Wednesday, June 23, 2010

All You Challenge - Day 4

Today the baby and I made a stop at Aldi's. If you haven't shopped at Aldi's before, I encourage you to do so. I get a lot of fresh fruits and veggies, fresh dairy and some canned products there. The prices are unbeatable. I love how simply the store is laid out and sometimes it's just a relief to only have a few choices. I actually feel at ease when I shop there. But anyway, my trip today consisted of:

10lb bag of potatoes 1.99
1/2 gallon of chocolate milk .50
2 cans of kidney beans .59 each
2 cans of frozen oj concentrate 1.19 each
1 bag of garden salad .99
1 pkg flour tortillas .99
1 gallon of milk 1.59 (the best price anywhere!!)
2 peaches .29 each
1 plum .29
1 cucumber .49
1 dozen eggs .69 (another awesome price!)
1 lb strawberries .99
1 pint blueberries .99
2 tomatoes .99
1 whole pineapple .99
1 lb butter 1.88
1 box of ice cream cones .89
4 pk of toilet paper

My total for all of that was only 19.35! I got so much for that. I walked out with a smile on my face! After I dropped the kids off at camp this morning, I ran through McDonald's. I know, shame, shame. So I got 2 burritos for 2.00 and 1 large Coke for 1.00. For a total of 3.07 after tax. So my total for the day was 22.42. That means my total for the week is 85.18 and I have 14.82 left. I don't have any thing I need to buy, so that's good. I would like to get a carton or two of ice cream though!! I can get them for 1.50 at Meijer. Maybe Friday I'll pick some up!!

Lunch today was 3-ways with green beans and fruit salad.

Dinner was blueberry pancakes with sausage links and diced potatoes.


4 cups Bisquick mix .33
4 Eggs .23
2 cups of milk .20
1 tblsp sugar .05
4 tsp baking powder .10
2 tsp vanilla .20
1 cup of blueberries .66
1 pkg of sausage links .67 (with coupon)
3 medium potatoes .20
butter and syrup for pancakes (we use real syrup) 1.00

Total for the dinner was 3.64

I make pancakes just using the Bisquick recipe, except if you look down at the bottom of the recipe, there's directions for supreme pancakes. I made those and then add in the blueberries. I cook them on a screaming hot griddle, it just takes a minute or two on each side. I cook the sausage in a skillet and I dice the potatoes then saute them in olive oil. I leave the lid on the skillet for the first few minutes, it helps cook the potatoes better and softens them, then I take the lid off and they brown and crisp up. These potatoes are a family favorite!

Well that's it for today. See you tomorrow!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

All You Challenge: Day 3

Today mama had the night off!! We went to kids eat free night at Chick-fil-A. Our family loves Chick-fil-A, the food and the fact that they are a Christian company. It's nice to hear worship songs playing while sitting in the restaurant. Oh and the manners of the employees are something to aspire to! So anyway, we spent a total of 13.80 there.

We also ran into Wal-Mart and I got 6 bottles of Hunt's (no high fructose corn syrup) Ketchup. They were .84 each which equals 5.04 and I used 6 (.20) coupons, so I paid a total of 3.84.

So my total for the day was 17.64. That makes my weekly total 62.76 and I have 37.24 left.

I forgot to mention that my husband works from home and we home school our children, so I make lunch for everyone everyday as well. I don't usually do big lunches, but it's nice to have a second meal together everyday. Our lunch today was macaroni and cheese with peas and tuna and a fruit salad with fresh berries and pineapple. Fresh pineapple is my absolute favorite. I thank God every time I eat it. It's so yummy. And for the past few weeks you could get a whole fresh pineapple for .99 at Aldi's. We've gotten lots of them!! I'm hoping to get another one in the next day or two. I hope they haven't changed the price.

Well, on to Day 4!!

