Category Archives: Meal Planning

Menu Plan and Grocery Purchases: Week 1/18 – 1/25

*Below are some pictures of our fridge, and on the table are some items purchased on Saturday*

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I had a number of responses to my post $75.00 per week grocery budget post, (http://thejoyfulhomemaker.com/?p=612). I had a few people ask me to post my weekly menu plan so they can see how it translates to $75.00 per week.

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This week my purchases included the below food items:

  • 2 Almond milks – $4.98
  • Organic Apple Juice – $1.39
  • Mozzarella and Cheddar Cheeses – $3.58
  • Organic Blueberry Apple Sauce – $1.59
  • 1 Can of Black Beans – $.59
  • 2.27 lb of Bananas – $1.68
  • Organic Roma Tomatoes – $1.69
  • Organic Grape Tomatoes – $1.99
  • 3 lbs of Carrots – $.79
  • 1 lb Strawberries – $2.99
  • 3 lb Clementines – $3.99
  • Mixed Lettuce – $2.49
  • Unsalted Peanuts – $2.39
  • 1 Jar Salsa – $1.49
  • 1 Can of Coffee – $5.49
  • Whole Chicken – $4.34 (.95 per lb)
  • Rudi’s Gluten-Free Wraps – $5.99
  • Chicken Wings – $5.99 for 3 lb bag (Target – on sale)
  • Lay’s Potato Chips – $2.50 per bag (Target)
  • Sour Cream – $1.65 (Target)

Total Food Purchases This Week : $57.59

Menu Plan For This Week

Saturday 1/18/14

Breakfast: Banana, clementine, cashew butter toast on gluten-free bread.

Lunch: Leftover chicken taco mix and cut up strawberries

Dinner: No dinner cooked at home – we were without power.

Sunday 1/19/14 – Football Sunday

Breakfast: Kind granola and coconut yogurt. Jack and John had rice cereal, almond milk, and some strawberries on top.

Lunch: Banana, handful of mixed nuts, and spinach pancake

Dinner: Chicken wings, venison burger, and grilled pineapple (our friends brought the pineapple and some buffalo wings). The buns were non-gluten free buns we had leftover from Christmas. I froze them and we thawed them for the burgers. Easy! Don’t throw away those leftover bread items. They can be easily frozen. 

Monday 1/20/14 – MLK Day

Breakfast: Bacon, Cinnamon Honey Quinoa with Blueberries and Almonds, Jack also had a banana and a bowl of rice cereal with almond milk.

Lunch: John – leftover venison burger and green salad, no bun. Jack – cut up venison burger, humus and veggies. Me – Green salad with humus on top. I make my own humus. I have  a HUGE stash of chickpeas I purchased on sale at BJ’s during the summer.

Dinner: Roasted chicken, carrots, potatoes, and small salad. I have a massive supply of baby red potatoes from my parent’s garden.

Tuesday 1/21/14

Breakfast: Gluten-free breakfast sandwiches, egg and venison sausage on GF bread, fruit salad.

Lunch: Chicken salad on greens, humus and veggies.

Dinner: Rice and black beans, salad.

Wednesday 1/22/14

Breakfast: Sunshine smoothie, handful of mixed nuts.

Lunch: Chicken salad lettuce wraps.

Dinner: Chicken pot-pie.

Thursday 1/23/14

Breakfast: Rice and beans with scrambled eggs, frozen berry and kale, smoothie

Lunch: Bone broth soup, humus and veggies, fruit.

Dinner: Leftover chicken pot-pie

Friday 1/24/14

Breakfast: Hemp seed banana smoothie, mixed nuts, clementine

Lunch: Bone broth soup, humus and veggies, fruit.

Dinner: Gluten free pasta and sauce, salad

Saturday 1/25/14

Breakfast: Hemp seed pancakes, bacon or chicken sausages.

Lunch: Leftover pasta, cut-up veggies, fruit.

Dinner: Venison steaks on the grill, potato on the side, salad.

