Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Food Prices

It's not a shock to anyone that the price of food has been on the rise.  We all know this and see it reflected in stores and on our grocery totals.  Over the past few months I've noticed that I either don't have much left over after shopping or I go over my budgeted $40.  I know that prices on some of our staple items have risen because I remember how excited I was the first time we shopped at Aldi and I saw how low the prices were.   I've been shopping at Aldi for over a year now.  I have a receipt from 7/17/10 and a receipt from this past week 9/24/11 and look at the differences.

Gallon Milk
64 oz Apple Juice

Those are just a few things that we buy where I have noticed a change.  I know that if I sat down and made a chart of everything we have ever purchased at Aldi there would be many more items that have increased in price.  For our area Aldi tends to have some of the better prices and seeing the increase here makes me wonder what the increase has been like at other grocery stores.  This actually has be wondering if we need to adjust our food budget.  I'm not talking about doubling it or anything drastic, just $5-10.  We have been doing ok with $40 a week but I have noticed that it has not been going quite as far.  Anyone else having the same problem?

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

It's Funny How Things Sneak Up.......

I was reading a blog post today over on Balancing Beauty and Bedlam about what the average family spends on food.  I was reading some of the comments and started thinking about our recent food spending.  This of course caused me to log into our bank account and start adding things up.  We have been doing terrible.  No lie.  Terrible.  The hubby alone has spent about $50 eating out this month.  As a family we've spent about $320 eating out.  This is solely eating at restaurants and grabbing fast food.  In our defense we did go out of town, have out of town guests and celebrated my birthday.  I knew those things would make our food costs rise but it should not have risen this much.  So I kept adding things up and kept getting more and more frustrated.  So to be honest here's what I saw.

Eating out- $369.24
Groceries- 9/8/11 @Sam's Club $87.93
                    9/9/11 @ Carlie C's $150.38 (meat bundle and food items needed for week)
                    9/14/11 @ Harris Teeter $40.16 (Triple Coupons)
                    9/19/11 @ Aldi $42.32
                    9/24/11 @ Aldi $35.74
Total= $356.51
** On a happy note we will not need much meat for a while unless I come across a good deal.

Total on all food= $725.75!  Yikes!!!!!

It stinks but at least now I have motivation to get back on track.  I know that we won't stop eating out, we have plans to go out Sunday for our anniversary but the other take out purchases need to be limited.  There should be no more grocery trips until October.  A new month, a chance to get back on track.  I have gotten back to menu planning again which has helped because it makes me slightly more organized. 

Here's to a new month and getting things back on track.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Menu 9/26-10/2

With the oven fiasco from this past week I lucked out and did not have any oven meals planned for dinner.  Isn't it funny how when you don't have access to something you only want things that require that object/food.  Everything I could think of for breakfast Saturday either required use of the oven, bread (which we were out of and I couldn't make without the oven), eggs (we were out), or milk (we were out).  We unexpectedly ended up at my parents for dinner Friday and so I bumped things a night or two. 

Monday- Burritos with salad (bumped from last week)

Tuesday- Steak, rolls (if the stove is delivered on time), steamed broccoli/carrots

Wednesday- Spicy chicken sandwich's, corn, green beans

Thursday- Pizza night with salad

Friday- Cheese, crackers, fruit

Saturday- Sandwich's, chips and fruit

Sunday- 7th Wedding Anniversary!  Dinner out with the hubby.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Happy Birthday to Me....(Note the Sarcasm)

Today is my birthday.  The hubby got up with little man and I got to stay in bed, for about 5 minutes that is.  The hubby comes in and says that the oven is being weird and asks me to come look.  Honestly I thought he was being cute and him and little man and planned something.  The hubby was trying to make biscuits for breakfast.  He opens the oven and the element is on fire.  After removing the racks and dumping salt on the part that was on fire and it continued to burn the hubby finally had to pull the stove out and unplug it.  

Our oven is not new.  We are pretty sure that it is the original one from when the house was built 15-20 years ago.  A new oven has been on our list but since the current one was working, or at least working most of the time, we were waiting.  You see, the oven heats at the wrong temperatures.  I know this because out of frustration I placed a thermometer in the oven and it averages 25-50 degrees warmer than what it is set to.  One of the burners only works sometimes.  If you jiggle it, then it will work most of the time.  Oh and did I mention that the burners are not even.  When you place something in a pan on one of the burners it all shifts to one side.  So yes, a new stove was in order at some point.  We just though we would be able to plan a little but the element catching fire was the last straw.  We knew it needed to be done sooner rather than later.

