Tuesday, January 22, 2019

More Meal Planning?

Sorry folks for adding a political rant yesterday afternoon. As I said, I am not responding to comments, letting each of yours stand. For the anonymous call out that my post was short sighted, fair enough, but no, my portfolio hasn't been up in massive amounts and then took this one time major dip. I also stated in the post I am well aware of the risks of this type of accounts and that the market most likely will correct. What I am sick of is the one sided narrative that everything is great-he thinks he's great, when everyday I see real people, not a Dow stat, living the repercussions. Yes, I hate that someone with  his ego and con artist skills is the president. I hate that there was not a better candidate for the democratic ticket as HC was hated by almost as many people, but for different reasons. I take it you are either close to the 1%, or far from it, and think Trump and his cronies will be your salvation from the wicked liberals trying to steal your job and give it to some refugee. Sorry again folks, but that brave anonymous comment called to me for a response. Political rants done. 

After that pounding, I had finances in my head the whole way to the store. When I went grocery shopping, my intent was for items for the rest of the week and road trip and snacks for the hotel room for next weekend. I decided once I was in the store, there was no reason not to just shop for the rest of the month, only needing perhaps more produce, milk, and bread. Well I did that and then some! I'm at $302 for the month and my fridge, freezer, and pantry is filled to near spilling over. I a confident I will be under $350 for the month-all Household and Grocery items. Considering two of the weekends we were away, and one DD2 and I were gone, that is how it should be, but January is also a long month. As I know I under budgeted for show choir trips by at least $600, I'm trying to skinny down the H&G, the eating out, and the entertainment budget.

Incorporating more vegan and vegetarian meals that are enjoyed by DD2 and DH, combined with some meat based meals seems to be a winning combination. It has also greatly helped, and this sounds mean, that DH has been so swamped going into work even on his day off, he has not done any big rogue shops. He had a minor one yesterday when he was running an errand for fixing the faucet in the bathroom. He ended up bringing back more snacks than anyone needs for a football game, and couldn't find what he needed at Walmart for the faucet, so hopefully will find at the hardware store.

He couldn't find the vegetable spaghetti noodles either-I'll have to get the next time I am near a Hy-Vee for future meals. I improvised and DD2 was perfectly happy with penne pasta and sauce, which I doctored up with cooking down with garlic and Italian seasoning, a bag of spinach salad that was wilting, Here is my new uber list of meal options. 

  • Veggie Curry (I want to use up the vegetable broth and more of the coconut milk)
  • Chicken and vegetable cottage/shepherds pie
  • Vegetable noodle soup with ham, drop cheddar biscuits
  • Goulash
  • Turkey Meatloaf, mashed potatoes, and creamed corn
  • Country Spare ribs with baked potatoes and green beans
  • Pork Stew with baking powder biscuits 
  • Brats and macaroni and cheese
  • Roasted Chicken with Tri-Tators
  • Chicken Noodle soup, crackers and egg salad sandwiches
  • Bean and Cheese burritos with black bean and corn salsa/salad and taco flavored rice
  • Spaghetti and meatballs
  • Meatballs and gravy with rice or potatoes and green beans
  • Chicken and vegetable fried rice with egg
  • Cheese ravioli with vegetables-crock pot version
  • Homemade pizza (leftover sauce from Sunday was put in freezer) with whatever toppings we have handy
Chicken legs were $ .89 a pound, and country style boneless ribs were $1.99. they will both do double or triple duty for different meals. The stew meat/roasts were pretty spending so I'm adapting to the lower priced meats. Pretty much everything will yield leftovers for another night or two of dinner plus lunches. I feel like I did insanely well with my shop and if I execute, we have a lot of variety, nutrition, and time savings in the options above. My veggie and fruit drawer is full, as is the drawer I keep cheese and deli meats. We have canned tuna and some condensed soups as well for quick lunches. We're stocked for the weekend with crackers, cheese, salami, veggies and hummus, and will use our wine stash, though may get bottle water and some beer-entertainment budget for that. I have DD2 snap pea and cheese cracker snacks she likes, plus some clementine's and apples  as she'll be on the bus for six hours. 

Aldi really works for me since I am not brand loyal and overall, do well without having to clip coupons and match deals since I have neither aptitude nor time to do so. What are your thoughts on discount grocers? Is there enough variety to keep your family happy? While some have reported bad experiences with produce expiring or going bad, I've not had any more issues than any other store I shop. What might you do differently if you are trying to stretch your dollars, but aren't big on deal matching? 


