Sept. 2016 Grocery Haul / $100/M Budget!

It’s definitely been a hot minute since I’ve shared any kind of haul on this blog! As I’ve mentioned in other recent posts, money has been tight on our end, so investing in hauls has overall been a challenge. This doesn’t change that I do believe that buying in bulk, cooking in bulk, is essentially the smartest, most time sensitive, and efficient way to save money.

As I’ve mentioned time and time again, this can be particularly challenging for city dwellers, who don’t have access to big box grocery stores, especially those who do not or can not drive, and are more or less limited to their surrounding 5-10 block radius. (*Like yours truly.) That in itself is one of my biggest challenges in saving money. I can’t hop in my car and go to a Walmart. I don’t have a license. I don’t have a car. Even if I had a car, I’d have nowhere to put my car.

Thankfully for us, convenience delivery services are popping up left and right for nearly every industry out there. From laundry, to grocery delivery, you can get that delivered to you, and in many cases, the time and money saved in doing so is extensive.

So, let’s see – yesterday, I found myself with a $50 food budget. Ideally, I’d like to stretch it over the course of 2 weeks. The only way I’ve ever really been able to do that is by taking advantage of “value packs” at Stop&Shop and digging through tiny Mom & Pop convenience stores in the neighborhood for marked down items (in short, crap shoved to the back of freezers and shelves – crap that nobody wants).

Frankly, the prices at my neighborhood Bravo and C-Town has been really bad for months. Meat and produce prices are to the roof, so Stop&Shop/Peapod seemed like the next best move. And, am I glad I did it! In short, I put over $75 worth of groceries in my cart and paid only $50 for all of it. I used a $25 off $75 coupon, as well as free delivery coupon! There is absolutely nothing complicated about it either. Simply use the “60daysfree” coupon code at check out and you’re good to go! Any order you make over the next 60 days will also have free shipping! Awesome right?

The best part is definitely the seasonal items – pumpkin spice EVERYTHING! I am so ready for Fall. I can’t even tell you how absolutely READY I am! The weather has been really nice too. Today’s high is 71, and the low is 50. Fantastic hot cocoa and a book weather.

Ok – let’s get right to the good stuff! My receipt! LOL.

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I’d also like to point out that Stop & Shop DOES often miss a few items in your order. For example, I did not get my Stop & Shop frozen vegetable mix (x2). It’s also important to note that – like in-store merchandise, things do sell out. It happens. So be ready for that possibility.

Now, I didn’t just throw anything on sale in my cart. In fact, I was meal planning as I go. Yes, I did end up spending probably 2 hours shopping online, but there really is a benefit in sitting down and planning out your meals and taking your time with this. It’s a time-consuming process – that’s definitely a part of it.

The way I shop for groceries is pretty simple. I focus on bulk meals. Large “dinners” that can be stretched over several days. Every meal will offer lots of leftovers. Go with soups, stews, and chili – whatever is easy to reheat – foods that “get better” the longer it simmers on the stove. My husband and I often eat very simple breakfasts and lunches – often a cup of tea, banana, egg-in-the-hole, and/or oatmeal. If we want something a little more hearty, we go with pancakes because they’re dirt cheap and a box of generic pancake mix can last forever!

 

Here is what we have planned for this grocery haul:

  1. Spaghetti + meat sauce
  2. Creamy mushroom chicken
  3. Chicken corn chowder
  4. Chicken tortilla soup
  5. Chili + rice
  6. Chili + corn bread
  7. Chili dogs
  8. Chili mac
  9. Hot dogs + baked beans
  10. Goulash
  11. Hamburger steak + gravy
  12. Loco Moco
  13. Cheese burgers
  14. Corn beef hash + eggs
  15. Fried bologna + eggs

The chicken dishes will use up about 10lbs of chicken, and ground beef recipes will use up about 6.5lbs. Give or take. Each dish will use about a lb of meat.

Alright guys, I’ll keep you posted on how the next few weeks plan out and let you know if we stick to our meal plan or not!

