Wednesday Shopping & Weekly Menu Plan 11/9-11/16 2016

Hey everyone! I know this is a few days late! I had a rough week. I was a bit ill at the beginning of the week and so that made me slow motion. Can anyone relate? I am a bit perked up and ready to roll!

Last week we had a lot of leftovers so Wednesday was Leftover Night again! Aldi had chicken thighs on sale this week so I rearranged money and took a big chunk from somewhere else that had extra. I also re-evaluated my budget and although my weekly goal will remain $100, I can safely spend $120 and still manage the rest of our responsibilities comfortably. Budgeting is very important and if anyone needs a great budgeting (and coupon) book then go to my friend Kristin Cooper at Couponing to Disney. Her budget book is a life saver for us! You can find the book HERE. Krisitn is a friend. I am not compensated for referring her. I just really believe in her and her book.

A few reminders:

Lunches are almost always vegetables and fruit. I usually 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.

Breakfast
Suasage, Oatmeal*, & GF Pumpkin Muffins
Egg for me

*I buy a big canister of quick-cook oats and make “packets” of 1/4 C oats, chopped freeze dried fruit, and seasonings (cinnamon, etc). The kids use the kettle of hot water to make their own instant oatmeal for far less then pre-packaged!

Lunch
Fruit everyday — guava or oranges

This week everyday will be Garden Salad and Celery Sticks w/ choice of filling (hummus, cream cheese, nut butter)

Snack
baby carrots and apples

Dinner
(Thurs) Spinach and Artichoke Chicken with Rice
(Fri) Chicken, Mashed Potato, Green Beans
(Sat) Eggplant or Chicken Parmesan w/ GF Spaghetti (I am trying to find a cheap eggplant, but I have chicken already.)
(Sun) Roasted Vegetable Salad over GF Pasta
(Mon) Baked Sweet Potato Hash w/ Sausage
(Tues) Asian Rice Noodle Stir Fry
(Wed) Roasted Garlic Lemon Chicken

Snack
Halloween Candy

ALDI:

$1.99 Fresh Pamesan Cheese (Holiday Food)
$1.89 GF Pretzles (Co-op Food)
$2.99 x 2 Coconut Water (now I have enough in pantry for next swim meet)
$1.99 Fig Spread
$1.89 x3 Organic Pasta Sauce (this one has safe ingredients for us)
$1.79 x 3 Bagged Flat Leaf Spinach
99¢ x 2 Bagged Garden Salad Mix
79¢ x 4 Fresh Cranberries 12 oz
$1.29 Fresh Brussels Spouts 16 oz
99¢ Green Onions
$1.49 Red Onions 2 lbs
$1.69 x 4 Fuji Apples 3 lbs
79¢ x 2 Sweet Potato (cheaper than last week, so I bought more!)
$2.99 x 2 Medley Potatoes
$2.99 Lemons 2 lbs
79¢ x 4 Celery
$1.29 Avocado (super frustrated, Walmart had these chepaer and I didn’t realize)
$1.69 Butternut Squash
$1.24 Bananas
99¢ Gluten Free Baking Powder
$1.69 Rosemary
$1.69 Sea Salt
$1.79 Feta Cheese
$2.29 Organic Humus
$2.99 x 3 Organic Vanilla Yogurt 32 oz each
$1.99 x 2 Almond Milk (for the boys)
$1.99 x 3 Hot/Italian Pork Sausage
$5.89 x 2 Shredded Cheese 2 lbs
45¢ Large Eggs 1 dozen
$2.99 x 2 Chicken Sausage (for hash)
$1.99 x 2 Pepita/Pumpkin Seeds 6 oz
$1.59 Dried Pineapple 6 oz
$1.99 x 2 Peanuts 16 oz
$1.89 x 2 GF Spaghetti
$11.82 Chicken Thighs 4 packages @ 69¢/lb

Total: $134.98

WALMART:

78¢ x 2 Gluten Free Brown Gravy Mix (Holiday Food, and I had a coupon I didn’t want to expire so one was only 28¢)
$2.24 Artichoke Hearts 16 oz
$2.18 So Delicious Coconut Milk (for my Elf)
$3.68 x 2 Earth Balnce Soy Free Buttery Spread
$2.28 Fresh Guava 1 lb
$2.99 x 2 Oranges 4 lbs
43¢ Garlic
$8.86 Cabt White Cheddar Cheese Block 2 lbs
$6.93 Coffee
Total: $37.32

Goal: $190
Paid: $172.30
Leftover from budgeted: $17.70
Overage this month: $16.19
Things on my list I didn’t buy: I bought everything!

I am really happy with how much I have learned. I know how to better plan each week. I am done with this month, as our new food budget begins November 14. I think that being over $16.19 isn’t too shabby.

