Week 6: Menu & Receipt

I don’t have a lot of time today so let’s keep this short and sweet, I hit a total of $109.06. If I were shopping at one store, I would have put back a pack of wings or thighs, or perhaps a bag of apples. Instead I put back my baking essentials of honey, vanilla and something else at the 2nd store, in order to stay closer to the budget of $100. It’s not a hardship to be without stock for cookies or muffins. Choice!

It's a learning curve shopping at 2 stores with this budget so bare with me while I work out the kinks!

It’s a learning curve shopping at 2 stores with this budget so bear with me while I work out the kinks!

This week’s menu was made after I went shopping based on the available funds, sales and meat choices that were in the stores. If you noticed, I used a $1 off coupon for some nitrate free pepperoni – just check Applegate’s website!

Our fries are fresh cut from sweet potatoes and/or organic white potatoes. My sandwiches are on lettuce. And real chili doesn't have beans! Ask a Texan.

Our fries are fresh-cut from sweet potatoes and/or organic white potatoes. My sandwiches are on lettuce… And real chili doesn’t have beans! Ask a Texan.

What are you having for dinner this week? Leave a comment or join us on Facebook to chime in on another topic.

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Week 5: Menu & Receipt

Today was also prep day, which means I’ve been in the kitchen getting meals and food ready for both dinner and the week to come since I got home from the grocery. While one daughter laid down for a while then enjoyed a bath, the other played Operation and Clue Jr. with her daddy at the kitchen table. It was a lovely day.

Now, for this week’s menu.

There's nothing on here that isn't Paleo and it's all grass fed meats. $100 budget.

There’s nothing on here that isn’t Paleo. $100 budget.

And now for the receipt.

Notice I entertained two grocery markets today… a sunday… what was I thinking? However, I wanted to give Wegman’s a chance. Local friends are typically split between the two largest competitors in the area and I have to say, I’m sticking with GIANT for the majority of my shopping. I will continue to use Wegman’s to stock up on grass-fed proteins though. Their variety is to-die-for compared to what GIANT is currently offering and their prices are not insane. I was also a bit blown away by the Gluten Free section, although as I perused, I realized it was just more processed crap that I’d rather not eat. They had a few lower prices on certain items like Almond Flour, but their Coconut Flour inflation made up for it. Also, their gluten-free, non gmo cereals were priced at or higher than GIANT. Since I knew GIANT had Barbara’s brand on sale, and their organic apples (#1 on the Dirty Dozen) were dollars cheaper, I made up my mind that I would stop by on my way home… since it is on my way home.

Kudos to Wegman's for their compact receipt. I spent 70% of my budget there and got 30% less paper.

Kudos to Wegman’s for their compact receipt. I spent 70% of my budget there and got 30% less paper.

I went over budget by $10.61 today, the most I’ve ever gone over. I only have myself to blame, of course, deciding to ask my husband if he wanted lunch meat when I got to GIANT. His response was “No. Bread, soda and chips.” DARN!  The soda and chips alone were $8.19 and I bought my daughter a new pack of hair bands for $2.96. Without these items I would have spent $99.46 between 2 stores.

From the meats I purchased, all were Wegman’s Organic Brand . I also made sure to buy meats that would prepare well for more than one meal. For example, I knew I could use the leftover chicken quarters for a salad addition, we’d have roast beef for lunch and/or a leftovers dinner as well, OR I could use it in a stew. Always make leftovers!

