Wednesday, March 31, 2010

April Grocery Challenge - Re-Stock the Freezer and Pantry on $400

The placemat my daughter made for the 1st Grade Nutritious Breakfast at school
(picture cropped to remove her name)

My challenge for April is to re-stock my freezer and pantry, as well as provide healthy, interesting meals to my family. The budget for accomplishing these two tasks is set at $400. Hubby gets 3 paychecks this month and we got our income tax return, so it seems like a good time to give it a try. I started my challenge today - ok I know today is the last day of March but I really REALLY needed to shop or nobody was going to eat tomorrow! My spending today is going to be applied to the April budget.

The little man and I spent about an hour and a half in Stop and Shop this morning and I spent more in one shopping trip than I have in quite some time. I had a coupon worth $8.00 off my total order, 4 Stop & Shop Dollar Doubler Coupons, a slew of $1.00 coupons and quite a few under a dollar that doubled.

Included in my purchases are:

Easter Ham
2 Rings of Keilbasa
2 Packs Boneless Skinless Chicken Breasts
Family Pack of Cube Steaks
Family Pack of Boneless Pork Ribs
2 Packs Oscar Mayer Bacon
1lb Deli American Cheese
1/2 Lb Deli Turkey Breast
2 Jars of Hellmans Mayo
4 Boxes of General Mills Cereal
FREE Hood Sour Cream
Coffee (Maxwell House and Starbucks)
1.5 Gallons of Milk
2 Dozen Eggs
6 Boxes Green Giant Frozen  Veggies
2 Packs of Fruitables Juice Boxes
5 Cans DelMonte Diced Tomatoes
7 Cans Campbells Cream Soup
Red Peppers
Broccoli Crowns
Grape Tomatoes
5lbs Potatoes

And….here is the picture of the $273.61 worth of groceries that I purchased for…….$145.77!!!!

Ok here’s another picture of my little cutie with all the groceries informing me with gestures that he wants a snack….I couldn’t resist!

As I said, I did spend more than I have in quite a while, but with shopping sales, using coupons and getting some marked down meat I managed to save 47% on my groceries today. If you consider the hour and a half of shopping along with about an hour and a half of prepping (scanning circular, making list, matching coupons, etc) I earned $42 an hour (3 hours to save $127.93). Not too shabby eh?

Do you have any grocery spending goals for April? Have any questions on finding coupons, shopping sales, creating a stockpile or other grocery related stuff? Drop me a comment with any questions you have for me or tips you might have for me and my readers.

My next shopping trip is CVS….stay tuned for those results later this week.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Menu Plan Monday - March 29

It’s pouring buckets outside today and of course the little man and I have to go out twice – once this morning and again after lunch for story time. He is attending a preschool screening at our elementary school this morning. They identify children who require early intervention for the FREE preschool program at our elementary school (yes you heard me FREE – ok we do pay taxes for it….). I don’t see my son requiring intervention however they also have a lottery to fill out the classes from the rest of the kids that are screened. So why not give it a shot – it’s free, 4 days a week 2 ½ hours a day.

I actually planned my menu last week but never posted it. And I did a better job following it than I have in the past few weeks.

I’m planning to grocery shop Wednesday or Thursday (applied to April’s budget). The budget is going to have to be bigger this month due to Easter Dinner and the need to do some freezer/pantry stocking. Pickings around here have just been too slim….while DH likes that I maintain a budget I think he’s getting aggravated with the lack of a few things he’d like. So this week I’m working hard on a grocery list based on sales and coupons. I have an extra $8.00 off my entire order at Stop & Shop so that’s where I’m headed this week as well as CVS and perhaps Aldi.

Here’s the menu plan for this week:

Monday – Chicken Cutlets Parmesan, Pasta, Salad

TuesdayPork Chops with Balsamic Sweet Onion Sauce, Mashed Potatoes, Broccoli

Wednesday – Spaghetti with Meat Sauce, Homemade Bread, Salad

ThursdayGrilled Chicken Legs, Green Beans, Pasta Alfredo

Friday – Burgers and Dogs, Macaroni Salad, Homemade Potato Chips

Saturday – Family Fun Takeout - Egg Coloring Party!!!!