Summary of How This All Adds Up:

  • We eat simply, and try to keep things easy. I don’t plan for snacks or desserts in my menus. We don’t typically eat desserts, but have fruit, nuts, and the occasional treat on hand.
  • Whole chicken – this purchase feeds us for the entire week, from the night it is cooked, to the chicken salad, pot-pie, and bone broth.
  • Chicken wings, chips, and sour cream were bought specifically for Sunday Football
  • Lettuce, tomatoes, and carrots are for salads, wraps, and even side vegetables (carrots) to go along with main dish.
  • Clementines, peanuts, apple sauce, and cheese are all snack items for the week, along with some fruit, like the berries.
  • Beans used for beans and rice. We have tons of rice in our bulk supplies.
  • Bananas, almond milks, coffee … these are our weekly staples.
  • We currently have bacon, chicken sausages, blueberries, already in house, so I didn’t need to purchase them this week. We have a surplus of apples and a watermelon in the fridge. We have mini peppers, lemons, and a Bolthouse Farms pre-made smoothie we got for free at Target last week (I had a coupon).

This is our food plan for the week and how it correlates with the purchases above. I have extra money in my weekly food budget. I typically leave extra money for extra produce purchases during the week. We will need extra greens and cucumbers. I was unable to purchase cucumbers at Aldi on Saturday; therefore, I will hit Stop and Shop tomorrow to grab those.

Keep in mind, this is the plan that works best for us, and may not be suitable for your family. Also, my plan changes here and there. I typically move things around and sometimes change an item all together, based on what I feel like eating or making. 🙂

We keep a pretty decent overflow of certain items, like eggs, GF bread, frozen veggies and fruits, protein powders, etc. We have a chest freezer and another refrigerator in the garage. I stock up on things when they are on sale.

Again, I am not claiming we are perfect or eat perfectly. We eat as healthy as we deem appropriate and are always striving for healthier. When I worked part-time, we were able to spend roughly $120 to $130 per week on food. This allowed us to buy all organics, special meats, and more extras. We had to scale down and figure out how to make this work on a more limited budget once I stopped working. A lot of my 365 posts are healthier food choices and it is also a learning process for me. 🙂

Happy Menu Planning,

The Joyful Homemaker

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My Weekly Grocery Budget: $75

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I recently modified our grocery budget to match the ever rising cost of food. I have upped our budget to $75.00 per week. People continuously ask me to share how I spend such little money on healthy foods. Do I cut coupons? Where do I shop? Do I shop at 100 different stores? How do I buy bulk items?

Below is a breakdown of my system. Keep in mind, this may not work for everyone. Every family has specific needs and your grocery budget depends on certain variables like, family size, income, additional sources of food, etc.

Why We Spend So Little On Food

Let’s face it, $75 per week is NOT a lot of money for food for four people. “Americans report spending $151 on food per week on average. One in 10 Americans say they spend $300 or more per week and, at the other extreme, 8% spend less than $50.” – 2012 Gallup Poll (http://www.gallup.com/poll/156416/Americans-Spend-151-Week-Food-High-Income-180.aspx)

My family falls into the “17% of Americans” range when it comes to how much we spend on food. We find $75.00 per week is “our magic number” based on our other monthly expenses and income. We live within our means and eating healthy, fresh foods on a limited budget requires some thinking outside of the box, but it does work

Our Strategy

General Rules:

  • We rarely eat at restaurants, and if we do it comes from gift cards, or our bi-weekly allowances (this is also our gas money – John usually eats take-out dinner at work twice per month and occasionally grabs some lunch, but it always comes out of his allowance).
  • We shop Aldi for most food items and shop other local stores for any remaining items we cannot buy there.
  • We rarely use coupons – most of our items cannot be purchased with coupons.
  • We use store savings cards, except Aldi.
  • Unused money goes into our grocery budget slush fund.
  • We make coffee at home, and ditched our Keurig!

Bulk Staple Items

  • Bulk items do not typically come from our weekly food budget.
  • We purchase bulk items when we have extra money, such as gift money, gift cards, or from our slush fund if there is a really great sale.
  • Things we buy in bulk include: rice, beans, oats, frozen veggies, frozen fruits, gluten-free bread (when on sale I stock up big time), gluten-free pastas, ALL gluten-free mixes, hemp powder, protein powders, spices, oils, Braggs, maple syrup.
  • Foods grown during the growing season are processed and stored appropriately so we can eat them throughout the year.

