Archive for January, 2013


Whew!  What a week.  We were on “vacation” this week, which meant we were doing a LOT of daytrips and an overnight in Atlanta.  Autumn and I have been saving up for a trip to Snow Mountain and we had a lot of fun, though I think we all had a better time hiking afterwards. We ate out a lot more than normal, but I still packed a lot of lunches.

I couldn’t keep track of all my receipts this week, so I’m adding everything  up by item – yikes!   We shopped the mega-event a lot.  I usually only do one “event” per transaction, so you can imagine how many stores I hit over the week.  One thing with the sales this week was that it meant buying a lot more processed food than normally.  Some of these items were better than free (i.e. moneymakers), so it made sense to buy them because it cut down on the cost of things I really wanted to stock up on, like dish soap.  So we’ll probably be gathering up a box of stuff for the food pantry once we finish shopping this sale.  Most of the actual money spent was on produce and coffee. Pretty sure we will be way over budget this week…let’s start adding…

Free items this week: Emergen-C (money-maker), pudding cups (money-maker), bread, protein bars, some of the veggie dip, jimmy dean breakfast bowls, egg beaters, instant breakfast mix, guacamole/salsa, pepsi.

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Four dollars worth of veggies from the farmer’s market.  This bundle of turnips is bigger than the 13-gallon trash can I tried to stuff them into! Autumn borrowed my sunglasses.

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This is 3 shopping trips combined. Total: 13.78 + tax.  Without coupons and sales that would have been ONLY two of the bags of coffee.

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Whenever we’re in Atlanta, we stop into our favorite International market. I was picking up ingredients for an experiment with homemade kimchi.  We also got some cheap fruit and some freshly in-store made rice cakes. Autumn asked for purple potatoes, too.  Total: 13.46 + tax.

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A couple shopping trips here as well as the ice cream maker and flour I got free thanks to getting a prize in the King Arthur Flour Contest at the GA Nat’l. Fair. Total for these trips: 1.85 + tax. I’m not kidding. Almost every single item was free.

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Three more trips: Total 3.28 + tax.  When you consider that one box of dish soap without sales or coupons is 4.69, it’s kind of amazing. 🙂

Not pictured: 1 jar natural peanut butter, 1 jar crushed garlic, 1 bag tortilla chips Total: 6.58+ tax.

Total: 44.36  Considering how much I had left over last week, that leaves me around 16.26 over budget this week, but I feel like we got a lot out of it. Hopefully I can make some of that up in the next week. (And this is of course assuming that my math is right which is very questionable considering how late it is and how stuffed up my head is with this cold.)

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Lots of produce this week! Let’s start off with my finished homemade sauerkraut.  It is delicious and I will definitely be making more. Thinking about trying a batch of kimchi next…..hmmmmm?

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This shopping trip was 2.40.  (The key on my computer with the dollar sign has died, sorry! A couple others are starting to die too.) We hardly EVER have sodas in the house, but Matt had a free 12-pack coupon and we figured we might as well use it. Happy to find these peaches in 100% juice because Autumn loves them in her snack bags and while I’m capable of canning fruit in 4 oz. jars, it’s kind of a pain and I don’t want to lose my jars. 😉

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Eleven dollars worth of organic freshly-picked local produce from the farmer’s market. Yum!

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This trip ended up at just about 3.00, thanks to overage on the vitamin C and fruit puree. 🙂

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Free grapefruit (had a raincheck)

I also grabbed another case of GF flour on Amazon for 5.50 shipped.

Total for the week: 21.90

We did have some eating out this week because DH is on vacation.  We’re basically just doing day trips from home and I’m packing some meals, but we’re finding ourselves eating out a little too. Using coupons or grabbing deals mostly though.

Some of what we used from the “pantry”:  last of the sliced ham in the freezer, some frozen (cooked from dry) chickpeas, lots of produce from the fridge, a random package of little smokies left over from something, a pre-made chicken meal, frozen (batch-cooked from dry) brown rice, the last of my home canned pears, a pasture-raised roast from the freezer, a few partial jars of jam and preserves, frozen strawberries, and more I can’t remember. I have a pasture-raised chicken from the freezer going right now to make chicken salad sandwiches for picnics.  Judging by what’s left in the freezer, this challenge is certainly going to last more than a month!

Okay, gotta say it’s a good thing that avoiding shopping wasn’t one of my goals with this pantry challenge. I shopped like MAD this week. Why? Well, when we’re driving all the way across town three times a week for soccer and passing all the grocery stores along the way, it seems to make the trip a lot more worthwhile if I stop in for couponing deals. So, um, yeah, I shopped probably a dozen times this week total. Came in at just about a dollar over budget at 26.00. There are definitely some items here that I usually wouldn’t buy, but ended up getting for convenience’s sake. We have been sooooooo busy lately and something has to give. If that means “buying” free whole wheat bread instead of making my own from scratch, so be it. I will get back to homemade as soon as feasible. Here’s my shopping:

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Not pictured was a package of turkey breast.

