Friday, January 18, 2008

A Hunting I Will Go

I’ve tried menu planning so many ways and I’m still not convinced about which way works best for me. I’ve bought what was on sale and planned as I shopped and I’ve planned according to recipes that I wanted to make during the week and then just bought what I needed regardless if it’s on sale or not. But this week I decided to plan my menu around the odds and ends I already had in my cupboards and freezer.

I seem to collect strange food items that I either bought too much of when I needed it for a special recipe or it was on some crazy sale that I couldn’t pass up. This has left me with quite an interesting pantry full of things that I wouldn’t normally use. But with the help of websites like Recipezaar and where you can enter in an ingredient and find hundreds of recipes built around that item, I’ve been able to use them up by purchasing a few cheap ingredients to add to what I already have.

I had 3 boxes of unused Manicotti noodles that were never going to get used, as well as cans of pumpkin, refried beans, and some pearl barley that has been in my cupboard for months.

Why not use it to stretch the budget?

So my breakfasts will look like this…

Amish Baked Oatmeal
Pumpkin Spice Bread
Chocolate Banana Smoothies and muffins
Baked French Toast
Oatmeal Buffet ( I set out dried fruits, brown sugar, milk, coconut and they serve themselves buffet style)
Poached Eggs and Toast


Hamburger Barley Stew and Peasant Bread
Vegetarian Meatloaf with green beans
Mexican Manicotti with corn
Ranch Potatoes and steamed broccoli
Leftover Night

For Company:

Better Than Sex Cake (we’ll just have to see about that)

And on the nights where we are just too busy this week…

Hot dogs and fries

Mac & Cheese

My grocery hunt went a little somethin’ like this…

Paper Napkins .99
Toilet Paper 2.49
3 cans diced Italian tomatoes 2.07
5 loaves of bread 4.40
Oatmeal 1.68
3.5 lbs bananas 1.56
Ketchup .77
2 liter pop .68
Large tub of Cool Whip 1.93
2 skor bars 1.06
18 eggs 2.84
Margarine .55
Brown sugar .98
1.34 lbs broccoli 1.31
1 yellow onion .25
Carmel ice cream topping 2.15
4 lbs ground beef 6.92
1 lb coffee beans 5.02
5lbs tangerines 6.98
4 pack refrigerated biscuits 1.29
2 lb cheese 5.98
Hot dogs .99
Bacon 1.69
Cake mix .99
Jar of kosher dill pickles .79
4 boxes Mac & Cheese 1.00
Candy (potty training rewards) 1.98
Lentils .69
2 cans evaporated milk 1.78
Picante sauce 1.49

Total 63.30

Not as good as last week but I’m not complaining since before this little adventure I could easily spend $200 per week.

So here’s where I need your input. Is the itemized breakdown helpful for you guys or would a picture be sufficient. I don’t’ want to bore you to death.

And…I would love to do a post all about YOUR frugal recipe favorites. So I was thinking that on a set day you could all post your favorite penny pinching dishes on our own blog and then I’ll put up a Mr. Linky here as a central location. (kind of like WFMW does) We can share our blog traffic a little bit AND get some new budget stretching recipes. But only if you want to do it.

Whaddya think?


amanda. said...

I like seeing how much each item cost you. And I actually read each item and it's price. It interests me to know how much everything costs in different areas.

I would probably participate in the frugal meal idea. Maybe not every week since I tend to just shop around the sales instead of looking for inexpensive meals. But I'd definitely participate occassionally.

Kacie said...

Gayle, you are doing so well with your shopping! I'm so happy for you!

That's great that you planned your menu around things you already had. By using up those items, you're eliminating waste--saving food and saving money.

I think listing your prices is a helpful idea. You can have an extra chance (besides at the grocery) to reflect on a particular item's cost. You can calculate the costs of your recipes easier since you have the price of ingredients.

Finally, readers can see what you're paying for an item and think about if they're paying too much, or suggest ways you can save even more.

Where did you go shopping this week? It looks like you did a great job.

Cindy said...

You inspire me. Seeing the specifics inspires me, too! (But really I just like ANYTHING you've written, even if it is a price.) :)

Do you have any picky eaters?

Wish I could be your company to eat that cake.

Courtney said...

i like the itemized breakdown...and i like the idea of everyone sharing ideas!

jewlsntexas said...

Oh yeah!
I would love to participate - in fact I've often thought of posting my favorites and asking others to share theirs - so I'm in.
I spent $130 the last time I grocery shopped - I think we eat too much. I know I do.

Donna(mom24boyz) said...

I'm game! just say the day--Fugal Meal Friday's or Meatless meal monday's or what ever--I would join in!

Anonymous said...

I, too, like seeing the prices itemized. It's helpful to see so then I can get an idea if what I'm paying is too much for things.

Oh and if you ever have extra refried beans again...the kids here like it when I heat a can with taco seasoning and top with shredded cheese and eat with tortilla chips. Quick and easy lunch idea.


carrie said...

I love your frugal ideas, but not as much as I love your putting the name "better than sex cake" on your blog. I blushed just reading that.

I probably wouldn't post recipes on my blog as that is not my M.O. But I'd happily share them with you if you want.

Although I'm not sure I have anything you haven't already thought of, you clever woman!

EEEEMommy said...

I like the itemization. I can't say that I'd participate regularly with a recipe exchange because I don't really use recipes, I just kinda throw things together. But I have been thinking of doing a post linked to yours with some of the things you've inspired me to do, so if you made it a more general practicing frugality type of thing, I might participate in that, but again not regularly, because I'm really still learning and don't have a lot to share myself.
I have been playing my own game of use up what's in the cabinets myself which is how we ended up with salmon patties, cornbread, and sweet peas for dinner one night this week. It was relatively frugal and everyone liked it. :)

EEEEMommy said...

P.S. Let us know about the better than sex cake. I've looked at the recipe dozens of times, but have never tried it.

ConservaChick said...

I'm all over that veggie meatloaf recipe. I have tons of dried lentils to use up.

As far as the uhm... cake. I have the REAL recipe. It's top secret, and I promised the friend who gave it too me to keep it that way, BUT if you asked nicely, I'll e-mail it to you.

Oh, and I stopped by with a question. I buy my groceries a week at a time (although I spend more like $130). Anyway, by the end of the week my fresh veggies are not so fresh. What do YOU do about veggies? Do you buy them all at once? Do you go back mid week? Do tell great master of frugality! ( ; ~Karlie

PS. I STILL want an apron!

Amanda said...

I, like everyone else, appreciate seeing your itemized breakdown. I would particate in a weekly frugal recipe exchange. I know it would help spice up my repertoire!

Anonymous said...

I love the itemized breakdown. I might actually be too lazy to participate in the frugal recipe swap, but I'd LOVE reading them. And then I'd feel guilty and then inspired and probably come up with a few to share. (I know, TMI)

maudie-mae said...

My sister has a recipe for "Better than Robert Redford" cake. She told my niece that's what she was fixing one time. Said niece didn't know who Robert Redford was. When sister explained, niece said, "OH, better than Dan Rather." Anyway, it was five layers of pure chocolate decadence.

Theresa said...

I would participate! I love reading how you stretch your grocery money each week. I'm currently feeding a family of nine on about $100/week. :o)