Weekly Recap 12/31-1/6

by Beth - Budget Bytes
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Hellooooo and happy Friday! I skipped the weekly recap for the week between Christmas and the New Year because it was just crazy crackers. There was so much going on between parties, holidays, and visiting family that we really didn’t eat at home much. I’m considering that a “vacation” week. BUT, I started right back up on New Years Eve.

Weekly Recap 12/31 to 1/6 - BudgetBytes.com

Shopping on the day before any holiday is never fun, but I had no choice but to do my weekly shop on New Years Eve. The place was insanely packed with people buying party food (or so I assume) and just when we got in line to check out the entire computer system went down for every single register (kind of gives new meaning to “POS”). I felt so bad for the store employees. It was a nightmare. They had all 15 lanes open that day and each line was 4-5 people deep, yet there was not a single “bleep!” of a scanner to be heard.

Anyway, when the computers finally started to reboot, they still weren’t ringing up items correctly, so in attempt to at least start moving people through the lines, the cashier had to manually look up each item, then type in the price under a generic PLU code. So, my receipt this week is a bunch of generic line items that I hastily tried to scribble the correct item next to as soon as I got home from the store. #chaos

A couple items had the incorrect price typed in, but I’m not going to worry about it. Adding to the stress of those employees was definitely not worth 20 cents.

So anyway, let’s take a look at how the plan for the week went…

What Did I Buy?

Shopping List 12-31

The staples I needed to replenish this week were: milk, eggs, brown sugar, garlic, and peanut butter (I put the PB last because it wasn’t critical).

I planned to make a Vegetarian Shepherd’s pie with my leftover potatoes from the week before, a Falafel Salad to pack in some vegetables, and a vegetable plate to snack on. I wanted to be really vegetable focused this week since the week before was so full of cookies and other heavy things. The sour cream served as a dip for the vegetables (seasoned with lemon pepper).

Just before shopping, I checked my freezer and found one last bag of Chili Rubbed Pulled Pork, which I decided to use for some really simple pulled pork bowls (more on that in the “What I Ate” section). I realized that I don’t like to cook a big meal on the day that I go shopping, so pulling something from the freezer is a great option for my first day of the week. The salsa and avocado were purchased for the pulled pork bowls.

The store was out of cilantro, so I had to make a second trip a couple days later just to get that and a couple more ingredients for another last minute recipe.

As usual, I stopped at Whole Foods first to see what I could get for a good deal there, then picked up the remaining items at my local grocery store. Here are the receipts:

WFM receipt 12/31 Rouse's Receipt 12/31

And photos of the grocery “haul”:

WFM Groceries 12/31
I didn’t get a lot at Whole Foods this week, just some eggs, bananas, an avocado (on sale, yay!), a cucumber (because the cukes at my local grocery are always terrible), and loose carrots, which are STILL on sale for only $0.79/lb.

Rouse's Groceries 12/31
And then I got the rest of the items at my local store. The bell peppers are for snacking. I also forgot to put the gallon of milk in this photo… so just imagine a big gallon of milk in there.

Rouse's 1/3
And then later in the week I had to run to the store again to pick up the cilantro for the Falafel Salad, and fresh spinach and diced tomatoes for the pasta that I decided to make last minute (although I didn’t end up using the diced tomatoes).

What Did I Eat?

Pork Bowl
Just before I went grocery shopping, I found one last bag of Chili Rubbed Pulled Pork in the freezer. To make the “bowls” I made a quick pot of rice, then added the pork, some salsa, and a few slices of avocado. Super fast and easy. There was enough pork for three bowls, so that helped a lot. I used the last bit of avocado on in a pita with egg and sriracha for breakfast. My favorite! ;)

Vegetarian Shepherd's Pie - BudgetBytes.com
My main entrée this week was this amazing Vegetarian Shepherd’s Pie. OMG it was just so satisfying and the leftovers tasted so good. Definitely a winner. This made six servings, but they were gone in no time between the two of us.

20 Minute Creamy Spinach Artichoke Pasta - BudgetBytes.com
Because we went through the Shepherd’s Pie so quickly, I had to think fast and make something really easy and filling. Luckily I had a couple cans of artichoke hearts in the pantry that were bought-I-don’t-know-when for some freelance project and had been sitting there ever since. So I picked up a bag of baby spinach and made a batch of this 20 Minute Creamy Artichoke Pasta. It was so good and we ate it so fast that I used the second half of the bag of spinach and the second can of artichoke hearts to make another batch just a couple days later. :P (Which was good because I have a ton of pasta “remnants” in my pantry taking up space.)

Falafel Salad - BudgetBytes.com
I really wanted a lot of vegetables in my menu this week, so I made a batch of Falafel Salad. I had just enough tahini left in my jar, some chickpeas in the freezer, and some dry bulgar in my pantry, so all I had to buy was the parsley, cilantro, and tomatoes.

Vegetable Plate
I really enjoyed having crunchy vegetables to snack on a few weeks ago, so I decided to get some more. Nothing fancy, just carrots, bell pepper, and cucumber, all of which are usually pretty inexpensive. I bought a small 8oz. container of light sour cream and stirred in a hefty dose of lemon pepper seasoning (and a little salt). The dip is better after it sits in the fridge a bit, but it’s a pretty good “quick fix” dip. That lemon pepper just needs a little time to infuse into the sour cream.