I did buy items I do not need this week (more sweet potatoes for example), but the prices were too good to pass and I planned ahead and moved money as needed. My primary goal is to keep the kids on a healthy diet. My secondary goal is to satisfy needs and not feel like we are missing out while doing so. The subgoal of that is to help others cut their food budget down and give meal ideas.

Have a great week, y’all!

~Andrea

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Old-Fashioned Dairy-Free Butter Mints

I am not a huge candy person. I rarely eat it or buy it for my kids. I much prefer ice cream. Candy, to me, is more of a treat meant for holidays.
Due to the fact we have food restrictions I usually make our candy. There is an online shop I can buy some candy at, but it adds up fast. Besides, there is a joy in making treats that are special for those you love.

I have a few tried and true recipes. For example, every Christmas I make pomegranate clusters (recipe found here). This is a favorite and I only make it for Christmas in order to keep it special.

This year I really wanted to try something new. I found a recipe for butter mints and I wondered if I could make it safe for my kids. I managed to successfully change the recipe! Yay! So without further ado here is my recipe. I hope you enjoy it as much as we have.

Old-Fashioned Dairy-Free Butter Mints

INGREDIENTS:

  1. 1 1/4 cup butter substitute (I use Earth Balance Soy-Free Buttery Spread)
  2. 3 1/4 cups confectioners’ sugar plus 1/4 cup+, if needed**
  3. 1/3 cup Cream of Coconut (this is NOT coconut milk! Make sure you are getting cream of coconut)
  4. 1/2 teaspoon peppermint extract*
  5. food coloring, optional (I use natural food coloring)

    **Due to the fact that store bought confectioner’s sugar has corn in it I make my own. All you have to do is put sugar, 1 cup at a time or 2 if you have a high-powered one like Vitamix, in a blender or food processor and make it into powder. Some people will tell you to add a starch but I do not feel it is necessary unless you want to make enough to keep on your pantry shelf. If that is the case here is a good recipe for you.

DIRECTIONS:

Using a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, beat butter until smooth; about 1 minute-ish on medium-high.  Add 3 1/4 cups confectioners’ sugar, cream of coconut, and peppermint. Beat on medium-low speed until a dough forms. If the dough seems wet add additional confectioners’ sugar until dough combines; being careful not to add too much. The dough will be crumbly but will come together when squeezed into a ball.

Taste the batter. If needed, add additional mint extract.*Be very, VERY careful how much mint you add; you cannot undo this!!*

This is what the dough looks like pre-color.

This is what the dough looks like pre-color.

If you want multiple colors remove dough from the mixer and separate into smaller balls. I opted for red and green (Christmas colors). Add the food coloring (I started with 8 drops) of your choice to the ball and mix on low speed until the color is well blended. Add more color as needed to achieve the desired look.

Red and Green mints for Christmas! Yes, I realize the red is more pink than red, but I use natural food colors and I think this is more retro looking; very cool.

Red and Green mints for Christmas! Yes, I realize the red is more pink than red, but I use natural food colors and I think this is more retro looking; very cool.

Wash the mixing bowl and the paddle in between each color change and repeat until all the balls are colored. Make sure these are completely dry or they will mess up your dough consistency!

Place a golf ball sized amount of dough in your hands and roll dough into long, thin ropes. I found it easiest to roll all of the dough of one color and place each rope next to each other on the counter. I then used a pizza cutter and cut through all the ropes, creating bite sized pieces. I did have to add a bit of powered sugar to my counters as my house was a bit warm and the dough was getting slightly sticky, but be careful not to add too much!

I cut the mints about 1-1.5 cm long.

I cut the mints about 1-1.5 cm long.

Store mints in an airtight container in the refrigerator. They they will keep for several weeks.

These mints are seriously good. I had to cut my children off or they would have just sat and ate them all! I think 4 at a time is more than enough. I am guessing we got about 200 mints out of this batch.

These mints are seriously good. I had to cut my children off or they would have just sat and ate them all! I think 4 at a time is more than enough. I am guessing we got about 200 mints out of this batch.

*Please note that mint extracts are far more intensely flavored and potent than vanilla extract; You will NOT use a 1:1 ratio! It is more like 1/8 teaspoon of mint extract to 1 teaspoon of vanilla. It is best to add very little and add more as needed since you cannot undo the flavor.
There are different kinds of mint extracts available. You will find mint, peppermint, spearmint, etc.  I used what I had on hand; Watkins Pure Peppermint Extract. Next time I will use Frontier Mint, which has a more spearmint smell to it. Use what sounds, smells, tastes best for you.
I do think I will try other extracts for different holidays. I am thinking that for Easter I will try lemon or orange. I imagine cinnamon, rum, coffee, etc could also work. If you try any of these let me know how they turn out!

If you want to make the dough and walk away for a bit you can store it in the fridge. Wrap it with plastic wrap and place it in an airtight container until you are ready to roll it out.

Enjoy!
~Andrea