Monday, June 21, 2010

All You Challenge: Day 2

Today was my first grocery trip during the challenge. I went to Meijer and here's what I got:
  • 3 bananas .51
  • 2 fresh carrots .43
  • 1 onion .60
  • 1 head of lettuce .59
  • 1 lb strawberries .75
  • 1 pkg raspberries 1.00
  • 1 pkg blackberries 1.00
  • 1 can kidney beans .79
  • 1 can carrots .69
  • 12 Dannon yogurts @ .60 each = 7.20 - 2 (.40) coupons doubled to .80. Paid 5.60
  • 2 pkgs Dannon kids yogurt @ 1.99 each = 3.98 - 2 (1.00) coupons. Paid 1.98
  • 4 Boxes of Jell-o Instant pudding @ .79 each = 3.16 - 2 (.50) coupons doubled to 1.00. Paid 1.16
  • 1 Campbell's chicken noodle soup .50
  • 1 pkg Aunt Millie's hamburger buns 1.00 - .55 coupon doubled to 1.00. Paid 0.00
  • 2 cans of Reddi-Whip @ 1.79 each = 3.58 - 2 (.35) coupons doubled to .70. Paid 2.18
  • 1 Meijer brand parmesan cheese 2.49
  • 1 pkg Sargento sliced cheddar cheese 2.50 - 1.00 coupon. Paid 1.50
  • 4 Smuckers ice cream toppings @ 1.67 each = 6.68 - 2 (1.00) coupons and 4 (.55) Mealbox coupons. Paid 2.48
My total for everything was 22.44.

I also ran into Target to get a baby gift and saw the Toy Story Mac n Cheese for .90, so I got one of those as well. So my total for the day is 23.34. So all together this week I've spent 45.12, which leaves me 54.88.

Our meals today:
Breakfast was scrambled eggs and peanut butter toast with oj to drink.
Lunch was sort of a hodge podge, the kids had leftover pizza from the weekend with a mix of berries, Daddy had a salad with berries and I had chicken noodle soup with berries.
Dinner tonight was the Asian Peanut Noodles with Chicken and Broccoli. I am in no way trying to pass off this meal as authentic asian. It's just our own take on it. But anyway, here's how I made it:

  • 2 chicken breasts 5.11
  • 1lb spaghetti (I use angel hair) 0.00 (with coupon)
  • 1 bag frozen broccoli 0.00 (with coupon)
  • 1 handful of peanuts, chopped .08 (paid .50 for a big jar with coupon!)
  • 1 tblsp sesame seeds .20? (bought a long time ago, not sure of price)
  • soy sauce to taste (we probably used about 1/4 cup total) .25
  • 1 tsp garlic powder .05
  • 1 tsp onion powder .05
  • 4 fortune cookies .50

Meal total: 6.24

  • Dice chicken and saute in olive oil with a little salt and pepper, until cooked through and lightly brown
  • Cook spaghetti noodles according to package directions
  • Cook broccoli with whatever method you choose, we steam ours
  • Once the chicken is cooked, add the cooked broccoli, 3/4 of the chopped peanuts, 1/2 the sesame seeds, the garlic and onion powders and a few shakes of soy sauce
  • Once the noodles are ready, drain and sprinkle on a little oil to prevent sticking, then add the chicken and broccoli mixture to the pot
  • Add more soy sauce as desired
  • Dish onto plates and then sprinkle each plate with the remaining peanuts and sesame seeds.
  • Serve with fortune cookies (optional of course!)

This one is pretty yummy. It's relatively new to us, we've made it I think 5 times now. I love it. I'm not one that does much measuring when I cook, so if you find the measurements don't work for you, then please adjust them to suit you. I'm only guessing as to how much we use!

For desert I made a quick banana pudding. I paid .29 for the box of instant pudding (after coupon), 2 cups of milk were .20 (1.59 per gallon at Aldi's!), and a dollop of Reddi-Whip was .27 (1.09 per can after coupon). So the desert total was .76! And it was delicious!

