I am feeling back on track and excited for my budget planning this week! It has been so eye-opening to truly keep track of my meal planning and shopping for the past few weeks. I was going through the motions before, but not giving myself a chance to sit down and assess my shopping and planning each week. I can already tell that posting my weekly updates here are helping me! In order to stick to the budget, I have started writing the cost of each item on my shopping list as I go, so I can keep a running total to stay under budget. Well, this week, I realized that doing this means I am also starting to gather information to make a general cost list by store–so I know the general price of items and I can snag a deal (or avoid a more costly purchase). For example: I now know that limes are $0.25 a piece at Aldi, so, unless I find them cheaper, I know to wait to purchase the limes there.
This was so helpful for this week, because I went to our local Asian grocery store before Aldi. We needed a few ingredients that I suspected that I could get cheaper there, even cheaper than Aldi. I was able to go back through my shopping lists and have general costs for the items that I knew I wanted from Aldi (I’ve found that dairy, especially, is more expensive at our Asian grocery store) and have the costs for items that I wanted to get at the Asian grocery store. So as I walked into the store, I knew that I should aim to have around $20 left to spend at Aldi and I had prices for almost every individual item, so I could compare the prices to Aldi’s on the fly.
It was a great system! By doing a little math ahead of time and some more while I was in the store, I knew when I had an extra $2 so that I could, say, choose a larger jar of curry paste. This investment will last us through probably 8-10 dishes, so the investment now will definitely pay off later!
M and I decided that we are not going to go out for Valentine’s Day this year. I still have to work a little late, and both of us just don’t feel like dealing with the crowds and reservations. So, I made a little compromise on our budget this week. M insisted that he would be in charge of dinner while I handled dessert, so, while I worked my dessert ingredients into our budget, we will be spending more money for Tuesday’s dinner ingredients (even though we’ve hit our weekly budget). But, as long as we stay well under what we would have spent going out to dinner (not so hard, when you add in a drink each and tip!), we can comfortably cover this splurge.
So, here is the breakdown for this week:
- Hungry Harvest Produce Box: $15
- Lotte Asian Grocery Store: $14.11
- Aldi: $19.38
- Total: $48.49
Hmm…looking at that total, I now realize that I would have been able to get fresh raspberries for my dessert. I made do with black berries, as they were about $0.50 cheaper. I suppose that totaling is one more step to add into my math when I shop at multiple stores! Ah well, you live and you learn, huh?
This week’s groceries:
Hungry Harvest Produce Box: green onions, kale, 2 bell peppers, 2 plums, 2 seckel pears (my favorite!), eggplant, acorn squash, cucumber, (1 lonely little) parsnip, 1 lb red grapes
Lotte Asian Grocery Store: corn tortillas, 1 lemon, red curry paste, nori, cilantro, 2 limes, mushrooms, 2 cans coconut milk
Aldi: blackberries, butter, 1 lb. pork sausage, cheddar cheese, chocolate chips, eggs, deli-style roast beef, milk, gluten-free bread
The corn tortillas and nori will last far past this week, as will some of the cheese, coconut milk, milk, butter, curry paste, and acorn squash. I found a super intriguing recipe for acorn squash roasted with onions and served with yogurt. I’m thinking that I will pair that with last week’s frozen spinach for an Indian-inspired dinner next week! I’ll be roasting those red peppers, to keep them longer as well, since I’m only just getting to last week’s pair of green peppers.
Here is what we are eating this week:
Sunday: Swedish Meatballs, Pasta, & Kale Salad I’ll use up some of last week’s sour cream and half-n-half. I’ll also split one of my quarts of bone broth between this gravy and Friday’s soup.
Monday: Teriyaki Salmon, Cucumber Sushi Rolls, & Sesame Broccoli The salmon is from a few weeks back, and the broccoli is from the freezer. The sushi will be a tasty use of the cucumber without loading up on starch and will be easy leftovers for lunch the next day (where as the salmon wouldn’t be…)
Tuesday: Valentine’s Day Dinner (M’s choice) with Flourless Chocolate Cake with Blackberries Yup. Throwing it waaaaay back for dessert. But this cake is so simple, yet so decadent!
Wednesday: Leftovers/Omelet M will be out and I have class until late evening. I’ll make whatever is quick and simple for myself when I get home.
Thursday: Chicken Fajitas With last week’s chicken, peppers, and sour cream, plus we have some salsa stashed in the fridge and the fresh cilantro. Salsa are a great option for adding flavor to a dish, and is an ingredient that will keep for quite some time in the fridge!
Friday: Tom Kha Gai Soup with Rice Here’s where the mushrooms, curry paste, coconut milk, and more cilantro will go! Flexible enough that I can either throw the broth in the crockpot in the morning or heat it up fairly quickly when I get home from work. Creamy, coconut-y, spicy goodness!
Saturday: Spaghetti Squash with Red Sauce and Sausage Because yes, we still haven’t actually gotten to it. Good thing the sauce and sausage are frozen and squashes keep forever. 🙂
Breakfasts will be yogurt and fruit, eggs and toast, or oatmeal. Lunches will be leftovers or sandwiches paired with fruit! If I can get my act together, I’ll make the eggplant into roasted eggplant dip/spread for lunches. If not, then I’ll incorporate it somewhere next week!
