Wednesday, May 25, 2011

From the Grocery List to the Dinner Table

Last week I didn't plan on doing major grocery shopping. I do most of my shopping 1/2 hour away because the town I live in only has a small grocery store that it priced significantly higher than the store 1/2 hour away. But I can't get through a week without getting milk, bread, and a few other things--things that added up to about $75! I really don't want to increase my grocery budget, but when the kids are home all summer needing snacks and lunch, I may increase it by $40, about the amount I was spending for school lunch each month. Here's what I ended up buying last week:
It was my oldest son's birthday, and he requested sliders. I bought hamburger, curly fries, pickles, rolls for the sliders, and vanilla ice cream and whipped cream (to go with the brownie sundaes) for a little over $20. Expensive for a meal at home, but cheaper than going out.
I also bought bread ($2.79!), eggs (18 for $2.27), tortillas so we could have tacos later in the week, sunflower seeds for the hubby, macaroni and cheese (5/$1.99), apple juice, cottage cheese, 2 gallons of milk, bananas, tomatoes and aluminum foil.
A couple days later I realized we were almost out of toilet paper, so I bought the store brand on sale for $5.99 and used $1 coupon--total with tax, $5.40.
I decided to make spaghetti on the weekend, but needed pasta and also bought some frozen breadsticks. I bought day old cookies for $1.50, more bread (at $2.79!), more apple juice, more cottage cheese, more milk, pretzels, bananas, a cucumber, celery and apples.
I was going to shop on Monday, but had a sick kid, so I snuck out for a few things when my oldest was home from school to keep an eye on the kids. I got 7-up for the sickie, butter, chunk cheese ($2.73 for 8 oz.!), eggs (on sale $0.99 for a dozen), Pull Ups, milk, chips, and bread.
And that's how I spent $75 in a week I didn't plan to grocery shop.

Pumpkin Muffins

Every once in awhile I see something in my freezer that's been there for some time and needs to be used up. The other day I found a small container of pureed pumpkin so I made some mini pumpkin chocolate chips muffins using this recipe on I had about 1/2 cup pumpkin, so I made a half batch. The pumpkin was a little watery, making the batter on the thin side, so I added a little extra flour.
  • 3/4 cup white sugar
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 eggs
  • 3/4 cup canned pumpkin
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves (I did not use cloves.)
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips
  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C). Grease and flour muffin pan or use paper liners.
  2. Mix sugar, oil, eggs. Add pumpkin and water. In separate bowl mix together the baking flour, baking soda, baking powder, spices and salt.. Add wet mixture and stir in chocolate chips.
  3. Fill muffin cups 2/3 full with batter. Bake in preheated oven for 20 to 25 minutes. (I did about 15 minutes for the mini muffins.)

Monday, May 16, 2011

From the Grocery List to the Dinner Table

A week's worth of groceries, minus milk and orange juice

Here's what I bought on my latest shopping trip:
Breakfast items--
Honey Bunches of Oats Raisin Medley ($1.50 after coupon)
Breakfast sausage
18 eggs
Orange juice

Lunch items--
Turkey burgers (These were a clearance item at $1.99 for 4 turkey burgers. I put them in the freezer for an easy lunch option.)
Hot dogs
Chicken breasts
Frozen ravioli
Deli ham
Wheat buns to go with the turkey burgers

Pork loin ($4.14 after coupon)
Chicken value pack

Green leaf lettuce (50% off--$0.84)
Mini carrots
Organic Fuji apples
Pears (still waiting for these to ripen!)
Dole classic salad mix

Toasteds crackers ($1.19 after coupon)
Planters Nut Bars
Kraft pudding ($0.74 sale)
Nabisco graham crackers
Ocean Spray craisins ($1.49 after coupon)
Cheez Its
Peanut butter sandwich crackers
Almonds ($2.12 each after coupon)
Donuts (fisherman's variety pack for $2.99; I couldn't resist)
Fudgesicles ($0.99 sale for 8 pack)
Planters peanuts ($1.49 each after coupon)
Edy's ice cream products were 4/$12, and I got back a $4 catalina coupon to use next time I go shopping. I got 2 fruit bars, 1 ice cream, and 1 Nestle Drumstick cones

