Grocery Haul and Meal Plan – February 29

Busy day for me today, I have to go register my car and do a consult for getting my wisdom teeth out. So much fun…

Here are my two grocery hauls for this week and the meals I’m going to use them in. 

Went to Aldi first, here’s what I got:

  • 1 gallon of milk – $1.49
  • Two cans of chickpeas – $0.65 each
  • 1 can of tomato sauce – $0.79
  • Bread – $1.79
  • Blueberries – $1.49
  • Green peppers – 2 for $0.99
  • 1 can of diced tomatoes – $0.59
  • Shrimp – $4.49
  • Oranges – $2.99
  • Apples – $1.49
  • Bananas – $1.38
  • Turkey sausage – $1.99
  • Popcorn kernels – $1.69

Total of $22.47
 Shaw’s haul

  • Ham – 1 lb for $6.35
  • Sliced American cheese – 1/2 lb for $2.91
  • 2 onions – $0.98
  • Orange juice – $3.29
  • Sour cream – $1.29
  • Natural jelly – $3.49
  • Whole wheat rotini – $0.88
  • Shampoo – $1
  • Tortilla chips – $4.29
  • 3 bags of cheese: Mozzarella, Parmesan, Colby Jack – $2.50! (B2G2 with the tortilla chips)

Total of $26.98

I did much better on a budget this week with a total of $49.45! I used a lot of items we already had and even stocked up a bit this week with the cheese, chickpeas, pasta and green pepper. I even got some popcorn kernels to make popcorn.

This week I’ll be making:

Chickpea and Black Bean Enchiladas

So enchiladas are one of my favorite foods. I grew up going to Mexican (or Tex Mex) restaurants and I’d always order cheese enchiladas. I recently went to Chili’s and ordered their enchiladas and fell in love all over again. They were always on my list of things I wanted to try making for myself, but I never did. I saw this recipe on Emerging Adult Eats for chickpea enchiladas and I was sold. I love chickpeas.

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This post is dedicated to this poor can of chickpeas that went through the electric can opener twice and a handheld one once before getting pried open with a butter knife. It put up a brave fight but it was not going to keep me from making enchiladas.

This was so easy to make. Saute some onions, add chickpeas, add black beans and spices, and roll it all up in a tortilla. I left out the chiles because I thought it would be spicy enough without them. We’re more of the mild kind of household.

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Poured enchilada sauce over the top and added cheese. I used mozzarella because it’s what I had on hand and it seemed mild enough in taste to not make a huge difference. Also for trying to keep the heat down a little. Ready to go in the oven.

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The finished product. They were a little hard to get out of the pan because they were a bit floppy, but so delicious. I know what I’m having for lunch all week.

Grocery Shopping Efficiently Part 2 – The Shopping

 

I really like grocery shopping. Of course, I could do without all the people, and the whole checking out and bringing home process, but I enjoy the physical act of shopping for food. I like to take my time, see what’s new or on sale, and find items I never would have known about otherwise.

The three biggest tools you can bring to the store is a list, time, and flexibility. The list is self-explanatory. You don’t have to spend hours in the store, but if you’re on a time crunch, you’re only stressing yourself out and you’re more likely to purchase impulse items or forget something important. Flexibility is helpful when you’re in the store and find out that great sale item you based a meal around is sold out. I used my flexibility by buying items at Aldi that I saw were cheaper than Shaw’s.

This is somewhat embarrassing. I went into my detailed meal plan, list and budget in part 1, and figured out that my list would be around $72. Somehow I came home with $85 worth of groceries. It happens to the best of us: we’re at the store and see something that we know we need at home that isn’t on the list. Let’s figure out where I went wrong.

First of all, I didn’t budget in personal care and household products because I decided including them in the food budget was hurting the amount of food we had for the week. If you add $6 worth of toilet paper to the list, that’s a couple food items that you can’t purchase without going over budget. I still plan to keep it separate, but still mindful of the budget.

  • Toilet paper: $4.49 at Aldi
  • 2 bath puffs/loofahs: $1.79 each/$3.58
  • Total: $8.07

I think I figured out where most of my overspending came from.

But yet, I thought I had saved a few dollars here and there.

