Day 6 Total: $0.63 Total for June: $3.40! Sunday, Jun 6 2010

Hey ya guys! Hope everybody had a fantastic weekend!

And the big news for today, Kris sticks to plan! Woo hoo! Really not that hard. Truthfully, nothing seems that hard when you wrap up the day with organic chocolate, as I’m doing at this moment. Yumser.

Final cost breakdown as follows:

Breakfast – coffee, two eggs = .23

Lunch – Corned beef hash & a side of green beans! So ho ho good. But again, big salty red flag here is the CBH’s sodium content, which we scotched by having only half a can (contains 51% of sodium for the day). Still, DAMN good.
Cost (two cans @ .05 each) = .10

Daytime Snack – Can of Dole Pineapple. Closest I’ll get to Hawaii for the foreseeable future. 🙂 Works for me!
Cost = .05

Dinner – Angel hair pasta with marinara sauce, all the while thinking of the chocolate bar awaiting her as she blogs… Yes, Kris is eating grown up food again. Me likey… 🙂
Cost = .09 + .01 = .10

Nighttime (blogging) snack – Eating as I type, my beloved Dagoba bar. Yup, the whole thing. I do hereby decree that 1/2 bars are for sissies. Cost = .15

Total cost of food for today: $0.63.

Keep up the fantastic comments, ideas & suggestions! Have a great night, everybody!

Brilliant Frugal Living’s “Frugalista Diet”-Menu for Day 6! Sunday, Jun 6 2010

Hey guys! Hope your weekends are going wonderfully!
We’re hitting Day 6 on our lovingly nicknamed “Bomb Shelter” diet, and things are progressing beautifully on plan. 🙂 🙂 🙂

Well, I went an entire day without Chef Boyardee yesterday, and no black holes tore open in the universe, so I thought I’d try it again in planning today’s menu…

The menu for Day 6 is as follows:

Breakfast – coffee, two eggs = .23

Lunch – Corned beef hash & a side of green beans! I haven’t had CBH in YEARS, and I adore it. Downside: The sodium in this dish could kill a racehorse. Solution: go with half a can (we’ll just count the entire cost of the can today, and if we make a meal of leftovers later on, we’ll count that as $0.0).
Cost (two cans @ .05 each) = .10

Daytime Snack – Can of Dole Pineapple. Aloha!
Cost = .05

Dinner – Exciting switch up in the menu! Found some angel hair low-carb pasta at B&B last week! A 13 oz box normally costs $2.60, I got mine for $0.60! If I boil up 2 oz, it will cost .09. Add some spaghetti sauce (one HUGE can is .05, I’ll use one small portion for .01), and we’ve got something NEW in the menu. Woo hoo!
Cost = .09 + .01 = .10

Nighttime (blogging) snack – I am looking SO forward to my chocolate at night, I truly pity anyone who tries to take it away from me. In the Incredible Hulk, remember what happened to David Banner when they made him angry? I think secretly, behind the scenes, David Banner had too much sodium in his diet….and one night, as he was blogging, someone tried to take away his chocolate. Just a theory. From this point forward, we’re going with a whole chocolate bar each night.
Cost = .15

Total estimated cost of food for today: $0.63.

And the fabulous questions just keep coming from creative bloggers & Facebook friends, and I’m loving them all. One of the most common questions: “With all of those cans, are you recycling?”. The answer is yes! We have a recycling plant about 20 minutes away, and thankfully, it’s en route to a fantastic discount grocery (Glenwood Foods) in Ephrata, so that works well. I can drop off cans once every couple of weeks. I briefly considered taking the money from the recycled cans & applying it to the menu’s daily cost, but realized not everyone can recycle their cans as easily, so we’re keeping it simple.

Keep sending in your thoughts, ideas & suggestions!
Have a great Sunday, everybody! K

Day 5 Total: $0.73. (yes, Kris caves…briefly!) Total for June: $2.77! Saturday, Jun 5 2010

Hey guys! Gorgeous Saturday here, hope you had a good one too!

