So imagine my surprise last week when I was updating the total I’d spent from the grocery budget, thinking I was pretty slick and going to come in way under for the month, only to realize that since the last trip of last month came AFTER we did March’s bills and the last trip of April will come BEFORE we do the bills, meaning I had 5 trips to divide the $550 budget into instead of the usual 4.
So right away I started trying to come up with ways to stretch my $134 balance to the ultimate limit and feed 5 people for 2 weeks, including diapers and school lunches and house stuff etc.
Luckily, I remembered we had $200 in gift cards to Walmart that my husband received as his quarterly (or whatever) recognition points. He receives points whenever he gets a perfect review from a coworker eps helped, and then you cash them in every so often and can get gift cards. We always picked Walmart because we know we’d use it. And good thing because its totally saved us this time.
So to be totally honest and transparent (because its pointless documenting what I spend on everything else, and saying that I want to show how we pay off debt and survive on a tight budget without showing real numbers), I spent $90.66 on everything in my Aldi Haul picture that I posted on Instagram, and thats for this week, leaving me with $46 in the grocery budget for me month of April.
And then (for next week and beyond) I also spent $122.61 at Walmart on some things unpictured in that post, which include stuff to make freezer meals for next week, and then some things I chose to stock up on because we never get this golden “free money” opportunity and I wanted to be a good steward of it. This leaves about $77 on the gift cards that I can use to pick up a few things for next week that I forgot, like French vanilla coffee for me and toilet paper.
My “stock up” purchases were a big case of diapers, the big coffee canister that will last Jeff weeks to 2 months of more, trash bags that we didn’t need yet but we will, a 5lb bag of rice, macaroni and cheese boxes for easy lunches, and one of those big cereal bags that I filled my canister with and have enough to fill it entirely at least one more time. I also got a bottle of sesame sauce for when I make Bang Bang chicken and lo mean, and a small bottle of white cooking wine; two things I wanted to use before but always filed under “can do without.” I also ran out of makeup, so I got myself a bottle of foundation and a new sponge.
So with the $90.66 and everything I got at Aldi that I showed in my post, these are the meals I’m making this week:
Veggie Loaded Avocado Quesadillas– Keeping some days meatless is a good way I like to save money and add some healthy meals with lots of veggies to fill us up.
Shake and Bake- baked breaded chicken since I have bread crumbs left over, to be served with frozen vegetables that I also have.
Bang-Bang Chicken- A new family favorite with lots of veggies. This will use half of the chicken tenders I got for the baked chicken, and also LEAVES me a half a box of spaghetti to use for something else.
Veggie Lo Mein– This is a new meatless meal Im trying out for the first time this week. Im going to make a double portion and use the second half as a freezer meal for next week also.
Broccoli and Cheddar Baked Potatoes– I got an instant pot for my birthday and Im a little intimidated to use it, so I think baked potatoes is a nice safe feeling place to start.
Pizza- Every week, something easy for when I get home from work.
Leftovers- Also every week, clean out the cupboards. Waste not, want not.
Freezer meals are another good way to cut grocery costs, and will save you time later when you can just pop a home cooked meal in the oven and heat it. I’ve done this before when I was pregnant and knew I wasn’t going to want to shop and cook after a baby is born. So for next week, after a marathon cooking session this afternoon, I have:
Garlic Chicken Cheddar Bake- Made right in the disposable pan.
Crock Pot Macaroni and Cheese
Meatball Subs- I made the meatballs and froze them uncooked (lay out on a lined sheet pan for 2 hours to freeze and then put in a gallon zip top bag). I also got a 6-pack of day old bakery rolls for $.84 that I froze as well.
Veggie Lo Mein- Half of what Im making for this week Ill freeze for next week because Im so tired from cooking right now.
Breakfasts- I also have some donuts frozen from last week, and after buying cinnamon today I have ingredients to make more. I also bought pancake mix and am making waffles in my waffle iron to bag up and freeze. Ive done this before and it works great.
So you see there are a few things Ill need to go get since I only have 4 suppers here. Saturday is my birthday so I think we’ll go out as by brother is the gift card king and usually gets me a restaurant card, and then theres leftover day so that takes care of two nights, but Ill need at least 1 more night.
Also, looking over it this isn’t the healthiest meal plan Ive ever created, which is kind of bumming me out because Ive really been working on making healthier meals lately. So I think Ill serve them with steamed veggies, especially the cheddar chicken bake and the mac and cheese, and keep the rest of the meals those days light with fresh fruits and veggies.
I also freeze PB&J sandwiches for lunches and school lunch (that I’ve talked about before in Instagram). Already in my freezer is frozen salmon that Ill probably make for myself but no one else eats.
As usual the recipes I used for all of this are pined in my Baileys on a Budget Pinterest account.