Monday, January 31, 2011

January Pantry Challenge Wrap...I Can Explain

For the sake of "keeping it real" here, I thought I'd just quickly post about the second half of my grocery challenge for this month. On January 17th, I had about $10 left to work with. Later that week a friend alerted me to a big grain order that needed to be placed that week. Since I haven't been able to find a good source for grain locally, I jumped at the chance to be part of this order at a co-op in a nearby town. And thus began the lack of motivation to follow through with my grand plans. My shopping opportunities are usually on weekends and I didn't want to wait until February 1st to improve my numbers. Also, there were several coupon match-ups this past week which seemed worth stocking up on for future needs.

Anyway, adding to the $165 from earlier in the month:
1/21 Taste of Life $160.90
150 lb. wheat, 25 lb. corn, 50 lb. oat groats, 1 bucket lid
This supply will last the better part of a year at least.

1/22 Target $9.34
baby food - I do make baby food, too, but for the sake of variety and some ease, we bought some.

1/22 Whole Foods $26.34
bulk oats, 1 pkg. organic whole wheat pasta, 1 bag tortilla chips, 2 amazing* pizzas
*Whole Foods is becoming our favorite place for prepared pizzas. They make them to order for a great price on weekends.

1/24 Target $23.09
3 packs of diapers, 4 lb. dry beans, 1 lb. barley, 1 pkg. pasta, 1 lb. butter, 2 pumpkin pies ($1.07 each after coupons)

1/28 Costco $13.96
4.5 lb. cheese, 3 lb. sour cream

1/29 Safeway $39.04
9 jars pasta sauce, 4 cans soup, large pack of t.p., 9 individual yogurts, 3 4-pks yogurt, 3 small loaves bakery bread & bag of chips (for an easy Saturday lunch), 8.5 lb. boneless skinless chicken

1/29 Albertsons $19.98
4 dozen eggs, 1 bag tortilla chips, 5 boxes cereal, 24-pk bottled water (for team snacks in a few weeks), 2 bottles salad dressing, 1 shave gel, 1 loaf bread

1/29 King Soopers $52.89
9 boxes Kleenex, 4 pkgs. dishwasher detergent, 6 jars salsa, 1 pkg. rice, 1 can Ro-tel, 3 cans tomatoes, 1 yellow pepper, 4 avocados, 2 boxes pasta, 3 pkgs. sliced cheese, 5.5 lb. organic pears, 9 lb. organic apples, 2 tubs yogurt, 4 individual yogurts, 2 lb. organic baby carrots, 2 bottles soda

Grand total $511.17 {She hangs her head in shame.}

So I see it this way.
Stumble: going WAY over what I had planned.
Success: still finding items at their lowest prices.

Stumble: take-out - 2 meals of Chick-Fil-A, 1 meal of Chipotle (Burr-tio deal that fed us for 2 meals), and the 2 Whole Foods pizzas (again, food for 2 meals)
Success: getting through most of the month without boxed cereal or much yogurt for breakfast

Stumble: not planning ahead that made Chick-Fil-A the easiest option on a busy night
Success: cooking up dried beans and a crockpot full of mesquite chicken that made lots of meals

Stumble: not taking a full inventory before I started so I would remember what I had to work with
Success: baking lots of whole wheat bread and zucchini bread

Stumble: needing a better plan to make the most of sales while not going to the store too often...I simply need to plan better.
Success: getting a few meals put away in the freezer for busy nights and delivering a meal to dear friend.

Stumble: lacking contentment when certain items ran low
Success: keeping on keeping on....I'll keep trying.

I think lately we have been right around $400/month for groceries and household needs, but writing it out provides some clarity and motivation to streamline and keep searching for what is going to work for our family in this season.

I think I'll try again for February!

Monday, January 17, 2011

January Pantry Challenge Update

The January pantry challenge is going okay, though I have made a few observations.

