Friday, September 14, 2012

Eat Healthy AND Stay Under-budget!

So, as many of you know, we have a new baby...

New baby = Lots of expenses
Stay at home mom = One family income
One family income = LOTS of budgeting

I can't coupon. I get overwhelmed and it's just something I'm too unorganized for, but I need to save A LOT of money at the grocery store. Working out our expenses, we have about $50/wk for groceries (including, toiletries.) I'm also very particular about WHAT we eat, both health and taste. But the natural foods section of the grocery store would have you think eating healthy and natural would cost a lot of money---au contraire!! 

A little bit of planning is required, I do sit down before I go to the grocery store and plan what meals we will be having for the week. (However, I don't get as far as which day, because I can't stand being pinned down like that..... I have issues with structure.)

I also avoid buying pre-made anything, if I can make it myself. For two reasons, one, it's usually cheaper to make it yourself; and, two, you don't get any of the yucky additives: MSG, preservatives, etc. This is also why we make our own shampoo, conditioner and facewash. [ingredients: baking soda, apple cider vinegar, castor oil and olive oil, we'll do another post on that later....] We are NEVER going back to store bought!

This week the menu looked/looks like this:
Salmon w/ Quinoa
Minestrone Soup
Butternut Squash Soup
Pasta dishes

I found an awesome recipe for minestrone soup that I really wanted to try on Pinterest.

The recipe calls for a Parmesan rind---Not something I have sitting around our fridge, so I planned our meals around that. My grocery cart this week looked like this:

  • Wild caught Sockeye Salmon
  • 2 Red Peppers
  • 1 Organic Zucchini
  • Bag of Yellow Onions
  • Bag of Organic Carrots
  • Bag of Organic Celery
  • Part of a Parmesan Cheese Wheel
  • 2 cans diced tomatoes with Italian seasonings
  • Tomato Sauce
  • 1 can Cannellini beans
  • Pesto (Amazingly, the refrigerated version was less expensive AND had less additives)
  • Soup bread (A bag of crostini from the bakery)
  • 1 Butternut Squash
  • 1 Acorn Squash
  • Organic Half & Half
  • 2 cartons of Probiotic juice drink (We have some antibiotic-ing in the family)
Wednesday night: Baked Salmon with Quinoa

Salmon was the most expensive thing on our grocery list. We've got to a mostly vegetarian menu at home (both for health and to save money,) but when we do get some meat, we choose quality meats and spend a little more on them.

I baked the Salmon with a little bit of salt and pepper. And toasted the quinoa to get the bitterness off the outside, then cooked with some water, onions, garlic, 1/2 red bell pepper, frozen spinach and olive oil. When it was finished, I added about a 1/3 whole wheat couscous (from our pantry) to round it out a little more. Garnished both fish and quinoa with some goat cheese and toasted pine nuts (leftovers from last week's meals.)

Thursday lunch and dinner: Minestrone soup

With the baby, it's tough for me to get dinner cooked, let alone try and make lunch too. So, usually, early in the day, while baby's in a good mood, I will go ahead and prep dinner and scoop out a little for lunch. 

In the soup, I put a potato (leftover from last week's meals), onions, garlic, 1/2 red bell pepper, frozen spinach, garlic, carrots, celery, onion, tomatoes (I got the Italian seasoned ones because that would save me on herbs for this week), Parmesan rind, can of beans, and frozen spinach into the pot with about 8 cups of water... I just set it and let it cook while Gabriella and I had a playdate with her little baby friend, Liam. 

(We did have Taco Bell during our playdate, but being a nursing mother, I had to eat again very soon after they left!)

Friday lunch and dinner: Minestrone Soup Remix

I don't really like eating leftovers. I never have, but I've gotten a little less picky and have learned my mom's secret, "Remixing". Today, I will be ramping up the leftover soup with some whole wheat rotini pasta (another panty staple.) Topping with some of the Parmesan cheese, homemade breadcrumbs, and baking in the oven.  Ta-Da!! A new yummy dish... that's not really so new! *wink*

[Homemade bread crumbs you ask? I put a piece of bread in the toaster, toast till it's brown, let it sit in the toaster to "dry out", then pop it in the food processor with some salt and pepper and whatever seasoning to compliment the dish... I get just enough for whatever I need without blowing my grocery budget on pre-made crumbs.] 

I'll update on the rest of the meals when the next grocery day comes around. I haven't completely formed exactly what I will be doing yet... :)

My tip for today: Did you know that you can get a piece of specialty cheese cut? I went to Kroger where they have that big fancy cheese and antipasti bar. I saw a piece of Parmesan for $17... Ekk! I don't have that kind of money in my budget. When I said that to the lady working, she said, "Oh, I can cut that for you!" .... my cut piece of cheese brought it back down to size $5, much more do-able!

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