Thursday, January 20, 2011

Project Food Budget: Week 2 - Not As Easy As I Thought

I was awfully proud of myself with my food shopping restraint during the first half of January but this past week I went WAY over budget, but luckily, I shouldn't need much for the rest of the month.

Goal: $75/week (or $300/month)
Actual: Aldi: $59.76, Giant Eagle: $39.57 (plus used a $50 gift card) 
so technically the grand total was (gulp) $149.33!

Sigh...well, the bright side is we are still under budget for the month (and that even includes one night of takeout) plus $100 worth of Giant Eagle gift cards from Christmas that I used.

It's difficult shopping at several different stores to get everything, but I think this has helped me get the budget down for the first time EVER. There are some things that I like getting at Aldi but there are a lot of things I must avoid and buy elsewhere.

What I have learned so far:
READ INGREDIENT labels carefully! Also, pick and choose what you can and cannot live without.

It seems like most of Aldi products contain a lot of artificial colors, high fructose corn syrup, sugars, enriched flours (although sometimes you can't avoid it) and many other things I am trying to stay away from. It's a shame, because it is so cheap. On the other hand, I like buying the milk and eggs (they claim not to use any growth hormones.) I also like their produce. I also like to get some frozen chicken tenders for the hubby and baby (and I like them too...I know they're breaded but for a frozen product they are actually TASTY...not rubbery or mushy. As for the fresh meat, I am not sure. I bought some ground turkey, so we will see.

There are certain things I just can't compromise. For example, I am trying to find a yogurt for my son (and myself for that matter) and am trying to avoid the pricey stuff, but just couldn't buy the kids yogurt at Aldi because it was loaded with artificial colors and flavors. I ended up getting my usual YoToddler yogurt at G.E. I also can't buy generic peanut butter or peanut butter that has partially hydrogenated oils and sugars in it. It is so hard to buy because they all vary in cost, calories, fats, ingredients, salt or no salt....aurghhhhhhhhhh!

Anyhoo, here are some great purchases I bought:
Fresh pineapple (Aldi)
Tilapia fillets (on sale at Giant Eagle Market District)
Tuscan herb olive oil and peach white balsamic vinegar (yum! Giant Eagle Market District)
TastyBite All Natural Vegetarian packaged meals (on sale at G.E. market dist. and so yum!)

Meal ideas for the next 2 weeks (recipes to come):
Fettuccine, peppers and gr. turkey meal
Stir fry veggies, scrambled egg and basmati brown rice
creamy carrots meal
Bacon and Tomato Frittata
Slow-cooker black beans, cheese, rice in whole grain tortillas (I need to use up)
egg salad sandwiches
Graham-crusted tilapia and roasted asparagus (recipe to come tomorrow)
frozen berries with greek yogurt
Pineapple treat with sugar-free strawberry gelatin (uncooked sprinkled on fresh pineapple)
TastyBite meals with rice
hot dogs, hamburgers and chicken patties for quick meals for the hubby and toddler

I just realized how long and rambling this post was. Hopefully, as time goes on, my Thursday Project Food Budget Posts will become more focused and organized as I try to get a handle on this budget business!

Here is a list of other participating blogs and two new additions:


Kelly said...

I've never tried it but I think theres a greek yogurt out there that is sugar free and good for you. I've been wanting to try that and add some fruit maybe.

Rebecca said...

I bought a pork tenderloin at Aldi's that was deeeeelicious, juicy, etc. I've also gotten ground turkey there. I can vouch for that, too, but I agree that so many items at Aldi's have the bad stuff that we all try to stay away from. I get sucked in by the cheapness! Great post, Leah!

reluctant veggie said...

i loved reading about what you've learned from last week to this week.

i also think it's good that you have a weekly and a monthly goal. until you really know what your shopping and spending patterns are, it's hard to really understand how to make changes for your budget.

Leah the Foodie said...

Kelly: do you know what brand it is? The only one I found was Oikos brand plain nonfat greek yogurt (but it only had 6g of sugar in it.

Becky: I've seen the pork tenderloin @ Aldi; is it the fit&active brand that's pre-marinated? I will have to try it! Thanks!

Reluctantveg: Thanks! I agree with what you mentioned in your post about how sometimes the generic is way cheaper than a brand coupon. Coupons can sometimes trip me up too.