Our 30 Day Grocery Challenge - Week Three and Four

See, I told you I wouldn’t be on the ball about this!
Let’s save you all some time and jump to the moral of the story, shall we?

We receive a lot of free food.

This is what I’ve realized through the course of this experiment. While our gratuitous booty is not always quite so abundant (hehe, bum jokes), this month has been quite the exception!

Firstly, two weeks ago I attended a potluck and came home with a vegetable platter and a bag of salt and vinegar chips. Remember that?

Next, Ryan went camping and spent $40 on groceries before he left, which was not to be included in our grocery challenge, as camping food is clearly an exception and is more on par with eating out in my opinion. However, he came home with closer for $50 worth of food that the other men didn’t want to take home with them!

My compulsive nature got the best of me and I priced out all the food items at the grocery store later that week:

I’m at a loss as to whether or not I should count that $40 towards our grocery bill or not since he did come home with food? I’ve decided to, but it does put us over our grocery limit for the week and wasn’t food I was able to select or would have bought ($10.49 bacon? Are you serious?! Bring on the Costco…)

Next up, race weekend! On the 13th I was able to rejoin my community and compete in my first race of the season. The series that I participate in every year happens to be sponsored by Dairyland, and after each race and awards ceremony there is always an abundance of dairy that needs to be removed from the facility. With that, I bring you the flat of Dairyland Stirred Blueberry yogurt, the Milk 2 Go Protein and the enormous bag of pita that I brought home.

I will not be counting this towards my total, as this was food that was up for the taking and that I don’t eat (I have followed an ancestral diet for the past two years): this is Ryan and future potluck food!

Next, a 2kg bag of coffee was lovingly (although undocumented) passed on to us from a friend who has found herself sensitive to caffeine! Heck yes, bring on the coffee!!!

Finally, we have Thanksgiving dinner at my in-laws. I brought Magic Bars with me to share and in case I wanted a gluten-free dessert (I used Kinnickinick Brand S’moreables for the graham cookie crust). Grand total for the extra ingredients required was $5.05.

I came home with a full tummy and a turkey carcass! Heck yes! I picked a ton of meat off of the bones the moment we got home and threw that bad boy into the slow cooker for bone broth. We now have roughly 12 cups of some seriously yummy turkey broth and 4 cups of turkey meat. For free!

On to the groceries …

I forgot to take photos of my grocery trips, because honestly, usually the bags were opened and being consumed within minutes of entering the house, but I do have the bills for you!

Yes, you can see I’ve gone over my $25 limit for the week. I got carried away in Costco when I went in to make a gift return and ended up bringing home a kale salad and rotisserie chicken. So sue me, it was the first “to go” meal I’ve had all month!

I also purchased an un-photographed flat for 30 eggs from our local poultry farm for $5.75. Yes, this is a ridiculous price. Yes, we only buy eggs there. Yes, we eat that many eggs. It’s been one week and between eating, cooking and baking there are 8 left. Yes, we normally buy 60 at a time.

This week and a half’s grocery bill total: $85.74 including that $40 from camping.

As for cooking and sustaining myself …

My main resource these past few weeks has been Google and “What to do with a can of __” or “What do you eat with __”, some really good recipes and ideas come up with a quick Google search!

Here are some of the yummy meals that I’ve created or stumbled upon to use up the pantry:

- Magic Bars to use up a can of sweetened condensed milk – although I did have to buy gluten-free S’Moreables for the crust, and some carob chips for topping.

- 100% Cornmeal Cornbread to use up a whole wack of cornmeal that I can’t remember ever purchasing or using.

- Green pea soup to use up the darn dehydrated peas that I accidentally bought thinking they would be great for backpacking… but then realized they had to soak for 16 hours first. All I did for this was rehydrate the peas and boil them with salt and pepper until mushy.

- Baked egg cups using the camping bacon, half a tomato, dehydrated chives and a little bit of leftover cheese.

- Paleo Morning Glory Muffins, Ryan’s favorite and a staple in this house. I usually make a variation on this recipe every week or two so that we have quick and easy food on hand when rushing in and out and all over town. I add in all sorts of mixed nuts and fruits and sub ingredients. This time I used up a can of diced pineapple and pumpkin puree!

- Simple Tomato Soup to use up a large can of diced tomatoes.

