Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Shopping Trip 7/18 *First coupon edition*

This is the first blog in almost a month. Between 4th of July, family dinners, and family in town our shopping trips have been somewhat random and inconstant. This last weekend we spend our weekend away in Oakland for a Angels vs. A's double header, then sunday in San Francisco. Now that our trips and dinners out are over for awhile, we are getting back into our weekly menu and shopping trip. So here is this week's Menu

Mon: Leftover Lasagna (from friday last week, will post a recipe next time we make it)
Tue: Dinner at Grandparents (aunt & uncle in town from washington)
Wed: Beef Taco skillet
Thurs: Leftover beef taco skillet
Fri: Easy Chicken Pot Pie
Sat: Leftover Pot Pie

Breakfast: Cereal (x2), Milk, Bagels, V-8 fusion juice, Coffee beans

Lunch: Yogurt, Top Ramen (x2), Cheese nips, Sweet potato fries, cheese sticks

Dinner: bell pepper (salads), Cucumber (salad), Frozen chicken Breast (3# Bag), Cream of chicken soup, Frozen mixed vegetables.

Misc. Powerade (x4), Fabric softener sheets, shredded cheese (x2),

We bought 29 items and spent 42.06 = average $1.45/item

Total coupon/ad match Value: $5.48

This week is the first time we have proactively used coupons from the Sunday newspaper. We bought the two extra bags of shredded cheese and cheese sticks because in the local Safeway ad, they were doing a buy two get one free special. Either way we will use the cheese in the weeks to come, so it is now in the freezer. We had coupons for the V-8 fusion, coffee, and yogurt. Yesterday we purchased a discounted 21-week subscription to the weekend newspaper through Groupon, so now we will have the coupons every weekend. We are also going to start looking online for manufacturer coupons, as those can be stacked with the weekly coupons.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Shopping Trip - 6/21 & BBQ whole chicken

This week's shopping trip was done a bit later due to our exciting weekend away from home. This weekend (6/19 to be exact) was our one year wedding anniversary, which we decided to take a little local vacation to the Delta King. We stayed there on our wedding night and decided to make it a yearly tradition to go back. A small money-saving tip for this hotel; Do not book it using their website, book it through Expedia or a traveling site. We save over 50% of the price of the room. So here is this week's Menu.

Sun: Anniversary Dinner
Mon: Leftover Tuna noodle Casserole (Made Saturday)
Tue: Leftover Tuna noodle Casserole
Wed: Easy Orange Chicken
Thur: Leftovers
Fri: Thai chicken w/ Peanut sauce
Sat: Leftovers

Last week's menu once again was pushed forward into this week for two reasons. The first being that a very large beer can chicken actually lasted us three meals instead of just one. The other reason is that my grandparents took Jess and I out to dinner for our anniversary in the middle of the week, saving us a whole meal. This week's shopping trip could have potentially been under $30, but we decided to take advantage of the cheaper week and buy some other misc. items we needed or wanted.

Breakfast: Cottage Cheese, milk, eggs, bananas, English Muffins, V-8 Vegetable juice

Lunch:
(still had lunch meat) Sliced Cheese, Pudding, Top Ramen, Apples, Oranges, Bread

Dinner: 3# bag frozen chicken breasts, Soy Sauce, ginger (see Thai Chicken)

Misc: Cranberry Juice (w/ hint of lime. good stuff), Baker's Joy, Band-aids, Cat litter, Barbasol, Carmex, Doggie poop bags.

We Bought 28 items and spent 47.72 = average $1.70/item

I was surprised we stayed under our $2.00 ratio this week, but somehow still did it. We decided to buy a small box of litter, since we go shopping every week and there is no reason to keep a huge box around the house. The V-8 Juice I used to drink regularly and could tell a difference in my energy and general "feel good" sense through out the day. I recommend trying it for a week and see if you feel different. I put in a link to baker's Joy because this. stuff. is. awesome. Yet another item that Alton Brown lives by.

P.S. The beer can chicken turned out awesome. Below is the recipe for the BBQ chicken rub I used on the inside and outside of the chicken, along with how to cook a great chicken on the BBQ.

Barbecue Rub:
1/4 Cup Coarse salt
1/4 cup brown sugar (light or dark, preferably dark, doesn't burn as easy)
1/4 cup paprika
2 tbsp black pepper

- Mix it all together and store in an airtight container. makes enough for probably three chickens. Instead of the paprika I used a great mesquite seasoning mix from Cost plus world market.

