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This Week's Meal Plan

January 20th, 2019 at 01:21 pm

Just made this week's meal plan...

Breakfasts:
- still have cinnamon raisin bread on hand
- scrambled or fried egg
- hash browns
- granola and plain yogurt with fruit
- oatmeal

Lunches
- tuna wrap
- avocado/radish wrap
- burrito
- caprese on toast
- hardboiled eggs

Dinners
- lentil coconut soup
- salmon souvlaki bowls
- posole from the freezer with edamame
- jackfruit tacos
- artichoke pasta
- chinese chicken salad with toasted almonds and cabbage
- roasted berbere vegetables (sweet potatoes, cauliflower, spinach, chickpeas)

So that's one fish night and two chicken nights (but not a lot of chicken in either recipe). The rest are vegetarian or vegan. Sometimes I am not sure how to explain to people how little animal protein we eat (because we are not vegetarian but we never eat red meat or pork and eat so little chicken. But I just saw an article on the Flexitarian Diet, and I guess that's what we are. Lots of vegetables, also grains, fruit, nuts, fish/chicken a couple of times a week.

Total grocery bill was $119.

Do you eat less animal protein than you used to? If so, is it for health or cost savings or planet-saving or ethical reasons? Or a combination or some other reason?

This Week's Meals (and our Grocery Tab)

January 6th, 2019 at 03:14 pm

So one thing I'm always interested is how people shop, what they eat, what their grocery bill is. It borders on obsession.

Did I tell you about the girl M in F's Advisory Group? Her parents give her money for lunch every day, and every day instead of buying the hot lunch with it, she gets an Arizona Tea, a cinnamon roll and a cookie. Each is a dollar, and the hot lunch would be $7 so she pockets $4. The Advisor is freaking out, and she told M that she was going to contact her mom.

Anyway, in case you are like me, here is what we're eating this week, but also our shopping list and prices!

S - Hearts of Palm with Asian Slaw
M - Fagioli Stew (turkey, beans, carrots, celery, tomatoes, etc)
T - Baked penne
W - Lemon Crumbed Fish, Rice, Broccoli
Th - Chimichurri Rice and a salad
F - Jackfruit Tacos

Breakfasts - oatmeal with fruit, toast with fruit, scrambled eggs, granola with yogurt and fruit

Lunches - red pepper with quinoa/beans (which we have in the freezer), tuna wrap, goat cheese on toast with beets (which we had today), avocado/tomato wrap, leftovers, burrito...
plus a fruit, a starch (like chips or crackers) and a veg (like carrots, cucumber with hummus).

The shopping list:
Produce
- Broccoli $1.52
- Spinach $1.29
- Cilantro .69
- Garlic .50
- Green Cabbage $1.27
- Beets $1.99
- Red Pepper $1.25
- Red Cabbage $2.99
- Red Onion .94
- Radishes .69
- Tomatoes .41
- Yellow Onion .35
- Avocados $3.29
- Carrots .79
- Cucumbers $1.00

Canned
- Hearts of Palm $5.98 (this is our main!)
- Marinara (tomatoes, salt only) 2 cans $4.58
- Kidney beans .99
- Cannellini beans .79
- Diced tomatoes $1.99
- Tuna 2 cans $2.98

Fruit
- Pears $3.04
- Pineapple $2.50
- Grapefruit .99
- Mangos $1.98
- Apples $2.99
(we still have a bag of cuties in the fridge)

Bulk Bin
- Oats .26
- Jasmine Rice $2.76

Staples
- GF tortillas $5.99
- Olive oil $6.99
- Canola oil $2.49
- Almond Milk $2.69
- Plain Yogurt $3.29
- Cheddar $4.01
- Hummus $3.29
- Cereal for my husband $2.99
we still have granola for F in the pantry
- Bread for my husband $2.49
we still have our bread in the fridge
- Chocolate Chips $1.99
- Eggs 3.69

Other
- Ricotta $2.99
- Ground Turkey $5.59 (also our main)
- Tilapia $7.44 (another main)

Total $109.44

Some Very Specific Thoughts about Food

September 2nd, 2018 at 10:34 am

Labor Day weekend! We are getting together with friends tonight at our house, and tomorrow night at our neighbor's house.

Tonight - I have a huge crockpot of chili bubbling away. My friend is bringing a salad and cupcakes. I'll have tortilla chips and sour cream and cheese. I figure I spent $30 on all of the ingredients, and the sour cream and cheese will be used for other things as well. We should also have at least one more meal for the freezer out of this depending on how much we eat.

Tomorrow night - Not sure what I'm bringing, but I always have the ingredients for a nice Mary Berry Tunis Cake on hand.

