Friday, July 31, 2009

Weekly Shopping Trip---Savings $97.31

This week was a coupon savings week! Between the sales and coupons I was able to save more than I spent at the grocery store. I am just so estatic that I accomplished such a feat and on top of that I went to Meijer's Big 10 for $10 get 11th item free mix and match sale with $60 CASH and walked out with change!! Oh that makes me happy!

Here is a breakdown of shopping:

  • 2 packs 40w light bulbs 99¢
  • 5 boxes cake mix $5.00
  • 10 Warm Delights $2.50
  • 1 bag cookie mix 60¢
  • 6 tubes Grands biscuits $4.50
  • 2 Easy Mac cups $1.00
  • 4 boxes Mac & cheese $3.00
  • 2 boxes brown & serve sausage $2.00
  • 3 tubs Land O Lakes butter $1.40
  • 4 boxes pizza rolls $4.00
  • 2 bottles Sunny Delight $2.00
  • 6 jars Smuckers jam $6.00
  • 8 cans Old Orchard juice $5.00
  • 2 pints Breyers ice cream $1.00
  • 3 boxes Muellers pasta $1.37
  • 1 box Honey Nut Cheerios 99¢
  • 2 boxes General Mills cereal $2.98
  • 2 boxes Life Cereal $3.00
  • 2 lbs Tilapia fish $7.00
Total OOP with tax: $54.39
Total Savings: $77.07
Total without sales & coupons: $131.46

Family Fare:
  • 2 pks Keebler Fudge shoppe cookies $2.00
  • 5 lbs whole wheat flour $3.00
  • 2 dark choc. Snicker bars FREE
  • 1.47 lbs sirloin tip breakfast steaks $3.81(50% manager's markdown)
  • 1.79lbs cube steak $4.40
  • 2 pks flour tortilla shells $3.38
  • 2 lbs shredded mozzerella cheese $5.96
Total OOP: $22.55
Total Savings: $20.24
Total without sales & coupons: $42.79

Grand Total OOP: $76.94
Grand Total Savings: $97.31
Grand Total without sales & coupons: $174.25

This post is linked at:

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

My Grocery Shopping Savings Story

I know that I have shared this before but I have had several readers over the last few months ask me questions about my weekly shopping so I thought I would pull "my story" from the archives and share it again and include updated figures in the budget section below. I hope that this helps answer those questions you may be having about my weekly shopping. If it doesn't, feel free to ask more questions and I will try to answer them.

Background: I have been married for 13 ½ years and for 13 years I have been a stay at home mom. I also home school my 5 children—ages 13yo-2 1/2yo. So far in our marriage, my hubby has had 7 different jobs along with four different times of unemployment (two times of unemployment were over 6 months). Usually the unemployment would come as a surprise to us, he would go into work one day and the manager calls him to tell him he can pack his belongings and go home. When those "surprises" have come we might not have much in our bank savings account BUT we have food on our shelves to last us at least a week (basically long enough to get our last paycheck and get filed for unemployment). Knowing that a "surprise" could come upon us again, I work at having a consistent stockpile.

Struggles: Hubby grew up eating lots of pre-packaged foods and I grew up eating from scratch and garden fresh cooking. Once we were married, I fell more into the pre-packaged food route along with very little from scratch foods to please hubby's way of eating. However, about 3 years ago, my hubby was diagnosed with high cholesterol with extremely high triglycerides along with high blood pressure. He has gotten his numbers down tremendously through medicines and me changing cooking and shopping habits. I am slowly (read ever so slowly!!) changing how I cook to more from scratch cooking rather than pre-packaged foods. However, I have to be careful as to how much I change and how many new things I cook or bake at once because I live with a bunch of picky eaters! Yes, I have picky eaters who only like certain veggies and not much in the way of fruit. I also have a bunch that doesn't like to eat beans or meatless meals! They like their protein in the form of meat! Aside from hubby's health problems and picky eaters, the other thing I have struggled with is not getting every deal I see "advertised". This struggle started when I started reading other blogs, I started thinking that maybe changing my method of grocery shopping and following other's ways would start saving me even more money. Well after 3 months of trying a "new way", I found that I didn't have any more room to put anything and I had spent way more than I had in the past! I had more items (shampoo, vitamins, toothpaste to name a few) than what we would be able to use in 6 months! My pantry was full! My linen closet was full! My freezers were full! One would think that would be a good thing—having a huge stockpile but when that stockpile is using money that you might have been able to use elsewhere or your marriage is suffering from it, it makes it not such a good deal and a waste of money. Once my hubby talked to me about our stockpile, I realized that I needed to stop getting every deal that I saw on the blogs or in the ads. I needed to get back to a method that worked well for my family not someone else's!