For more great menu and recipe ideas check out Menu Plan Monday at I’m an Organizing Junkie. Have a great week!

Friday, March 26, 2010

March Grocery Challenge - The Final Week

With less than a week left in March I've spent my grocery budget of $240.   I will admit to a little bit of cheating though....the $240 is what I spent from the checking account.   I returned bottles and cans to grab milk one day and today just sold our Backpack carrier for $50 - used $7 of that to buy apples for this afternoon's Daisy meeting snack.

My next grocery trip is planned for Thursday April 1st.   I'll let you know next week if I make it until then and what my anticipated budget is for April.

Now I better get menu planning from the pantry!!!

Thursday, March 25, 2010


Wow it's been nutty around here.   I feel so lame for not posting this week.   I actually even made my menu, links, etc and just never posted it or linked it up to MPM.  Ha wouldn't you figure it's the one week I've followed it more than I have in the past few weeks.  I've missed being here but just have had too many things going on in my house to even get a chance to sit at my computer.   And my kids informed me that we need two computers as I HOG our one - uh NOT....this is MY computer I keep reminding them and I LET them use it......doh.

Tomorrow I have to be at school at 815 for the 1st Grade Nutritious breakfast.   The kids and I made a quiche tonite - I need to warm, slice, and plate it before heading there in the morning.   My neighbor's babysitter is going to take my son along with her other two charges for the morning.   And on top of that I forgot I volunteered to be snack mom for the Daisy meeting tomorrow afternoon.   So I have to get some apples to slice along with the cheese sticks and juice I already purchased during the week.   And of course my daughter had dance tonite as well as homework ..... aaarrgghhhh...

Hoping to get back to you all more next week.   Perhaps I can be a more sane writer then as well!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Tasks for Tuesday

The crazy rain and wind has subsided and we're looking at a day of sunshine and near 60 degree temperatures.   Which means.....LAUNDRY!!!    I have one load ready for the line and will throwing another in shortly.  Hoping also to accomplish the following tasks today:

Drop off signed taxes (refund due yaaaayyy!!!)
Pick up birthday gift for neighbor boy
Did I say laundry? - yes more laundry
Bring some outgrown clothes to Goodwill
Get my boy outside to ride bikes, play in the yard, etc
Oh yeah...and more laundry

I've been pushing around the need to put together a weekly schedule for myself and the family.   I would like to take some time today to get some ideas onto paper and research some printable forms that I can use.  I'll see where I get and hopefully be able to share with you my results as well as some good links.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Menu Plan Monday - March 15th

Most of last week’s menu went as planned. Wednesday the kids and I ended up next door for pizza so on Thursday we opted for Takeout Chinese. This week I’m cooking from the pantry as much as possible with an eye towards providing my husband leftovers for lunches. I’m trying two new recipes from Erin Chase’s new book The $5 Dinner Mom Cookbook: 200 Recipes for Quick, Delicious, and Nourishing Meals That Are Easy on the Budget and a Snap to Prepare. One of the recipes has a link and the other is only available in her cookbook.

For dinner at our house this week:

Sunday – Grilled Cheese Sandwiches, Soup, Carrot sticks

Monday – Chicken, Broccoli, Mushrooms over Penne, Salad

TuesdayHoney Glazed Pork Chops, Pierogies, Green Beans

Wednesday – Cowboy Pie (From The $5 Dinner Mom Cookbook), Corn

ThursdaySlow Cooker Creamy Chicken Casserole (I’m going to have to modify this recipe a little based on what is available in my pantry and my family’s tastes – let you know what I come up with and how it turns out)

Friday – Spaghetti, Homemade Sauce with Meatballs & Sausage (from the freezer), Salad, Homemade Bread

Saturday – Leftover Buffet

Check out Menu Plan Monday at I’m an Organizing Junkie for more great recipes, menu ideas and a giveaway this week.

Friday, March 12, 2010

March Grocery Challenge - Week 2 Aldi Update

Aldi Trip - $38.26

I made a trip to Aldi on Thursday and was able to complete most of my needs list for under $40!!   Yes I admit to shopping with my calculator and choosing not to pick up some items I normally would have grabbed.   We should be mostly set through next week with the exception of milk and doing some loss leader/sales/coupon shopping for the pantry.