Yes, as you can see by the Day’s Total (as compared to this morning’s EXPECTED total) Kris added something completely unnecessary to today’s menu…and now comes the Walk of Shame when I have to add it to today’s total. Half of you probably already know the cause. Yes my friends, the siren’s song of the Diet Black Cherry Soda was too compelling. I caved. Therefore, tacking on an extra .15 for the day. I’d feel guilty, but I’m too happy feeling carbonated.

Here’s the total for the day:
Breakfast – coffee, two eggs
Cost: 23

Lunch – One can of tuna for lunch with a side of green beans.
Cost: .10

Daytime Snack – Can of Dole Fruit Cocktail – truly fabulous, I MUST get this mixed into jello sometime soon (if it doesn’t break the budget)
Cost = .05

Dinner – Beef Stew, and BEYOND yummy. Totally nailed the spot, from a culinary perspective, and let’s face it, a sodium perspective. Right out of the park. If I can’t get my rings on for the rest of month, so be it.
Cost: .05

Nighttime (blogging) snack, that I’m enjoying as I type this – but first, a side note. Have you ever told yourself you DON’T need something (like a pair of shoes, a magazine or ahem, a soda), and the more you tell yourself you don’t need it, the more you obsess? Welcome to my world, I’ll be your host for the remainder of your stay. So, there you go, but HEY, an unexpected black cherry soda does not a Frugalista Diet break. Back on track tomorrow. That being said, I’m still going like a crazy lady and having the WHOLE Dagoba Organic Chocolate bar tonight as well. And anybody who tries to take either from me will draw back a stump. Just sayin’…
Cost: .15 + .15 = .30

Total cost of food for today: $0.73. Total for June: $2.77. Still right on track for keeping the bill below $25 for the month. Good stuff!

Have a fantastic Saturday evening, everybody! K

Brilliant Frugal Living’s “Frugalista Diet”-Menu for Day 5! Saturday, Jun 5 2010

Hey guys! Hope you’re having a fantastic weekend!
Day five on the “Diet du Frugalista”, and we’re lookin’ good.

As I play Saturday’s menu, I thought I’d shake up the weekend just a bit with a 24-hour break from my beloved other man, Chef Boyardee.

Weekend menu is as follows:

Breakfast – coffee, two eggs = .23

Lunch – After 4 days of Chef Boyardee, switching things up a bit & hitting the tuna for lunch with a side of green beans. For those of you now desperately concerned that I won’t get enough sodium (compared to days past), have NO fear, you haven’t seen the dinner menu yet. Total cost: .10

Daytime Snack – Can of Dole Fruit Cocktail (scary how much I’m looking forward to this every afternoon) = .05

Dinner – Have no fear, Captain Sodium is here! Actually, just Beef Stew, and it looks damn good (rather grown up compared to four days of beefaroni-ish dishes). However, this one DOES take the prize for sodium. A whole day’s salt whammy (110% of the RDA) in one bowl. Almost impressive! Almost…
Cost: .05

Nighttime (blogging) snack – For the weekends, if the budget allows, I’m going like a crazy lady and having the WHOLE Dagoba Organic Chocolate bar. Yup, don’t stand too close to my fire folks, you could get burned. 😉
Cost: .15
Total estimated cost of food for today: $0.58.

Absolutely loving the questions from fellow bloggers & Facebook friends. Best question from yesterday: “Have you lost any weight?”. Answer: “No”. HOWEVER, haven’t gained any either, which is borderline astonishing considering (1) recent sodium intake and (2) the fact that I’ve had more carbs in the last four days than I’d consumed in the last two months… We’ll see what happens over the course of the next few weeks!

