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Monday, October 21, 2013

My $42 Grocery Shopping Trip & GF Menu for 10/21-10/27

This week's Kroger trip included a rare ice cream splurge (on sale), grass-fed
organic beef on Manager's Special (only $4.16 after my coupon!) and a package
of $.99 cilantro. I had a $.70/2 coupon for the Kroger cheese, making it $1.53 ea.

Last week I stocked up at our local bulk foods store and paid the farmer for our monthly herd share of raw, pastured milk. (We pay $11/week for milk, that I also use to make 2 qts. of yogurt.) That being said, the grocery budget is getting pretty tight and the month isn't even close to being over!

If you find yourself in a place where you are trying to drastically cut your grocery bill for a period of time, my best advice is to shop at home first. Take a complete inventory of your freezer, fridge and pantry and see what you have to work with in your menu planning. A can of diced tomatoes, a couple boxes of pasta, frozen broccoli, a package of pork chops, a can of tuna...write it ALL down. Now is the time to be creative! Head over to Pinterest or All Recipes and type in a few of your random ingredients as a search. You might be pleasantly surprised at what you can make with what you already have. 

I remember early in our marriage, long before kids and in the height of my couponing days, we had one extremely tight week where I was forced to plan a week's worth of healthy meals with only the $20 bill in my wallet. It was challenging, and required careful planning, but I did it with a few cents to spare! By starting with the things you already have buried in the back of the freezer and those random odds and ends in the pantry, you too can build a simple and inexpensive menu.

I have recently begun listing the contents of my upright freezer in dry erase marker on the door. It wipes off easily and allows me to know exactly what I have available for meals. As I use things up, I simply erase them.

We went in with some friends last year to purchase a side of grass-fed, organic beef from our local farmer and I am still in the process of using it up. Buying in bulk can really save you money--providing you use things up in a timely fashion and don't let them go to waste.

I planned this week's menu using quite a few things I already had in the freezer and pantry. I was able to spend about 50% less than I typically do at the grocery store (which offsets the crazy amount I spent last week!). 


In the menu below, I will use an asterisk (*) to note the items that I already had on hand. Recipe links are in BLUE.


Steel Cut Oats* x2
GF Double Chocolate Banana Muffins
Spelt Pumpkin* Waffles (not GF) & Nitrate-free Bacon*
Banana, Blueberry*, Spinach* & Yogurt* Smoothies x2
Easy Cinnamon Granola & Oranges 


Leftovers x2
Applegate Farms Organic Beef Hotdogs* w/Sugar Snap Peas & Apples*
Personal Pizzas w/Spelt Pizza Crust* (not GF), Spinach* Salad & Oranges*
Cheese Nachos w/Raw Carrots & Grapes
PB* & Honey* on Homemade Spelt* Bread (not GF) w/Celery* & Raspberries*
Annie's Homegrown GF Mac-n-Cheese* w/Broccoli & Homemade Applesauce*


Steak* Burrito Bowls w/Cilantro Lime Brown Rice* 
Pumpkin* Smoothies

Roasted Turkey Breast*
Butternut Squash* Casserole
Green Beans*

Butternut squash casserole
Beef* Stew w/Potatoes* & Carrots
GF Cornbread*
Homemade Cinnamon Applesauce*

Quinoa* & Sausage* Stuffed Peppers
Fruit* Salad
Raw Nut Butter* Cups

Cheesy Chicken & Rice Casserole (previously frozen*)
Steamed Broccoli
GF Almond Flour Brownies--sub zucchini* for butter & eggs

Looking for more inspiration on shopping from the pantry? Check out my Dinners By Design series HERE.


Monday, October 7, 2013

Meal Plan Monday: Saving Money on Your Gluten-Free Meals (Oct. 7-13)

Money Saving Meal Plan Tip:
Eating healthy, and especially gluten-free, can be pricey if you aren't careful. There are so many ways to meal plan--but really, the only ineffective meal plan is NOT having a meal plan. Meal planning not only saves time, but it saves money with fewer trips to the grocery for last minute ingredients and fewer restaurant or take-out dinners.

One of my favorite ways to save money on our GF menu is to cook around the weekly sale circular. As I sit down to plan our family's meals for the week (generally on Sunday), I do so with my calendar in hand and my Sunday newspaper ads. I leaf through the Kroger, Meijer and Aldi ads and look for excellent deals on produce or meat and try to work those into my menu.
For example, this week canned pumpkin is $10/10 with 11th item free at Meijer and $.89 at Aldi. Not only will I make several recipes with pumpkin this week, I will also stock up for the weeks to come (anything less than $1 is a good price!). I also noticed that Aldi has 3 lb. of sweet potatoes for $.99 and ricotta cheese for $1.79. Kroger has Annie's Homegrown Mac-n-Cheese for $1 and fresh pineapple for $1.99. I'll get my spaghetti sauce at Meijer and stock up on 3 lb. bags of onions, both included in the $10/10 sale.
What if you see that ground turkey, canned tomatoes and cheese are on sale and still have no idea what to do with them? Try Pinterest! Type a few key words into a search and see what comes up to inspire you. {Speaking of Pinterest, are you following me? Click HERE.} Or try a recipe site, like All Recipes, where you can type in ingredients and look for corresponding recipes. For an excellent list of advertised and unadvertised grocery deals, coupon match ups and more--visit Bargains to Bounty.

Instead of planning your meals and then paying full price for the ingredients you will need, try coming up with your meals AFTER you check out what you can get for a steal at your local grocery store/s.
Here is what is on our family's menu this week. Recipe links are shown in BLUE. Items on sale are listed in RED.
Sauteed Asparagus

Pasta e Fagioli Soup w/GF Pasta (tomatoes, beans, celery, carrots & onion on sale)
Spinach Salad w/Pomegranate Vinaigrette
Yogurt Topped with GF Pumpkin Granola

Dinner at church

Thursday ~ (Kids' night--Dad works late)
Spelt Pumpkin Waffles (not GF) w/Pure Maple Syrup
Homemade Turkey Breakfast Sausage
Blueberry Banana Smoothies (with spinach...shhh!!)
GF Crockpot Lasagna* ~ Recipe coming soon!
Spinach Salad w/Homemade Ranch Dressing
*ricotta & spaghetti sauce on sale

Dinner out

Mini Chicken Pot Pies w/GF crust  (Make extra to freeze)
Mashed Potatoes
Steamed Broccoli

Do you plan your meals around what's on sale at the grocery? I'd love to hear from you. Please leave any questions or comments in the space below.

I'm linked up at I'm an Organizing Junkie's Menu Plan Monday!

Chicken Pot Pie (GF)

Serves 6

2 pie crusts*
2 T. butter
2 T. flour or GF cornstarch
1/8 t. salt
1/8 t. pepper
1/8 t. thyme
1/2 c. chicken broth (homemade is best!)
1/2 c. whole milk
1-2 c. cooked, shredded chicken breast
2-3 c. frozen or fresh veggies (corn, peas, celery, onion, carrots, green beans, etc.)

1. Melt the butter in a small sauce pan and blend in the flour or cornstarch and spices. Stir until smooth.

2. Immediately add the broth and milk. Heat to boiling, stirring constantly. Remove from heat.

3. Add chicken and veggies to sauce mixture. Place bottom pie crust in pie plate and pour filling into crust. Add top crust and pinch edges to seal.

5. Bake at 425 degrees for 35-40 min.

Delicious served with fresh fruit or a salad!

*For a wheat pie crust, use this recipe. For a gluten-free crust, try this one. Or purchase a store-bought crust.