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.) 🙂

Day 21, How to feed 4 (fabulously!) for less than $300/month! Mac & Cheese, Lentil Soup & Chinese Food on today’s Frugal Buffet! Friday, Jan 21 2011 


Hey all! HAPPY FRIDAY! Way to make it thru another week. I hope you all have fabulous plans for the weekend.

Not too much to report, I didn’t make it out grocery shopping today (you SO do not want to see me on the roads after it snows…). Also, EVERYBODY is home & under the weather at this point (except me, knock wood knock wood knock wood, as I pound the Vitamin C!) so I’m sticking with not only super easy meals, but working with items I already have in the house for menu planning. Could be an interesting weekend! 🙂

Day 21 Total: $10.48, Total for Month: $191.71!

Today’s Menu:
Morning Coffee: (0.50). Still going with double batches of coffee. In fact, it’s becoming so the norm that I’m periodically reminding myself that it IS a double batch. Scary.

Breakfast: ($3.00) — Bacon & Scrambled eggs for adults, bacon & toast for little people (they’re not really egg fans yet).

Everybody’s Lunch: ($2.84) The soup seems to be hitting the spot, so I made some more – I browned one pound of hamburger ($1.50) in a skillet with a tablespoon of minced garlic (.05), then drained it off. In a soup pot, I put one pound of cleaned & soaked lentils (.99) with one finely chopped carrot (.05), 6 cups of water, and the browned hamburger. Brought it up to a boil, then turned it to lowest setting for 45 minutes. Pureed half of it in the food processor, then added it back to the pot to give the soup some extra thickness. Everybody loved it, and it made a TON. The adults ate it straight, but the kids wouldn’t dig in until I pureed their portions & served them over whole wheat noodles (.25). Works for me! Hey, if they’re happy, I’m happy.

Afternoon Snack – ($.50) Applesauce is the snack of choice for little people who are fighting bad colds. Easy, quick, healthy. I’m totally in.

Dinner: ($3.14) – Simple is the name of the game while everybody is getting back on their feet, and little people are being such troopers I’m playing private chef and catering to their every adorable whim. Katie wanted macaroni & cheese for dinner (.40, plus .20 for butter & milk to prepare), and Robbie loves it too, so we went with that. The adults had Tai Pei Teriaki Chicken ($2.29), plus an additional bowl of rice (.25). Nice way to start the weekend!

Evening Snack: (.50) Popcorn with extra butter in one hand, TiVo remote in the other! NOW, it’s officially the weekend. Yeah, baby.

Total for today: $10.48, total for the month is $191.71!
Have a fantastic Friday night, everybody!

Day 19 Update – 12 days to go, and 2 kids fighting off some kind of bug… Chicken Soup, anyone? Wednesday, Jan 19 2011 


Hey all! Well, it’s official, both kids have some sort of bug. They’re being total sports about it, downside is they both inherited a solid right hook when it comes to me trying to give them a spoonful of medicine to bring their fevers down. Can I blame them, this stuff is just ridiculously BAD. “Grape” flavored? Sheah, maybe if the grape was sitting at the bottom of a corn whisky jar for a month! Bleah.

Ended up mixing the fever reducer with a grape juice box, barely did the trick. Hitting the pediatrician’s office in the a.m., hoping they get some sleep tonight. What is WITH the bugs hitting little people nowadays – poor boopers!

Day 19 Total: $7.84, Total for Month: $175.20!

Today’s Menu:
Morning Coffee: (0.50). Double batch of coffee is now my standard modus operandi, at least until the kids bounce back from this bug. If they ever invent a coffee blend that eliminates under eye circles, I’m selling everything I have to invest in it. I look like Morticia Adams’ before photo at this point.

Breakfast: ($1.16) — Four HB eggs for the adults (two each, .56 total), Kids aren’t really hungry, but they shared a big apple (cut into slices) and some cinnamon toast (.60).

Kids’ Lunch: ($0.15) Kids had a bit more appetite for lunch, so they ate some of the leftover spinach tortellini with some organic marinara sauce on it. They also worked thru a grape juice box when they needed to have their fever medicine in the morning & afternoon. Poor little guys. (.15)

Adults’ Lunch ($0.40): Leftover tortellini for adults too. Easy, and we had lots to go around. Also sent bananas to work with Victor (.40)

Afternoon Snack – ($.40) Little ones weren’t too interested in fruit, but they each had a little bowl of applesauce.

Dinner: ($4.23) – Time for some serious chicken soup therapy. I sauteed half pound of chicken breasts ($1, +.25 for olive oil), then rough-chopped them up into cubes, put them in a pot with one can of corn (.33), one cup of brown rice (.15), four cups of organic chicken broth ($2), ¼ tsp of black pepper, put on low boil for 30 mins, pureed half of it in the food processor, then re-added it to the soup pot (adds great texture & body to the soup). Added a salad for adults (.50). Now THIS meal got devoured. Little boopers ate two big bowls each, adults ate a lot too. There’s enough leftover for lunch tomorrow, but that’s about it. Both kids fell completely asleep within 30 minutes of eating it. That’s my kind of soup.

