We did it! We made it through our week with only $50 worth of groceries for two adults to last breakfast, lunch, and dinner. The other $25 was spent on feeding our 5 month old....which makes $75 total for a family of 3. Not too shabby!
I switched up our menu schedule and on night 4 of this challenge, I made Sweet Corn Pasta. You remember this one, it's a 9 minute meal for about $5! It was still delicious, but I would wait until this summer to make it, when the corn is extra sweet and juicy :)
Last night, our final night of the challenge, I went off track....kind of. I had a half eaten package of ham leftover from our weekend breakfast sandwiches that I used. I didn't buy it, but it wasn't exactly in our weekly budget.
However, I still think it's pretty fair, consdering that everyone usually has leftovers from the week before. Regardless, this $3 worth of ham made a delicious dinner. Ham, broccoli, and cheese pasta bake!
And no, I didn't buy breadcrumbs. I made them instead! Why spend $3 on breadcrumbs when you can make them from one slice of wheat bread?
All in all, dinner was yummy and healthy (I used half homemade chicken stock and half reduced fat milk for the cheesy sauce). We ended our week under budget, if you count our leftovers. If not, I guess we were over by $2.75 for a 1/2 package of ham. I'll take it.
Will I try to do this every week? No. Heck no. It was definitely a challenge to make a new meal every night and not live off leftovers for under $50 (not including the baby). We could have easily eaten leftovers a couple nights, and cans of soup or frozen meals for lunches, but my mission was a new, fresh meal each night, and I did that. Barely.
Will I attempt to save more money at the store? Absolutely! Weekly specials are huge! I never looked at them before, I just bought things on sale when/if I came across them in the store. I need to plan our meals around the sales, instead of buying for the weekly menu I have come up with.
What tips did I learn? Soo many. Just a few are:
1. Buy a whole chicken. It can be used for two meals, and then the bones can make THE most delicious and rich sotck that you've ever tasted. Even if you don't use it that week, you can freeze it for another one.
2. Buy dried beans. I used maybe 1/2 the bag, and I still didn't even use all of those in one recipe. I spent $2 on a bag of beans, but I spend $2.19 on one can. I get more than 6 cans worth out of that bag. You do the math.
3. Buy what's in season. Corn was 6 for $2, and it's not even the height of corn season! Build your meals around what's in season and you'll save a ton!
4. Saving money takes a little more time and effort. Snipping coupons, printing weekly ads, and researching menus that encompass these foods took some time, but it was worth it. Also, making your own stock and breadcrumbs is definitely not a time saver. Convenience has its price, because time is money! Time also leads to more delicious food though.
As a reward the week of budget friendly meals - we deserve a splurge tonight. I see a couple of steaks in our future :) Still MUCH cheaper than eating out though, right?
Enjoy your weekend!