Here's how the budget is looking to date:

Budget - $240
Spent - $149.05
Remaining - $90.95

It's going to be a challenge to come in under budget this month but I think I can make it work.   Meal planning and cooking from scratch are musts to make it happen.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

March Grocery Challenge - Week 2

Stop and Shop - $17.34

I'm targetting $240 for my March Grocery Spending.  My shopping trip at Stop and Shop last week was a bit frustrating and more costly than I had hoped - but this week made up for it.   By using the 4 Dollar Doubler coupons in the S&S Flyer and 5 $1.00 manufacturer coupons on loss leader items I did a little stock up on items that my family likes.  I also returned $5.00 dollars in bottles and cans.    My S&S total before coupons and savings was $38.34 after a savings of $21.00 I only spent $17.34 for the items pictured above.

I also shopped CVS this week for sandwich bags (BOGO 50% off), Easter Candy ($3 ECB off $10 purchase), Fusion Razor ($4 ECB and $4 MC), Oral B Tootbrush ($4 ECB), Gillette Body Wash (on sale and $2 MC).   My spending at CVS after executing three transactions (not including my prescription) came to $16.18 - quite a bit of which was actually the Easter candy.

So here's where my budget stands as of this morning:

BUDGET - $240
SPENT - $110.79
REMAINING - $129.21

I'm planning an Aldi trip today with a goal of spending less than $40.   That will leave me with about $90 to get through the rest of the month.   I think I can pull it off.    Now as far as the rest of our budget....well I'm working on that one.    Eating out is going to come in a bit over but I'm letting it since two of those outings are related to my birthday.   I figure if anyone deserves not to cook a few nights it's the mom right???!!


Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Links I Liked

The crocus blooming in my front yard

Spring is visiting us here and it's been so uplifting.   I've been trying to make a little more time to read blogs - especially ones I've never visited and ones that are not as widely read.   There are lots of good ones out there.   Here are a couple of them that I enjoyed:

Living in a (Mostly) Happy SAHM World - Holly is a former attorney become Stay At Home Mom.   Her children are a little younger than mine but her life sounds rather similar and I really like her blog.   I just recently found Holly's site after she visited my own blog.

The Saved Quarter - This mom shares her family's journey towards saving.   The first post I read here was this awesome Dining Room Re-do - for which she won 2nd prize in I'm an Organizing Junkie's 28 Day Room Redo Challenge - Way to GO!

And now a few other interesting tidbits that I read over the past week or so:

Today is the Day - Relationship Reminders from Trent at The Simple Dollar.

Every Penny Counts - Informative article on The Dollar Stretcher on the results of adding a penny or two to minimum payments.

Two Simple Ways to be a Happier Parent - An Article on Yahoo with tips on making parenting more joyful.

Hope you enjoy these reads.   If you know of a blog that you think I'd enjoy or like to have me check out yours just drop me a comment on this post.  Have a great day!

Monday, March 8, 2010

Menu Plan Monday - March 8

We had a few plan changes during last week that affected my menu. The Turkey Pot Pie never got made and on Friday night we had beef stew instead of steak. So I’m bumping those two items into this week. I grocery shopped on Thursday last week (results here) and am going to need to go grab a few things this week as well. After reviewing the fliers and my pantry I think my only stop this week will be at Aldi. Since I spent more than I budgeted last week I’m going to keep this week’s list very short.

Here’s what we’re eating at our house this week:

Monday – Turkey Pot Pie, Salad

Tuesday – Grilled Chicken, Broccoli, Mashed Potatoes

Wednesday – Cheeseburgers, Baked Beans, Carrot Sticks

Thursday – Takeout Pizza (my birthday and dance lesson night)

Friday – Steak with Mushrooms and Onions, Roasted Potatoes, Green Beans

Saturday – Grownup birthday dinner out

Sunday – Dinner at my parents

For my birthday I’m requesting The $5 Dinner Mom Cookbook: 200 Recipes for Quick, Delicious, and Nourishing Meals That Are Easy on the Budget and a Snap to Prepare, which I already previewed from the library. It has some great shopping tips and family friendly, frugal recipes. Also my husband once again has microwave access for lunches so that will be a great time and money saver – he can once again take leftovers!

