Thursday, June 30, 2011

Day 12

$52.53 total
My husband has been the main meat shopper for our family. He normally buys steak and ground beef at Costco, but for the challenge he got out of his comfort zone and decided to see how Omaha Steaks would work out. Nothing better than steak delivered to your front door!

I didn't realize how savvy my husband is with online shopping; he did great! He knew he wanted to spend around $50, so first he went to plasticjungle and bought a $50 Omaha Steaks giftcard for $41.50. Before ordering he clicked through shopathome to get 7% back on his purchase. He used a $20 off $69 home mailer promo code, a text message promo code for $29.99 beef tenderloin tips, a promo code for 4 FREE 4oz steaks when you buy $79 or more and finally a free shipping code when you buy $75 or more. *whew*

The order looked like this:
6 1lb. beef tenderloin tips
1 3lb. beef tenderloin tip
4 4 oz. steaks
+ $19.95 shipping
-$20 off $69
-$8.50 ( giftcard savings)

If he had gone to Costco, not including the steak or free shipping, he still came out ahead. Costco sells beef tenderloin tips for $8.99/lb., so $89.90 for the same amount versus $52.53, that's a 42% savings. Mission accomplished, my husband got out of his Costco comfort zone!

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Day 11

$.69 total

I usually shop two grocery stores every week, one being Shaw's and the other is variable, between Whole Foods or Market Basket.  My shopping hasn't been very creative.

Sticking to a $100 budget is only part of the All You Grocery Challenge, the other part is being creative; to me, that means being creative in the kitchen, in couponing and in shopping! This week I focused on being creative in shopping. I took the challenge a bit further by shopping for groceries at non-grocery stores.

Today I shopped Rite Aid, and that's a picture of the deal I did. I paid $.69 out of pocket for everything.I would not normally do most drugstore food promotions, as the cost per product is higher then the grocery store, however, in an effort to stretch my dollar further and get out of my grocery store comfort zone, I gave it a try. We go through barbecue sauce a lot in this house, it's not just a favorite condiment, but during the summer I use it in cooking and I found a new family favorite on myrecipes via Although I could get barbecue sauce cheaper in Target or Shaw's, I decided to do a deal at Rite Aid this week, where you buy $15 get $3+UPs(rite aid credit) back. Since I have a lot of +UPs it made sense to do the deal there since I'm esentially using their money instead of mine! I used to be so focused on just buying whatever is on sale and going to produce more +UPS, rather then thinking of ways to get what my family really needs, so I am changing that!

At Rite Aid I purchased 4 Kraft BBQ Sauce, 3 Heinz Ketchup, 2 Frank's Hot Sauce, 1 Nutella, paid $.69 after coupons and got $3UPs back.This amount will definitely get us through the Summer barbecue season!

"There is no growth in the comfort zone, and there is no comfort in growth." This week I'm trying to grow out of my grocery store comfort zone.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Day 10

When Whole Foods Market gives you cheap blueberries, what do you do? You make blueberry muffins of course! It's a traditional one, no special twist here, just good 'ol fashion blueberry muffins! Part of my challenge this month is to use more fresh produce in all our foods. A couple weeks ago Whole Foods's special one day only Friday sale was blueberries for $1.99/pint. I didn't realize how big that pint was! In addition to using them with all the vanilla ice cream we stocked up on to make smoothies, we also made muffins. They make a great on-the-go snack.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Day 9

This is Eissa and Salma, This is Salma about to try Nutella for the first time, see her sneaky smile, it's a smile she has just for chocolate. I spread it on half of a whole wheat pita bread...she ate it! Salma doesn't eat bread, much less whole wheat pita bread, so this is great progress. I was worried she was going to lick off the nutella and leave the bread; she does that with cupcakes, cakes, donuts...but we had a deal. I told her if she just licks the chocolate off then I have to take it away, she decided not to lick. Rite Aid this week has Nutella on sale for $2.50, with a $1 coupon, makes a very cheap and healthier alternative to regular chocolate. Seeing that she ate it, I'll pick up some more tomorrow!