Keep sending in your thoughts, ideas & suggestions!
Have a great weekend, everybody! K

Brilliant Frugal Living’s “Frugalista Diet”-Menu for Day 4! Friday, Jun 4 2010

Happy Friday, everybody! Woo Hoo!
Four days into the diet, things are going GREAT. Getting some fantastic feedback from so many people, and some great ideas for future “challenges”. Bring it ON!
Okee doke, here we go for a menu for today:

Breakfast – coffee, two eggs = .23

Lunch – Back to 4th grade lunchroom I go, with yet another Chef Boyardee delight: CB Overstuffed Ravoli. Again, nice sodium whammy with 80% of the RDA for salt, BUT, as with days past, it all evens out by day’s end with the rest of my food choices. That being said, good freakin’ luck getting my rings off anytime between 1-4:00PM.
Total cost: .05

Daytime Snack – Dole Canned (no, you don’t say!) Peaches = .05

Dinner – I have a LOT of leftover soup from yesterday, kind of a combination tomato, bean, corn soup, seasoned with garlic, S&P, oregano & basil. Might sound odd, but it really hits the spot! I counted the entire cost of the soup yesterday, so leftovers = $0.0

Nighttime (blogging) snack – my ever-beloved 1/2 Dagoba Organic Dark Chocolate bar = .08

Total estimated cost of food for today: $0.41. Here’s hoping!

Great questions from emailers & fellow bloggers. To those who ask what I miss the most I answer: My black cherry diet soda!!! It costs .15 per can at B&B, which in a normal universe wouldn’t be an issue, but for the month of June, 2010, it’s a budget breaker. From a carbonated beverage perspective, I cannot WAIT for July 1! 🙂

Keep sending in your thoughts, ideas & suggestions!
Have a great weekend, everybody! K

Day Three Total: $0.61 Total for June: $1.63 Thursday, Jun 3 2010 

Hi all! Hope you had a great day!
Got more FANTASTIC feedback today, including a great suggestion that we do another challenge down the road in which we go with more home-gardened food & vegetarian protein choices (rice & beans, whole wheat pasta & cheese, etc). Perfect idea for the summer months, can’t wait to attack that one in the future.

I’m also ecstatic looking forward to next week! In addition to an eagerly-anticipated trip into Philadelphia on Tuesday, I’m also connecting with Mary Caraccioli and a “Mary Talks Money” crew on Thursday (out here in Morgantown) to do a piece on B&B Grocery Outlet AND “Buying on Craigslist”! Can not wait for next week. Many thanks to “Mary Talks Money” host Mary Caraccioli for this fantastic opportunity.

Okay, here we go with totals for today – stuck to plan, which is great. Soup turned out terrific, really hit the spot, Robbie even had a bowl of it, so you know it had to be edible!

Breakfast – coffee, two eggs = .23

Lunch – Chef Boyardee Lasagna. I think I’m getting hooked on the stuff. There’s got to be some ingredient in this that gets you craving it, because it is seriously hitting the spot. Mega downside, sodium. My Chef Boyardee-inspired lunches are packing about a 80% RDA sodium punch everyday. But, again, the rest of the day is fruit, eggs, coffee, soup, etc. so we’re sticking under the 100% RDA.
Total cost: .05

Daytime Snack – Canned mandarin oranges = .05 (I haven’t had these since I was a kid! Where have I been, these things are delish!)

Dinner – talk about easy recipes…one can crushed tomatoes, one can pinto beans, one can green beans, one can corn, a tbsp of crushed garlic, and a bunch of salt, pepper, oregano & basil, heat on a low boil for 30 minutes & season to taste. Cost = .20

Nighttime snack – 1/2 Dagoba Organic Dark Chocolate bar (I’m actually eating it as I type this…you gotta love wrapping up the day with chocolate) = .08

Total cost of food for today: $0.61. Total for June: $1.63! Again, a little high, BUT there’s a lot of soup leftover for tomorrow, so it’ll all even out.

So far, right on target from a cost perspective, keep sending in your thoughts, ideas & suggestions!

