Week 29 and a Look Back at Easter

While everything seems to be turning upside down this week, our food budget journey was pretty clear-cut.  With a budget of $150 and a self-imposed goal of $100, I spent $91 on groceries.  We missed the church meal this week due to having our Jeep towed, so we had to grab a quick meal out.  We spent just under $20.  That’s $111.  Not bad.

F got his report card on Monday.  To celebrate, he was able to choose our dinner.  He picked breakfast, so we had pancakes, eggs, sausage, and honeydew.  On Tuesday we had pasta with meat sauce and salad.  On Wednesday, we had our meal at the mall food court while we waited for the tow truck.  I had Subway.  Everyone else (excluding Charlotte) chose pizza.  Tonight we are having a chicken and biscuit casserole that I discovered in my new casserole cookbook (Thanks, Mom & Dad).  Friday will be meat loaf, macaroni & cheese, and broccoli.  Saturday is homemade fish sandwiches and mixed vegetables.  Sunday will be a leftover buffet!

Please visit the other food budgeters, but don’t forget to check out my Easter pictures below!

I’ve been meaning to share some pictures of our Easter visit with my husband’s parents.  We had a wonderful time!  Of course, it was sad to not be able to spend the holiday with the whole family, but what a joy to share Resurrection Day with Grandma & Papa.

Here is a look at our weekend:

Grandma and Charlotte enjoying the local botanical garden.
Papa and the boys at the garden.
The boys feeding some enourmous (scary!) fish.
My trio.

My favorite part of hosting a meal: setting the table.
Roses in teacups -- a simple and inexpensive centerpiece.
Simple Lemon Cake from Martha Stewart's Everyday Food


Project: Food Budget (Week 28)

How on Earth do you budget for holidays and guests?  I could use some tips.  The holiday meal and little extras sort of came out of Food, Entertainment, and Misc.  More or less.  Our guests generously chipped in and treated us to dinner as well.  So nice!  We have no menu for the week but plenty of leftovers, so we’re just winging it.  I’ll run to the store later today for juice, milk, and grapes and meals for Saturday and Sunday.  I’ll have to report on those totals next week, so tune in for a Week 28 & 29 update next Thursday.

The Week 28 Participating Blogs:

Project: Food Budget (Week 27)

Happy Easter weekend, folks!  We are buzzing with anticipation as we ready our home and our menu for the arrival of Easter company.  Yay for visitors!  Our special holiday food isn’t in the budget, but some of the extras that need to be on hand with more people in the house did get counted in this week’s total.  We were really busy this week with lots of out-of-the-routine activities, so we weren’t on our best budgeting behavior.  We ordered pizza on Monday, and we ate out on Wednesday when we were out of town for a dentist appointment.  Here’s how it all looked.

Weekly Budget:  $150

Goal Budget:  $100

Groceries:  $98

Eating Out and Pizza In:  $38

Total: $136

Have a truly wonderful Easter!


Please visit my fellow bloggers:

Project: Food Budget (Week 26)

First, thank you for all of the great feedback that came in response to yesterday’s post.  I received some kind and insightful comments here on the blog, and my friends shared reactions on Facebook that were both touching and thought-provoking.  One friend mentioned that blogging did more for her than it did for her readers, and I can definitely attest to the benefits that I have personally enjoyed since starting my blog in 2009.  Another reader mentioned that she desires to do many things, but they just aren’t on “the list” yet.  I SO get that!  Emily Levenson, the host of Project: Food Budget, really made me think with her reaction.  You can see her entire comment below, but here is what really grabbed my attention: “Your experiences help others, whether you realize it or not. By sharing a part of yourself (which is what I believe blogging and social media gives us the power to do), you allow others to do the same. To make it safe to put yourself out there, to follow dreams, to live life, and to talk about your struggles.”  Thanks, Emily.

Before I get to the food post, I should clarify that the gentleman on the radio did not say that there is no place for social media in a Christian life.  He didn’t say we shouldn’t blog, shouldn’t “tweet,” or use Facebook.  No legalism that I could detect.  He simply encouraged listeners to reflect on their motivations and think about how others might perceive our online selves.  Seems like sound advice to me.  I’ll try not to let it cramp my creativity!

Halfway!  Today marks the six month point in Project: Food Budget.

The Numbers: Add $24 to last week’s total, bringing me to $110.  The additions included pizza and a quick grocery run over the weekend.  We bought juice and bread and a couple other little odds and ends.  This week I spent $86 on groceries.  I know that I’ll be adding to that amount over the weekend because we are out of cereal and juice already.

