Tag Archives: Aldi

Robbing Peter to Pay Paul – No Grocery Shopping Edition

When I was a child, I hated grocery shopping.  HATED IT.  I think it was the old ladies running over my toes with their carts.  Or maybe it was the mean auntie I was required to shop with.  I don’t know but I tell you it was not fun for me,  Not one bit.

That was pretty much my attitude for years, even as an adult.  Because of my first job out of college (BEST JOB EVER!) I had most of my meals paid for through travelling expenses. Sometimes fast food.   Sometimes room service, but never home cooked food.

I rarely grocery shopped and when I did, I didn’t shop well.  You know with a list, or a plan or a vague idea of what to eat.

Then one day, I had a daughter. And then the next day (so it seems to me) she was ready to eat meals that weren’t pumped or pureed.  And I had to make them.  And fortunately,  not too long after that I discovered Aldi.  And now, I no longer hate grocery shopping. If you don’t know the joy that is Aldi, you are missing out.  But that is something to share in another post.

So while I do not hate grocery shopping, I am still aware that groceries are a line item on my budget.  About $50 a week on average when I included special activities, family get-togethers and holidays.

I decided not to spend that $50 and instead, feed my family from the pantry and freezer for the week.  Why?  Well at first it was to have the guilt free pleasure of spending about $60 at Madonna’s Seafood at a Saturday date for Mirror Image and me.  My co-worker recommended this place because it has an All-You-Can-Eat steamed crabs menu.  We LOVE crabs.

But that changed.

The same day I made the plans to scrap grocery shopping for the week and made plans to dine at Madonna’s, I picked up a prescription for Mirror Image from Sam’s Club. It was $113 that I was not really expecting. Bye crabs.  It was nice almost eating you.

I decided instead to re-route the grocery money to the prescription expense.  Not because I couldn’t pay both.  I could.  In fact, I could have paid both the restaurant and the groceries to begin with.  What I wanted to do was experiment and sacrifice and claw back some kitchen real estate.

We go grocery shopping every week. I love trying to new recipes and stuffing Mirror Image’s little mouth with all sorts of yummy treats to show her she is the love of my life.  I also take my lunch to work and I don’t ever want to have an excuse to get a burger.  Finally, we are real foodies at my house.  We kind of live to eat, from a gourmet perspective.

So, to help balance out the unanticipated medical costs, we will sacrifice this week.  To show I can step up, I am experimenting with simple meals made from the pantry and freezer this week.  Here is my budget meal plan:

Saturday

  • Breakfast – Bacon & eggs & bagels & canned pineapple
  • Lunch/dinner – Ground turkey tacos & beans; homemade French fries

Sunday

  • Breakfast – Bacon & eggs & pork sausage & canned beans and apples
  • Lunch/dinner – Ground turkey tacos & beans; homemade French fries

Monday

  • Breakfast – Hard boiled eggs & bacon (me)
  • Lunch – Canned Grilled Chicken & Sausage Gumbo soup (me)
  • Lunch – Peanut butter sandwich & apple (her)
  • Dinner – Pasta and meat sauce (us)

Tuesday

  • Breakfast – Hard boiled eggs & sausage patties (me)
  • Lunch – Pasta and meat sauce (leftovers) (me)
  • Lunch – Peanut butter sandwich & apple (her)
  • Dinner – Chicken with tomatoes and mushrooms (us)

Wednesday

  • Breakfast – Hard boiled eggs & sausage patties (me)
  • Lunch – Canned potato soup (me)
  • Lunch – Peanut butter sandwich & apple & cookies (her)
  • Dinner – Beef Stroganoff & green beans (us)

Thursday

  • Breakfast – Bagel with cream cheese and salmon
  • Lunch – Chicken with tomatoes and mushrooms (leftovers)
  • Lunch – Peanut butter sandwich & apple & cookies (her)
  • Dinner – Garlic Chicken and broccoli

Friday

  • Breakfast – Pain au chocolate and banana (me)
  • Lunch – Baked potato (me)
  • Lunch – Peanut butter sandwich (her)
  • Dinner – Tuna casserole & green beans (us)

Snacks

  • Banana bread
  • Pumpkin bread
  • Gelato

I have all of this food (or the ingredients) in my house.  Right now. It really is not a big sacrifice to give up shopping for the week and, it will help me clear out room in the freezer and the cupboards.  Plus, it is a good lesson for Mirror Image and I to keep in mind…gratitude for all that we have.  Especially when there are so many that have so much less.