- For the Chicken itself, remove all of the "parts" from inside, sprinkle the seasoning inside and rub it on the outside (with the skin on).
- Empty (or drink) half of the beer, then add some seasoning in the can. I added some minced garlic as well. Pop two more holes in the top of the can with a church-key. Lower the bird onto the Beer can. i was able to put the chicken directly on the grill by hand, but you can probably use large tongs. The can stayed securely in the chicken without me having to hold it in while putting it on the grill.
- To cook the bird you are going to use indirect heat on the grill, which on my gas grill meant turning on the two outside burners and leaving the center burner off. heat the BBQ to about 400 degrees and place the bird in the middle of the grill, or the side if you only have two burners, just not directly over the heat source. for Charcoal, same idea, just push the charcoal around the edge of the grill and place the bird in the middle. You will have to add new coals during the cooking process.
-I used a digital thermometer with a probe into the thickest meat of the breast. My thermometer has an alert for when the meat gets to the desire temp, which took about 1:15. If the skin on the bird begins to get to dark or dry, you can loosely tent a piece of aluminum foil over it.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Shopping Trip - 6/10

Today's shopping trip was not as exciting, eventful, or record breaking as the last two posts. However, while shopping we could tell by the number of items in the cart and the general prices of these items that we were not breaking our price to item ratio this weekend. So without further delay here we go.

Sun: BBQ Beer Can Chicken (Very excited for this one...)
Mon: Leftovers
Tue: Tuna noodle casserole
Wed: Leftovers
Thur: Easy Orange Chicken
Fri: Leftovers
Sat: Easy Italian Chicken

So the beer can chicken on Sunday is a practice session for a BBQ we are having on the fourth of July weekend next month. I figured it would be best to cook one and see how it turned out before we jumped into cooking one for a ton of people. The Tuna noodle Casserole was bought last week (see the oops section of the last post). The easy orange chicken is well... easy. And it is a favorite of ours. The Easy Italian chicken is a crock pot recipe that we haven't tried yet, but sounded good.

Breakfast: Bagels, Cereal, Cottage cheese

Lunch: Bread, Lunch Meat, Granola bars, Macaroni (Macaroni salad ingredient), Yogurt

Dinner
-
Beer Can Chicken: Whole Young chicken
- Tuna noodle Casserole: Bought everything last week (Cheese, Tuna, Cream/Mushroom soup, & noodles)
- Orange Chicken: Mixed vegetables, Frozen orange Juice, Chicken Breasts (part of 3# Bag), had the rest (we used onion flakes)
- Italian chicken: Mushrooms, Cabbage, Spaghetti Sauce, Chicken Breasts (Part of 3# bag)

Misc: Rice cakes, Lemonade mix, Whole Pepper Corns (for our grinder)

We bought 18 items and spent $42.53 = Average $2.36/item

This weeks trip was not as frugal as we had hoped for, but we could have easily picked something other than the chicken for dinner on Sunday. Even though we went over our $2.00 ratio goal we still stayed under our $50 total goal, which is an achievement on it's own. I still have to go find a small pack of canned beer, as the store only had canned beer in 12+ packs, and that was PBR... Next week I will write about how the BBQ chicken and the Italian chicken turned out, and maybe some pictures of the BBQ chicken process :)

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Shopping Trip 6/4/11

So here is This week's Menu for Sunday 6/5 - Saturday 6/11

Sun: Baked chicken and Asparagus Casserole
Mon: Leftovers
Tue: Eggplant Parmesan
Wed: Leftovers
Thur: Creamy Chicken Enchiladas
Fri: Leftovers
Sat: Eating out (Free Chipotle!)

So, for starters, no we are not eating enchiladas two weeks in a row. Last weeks plan to make them on the last day of the week got pushed forward because on Monday (memorial day) we went to a family members house for Dinner. So in theory that pushed all of our recipes back a day, and the enchiladas into this week. Since the other recipes call for fresh (and volatile) vegetables, we are making those first and the enchiladas later.

Breakfast: Cottage Cheese, Bagels, Cream Cheese, Cereal, Milk, Bananas

Lunch:
Bread, Lunch Meat, Yogurt, Mangoes
-Making another batch of macaroni salad from the rest of the ingredients bought last week.

Dinner:
- Chicken/Asparagus Cass: Cream of Broccoli Soup, Asparagus, Shredded Cheese (had rice & chicken)
- Eggplant: Eggplant, Eggs (Breading), Tomato Sauce, Shredded Cheese (had Panko Bread Crumbs)
- Side Salads: Baby spinach, bell pepper, dressing

Oops:
- I was on the mindset we need one more entree, so I put the items for tuna noodle casserole on the list... I'm just ahead for next week :)
- Tuna, Pasta Shells, Peas, Cream/Mushroom soup

Misc. Needs: Toilet Paper, Paper Towels, Kool-aid, Butter

We bought 35 items and spent $43.86 = Average $1.25/item

This week I read the WalMart Price Match Policy and found it very lenient. We actually saved money on the cereal (in the grocery outlet ad) and the mangoes (.37 at Bel air!). The cashier was very quick at the changes and it didn't hold up the checkout at all.

Sunday's meal is copied out of this book, that I checked out from the library. We made it a few weeks back and turned out really good. The book has a ton of really good recipes, and includes chapters on 20 minute meals and 5 ingredient meals.