Our morning was spent between Lowes and Home Depot shopping for a stove.  We found one we like and everything is set, but it won't be delivered until Tuesday.  At least we can continue using the stove top in the meantime.  Based on our menu plan for the rest of this week we are good because the oven was not even going to be used for those meals.  Can I just say that while we were shopping I was drooling over the ovens that allow you to cook two things at once at different temperatures.  I really, really wanted one but it was not in our price range.  Our new one does have 4 burners and a warming burner.  That was pretty cool.   

Little man was so sad that they could not make me a birthday cake.  (How sweet is he?  Yes I know he just wanted to eat cake but he was very distraught that I would not have a birthday cake on my birthday)  So they set off on an experiment and made me a cake in the microwave.  Lets just say that I don't recommend cooking a cake in the microwave unless you absolutely have to.  The edges are somewhat crunchy and dry, they really are not edible because my fork would not even stab them.  The rest is delicious and I love my boys for going through the effort and time to make it for me.  So far it has not been the ideal day that we planned for but hopefully the worst is behind us.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Menu 9/19-9/25

I'm a few days late, but better late than never.  I meant to post this yesterday but got distracted trying to bake.  Read the post and you will understand.

Monday- Grilled pork chops, Parmesan eggplant and macaroni and cheese

Tuesday- Pancakes with bacon

Wednesday- Shrimp Alfredo with snap peas

Thursday- Birthday Dinner!!!  Yay no cooking for me!

Friday- Rotisserie chicken, green beans and mashed potato's

Saturday- Burritos with salad

Sunday- Leftovers

We are still working on the meat bundle we purchased and the meat we still had.  I've been updating my "inventory" each week when we use some of the meat to see how long it lasts.  Once we use it all I want to see how much the bundle works out to per week.  It won't be exact since we had other meats but it will at least give us an idea. 

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Epic Fail....There's no other way to say it

With my pregnancy approaching the third trimester, I think it starts this week....maybe next week,  I was never good at that.  I have had on my to do list to make extra bread, muffins, cookies and a few meals to make things easier when peanut arrives and the few weeks leading up to his arrival.    Today I took on the task of making pumpkin muffins, cinnamon bread, pumpkin scones and blanching field peas to freeze.  However, the day did not go quite as planned.  To be quite honest it was pretty bad.....

Little man decided that he had to help me make the muffins.  Normally this is fine.  I measure everything out and he dumps it into the mixing bowl for me and mans the controls on the mixer.  Unfortunately he was not on his best behavior today and was not being the best listener.  This, mixed with my pregnancy hormones made for a frustrating task.  But we got through it and I let him do most of it.  The first batch came out and they looked great.

After cooling I sampled on and it tasted great but the consistency was off.

I glanced back over the ingredients and everything looked right.  Later I looked again and in all of the frustration and 20 questions about when are we doing this, when are we doing that we never added the baking soda.  UGH!  Oh well, they are still edible.

Once the muffins were done I moved on to making the dough for the cinnamon bread.  The recipe I was using required it to rise a minimum of 2 hours.  The initial plan was to get this mixed up and then begin working on the scones after a quick break.  The recipe suggested using a metal or glass bowl that you have warmed.  So I warmed my metal bowl and placed the dough in it on top of the stove to rise.  I figured since I was baking the warmth from the stove would help the dough rise.  Well.......since I was baking multiple things I decided to leave the oven on and the bowl on the burner rising.  It rose for about 3 hours before I took a peek.  The dough was ruined...  This is what I found.

Apparently, since the bowl was metal and the oven was on so long the bottom of the dough cooked. 

While the muffins were baking I washed up and started blanching the field peas I had shelled and left in the fridge.  I had to get it done today because they had already been there longer than they should.  So while I was doing the whole muffin baking and cinnamon bread dough thing I was also blanching and keeping an eye on the peas.  Once they were cooled I packed them up and in the freezer they went.

After finishing the dough I decided it was time to take that break I mentioned.  Preggo needed to sit down and rest and my back was killing me.  Of course it was at that point that little man came to me asking if his pancakes were ready.  I told him about 20 minutes before that we were having pancakes and bacon for dinner.  I explained that mommy had not started dinner yet that mommy was resting for a few minutes.  This was of course met by the most pitiful look and little man telling me that he was starving.  I offered to let him have a snack, but he didn't want a snack he wanted his pancakes (or pan-e-cakes as he calls them).  So dinner time it was.  I popped a pack of bacon in the oven (I took it out of the package, it wasn't that bad of a day).  As I was getting the pancake batter mixed up I realized that I should just double the recipe and have a full batch of pancakes left to freeze.  Any time that we make pancakes the leftovers are always frozen because if nothing else it's 1-2 breakfasts for little man.  After dinner we ended up having about 15 pancakes to freeze.  I separated it into two bags and if necessary we could have a quick family breakfast or dinner without having to do anything more than warm them up.  At least that part of my day went right.

