It was slightly embarrassing, but I had to return the only unopened grocery item I had on hand to be able to “afford” a main ingredient for our dinner on Friday. Sure, you could say it was poor planning on my part, but regardless I desperately needed a butternut squash and only had two bucks left. So after a little brainstorming session with myself I came up with a plan to get more money. And I was thrilled to see that one of the more expensive items ($5.99 bag of brown rice) that I purchased from Earth Fare earlier in the week was still unopened!
After I made the return I was armed with a whopping $8 and change, which allowed me to get the few things I needed. So I bought the squash and some cilantro for the recipe, a few bananas, and a very small amount of rolled oats (which we were out of and I often need to make oatmeal for my daughters). I went home and in no time at all made the pictured squash peanut soup (topped with cilantro) along with some biscuits, and it turned out so delicious! The best part was that the soup was super easy to make (my favorite kind of recipe…yummy AND easy!) although our kids did not like it one bit. This shocked us because we were all but licking our bowls, but I plan to post and share this recipe soon anyway because of how much we adults loved it.
This soup recipe sure helped make my whole “new recipe” quest worth it, but I did also have a big recipe flop earlier in the week. I made some local pork ribs in our slow cooker and to go with it I tried a new “brown rice patty” recipe that none of us liked. This brings me to the reason that I don’t like trying new recipes on a budget. When money is tight and something doesn’t work out you feel like you just wasted perfectly good ingredients. My husband assured me though that he liked the soup so much that it was worth it to try new things (even if there were a few recipe duds in-between).
Once the weekend arrived I didn’t have any more recipes planned so I had to be creative with leftovers and what we had on hand (which wasn’t much). My husband and I had some of the leftover squash soup on Saturday, but for our girls I sliced open the leftover biscuits and made “biscuit pizzas” for them with some sauce and cheese that we had in the fridge (with frozen peas and applesauce on the side). By the time Sunday rolled around we didn’t really have very much food left in the kitchen, and we certainly didn’t have anything special enough to make for our big six-year-old’s birthday dinner! So we decided to go out to eat. Since we rarely go out we had almost $100 built up in our “restaurant fund” and what better way to use it than for a celebration? We combined that money with a groupon and went to a local place called Zink (that occasionally uses local food). Our meal ended up being absolutely delicious. And our daughter’s birthday also gave us a chance to splurge on some cake this weekend…which was of course the perfect occasion for such a special treat!
So this is how our budget week wrapped up yesterday (including 5 extra dollars that I was able to spend thanks to some leftover change from previous weeks)…
- Earth Fare $62.05
- Trader Joe’s $14.59 (cashews, sunflower seeds, honey, cheese)
- Local milk delivery $27.97
- Local pork ribs (out of our freezer bought before the budget) $11.25
- Local chicken (out of our freezer) $15
- Earth Fare $2.45 (after using the rice credit)
One thing I often neglect to mention in these posts are all of the things that I want (and attempt) to buy at the store, but cannot. At the beginning of our budget project I pictured myself walking around the store all organized with my list and calculator so I could keep track as I went along. I actually tried this once only to have the calculator reset somewhere in the middle of me making sure my 3-year-old didn’t knock food off the shelf. So now I simply guess at what I can afford to purchase (and I am usually too optimistic) so I am always giving items back to the cashier before I finish checking out. This week the things I wanted to buy, but had to give back included: paprika, Worcestershire sauce, loaf of bread, cooking spray, peach jelly (my daughters’ favorite flavor…although we do already have mixed berry), sunflower seed butter (for the nut-free school), and whole-wheat macaroni/elbow noodles just to have on hand. No matter how much I plan ahead I have to prioritize every time I shop in anticipation of something having to wait until next time. Did I mention I only have 15 days left on this budget (and counting)!?!