Prep day went something like this:

  1. Chicken wings marinated in Frank’s Hot Sauce, onions, bell peppers, butter, salt and pepper. Baked for dinner at 350 for 45 minutes, turned and brushed twice. 
  2. Chicken quarters baked at 350 for 70 minutes with butter, salt and pepper. Turned and brushed twice.
  3. 4 large meatballs, 8 medium meatballs and a heart-shaped meatloaf made from 2lbs of ground beef and 1lb of ground lamb. Added to the mixture: 2 eggs; 1/4(ish) cup of coconut flour; (in the food processor) carrots, onions, celery, dates;  salt, pepper, thyme and savory seasoning. All sprinkled with garlic salt.
  4. A salad for my work-dinner tomorrow night was prepared while I made dinner salads. I added some of the extra roasted chicken to it after dinner was complete.
  5. Mashed white (for husband) and sweet potatoes.
I shaped my meatloaf into a heart to send my love to the fam while I am working. Thanks to Liz for the idea!

I shaped my meatloaf into a heart to send my love to the fam while I am working. Thanks to Liz for the idea! It’s her Valentine tradition.

After making a whole lot of dinner to satisfy each of our cravings (not my typical m.o.), we have half a dozen wings, 1 quartered chicken plus part of a quarter, and extra mashed potatoes for daytime meals and/or leftover night. Tomorrow, while I am enjoying my protein packed salad, my family will enjoy a meatloaf. I hope to have some leftover meatloaf with an egg Tuesday morning!

I forgot to boil eggs. They are such an important addition to my work-meals because of the protein and fat content. They fill me up and keep me going while on my feet. So, I’ll make time in the morning to boil a few.

What is on your menu this week? Leave a comment and let us know, or join us on our Facebook page to further the conversation.

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Week 4: Menu & Receipt

As you see, our weeks are not set in stone. If we go out of order, I like to cross off a meal so we know what we're dealing with. My husband appreciates variety so I try to mix up my proteins throughout the week. I, on the other hand, could eat the same thing all day until it was gone. Leftovers are my jam.

As you see, our weeks are not set in stone. If we go out-of-order, I like to cross off a meal so we know what we’re dealing with. My husband appreciates variety so I try to mix up my proteins throughout the week. I, on the other hand, could eat the same thing all day until it was gone. Leftovers are my jam.

IT’S BACK.

The past few weeks have been hectic as I am knee-deep in a new career. After being in school all day for 12 months my routine of leftover lunches has now become leftover dinners because I typically work in the evenings. My family is left to fend for themselves (with the help of my menu planning and preparation, mind you) while I work 3-5 evenings each week. My house hasn’t been this organized in a year and we’ve been checking off the Pinterest ‘to do‘ list at lightning speed. Life is good. My weekly shopping trip, however, has been chopped into spurts.

I don’t mind shopping in spurts, but I received a lot of positive feedback on the weekly menu & receipt posts so my intention has been to continue doing a weekly $100 grocery trip and meal plan (you know, to keep myself busy) so, HERE I AM.

I put a few things back this week, like a 2nd box of k-cups ($5.99), in order to afford a few treats. I also decided against the organic butter (4.29) because we have some butter in the house and my sister recently picked us up 2 jars of Trader Joes Coconut Oil, which I have been using more of recently.

  • Budget: $100
  • Meal Plan: 1 week
  • Final purchase: $92.61

Eating As A Family on a Tight Budget

During my hiatus, I will note, we were not living it up, it was quite the contrary as a matter of fact. My girlfriend, Jodi, recently asked “Without pasta or a starchy filler is it difficult to stretch (a dollar)?” and my immediate answer was “no”. We maintain our eating habits, as much as possible because we are committed to health. It’s almost better for us to spend our money elsewhere 😉 We (/I) are nowhere near perfect. Paleo is the goal and we live as close to it as we can. Sometimes, we don’t want to. 🙂

1. Snack less; It is a privilege, not a right

2. Pack meals with protein – no counting calories or controlling portions (within reason). EAT.

3. Cook with coconut oil instead of butter – it adds more fat to our lessened amount of food. Fat = energy and we all need energy to keep our brains and bodies working well.

4. Use more eggs – added protein and fat for a good price

5. Drink (even more) water.

6. GET BUSY and/or NAP – our bodies work best in these conditions

WHEW, Treats! There was a new brand of nonGMO cereal I decided to throw in for the kids, a bag of potato chips, flavored coffee, crackers & cheese and a sack of ENJOY chocolate chips. PRIVILEGE.

