So I decided to spice things up for myself, because you know staying at home with three kids just is not enough for me, right? I am probably crazy, out of my brain and it could be utterly impossible to do. But I am going to try whole heartedly do this.
I have reviewed our grocery budget which for the past 2 months has been crazily high. Granted we have hosted 2 holidays, have had guests, book club, holiday baking, as I am just making excuses here. So it is my challenge this month to only spend $100-120 MAX, if I can do lower then win for me, per week on groceries.
We have a birthday this month, AHHH I cannot believe my boys are TWO! Yes TWO, I do not have babies anymore. How did my babies grow up so fast,? They are walking, talking, hitting, shouting, kissing, hugging machines!! Anyways back to the subject, a budget and a birthday all in one month. I know am crazy to say this but I am going to TRY my best to keep the boys’ birthday party to $100 (okay, okay $150 MAX) – food, cake, decorations. But that I’ll do in another post, so stay tuned.
So back to week one of this challenge. I’ll set the scenario:
We just returned from the library
Wyatt has had a diaper blow out all into pants and socks
Isaac is screaming because he wants “ANNA, ANNA” -who is really Elsa but he cannot say Elsa so he calls her Anna and god forbid you try to give him Anna
Eva is quietly reading her new library books on the couch – she’s my favorite right now
I quickly change Wyatt, disinfect my hands and nose
Whisk him into his crib, grab Isaac and get him into his crib
BAM naptime my daily oasis in the middle of chaos
Silence, ahhh silence. Wait I have a daughter, oh Eva hi!
So I have her help me lay out all my budgeting tools. 5 new cookbooks from the library, paper, pen, coupon books, & notes I took from online creeping for coupons/sales, and recipes.
The poor ladies at the library who have been pulling cookbooks upon my request. For 2 weeks now I have been checking out 4-5 cookbooks every 5-6 days or so. But I go online and request them so they are ready and waiting for me when I arrive. Who has time to peruse for cookbooks while your twins are running in opposite directions through the history section? Not me!
The only thing that Eva could decide on after 5 cookbooks were pancakes (sausage pancakes, but she did not know that) and the donuts recipe in the first book she looked at. But we compromised on homemade bread and cinnamon rolls for next weekend instead. We have pancakes in the freezer already ready to pop into the toaster in a moment of panic.
Eva headed to her room for some quiet time, aka ipad time, so I set up shop on the coffee table, which I did not take the time to clean off – let’s be serious I have three kids their toys are EVERYWHERE. It’s also sad to admit that there’s no coffee in my mug because I have been forced to be coffee free for 6 days thanks to the stomach bug that has hit our home. I cannot wait for my first cup of joe, it’ll be like meeting a long, lost friend.
So this is how it all begins, set it all up and dive in. So first thing I do every week whether I am budgeting or not. Plus any of my old co-workers could vouch for, I am a planner/organizer sometimes a tad too much, it can sometime rule my life, but keeps me sane as best as possible with three littles running through my house like crazy people. I create a daily food chart. Breakfast, lunch and dinner for each day – I start to fill in what I know I already have in the house, adding what I need. I make a list of what is in the pantry and freezer prior to sitting down to meal plan. As you can see below I make a list of the protein items that I know I have on hand. Random pasta, rice, etc I don’t need to list as I am usually in my pantry grabbing snacks for the kids 10 million times a day so I have a good idea of what is in there. I plan out my 3 meals daily so I do not feed my kids cereal for breakfast, lunch and dinner daily. I must do this daily or they’ll get cereal or their favorite SNACKS, which any parent will agree these are your worst and best enemy. They’ll save you in your time of need and tear you apart when its time to sit down for a ‘real’ meal.
I try my best to use new recipes a few times a month. My kids are not the most adventurous in food as I would prefer them to be, but I am trying to sneak in some new meals that would be yummy and easy. This week we are trying a new braised chicken thigh from Emeril and peanut butter no bake granola bars by Lauren’s Latest, homemade cinnamon rolls from Ree Drummond – whom I love so, so much. Her recipes are the best, easy, tasty and everyone loves them! The last recipe is homemade crusty bread. It is delicious, as we made it a few weeks ago and Eva requested it.
As I am creating my menu for the week I add to my grocery list as I am going. That way I am not hopefully not missing items and then have to do the dreadful run to the store which results in me grabbing this and this and this and before I know it I have a cart full of more food which we did not need to start with.
Now I looked at the coupons/sales for Cub, Byerly’s and Aldi prior to starting my meal planing and grocery list. I have several people I know who SWEAR by Aldi, the say their produce is wonderful & their meat is great but I must not have the greatest one in my area as it is really hit or miss. So I make a rough list of what I want to buy at Aldi and then at the other stores. I usually shop between 3-4 stores to get everything I need. Aldi for snacks for the kids, organic whole yogurt and whatever produce looks good that day. I am experimenting with buying frozen chicken thighs from there, as I have had horrible experience with their fresh meat. Let me just say I can be picky about any food I bring into the house. Below is what budgeting and meal planning really looks like, a giant mess of scribbles and scratches.
So here is my Budget challenge week 1 meal plan that I utilized some items from our freezer and pantry to keep our costs down. I realize that each week as I use more and more from the freezer my costs will fluctuate but I plan on doing my best to take advantage of sales when it comes to meat and fish. It will be also interesting as the month goes on to see if I will be able to budget in Costco meat. As it lasts forever but the initial buy is greater than what I would like to spend. Plus their tilapia is one of the best frozen fish I have found in the area, their fresh and frozen chicken is a great buy – unless like this week Cub was running 2/$10 on 3lb bags of frozen chicken.
So Saturday morning I woke up fed the kids and headed out. I ran to Walmart in search of fresh raspberries as we were sent coupons for $3.00 off, I would’ve loved to had them this week but did not find any. Aldi’s produce was spot on this morning and I was able to get all but snap peas there. I have always in the past bought our organic whole milk at Trader Joe’s because it was $5.99/gal which was amazing!! Not today, they upped their price to $6.29/gal. So I need to do some shopping around again to see best prices for milk. Then last I stopped at Cub for the 2/$10 on chicken. I spent a grand total of…..wait for it, wait for it
$80.25 for week 1!
You like how when I walk in the door the kids were all over the food. I normally do not display all my grocery finds like this when I go grocery shopping but I thought a picture would help show the vast amount of food I successfully bought for under $100!!
After all was said and done for $80.25 I bought:
6lbs chicken breasts, 3lbs chicken thighs, 2 gallons of milk, 2 bags pretzels, 1 bag goldfish, 1 english cucumber, 3 zucchini, 1 pack cremini mushrooms, 3lbs sweet potatoes, 3 lbs onion, 1lb fresh green beans, 1 butternut squash, 3 crowns of broccoli, 1 box graham crackers, 1 box cheese-its, 3 lbs apples, 8 oz cheddar, 8 oz monty jack cheese, 20ct tortillas, 1 box rice crispies, 1 cake mix, 1 can baked beans, 1 jar of greek yogurt ranch dressing, dry active yeast and 1lb butter.
Now to prove to you I was not lying I have the receipts and totals here to prove I really only did spend $80.25.
Now here’s to hoping there is no need for me to go to the store. I hope on Thursday to make a run to grab some apple slices for the play group I am hosting here on Friday but I will do my best to only grab one bag of apples for $4.00 which would still keep my grocery total under $100 for the week.