5/22 – 5/28 Grocery List

I got my paper today!  I didn’t get one last week so I’m starting to think that either they are doing papers every other week or that it was a fluke.  I have about $100 left for the month for groceries and luckily there aren’t a ton of good deals this week.  Hot dogs are on sale but we don’t really eat them, so no good for us.  I have a ton of food in the pantry that we need to work through over the next couple months.  I’m kicking myself for not including any tuna meals in our meal plan since we have about 10 cans.  Now I know for next month!

5/22 Sunday – PriceChopper, driving distance: 10.4 miles round trip

1 gallon milk – $2.99
5 bottles BBQ Sauce Sweet Baby Rays – $5.00
1 lb Tbone steak – $5.77
5 ears corn – $1.00
48 oz Ice cream – $1.99
12 Mini Kaiser rolls – $2.49
1/2 lb Ham – $2.49
1/4 lb Provolone – $1.25
1/4 lb Salami – $1.48
Salmon BOGO – depends on price

Total: $24.46
5/27 Friday Aldi & BJs, driving distance: 15.5 miles roundtrip

BJs

35 cans coke – $13.44

Total: $13.44
Aldi

5lbs Ground Beef – $11.45
1 Mango – $0.79
2 lbs Onions – $0.99
1 lbs strawberries – $1.69
1 seedless watermellon – $3.49
3 lbs ribeye steaks – $20.97
1 gallon milk – $2.99

Total: $42.37

This leaves me about $20 in the budget and that will be used if I see any good deals or to be used next month.

 

 

5/15 – 5/21 Grocery List

You are not imagining things.  I did not post a grocery list for 5/7 – 5/14 because I didn’t plan on grocery shopping!  I am so well stocked that I didn’t need to get anything.  We ran out of milk on Thursday but that’s OK, we can wait.  I am on the lookout for a good deal on bread flour.  I bought some last week 5 lbs for $4.99 but I think we can do better than that!  Not all of the grocery stores around here sell bread flour so I might look into some specialty shops or distributors.

We are entertaining some guests this weekend so we are picking up some steaks to grill.  Big Y will be shopped while my husband has an eye appointment in order to save on gas.   I do not need to purchase any meat for the month unless it is on a really good sale.

This week I will buy:

5/15 Sunday – PriceRite, driving distance: 2.5 miles round trip

2 lbs chickpeas – $2.38
1 lb barley – $0.99
Vanilla Extract – $1.49
Chili Powder – $1.29
Crackers – $2.00
6 Lemons – $2.49
Vanilla Coffee Creamer – $2.99
Pt heavy cream – $2.49
8 oz cream cheese – $1.29
1 lb bacon – $2.99
1 gallon milk – $2.79
2 bags frozen veggies – $2.78
100 coffee Filters – $1.99

Total: $27.96
5/15 Sunday – Big Y, tag along with husband to the eye doctor, driving distance: 0 miles driven

Steaks – $40.00
3 lbs Bananas – $1.17

Total: $41.17
5/15 Sunday – Stop & Shop, driving distance: 5.6 miles round trip

1/2 lb Ham – $2.49
1/4 lb Provolone – $1.25
1/4 lb Salami – $1.48
6 Kaiser Rolls – $1.99
Sweet Potatoes – $2.99

Total: $10.20

This week there just weren’t that many good deals on meat.  This week I’ll be going through my produce drawer and using up as much of the older stuff as I can in soups and baked goods.  I managed to eat all of the soup in the freezer over the past two weeks so it’s time to make more!  I’m still trying to get in a good routine for stocking up on great sales, using my freezer space thoughtfully, and meal plan to cycle through the freezer stock.  This month I made our meal plan for the whole month and it is going well so far.  It looks like we might come in under our grocery budget for the month.  If that happens I’ll just roll that extra into next month and hopefully score some great deals to stock up on :).

Happy shopping!

