"The mint makes it first, it is up to you to make it last." - Evan Esar
Well folks, I said it on here and therefore I am now committed. I am on a four week grocery budget challenge. $125 per week.

Yesterday I took inventory of my pantry. Hello lentils and dry black beans. Last time I did this challenge I found oodles of Chipotle peppers in my freezer. I still haven't gone through them all, but I haven't bought any new jars either. This time shows the change in my eating habits a bit more. I had a Tupperware type container full of red split lentils, green lentils and brown lentils. Then I found two 1/2 packages of red lentils, another full one of green. Lentil city! I found a huge bag of dry black beans and then another. I have bean soup mix dried beans, yellow split peas and about a cup of dry garbanzo beans. Ugh. I need to go through my pantry more often. With all these beans and legumes my husband is going to love me ... and I him. I think he'll be sleeping in the guest bedroom for a while. I doubt the cat will want to sleep with him either. I'm so glad he doesn't read this blather ... he'd kill me.

What to do with all of these beans???? Use them of course. This time I'm going to be more techno savvy. I have a new phone. The Samsung Galaxy III. Is it possible to fall in love with a phone? I am here to tell you it is. I love my phone. I am just started to get into Apps, and really I'm a newbie to all of this. But I have found some awesome tools to help me with this journey. I wanted to let you in on them - they may be useful to you too.

The first one is the Food Planner App. What a great App! I'm not sure where to even start. First off it has a grocery list section. You plunk in your grocery list, put it into a category - I made categories for produce, dry, bulk, dairy, etc. Add a price if you have one. It adds up your groceries for you and lets you know in advance how much it's going to cost. You can adjust the prices once you're at the store and keep your total running. Great for me on this particular challenge when every penny counts. The App remembers the product and price for next time. You can always edit the item again later if the prices change or go on sale.

But it gets better. There is a meal planner section. In this section you can plan your meals. Breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks etc. Click on the day and see what your plan is for the day. There is a recipe section in which you can add your own recipes which takes a bit more time, but it is doable. The App can be linked to your home computer, iPad etc. So you can go to your computer and type away if you want to. But it has an even better feature if you ask me. It can link to recipe sites online, loads of recipe sites - All Recipes, Food.com, Martha Stewart ... loads and loads. Find a recipe you like and upload it onto the App. Simple. Then, to make things easier, just add that recipe to your meal plan and then import the ingredients list into your grocery list. You can remove the items that you already have quickly and voila - you're shopping list is ready. Then if you want to go into your shopping list and modify things a bit you can, like update the pricing etc., which I did. Come meal time, click on the day, click on the recipe and it shows up on your phone, or ipad or computer. Cook away. So easy. The link is www.foodplannerapp.com. Check it out. It's a FREE app, but I'm thinking of buying the pro version just to throw the developer some cash. I may be cheap, but I like to give credit (or cash) where it's due. It's due.

So still what to do with all the legumes and lentils? Introducing Supercook.com. Talk about handy. I entered a few items that I had in my pantry and it shows me recipes I can make with the ingredients I have already. It searches through databases from all over the web so I don't have to. This is OMG kind of handy. I looked at the recipes, read some reviews on them, saw that I had all of the ingredients already and said "yes ma'am I'll take it." I uploaded it to my Food Planner App., imported it into my meal plan for the week and exported any ingredients that I required to my meal plan. I love technology sometimes.

I discovered it half way through my planning. Next week there will be way more online meals. Just think! I can look at what's on sale, add some of the ingredients I have on hand and find a matching recipe. It's endless and free!

Dinners - Week One

  • Tuesday -     Thai Pasta with Chicken Breast (from Looneyspoons)
                           Garden Salad with homemade dressing (EVOO &Vinegar)

  • Wednesday - Bean Me Up Scotty (from Looneyspoons) ~ Black Bean Soup
                            French Bread
                            Garden Salad with homemade dressing (EVOO &Vinegar)

  • Thursday -     Rockin Moroccan Stew (from Looneyspoons) ~ Vegetarian Stew
                            Naan Bread

  • Friday -         Fee Fie Faux Fried Chicken (from Looneyspoons)
                           Fresh Cole Slaw
                           Homemade oven fries

                            Naan Bread

  • Sunday -       Shepherds Pie (from Looneyspoons)
                            Garden Salad with homemade dressing (EVOO &Vinegar)
                            Apple Crumble

                            Homemade oven Fries
                            Cole Slaw

Lunches will consist of -

  1. Left overs
  2. Black Bean, Rice and Veggie Salad
  3. Quinoa Salad
  4. Tuna Salad Sandwich

Breakfast will consist of -

  1. Porridge with blueberries, or mixed berries and Agave Syrup
  2. Eggs, Toast, Cream Cheese, Orange
  3. Breakfast Cookie (Great for a snack too!)
And of course there will be Organic Apples, Oranges, Bananas, and Organic baby carrots to munch on.

So there you have it - the week one meal plan of the challenge. A lot of vegetarian meals in there. And I know, Valentines Day isn't particularly romantic, seeing that it is Rockin' Moroccan Stew - but just so you know, hubby is working that evening and won't even be home. Oh the romance.

The meat I will be purchasing is one free range chicken which I will use for three meals. The breasts for the Thai Pasta and the legs and thighs for the oven fried chicken. (side note, my husband abhors chicken with the bone in it - toughen up buttercup). The remainder will be used to make some more chicken broth. I will also buy 1.5lbs of grain fed organic ground beef. The rest is basically vegetarian, except for adding chicken broth - which the way my weird brain works, I still think it's vegetarian.

Shopping day is tomorrow - fingers crossed.



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