Sunday, June 28, 2015

Menu Plan- Last Week of June



I'm trying a lot of greek yogurt smoothies this week for breakfast. I'm getting a little tired of my Chocolate Oat Protein Smoothie and need to mix it up.


Sunday: Country Style BBQ Pork Ribs Marinated in Root Beer (going to make my own hack of this), Cole Slaw

Monday: Leftover Ribs/Slaw, Corn

Tuesday: Lentil Shepherds Pie

Wednesday: Mujadarrah

Thursday: Kids request: Hot dogs with veg and fruit, Boca burgers for me

Friday: Homemade Cheese Pizza

Saturday: Lentil Pierogi, Beet Chips, Corn on the Cob

Also making:

Freezer Cinnamon Rolls
American Sandwich Bread
Mocha Breakfast Shake
Apple Banana Peanut Butter Smoothie
Chocolate Peanut Butter Protein Smoothie
Strawberry Breakfast Protein Smoothie

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Grocery Trips Week of 6/27


I had a few things the family insisted upon this week:

1) Making a meat dish. We eat mostly vegetarian, but occasionally the natives get restless.

2) Stock up on coffee, Cheerios, soy milk, tea, and and juices. We had run out of almost all and had to do without on Friday.

3) Buy lots and lots of oranges (per my son, who eats 3 a day).

Our fridge was pretty bone bare, and we did eat all of the party leftovers from a week ago. Last night, we ate 15 breadsticks dipped in spaghetti sauce plus the last cake. I planned on spending around $130 this week. I initially planned on hitting 4 stores, but my arthritis is unhappy, and in the end I opted for a quick run to the Farmer's Market and Kroger.

Farmer's Market:

Tomatoes for $4

Kroger: $129.38

Thanks to some couponing, I got 6 boxes of Cheerios for $1 each, and 3 packs of Boca Burgers for about $2.50 each, plus a $3 catalina back for them.





This brings me to $133.38 for the week and $426.41 over the entire month, making my average for this month $106.60 per week to feed a family of five.

This is slightly above where I want to be, at $100/week, but I see a few places that I can tweak. A new Whole Foods just opened up, and they tend to have the soy milk we like at a cheaper price per quart. Now that I know my husband goes through 3 packs of coffee per month, I will be keeping my eyes pealed for coffee deals.


Frugal Win/Fail- 4th Week of June

Win:

1) Sold our Angelcare monitor and a Vera Bradley tote on Ebay for $52.50.

2) Got a 7 month supply of one of my medications for $25.72 out of pocket. After switching to a generic antacid (and an H2 blocker instead of a PPI), using a coupon and $13.75 in ECBs at CVS, and taking advantage of a B1 G1 at 50% off deal, I paid for a 7 month supply what I typically paid for a one month supply. Total savings will be $150.

Since we will have had 12 medical office visits by the end of June, to the tune of $300 for all the copays, I am very happy with this.

3) Spent about $71 in groceries for ourselves this week. There was a LOT of food left over from the party. We gifted a friend about four 12-packs of Coke products for her son's graduation, as we don't drink it at all.

Helpful hint: we revived the vat of cold spaghetti with a little olive oil, as suggested by my Sicilian uncle. He also told me we could fry it in a pan with a little olive oil as well.

4) Craved a Mocha Frappucino and made my own after a Pinterest search.

5) Used my YMCA membership three times. Added bonus: using the membership 2-3 times a week is getting me extra money through my work's wellness program, almost half the monthly cost of our Y membership!

6) My mom bought us a gallon of milk from Aldi and a box of crackers.

7) We are joining a friend at a local park today (free), and the kids will play in the splash pad (free) and we will grill out at their camper. I am making pasta salad and oatmeal raisin cookies from things I already have, and will spend about $3 on hot dogs we will bring to share.

8) At first glance, it sounds expensive, but I spent $209 on Zulily for Christmas. I have had my eye on a software program for kids that teaches them Java to create their own custom mods in Minecraft. My son REALLY wants to be able to do this. The software is $250 and it was $100 less on Zulily. I also found some art-related coloring books at 50% off for my older daughter. I had a $25 Paypal balance in there from selling on Ebay, so it was $184 out of pocket instead of $359.

9) Went to the local library for the first time in almost 5 years. I had to pay $1 to get a new card, but we came home with the new Terry Brooks novel for me, a Magic Treehouse for my son, and 4 DVDs. Even better, I found out we can now borrow a digital version of this whole series my son loves on our Kindle through an app! Things have changed since I last worked at a library in 2000.