Another check-in for my adherence to our weekly grocery budget! As I mentioned last week, I am trying to recommit to a $50 budget for our food each week. Strict adherence would leave us with a little more money each month, that could definitely be better utilized than being spent on food we don’t need. (Our landfill, I’m sure, would appreciate that too!) I’m doing most of my shopping at Aldi, in order to make this budget achievable, though I’ll also use Giant, Trader Joe’s, and even our local Asian grocery store to pick up those extra items that Aldi doesn’t carry.
This week we have a few repeat meals. In spite of my meal planning, we had two (awesome) evenings with friends that changed our meals and then, while making last week’s meal plan, I had totally forgotten that M and I signed up for a home-buying class that provided dinner. (Everybody chill, we are just in the most initial stages of trying to learn anything about looking for and purchasing a home…) So Wednesday-Friday’s meals mostly rolled over to this week.
It felt a little harder to stick to the budget this week. For one, I got the week’s “special recovery item” added to our produce box, which took a few bucks from my shopping money. But, it was fresh turmeric root! It freezes well, so we are in stock for turmeric lattes and indian dishes for a long time. I also had to stock up on a couple condiments, which eats up money quickly. Those losses definitely made me feel more constricted.
Here is the breakdown:
Hungry Harvest Produce Box: 1 romaine heart, 1 (large) head cauliflower, 1 grapefruit, 1 tomato, 2 oranges, 1 red onion, 1/2 lb. green beans, 1 (giant) spaghetti squash, 3 sweet potatoes, and 1 lb. of turmeric ($5 additional) for a total of $20.00
From Aldi: parmesan cheese, tomato paste, cheddar cheese, 1 lb. sausages, cucumber, green onions, 1 lb. salmon, tomato sauce, hot sauce, Caesar dressing, dijon mustard, turkey deli meat, ham deli meat, bread, and sugar (for my kombucha!)
Other sources: fresh ginger and coconut milk (Giant), eggs (my mother’s coworker)
I totally forgot to grab my receipt at Aldi, but it was about $31. $4 of that was restocking on Ziplock bags, so the $2 and change spent at Giant should put me right on the $30 line to stay on target this week.
In terms of usage, we will definitely have the whole spaghetti squash plus some of the sweet potatoes and cauliflower remaining at the end of the week. The cheddar and deli meats and bread will stretch into next week, as will the green onions, 8 oz of the salmon, most of the sausage, and the condiments (obviously). My bone broth is finished, and I got the 3 quarts that I was hoping for! And my kombucha should be ready for it’s bottling and second fermentation this week, as well.
Meal Plan for January 29-February 4
Sunday: Beef Koftas with Tabouleh, Carrot Salad, Smoky Eggplant Dip, Baked Feta, Pickled Onions, & Gluten-free Naan bread This is basically last Thursday’s meal, except that this week’s addition of tomato and cucumber allowed me to make a quinoa tabouleh. I also unearthed half a block of Feta from our freezer, and had time on the weekend to mix up a batch of homemade naan using pantry ingredients. That turned it into a regular feast!
Monday: Honey-Sriracha Cauliflower “Wings” and Caesar Salad I love baking cauliflower florets and treating them like chicken wings! My latest obsession is Honey-Sriracha sauce, which uses similar ratios as buffalo sauce, but has way more depth of flavor Our contribution to the Super Bowl parties will like be Homemade Honey-Sriracha Chicken Wings. Half of that giant head of cauliflower will give us enough for dinner and lunch the next day. I will rice up the remainder of the cauliflower and stick it in the freezer for later.
Tuesday: Ham & Cheese Crepes M will be out and I’ll be working late, so a half batch of my gluten-free crepes wrapped around some lunch meat and cheese will be tasty and quick to throw together when I get home.
Wednesday: Taco Soup in the Crockpot From last Wednesday’s plan. I have class and M works late. All he’ll have to do is shred the chicken in the crockpot and this soup will be good to go!
Thursday: Sesame-Ginger Salmon with Green Beans and Sweet Potato One of my resolutions is to eat more fish this year–I’m starting off aiming for every other week. Since M isn’t a huge fan of shrimp and I’m less experienced working with fish, it always takes more of a commitment. But, I found a lot of inspiration from Pinterest, so I’ll give it a go!
Friday: Thai Chicken Enchiladas One of my favorites! I realized that I didn’t pick up cabbage at the store, which I usually use to bulk up the meat…I’ll have to get creative! We somehow ended up with three different bottles of Sweet Chili Sauce in our pantry, so this recipe will help to cut down on that.
Saturday: Leftovers/Pasta I try to remember to incorporate a flexible night into our meal plans, so we have a chance to use up any leftovers that aren’t finished through our lunches each week.
Breakfast & Lunch: Breakfast will be oatmeal, fruit smoothies, or eggs. Lunches will be dinner leftovers or sandwiches.