Project: Food Budget – Week 12

14 04 2011

My how time flies when you’re pinching pennies. In a good way!

Side Note: I am changing web hosts tomorrow, and my feed is changing. Please change your RSS subscription to this feed so we don’t lose each other!

Before we get to this week’s report, I thought I’d share a little data of how we’ve faired after 3 months of conscious budgeting. Since this is kind of a small graph, I broke it down a little more in a chart below.

To not skew the numbers, instead of counting fruit and vegetables at the individual level (e.g, number of bananas per purchase), I just counted each fruit and veggie acquisition as “1.” Otherwise, the data was very skewed to fruit – we bought 54 bananas in 3 months!


 As I was grouping items into categories, I really just made things up on the go. Here is the breakdown. I’m happy to see that fruits and veggies make up more than half of our purchases. Most amusing to me is the high percentage in the “cereal” bucket, as, if I didn’t cook for him 2Chili would live on cereal and Trader Joe’s 12 Grain Crackers.



Category Quantity Percentage
Beans & Legumes 7 2.59%
Breads, Rolls & Tortillas 3 1.11%
Broths, Sauces, and Toppings 15 5.56%
Candy and Desserts 14 5.19%
Canned Goods 9 3.33%
Cereal 18 6.67%
Chips & Crackers 6 2.22%
Coffee 3 1.11%
Spices & Condiments 8 2.96%
Dairy 34 12.59%
Eggs 6 2.22%
Flour 6 2.22%
Fruit 57 21.11%
Juice 7 2.59%
Honey, Sugar, and Sweeteners 3 1.11%
Meat, Chicken, or Fish 6 2.22%
Non-Meat Proteins 4 1.48%
Nuts & Nut Butters 8 2.96%
Oats, Quinoa, and Other Grains 7 2.59%
Pasta & Rice 5 1.85%
Potatoes & Sweet Potatoes 14 5.19%
Vegetables 73 27.04%

Finally, here is a store-by-store breakdown:


I would say if I looked back in time a few months a much, much larger percentage of this breakdown would have gone to Amazon Fresh. It is just so much more convenient to shop online and have your groceries delivered to the doorstep.

This project has been great for helping us reign in expenses and really determine if something is worth it or not. If I have wiggle room in the budget, I may splurge a bit (Hello Halibut!), but I have been pretty true to buying only what we need. I haven’t sacrificed quality for cost, and we certainly haven’t gone hungry! I think not really eating meat has helped in the budgeting – meat products are expensive (as they should be).

Here are this week’s results:

Goal: $75
Actual: $81.67

Those darn highbrow chocolate chip cookies pushed me over the line. They were right at the check stand without a price tag (of course), and I caved! Oops! I could have made a lot of cookies from $3.99.

Trader Joe’s Qty. Extended Price ($)
TJ’s Frosted Shredded Wheat 2 $5.98
Organic Red Bell Peppers 2 $2.99
White Whole Wheat Flour 1 $2.99
Strawberries, 1 lb 1 $2.49
Greek Yogurt 2 $5.58
All Purpose Flour 1 $2.99
Super Firm Tofu 1 $1.99
Highbrow Chocolate Chip Cookies 1 $3.99
Organic Fat Free Milk 1 $5.69
Bananas 6 $1.14
Black Beans 2 $1.78
Herbed Goat Cheese Log 1 $2.49
Mild California Cheddar 1 $3.28
Garlic 1 $1.29

CSA Box – $37

I cannot wait to dive into the Rio Star Grapefruit. Texas Grapefruit are just so juicy and sweet – not bitter!


Menu for the Week:

Budget Buddies


Project Food Budget: Week 11

7 04 2011

This week, I splurged a little bit for Test Kitchen Tuesday’s dinner MP900438855but still somehow managed to come in only $1-ish over budget. And, in the process of that splurging, I realized how expensive meals with any kind of meat really are (be it fish, chicken, or beef, or whatever). We have been eating 90% meat free for about 6 months now, and, I had sort of forgotten the cost of animal products.

