Thursday, July 12, 2012

Week ? Last post - it's been real!

What I witnessed in Haiti has rocked my world and I'm not sure what to do with what I'm feeling. The amount of poverty in this beautiful country is enough to make you sob for hours on end. I really don't know where to go from here. I'm seeking God, but folks there is so much to be done, so much. My grocery game is like almost laughable to me at this point.

This is my last post. It's been real, you CAN begin to buy 'real' food on a real budget <3

Hello, hello! I am back from Haiti and still trying to adjust to 'normal American life.'

While I was gone here are a few items Andy, the kids, Dan, and Becca ate:
8lbs of bread
8lbs of bananas
2lbs of strawberries
2lbs of cherries
5lbs of apples
3lbs of sugar snap peas
1 jar of peanut butter
3 batches of pancakes
3 gallons of milk
1/2 gallon of chili
2lbs hamburger patties and 1 pack of hot dogs

WOWSER!! Remember, I stuffed the frig and pantry before I left!

Andy even had to go out Saturday night and buy $13 worth of groceries to get them through. Good thing I'm home, lol.

So! I had $37 left for this week. Andy already spent $13 so that's $24. I went to Food Lion and bought a few items that totaled $29. THEN, I found out Nastassja was out of conditioner (vital during the pool months) and I was out of razor cartridges (also necessary, lol). So that was another $10. Ouch.

Okay, so I'm $15 down for next week...that's okay. We can get back on track.

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Week Six - I spent $251.05! Oh my dear goodness...

Ok friends. I am leaving for Haiti at 2:30am tomorrow morning. A group of 10 of us is going down to give an educational seminar for teachers....exciting stuff!

My husband is WONDERFUL, but he ain't no cook. I want my kids to eat more than spaghetti and cereal this week, so I STOCKED the pantry and fridge with wholesome goodies for them to eat while I'm away.

Dan, Andy's brother, and his daughter Becca will be coming on Monday and staying until Friday so Andy will have an extra set of hands. Should I be worried that my kids and home will be taken care of by two men for a week?

Ummmm, I'll let you know the answer to that when I return next Sunday, lol.

The stocking process is expensive, but my pantry and fridge haven't been this full since...ummmm...a long time ago and I like what I see and what I read on the label!

This week I bought groceries at:
Sam's Club - $144.73
Walmart - $43.59
Martin's - $19.72
Country Corner - $18.91
Glenwood Grocery - $24.10

- $8.50 that I did not spend last week

Grand Total = $242.55

Week #7 - I will face you full on when I get home. All $37.45 of you. I got this people. Well, maybe.

Monday, June 25, 2012

My beautiful $30 box from Matt and Mary's Farm (:

So I picked up my produce from Mary today. Let me tell you...I don't know if I've ever thought of veggies as beautiful, but these? Maybe, just maybe.

Pictured: Blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, peaches, twisted garlic?, chard, cabbage, an array of squash, bunches of spring onions, and a big ol' bag of kale.

I have never used any of the veggies before except squash. I am looking forward to trying some new recipes and seeing what my kids have to say, lol.

Week #4 - $30 box of local produce, ummmm, YES!

Top of the week to ya!

So...I was $14.00 in the hole to begin with this week. THEN, I went to Christmas Tree Shoppes and found K-Cups for a good price and spent $35.00, lol. AND THEN, I went to Country Corner and spent $4.50 on three dozen free range brown eggs, ok.

I have $86.00 to spend this week.  I have already spent $48.00 of it at Walmart. I am going to spend $30.00 today on a box of local produce from Matt and Mary's farm (: She's going to surprise with an array of veggie/fruit goodness and I'm SO excited!

That leaves $8.50. I need bananas (we consume about 8lbs a week!) and possibly more creamer. I am just now adjusting to Natural Bliss, ahem. I might survive this week's budget!

In my Walmart trip this week I learned something new. There is a whole lot more than just red kidney beans in that can.

I bought dry beans a few weeks ago, but let's face it. I do not plan meals well and you have to soak those boogers overnight. Yeah, hopefully I'll think ahead and use them someday, ha!

So back to canned beans...

There were up to 10 ingredients in most major canned bean brands.
I don't get it.

I picked up and read lots of cans and finally - RIENZI brand had what I was looking for. A product of Italy (higher pesticide/GMO standards), no salt added, and ingredients of black beans, water, and asorbic acid (a naturally occurring organic compound with antioxidant properties). YAY!

RIENZI and Walmart? I thank you. Here's to BEANS!