Hope you all enjoy your weekend!

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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 ūüėõ ) 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 Рvalue 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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Key Foods Haul $60 2-week Budget

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This morning my husband and I trekked to Key Foods, about a mile away from our apartment. I’ve only been here a few times and already I can tell this is going to be¬† new favorite neighborhood grocery store! (I also just found out they deliver to Brooklyn!)

They have an awesome selection of generic, as well as premium foods. In terms of bargains, the best was hormone free/organic chicken thighs for less than $1/lb this week. They also had some nice cuts of chopped steaks and pork chops for less than $2/lb.¬† Key Foods offers many mark downs and manager’s specials on both meat and produce. As you can see in my photos, I scored both mark down veggies as well as meats.

If it wasn’t so far away (and it wasn’t soooo damn hot outside!), I’d definitely be heading down there more often. I can’t seem to locate my receipt, so here is a list of what we purchased:

  1. Gal. of Milk
  2. Pure Leaf Sweet Tea
  3. Jelly Rolls
  4. Peach Pie
  5. Prelude Popcorn Chicken
  6. 5.5lb Hormone-Free Chicken Thighs
  7. 3lb Pork Loin
  8. 1lb Cubed Steaks (4 total)
  9. Jennie-O Turkey Kielbasa
  10. Oscar Myer All-Beef Hot Dogs
  11. lb Lemons
  12. Earthbound Farm romaine lettuce
  13. Carton of White Button Mushrooms
  14. Veggie Medley – Carrots, Cauliflower, Broccoli (fresh)
  15. Jumbo Yellow Onion
  16. 12 Pack Poptarts
  17. Bag of Berry Colossal Crunch – Generic Cereal (Captain Crunch)
  18. Town House Butter Crackers
  19. Best Yet Angel Hair Pasta – Whole Wheat
  20. Italian Village Cheese Ravioli – Frozen
  21. Friendship Sour Cream
  22. Key Foods Paprika

Meal Plan:

  1. Teriyaki Chicken Thighs
  2. Chicken Noodle Casserole
  3. Creamy Mushroom Chicken
  4. Raviolis
  5. Meat Jun
  6. Teriyaki Steak
  7. Smothered Pork Chops
  8. Breaded Pork Chops
  9. Kielbasa Stir-fry
  10. Homemade Corn-dogs

Lunches – Sandwiches/Salads, leftovers

Breakfasts – Cereal, Pop-tarts

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Reminder: Check A-L-L Grocery Catalogs!

 

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When I load up my Flipp app, there are literally hundreds of catalogs that pop up. On a regular day (or week), I usually don’t bother looking at any of the catalogs for stores that I don’t frequent. To be honest, I am probably missing out on deals I’m not even aware of. In truth, it is kind of a pain to skim through tons of catalogs, but in the long run, you do save money. Effort always pays off.

 

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SAVE MONEY & TIME W/ GROCERY DELIVERY!

basket-918416_960_720Several months ago, when I first launched this blog, I briefly mentioned how much I love grocery delivery in NYC – especially Peapod. Oh man, I love Peapod so much, guys! They’re quick, affordable, and have amazingly fresh produce.

I was hoping to see that Peapod could/would accept EBT – unfortunately they do not. It could be because it’s difficult to implement that online. Inner-city families who buy food with food stamps can stretch their allowance so much¬†further if they could buy in bulk. They would save more money and be able to buy from a larger variety of¬†fresh and nutritious food. So, this is my request @Peapod, get on that! I mean common, if the bodega across the street can swipe the card, ON HIS CELLPHONE OF ALL PLACES, why can’t y’all?

A few nights ago I decided to revisit Stop &¬†Shop’s delivery service Peapod. You’d think – it’s got to be more expensive than just going into the store, right? Not¬†necessarily! In fact, I was caught off-guard by how good the prices were. They run specials just like any other grocery store, and for many, if not all the items I purchased, I would pay less through Peapod than I would in my neighborhood supermarkets. If you are looking to buy in bulk, which is what I was after, this is where you should go. Since it is¬†virtually impossible for a city-dweller with no car to buy in bulk…I thought – shoot, here is my chance to buy more than I can carry in one trip! Hah!