10) I earned $2 in ExtraCare Bucks from CVS for filling out a survey sent to my email.


Fail:

1) My daughter is in art camp, and it is a 20 minute drive away. I will have gone through a full tank of gas by the end of the week. Ouch.

2) The down side of staying at home and still trying to do some professional things: having to pay for a sitter, $60 out of pocket. I belong to a professional nursing organization. To be certified, you have to pass a 15 contact hour home study course before sitting for your certification exam. I am one of a group of 15 nurses who are part of a committee to rewrite the course. I am considering getting my PhD, and this would be a very valuable experience to have.

My team finished a chapter and had to present it this week, and I needed to have a sitter watch the kids and keep them happy and in another part of the house during my conference call. It went well, and it was worth the money, but $60 is a lot to me now. My next chapter is due in two weeks, and I will be working that day and doing my meeting on my lunch break. At least I will be earning some money that day!

3) Paid for 4 more Kindle Magic Treehouse books before I decided to get my behind to the library and get a new card.

4) Threw out a bad orange and a bad apple. Bought a pound of lunch meat at Target, and even though it was within the sell by date, we thought it smelled really off and threw it out.

Win/Fail?:

1) I got a great deal at Target on razors. If you have been following the blog, you may remember that in 2009 when I started couponing I was able to spend only $9 to buy a huge stockpile of razors/refills for my husband. The coupon deals were a bit better back then. This is the first time since 2009 that I have had to buy razors. The fail part is that I forget one coupon on my dining room table- the one that would get me a $10 gift card back for buying $35 in shaving products at Target. D'oh! So ticked at myself for that one.   There was no way I was schlepping 3 kids back to that store to do it all again though.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Food Blog Lovin'- Healthy Starbucks Mocha Frappuccino from The Lemon Bowl



I've had a hankering for an iced coffee drink this week, what with temperatures being in the 80s and 90s finally. I do have a $5 Starbucks gift card, but I am saving it for my husband, who actually likes to drink coffee every day, and might like a fancy drive-through beverage.

I surfed around on Pinterest and found this recipe from the Lemon Bowl for an iced chocolate/coffee drink made with stevia to sweeten it. I have no whipped cream or chocolate shavings, so I made mine without. I also used (gasp!) decaf instant coffee, as I did not want to waste a pot of coffee that I knew I would not drink.

My stevia was plain and I was not about to go buy some chocolate stevia, so I added a wee bit more cocoa. I blended it in my Ninja single serving cup and drank it on the way to my daughter's art camp.

My verdict: I liked it!

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Shopping Trips Week of 6/21/15


Dorothy Lane: $33- assorted pastries for breakfast, fruit, iced tea, bread, and cereal

Amazon: $24 for a 4-pack of Bob's Red Mill 7 Grain Pancake Mix




CVS: $70.43 out of pocket after coupons and ECBs, got $6 ECBs back. The Flonase is pricey, but I found a $4 coupon. I will be very happy when this is both OTC and generic. At least my son only needs it through the fall. The sunscreen will last us through the end of the summer. The antacid will save me $150 over the next 7 months!





Target: $44 out of pocket after using coupons, Red card, and $35 in gift cards. I am kicking myself for forgetting the coupon that would have gotten me a $10 Target gift card back. I just could not schlep my kids back there though. I bought a couple food items (about $10 worth) and a checkers/chess and pick-up sticks game for my son.


Food total for the week ended up being $71 from all stores, which is under my $100 goal. Yes, we are still working on those party leftovers-see?



Sunday, June 21, 2015

Frugal Win/Fail- 3rd Week of June



Win:

1) See the picture above? My sister, the graphic designer, made custom cake toppers for my mother's retirement party. Comparable ones go for $10-50 on Etsy. On a side note, my sister should probably open her own Etsy shop.

2) I spent about $132 on my grocery trip this week, however 2/3 of that was for party food and was technically paid for by relatives. I spent about $33 for food on my family. I still have to get staples, like soy milk and apple juice, but that's about it, so we are at about $43 in groceries this week from the store and $24 from Amazon Subscribe and Save.

3) We have a LOT of food leftover, including two large pizzas, a pan of spaghetti that should serve 10, a tray of salad, half a tray of lasagna, and half a tray of chicken alfredo. And about a half sheet size of cake. This will pretty much feed us all week.