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My first stop was Aldi:

  • Bananas – $1.05 (on list)
  • Oranges – $1.99 (on list)
  • Quick oats – $2.39 (not on list, but $3.99 at Shaw’s normally)
  • Spinach – $1.49 (on list)
  • Shrimp – $4.49 (on list)
  • Mushrooms – $0.79 (on list)
  • Frozen tilapia – $2.99 (on list)
  • Chickpeas – 2 cans at $0.65 each (on list)
  • Black beans – $0.59 (on list, but lower than budgeted)
  • Olive oil – $2.99 (on list)
  • Green peppers – $0.99 (on list)
  • Rice – $3.49 (on Shaw’s list, saved $2.50)
  • Bread – $1.79 (on Shaw’s list, saved $0.71)
  • Avocado – $0.89 (on Shaw’s list, saved $0.61)
  • Lactose free milk – $2.79 (on list)
  • Whole milk – $1.29 (on list)

My budget for Aldi – $24.27. Ended up paying – $35.80.

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I then went to Shaw’s. I had a few budgeting issues here even without adding stuff to the list:

  • English muffins – $4.39 for three (on list)
  • 28 oz of diced tomatoes – $1.29 (on list, under-budgeted Aldi)
  • Sardines – $0.80 (on list)
  • Stir fry sauce – $2.99 with coupon (on list)
  • Enchilada sauce – $2.49 with coupon (on list, under-budgeted)
  • Cage-free eggs – $3 (on list)
  • Sour cream – $1.29 (on list)
  • Tortillas – $2.50 (on list, had coupon but didn’t apply)
  • Heavy cream – $3.49 (on list, under-budgeted)
  • Half and half – $2.29 with coupon (was supposed to be on sale too)
  • Orange juice – 2 for $5.28 (didn’t budget for 2, was on sale for $1.99 but sale only applied to 1)
  • Asparagus – $2.03 (on list)
  • Lemon – $0.69 (on list)
  • Onion – $0.82 (on list)
  • Garlic – $1.99 (on list)
  • Ham – $5.99 (on list)
  • Cheese – $4.60 with in-store coupon (on list)

My budget for Shaw’s – $48.41. Ended up paying – $49.81. Not too bad!

Here are the meals I’m going to make with this grocery haul:

  • Baked Shrimp and Orzo – Shrimp, garlic, diced tomatoes. Already have orzo, chicken stock and cheese.
  • Chickpea and Black Bean Enchiladas – Chickpeas, black beans, tortillas, enchilada sauce, onion. Not using chiles.
  • Chicken stir fry – Stir fry sauce, rice, green pepper. Already have chicken and other vegetables.
  • Ground Turkey Casserole – Rice, mushrooms, green pepper, sour cream. Already have ground turkey and chicken stock.
  • Foil Baked Tilapia – Tilapia, lemon, asparagus, garlic.

 

 

 

Grocery Shopping Efficiently Part 1 – How I Meal Plan

Way back in August, I did a brief overview of how I make my meal plan and grocery list. Here is an extended demonstration, read on to pick up a few tips for your own grocery shopping.

Our store publishes their flyers on Thursday morning for the upcoming week. It includes the week’s sales plus special Friday–Sunday deals. I get excited when I see the email with the new flyer in it in my email. Am I lame? Probably.

First, I read over the flyer and pick out everything that is on sale that we normally eat or want to try, and add it to my grocery list. At no point is the list final, not even at the store (more in the next part).

I use the app Out of Milk for my grocery list. It’s easy to use and I can categorize my items into the different parts of the store. Plus it remembers the prices that I set the items at before.

This week I checked the Aldi flyer first. Here is my list:

aldilist

I added the beans and chickpeas because I already knew a dish I wanted to make next week. The milk is a much better deal at Aldi and so is the olive oil. Shrimp can be cheaper on sale at Shaw’s (our normal store) but this week it’s not. Produce is a much better deal at Aldi as well. Next is my second list:

shawslist

I plan on checking for avocados at Aldi first, but I know that Shaw’s has them for $1.50. The english muffins are on sale B1G2, my favorite bread is on sale for $2.50 (as opposed to $4.50), and there is some deli ham on sale for $5.99. The tortillas and enchilada sauce are for the dish I want to make with chickpeas, and I have a coupon for both of them. I also have a coupon for half and half to bring it down to $0.50, to make ice cream.

Now, my next step is to find uses for everything in my meal plan. If I can’t, I remove it from the list. I also take into account what I have already, such as the 20 chicken thighs I deboned the other day. Sometimes I will take to Pinterest to find uses for new things, such as the salmon.

Since I have both salmon and asparagus on my list, I searched for that, and Pinterest gave me this recipe. It definitely sounds easy and delicious, right up my alley. So I added it to my meal planning app and put it on my calendar.

salmonandasparagus

I use the app Pepperplate to hold all of my recipes. It syncs flawlessly from the internet to my phone and my iPad, which I use to cook. It’s pretty easy to use, and it has a cooking mode to keep the screen from going dark while I’m cooking. You can get a bookmarklet for the web browser so you can just click on it while viewing any recipe and it can pull it straight into your recipe collection. Once it’s in Pepperplate you can categorize it, add it to your meal plan, and even change the scale if you need to half or double it.

