survival guide to eating on the cheap.

Warning: for most of you this will probably be dreadfully boring.

I haven’t had a chance to talk to you about my New Year’s goals yet. Or my year in review for that matter. I know you’re totally heartbroken. People are constantly begging for others to blather on and on about their goals. Unfortunately, I can’t do that for you today either. But I will tell you that this year we are continuing our mission of becoming healthier people. The past few months that little mission self-destructed. I was just TOO in the mood for baking and I swear to God Jimmie and I probably gained 50 pounds. At least that’s how I feel.

But, holidays are over and I’m fresh out of excuses, so this week’s trip to the market was to do one thing: buy some good stuff and leave the crap on the shelves. No more baking. No more cheesy buttery goodness. No more Yummy.

I was really proud of myself after my trip to the store and mentioned something about buying two week’s worth of groceries for $120 on Facebook. My inbox went nuts with people asking me what the heck I did to score such deals. So, I’m writing this to tell you. Feel free to move on if you want. I won’t blame you. But I’m going to tell you some awesome stuff. I’m a helluva cook and you want me to share my stuff with you. : )

Here’s what I’ll be making for dinner the next two weeks: (beware it’s heavy on the chicken because it was on a wicked sale!)

Sweet & Sour Turkey Meatballs with Brown Rice and Green Beans
Mediterranean Spiced Chicken Breasts on Cous Cous Salad
Garlic Chicken w/ Sweet Potatoes and Spinach Salad
Farfalle with Bacon, Spinach and Sauteed Mushroom Medley (shitake, button and portobello)
Lemon Chicken with Orzo and a Salad
Chicken Pot Pie (mamma needs her comfort food, so I make a whole wheat crust.) 🙂
Chili (ground turkey with eggplant, black and kidney beans), homemade corn bread
Artichoke, lemon and feta stuffed chicken breasts and Cous Cous with Salad
Baked Potatoes covered in leftover chili with Salad
Chicken Noodle Soup with Homemade French Bread
Chicken Stir Fry
Spaghetti
Cheese Ravioli with Mushroom Cream Sauce (more comfort food for mamma.)
Homemade BBQ chicken Pizza (whole wheat crust)

This time around at the market I didn’t have to buy many staples. We have flour, yeast, etc. so it was mostly meat, fresh veggies, some canned goods, dairy and lunch stuff for the kids. I guess I don’t know how I did all this for cheap. I shop at Winco* which is a warehouse/discount grocery store. I have been shopping “cheap” here long enough to know what of their store brand items I can buy and on which things I need major brands. Most of my canned goods are great with the store brands. I buy all my pasta from the bulk bin area. I can buy all whole wheat for much cheaper and I can control the quantity better. I also buy my flour, spices, dried fruit, nuts and baking goods this way. Initially there was an expense in buying storage containers at home for these products, but it paid for itself quickly.

I have found buying things like yogurt or applesauce in large tubs rather than individual sized items saves a ton. It takes me a while longer to prepare lunches but it can save me around $20 a week on a minimum (it also helps the kids be responsible in bringing home the containers- a small bonus.) And, now that I have the time, making things like bread, pizza dough and sauces from scratch saves a ton (and we think it’s way better.) Additionally, in respect to the kid’s lunches and snacks I have tried to stop buying packaged goodies and start replacing it with fresh fruits and veggies and homemade stuff. That, more than anything, is a money saver for us (and a much healthier approach for the kids.)

Well, if you’re still reading you probably are thinking “DUH!” but that’s all I do; it’s all I have to offer. None of it is very earth shattering, but that’s how I got to $120 for two weeks of meals.

Let me know if you want any of my recipes. I don’t follow them closely; I look at recipes as more of a loose guide, but I’d be happy to share.

I promise not to make a habit of boring you to death with my mundane shopping trips and menus. 🙂

*I don’t generally buy my meat at Winco. I am a neurotic freak about meat quality. We usually only eat chicken and ground turkey with an occasional beef roast or pork chop. I don’t do fish. I know.
Anyway, I get my turkey from Costco (4-6 meals worth for $14.) Chicken is fine from Winco (for me-I trim and wash thoroughly no matter where it’s from.) and red meats when on sale at Safeway or from Costco when I have spare cash in the budget.

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14 thoughts on “survival guide to eating on the cheap.

  1. I think I just got a little tear in my eye…I’m so proud. Pretty soon you’ll get “Hippie” status like me. Next step…no canned food. I’d say next step would be axing all that wheat flour, but even I haven’t mastered the gluten free thing, so I won’t be calling the kettle anything today.

    • There’s no way I can ax all canned. I need canned tomatoes. I can’t grow em (no sun in seattle, remember) and even the farmers market ones are gross.
      I got lazy and bought beans this time, but I will totally start making those from scratch. And then… I will be a hippie too! Yay me.
      (those are the only canned goods I bought) i totally rock!
      Gluten Free is for Psychos. (or those allergic.) I am not a supporter. DON’T TAKE AWAY MY GLUTEN!

  2. This is sooooo not boring to me! I love to know what families are eating, especially since I’m not feeding mine what most would consider normal. (My parents are old time Japanese, so lots of old time Japanese food!) I wish I had introduced more foods into my children’s diets when they were younger. My oldest son never ate anything green, and hated most veggies. He’s 27 yrs old and just now starting to like asparagus! Shame on me!! Instead of catering to their few likes, I should have been introducing new foods through good, healthy meals. Your menu looks fantastically healthy and yummy ~ and to do it so inexpensively is fantastic~ bravo to you.

  3. Impressive menu! I’m going to a “biggest losers” weigh-in tonight. I ate like a pig this week and ate so many of these super salty pumpkin seeds today that my body has got to be super bloated now. My mouth is actually puckered and swollen on the inside from all the salt! ha ha This is my secret strategy for weighing in heavy with extra water retention. I’ll look like a champ at next week’s weigh in. 🙂 Breastfeeding has been a fabulous calorie burner, but now that she may be close to weaning I’ll have to be a little more careful about what I’m making.

    I love hearing about what “real” people cook. Keep posting mama.

  4. I would totally love to see some recipes. General dump directions are great, that’s how I cook, too. Since I am guessing you are not cooking for a family of 9, I will have to adjust quantities anyhow. I really love this, it is different enough from the boring stuff we keep having over and over again (pizza, spaghetti, tacos, sloppy joes, breakfast for dinner, baked chicken, soup…) but not too weird that my minions will revolt. I’d also love to hear what is happening at your house for breakfasts, lunches and snacks. Thanks! You rock. Poop on the naysayers.

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