2Chili begged me for some American cheese this week, so I obliged because he never asks for anything…

Here’s where we netted out:

Goal: $75
Actual: $76.05

Amazon Fresh Qty. Extended Price ($)
Land O Lakes Light Butter W/Canola Oil, 8 oz 1 2.69
Kraft Milk Singles 2%, 14.7  1 4.99
Green Onion, 1 bunch (Mexico) 1 0.99
Stiebrs Farms, Cage Free Veg Fed Large Eggs White Eggs, 1 dozen 1 2.89
Halibut Fillet Skinless Boneless, 8oz, Frozen 1 $12.49
Smucker’s Spreadable Fruit Simply Fruit Strawberry, 10 oz 1 $3.49
Kikkoman Soy Sauce Less Sodium, 20 oz 1 $4.59
Thai Kitchen Pure Coconut Milk Lite, 14 oz 1 $1.79
Thai Kitchen Red Curry Paste, 4 oz 1 $5.39
Mission 8 Inch Small Flour Tortillas, 8 ct, 10.4 oz 1 $2.19
Food Should Taste Good Multigrain Tortilla Chips, 6 oz 1 $3.29
Total   $44.79
Trader Joe’s Qty. Extended Price ($)
Mini Milk Chocolate Bars 2 $3.58
Roasted Unsalted Cashews 1 $5.49
TJ’s Frosted Shredded Mini Wheats 2 $5.98
Organic Fat Free Milk 1 $5.69
12 Grain Crackers 1 $1.99
Organic Red Bell Peppers 2 $2.99
Strawberries, 1 lb 2.49 $2.49
Organic Kiwi 6 $2.29
Bananas 4 $0.76

If you’ve been with me a while around these parts, you may have figured out I have a slightly geeky side. I have been keeping a spreadsheet of all my weekly purchases since I started participating in Project: Food Budget. Next week, in honor of the three month mark of the budgeting, I’m dreaming of some sort of data slicing and dicing…

Budget Buddies:

Project Food Budget: Week 10

31 03 2011

Nothing huge to note this week, however, Mother of 2Chili did report that she quite enjoyed the Veggie Yakisoba leftovers while she was housesitting for our recent vacation. “Grams,” as our dog and cat call her, never knows what she may find in the fridge when she’s here for a visit. Luckily, this time, she found something quite tasty.

I am still not caught back up on my life from being gone for a few days, so, this week I took the easy way out and just ordered from Amazon Fresh. When you are behind in everything and working around the clock, a little extra cost for home delivery is worth it. I have been glued to my desk chair for what seems like three solid days, but there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Life should be back on track on time for the weekend!

Here’s this week’s damage:

Goal: $75
Actual: $68.20

Amazon Fresh Qty. Extended Price ($)
Organic Valley Milk, Fat Free, Pasteurized, Gallon 1 $6.19
Tropicana Pure Premium Orange Juice with Calcium and Vitamin D, No Pulp, 128 oz 1 $6.79
Chiquita Bananas, 5 Count Bunch, Green (Ecuador) 1 $2.09
Chiquita Bananas, 3 Count Bunch, Ripe (Ecuador) 1 $1.29
Bob’s Red Mill, Wheat Germ, 16 oz 1 $2.89
Bob’s Red Mill, Organic Old-Fashioned Rolled Oats, 32 oz 1 $4.99
C&H Pure Cane Sugar Golden Brown, 2 lb 1 $3.09
Heinz Vinegar, Apple Cider, 16 oz 1 $1.59
Fiesta Lentils, 16 oz 1 $1.29
Yellow Onion, Organic, 1 Onion (United States)@0.99ea  1 $0.99

CSA Box – $37


Menu for the Week:

  • Monday: Egg Scramble with Kale, barley, carrots, and mushrooms (no 2Chili for dinner as he was still driving home…poor guy).
  • Tuesday: OMG Onion Rings and Tuna  Melt for 2Chili (I had onion rings and then cereal. Really. I was so flabbergasted from the onion rings I couldn’t think of what else to make. Tip: Do not eat onion rings and chase with cereal. Blech.)
  • Wednesday: Refried Bean Burritos
  • Thursday: Some Sort of Pasta with Red Sauce and Snow Peas
  • Friday: Lentil Loaf and Mashed Potatoes
  • Saturday: Butternut Squash Orzo
  • Sunday: Veggie Chili

Budget Buddies, Represent!

Project Food Budget: Week 9

24 03 2011

Nothing too exciting to report this week, unless you’re into TJ’s Frosted Flakes. 2Chili is thrilled because they have been out of Frosted Flakes for weeks at Trader Joe’s. We thought they had been discontinued, but alas, this week, they were available again. While not the best nutritionally, they are generally better than Kellogg’s Frosted Flakes, and make him happy, so I obliged.

You’ll notice he also has a mini chocolate bar dependency. Speaking of mini, on a little mini vacation right now, so I used this week to stock up on a few things to set us up for next week.

