Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Feeding My Family on $60 a Week!

Seems like an impossible task!  Honestly, a little planning and buying smart is all it takes.  I am ALWAYS talking about how great Aldi's is and how I can go there spend $60 and feed my family for a week.  My sister-in-law (who has a family of 6) doesn't believe me.  I thought it might be a good idea to share some of my tips.

First let me say, I have a deep freezer and a very large walk-in pantry plus a cabinet pantry and I try to keep them fully stocked at all times.  I am NOT one of those people who rush to the grocery store when bad weather is coming.  I don't need to, I have everything I need at home!


Your first shopping trip will be expensive, don't think you can just go and spend $60.  Why because you are not only buying groceries for the week but you are also stocking up on bonus buys and staples for future weeks. 

Here are things I always try to keep in my pantry:
Cream of Mushroom Soup
Cream of Chicken Soup
Mac N Cheese
Salad Dressings: Ranch & Italian
Mashed Potatoes
Green Beans
Pizza Rolls
Ramen Noodles

It may sound confusing but if I buy meats and staples ONLY when they are on sale my cost per meal goes WAY down.  Eventually, you will get to the point where you are buying Fresh fruits, vegetables, dairy products, and bonus buys because you have everything else.

We have two kids in evening activities and even though I am home with them after school every day our life is hectic and sometimes we need convenience foods like frozen pizza's.  We can spend $30 in a drive-thru but if I find frozen pizza's and pizza rolls on sale then I spend about $4.00 on dinner and then we usually have fruit, veggies or a light snack when we get home around 8:00pm.  The frozen pizza's have far less calories than a burger. The bonus is everyone in the family likes them!

LOOK at the ads for the stores you shop at ALWAYS!  I shop at 3 different places, ALDI (for ALMOST everything), Hy-Vee and Rotella's Bread Store.  I plan my weekly menu's based on what is on sale.  When I look at the ads I make note of things my family likes and the sale price, if I have room in my budget after I buy the things I need then I grab the extras.  It is not unusual for me to purchase $100 worth of meat if Roast, Steak or Ribs are on sale.  On those weeks I will usually choose to stock up on meat and make my meal plan based on what I have on hand.

Meals don't have to be lavish, although sometimes that is nice!  Below is a sample of what we eat on a regular basis.

2 lbs of hamburger (2 x $2.79 = $5.59)
Tortillas ($0.99)
Salsa ($1.69)
Lettuce ($0.69)
Tomato ($0.99)
Sour Cream ($0.99)
Shredded Cheese ($1.50)
Guacamole ($0.39)

Combine hamburger & 1 cup of salsa.  Cook, drain.  Peel and de-core an avocado, add salsa - viola guacamole. I wanted to mention that when I say lettuce I mean a bag of salad.  There aren't man people in our house that like lettuce so instead of wasting a head or half a bag of lettuce shreds we just use a salad mix.  The total cost of this meal is $12.83 (divided by 4 is $3.20 per person)  Usually we have leftovers so that becomes lunch for the next day.

Grilled Cheese and Soup
2 cans of your favorite soup ($3.00 stock up when they are on sale)
Grapes or other fruit that is on sale ($2.68)
Bread ($0.99 buying bread from an outlet store like Rotella's Bread Store is a great way to cut costs)
Cheese Slices ($2.69)
Butter ($0.62 this is averaged out based on what I intend to use)

Wash the grapes, cook the soup and grill the sandwiches.  Total meal cost $9.98 (2.49 per person).  No leftovers hear so tomorrow's lunch will be sandwiches (lunch meat is one of those things I will buy when they are on sale and freeze).

Take & Bake Pizza's
Salad ($0.69) - left over from Taco night
2 Cheese Pizza's ($8.98)  these pizzas are larger than say a Totino's pizza and is really meant for movie night usually on a Friday or Saturday.

Layered Enchilada Bake the link is the original recipe but I don't follow directions!

Tortilla's small ones ($0.89)
2lbs Hamburger ($5.59)
Salsa 1/2 Jar ($0.84)
Sour Cream ($0.99)
Cheese x 2  ($3.00)
Guacamole ($0.39)
Enchilada Sauce ($1.49)
Refried Beans ($0.89)
Italian Dressing (2 good squirts probably about a half a cup - $0.12)

Cook the hamburger the same as the Taco's.  Once cooked and drained add the beans and dressing, mix well.  Grease a 13x9 pan lay down a base layer of tortillas.  Spread the beef mixture over the tortillas and top with a new layer of tortillas.  Spread sour cream over the tortillas top with cheese. Add a thin layer of enchilada sauce. top with more tortillas.  Pour remaining sauce on top and sprinkle with cheese. Bake at 350 for about 15 minutes. Let it sit for about 5 minutes before cutting into the layers.  Peel and de-core the avocado, add salsa. Total meal cost $14.20 ($3.55 per person).

Noodles ($1.25)
Hamburger ($2.79)
Sauce ($1.68)
Cottage Cheese ($1.28)

Total meal cost $7.00 ($1.75 per person).

