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Tuesday, May 15, 2012

New Website

Just a quick reminder, my new website is up and running at  There should be a link from this site to that one but it is not working yet.  So I have not abandoned my readers, I am just at a new place.  Check it out and let me know what you think.  The recipe index on the side is useful but not all the tabs at the top are ready.  Still a bit under construction.  See you there!

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Challenge: Final Shopping Trip

Got back from the grocery and tucked everything away, now it's time to report on how I did.  Before I give a total for the week, I'd like to give a list of what I purchased and it's price.

OJ                                    $2.89
Buttermilk                         $1.65
Milk                                  $13.77
Turkey sausage                 $5.78
Organic Whole chicken    $6.81
Chicken legs, 8 pack         $2.86
Yogurt                               $2.93
String Cheese                     $3.59
Diced Ham                        $2.50
Deli Chicken                      $3.59
Oranges                              $3.99
Celery                                  $1.39
Cabbage                            $1.47
Canned salmon                  $3.00
Onions                               $.78
Oroweat bread                   $7.58
Bananas                             $2.25
Grapes                                $4.16
Eggs, 2 dozen                     $3.76
Salad                                  $3.49
Fresh mushrooms               $1.89
Yellow squash, 1.55 lbs.    $1.53
Bell pepper                         $.79
Sweet potatoes, 2                $1.18
Fresh corn                           $1.67
Mini carrots                        $1.00
5 lb. bag of potatoes           $2.99
Boarshead deli meat, 1/2 lb. $4.56
Bottled Water                      $1.88

I spent a total of $100.52, tax included.  Of course this was possible because I didn't buy sodas, chips, cookies, etc.  My kids do eat a sandwich, yogurt, salads, fruit and occasionally pretzels or Goldfish for lunch.  The only difference this week was that they took water instead of the G-2 they usually drink.  I also feed my family a lot of eggs, oatmeal and smoothies for breakfast.  I also make French toast and pancakes from scratch.  Cereal, granola bars, donuts, Pop Tarts, etc. are more expensive per serving and much less nutritious.  A large container of oatmeal is on sale at Krogers this week for $3.00 and makes 30 servings.  You can also use the oatmeal in meatloaf or make the baked oatmeal recipe I shared awhile back.  I'd like to point out that there are plenty of oranges, buttermilk, cheese, celery, bread, eggs, potatoes and carrots left for next week as well.  I may try this challenge again later to see if I can do it with a different menu.

Anyway, give it a try and see how low you can go.  If you do, please let all of my readers know in the comment section.  

Challenge, Day Four Through Seven

I must say this challenge has been fun.  I am going to the store later today for the food I need for the rest of the week.  Since I bought all my meat and most of my milk Tuesday, I just need a few vegetables and things.  Here is the menu for the rest of the week.

Thursday          Turkey sausage roasted with potatoes, bell pepper, onion and a touch of Tony's
Friday                leftovers; I'm a firm believer in not wasting leftovers!
Saturday             Salmon loaf with celery sauce and vegetables to be determined
Sunday               Roasted chicken with vegetables to be determined

I will see what vegetables are the best price today to complete Saturday and Sunday's meals.  Sunday is always our big family dinner and my sister brings a dish, maybe homemade bread, a vegetable or dessert. I always have flour on hand so we will have pancakes for breakfast Saturday and maybe homemade biscuits Sunday (my daughter's specialty).  I may get a bit of deli ham or turkey for sandwiches as the chicken salad will be gone by tomorrow but it was enough for 6 lunches!  I will also pick up some salad greens as I eat several salads a week for lunch.  I always watch for a sale and I can usually get three lunches from one bag because I add fruit, nuts, egg, cheese, carrots and other fiber filled, nutritious goodies.

Using leftovers is a great way to stretch your budget and not waste your food dollars.  We often have leftover night and everyone gets to pick a dish.  Sometimes we eat leftovers for lunch.  We have tuna casserole, bean soup and chicken stir fry so far.  I can always add a fruit salad or vegetable to round out these meals.  It also means no one has to cook, a hugh bonus!

