Can you feed 4 people (fabulously!) for less than $300/month? YOU KNOW IT! January Challenge is COMPLETE at $289! WOO HOO! Monday, Jan 31 2011 

Challenge, Schmallenge – we knocked it out of the park, folks! WOO HOO! It’s official! Where (so called) experts are proclaiming a household of four requires $800/month on average for food, it’s now been proven that it can EASILY be done for $300/month, if you know where to shop!

Hitting Amelia’s for all of my groceries this past month has been an amazing experience. No matter what store in the chain I visited, it had what I needed. Fruits, vegetables, dairy, pasta, meats, snacks, breads, and of course, my beloved coffee – I found everything I needed to create fantastic, frugal feasts! One stop, quick shopping, at 50-70% off. Big Saturday Brunches, Big Sunday Chicken Dinners, Italian Food, Mexican night, good old stick to your ribs ham & potato dinners, even Chinese food – this month’s menu had it all, and took care of a household of four hungry people, for less than $300.

One of the best parts of the Challenge – all of everyone’s suggestions, recipes, ideas, and feedback! The blog has hit over 10,000 viewers time and again as a result of the Challenge, and the Facebook friends list for me AND for Amelia’s Grocery Outlet is going thru the roof!
Many thanks to everyone for making this month’s Challenge so much fun to do! You guys are the best!

Day 31 Total: $12.25, total for the month is $289.95!

Today’s Menu:
Morning Coffee: (0.75) – double batch of Hazelnut, with (celebratory, super luxurious) Heavy Cream, instead of half & half. Yes, I’m a wild woman. Fun fact: if I’d bought all of my coffee ready-made at a fun coffee/donut shop, it would have cost $85!!

Breakfast: ($1.50) — Adults had HB eggs (4 total), kids had freshly baked banana muffins with juice!

Everybody’s Lunch: ($1.00) Katie was at school, so I packed her lunch box with crackers & cheese, grapes, juice box, pretzels, and a cookie ($1 for everything). The adults had leftover pot roast w/scalloped potatoes (Victor brought his to work to microwave), and Robbie had a bite of pot roast with corn.

Afternoon/After School Snack – ($2) More grapes! Grapes in January, what’s not to love?

Dinner: ($6) – Kept it simple for this last night of the Challenge! Delicious beef ravioli (25 oz frozen bag for $2.50), topped with organic marinara & parmesan cheese (1.50), with side salad, (.50), breadsticks ($1), and cake for dessert (.50). Bon Appetit!

Evening Snack: ($1) – yes, last night’s nachos with TGIFriday’s nacho cheese (only .50/half-pint at Amelia’s!) were fabulous, but I felt a deep need to wrap up the last day of the Challenge with the snack that saw me thru – POPCORN!

Total for today: $12.25, total for the month is $289.95!

Many thanks to everyone’s emails & suggestions – you helped make the January Challenge a fabulous, frugal success (go team!). Now, it’s time to set our sights on a Frugalista Challenge for February! I’ve got a few ideas here & there, and would love to hear from you! Frugal On!

Can you really feed 4 (fabulously!) for less than $300/month? Abso-frugal-lutely! Day 30 Update! Sunday, Jan 30 2011 

Hey guys! Hope you had a fantastic weekend. I ran out with the kids earlier, and everywhere we went was PACKED! Looks like everybody else is getting stocked up for Wednesday’s weather whammy too. Over here, I’m so thrilled at the numbers on the Challenge I can’t stand it. As of this morning I had only two days left on the Challenge, and $35 to spend to cover it! WOO HOO!
Option A: I could spend a bit of it out in a restaurant to prove you can keep a household food budget to $300/month AND afford to go out once in a while. Option B: keep doin’ what I’m doin’ and delight in the ultra low numbers. Going with Option B and denying myself NOTHING when it comes to some fun home cooked meals.

Day 30 Total: $12.75, total for the month is $277.70!
Today’s Menu:

Morning Coffee: (0.50) – double batch of SnickerKicker. Love that stuff. Can’t quite describe the flavor, but it’s very holiday-ish. Goes great with all the snow outside the window.

