Peapod Grocery Haul – $28.09 Per Week Budget/Meal Plan

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I can’t even begin to explain how much I am loving Peapod right now, and how much of a bargain it has been for me and my family. When it comes to feeding myself and my husband healthy and wholesome meals (for the most part 😛 ) for very little money, this really is where it’s at.

So, just to start, I’d like to let you know that my order came out to over $100. About $20 of those dollars went to household items such as toilet paper, dish soap, and cat food to last the month. The rest? Food for nearly 3 weeks.

It could last a bit longer depending on how much we actually end up eating on a day-to-day basis. We also aren’t quite at bare fridge/freezer yet. We have a 3-4 days, if not more of meat in the freezer. We also have frozen vegetables, and leftovers in the fridge. Regardless, I calculated this food plan for 21 days.

I’d like to also throw it out there that I will probably be going to the street markets once a week and spending a few more dollars on fresh fruit for snacking and smoothies. I might also pick up some rice. I also took it upon myself to “shop the pantry”, therefore there are some items I will be cooking with over the next 3 weeks that I already have at home.

Though my meal plan is still sort of a rough draft, this is what I have in the works right now:

Breakfast:

  • Waffles
  • Cereal
  • Oatmeal (in pantry)
  • Smoothies

Lunches:

  • Sandwiches
  • Smoothies
  • Leftovers

Dinners:

  • Italian sausage, Peppers, and Potato Bake x3
  • Spaghetti & Meat Sauce x3
  • Beef Stew x2
  • Teriyaki Chicken x3
  • Spanish Chicken Stew x2
  • Classic Roast Chicken x3
  • Tacos x2
  • Chili x2
  • Oven-baked Fish Fillets x3

The idea behind this meal plan, (and for the most part, all of my meal plans), is buying and cooking in bulk and eating leftovers for 2-3 consecutive dinners. It is also using the same ingredients, with different seasonings, for many different dishes. Stews are very inexpensive to cook and it makes a TON!  The stews, as well as the Italian sausage bake will all incorporate the same vegetables. Chili and tacos are both very low-cost, especially if you buy your beans dry and cook them in bulk for the week. (However, this week, I did buy them canned because they were less than 60 cents a can.) The fish fillets are indeed frozen – value size bag of 12 for $3! Teriyaki chicken is very low-cost and simple as well. It only calls for (the cheapest cuts you can find) chicken, soy sauce, sugar, and a few fresh ingredients such as garlic and ginger which I keep on hand.

This is really handy for families who have differing work schedules and don’t spend a lot of time at home during meal time. It not only saves time and money, but when it comes to soups, stews, and chili, it really does get better the longer it cooks and the more times it is reheated on the stove.

I honestly really enjoy the process of cooking, but I realize that a lot of people just don’t have the time/don’t want to invest the time in cooking when they could be investing that time in doing something else (leisure activities, for example). I’d rather be spending my free time playing video games than cooking and cleaning! No lies here!

 

 

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Meal Planning: “Themed” Weeks – Mexican Food

Among all the different ways there are to save money on groceries, I find that meal planning, specifically with “themed” weeks, is by far the most efficient way to put a dent in your money management goals in regards to food. First things first: What the heck is themed weeks? Themed weeks is picking a type of cuisine for each week to reduce the amount of ingredients purchased. How is this cost effective? Buying a single ingredient in bulk is much more cost effective than purchasing small amounts of many different ingredients.

Here’s an example – next week, our theme will be mexican food. So, we will be buying lots of tortillas and beans. A large pack of a few hundred corn tortillas is where we would start. Add a few bags of dried beans (pinto and black beans) and that will last us all week!

Our task for Saturday night will be to soak the beans. On Sunday we will cook the whole lot of them. Yum!

These two ingredients will be the staple of all our meals. 

We will probably buy additional ingredients such as chilis, onions, tomatoes, and garlic – perhaps salsa as well! If it’s in the budget, we’ll probably purchase a nice size container of sour cream to top on everything and a bag of mexican blend cheese. Buy some avocado too if you can fit it in the budget. If you can find it for 50 cents a piece, buy 1 for each day of the week!

What can we make with this? We can have enchiladas, burritos, tacos, nachos and tortilla soup! Let’s add a can of tomato sauce – now we can have chili too! Buy a few cartons of eggs and breakfast is served – my favorite low cost, yet filling meal of huevos rancheros!

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Frugal Foods: Cheap Chili

I love chili. Chili is incredibly versatile and it’s general my go-to meal when I don’t want to work too hard or spend too much money. It’s an easy-to-please dinner that can be jazzed up with toppings and sides.

Today, I was worn out and tired after running errands with a head cold. I thought – this is the perfect time to dump a few ingredients in a pot and walk away.

Here is my version of Cheap Chili

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Ingredients list: Really, it’s JUST 3 things!

Chopped/ground meat (a ground beef and pork mix may be the most cost effective, but ground chicken or turkey is a great healthy alternative.)

Beans! I love beans. They’re packed with protein and give chili that great texture I love. I recommend buying a small bag of dry beans because they go a lot further than canned beans (about 3-5 times in terms of price). Stick a handful in a bowl of water before you go to bed and cook them prior to adding them to your chili. Kidney, pinto and black beans are my favorite.

Tomato sauce. When you buy a chili seasoning pack, the recipe on the back of the packet calls for tomato sauce, and truly, in comparison to tomato paste and diced tomatoes, this is the cheapest, and easiest option. Generic tomato sauce is 50 cents a can, NOT on sale. If you don’t live in NYC, you can probably find it for cheaper.

Spices. Basic chili seasoning consists of **chili powder, garlic powder, onion powder, salt, oregano, cayenne pepper, and cumin. **Quick rule of thumb: you will always need 2-3x the amount of chili powder to everything else** Try adding a tablespoon of sugar, very little bit!, to your chili to off-set the spicy factor of the cayenne pepper and add a bit of sweetness. I also always add fresh garlic and onion to mine!

I know that spices are costly but I promise you it’s cost effective to stock your spice cabinet. You’re going to be spending a lot more buying those pre-made packets such as the taco seasoning and chili seasoning packets. Consider buying your spices at non-grocery stores because they tend to be generic and much less expensive. Did you know Rite Aid has many $1 spices? Again, this is shelf price, not sale price. In fact, drug stores are a great place to check for any pantry items! Just a tip: you can also get a 2lb bag of white or brown rice at Rite Aid for 1.99. I often see it on sale for 1.50!

Now it’s time to jazz it up! Maybe a dollop of sour cream to the top? A handful of cheddar cheese? On a bed of rice perhaps? Smothered on top of a hotdog or fries? Or both?

There are many ways to make chili, and I’d love to hear your version.

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