Merry Christmas! I thought I’d slip this short weekly recap in before I take a day or so off to bake cookies, listen to Christmas music, and lounge around in my PJs. :)
The week was a day short because I wanted to get my next week shopping in on Wednesday rather than on Christmas Eve. But, I’ll admit, we needed a refrigerator refresh by Wednesday anyway.
Last week went pretty well because after the previous week’s flop, I made sure to check the sale circulars online as I was finalizing my menu. It only took a few minutes and helped SO much. Let’s start with my grocery list because strangely enough, that’s kind of where my planning begins.
What Did I Buy?
I started my list with the staples that I knew I had to replenish: eggs, milk, and garlic. After that, I already knew that I wanted to try to make the granola again, so I added almonds to the list. I also knew that I needed a batch of my Chunky Lentil and Vegetable Soup, so I ran through the ingredient list for that recipe and added the ingredients that I needed: celery, carrots, black beans, and diced tomatoes. At that point, I wasn’t sure what else I was going to cook.
So, I turned to the sale circulars online. I saw that potatoes were on sale and that sparked an idea in my head. I knew I had about 1/2 lb. ground turkey in the freezer, so I decided to make turkey chili smothered potatoes. So, I added diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, and kidney beans to the list.
By this time I was reading the sale flyer for my local grocery chain, my second stop during my grocery run, so I made a second “section” of my grocery list for the things that I wanted to specifically buy there because they were on sale: pineapple, potatoes/sweet potatoes, cheese, and the organic black beans. Jasmine rice wasn’t on sale, but they carry the five pound bag that I usually buy. Turns out, they stopped carrying it, so the item went unpurchased. :(
The third section on my grocery list, when extended down past the fold on my screen, was for extra staples that I could replenish if I had room in the budget after getting everything else I needed. Those items included peanut butter, chicken flavored Better Than Bouillon, and garlic powder. They were out of my favorite peanut butter, but I was able to pick up the chicken BTB and garlic powder.
So here’s what the grocery haul looked like this week:
While I was at the store I remembered that I needed another small container of yogurt to act as my starter culture for my next batch, so picked that up as well.
I got bananas and pineapple for my fruit choices this week and did well with both! I guess apples and oranges just aren’t great options for me. I had no problem finishing off the bananas and pineapple. :)
I came in at $31.05 for my first shopping trip of the week, but I knew that just having the Chunky Lentil and Vegetable Soup and Chili Smothered Sweet Potatoes was not going to be enough for the whole week. So, I saved the last ten dollars for later. I decided later in the week to use up the last of the pineapple to make a ham and pineapple pizza, so I ran to the store to get the last few items I needed to make it:
I grabbed a few slices of ham from the deli counter, some green onions, and some tomato sauce. I made a homemade crust and used the cheddar cheese I had in the fridge, plus some mozzarella that I had stashed in the freezer. So after that trip, I was standing at $35.15.
After discovering that my local grocery chain no longer carried the big 5lb. bag of jasmine rice that I like to buy, I was pretty sad. I knew Walmart had it, though, so I made a special trip to get it. It seems I have lost that receipt, but it was just over $6 after tax. So, my grand total for the week was about $41 dollars.
What Did I Eat?
My refrigerator was pretty bare on the day I went shopping, so I immediately made a batch of this Chunky Lentil and Vegetable Soup when I got home. The soup comes together really quickly and it’s just so insanely flavorful. It’s a very satisfying soup… like so satisfying that you forget that there are NO animal ingredients in there at all. Pretty amazing stuff.
To go with the soup, I made a batch of No-Knead Ciabatta. We ate that bread up so fast, though, that I had to make another loaf for the rest of the soup. :P Luckily, this bread only has like, four ingredients, so I can pretty much make it whenever I need to because I always have the ingredients on hand.
Next came the awesome Turkey Chili Smothered Sweet Potatoes. Those things were so good! I was really sad that I only bought four sweet potatoes because there was extra chili and I totally could have made six. They package up nicely in individual plastic containers and reheat easily in the microwave.
I finally perfected my Gingersnap Granola recipe this week, so I’ve been enjoying it with homemade yogurt in the morning. NOM. I love the warm spices this time of year!
And then late one evening I whipped up this awesome ham and pineapple pizza. I used this Thin & Crispy Pizza Crust recipe, slathered on some tomato sauce, sprinkled on a few herbs (to make a fake-ish pizza sauce out of the plain tomato sauce), then added cheddar, mozzarella, ham, pineapple, and green onions. This meal lasted us two days. I <3 Pizza!!
And that’s what I ate this week! :) Oh, plus an orange or two that were leftover from before. :P
I can’t believe how much easier it was to stay within my budget this week, when I didn’t have to buy meat (not counting the few slices of ham for the pizza). I was able to not only get the ingredients that I needed for my recipes, but also stock up on a whole SLEW of staples (eggs, milk, garlic, garlic powder, jasmine rice, and Better Than Bouillon). The jasmine rice and BTB together were about $10, so that says a lot about how much extra room there was in my budget this week.
I think the solution going forward is going to be just to alternate weeks when I buy meat. When I do buy meat, it’s usually a larger quantity than I use for one recipe anyway, so I can stock the freezer with the extra for the weeks when I don’t buy meat. Keeping my diet 50% vegetarian, at a minimum, definitely helps keep that budget in check.
Also, the whole fruit issue really drives home how individual our tastes and preferences can be and how you need to learn those nuances about yourself to be effective with your budget. The apples and oranges I bought over the past few weeks just kept getting forgotten and I had to almost force myself to eat them. The bananas and pineapple, on the other hand, were eaten before the week was through.
Working on a budget is always going to be a process. There is a lot of learning involved and the factors affecting the delicate formula are constantly changing. It can be hard, but it can also be like a game. Challenge yourself and have fun with it! :)
Merry Christmas to everyone and I’ll see you in a few days!