Breakfast: ($.00) — Loads of leftover french toast from yesterday. Super easy to heat & eat.

Everybody’s Lunch: ($0.00) Leftover Chinese food for adults, leftover chicken & pilaf for little people.

Afternoon Snack – ($2) Kids are loving the grapes, and they appear to tide the kids over for ages between lunch & dinner. Works for me!

Dinner: ($7.75) – Love of a big Sunday dinner (combined with tons of wiggle room in the budget) calls for a fab-u menu. Went with a beef pot roast ($5), with scalloped potatoes (.75), corn (.50), salad (.50), rolls (.50), and cake for dessert (.50). Gotta love Sunday night dinner.

Evening Snack: ($2.50) Nobody panic, but I’m going for something other than popcorn tonight. Spotted some fantastic TGIF Restaurant brand nacho cheese sauce (normally $3/pint) for .50/pint at the Amelia’s in Thorndale, so I splurged & grabbed some on Friday. Heats up beautifully and goes fantastically with some nacho chips for $2. Nice way to wring the last few hours out of the weekend!

Total for today: $12.75, total for the month is $277.70 !
Amazingly, I have the family room to myself tonight…which also means I have the TiVo remote all to myself. And wait, do you hear that? Off in the distance…from the kitchen! It’s Tortilla Chips & hot, melty TGIF Nacho cheese calling my name! “Coming, darling! Coming!” Have a great night, everybody!

January Challenge: Feeding 4 (fabulously!) for less than $300/month! Day 29 Update! Saturday, Jan 29 2011 

Hey everybody! I hope you’re all having a fantastic weekend! The snow is beautiful, the roads look pretty clear, and fear not fellow citizens, I’m still not driving on them, so it’s all good. Got a TON done in the house today, lots of stuff organized, feels FABULOUS. Time to veg out on the couch. With popcorn, of course. But first, today’s Challenge Update!

Day 29 Total: $13.79, total for the month is $264.95!

Today’s Menu:
Morning Coffee: (0.50) – another double batch, this time a delicious “Morning Blend”. Packs a nice punch! Definitely adding it to the favorites.

Breakfast: ($4.00) — weekend breakfast calls for something cooked on the stove, I went for French Toast this morning. One loaf of whole wheat bread, one dozen eggs, oil to brown them in, and syrup on top.

Everybody’s Lunch: ($0.00) Loads of lasagna leftover from last night, heated in minutes and everybody loved it.

Afternoon Snack – ($2) More grapes – they are FABULOUS for January, not a mushy one in the bunch. The kids were in heaven. Nice treat.

Dinner: ($6.29) – loads of fantastic wiggle room in the budget, went for a Saturday night dinner splurge. TaiPei General Tso’s chicken for the adults (two HUGE servings for $2.29), with extra rice (.25), and egg rolls $1.50 for 6, so we had leftovers. The kids had a half pound of chicken breast ($1) sautéed in olive oil (.25) with a side of rice pilaf (.50). Made another cake today, this time a yellow one with chocolate icing. It cost $2, but it should last four days, so I’m pricing it out at .50 per day.

Evening Snack: ($1) Big batch of popcorn!

Total for today: $13.79, total for the month is $264.95!

That about wraps up a Saturday night for me, gang. I’ve got a big bowl of popcorn here, and I’m not afraid to use it. Have a great evening, everyone!

Feeding 4 (fabulously!) for less than $300/month! Day 28 Update! Friday, Jan 28 2011 

Hey everybody, Happy Friday! Still beautiful views around here, it really is pretty once everything is shoveled out. Thought the driveway was good to go this morning, it really looked clear, but Katie & Robbie learned a new word this morning when the car slid slowly yet uncontrollably down the driveway, stopping before we got to the street, which was handy, because a PECO snowplow moseyed by a few seconds later. In retrospect, there was no danger, but the crass word I shrieked in the heat of the moment was quickly echoed by little people in the back seat. I explained while hyperventilating how only Mommy talks like that, and they graciously complied. Here’s praying Katie doesn’t repeat it in front of her Kindergarten classmates. I can see the note from her teacher now…

Okay, onto the Challenge Update!

