Budget Day 57: Baby, It’s Cold Outside

I don’t know about you, but we are FREEZING here in Charlotte. Literally, freezing. At the bus stop in the mornings we’ve been experiencing unseasonably cold temps down in the teens, which is hard to deal with when you have Southern blood! And during these cold spells the last thing I’d want my girls to miss out on is hot chocolate because nothing cures cold fingers and toes better than some good ol’ hot chocolate. I am happy to report that it can easily be done even when you only eat real food and even when you are doing it on a tight budget. Just forget Swiss Miss and look at that picture…yum!

So anyway, I am sure there are many ways to make it, but my way is to mix a little unsweetened cocoa and 100% pure maple syrup together (which is the same concoction that I add to my shot of espresso and hot milk to make a “mocha”). Everyone’s taste buds are different so you may prefer more or less syrup, but I use a ½ teaspoon of unsweetened cocoa with about a teaspoon of the maple syrup for a small kid size cup. I then add warm milk and on this occasion (which is pictured) I also whipped up some cream which my dad luckily left in my fridge last week. My girls (okay, and me included) were just in heaven with this special little winter treat!

In regards to our last budget week it pretty much ended on Thursday, because that’s when I basically ran out of money. It is amazing how easily and quickly I can spend that $125! It would be nice if I actually had some money leftover at the end of the week for once, but don’t hold your breath on that one. As I reported a few days ago I did most of my shopping at Earth Fare, and I also got a few things at the Atherton Farmer’s Market. I had a little bit of money left after that and spent it at Trader Joe’s (on some bananas, an onion, and cheese), Great Harvest (on a loaf of bread), and Harris Teeter (another onion and more bananas!). So this is how last week totaled up…

  • Earth Fare $62.75
  • Atherton Market $17.69
  • Milk delivery $29.97
  • Trader Joe’s $6.35
  • Harris Teeter (2 visits to HT) $2.59
  • Great Harvest $5.00

We were also “winging it” last week as far as our dinner plan went, and the non-plan of course wasn’t perfect. We had to run to the store three times for little things that we suddenly needed, but we more than survived. This is what we ate each night…

  • Monday: Sautéed flounder, sweet potato pancakes (with raisins), and greens from our garden
  • Tuesday: Pork, rice, black bean, and spinach burritos wrapped in whole-wheat tortillas (pictured)
  • Wednesday: Pork and bean chili with whole-grain cornbread
  • Thursday: Leftover chili
  • Friday: Quesadillas filled with mushrooms, spinach, onion, corn, and Monterey Jack cheese (our girls loved these and once their plates were empty they were surprised to learn that they’d just enjoyed some spinach and mushrooms!)
  • Saturday: We had dinner club at a friends house…we love those evenings!
  • Sunday: Defrosted matzo ball soup from our freezer

For lunch we had PB&J’s, hummus & cheese sandwiches, and leftovers, among other things. Breakfast consisted of our beloved granola cereal as well as some banana pancakes and crepes that I made over the weekend. I am only on day one of this budget week and already almost broke again…what else is new! More on that later…

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  • Comments

    1. Erica Lovell |

      Gretchen, in your December 2010 replay above, you mention that you make sourdough bread. curious if this is “real food” sourdough? if yes, could you share your recipe with me? does it require a starter that you feed? i would need that recipe too!! Thanks so much!! Erica

    2. Adrienne |

      This is a very random question, but I LOVE the mugs you have in the post about hot chocolate. Anybody seen any like them? Great size for a sweet treat. BTW, my five-year-old son and I just had some. It was lovely.

      • |

        Why, thank you! I got them at Pier 1 a couple years ago, but I think I saw them there (still for sale) recently.

        • Adrienne |

          Thanks so much! I actually found them on their website!

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