So initially my plan for the day was to be super productive and use my time wisely and get lots of baking done and put a few goodies in the freezer.  Instead, life happened and I have muffins that are missing an ingredient, semi-cooked dough that is now in the trash, pancakes in the freezer and a couple of quarts of field peas blanched and in the freezer.  Not quite what I planned but at least I made some progress.  It was just one of those days and all I can do is laugh and try again another day. 

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Menu 9/12-9/18

I finally made a menu.  I filled in breakfast and lunch on my version because I thought it would at least give me inspiration or something to look forward to but so far I haven't really stuck to breakfast and lunch.  Dinner has been a success though.  In general I have managed to stay on track.  It's an improvement and I'm happy with that for now. 

So here are our dinner plans for the week.

Monday- Ribs, eggplant chips (they weren't on the original menu but after getting a pretty eggplant at the farmers market I couldn't resist), cheesy bread

Tuesday- Steak, green beans, leftover cheesy bread ( I so need to post about this.  I found the recipe on pinterest and it's like the pizza place cheese delicious)

Wednesday- Baked chicken, rice, broccoli and steamed carrots

Thursday- Leftovers/Sandwich's

Friday- Cheeseburgers, fries and apple slices

Saturday- Baked salmon, rice and eggplant chips( need to use the rest up before it goes bad)

Sunday- Probably at the parents.  We usually spend the day with them.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Playing a little Catch Up

So over the summer I participated in the pantry challenge and worked toward cleaning out our pantry and freezer.  It definitely worked and for the first time in a while our cabinets began to look a little bare and our freezer was no longer stuffed.  Both are good things.  I have totally slacked off on menu planning and as miserable as it makes me, yes I hate not having things already planned out, I just have not been able to do it and have still been having cravings.  Goodness, do pregnancy cravings make menu planning difficult.

I got back to my $40 a week at Aldi but this also mean that I was not buying any meat.  We had meat in the freezer which we ate and we were eating out way too often with traveling and cravings.  I realized this past week that our meat had dwindled down to 1 whole chicken, a bag of boneless skinless chicken breasts, 2 salmon filet's, 2 bags of shrimp (at most), and one pork roast.  That's it.  Sounds like a decent amount but that won't last long.  I've been checking our local grocery store ads and to be honest there haven't been any good sales on meat.  I am stubborn and only buy meat on sale.  I can't bring myself to pay $3 or more per pound.  Then I remembered that one of our local grocery stores sells meat bundles.  I checked out their bundle options.  

So yesterday we went and bought a 44lb meat bundle.  At $109.95 it came to  about $2.50/lb and included 5 lbs T-Bone steaks, 5 lbs hamburger meat, 4 lbs hot dogs, 10 lbs pork chops, 10 lbs spare ribs, and 10 lbs of chicken.  All of which are types of meats we would have purchased at the right price but not necessarily the exact cut of meat.  We were willing to eat a different cut of meat to get a price that we were happy with.  At home we did our normal deal of separating the meat into smaller, meal sized packs.

For $109.95 we ended up with:
6 t-bones
4 meal size packs of ribs
5 packs of hot dogs (no clue how many meals that will give us)
6- 1 lb packs of ground beefs
6 bags of assorted chicken (legs, thighs and wings)
4 small packs of pork chops (2 per bag) + 1 individual chop
3 large packs of pork chops (4 per bag)

Based on those amounts, including leftovers and guessing a little for the hot dogs we should be able to get approximately 35 meals breaking down to about $3 a meal.  We decided to try this out and see how long the meat lasts and to still keep our eyes peeled for sales.  We also made a trip to Sam's this week and between that, our regular shopping needs and getting stocked up on meat we are set.  It should just be the essentials for the next couple of weeks.  Thank goodness because we are already over budget for the month.  Luckily the meat will last a while as well as some of the items from Sam's.

I'm getting back into the habit of making our bread and really need to buckle down and get some more muffins and meals in the freezer for when peanut gets here.  One thing at a time I guess.