Tuesdays meal is from Alton Brown's book "I'm just here for the food". I would raise Alton Brown on a pedestal of "god chef" if I could. He makes cooking make sense and adds some science to the mix to make food taste even better. Don't look up his recipe on a search engine, as it won't give you the key to perfect eggplant Parmesan: purging, which I will explain here.

- Eggplant is naturally somewhat bitter (due to alkaloids in the seeds). To remove this bitter chemical you slice the eggplant thin and evenly, place them in a cookie sheet on top of a layer of paper towels. you then sprinkle salt liberally over the pieces then place another sheet of paper towels on top. Place another baking sheet on top of the eggplant then weigh it down with a few books. Let them sit for 30 minutes then rinse the salt off and pat the pieces dry. I know this sounds like a lot of work, but it is WORTH IT. (You didn't know you were going to get a science lesson today did you?)

Saturday's meal out is due to a technical error on the part of our last Chipotle order, leading to a fancy card with a free meal :).

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Shopping Trip - 5/28/11

Today we did our shopping for this week's groceries. For starters we always make a weekly menu and stick very closely to it. This week's menu is basically a copy of last week because we had more leftovers than expected of one meal, and Jess' mom took us out for dinner another night. Here is our menu for Sunday - Saturday (5/29 - 6/4).

Sun: Eating Out (Jazz Jubilee)
Mon: Chicken Noodle Casserole
Tue: Left Overs
Wed: Stir Fry (1# Frozen chicken, bag stir fry vegetables, 1/2 bottle Teriyaki sauce)
Thur: Left Overs
Fri: Jess' Girls Night (see below)
Sat: Creamy Chicken Enchiladas

We do keep hamburgers in the freezer in case we get home early (like Sunday) or for lunches on weekends. the Friday girls night, Jess will be gone and I make a sandwich, Top Ramen with some chicken, or a hamburger for just me.

The Casserole and Stir fry we were supposed to eat last week (see reason above).

Breakfast Stuff: Oatmeal, Bananas, Cereal, Milk

Lunch Stuff: Bread, Pickles, Yogurt, American cheese slices, Apples.
- Macaroni Salad ingredients (Macaroni, Sweet Relish, Season-all, Mayonnaise)
- Still had lunch meat.

Dinner Stuff
- Enchiladas: Shredded Cheese, Sour Cream, Frozen Chicken Thighs (4# Bag), Cream of Chicken Soup, Tortillas
- Side Salads: (Still have Baby Spinach) cucumber, Bell Pepper, Baby Carrots

Misc. Needs: Top Ramen x4, Quaker Rice Cakes, Rice-A-Roni, Popping Corn, Body Wash

We bought 31 items and spent $42.98 = Average $1.38/item
No coupons used this week.

Not everything we buy is of the Great Value brand. Pay close attention to the price per oz on the left side of the price tags. Also check all the way from the bottom of the shelves to the top shelf for the best price.

sometimes we buy a whole young chicken, cook it in the crock pot, then split it into .75 pound bags of cooked meat (equivalent to 1 pound of uncooked chicken). However the last few weeks we have been buying the frozen chicken breasts or chicken thighs. the bag of chicken bought today will be enough for 4 meals (1# each). For my lunches this week I decided to make my own macaroni salad and put it in small reusable storage containers.

We buy the popping corn and the rice cakes for snack foods in the cupboard. Rice cakes and popcorn are much cheaper and healthier than keeping chips, cookies, or other junk food around, and they stay good much longer. For the popcorn, invest in an air popper ($20-25), it's the best snack ever without using oil in a pan on the stove-top.

New Blog - Frugality

So in light of some changes in my wife and my self's lives, we are finding ourselves in this economy budgeting very tightly. In the past few weeks we have been posting our grocery shopping results on every one's favorite social networking site. As a result, some people have been telling us to start a blog talking about our grocery and budgeting strategies, so here it is! This blog is just to introduce our "way of life" and try to deter anyone who has a "passionate" dislike for some of our methods or locations for shopping. I understand everyone has opinions but I don't want this blog to turn into one of those ones I have seen where comments turn into attacks and arguments over things. This blog is for people to get ideas and resources for saving a little extra money. So below is the general idea of what is to follow in future blogs.

- We shop at Walmart. I understand some people do not like Walmart, and some even refuse to shop there. We would love to shop elsewhere, and we have done our weekly trips to Safeway, Target, and Savemart, but the results have always been cheaper at Walmart. We don't always buy Walmart brand either, but that will be elaborated on in future blogs.

- We don't always Coupon. We don't get the newspaper so we don't clip coupons, but I am a member of a few of the online coupon websites. We also don't buy things because we have a coupon, we buy things we already needed and have a coupon for it.

- Many of our weekly menus are made up of a second night of leftovers from the first night. As a family of two it is hard to make a meal for only one night without cutting recipes in half. We don't mind eating leftovers but some people do.