WHEW, Treats! There was a new brand of nonGMO cereal I decided to throw in for the kids, a bag of potato chips for the husband, flavored coffee for me, crackers & cheese…for me, and a sack of ENJOY chocolate chips for all of us. PRIVILEGE.

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Week 2: Menu & Receipt

Here it is! Don’t make fun of my bad paint job.

Image

Our basement door, just off the kitchen.

Menu

  • Saturday: Tacos (seasoned ground beef and salsa on greens with carrot peels, cucumber slivers, chopped onions – check the bad pic on Facebook)
  • Sunday: Kabobs (chicken, pork, steak with peppers, onions, sprouts and bacon) with Brussel Sprout and Bacon Speared
  • Monday: Pork Chops with a salad and mashed (sweet) potatoes (and certainly applesauce)
  • Tuesday: Burgers with salad and fries (or burger ON salad, hold the fries)
  • Wednesday: Chicken Soup (broth, chicken breast, bag(s) of frozen soup vegetables, chopped and peeled additional carrots and onions, seasoned in the crock pot)
  • Thursday: Steak (mmm, steak) with baked (sweet) potatoes and a salad
  • Friday: $5 PIZZA NIGHT (or leftovers)
  • Saturday: Jumbalaya (broth, peppers, onions, garlic, chicken, shrimp and sausage, seasoned in the crock pot)

My shopping list tallied at $100.33 according to my calculator, before check out. That was after I decided to put a few things back to swap out for more proteins; one of the 2 frozen pizzas my husband requested $3.99; the entire stock of k-cups because (I had a coupon for a buy 2) I can get through exactly enough days with the coffee and tea I have $11.98; I put back grass fed hot dogs and resolved to not take short cuts when feeding the kids (besides we have sliced chicken, eggs and there will be plenty of leftovers for lunch options) $5.99; I decided against another jar of olives since I blew through the last one (munchies) and I have guacamole and celery in the crisper I can crunch on instead $2.29.

Choices.

recept

The cashier presented me with the grand total of $102.55. Not bad. Mind you, that also includes $44.44 in NON Paleo foods or housewares items. HOLY SHIT. Imagine if we just ate Paleo.

I’ll also be making hard-boiled eggs for snacking and salad, cookie bars (grainless granola like concoction, basically nuts and honey) and I have apples and bananas to turn into yummy breakfast or dessert options for the girls. That makes a week worth of (almost) Paleo eating.

Some more thoughts on Paleo being as affordable as you want to make it:

  • Robb’s rant, he will always hold a spot in my heart for opening my eyes to the power I have over my own health.
  • I follow Paleo On a Budget on Facebook
  • A quick google search (if you really want to know something, you can find the answer yourself) and here is a nice rundown on ways to cut the budget from the Lean Machine and 15 Tips for Eating Paleo on the Cheap from Following my Nose
  • Now harvest your own information. If you want something, you’ll make it work. Don’t blame anyone but yourself.

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Sundays are Cookdays

I love Sundays!

First thing this morning, I emptied a large package of chicken legs into the crock pot, poured a smaller bottle of Franks Hot Sauce over, turned on high and then made a cup of coffee. While I made the girls breakfast, emptied the dishwasher, caught up on world events, social media and then took a shower, I planned my attack for the day. We hit the grocery store and wah-lah! 5 hours later, the chicken was off the bone and ready to separate. From the drumsticks (which are a super cheap meat option) I will make Buffalo Chicken, as well as a not-so-paleo BUT as-okay-as-I-can-make-it Buffalo Chicken Dip for my husband’s football watching enjoyment (Go Niners?).