Day 28 Total: $11.05, total for the month is $251.16!
Today’s Menu:

Morning Coffee: (0.50) – double batch is now the norm. I shudder to think of going back to just 4 cups. Perhaps in February…

Breakfast: ($1.25) — two hard boiled eggs each for the adults, apples & cinnamon toast for little people

Everybody’s Lunch: ($0.80) Leftover linguine w/marinara for Victor to microwave at work, Katie had lunch at school (cheese sandwich, juice box, animal crackers and a sugar cookie for .55), Robbie had leftover soup pureed over noodles (.25) and I had leftover soup ($0.0)

Afternoon Snack – ($2) GRAPES! Katie got home from school, and the kids snacked on a pound of grapes – at $1.97/pound it was a bit of a splurge, but we’ve got some good wiggle room in the budget, and they were too gorgeous to pass up at the store today! FABULOUS.

Dinner: ($5.50) – Stuck with the easy-yet-yummy italian theme, went with a lasagna for $5, with salad (.50), and we had some leftover breadsticks from yesterday that wrapped up beautifully (0.0). No more chocolate cake left, so we went with the last of the sugar cookies for the kids (0.0)

Evening Snack: ($1) Double batches of coffee seem to mirror my double batches of popcorn. Works for me!

Total for today: $11.05, total for the month is $251.16!

Okay, not only more snow possible for tomorrow, but another big honkin’ blizzard set for next week. Lordy. Happy Friday, everybody!

Feeding 4 (fabulously!) for less than $300/month! Day 27 Update! Thursday, Jan 27 2011 


Hey gang, is everybody dug out from under the snow yet? Took a little while to get the cars dug out here, and the back steps done, but man, was it beautiful out today. And not even really cold! That’s my kind of snowstorm aftermath. Beats “thundersnow” any day of the week! Katie was home from school again today, and she’s delighted at the prospect of going to school tomorrow, because it’s Friday and she then gets a weekend after only one day of school. This is so my child.

Okay, onto the Challenge Update!
Day 27 Total: $7.03, total for the month is $240.11!

Today’s Menu:
Morning Coffee: (0.50) – back to just the double batch of coffee…okay, and the leftovers from yesterday’s quadruple batch. I’m calling it progress anyway.

Breakfast: ($1.50) — two hard boiled eggs each for the adults, cheerios and milk for little people. They were REALLY hungry! So great to see!

Everybody’s Lunch: ($0.0) Leftover smoked sausage with baked macaroni & cheese from last night. Whoever invented the microwave should be up there with the inventor of penicillin. I mean it.

Afternoon Snack – ($.30) Kids snacked on fruit, about a pound of bananas, and some leftover sugar cookies from yesterday.

Dinner: ($3.73) – After my attempt at shoveling, I was whipped, so I took it easy for dinner. One pound of Linguine (.79) topped with organic marinara ($1.19) and parmesan cheese (.25), served with super easy heat-n-eat breadsticks ($1), salad (.50), and the last of the chocolate cake for dinner. Once I got the water boiling, dinner was on the table in 15 minutes. Sweet. Quick note: the price was certainly right for tonight’s dinner, but I should note that there wasn’t much left for leftovers for lunch tomorrow. I’ll probably resort to leftover soup from two days ago.

Evening Snack: ($1) Still loving the popcorn. Did a monster sized batch tonight. It was a crazy day, and I must crunch.

Total for today: $7.03, total for the month is $240.11!
Hang in there, everybody! One day closer to Spring! (actually, we’re one day closer to more expected snow on Saturday, but HEY, who wants to go THERE?!)

Feeding 4 (fabulously!) for less than $300/month! Day 26 Update – In The Homestretch! WOO HOO! Wednesday, Jan 26 2011 

Okay, so we got stomped with snow this morning. And we’re about to get stomped again late tonight. And probably again next week. Yes, it stinks, BUT so long as my popcorn crunch therapy holds out, I refuse to take on a negative attitude. I’ll take my cues from my Kindergartner, whose “Hooraaaaaaaaaay! School’s Cancelled!” shrieks of glee was probably heard for a mile in every direction. The girl has some serious voice pitch, as well as contagious enthusiasm. The house is a wreck, but we had a blast today. Go Fish, anyone?

