The All You Grocery Challenge has officially ended! The last two days of meals weren’t very noteworthy, because Jai and I both came down with colds, so we didn’t eat a lot because of that; getting sick really kills my appetite. I bought two boxes of crackers on Friday night – crackers are my go-to food when I’m sick – so we pretty much just ate those and leftovers from that big batch of chicken casserole that I made.
Unfortunately, I messed up the chicken soup that I was trying to make, so I ended up having to toss it!
The two boxes of crackers that I bought cost $3.98, which brings my final total for Week 4 to $21.63. Our allotment for the Grocery Challenge was $25 per person per week, a total of $50 maximum for our two-person household.
For breakfast, we toasted the leftover Blueberry muffins from Day 24. For lunch, I took the remaining cooked chicken in the fridge and whipped up a casserole, served with homemade bread and iced tea:
We had company, so this served 3 with generous leftovers. I actually made 3 casseroles, because I had so many ingredients! The casserole consisted of two boxes of cooked spaghetti, chopped chicken from about 3 and half breasts, a little flaxseed, and seasonings. I scooped it into casserole dishes, topped with shredded cheese, and prepared two cups of Shirley J Universal Sauce, which I poured on top. I added a little more seasoning, and baked at 350 degrees until it looked ready.
Since we had so much casserole, we ended up eating it again for dinner. I know that’s redundant, but we didn’t mind. I was too tired at the end of the day to care!
I put one casserole dish inside a ziploc bag and froze it – I can’t find a definitive answer on how well cooked spaghetti in a creamy sauce freezes, so this will be my experiment so that I can find out. Should be interesting!! The remaining casserole and a half went into the fridge for future meals this week.
When I was cutting the meat off the chicken breasts, I saved the bones, skins, and other little leftover pieces, and put them back in the stockpot to make soup. I added cold water, leftover celery and carrot sticks from Tuesday’s lunch, seasonings, and let it simmer all day. I took it off the heat before I went to bed, and put it back on the stove this morning to simmer again. My plan is to strain out the bones and serve it as a nice chicken soup for dinner – I’ll keep you posted on how it turns out!
We had company at lunchtime, so I set out a sandwich station of homemade bread, deli ham, shredded cheese, lettuce, salad, juice and shortbread cookies.
We had one steak left over, so I chopped it up for dinner and made steak quesadillas flavored with chipotle seasoning salt and leftover taco sauce packets from Taco Bell! We also had a little bit of potato salad left, so we had that as well as some green salad for the side dish.
I made blueberry muffins for breakfast, using this recipe.
We had company, so for lunch I set out another sandwich station of homemade bread, deli ham, lettuce, shredded cheese, deviled eggs, veggies with Blue Cheese dressing for dip, iced tea, shortbread cookies & muffins.
For dinner, I chopped up some of the clearance chicken that I had bought & boiled the night before and made chicken enchiladas. Last year, I won a package of Shirley J Universal Sauce from Desperately Seeking Deals, and the recipe that I used was adapted from the recipe leaflet that came with the sauce. I took three tortillas and filled them with the cooked, chopped chicken, a little cheese, more sauce packets from Taco Bell, and Chipotle seasoning salt, wrapped them up, and placed them in a pan. I prepared 1 cup of the Shirley J sauce, covered the tortillas with it, and topped with a bit of cheese and more taco sauce. I was concerned that the recipe wouldn’t have enough cheese – the recipe called for 4 cups, and I had maybe 1 cup of cheese left at the most. However, the sauce was so creamy that it made up for it – Jai actually thought that I must have put a lot of different cheeses in it. The enchiladas were very nice!
And by the way, in case you’re wondering why I have so many Taco Bell sauce packets: No, I do not raid all of their condiments! It’s just that we’ve paid a few visits through Taco Bell’s drive-thru in recent history (ahem) when our schedules were nutty, and every time they would stuff our bags with about 20 packets of sauce. So, I saved the leftover packets and put them in a ziploc bag in the fridge. Waste not, want not!