1. When you make a menu for a month, don't expect to follow it to the letter. We've only eaten about half of the meals I had planned to this date because of leftovers we needed to eat, a couple take-out meals that also yielded leftovers and some poor planning.
2. For a big menu plan, check your stock of all ingredients needed in your meals even if you don't need a lot of them. Ever tried to make a stir-fry without soy sauce?
3. Plan some meals you can get on the table in a matter of minutes. Everyone has days when the time, energy or schedule doesn't allow much for cooking.
4. If you're planning for a long stretch of time, sales may not come when you need them. I'm still waiting on a good sale on pork to make our favorite pulled pork.
5. If you schedule your grocery shopping for a certain day and then can't go on that day and have no opportunities for shopping for the rest of the week, the menu you had planned will likely fall by the wayside.

I've given lots of thought lately to just how much time, energy and stress (shopping with 4 children!) grocery shopping requires and am trying to find a balance between time and money. I don't need to impress anyone with how little I spend on groceries if we have enough to feed our family and have a good balance between being good stewards of both of those resources. I'm no extreme couponer. I think I may have been in the past, and that time may come again, but I really need to spend my time on things that our family values more for this season. I need to shop more strategically and less frequently.

January Grocery far
King Soopers $26.42 - milk, buttermilk, apples, potatoes, avocados, beans, eggs, girl stuff
Costco - $15.62 - lots of lunch meat, bananas, cinnamon
Sunflower Market -$62.06 lots of ground beef & chicken, yogurt, produce, vinegar
Costco - $31.95 bread, cheese, bananas, tortillas, tortilla chips, spinach, celery, snack mix
Farm Crest - $11.96 4 gallons milk
Sam's Club - $17.62 bacon bits, salsa, chips
Grand total - $165.63

So, that leaves me less than $10 for the next 14 days. We'll see how that goes. I still have plenty of options with the food we have in the house, so I'm hoping for the best. But we may need diapers, or t.p., or some other baby things. Listing out the purchases certainly highlights the impulse buys.

Here's the menu plan for this week.
Monday - buffalo chicken meatballs, mashed potatoes, carrot & celery sticks w/dip
Tuesday - Homemade mac & cheese w/a bit of diced chicken breast, steamed veggies
Wednesday - Creamy roasted tomato soup, grilled turkey cheese sandwiches
Thursday - Spinach salad w/chicken, feta, bacon, croutons, etc.
Friday - minestrone, fresh bread
Saturday - cheeseburger pizza, salad
Sunday - taco soup, quesadillas

Are you doing a similar challenge? How is it going? How do you get food on your table economically while maintaining your sanity?

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

the Me I Want to Be

I've been mulling over New Year's resolutions for a while now, hence the lateness in getting them posted. But really, is there something magical about setting them on January 1st? I think not. I've been thinking of these goals more in terms of who I want to BE at the end of this year, rather than just what I want to accomplish. So here's my 'be' list for 2011.

Be content with God's provision for us, with all the ups and downs of raising little ones, with my role as a wife/mom/teacher, and with myself - flaws and all, daily cultivating a heart of thankfulness.

Be rooted in God and his Word. Read the Bible through this year and take time through each day to prayer and submit myself anew to Him.

Be engaged. This year I want to invest more heavily in my kids with their hearts and with their formal education and in doing things with and for them for their enjoyment. I want to be a fun mom.

Be healthy. Strive to eat lots of fruits and veggies every day. Drink 8-10 glasses of water each day. Stop taking seconds at meals.

Be lighter. I'm working toward losing at least 27 lbs. this year.

Be active. I've made it my goal to have 300 workouts or highly active days this year.

Be organized and free of household clutter that steals away time and attention from what really matters. I'll be working through this book as a guide to help me along the way.

Be creative. Taking time to sew and craft is good down-time for me for thinking and acts as good therapy. :) I hope to finish a project per week this year.

Be a learner. I'm not sure what this looks like yet, but I do want to take some risks, invest some time and learn some new things this year.