Day Two Total: $0.46, Total for June: $1.02! Wednesday, Jun 2 2010 

Hey gang!
Okay, Day Two is nearly thru, and here’s our running total for the day:

Breakfast – coffee, two eggs = .23

Lunch – Chef Boyardee Spaghetti & Meatballs. = .05*
*I had a number of emails with (understandable) concern, alarm and downright panic for an experimental diet based primarily on canned foods, due to the sodium/preservatives levels. It should be noted for the record that I received 80% of my daily sodium intake from lunch alone. Can we say “bloaty”? However, over the course of the day, I’m still at only 95% of the RDA for sodium. It works.

Snack – Canned pears, and my beloved 1/2 organic chocolate bar = .13

Dinner – Leftover tomato/vegetable soup from yesterday. = $0.0 (the total cost of the soup was pinned on yesterday…)

And okay, I caved. Got a starvin’-marvin attack & took it out on an unsuspecting can of Dole Fruit Cocktail. Kind of a blur, actually. So we tack on an extra .05 for the day. Yokay, so sue me.

Total for the day: 0.46! Total for the month of June: $1.02. Works!

Keep sending those great suggestions! K

The Frugalista Diet – Menu for Day Two Wednesday, Jun 2 2010 

Hey guys! THANK YOU for all of your notes, suggestions & emails! Great stuff.

Super quick, menu for Day Two: keeping it simple, here goes –

— Breakfast – coffee, two eggs

— Lunch – I finally have my own personal chef, folks. And his name is Boyardee. 🙂 Today lunch is Chef Boyardee Spaghetti & Meatballs.

— Snack – Canned (duh) pears, and my beloved 1/2 chocolate bar

Dinner – Leftover tomato/soup (there was a BUCKET left over from yesterday, and it really turned out great).

I received an outstanding comment yesterday regarding concerns for sodium & preservatives in canned foods. Her points were right on target; canned foods are a good fit for cash strapped, but are FAMOUS for adding ingredients that don’t exactly do a body good. If I get my act together, I’ll add sodium counts to today’s menu. A look at the Chef Boyardee label might be touch painful, no?
Keep sending those great suggestions! K

Day 1 total: $0.56! Tuesday, Jun 1 2010 

Hey gang,
Okay, Day One total = 0.56. Good stuff!
Quick FYIs: When it comes to using cans out of the boxes, I’m going with the standard .05/can ($8 for 155 cans = .05). Also, I refuse to get crazed with pricing out any spices I use. I don’t use that much, and it comes to fractions of a cent, so no worries.

Here’s the breakdown:
Coffee: .15
2 eggs: .08

Can of tuna: .05
Can of green beans: .05

Snack: Can of pineapple = .05

Soup – came out really well! Made of one can crushed tomato, one can mixed vegetables, salt, pepper, oregano, minced garlic, basil. = .10

Chocolate: I’m eating it as I type this. aaaaaaaaaaaaah. = .08

Total for the Day: $0.56. Fun stuff!

Thanks for all of your great feedback & ideas – keep them coming! K

Can $25 Finance a Month of Meals Fit for a Frugalista? Let’s Find Out! Tuesday, Jun 1 2010 

Hey gang, hope you had a fantastic Memorial Day weekend. Gorgeous weather here in Chester County, PA, great way to start the month of June!

It’s been months since my last money-saving experiment (“Frugnobyl: A Frugal Experiment Goes Horribly Awry, October), and I thought it was high time for another dare-to-be-frugally-me situation. An interesting idea emerged recently, courtesy of a remarkable young woman at one of my last workshops, who we’ll call “Tara”. Tara had some major changes going on in her personal life, and as a result, her finances were in need of a serious overhaul. She had managed to slash her overall spending by 25% in one year’s time, and she was sticking to a budget that (compared to past spending) was quite restrictive. When she asked me to go over her finances with her, one area of spending that stood out as a good opportunity for slashing was groceries. Her two-person household (she and her four-year old son), spends an average of $400/month on food. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, this is perfectly in keeping with the American average. However, with some simple, focused shopping techniques, she and I discussed how it could be brought much lower. Groceries were actually a sticking point with her, as she wanted to bring her budget down, but wasn’t sure how. In fact, having curtailed all credit card spending, she said she had only $150 cash to buy groceries for the next month for her and her son – she was at the point where she was considering going on some sort of assistance, or pulling out the dreaded credit cards to put food on the table.

