Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Pantry Challenge - Little Victories & well, Challenges

So I made my menu plan Sunday.  I threw it together & hoped it would work for the week.  Here's what's happened so far:

  • I got home from Classical Conversations Monday and DH had eaten the huge container of leftover taco soup that I'd intended us to eat for dinner with a green salad.  OOPS!  So I thawed some organic ground turkey and we made soft tacos.  I had tortillas & salsa and a tiny bit of cheese.  It worked.
  • Tuesday I had meant to use that ground turkey in the spaghetti sauce, but I happened upon a dozen meatballs in the freezer!  I don't know how long they've been in there, but they had cheese and I'm sure that's why I hadn't used them.  We used most of a jar of spaghetti sauce and I put the rest in the fridge.
  • Wednesday I made pizza for lunch and we used that last bit of spaghetti sauce mixed with some pizza sauce that was in the freezer.  It was enough!  
  • Dinner tonight was the Qrunch patties.  They weren't a huge hit, but on hamburger buns with ketchup, a side of big pickle, and the promise of a brownie for dessert they got eaten.  Also a good chunk of freezer space freed up!  I have another 2 boxes/8 patties that we'll likely have another day or I'll feed them to DS1.  He gobbled his quinoa burger right up tonight.  
Tomorrow I have to dig out a Costco-sized bag of nuggets for lunch and I'm defrosting sausage links for our breakfast for dinner.  Additionally I'm supposed to make an enchilada casserole for Friday night.  I have all the ingredients for the regular version, but I need tofutti sour cream for the mini DF dish still.  In other news we're having company for Sunday dinner and I decided to bake a turkey.  Yes!  I love getting that big guy out of my freezer!


Monday, January 16, 2017

GF/DF Menu Plan with Pantry Challenge

We're home all week.  Hooray!  But it's going to be a busy week with our homeschool schedule back in full swing.

Monday - Leftover Taco Soup
Tuesday -  Pasta & Red Sauce
Wednesday - Quorn patty sandwich/burgers (lots of random hamburger buns in freezer)
Thursday - Pancakes
Friday - Enchilada Casserole (babysitter)
Saturday - Chicken Noodle Soup (trying egg free egg noodles from a friend)
Sunday - Smoothies & Popcorn

Monday - Sausages, veggies (packed lunch)
Tuesday - Waffles
Wednesday - Homemade pizza!
Thursday - Chicken Nuggets
Friday - Homemade mac'n'cheese (GF/DF version)
Saturday - leftovers
Sunday - Pot Roast


Sunday, January 15, 2017

2017 Groceries Week 2 - $33.90

This week DH and I were in Disneyland for 3 days.  Praise the Lord our flight was able to land in Portland Wednesday afternoon, but then the roads were so bad no one could come pick us up at the airport!  Eventually we were able to figure out how to get an Uber ride to my aunt's house in the suburbs where our 5 kids were with my aunt, uncle, & mom.  The lame part of the Uber was that drivers were in high demand so we had to pay 2x the typical charge!  The awesome part of the Uber was that the driver showed up in minutes, was friendly with a clean car, and he had the tire chains that were required to drive that day.  The snow was so bad we had to stay the night and drive Thursday after all DH's work meetings ended for the day.  And then there was NO WATER until the pipes thawed Friday evening.

So my meal plan kind of went out the window.  We ended arriving home almost at 11pm Thursday.  Friday was box mac'n'cheese & taco soup in the crockpot.  I didn't use any water cooking dry beans but found enough frozen beans to make the soup.

TMI, I used ice from my frosted over freezer to melt pots of water.  Then I dumped the water into the toilet bowls to force a flush when needed.  I felt SUPER resourceful.

Saturday I made pancakes & bacon for lunch and the kids had saucy chicken over rice for dinner.
Sunday we had grilled cheese, smooothies, & a can of soup for lunch.  Dinner was popcorn & smoothies.

Friday I went to the grocery store since we were out of just about everything. I bought organic yogurt to make smoothies $4.69, creamer for $0.87, organic cottage cheese for $1.79, organic romaine for $2.00, 2 bell peppers for $0.99, whipping cream for $0.99, bananas and an organic cucumber for $1.50.  I don't know why I splurged on cottage cheese but I spent $13.93.