  1. We have a Grocery Outlet nearby, which I frequent regularly on Wednesdays. I try to go to it first, before I drive across the street to our regular Kroger Family of Stores supermarket. It tends to have discontinued items from other stores at cut prices--K-cups for $1.99/box, baking cocoa for $2.49, Pepperidge Farm puff pastry sheets for $2.50. They also receive things getting ready to go past their "sell by" dates, which they mark as low as $0.08. I bought half a dozen boxes of cereal, graham cracker pie crusts and granola bars at this price. I have bought some produce and dairy--Kerrygold Dubliner cheese, organic butter at $2.00/pound from them with no issues. I will buy some produce there--limes, potatoes, but I stay away from meats. I once bought a box of frozen taquitos which were moldy--I think what happened is they probably thawed in shipment. Not a problem to return, but it made me shy away from their meats. The real "problem" with this store is that you never know what they will have in stock, so you would have to be very flexible in meal planning if you used them exclusively. My best method for cutting food costs is to go shopping early in the a.m., after dropping my kids off, take my time in the store, and look for close outs/yellow stickers. I am also not above asking the produce or dairy managers if they are getting ready to mark anything down. My other method is buying sales in bulk. Saturday, a local grocery store had a 1 day sale of boneless, skinless chicken breasts for $0.99/lb, bananas for $0.39/lb and frozen veggies at $0.59/bag. I went around 10 a.m., and bought several of each. (Were we not moving, I'd have bought more!) So, in one trip, which took just under an hour, I purchased food for about 3 weeks of meals. My methods really don't take that much time, they just take a bit of logistical planning. Finally, my meal plans are flexible. I plan my meals around what we have/what will be on sale/how the day unfolds. In fact, the plan can change in the course of an hour, based on what happens during the day. Rarely do I plan a meal, and then head out to shop for ingredients.
    As for coupons, I will download them to my loyalty card for the Kroger stores, and will use the coupons they mail me. I also download coupons on my Rite Aid card, but I no longer clip coupons. Occasionally I will print off a coupon and use it at Rite Aid combined with a sale--just yesterday I did this for Tide, but as a rule, I don't clip and wait to sales match. It wasn't the time spent clipping/matching, it was that other than HBA, I rarely found coupons for items I used/needed and would have purchased if the coupon wasn't available.

    1. We used to have a variety of bread company outlets, but no more. Aldi is best bet for low cost. that is a heck of a good price on chicken-hope once you move you'll be so lucky again. I agree that so many coupons are not for things I use, but some of the ones that help get household stuff or personal care are terrific help, when can be paired with Target specials.

  2. I find that working through my freezer stash is the most effective way to keep our budget in check. It ensures we eat what we already have, and reduces the need for extra items. I also refuse to make meals with special ingredients when we are really watching the budget.

    That said, I'm not going to hit my target this month. My husband has had to go on a drastically different diet than everyone else (He's had hives for months that are finally gone), which required a huge outlay of cash for separate meals, one off ingredients & pricey items. I'm going to consider it an investment in his health & not overly worry.

    1. Health has to come first. We watch the sodium for hubs, but he still slips in convenience foods too often which are loaded with salt.

  3. I am not a coupon person mainly because I rarely find coupons for products we use. I do well over 80 percent of my cooking from scratch, and the products I use that are convenience foods usually have store brands that are cheaper than the national brands with the coupon discount.
    I am a huge believer in Aldi. The produce I buy there is always fine, of course if it doesn't look great I don't buy it in the first place.(I am never fond of their grapes) I do I am fine using their brands. You can get a huge bang for the buck there.
    Occasionally I will buy special ingredients for a recipe. Not often but occasionally

    1. I feel like I've gotten back in the cooking form scratch groove-easier for me in the winter because the batches are bigger so I have leftovers that can be stretched for lunches and another meal. I struggle in the summer with scratch cooking.

  4. I will say this that if Hillary Clinton wasn't the nominee I believe aot of people would have voted for Joe Biden if he was able to run. Trump is a moron but Clinton has too much baggage for me to vote for her. I didn't vote for Trump either, my conscience wouldn't let me.

    1. Oh you break my heart Cheryl! I understand the non-voting for a candidate you don't like, but this time, I wish more people would have voted the lesser of two evils.

  5. So agree with you politically and I like Hillary- yes, she's made mistakes but she is very intelligent. My sis and my bro are still not communicating because she voted for Trump- at least she has repented and realizes her error. To quote her "He'll be good for the country." Say what! As to your meals, yum- I don't see one of my favorites though when I cooked for a family- hamburgers(veggie burgers in later years) on buns and cole slaw. I still make cole slaw a couple of times a week and yes, those were often served with chips LOL.

    1. I only bought enough hamburger for a couple meals, but not hamburgers. DH likes them a lot, but for DD2, just sort of, but since we are travelling this weekend, he'll get his burger fix. We love coleslaw-especially with leftover BBQ pork sandwiches, but cabbage seemed kind of high.


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