So here we are, week 5 of the $50 a week grocery experiment. The past 4 weeks have been an incredible learning experience for me. They have taught me discipline, helped me become a better and more creative cook and made me organize myself in a way that I had not really done before. Although this was intended to only be an experiment for the month of July I have decided that I will continue to eat, cook and shop this way until we add another member to the family (which will be no time soon I promise you!) My cabinets are still stocked with food, and I could still probably last for a month or so if the zombie Apocalypse were to happen but there are entire sections of my pantry that are now bare. In truth, did I need 6 types of gluten free flours on hand including xanthum gum? Did I really need every type of dried bean that nature ever produced? Really...every single kind? How many types of hot sauce does one person really need and how many types of nut butter does a person really need to keep around the house? Soy, Peanut, Almond, Sun, and White Chocolate Peanut Butter all seem a bit much to have loaded up in one pantry.
I feel like the way I eat, shop and cook now is in a way that makes sense, isn't wasteful and fully utilizes the resources I have available. I've begun to depend on my garden in a way that I did not before. I used to have so much extra crops that I would end up pickling and canning all summer and winter long. But this year, I've only pickled one jar of green beans and everything else has gone to immediate use. I plan on still doing a good bit of preserving, after all it is another great way of extending out the seasons bounty in a frugal way, but nothing to the amount I did last year.
This final week presented it's own unique challenges. This week my daughter is off of school which means instead of being responsible for cooking 2 meals a day and 1 snack for her I am now responsible for 3 meals a day and 3 snacks. On top of that one of her classmates is going to be staying with us for 2 days so we have an extra mouth to feed for 2 meals and 2-3 snacks. So for this week I'll be not only giving you what I'm making for breakfast, lunch and dinner but also what we're having for snacks.
- Oatmeal and Fruit
- English Muffin Breakfast Sandwiches (with vegan egg patty and daiya cheese that I found in the freezer) - for the kiddo I'll be nixing the Daiya and instead slathering both sides in EB, egg patty on the side with fruit
- Banana waffles, white nectarines and Naked Tofu Scramble
- I have all the ingredients I would need to make breakfast sausage but I'm not sure if I have the time so I'm not counting on this one
- Macaroni and Cheese with Marinated Roasted Tofu and Steamed Carrots
- Homemade Super Low-Sodium Ramen Noodles with Tofu and Braised Green Beans
- Southern Style Meatballs with Steamed Veggies and Dinner Rolls (I froze some a couple weeks back and still have plenty to go around)
- Smothered Pork Chops with Green Bean Casserole and Dinner Rolls
- Baked Beans, Corn Muffins, and Steamed Veggies
- Soft Tacos made with Adzuki Beans (I randomly have a bunch laying around) with Salsa and Sour Cream, steamed corn and some type of green veggie
- Homemade Graham Crackers
- Hummus with Pita Chips (I bought a ton of pita chips a couple months ago and they still haven't expired so there's no better time than the present to use them!)
- Fruit (grapes, strawberries, watermelon)
- Blueberry Smoothies (I got a bunch of blueberries on sale in June and froze half)
- Beanfield's Bean and Rice Chips (Pico De Gallo flavor) - I bought a 6 pack of these last month and we're still working our way through them. I'll be blogging about these soon.
And that's it! I didn't make the crab cakes from last week until Sunday so we'll be munching on those throughout the week as well. For 5 weeks of shopping my goal was to spend $50 a week or $250 in total for the month. This week I ended up spending $43.57 at Whole Foods and $17.68 at Publix. Which means I spent $61.25 this week. I really took for granted how much money we save every month when my daughter is eating at school 5 days a week! We are very fortunate that her school provides great vegan meals and we only have to bring a back-up snack in case the class is having goldish crackers or something with dairy in it as a morning snack. I've decided, in an effort to save even more money, I'm going to start making her snacks from scratch and sending those to school with her. Now that I've taken my IBCLC exam I have more time on my hands so this shouldn't be too difficult and if I would have done that this month I would have saved about $15 in the budget. Overall for 5 weeks I spent $273.63. So I went a little over $23 over budget. For a first timer to this new budget I think that is pretty darn fantastic. I'm tempted to change my budget to $60 a week but I really want to continue to commit myself to making the most out of each ingredient, even while working on new books and recipes, so I'm going to stick to $50 a week for now. I hope this has been helpful to you! Next week I'll be going step-by-step through exactly how you can make the changes necessary in your own life to get your grocery budget in check so stay tuned!