and poured some beef broth in for the cooking liquid. I'm going to make some gravy from the cooking juices in a little while, just before my husband comes home.

We got a yummy (but sooo sweet!) cake from a local bakery to celebrate our anniversary. It kept both of us awake last night though so I don't think we'll be enjoying it again tonight. We'll have to break into the wine I bought back in the spring in Gatlinburg though. ;)

I've been having fun with the Angel Food box, and we've both been impressed with the food so far. The pork roast made some excellent pulled pork BBQ sandwiches, and the blueberry pie was just awesome. Maybe we'll have that for dessert tonight instead since it's not so painfully sweet. I already ordered next month's signature box from AFM, but I'm wishing I'd ordered the produce box too.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Day 10: Skyline at Home

Today was a yucky, rainy day, and neither of us really felt like doing much of anything. I did a little reading, a little knitting, and we watched a movie, but that's about all we've done. For lunch, I was planning to make hot dogs, then I remembered a can of Skyline chili I've had in the pantry for several months and decided to make cheese coneys instead. Since we had some leftover chili after lunch (and my pork chops weren't thawed out yet), I decided to make some more Skyline-at-home for dinner in the form of three-ways. Rest assured that I have eaten some fruit today so my diet wasn't all "bad" carbs. ;) It was a cheap day, and a good lazy day that didn't require a lot of cooking.

Oscar Mayer Beef Hot Dogs (Free after coupon)
Aunt Millie's Buns (55 cents for the whole pack after coupon; we used half of it)
Sargento cheese (from stockpile)
Skyline chili (from stockpile)

Spaghetti (from stockpile)
Skyline chili (from stockpile)
Sargento cheese (from stockpile)

$$ Spent Today: $0.00
$$ Remaining: $3.66

Days 8 & 9 Recap

I've missed blogging for a couple of days, so this is a "catch up" entry for the past couple of days. On Monday, my husband was working and I was at home for lunch, so I had some leftover vegetable barley soup. For dinner, we had the veggie supper I had planned originally for Sunday night. It was a lot of work, but boy was it yummy!

Yesterday, we drove around looking at houses. We drove a total of 90 miles looking at about 10 houses we were interested in, and are now down to 2 front-runners. We had lunch at one of our favorite pizza places, but we both had the lunch special for Tuesday: a small pepperoni pizza and a drink for $4.10. Our total bill was $8.77. Not too shabby for a lunch out! We had some ice cream at Zesto for a mid-afternoon snack since it was heating up outside and we still weren't quite done, for a total of $5.44. That's all we spent on food yesterday though.

When we came home, we got a head start on those "first time homeowners" dinners -- frozen fish fillets and Kraft Macaroni & Cheese. The fish was in the stockpile (I think I paid $2.99 for the box of 10 at Aldi) and the Mac & Cheese was purchased on Monday at Meijer for 38 cents a box after coupon. Yesterday wasn't the healthiest day in the world, but it was at least cheap, even with a restaurant meal. :)

Our anniversary is coming up on July 28, and we'd like to go out for dinner. I stumbled onto an 80% off coupon code for Restaurant.com that enabled me to get a $25 certificate for a local Italian restaurant for only $2. We should be able to eat for almost nothing on that certificate, plus it's a restaurant I've been wanting to try. Score! :)

$$ Spent Yesterday: $14.21
$$ Remaining: $3.66

Monday, July 20, 2009

Week 2 Grocery Day

Today was my "grocery day" for week 2. I spent $32.13 on food. I was a couple of dollars over my $30 target, but that included a $2.62 6-pack of sugar free Kool-Aid mix so hubby won't have to suffer through drinking unflavored water with meals. :P I meant to pick up something at Aldi but I forgot, so Kool-Aid it is. At least they had grape! I snagged some great deals at Meijer today, including some non-food stuff. If you buy at least $10 worth of Scott, Kleenex, or Cottonelle products, you get $10 off instantly on 3 packs of Fruit of the Loom "basics" (i.e. underwear, socks, and T-shirts). The 24-pack of double rolls of Cottonelle is on sale for $12.99 and I had a 50 cent coupon that doubled to $1. The girls socks were on sale for $3.99 a pack and I needed socks (and I have small feet), so I really scored on my socks (67 cents a pack after the discount). I also got some boxers for hubby for $5.15 after the discount. I might see if I can scrounge up another Cottonelle coupon and get some more later tonight.

Anyway, on to the groceries. I separated my non-food items from my food and did two separate transactions at the self checkout for easy purchase tracking. Naturally, I picked the one that didn't like coupons, but the cashier who helped me was great and very patient. I saved $29.24 ($16.40 in coupons alone) and spent $25.30 at Meijer. I also did the General Mills deal where if you buy 10 select items for $20 ($2 each), you get a $5 custom coupon for your next order. It didn't print on its own, so customer service had to force it out, but I did get a surprise Catalina at the register from Kraft for $1 off my next order from buying 4 boxes of Kraft Mac & Cheese. So now I have $6 free to spend at Meijer next week! (Or perhaps later tonight on more boxers and socks.) I posted the image of my Meijer receipt; just click on it to view it larger.