Items Bought Weekly

  • Eggs
  • Almond Milk
  • Apples
  • Bananas
  • Berries
  • Avocados
  • Carrots
  • Tomatoes
  • Lettuce / greens mix
  • A whole chicken
  • Bacon
  • Yogurt (coconut or goat)
  • Apple Juice
  • Orange Juice
  • Coconut water

Items Bought Bi-Weekly & Monthly (often on sale)

  • Earth Balance
  • Butter for making Ghee
  • Ketchup
  • Mayo
  • Sugar
  • Potatoes
  • Onions
  • Tuna
  • Sardines
  • Celery (lasts forever)
  • Pasta Sauce
  • Rice Chex Cereal
  • Some bought granola
  • Pre-packaged lunch meat (we buy Applegate farms in bulk at BJ’s Wholesale – they often have high discount coupons)
  • Nuts
  • Raisins
  • Fresh broccoli
  • Shredded cheeses, goat cheeses, pretty much any cheese, including my Daiya.
  • Coffee by the can
  • Powdered goat’s milk
  • Canned coconut milk
  • Canned chick peas
  • Tahini
  • Ginger syrup
  • Olive Oil (about every two months – I don’t typically buy Olive Oil in bulk)
  • Rudi’s wraps

“Splurge” or Specialty Sale Items

  • Enjoy Life Chocolate Chips
  • PB2 Powder
  • Coconut milk ice cream
  • GF, DF, SF frozen donuts
  • Van’s waffles (these go on sale often)
  • Pre-made smoothies
  • A specialty humus (I almost always make my own)
  • Local cider (when in season)
  • Beer (John is starting to brew his own now that we have the space)
  • Starbuck’s Coffee
  • Pesto
  • Cookies and treats
  • Spinach pancakes
  • Sweet potato fries (my family loves Alexia)

Meat

Meat is a biggie for most families. If you are carnivorous like us, you love meat.

  • John hunts; therefore, we have a chest freezer full of organic, local deer.
  • We buy chicken (organic if possible) in bulk when on sale and freeze it.
  • Each week I buy or defrost a whole chicken for weekly meals.
  • I save chicken bones and pieces to make soup stock and bone broth.
  • We purchase organic, nitrate free bacon from Aldi. We go through roughly a pack a week.

 Putting Together A Trip

Twice a month, either pay-day or the day after, I go to the bank and withdraw cash for groceries and our allowances. I divide the cash into two. When ready to hit the store I grab my list, calculator, and weekly cash.

What To Buy

I buy our foods based on our weekly food menu. I am an impulse buyer, I always have been, so it is important for me to stick to a strict list. We also eat homemade, nutrient dense foods. This makes it easier to buy less overall. As a general rule, we eat a lot of plant and some animal protein. We don’t rely on cereal and a lot of packaged foods. We buy (mostly) real food.

So, with the above in place, here’s a look at today’s purchases at Aldi.

I spent $55.18.

  • 2 almond milks – $4.98 (Almond milk is cheapest at BJ’s – I can buy 1 gallon for about $3.89).
  • 1 dozen eggs – $1.55
  • 2 packages of organic bacon – $7.78
  • 1 bunch of bananas – $.76
  • Grapes (2lbs) – $3.98
  • Blueberries – $1.89
  • Roma Tomatoes (pack of 8) – $1.69
  • Broc. Crowns – $1.69
  • 1 grapefruit – $.39
  • Pesto Sauce – $1.49
  • 2 Goat Cheese logs – $3.98
  • Whole cashews – $3.99
  • Whole Almonds – $4.49
  • Frozen Cal. Veggies – $1.09
  • 2 lbs frozen strawberries – $3.29
  • 2 lbs frozen mango – $3.29
  • Extra Virgin, Organic Olive Oil – $2.99
  • 2 seltzer waters – $1.18
  • 1 jar of salsa – $1.69
  • 1 package organic chicken sausage – $2.99

Most of the above are ingredients for our weekly planned meals. I bought 4 lbs of organic apples on sale last week at Aldi; therefore, no apples needed this week. I am thawing out chickens since there are some older ones in the freezer, so I didn’t buy one this week. I have some extra money in my budget to buy some lettuce, kale, and other produce items at Stop and Shop.

So, there you have it. A look into our food purchasing system. The above feeds three people, and assists in feeding a fourth :). It is not always easy, but it is doable. With the right menu planning it is easy to eat healthfully on the cheap.

Happy Homemaking,

The Joyful Homemaker