Breakfast this week was usually eggs in pita with sriracha because I finally started working out again and when I do that I always want to eat eggs constantly (not just protein, but eggs specifically). I also ate bananas as snacks, which were delicious, and I used the “wrap the stem in foil” trick to help keep them from going bad so quickly. I can’t decide if it worked or if they kept longer just because it was cold in my house (finally). Either way, the bananas were a great choice.

Oh! I almost forgot, I use half the gallon of milk to make another batch of yogurt because I’m really digging the fact that I can have cheap yogurt thanks to my Instant Pot. I usually eat it with a handful of dry oats stirred in plus a little drizzle of honey or maple syrup. It’s an excellent snack! …as a matter of fact, I’m going to go fix a bowl right now. ;)

P.S. A few people have asked if I have a yogurt recipe for the instant pot, but I don’t. I just use the instructions that came with the machine, which isn’t really a recipe.

What Didn’t I Eat?

Unfortunately, I have to be honest and admit that I didn’t finish all the snack vegetables. I had to toss the last bits of that today because they were no longer snack-worthy and I didn’t have a fly by the seat of my pants use for the leftovers. I also didn’t get through all the Falafel Salad.

Closing Thoughts

Be nice to service and retail personnel. Although the job may look easy, it can be very mentally and emotionally taxing, especially during the holidays.

-Signed a former retail/grocery/food service worker.


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  1. Hi Beth- Wondering if you plan on doing any Instant Pot recipes? I would love to hear some of your ideas.

    And given that this is a cost-oriented blog, do you think that the homemade yogurt is any cheaper? I go through at least a 32oz container per week of plain yogurt (sometimes I buy the 64oz), and am getting tired of throwing so much plastic in the recycling. I’m just curious how the costs line up between the homemade and store-bought yogurt, in your opinion…. as I am tempted to get an Instant Pot – thanks – !

    1. I’m not sure I’ll do any recipes specifically for the Instant Pot, since such a small number of people actually have one, but we’ll see! As for the yogurt, I do think it is less expensive. I can get a half gallon of milk for $2.50, and a little cup of yogurt starter for about $1.00, so it’s about $3.50 for a whole half gallon or 64oz., which is about the same price that a 32oz. container costs at my store. But, prices vary from region to region, so it might not be worth it for everyone. :)

      1. That does sound cheaper! I need to go check out the milk prices in my area (I don’t drink it much so haven’t paid attention).

        Thanks ;)

        I’ll keep checking to see if you do any Instant Pot recipes – I know it will be something good if you do!

        – Erin

  2. Loved your closing thought-thank you! :D
    At the moment I manage to eat plenty raw veggies by packing a tupperware of fennel and carrot sticks (in season) and a glass container with
    soy-yogurt+tahini+nori+paprika+salt dipping sauce. It’s the first thing I eat at lunch time and I always go through the whole tub, then take a break, and only after I munch on my buckwheat sandwich or quinoa salad. The crunch is addicting. I might not be doing it if I ate at home, who knows..

  3. How do you keep avocado good? My boyfriend won’t eat it, and I don’t really want an entire avocado all the time. If I want a quarter of one, how can I keep the other 3/4 from going bad?

    1. Keeping the pit in one half of it helps, but I just put it in one of those reusable ziploc containers and refrigerate it. It will get a little grey on the surface and the bright green will dull slightly, but it tastes exactly the same. :) I usually try to use them up within about four days, though, because they get kind of dry after a while.

      1. You can also squeeze a little citrus juice on the exposed edge (lime is the best flavor-profile wise, but any will do) before you put it in the ziplock, to prevent graying/browning. It stops the oxidation process, just like on cut apples, etc.

        Love your blog, Beth!

  4. My favorite dip is lemon zest and horseradish in greek yogurt. It’s a martha stewart recipe. YUM

  5. Thanks, your posts are fun to read. I have known about your site for a couple months but only in the last couple of months have I really dig in and I have to say this is gold. You are doing a tremendous job. 3 years ago I went to a personal development seminar by danijohnson.com and one thing she teaches is that if you want to be successful in life you first have to be faithful with the little things. The little things like mastering the grocery bill regardless of how much money one has. That woman Dani is a millionare who chooses to feed her family of 5 on a 100 a week, gourmet meals that is, because it is wise and it shows faithfulness with the little things. I was so inspired that I have been on a mission to learn to cook better and inexpensively since that seminar. I have come a long, long way since then in my kitchen skills. From eating mostly Costco pre-made meals and eating out to cooking from mostly from Rachael Ray recipes. But now your blog and book ( which I bought) I am now making bread, making delicious super easy meals and learning such great tips for cutting my costs, like the Better than Bouillion tip (I tried it for the first time today and it was great). I like your recipes more than Rachael’s because they are practical and inexpensive, easy and delicious. I have a family of 4 and I am
    a working mom. 2 kids who are little but with a growing appetite. With your site I am keeping my costs at 80 a week. So thank you, thank you for what you are doing!

  6. I pieced together 3 of your recipes last week for a meal plan. It was the first time I’ve ever met a $40 grocery bill goal for a week of food. I love these recap posts. Thank you!

  7. I love how realistic these recaps posts are. Sometimes, I also have struggles using up really odd ingredients, and your ideas are really inspiring.

  8. I had to go shopping on New Years Eve as well. Our Rouses (in AL) experienced a system shut down (must have been a store wide issue). Fortunately, my Rouses had a champagne sampling table set up, so I just mossied over there until they got their system up again :)

  9. I also love your recap posts! We are a family of six and I regularly use your recipes. A quick fix for your sub-optimal veggies could be a quick veggie stock… Cook your rice in it for added flavour :)