Happy Friday! It’s finally time to recap all the things I bought, cooked, and ate last week (my week runs from Thursday through Wednesday, BTW). The week went pretty smoothly and we were very well fed. I went about $10 over budget (thanks in part to a rotisserie chicken impulse buy later in the week), but we didn’t go out to eat at all, so it’s not such a shabby trade off!
This week’s menu plan started with an incredible craving that I was having for my old One Pot Chili Pasta, so I put that on the list. I had also wanted to try Nam Sod, a dish that my hair stylist tells me about just about every time I get my hair cut, and I thought that would make a nice light contrast to the heavier chili pasta. Lastly, I had second box of gnocchi in the pantry that needed to be used up, so I decided to toss that into a soup with kale, which I noticed was on sale when I check the weekly sale circulars.
I knew the ground pork was going to be expensive (because I’m trying to buy higher quality meat), so I decided to make the chili pasta and gnocchi soup vegetarian. That all back fired one night when I was craving meat and ran out to the store to buy a rotisserie chicken (why do they have to be so stinking good?!). I ended up adding leftovers of the chicken to the soup, which actually turned out quite nice.
I made a last minute, in-store decision to make Garlic Parmesan Kale Pasta because both the kale and pasta were on sale and all the rest of the ingredients I keep on hand. Plus, it’s a dish that I love but haven’t had in quite a while.
So, those were my four recipes that I planned for the week: Cheesy Vegetarian Chili Mac, Nam Sod, Kale Chicken and Gnocchi Soup, and Garlic Parmesan Kale Pasta.
What Did I Buy?
Here’s what my grocery list looked like for those four recipes, plus weekly staples:
(Milk was the last item on the list, but it got cut off because the list was too long.)
My staples this week were milk, olive oil, and eggs. I knew olive oil was going to be a big expense (maybe up to 25% of the $40 budget), so I had to be careful. Luckily I found a great deal at Whole Foods and paid only $7.99 for a 32oz. bottle (cold pressed, extra virgin, Mediterranean blend). That might be the lowest price I’ve ever paid for that size bottle.
I made a note on my list to get the kale at Whole Foods because it was on sale. I thought about getting a cucumber to add to the Nam Sod, but they were too expensive at one store and looked old and wrinkly at the other store, so that was a “no go.” I was bummed that I didn’t have any cheddar left in my freezer from the amazing sales that kept happening through December ($1.67 for 8oz. bags), but at least they were still on sale for $2.50. And lastly, instead of buying a 15oz. can of tomato sauce for $1.09, I got two 8oz. cans because they were on sale for $0.44 each. Small savings add up!
Here are my receipts for the week:
Whole Foods prints the last bit of their receipt on the back to save paper, so the total for that one, with tax, was $29.89. Both stores totaled $44.78. I was a bit over even before my “impulse buy” later in the week, which had me wondering if $50/week was a more realistic goal. Nah. I’m going to stick to $40 as a goal. Setting my goals higher makes me work harder to achieve them, even if I don’t always succeed.
Oh yeah, so when I perused down the tomato/pasta aisle, I noticed that my favorite pasta (DeLallo) was on sale again! I only needed macaroni for this week’s recipes, but I grabbed a box of orecchiette just to stock up. I used that in place of spaghetti for my Garlic Parmesan Kale Pasta. :)
And then, as I mentioned, I impulse bought a rotisserie chicken for $5.99 later in the week (sorry no photo).
What Did I Eat?
This Cheesy Vegetarian Chili Mac served as my base recipe for the week. It makes a huge batch, is very filling, and tastes so good that I wanted to eat it for every meal. So, I knew that this recipe would be a bulk of my food for the week, and I wasn’t at all upset about eating it every day (or almost every day, anyway).
Next was Nam Sod, which is a recipe I’ve wanted to make for quite a while. It’s on the lighter side and the batch was smaller (4 servings), but it was nice to have a lighter meal to add variety to the week. (Oh man, looking at that photo is making drool. I want more!)