Both kids are doing great, bouncing back from this rotten cold & getting closer to 100% every day. I’m thinking Katie is going to have another snow day tomorrow. And can I tell ya?… Thank HEAVEN you can print out those “Highlights Hidden Pictures” online! It’s a hit! Buys me at least 10 minutes at a time to do something productive of my own. Side Note: I think all Kindergarten Teachers should be sainted.

Okay, onto the Challenge Update! Day 26 Total: $8.69, total for the month is $233.08!

Today’s Menu:
Morning Coffee: (1.00) Okay, yes, I’m embarrassed. A double-double batch, a.k.a a quadruple batch. The kids ARE getting better (so proud of them!), but are still calling me in for a snuggle (or two) during the night. I adore it, but I’m whipped. It should be noted that I didn’t drink the WHOLE quadruple batch, a good part of it is in a mongo mug in the fridge, just waiting to nuked at the proper time tomorrow.

Breakfast: ($1.00) — apples & cinnamon toast for little people, 2 HB eggs for Victor, just coffee for me.

Everybody’s Lunch: ($0.25) Leftover soup! Served pureed over elbow macaroni (topped with parmesan cheese) for little people, served straight to the adults. No salad, just the bare basics.

Afternoon Snack – ($.70) Kids snacked on apples again, somewhere between the “Toy Story 3” and “The Incredibles” Double Feature.

Dinner: ($4.74) – So far today, I’ve been shoveling, cleaning, baking cookies with the kids (most of which will go to the VERY COOL guy who plows the driveway, blogging, and basically watching the house get turned into a tornado debris field by two little people (it really DID sound just like a freight train coming thru, I swear!!). so we’re taking it easy for dinner. Smoked sausage sauteed in a frying pan (1.99) with a side of baked macaroni & cheese ($2). Fast & easy, and the oven really heated up the kitchen beautifully! Didn’t do a salad with it, but we DID do chocolate cake for all (.50). It should also be noted that the kids will be eating about a half dozen of the cookies we made, so I’ll count them here (.25).

Evening Snack: ($1) Can I tell you how much I’ve been looking forward to popcorn all day? Great way to wrap up a great day. I didn’t actually witness it, but I assume Victor is finishing up the rest of his chips doing computer work upstairs, so I’ll add that too.

Total for today: $8.69, total for the month is $233.08!

Take it easy out there everybody! And for God’s sake people, learn from my experience — When you shovel your back steps, lift with your legs! (I’m getting so freakin’ old.) 🙂

Feeding 4 (fabulously!) for less than $300/month – Day 25 Update! Tuesday, Jan 25 2011 


Okay, so it’s going to snow, it’s not going to snow. Snow & Ice… or maybe just rain. Rain, with perhaps a 40% probability of frozen sheep falling from the sky. Okay, I made that last one up, but can SOMEBODY come up with a solid forecast for tomorrow? Sheesh!

Katie really kicked her pneumonia back from whence it came (so proud of her!), and Robbie is on the mend as well, so things are getting relatively back to normal. Katie got back to school this morning after AGES off (between snow days & illness). I was afraid she’d be a little reluctant to get back into the swing of things, but it was basically a “smell ya later, Mommy!” as she bounded out of the car. What a great kid! She’s going to have to channel all that goodness later this week, ‘cause LORDY do we have some schoolwork to catch up on.

Day 25 Total: $9.68, total for the month is $224.39!
Today’s Menu:
Morning Coffee: (0.50). 2nd day in a row of “just” a double batch. My personal restraint knows no bounds.

Breakfast: ($0.56) — last of the leftover French Toast for little people, two hard boiled eggs each for the adults (4 total)

Everybody’s Lunch: ($3.23). Katie’s back in lunchbox mode, so she had a cheese sandwich (.45), a smallish apple (.15), a juice box (.15), and animal crackers for a snack (.05). Robbie was home with me, so he had a small bowl of pasta with sauce (.15). Victor took a pound of apples (.70) and a big 19 ounce can of Venice Soup (the super healthy kind with no preservatives, or something like that, only .79), with him for easy heat up. I did a can of vegetable soup as well, it was fabulous on this freaking freezing cold day (.79).