Sorry the picture is a little blurry and strangely colored tonight. I was in a hurry!! Well Day 2 is done, ready for Day 3!

Sunday, June 20, 2010

All You Challenge: Day 1

Today is Sunday, so for our family that means that we eat lunch out after church. Every week we take turns picking where it is we'll go to eat. This week it was our daughter Abby's turn to pick and she picked Noodles and Company, one of her favorites!! So we each had a bowl of noodles, the kids had lemonade and Daddy and I had water. Our total was 21.78. I figured about $20 for that meal, so that's pretty close. I'm glad that that meal comes first thing in the week, so I don't have to try and save for it!

So that leaves us 78.22 for the rest of the week. We didn't do any shopping today, but I am planning to do some tomorrow.

Our dinner tonight was one of Daddy's favorites to celebrate Father's Day. We had cheddar cheeseburgers and homemade fries. I'll show you how much I paid for the ingredients to give you an idea of how much our meals cost, but these totals don't count towards the challenge because most of it was already purchased. Our ingredients were:
  • 1.03lb of ground beef 4.11 (this is the natural, hormone free meat from Dorothy Lane Market)
  • 4 whole grain buns 0.00 (bought with coupon)
  • 3 slices of cheddar cheese .41
  • 1 slice of tomato .10
  • lettuce .07
  • 6 small to medium potatoes .33
  • canola oil 0.00 (my parents paid for it for a party and I use what's left!)
  • ketchup .30
  • A-1 sauce .05 (my son only eats hamburgers with A-1 sauce!)
Total for the dinner was 5.37 and it was restaurant quality!

I thought I'd share how I make the fries because they are really as good if not better than anything you'll get a restaurant. So here's the directions:
  • Scrub the potatoes
  • Slice the potatoes lengthwise
  • Cut the slices to form the fry shape
  • Heat oil to 300 degrees (I bought a cheap candy thermometer at Wal-Mart a while back and that makes this so much easier).
  • Put a batch of the fries in and fry for about 6-8 minutes, until they start to get golden. They will still be sort of flimsy and mushy at this point.
  • Pull the golden fries out and place on a wire rack with newspaper or paper towels underneath.
  • Continue this until all fries have been fried.
  • Now crank the heat up to 350 degrees.
  • Start with your first batch and put them back into the oil for just a couple of minutes (2-3). Until they are browned, crispy and yummy looking!
  • Place these fries back onto the wire rack and immediately sprinkle salt on them.
  • Continue until finished with all fries.
  • Eat and be happy!!
Here's a pic of the oil with the thermometer in it and one of the wire rack with fries cooling on it.

Well we did it!! Day one complete. Check back tomorrow for Day 2!!

Saturday, June 19, 2010

All You Challenge: Pre-Challenge Post

Today's post will be sort of a challenge preview post. I'm going to give you my menu and the ingredients I have stockpiled to use. So here goes!!

I've made a dinner menu of 22 dinners to cook at home (allowing one dinner per week at a kids eat free night and 2 take out pizza nights!). I've tried to make the 22 dinners different, and healthy and something our family enjoys. I find that it's so much easier to guarantee that I'll get a dinner on the table when it's something I look forward to eating. So here's my list (in no particular order):

  • Spaghetti with meat sauce, garlic bread
  • Parmesan chicken pasta with carrots and broccoli
  • Asian peanut noodles with chicken and broccoli
  • Pepperoni pasta bake with fruit
  • Chicken tortilla soup and fruit
  • Chicken noodle soup, biscuits and fruit
  • Pasta e fagioli soup, garlic bread
  • Tacos with black beans, rice and corn, pineapples
  • Pepperjack chicken with rice and corn, pineapples
  • BBQ pulled pork potato skins with green beans
  • Cheddar cheeseburgers with homemade fries
  • Polka dot chicken with mashed potatoes, green beans and applesauce
  • Crock pot roast with carrots and potatoes
  • Sausage sandwiches with sauteed potatoes and carrots
  • Homemade chicken tenders with mashed potatoes and corn
  • Larosa's style hoagies with chips and fruit
  • Grilled pork chops with homemade mac n cheese, broccoli
  • Blueberry pancakes with sausage links
  • Grilled hot dogs, corn on the cob, chips, fruit
  • BBQ chicken sandwiches, baked beans, chips, fruit
  • French toast with bacon, berries
  • Chicken and dumplings, mashed potatoes, green beans, applesauce