I also went to Aldi to pick up a few things I knew I wouldn't be able to get cheaper at Meijer (and that also didn't have to be refrigerated). I spent a total of $6.83 at Aldi, getting hubby some snacks to keep him out of the vending machines and the makings of Taco Soup to be made later this week.

Topping off my day was the free iced mocha from McDonald's, since it's Mocha Monday. It was small (7 oz) but it sure was tasty! That was the only thing I got, and the employees didn't bat an eyelash. I'll be back next Monday for another. (And I will probably buy at least a couple after the grocery challenge is over!) For right now, though, you can't beat free.

$$ Spent Today: $32.13
$$ Remaining: $17.87

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Meal Plan: 7/20-7/26

Our meal plan for this week is pretty simple, and mostly involves trying to clean out the freezer in preparation for receiving our Angel Food Ministries box on Saturday, which I'm sure will be mostly frozen. Our freezer typically stays stuffed (and is nearly stuffed right now), so eating out of it for this week to get some of the large boxes out is imperative. Lunches will be leftovers, hot dogs, or sandwiches. Right now I'm not sure what my work schedule is for the coming week -- I have to call tomorrow to find out whether I am working Tues/Wed or Fri/Sat, so that's the reason for the wide breadth of options when it comes to lunches. Right now it looks like I should spend about $22 at Meijer and $8 at Aldi, leaving us with $20 remaining. Hubby would like to go out to our favorite pizza place sometime this week, so we might have room for that at some point.

Monday, July 20

Lunch - Leftover Vegetable Barley Soup & Grilled Cheese
Dinner - Veggie Supper

Tuesday, July 21

Lunch - Hot Dogs or Sandwiches
Dinner - Fish Fillets with Mac & Cheese

Wednesday, July 22

Lunch - Hot Dogs or Sandwiches
Dinner - Skyline Three-Ways

Thursday, July 23

Lunch - Leftovers
Dinner - Taco Soup & Corn Muffins

Friday, July 24

Lunch - Leftover Taco Soup
Dinner - Pineapple Pork Chops & veggies

Saturday, July 25

Lunch - Hot Dogs or Sandwiches
Dinner - Fettuccine Carbonara Skillet Meal

Sunday, July 26

Lunch - Hot Dogs or Sandwiches
Dinner - Enchilada Chicken with Fajita Veggies

Day 7: Change of Plans

I had originally planned to fix what my mom calls a "veggie supper" tonight, but after having to wait in line for 30 minutes to pay for my new Crock Pot Smart Pot and a huge plastic container to hold all our camping stuff, I wasn't going to have time to fix the fresh green beans I bought at Meijer. So the veggie supper will have to wait until tomorrow. Tonight, I pulled a Birds Eye Steamfresh Meal for Two out of the freezer and made some garlic bread to go along with it. It was very tasty and easy. For lunch, hubby had leftovers, and I made myself a fish sandwich and some tater tots.

I did go to Meijer to buy some produce though, in preparation for the veggie supper that didn't happen. Meijer's sale on produce this week is just awesome. For $3.08, I got 3 bananas, 2 summer squash, 1 lb of green beans, a cucumber, and 2 ears of corn. Not too shabby!

I was in desperate need of a pick me up, this afternoon, though, and I did hit the drive thru of a local ice cream joint called Zesto. I had a milkshake, which cost $2.93. I had the room for it in the budget though, so I didn't feel too bad. They didn't give me a receipt, so that's one more item for my "no receipt given" log.

$$ Spent Today: $6.01
$$ Left Over for Week 1: $1.56

Day 6: Vegetable Barley Soup

Yesterday was a good day for the grocery challenge, with no extra money spent aside from the groceries I bought at the beginning of the week. For lunch, we had leftover stir fry from Friday evening, and for dinner, I put a Vegetable Barley Soup in the Crock Pot to be ready when I got home from work. I made grilled cheese sandwiches to go with it, and it was a delectable (and easy!) dinner.

Vegetable Barley Soup
*=from stockpile

1 zucchini, chopped ($0.63)
1/2 cup chopped onion ($0.17)*
1 cup chopped celery ($0.20)*
3 1/2 cups water
8 oz tomato sauce, no-salt-added ($0.40)*
15 oz can petite cut no-salt-added diced tomatoes (free w/ coupon)*
10 oz frozen mixed vegetables ($0.50)*
1/2 cup pearled barley, rinsed & drained ($0.17)*
1 1/2 tsp Italian seasoning *
4 chicken bouillon cubes *

Combine all ingredients in slow cooker and cook on low for 8-10 hours or high for about 4 hours. Yields 4-5 servings.