 

Freezer Treats – Chicken Taquitos

Normally we might associate the word “treat” with something that is sweet and not so good for the waistline.  I like to eat my treats for dinner or for late night snacks.  These wonderful little packages of cheesy goodness can go straight from the freezer to the oven just like any frozen convenience Taquito.

My local grocery store was selling whole chickens for $0.49 per lb!  So I bought 6 chickens.  I baked 3 of them to make this recipe.  To roast a chicken season with salt, pepper and olive oil or what ever seasonings you prefer.  Bake at 350 in a cast iron skillet or 2 inch deep pan for 1 1/2 hours.  Use a meat thermometer to check that the internal temperature is at least 165 degrees.  Once they are done pull them out and allow them to cool.  To speed up the cooling process I used kitchen scissors to cut open the breast of the birds.

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There are a few things that I love about cooking with whole chickens.  It’s cheaper than buying packaged sections of the chicken.  Roasting the meat while it is still on the bones adds flavor.  You get the yummy dark meats from the wings and back of the chicken.  You get a pile of bones to make chicken stock from scratch.

Chicken Taquitos are a favorite in my house.  When we make these it feels low maintenance, almost like we’re ordering takeout!  I made 6X batch of these over the course of 2 nights.  The first night was spent cooking chickens, cutting up the meat, and mixing the filling.  The second night was spent filling and rolling taquitos.  I love cooking in big batches.  This latest batch will last us about 3-4 months.

How much does it cost?

3 Whole Chickens – $8.03
2 blocks of cream cheese – $3.98
3 blocks of pepper jack cheese – $4.50
1 Jar salsa – $2.49
2 Limes – $1.00
6 Green Onions – $0.99
80 Tortillas – $11.96
Spices – $1.50

Total: $34.45 for 80 chicken taquitos.  That’s $0.43 each.

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Ingredients:

1/3 of a 8 oz block of cream cheese
1/4 cup salsa
1 Tablespoon lime juice
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1 chopped green onion
2 cups cooked chicken chopped fine
1 cup grated pepper jack or monteray jack cheese
14 small flour tortillas
Cooking spray or oil
salt

Instructions:

1. Heat cream cheese in microwave for about 30 seconds
2. Add salsa, lime juice, cumin, chili powder, onion powder, garlic powder and mix until combined
3. Add green onion, chicken and shredded cheese
4. Place 3 Tablespoons of chicken mixture on the edge of tortilla and roll into a tube about 1 inch in diameter.
5. At this point you can freeze the taquito or bake them imediately.  Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
6. Place on a greased baking sheet. Brush with oil and sprinkle with salt
7. Bake for 18-22 minutes until golden brown.
8. Serve with sour cream, guacamole or salsa.

When baking these from frozen I found that covering the first inch at each end allows for a more even browning.

I might be a little bit crazy, or really good at planning ahead.  Or I might be both.  I bought 6 chickens at $0.49 per lb so that each chicken was about $2.50.  All 6 chickens were roasted and broken down.  Half of them were shredded and frozen and the other half went into this taquitos recipe.  From the 3 chickens I got 12 cups of diced meat which is enough to make 6 batches of taquitos.  You may think that I’m feeding an army with the large batches.  It’s just me and my husband eating the big people food since my daughter is just starting solid foods it will be a while before she joins us in the spicy foods.  This large batch of food should last about 3 months with us eating these for dinner once a week and also using them to entertain guests once or twice.  Having large batches of food all ready to go is one of my tricks for maintaining a successful meal plan.   Who wants to spend a ton of time prepping and cooking every night after working hard all day?

 

 

Garlic Hummus & Pita Chips

I love hummus.  I almost feel guilty for eating a bunch of it for breakfast most mornings but it keeps me satisfied till lunch time. It is so easy to make and you can make many different variations. My favorite flavor if hummus is roasted garlic.