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I, of course, meal-planned beforehand as I would in any other situation. For less than $60, you could have a full 12-14 day meal plan!

This time around, I created an a 2-week meal plan and focused on building around huge meals: large 8-12 serving soups, stews, and casseroles for both saving time and money. This meal plan includes tons of leftovers to reheat and/or freeze for later! For the full details on the meal plan, click here!

Curious about what exactly I purchased? Here is my invoice below:

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Frugal Living in NYC: Should I get my groceries delivered?

Yes! You should get your grocery delivered if you live in NYC; and I will explain to you exactly why you should. First, let me tell you how I first made that decision.

When I first arrived in NYC, I thought the idea of grocery delivery, among laundry delivery, and endless food delivery was incredibly attractive for a busy working student who left the house before the sun was even out,¬†and didn’t¬†get home until after 9pm on most days. Let’s face it, New Yorkers are busy people!¬†By the time I got home at night, I had a pile of papers to write in front of me and hundreds of textbook pages to read before the following day. This is why I often brought food home, did bulk grocery shopping online and didn’t even bother going to the laundromat. Some days I would grocery shop between classes and leave my groceries in the lunch room¬†refrigerator at work! Can you even imagine how crazy (and inappropriate) that is?

At that moment, I realized this isn’t working and I need to find a better way to get good food in my stomach without spending an arm and a leg doing it.

Here are the reasons why I did it, WHERE I did it, and why I think you should consider it too:

  1. You can plan out every meal and snack for the entire month and order it all at once. It’s bulk shopping without bringing the car around. It saves time and money. Period.
  2. This allows New Yorkers to stock pilenot that we actually have any room for that! Have you seen the size of these apartments? Stockpiling is when you buy a lot of a very cheap product to save money in the long run. For example, you discover that cereal is a dollar a box, instead of just buying 1 box, you buy 20 because it may be a long time before you see such a low price again. That box of cereal will run out in 3-4 days Рby then, that sale will be over.
  3. It eliminate impulse purchases and over-spending, and helps you avoid spending money outside of the house. For example, instead of picking up a snack between classes, I can pack some yogurt or crackers from home and save a lot of money.
  4. You can have everything you need delivered. Beyond your meat, produce, and pantry, most delivery services have every household item you can think of, baby products (food, formula, diapers, ect.), wine and spirits. They even deliver flowers, and have catering options!
  5. You can apply coupons to grocery delivery just as you would at the store! All you have to do is give your coupons to the delivery person, or apply them online.
  6. Each grocery delivery service has their own sales and deals every week just like any other grocery store. You can take advantage of these sales and work your meal plans around them.
  7. If you live in NYC, you have many grocery delivery services to choose from. Though Fresh Direct is the most widely known and used online grocer, I highly recommend shopping with PeaPod as well, which is Stop & Shop online.
    1. They’re always running a “first order” deal.¬†TSA_SE2015_FD50_FeatureRYHM0
    2. Fresh Direct offers a delivery subscription program that allows you to have unlimited deliveries with an upfront payment. Prices range from $9.92 Р$12.99 per month depending on how often you are charged. (Ex. $9.92 per month price requires you to pay the entire year upfront.)
    3. PeaPod¬†is incredibly cheap. In fact, PeaPod offers very competitive prices in comparison to what you would find at your neighborhood grocers. Sometimes I spend LESS at PeaPod than anywhere else. I’ve made a $140 order at PeaPod that lasted my husband and I a month. That’s 35 dollars a week¬†you real wholesome meals.
    4. Fresh Direct offers premium products and brands generally not available in many grocery stores.
    5. Last but not least, both Fresh Direct and PeaPod deliver to all of Manhattan.

Have you gotten your grocery delivered in NYC? How was your experience? Who did you shop with? Who would you recommend? Leave your thoughts in the comments below!

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