Frugal February Challenge – Week One Wrap Up & Week Two Planning

So last week went mostly well, although there were a few “issues”. First, I had planned on making the crispy rice cereal I had bought into chocolate peanut butter protein crispy treats, but I didn’t realize how little chocolate protein powder I had left. I wound up just eating the cereal with some leftover milk as a snack. It really tasted good, too!

I got deferred from my plasma donations both days last week, too, once because of low iron (thanks, female body needing to shed iron-related fluids once a month) and the second time because I had a low grade fever. I had been fighting a sinus headache for a few days before hand, and it looks like it’s turned into a mild case of sinusitis. So Friday I wound up staying home from work, which wouldn’t have been a food issue but for the fact I had already brought all of my lunches to work and they were sitting in the work fridge. Luckily I wound up using up some eggs, cheese, salsa and sour cream I already had in my fridge from the previous weeks and ate that on a piece of toast.

Lastly, I still haven’t eaten those strawberries I bought because they were on sale. I definitely need to eat those up before they go bad. And I bought a bag of mini chocolate rice cakes on a whim at work on Saturday, which set me back another $1.34, bringing my week 1 total up to $54.54. Lame.

What really worked was the cheese and turkey as a snack. I just wrapped four slices of that turkey around a string cheese stick and ate that as a snack. Really satisfying and filling.

Also I totally forgot I had my Foodie Meetup this past Saturday! We ate a delicious Spanish/Peruvian meal and I had two meals leftover to enjoy on Sunday, one from work from when I stayed home on Friday, and one from Saturday night.

What I’m working with this week:

  • 8 lbs picnic shoulder
  • 1 lb shrimp
  • Paulo’s chili
  • 4 Palestinian chicken legs
  • 2 homemade frozen meatballs in sauce
  • red pepper walnut dip
  • swedish meatballs
  • blueberry bbq sauce
  • 6 oz. andouille sausage
  • 2 4-pks pork chops
  • 2 lbs. ground beef
  • wheat germ
  • wheat bran
  • rye flour
  • whole wheat flour
  • gingerbread cookie dough
  • sofrito
  • 1/2 loaf sprouted protein bread
  • frozen mixed vegetables (3)
  • freekeh
  • maftoul
  • Israeli couscous
  • penne
  • spaghetti
  • elbows
  • rice noodles
  • rice paper wrappers
  • soba noodles
  • sticky rice
  • jasmine rice
  • a little masa
  • masarepa
  • a little yellow cornmeal
  • white cornmeal
  • grits
  • brown rice flour
  • bulgur
  • coconut flour
  • unsweetened coconut flakes
  • crushed pineapple
  • jello
  • marzipan
  • craisins
  • prunes
  • pumpkins seeds
  • almonds
  • flaxseed meal
  • crepe mix
  • dried egg whites
  • Swedish meatball sauce mix (2)
  • PB2
  • Dominican hot chocolate mix
  • instant espresso
  • orange drink mix
  • sugar free Kool-Aid mix
  • Lingonberry Jam
  • A little steel cut oats
  • old fashioned oats
  • 28 oz. can crushed tomatoes
  • 28 oz. can tomato sauce
  • pasta sauce
  • kombu
  • white flour
  • white sugar
  • granulated brown sugar
  • sucralose
  • honey
  • 100 calorie packs – almonds, cocoa almonds, cashews
  • some peanut butter
  • some leftover pizza cheese from a few weeks ago
  • scallions
  • lemons
  • limes
  • carrots
  • onions
  • potatoes

My list this week was SUPER short. ShopRite had split chicken breasts on sale this week with a super coupon, which made them $0.99/lb! So I grabbed the biggest package I could find. I’m going to cut the meat off of the bones, saving the bones and skin for a broth for next week, and use the chicken with the leftover eggplant, scallions, and some Korean seasonings to make a nice stir fry and serve that with sticky rice for lunches. I’m also going to use the shrimp and coconut flakes to make baked coconut shrimp and serve those with sweet chili sauce from my fridge, frozen veggies and seasoned baked potato halves. Everything from that meal will be coming from freezer, fridge and pantry! I didn’t do a great job sticking to my list this week. The iBotta app had a rebate for Lenny & Larry’s cookies, which I love, and it turns out ShopRite had them on sale for 2 for $3. With the rebate that made them $1 each, which is about half of what they usually go on sale for. I grabbed two of those. And I had planned to buy Halo Top ice cream, since it was on sale for $2.88 a pint, but Friendlys was on sale for 2 for $5 for the “half gallon” size and then there was a $1 off digital coupon, so I decided this was the better choice, value-wise. I grabbed some eggs, because it’s always good to have eggs in the house, and for breakfast I got cottage cheese and blueberries for cottage cheese blintzes, and English muffins for egg sandwiches later in the week. As you can see I got some iBotta money back on the cottage cheese, too.

All I really needed from Walmart was some cashew milk (I use this is my coffee) and some canned pumpkin for a microwave protein brownie I want to try. I also grabbed a really cheap bag of potato chips which, sadly, are already gone. I’m having an incredibly emotional week and my body is paying for it with junk food.