How often do you prepare meals plans around your pantry surplus?

Thrifty Image

Post Holiday

The holidays were a wonderful mixture of work, relaxation, gratefulness, family time, frugality and indulgence.  It was GREAT and I am both thankful it has wound down and also that the next time is only 363 days away.  Can’t wait!

This year, my cousin had a Christmas Eve cocktails and appetizer reception at her home so that we could all be together to celebrate.  The usual family and friends that would ordinarily get together at my house on Christmas Day were otherwise engaged with travel, personal projects and so on this year.

I used coupons and sale shopping to buy some of the presents and food for the holidays.  Target Cartwheel, coupons.com, JC Penney coupons, an Ollie’s Army coupon and Aldi grand reopening coupon rounded out the discounts.

Mirror Image made out on Christmas big time…as usual. This girl…she likes STUFF. Her haul included VR goggles, clothes, money, Lindor Truffels (when did that become a Christmas wish?  She was begging for those for weeks), jewelry and more.

Christmas lunch was fabulous, too.  The good folks at Aldi one again provided a luxurious feast – broiled lobster tails, roasted duck, salad, roasted brussel sprouts, standing rib roast, dinner rolls.  Thank goodness I can get this stuff from Aldi or this kind of menu would not be affordable.

Here is a giggle – one of my presents was a Fit Board from my cousin.  This is timely considering the menu that I mentioned above.  I need it and am looking forward to using at the start of the new year in relation to my weight management goals!

More importantly than the STUFF though, is the LOVE.  I am so blessed.  Overall good health, a family that loves me and let’s me cook for them and all the other blessings that would take too long to write.

Next step post holidays, my trip to Seattle to see my sister get married (we leave tomorrow); sign up for some life enrichment classes at the local community college; The Great Water Challenge of January 2017.

Life is actually NEVER boring…

Happy New Year!

Thrifty Image

Eating Green This Summer

Funny Vegetables

I won’t try to fool anyone.  I love myself some cookies.  And donuts.  And pie.  And fajitas and fried chicken.  Love, love, love.

But in the summer time, I get giddy for garden vegetables.  The fresh from the garden taste of tomatoes and cantaloupe is a joy to behold and I am all in.  This year, I planted several tomato plants, eggplant and green pepper.

In addition to doing this out of a desire to have another dimension to my life.  I also look forward to the monetary savings of growing my own food.  Truly, I experienced physical pain earlier this Spring when I had to hand over $2.49 per 2-pack at Aldi for green peppers.

Except for a handful of cherry tomatoes, nothing major has come from my garden, yet.  In fact, the beetles are eating my eggplant and a rabbit has laid claim to the green pepper plant.  But, I am not discouraged!  That is because so many others are doing quite well on their gardens and guess who gets to benefit?  Me!!!!

So far, I have saved by not having to buy zucchini or squash or celery because other gardens surplus has provided for me.  In fact, my mom went so far as to not only give me a load of squash and cucumbers, she took some of the squash, turned it into an amazingly delicious casserole, let herself into my house and left us dinner for the evening.  THANK YOU, MOM!

I am looking forward to when my little patch of gardening earth starts throwing up the goods.  I will eat those veggies and share them, too.

Saving money by gardening is delicious!

Thrifty Image

Fresh Start – It’s Gonna Be May!

Empty Desk Calendar - Green

We may not have gotten all of the April showers that I am use to having here on the east coast but, I am looking forward to those May flowers.  It is time for a fresh start.

The end of March and all of April were filled with tests and trials of the financial and non-financial type.  I am looking forward to getting back on task and taking back control.

In March, during Spring Break, we visited the grandparents in the Seattle/Tacoma area.  It was a great visit but I always get a little out of control in relation to food when I leave my “home” zip codes.  For instance, we ate lovely Dungeness crabs at Pike’s Fish Market.  The experience was about $70 for 3 of them.  Yikes!  Still, I wouldn’t have given back one bite because it was awesome!

In April, thanks to the generosity of her grandparents and as a reward for her great grades, Thrifty Image, Jr. was able to get a new fancy schmancy phone.  We continued to use FreedomPop, just upgraded her device to AWESOME.  We took advantage of all of these department store Friends & Family sales to outfit Junior for Summer camp – t-shirts and shorts and undies, oh my!