The rest of the week:

Tuesday - F is leaving for her class trip on Wednesday, so she requested Stir Fried Cauliflower and Rice for Tuesday night (she is afraid there won't be much to eat on the trip that she likes, and that is probably true, but they've already talked to her about her GF diet and there are two GF teachers). Anyway, the ingredients for this recipe totaled $5.62. I already have ginger, garlic, green onions.

Wednesday - F will be on her trip (eating frito pies; they told her the menu) so we'll have frito pies, too. We'll use some of the sour cream and cheese from chili night, some of the green onions we already have. We have all of the ingredients for red chili sauce on hand (we do live in NM afterall!) and probably have a side salad with it. Total $3.78.

Thursday - F still on her trip (by this point I will be missing her so much!). She is having pasta that night (they are buying GF pasta for the three of them since the others are having pasta), and so are we. We already have peas and pasta, lemons and garlic. Just needed bacon, goat cheese. So $5.48, and the remaining goat cheese and bacon can be used for other meals.

Friday - F requested kebabs for when she gets back. We have chipotle kebabs with chicken, courgettes, red pepper and mushrooms and a really yummy yoghurt sauce. Ingredients totaled $5.80 because we already have plain yoghurt and other ingredients for the marinade and sauce. We just needed veggies and a lime.

Saturday - We're having tortilla espanola. We have a housewarming party to go to, so we may put this off to Sunday if there's enough to eat there. We will probably bring a salad. So... maybe this is Sunday. Anyway, I bought more mayo for the sauce, but obviously we only use a little bit. Half a thing of eggs, and three potatoes. $8 (and that includes the entire jar of mayo).

I still spent a ton on groceries this week even though are dinners aren't super expensive. I had to get F snacks for the trip because the other kids will be given things she probably can't eat. Also bought GF graham crackers so she can participate in s'mores. They told me no nuts of any kind (there is a severe nut allergy) so I opted for chickpeas, dried fruit, and a fruit/chia bar. I spent a lot on snacks.

Total grocery bill this week is $141 which is a lot more than usual, probably due to the snacks for the trip. And some staples. And feeding chili to everyone tonight! But it's so worth it to hang out with our friends!

Grocery Shopping Again

July 29th, 2018 at 05:17 pm

Grocery shopping again - must be Sunday!

I shop on Sundays because there are no alcohol sales before noon on Sundays so the store is quiet. I go to two stores - Sprouts and Trader Joe's. At Sprouts, I check my receipt in the car before I head home, and 1 out of 3 times there is a mistake! Today I bought ginger, and it was like 39 cents, but then there was another charge for ginger right below it for something like 1.8 POUNDS of ginger for $5.59!!! I went back in the store for my refund. They wanted to give it to me in cash.... nooooo! I asked for it to be put back on the credit card.

Here is this week's menu plan:
S - salmon souvlaki bowls (kalamata, cucumber, red pepper over rice) and tzatziki (fish)
M - pad thai with bok choy (veggie)
T - frittata with spinach and onion (veggie)
W - chili from the freezer with a salad (turkey)
T - ottolenghi red rice/quinoa with pistachios, apricots, rocket (veggie)
F - asian meatballs (turkey mince) with rice (turkey)
S - pan fried hearts of palm with coleslaw and corn on the cob (veggie)

We also bought fruit for snacks (grapes, melon, plums, strawberries) and jicama (a little lime, a little chile powder - yum!). And Trader Joe's bean and seed mix. And we always have dried fruit (dried pears from TJ are our current favorite) and nuts.

Lunches will be artichokes, deviled eggs, tuna wraps, turkey wraps with green chile, salad with avocado and sunflower seeds.

I am also working on cleaning the pantry shelves one shelf at a time, top down. They need cleaning, but it also helps me remember to use things up! And I moved some things around a little (we don't eat a lot of cereal, so it doesn't need to be eye level!).

Other food-related thoughts:
- We are watching Eat Well for Less; there have been a couple of good recipes including one for breakfast tray-baked eggs. We always have veggies that we could dump in there..
- I have had so much work these past two weeks I haven't baked anything, but I want to. Maybe lemon-poppyseed cake? Chocolate seems too heavy right now.
- I bought kebab skewers which was exciting (rather than using the disposable bamboo kind)
- We've been using this recipe but with only a little bit of chicken and mostly veggies (courgette, red pepper, mushrooms) https://www.thefrugalgirl.com/2015/07/chipotle-chicken-kabobs-with-cilantro-lime-dipping-sauce/
- We made this Asian Thai salad for lunch last week and it was awesome! https://www.onceuponachef.com/recipes/thai-crunch-salad-with-peanut-dressing.html except I made half the dressing and used only a tiny pinch of sugar (there is already honey in it)
- We went to my friend's 50th bday last night and it was a BBQ. We brought a salad to share, and they had two types of veggie dogs (this is a good friend so I didn't feel bad digging through her trash to read the labels - one was gluten free and the other wasn't so we had the gf ones!). We were planning on eating a little more when we got home, but we didn't need to!
- Today we went to the "beach" (down by the lake half an hour from here), but we ate before we went. We had TJ tamales instead of going out to eat.