Saturday I bought a gallon of organic milk for $5.99 & I had to tell the kids we're switching back to oatmeal.  Organic milk is expensive!

I also went to Costco to buy hummus and rice crackers.  Technically the rice crackers aren't part of the pantry challenge, but I'm doing a 'clean eating' thing and need something I can eat!  I spent $13.98.

Overall I spent $33.90, which is much more than I hoped.

Week 2 Total: $33.90
YTD 2017: $48.85
Weekly Average: $24.43

Monday, January 9, 2017

GF/DF Menu Plan - Pantry Challenge

The first half of this week we are on an anniversary trip & the kids are with my aunt.  We brought a casserole & all the produce to help with groceries, but it wasn't nearly enough of course for 5 kids.

Monday - Mexican Dip (we brought)
Tuesday - Aunt's choice
Wednesday - Hamburger Stew
Thursday - Enchilada Casserole (chz & corn tortillas:fridge, ground meat:freezer, sauce:pantry)
Friday - Chicken Taco Soup (at Small Group Bible study, we are providing the main dish, beans & tomatoes in pantry, chicken in freezer, onions purchased last week)
Saturday - Saucy Chicken & Rice
Sunday - Popcorn & Smoothies

Monday - Aunt's choice
Tuesday - Aunt's choice
Wednesday - Aunt's choice
Thursday - burgers/chili
Friday - Chicken nuggets/strips & fruit
Saturday - Leftovers?
Sunday - Beef Stew

Must buy:
bell pepper
apples (?)


Sunday, January 8, 2017

2017 Groceries Week 1 - $14.95

The Pantry Challenge is going well so far.  Tuesday I went to the store for a few necessities.  I bought onions, organic carrots, bananas, & organic lettuce.  It was $9.06.

Wednesday I was back at the store for a gallon of organic whole milk.  It was $5.89.

So I stayed well inside the $20 goal for Week 1, but I may spend a little more in Week 2 as  result.

Week 1 total: $14.95


Friday, January 6, 2017

Pantry Challenge 2017! Photos!

We're on day 5 of the 2017 Pantry Challenge and so far, so good!  My kids are already complaining because I'm making them have oatmeal instead of cold cereal (to help spend less on milk).  I set a goal this year to spend only $20 per week on produce and dairy items.  I don't know if I can make it work, but I'm going to try because my pantry is bulging and my freezer is ridiculously frozen over.  I have to start using stuff up.

Here's my pantry, unorganized.

These are the top three shelves:Appliances & big Tupperware on the top shelf. Serving dishes, Ziplocs, griddle & little used baking pans on the 2nd shelf.  Canned, bottled, & boxed food on 3rd shelf.

Here are the bottom 3 shelves: 4th shelf has the bulk goods in manageable Tupperware, baking stuff, spare spices, and cold cereal hiding in back.  5th shelf is mostly craft supplies, but behind the craft supplies are a few food items like hot cocoa, coffee, kid snack items, a costco pack of spaghetti sauce, shelf-stable coconut milk and a lot of rice cakes.  Finally, on the floor are big buckets of food including organic white flour, organic white sugar, millet, organic oatmeal, organic popcorn, organic black beans, organic great northern beans, organic coconut oil, & local honey.  I also have a big bag of chips, flour & sugar to add to the bins, some juice boxes, a bunch of Annie's GF/DF bunny cookies, enchilada sauce, and several GF pie crust mixes.  It's a mess.

Here's my garage freezer.  You can't tell because of the ice, but it's full and a lot of it is fruit.  I know there's whole bean coffee, a turkey, GF hot dog buns, hot dogs, sausages, organic meat (either stew beef or pot roast beef), lots of blueberries on the bottom, and some other stuff that will be revealed (I hope!).

Here's my inside freezer.  Also full, but at least accessible!  I've got organic chicken broth, organic chicken thighs, some Quorn patties, lots of berries, a DF yogurt for smoothies, organic ground turkey, and a much of other stuff.  I'm hoping to clear a lot of this out so I can move berries in from the outside.  I want to unplug the outside freezer for a day, but am afraid of the berries turning to mush!

