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September Home Cooking Challenge

post #1 of 160
Thread Starter 
I have GOT to get my spending back on track, so I've decided to start with the grocery budget. (Last year was rough for me, emotionally, and I lost my cooking mojo - much to the delight of the pizza delivery guy and the chagrin of my chequebook!)

I am back in the saddle, though, and starting in September, I have goaled myself to cook EVERY meal at home AND stay within my $475 monthly grocery budget (feeding 1 adult, 4 teenage boys and 1 tween girl).

Anyone care to join me?
post #2 of 160
Sure, I love these threads!

We need to use up what we've got in the house more than save money (although that's always good too!).

I just looked at our spending and we're averaging $375 a month. I'd definitely like to keep it around that or lower. We will have a big butcher bill in the next few weeks, but we're hoping to sell part of the meat to help off set that cost.
post #3 of 160
subbing, although never a problem for me to cook at home each and everyday, I love to see what others come up with to serve.

We are averaging about $550 a month in groceries, including factoring in our meat/pork purchase this year. I would like to get that back to about $500 or less. We were at $485 for a while.
post #4 of 160
I am in! I am trying to cook all meals at home and stick to our 425.00 monthly budget!
post #5 of 160
Its been HOT here and cooking at home has not been happening as much as it should be. I need to get back into the pantry challenge and cook at home more. There is no reason I can not do simple things like sandwiches and microwave meals.

My sons new favorite quick dinner is 'french bread pizza'

loaf of french bread from the store $1 (sliced in 1/2 long ways)
1/2 jar pizza sauce
1 bag shredded cheeze
3 mushrooms chopped
pepperoni

total cost under $4 for 2 people plus left over for snacks!
cook on 350 until 'done'
post #6 of 160
Thread Starter 

Just in case

I have been feeding the freezer so that I have a cushion against those "it's been a long day and I don't feel like cooking" moments.

So far I have:

2 batches turkey enchiladas*
1 batch curry sauce
2 batches black bean soup
1 veggie lasagna
1 batch cooked black beans (throw 1/4 cup between 2 tortillas with some cheese, bake for 5 minutes at 250 degrees, repeat as needed - depending on how many people are eating, serve with salsa, guacamole and salad - presto! dinner. )


I am planning to cook this week end:

1 batch vegetable stock (from all the vegetable parings I've been saving in the freezer)
1 batch lentil sloppy joes
1 BIG batch chili (leftovers make fantastic burrito filling)
1 batch turkey soup with rice*
1 batch roasted sweet potato corn chowder
1 batch split pea soup
1 batch cooked baby lima beans (I add a cup or 2 to vegetable soup.)
2 apple Bundt cakes
2 batches zucchini bread
2 batches orange poppyseed scones
3 batches molasses cookys
2 batches oatmeal raisen cookys

SOOOOO, even when I don't feel like cooking, I can still keep to the challenge.

ETA: Turkey* is leftover from Thanksgiving and frozen. Usually, we're vegetarian bordering on vegan, but I make an exception for holidays, and it sometimes takes me awhile to use up the leftovers.
post #7 of 160
YES! I'm in! I started 2 new part time jobs mostly working over dinners so I really need to start planning so I'm not eating junky take out at work, spending a fortune!
post #8 of 160
I'm in! I love to cook at home... we only ever eat out once a month but I've noticed I've been buying too many "quick meals" lately instead of from scratch meals and I want to get back to the hearty, healthy meals I made last year. I have been stockpiling from my garden and just did a TON of canning from apples I got from a woman offering her apple harvest on freecycle which was AWESOME. I'm hoping to get some of my sister's sauce tomatoes from her garden since I didn't grow any to make plenty of sauce to last through the winter. I need to get busy harvesting and freezing herbs and peppers as well. I'm also not buying anything that contains high fructose corn syrup in it anymore so that definitely requires a lot more home cooking. It's crazy how many things have HFCS in it! Things you totally wouldn't expect!
post #9 of 160
Quote:
Originally Posted by Attached2Elijah View Post
I'm in! I love to cook at home... we only ever eat out once a month but I've noticed I've been buying too many "quick meals" lately instead of from scratch meals and I want to get back to the hearty, healthy meals I made last year. I have been stockpiling from my garden and just did a TON of canning from apples I got from a woman offering her apple harvest on freecycle which was AWESOME. I'm hoping to get some of my sister's sauce tomatoes from her garden since I didn't grow any to make plenty of sauce to last through the winter. I need to get busy harvesting and freezing herbs and peppers as well. I'm also not buying anything that contains high fructose corn syrup in it anymore so that definitely requires a lot more home cooking. It's crazy how many things have HFCS in it! Things you totally wouldn't expect!
It's sickening isn't it? I was so happy the other day to find ketchup that didn't have HFCS in it and was much cheaper than any other brand. So of course, I stocked up!
post #10 of 160
We're in, as always.