What are you having for dinner this week?

Meal Plan - Lots of Veggies!

July 16th, 2018 at 07:24 am

We spent $117 on groceries this week.

S - Friends over - spaghetti with courgettes and bread (and my friend brought a salad) - vegetarian dinner
S - asian cauliflower stirfry with rice - vegetarian dinner
M - kimchi quesadillas - vegetarian dinner
T - chili with cornbread (has turkey in the chili)
W - potatoes with rosemary, kale salad with avocado and other veggies - vegetarian dinner
T - crustless quiche (with goat cheese, sundried tomatoes, broccoli) - vegetarian dinner
F - elote pasta - vegetarian dinner
S - not sure...

We are eating more vegetarian meals, but trying to make sure they are packed with good protein and good fats, especially on soccer practice nights! Kimchi quesadillas has beans and cheese, crustless quiche is eggs/cheese. Soccer is T/Th this week.

I went to my friend A's house yesterday - she's going away and her garden is producing a ton, so she gave me a huge pile of vegetables! Yay!!!

We invested in a bowl shaped thermos for F's lunches after seeing a really cool vending machine called Farmer's Fridge in the Chicago Airport. We're inspired to try different grain bowls and salads for her lunch (I realized - duh - that I can set the rice cooker overnight and have rice or other grains in the morning to use in a bowl). Check out their website. https://www.farmersfridge.com/ I looked it up for inspiration for different things to put in the bowl.

They have a greek salad, a cobb salad, a peanut sauce thai salad. Southwest salad, napa salad (F says - "I want that one!"). There are bowls, too, with rice or noodles or quinoa. Lots of good veggies, avocado, etc.

All of this is super easy to make at home! Need to look up some dressing recipes.

Grocery Shopping

April 30th, 2018 at 08:28 am

My grocery shop used to be about $100-120 per week and now it's more like $115-130.

I have a few theories about why this is:
- F is almost a teenager and eating A LOT
- F and I both have to eat gluten free which is slightly more expensive
- I buy organic where possible and now that we've paid off our mortgage, this is the one place I've bought better ingredients and skimped less

Here is our meal plan for this week:
- frito pies
- hearts of palm with coleslaw
- gambino crime
- salmon cakes
- crustless quiche
- freezer
- chicken taquitos

Here, for the record is what we bought (this is a long list, sorry, but just in case anyone is interested; I shop at Trader Joe's and Sprouts. I wish we had an Aldi). Total spend was $127.98:

Dinner Ingredients for 7 dinners ($44.28):
Frozen chicken, 2.5 lbs (3 meals worth) - 7.49
Cream cheese (also for breakfast) - 1.99
Goat cheese (also for lunches) - 4.99
Sour cream (will last 2 weeks) - 2.99
Plain yoghurt (also for breakfast) - 1.99
Eggs - 3.99
Frozen edamame (2 meals worth) - 1.79
Green onions - 1.29
Bok choy - 1.99
Tinned salmon - 3.29
Corn tortillas - 1.29
Salsa verde (also for snacks) - 1.99
Hearts of palm - 2.99
Broccoli - .71
Cilantro - .50
Green cabbage - .57
Lettuce - .99
Lime - .50
Red pepper - .50
Red cabbage (some used for lunches and salads) - 1.44
3 ears of corn on the cob - 1.00

Staples ($5.18):
Almond milk - 2.69
Irish breakfast tea for D - 2.49

Advisory Snack (we are responsible this week) ($5.98):
String cheese - 2.99
Crackers GF - 2.99

Breakfast items ($19.01):
Eggs - 3.99
D's bread (also for sandwiches) - 2.49
our GF bread (lasts 2 weeks) - 4.99
our GF bagels (last 2 weeks) - 4.49
2 potatoes - .98
yellow onion - .31
Large grapefruit for me and F - 1.76

