Meal Planning – this week

I’ve saved a rediculous amount of money over the last two years by doing some loose meal planning. Now, meal planning doesn’t always work out… sometimes I still forget to go to the store (or don’t feel like going), so I have to improvise, but overall we’ve saved a lot of time and money by meal planning.

My meal plan is revolving around mushrooms, potatoes, bread, eggs and onions that I’m planning on getting on sale tonight. Everything else is in my freezer or pantry.  Here’s what I’ve planned for this week:

Friday 10/3:
Potato & Mushroom Smothered Pork Chops

Saturday 10/4:
Meat ‘n Potatoes

Sunday 10/5 – we are going to be out of town

Monday 10/6:
Open Faced Turkey Sandwich w/steamed potatoes

Tuesday 10/7:
Breakfast for dinner – eggs, toast & homefries

Wednesday 10/8:
Nana’s Oven Fried Chicken w/steamed potatoes

Thursday 10/9:
Ravioli with garlic bread

I plan on spending $25 on this one week worth of dinner, including milk. I will also end up with two more loafs of bread in my freezer, and I’ll make a round of slow-cooker mashed potatos for the freezer, and I’ll make up some sauteed onions and stash them in the freezer.

(I am also going to buy yogurt and cherrios for our daughter, bringing my total grocery budget this week to $35)

Dark Greens = Baby Food

Today I made baby food for Claire – Spinach and Kale.

Dark greens are supposed to be super foods, so off we go. It’ll be probably about a week until we introduce them to her, but I’ll have them ready to go in the freezer.

Spinach = $3.99 for a pound, I used a few cups of spinach with dinner, and the remainder I steamed and pureed and froze!

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Spinach steams down a lot! I used my full size food processor this time around. It ended up making the equivalent of 6 jars, so about 25 cents per serving.

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KALE!

 

 

 

 

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So, I’ve never personally had kale, but it’s one of those so called ‘superfoods’ and it falls on the darker side of the dark greens, so away I went to steam and puree organic kale.

I cut out the stems because I figured it would not puree well.

It doesn’t steam down nearly as much as spinach, but it didn’t make nearly as much puree. I actually ended up adding some water too the puree to make it less chunky.

 

 

 

More Adventures in Baby Food

So, our pediatrician has recommended that we become more aggressive with solid foods since our baby is handling them well and she is needing to put on more weight.

One thing I am aware that I will need to figure out is how to adapt my grocery shopping style to handle a third mouth to feed.

I went to the store today and bought a variety of items to try out. I am going to figure out how much everything costs, how much she is going to eat, what she likes, and how to make her healthy nutritious meals.

Based on what our pediatrician recommended, and a few baby’s first solids blogs, my sister and I headed out to the store (my sister knows a lot more about what fresh produce is supposed to be, I don’t buy a whole lot other then mostly potatoes, romaine lettuce, squash, white mushrooms and bagged spinach!)

First we headed to the co-op. I knew food here would be more expensive, but I also knew they’d have a lot of fresh and organic options.

Here’s what I got:

  • Bulk: Lentils 1 lb, $1.99
  • Organic Baby Oatmeal Cereal $4.89
    (I bought it for $4.89, but if she likes it, I can buy it on Amazon for ~$2.95 per canister)
  • Organic Blueberries – $6.98 / pint
    (I found these at Price Chopper for only $3.99 / pint (on sale), also organic)
  • Organic Broccoli – 2.22 lbs @ $3.29/lb
  • Organic Red Kale – $3.29
  • Organic Anjou Peras – 2 pears  – $2.28
  • Organic Whole Milk Yogurt $7.99

What I really wanted was avocados, but they were $2.50 each and I knew they were only $1.50 each at Price Chopper, so we headed there next.

What I purchased at Price Chopper:

  • Another 3lb bag of sweet potatoes $2.50
  • Free Sprout Organic Baby Food pouches (free with coupon)
  • Avocados – 3 at $1.50 ea
  • Organic Blueberries $3.99/pint
  • Silken Tofu $2.99
  • Dried Apricots – $3.50 (about a pound)
  • Dried and pitted prunes $4.49 (about a pound)
  • Powered ginger
  • Wholly Avocado $2.50
  • Wholly Guacamole $2.50 (minis) 63 cents per mini
    I could have saved on these if I had waited to use a coupon. There is almost always a wholly guacamole coupon available online.

So, I’m hoping to have some fun introducing Claire to new foods over the next few weeks. Here’s too many more adventures in Baby Food!

Adventures in Baby Food

So, I’ve always known I wanted to make my own baby food for my children. Well, maybe not always, but since the serious conversations about having babies started, I knew I wanted to make my own baby food. Store bought stuff has always worried me, between recalls, preservatives and who knows what else, eww. Then, at my baby shower, we did a “guess the baby food flavor” game. If I wasn’t devoted to the homemade baby food before, I was a believer after that!

We started Claire on solids at about 5 1/2 months. We started with an organic brown rice cereal, which she thoroughly enjoyed. We did rice cereal for about a week before I began my homemade baby food adventure.

