Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Revised April Grocery Total and New May Challenge

Sooooo... I went to the grocery store the other day to pick up a few things for dinner with CatMan. And as I pulled out my wallet, I discovered to my dismay that there was another grocery receipt from April that somehow didn't make it into my tally for the month.

It turns out that I actually spent $141.65 in April instead of the $137.78 that I thought I did. Bummerooski!

But... all is not lost! Since I had already decided that May was gonna be pantry and freezer clean out month, when Economies of Kale decided to do a $21 May grocery challenge, I decided to join her!

This will be a real challenge, but hopefully it will help me make some real progress in terms of the backlog of food that needs to be eaten up.

The challenge areas for me will be:


I've got about 9 pieces of fruit in the fridge, one package of frozen cranberries, and a canister of frozen pineapple juice. Hopefully I can find some great deals to make this work. One of the stores I frequent generally has oranges at 8 or 10 for a dollar,


I've got half a head of lettuce, 2 cucumbers, one pepper and a few onions in the house. I did buy a big bag of frozen stir fry veggies at Costco last month, so I'll most likely be eating a lot of stir fry... this works out well because I have a TON of rice to use up. I've also got a few bags of frozen spinach, green beans, mixed veggies and cauliflower, plus some already made vegetable soup. And then there's the sushi nori and dried wakame.

Usually by this time the garden would be producing spinach and greens, but I fear our cold spring, coupled with the fact that the stuff I usually plant in the fall and winter over all died for lack of water and an early freeze last fall, means that the garden is WAY behind.

There are a few scallions and chives I can harvest, and in a week or two the spinach will hopefully be big enough to need thinning. The snow peas are about 6 inches tall, so maybe by the end of the month I'll have some pea leaves to add to the mix.

In the meantime, I've got a TON of dried beans and lentils, so I'm gonna experiment with growing some bean sprouts.

And then we have my biggest challenge:

Dinners with CatMan 

CatMan and I usually have a nice meal once a week with our movie night. Now, I want to clarify that it's not like he's demanding or anything, it's just that he hasn't exactly signed on for this little challenge, so I don't think it's really fair to make him suffer as a part of this deal.

I've already got most of what I need for these dinners, but the biggest challenge here will be the salad and veggies part as there are a limited number of veggies that he actually likes and will eat. Reasonably speaking, I'll probably need at least $10 to put together what I'll need for three more nice dinners.

Soooo... I've already spent $2.87 this month. If I can keep the CatMan dinner budget down to $10, that leaves me with $8.13 for everything else. Hmmm... it's gonna be tight!

The one thing that I have a TON of is winter squash and pie pumpkins. I've got about a dozen of them in the basement from last fall, and several gallons of frozen puree from the year before. I think I'll be eating squash soup every day, plus there are about 10 loaves of pumpkin bread in the freezer. Anybody got any other ideas what I can do with them?


  1. Funniest pictures yet on your blog! I love the athlete with the sour look and your "CatMan" pic!

    You can do this! I know you can. I used the internet a lot to find ways to use thing, or find substitutes when I'm out of something.

    As for all the squash and pumpkin puree, I make a really good pumpkin, sage, and cream pasta sauce. It sounds strange, but it's good. I got it from a library book years ago by Nick Stellino. I had to interview him and preview some recipes from his, then, latest cookbook. I believe the recipe also calls for Italian sweet sausage. But I often don't have that, so just make it without.

    If you don't have any pasta right now, do you ever make it? Joy of Cooking has an easy recipe. Also, those stir-fry veggies would be great in an Asian inspired noodle salad (again, you could make your own noodles), with chicken pieces in it.

    Good luck!

    1. Hmmmm... pumpkin pasta sauce sounds intriguing! I fear I'm allergic to sage and have no cream... but I do have plenty of powdered milk and cheese, not to mention a boatload of pasta, and 20 pounds of chicken, so I'm sure I can come up with something.

      I was also thinking that maybe I could come up with something Thai-inspired using pumpkin and peanut butter. Soup maybe? Or maybe sauce to use with rice and veggies? Don't have any coconut milk, but I do have some coconut oil and I could always add some brown sugar or honey to sweeten it. Hmmm... I'll have to do some recipe hunting and see if I can find something that I can modify.

