Sunday, January 31, 2016

2016 Groceries Week 5 - $396.53

It didn't take long to bounce back from the Pantry Challenge. Yowza it was a big week.  I'll likely have to have an unofficial pantry semi-challenge in February to cover all this spending.

First up was a trip to Champion Grocery Outlet in Issaquah.  I was out of oatmeal (thanks to the pantry challenge) and was 90% sure they'd have more.  They did! a 25 pound bag was just $14.25.  i also got organic salsa, ketchup, peanut butter coconut oil, garbanzo beans and baby food.  I bought conventional crackers, GF pasta, "OO" flour for pizza dough, and a GF pizza dough mix.  I spent $66.10.

Then I went to Costco.  The veggie straws were on a sale ending that day so I maxed out the deal.  I also bought organic mac'n'cheese, rice crackers, artichoke hearts, organic tortilla chips, guacamole and organic hummus. I spent $72.29.

I stopped into Fred Meyer for milk and found a bunch of clearance deals on summer sausage, chicken breast, cereal, spaghetti sauce, enchilada sauce, refried beans, and corn.  There was also the Simple Truth nitrate free sausage still on sale for $1.99 so I bought 6 packages. We use 1-2 packages each week so it's about a month's supply. I spent $44.42

I went to QFC for rice cereal since I forgot it at Fred Meyer.  I found a bunch of clearance deals here, too, including enchilada sauce, cereal, refried beans, sour cream, gf muffins, black beans and a bunch of bratwurst for $0.99 each in 20 oz packages.  In retrospect I should have skipped the bratwurst.  I have lots of sausage right now and these aren't particularly "clean" as far as food goes.   I was lured by the low price and justified it because the ingredient list didn't say anything about nitrates.  I also bought a 3 pound bag of organic potatoes for a whopping $4.99.  These are much cheaper at Fred Meyer and I will not buy buying them a QFC again.  I spent $27.40.

Next was another trip to Costco for produce.  I had promised some girlfriends healthy snacks for an overnight get-together.  I bought the bell peppers and carrots I intended, but bought gf pizza, lettuce, tortilla, organic peas, organic green beans, and eggs.  The best deal I found though, was for organic boneless, skinless chicken breast.  Normally this is $5.99/lb at Costco but they had a deal for $8 off per package.  The packages are usually 3.5 to 5 pounds.  We searched for the smallest packages we could find to maximize the $8 off.  I figured I could spent about $100 to stock up on this deal so we bought 7 packages for a total of 25.14 pounds and about $95.  It worked out to $3.78 per pound.  Altogether I spent $147.70.

Next was QFC for last minute cucumbers.  I had a short list that I stuck to except for the bacon I found on clearance for $1.99/lb.  This all cost $30.39.  I skipped the $6.00 golden raisins and popped into TJs next door to check their price.

Sure enough, Trader Joes had the golden raisins for only $2.79.  I also grabbed zucchini and a few oranges.  I spent $8.23 to end a ridiculous week of grocery spending.

Week 5 Total: $396.53  Huge Ouch.  And this will skew my weekly averages, too. Yikes.  
YTD 2016 Total: $462.46
Weekly Average: $92.49


Monday, January 25, 2016

Gluten Free Menu Plan

So I'm not doing the Pantry Challenge in regards to grocery shopping, but I AM trying to use things up from my freezer and pantry still.  My freezer is terribly frosted over so I don't even know what's hiding in the top half.  A defrost will have to happen soon and that means using a lot of things so the remainder will fit in the small inside freezer.

Monday - Chicken in the crockpot (last freezer meal from Asher being born)
Tuesday - Taco Salad
Wednesday - Taco Soup in the crockpot (chicken, cook beans, corn from freezer)
Thursday - Berry Pancakes
Friday - Chicken Vindaloo (chicken from freezer)
Saturday - Turkey Pot Pie (turkey bits from freezer)
Sunday -  Ham (out of freezer)

Monday - leftover ham, veggies (packed)
Tuesday - Waffles
Wednesday - lunch out
Thursday - leftover ham, veggies (packed)
Friday - Mac'n'cheese (using weird bits of pasta from pasta, random cheese from fridge & freezer)
Saturday - Nachos
Sunday - Leftovers

I'm still using lots of freezer & pantry stuff.  One big victory is my kids are eating oatmeal every morning with jam.  We are quickly using up preserves from the summer of 2014 that I despaired we wouldn't get through now that we rarely have peanut butter & jelly sandwiches.  Hooray!

