Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Let's Eat: July 27 - August 2

Weekly Menu
July 27 - August 2

  • French Toast
  • Bagel
  • Smoothie
  • Eggs
  • Toast w/peanut butter
  • Pancakes
  • Oatmeal

  • Eat Out
  • Peanut butter and jelly sandwich
  • Quesadilla
  • Corn Dogs
  • Peanut Butter crackers
  • Grilled Cheese
  • Pizza


Didn't Quite Make It

Well, in the interest of full disclosure, I have officially gone over our grocery budget for the month.  As of today, we have gone over by $18.80.  I don't foresee having the buy any groceries before Friday, so I am hoping this will be all the overage we have this month.

Of course, the total would be a little higher, but my mom bought my groceries at Sam's the other night.  I had discussed the Sam's trip with my husband and the possibility of going over.  We do not have a Sam's membership, so we were willing to go over since the opportunity had presented itself.

Part of our overage came from our habit of drinking Coke Zero.  We were nearly out and Target had it on sale 4 for $12.  Unfortunately, I had to by 4 packs in order to get it at that price, so it set me over.  Do we need to drink Coke Zero?  No.  On most days, we only drink a can or two each, but that does add up rather quickly. 

I'm pretty optimistic about next month since we only went over by $20 and that was with buying 40 lbs of beef at the beginning of the month.  I won't need to buy any more beef for 2 or 3 months at least, so I won't have that expense for a while. 

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Cinnamon Crescent Rolls

This morning I decided to make a little treat for breakfast.  I have seen this idea on Pinterest before, but I did not follow a specific recipe.

Cinnamon Crescent Rolls

  • 1 refrigerated tube of crescent roll dough (I used some I picked up at Aldi)
  • Spreadable butter
  • Cinnamon and Sugar mixture (I keep a shaker filled with cinnamon and sugar, so I don't have any exact ratios.  I usually just add cinnamon to the white sugar until it is mostly brown).

  1. Unroll and separate the crescent dough
  2. Spread a thin layer of butter on one side of the dough
  3. Sprinkle the butter with the cinnamon and sugar mixture until covered
  4. Roll up the crescent roll, beginning with the long end
  5. Place crescent rolls on a baking sheet
  6. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 12-15 minutes. (I baked mine in a large toaster oven and they came out pretty good).
  7. Bake until golden brown
  8. Let cool
  9. Eat!

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Hanging in There

We were out of town over the weekend, which helped with the food budget this month.  Fortunately, we managed to go through all our perishable items before we left, so nothing went bad while we were gone.

Of course, that meant I needed to go to the store almost immediately after we got back.  My husband took Monday off as well, so I was able to go to the store without the little ones in tow. 

I went to both Aldi's and Dillon's and tried to only buy what we absolutely needed. 

I spent $14.04 at Dillon's. I was disappointed that I missed the $1 dozen egg sale, but I did score a deal on the 1% milk.  The store had it marked down to $1 per half gallon because it expired on the 30th.  I bought cheese for less than the price at Aldi's because of the special coupon offer that week.  Unfortunately, our Dillon's does not sell Kraft Mozzarella, so I had to buy store brand.  I had a coupon for the store brand as well, so it was still cheaper than the price at Aldi's.

On our trip, we ate little fresh produce, so I was eager to go to Aldi's to pick some up.  My kids actually were begging me for the fruit faster than I could clean it.  I spent $35.42 on this trip.

At this point, I have a little over $21 left in my grocery budget for the month.  With just one week to go, this should be doable.  I just need to remain focused and not give into any excuses to go ahead and spend a little extra.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Let's Eat: July 20-26

Weekly Menu
July 20 - July 26

  • Eat out
  • Cheeseburger cups
  • Peanut Butter and Jelly sandwich
  • Corn dogs
  • Macaroni and cheese
  • Quesadilla
  • Grilled cheese
I am working to improve our breakfast and lunch variety.  Since I have two children under the age of 4, I am often hesitant to try new recipes even though I know it would be best to do so.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

A Little Bit of Baking

I love to bake.  I usually hate to buy baked goods at the store because I know that I can make the same product at home that will often cost less and taste a little better.

Yesterday, I took advantage of the cooler weather and made some banana bread.  Before bed, I mixed up the ingredients for Buttermilk-Blueberry Breakfast Cake so I could bake it this morning. 

I did not get a picture of the banana bread (it is already half eaten), but here is a view of the cake.  The cake did great after sitting in the refrigerator over night.  I sent some of it to work with my husband, and I placed what we did not eat this morning in the freezer so we can have it for breakfast again another time. 

I do not typically keep buttermilk in the house, so I added a 1/2 tblsp of lemon juice to the 1/2 cup of milk instead.  The result is definitely cake-like.  I did not sprinkle the extra sugar on top, but it would add a little more sweetness to the cake.  One could also make a glaze to put on top, and it would be quite delicious.

Cooking Chicken in the Pressure Cooker

The pressure cooker is my go to method for cooking chicken, especially when I need shredded chicken for different recipes.  Growing up, I can remember my mom cooking whole chickens in her pressure cooker and using the meat for different recipes.  She did not use just chicken breasts, but this was before the big eat-chicken craze, so buying just chicken breasts (specifically boneless, skinless ones) was not a common option.

I typically use frozen boneless skinless chicken.  When I use a 3lb bag from Aldi, I can use the cooked meat for at least 4 meals.  With the current price of $5.99, it only makes the meat $1.50 per meal. 