      Oh, and the sour look athlete - I guess you're not a fan of gymnastics. That's McKayla Maroney who was the hand's down favorite to walk away with the gold medal in vaulting at the last olympics. Nobody else was even close to her in terms of talent. She pretty much had it sewn up, but then pushed it just a bit too far and fell on her last attempt, and had to settle for silver. It indeed was a bummer!

    2. A couple of months ago, I put together some pumpkin, peanut butter, and curry soup.It was simple and good.
      There are almost endless possibilities to modify this basic soup.

    3. So THAT's where I saw it! I knew I'd stumbled upon a recipe somewhere. I'll have to go check it out!

    4. re: me not following gymnastics. It's not that I don't like watching gymnastics or other Olympics (although I prefer the winter Olympics over the summer ones), I just don't watch much TV any more. I've been happy to just leave it behind. During the last Olympics I would try to remind myself to watch some of the events, only to get side tracked doing something else and miss what I had planned to watch entirely! It's funny because I used to be a complete TV junkie, with it on all day, even if I wasn't watching anything in particular.

    5. Oh, don't get me wrong, I'm certainly not suggesting that one ought to follow gymnastics, or any other sport for that matter. I've simply been obsessed ever since Nadia hit that perfect 10!

      In truth, there are only 3 sports I follow, gymnastics, figure skating and football... those go together don't they? :-)

      And I'm TOTALLY with you in terms of the general TV watching. I use dto leave it on all day too and it just starts to make you crazy after a while!

  2. Oranges8-10/$1.00, Wow! I've never seen the close to that price around here.

    Sounds like you have a lot of food available for the month--just gotta put your thinking cap on. The most fun I ever had cooking was when I was trying to use up EVERYTHING in our house before we moved. It's amazing what you can do with a little Jell-o, rice, and cereal.

    1. Jell-o, rice and cereal, oh my! Reminds me of the time I was helping my father move and we got hungry. The fridge was beyond bare, but we persevered and made cheese and cabbage sandwiches on rye bread heels!

      I just got home from a little bike trip over to the discount grocery store with the oranges because they were 8/$1 today but the circular for next week just came out and they're gonna be 6/$1 next week (which starts tomorrow.) So I got while the gettin' was good! It was fun to only spend $1 at the grocery store too!

  3. Nope... I got nuthin' about your food spending or the excess of pumpkins...I just have to say though your kitties are extra special this week :)

    1. Awwww thanks! I actually went to the cheezburger site and made a few myself this time instead of just relying on what I could find on the interwebs. I think I may have to do that again!

  4. For the #21 challenge does that include bartering/trading? Can you find someone else whose garden is doing better, or who really really loves pumpkins or squash to trade with?

    1. Hmmm... now that is a very interesting idea that I hadn't considered. Unfortunately, most of my friends haven't even started their gardens yet since we had 6 inches of snow on the ground this time last week - But I'm sure there are more hard core gardeners out there somewhere... and if you had a greenhouse...

      There's actually a group in town that used to run a monthly "market" of sorts that ran on some sort of barter/alternative currency deal. I wonder if they're still around. Hmmmm... thoughts to ponder...

  5. Thanks for playing along :) It will be fun to have someone else doing the challenge at the same time. We can motivate each other!

    In terms of pumpkin, we use it in heaps of savoury dishes here - pumpkin curry, lasagne, risotto, roast pumpkin. Check out the web for some recipes.

    I'm also going to be sprouting - mung beans are very good for sprouts that you can use in stir-fries as well as salads. My garden is only just sprouting now, except for the chives, so that will be slim pickings (or maybe micro-herbs!).

    And to Anonymous, I'm pretty sure bartering is okay. The point of the challenge is to save money by doing it for one week.

    Good luck :)

    1. Thanks for the inspiration! I read all of the links on your post last night. I'm not sure if I'm organized enough to do an actual inventory and menu plan... but my head is spinning with all sorts of interesting and crazy meal ideas.

      Pumpkin risotto sounds very interesting. I have a TON of rice, and I've never actually made risotto, so I think that sounds like something I should try.