Buffalo Chicken Dip

After removing the bones and sifting through for skin, I made 2 containers of chicken. The first, I added a bit more hot sauce to and after cooling, put into the fridge. I will use this to top salads and celery as needed for meal or snack options. I love a spicy chicken salad!

The other dish is reserved for the dip. Instead of following the recipes I’ve seen involving LOADS of cheese and dressing, I decided to see how little I could get away with, as I typically steer clear of dairy but love this dip. In a small pot on the stove top (low heat), I put a quarter block of cream cheese and a small handful of crumbled blue cheese, whisking occasionally. When melted, I let the mixture sit till the oil collected on the surface then poured off into the sink. I added the mixture to the shredded chicken, along with a load of hot sauce and stirred. I had my husband taste test to make sure the consistency was satisfactory for his non-Paleo palate because the lack of cheese was OKAY by me! It was perfect. Enjoy with cut celery.

While I sorted the chicken, I made a dozen Hardboiled Eggs to be used for salads, snacks and, if I find the time today, deviled eggs! (I didn’t find the time before cookday burnout set in and two little girls needed more direct attention.)

Next up: APPLE SAUCE! We love applesauce. I like to dip my meat in it (you read me!) pork, chicken, jerky, WHATEVER. Core, slice, dice and add to the crock pot on low with about a half cup of water for 3lbs of apples, then sprinkled cinnamon on top. I am loosely following a recipe for Homemade Applesauce that has recommendations on the types of apples to use for sauce. Our market had bags of Granny Smith and so it was decided. I stirred every 10-15 minutes until soft enough to throw in the blender, about an hour and a half today.

Homemade Apple Sauce

In the meantime, I dumped a pound of ground beef into a bowl, followed by salt, black pepper, pressed garlic, diced onions and celery along with a snip of countertop chives for good measure. Mixed, smooshed and mashed into Sliders for my husband, and (even mini’er) Mini Sliders for my girls. I packaged them in twos and threw them in the freezer. I have sliders scheduled for dinner on Wednesday. Incidentally, ground beef is another cheap, and filling, meat option.

Now for the luxury item, Almond Stuffed Dates Wrapped in Bacon. This is an amazing hors d’oeuvre, side or snack and one that I haven’t made since 2003, until recently. Let’s just say, the last time I attempted these delicious little buggers the fire department showed up. I apparently gained some sort of culinary sense over the last 8 year, though, since there were no flames when I made them last week, or today. Just keep an eye on them at 350 for 15-20 minutes or until the bacon looks done, flipping once. Use pitted dates and stuff as many almonds as you can in them, typically 1 or 2 depending on the size of the date.

Almond Stuffed Dates Wrapped in Bacon

 

Somewhere along the way, I also put together a few Chicken Kabobs. I used tenders (another cheap option) and sewed them on the skewers (remember to soak in water for fire prevention, see, I’m learning) surrounding them with onions and green peppers. I salt and peppered them, added some Wildtree garlic seasoning and wrapped them up for dinner this week. The remaining tenders were tossed in a freezer storage bag with some herbs and spices and thrown in the freezer for another easy option.

My week’s dinners look like this:

  • Sunday – Buffalo Chicken Dip & Celery, Almond Stuffed Dates/Bacon (what, it’s Football season!)
  • Monday – Steaks and salads (already marinating in the fridge)
  • Tuesday – Chicken Kabobs and baked sweet potatoes
  • Wednesday – Sliders with sweet potato fries and salad, or just salad, we’ll see what I’m feeling
  • Thursday – Pork loin and steamed veggies
  • Friday – Leftovers!
  • Saturday – Chicken Salads

What’s on your menu?

 

 


Lifestyle Change & Frugality

Do you have a healthy living resolution for 2012? Emptying your cupboards into the trashcan followed by a race to the grocery store to fill your house with ‘healthy’ replacements can be exhilarating. However, this is not the way to start a new lifestyle and could cost you hundreds of dollars. Keep all aspects of wellness in mind and communicate with your partner, decide who is committing to this change. Is this a “you” thing or is this a family thing? Everyone must choose this for them self in order for it to stick.