I had no idea what to do, but my sister let me borrow her vegetable steamer, so I started with that. Baby’s first food was sweet potato, but I had only bought and steamed one… and when I finished steaming it, it looked so good, that I used 2/3rds of it as a side for dinner! ha. Claire loved the sweet potatoes also. The next morning she had organic carrots. I also have steamed some summer squash, but I have it in the freezer, she’ll try it in a week or so.

Since my first round of homemade baby food went well, I decided to step it up a notch and make enough puree to last her a bit. I bought 6 lbs of sweet potatoes and a big butternut squash.

For sweet potatoes, I actually bought a 3 lb bag of “yams” that looked kind of small and wrinkly, and then 3 lbs of loose “sweet potatoes”… on the receipt the bag showed up as “sweet potatoes” and the loose sweet potatoes came up as “yams”. haha. The small wrinkly kind were only 84 cents per pound, the bigger lose ones were $1.29 per lb.

After peeling and chopping 6 lbs of sweet potatoes, the 3 lb bag of small wrinkly ones were WAY easier to peel and cube. They are uniform in shape and size. The loose variety were bulky and odd shaped and took forever to peel.

The butternut squash is a little bit of an adventure for me, so I’ve documented my baby food making process as follows.

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I have NEVER washed, peeled, cut, or otherwise prepared butternut squash. So, I had to watch a video on how to do it. This one is the one I watched actually: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L7gVcPXQfdE (This recipe looks super good, I plan on trying it sometime! Since I cook for two, I’ll either make it as a main course, or as a side for a big family event)

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I used my sister’s steamer (butternut squash on the bottom, sweet potatoes on the top) for about 45 minutes (probably a little too long, but they get super super soft)

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I then pureed them in my Sage Spoonfulls Baby Food Maker (basically a glorified immersion food blender / food processor)

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A few small batches later: voila!

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I did the same with the sweet potatoes, and then put them into 1 ounce portions in my ice trays.

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Freeze overnight, then pop out an put into freezer bags.

Obviously this is more nutritious then jarred baby food. But is it more affordable?

Butternut squash: 3.14 lbs at $1.49/lb = $4.68

Made the equivalent of 6 jars of food in the freezer, and 3 additional portions which I fed to her the next day. = 52 cents per portion

Sweet Potatoes: 3lbs at 88 cents/lb, 3lbs at $1.29/lb = $6.98

This made the equivalent of 18 jars of food in the freezer, plus 4 additional portions. = 32 cents per portion

So, yay! cheaper and healthier.

I also did the math on carrots:
$1.50/lb = 20 cents per portion (This was for pre-peeled baby carrots. It would be cheaper if I bought and then peeled them)

Summer Squash:
I paid $3.99 for my two pieces of organic summer squash. This was silly, I peeled them! Organic is really important when you are eating the skins. But, she can’t eat the skins yet so… silly me! Summer squash didn’t make a whole lot either. When I buy it again I’ll pay $1.29/lb, I think it’ll end up being about 50 cents per portion.

Side Note: I have been reading this blog about baby food and have found it helpful: http://wholesomebabyfood.momtastic.com/pureebabyfoodandstore.htm

Strombolli

Love this meal, because it is super easy, quick, and super affordable.

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Wheat pizza dough – 75 cents
Cheese – $1
Toppings – 1/2 package of pepperoni, mushrooms, onion = 75 cents
Sauce – leftover open jar, free
Side Salad – 50 cents

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Total meal for two (would feed four, we use leftovers as lunch) $3.00

Here’s the full recipe: http://www.5dollardinners.com/easy-stromboli-recipe/

I’ve made this a dozen times, you do have to plan to eat it though because you have to thaw the dough (if you have it frozen from a sale like I do), then you have to let it rise 45 mins, plus prep and bake time. You can do just cheese, or various toppings, usually I do pepperoni. But, this week I had a few bonus veggies, yum.

I add this once or twice to each month’s meal plan.

Meal planning has by far saved me the most money in the last two years. I’ll write more about that adventure soon 🙂

Free organic baby food!

I was really excited when I found out that with a coupon I could snag some free organic baby food at Price Chopper this week. This was an unexpected deal for me when I went shopping last night (I hadn’t even realized I had printed it, but when I was at the store it was on sale for $1.50), so I printed some more coupons and picked up for more pouches today.

Sprout Organic Baby Food, 4 ounce pouches – on sale at Price Chopper for $1.50 ea (reg $1.59)

Coupon: 75 cents off of 1, doubles to $1.50: aka free! $0.75/1 Sprout Organic Pouch, 3.17 – 4.5 oz (Zip Code 62946)

Pepperoni Subs – $1.75

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My husband loved these subs that I threw together tonight! And the meal (for two) only cost us $1.75.

French Baguette $1 (great find at Dollar Tree!)
Sandwich Pepperoni 50 cents (after coupon from Dollar Tree)
Italian Dressing, Cheese, Onion, Lettuce about 25 cents

We had this with a side of potato salad that my grandmother made. Yum 🙂