Grocery list: milk, potatoes, oatmeal (!! We are out!!), chips, sour cream, rice crackers, rice cakes


Sunday, January 24, 2016

2016 Groceries Week 4 - $19.11

Another week of the Pantry Challenge. 

I was at QFC Monday hoping for find hummus on clearance and I did!  One was $1.79 and another on sale for $2.99.  I also saw GF cupcakes and some clearance meat for pizzas.  I spent $14.85.

Late in the week I went to Fred Meyer for brown rice cakes.  While there I found a clearance bag of granny smith apples (3/$1.00) and some nice-looking clearance bananas.  I took a photo that didn't save on my camera for some reason.  I spent $4.26.

Then Friday night my friend gave me a bunch of stuff she was cleaning out of her pantry including 5 packets of taco seasoning, a mix for gluten-free caramel apple coffee cake, and an assortment of tea.  I love tea and some of these are really fancy! 

I am blessed to have some wonderful, close friends who know me and know my heart.  When I shared with them last week about how stressed and overwhelmed I am with life just now one of them suggested I don't keep doing the Pantry Challenge.  I immediately balked and said I was definitely still doing it.  Reflecting over the next few days I realized that I wanted to keep doing it because it's something I'm actually good at and can succeed at.  I feel like I fail in so many areas of my life that I am desperate to do something well!  However, I AM going to stop limiting myself to $20 a week now that I've managed 4 weeks.  I will still try to keep my grocery bill low, but as I'm getting used to DH being back at work I find I do need to make meals that are fast & simple.  The Pantry Challenge requires a lot of cooking from scratch and I just can't do that once or twice a day and expect to stay on top of my house and homeschool, too.  While I know I could do the Pantry Challenge successfully for another month or so, it's simply more important to make other things a priority just now.

Week 4 Total: $19.11
2016 Year-to-Date: $65.93
2016 Weekly Average: $16.48

Love, Katie

Monday, January 18, 2016

Gluten Free Menu Plan

Still doing the pantry challenge and hoping to keep the groceries under $20 for the week.

Monday - Taco Salad
Tuesday - Pizza
Wednesday - Beef Stew (using last of potatoes)
Thursday - Mexican Dip/Chips
Friday - Dinner at Bible Study
Saturday - Pizza Pasta
Sunday - Popcorn & Smoothie

Monday - Turkey, Carrot sticks
Tuesday - Nachos/Quesadilla
Wednesday - Corn Dogs
Thursday - Sausage, Carrot sticks
Friday - Mac'n'Cheese
Saturday - Turkey/Rice/Veggie Soup
Sunday - Leftovers


Sunday, January 17, 2016

2016 Groceries Week 3 - $19.13

The Pantry Challenge is going well so far.  I have to admit it was a huge struggle to walk away from sausage on clearance for $1.29/lb that I saw on Monday at Fred Meyer.  As a result, in subsequent shopping trips I just avoided the clearance areas altogether.  I had to remind myself that this is an intentional season of challenge and sausage will be on sale again.

My first stop was Fred Meyer on Monday for brown rice cakes as they are a nice crunchy snack and good for the detox.  I found two tubs of turkey lunchmeat which are also detox friendly.  I spent $8.87.

Tuesday I realized I needed onions for a couple of recipes in the menu plan so I zipped into a little grocery store in Duvall when we were 15 minutes early for an appointment.  This 5# bag of onion was only $2.19!

Thursday night I stopped quickly at QFC for a eggs and milk and was delighted to find organic milk on clearance for $2.89/gallon so I was able to buy 2 gallons and stay under the $20 for the week.  Hooray!  I spent $8.07 on food that night.

The three shopping trips totaled $19.13.
My first 3 weeks of 2016 totaled $46.82 for a weekly average of $15.61.


Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Gluten Free Menu Plan

I made a menu plan yesterday, but my kids were on the computer doing math curriculum so I didn't post it.  Here's my plan for the week:

Monday - Taco Salad
Tuesday - Sausage Stew
Wednesday - Turkey
Thursday - Turkey Gravy over Rice
Friday - Chicken Vindaloo
Saturday - Pizza
Sunday - Smoothies & Popcorn

Monday - Macaronada
Tuesday - GF mac'n'cheese
Wednesday - Waffles
Thursday - Finger Food Lunch (packed)
Friday - Turkey vegetable soup
Saturday - Leftovers
Sunday - Skillet


Monday, January 11, 2016

2016 Groceries Week 2 - $19.84

So far, so good sticking to the $20 per week.  It helped tremendously to be at my mother-in-law's house the bulk of the week with permission to "use up this food" in her freezer.

I found a big container of turkey stock in her freezer (from Thanksgiving 2013) and some boneless, skinless chicken breast.  I used those and made some chicken vegetable soup one night with carrots, onion, celery, & spices.  Another night I made beef & broccoli with a partially used bag of broccoli florets and some steak dated September 2013.  My mil found some really old beef bullion cubes since she didn't have any beef brother and I used more celery, green onion, and white onion.  In short, I didn't have to spend much on groceries and I was using someone else's pantry/freezer.

I went to Von's (like Safeway) our first morning there to buy almond milk for the detox I was starting.  I found organic almond milk for 25% off and while there I ran across organic guacamole on clearance. I bought two of those (only one pictured).  I spent $10.66.

Later in the week we ran out of milk as the girls had Grandma's cold cereal every morning.  I dashed to Von's again for organic milk and picked up a head of organic lettuce, too.  I spent $9.18 on those two items.

I only spent $19.84 for Week 2.
Weekly average so far: $13.85

I have some basic to buy this week including milk again and onions.  I haven't made a menu plan yet, so we'll have to see what emerges for the grocery list.

I discovered another Pantry Challenge bonus this week.  Since I'm not drinking coffee on the detox, DH is the only one using the coffee creamer.  We are using it much more slowly.  He uses a lot in his one or two mugs per day, and I use a little as I sip coffee all day long and it adds up.  I don't think I'll have to buy creamer all month - Hooray!


Sunday, January 10, 2016

2016 Groceries Week 1 - $7.85

We visited my Mother-in-Law last week in California.  She asked us to pick up a few groceries on our way so DH bought a head of lettuce, a gallon of milk, and dozen eggs.  All conventional for $7.85.  Milk not pictured.


2016 Pantry Challenge

Note: I've been out of town visiting family who had no internet connection.  So I wrote this, but wasn't able to post until today.

I love the annual Pantry Challenge!  Each January I attempt to spend a minimal amount on groceries while using food items I have on hand.  Some years I even extend this into February depending on how big my stockpile of food is.  This year I’ll aim to spend $20 or less on perishable groceries each week.  Sorry kids – it’s oatmeal all month so I buy less milk.

Here’s what I love about the Pantry Challenge:
  • I spend way less on groceries.
  • I start the year off with low weekly totals helping my overall average when I go back to normal spending.
  • It helps me use stuff that’s been aging in my freezer or collecting dust on my pantry shelves.  Waste not, want not. 
  • I enjoy getting creative with random bits of things that have been hanging around for too long.  Homemade mac’n’cheese with sweetened, condensed milk?  Sure!
  • I don’t spend a lot of time in January at the store which is great when DH and I are working hard trying to get ourselves and the kids back into regular routines.

What will be hard this year:
  • I’m doing a detox all month requiring more produce than normal and things like guacamole or deli turkey that I don’t usually buy unless I find a screaming deal.
  • I’m low on tortilla chips which are kind of a staple at our house.  Nachos are such a quick, easy GF lunch.  I’ll be hoarding those for emergencies.
  • I didn’t do much canning this fall being so pregnant, so not a much canned fruit for breakfast.
  • I didn’t have a garden this summer also being so pregnant so no canned/frozen veggies.

 Here's what my messy pantry looked like at the end of December:
Full Pantry

Close-up of Top Three Shelves

Close-up of Bottom Three Shelves
Love, Katie