Evening Snack: (1.00) Popcorn is ON, I’m being a total slob & I added more butter. Yeah, yeah, so sue me. It’s been a rough day. Victor is starting to like the organic jalapeno chips, ate half a bag tonight while he was upstairs on the computer.

Total for today: $7.84, total for the month is $175.20!

Keep your fingers crossed that munchkins sleep thru the night. If not, NO worries, there’s always Industrial-strength Hazelnut ready in the percolator for tomorrow! Night, everybody!

“Feeding 4 for $300/month” Challenge – Day 15: If my microwave breaks, I’m basically doomed. Saturday, Jan 15 2011 

Hey all!! Hope you’re having a fantastic weekend! Got loads of overdue housework done today (miracle). Loving that the Mt. Pinatubo of dirty laundry has been transformed into a Mt. Pinatubo of clean laundry. Progress! Hugely helpful that I had a refrigerator full of leftovers today. Way cool.

Day 15 Total: $9.65, Total for Month: $137.44!
Today’s Menu:
Morning Coffee: (0.50). Went with the Hazelnut this morning, extra strong. Woke up this morning feeling whipped, so I made a double batch in case I need it for medicinal purposes during the day.

Breakfast: ($3.50) — big batch of French toast w/maple syrup, lots of leftovers for quick breakfasts for the next few days.

Lunch: ($2.00) Kept it easy, defrosted some leftover soup I had from last week ($0.0), and made whole wheat grilled cheese sandwiches to go with it! ($2.00).

Afternoon Snack – ($2.80) Apples all around, about a pound per person. Apple addicts.

Dinner: ($0.50) – leftover spaghetti marinara for the kids, and leftover General Tso’s for adults. And yes, if my microwave breaks, I’m completely screwed.
Everybody had sugar cookies again for dessert (.50).

Evening Snack: (.35) You’ll never guess – POPCORN! And hopefully a cool Saturday night movie to go with it.

Total for today: $9.65, total for the month is $137.44!
Have a great Saturday night, everybody! K

Update! Feeding 4 (fabulously!) for $300/month, and a brief word on Experts, Schmexperts… Thursday, Jan 13 2011 


Hey gang! Happy Thursday – one day closer to the weekend, AND, if you’re off for Martin Luther King Day on Monday, a 3-day weekend to boot! It’s all good.

On a somewhat serious note, I’m hearing experts on the news today predicting (with well thought-out reasons) that food prices are to make a 4% jump over the course of the year, meaning that a family of four (previously spending an average of $800/month on food), will now “have to” spend an average of $832/month, or nearly $10,000 to feed their family this year. Combine that with a similar increase in the price of oil, utilities, etc, and it can create a bleak picture, especially given the current trend of pay freezes, pay cuts, and of course, the higher unemployment rate.

One of the biggest points I’m trying to make in this month’s unsubtle, loudmouth frugalista blog is that there is NOTHING more satisfying than taking these experts numbers and shredding them into confetti. Come on now, $10,000 “required” to feed a household of four for a year? Hogwash. The whole idea of this month’s blog is showing how easy it is to do it for $3600/year instead! If I can do it, anybody can! Decide what your budget will allow, then make any necessary changes to accommodate today’s budget constraints. Resources are everywhere to make your money stretch further than ever. When it comes to food, if you’re living in Southeastern Pennsylvania, take a look at your local Amelia’s Grocery Outlet. Chances are excellent you’ll find everything a growing household needs, and for much less than you’re spending now! Let’s show the experts how it’s done! Tell a friend!

Alright, enough of the nightly news, back to important topics. Like cheap snacks to veg out with in front of the tv.
For last night’s menu, I aimed for Mexican food, so tonight I’m leaning towards some old fashioned stick-to-your-ribs fare.

Day 13 Total: $7.44, Total for Month: $117.36!
Today’s Menu:

Morning Coffee: (0.25). Back to Snickerkicker coffee. Buckets of it. FAB.

Breakfast – ($1.56) — four HB eggs total (0.56) for Victor and I (he brought his to work), and the kids had cheerios w/milk (.50) and some sliced apples (.50)

Kids’ Lunch: ($1.20) – Tacos for Robbie! Last night’s taco shell container had twelve taco shells, and we only ate half of them, so we had plenty to go around for lunch today. Kids loved them! I’m thrilled (and shocked!). It wasn’t quite feasible for Katie to bring tacos to kindergarten, so I sent her off with the usual fun fare – apple juice box (.15), cheesy crackers for snack (.05), PB&J sandwich (.50), and a fruit cup (.50). Even after lunch we had enough taco shells, meat & cheese left over for the kids to enjoy over the weekend.