With my second bunch of kale, I decided to make this Garlic Parmesan Kale Pasta, originally posted in 2013. I’ve always loved this dish because it’s so simple, flavorful, and filling, but haven’t had the chance to make it in forever. The original recipe uses spaghetti, but I used orechiette this time (they’re like little concave discs). This pasta also happened to make the perfect side for the rotisserie chicken that I splurged on.
And lastly, I whipped up this super fast Kale Chicken and Gnocchi Soup with the leftover rotisserie chicken and the extra box of gnocchi in my pantry. Because I made this towards the end of the week, it has actually extended to a couple of meals this week. It’s so good that I actually ate two bowls of it for lunch yesterday. Oops!
Breakfast continues to either be my homemade yogurt (still eating through the last batch from a couple weeks ago) with a handful of dry oats, fruit, and maple syrup; oatmeal with peanut butter and brown sugar; or eggs with whatever I happen to have around (I had some Focaccia Rolls in the freezer that work well with eggs).
I made popcorn once this week and drizzled it with some of the flavored oils my friend got me for Christmas (YUM) and snacked on the bananas and oranges that were part of this week’s groceries.
What Didn’t I Eat?
Restaurant food! We didn’t go out to eat at all last week. Part of that is because we were both just really busy and tired, but I think that little splurge with the rotisserie chicken definitely helped. It felt like going out to eat, but not nearly as expensive and I could sit at home in my pajamas while eating it. :P heheh
I only ate one of the oranges, but I’m continuing to try to eat them this week, so at least they didn’t end up in the trash. I didn’t remember to wrap my banana stems in foil this week, either, so one of them went brown before I could finish it. And lastly, we ate all but about 2 portions of the Cheesy Vegetarian Chili Mac. I planned to freeze some in the beginning of the week because I knew we wouldn’t finish it all, but I kept forgetting. Oh well, it was a good meal while it lasted and it was insanely cheap! :D
Is $40 per week a realistic goal? I’m not sure. I want to keep shooting for that goal and as I experiment with it I’m sure it will become clear. Our food needs vary from week to week with work schedules, so it’s kind of strange to have a static budget. But I guess I need to remember not to splurge when my grocery “needs” come in under budget so that on weeks like this when I go over, it will all even out in the end. :)
PLEASE tell me that you FREEZE the brown bananas for smoothies or muffins instead of tossing them! Not sure if I’ve ever read anything about that on here. Most of the time when I buy bananas they are the bruised/brown marked down bananas….. and MOST of the time they are absolutely PERFECT inside…. perfectly ripe, not brown at all! I eat what I can fresh and then peel and freeze the rest. In fact, when I hit the marked down sale just right, I will think nothing of buying 50 – 75 bananas at once!
BTW, love the comment about failure not being the opposite of success and I plan to use it in my Weight Watchers meeting this week! I’ll be sure to give credit to this website!
Yes, I often do freeze them. :)
All these look delish! I’m so afraid of kale, I’m afraid it is going to squeak on my teeth if you can believe such craziness but those dishes look like the would be worth a bit of squeaky tooth. If I may, once your bananas get to the proper ripeness throw those suckers into your fridge. The peels will continue to turn brown but the insides will still stay the same texture. And Oranges last for ever, I have some in my fridge that have been there since December. I just ate one today! It was yummy. I would still freeze the chili, cooked food lasts longer than a week. Oh, and one last bit of unsolicited advice, You can make chicken broth with the carcass of the splurge you got stretching its costs making it worth the purchase, you can then freeze the broth for later. We are able to get at least 4 meals total and broth out of each chicken we buy some times 5 depending on how I break it up, oh wait some times 7 if we pick the bones to make sandwiches, making it less than a dollar per meal so don’t be so hard on yourself that you went over for the week on what could be an endless chicken.
Wow, $40! Impressive. Is it just for yourself? Yourself and a partner? A family? My partner and I spent probably $90 per week and that’s buying frugally. I can’t believe your food prices in the U.S. – so cheap. The bag of cheese would have cost $8 here, not $2.50.