When I shopped Tuesday, I kept a running total of the food I was buying so I could decide what I could afford.  I have $36.46 left to spend.  I think I can come very close to that magical number.  I'll admit I was lucky that I had plenty of things on hand that we use often like coffee, rice, flour, eggs, pasta and beans.  It does pay to buy staples on sale so you can keep your pantry well stocked.  That way, you don't spend extra money when you need or want to make something.  One thing I've learned from my couponing efforts is to try generic or store brands.  You don't always have to buy the national brands to get the quality you want.  For this challenge for instance, I bought Kroger's orange juice which was cheaper.  I haven't tried it yet so we'll see if it matches our beloved Simply Orange.

I will post my final shopping results later today or tomorrow so check back!  This Saturday at 9 a.m. at Joe Mac Campbell park we will have Walk With A Doc.  Come out and kick off your summer exercise program and ask a cardiologist any questions you want.  We'll meet at the playground and walk a mile.  

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Check On The Challenge

To see how much money I've spent so far, go to, look under blog roll for the cardiologist's wife.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Challenge: Day One Through three

I need to explain other ways I plan to meet this challenge.  (You will need to read last Thursday's post to find out what this challenge is about.)  One thing I have preached about is how we all waste food and that obviously affects our pocket book (see posts on 1/31/2012 and 2/2/2012).  I certainly can't say I'm perfect and that I never throw out food.  So I have been digging around in my cabinets, freezer and refrigerator for "forgotten" food.  We all have canned goods we bought on sale, extra meat we froze or 1/2 a bag of beans leftover from a recipe we once tried.  Once I had an inventory, I started to plan meals for this week.  So here is the menu through Wednesday.  (I shop twice a week, usually on Mondays and Thursdays.  However, due to a class I took on Monday, I will be shopping later today.)

Monday     tuna casserole and sugar snap peas
Tuesday     bean soup, maybe cornbread
Wednesday     chicken or ham stir fry

Obviously, most of us have food on hand and don't start out with bare cabinets like old Mother Hubbard before we go to the store.  I will not count food I have on hand in the $100.  I will only count the food I have to buy this week.  That will be plenty, believe me.  I will need at least three gallons of milk which will cost about $11.50.  Milk is so expensive but we will not give up a big part of our nutrition for the week.

So, of the above menu, I found a can of tuna, 1/2 bag of elbow macaroni, sugar snap peas and 2 partial bags of dried beans which would be enough to make the soup.  For the chicken or ham (depends on better price!) stir fry I only have onion, carrots, rice, eggs and obviously, oil.  I had eggs, cereal, milk, OJ, apples, a bit of ham and cheese and some salad greens for the breakfasts and lunches we've had so far.  I did buy a 12 pack of water at Wal Mart for the kid's lunches and Oroweat bread is on sale at Kroger two for the price of one!  So far I have spent $6.12.  I said we might have cornbread with the bean soup, depending on how much money I spend today at the grocery as I might leave out the buttermilk.  You can add 1 tablespoon of lemon juice or vinegar to milk as a substitute for buttermilk and I may try that instead of buying buttermilk.  However, I'm picky about my cornbread so I'm not sure I feel like experimenting.

I'm thinking that Friday will be our leftover night.  We already enough have tuna casserole leftover for one serving.  Not sure about the rest of the week yet but I'm sure an egg frittata or shakshuka will appear as eggs are so nutritious but cheap.  We all make jokes about eating rice and beans but when it comes down to it, brown rice and beans are soooo good for us!  We'd be better off eating more of those, hence the bean soup tonight.  Plus, I happen to like beans in most any dish.  I'd also like to mention that my kids like tuna casserole, giving it a 7 out of 10 rating.  Just didn't want you to think that I'm serving crap my family doesn't like just to get by this week.  I'm only cooking food that my family at least eats willingly but I'm not about to say every family member always loves everything I put on the table!  My son will eat the bean soup but certainly not be thrilled to see it.

Check back tomorrow as I will post the shopping bill from later today!

Thursday, April 26, 2012


A friend has extended a challenge I cannot refuse.  Can I feed a family of four for a week for $100?  I had been thinking about this very idea when my friend and I talked about this issue.  Many families are cutting their budget wherever possible and food, though necessary, is no exception.  Families are turning to fast foods or processed foods which are very cheap but nutritionally a black hole.  They feel they cannot afford "more expensive" wholesome foods.

I agree that food costs have risen tremendously and that fresh fruits and vegetables are often costly.  Though I live in a rural area, most of the crops grown are row crops like soybeans, cotton and rice.  The last few years have seen an increase in farmers' markets with locally grown produce.  However, the prices at most farmer's markets are fairly high as well.

