Saturday, September 24, 2011

Sticking to $50...

I had to stick to $50 this week. Truly. My husband's last two paychecks have been $50 short, and when we're already dealing with the 50% paycut we're up against, losing that $50 is a big problem! (Thankfully, it's been resolved.)

When I did our grocery planning, I didn't get very far with sale and coupon matching. It just wasn't a good week. I picked up a few things at Hy Vee and filled in the gaps at Trader Joes. My main goal at Trader Joes was to pick up a few quick and cheap dinner items. We really like their spinach torellini and veggie fried rice, and they are both very inexpensive meals for us! I also got milk and a few things to pack in lunches this week -- shelled pistachios, letter cookies and cereal bars. We'll be ok, but my $50 sure didn't go very far!

Here is our meal plan for the week -

Friday - Little Caesars at dance

Saturday - 100% whole wheat toast and jam / beans and rice burritos / Hawaiian BBQ chicken bowls

Sunday - cereal / pumpkin waffles and cheesy eggs / possible dinner and pumpkin cake with family

Monday - cereal / brown bag lunches / spinach tortellini with marinara

Tuesday - smoothie popsicles / brown bag lunches / chicken salad sandwiches

Wednesday - 100% whole wheat toast / brown bag lunches/ slow cooker black bean and cheese burritos

Thursday - cereal / brown bag lunches / fried rice and fresh fruit

Friday - smoothie popsicles / brown bag lunches / something from next week's groceries

One thing we don't have a shortage of is frozen bananas! We'll be snacking on banana shakes and whole wheat banana bread, I'm sure!

My kids also put a major hurtin' on the pumpkin applesauce I made last week. Unfortunately, the work that goes in to making homemade applesauce is just not cost effective. Instead, I'm going to try doctoring up store bought unsweetened sauce in to spiced pumpkin applesauce. We'll see how it goes!

Ah, I already feel better seeing in writing! We really do have what we need to get through the week. It's not gourmet dining, but we certainly won't starve.

See more meal plans at

Sunday, September 18, 2011

The not quite $50 grocery project...

I've been stalling on updating...

Because I'm sick. And really tired. This was a CRAZY week. It wasn't bad at all. Just CRAZY.

So yes, long story short, we went way over budget this week. I never  Until this weekend, I never did take that extra money from my husband's unemployment check to build our stock pile back up. We decided to deposit what is left of his unemployment money in to our savings account, but I needed to buy some groceries first. I really didn't have a plan, per say, but I wish I had!

I keep thinking that if we can get a leg up, we can resume our $50/week budget and rebuild our stockpile. Actually, after this week, we have to. We don't have any breathing room in the budget. I'm a little worried since I have an extra mouth to feed these days! It took Archer awhile, but he's finally decided he likes to EAT. Like...A LOT. His favorite is butternut squash that I steamed and pureed. So silly!

I sort of lost track of how much we spent, but it was around $80-$90. The above picture is a combined trip to Hen House and Price Chopper. I also went to Hy Vee where I got milk, sugar free popsicles, and I can't remember what else!

Our meal plan for the week looks a little like this,

Friday - frozen pizza

Saturday - cereal / frozen pizza again (embrassing!) / meatless chili

Sunday - chocolate chip oatmeal /  cheese and spinach quiche  / snacky dinner

Monday - apple pumpkin baby's favorite / brown bag lunches / BLTs

Tuesday - 100% whole wheat cinnamon toast / brown bag lunches / spaghetti and red sauce

Wednesday - cereal / brown bag lunches / fish sticks and fries with fresh fruit

Thursday - smoothie popsicles / brown bag lunches / Hawaiian chicken rice bowls

Friday - 100% whole wheat cinnamon toast / brown bag lunches / something from the next week's groceries

Snacks will be yogurt, apples, pumpkin applesauce, banana peanut butter smoothies, string cheese, and cottage cheese.