Edit: If I had paid regular price/no coupons I could have bought 2 1/2 out of the four boxes of vitamins. NOTHING ELSE.

Free items: snack mix, 8 loaves of bread, salt, breakfast bowls, grapefruit juice, and grapefruit.  Eggs were way on sale, turkey bacon was .50 per package, vitamins for .26 a box, olives .19 per pouch, also splurged and bought Autumn some premium orange juice for about .50 per quart.  She rarely gets juice, so she’s super happy! Markdown GF bread, egg nog, yogurt, and turkey were also great deals. Overall, it was a really good week, but I definitely don’t need to shop that frequently. 🙂

Although it seems completely counterintuitive, I added a lot of items to the pantry/freezer this week, too. I canned small batches of grapefruit and orange segments in citrus juice(mind-numbing work), caramelized balsamic onions (amazing on pizza), and cranberry conserve.

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In the interest of saving time and because I am NOT a morning person, I also stocked the freezer with gluten free breakfast items.  How does this fit into the “clean out the freezers” part of my challenge?  I made them with LOTS of frozen produce that really needed to be used up.  I found a dozen bananas (DH’s grandfather only likes them green, so when they get ripe, they freeze them for us instead of throwing them away), two quarts of peaches, a couple partial bags of nuts, and a pint of chopped strawberries during inventory and they went into 6+ dozen muffins (2 varieties) and 11 bags of banana pancakes.  Got an awesome deal on Amazon a while ago for the GF flour and everything else was in the pantry, even used up a bunch of cans of evaporated milk we got for free after coupons over the holidays.  I have a feeling that we’re going to go through this stuff pretty quickly between breakfasts and snacks and our busy schedule.

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And while it may look like all we’re doing is adding to the food stores, we’ve been plugging away at using up freezer items.  We are almost out of the surplus of fresh vegetables we started the challenge with though, so that might get interesting. Dairy is getting to be a challenge as well.  We’re out of milk, butter, half&half, etc.  Hoping for some good deals on dairy and veggies next week!

Oh, my first ever batch of sauerkraut is about done too!  I’ll try to post a picture next week when I stick it in the fridge.

And just FYI…fresh kale is AMAZING on pizza. Especially with homemade cheese, caramelized onions, homemade roasted eggplant sauce, whole wheat homemade crust, and pasture-raised pork sausage.

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It’s time to clean out the pantry (well, mostly freezers in my case) and try to spend less on groceries this month (maybe longer) while eating up things that I may just have forgotten were floating around the back of the freezer.

 

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Here was our shopping for the week (plus one package of beef, not pictured) and I’m feeling pretty good about it, all considered.  After rebates, the total comes to about $23.57, just under my goal of $25 per week.  It was spent mostly on dairy items and produce markdowns.  Realizing I need to cut down on my grocery store trips to stay in budget. For instance, a stop at Kroger for eggs and I come home with eggs, bananas, and 15 pounds of onions! But how could I resist?  They were only .51 cents a bag on markdown!  And the oranges were way on sale and then had a rebate, too, making 4 big bags only .96 cents after the discounts.   Yeah, I have problems with markdowns.

So we have caramelized onions in the freezer now, as well as a couple meals worth of French onion soup. Had to send DH out for beef soup base as I was using up various homemade broth from the freezer and it really needed more beef flavor. (We ate some for lunch today with a multigrain crouton and grated swiss on top baked until melty – YUM!) And I’m planning a batch of balsamic onion relish for the canner. The oranges and grapefruit are going to become a citrus canning experiment. And possibly another batch of candied citrus peels as well.

And overall, we ate pretty well, too!  I’ve been really upping the amount of veggies we are eating, so there have been tons of salads and soups, including Autumn’s favorite black bean.  The only odd meal this week was dinner today when we ate up a bunch of random leftovers, steamed veggies, and one sad lonely single serve frozen pizza I found at the back of the freezer and split between us. Hey, it was late and we were just getting home from soccer! 😉

On the organizing front, I cleaned out, organized, and inventoried the kitchen fridge/freezer and the freezer side of the breezeway fridge/freezer.  The big upright freezer is actually nearly empty.  I would like to get it totally cleaned out and then decide whether we should replace the seal on it or get rid of it and look for a small chest freezer.  I know, this probably seems like a stupid amount of food storage for three people, but we use it. One fridge/freezer is mainly for storing grains because it makes them last longer.

The only eating out this week was one emergency stop at CFA after another late soccer night.  Autumn and I used free sandwich vouchers and I paid for a small side salad and fruit cup.  And I went out with a friend one night for a much needed escape, but used my Christmas cash to pay, so not too bad.