For more menu planning ideas and great recipes check out Menu Plan Monday at I’m an Organizing Junkie.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

March Grocery Challenge

I've set my grocery budget at an aggressive $240 for this month.  My husband has minimal overtime right now and we've been tapping the severance account far too often for far too much.   So we're determined this month to cover all our basic expenses with just his income.

I spent a little over an hour yesterday preparing a grocery list and scouting for coupons.   Unfortunately the coupon pickings are a bit slim and my list was a bit longer than I hoped.   I was trying to get my shopping done today for under $70 and instead came in at $77.   I shopped at Stop and Shop - I usually shop at Shaw's.   I realized today why I usually avoid Stop and Shop.....the overall pricing is higher and I had an aggravating checkout experience where all my online printed coupons were questioned.   I know some stores have a policy about not accepting them but the part that aggravated me is that they didn't know what to do.   I asked the cashier to please stop scanning my groceries until a decision was made as my whole list was based on sales and coupon matching....quite of few of my purchases would have to be put back if the coupons were not honored.  The coupons were finally accepted but the whole experience left me frustrated....especially my total bill.   Granted I did have $48 in savings between rewards card and coupons but it just wasn't as much as I had tried for.   I left wishing I had just gone to Aldi.

So my grocery budget for the rest of the month is down to $163.   Hopefully Sunday's paper will have a greater quanity of coupons (this week was only one flier) and Shaws will have some better sales and loss leaders.   Although I did learn my lesson - an Aldi trip is a must this month!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

March Freezer Cooking - The Results

I've completed most of what I set out to do on my March Freezer Cooking Plan.  The following items are being stashed into the freezer today:

3 Containers of Spaghetti Sauce with Sausage and Meatballs
2 Containers of Turkey Stock
1/2 Turkey Breast

In addition the items I made from scratch to help stretch my pantry this week are:

Macaroni Salad
Banana Chocolate Chip Mini Muffins
Cake Mix Cookies
Homemade Bread (1 loaf)
Turkey Pot Pie (dinner on Thursday)

I'm sorry I don't have photos but the battery in my digital camera has died and I haven't had the time or cash to get it replaced this week.   Payday is tomorrow so that's an item on my list for the weekend.

Next month I'd like to try to attempt more freezer cooking along the lines of what Crystal at Money Saving Mom and Fishmama at Life as Mom accomplish.   I think it will require a bit of advance planning and shopping on my part.   Not sure how well this month's grocery budget is going to support that but I'm going to give it a shot.  Check out both of their final freezer cooking results here and here - as well as check out the links and comments from others for great ideas.

Grocery Planning and Still Cooking

I'm still not done with my freezer cooking.   Yesterday I made a turkey for dinner and today I'm making stock.    I'll post later with the results of what I managed to accomplish and link it up to the host blogs Money Saving Mom and Life as Mom.

Yesterday brought a wonderful taste of spring to our home.  I got two loads of laundry to dry on the line, did a little bit of yard cleanup, took a huge load of items to Goodwill and another load to the dump.   Of course today wouldn't you know it's snowing....sigh....oh well such is March in New England.

My goals for today are to get my grocery lists planned with coupons, balance my finances and finalize our March budget.  In addition to making stock and posting my cooking accomplishments, I'd like to tackle cleaning the layer of dust off my living room (a pellet stove is lovely for warmth but wow it puts out more dust than we realized).

Hope to see you back here a little later....

Monday, March 1, 2010

Monday Marathon

It's not quite 10:30 here and that's what I feel like I've been doing - running a marathon!   I can't quite say I'm winning the race but I am pleased so far with my pace and progress.   My Monday Marathon consists of the following:

Make Spaghetti Sauce with Meatballs and Sausage
Bake a loaf of bread
Tackle the Laundry Mountain (and put away the clothes too not just pile them)
Clean the bathrooms
Attack the Playroom Jungle
Take my boy to StoryTime at the library

So far the sauce is bubbling on the stove with sausage and homemade meatballs in it.   The bread is kneading in the breadmaker and I've scaled maybe a third of the way up Laundry Mountain.   I guess I'll knock out the bathrooms next and then drag the boy into the playroom jungle.

Hope you are having a good Monday!