See other meal plans at

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Beautiful Things

Put your sweater on! This will give you goosebumps!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Green Tortilla Bake

Here is yet another delicious, healthy and inexpensive meal I came across as I've been researching some new main dishes for our family. I cooked four chicken breasts in the crockpot over the weekend, and I used half for chicken noodle soup and half for this recipe. I decided to bulk it up a little, so I also used a can of black beans and some extras of everything else. The recipe really turned out great! The original recipe is Rachael Ray's, and you can find it here.

Here is my adjusted version,


  • 3 chicken breasts or 2 cans of black beans (or a mix of both)
  • 3 cups store-bought salsa verde (I didn't use this much.)
  • 1.5  cup ricotta cheese
  • 6 small flour tortillas
  • 2 cups baby spinach
  • 2 cups shredded pepper jack cheese (I used Mexican blend.)  
Preheat oven to 450.

Whisk together the spinach, salsa verda and ricotta; season with salt and pepper. In a greased 9-inch square baking dish, layer one-third of the salsa mixture, tortillas, chicken and/or beans, spinach and cheese; repeat twice. Bake until golden-brown, 15 to 20 minutes. Let stand for 10 minutes before serving.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

6 Philly Cheesesteaks for $5 Recipe

As I mentioned in my grocery shopping and menu planning post, I've been spending al ot of time researching recipes to add to our main dish line up. I'm just REALLY tired of a lot of my "go-to" meals. We love cavatini, but we've seriously eaten it once or twice a month for years. You can only eat the same thing so many times without getting crazy sick of it no matter how delicious it is!

I tried new recipe for Philly Cheesesteaks tonight, and it was DELISH. The whole family loved it, and, as you know, that is my criteria, but I'm sure everyone can agree that is HARD to find something that both daddy AND my three year old will eat. Actually, my three year old ate an ENTIRE "sub." It was impressive!

My cost break down with all items purchased on sale-

1 lb of ground beef - $1.99
1/2 green pepper - $.25
1/2 cup of pre-diced and frozen onion - $.25
1 beef bullion cube - $.05
1/4 cup A1 steak sauce - free from my mom's
1 package of brat buns - $1.50
1 cup mozzarella cheese - $.75
1 cup milk - $.20
1 tablespoon of butter - $.05

My total cost was about $5 for 6 subs or $.83 a piece! That is a STEAL for something so satisfying!

Here is my adjusted version of the recipe,


  • 1 pound ground sirloin
  • 1/2 onion chopped 
  • 1/2 green pepper
  • 1/4 cup steak sauce
  • 1 beef bullion cube dissolved in a cup of water
  • Salt and ground black pepper
  • 6 brat buns
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 tablespoon flour
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 cup provolone, shredded
In large skillet over medium-high heat brown the ground sirloin, about 5-6 minutes. Add the onion and green pepper cook another 3-4 minutes, until the veggies start to get tender. Stir in the steak sauce and beef stock, season with salt and pepper, bring up to a bubble and cook about 2 minutes.

While the meat is cooking, melt the butter in a medium-size skillet over medium-high heat. Stir in the flour and cook about 1 minute. Whisk in milk, bring up to a bubble and let thicken, about 2 minutes. Turn off heat and stir the cheese in a figure-eight motion until it is all incorporated.

You may also want to toast your buns under the broiler in the oven! (I didn't toast my children's for ease of eating.)

Assemble and enjoy!

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Re-employed and overbudget...

 (Don't worry. His daddy was holding his hand! I added a baby, but I accidentally omitted milk from this picture.)

My husband got his first full paycheck since the July yesterday, and it felt GREAT! My grocery budget is still $50 week, but I unfortunately went a little bit over. It was, thankfully, a pretty good sale week, so I went ahead and bought the items I knew we needed and would use along with a few items to fill in the gaps to make complete meals with some of items I already have. My grand total came in at about $67 after taxes. Depending on how the week goes, I'll decide if we have to make do with what we've got an only spend $30 on groceries next week or evaluate if I can spare the extra $20 from our spending money. Either way, we'll manage.

