Once upon a time I was a Coupon Queen. I regularly saved 50-75% off at the grocery store, getting some kind of junkie adrenalin rush as I pushed my cart to the car. Three things happened to change all that:
1. Most of the stores in my area stopped doubling coupons and began limiting the number that could be redeemed.
2. We switched to eating more whole foods.
3. We discovered that my son cannot have msg, which rules out most items that come in a can or box.
The Inspired Bloggers network issued its bloggers a challenge. Can I feed my family for $25 per person per week? For my family of 7, that comes to $175 a week. I manage to hit that mark most weeks. Some of the bloggers are sharing their super-duper menu plans, but I like to think of myself of more of a reverse meal planner. I buy whatever is on sale, on clearance, or has a coupon, and THEN I figure out what to do with it. Controlled chaos … it’s how I roll.
Some of you might look at that total and come up with a list of ways I could drastically reduce my budget. And you would be right. I could make my own bread or organic yogurt- but I’m not going to. I could plant a huge garden – but I would kill it within a month. I used to make my own chicken broth but we left our chest freezer behind when moved and don’t have the space to replace it. I only eat the rice part of rice and beans. What it boils down to is that I am a homeschooling momma of five who is trying to grow a blog, encourage my husband, and serve our church, and can’t multitask to save my life. Something has to give.
My strategy is to save in other areas so I can have more room in my food budget. I stock up on toiletries when they are at rock-bottom prices. We buy (designer) clothes at thrift stores. I buy my kids’ birthday and Christmas presents at the 70% off Target toy sale in July. I’ve also figured out which stores have the healthiest food for the cheapest. We try eat whole grains, and buy organic when it is on sale or replaces a regular food that contains msg.
Here are some of my discoveries:
Dollar Tree has Nature’s Own 100% Whole Wheat Bread (no HFCS). It sells out quickly, so check often.
Target is the cheapest place for Annie’s Macaroni & Cheese and Applegate Farm Pepperoni. Annie’s Cheese Crackers (a treat) go on sale regularly.
Aldi has an organic line called Simply Nature, supplying us with chicken broth, fresh spinach, and frozen pizza. They have summer sausage with no msg (at least the last time we bought it). I get great deals on fruits, vegetables, spices, oatmeal, maple syrup, olive oil, milk, eggs, butter, and baking mix.
We love Costco. It is worth the membership just to go on a Saturday and eat all the samples. Many of their foods do not have artificial fillers. I like to pick up chocolate chips, butter, sour cream, cheddar cheese, provolone, peanut butter, organic spinach, frozen fruit, organic tortilla chips, Pirate’s Booty, and organic strawberry jelly.
Publix has the best meat. It is not always the cheapest, but it doesn’t shrink as much as other stores. Read the labels on your meat-most whole chickens have been injected with broth, and some pork & beef has been injected with a saline or flavoring solution. The Publix brand Italian sausage and organic ketchup are msg-free.
Zaycon chicken is a fantastic way to buy inexpensive healthy chicken! My family can tell if we run out and I substitute from the store.
Here are a few of the meals we eat. I hope to share a few more of these recipes over the coming weeks.
- Best Ever Pancakes
- Stuffed French Toast
- Sour Cream Chocolate Chip Muffins
- Double Chocolate Oatmeal Muffins
- English Muffins with Raw Honey
- Toast & Eggs
- Toast & Jelly
- Smoothies-banana/peanut butter, tropical fruit (with spinach or kale added to all)
- Overnight Steel Cut Oats
- Organic Yogurt
- Cheddar Garlic Biscuits – sometimes we add ham
- Pumpkin Bread
- Whole Wheat Zucchini Chocolate Chip Bread
- Chocolate Chocolate Chip Zucchini Bread
- Giant Breakfast Cookies
- Breakfast Pockets
- Egg “McMuffins”
- Hot Ham & Cheese Pita Pockets
- Quesadillas w/leftover chicken
- Pizza Quesadillas – sauce, cheese, pepperoni
- Flatbread Pizza
- Pepperoni Pizza Puffs
- Grilled Cheese
- Frito Pie – fritos, chili, cheese, onions
- Irish Brown Bread w/ham
- Chef Salad
- pretzels & cheddar cheese cubes
- apples, bananas, clementines, grapes, strawberries
- popcorn – put 1/4 c. popcorn in a brown paper bag and fold the top down 2-3 times, microwave using your popcorn setting
- leftover muffins/bread from breakfast
- boiled eggs
- graham crackers & peanut butter
- tortilla chips & fresh salsa
- No Bake Chocolate Peanut Butter Oat Bars
- Spicy Roasted Chickpeas
- Tacos w/lettuce, tomatoes, onion, cheese
- Pork Carnitas w/lime, onion, sour cream, cilantro, salsa
- Salsa Verde Beef Tacos w/lime, onion, sour cream, cilantro, salsa
- Fish Tacos
- Cheesy Chicken w/ yellow rice & salad
- Sausage Pie w/roasted potatoes, fresh pineapple
- Cheeseburgers w/oven fries
- Spaghetti w/salad or green beans
- Lasagna w/salad or green beans
- Chicken Spaghetti w/ salad or broccoli
- Chicken Pot Pie
- Chili w/cornbread or rice
- Beef Stew w/cornbread
- BBQ Chicken w/grilled asparagus
- Meatloaf w/mashed potatoes & fried okra
- Roast w/potatoes, carrots, green beans
- Breakfast Burritos-sausage or bacon, cheese, eggs, potatoes
- Roast Chicken w/loaded baked potatoes
- Garlic Parmesan Chicken Wings w/corn on the cob
- Baked Ziti & Italian Sausage w/salad
- Baked Potato Soup
- Smoked Sausage w/macaroni & cheese – macaroni w/a sauce made of butter, milk, cheddar cheese, american cheese, seasoning salt, pepper
- Cheeseburger Macaroni-the above mac n cheese, seasoned ground beef browned w/diced onions
Click on that little blue guy to see how the other Inspired Bloggers did on their
$100 Grocery Challenge!