Some opening thoughts:
  • The kids are excited they finally get to start eating the canned peaches & applesauce from the garage shelves.  I was happy to hear that Monday since I won't have much budget for fresh fruit. 
  • We also have about 100 pounds of berries - seriously, like 20 gallon sized bags - that I can defrost at breakfast, use in fruit smoothies for the kids, and put in protein shakes for me.  So berries are a top priority! 
  • I also have lots of sausage so the kids will be having sausage for lunch at least once a week and I'll likely be making sausage soup a few times. 
  • I bought Costco packages of organic pasta & sauce a couple months ago so those will be on the regular dinner menu
I'm already planning next week's me als!  And a goal for next week will be to organize the pantry and see what's really in there. 


Monday, January 2, 2017

Pantry Challenge! GF/DF menu plan

Oh boy!  I have to menu plan with the Pantry Challenge since running out to the store kind of defeats the purpose of using up the pantry goods.  I have a ton of food in my pantry and freezer - photos to come - but not much in the fridge or in the fruit basket.  Additionally, I haven't even really looked at what's there so this is on the fly (as I sit next to a kiddo at the library on a mommy-daughter date).

Monday - Peanut Butter & Jelly Sandwiches
Tuesday - Finger Food Lunch (sausage, cheese & crackers, olives, nuts)
Wednesday - Macaroni & Cheese (DD2 got a box of Daiya GF/DF for Christmas from a sister)
Thursday - Chicken Sausages, veggies
Friday - Grilled Cheese, Fruit
Saturday - Leftovers
Sunday - burgers

Monday - Macaronada (spaghetti sautéed with butter, garlic, chicken, with feta)
Tuesday - Taco Bowls
Wednesday - Sausage Soup
Thursday - Pasta with red Sauce
Friday - Pizza Night!
Saturday - Leftovers
Sunday - at family

Must buy:

Sunday, January 1, 2017

2016 Groceries Week 53 - $60.55

We drove to my hometown on Christmas Day and straight to my parents' house.  They were in South America over Christmas - Why? - and there was very little food in the house.  I had brought along a cooler and a big bag of dry goods, but we were going to be feeding 9 kids for 2 days with the cousins over to play.  So I went shopping that first morning.  I spent $53.17 on food & scored some great deals for Christmas markdowns, too.  I bought cereal, pasta, ham, apples, oranges, bananas, ground beef, pork loin, bacon, shredded pork, guacamole, bell peppers, fresh mozzarella, milk & chocolate milk, kettle corn (so DD2 could have microwave popcorn with her cousins), several bags of candy, and a new Hershey syrup with just 5 ingredients that let DD2 have chocolate -coconut- milk with her cousins, too. 
We spent Monday, Tuesday, & half of Wednesday at my folks, then drove 5 hours to an Aunt's for 2 more nights.  We had plenty of food to meet allergy needs and not land on my Aunt's kitchen like a plague of locusts. Kidding, not kidding. And on Friday we packed all the kids up again for a night at a hotel with a free continental breakfast.  DD2 was able to have apple juice but nothing else.  Thank goodness we still had some coconut milk left and a mostly full box of Chex.  We attended a big family party on Saturday (I had made a big pot of pork chili at my folks and froze it for the Portland driving) and headed home through some storms, but made it in just about 3 hours which was awesome!  We didn't stop even once! 

Sunday we slept in, watched church on the internet, and ate leftovers from the big party.  We used the last of the milk so DD ran out for milk & a loaf of bread to see us through another day or two spending $7.38.  

Week 53 Total: $60.55
2016 Grand Total: $8,181.73
2016 Weekly Average: $154.37

And how does this compare to prior years?  I'm spending way more.  I shouldn't be surprised  because our family is growing, food is becoming more expensive, and we are buying far more gluten-free and dairy-free items.  In 2015 I averaged $116.26 per week so I'm up about $40 weekly.  Continuing this trend I might be pushing $200/week in 2017 but I hope not!  I'll just keep doing what I can to keep costs low: cooking whole foods and looking for bargains.

Happy New Year!  Katie