Goal: $75
Actual: $75.56

Trader Joe’s Qty. Extended Price ($)
12 Grain Crackers 1 $1.99
TJ’s Mini Shredded Wheats 1 $2.99
TJ’s Frosted Flakes 2 $3.98
Olive Oil 1 $3.49
Organic Fat Free Milk Gallon 1 $5.69
Bananas 6 $1.14
Dark Roast Coffee 1 $4.49
Almond Butter Creamy Unsalted 1 $4.99
Mini Milk Chocolate Bars 2 $3.58
Mini Dark Chocolate Bars 1 $1.79
Dried Bing Cherries 1 $3.49
Dried Blueberries 1 $5.49
Jumbo Cage Free Eggs 1 $2.79
Medjool Dates 1 $3.79
Organic Strawberries 1 lb 1 $3.99
TJ’s Macaroni & Cheese Yellow Cheddar 1 $0.99
Fusili Pasta 1 $0.99
Amazon Fresh Qty. Extended Price ($)
Chicken of the Sea Chunk Light Tuna in Water 4 $3.96
Food Should Taste Good Multigrain Chips 1 $3.29
Food Should Taste Good Sweet Potato Chips 1 $2.69
Eden Soba Buckwheat Pasta 1 $4.49
Clabber Girl Baking Powder 1 $1.69
Pictsweet Premium Cut Corn Frozen 2 $3.78

Menu for the Week

Monday: Leftover Baked Ziti
Tuesday: Veggie Yakisoba
Wednesday – Sunday: We’re braving it in the restaurant world! Wednesday was the Whole Foods Market hot bar, who knows what the rest of the week will bring… 

Budget Buddies

Project: Food Budget–Week 8

17 03 2011

Another week, another dollar. Or,  roughly 75 of them,  I guess.

I have been consciously budgeting for two solid months now, and I’m pretty happy with the results. I really haven’t been sacrificing quality ingredients at all, and have still been able to procure pretty much everything we need week in and week out. mangoes

For those that are fans of the Trader Joe’s Partially Defatted Peanut Flour, I have heard rumors that it has been discontinued, and I bought the last pack on the shelf at our location. (It is very dusty!) I hope this isn’t true, because this peanut flour is a great and cheap protein powder option, but it seems like it is true. Also, that crazy Joe had organic mangos for $.99 again this week. I couldn’t resist!

Here’s what we ended up with this week:

Goal: $75
Actual: $78.65

Trader Joe’s Qty. Extended Price ($)
12 Grain Crackers 1 $1.99
Whole Organic Carrots – 1 lb 1 $0.79
TJ’s Mini Shredded Frosted Wheats 2 $5.98
TJ’s Greek Yogurt 1 $2.79
Organic Fat Free Milk – Gallon 1 $5.69
Strawberries – 1 lb 1 $2.49
Bananas – 10 10 $1.90
Organic Brown Rice Rice Cakes 1 $2.49
Frozen Organic Blueberries 1 $3.99
Large Grade AA Cage Free Eggs 1 $2.29
TJ’s Peanut Flour 1 $3.49
Organic Unsalted Butter 1 $4.79
Organic Mangos 3 $2.97

CSA Box – $37:


I am bummed that my CSA box went up $2/week, but I am all about supporting our local farmers, so I guess it really isn’t that big of a deal. I am looking forward to Spring, though, when the box starts to fill up with more interesting items!

You may have noticed I bought carrots and received them in the produce box. That was on purpose. Our dog Pipa loves carrots, and we give her one every day or so as a treat.

Menu for the Week

  • Monday: Bean and Cheese Burritos with Spanish Rice
  • Tuesday: Oaxaca Tacos and Black Bean Stew
  • Wednesday: Egg scramble with barley, kale, carrots, tomatoes and shallots
  • Thursday: Leftovers (I have been rotating things out of the freezer for a while now – the gift that just keeps giving)
  • Friday: Beer Base Pizza
  • Saturday: Some sort of pasta bake with red sauce and spinach – I have a triathlon on Sunday, so I’m all about carbs on Friday and Saturday!
  • Sunday: Going out to eat to celebrate the first race of the season

Budget Buddies

Project Food Budget: Week 7

10 03 2011

MP900448178This week could be otherwise known as the week the wheels fell off (sort of). I had a couple items on the list that I don’t normally buy which put us about $10 over. Not too big of a deal in the scheme of things, really, but still – I aim to do better next week!

Goal: $75
Actual: $85.78

This week, 2Chili asked for the chili I used to make before I went all vegified on him, which includes ground beef, so I obliged. I also bought a can of salmon, and a 3lb bag of sweet potatoes on a whim. Those three items pretty much account for my overage.

