So I'm a week late - but I'm not pregnant, I'm just busy. You can't blame me for not posting due to laziness for I have been working awfully hard ...at least for this chickie. I really just haven't had time to do much of anything but work, oh and there was a performance in there too, but that's another post. Now on to groceries and budgets and important things like that.
The title of last week's post would have been called "THE GOOD, BAD AND THE UGLY".
The good being that I was waaaaay under budget. I mean seriously under budget as in I spent $70.98 which is $54.02 under budget! That's pretty freakin' awesome if you ask me. Of course I'm too busy all week to get on here and gloat. It just seems silly to do it now, but hey I'll brag anyways. Yay me!
It wasn`t all fun and games, there was bad too. Bad beans. When one is coming up with menus for the week, one must consider beans. Not in "Oooh, which type shall I have today?", but rather, "Let's limit the bean intake shall we?" Early on in the week I made a big pot of Moroccan Soup - the name doesn't necessarily scream I'm loaded with beans, but trust me it was loaded with beans. I like to make a big pot of soup on the weekend for lunches throughout the week. It's handy, healthy and cheap. But when you combine Moroccan (I'm loaded with beans) Soup with a bean dish for dinner it gets both tiring and shall we say explosive. I'm laughing as I'm typing this, but I think I came close to killing my husband. That's a serious amount of fiber! Clearly I needed to plan better or up my insurance on my husband. Which I did, not the insurance the planning. No more Moroccan Soup for lunch.
The Ugly part would have been that I was gaining weight. OK, not cool. Beans are dense when it comes to calories, and because the simplicity of meals (think chicken breast, sweet potato and broccoli) for dinner was gone my calorie intake rose. I gain weight at the mere mention of food, so this caused more rethinking as far as menus were concerned.
Last week was incredibly busy and stressful. I'm glad that I had planned all the meals before hand. I'm still loving the fact that because of this challenge I have been trying recipes that I would have never tried before. I made coconut pasta last night (as I wasn't able to make it to the grocery store yesterday to shop for the week). It was rather tasty. I was quite surprised by it as a matter of fact. I didn't have all of the ingredients, so I needed to substitute a few things, but I've been cooking long enough that I knew what would work and what wouldn't. I used up some stuff from the veggie drawer in the fridge and staples from the pantry and a delicious dinner was served. Gotta love it!
So that's last week. This week I'm over budget. But hear me out now before y'all jump all over me. My bill came to $134.79 that included $3.35 in coffee filters which technically is not food. So in reality I'm $6.44 over budget. I'm over budget for the first time in four weeks. For the entire month I have spent under $434 for groceries which averages out to $108.50 per week. Holy crow! My budget was $500 for the month which was a drastic decrease from what I was spending before and I`m under budget by $66! I'm really proud of myself. ***pats self on back*** Even though I'm over budget for this week I think I did really well. There were some items on sale that were not on my list but I got anyways. For instance Cheese was $8.99 and a big honkin' 2 kg jar of natural peanut butter was on for $6.99. I had to purchase coffee, as I am not a nice person without my morning coffee another $11.99, and I purchased more meat than usual - free range chicken, 2lbs organic, grain fed beef and turkey Italian sausages.
Which brings me to my latest discovery. A few posts ago I was bragging about how I could make three meals out of one chicken - well I have upped myself. When I first started this challenge I would buy the free range bird, use the breasts for one meal, the legs and thighs for another meal and then make broth for another meal out of the rest. How incredibly wasteful of me! Two things dawned on me this week. The first thing was the wings. Lets face it wings are wimpy. There's not a lot of meat and two wings aren't going to do anything for anybody unless you were a bird, so I used them for making broth. Until I remembered that frozen chicken lasts about six months in the freezer. Why not have a freezer bag for the chicken wings? With my weekly bird I'll cut off the wings and throw them in the bag. In a couple of months or so I'll have enough frozen wings to make some hot wings or something similar for a movie night. Cool. The next idea came tonight while I was making dinner. I cut the breast off the bird and was looking at them. Rather impressive. She was well endowed indeed - must be from LA. I weighed the breasts. 11.75 oz each. That's a lot of meat! So I butterflied the breast and then cut it in half. I was left with a 6 oz portion and then a 5 oz portion. I did the same with the other breast. 6 oz is enough for one person for dinner. The other portion could be used in another meal - say a stir fry or something like that. My heart was almost a flutter with excitement. The legs and thighs are in the freezer waiting for dinner on Sunday. The chicken breast portion will be used next week for a meal. And the wings will wait for some buddies join them and then will be used as a beer chaser. Five meals out of one chicken. Most meals I make (with some exceptions) usually serve 4-6 and we use the leftovers for lunches etc. So this is feasible for a family of four too with some tweaking I`m sure but the idea of it all is there. Sometimes I surprise even myself.
So there you have it. It is possible to eat healthy good tasting food on a budget. You can buy organic, grain fed and free range and still stay within budget. You can purchase mostly non-packaged food (I still buy bread and pasta) and feed your family food they will enjoy. It is possible. The trick is to plan, shop the sales, use what you have and don't waste anything. Save the peels of your veggies to make your own soup broth. Buy a whole great tasting chicken instead of individual pieces of cheap, tasteless, and inhumanely treated chicken. Weigh your food and use only what you need. Use whatever tools you have available like supercook.com or foodplanner.com. Get inventive with your cooking and don't be afraid to try something new. You never know you may discover something wonderful.
This week's menu ...
Tuesday - Spicy Coconut Noodles
Wednesday - Breaded (6oz) Chicken Breast, sweet potato and steamed broccoli
Thursday - Spinach with Chickpeas and Fried Eggs
Friday - Chorizo and White Bean Stew
Saturday - Hot-and-Sour Peanutty Noodles with Bok Choy
Sunday - Braised Chicken with Artichokes and Olives, Apple crumble
Monday - Beef Chili with Kidney Beans with Cornbread.
Hot Oat & Quinoa Cereal
Homemade Blueberry oatmeal muffins.
Eggs, toast and fresh fruit
Tuna Salad Sandwich, fruit and baby carrots
Cucumber, avocado, lettuce and tomato sandwich
Oatmeal breakfast cookie
Hummus and baby carrots