I leave you with a cherished childhood poem we would chant over and over...

beans beans they're good for your heart
the more you eat them the more you fart
the more you fart the happier you feel
so eat your beans at every meal!

I think we loved it cause we could say 'fart'!

PS - I know that sprouting your beans can reduce the gas. I will get there someday (:

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

From boxed to 'real' - Recipe for Red Beans and Rice

Goya Boxed Rice products were my go to side dishes for dinner once or twice a week...pretty much every week. The indgredients are not 'real' so I hit the internet (it's a recipe haven) and tried a new recipe tonight (:

Rachael Ray's Tex Mex Red Beans and Rice
Total Time: 30min
Yield: 6 servings

1 3/4 cup water
1 cup enriched white rice (I used brown rice)
1 tablespoon EVOO or vegetable oil (I used coconut oil)
2 slices of bacon, chopped
1 medium onion chopped
1 can red beans, drained
1 tablespoon of cayenne sauce
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

I doubled this recipe (except for the onion) for meals later on in the week.

Bring water to a boil in a small saucepan. Add rice, cover and simmer 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. (I used the rice cooker. I've had chewy brown rice before so I rinsed the rice before putting it in and I added almost twice as much water as cooker directions called for. It turned out perfect!)

When the rice is done, remove it from the stove top. To a medium skillet over medium high heat add oil and bacon and cook 3 minutes to crisp edges of bacon. (I was so nervous at this step casue I was majorly smelling like coconut mixed with bacon...blah!)

Add onions and cook 3 minutes to soften. Add beans to heat through, then stir in rice. Eason rice and beans with cayenne sauce, salt and pepper to your taste. Serve rice and beans from the skillet.

The verdict? It was pretty good! It did NOT taste coconut at all, thank goodness. Next time, I might add some Victoria's Marinara Sauce to moisten it up a bit.

Cooking Alterations for boxed beans and rice? DONE!

Thank you Rachael Ray for some 'real' inspiration, lol

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Week 5 - $14 over...sigh.

I am over budget again this week by $14.00. 

I went to:
1. Trader Joe's - $14.85
2. Sam's Club - $74.11
3. Walmart - $65.35

I went to Trader Joe's first. There's one in Annapolis and it's on the way to the in-law's house. We drove by on Friday and I wanted to stop in and check it out. I have been there maybe 3 times, but this time was different because I look at food different.

I know some Trader Joe lover might punch me in my face, but I was disappointed in what I found there. Things I would want to buy were for the most part really expensive!

In my aisle wanderings I picked up about twenty boxes, cans, containers, and bags of items and they contained ingredients that we are trying to avoid. I didn't have a lot of time to look since we were trying to get back on the road...though...maybe I missed the 'good stuff'?

I bought organic coconut oil (it was $.40 cheaper than the organic stuff at Walmart), mini-whole wheat pita pockets for hummus dipping, and some chocolate. I am bit nervous about the coconut oil. It's more stable than olive oil, but I HATE coconut. We'll see...I'll let you know what I think, lol.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Vacation = Budget Bust!

Hello there! I'm so sorry it's been a little while since my last post, but I took the kids on vacation last week to Kings Creek Plantation in Williamsburg, VA. Here's a few pics (:

Nate in the most adorable hat ever.

Nastassja with her lemon smile and Peyton

At first I was nervous about taking all three (ages 1, 5, and 7) by myself, but it turned out to be a great week! We own a timeshare and stay in these condos with full kitchens. It's a great way to travel and cook good food while you're away.

Vacation? Awesome. Staying within budget?

BUST - $60 over

1. Andy stayed home and I needed to give him groceries in addition to what we bought down in VA
2. We had an allocated vacation budget that covered the extra groceries that we needed
3. Yeah, I'm out of any more excuses.

We shopped at (where else) WALMART down in VA. We got lots of produce (which was labeled local) and I included new veggies that we've never tried. Peyton LOVED yellow squash!! VEGGIE VICTORY!

Everything I bought grocery wise was 'real' according to my standards (no chemicals to my knowledge and simple easy to read ingredients).

That was great, but here's my question...

Where do you stop to eat on the drive and while you're out and about on vacation?

Sad to say, the kids voted McDonald's on the highway. We ate there on the way down and on the way back.

While we were down there, we ate out twice. The first time we ordered fries and pizza...hey, at least we drank water! The second was pizza again at a mall food court with water to drink.

I know that we will not be able to eat 'real' every meal every day - it's just not possible, but I do want to be aware of 'real' choices, ya know? I know of 'real' local places, but traveling? Not so much. I did not do research before we left...guess that could of helped. 

No, my kids do not like Chipotle...I will keep trying though!