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5 Dinners for $50 Challenge – UPDATE!

Posted Apr 23 2013 1:06pm

Drum roll please! I spent a total of $75.55.

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Sure, I went over my allotted $50, but I fared much better than I expected. I really thought I was going to spend at least $100, so $75.55 for 29 items isn’t too bad in my book! The shrimp and, as I suspected, cheese (I only bought mozzarella because I had all the other cheeses on my list in my refrigerator already) killed my budget. The salmon was on sale, so I lucked out there. So, technically I failed, but I think I actually succeeded because:

  1. I bought everything at Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s
  2. I didn’t have the time to run around to 10 different stores in search of the cheapest price tag
  3. I would normally spend AT LEAST this much for a few essentials and ONE dinner
  4. We can’t even eat out at a restaurant as a family of five for this much
  5. $75.55 FOR FIVE DINNERS! HELLO!!!!!!
  6. Did I mention that I bought almost everything at Whole Foods?

I had to make a few exceptions to my original meal plan. I couldn’t justify buying a whole bag of spinach to use only some of it in the Sweet Potato & Spinach Hash with Baked Eggs, so I nixed it (and I just bought a whole bag of spinach on Sunday). Now it will just be Sweet Potato Hash & Baked Eggs. Speaking of eggs… OH MY GOSH! I just realized that I forgot to buy them. Oops. Also, they didn’t have fresh chives at Whole Foods, so I’m omitting those (or will use dried) in my Spring Veggie Risotto. I couldn’t find pepperoncinis at Whole Foods either, so again, nixed. Instead of gemelli for my Gemelli with Shrimp & Arugula I’m using strozzapreti. I think I covered everything.

If you remember, white wine was on my list. Thank goodness for Trader Joe’s “two buck chuck” wine, otherwise I would have really gone over my $50 budget. There’s something about shopping for alcohol with your kids at 10:30 in the morning that screams Parent of the Year!, so I decided I would look for those pepperoncinis that Whole Foods didn’t have because, you know, another item in addition to the wine makes the wine purchase perfectly acceptable. Picture this – baby on one hip, bottle of $3 wine in my hand, searching the shelves for jarred peppers. Classy! I couldn’t find pepperoncinis at Trader Joe’s either, so I’m going to use some fire roasted peppers in my shrimp pasta dish instead.

So what have I learned from this? I’ve learned that meal planning really does cut down on your grocery bill. A shopping list keeps you focused and really makes you think about what you’re buying. Like I said, I usually walk into a grocery store with the intent of buying 3 items and walk out with my pockets considerably lighter than they should be, so this was a real eye opener for me. Not to mention it feels great to know what we’re having for dinner the next five nights. I won’t miss that feeling of dread at 3:00 in the afternoon when I anxiously search the pantry and refrigerator for something to make for dinner. WHY HAVE I NOT BEEN DOING THIS ALL ALONG??

I look forward to cooking dinner the next few nights and sharing the delicious recipes with you!


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