Adult lunch: (0.39) – Tacos for parents too. He also brought a pound of bananas with him to snack on. (.39)

Afternoon Snack – ($1) kids and I snacked on another pound of apples and one pound of bananas. It’s quick, it’s easy, it tides the kids over until dinner. All cool.

Dinner: ($4.25). Went with a huge slab of Berks Hickory Smoked Ham (.99/#, I used two pounds to ensure leftovers), baked it in the oven at the same time as a pan of Au Gratin potatoes (.75). Side of green beans (.50) and salad with dressing (.50), and we’re set! Sugar cookies for dessert! (.50)

Evening Snack: (.35) Popcorn, popcorn, come to Momma you awesome popcorn. ¼ cup of popcorn popped into around 6 cups, topped with ¼ stick of melted butter.

Total for today: $7.44, total for the month is $117.36!

Hang in there gang, only one more day until the weekend! Frugal On!

January Challenge, Day 11 Update! Money spent today = $4.99!, Money spent for the month: $100.92! Tuesday, Jan 11 2011 


Brilliant Frugal Living
Hey gang! Got snow? Yeah, us too. Soup to the rescue!

Day 11 Total: $4.99, Total for Month: $100.92!

Cliff Notes on today’s menu:
Coffee: (0.25). Back to snickerkicker. LOVE. Today was almost more about being able to wrap my freezing cold hands around a warm mug! Aaaahhh.

Breakfast – ($1.47) — four HB eggs total for the adults (0.56), and a pound of sliced apples (.66) with cinnamon toast (.25) for the kids.

Kids’ Lunch: ($0.95) – Katie’s lunch, mandarin orange juice box (.15), gluten free pretzels for snack (.05), cheese sandwich (.50), and two organic cookies (.15). Robbie had leftover soup again with a bite of sliced apple (.10). He loves the soup, and we’ve got buckets of it. I love that combination.

Adult lunch: (.66) Soup for me (free, and I feel like I’m fighting some kind of bug, so I wasn’t that hungry anyway), and leftover salmon w/risotto for hubby at work, along with a huge apple (.66).

Afternoon Snack – ($0.66) kids snacked on more apples.

Dinner: ($1). Soup again. I’m definitely fighting something. I hate illness, it so brings out my inner whiny wimp. Served the soup with a salad for others (.50), and one more portion of cake left, so we had an easy dessert too. Bonus. Rah. (.50)

Evening Snack: This should tell you something – I’m so nauseous I don’t even want my popcorn. Now we know it’s serious. Bleah.
So, in a nutshell, did today for $4.99, total for the month is $100.92!

Have a great night, everybody! Stay well!

Challenge Update! Feeding a household of four (fabulously & frugally!) for less than $10 a day! Saturday, Jan 8 2011 

Hey gang! Hope your weekend is going great! Day 8 on the January Challenge, a good couple of inches of snow here, nothing too bad, and nothing compared to the spanking we’re supposed to expect from Mother Nature on Tuesday, so hey, I’ll keep the weather complaints to a minimum. For now. Thanks to a mongo Perdue Oven Stuffer Roaster I made on Thursday, I had some great stuff to work with (leftover wise) that took costs down beautifully for the day.

Here’s the breakdown:
Day 8 Total: $8.70, Total for Month: $77.85

Coffee: Big beautiful percolator o’hazelnut coffee, all for me, me, me!! – 0.25.

Breakfast – ($4.00) Decided to do another big batch of French Toast for everybody. Super easy recipe, and always creates loads of leftovers! A loaf of whole wheat bread, one dozen eggs, some cooking oil, maple syrup, for a total of: $4. They LOVED it, and breakfast is so easy for tomorrow! Just heat & eat!

Lunch: $0.60 – It’s a Saturday, it’s snowy. It’s fun food time. So I made chicken salad out of some of the leftover Perdue Roaster, and a side of macaroni & cheese for everybody.

Afternoon Snack – ($2) we were all on the go today, so we went with an easy snack of apples.

Dinner: $1.50. Finally got to use one of the fantastic recipes sent in! Took the last of the meat off the chicken, and did a fabulous bean soup with a 16 bean soup mix, one can of corn, and some spices. Added 8 cups of water, cooked it for about 3 hours on very low heat. Then took about 1/3 of it and put it thru the food processor to thicken it up, and I now have a boatload of incredibly fantastic soup that will serve for several meals. All for $1.50! Best part of all, the kids love it! WOO HOO!

Evening Snack: (0.35) More popcorn! ¼ cup popped into 6 cups, with ¼ stick of butter melted on top. If I stay awake past 8P, I’ll try to pair that popcorn with a good Saturday night flick on cable. Yes, I’m a wild partying kind of woman.