Afternoon Snack – ($.40) Kids each had two small bananas, sliced into bowls, as their afternoon snack. Figure about a pound.

Dinner: ($3.99) – Time for another batch of soup – the kids never seem to mind it, and it’s perfect for winter. Took a one pound bag of 16-bean soup (1.49), added the last couple of ounces of pork roast from Sunday (free), 8 cups of water, the leftover corn from last night (free), one 15 can of mixed vegetable medley (.50), and put it on a slow boil this afternoon. When the beans were soft, I pureed half of it in the food processor to add body to the soup, then poured it all back together into the soup pot. FAB-U-LOUS. Topped it with some parmesan cheese (.25), and made some whole wheat garlic toast out of WW bread, toasted then brushed with olive oil & sprinkled with garlic powder for .50 (don’t forget, whole wheat & beans make a fabulous protein when combined!!). The kids had theirs with some noodles (.25), the adults ate it straight, with a salad (.50), and we all finished up with some chocolate cake (.50). Best part – LOTS of leftovers!

Evening Snack: ($1) Popcorn, awesome popcorn with butter (.50). Victor dug into a bag of chips while he was working upstairs on the computer & finished off half a bag. (.50)

Total for today: $9.68, total for the month is $224.39!

Fingers crossed this next storm blows over us without a flake hitting the ground! Yeah, right…

Feeding 4 (fabulously!) for less than $300/month – Day 24 Update! Monday, Jan 24 2011 

Happy Monday guys! Know why? Cause the royal spanking from Mother Nature has (to my knowledge) been massively downgraded. Thank the LORD. It’s all good. Another reason it’s a great day? Because I cooked & baked my brains out yesterday and now my refrigerator is stuffed with easy heat & eat food. Viva leftovers! Katie is home just ONE more day, knocking out the remnants of Hurricane Pneumonia from whence it came. She’s being such a trooper, but she’s totally pooped.

Day 24 Total: $4.00, total for the month is $214.71!

Today’s Menu:
Morning Coffee: (0.50). Back to “just” the double batch. Aren’t you proud of me?

Breakfast: ($0.0) — leftover French Toast for all! Even more appetite on little people today, I’m so happy!

Everybody’s Lunch: ($0.00). More leftover soup for little people, and leftover beef ravioli with organic marinara sauce (from two days ago) for the adults.

Afternoon Snack – ($1.50 ) Two pounds of fantastic apples – I love the super crunchy ones. Easy to slice up for little people, everyone’s happy.

Dinner: ($1.50) – Leftover pork loin roast and sweet potatoes from last night, plus another salad (.50), another can of corn for the kids (.50), and chocolate cake for dessert (.50)

Evening Snack: (.50) Popcorn. I think I know how to make this stuff in my sleep by now. Extra butter, light on the salt. LOVE it.

Total for today: $4.00, total for the month is $214.71!
Hang in there, everybody – one day closer to Springtime!

Day 23 Update! Feeding 4 (fabulously!) for less than $300/month! It’s a piece of (chocolate) cake! Sunday, Jan 23 2011 


Hey guys! Loving all the beautiful blue skies we had today… just wishing it came with 70 degree weather. And despite doing the hands over the ears “la-la-la-la-I-can’t-HEAR-you!” routine every time the weather comes on, it’s official – we’re going to get whacked with snow again on Wednesday. I HAVE to stock up at the store tomorrow. I’m (dare I say it?) running out of coffee!!!

Day 23 Total: $12.50, total for the month is $210.71.
Today’s Menu:

Morning Coffee: (0.65). Astonishingly, the “single batch” (4 cups for .25) I was making at the beginning of the month evolved into a double batch (8 cups) while the kids are getting over a rotten bit of cold, fever, and in Katie’s case, pneumonia (poor little guys have been SUCH troopers). And today, I (proudly?) announce, I have broken the coffee sound barrier, if you will, and now gone with 10 cups of coffee. Always yummy, just a bit scary at this point. And then i hear Starbucks is touting their new “Trenta” like it’s some sort of big deal or something. *snort!* Amateurs. Anyhoo, I SWEAR I’m going back to the 8-cup double batch tomorrow. There’s restraint for ya! Hey, I can stop anytime I want to. I swear. *tick-tick-tick*

Breakfast: ($4.00) — Big Sunday breakfast – more French toast! Little guys have a bit more appetite, but still not up to 100%, so lots of leftovers. I used a loaf of whole wheat bread, one dozen eggs, ¼ cup of oil, and syrup.

