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Monday, April 25, 2011

Mission: Feed my family for $40/week (week 3)

April threw me for a loop when it came to this "mission."  Two of the four weeks in this month I had a large group of people staying at my house.  The first group was my family and the second was my in-laws. As much as I want to save money I had to be realistic those weeks and not expect to shop for only 40 bucks.  I definitely went over although I did try to still shop wisely.

Now it is back to just us and I am trying to get back on track.  Last week I went to Aldi for the first time.  I know I am probably the only person who hadn't been yet!  I had been warned about bringing my quarter for a shopping cart as well as my own bags so those were not surprises to me.  I was surprised however by how small the actual store is.  I guess I was expecting a full-size grocery store (similar to Bloom).  I did find some snack-type things for my kids that were cheap (knock-off goldfish, yogurt-covered raisins, and peanut butter crackers).  I also found OJ but later saw that there is an even cheaper brand at Wal-Mart.  I didn't even venture into the meat or dairy section bc I am just weird about where I buy those things.  I mainly went to check out the produce bc I hear that is where you can find great deals.  Honestly, I don't know if I just hit it on a bad day but it was slim pickins.  I got bags of baby carrots, cucumbers, and a pineapple all cheaper than other places but other than that there wasn't a whole lot that looked good.

My verdict is that Aldi had some good deals but overall I think I spent what I saved on gas to get there.  If it were right around the corner from me I may shop there more often but to drive almost 25 minutes for a hit-or-miss kind of thing I think I'll pass.

Now, for this week's shopping trip:  I shopped at Harris Teeter this week and spent $38.29.  Here is what I got:
can of mixed nuts, M&Ms, craisins - for a DIY trail mix
spaghetti sauce
peanut butter
2 cans kidney beans
olive oil
thin cut steaks
goat cheese
frozen ravioli
yogurt (3 six packs **saved $1.00 on each with coupons I picked up at our pediatricians office)
heavy cream
turkey dogs

Here is what I am making for dinner this week:
grilled chicken with *black bean, corn, and feta salad
Spinach, tomato tortellini (one of our vegetarian meals this week)
crock pot steak sandwiches (a very simple made up recipe) 
toasted goat cheese salad (another easy one I made up)
Olive Garden pasta de fagioli (substitue V8 for spaghetti sauce)

I want to remind you all that the biggest way I am saving is by being more aware of what I already have in my pantry.  There are so many times that I go to the store because "we have nothing to eat" when really our pantry is full.  Now I start my grocery list by seeing what we have and figuring out what we can make from it.  *Perfect example of this is the grilled chicken we will be having this week.  I hosted a wedding shower this weekend and made this dip (yummy!).  I am using the left over as a topping for our chicken.  There are tons of websites on which you can plug in your ingredients and it spits out recipes.  The other key thing for me so far is only shopping once a week.  This is forcing us to eat what we have before buying more.  We have stopped having 5 boxes of open cereal, chips, and crackers.  And I do a much better job at not over-spending when I am just buying for 7 days.  What are some things you are doing to save money?  Anyone excelling at the $40 mission?

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