I’ve been using a modified version of this recipe from Sally’s Baking Addiction. She has a couple odd and time consuming instructions, like she tells you to peal the membrane off of your chickpeas…honestly, who has time for that?  I’ve followed her instructions to the letter and the hour that you spend pealing chickpeas does not make your hummus any smoother in my opinion.  She also has you chop your roasted garlic, I pop mine right in the food processor prior to adding the chickpeas.  This saves you a little bit of time.


Pita Chips – I buy a package of Pita bread from Pricerite for $0.89 a pack and this gives me 6 pita pockets.  A bag of pita chips is $2.79.  Every week that I make these I save myself about $1.60 including the oil and salt.  That and I think they taste better and are more crispy than store bought pita chips.

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Ingredients:

1 package of pita pockets
1/4 cup of olive oil
salt

Instructions:

  1. Set oven to 400 degrees
  2. Brush each side of the pita pocket with olive oil
  3. Cut cross wise to give you 8 triangles for each pocket
  4. Spread in one layer on a sheet pan. Do not crowd your pan or they will not get crispy.
  5. Sprinkle with a little bit of salt
  6. Bake for 10-12 minutes until the chips are golden brown.

Store these in an air tight container and they will stay good for about a month.  I keep mine in a Ziploc bag.


Roasted Garlic Hummus – I always make a triple batch of hummus since that’s about how many chickpeas I get from a 1lb bag of dried beans.  If you are going to use dried beans make sure you cook them the day before you want to make the hummus.  Roast your garlic ahead of time or allow an extra hour in your prep time.  To see how much you would save by making your own hummus I’ve created this little calculator.  With my grocery store prices I save $4.30 with each batch I make.  We eat about one batch a week, so that makes my yearly savings $223.60.

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Ingredients:

2 to 2 1/2 cups chickpeas cooked per instructions
8 roasted garlic cloves (Sally’s Baking Addiction instructions for roasted garlic)
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup tahini, stirred well
1/2 teaspoon cumin
2 Tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/4 cup reserved water
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Instructions:

  1. In food processor add olive oil, roasted garlic cloves, and lemon juice
  2. Pulse until the garlic is pulverized
  3. Add tahini, chickpeas, water, cumin, salt and pepper
  4. Process until smooth
  5. Add water if needed

Hummus can be stored in the freezer for up to 3 months or in the fridge for about 2 weeks. Of all of my kitchen gadgets, my food processor is my favorite.  I’ve had mine for about 5 years.  It lets me chop, shred, and process food in bulk.  It makes the daunting task of shredding 10 blocks of cheese quick and easy.  If you don’t have one you should definitely look into getting one.
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Price Book – Saving on Groceries

Over the past few weeks I’ve been reading through “The Tightwad Gazette” by Amy Dacyczyn.  One of her recommendations for saving money on groceries was to create a price book.  This book, being written in the 90s, has you write everything out with good ol’ paper and pencil.  However, we have a lot of amazing technology at our fingertips via the cloud and smartphones.  This is something that I’ve been working on a little bit each week.  I live in high cost of living area with a lot of choices for grocery shopping.

Within 10 miles of my house are the following:

  • Price Rite
  • Save a Lot
  • Shop Rite
  • Big Y
  • Price Chopper
  • Dollar Tree
  • Walmart
  • Target
  • BJs
  • Geissler’s
  • Aldi

Step 1 – Make a list of items that you frequently use.  For my family the list looks something like this:

  • Celery
  • Carrots
  • Onion
  • Potatoes
  • Whole Chicken
  • Beef (ground, steaks, chuck)
  • Pork (chops, loin)
  • Mayo
  • Mustard
  • Olive Oil
  • Cheese (mozzarella, cheddar, jack)
  • Sour Cream
  • Milk
  • Almond Milk
  • Eggs
  • Bread
  • Deli (ham, salami, provolone)
  • Butter

Once you have your list of groceries you can start recording prices as you shop at different stores.  The easiest way that I found to do this was to either shop at a new store and buy all of your staples, and record on paper (or smart phone notes) the items that you did not buy.  Or if you are not shopping and just want the data for your price book you can walk through the store and take pictures of the price signs with your phone.  Don’t worry about looking out of place, product ambassadors and mystery shoppers have to take pictures of displays for their job.  I’ve gone through and taken pictures at many stores and no one has ever said anything to me.