I try to keep my new-recipe-trying to once or twice a week, so I’ve met my quota for the week. So next is chicken. I can filter Pepperplate by category and just see dishes I’ve marked with ‘chicken’. I have spinach, mushrooms, green peppers and potatoes to work with from my list, plus my stock of frozen vegetables. This makes me think of a stir fry, especially considering the stir fry sauce I have on my list. So that’s my third dish.

I also have shrimp on my list. I chose a baked recipe with shrimp and orzo because I have all of the other ingredients I need. That leaves at least one more recipe to go to round out my ‘essential’ meals.

Even though I’ve been doing this for more than a year now, I still often get tripped up here. How do I add an extra meal without buying a lot of extra things? That’s when I take a trip to my kitchen and go ‘aha! I have ground turkey in the freezer!’ So I search in my ‘ground meat’ category on Pepperplate and look around on Pinterest a bit for ideas. And I found a delicious looking casserole on Pinterest with ground turkey, mushrooms, green pepper, and kale (or spinach). I might need to bend my new recipe thing a bit because I don’t need to buy anything but sour cream for it.

Alright, meal plan finished. Now to examine the recipes and make sure everything I need is either on my list or in my kitchen. While working on this, I remembered that I need more rice and garlic. I also realized I didn’t find a use for potatoes, so they’re getting bumped. A couple of my recipes call for feta cheese, but I already have mozzarella so I’m going to substitute.

mealplan2

I’m also going to substitute my salmon dish for tilapia, as the tilapia is $2.99 as opposed to $6.99. This is a great meal plan but it’s running on the expensive side. I’ll still be baking it in foil with asparagus and lemon.

I arrange my meal plan in a specific way as I make it, but I often switch up the days as I go along. I try to make something Sunday night that makes a lot of leftovers, and at the end of the week, food that makes fewer (or no) leftovers. I foresee a lot of leftovers this week.

I think my lists are complete.

aldilist2

shawslist2

The total for both shops is $72.68. That’s a bit over our usual budget of $60, but keeping it that low, we weren’t feeling well fed. A few dollars will also be knocked off once the coupons come off, and if I can find a couple things at Aldi from my Shaw’s list for cheaper. It’s important to stick to the list but be flexible, as I will go over more in part 2.

 

Thrifty Thursday – The Benefit of Stockpiles

When I meal plan, I tend to only plan actual meals for days that we’ll need leftovers. That leaves us days, especially over the weekend, where we have to wing it for food or go out. That’s definitely something I need to change, but that’s also what stocking up is for.

On Saturday night, I looked at my cupboards and realized I had some lasagna noodles and a jar of pasta sauce. Pair that with the ricotta cheese I needed to use up, and bam, lasagna. I made lasagna rolls because I’ve had the recipe forever and have been meaning to try them.

Not only does the stockpile feed you when you have no plans, it forces you to get a little bit creative with what you have.

I think we’re going to have to raise our food budget a little bit as my husband has complained we don’t have enough food in the house. He’s trying to gain a little weight as he is the tall beanpole type and wants to be a little thicker. It would be nice to have a little more money to work with each month.

Went to Costco last week:

  • Chicken thighs – $0.99 per pound
  • Ground turkey – Around $2.60 per pound (around $4 or $5 at the grocery store unless on a really good sale.
  • English muffins – $5.49 for 18; $4.49 for 6 at the grocery store. It costs less when they run a B1G2 sale, but when they don’t, Costco is the best option.
  • Bananas – $1.39 for 3 lbs

And our grocery shop this week:

  • Bread – $2.99
  • 15 oz tomato sauce – $0.99
  • 15 oz diced tomatoes – $0.88
  • Maple syrup – $5.49
  • Greek yogurt – $0.88 each
  • Orange juice – $3.29 each
  • Lactose free milk – on sale for $3.49 down from $3.69, what a bargain
  • Half gallon of milk – $2; Big name brand was on sale for cheaper than store prices
  • Frozen blueberries – $2.99
  • Shrimp – $4.50
  • Onion – $0.75
  • Blood oranges – $2.02 for 2 oranges
  • Green pepper – $1.62
  • 5 lbs of potatoes – $2.99
  • Turkey sausage – On sale for $2.99
  • Deli ham – $4.99 a pound
  • Toilet paper – $5.99

Total: $53.39

Not much stocking up taking place this week besides the Costco stuff. A small increase in budget could help. We’ll have to do a little trial and error to figure out how low we can keep the budget to still feed ourselves enough. I want to buy a lot more fresh fruits and vegetables.

