I shop on Wednesday evenings. It is my alone time while the boys are across the road at youth group. How convenient that our church is 2 minutes away from Aldi!
Because I shop on Wednesdays I meal plan Thursday-Wednesday. I know, I know. It is odd, but it works for us since Wednesday is the easiest and most convenient time for me to shop.
I am on a very, very tight budget. A bit suffocating, but I manage it. My budget just took another hit and while I am in transition I am frustrated. A dear friend told me she is very interested in my meal plans and shopping habits, especially considering our overly-tight budget. I manage to make meals happen for a food-restricted family without breaking the bank. I told her I will try really hard to post once a week about my menu and shopping from now on.
A few things you should know:
Lunches are vegetables and fruit. I buy frozen vegetables unless I can snag better deals on fresh. I cook the frozen veggies in ways that bring out the best quality and taste possible. Fruit is always decided at the store. I look at prices and then decide between fresh, canned, or frozen. When I buy canned, I buy ones in their own juices.
I plan for 3 meals a day and 2 snacks. We do not do a morning snack, but instead eat an earlier lunch. My plans are for 7 people, except lunch and snacks. Lunch is for 6 people (Mark eats at work for free) and snacks for 5 (the kids). Every Friday Mark brings home rotisserie chicken from his work. He gets a great deal and it is so much better than the stuff they sell at the store. This is NOT part of our food budget.
On Tuesdays we have homeschool co-op. We have to have lunch to-go. This has upped our Tuesday food cost a little bit.
I try to keep cheese sticks and 100% fruit bars and dried fruit in the house for those days when you are just so hungry you need a bit more food. These are not everyday foods so when I buy them they do last longer than a week.
This week’s plan is a bit off as the 3 oldest kids and I will be away at a swim meet all day on Sunday. This means extra snacks as the kids are far hungrier and need more energy on swim meet days. Sunday’s dinner is for Marco and the 2 little ones. I have yet to figure out what the swimmers and I will eat.
Yogurt GF Squash Muffins
Fruit for Elf instead of yogurt
Egg for me instead of muffin
(Thurs) Oven Roasted Green Beans
(Fri) Curried California Mix
(Sat) Peas & Onions w/ salt & pepper
(Sun) GF Mac & Cheese**
(Mon) Cheesy California Mix
(Tues) Rice Cakes w/ Spreads
(Wed) Honey-Glazed Carrots
No Bake Cranberry Bites & Tea
(Fri) Chicken, Rice, Prince Edward Medley
(Sat) Refried Bean Burritos
(Sun) GF Pasta
(Mon) Millet Congee
(Tues) White Bean Stew
(Wed) Naked Burritos
(Fri) Homemade Popsicle
(Sun) Homemade Popsicle
(Tues) Homemade Popsicle
I had numerous things in my house already. Here is my shopping list with prices
$1.99 Honey Roasted Peanuts (swim meet food)
95¢ x 2 Gummi Bears (swim meet food)
$2.99 Natural Ham Deli Meat (swim meet food)
$1.29 Iceberg Lettuce (swim meet food)
$1.99 x 2 Organic Chewy Bars (swim meet & co-op food)
$1.49 x 2 Applesauce Cups 6-pack (swim meet & co-op food)
$1.29 Rice Cakes (co-op food)
$1.49 x 4 Gala Apples 3 lbs each
$1.69 Sweet Potato 3 lbs
$1.79 Yellow Onions 3 lbs
$1.79 Green Peppers 3-pack
$2.99 Multi-Colored Peppers 3-pack
$1.21 Bananas (44¢/lb)
99¢ Flat Leaf Spinach (bag)
99¢ Green Onions 5.5 oz bag
$2.99 Coconut Spread (Elf-safe butter)
$2.83 Whole Milk 1 gallon (for the 2 big boys for after swim, I add protein powder which is NOT part of the food budget)
39¢ x 24 Yogurt Cups (yes, I pay for convenience, but the price is really good)
$2.99 Organic Yogurt 32 oz (for when we run out of the cups)
$2.99 Apple Wood Smoked Cheese
$1.59 x 2 Prince Edward Medley (frozen vegetable)
$1.99 Quick Oats (I am very risky & do not buy GF even though I know I should, but $ talks)
$1.89 Unsweet Applesauce (this is our egg replacer for the muffins
$1.79 x 2 Vegetable Broth (I am out of our homemade stuff)
$2.89 GF Pasta
$1.19 x 2 Gluten Free Mac & Cheese
$3.99 Coconut oil (I was out)
$1.49 Natural Creamy Peanut Butter (cheapest corn-free I have able to find)
$1.99 Pumpkin Butter (this is an Aldi Special Buy and I thought the change would be nice)
$1.99 Fruit Spread (this is the cheapest corn-free jelly I have able to find)
$1.69 Great Northern Beans (dried 32 oz)
$1.69 Popcorn Kernels (Aldi does not carry these year round so I buy them when I can)
2.32 x 2 Celestial Seasoning Tea (less $1/2 coupon)
$2.67 x 2 CheeseHeads Cheese Sticks 10-pack (less 2 $1/1 coupons)
$8.86 Cabot White Cheddar Cheese 2 lbs
$4.98 Log Cabin All Natural Table Syrup 22 fl oz (cheaper than pure maple syrup and only other corn-free alternative I have found
$5.98 Bird’s Eye California Blend 60 oz bag (this large bag is far cheaper than even Aldi!)
If I had cut out the “splurge” items (gummi bears, smoked cheese, and pumpkin butter) I would have saved myself $6.88. I still would have been $4.95 over my goal.
Things on my list I didn’t buy: 4 cans full fat coconut milk (to make Elf coconut yogurt), coconut milk beverage half-gallon, 1 sea salt peanuts, chicken stock (they were out), gluten-free flour, smoked paprika, gluten free tortillas, snacking peppers (they were out), 2 pomegranates, 2 mangoes, microwave popcorn (for after swim practice), sausage (Aldi has a good one with no nitrates and ingredients I can read).
So what have I learned? I have learned I still have work to do on meeting my goal and that it will be a really hard journey. My goal is to keep the kids on a healthy diet. I despise the fact I cannot let them eat whenever they want, but I am reminded we do have far more food than most people. I am trying to focus on the fact that maybe this will help someone cut their food budget down or give them meal ideas.