Monday, March 3, 2014

Food and Groceries in February

So despite being sick and all, we managed to keep our food/household items under $300.00 this month!

It wasn't by much... (Total came to $296.80), but were finally figuring things out and it was much better than last month's overage :)

So, since I was bad with the camera and didn't take a whole lot of "dinner" pictures, (largely because we ate the same things we ate last month), I'd thought i'd just highlight a few *new* items that I did take pictures of and do a combined what we ate and what we bought post.

1. Chocolate Covered Strawberries: This is what I live for in February. It's not Valentines Day without Chocolate Covered Strawberries, but there is no way I will buy them in the store when I can make them myself for a fraction of the cost... especially when I finally found a place that sells organic strawberries without ripping off an arm and a leg!

2. Egg Mex Breakfast Sandwich: This ended up being a random delight of awesomeness. I was at work and since I had that nifty toaster oven, I took 2 slices of bread, sliced up a hard boiled egg, added some cheese, and then I made what i'm referring to as my poor man mexican guac (chopped tomatoes, onion, cilantro & avocado that was leftover from another dinner) and just mashed that all together and put it on top... Heat and eat. It was a really nice way to change up eating a toasted egg sandwich.

3. Zucchini Pasta: It doesn't get better then just cooking a box of whole wheat pasta and then just dumping in sliced Zucchini that was cooked in olive oil, Italian seasoning, and Parmesan cheese. It's one of hubby's favorite meals and since we are doing more meatless options, it was time to hit our rotation.

4. Pizza Bread: This is a family tradition I learned from my hubby's mama and we haven't had it in a long time so he started asking for it, especially since last month I was trying so hard to avoid the $5 pizza take out... I make my own dough from a super easy recipe
  • The Dough Recipe/Process: 9 oz of water, 2 tablespoons powdered Milk, 2 tablespoons butter, 3 cups flour, 1.5 tablespoons sugar, 1.5 teaspoons salt. 2 teaspoons fast acting yeast.
    • Then just mix it in a mixer with a dough hook, or kneed by hand for 10 minutes or so.
    • Once its ready, take half the dough (each batch of dough makes 2 loaves)... then roll it out so its as long as your baking sheet (might have to add a little flour to the surface so it doesn't stick) and get it as wide as you want it (wide enough for your toppings). 
    • Then just place on your favorite pizza toppings. 
      • For me that's mushrooms, bell peppers, olives, onion, pineapple, and cheese. I try and dry out the pineapple with some paper towels so it doesn't get too liquid-y
      • For SCB its pepperoni, olives, onions and cheese. 
    • Then you just wrap and pull the dough around the inside stuff. You can use a little water to act like glue if you need to. Then just spray your baking sheet and make sure the crease is on the bottom.... cut some slits in the top with a knife and stick it in the oven for around 35 minutes at 350 degrees. I made 3 batches (6 loaves) cause i'm awesome and my hubby wanted leftovers for his work lunches. 
  • The key is you dip it in marinara sauce! It's not greasy and only has the flavors you like-- Its like healthy pizza!
Grocery Breakdown:
Okay, I'm feeling way better about our $300 a month goal now that we have tackled February's groceries. Despite how we ended up tossing out 4 artichokes, a head of lettuce, a few potatoes, and almost a whole bag of oranges... I think we are getting into a new rhythm that's much more manageable. Even without relying on Fresh and Easy coupons (we only shopped at Trader Joes, Costco, Sprouts, and Walmart this month), the fact that we stayed under $300 including house items makes me think we have a good target to shoot for, especially since last month we had $28 in free groceries from Fresh and Easy alone and still went over. All in all every things recorded sans $4 since I bought a couple things for the pantry at walmart with some other non food items, but i tossed the receipt before I could record them in the spread sheet.  But onto the food!