      I used to make sprouts all the time... in fact, I had a jar of sprouting seeds that I was all excited to use up, but I opened them only to discover that they had gone rancid. Sigh. Mung beans work really well, but alas, I don't have any. So I'm gonna see if I can make it work with lentils.

      Should be a very interesting month!

  6. You've got a great plan to stick to your "bugget" and your existing stockpiles should be very workable! As long as you don't need to tuck into the cat food, you'll do fine!

    1. Well actually... when Sputnik had his constipation, a lady at the cat food store suggested adding some sweet potato to his food, and I ended up with a little can of sweet potato. It's made and marketed by a pet food company, but the only ingredient is sweet potato... and the vet has pretty much concluded that Sputty is one of those cats that does better on a low fiber diet, so we're not gonna be using it for him... Soo.....

      Waddya think? Should I eat it? I mean it's just sweet potato...

    2. Open it, and decide if it seems appetising...it's probably just smushed up small for kitties...

    3. That's a good idea. I've been pondering a soup recipe that calls for pumpkin and sweet potato, so I figured I'd just puree it and add it to the soup.

  7. I don't remember what all you had for fruit, but I like poaching fruit and grilling fruit, for a change of pace. There's always the fruit smoothie option for stretching fruit.

    I love to roast pumpkin and onion with olive oil, salt, pepper and thyme. The risotto ideas above were excellent. Pumpkin seeds are an excellent antioxidant as well and yummy toasted or in granolas.

    Basically, I think about any veggie is good roasted and tossed with rice or quinoa to make a quick salad. Throw some balsamic in and "voila!"

    1. Hmmm... poached fruit, that's an interesting idea. I've got apples, oranges, frozen cranberries and some pineapple juice. Hmmm...

      I love pumpkin seeds, but HATE the hulls because they get caught in my teeth and hurt. I wonder if there's any way to de-hull them at home...

      And I do have some quinoa to use up. My mind is spinning.

  8. You could make a pumpkin smoothie - and if no bananas, this time substitute 1/2 orange. Then next time bananas are on sale buy extra, let ripen. Peel. Tightly wrap with plastic wrap and freeze for future smoothie use.

    1/2 cup pumpkin puree
    1/2 very ripe medium-sized banana
    3/4 cup fat-free vanilla yogurt
    1 tbsp honey
    1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
    1/4 tsp vanilla extract
    1 cup crushed ice

    Place all ingredients in a blender and puree until smooth, making sure the ice is completely crushed.

    1. I LOVE bananas, hence, a dozen seldom last more than a day or two around here. Perhaps I should try to employ some discipline in that department next time they're on sale! I don't have any yogurt, but have tons of powdered milk to use up... I'll have to see what I can whip up! Thanks for the suggestion.

  9. I sure have missed a lot. A $21 grocery challenge ? I was proud of myself last month for spending less than $50. For your pumpkin puree have you considered pumpkin pancakes? I don't like pancakes as I find them heavy and bland but adding pumpkin and some pumpkin pie spice I will gobble it up.

    I sure wish I could find oranges for that price.

    If it makes you feel any better our summer has left. This weekend we are expecting a high of 32 and snow in the forecast.

    1. Well, the idea isn't to try to actually live off of $21 worth of groceries, it's to try to use up stuff in your pantry and freezer and just use the $21 to supplement it. I think $50 is quite impressive especially given that you don't have a refrigerator or freezer full of stuff to fall back on!

      Hmmmm... pumpkin pancakes. I do have some maple syrup that I should try to use up... Might have to have a few of the eggs with it though, or I'd be in serious blood sugar trouble!

      And yup, it's a great deal on oranges. Actually, they've had them for as cheap as $1/dozen! They are small oranges, but still. That entire store is a bit of an adventure as it caters mostly to recent Mexican & Latin American immigrants. Most of the checkers don't even speak English! But it does give me a chance to practice my Spanish!

      Anyhow, I'm soooo, SOOOOOO sorry that old man winter has decided to pay you another visit! It just doesn't seem right, does it?

  10. I think I'll just watch you and economiesofkale do this challenge while I plan my usual weekly trips to the grocery store ... I'm supportive and all, I just don't wanna play this particular game ...

    1. Ha! Well... if the chest freezer wasn't in such desperate need of being defrosted, I'm not sure I'd be on board either! :-)


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