So, the challenge was to be frugal this week — I had $66* remaining in my grocery budget for the week, when I typically spend between $150 and $200 a week. This really wasn’t an extraordinarily difficult challenge because I did and do have a pretty well-stocked pantry/freezer. I was out of a couple of staples, however, but still. I’m really not the person to look to for extreme frugality. If you want extreme frugality look to the folks of the The One Dollar Diet Project or Less is Enough. I have neither the time nor the inclination to do that kind of frugality, and I’m very thankful that I don’t have the need, either.
Another parameter that makes this easier is that we’re going out to dinner tonight for our anniversary and planning a day trip tomorrow, so I didn’t plan lunch for Sunday, and I usually shop on Saturdays, so this is really only 5.5 days.
I’m sounding not very frugal at all, aren’t I? I’m really not, when it comes to groceries, but I will add that we typically cook 3 meals a day, 7 days a week (K sometimes skips breakfast, but we both take lunches, and I make dinner every night).
So details and menu-planning
Relevant in-pantry items:
Olives (Both the prunes and the olives are left over from Chicken Marbella, which means I have to make more Chicken Marbella per my husband, but I’d like to point out that both of these items are non-perishable, and Chicken Marbella isn’t truly required this week)
Rice (both uncooked and frozen precooked. Yes, I work 55 hours a week, I buy microwaveable rice)
Frozen Meatballs (I could make these I suppose as well – I have some bits of ground beef in the freezer and some breadcrumbs)
Various toddler foods – some sliced cheese, salami, crackers, dried fruits, frozen fried rice, frozen mini tacos, and hot dogs (this is a staple — we have a toddler. I need these on hand at all times, so if we didn’t have a full package I would have had to buy some)
1 bag of spinach
1/2 bag arugula
1 head cabbage
Parmesan and Cotija cheese, and some shredded cheese (but NOT, I’m afraid, the cheddar I thought was in there.)
Chicken Breast strips
So, dinners for the week, which are intended to create enough leftovers to take lunches every day, are:
Red Beans and Rice with Arugula Salad
Cheese and Chicken Enchiladas with Cabbage Slaw
Black Bean Tacos with Cabbage Slaw
Chicken Marbella and Arugula Salad
Grocery List was as follows (with prices)
Honey Roasted Peanuts (Essential toddler snack — we’re out)(2.69)
1 lb French Roast Coffee (4.99)
Whole Milk – 1 gallon (2.49)
1 loaf Milton’s Multi Grain Bread 3.29
1/2 gallon 2% milk (1.49)
Whole Wheat Organic Spaghetti (1.29)
Wild Arugula (1.99)
Olive Oil – 1 Liter (7.49 — this is a staple. I maybe could have waited a week to get more, but I get panicky when I run low on olive oil)
Chicken Sausages (3.15)
Chicken Sausages (for the Red Beans and Rice) (2.99)
Chicken Thighs (5.75 – Thighs are cheaper than breasts and I like them better for things like Chicken Marbella)
Oatmeal (2.99) (This is the prepackaged oatmeal with extra soy protein. I could go more frugal on this, but I like to eat breakfast at work and instant is easier. Plus I like the extra protein. This will last 2 weeks)
Chicken Broth (1.99 — I could make my own, but this is organic and low sodium and way easier)
Cuban Style Black Beans (1.29)
Corn Tortillas (.99)
Peanut Butter (1.79)
Diet Hansen’s Soda (2.49)
Blood Oranges (1.99)
2 Red Bell Peppers (1.99)
Red Beans (1.29)
Capers (Usually I have these but I’m out) (1.99)
(Total, with tax $64.89)
I could have been more frugal, certainly, made some things, like chicken broth from scratch, skipped the seltzer water and the soda, cut out not strictly necessary things like cilantro and chicken sausage. I could also have splurged a little more — if I weren’t on this budget I probably would have bought a bottle or two of inexpensive wine, and some cookies for the Nuni (as it is, I’ll make her some from peanut butter and some oatmeal I have in the pantry). I’m sure I could eat entirely from my pantry and freezer for a week, save for milk and coffee), but I just don’t want to invest the planning time or ingenuity. Still, I could probably cut down on a more regular basis.
I’ll have leftovers for next week too — celery and at least one pepper.
I’ll post recipes as the week wears on.