Everybody’s Lunch: ($0.35). Big breakfast & big dinner tonight means light lunch. We had some leftover chicken corn soup in the freezer, which heated up fast. Kids also enjoyed some sliced apple.

Afternoon Snack – ($1.00) One pound of apples (two VERY large apples), and a pound of bananas (4 medium size) were the snack of choice today. No matter how under the weather the kids were, they really enjoy fruit. Good stuff.

Dinner: ($6.00) – Sunday means a big dinner, which also means loads of cool leftovers for next week. Went with a center cut pork loin filet in a lemon garlic marinade (1.5 pound roast, at $2.49/pound, for $3.75), with a side of sweet potatoes (.75), corn (.50) and side salad (.50). Also made a chocolate cake with fudge icing for $2, should last four days, so I’m pricing it out at .50/day.

Evening Snack: (.50) Popcorn & TiVo. Loving it. The kids spent a good part of the day resting, and really seem to be rebounding – I’m so proud of them. Back to school tomorrow for Katie, then prepping for Wednesday’s next batch of snowy love from Mother Nature!

Total for today: $12.50, total for the month is $210.71!
Have a blessed Sunday, everybody! K

Feed 4 (fabulously!) for less than $300/month! Day 22 Update! Saturday, Jan 22 2011 


Hey all! Greetings on an unbelievably cold Saturday. Got Katie signed up for t-ball today tho, the uniforms are going to be SO CUTE! Can’t wait for summer!

Still didn’t make it out grocery shopping today, but I better get it in gear prior to the next snow, which I think is expected on Wednesday. Bleah. I think I’ll get some fun baking project stuff for the kids in case school is off for the day. I’ve got about a billion sprinkles of various colors, so I’m thinking we’ll go with cupcakes one day this week.

Day 22 Total: $6.50, Total for Month: $198.21!

Today’s Menu:
Morning Coffee: (0.50). Kids are still spending good amounts of the night awake (poor boopers are still getting over wretched colds, and in Katie’s case, pneumonia!) , so, I’m spending good amounts of the day obnoxiously caffeinated. Coffee… it does a heart rate good!

Breakfast: ($1.06) — Nobody has much of an appetite. My main appetite is for caffeine. But the adults had two eggs apiece (easy hard boiled ones). For the kids, I sliced down a huge apple for the kids to enjoy with some cinnamon toast.

Everybody’s Lunch: ($0.0) Forget diamonds, it’s leftovers that are THIS girl’s best friend. Kids had macaroni & cheese leftover from last night, adults had leftover Teriaki Chicken. Works for me!

Afternoon Snack – ($.50) More applesauce for little people. It’s easy, and it’s agreeing with them as they fight off their various little bugs. Echinacea tea is the snack of choice for adults. Cheers!

Dinner: ($3.94) – More easy meals, pretty please (so long as they’re moderately healthy). As easy as it is to open a can or box, at this point I’m so whipped I’m preferring somebody invent a food product that jumps out of the container, heats itself in the microwave, shows up on a nice plate (with cutlery) at the table, and disposes of itself in the trash when I’m done with it. After finding out (via Google) that no such food yet exists, I went with beef filled ravioli (2.50 for a 25 oz container in the frozen food section, super easy to boil up), served with organic marinara sauce ($1.19), topped with sprinkle of parmesan cheese (.25). Nobody really had dessert, unless honey lemon cough drops count. At this point, I’m saying “no”. 🙂

Evening Snack: (.50) I could have the plague, and I’m still going to want popcorn at night. Anybody ever tries to alter that routine, and I see myself snapping like Raymond in “Rain Man” when he doesn’t have enough fish sticks on his plate. Enjoy the visual.

Total for today: $6.50, total for the month is $198.21!
Have a great Saturday night, everybody!

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