- Creamed corn added to scrambled eggs!

The majority of my meals have, however, been slightly random. One night I ate a whole bag of shrimp from the freezer with soy sauce; or, cans of sardines with salsa on a bed of greens.

I’ve also been snacking on a lot of frozen berries, fruit, yogurt, and dried seeds and nuts to keep the pantry in check!

Week 3-4 Conclusion

Including the $40 spent on camping foods, our grand total is now $140.13 for the month of April. That is $40.13 over our “budget”.

Nevertheless, our pantry, fridge and freezer sure have been scoured! There are still soup mixes to use up and plenty of nuts, seeds and butters, but the abundance of canned goods has decreased and the forlorn meats have been consumed. I am very proud that we managed to keep to the spirit of this 30 Day Grocery Challenge thus far, even though we are technically over-budget now as the foods purchased that brought us over budget did not add to our long-term bulk and are already consumed (except the damn ketchup and mustard that came home from camping…).

With that being said, we still have a few frozen meals from last week’s ground beef extravaganza and enough soup mixes and meats to get by for another week. We are out of produce though…

I’ll see you next week to share what happened!

posted by Sarah-Mae @ 6:49 PM, ,

Our 30 Day Grocery Challenge - Week Two

(Revisit week one here)

I went over budget this week by a whopping $4.31. Let’s start with the grocery shop shall we?

As you can see, my downfall was most definitely the family pack of lean ground beef because it was on super-sale and 10 bell peppers – easily the most expensive of vegetables. However, I have had my mind and heart set on making Spicy Stuffed Bell Peppers from Everyday Paleo all week. Believe it or not, I have never had a stuffed bell pepper before and have been feeling the draw towards making some for myself!

Here’s how they turned out:

Yum! And the best part? I had so much stuffing leftover that didn’t fit into the peppers that we now also have “sauce” for a spaghetti squash next week! I also had so much ground beef from the family pack leftover that I was able to put ~2lbs into the freezer and prepared a weeks worth of meals for us!

-10 stuffed bell peppers - 7 of which made it into the freezer for future meals,
-4 cups of “spicy speedy stuffed bell pepper” sauce,
-1 large Shepherd’s Pie (waiting for potatoes to boil in this photo), and
-3 small Shepherd’s Pie dishes that went straight into the freezer!

For these meals I dove into the fridge and pantry and used up 1lb of ground pork sausage and frozen mixed vegetables from the freezer, 1 can of diced tomatoes, 1 package of instant mashed potatoes, the final bulb of garlic, and a whole lot of habanera hot sauce we never touch from the fridge.

Can I get a heck yea? $4.31 well justified!

Earlier this week I also made a batch of my Paleo Banana Bread, using up the remaining bananas that were starting to turn and the final 1/2C of almond butter from the pantry – bringing us down to only one jar now!

Another huge challenge overcame involved a potluck with my run training clinic on Sunday. I scraped through the pantry and decided to bring the last of our mini chocolate bars (which I’ve been trying to get rid of for months now – I’m just not a sweets gal!), a package of dried figs, and a mason jar of roasted almonds. Everything was eaten!

But the piece de resistance from the potluck? People. Left. Food. I’m not talking about ¼ cups of dip or straggling crackers or muffins, I’m talking about unopened food! I came home with a few cookies and a bag of Salt and Vinegar chips for Ryan and a whole unopened vegetable platter!

Now that’s what I call an upgrade on some unwanted chocolate and dried figs!

Ryan is now camping for three days with friend’s of his before resuming his shift work on Friday, so I am set to feast on freezer meals between parenting and the gym ☺

The bad news? We’re running low on the milk, cheese and eggs front! We’ll see what next week has in store…

Monthly grocery bill total thus far: $54.39

posted by Sarah-Mae @ 2:51 PM, ,

Our 30 Day Grocery Challenge

Can we spend only $25 on groceries a week, using up the pantry and freezer “staples” that are so often overlooked?

This challenge is not about budgeting, food cost or food frugality. Nor is it about seeing how “little” we can live on for a month. Rather, it’s about taking stock of just how much food surrounds us in our household already, the overlooked cans of diced tomatoes, the jar of almond butter, the random box of powdered coconut milk.