4) We went to the Zoo using our already paid for Zoo membership. As long as we use it three times in 12 months, we will come out ahead. My sister was our guest for free thanks to our membership package. We brought our own water and juice boxes to the Zoo.

5) We went to the park once this week as well and used our YMCA membership twice.

6) We surprised my mother at work on her last day there, and her coworkers sent us home with a giant load of food from their party. (This kind of cancels out the Chic-Fil-A incident below, as we had planned on eating out that night, and ended up not having to do so. Thanks ladies!!)

7) I can't claim any responsibility for this, but our youngest successfully made it through her oral peanut challenge at the allergist's office. Can I tell you how much money this will save in not needing to buy certified nut free chocolate chips, regular foods without special nut free measures, and plain old cheap peanut butter?

8) I listed our Angelcare Monitor and a Vera Bradley tote bag on Ebay and both have bids on them thus far (about $27 and hopefully will close higher).

9) I had bought gift cards in the fall as part of a fundraiser for my son's school, and gave one to my father for Father's Day.


Fail:

1) We opted to buy pizza at the Zoo, plus an Icee for my son- a cost of $23. We were exhausted after walking/driving all day and opted for Chic-Fil-A that night, to the tune of $20.

2) We threw out a rotting avocado, a couple jars of dip for the party that nobody wanted to take home, and a couple servings of beef and cabbage that no one wanted as leftovers. I bought a schnecken for $10 at our fancy grocery for breakfast the day of the party and it really wasn't good enough to be $10. I could have made cinnamon rolls that tasted better.

3) My daughter needed an antibiotic, and I picked up the one prescribed for her at the pharmacy Friday. I went to give the first dose that night, and a little voice in my head told me to double check the ingredients for red dye- her allergen that causes hives and necessitates we carry an Epi-pen everywhere. Lo and behold, it did, and the doctor and the pharmacist both did not catch it. I can't return what had been dispensed, so that $10 copay is a loss. Let me tell you, I will check before I leave next time.

4) Packed zero lunches for my husband this week. He's not terribly motivated for this, so he is not unhappy.

Win/Fail?:

1)  Father's Day lunch at Panera with my dad, and bought lunch for him and us, for $36. I won't call it a fail, as it was a gift and it was planned, but I'm wondering if I could have found a coupon somewhere. I had never taken the kids there, and am happy to report they were very happy with peanut butter sandwiches and squeeze yogurt. We were able to easily avoid our other allergens (cashew, shellfish, strawberry, and red dye).

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Food Blog Lovin'- Quinoa Enchilada Casserole from Damn Delicious



My sister-in-law has stayed with us a couple of times this year, and bought some quinoa for herself to use. It has been sitting in the back on the cabinet for months, and I wanted to try and do something with it.

We usually get rice, as it is cheaper to buy in bulk at Sam's and store in bulk storage containers with gamma lids.  We use this same method for sugar, bread flour, and all purpose flour. Other than that Blue Apron meal last week, we have never really had quinoa on the menu.

I decided to try this Quinoa Enchilada Casserole from Damn Delicious. It was something I had pinned on Pinterest, and I had most of the ingredients already. We didn't have tomato or avocado, so we left that off. I just needed to pick up a can of store brand enchilada sauce from Kroger.

I made beans from dried in the slow cooker the night before making this, and I used the prepared enchilada sauce. It was very easy to throw together.

I liked this, but the kids thought it was too spicy. I have been happily eating the leftovers for lunch, but if I made this again, I would probably add more toppings, like sour cream, tomato, and maybe guac.

Monday, June 15, 2015

Menu Plan Week of 6/14/15



Saturday: Grilled Hot Dogs, Homemade Buns (egg free recipe because we have 4 eggs left and I am not buying more this week), Corn, Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

Sunday: Hunt and Peck

Monday: Baked Potatoes, Broccoli, Turkey Kielbasa, Apples

Tuesday: Slow Cooker Beef, Tomatoes, and Cabbage

Wednesday: Black Bean and Sweet Potato Tortilla Wrap, Oranges

Thursday: Homemade Pizza, Peas, Apples

Friday: Sisters Coming in Town, multiple trips to pick up from bus/airport, planned eating out (Panera?)

Saturday: Throwing Retirement Party for Mom. Catering by a local restaurant (generously covered by relatives).