Lunch Items and snacks ($37.45):
Sliced turkey for D (this will last 1.5 weeks) - 4.99 x2
Cookies for F - 3.99
Carrots - .79
Crackers - 2.29
Crisps for D - 1.99
Crisps for me and F - 2.29
Seaweed snack - .99
Tortilla chips (large bag) - 4.49
Apples 2 lb - 2.99
3 bananas - .57
Mandarins 2 lb - 2.99
Larabars (2) - 2.00
2 mangos - 1.00
Strawberries - .98
Cucumbers 2 - 1.00
Avocado - .99
Kiwis - 1.00
Radishes - .50
Tomato - .18

Baking ingredients ($9.03):
Chocolate chips - 1.99
Dark chocolate 1 lb. - 4.99
Sugar 2 lb - 2.05

Sunday lunch (we get something like this instead of eating out on the grocery shopping day!) ($3.69):
Trader Joe's black bean taquitos - 3.69

I know there are places we could cut back (chips!!), but I try to remember that this is 7 days of meals, three meals a day, and we don't eat out this week.

Our Meal Plan and Why it's Frugal

April 7th, 2018 at 04:54 pm

I think my daughter is HANGRY. She played all 70 minutes of the soccer game today and that doesn't include the warmup. I have, of course, been feeding her all day, before and immediately after and since the game. I am going to go make dinner in 5 minutes.

But first, while I'm thinking about food...

Here is our meal plan and "why it's frugal."

S - flacas with mini peppers (flacas are two corn tortillas, dry pan fried with beans and cheese) - Frugal because not meat-based, corn tortillas are a cheap grain, we already have some extra mini peppers on hand...
S - asian meatballs - Made with ground turkey instead of ground beef, we put in a couple of diced green onions and some garlic and ginger, make a sauce with leftover marinara/rice vinegar and add some rice - nothing exotic or expensive. Usually a vegetable on the side - whatever is on sale.
M - pasta with zucchini and goat cheese - No-meat meal. Goat cheese from Trader Joe's is affordable - this uses about half a package and we use the rest for lunches.
T - aloo gobi with rice - Makes a ton! No meat, two potatoes, one head of cauliflower and some onion and spices - I think the whole dinner is less than $5. This is made in the crockpot which is good for soccer night.
W - lemon crumbed fish with veg and cheddar bay biscuits - The fish is not cheap but we buy whatever vegetable is on sale at Sprouts and make our own cheddar bay biscuits. I have the breadcrumbs from bread heels in the freezer ready to use. Probably one of our more expensive dinners, but definitely under $15 total.
Th - freezer and salad - We have some posole and chili in the freezer, leftover from a crockpot meal specifically for soccer nights when we don't get home until 7:30 at the earliest. We make a salad with lettuce ($1) and some radishes, shredded carrot and sunflower seeds. Homemade salad dressing that I always have in the fridge.
F - tacos - One last soccer night to deal with. Corn tortillas, a little bit of shredded chicken made in the crockpot, sour cream, salsa, lettuce... Or we might do these veggie with avocados instead of chicken.

Now time to feed one hungry girl... and two hungry adults... and a dog and a cat.

Our Most Frugal Recipes

March 19th, 2018 at 05:48 pm

Just a disclaimer: we don't eat beef or pork or lamb, but we do eat chicken, turkey and fish. A lot of our meals are vegetarian. Even when we are eating animal protein, we bulk it out with vegetables.

These are all on heavy rotation because they are inexpensive and really yummy:

Salmon cakes with leftover potato, a whole red pepper; made with canned salmon from Trader Joe's. Served with a big salad.

Frittata with spinach and cheese and onions

Crustless quiche - 10 eggs, 1 c milk, with cooked broccoli or other leftover vegetables, sundried tomatoes, leftover chicken or not, leftover potato or not, whatever we have on hand!

Mexican eggs - https://www.nigella.com/recipes/mexican-scrambled-eggs

Asian meatballs - https://www.bettycrocker.com/recipes/slow-cooker-asian-meatballs/79c76dca-ff5a-4992-8386-fb5d259bfaf3 with rice (crockpot recipe!)

Easy chili with tortillas - 1 lb ground turkey, 1 can kidney beans, 1/2 onion diced fine, 2 cans (or 1 lg. can) diced tomatoes, 26 oz can tomato sauce, package Trader Joe's roasted frozen corn, some chili seasoning (another crockpot!)

Posole - 2 lb bag posole (hominy?), 13 oz tub New Mexico green chile, turkey thighs, 1 onion chopped fine, 1 can Mexican tomatoes, some oregano, water to cover and soak up posole (also crockpot!)

Aloo Gobi - Indian potatoes and cauliflower in the crockpot!