Step 2 – Creating your price book

Paper & Pencil – If you are using paper, create a page for each product.  It would look something like this:

Milk
Stop & Shop (1 Gallon) – $2.69
PriceRight (1 Gallon) – $1.99
Aldi (1 Gallon) – $2.29  Sale 4/17 – 4/23
Price Chopper (1 Gallon) – $2.50  Sale 4/24 – 4/30

Spreadsheet – Google sheets is a free online spreadsheet that can be accessed on the web and also on smartphones and tablets via the google sheets app.  This is my personal favorite since it allows me to organize and view my data with a lot of flexibility.  Spreadsheets also allows you to view cost per unit (gallon, oz, lbs) with some simple formulas.  In the below example you get cost per unit to the penny with =Round(D183/E183,2)

grocery list

The Tightwad Grocery Challenge (April)

So it’s the start of a new month!  We all love fresh starts, its a time to reflect on past performances and to set new goals.  I sat down last night and categorized my grocery receipts as I was updating my price book.  I am pretty pleased with the Tightwad Grocery Challenge results for April.

april
March and April Grocery Breakdown

In March I spent a lot on sugary drinks, the biggest offending purchase was $65 on 2 cases of Monster Energy Drinks that my husband likes.  He was buying them at work for $2.50 each so when I saw the flavor that he liked at BJs I did a quick calculation and found that if I bought them in bulk they would cost about $1.40 a can.  After having the cases of energy drink in the house for over a month my husband asked me not to buy any more.  He told me that he wanted to stop drinking energy drinks because he viewed it as a bad habit.  This works for me!  That’s one less thing in our Guilty Pleasures.

My goals from last month were:

For April the foods that are on my ‘I could make this‘ list:

– Pizza [GOAL ACHIEVED]
– Baby Food [GOAL ACHIEVED]
– Pita Chips [GOAL ACHIEVED]
– Italian Salad Dressing [Did not use salad dressing this month]

For March I had the goal to give up the following ‘Guilty Pleasures‘ foods:

– Pringles Chips [GOAL ACHIEVED]
– Fruit Juice [GOAL ACHIEVED]

I cut down on the sweets that I was buying in general.  I still bought ice cream once during April as compared to a couple times in March.  More than half of our Guilty Pleasures are sugary drinks.  My family loves our coke and Gatorade.  We switched from buying the bottled Gatorade to the powder.  This cuts down on both the cost and the amount of plastic that we are throwing away, which makes this a double win!  If we were to give up sugary drinks all together we would save about $30 a month on our grocery bill.  We are not there yet but we will get that number down by consuming less.

My goals for May are:

Foods that are on my ‘I could make this‘ list:

 – Bread

Give up the following ‘Guilty Pleasures‘ food:

 – Corndogs

Baking bread seems like a daunting task.  I could only do it on the weekends since I work during the day and don’t have time to babysit a ball of dough as it rises.  I have made bread before but it was a little bit dense and not as yummy as I had hoped.  The library has a whole section on bread making that I plan on taking full advantage of.  What I would really love to make are kaiser rolls since that majority of the bread that we eat.  My husband eats sandwiches for lunch and we also use the rolls for burgers, tuna salad, pulled pork, chicken salad and breakfast sandwiches.  Baking is an adventure!  Hopefully it will be a fruitful one.