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Day 8

It's funny how creative we suddenly become with our finances when our budget gets reduced. We are late to the game in recycling, but this challenge has brought out the greener side of me! I started thinking of different ways to supplement our budget without any money coming out of our pockets. I have been meaning to set up a proper can and plastic bottle recycling bin for us and this challenge was the motivator! Our local Shaw's grocery store has a recycling machine right next to it and they give store credit when you recycle your cans and bottles there. The whole family is remembering to recycle and the kids even remind us to take our cans and bottles out of the car for recycling. The last week of the chellenge we will take all the cans and bottles and use the credit towards groceries. GREEN more ways than one! Reduce, reuse, pays to be green!

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Day 7

Every Saturday marks the end of a week in the four week challenge. It's a good day to look at how much was spent, where it was spent and what adjustments can be made for the coming week. The rules allow for $25 per family member, children under 1 are not included. We are a family of 5, but our youngest is under 1, so our weekly budget is $100 on all food, including eating out.
Budget-wise the week was great as we just got off a sale on meats and veggies from the previous week; so food shopping was largely produce and cheap treats, like ice cream. We did not spend any of the budget on eating out, and that is huge progress for us. Drive thrus didn't look as tempting as they usually do.
Breakfast consisted of cereal, eggs, fruit, homemade cinnamon toast and nescafe (didnt miss my dunkin donuts coffee one bit!).
Lunch consisted of sandwiches, homemade macaroni and cheese, instant noodles, pita chips and hummus, greek yogurt, and dinner leftovers.
Dinner consisted of lamb burgers, chicken/veg casserole, indian spinach beef curry and rice, egg salad, vegetarian pasta, homemade pizza, and fresh fish caught by a friend!
-$6.63 (Shaw's/Star Market)
-$22.47 (Market Basket)
-$20.47 (Johnnie's Foodmaster)
-$2.97 (Whole Foods)
= $47.46 under budget!
Some highlights from this week's shopping include 9 pints of ice cream,milk, lots of fresh produce, mangos, and a jar of ragu pasta sauce I won from a twitter contest...thanks Ragu!
Going into week 2 I have a colorful menu planned that I'm hoping will further expand Salma's palette, and for the whole family I'm adding a twist to our favorite foods by using in season fruit to cut cost.
Good luck in week 2!

Friday, June 24, 2011

Day 6

My "eat the rainbow" challenge for my family is particularly important for my daughter,Salma, who wants nothing to do with any other color than brown, i.e. chocolate. We have a deal that she eats three different colors everyday. Yesterday her three colors included green...yes GREEN! She ate one green bean. One.
The really big progress was that it was not covered in butter, barbecue sauce or deep fried. It was as farm fresh as you can get and she knew exactly what she was eating. There are lots of recipes on sneaky ways to get your kids to eat veggies, and I've made a lot of them, but I want my kids to know what vegetables are! I don't want it to be this big surprise one day that I've been hiding in their food.
Eating one green bean may not impact her health, but it does open her mind to eating foods she previously shunned. We are striving for progress this month, not perfection.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Day 5

Yesterday was the last day of the Shaw's gift card promotion. Buy $100 worth of ANY gift cards and get a $20 catalina coupon to use on your next order. This promotion will be sadly missed, it is an amazing one! Last week we stocked up on gas cards, something we have to pay for anyways, and used the $20 CAT for groceries. It was like getting $20 worth of groceries FREE since we would pay for gas anyways. The only trick is the CAT expires in one week, unlike most that expire in two weeks. This is how we were able to stock up on meats and frozen veggies. Since the Amazon gift card is not considered a food item, I still have over $90 in my budget this week.
As we head into the end of week 1 for the challenge, I'm finding that one of our main expenses, besides fresh produce, is bread! We go through approximately 2 loaves a week, and bread rarely sells for less then $2 per loaf and oftentimes more if it's whole grain and wheat. That lovely $100 Amazon gift card will go to purchasing a bread maker! Since I stock up on flour when it gets to $1.50 a bag, and one bag can produce several loaves, the initial $100 investment will pay for itself many times over...and it's healthier!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Day 4