Breakfasts: No toaster waffles this week. We will be eating oatmeal, cereal (Cheerios for less than $1/box), leftover homemade waffles, banana/chocolate/oatmeal smoothies, and toasted homemade bread with butter.

Lunches: Ham, Almond butter and jelly sandwiches, cheese and crackers/bread, raw veggies and fruit.

Snacks: Homemade oatmeal raisin cookies, fruit, homemade wheat thin crackers

I am still making homemade American sandwich bread- this has been a big hit here.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Grocery Trips - 2nd Week of June


This week, my husband made a lunchtime trip to Sam's and Dorothy Lane and spent an awful lot. Now, this means we won't need to buy any of these things for months on end. I did, however, want to make sure that this week we stayed at least within the $125 that is the topmost range of what I like to spend on food every week. 

Let's just say that my massive first tuition payment of $2475 (books were included), is making me very, very careful. In September, that next payment is due, and we do not want to incur debt for my master's degree, or dip into our savings.

I thought this would be a great opportunity to challenge my cooking and shopping skills, and resolved to use what we had in the pantry, plus supplement with only $30 of fresh food. 

Was I able to do it?

My strategy was to hit multiple stores and get the items I needed at the cheapest possible price for that item.

Sam's Trip: (not pictured)

$90 for 4 huge containers of Clif Bars for my husband, the athlete, plus our son, and Carnation Instant Breakfast for our son, to help gain weight. 

Dorothy Lane: $5.49 for a gallon of organic milk. It was on sale, but that is still pretty pricey.

Fresh Thyme: $13.63



I was eyeing the blueberries for $0.99 each, but we still have grapes, kiwi, and some oranges, so I passed on them this week. Got to stay in budget!

Aldi: $7.98


We have an Aldi that is somewhat nearby, but I don't typically go there. My mother told me I can get a gallon of milk for $1.69 though, so I decided to head there, as we are going through a lot between the baby and my bread-making. An 8 oz block of cheese was only $1.59, and I noted for the future that I could get a pound of lunch meat for $3.49. The yogurt was cheaper than Kroger.

Kroger: $8.20 (minus gift card)


I probably only get the Kroger Free Friday Download 20% of the time, as they are typically overprocessed or have allergens in them. I was happy to see the Snapple tea, though, so I scooped that up for free. Unsweetened for me, please.

I used an ecoupon to get 4 bags of frozen veggies for $0.69 each, and just got a cabbage and some juices and almond milk. Nothing fancy! The original total was $13.20, but I had a $5 Visa gift card from a rebate offer I received, so my out of pocket was lower.

Total for the week:
$29.81 + $95.49 = $124.59



Next up- playing the drugstore game at CVS.

I am trying to switch from my $25 prescription antacid to a cheap OTC one. So trip #1 this week was $8.48 for the antacid, a savings of $16.50 for the month, and $1.25 for a single serving CVS version of Ensure. I got $1.25 back in ECBs for the drink.

Trip #2 and #3 was in one night at two different stores. My usual store was out of All Free and Clear, so I had to hike to another one.

Here is my haul:



For haul #2 I paid $17.94 out of pocket after using coupons and $13.25 in ECBs. I also got $3.75 in ECBs back. For haul #3, I paid $13.05 out of pocket after coupons and got $10 in ECBs back.

This was a total of $30.99 cash out of pocket, getting $13.75 in ECBs back, and I will submit for a $10 rebate from the manufacturer.  After the rebate, my out of pocket will have been $20.99. I will roll those ECBs on another deal in the future.

I bought 16 items, so my cost per item was $1.31 each. Pretty great considering that All detergent was originally $7.49 each.

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Frugal Win/Fail- 1st Week of June



Win:

1) I stuck to my menu this week without any variation- so no eating out. We came close again on Thursday thanks to a long time at the park, a long medical appointment, and everyone being hungry and tired. That was an exercise in willpower.

2) Treated myself to a $2.19 Dairy Queen Ice Cream Cone as planned and read a book in my van for some "me-time". ( I used to go to a restaurant for a $20 brunch and tea).

3) Baked bread three times.

4) Made my two free Blue Apron meals.

5) Downloaded a freebie for iced tea at Kroger on Friday.

6) Took a free class at work to fulfill my required one hour Nursing Practice Act CEU to renew my nursing license.

7) Paid my grad school tuition by electronic check to avoid paying a 2.5% fee for using a credit card.