Vegetable Pad Thai

Asian Cauliflower Stirfry with Rice - I use more than one cauliflower! - https://www.thekitchn.com/recipe-spicy-roasted-cauliflower-stir-fry-224291

Tostadas - corn tortillas, refried beans, lettuce, salsa, sour cream

Enchiladas - with refried black beans and roasted corn and green onion

Baked Polenta with red sauce and mushrooms, and a vegetable on the side

Polenta and Black Bean Casserole - https://www.purplecarrot.com/plant-based-recipes/black-bean-and-polenta-casserole-with-chile-butter - but double the recipe!

Bad Breath Pasta - with spinach, capers, balsamic vinegar, olive oil, garlic and kalamata olives

Pasta Carbonara with a big salad or vegetable - weirdly Gwyneth Paltrow's is the best - https://www.popsugar.com/food/Gwyneth-Paltrow-Carbonara-Recipe-41083033

Pasta with zucchini and goat cheese - https://www.realsimple.com/food-recipes/browse-all-recipes/pasta-zucchini-goat-cheese

Five Frugal Things for Spring Break

March 12th, 2018 at 07:52 pm

F is off for two weeks (Spring Break!) and we are not going anywhere, so having fun at home...

Five Frugal things:

- F and I went to the gym to attend my friend L's class (she teaches the same class I do, but on Mondays). Because I teach there, I am free and my immediate family is free!

- F and I went to the library today and she got four books; we don't buy books. This should last through the week I hope. But if we need to go back, we can...

- Dinner tonight was tostadas, my most frugal dinner. A $1 package of corn tortillas, $1 can of refried beans, a little sour cream, a little salsa and some lettuce. D uses a little bit of grated cheese, too.

- F went to Karate this afternoon; we pay monthly, so the more she goes, the less expensive it is. She can go 3x/week.

- Tomorrow is D's birthday! We are having a nice dinner at home (because we're all getting home really late!) and flourless chocolate cake with whipped cream (yes, homemade! - way less expensive. F made him a card, and we got him a breakfast burrito from the best place in town for his breakfast. I hope it's a good day even though he has to work!

oh - and #6 - we are not going anywhere for Spring Break!

Thoughts on Personal Purchases

March 11th, 2018 at 04:11 pm

I am sitting here happily watching the snow fall outside... I know the East Coast is getting hammered, but we're very happy to have this snow. We've had a below-normal year here at the tail-end of the Rocky Mountains. So we don't need to water out trees today - hooray! Probably a savings of about $1, but still...

So, about 2 months into the year, and I've done well with my plan to minimize buying things for myself. I am not talking about experiences or consumables. The only thing I've bought this year is a new pair of trainers. My other pair were pretty broken down, and since I teach a fitness class, it's not good for my feet, legs, back... The money came out of the fitness budget, which I track separately, deducting from the money I make from the gym. I will keep the receipt for next year's taxes.

There are things I'd like to buy but haven't. First on that list is a new pillow. My pillow is great, but it's feather, and I have allergies. I do better with a foam pillow, but I like the feel of feathers. Maybe Mother's Day...

Other than that, there is nothing that I need and very little that I want very much.

So the personal spending is very low.

We spent the day yesterday at F's soccer game. We brought packed lunches for after the game. We ate brunch at home because F couldn't eat lunch before (game started at noon and they warm up at 11:15). This eliminated the cost of eating out afterward, and she was able to eat right away (she was so hungry! She is a left-winger and was not subbed the entire time!). Not sure if everyone thinks that watching U14 soccer is a great Saturday, but we do!

Today, F had her Karate belt test. She missed the class test yesterday because of soccer, so we had to do a private test (cost is $70). The private cost is for an hour, and the test only took 15 minutes, so she had a private lesson for the rest of the time which was great! She had fun, we had fun watching.

Spent the rest of today reading a book on my phone (free on Hoopla), drinking tea and going to the grocery store. We spent $121. My friend whose daughter plays soccer with F said that he never spends less than $200. It's all relative.

This week's menu is:
S - cauliflower stirfry (Vegetarian)
M - tostadas (Vegetarian)
T - baked penne with turkey (D's birthday dinner! It will be post-soccer practice so late, but he has a work thing until 6:45 anyway)
W - baked potato bar with chili, cheese, sour cream, green onions (Vegetarian) - friends coming over for dinner and he can't eat cheese, so we go with a baked potato bar approach and a side salad. I will make the chili without any turkey burger in it because we'll have had turkey the night before.
Th - salmon souvlaki with rice, cucumber, feta, greek olives and raita (I love raita! I got Greek yoghurt and F can have yoghurt with berries for breakfast one morning, too)
F - fennel salad and black bean taquitos (Vegetarian)