Thrifty Thursday – The Benefit of Stockpiles

When I meal plan, I tend to only plan actual meals for days that we’ll need leftovers. That leaves us days, especially over the weekend, where we have to wing it for food or go out. That’s definitely something I need to change, but that’s also what stocking up is for.

On Saturday night, I looked at my cupboards and realized I had some lasagna noodles and a jar of pasta sauce. Pair that with the ricotta cheese I needed to use up, and bam, lasagna. I made lasagna rolls because I’ve had the recipe forever and have been meaning to try them.

Not only does the stockpile feed you when you have no plans, it forces you to get a little bit creative with what you have.

I think we’re going to have to raise our food budget a little bit as my husband has complained we don’t have enough food in the house. He’s trying to gain a little weight as he is the tall beanpole type and wants to be a little thicker. It would be nice to have a little more money to work with each month.

Went to Costco last week:

  • Chicken thighs – $0.99 per pound
  • Ground turkey – Around $2.60 per pound (around $4 or $5 at the grocery store unless on a really good sale.
  • English muffins – $5.49 for 18; $4.49 for 6 at the grocery store. It costs less when they run a B1G2 sale, but when they don’t, Costco is the best option.
  • Bananas – $1.39 for 3 lbs

And our grocery shop this week:

  • Bread – $2.99
  • 15 oz tomato sauce – $0.99
  • 15 oz diced tomatoes – $0.88
  • Maple syrup – $5.49
  • Greek yogurt – $0.88 each
  • Orange juice – $3.29 each
  • Lactose free milk – on sale for $3.49 down from $3.69, what a bargain
  • Half gallon of milk – $2; Big name brand was on sale for cheaper than store prices
  • Frozen blueberries – $2.99
  • Shrimp – $4.50
  • Onion – $0.75
  • Blood oranges – $2.02 for 2 oranges
  • Green pepper – $1.62
  • 5 lbs of potatoes – $2.99
  • Turkey sausage – On sale for $2.99
  • Deli ham – $4.99 a pound
  • Toilet paper – $5.99

Total: $53.39

Not much stocking up taking place this week besides the Costco stuff. A small increase in budget could help. We’ll have to do a little trial and error to figure out how low we can keep the budget to still feed ourselves enough. I want to buy a lot more fresh fruits and vegetables.

Tasty Tuesday – Spaghetti and Meatballs

This recipe for spaghetti is an old family recipe. My mom’s aunt used to make it and then my mom made it when I was growing up. Now I’ve adapted it and it’s the only way I’ll make spaghetti.

My mom makes it with ground beef, saving some plain sauce for me. These meatballs are a new addition for the first time. They’re made with turkey and baked in the oven.


I combined all of the ingredients, formed into balls and popped them in the oven.  I then started cooking the spaghetti. I used foil, but you’re going to want to grease the pan because they stuck pretty badly.


The sauce is the main ingredient. I use a can of tomato sauce, olive oil, water and seasonings. My mom and her aunt use a packet of spaghetti sauce seasoning, which is an option.


Tada! It takes a little while to cook, but dinner is easy and delicious.

Spaghetti and Meatballs

Meatballs

  • 1 lb ground turkey (or whatever you prefer)
  • 1/2 cup of bread crumbs
  • 1 egg
  • 1 Tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 Tbsp of dried parsley
  • 1 tsp of onion powder
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  1. Preheat oven to 400.
  2. Mix all ingredients together.
  3. Form into balls and put on baking sheet. Bake for twenty minutes.

Spaghetti Sauce

  • 1 (15 oz) can of tomato sauce
  • 2-3 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1/4 cup of water
  • Seasoning mix (either homemade or packet)
  1. Combine all ingredients in a saucepan.
  2. Heat on low/medium until bubbling, turn down slightly and cover with lid.
  3. Cook, stirring frequently, until thickened.
  4. Serve over pasta.
  5. Add mushrooms in the beginning of cooking if you like.

Seasoning Mix

  • 1 Tbsp cornstarch
  • 1 Tbsp dried parsley
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • Up to 1 tsp red pepper flakes (to taste)
  • 1-2 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3/4 tsp Italian seasoning
  • 1/2 tsp basil
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  1. Combine all ingredients and mix with a whisk or fork.
  2. Use entire mixture.