Monthly Meal Plan for May 2016

I started meal planning at the beginning of March and have seen huge success.  I have more free time during the work week, I’m less stressed about dinner, and we’re throwing away less food.  In March I was making my meal plans 1 week at a time.  And then I switched to doing 2 weeks at a time to see how I liked it.  Well, I loved it.  Not only was I able to rotate through my frozen food more efficiently I felt like I was saving a lot of money by freeing up space and allowing me to stock up when I came across good deals.  The natural progression of my meal planning is to set up a monthly plan.  This way I can have a plan for all of the food in the freezer and this will keep me from passing over the ‘freezer fossils’ saying to myself, “We’ll eat it next week.”  I took stock of my freezer inventory and updated my white board.

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This month instead of writing out my meal plan on the white board I’m printing out a google spread sheet. All of the meals can be made with what is in the freezer.  I’ll still be grocery shopping each week for the produce and to stock up on good deals.  I have my grocery list planned out for the first week in May and will continue to stay the course and rotate stock in the freezer.  The first week in May there is an amazing deal on whole chickens at $0.49 a lbs which is unheard of around here.

may

I like to plan my the protein part of the meal and leave the how we want to serve it till the day of the meal.  What the meal plan is allowing me to do is reminding me to pull meat out of the freezer ahead of time so that I’m not trying to thaw things out in the microwave.  This also is a big deterrent from ordering food at the last minute.

I’m continuing to cook around the deals instead of making a meal plan first and then shopping around what I want to make.  It really is saving us a ton of money.  Already I saw a savings last month on our grocery line in our budget.  My hope is to eventually treat my grocery line on my budget as a sinking fund in order to shop and stock up a little bit more aggressively.

5/1-5/7 Grocery List

This week we did not get our local paper with all of our grocery store ads.  I’m not sure if they skipped my street or what happened.  So I’ve been looking up the ads online and resisting the urge to print them all out so that I can circle all of the things that I want as part of my ritual!  I’m trying out this app called Flipp that has a good number of the ads that I normally look at.  I’m in a somewhat high cost of living city type area so the amount of stuff local to me in this app is pretty good.

This week I will buy:

5/2 Monday – Geissler’s, driving distance: 7.5 miles round trip

2 lbs Zucchini – $2.00
64 oz Almond Breeze – $2.50
1/2 lb Ham – $2.49
1/4 lb Provolone – $1.25
1/4 lb Salami – $1.48
4 Taco Seasoning Packets – $3.00
6 Kaiser Rolls – $2.50
Appetizers, snacks – $10

Total: $25.22

5/4 Thursday – PriceRite, driving distance: 2.5 miles out of the way

3 whole chicken (15-20 lbs) – $9.80
2 jars of 16 oz Sourcream – $2.98
1 lb sausage – $1.99
200 ft foil – $4.99
2 Jars 30 oz Mayo – $3.78
4 lbs sugar – $1.88
5 lbs flour – $1.69
Hershey Syrup – $1.99
6 – 8 oz blocks Heluva Good cheese – $9.00
Celery – $1.29
1 Pt Heavy cream – $1.99
1 Q Milk – $1.99
32 Tortillas – $6.98
Jalepenos – $0.30
1 lb dried Chickpeas – $1.19
5 lbs flour – $1.69
4 lbs sugar – $1.88

Total: $55.41

5/7 Saturday – Aldi, driving distance: 15.5 miles roundtrip. I may or may not make this trip.

4 dozen eggs – $2.76
2 cans refried beans – $1.58
4 Sweet Baby Rays BBQ sauce – 7.96

Total: $12.30

For the trip to Geissler’s my husband will be making this.  He’ll also be buying snacks for guests that we’re having over on Monday.  We have tons of food in the freezer still and I’m making it my mission to have a good rotation on the meat.  I made my meal plan for the month and will be freezing the bunk of the whole chickens that we get on Thursday.  The sales price at PriceRite is good till 5/14 so we may end up getting more, you can’t beat chock$0.49 per lbs!  Total for the week should be about $95.