So, as you can see, I spent a grand total of $24.43 for the week, or less than half of the previous week!

As for the rest of the menu for the week, I’m going to supplement the Korean chicken stir fry and coconut shrimp with meatball paninis and tomato salad (with those tomatoes I bought last week) and chili pasta with shredded cheddar. I bought the cheddar this week and have the pasta in the pantry and the chili in the freezer. Snacks will be leftover vanilla yogurt, protein brownies, turkey and cheese, apples and 100 calorie packs of nuts. Seems like I did pretty well this week! No planned dinners out this week, either, and no dates on the horizon, which I am A-OK with. I’m already ready to take a break with that, and honestly I don’t think I’m ready. My heart is still stuck on someone else.

Did you get any great deals last week? Let me know in the comments!

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Frugal February Challenge – Week One!

Week one has begun! It’s Wednesday so technically it’s half over but I’m going to update you on my purchases and then I’ll do a wrap up and preview of week two on Sunday.

Here was my biggest dilemma: Coca Cola. I like to have a Coke Zero Sugar in the afternoons. I ONLY buy soda when it’s on sale, except for the 20 oz. bottles I purchase as convenience drinks at CVS, which I already said I’d be avoiding. So in order to not go totally crazy during this challenge, I hunted around to find the best deal on Coke Products. Surprisingly, that was at Walgreens. They’re on sale 3 for $10, which is a really good price these days. Still, I can’t lie that I’m feeling a little guilty about spending $10 of my grocery budget on calorie free liquids, especially since it’s not really a necessity, but I think it will make not buying soda at CVS for a super inflated price easier. Here’s my receipt from Walgreens:

As you can see Coca Cola was 3 for $12 with a $2 digital coupon, plus I had a $1 rewards redemption from using my rewards card. This made each can $0.27, which is way better than the $2.09 +tax for a 20oz. bottle at CVS. So I consider that a win.

Also, I know I didn’t really *need* any more meat, but when ground beef is on sale for $1.99/lb with a super coupon, it’s impossible to pass up. So because I bought ground beef, I planned to make kofta kebabs! I already have all of the spices in my pantry so it would be easy. I used half of the package for kofta and threw the other half in the freezer for another week.

I got two 4-packs of 100-calorie popcorn bags, and as you can see they were $1.49 each on sale and I had a $1/2 manufacturer’s coupon, making them 99c each. I also got 2 pints of grape tomatoes at 99c each to accompany the bagged salad I already have in my fridge. I got rosemary for the Rosemary Cranberry Slow Cooker Pork I planned on making, along with 2 heads of cauliflower for roasting and serving with the pork. I also got a 5lb bag of potatoes for next week, since they were on sale for $2.50.

My favorite deal of the day, though, was apples. ShopRite had this special deal where if you bought a 2lb bag of Snapdragon apples you got a 2lb bag of Ruby Frost apples for free, which meant I got 4lbs of apples for $3.99, but I ALSO had an iBotta rebate for $1 off the Snapdragon apples, so I got 4lbs of apples for $3! Awesome, right? They’ll last a few weeks, too!

Strawberries weren’t particularly cheap but they were on sale for $2.50 so I grabbed a package. My best deal of the day was the individual containers of Friendship Cottage Cheese with fruit. Perfect for snacks, loaded with protein, and on sale for 4 for $5… buuuuuuut… iBotta had a rebate for $1 each up to 5 offers, so I got 4 of them for $1! That’s a really spectacular deal. I also grabbed a bag of light string cheese for snacks. Frigo was on sale for $2.99 for a pack of 12, and I had a $1 off manufacturer’s coupon too, making them $1.99 or $0.17 apiece!

My total at Shoprite was $34.59 minus the $5.10 in iBotta rebates, or $29.49. Not bad. Next up was Walmart.

I didn’t need much at Walmart, luckily. I got a box of store brand crispy rice cereal that I intended to make chocolate peanut butter protein rice treats out of, except I didn’t realize I didn’t have enough chocolate protein powder to go around. Oops. I got some honey smoked turkey to wrap around the string cheese for snacks (this has proved to be delicious, btw) and I had a $0.75 off manufacturer’s coupon for that, which made it a 16oz. package for $2.73. I got a quart of vanilla Greek yogurt I intended to strain and use as a spread for my Coconut Flour Banana Bread, but I got lazy, so I’m just eating it on the side.

Coconut Flour Banana Bread with Walnuts: Everything was from my pantry or freezer!

I also got a large red onion I only used half of in the Roasted Vegetable Maftoul that went along with my kofta kebabs, seen here:

Delicious beef kofta with Roasted Vegetable Maftoul: I used maftoul, olive oil and spices from my pantry.

For the Maftoul, I also went to Produce Junction (a discount produce store) and got a 2lb bag of Indian eggplant for $3 (I only used half so I have some leftover for next week) and 3 bunches of cilantro for $2.50, or $5.50 total.

Slow Cooker Rosemary Cranberry Pork Loin with Roasted Cauliflower: all I needed to buy was the cauliflower and rosemary.