After a few questions (did she or her son have any allergies, what were their likes/dislikes), we discussed ideas that other attendees have found helpful in the past, namely Discount Gourmet Grocery Stores and “Shopping Down Under” at her major chain supermarket. Given the severe constraints of her budget, it was then that I brought up another idea that a lot of people hadn’t heard of: “The $2 Box”.

At my local Grocery Outlet (B&B Grocery Outlet in Morgantown, PA, one of my favorite places on earth), they not only have fantastic discounts on name brands, but another little known gold mine known as “The $2 Box”. When a canned good or dry good (pasta, etc) doesn’t sell in a short amount of time, or has a good enough ding so it won’t stack properly on a shelf, they’ll put 40 or so cans together in a heavyweight box and sell it for $2. The items in these boxes are perfectly fine, and the cans inside will often retail for up to $1 each (organic corn, pineapple, tomato products, vegetables, ravioli, etc). I’m at the B&B once a week, and see these boxes usually once every couple of weeks. I’ve bought countless boxes in the past, and they are filled with items that most households use pretty regularly (see the list below).

Considering the contents of these $2 boxes would normally retail for $30-$50, it seemed like incorporating this trick might be a good fit for her household’s nutritional/financial needs to bring the food budget for the month well below $150 and help her thru this latest money crunch. After bringing it up, however, she looked at me, and with a good-natured smiling cringe, replied: “Would you?”. That’s when it occurred to me… ”Okay, holy crap. I never HAVE based my menu/budget primarily around these $2 gold mines, why should anyone follow this advice if I hadn’t followed it myself?!”

So…there you have it folks, the inspiration for this month’s blog – taking Tara’s (and America’s) grocery budget to a new low, by thinking outside the ($2) box.
In my last couple of visits to B&B, I’ve spent $8 on four of these fabulous boxes, filled with 155 cans of food (see list below) that I’ll use as the cornerstone for meal planning this month.

• Del Monte Green Beans 14.5 each – 5 cans
• Del Monte Peas, 15 oz each – 3 cans
• Del Monte Lima Beans, 15 oz each – 2 cans
• Le Sueur whole carrots, 15 oz each, 1 can
• Del Monte Mixed Veg – 14.5 oz – 3 cans
• Del Monte Corn, 15 oz each – 4 cans
• Del Monte Leaf Spinach, 13 oz each, 1 can
• RoTel Diced Tomatoes & Green Chilies, 10 oz each – 2 cans

• Del Monte Pineapple 15 oz each – 10 cans
• Del Monte Peaches/Pears 15 oz– 3 cans
• Del Monte Mandarin Oranges – 2 cans
• Del Monte Fruit Cocktail 15 oz each -3 cans
• Dole Pineapple Juice, 46 oz – one can

• Campbells Pork & Beans, 28 oz– 5 cans
• Rosarita Refried Beans, 16 oz each – 3 cans
• Assorted Beans (black beans, chili beans, pinto beans, red beans, chick peas) – 16 oz each – 14 cans

• Cento & Tuttorosso Italian Peeled/Crushed Tomatoes, 35 oz each, 30 cans (yes, 30)
• Hunts Spaghetti Sauce (Traditional, Meat, Four Cheese, Garlic Herb, 26 oz– 15 cans
• Hunts Manwich sloppy joe sauce– 14 cans