When I began my journey a year ago, it was a very ME thing. I knew I could influence my children’s diet, but my husband’s was a different story and he was certain there was no Paleo in his future. I could have thrown my hands in the air and blamed someone else for my quick defeat, but I was choosing change. I had read too much evidence on how the Paleo diet can restore your body to health and prevent modern disease to quit on someone else’s accord. So, I never trashed the cookies and pretzels. I simply stopped buying it. My husband will buy items I categorize as ‘junk’ but rarely asks me to buy them for him. He respects my choice, as I respect his.

If it is, in fact, a household decision then TRASH AWAY! What a glorious day that would be. Check your fridge for leftover grain and sugars of your recent holidays, then to the cupboard, the mecca of JUNK. Someone living the Paleo lifestyle has very little inside their cupboard. (I’d like to use mine for appliance storage.) Aside from some nuts, perhaps a small baking section of almond flour, dark cocoa powder, molasses, honey, maybe some dark chocolate (high in cacao), I’m blanking on what else I eat from the cupboard. Clean it out, make it pretty, and store your extra serving dishes inside so you’re not tempted to restock.

The next step is the fun part, at least for me. I’m a grocery store, market, local farm junkie. I love food shopping and this is a major plus considering my next piece of advice is: Shop every 2 or 3 days and only buy items you will eat in 2 or 3 days – you’ll get better as time goes on. A slow start will help form a new habit which is more likely to stick. Paleo essentially means protein and plants. You want food to be fresh (and preferably on sale). You also don’t want to spend your entire grocery budget in the first week, so pace yourself. Create a tentative meal plan based on either what’s in your fridge or what’s on sale this week, use leftovers creatively and start eating them for breakfast, too.

Our taste buds are overwhelmed by the standard American way of eating. Once you have cleaned up your plate and taken out the chemicals and processing, you’ll start tasting food again. Real food. Salt and pepper and common spices are all you need to make a delicious roast. The natural flavorings of a roasted carrot or fresh cucumber are satisfying again. Cooking isn’t complicated so don’t over think it. And remember, it takes time for your body to purge it’s cravings and release old habits. Choose healthy and clean as often as possible. If you choose unhealthy, have a bite and move on, you’ll lose your taste for it over time. Until then don’t let it defeat you. Choose better at each next opportunity.

      Sample

   Monday – BREAKFAST: eggs & uncured bacon (maybe add some fruit for the kids); LUNCH: salad with chicken, hardboiled eggs and some crumbled bacon from bfast; DINNER: hamburgers, sweet potato fries, side salad

Tuesday – BREAKFAST:  omelet with a mix of your faves (mine are peppers and onions); LUNCH: leftover burger on lettuce, hardboiled egg; DINNER: roasted chicken, roasted veggies with salt and pepper (when finished with dinner, put the remaining chicken into the crock pot, fill with water, some spices and cook overnight to make your own broth)

Wednesday – BREAKFAST:  hardboiled eggs and leftover chicken; LUNCH: nitrate free Deli Turkey on a salad or rolled up with cucumber inside; DINNER: hearty chicken soup in the crock pot with the broth from last night’s dinner – get creative with big chunks of carrots (not baby carrots, real carrots), onions, celery, red pepper, throw a jalapeno or three in there, some herbs. YUM.

You can also eat soup for lunch the next day, turn leftover ground beef into meatballs with some shredded veggies for a lunch or dinner, and eggs & bacon make for a great meal any time of day!

Buy ONLY what you will need and stretch it as far as possible, use the entire animal and buy on sale:

  •  eggs
  • uncured bacon
  • large tub of mixed greens
  • chicken breast
  • ground beef
  • sweet potatoes
  • peppers, onion, cucumbers, carrots
  • whole chicken
  • nitrate free Turkey
  • jalapeno