3 milks
Swiss cheese to make Broccoli Cheese Soup
Coffee non-dairy creamer
Cottage cheese
Block cheese
Shredded cheese
American cheese

Pantry or freezer items--
Sweet Baby Rays BBQ sauce (on sale for $1.19, our preferred brand)
Nestle chocolate chips ($1.72 each after coupon)
Ramen noodles
Dole pineapple ($0.93 each after coupon)
Pizza sauce
Hershey's candy bars 6 pk. (3/$5 with graham crackers and marshmallows)
Rinaldi pasta sauce
Kool Aid packets
Birdseye frozen veggies ($0.66 each after coupon)
Red Baron pizza singles
Baked beans
Bertoli Olive oil (on sale for $3.84)
Skippy natural peanut butter (on sale for $1.49)

Toothpicks for $0.50
Whole bean coffee
Paper plates for $0.99

Menu Plan Monday 56

I haven't posted a mean plan in a few weeks, but I have been planning our meals. I have no big grocery shopping trips planned, and will just pick up a few things to get through the week. Here's what we're eating:
Sunday--Ham, baked sweet potatoes, baked beans
Monday--Baked potato bar with leftover ham, broccoli, shredded cheese, and sour cream
Tuesday--Oldest son's 12th birthday. His choice is sliders and curly fries with brownie sundaes for dessert.
Wednesday--Chicken dinner. I'm cooking a package of chicken pieces in the crockpot that I'll take off the bone to use for this and other meals.


Blueberry Buckle

I was looking through my freezer to see what I could use up to free up some space. I found a package of blueberries I froze last summer and found this recipe for Blueberry Buckle on The kids kept picking at the leftover bits until it was all gone.

3/4 cup white sugar
1/4 cup shortening
1 egg
1/2 cup milk
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups fresh blueberries
1/2 cup white sugar
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 cup butter, softened
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Grease one 8x8 inch pan. (I think I'll try an 8 x 11 pan next time.)
  2. Cream together 3/4 cup sugar, shortening, and egg.
  3. In a separate bowl mix together 2 cups flour, baking powder, and salt. Stir into sugar mixture, alternating with milk. Stir in blueberries. Pour into greased 8x8 inch pan. (The batter was pretty thick and didn't pour--I spooned it into the pan.)
  4. To make topping: Combine 1/2 cup sugar, 1/3 cup flour, cinnamon, and butter. Sprinkle over cake batter. (I also added some oatmeal to the topping.)
  5. Bake at 375 degree F (190 degrees C) for 25-30 minutes. (This took longer than 30 minutes to bake--probably about 40-45 minutes, and the very center was still a bit doughy.)

Quinoa and Black Bean Chili

I've been looking for recipes using quinoa and recently tried this quinoa and black bean chili from Since it was just the kids and I eating, I made a half batch. It had a lot of flavor and just enough of a kick without being too hot.

1 cup uncooked quinoa, rinsed
2 cups water
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, chopped (I didn't have fresh garlic on hand, so I used garlic powder)
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 (28 ounce) can crushed tomatoes (I used a can of RoTel tomatoes)
2 (19 ounce) cans black beans, rinsed and drained
1 green bell pepper, chopped (I just used one green pepper, no red this time)
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1 zucchini, chopped (I skipped the zucchini)
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced (Since I used RoTel tomatoes, I did not add any jalapeno)
1 tablespoon minced chipotle peppers in adobo sauce (I used a small can of green chiles)
1 teaspoon dried oregano (Instead of the spices listed, I used a packet of chili seasoning)
salt and ground black pepper to taste
1 cup frozen corn
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro (I'm not a fan of cilantro, so I left it out)

Bring the quinoa and water to a boil in a saucepan over high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer until the quinoa is tender, and the water has been absorbed, about 15 to 20 minutes; set aside.