.62 lbs of Millstone coffee - regularly $5.57, used one $1 coupon good on any half pound or more of Millstone coffee, which I found in the aisle next to the product a while ago. The coupon also doubled, making my final cost $4.07. 1 gallon of milk - price: $1.99. 2 pack of Olay makeup removers - it was cheaper to buy these in a bundled pack than individually, so I went ahead and stocked up. Price: $11.99. Package of chicken breasts – originally $2.61, on clearance for 30% off – final price: $1.84. (This actually rang up .02 cents higher than marked – I don’t know why, but it wasn’t worth my time to go back over two cents!) Another package of chicken breasts – originally $2.55, on clearance for 30% off – final price: $1.77. 1 Sunday paper - I didn’t get a chance to buy a paper on Sunday, but I noticed there were still some left on the newsstand on my way out, so I stopped and went back through the checkout to buy one! Price: $2.50.
I also made a quick run today to get a 2-lb bag of cheese and half gallon of half & half for $7.98. I forgot to take a picture, but you can view the receipt here.
This brings our running Grocery Challenge total for Week 4 to $17.65. (As per Grocery Challenge rules, only food purchases are counted towards the contest total – not toiletries or the cost for coupons.)
We had a heatwave last week, so a lot of my meals ended up being very simple, because I didn’t want to turn on the oven and make it worse!
On Wednesday, I made a simple pasta with carrots, cheese, seasonings and flaxseed for lunch, and we had leftover ham chowder for dinner. The chowder is actually a lot better the next day – especially if you stir in a little cheese before microwaving!
Thursday was as simple as it gets: Leftover ham chowder for lunch and spaghetti with butter and garlic salt for dinner. I was feeling sick and didn’t have much of an appetite, hence the very stripped-down meals.
We finished off the rest of the ham chowder for lunch – seriously, I made a huge batch of it! – and then for dinner I baked some corn and pre-cooked pork chops from the freezer, since I could bear to turn on the oven again.
Looks good, right? Unfortunately, I froze the pork chops in a pretty flimsy ziploc bag quite a long time ago, so they ended up being freezer burnt. BLECH! We threw them out and made quesadillas instead. Oh well, at least the corn was good!
For lunch, I defrosted some of the dirt cheap deli ham that I got in April and served it with homemade bread, cheese, and lettuce for sandwiches. I also made a potato salad to go with it, using up the rest of the potatoes that I had on hand as well as 6 hardboiled eggs and celery.
We also had veggies with ranch dressing for dip.
We had company join us for dinner – I defrosted a big package of thin cut steaks and marinated them in chipotle seasoning for the main course, and served it with homemade bread, potato salad, and a green salad consisting of red leaf lettuce, iceberg lettuce, carrot slices, and flaxseed. Our guest also brought over walnut clusters for dessert – yum! There was a lot of steak – two trays worth – but unfortunately I forgot to take a picture of it! There were lots of leftovers, so we sent our guest home with a couple of steaks and half a loaf of bread.
Day 22 – The Start of Week 4:
We enjoyed leftovers from the previous day – ham sandwiches & potato salad for lunch, steak & green salad for dinner!
Peanut butter & banana slices on toasted homemade bread.
Lunch: Kept it super simple with a quesadilla!
Dinner: I made up my own “Ham Chowder” recipe, taking inspiration from the yummy potato soup I made on Day 4. I cut the bone out of a ham steak and put it in a stockpot with maybe 5 potatoes (I don’t remember how many exactly!). I filled the pot with just enough water to cover, added a stock cube and seasonings, and boiled until the potatoes were well cooked. I blended the soup a little at a time in my food processor, and served with homemade bread.
Jai liked this, but I thought it was a little bland. It was OK, but a bit watery – I only had one stock cube left, so it didn’t get cooked in lots of nice juicy stock like the last batch of potato soup that I made.
Our final total for Week 2 was $48.34. $30.59 of this was spent on groceries, while $17.75 went towards lunch at a restaurant. Our allotment for the Grocery Challenge is $25 per person per week, a total of $50 maximum for our two-person household.