Not only does the pressure cooker cook the meat quickly (about 25 minutes from start to finish if frozen), I also end up with about 2 cups of broth with each batch.

When I cook the meat, I often only use half the bag and add 2 cups of water.  I then add some spices and maybe some cut up mini peppers if I have any.  A person can add whatever spices she would like.  I have used a few teaspoons of Mrs. Dash when I have it, or I have added spices like garlic powder, onion powder, and black pepper to give the chicken and broth a little more flavor.

My pressure cooker usually takes about 10 minutes to reach full pressure, and then I let the meat cook for another 12 minutes.  My pressure cooker instructions say to let the pressure decrease on its own.  That usually takes an additional 20 minutes or so.

If I need broth on my recipe that night, I will use what is left from the cooking process.  If I don't need, I put it in a plastic bag and store it in the freezer.  I currently have quite a few bags in my freezer right now.  I don't think I will ever have to buy broth from the store again.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Let's Eat

Our Weekly Meal Plan
July 13 - July19

  • Toast w/ peanut butter
  • Scrambled Eggs and bagel
  • Muffin/Quick Bread and smoothie (I just bought some blueberries, so I am thinking about making blueberry breakfast cake)
  • Oatmeal Pancakes and yogurt
  • French Toast
  • Eat out x 2

  • Hot dog
  • Quesadilla
  • Cheeseburger cups
  • Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwich
  • Chicken Nuggets
  • Eat out x 2

  • Hamburgers, corn on the cob, baked beans
  • Chicken and rice, peas
  • King Ranch Chicken, tortillas, salsa (I usually only make half of the recipe)
  • Lasagna, corn, bread sticks
  • Sandwiches
  • Eat out x 2

Next weekend is my birthday, so we have some special events planned and I will not have to make as many meals.

Seeking to Stay on Track

I am very lucky to live three miles from an intersection that includes Aldi, Dillon's, Wal Mart Neighborhood Market, and even a Braum's, so shopping at different stores for the best deals does not require much gas and travel time. 

Typically I only shop at Dillon's or Aldi.  I have not been that impressed with the Wal Mart Neighborhood Market.  If I need to go to Wal Mart, I can go three miles north of my house and go to a full Wal Mart.  If a Target were to move in within 3 miles of my house, I would be set!

Today I decide to take the time to shop at both Aldi and Dillon's to try and get the best prices.  I did not do too bad.  I think the only items I bought at Aldi where I would have paid less at Dillon's were a couple of 8oz bars of cheeses.  I had a coupon for Kroger cheese, so I could have saved about 40 cents total.  The coupon is good for a while, so I can still use it later.

My Dillon's trip came to $23.37 and the Aldi trip came to $22.68.  I tried to keep my purchases to only items that we needed.  As I look at what I bought, I see a few items I could have done without like the sliced cheddar cheese from Aldi and the sandwich rolls.  Looking at our budgeting software (YNAB), I have a little over $75 for the rest of the month (I made some small produce purchases throughout the week -- apparently a little more than I remembered).  I will need to buckle down even more and really watch my purchases for these next two weeks.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Yogurt Prices

I mentioned in an earlier post that I do not plan to buy yogurt from Aldi's because the only non-Greek yogurt they sell contains aspartame, so while I stopped at Target the other day, I went to check out their yogurt prices and received quite a shock.

I could not believe the price of the non-Greek yogurt, even for the store brand.  Not that long ago, the store brand cost $1.99 for a quart, but earlier this week the shelf listed $2.49 as the price.  The previous $2.49 price for Dannon yogurt now reads over $3.00. 

I decided to wait and check out the price at Dillon's since I needed to stop by there to pick up milk.  Fortunately, the store brand was on sale for $1.99. 

If the price increase at Target is an indicator of prices to come, I might have to really cut back on our yogurt consumption or else try my hand at making my own.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Let's Eat

Meal Ideas
July 6 - July 12

  • Smoothie and Muffin/Quick bread x 2
  • Toast w/ peanut butter
  • Bagel w/Scrambled Eggs
  • Pancakes and Yogurt x 2
  • Oatmeal

  • Eat Out x 2
  • Macaroni and Cheese
  • Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwich
  • Corn Dogs
  • Quesadilla
  • Chicken Nuggets

  • McDonald's
  • Pizza Bake
  • Chicken Strips with mashed potatoes
  • Taco Bread 
  • BBQ chicken
  • Cheeseburger cups
  • Meatballs


Today is July 8 and so far I have spent over half our grocery budget.  Now, this does include buying 40 lbs of hamburger at the beginning of the month, but I am still a little frustrated at how much I have spent on other items.

Where has the money gone?  Some of it went into replenishing our snack supply.  This is one area where I know I spend too much money, even if I am buying the snack items at Aldi's.  We also went to a cookout at our friends' house for the 4th, so I spent some extra money on food items to take.  Aldi's caught me unprepared on the 4th.  I planned to go to Aldi's to buy the food items, forgetting they would be closed.  I went to Dillon's instead and spent at least $5 more on the items than I would have spent at Aldi's.

To recap, there are 23 days left in July, and I have $150.00 to spend on groceries.  I keep telling myself I can stick to our budget if I plan carefully and don't give up, so I am going to try and do my best to only buy the food we really need and to be even more deliberate in using up the food in our pantry.