So there we have it, managed today for $8.70, total for the month is $77.85! Keep those great ideas coming! Have a great Saturday, everybody!

Can Amelia’s Grocery REALLY cut a household of four’s food budget down to $300/month? You know it! Friday, Jan 7 2011 


Total for today: $5.56, Total for Month: $69.15!

A very Happy Friday shout out to fabulous frugal friends! Okay, sure, we got a touch of snow here this morning, but just enough to make it beautiful (and yes, slow your morning commute to 5 mph… but HEY, shake it off, it’s Friday)! Time for serious snacking and quality time with the TiVo.

This first week of the January Challenge has been a BLAST – so much amazing feedback from everyone, and I’m LOVING the recipes!

Here’s the end-of-the-week breakdown.
Day 7 Total: $5.56, Total for Month: $69.30

HUGE batch of morning coffee for me, and me alone – 0.25.
Breakfast – ($1.06) Four HB eggs (total) for the adults, $0.56. Kids had cheerios w/milk (.50).

Lunch/Snack: $2.65 – Katie’s lunch, mandarin orange juice box (.15), her beloved cheesy crackers for snack (.10), ham roll ups again (.50), and two all natural, no preservatives added cookies (.15). Robbie had leftover chicken for lunch with sliced apple ($.33).

Lunch for me was a chicken leg from last night and some reheated coffee from this morning. Hubby brown-bagged it with a pound of fruit (.66), and some leftover chicken made into chicken salad ($0.10, for mayo). Kids had more sliced apple for a snack in the afternoon, and I joined in, so it was a pound of fruit total ($0.66).

Dinner: $ 1.25. Okay, this is SO my kind of dinner total – baked chicken leftovers from last night’s dinner, perfect with some pilaf (0.25) and a side salad (.50) to go with it. To celebrate the snow, I made another cake w/buttercream icing, for a total of $2. History tells me a cake this size should last four days, so I’m costing that out at .50/day.

Evening Snack: (0.35) More popcorn! I’m now officially addicted to popcorn. ¼ cup popped into 6 cups, with ¼ stick of butter melted on top.

So there we have it, managed today for $5.56, total for the month is $69.15. keep those great ideas coming! Frugal On, and have a great weekend!

Day 5 Update: Can you feed a household of four (fabulously!) for $300/month?! ABSOLUTELY! Wednesday, Jan 5 2011 

Amelia’s Grocery Outlet
Total for Today: $9.05, Total for Month: $46.76!

Hey everybody! Can’t believe the way the week is flying. I’m on deadline for two articles, and all I can think of is having more popcorn tonight. Gotta focus! (right after my popcorn… ahhhh).

Okay, Day 5, nothing too crazy to report. No big bumps in the road. I’m getting some great ideas from people on menu ideas, absolutely delish – salad nights, pasta nights, soup, stew & casserole recipes, etc.

Okay, in a nutshell, managed today for $9.05, total for the month is $46.76. Considering the daily budget limit was $9.67 per day, it’s great accumulating a little wiggle room in the budget in case I do a baked chicken in a few days or something.

Here’s the Menu:
My coffee, coffee, beloved coffee – 0.25. Kids are both fighting a cold, so last night found me dancing from room to room getting little people back to sleep. Poor little boopers. Don’t get me wrong, I adore a snuggle with little people, but Lordy I’d be toast without the coffee this morning.

Breakfast – ($1.06) Four HB eggs (total) for the adults for $0.56. Kids had cheerios with milk (.50)

Lunch/Snack: $2.70 – Katie’s lunch, apple juice box (.15), cheesy crackers for snack (.10), PB&J sandwich (.30), and two all natural, no preservatives added cookies (.15). Robbie had more leftover chicken corn soup for lunch ($0), I went with some leftover salmon from yesterday. Hubby brown-bagged it with two oranges (.70), and some leftover salmon & mushroom risotto ($0.0). Kids had more sliced apple for a snack in the afternoon ($1.30) – I think all of the fruit is helping their colds. Good stuff.

Dinner: Beef Ravioli: $4.69 -(25 oz bag for $2.50), went from frozen to boiled in no time, topped with Muir Glen Organic Marinara Sauce for $1.19, topped with parmesan cheese (.25), side of garlic bread ($.25) and a side salad (0.50). Can I please tell you, the kitchen smelled FABULOUS.

Evening Snack: Bring on the popcorn! Woo Hoo! (.35). And yes, I’m two-fisting it as I type. (1/4 cup popped into 6 cups), topped with ¼ stick of butter (.20).

One day soon I’m doing a fabulous beef & bean soup recipe sent in from J in Lancaster County. Keep those fantastic recipes coming, everybody! K

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