The Food:  On Monday, I made fish tacos.  Tuesday was cheeseburger pockets (that I made up myself) with spinach salad.  On Wednesday, we ate a Chiles with a gift card (yay!), and we were frugal enough to have money left on the card for another treat in the future.  Tonight we will have steak stir-fry, a family favorite.  On Friday, we might eat out to celebrate payday.  Twice in one week!  Saturday will be baked ziti, and Sunday is beef stew in the CrockPot.   

So today, at the halfway point of this challenge, allow me to share what I’ve learned so far.

1.  Rountine counts.  When I plan my menu and write my list on Sunday & do my grocery shopping Monday, I do a better job of sticking to my budget.  If I shop on Tuesday or Wednesday, I feel short on time, so I end up not getting everything I need.  I then have to go to the store later in the week, or I send hubby later.  Either choice usually results in unplanned spending and a broken budget.

2.  Anticipation is good for the tastebuds.  I think everyone gets stuck in a food rut from time to time.  I certainly do.  But when I take time to make a menu, I do a better job of being creative.  AND when I know what is coming later in the week, I find myself actually looking forward to even the most boring fare.  Even something pretty average like spaghetti sounds good when I’ve been anticipating it all week. I really get jazzed about my Sunday CrockPot meal.

3.  Accountability matters.  I don’t think I would still be doing this if I didn’t know that others would be looking for my post on Thursday.  Sometimes I fear that these food posts are way too boring, but then I heard from my mom that a friend of hers actually takes ideas from my menus as she looks for things that are easy to make while tending to her young children.  And one of my sorority sister said that she watches my blog for ideas on inexpensive meals since she is also trying to limit her food spending.  When I feel like I can’t pull together a food blog, I imagine these ladies wondering what happened to me.  Now, I just need someone to host a blog challenge for the other goals I have in my life.  Laundry challenge anyone?

The Week 26 Participating Blogs:

Project: Food Budget (Week 25)

Hello, food readers!  I truly apologize for missing last week’s post.  We were traveling, kiddos were sick, and given the traveling, I kind of lost track of the details of our spending.  We did well though due to our generous hosts!

We’ve almost reached the half-way point on this food budget challenge.  How quickly it has gone.  I confess that I need to get more focused.  We haven’t been overspending, but I haven’t been as mindful of my spending and food choices as I was at the beginning of the challenge.

This week we spent $63 on my first grocery run.  I spent $15 on food at Target on another day, and we spent $9 at the church dinner last night.  Total: $87

Here’s the menu:

Monday: Honey Mustard Chicken with Rice (Confession: It came from a box.  We arrived home from our spring break trip on Sunday evening, and I totally gave into convenience food temptation on a quick Wal*Mart run.)

Tuesday: Mushroom Alfredo Pasta with Spinach Salad

Wednesday: {at church}

Thursday: Picnic Food!  Hot Dogs on the grill, Potato Salad, Baked Beans, and Sliced Cucumbers

Friday: Baked Fish with Rice and Broccoli

Saturday:  Uh oh…not sure yet

Sunday:  BBQ Chicken in the Crockpot with Macaroni & Cheese and Mixed Veggies

Project: Food Budget (Week 23?)

Really busy today.  Too busy.  Crazy busy.  Didn’t-plan-appropriately-busy.

Groceries: $35 (because I only needed to plan for four days)

Dinner out on Wednesday: $30

Quick lunch: $10

Total: $75 Nice!

The Week 23 Participating Blogs:

Project: Food Budget (Week 22)

I’m back.  This week I have some actual numbers, but the tally is incomplete as of today.  My grocery trip cost $60.  Yay!  And we used gift cards for dinner out yesterday.  I went to the store this morning for some extra lunch/snacky things.  That trip came to $23.  I don’t have anything planned for Sunday because I knew that I would need to make another trip to the store to buy goodies for our little ice cream social on Sunday afternoon.  I’m so excited to open our new home to a few church friends!

So far: $83 for the week…


Project: Food Budget (Week 21)

Well, this week has been a mess.  On Monday, we skipped our usual grocery trip in favor of a wonderful bike ride and picnic with friends.  Can’t beat that!  I didn’t make a meal plan on Sunday because I knew I would not be shopping on Monday.  So…I thought we would shop on Tuesday.  I never got to meal planning on Monday, and  Tuesday morning slipped away from me.  I only had enough time to grab items for our Pancake Supper.