8) Signed up for 17 work hours during non-business hours to work without child care.

9) Took the kids to a local park for fun time.

10) It's hot, but I am heat-tolerant. My A/C is set at 82, and we keep the blinds closed and run ceiling fans to manage.

11) Returned glass milk bottles for  $3 cash back.

12) Bought a huge vat of Carnation Instant Breakfast my son needs to help gain weight at Sam's at a much lower cost than the store.

13) Made a pound of black beans from dried in my slow cooker. I kept half in my fridge for use this week, and froze the other half. (I just soak in the pot for 12 hours overnight, drain water, refill with clean water, and cook on low for 12 hours. Drain, and either stick in the fridge or freeze.)


Fail:

1) Impulse bought The Music Man for $5.99 on Amazon Instant Video. My daughter is really into musicals.

2) Threw out two bins of mushrooms and the quinoa leftover from our Blue Apron meal. There is a vat of half eaten Kroger cole slaw I bought for my family during a cookout weeks ago that I won't eat (HFCS and I am trying to lose weight) but feel bad about throwing out. I really just need to pitch it.


Win/Fail?

1) Bought the Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up on Kindle instead of waiting for the library. It was $7.26. ( I am within my $25 fun money for the month still, but I am up to $15 already and it's just the 13th.)

Friday, June 12, 2015

Blue Apron Review

My friend Martha (we used to blog together here) sent me a link for two free meals from Blue Apron, and I thought I would give it a whirl. After all, it was free food, right? Free is my favorite price. I chose the family plan, which feeds 4 people, and my delivery came last Friday.

I should say, I have not been compensated for this review. I opted to do the free trial and share our experience, as I know a few people who have considered signing up.

We received 100% of the food (including herbs and spices) for Chinese Five Spice Meatballs with Snow Peas and Jasmine Rice, and Chicken "Under a Brick" with Spring Vegetable Quinoa and Rhubarb Compote. Whew! Just typing those names was exhausting. How was it actually cooking those meals?

We tried the Chinese Five Spice Meatballs meals on Saturday. It took me a good 60 minutes from start to finish to chop everything and then cook it. It probably took me longer because I had a 4 year old helper and a slight learning curve doing the recipe for the first time.


This was the first time I have cooked or eaten snow peas, and I was surprised how easy it was. They also tasted delicious. I am not a big ginger fan, so I only used 1/3 of the ginger they gave us, saving it in the baggy it came in for later. Overall, we were very happy with this meal.

Our verdict: 

Portions: We ate 100% of the food. My husband wanted to eat everything, and wished there was more. He was hunting in the fridge for more. The portion was just right for me, with a cup of rice, 4 meatballs, and some snow peas. My 4 year old and 7 year old each ate 2 meatballs with snow peas and rice, and my husband ate the rest. The toddler ate half a meatball and threw it on the floor. There is no pleasing everyone, right?

Taste: Four out of five of us loved it. My son was not keen on the snow peas, but still ate them. No one complained, except the toddler, who ended up eating leftover waffles. I think it was a bit strong-flavored for a 17-month old.

Time: The recipe estimated that cooking time would be 25-35 minutes for this meal. My actual time was double this.

Cost: Blue Apron will send up to four meals a week for 2 or 4 people, whatever you choose. For our family, this family meal alone would have cost $34.96. Yikes! Keep in mind that I keep my entire grocery budget around $100-125 per week most of the time, and this is the cost for dinner only. That's one third of my entire weekly budget for all meals.


On Sunday, we tried the Chicken Under a Brick.



Our verdict:

Portions: This was more than enough for us. It looks like the chicken was a whole one, cut into two halves. We had leftover quinoa and veggies.

Taste: Myeh. The chicken was simple with no extra seasoning. It smelled great, my husband liked it and the kids ate it. I had a tiny piece, but I pretty much dislike poultry. The quinoa and veggies were pretty blah without the rhubarb compote, and this recipe really made only a tiny, tiny bit of that. The kids did not like the quinoa.

Time: This took me a good hour.

Cost: Again, this meal would have been $34.96. I could have made it myself from food at the store, buying even a local, organic whole chicken for less than that.

Overall Pros:

1) Delivery of 100% of what you need, right to your door. It came cold, with loads of freezer packs, and I didn't have any concerns about the meats being too warm to safely use.

2) Recipes with excellent step-by-step instructions are included.