It’s for me and my boyfriend, who eats probably about 2/3 of his meals here with me. :)
Hello, I love your blog – I happened upon it while searching for a good beans and rice recipe (yum). I enjoy your weekly recap that hammers out what you bought and ate! I was wondering what you do for breakfast since it seems your groceries and meals tend to cover lunch and dinner? The reason I ask is that I eat three square meals a day and recently set a $30 weekly budget for groceries and it’s not easy!
I usually do either oats, eggs with some type of tortilla or pita, or the yogurt I make at home with something like a banana and a handful of dry oats and maybe honey or maple syrup. :) The oats last forever so I only buy them once a month or so, and I buy eggs about every other week. :)
Oops, I must have missed your breakfast paragraph when I sailed through this post. Just noticed it. Sorry :)
I have to ask…why don’t you shred your own cheese? I used to buy the bagged pre shredded cheese as well, and then I realized that I could save a lot of money by buying a block. You can shred the whole thing in one go and then bag and freeze in 2 cup increments. I love your website and this is in no way a criticism!
Unfortunately shredded and block cheese are usually the exact same price where I shop. :( I do sometimes buy a big 2lb. bag and freeze it in 2 cup portions, though. :D The only issue I have with that is that I tend to eat WAY more cheese when I know it’s already there in the freezer. Hahaha
Gotcha! It’s funny how prices range so much per area. Where I live, pre shredded cheese is way more costly.
Thanks for the awesome site…loving all your recipes!
I bought some better than bouillon since you always refer to it. I found it crazy salty at the 1 tsp. to 8 oz recommendation. Do you use the low sodium or a different ratio? I’m just curious.
I just use it at the regular ratio and I find it fits my taste buds fine, but everyone has a different sensitivity to salt. :) Hopefully the low sodium version will be better for you.
Restaurant meals often cost a lot more than $10 per person, so I think that buying a rotisserie chicken was totally worth it. I used to be super cheap with groceries, and these posts remind me that sometimes, it’s worth paying a bit extra for convenience, and my meal quality has increased.
Ps, this is amazing and delicious, not to mention cheaper than what’s off the rack.
We are also very blessed to have a huge deep freezer. We bought a size is beef for about 2.80 a pound – that’s ground beef to filet. Not everyone has access to that, but it makes high quality, local beef pretty stinking affordable. (Not organic, but well raised).
I love how honest you are with your goals, when you go over or under on your budget, and your splurges-it is very helpful to read! I try to stick to $75 a week for my husband and myself, but I’m currently doing a Whole30 and that budget has gone out the window! It excludes cheap staples like rice, beans, and pasta so I have had to buy a lot more meat which is a killer—just for a month though :D Just wanted to pop in and say how much I (still and always) love your site!
We spend about 50 per week for a family of four* (husband, 5 year old son, tiny infant, and always hungry breastfeeding mom) but set aside another 100 a month for costco and stocking up on sales. If we don’t need the whole 100, we dine out with what’s left. I spend about half the weekly budget on produce. So that’s really a generous budget for us because I don’t cook meat often and we only use dairy for a weekly mac and cheese, and pizza on Friday. My son also drinks milk and eats yogurt. Every household is different of course but this is just an example for comparison. Of course we eat a ton of beans and I use your recipes regularly. :)
Really disappointed to see cage eggs on your shopping docket. Perhaps you could up your budget a little and buy free range eggs surly saving money at the expense of an animals suffering is not a great goal .
Oh, I forgot to put the eggs in the photos! They’re actually cage free (I just looked to double check), but I think they abbreviate that to just “cage” on the receipt line description because cage free wouldn’t fit. :) You can see them in the photos for the 12/17 weekly recap, and the receipt says the same thing.
I love your website, and I cook more recipes from here than anywhere else, but I have to say it is amazing just how much cheaper food is in your part of the world. I am in Vancouver (Canada) and groceries are about 2xs the cost. It is really amazing the price difference.