4/24-4/30 Grocery List

I got my weekly grocery store ads on Thursday. This week has been crazy busy so I’m just now getting to making my grocery list for the week.  Taking some inspiration from The Tightwad Gazette, I’ve created my own version of a price book.  Instead of a physical book I’m keeping mine up to date in google sheets.  I’ve been updating it on the web and my ipad and I can also pull up the list on my phone for quick reference if I think I found a bargain.  This list has already saved me a few times from picking up something I though was a good deal when shopping at BJs, that turned out to be cheaper at my local discount grocer.  I have $90 left in my grocery budget for the rest of the month.  In order to set myself up for May I’ll be saving one of my grocery trips for the end of the week.

This week I will buy:

4/24 Monday – Geissler’s, driving distance: 7.5 miles roundtrip

Corn 4 ears – $2.00
Ham (deli) 1/2 lbs – $1.97
2 cans Olives – $1.86
2 lbs Pears – $2.98
1/4 lb Provalone – $1.23
3 Romaine Hearts – 1.93
1/4 lb Salami – $1.48
1 – 28 oz Tomatoes (canned) – $0.93
3 lbs Turkey Breast – $4.17

Total: $18.55

4/30 Saturday – Aldi & Pricerite, driving distance: 15.5 miles roundtrip

Aldi

2 – 12oz Frozen Brussel Sprouts – 1.98
Garden Salad – $0.69
2 lbs Ground Beef – $3.98
4 kiwi – $0.99
6 oz Raspberries – $1.49
8 oz Spinach – $1.49

Total: $10.62

ShopRite

2 – 37 count Diapers (Shoprite brand) – $5.98
Friendlys Icecream (with coupon) – $0.99
10 lbs Pork Loin boneless – $9.90

Total: $16.87

Diapers aren’t part of the grocery budget but I’ll try them out for $0.08 per diaper!  What a bargain.  This leaves me around $50 to use on discounted food or other bargains I see.  Happy grocery shopping!

4/15-4/21 Grocery List

Yesterday I got my weekly grocery store ads.  I went through each one and picked  out the items that I thought were good deals and then I went back through and crossed out the stuff that I didn’t need or things that weren’t worth stocking up on for the price.  Then I went back through and made my grocery list for each store.  I’m trying to buy extra produce that is on sale, normally I cruise through the produce section and buy what I think we’ll eat for the week.  I have some green bags I got from my mother that are supposed to make fruits and veggies last longer.  I’ll keep you guys updated on the state of my veggie drawer 😉

My plan of attack for the week is:

4/15 Friday – Stop & Shop, driving distance: 1 mile

  • 2lbs Bananas – $0.99
  • 8lbs Oranges – $6.99
  • 6 Cucumbers – $3.54
  • 1 Raos Marinara 24oz – $5.99
  • 6 Kaiser Rolls – $2.49
  • 8 oz Sharp Cheddar – $1.99
  • 8 oz Raw Shrimp – $2.44
  • 1 lb NY Strip – $5.77
    • Total = $30.20

4/17 Sunday – Price Chopper, driving distance: 10.4 miles

  • 3 lbs Tomatoes – $2.97
  • 8 bags of Potatoes (5lb bag) – $7.92
  • 1/4 lb Provolone (price chopper brand) – $1.50
  • 1/4 lb Swiss (price chopper brand) – $1.50
  • 1/2 lb Salami (price chopper brand) – $2.50
  • 3/4 lb Black Forest Ham – $5.24
  • Mayo (Hellman’s 30 oz) – $1.99
    • Total = $23.44

4/19 Tuesday – Geissler’s, driving distance: 7.5 miles

  • 2 lbs Beef (80% Ground) – $5.86
  • 3 lbs Broccoli – $2.79
  • 1 head Iceberg Lettuce – $0.93
  • 3 dozen Eggs – $2.79
  • 1 lb Strawberries – $2.50
  • 3 lbs Pork Chops – $4.17
  • 28 pack Bottled Water – $5.06
  • 1 can Tomatoes 28oz – $1.25
  • 12 cans Tuna – $10.00
    • Total = $35.35

Total Grocery spending for the week = $88.99