I also indulged in buying A LOT of product for my hair this month.  I have naturally curly (and dry) hair and I have decided to grow it out.  Healthy hair requires a commitment and some of that is in dollars and cents as well as time.  So, I have purchased many, many, many conditioners, leave-ins and styling creams to help in my journey.  My plan is to spend a little more on products healthy hair from home rather than spending A LOT more for healthy hair from the salon.

And the snacks.  I have over indulged in everything from Oreo’s and DeMet’s Turtles to the new Frosted Coffees from Chick Fila.  OMG has anyone else fallen in love with those?  I am hooked on those the same way I used to be hooked on McDonald’s Sweet Tea.  Oh no, now I want some Sweet Tea!  Spring came and my self-control seemed to have fled. What is interesting is that I have been busier than ever so I am not even sure how I had the time to devote to so much snacking but apparently, where there is a (lack of) will (power), there is a way.

Well. To not quote NSync “It’s Gonna be May!” And I have a plan.

Beginning May 1 – 30 day water challenge drinking one gallon per day.  I found when I did this in January, not only did I get the benefits of the additional hydration, I had less desire for processed sugar.

Join a gym – There is a new You Fit in my neighborhood and it would just be un-neighborly to ignore it.  I am going to have Junior join with me.  Soon, school will be out and I need her too tired to think up mischief or to use the word “bored”.  Did I mention we are going to Jamaica later in the Summer using my Rapid Rewards points?  I have a couple of months to get beach body ready.  More on how I scored a practically FREE vacation with points in another post.

Yard Sale – A May yard sale would be a make up sale for the one that was rained out last Saturday.  Even with the rain we made $12 because buyers knocked on our door. So I think that next time, we should do well if the sun shines upon us.

Test new recipes – In an unusual move, I got caught up in fast food and restaurant eating way too much over the last 5 weeks.  Well, enough of that.  It is my least favorite expense when I look at my Mint account.  I think it is because even when we eat out, it doesn’t correlate to my spending less time in the kitchen.  There is no benefit because Junior and the dog are ALWAYS hungry.  So yes I will cook more but, I will save more – both my money and my cholesterol levels. This is thanks to Aldi’s consistently low prices and bonus – now that they accepts credit cards, I can use my Chase Freedom card this quarter to get 5% cash back of grocery purchase up to $1,500.

Even with my wayward ways in April, I still maintained my savings levels and charitable commitments so no regrets there. However, Junior and I will be having a chat about potentially lowering our cable/internet plan soon.  Expect to hear the sobs.  Like me, she loves her television shows (her-Disney, me-National Geographic).

I have a chicken that I will roast tonight, a half bottle of white wine and some trash tv shows to get through between now and April 30 – tomorrow!  Then, I am back in frugal mode because

It's Gonna by May

Have a great weekend!

Thrifty Image

Weekend Money – Business Travel Edition

Cartoon Airplane

Money falling

I am on my way to a conference and trade show in Orlando. I leave Saturday and return Wednesday so the weekend money will definitely be impacted.  First by making sure Mirror Image, Thrifty Pooch and the Thrifty Cottage are all taken care of. And second, by purchasing items or services I wouldn’t ordinarily purchase on account of being out-of-town.

How to spend the Weekend Money:

Church (I will donate electronically through the website since I will be out-of-town) – $328

Groceries – $25

Fun Outing – $0

Hotel* – $390

Parking* – $18

Taxi* – $40

Snacks for travel – $5

Restaurant Food* – $80

Hotel Spa Service – $125 + tip

Total – $1,011

* Travel expenses for which I will be reimbursed.  In order to accumulate travel miles and points, I will pay on my Barclay’s Arrival card.

Certainly my most expensive weekend in a long time.  If ever.

These are just Friday, Saturday and Sunday expenses.

I haven’t completely decided but I might indulge in a spa service.  Likely a massage.  It is a little pricey – like most things in Orlando.  I do have a feeling however that I will need the service since the booth we will be constructing for the conference is HEAVY.

Mirror Image will have a lot of fun this weekend that will cost me nothing extra.  While I am gone, she will go to Ripley’s Believe it or Not on Saturday and RockinJump on Sunday.  It will be nice to finally have those two adventures used up.  Plus, if she is kept busy, she won’t weep because she misses me so much.  Yeah, right…

As for my fun, being in a lovely hotel without having to get up early each morning and walk the dog is fun enough. But the cherry on top will be watching the Walking Dead (if it is available on my hotel cable), doing my taxes and taking a dip in the hot tub. All of these are free.

For now, I need to stop writing about spending money but actually go spend it and then pack.

Thrifty Image Mirror