Be resourceful, making the most of the time, energy and money that I have.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

January Menu - Pantry Challenge

With the new year here, I am feeling the need to get back on track with menu planning, tighten the purse strings a bit, and use up some of the items that have been in our pantry for a while. So, here is the menu plan for January. I'm hoping I can stick to it. I've posted it on our fridge for easy reference. For the first couple weeks I planned out breakfasts and lunches, too. But for the remaining weeks we'll just be winging it based on what we still have on hand. We've already started on the plan but I haven't had time to post until now. Forgive the formatting, it looks much better on my word doc.

January Menu

M1/3 D: vegetable beef soup w/ split peas, homemade whole wheat bread

T B: cold cereal, yogurt

L: leftovers (shepherd's pie, pasta w/sauce, soup, pizza, cheese bread, etc.), veggies

D: mashed potato bake (ham/broc/cheese/onion/sour cream), bread & jam, fruit salad

W B: cereal or toast, yogurt

L: green smoothies, tuna melts

D:lasagna (make extra 1 to freeze), garlic bread, spinach salad

Th B: baked french toast, apple slices

L: leftovers & quesadillas, raw veggies & dip

D: beans & rice, sour cream, cheese, avocado, fruit salad

F B: cereal & yogurt

L: snack lunch – crackers, cheese, veggies & dip, turkey

D: beef stir-fry, rice

S B: cranberry whole wheat waffles, fruit, orange juice

L: brats, steamed veggies

D: broccoli cheese soup, crackers or biscuits

S 1/9 B: cinnamon rolls (freezer)

L: company - minestrone, cheese bread, chocolate chunk cookies

D: veggie burgers, corn

M B: steel cut oats, blueberries

*Grocery shopping & prep: make bread (cinnamon rolls, 2 loaves, meat pockets)

L: individual pizzas

D: runzas and ham & cheese pockets, peas

T B: whole wheat cinnamon rolls,

L: mac & cheese, jarred peaches, raw veggies

D: Emeril's pulled pork (make extra to freeze), homemade buns, pickles, veg. side

W B: cereal, yogurt

L: tuna melts, raw veggies

D: caramelized garlic chicken, roasted seasoned potatoes, peas

Th B: banana zucchini bread, yogurt

L: leftovers

D: creamy roasted tomato soup, spinach salad with feta & peppers, grilled cheese sandwiches

F B: oatmeal, raspberries

L: sandwiches, veggies & fruit

D: pepperoni pizza, salad

S B: cereal, yogurt

L: meal on the go – whatever odds and ends we can scrape together

D: lasagna (freezer), garlic bread

S 1/16 B: oatmeal, blueberries

L: out to lunch – gift certificate

D: beef roast, mashed potatoes (make extra for shepherd's pie) & gravy, green beans, biscuits

M D: chili, cornbread

T D: pasta, meat sauce, steamed veggies

W D: BBQ chicken pizza, salad

Th D: leftovers or beans & rice w/ fixings

F D: chicken pot pie, salad

S B: waffles, fruit

L: grilled sandwiches

D: pepperoni pizza, salad

S 1/23 B: egg casserole, toast

L: hamburgers, baked beans, fruit salad

D: shepherd's pie, fruit or veggie

M *Grocery shopping and prep: make bread (2 loaves, focaccia, cinnamon bread)

D: grilled chicken focaccia sandwiches, chips, apples

T D: scrambled eggs, sausage, zucchini bread, fruit

W D: pulled pork (freezer), homemade buns, mixed steamed veggies

Th D: honey crisp baked chicken, rice, green beans

F D: cheeseburger pizza, breadsticks, salad

S L: grilled sandwiches

D: tacos

S 1/30 L:leftovers

D: pasta fagioli soup (Olive Garden recipe), garlic breadsticks

M D: beef & bean burritos, veggies


  • Keep grocery expenditures to $175 – mostly for dairy, produce, meat & excellent deals

  • Eat well

  • Use up what we have