Cooking for a Month: The After Action Report

I didn’t set out to follow Money Saving Mom’s Eat From the Pantry Challenge in January, but there were so many excellent stock up sales at the end of last year, and my mom took me to Costco when they were here at the end of the year, that I really didn’t need to go to the grocery store. Seriously, when you have thirty-six pounds of grapefruit in your fridge, you’re good to go. I did go to Meijer once to do a particular deal, and I also went to Walmart after the crockpot exploded because our trash can smelled funny from the Shards of Glass Soup I dumped in there. Before yesterday, I had spent a total of $44.39 in groceries for the month of January. (Note: we get our milk and eggs from a local farm in exchange for me ghost writing a blog for a farm in Tennessee. It’s a complicated double barter arrangement, but that’s how we avoided buying milk and eggs in January. I write this note because I know I will get comments about it otherwise!!!)

After deciding to do some freezer cooking, I loaded the kids in the minivan bright and early Friday morning and we hit Meijer, the library and Kroger. The library wasn’t selling food, but we had a book due so it was a necessary stop. I got some incredible deals on meat at the grocery stores, found a lot of marked down stuff, got thirty pounds of apples for 50 cents per pound, and even bought the ingredients necessary to cook Beef Daube Provencal and Poppy Seed Grapefruit Torte for a dinner party we’re hosting Sunday night.

Here are some of the best deals I found:

  • a 9lb ham marked down to $10.14 (originally $22.31)
  • bone in chicken breasts marked down to 69 cents/lb (I got 18 lbs)
  • a 4 lb pork roast marked down to 89 cents/lb, had been $2.49/lb
  • lean Angus ground beef marked down to $1.60/lb
  • yogurts marked down to nine cents each!
  • 3 free sour creams (actually with coupons they paid ME to take them home)
  • two free bags of cheese (here are the details of this Kraft/Breakstone deal)
  • 10 lb bag of potatoes for $1.69
  • 9 lemons for $1 total!
  • 30 lbs of apples for 50 cents/lb
  • and lots of other stuff that was not as exciting

Total at Meijer and Kroger after coupons I spent $108.39, which still puts my January grocery total at only $152.78. That is not bad considering that all the food I bought Friday is actually for February.

After this four hour marathon shopping trip, during which I must tell you Jack kept his big boy pants dry the entire time (yay), I roasted two packages of the chicken, diced up the ten cups of chicken that yielded, and bagged it in five freezer bags to use in chicken meals. That was only 1/3 of the chicken I bought, the rest went into the freezer for later. Then I browned five pounds of ground beef and separated that into eight freezer bags for ground beef meals. I also made chicken stock out of the bones from the chicken breasts I roasted, and got ten cups of broth, which I also froze. I used my food processor to shred (ok, pulverize) three pounds of onions, which I put into freezer bags in one onion portions, and I made three pizza crusts and two loaves of whole wheat bread.

Then I realized I only had one cup of whole wheat flour and no all purpose flour left. Bad judgement not to check my backup flour stash before starting this project, now I will have to borrow half a cup of flour from my mother-in-law tomorrow in order to bake my torte. Oh well. What’s a girl to do with one cup of whole wheat flour after all this cookery?

Make brownies. And feel awesomely healthy eating them because they were made with whole wheat and applesauce. We’ll forget the two cups of sugar, and the fact that we topped the brownies with cocoa buttercream frosting, yum. It’s only a whole stick of butter, what?

I think doing all this cooking of the meat and cutting the onions in advance will help me. I can’t decide if I really need to take the extra step of assembling whole dishes, or if having the components already chopped and cooked and ready to go will help enough. I’ll experiment and find out, I guess!

For more Super Savings Saturday, check out Money Saving Mom!

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