For lunches we have lots of choices including: grilled cheese with tomato soup, packaged noodles (either alfredo noodles or mac and cheese) with peas and fruit (mac and cheese also gets tuna), hot dogs, deli sandwiches, pb&j sandwiches, pizza rolls, canned soups, salads, etc. I try to add a serving of fruit and a serving of vegetables with each lunch. The fruits we regularly eat are apples, applesauce, fresh assorted berries, bananas, pineapple (fresh and canned), peaches (fresh and canned) and pears (canned). For the vegetables I usually add carrots, peas, green beans, corn or broccoli.

For breakfast we eat cereal most of the time and I've narrowed down our choices to Cheerios, Wheaties, Corn Flakes or Kix. We also eat oatmeal, cream of wheat, scrambled eggs or toast. The kids have a glass of orange juice with every breakfast as well.

And for snacks and desserts, we usually have on hand, chips and salsa, yogurt, cheese sticks, ice cream, popsicles, pudding. Every now and then I'll make a cake or some brownies.

Oh and drinks wise, the kids drink orange juice in the morning, and then they have one glass of milk and one glass of 100% juice a day with their other two meals and then they drink water in between meals. Steve and I drink milk, iced tea, water and we each have one canned soda a day (our little treat!). I do have a box or two of Capri Suns that I got last year for like .59 a box or something that I use if we're going to be eating in the car or out at like the Reds game or something. But when those run out, I won't be buying more. Let's just say I had 4 boxes of them this time last year and I still have two boxes!

These are things I've stockpiled at rock bottom prices over the last few months. When something is at that low price, I try to stock up on enough to at least last me until a similar sale comes around again. This includes:

  • Frozen veggies (corn, broccoli, mixed veggies, green beans, peas)
  • Pasta (spaghetti, penne, etc.)
  • Rice (boil in bag brown rice)
  • Hot dogs
  • Spaghetti sauce (different varieties for different meals)
  • Canned veggies
  • Canned fruit (either in 100% juice or the lite variety)
  • Applesauce (no sugar added)
  • Chicken stock and broth (no MSG)
  • Beef broth (no MSG)
  • BBQ sauce
  • Salad dressing
  • Ketchup and mustard
  • Beans (dry and canned; black, kidney, pinto and great northern)
  • Pepperoni
  • Peanut butter
  • Jelly
  • Ice cream toppings
  • Cereal
  • Oatmeal
  • Biscuit mix
  • Flour
  • Sugar
  • Baking needs (baking soda, baking powder, spices, salt, cornstarch)
  • Cheese (shredded and bars)
  • Iced tea bags
  • Crackers
  • Taco shells
  • Salsa
  • Boxed mac n cheese
  • Tuna (canned and in the pouches)

I usually only shop for meat every 2-3 weeks because I go to a local market that's about 35 minutes away and that has locally raised, chemical free meats, so at any given time I have a small stockpile of meats.

So my weekly shopping is usually purchasing fresh fruits and veggies, fresh dairy, fresh breads and buns, anything I need for a particular recipe and then I use whatever money I have left to get "the deals"!!

I've actually been able to also stockpile formula, bottle liners, diapers and wipes for our baby using coupons and following sales. I have enough of all of that to last the length of this challenge, although they said babies don't count towards the total anyway.