All in all, this week I spent more than I really wanted to, but I got a lot of things that will carry over into next week. My total was $53.20, but I know I can spent a LOT less next week. My regular grocery budget is $200 plus $30 for produce. This week I spent $22.60 on produce alone, but again, I have 5lbs of potatoes, 1 lb of eggplant, a half a large red onion and 2 bunches of cilantro left for next week, so there’s a lot of carry over here. Plus the Coca Cola should last me for the entire month if I don’t go overboard. I’ll figure out what sort of snack I can make with the crispy rice cereal, too. Maybe use up some PB2 and honey! We’ll see.

Are you doing your own challenge this month? Let me know what your best deal was in the comments!


My Personal “Frugal Food February” Challenge!

February is the shortest month of year, and, as such, it’s easy to give yourself a challenge when a month is only 28 days long! I’m attempting to save some money for a down payment on a car, so wherever I can scrimp and save will be helpful, but here I’m just going to focus on food and food related items (like paper plates/paper towels, etc.). Technically I’ll be doing this February 3 through March 2 since Sundays are my shopping days.

A few years back I did a similar thing (Frugal May Days challenge) to see how much I could save on feeding two people for 4 weeks. I’m going to do this same thing this February, but for one. My rules are very similar to the original challenge, but I’m going to adapt them a bit. Here they are:

Just some of my pantry items.
  • Work the pantry/freezer. I’ve got a lot of things taking up space in my cabinets and freezer that I can use up and later replace with newer food. The goal at the end will be to scrub the inside of the freezer at the end of the month before filling it up again.
  • NO convenience purchases. I work within walking distance of a CVS Pharmacy and when I’m hungry and want a snack or a diet soda I usually just walk over there and buy something. A 20 oz. Diet Dr. Pepper is $2.09 at CVS! If I shop sales and buy 12 packs when they’re on sale at Shoprite then 12 oz. cans are less than 30 cents apiece. (If you do the math, that’s 4x more expensive per ounce!) This will be tough if I accidentally don’t plan well enough to bring snacks to work, but I’m going to work really hard at it.
  • Keep eating out to a minimum. I have two planned eating out experiences a month for the Meetups I’m in, and I’m starting to date now, so I’ll need to limit that too. (It doesn’t count if my date pays! 😉 )
I’ve got lists of all this stuff, too.

Here’s what I have to work with in my freezer and pantry:

  • 8 lbs picnic shoulder
  • 1 lb shrimp
  • Paulo’s chili
  • 4 Palestinian chicken legs
  • 2 homemade frozen meatballs in sauce
  • red pepper walnut dip
  • swedish meatballs
  • blueberry bbq sauce
  • 6 oz. andouille sausage
  • 2 pork roasts
  • 2 4-pks pork chops
  • bag of cranberries
  • wheat germ
  • wheat bran
  • rye flour
  • whole wheat flour
  • gingerbread cookie dough
  • 5 bananas
  • sofrito
  • 1 loaf sprouted protein bread
  • frozen mixed vegetables (3)
  • freekeh
  • maftoul
  • Israeli couscous
  • penne
  • spaghetti
  • elbows
  • rice noodles
  • rice paper wrappers
  • soba noodles
  • sticky rice
  • jasmine rice
  • a little masa
  • masarepa
  • a little yellow cornmeal
  • white cornmeal
  • grits
  • brown rice flour
  • bulgur
  • coconut flour
  • unsweetened coconut flakes
  • crushed pineapple
  • jello
  • marzipan
  • craisins
  • prunes
  • pumpkins seeds
  • almonds
  • walnuts
  • flaxseed meal
  • crepe mix
  • dried egg whites
  • Swedish meatball sauce mix (2)
  • PB2
  • Dominican hot chocolate mix
  • instant espresso
  • orange drink mix
  • sugar free Kool-Aid mix
  • Lingonberry Jam
  • A little steel cut oats
  • old fashioned oats
  • 28 oz. can crushed tomatoes
  • 28 oz. can tomato sauce
  • pasta sauce
  • kombu
  • white flour
  • white sugar
  • granulated brown sugar
  • sucralose
  • honey
  • 100 calorie packs – almonds, cocoa almonds, cashews
About half of my spices.

I’m not including a list of my spices and condiments since I have a HUGE selection, but I’m sure you know I won’t need to buy any of those.

Right off the bat just looking at the list I can come up with some ideas that only involve purchasing one or two additional items to make a full meal. Here are some of my thoughts:

  • Swedish Meatballs w/ Cream Sauce & Lingonberry Jam (Add potatoes and peas for a full meal)
  • Slow Cooker Cranberry Pork Roast (Add some vegetables for a full meal)
  • Coconut Shrimp w/ Jasmine Rice (Once again, some veggies make this a meal)
  • Chili Spaghetti w/ Cheddar (Add salad for a full meal)
  • Coconut Flour Banana Bread

Already sounds like a good start to me! Do you have any ideas as to meals I can make out of what’s listed here? Let me know in the comments!

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