On Wednesday, I had the most excrutiatingly strained neck and a headache.  Ouch…big time.  I did not feel like going to the grocery store, or anywhere really.  I limped my way to an exercise class that actually helped my neck quite a bit.  Luckily, we have dinner at church on Wednesday, or else we would have had toast for dinner.

It is now Thursday.  I have no groceries and no meal plan.  Our car broke down, so I have no vehicle to go anywhere.  To top it off, I have a sick child at home.  Even if I had a car, we would be curled up here with kiddie movies, lots of construction paper, new crayons (the best!), ginger snaps, and tea.  Not half bad.  The groceries will happen when hubby gets home, and I’m just going to care for my little man and not worry about grown-up matters like menus, shopping lists, and budgets.

Hoping for a more thorough report next week…

Project: Food Budget (Week 20)

Twenty weeks of food budgeting.  This journey hasn’t been without bumps in the road, but I feel good about the progress we’ve made.  This week was on the high side.  With a $100 goal and a $150 cap, I spent $10 at the Farmers Market, $83 on grocery day, and $33 on a return trip to the store.  So…(doing math in my head)…$126 for the week.  We have some ingrdients left from last week, and I am very excited to use a beautiful head of organic cabbage from the Farmers Market.  This week’s menu looks like this:

Monday: Barbecue Chicken in the Crock Pot with Cornbread and Green Beans

Tuesday: Chicken Parmesan over Spaghetti with Salad and Bread (co-cooked with my Valentine)

Wednesday: Pork Chops, Brown Rice, and Mixed Veggies

Thursdsay: Left Overs!

Friday: Cabbage Rolls (My first time to make them!)

Saturday: Mulligatawny Soup

Sunday: Roast, Carrots, and Potatoes in the Crock Pot

While I’m here, let me tell you about Mulligatawny.  Oh yum.  This is my favorite soup to make.  No contest.  My mom and my mom-in-law both make some great soups that I love to eat, but in my kitchen, Mulligatawny is number one.  I did a quick Google search to check my spelling of this delicious Indian-inspired soup, and I found lots of different recipes.  The one from Emeril Lagasse looks pretty amazing, but I love my recipe that doesn’t use a lot of unusual ingredients.

When Cory and I were dating, our poetry teacher and friend recommended The Joy of Cooking cookbook for its whole wheat bread recipe.  We loved making the bread, and my Grandma Sunny purchased the cookbook for me shortly after our first bread-baking.  (We ended up making tiny loaves of that bread for our wedding favors!)  Immediately after our August 2001 wedding, we moved to Massachusetts to begin our graduate studies.  When the chill of a New England autumn began, I started searching for a soup recipe, something different.  I opened The Joy and found near the Oxtail Soup (a recipe I know that you will all want to whip up) a listing for Mulligatawny.  I had most of the ingredients on hand, so I decided to try it.

As is common in many Indian dishes, the soup uses curry powder.  Well, I was afraid of curry in any form.  I thought it would hot and strange.  It looked and smelled…different.  I am not an adventurous eater or cook, so for years we had Mulligatawny without curry powder.  You could fairly say that we were not really making Mulligatawny, but the soup was delicious.  With the familiar flavors of chicken, carrots, and celery combined with the surprising sweetness of apples, this soup was perfect.

Thankfully, a few years ago, my slightly more adventurous husband encouraged me to use the curry powder.  And you know what?  We love it.  Not only did the seasoning add a beautiful color, the soup took on a richness and depth of flavor that I didn’t even know was missing.  The flavor was subtle enough to not scare me away but important enough to never be ignored again.  I can’t wait until Saturday!

(If the name sounds familiar, there is a Mulligatawny reference in the “Soup Nazi” episode of Seinfeld.)



Project: Food Budget (Week 19)

It’s been an exciting week here! We’ve had fun with our company, and company means good food.  With generous help from our guests, our grocery budget came to only $72.  We had dinner out on Monday evening for a total of $22 (love .”Kids Eat Free” night), and hubby & I just returned for our first date since Charlotte was born.  We went to Chili’s for the “2 for 20” menu.  Fajitas…yum.  The meal came to $24.  Total for the week:  $118.  Not bad!

A note about our date:  Cory and I haven’t been without a child nearby since June.  I treasured the time to sit, talk, laugh, and eat with my husband.  The elbow room was heavenly.  But…oh my…I was so happy and relieved to return home.  Turns out, the little lady fell asleep minutes after we left, and she didn’t wake up until we had been home for about half an hour.    Maybe we’ll do it again some time!