Well I think that's all of the pre-challenge info I have right now. Tomorrow starts the contest, so I'll be posting our meals for the day and how much I've spent. My goal is to share our days menu in the evening every day, with it's recipe, and then keep a running tally on the sidebar of how much I've spent. Hopefully I'll be able to keep up!! See you tomorrow!!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

All You Challenge

Well it's been almost exactly a year since I posted on here, (and what a year it's been!) and while I'm not exactly doing the same type of posts as I did before (although I might be able to get back into that later on), I'm going to use this blog to showcase my attempts at the All You Grocery Challenge! Basically, you sign up to compete for a $1000 grocery gift card and the way it works is that you have to commit to spending only $25 per person per week for groceries and eating out. Infants don't count towards the total, so for our family, we have $100 a week to spend. Luckily you'll be able to also use previously stockpiled ingredients as well. The contest begins June 20th and you can go here to sign up for yourself. Prior to the start of the contest, I'll be sharing the contents of our stockpile, the proposed menu and then during the contest I'll share our grocery trips and tips, recipes and cost breakdowns. I think it will be fun!!

I'm by no means a gourmet chef, but I do enjoy cooking and preparing healthy meals for our family. We've been working on switching over to a more healthful diet over the last year or so and right now at this point this is what it looks like for us:

  • We eat "real" food and try to avoid man made, chemical laden processed foods. That means butter instead of margarine, sugar instead of high fructose corn syrup, real cheese instead of pasteurized cheese product, whole milk (we'd do raw milk if we could) instead of lower fat milks, etc.. You get the point!
  • We steer clear of fake sweeteners (like those found in diet products).
  • I make our own seasoning mixes, mostly taco at this point, to avoid extra chemicals (especially that dreaded MSG!)
  • We use 100% whole wheat bread. Although for buns it's probably a 50/50 split on whether or not they are 100%.
  • We use brown rice instead of white.
  • We eat fruits and vegetables (without added sugar or sauces) with lunch and dinner, as well as for snacks. We're currently switching to organic produce, especially those on the top ten list, but we haven't finished that. Especially since I've got so many canned and frozen fruits and veggies to use up.
  • We try to incorporate beans into at least 2 dinners a week.
  • We buy locally raised (and hormone, antibiotic free) beef, chicken and pork at a smaller local market in the Dayton area.

We're not by any means super strict with the diet at this point, but we are working hard to give our children healthy starts on their lives. Our son, Noah, used to only want chicken nuggets for every meal. Now he eats vegetables at every meal (carrots are his favorite!), soups full of veggies and beans (and loves them!), homemade meals instead of boxed meals and he loves it. Now, that is. He didn't start out loving it. But we offered him the foods he wasn't too keen on with every meal, and he wasn't allowed treats (snacks or desserts) if he didn't eat the foods he was given and it took awhile, but now he's willing to try anything and usually likes it. It was a lot of work to switch his eating habits, but I'm so glad we pushed through the hard times and are where we are now.

While we are still a "work in progress" in regards to our diet, that doesn't mean we don't occasionally have boxed mac and cheese, hotdogs, or boxed cereal (although that's my current project: weaning off sugary cereals and going to a cheerios only allowance!). We also eat out sometimes. We frequent kids eat free nights at Skyline or Chick-fil-A. We also have lunch out after church every Sunday. And who can resist a Chipotle burrito?? Not me!! I'm happy with our choices at this point. I feel good about working consistently to better our diets and incorporate these healthy choices into our grocery budget. You'd be surprised how easily you can stretch the more expensive healthy meats by adding in beans, rice or pasta.

So anyway, that's what we're doing. I'm sure some of you would laugh at our efforts, saying it's not nearly enough, while others of you may find it useless to worry about. But we are doing the best we can right now and we feel good that we're working very hard to incorporate as much food the way God intended it, as possible. So that's our story and we're sticking to it!!! :)

More to come soon....