I shopped at Harris Teeter and also a local one-shop grocer, Game's Farmers Market today in search of the $50 nirvana - a week's worth of edible breakfasts, lunches and dinners for fifty bucks. Yea, I have some staples on hand, so this wasn't a totally 'clean' exercise - but, whoa nellie - the bill was $50.26. I am happy and maybe a bit surprised.
Lessons for the week are, of course, commonsensical:
Scour the grocers' ads
Plan your meals by the cheapest items you can get (not by your cravings...sigh)
Use coupons - but only for item you really would normally get or want to have on hand
Keep a $10 around for 'stock ups' - when you see a good deal, pounce
The majority of my shopping this week was at Harris Teeter - for the double coupon values and big deals. I scored free 'Texas' garlic toast, free Kraft parmesan cheese, free fettucine noodles, a free liter of Pepsi, Quaker oatmeal for $ .65 with double value coupon and two jars of peanut butter for $1.34 after sale and double coupon value. All told $36.74 was shaved off my purchase price here at this store. Gotta warn you - two out of the four free items advertised in the Super Meal Deal were off the shelves one day after the promotion began. Be sure to visit the Customer Service Desk to determine your store's preferred method for substituting items. I also placed those substitutions at the front of my cart and let the cashier know first thing (if you've ever worked retail, you know how frustrating it can be for the cashier to sort out these kinds of kinks after everything has been rung up).
I also shopped at Game's Farmers Market on Harpersville Road in Newport News. This is a no-frills, no-nonsense, great people, even better prices kind of family operation. No one in town can touch the quality or the price on their meats. Today I picked up a pork picnic cut for slow cooking for $5,87, ground beef for $1.81 and chicken thighs for $1.73. Game's also has Chex brand cereals at $2 a box. Once an item is placed on sale here, it stays on sale until all that particular stock is gone - a nice touch.
Will the meals really be any good?
Outside of any limitations found in my cooking skills, the menu is looking good:
Breakfasts: Baked oatmeal with fruit and cream, scrambled eggs western style, cereal, potato, cheese and egg frittata
Lunches: Homemade cream of celery soup, homemade onion soup, PB&J sandwiches, pimento cheese sandwiches, tuna salad and egg salad
Dinners: Pork barbecue with coleslaw, spaghetti with meat sauce, stuffed cabbage rolls, pork fried rice and vegetable stir fry, onion, mushroom and cheese quiche, baked chicken with roasted vegetables, chicken pot pies
Desserts to tide over the sweeties in the house: brownies, homemade vanilla pudding, homemade cream puffs (filled with cream and leftover pudding), bread pudding, cuccidatti cookies (fig and date filled pastry cookies; my aunt sent us a dried fruit plate for Christmas)
Always available: fruits and vegetable for juices as well as raw for nibbles
The biggest expenditure just may be time. I like to spend a Sunday afternoon in the kitchen - it's a warm, welcoming world on a cold day. I also work a second job and an afternoon free can be difficult to schedule - as I'm sure it is for many Savvy Readers with children and other responsibilities.
Over the next few weeks, I will also look at ways to keep the budget to the $50 mark while using some prepared foods and/or finding additional shortcuts to cooking.
As always, your comments are more than welcome - we Savvy Shoppers need to band together!
Happy hunting, good eating, better living to all!