food stamps challenge – week 3!

ribbonI may be getting the hang of this, because week 3 has been our best week yet for the budget.   With a weekly total budget of $75 for the two of us, we spent only $37.03 for all the dinner fixins.  Craziness!

(I went ahead an presented myself with an award, thankyouverymuch)

Yesterday morning, I was disappointed to see that my usual Kroger had only ground turkey on sale at an eye-catching price ($1.79/lb)… so I bought 5 pounds.  Am I crazy?  I dunno, but it was too good to pass up.  Last week, remember, I bought 5 pounds of ground beef and only used 2 of them, so there are 3 pounds still in the freezer.  I figured I can use the beef and turkey interchangeably and still have 3 pounds of ground something in the freezer at the end of the week.

This week’s recipes are taken from The $5 Dinner Mom One Dish Dinners Cookbook, which I found at the library on Saturday.  She divides out the cost of each ingredient (like 1/4 cup of milk is 3 cents in her world), so it’s not surprising that her costs were under $5 per meal.  This book was published in 2012, so I thought that the costs wouldn’t be too far off, but my meals cost between $5.87 and $9.25… and that includes having a lot of the ingredients on hand.  Honestly, I’m not sure where the author shops, but God bless her – she can get 12 ounces of pasta for $0.37!  Now that is a super shopper!

I break out the cost of the recipes based on how much it costs to get each ingredient, so if you have to buy a pound of turkey to use only half of it, I will list the cost of the whole pound (I don’t know anywhere I can buy a half pound of meat, other than at the deli).  This week, the recipes called for 4 separate 15-ounce cans of diced tomatoes.  It was cheaper to buy two 28-ounce cans and then divide them in half, so if you’re following along, please keep the other half of the can (and its juice) for another recipe!  Also, even though I had some ground beef in storage, I counted all 5 pounds of the ground turkey as a cost for the week.

Here is your shopping list for the week.  Last week, I also stocked up on some items that were on sale and too good to pass up, so I already have potatoes in the pantry.  That’s unusual for me.  I think they would cost in the neighborhood of $4? more.  Also, I have Cajun seasoning already… not sure how much that costs.

This week, I will be making (probably in order):

  1. Meat-and-Potatoes Casserole
  2. Turkey and Corn Enchilada Casserole
  3. Italian Shepherd’s Pie
  4. Cajun Macaroni and Cheese Skillet
  5. Chili-Corn Tot Bake

I’ve sucked my husband into the challenge of saving money every week, so we were pretty jazzed when the total bill (including yogurts for lunches, bananas, breakfast stuff, etc) came to only $51.33.  That is less than half of what we used to spend… I don’t know about you, but that extra money can be put to good use elsewhere (like a house-buying fund, for example).  So this experiment has been great so far.

Some reflections on the Food Stamps Challenge

My chief “complaint” about this whole dealio is that our diet is seriously lacking in fresh fruits and vegetables.  Back home, we had a great farmer’s market, but there isn’t one here and I am definitely feeling the difference. I used to be able to get 4-5 zucchinis for $1 – now I’m lucky if they’re on sale for $1.79/lb.   I need to try to find ways to incorporate more produce into our diet.  Hmmm.  I did not buy side dishes this week, so we may spend a few extra dollars on some veggies.

One other thing that has changed in our diet is the quality of meats we’re eating.  I used to buy only super lean, 93-95% lean, meats and would turn up my nose at 85% lean… now it is the only thing we can afford.  So I am hoping that all those high protein, high fat diet gurus are right and that it’s not the fat that’s bad for you, it’s the carbs.  Ignore the fact that we are eating substantial amounts of both. 🙂  On the bright side, neither of us has gained weight in the past two weeks.


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