tonight I am making gazpacho with all the garden cukes and tomatoes, with polenta, veggies, and beans.
post #11 of 160
subbing.

I don't know how much we spend on groceries (head in bag). I stopped trying after our baby with 20 plus allergies started eating. It was just too overwhelming.
He is four now, and he is not the only one with a restricted diet, but I am ready to figure out how much I'm spending, prioritize what is important to put my money towards, and see what we can cut.

Due to allergies, buying prepared outside of the house is almost non-existent (except for the super cheap local Chinese Hot Pot Place)

It is time for me to feel more accountable.
post #12 of 160
Sounds good!! I especially like the sounds of the french bread pizza.. maybe I'll try that tommorrow night

I love to cook, and usually do so 4-6x a week.. we eat leftovers at least once a week and tend to average 1 night a week of take out or frozen pizza or eating out, though less as DH gets back into school here and we simply don't have the time (between 2-3 12 hour shifts and 20 hours in school plus homework, plus going on any runs with the volunteer ems squad he runs with...theres just not much time left for having fun/going out, yk?).

Tonight I just did venison stir fry, which was really yummy, and actually something I hadn't made in a while. Tommorrow IDK what I'm doing as DH won't be around... like I said, maybe I'll try that french bread pizza
post #13 of 160
I'd love to join!

I do love cooking, but I am soooo stuck in a rut with the same ol' stand-by recipes.

So, once the kiddos get back in school next week, I plan to spend some time at the library checking out the cookbook section. Hopefully, I'll be inspired to try some new dishes, which should delight my family!

Great thread!
post #14 of 160
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by kathirynne View Post
...I am planning to cook this week end:...

1 batch split pea soup
1 batch cooked baby lima beans (I add a cup or 2 to vegetable soup.)...
The split pea soup is cooking right now.

I cooked the baby limas in my crockpot last night. They turned out more "voluminous" than I expected, so tonight I will add some shallots and rosemary to them and make French white bean soup with them, instead.
post #15 of 160
I'll join! I realized when looking at our bank account today that the months when I plan our meals in advance, I make 2-3 trips to the grocery store, and spend about $300 CAD for DH & I. BUT... when I don't plan... I'm at the grocery store 8-12 twelve times, spend between $400 & $500 CAD, don't eat as well, and am more stressed about "what to cook tonight?!".

So - September is a good time to get things under control. I'm going to throw in a load of laundry then grab paper, pen, and a pile of cookbooks to set this months menu!

Thanks for the inspiration!
post #16 of 160
I am tired of eating the same things over and over again too...problem is tomorrow is my grocery shopping day for the next 2 weeks...ugh.

We eat the same stuff over and over. Spaghetti, Chilli, Turkey Burgers, Breakfast, Roast, Turkey Loin, Chicken Soup, Chicken & Rice, Hamburgers, Hot dogs....i am just so done with it...and guess what is on the menu for the next 2 weeks...*sigh*
post #17 of 160
Quote:
Originally Posted by surrogate View Post
I am tired of eating the same things over and over again too...problem is tomorrow is my grocery shopping day for the next 2 weeks...ugh.