3lb Roast ($13.44)
Mashed Potatoes ($2.00)
Green Beans ($1.00)

Total meal cost $16.44 ($4.11 per person)

Hot Dogs & Mac-n-Cheese
2 packages Hot Dogs ($2.00)
2 boxes Mac-n-Cheese ($1.82)
2 packages hot dog buns ($2.00)

Total meal cost $5.82 ($1.45 per person).

I do want to say that the pricing is specific to where I live, sale prices and that some times I buy in bulk to get a better price.  I am not an expert, this is what I have found works best for our family.  You might be asking yourself what about breakfast?  Well, one kid eats granola bars and the other likes eggs a toast or dry cereal so that is what I keep on hand.  On average, I spend  $80 - $125 on groceries every week. Also the amount I spend includes dog food, toilet paper, paper towels, cleaning supplies and girly stuff.


Monday, May 4, 2015

Not so Secret Recipes From Mom Part 3

I have learned a few things about my mother in law:
  1. She loved pumpkin pie, I think I found 12 copies of the same pumpkin pie recipe.  I take that back I think she loved pumpkin anything!  The amount of pumpkin related recipes alone (not counting the duplicates) is mind boggling!
  2. She had good friends that she traded recipes with and I know they were good friends because their notes always start Dear Babe.  I got all weepy when I saw the first one because I thought it might be a love letter from my Father-in-Law!
  3. It wasn't just about recipes and food.  The display or how food was arranged was also important to her I found many clippings that were just pictures of feast tables or treats arranged in a box. All of them were visually appealing!
  4. She folded paper in a very specific way.  First in half, then about in half of the first fold and then vertically in half... hard to explain but I am telling you every newspaper, or full page clipping is folded this way.
  5. Garage Sale Cookbooks are the best kind.  Almost all of her hard back Cookbooks have garage sale stickers on them.
  6. Apparently, she loved a good drink every now and then, lots of handwritten cocktails!
I honestly have no idea if she ever made any of these dishes or always intended to make them but she kept them so I have to assume that one of the two or a mixture of both was the case. 

French's Green Bean Casserole
(No Photo - or at least I couldn't get it to display)
Chicken & Rice Bake
Chicken Dijon in Pastry Shells
Vegetables in Pastry Shells
Chicken Broccoli Divan
Chicken Tetrazzini
Country Chicken Soup
Cranberry Pecan Stuffing

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Not so Secret Recipes from Mom

This is the first post I am making in what I believe will be a long series of posts.  My mother-in-law passed away a few years ago and my father-in-law gave me all of her recipes to get scanned, copied etc for all of the children.  But honestly, I have two large recycle bags and three or four Girl Scout cookie boxes full of her recipes.  Some are priceless because they are written in her own handwriting, some are newspaper articles, some are pages from a magazine and some are cookbooks.  I will try my best to note where all of the recipes come from but some I won't have any idea.  I will try and make scans of all of the handwritten items or just things that I find in the box (she was notorious for writing little notes and leaving them in stuff she knew we would go through once she was gone).

First I am going to start with the easy stuff... things she clipped from coupon flyers, magazines and newspapers... why??? well because there are a lot of them and it is easier to post links to recipes already online (especially from the manufacturer's website) than to type everything out!!! I am just sayin'!

Lemon Coffee Cake (no photo)
All of the Impossible recipes have been renamed Impossibly Easy... yeah ok
Impossible Buttermilk Pie (no photo)
Fall Baking (Recipes included: Peanut Butter Brownie Squares, Blueberry Coffee Cake, Chocolate Chip Caramel Bars & Cranberry Cravings Cake - Published in the Omaha World Herald ~ Ocotber 22, 2003)
Raisin Apple Mini Pizza (Also published in the Omaha World Herald ~ Ocotber 22, 2003)

I could spend my whole day looking these up and posting them so I have to stop for now but I will post more!

Beef Taco Skillet

Blueberry Coffee Cake (scroll down to see all recipes)

Breezy Lemon Berry Dessert

Slow Cooker Savory Pot Roast

Caramel Toffee Bombe

Chocolate Chip Caramel Bars (scroll down to see all recipes)

Cranberry Cravings Cake (scroll down to see all recipes)

Egg-Ceptional Easter Cookies

Libbys Famous Pumpkin Pie

Grasshopper Pie

Impossible Bacon Pie

Impossible Cheeseburger Pie

Impossible Cheesecake

Impossible Lasagne Pie (yes that is how it is spelled in the ad)

Impossible Quesadilla (kay-seh-dee-yah) Pie (this insert is from 1983 and this is the exact title)

Impossible Seafood Pie

Impossible Taco Pie

Jell-O Beans

Lemon Tea Bread

Lemonade Dessert

Lemon Baked Alaska

Lemon Blueberry Pizza

Mini Fruit Pizza

Peanut Butter Brownie Squares (scroll down to see all recipes)

Peanut Chocolate Cake

Raspberry Mocha Torte


HERSHEY'S Doubly Chocolate Cookies Recipe

Drum Layer Cake