Monthly Method: Each week, I clip coupons for only the things I know we will use and keep them in a coupon organizer. I shop the weekly sales at 2 different stores and stock up on good deals using coupons. I also go to Aldi's or Save-A-Lot to pick up any other things that I might need that were not in the sales. Then the following day after updating my "food inventory", I make weekly menus for 3 meals and 2 snacks from what I have on hand in the pantry and freezer along with doing my version of once a month cooking. I have tried making a menu before I shop and it just doesn't work!! I usually will find some markdown meat or something else on sale rather than what I had planned. So I shop this week for what I am going to use next week or the following week for meals. I also shop in such a way where I am not paying full price(exception being milk & eggs) for anything. That is why to many people looking in my shopping trips look strange or unbalanced because there isn't any produce or meat on any given weekly shopping trip. Shopping this way has helped me during those weeks where the good deals are slim or just not there because I can work off of my stockpile. I also do a monthly shopping trip to Sam's club. My hubby only gets paid twice a month so I started doing a major shopping trip twice a month and then the other two weeks getting stockpile items and essentials to finish up meals for the week.

Budget: If someone were to ask me what is my monthly grocery budget, I would have to say that I do not have one at least one that is set in stone. Some months I only spend around $300 for food, paper products, toiletries, and cleaners while other months it can be close to $900. However, when I do year end averages, I find that my grocery/non-grocery category averages around $600/month for the year. That is a pretty good average considering that I am feeding seven people who love their meat and potatoes meals and the way that prices for groceries has increased over the last year. Also 4 of the 7 are growing boys who seem to have hollow legs to fill up for at each meal!

This post is linked at:

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Easy Clean Up with a Messy Dish

Over the weekend, we went to a church group gathering where we needed to bring food! What's a church group gathering without food! Anyway, it was requested by those in charge of the event that each family bring either a main dish and dessert or salad and dessert or combination of things. With the help of my family I decided that I was going to bring my BLT Pasta Salad and BBQ smokies.

The pasta salad is a good travelling dish however, the BBQ smokies can be a bit on the challenging side to get from my house to a gathering without them making a mess. Usually if I am going to bring the BBQ smokies to a gathering I will bring all the ingredients and then make them once I get to where I am going. However, with this gathering being a picnic type event, I knew it was going to be a little difficult to make once I got to the event. So instead of making something else that would travel easier, I went ahead and made the BBQ smokies.

I made them up in a pan on the stove to get them cooked and heated through and very hot. I needed them to stay hot until we ate an hour later. I poured them into one of Pyrex glass 9x13 dishes, covered with foil and then the plastic lid and stuck them into my insulated tote.

Before I stuck the dish into my insulated tote, I came up with this brillant idea...

put a section of newpaper in the tote first before I put the dish into it.

Then set the dish on the newspaper in the tote! This worked wonders in not only keeping the dish warmer but it also catches any spills that might occur, which for this dish is almost a guarantee!

After I got home from the picnic, I was able to throw away the soiled newspaper and I didn't have to clean up barbeque sauce out of my insulated carrier! Having the newspaper in the tote made coming home and cleaning up a lot easier.

This post is linked at:

Sauteed Zucchini and Summer Squash

I love this simple, colorful, and flavorful side dish of zucchini and summer(crookneck) squash.

Zucchini season would not be complete without having this side dish along with a burger off the grill or a piece of marinaded grilled chicken. And the best part but rather unhealthy side of this dish is that it tastes soooo much better cooked in bacon grease(I keep a jar of grease in my fridge during the summer months just for using in cooking!).

My mom steps it up a notch in color and adds shredded or julienned carrots to the dish.