Our menu for Monday, Day 16, was a bit thrown off by the holiday weekend. We had some cupcakes left over from the 4th of July, and were also sent home with some Rice Krispie Treats and popcorn from the party; so we ended up snacking on those throughout the day. For lunch, I threw together a quick, experimental dish of leftover spaghetti noodles scrambled with 4 eggs, bread chunks, cheese, seasoning, and flaxseed. It was good, but it would have been better without the bread. (Hey, it was worth a try!)
I was so exhausted that I ended up going to bed early without eating dinner. I guess the holiday weekend really took it out of us!
Breakfast: I ended up skipping breakfast; I think Jai had fruit.
Grilled cheese sandwiches on homemade bread, with celery sticks & peanut butter:
I wanted to keep dinner simple, so I just threw together some spaghetti tossed with olive oil, shredded cheese, seasonings, and flaxseed. I usually aim to serve a vegetable or fruit with each dinner, but I was just too tired!
Sunday, Day 15:
Since it was the 4th of July, we had holiday plans with friends and family, so it wasn’t a “normal” day. There were some leftovers in the fridge which we snacked on through the day – along with a sample or two of the food I was preparing for that evening! – and then we headed over to watch fireworks with family, where there was a huge buffet of food. My contribution was cupcakes and 2 loaves of bread – the second loaf was still in the breadmaker when I took these photos!
I used a few different effects to decorate the cupcakes. Some of them were plain yellow cake batter with red sprinkles stirred in; for the rest, I tinted the batter, added different flavors, and layered it in the cupcake liners to create fun, multi-colored cupcakes. The first layer was tinted with red food coloring and flavored with a little apple juice and apple pie spices; the second layer was left untinted and flavored with extra vanilla extract, while the top layer was tinted blue and flavored with a little blueberry juice. The addition of juice made the batter quite runny, so I was worried that they wouldn’t cook properly, but they ended up nice and moist.
I normally make all my baked goods from scratch, but I had a Duncan Hines cake mix and pre-made frosting in my stockpile that needed to be used up, so these cupcakes were a good way to utilize those items.
We had toast, orange slices, salad, and eggs scrambled with seasonings and flaxseed. I know, I’ve been putting that flaxseed into everything since I got it! I like it because it’s nutritious and has a good flavor, so it’s a nice “extra” to toss into dishes.
For dinner, I wanted to do an approximation of a traditional English meal – meat & potato pie, mushy peas, and bread. First, I made a pie crust, then filled it with two cooked, chopped potatoes, cooked beef cubes, and 1 cup of gravy. (Normally I would add a lot more gravy, but the packet I bought didn’t make much!) Then I topped with a few dollops of butter, covered with a top crust, and poked the center with a fork.
I usually do my famous oil crust, but recently I’ve been making shortening crusts. Here is the recipe I used:
Shortening Pie Crust
Recipe from Betty Crocker’s Cook Book – makes an 8 or 9 inch one-crust pie
Measure flour and salt into bowl. Cut in shortening thoroughly. Sprinkle in water, 1 tablespoon at a time, mixing until all flour is moistened and dough almost cleans side of bowl. (1 to 2 teaspoons water can be added if needed.) Gather dough into a ball and roll out.
I cooked the pie at 350 degrees for about half an hour or so – just until the pastry looked done.
In the meantime, I started making mushy peas. Now, you’ve heard me talking about these before – it’s a traditional side dish in Northern England, and I swear they are delicious, despite the somewhat unappetizing name and my sorry attempt at re-creating them last year! Thankfully, fellow ex-pat Clair of Mummy Deals sent me her tip for making mushy peas stateside. She takes regular dried split peas, boils them with a little extra salt, and covers them in malt vinegar. I followed her lead, and it turned out beautifully! Thanks Clair!!
I made a loaf of homemade bread to go with the meal, and then packed everything up in the insulated bag you see in the background and took it over to a friend’s house for dinner. This made a lot of food, so it fed 3 of us plus seconds and leftovers.