3) We are foodies, but there are certainly things I am less likely to try- the Asian flavors of the meatballs and the snow peas, for example. This kind of pushed me to stretch and try something that would normally have caused me to turn up my nose.

This is partly because I was not familiar with the taste, and wouldn't want to waste money on something I would have had to throw out, and partly because I did not know how to cook it. I ended up liking it, and will probably be more likely to put a vegetable like snow peas on my menu in the future.

4) New recipes every week. This gives some variety.

5) The ability to choose not to receive certain foods, though this is not perfect (see cons below). I opted out of fish, lamb, and pork.

Cons:

1) The cost! The two meals we received would have been $69.92. Four meals per week would be $139.84- way over my weekly food budget for all food. The other option was a two-person meal three days a week for $59.94. For comparison, in my single days, my food budget was typically $10-25 a week for myself alone for the entire week.

2) While it allowed me to opt out of fish, lamb, or pork, there was no opt-out for poultry meals. I am poultry-phobic since my pregnancies, and was disappointed to receive a chicken dish. I ended up eating only a twee piece of chicken. My ultimate preference would be to receive only vegetarian plus beef dishes. I know, I'm weird.

3) The cost of meals does not decrease, even if you opt out of some meat dishes.

4) The recipes took longer to make than expected.

5) Packaging waste was excessive. While probably necessary to arrive cold, our box had an insulated bag, a half dozen plastic cold packs, and every ingredient individually wrapped in plastic. We were cringing a bit at the waste.

6) If you have a hearty appetite like my husband, or a family size greater than four, this will not be enough food. If our kids were teens instead of 7 and under, this would not be even remotely enough food.

Overall verdict:

This really is decent, fresh food, and the recipes are good. I know a few people who are couples/empty-nesters who are very happy getting meals for two, and feel they are eating in a more healthy manner and spending less than eating out most nights per week. It also is a nice tool for those new to cooking and those who dread planning and shopping for meals.

For our family, this is not a great option at all. I get a great deal of enjoyment from planning, shopping, and meeting my goal of keeping to a tight grocery budget. We are essentially living on one income and paying for my grad school out of pocket, while trying to meet goals of maxing retirement/investment savings, paying for kids' health care needs and activities, saving to build a new house, and deepen our emergency fund, so we have no room for doubling our grocery budget. We will be giving this a pass, and have already cancelled our subscription.

I did opt, however, to subscribe to their weekly recipe via email, as overall I think the recipes are decent, and I may want to try some more- at a much cheaper price.


Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Food Blog Lovin'- Caramel Apple Beer Bread from the Beeroness



I have pinned quite a few recipes from The Beeroness, with plans to try a few of her beer-infused recipes. Unlike my husband, I am not a lover of drinking beer, but I do love using beer or wine in cooking and baking. We have made plain beer bread for years, but this Caramel Apple Beer Bread sounded like a nice twist on the original. It mixed up quickly in just a few minutes. The caramel took the longest, and that took only 5 minutes. The only ingredient change I made was to nix the walnuts, as we have nut allergies in the house.

I ended up pouring the caramel mixture onto the bread after baking as a commenter had suggested, and it stayed pretty moist, so I will probably try baking it into the bread next time. We were hoping for a toffee-like crunch. All five of us gave it a thumbs-up, and my husband ate half the loaf in one sitting. We will definitely make it again!

Monday, June 8, 2015

Menu Plan Week of 6/7/15

A friend shared a Blue Apron trial with me and I got two free meals this week. My delivery came on Friday, so I will be adding those meals in this week. I will share my Blue Apron experience next week.

Saturday 6/6: Changing menu to Blue Apron Chinese Five Spice Meatballs with Snow Peas and Jasmine Rice

Sunday: Hunt and Peck Leftovers

Monday: Blue Apron Chicken Under a Brick with Quinoa and Asparagus and Rhubarb Compote

Tuesday: Farmer's Market Fun Ratatouille and Italian Sausages, Garlic Toasted Tomatoes, and Cinnamon Rolls

Wednesday: BLT with Avocado, Salad,

Thursday: Quinoa Enchilada Casserole

Friday: Homemade Cheese Pizza

Saturday: TBD



Sunday, June 7, 2015

Shopping Trips 6/6/15


Fresh Thyme Trip: $19.13 Butter was B1G1, so it was about $2.50 per pound.