We eat the same stuff over and over. Spaghetti, Chilli, Turkey Burgers, Breakfast, Roast, Turkey Loin, Chicken Soup, Chicken & Rice, Hamburgers, Hot dogs....i am just so done with it...and guess what is on the menu for the next 2 weeks...*sigh*
Try Supercooks.com for new recipe inspiration. You put in the ingredients you have and it suggests recipes for you. I use it all the time!
post #18 of 160
I'm in! We blew our August eating out budget in like the first four days of the month, and I'm hoping we don't have a repeat. Couple that with the ENORMOUS amount of CSA produce we have, and we've got a recipe for a lot of at-home cooking!

Here's the CSA produce I have on hand (it's ridiculous):

purple potatoes
red potatoes
fingerling potatoes
sweet potatoes
kohlrabi (x5)
fennel (x4)
kohlrabi greens
collards
kale
mustard greens
beets (which I hate)
shiso (which I have no idea what to do with...)
green onions
little cippollini onions
red torpedo onions
miniature red peppers
thai basil
lemon basil
red rubin basil
lovage
cherry tomatoes
regular tomatoes
lemon cucumbers (x4)
carrots
walla walla onions (x3)
garlic
parsley
sage
rosemary
oregano
savory

Anything pop out at you? We're vegetarian. I just made a ginormous pot of Monkey Minestrone (out of Eat, Drink and Be Vegan) tonight, which used a ton of fresh, pantry and frozen stuff. We have a LOT of leftovers from that. Possibly enough to freeze.

Anyway - if anyone has any grand ideas (particularly for kohlrabi, fennel and/or shiso) I'd love to hear them!
post #19 of 160
Quote:
Originally Posted by Keeta View Post
I'm in! We blew our August eating out budget in like the first four days of the month, and I'm hoping we don't have a repeat. Couple that with the ENORMOUS amount of CSA produce we have, and we've got a recipe for a lot of at-home cooking!

Here's the CSA produce I have on hand (it's ridiculous):

purple potatoes
red potatoes
fingerling potatoes
sweet potatoes
kohlrabi (x5)
fennel (x4)
kohlrabi greens
collards
kale
mustard greens
beets (which I hate)
shiso (which I have no idea what to do with...)
green onions
little cippollini onions
red torpedo onions
miniature red peppers
thai basil
lemon basil
red rubin basil
lovage
cherry tomatoes
regular tomatoes
lemon cucumbers (x4)
carrots
walla walla onions (x3)
garlic
parsley
sage
rosemary
oregano
savory

Anything pop out at you? We're vegetarian. I just made a ginormous pot of Monkey Minestrone (out of Eat, Drink and Be Vegan) tonight, which used a ton of fresh, pantry and frozen stuff. We have a LOT of leftovers from that. Possibly enough to freeze.

Anyway - if anyone has any grand ideas (particularly for kohlrabi, fennel and/or shiso) I'd love to hear them!
I can't believe how much you get in your CSA! I get about a third of that if that much. Wow. As for kohlrabi and fennel (don't know what shiso is!), this isn't very inspiring, but I just put them raw in our salads.
post #20 of 160
Quote:
Originally Posted by joyfulheart View Post
I can't believe how much you get in your CSA! I get about a third of that if that much. Wow. As for kohlrabi and fennel (don't know what shiso is!), this isn't very inspiring, but I just put them raw in our salads.
That's about 2 boxes worth - we got ours late this past week (on Monday) and then our regular one today (Friday). So we're a little swamped! A couple of the things are from our garden (kale, collards) and a few are from the farmstand (walla wallas) but yeah, it's a pretty diverse CSA.

Good idea about adding to salads! It's so ironic, we've been getting tons of lettuce...until now. Now we have cukes and tomatoes, and no lettuce. I know from a gardening perspective it makes sense, but from a salad perspective, not so much!
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