Monday, August 1, 2011

Trying to offset rising grocery prices: Week 1

I've become increasingly disgusted with the price of groceries and my constantly rising grocery bill.  It's also disheartening to see the amount of food we throw away.  I'm making an attempt this week to find healthy, low-cost recipes and to stick to a grocery budget.  Our family is very lucky that we have not been affected financially by current economic problems, but I'm always looking for ways to save money and live on less.  I would love to be able to save up enough money through cutting weekly spending to go to Disney again this winter. 

Finding meals to suit the taste and health needs of the family is easier said than done, especially with a picky eater and a husband with high-blood pressure. 

My goal for weekly groceries is $125.00. I came very close to that on my shopping trip yesteday, although I still need to stop at the farm stand for $15.00 or so worth of vegetables. 

WARNING -- post under construction...I'm still trying to figure out how I want to format this stuff...just wish I had more time...

Dinner #1:
So the first meal this week was mini pizzas, cucumbers, fresh strawberries and cherries.  Okay, the pizza was definitely NOT healthy (320 calories, 14g fat, 3.5 sat fat, 700 mg sodium!), but they were on sale for 50 cents per pizza...can't beat that.  Hopefully some of the un-healthy factor was offset by the fresh fruits and vegetables?
Mini pizza:  .50 per serving
Cucumber .25 per serving
Strawberries: .25 per serving
Cherries:  .25 per serving
Total cost:  $1.25 per serving

All in all I consider the meal a success with the exception of the naughty mini pizza. The cost was low and everyone enjoyed it. I would like to try next week to do a healthier, homemade version of mini pizzas and attempt to freeze them
Breakfast #1
The kids had strawberries lightly dusted with sugar.  I know it doesn't sound like much, but I have a lot of trouble getting them to eat ANYTHING in the morning, so I was happy with them each finishing a bowl of strawberries...I guess it's better than a bowl of fruity pebbles.

Strawberries: .50 per serving
Lunch #2
Doritos:  .25
String cheese: .33
Apple: .50
Sliced turkey: .35
Leftover mini pizzas from last night:  FREE!
Carrots:  .10
Cost per serving:  $1.53
As for me, I just gobbled up the remainder of what the kids didn't eat.  So lunch for all three of us was about $3.00...that really changes the way I think about the $15.00 Mcdonalds lunch we had last week!
Dinner #2
I got the recipe idea from  A lot of good recipes here. 

Pork Chops with Pineapple Salsa and Spicy and Sweet Potatoes
4 thin boneless pork chops (the ones I got were about an inch thick so I sliced them in half)
1.5 cups chopped pineapple (I used fresh because it was on sale...but you could use canned.)
1/2 jalapeno pepper, seeded and finely diced
1 inch piece of ginger, finely chopped or grated
2 cloves of garlic
juice of 1 lime
Olive Oil

Heat about two teaspoons olive oil in small pan over medium-high heat.  Add pepper, garlic and ginger.  Saute until soft and fragrant...about three minutes or so??  Toss in the pineapple and lime juice.  Heat until boiling.  Then reduce heat and simmer for 10-15 minutes.

Brush pork chops with oil and season with salt and pepper.  Cook in grill pan over high heat until cooked through.  I'm not good gauging cook times...maybe about 4-5 minutes per side, depending on thickness. 

Spicy Sweet Potatoes   -- I LOVED this recipe.
2 sweet potatoes
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 teaspoons brown sugar
1.5 tablespoons paprika
1 teaspoon garlic powder
little bit of salt and pepper.

Preheat oven to 425.  Toss potato cubes with olive oil and seasonings.  Spread in baking pan.  Bake for 30 minutes, stirring halfway through cook time. 
I served this with an arugula salad.  It was AWESOME!
Cost breakdown:
1/2 a pineapple:  $1.25
Pork Chops:  $2.88
Lime:  .34
Arugula:  1.10
Sweet Potatoes: $2.00
Olive Oil:  .30
Spices, Jalapeno, Garlic, Ginger:  .25 estimated

Total cost:  $8.12
Cost per serving: $2.03
Breakfast #2
Oatmeal and Fresh Strawberries:  Total cost:  .65 per serving
Lunch #3
Oops it's been a long day and I absolutely cannot remember what was on the menu for lunch today! 
Dinner #3
Pork Chops:  $2.88
Arugula:  $1.00
Carrots:  .75
Brown Rice:  $.40
Pineapple:  $1.00

total cost:  $6.03
Cost per serving:  $1.51
Thursday's Dinner
 - A surprising success.  The kids absolutely loved the cole slaw.  Such an easy meal to prepare.

BBQ Chicken Sandwiches with Healthier Cole Slaw

5 chicken thighs  ($4.33)
1 cup BBQ sauce  (.50)
4 hot dog buns  (.50)

Put thighs in crockpot with a splash of water or BBQ sauce
Cook about four hours on low
Remove skin and bone from meat, cut or shred meat into medium-ish chunks.
Add desired amount of BBQ sauce, stir to combine.
Serve meat in Hot dog buns or hamburger rolls

Healthier Cole Slaw
16 Ounces cole slaw mix  ($1.79)
1/2 cup Plain Greek Yogurt (low or nonfat) ($1.00)
1/4 cup Mayonnaise  (.32)
1/4 cup cider vinegar (.10)
1 Tablespoon Honey (.10)
1/2 teaspoon salt
Pepper to taste

Toss everything but the cabbage into large bowl.  Stir to combine.  Add cole slaw mix and stir to coat.  That's it!
Cost per serving for meal:  $2.16

Friday, August 4 - So I'm finding that I haven't had time keep track of every meal, particularly breakfasts and lunches...but they've all been pretty much in line with the previous days...oatmeal and fruits for breakfast, sandwiches, cheese and veggies for lunches.  Except for today...I forgot that I had an appointment with my rheumatologist this morning so I didn't have a babysitter lined up.  So I had to drag the kids to the doctor's office where we had to wait an HOUR for the doctor to see me.  Needless to say I was frazzled by the time we left and we stopped at Wendy's for lunch:  16 dollars!  and all that sodium made me swell up like you wouldn't believe.

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