Kroger Trip: $72.86. This included $1.99 for generic antacid and $1.50 for a cilantro plant. The BBQ sauce was free. I froze two packs of Italian sausages for future weeks.


Dorothy Lane: $5.45 for a gallon of milk

Total this week: $ 97.44

I came in just under my $100 budget :).

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Frugal Wins/Fails


Stock Image from Picjumbo



Wins for the week:

1) Did not eat out the entire week. Thursday was extremely busy and tired, and I have been sick all week. We thought of eating out, but I spent 15 minutes thinking it over while I perused a couple frugal Facebook forums I belong to. That was enough for a cure, and I pulled some of that grass-fed ground beef I had gotten super cheap at Fresh Thyme for $3.99 out of the freezer, a 50 cent box of pasta, some frozen peppers and onions, and half a $0.99 jar of pasta sauce, and whipped up spaghetti with meat sauce in 30 minutes for a meal price of about $5 . Big win!

2) I got my delivery of 2 meals for free from my Blue Apron trial Friday and will have two meals to whip up this week, courtesy a code from my friend Martha.

3) I scored an awesome Target deal for Downy, buying four 150-load bottles for $11.42 out of pocket and getting $10 in gift cards back. I used my Red Card, a couple coupons, and a $25 gift card I got from a diaper deal a couple weeks ago. Now I am trying to plan how I will use that $10 card.

4) I played a game in my work's Vitality Wellness Program and won a $5 Starbucks gift card. This is the third month in a row I won.

5) I downloaded a coupon for a free Kraft BBQ Sauce for Kroger's Free Friday download.

6) I downloaded a free Urban Fantasy book, Darkness Brutal, through the Kindle First program ( a free book each month for Prime members.)

7) Used only free entertainment this week: Netflix, Prime, PBS on the Roku, running through the sprinklers, riding bikes.

8) I baked my own bread again, costing me $0.75 a loaf.

9) I filled out a Kroger survey to get 50 bonus fuel points. (Do this 4 times a month, and it will mean an extra 20 cents off per gallon.)

10) Bought two 6-packs of Yuengling beer, and submitted for a $2 rebate. (There was a peelie at target.)

11) My son's school had an end of school picnic, and I went with both girls. I paid $3.95 for him to enjoy the buffet, but brought food in a picnic basket for myself and the girls. This saved us $12. We barely ate after all, as we were too busy playing. It would have been a huge waste.


Fail:

1) Threw out a bunch of almost blackened bananas (We hate banana bread).

Win/Fail?

1) Subscribed for Thurs/Sunday newspaper delivery for $14.99/month. I am missing multiple coupon inserts by not having it delivered (P & G does not show up at the store any more) and because we can't always get out on Sundays. I typically buy two newspapers a week, for $16, so it will technically save us $1 a month.

2) Signed my daughter up for dance starting in August. This will be $48/month and will require uniform and recital fees. She really wants it though, and it's physical activity. I can't feel bad about spending on an experience.

Monday, June 1, 2015

Food Blog Lovin'- American Sandwich Bread from Annie's Eats

I am continuing to experiment with homemade bread. I have done well with the hand-shaped french bread from the Prudent Homemaker, but wanted a loaf with a good high rise that could be sliced into traditional sandwich loaf slices.

I was floating around Pinterest today, and found a recipe for white bread with milk and honey on Annie's Eats. I used olive oil instead of melted butter, and bread flour, which has a higher gluten content (to help with the rise).

I have a Kitchen Aid stand mixer, but who knows where that dough hook is. I have always hand-kneaded my dough. Working with french bread dough can be hard, stiff work, and I have arthritis. I was pleasantly surprised to find this dough was very soft and easy to knead. I used the non-homogenized whole milk we get from a local farm.

I put a pan of water under my bread to steam it while it bakes, and used my Le Creuset bread loaf pan. The only thing I would change is to grease my pan more, as I just spritzed it with olive oil. I had to use a knife to remove the sides of the bread from the pan, but it came out whole.

I had a good 4-5 inch rise to my loaf, and got 11 slices. My family and I gave it 100% thumbs-up and I will definitely make it again.

Because I used milk, honey, and oil, I would say a loaf costs at least 75 cents to make. Each cup of this brand of milk costs $0.49 and it takes one cup to make a loaf. Your loaf would be cheaper if you used a different brand. This is still much cheaper than the $4.99 loaf of artisan bread at the specialty store!