Meanwhile, heat the vegetable oil in a large pot over medium heat. Stir in the onion, and cook until the onion softens and turns translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic, chili powder, and cumin; cook and stir 1 minute to release the flavors. Stir in the tomatoes, black beans, green bell pepper, red bell pepper, zucchini, jalapeno pepper, chipotle pepper, and oregano. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Bring to a simmer over high heat, then reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer 20 minutes.

After 20 minutes, stir in the reserved quinoa and corn. Cook to reheat the corn for 5 minutes. Remove from the heat, and stir in the cilantro to serve.

Friday, May 6, 2011

From the Grocery List to the Dinner Table

To get the most out of my money when grocery shopping, I do my best to look through the weekly ad for the best sales, and also match sale items with coupons. My best deals can be found here. This is what I can do with what I bought this week:
Apples, oranges ($0.77/lb.), bananas, strawberries ($1.66), cantaloupe ($0.77/lb.), broccoli/cauliflower heads, carrots, green peppers (2/$0.97), mushrooms ($0.77), grape tomatoes ($1.97), avocados ($1.17 each), cucumber, potatoes.
I almost always buy (or have on hand) apples, bananas, potatoes and carrots. I bought the broccoli/cauliflower and cucumber to add to salads. Everything else was a sale item. The fruit we'll eat as snacks or with a meal. The green peppers and mushrooms will get added to a meal, tomatoes we'll snack on or eat in salad, and the avocadoes can go with Cinco de Mayo nachos, or on turkey burgers.
My biggest expenditure in the meat department was a 5 pound package of hamburger for $14.88. I'll used it for BBQ meatballs, taco meat for nachos, and the rest will be frozen in 1 pound packages for future meals.
I also bought a large package of drumsticks ($3.94 after coupon) for Parmesan Drumsticks, 3 pound package of Johnsonville brats ($6.72 after coupon) and two packages of Ball Park hot dogs ($1.95 each after coupon).
I almost always buy milk, eggs, and butter when I go grocery shopping. I'm not brand loyal most of the time, so I buy whatever brand of cottage cheese, cheese, sour cream, non-dairy creamer, and orange juice is on sale each week. This week I also bought store brand Parmesan cheese, whole wheat tortillas, Frigo string cheese, 1st National bagels.
I bought McCain sweet potato fries for $1.99, Eggo waffles ($1.62 each after coupon), Super Hero popsicles for $2.49, DiGiorno's new pizza combos (Pizza and Wyngz--their spelling, and Pizza and Cookies) for $4.70 each after coupons, and two bags of store brand frozen veggies for $0.99 each.
I bought two loaves of bread for $2.49 each, store brand hot dog buns for $1.55, Ball Park hot dog buns for $1.44 after coupon. One package of buns went in the freezer for a later time.
Snacks and treats
Toasteds crackers for $1.19 after coupons, store brand saltines and graham crackers, Blue Diamond almonds for $2.13 each after coupon, Planters trail mix 2/$3 on sale. Oreo Fudgees were $1.99 after coupon.
Kellogg's cereal for $1.64 each after coupon. Most days the kids eat cereal for breakfast. Sometimes they'll have toast or a bagel, and we'll have pancakes, eggs, oatmeal, or other options on the weekend.
To add to pantry stock
Store brand peanut butter, Duncan Hines brownie mix for $0.49 after coupon, Duncan Hines frosting 2/$3 and used coupon for free cake mix when you buy 2 frostings (we have two birthdays coming up in the next month), Pillsbury cake mix ($0.77), taco shells, Kool Aid, Hunt's Ketchup ($0.99, and has no high fructose corn syrup), flour salsa, apple sauce, ramen noodles, canned pineapple ($0.93 after coupon), chocolate chips
Specifically for school lunches
Juice boxes, deli ham, chips ($1.49-$1.99 per bag after coupons)
Nestle Crunch/Baby Ruth candy bars were on $0.19 after coupon, Sierra Mist was free when I bought 2 bags of Sun Chips, Old El Paso taco seasoning was free when I bought 2 Old El Paso products, Royal Oak charcoal for $3.99
Whole bean coffee, Pull Ups, lotion