Project: Food Budget, Week 32 + Past Weeks’ Eats

Welcome back to another exciting week of saving money with y/b/l.

Tip of the Week

Splurge when you can!  Maybe you are living back at home and mom is picking up some of your groceries and you are drawing all grains and beans from your stockpile.  Or maybe you just don’t need that much this week.  Either way, you have a bit of room in your budget to buy some new-to-you items that normally wouldn’t be in-budget.  Go ahead…be rebellious!  And enjoy every second of it.  🙂

Weekly Menu

What happens when you move and then proceed to travel immediately?  Meal planning goes out the window.  The downside: this can lead to overspending.  The upside: I’ve been forced to get a creative and good great things have resulted.  The only items I brought into mom’s kitchen are my box (yes box) of spices, my cutting board, my knife, and my blender.  I do occasionally grab beans, oil, or grains from the storage room basement but all-in-all, I’ve been creating yummy dishes with very little.

Now by creating I mean going back to my college years of depending on the stir-fry.  I could sing the praises of stir fries for hours but I’ll get straight to the point: they are the most versatile, fantastic, go-to meal on the planet.  Grains + veggies + protein + seasonings and you’re good to go.  Veggies on their way out?  No problem…just toss ’em in and go!  Don’t love that grain you bought in bulk?  Mix it in.  You get the picture.  😉

First there was the Road Trip Fill-Her-Up which consisted of Alter Eco red quinoa, vidalia onions, spinach, chickpeas, garlic, chili powder, liquid smoke, and s&p.

Whatever you do, don’t skip the liquid smoke!  It added a depth of flavor to this dish that makes it totally unpredictable but incredibly delicious.  A bottle doesn’t cost that much and will last you forever since you only need a couple drops (max) to get the desired effect.

Next up, the Unique Use-‘Em-Up:

Isn’t mom’s deck table pertiful?

This guy had brown rice, the rest of my dying bag of baby bell peppers, black beans, and ginger/rosemary/s&p as well as a unique new-to-me oil that I splurged on at…of all places…Marshalls!

Why yes that is rosemary, ginger, sweet orange-infused olive oil!

Oh my word this was to-die-for.  I not only sauteed the veggies with the oil + spices but also mixed them into the rice.  You couldn’t really taste the orange on the veggies but it was definitely there on the rice.  Which I proceeded to nibble on repeatedly.  Is this oil absolutely necessary?  No.  Did it take lunch from good to outstanding?  Yes!  Will I be experimenting with more infused oils?  Yes again.

Then of course were my sweet potatoes, which I sung the praise of in yesterday’s post<–see savory recipe there

Cheezy Sweet Potatoes

And another new-to-me product that provides great snacking, with or without milk.  😉

I’ve also been eating out a ton between my trip to Bmore and just catching up with people.  Unfortunately, there are a lot of meals not pictured because either a) the photos didn’t come out at all or b) I was too hungry to remember to snap one.  Putting that sad fact aside, I am happy to report that Bmore is a very veg-friendly city.  Or maybe its just my recent shift in perspective, who knows.  Either way, I’ve been consistently looking for and finding a plethora of veg options at dedicated and mainstream restaurants alike.

One night in Bmore I had pommes frites and an amazing beet-and-arugula salad from this cute Italian place with Happy Hour until 8.  Another evening I enjoyed some outstanding jambalaya from an all-veg restaurant near Hopkins’ campus.  It not only came loaded with veggies and kidney beans, but also featured two types of veg sausage.  Nom nom nom

En route to Bmore I enjoyed a new-to-me option at Ruby Tuesday: the Veggie Trio & Garden Bar combo.  You get unlimited salad bar and three vegetable sides for only $9.99.  I picked the grilled green beans, grilled asparagus, and roasted spaghetti squash.  I was super happy to see a mainstream restaurant that’s added veg options (they also had a spaghetti squash pasta dish with grilled veggies) instead of taking them away *cough99cough*.  I even wrote to the company to thank them.  The more satisfied veg voices they hear from, the more likely they are to continue offering such options.

Fast forward a little to Cinco de Mayo weekend when I enjoyed back-to-back nights of Mexican food.  First up were veg enchiladas with Mexican rice from Tequila Grill in Naugatuck, CT. 

I cannot rave enough about how accommodating and just plain nice the staff were.  When I called ahead, the gentleman literally went through the entire menu with me.  He also gave me the heads up that their beans were made with lard and to ask for “no beans, no dairy” with whatever I ordered.  These made great leftovers the next day.

On the actual May 5, the beau’s family and I celebrated at El Coyote in Brookfield, CT.  I asked the host about options and ended up with an Avocado Salad with this amazing ginger dressing and a side of black beans (no lard!) and rice.  Yuuuum.  Oh and don’t forget about the Mexican beer.  Delish.

Spending Savings (past two weeks)

Trader Joe’s: $28.87
BJ’s: $20.96
Target: $12.94
Big Y: $8.50
Marshalls: $8.00
Stew Leonard’s: $5.04

Total: $84.31

I’m calling this a success since I have neither meal planned nor couponed nor comparison shopped and it included a number of out-of-the-norm items.  As for savings, well between lost receipts and receipts without enough information, I couldn’t calculate it.  Next time…

Steals and Deals


Method Dish Soap: $0.69 (originally $2.99)
Yes to Cucumber Sensitive Moisturizer + SPF 30: $9.99 (originally $14.99)

For both these deals I stacked a Target coupon with a manufacturer’s coupon.  Neither of these deals is still available but you can save $3 off any Yes To product.

BJ’s (regular prices)

Blueberries (12oz): $6.99
Sunburst Tomatoes (2lb): $5.99
Baby Sweet Peppers (2lb): $4.99

Trader‘s (regular prices)

Organic Sweet Potatoes (3lbs): $3.69 or $1.23/lb
Organic Pea Shoots: $2.29 <–I’ve never seen them anywhere else for less than $2.99
Barbara’s Puffins Cereal: $2.74 after coupon <–expires May 13
Lara Bars: $1.04 ea wyb4 after coupon
Toothpaste: $2.29

Stew Leonard’s

Avocados: 3/$3
Compari Tomatoes (1lb): $1.99

That’s all for me folks!  But my fellow budgeteer’s have great stories to tell.  Everyone has different budgets, different food priorities, and a different number of mouths to feed.


Kait xo

2 thoughts on “Project: Food Budget, Week 32 + Past Weeks’ Eats

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