It's becoming clear what every family member's challenge will be this month. The hardest one to change will be my almost 3-year-old daughter's chocolate and chicken nugget habit. I can't say it came from nowhere, I am a total chocoholic and fast food junkie! This morning she woke up asking for chocolate cake for breakfast, when I refused, she then asked for chocolate milk and then chicken nuggets...for breakfast?! Oh my, I thought, what have I created! Then, I had an allyou inspirational moment, speak to kids in a voice they understand. I explained in my most toddler-friendly explanation that we are going to try to eat the colors of the rainbow everyday and brown, the color of chocolate and chicken nuggets, is not in the rainbow. I offered her cranberry-grape juice, she loved drinking the color purple and asked for more! I then asked if she wanted some cereal and she said she wants to eat a yellow banana! I'm so happy and now that Salma has opened the door to other foods I'm not turning back and will hopefully get the whole family to eat more colors of the rainbow, myself included. So the theme of our AllYou Grocery Challenge will be to eat the colors of the rainbow everyday! What is your theme?

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Day 3

 $6.63 total

Today was shopping day. Since we have stocked up on meat and frozen veggies, I only needed to buy some fresh fruit, milk and treats. I spent $6.63 out of the allotted $100 budget for the week. Out of that, I will get back .40 through savingstar and after reviewing the receipt, they overcharged me by $4! Since starting this challenge I have become vigilant about checking receipts. I will go back on Thursday to fix the situation, but as it stands I have $93.37 left in the food budget this week. I also bought a half watermelon which is not pictured, my kids attacked it before it hit the table, can't say I was upset about that one!
I chose to buy a half watermelon instead of a whole one because it's cheaper and it gave me room to buy other fruits also. I'd rather have variety then all of one kind.
I also bought some boxes of magnum chocolate ice cream bars. When we go out, one ice cream at the park costs around $3, so for the price of 3 ice cream cones, I picked up 12! I will keep those for treats on the weekend instead of eating out, we'll just take a couple from home.
I bought extra bananas because I read a great tip on about peeling off the skin and freezing them, then using them in different ways, like shakes or banana bread.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Day 2

So, I meant to start this blog with Day 1, but as life happens, I am starting on Day 2. I have been wanting to try the All You Grocery Challenge for 2 years now. This year was it, we had to do it. Almost 3 years ago, my husband and I found ourselves in over $56,000 debt, including, car, credit cards...basically everything... all while living on one income, and at the time, 2 children under 3. He had just graduated with a PhD in Computer Science, and while his degree was great, the economy wasn't and he started a very low paying post-doc research position in Boston, one of the most expensive cities in America!
All I could think of was how to pay for diapers, much less fancy steak meats and farm fresh veggies. Fast forward 3 years later, add another baby to the mix and we are less then $4,000 away from being completely debt free and haven't used a credit card in 3 years, in fact we cut them all up, thanks to strategic couponing for groceries, toilietries and everything in between! I joined the All You Grocery Challenge this year, not just to further cut our budget on groceries, but to challenge eating better overall, which meant adding a lot of fresh produce to our diet. When my 2 year old daughter started asking regularly for some form of chocolate as a snack, I knew I had to get serious about giving them better, more wholesome choices.
Yesterday was a great start and a tough way to start the challenge. Day 1 was Father's Day, a day we would have typically gone to some restaurant or fast food drive thru as a "treat." I'm thrilled to say we ate everything at home! Pancakes, eggs with feta cheese and tomato for breakfast,sandwiches for lunch and lamb burgers stuffed with feta cheese for dinner! Why Lamb Burger? The meat was cheaper than ground beef, only $2/lb. We plan to buy whatever is the cheapest meat and make our traditional recipes using that meat.We were out the whole day and the kids loved getting snacks and water bottles together from home to eat in the car, it was a fun, easy, cheap way to curb the drive thru temptation. The rules of the All You Grocery challenge are to not spend more then $25 per family member per week, children under 1 are not included, and that includes all food shopping, including eating out.
So, here we are Day 2, we are a family of 5, but our youngest is under 1, so our budget is $100 for this week. Tomorrow is grocery shopping day and I don't anticipate buying more then produce for the week. My son, 5, is loving all the fresh fruit we are trying out. I will look for whatever fruit is cheapest and buy that, even if its something we dont normally buy, its a great way to try something new!
In honor of the All You Grocery Challenge and our effort to eat more fruits and veggies we planted our first ever tomato plant!
If you are also in the All You Grocery Challenge feel free to leave a comment letting me know how you're getting along, and even if you're not, what are you doing to eat better and save more!