While I follow a primal/ancestral based diet, Ryan, my husband, does not. Just a heads up as I will be foraging the cupboards of our pantry for nuts and seeds while Ryan continues to munch on his cereal in the morning!

A few ground rules:

1. Spend only $25 per week on groceries for four weeks, making due with the pre-existing items in our pantry, fridge and freezer.
2. This is not about $25 per week on MEALS, only food incoming into the household.
3. No coupons, gift cards, or store reward points. The $25 a week is the cost of the groceries at check out, not the final payment.
4. Sale items totally count as they apply to everyone!
5. We don’t plan on restricting eating out, however, that being said, we usually eat outside of the household once every two weeks, so we are not going to suddenly eat out more due to a lack of groceries!
6. If we run out of food, we quit early. We’re going to try to go four weeks, but if the food only lasts three, well, all the better!
Okay, now that that’s all out in the open. Here’s our starting point:

The pantry:

The spices and oils:
The freezer:
The fridge:

My first grocery trip: $25.08 total

Week one:

Week one isn’t going to be the challenge, I can tell already. We have eggs, bacon, cheese, meats in the freezer and an abundance of pantry staples. I did the groceries and topped us up using $25.08, however, besides the milk and few fresh produce items, we didn’t have a need for the cereal or the soup. However, since this challenge isn’t about living at the bare minimum, Ryan requested I find some cereal on sale, and so I did. And his favorite Campbell’s Chunky soups on sale for $0.99 a can at Shopper’s Drug Mart could not be passed up – especially not when he is currently working the night shifts (6pm-6am) and finds it more difficult to be motivated to cook or feed himself!

An example of a packed meal for Ryan’s night watch, 3 April 2014:
- 2 homemade paleo morning glory muffins
- Dried cranberries and pumpkin seeds
- Homemade butternut squash and sage soup
- Pickles
- 3 hardboiled eggs
- Swiss cheese

I think it's also important to note that I don't plan on blogging about this challenge the whole way through. What with a 3 week old baby and a complete lack of internet connectivity at our house, I'll update if/when I feel compelled too, but am not planning anything!

If you're interested in reading more about the 30 day grocery challenge, google it! There are some other great bloggers who have done this for various reasons!

- SingleMindedWomen.com

- WeGotReal.com

- Today.com/Money

- FrugalityGal.com

- LearningTheFrugalLife.com

posted by Sarah-Mae @ 2:46 PM, ,

Where In The World...

is Sarah-Mae Pyndus?!

Running. A lot.

Updating my race log!

Doing a little bit of knitting.

And a whole lot of walking/training for the 2012 Nijmegen Marches!

I'm always amazed when I pop over here and realize just how long it's been since I wrote a blog post. I would apologize, but that would just be foolish, since I'm not really sorry at all :) The weather has definitely been feeling like spring, I am spending my days in the sunshine, and my hands have hardly been idle!

For a race report of Boston, check out this post, written by a fellow runner Michele, and which features little old me towards the end, as I cheered her on and we pulled each other to the finish line. Runners are a phenomenal group of people, and for such an individual sport, I have never felt so much comradery and support. I am already anticipating the 2013 Boston Marathon and have my qualifying time ready to rumble!

As for the Nijmegen Marches; whew! The MARPAC Nijmegen Team hopefuls (which includes myself) is now up to 35km marches, only 5km shy of our "full distance" and everyone is carrying full weight - an average of around 30lbs. The training has been ramping up and everyone is meeting the challenge with gusto! I'm not going to lie, it's tough to be on your feet for 6+ hours with 1/4 of your body weight added on, but my goodness has it been fun!!! The team will be cut mid-June from the survivors of back-to-back 40km marches and I will be sure to let you all know the results!

posted by Sarah-Mae @ 7:50 AM, ,

My Stash

Today, while marching around in circles at work, I got to thinking about my stash - you mean most military members don't think about yarn to pass the time?!

So here it is, my stash laid out and all nicely put away in it's home. Because I know knitters really like to check out each other's stash ;)

[The stash - does not include W.I.P. yarn!]

[Random yarn closeup, this is primarily leftover single skein yarn]

[Fingering weight leftovers]

[Various leftovers]

My "craft nook" in the lounge room. Yarn stash contained in the "snake charmers basket".

So, I showed you mine, will you show me yours?

posted by Sarah-Mae @ 10:21 PM, ,