Our meal plan is as follows,

Saturday - apples and yogurt / homemade chicken noodle soup / snacky dinner

Sunday - cereal / brown bag lunches on the way to the circus/ philly cheesesteaks

Monday - yogurt / brown bag lunches / fish sticks and fries with fruit

Tuesday - 100% whole wheat cinnamon toast / brown bag lunches / chicken salad sandwiches (this was a hit last week!)

Wednesday - cereal / brown bag lunches / chicken nachos

Thursday - smoothie popsicles / brown bag lunches / spinach and chicken tortilla bake

Friday - 100% whole wheat cinnamon toast / brown bag lunches / something from the next week's groceries

Snacks will include fresh fruit, frozen veggies, pudding, yogurt and whatever else I can come up with!

I'm planning on trying several new recipes this week, and I'm definitely planning on sharing the ones that go over well! We've had a few misses lately, like last week's cinnamon roll cake. It baked up like butter soup!

On a sugar note, you may continue to notice some changes in the way I am shopping and cooking. My middle daughter has continued to have major dental problems, so along with weaning her, we are really cutting down on the sugar in our house.  I'm on the fence about what to purchase that is artificially sweetened. I don't like feeding artificially sweetened products to my children, but I also do not like and can't afford for their teeth to be rotting out of their face! We'll still have some goodies around, and I will ALWAYS love baking. We're just making an extra and more contentious effort to cut down in the sugar in all of our diets.

Along with the reduction in sugar, I'm also just generally trying to do a better job of nourishing their bodies from the inside out! I've been spending a lot of time (and grocery budget money) to add to my repertoire of dinner entrees, and I'm really happy with the the progress we're making. As a result, we're eating more complete meals and spending more time at the table,and it has been great for us! We're also no longer buying juice or sweetened milk. The options at our house for now are either milk or water, and no one is complaining!

See other meal plans at

Friday, September 2, 2011

Labor Day Weekend!

It's only been two weeks since I've been to the bread store, but I already ran out of bread! Come to think of it, I'm out of EVERYTHING from my stocking up exercise (spending 10% of the budget on an item under $1 every week.) I haven't given up on he exercise entirely, but I'm not overly impressed so far!

This week, I spent $8 at the bread store. I got 6 loaves of bread and a single serving bag of mini muffins. I also hit Hy Vee's 1 day sale to stock up on lbs of butter. While I was there, I got 2 half gallons of OJ, two packages of hot dogs, apples and pears, a package of cream cheese, and I may be forgetting a few other things. My main trip to the store tonight is picture above. All in all, I spent just over $50 after tax. 

It's going to be a simple menu plan around here again. I know I've said this 1,000 times, but we are so low on everything! I have a lot of cooking and baking that I want to do, but it is just not working out to have all of the ingredients I need at once right now. I haven't broken the bank to spend extra money on groceries because I keep hoping if I'm diligent about how I'm shopping and how we are eating that we are going to get caught up. When I say hoping, I mean praying.

Friday - cream cheese chicken burritos

Saturday - cereal / grilled cheese and tomato soup / slow cooker potato soup and cinnamon roll cake

Sunday - pancake breakfast at church / lunch w/ family (I am taking Boston Cream Casserole and hot dogs) / hopefully won't be necessary due to all day grazing

Monday - apple and peanut butter sandwiches / brown bag lunches at the zoo /special carry out dinner

Tuesday - 100% whole wheat cinnamon toast / brown bag lunches / chicken salad sandwiches and green rice

Wednesday - cereal / brown bag lunches / fish sticks and fries with fresh fruit

Thursday - smoothie popsicles / brown bag lunches / leftovers

Friday - 100% whole wheat cinnamon toast / brown bag lunches / something from the next week's groceries

Snacks will be string cheese, fresh fruit, crackers, cereal, smoothie popsicles. I'd really like to do some baking, but I am out of eggs and salt. Hopefully it will be hot enough to kill that urge anyway! I'm not ready for fall!

You can see more menu plans at