I get a lot of questions about what kind of food we eat when we’re only spending about $65 per week at the grocery store, so I thought I might actually record everything we ate in a week and share it with you. Hopefully, this isn’t too boring of a post! I thought that if you’re also trying to keep your grocery budget low, it might give you a better picture of how we save.
This was the week of Sunday, May 22-Saturday, May 28.
- Blueberry-cornmeal pancakes with real maple syrup
- Beet and chevre pizza (whole wheat crust) with mixed organic greens
- Rice, black beans (for Nora: a black bean, tomato, and cheese puree), corn, fried egg
- Huge breakfast burritos with eggs, onions, red potatoes, leftover black bean puree, cheese, and cilantro
- Peanut butter and saltines; applesauce (very light lunch – mostly a snack for Nora because breakfast was late and huge)
- Green lentils cooked with carrots, celery, fresh garlic, fresh herbs, and olive oil; beet greens cooked with sauteed onions and tomato puree; wild rice and fresh-baked wheat bread
- Oatmeal with chopped dates and pecans
- Leftovers: lentils, beet greens, rice, and applesauce
- (Snack: clementine)
- More lentils; grilled cheese sandwiches; steamed fresh broccoli
- Yogurt with blueberries, oats, and cinnamon
- (Snack: Peanut butter and saltines)
- Take out from the Brotherhood: Lobster roll, mixed greens salad, and a Mediterranean flatbread (sort of like a pizza)
- Leftover BroHo flatbread, peas, applesauce
- Oatmeal with raisins
- Steamed Broccoli, white cheddar cubes, blueberries, applesauce
- Whole Wheat maccaroni with a tomato lentil sauce (I pureed in more of our leftover lentils to fortify canned tomatoes)
- Fried egg, roasted sweet potato and pearl onions, rhubarb muffins
- Peanut butter and jelly, carrots (steamed for Nora, raw for me), celery, blueberries
- Homemade cheese pizza, white bean dip, yogurt, and dates & steamed carrots for Nora only
- Oatmeal with raisins
- Chris’ family arrived and things got crazy…massive lunch out at the Brotherhood and snacks for dinner
Throughout the week, we also ate:
- Chocolate chip cookies (with oatmeal and pecans mixed in)
- Puppy chow, at a special request from Chris
- Nora also eats about 1/4 cup cold cereal (then it was rice chex) first thing in the morning to hold her over until breakfast
I wish I had taken more picture of things. It would be neat to have a photo collage of everything we ate for a week, but this will just have to do. I think it gives a pretty good idea of how we eat even without pretty pictures, but there are a few things I’d like to highlight:
We try to eat a variety of color and flavors throughout the week, but there are a lot of repeats. I always try to cook things for dinners that will, at a minimum, give us lunch the next day; if I can get another dinner out of it too then I’m really happy. I also try to re-purpose leftovers if I can: bean puree into breakfast burritos, lentils hidden in tomato sauce, etc.
We try only to buy in season or basic produce. Basics that I always have around (regardless of season) are onions, potatoes, garlic, carrots, and celery. From there, everything is bought based on seasonality and price (I.e. blueberries were on sale, so I bought them as a “splurge” item; broccali was cheaper this week too so it got added to the cart as a supplement). In the winter, after I use up my canned tomatoes, I only but canned – it’s cheaper and doesn’t taste like cardboard. I’m not yet buying things like fresh tomatoes, peppers, and summer squash, but sticking to things like beets, greens, and rhubarb. I always have frozen corn and peas around because Nora loves them.
I know how to stretch things. Even on sale, I didn’t buy more than one carton of blueberries. I used half of it in the pancakes and then rationed out handfuls here and there, largely to Nora. Since it was bought as a “treat,” I treated it as one and didn’t ever sit down with a huge bowlful to eat. This week, we have strawberries and instead of centering the meals around them, I use them as an addition, savoring them one-by-one. That way, I can stretch a carton of berries to last the whole week and they stay special the whole week. Of course, it takes self control. 🙂 I also try to be realistic about how much to cook of each individual item if there are going to be a lot of other things on the plate. For Friday’s breakfast, for example, I only cooked one sweet potato and one egg each, because I knew once it all got on the plate we would have more than enough.
Cold cereal is not breakfast. I don’t consider cold cereal a breakfast item — even organic or natural ones are super processed foods and have added sugar. I also, personally, do not find them filling, so we eat full American breakfasts or we eat oatmeal. This works out to our advantage, because cold cereal is expensive. We didn’t buy it at all before Nora was a year old, and now we buy about a box per month. Since we eat breakfast at 9:30 or 10, but Nora is up at 6:30 she gets a cold cereal snack every morning, but that’s about it.
We rarely snack. We buy a bag of tortilla chips every other week and one box of saltines each month. Chris usually eats the chips, and Nora gets an occasional cracker throughout the day, but otherwise we don’t buy snack food. I also don’t have snack time built into our day (aside from the previously mentioned cereal); if Nora is hungry between meals, then I’ll give her something, but I don’t plan for one or buy food for one.
We don’t buy beverages. We each drink a small glass of juice in the morning and usually I have herbal tea (sometimes Nora will too), but otherwise, we drank lots and lots of water. Nora doesn’t drink cow’s milk and neither do I (Chris does sometimes), so we use less than a half gallon per week. There are huge savings by not buying drinks.
We eat at the Brotherhood once per week. I’m not going to lie, this is a factor in our budget savings, because we can eat there for free. Not only is it my one break from cooking all week, it also means we can eat things I would normally not cook or buy at the grocery store. (I don’t normally have leftovers from there for another meal like this week, though.) And Chris eats lunch and dinner there while he’s working. Right now, our house only feeds Chris breakfast, snacks, one lunch, and one dinner per week. I’m sure that we would have to spend more on groceries if he was eating here full-time.
I think those are the main things about what we eat and how it saves us money. Hopefully you found it helpful and interesting. I’m happy to answer any questions if there are any.