"It is the sweet, simple things of life which are the real ones after all." -Laura Ingalls Wilder

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Week Two

Unfortunately, week two was not nearly as successful as week one. I came in over budget by spending $60.74 at the commissary (although I did use 14 coupons which came to a savings of $9.35) and $10 at the farmer's market. I probably bought more than I would've without coupons but I got some really good deals. Also, this week my husband is on leave so I bought a lot more things for him to snack on and make for lunch while he's home. From now on I'll be sure to shop the farmer's market first then make my meal plan and shop at the commissary. That's my usual game plan but this Friday we were scraping the barrel with bare cupboards and a slim refrigerator. I definitely think that will save a bit and allow me more to spend on local, fresh foods.

But I digress, our meal plan is as follows;

Sunday - American Chop Suey
This is one of my family favorites! We use ground turkey instead of ground beef to lower the fat.

Monday - Lemon Ginger Chicken Thighs (with a veggie)
This week I went through my old magazines hunting for new recipes and found this in an issue of Better Homes and Gardens. It looks simple and bone in chicken thighs are one of the cheapest proteins you can find at the grocery store.

Tuesday - Indian Samosa Casserole
This is another recipe I found in an old issue of Vegetarian Times. Around here we love samosas and to think of a casserole with the same flavors...mmm...

Wednesday - Mushroom and Onion Omelettes
I figured I'd serve these with toast or french toast (depending on the state of our bread).

Thursday - Bean and Rice Burritos
Mr. Marine requested more rice and bean dishes, so here it is! It's something easy to throw together and I'm going to totally wing it with the recipe.

Friday - Grilled Potatoes, Veggie Kabobs, and Minute Steak.
I'm not a big fan of red meat but Mr. Marine loves it so when I found a pack of minute steaks for $.90 I picked them up to pan sear while he grilled the rest of dinner.

Saturday - Pizza with Green Olives and Feta
Pizza is our weekly Saturday thing. I try to switch up toppings almost every week but feta is one of our very favorites.

So there we are! Hopefully next week turns out better. Mr. Marine encouraged me to think that as with everything, keeping a budget gets easier with practice!

Until next time,

xoxo Stacie

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

The Result

My commissary bill came to $33.11! I am very excited. I definitely think this a budgeting goal I can reach. I used two coupons but also swapped a few things to save money. We are huge popcorn eaters in this house. When looking at the store I realized how expensive the convenience of microwave popcorn is. So instead of buying a 3 pack of microwave popcorn for $1.50, I bought a 2 pound bag of popcorn kernels for $1.19. So we'll be breaking out our inherited air popper and mixing up some seasonings using my spice cabinet. Cheaper and healthier too!

I did mix up the menu nights a bit and last night we had ground turkey tacos with homemade taco seasoning. My husband and I both agreed they were the BEST TACOS EVER! I also added a can of rinsed and drained black beans into the meat mixture which bulked up the fiber content of our dinner while also stretching the meat further. We both ate a hearty dinner and had leftovers for lunch plus there is more meat for my husband to munch on when he gets home from work.

One thing I've learned from shopping with my mom is to pick up an extra box of pasta or extra can of beans every shopping trip so that you often have basic staples constantly in your pantry. This week I'm relying heavily on my pantry for pasta, pasta sauce, and diced tomatoes. I've also bought ingredients this week that can be used in multiple recipes (like the salsa both for tacos and taco salad). I'm also utilizing tomatoes, green beans, and basil from my balcony garden! A few plants go a long way in saving money. I also cannot stress enough how important a great spice cabinet is in keeping your food interesting while on a budget. Cheap foods like whole chickens, rice, potatoes, and beans can all be jazzed up with different seasonings to make them different and exciting.

I am looking forward to next week and seeing if I can stay under budget even after a visit to the farmer's market. Wish me luck! Also, if you have any inexpensive recipes you'd like to shoot my way I'd be happy to try them!

Until next time,
xoxo Stacie

Monday, June 20, 2011

"If you don't have anything nice to say....

...don't say anything at all." That's how I've felt the last couple weeks hence my blogging sabbatical. Things around this crazy household are at a fever pitch with Mr. Marine's EAS date fast approaching. There are some things I am thankful for learning in my time as a marine wife but mostly it's made me want to pull my hair out. With the end in sight we're excited but at the same time scared and stressed with the unknown.

One very good thing that has come out of all of this crazy unknown business is that we are trying harder than ever to save money. During my husband's two deployments I saved like CRAZY (I am a penny pinching cheapskate frugal kinda gal) and we have an amazingly good chunk of savings. With the end of a steady paycheck looming we have more reason than ever to save every single penny we can. With neither of us being big spenders the only place I can find to scrimp is in our food budget.

I am already saving tons in that department by avoiding convenience foods and cooking from scratch whenever possible. Still I think we buy too many extras and end up wasting some food. I sometimes spend up to 100$ a week (that also includes toiletries cleaning items) for two people. That is so unacceptable!

So, to curb all this crazy food spending I am giving myself the very lofty goal of spending only 50$ per week on groceries, toiletries, and cleaning products. To reach this goal I am going to have to embrace all my creativity and meal planning skills. I'll have to shop sales and use coupons when available. I'm going to try to make most of those foods we love (popsicles, bread, popcorn) from scratch. Most importantly, we are going to have to learn to go without! Each week I am going to post my meal list and whether or not we stuck to our budget (or even came in under budget).

My meal list for this week;

Monday - Pasta Primavera
Also a "pantry buster" for that random veggie soup packet hanging around in the back of the spice cupboard.

Tuesday - Classic Tomato Spaghetti
From Jamie Oliver's "Food Revolution" cookbook. Seriously, if you don't already have this cookbook go out RIGHT NOW and buy it. I have never owned a cookbook where I wanted to try every single recipe. Plus, the pictures are amazing.

Wednesday - Butternut Lasagna
I found this on an amazing blog and have been dying to try it. I picked up a butternut squash at the farmer's market just for this recipe.

Thursday - Ground Turkey Tacos
Using this amazing taco seasoning instead of the overpriced and over salted packet stuff.

Friday - Taco Salad
For this taco salad I am tricking my husband by using veggie crumbles instead of the fatty meat counterpart. Just don't tell him....

Saturday - Homemade Cheese Pizza
With a homemade whole wheat crust. My mouth is watering already.

I've just written out my grocery list and I'm heading to the store shortly. Let's see if I can make it through week one on my new budget!

Until next time,

xoxo Stacie

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Today I Love,,,,

These amazing necklaces (but especially this one) made by Truche on Etsy. The problem I'm having is that I love too many states! I'd need more of a charm bracelet of state love.

How about you guys, do you have any faves on Etsy? Do you sell there? I just love anything and everything handmade.

Until next time,
xoxo Stacie