So what are the rules of this challenge?  Starting Monday, I will feed my family breakfast, lunch and dinner for seven days and try to stay at $100.  I have a break in that my husband eats lunch at work 4 or 5 days a week but my kids take their lunch every day.  I will still serve 28 breakfasts, at least 23 lunches and 28 dinner meals.  That works out to about $1.27 a meal.  I admit this is a big challenge and I'm not sure I can do it.

My family rarely drinks soda, so that is another break in the budget.  To further save money, I will use the sales circular from Kroger to very carefully plan meals.  I have been looking through my cookbooks for recipes with few, cheap ingredients.  That means my family will probably have oatmeal, bean soup or egg frittata to eat next week.  I also plan to stretch meat to cover more than one meal.  For example I may use 1/2 a roasted chicken in a pasta dish one night and the rest of the chicken to make chicken salad for lunches.  I will buy whatever fresh vegetables or fruit is in season, or whatever canned and frozen veggies offers the best price.  I will NOT buy processed or fast foods for a meal.  Our meals will not be different from what we usually eat however.

I am not including pet food in this challenge as I have 7 animals but mostly because many families don't have pets.  I also have a couple of animals with sensitive digestive systems and I will not upset their stomachs to buy cheaper food.  Cleaning up animal barf is not part of the challenge.  I don't mind trying cheaper generic brands for my family as the quality should be the same.

So next week should be very interesting.  I love a challenge and will try my best.  Hopefully we will all learn something.  I'd like to add a quick update on my couponing efforts to save money.  January was my last "good" month.  Since then it seems like there has been a dramatic drop in the coupons I can find to use.  March was my worst month yet with only $15.25 in coupon savings.  Most of the coupons I see are for processed foods I don't use, or cleaning and toiletry items.

So check back Tuesday to see my menu and my first grocery receipt.  I will shop on Monday and Thursday as always.  Also, you may want to read my blog on this week for a very interesting look at the state of American health.  I think you'll be surprised.          

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Making Smoothies At The Health And Wellness Expo

I'm happy to report that there were no cooking accidents this weekend at the HMG Health and Wellness Expo this past weekend.  Since I was using a blender, I did have a few nightmares that something spectacular would go wrong.  After all, I did heat up the oven once at the first Expo I did with the oven manual in it!  Fortunately, there was no fire.

As always, I enjoyed "cooking" even though making smoothies hardly qualifies as more than food prep.  Just goes to show that eating healthy doesn't need to involve complicated cooking!  I made four different smoothies, three of which have been featured before on this blog.  All seemed to be well received, even the spinach smoothie.  In fact, an eight year old girl said it was her favorite!  Add a bit of protein powder and a smoothie can be a good breakfast, lunch, dinner side, dessert or snack.  Just remember to keep the added sugar to a minimum with maybe a bit of honey.  There really is plenty of sugar in the yogurt, fruit or a splash of orange juice.  I avoid smoothies at fast food restaurants or even those from the grocery as they are usually calorie and sugar laden affairs, negating any nutrition.

                                            Making the banana, peach, buttermilk smoothie.

Assembling the infamous twinkie tree.  If it doesn't grow, if you can't harvest it, or it doesn't run or swim or fly, do you really want to eat it?

I'm also going to share the final recipe I made on Saturday.  This smoothie isn't for everybody as it has approximately 600 calories.  I created this smoothie for my daughter the swimmer because she needed to gain weight.  So if you know someone who has been ill or who trains so hard that they need the extra calories, this is a great tasting smoothie.  The rest of us need to look away.

600 Calorie Smoothie
1 serving of chocolate Carnation Instant Breakfast*
1 cup 1% or skim milk
1 banana
1 serving of protein powder*
1 to 2 Tbsp. peanut butter
Blend all ingredients in a blender until smooth.  *Depends on the kind of protein powder you buy as to how many scoops make a serving.  Also, Carnation Instant Breakfast comes in tubs or envelopes so check the package for a serving size.  You can also add 1/2 cup Greek yogurt for more protein and calories.

I make a lower calorie version of this for myself occasionally.  Blend 1 banana, 1 cup skim milk, 1 tsp. of peanut butter and 1 serving of Carnation Instant Breakfast or 1 serving of chocolate Slim Fast until smooth.  Makes a decent breakfast or lunch once in awhile, certainly better than a granola bar and a cup of coffee.