Here’s the detailed look:

Trader Joe’s Qty. Extended Price ($)
TJ’s Mini Frosted Shredded Wheats 2 $5.98
Organic Sweet Potatoes – 3 lbs 1 $3.69
TJ’s Clover Honey 1 $4.49
TJ’s Organic Salt Free Marinara 2 $4.58
Organic Quinoa 1 $3.99
Canned Salmon No Salt 1 $1.99
Mini Milk Chocolate Bars 2 $3.58
Greek Yogurt 2 $5.58
All Purpose Unbleached Flour 1 $2.99
Bananas 9 $1.71
Kiwi 8 $3.12
Dried Bing Cherries 1 $3.49
Dried Cranberries 1 $2.49
Dry Toasted Pecan Pieces 1 $3.99
Organic Fat Free Milk – 1 Gallon 1 $5.69
Amazon Fresh Qty. Extended Price ($)
WestSoy Seitan 1 $4.29
Tropicana Orange Juice 1 $6.79
Organic Prairie, Lean Ground Beef, 1 lb 1 $6.99
Uncle Ben’s Brown Rice 1 $2.99
Mission Flour Tortillas 1 $3.29
Bush’s Chili Beans 1 $1.29
Dole Pineapple Tidbits 2 $2.78

Observations for the Week:

  • 2Chili still prefers meat in his chili, but not too much. He thought one pound of ground beef for a big potful was a too much, which is interesting, because back in the day when I only made chili con carne, it always had one pound of ground beef. His tastes have clearly adapted to a mostly meat-free lifestyle.
  • I couldn’t bring myself to actually make his chili with the Bush’s Chili Beans – there is just so much sodium in them. I just bought the beans to get the recipe (which I couldn’t find online), as that was the base of what I used to make in the past. I plan to donate the can at my indoor triathlon on March 20, where they’re having a food drive.

Menu for the Week:

I am being lazy in the kitchen this week. I have a crazy week of swimming 5 out of 7 days, which requires so much more time and planning that my other workouts, so I’m cutting a few corners! I planned ahead and had lots of leftovers in the freezer for just this week.

Buddies in Budgeting:

Project: Food Budget–Week 6

3 03 2011

I learned some interesting things this week, not really budget-related per se, but just interesting:

  • Trader Joe’s ketchup is too sweet for my taste, much to 2Chili’s excitement, because it means Heinz is back on our table. Ketchup is part of 2Chili’s three food groups, the other two of which include barbeque sauce and orange juice. And he thinks I’m a weird eater.
  • 2Chili doesn’t ordinarily like brown rice, but if I make it into Spanish Rice and don’t tell him it’s  brown, he doesn’t notice. Mwa-ha-hah.
  • Apparently burritos doused in enchilada sauce are the “proper” way to make enchiladas, unlike my casserole style, and I have been invited to make the former version any time I please. The latter version is never to be spoken of again.
  • Greens in muffins are good. Trust me.
  • I have a Greek yogurt problem. It is the single  most expensive item I buy weekly. But, if that’s my worst problem, I guess I don’t really have any problems now do I?

Now, on with the show.

Budget: $75
Actual: $78.32

Trader Joe’s Qty. Extended Price ($)
Mini Milk Chocolate Bars 1 $1.79
Peanut Butter Granola Bars 1 $1.99
Bananas 6 $1.14
Organic Fat Free Milk, Gallon 1 $5.69
TJ’s Very Berry Clusters Cereal 1 $2.99
Joe’s Fresh Orange Juice, not from concentrate (got a 2 thumbs down, just like its concentrated brethren) 1 $2.99
TJ’s Greek Style Yogurt, 0% 2 $5.58
Mild California Cheddar 1 $2.67
Shredded Part-Skim Mozzarella 1 $3.49
Organic Baby Carrots 1 $1.49
Kiwi 7 $2.73
Organic Mango 3 $2.97
Target Qty. Extended Price ($)
Simply Heinz Ketchup 1 $2.79
Ground Ginger 1 $3.49
Brown Sugar 1 $1.52

Total for stores: $43.32

CSA Box: $35 (I just found out this is going up to $37 – this will be my last $35 box. Oh well.)


Isn’t interesting to see where all the veggies come from?

I feel like I got quite a lot for my budget this week, but I am still $3.32 over budget. I blame the Simply Heinz. Just kidding. It was really probably due to my organic mango hoarding. Trader Joe’s had organic mangos for $.99 each, whereas traditional mangoes were $1.59. I couldn’t help myself and had to buy three! Yum, yum, yum!

Menu for the week:

  • Monday: Leftover cashew cheese ziti
  • Tuesday: Bean Bolognese
  • Wednesday: Lentil loaf sandwiches and red potato oven chips
  • Thursday: French Bread Pizza and arugula salad
  • Friday: 2Chili-style enchiladas
  • Saturday: Paninis
  • Sunday: TBD

Here are my partners in budgeting – check ‘em out! 

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