The directions for this dish are easy...
  1. Cut up into quarters some zucchini and summer squash. You want chunks over slices because the squash will cook down.
  2. Cut up some onion. The amount of onion that you use is based on the amount of squash you cut up. If you only cut up one summer squash and 1 zucchini, only do 1/4 of an onion. OR if you are like me and don't have fresh onion on hand, use 2 TSBP. of dried minced onions for the 2 squash. If you use dried minced onion, put it in a cup or bowl and hydrate it first with a 1-2 TBSP you have "fresh onion" to put in your squash.
  3. Melt 1 TBSP bacon grease or use 1 TBSP butter or olive oil in a skillet.
  4. Put squash & onions in the skillet once the grease or butter/olive oil is melted.
  5. Cook/fry/sauteed the squash and onions until tender. The picture above shows the squash about 1/2 way done. I like to cook it until it has some browning on the squash.
This dish is best served hot.

The last time I made this, I ended up with leftovers and decided to heat them up in the microwave the next day for lunch. Yuck! It does NOT make a very tasty leftover if heated back up in the microwave. Next time I have leftovers, I am going to take my mom's suggestion and heat them back up in the skillet where the squash might get a bit more browning.

This post is linked at:

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Menu Plan Monday 7/26-8/1

Last week's menu plans went off without too much trouble despite not having many leftovers to use for hubby’s lunch. He only had to get takeout food once the whole week! We ended up at my parents’ house on Friday night so I once again brought dinner to feed 11 people. I still haven’t gotten down that 6 chicken breasts are NOT going to feed 11 people no matter how you slice them. It really would help if my parents did some kind of grocery shopping! I thought taking over to my mom some of the sheets I use to organize my grocery shopping would help her out. I guess I need to take it a bit further and actually do some shopping for her.

This week my shopping trip was picking up a few deals and getting what I forgot last week to complete some meals. Now I really need to get motivated and get a couple of weeks of menus done so that I can see where and how the food will get used up.

This week’s menus are kid friendly meals as my hubby will be working late at work. This is a major deadline for a work project so everyone that is on hubby’s work team is coming into town to get the work done, which means he will have some 12-14 hour days at work. When hubby has these kinds of weeks, I enjoy making things that hubby doesn’t really prefer but the kids enjoy to eat.

I didn’t get much in the way of baking done last week because the weather really didn’t want to cooperate! It was just too hot to think about baking! So I grated up my zucchini into 4-2 cup bags and put in the freezer to pull out to make into bread later when it is cooler. I still need to do the requested orange juice muffins!

I did try a new recipe last week!! I made some fresh strawberry muffins for the first time! My oldest son and I thought they were yummy!! The rest of the family said they were alright but it wasn’t a favorite, so I shared some with friends and my parents and put the rest in the freezer for oldest son and me to pull for quick breakfasts or snacks.

For this week’s lunches (that are listed below), are for the kids and me! Unless we are having leftovers, our lunches are served with apple slices or carrot sticks along with fruit juice or water. Hubby usually takes a dinner leftover along with various snacks for his work lunch so I don’t take the time to plan his lunches. He just takes the next oldest leftover on the stack in the fridge. This week there isn’t much in the way of leftovers so I think hubby will have at least one day out for lunch and cold sandwiches for another day!

A special thanks to Laura-Organizing Junkie for hosting Menu Plan Monday! Need help with your menus; go check the over 300 other delicious meal plans that have been linked at Laura-Organizing Junkie’s site or look down in my right sidebar for my menu suggestion lists!

Sunday (7-26)

Breakfast: eggs, sausage(kids) or steak(hubby), hash browns, and jiffy muffins(box)

Lunch: leftovers

Dinner: fish or chicken tender sandwiches served with fries

Snack: snack basket

Monday (7-27)

Breakfast: cereal and toaster strudel

Lunch: leftovers

Dinner: chicken pot pie and homemade bread

Snack: snack basket

Tuesday (7-28)

Breakfast: waffles and sausage

Lunch: sandwich & chips

Dinner: Salisbury steak served with mashed taters and corn

Snack: snack basket

Wednesday (7-29)

Breakfast: bagels, cereal, eggs

Lunch: leftovers

Dinner: sliced ham served with mac & cheese, and peas

Snack: snack basket

Thursday (7-30)

Breakfast: French toast and sausage

Lunch: sandwich & chips

Dinner: homemade pizza

Snack: snack basket

Friday (7-31)

Breakfast: cereal and toast

Lunch: sandwich & chips

Dinner: chicken club sandwiches served with seasoned pan fries and corn

Snack: ice cream night

Saturday (8-1)

Breakfast: “Cook’s Choice”

Lunch: ??? parents’ house

Dinner: ??? parents’ house

Snack: snack basket or popcorn