• Chef Boyardee Beef Ravioli/Lasagna Spaghetti & Meatballs, 15 oz– 20 cans
• Hartford House Beef Stew, 26 oz, 1 can
• BumbleBee Solid White Albacore Tuna, 5 oz each, 4 cans
• Libby’s Corned Beef Hash – 15 oz, 3 cans
• Swanson Vegetable Broth, Beef Broth & Chicken Broths, 14 oz each – 4 cans

• Nestle Carnation Evaporated Milk, 12 oz each – 2 cans
• Libby’s pure pumpkin, 29 oz can – 1
• Bruce’s Candied Yams, 16 oz can, 1
• Comstock Mincemeat Pie filling, 22 oz, 1

Total number of cans: 155, total spent: .05 per can

Now, clearly, in addition to a can opener, there are certain things in this frugalista’s diet NOT found on the above list that I MUST have. First priority: COFFEE, and in my snooty case, organic pretty please. To keep my bloodstream properly caffeinated, I’ve found that I require about .4 oz of coffee grounds per day (percolates into 3 big honkin’ mugs o’coffee), so one month’s supply of coffee will require 12 ounces of coffee grounds. Since 10 oz of my beloved “Good Earth Organic” coffee costs $1.50 at the B&B, keeping my brain activity at suggested levels will cost me $1.80 for the month. One box (50 packets) of Stevia cost .60, and a half gallon of Half & Half cost $1.99 (see why I love B&B?!). Total cost of coffee for the month = $4.39.

Snuggled cozily next to my caffeine addiction is my protein addiction, which is usually handled with somewhat obnoxious amounts of salmon, tuna & turkey. If I find these items for incredibly low prices at B&B, I’ll try them, but for now, I’m going with eggs, which I found at B&B for .50/dozen. If I’m going with two eggs/day, my protein lust will be satisfied at a cost of about 8 cents/day, or $2.50 for the month.

Also, like I even need to say it – anyone who has spent 60 seconds with me knows that consuming chocolate is as natural to me as breathing. I just got my hands on some fantastic organic Dagoba bars for .15 each. A half bar a day will total $2.25 for the month. A half bar a day…seems unnatural somehow to just LEAVE a half bar remaining when I open it, almost rude. But I can do that. I think.

Misc stuff. Okay, looking at the contents of the box, it’s clear that – at times – I’m going to have to buy some items to make the contents more palatable. Frugalista or no, Manwich without meat = Lamewich. For me to leave some wiggle room for a good hamburger sale (maybe ground turkey?), I’m going to need $5 open in the budget for this kind of stuff.

In the list of inventory in my $2 boxes, you’ll see 19 cans of fruit. I’m a fruitaholic of the highest order, so this works. We’re going with the canned stuff first (I’m thinking one can a day will tide me over), and when that’s gone, I’ll go with the fresh stuff, on sale. B&B has a fantastic ongoing sale of Crispin Apples for .35/pound. With 19 cans of fruit available, I’ll still need about two weeks worth of apples as well, and I’m thinking about a pound a day. At one pound a day, we’re talking about .35/pound x 14 days, or roughly $5. If I buckle & buy some, I’ll keep you updated. Stay tuned.

Condiments – a girl’s gotta have butter for her canned veggies, a little mayo for the canned tuna, and so on. Let’s go with an even $3 for that.

Okay, adding up numbers, from coffee to canned goods to condiments, a budget of $25 is our outside number, and will still easily allow for three reasonable meals a day, my beloved coffee, protein, fruits & veggies, chocolate, etc. NOT BAD!

So there you have it, the basic rules for June’s experiment. Can Kris put her mouth where her money is? Place your bets! Ideas? Suggestions? Your thoughts? Lay them on me! By month’s end, will this be another “Frugnobyl”, or will I be able to triumphantly report “Tranquility Base here, the Frugal has landed!”. ? The next month will tell. Between now and then, keep sending your stories. And for the love of Chef Boyardee, send any recipes you can think of that require large amounts of tomato products. Bon Appetit!

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