Dairy: So i'm glad we spent less money on Dairy this month then we did last ($47 is better than $75!). We still haven't found a good option for organic cheese, but we got our Milk down pat now and are just buying a gallon when we need it. We actually almost hit the expiration date on the first one since we were sick, but I went ahead a made 2 boxes of pudding and it magically disappeared. I'm not planning on re-stocking the pudding cause of all the stuff I can't pronounce in there, but it was a tasty treat.

Fruit: We spent a similar amount on Fruit this month as we did last month, just shy of $55. While there isn't a lot of variety listed, but that's because I've been getting into smoothies! I get my fruit in for the day that I would most likely ignore and its the only way I can mask the tarty fat free greek yogurt to make it edible for my pallet since I refuse to pay almost $2 for a single serving cup of flavored awesome.

We did switch to an Organic OJ from Costco and hubs loves it even though he has to shake it up. He claims he can taste the difference between processed crap and the real stuff now that he's had the real stuff. Case in point, I had some leftover un-opened OJ from a work event and after having a gallon of the good stuff and then switching to minute maid fresh squeezed, my husband was so glad to go back to the "good stuff" that he hugged me after a Costco trip.  We are also going to try some organic Apple juice that isn't made from concentrate since I only ever use the juice in smoothies and SCB said he's over the shaking of things since we have had success with the OJ... So we will be trying that soon.

We did end up pitching a bag of oranges we got at the tail end of last month because we didn't get around to them since the Orange Juice was awesome... I even had to make apple cobbler just to use up the apples from the bag we bought as well last month because I was seldom eating them when I had smoothies as an option. I think we are going to go back to just buying one or two of them when we feel like it. It doesn't save us money in the long run to buy in bulk if we pitch em later cause they went bad.

I also finally finished my huge 6 lb bag of frozen strawberries from Costco (not organic and purchased a long time ago)...But Costco started selling 2 lb packages of fresh organic Strawberries, so we took February to stock pile up. So far I've found it's cheaper for me to buy fresh & freeze them for smoothies myself then to buy frozen organic strawberries. So we have them in our chest freezer now.

Vegetables: I was really excited this month to see cheaper organic tomatoes. Sprouts started selling roma and other tomato varieties!!! We spent less on veggies this month than last (Almost $50 compared to almost $75 last month) but this month we have gotten a bit smarter and cut out some convenience to save on costs.

Grains: I've been on a fresh salsa kick so we have been going through a lot of tortilla chips and I need to stop eating them cause I know they aren't good for me even if they are delish in their salt-tastic crunchiness.

We also stocked up on bread. Costco had it on sale at the very beginning of the month and I came a day after the sale.... but they had the bread on two different isles with two different price tags. I flagged down an employee to double check that the sale was done and he said if I took the old sign to the register that they would honor the sale price for me since it was their error. In the end it worked and I got 3 packages (6 loaves) of bread at the sale price but I wouldn't hold that for gold that it would happen again by the gal at the registers reaction.

We also did a little goldfish re-stock since I can't get hubs to give up the salty crunch fish... and picked up some organic Quinoa because I love making this recipe (its a video) for lunches... which also explains my tortilla chip addiction at the moment cause that's the best way to eat that sucker!

Meats: Besides Burgers, we didn't really eat a lot of meat from our freezer... but we must have and I'm just not remembering correctly because I swear we haven't gone vegetarian, (no way SCB would let that fly)! I guess we just haven't been spending much on meat either because we have reduced what we use when we cook with it. I do know the Steak was for another batch of Kabbobs which also yielded some tasty leftovers but I swear we still eat meat... and fish like once a week...  Maybe our freezer is just better stocked then I realize?????

Pantry: Woohoo for less spent on processed crud. Sure, right now we are cleaning out and not replacing items but we are also using more natural flavors which makes me happy. Even my husband is starting to turn his nose to a few things. Somethings we will continue to buy, but i'm glad to see less of this stuff overall.

House Stuff:  Just some basic things we needed to re-stock... pretty straight forward.

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