September spending challenge, update #1

Almond ButterAfter just 6 days of eating out of the pantry and freezer, I can already find things in the freezer SO much more easily. I hadn’t realized how often I’ve been frustrated trying to find things in my overly crammed space. We’re eating much more variety than usual, just because I’m trying to use things that have been ignored for awhile.  Tuesday we had enchiladas for dinner made with trout.  Odd, but pretty good.  The trout was caught by some of the kids in June and has been languishing in the freezer ignored since then.  About time we did something useful with it.  I confess, however, that I gave the last dabs of the trout to the chickens, and they gobbled it down, little omnivores that they are.

For Wednesday dinner we had turkey dinner.  John’s mom is in the process of moving, and while cleaning out her freezer, gifted me with a turkey.  It was the most enormous bird I’ve ever cooked– 30 pounds.  We’ve had sandwiches several times since then, I froze several baggies full of cooked meat, and still there’s turkey in the fridge to eat.  A nice problem to have!

For quite a while at breakfast we’ve been in the habit of eating eggs, but as the weather cools a little, the hens are slowing down in their laying, and since I don’t want to go to the store too soon, I’ve been doing some alternative breakfasts.  Wednesday was french toast made with multiple bread loaves that had been stuck back into the freezer with just a few slices left on them. Thursday morning we had polenta with flax seed and cranberries.

I’ve also been making a concerted effort to can a lot this week  (that and school account for my almost-absence around here).  So far this week we canned 22 quarts of applesauce and about 8 quarts of tomatoes.  And still there are so many apples to deal with.  I think I’ll be asking our grown kids to do a bit of picking off the trees to help me out.

Here’s what we ate.

Breakfast: Cereal
Lunch: Tacos
Dinner: grilled pizza and watermelon

Breakfast: Pancakes and apples
Lunch: Tuna sandwiches and cucumber-tomato salad
Dinner: Hamburger veggie chowder and watermelon

Breakfast:  smoothies and eggs
Lunch:  Veggie chicken stir-fry
Dinner: Trout enchiladas

Breakfast: French toast
Lunch: fish sticks, leftover rice, carrot sticks, apples
Dinner:  turkey, sweet potatoes, cuke-tomato salad

Breakfast: polenta with flax seed, cranberries and apples
Lunch:  turkey veggie wraps
Dinner: turkey fajitas

Breakfast: Eggs, toast and apples
Lunch: Turkey sandwiches
Dinner: Chicken sandwiches, grilled cabbage, fresh applesauce, fresh raspberries

I have to say, it’s been a dog of a week.  Tons of driving kids everywhere, plus we started school again, and with the canning and our fair share of cranky kids, it has been SOOOO very tempting to grab a pizza or burgers or something easy several different evenings.  But we’ve resisted so far- haven’t even been to the grocery store yet.  So far we’ve run out of milk, potatoes, bananas, peanut butter, cinnamon, and sour cream.  The milk and the potatoes are the first things I’m buying when I next go to the store, I think. 

As far as peanut butter  (which hubby is really missing) I decided to try something new– making almond butter, since we have a lot of almonds from my sister whose husband grows them.   I roasted about 4 cups of almonds on a flat skillet, then tossed them into the food processor with half a cup of olive oil, a half a teaspoon of salt and 1/4 cup of honey.  Lo and behold, it made perfectly excellent almond butter.  My hubby is now at peace with the lack of peanut butter in the house.

How did the week go at your house?  If you’re doing the spending challenge, I’d love to hear how your week went.


  1. Elizabeth Koziel says:

    I am attempting to do the same — no more clothing, no more unnecessary food spending. I put all the content of my deep freeze in light weight cloth bags (separating chicken/ground beef, steaks/roasts – vegs/cheese) We buy 1/4 of a cow through a friend who raises cattle. Then wrote which each bag contains what = “whole foods bag=ground beef” – on a slip of paper & taped to freezer. I hope it helps as I would get frustrated remembering what I had, and where on earth in the freezer was anything! 🙂


  2. Did better than what I thought I would. Pat eats lunch at school no matter what it is. I have almost another month of breakfast items still in the freezer.

    Posted what I did and where I am on my blog…

    Blessed Be

  3. My goal was to stay under $375 for food groceries for the month and $60 for eating out (we over spent in both of those last month, so I lowered them to make up for last month).
    We’re current at : $217 for groceries and $16 for eating out.

  4. With one of my 4 having a peanut allergy, I’d love to try your almond butter concoction — but I still don’t have a food processor, and some things just don’t work in a blender. Maybe it’s time to search Craig’s List for one . . . And I have some white bass in the freezer that you reminded me of. 🙂

    • You could also try freecycle to see if someone has one to give away.

    • I’ve made almond butter in the blender–in fact, I think it works better in the blender than in the food processor. I don’t use any sweetener, just 8 oz dry roasted almonds, ¼ t salt, and 2 T oil (I usually use coconut oil). You may have to stop a few times to scrape the sides down to get it nice and evenly blended, but a blender should work fine!

  5. I am going to try to make it the next three weeks on $207 for our family of seven. We have a fairly full pantry, so it should be doable. We are going camping next weekend, so I will have to watch how much I spend on campy foods!

  6. I have not avoided shopping, but I am trying to stay under a certain amount for the month. I really stocked up on staples today so my current goal is to stay away from the store until next Sunday. Yikes! I hope I can do it.

  7. Now I want to grill a pizza!! For us its not digging through to find something to make its hoping the groceries last two weeks. So after a week amd a half i have to go to the store to fill in. But no money spent eating out so thats good. 🙂

  8. Co-worker gave us zucchini which we have used to make chips, soup, bars with powered sugar over (ran out of cream cheese), and ground up and put into lasagna. A neighbor brought over watermelon and eggplant the other night which takes care of fruit and eggplant is a great meat substitute. And my six year old grandson had way too many tomatoes on his plants so brought over to grammy’s and I blended up and canned for pasta dishes. Making soups, homemade breads, and using alternate ingredients; we are certainly coming up with some interesting dishes. When I located a bag of clams in freezer-we had clam chowder- what a treat.
    And have discovered that while I thought we needed a freezer full of food- we don’t really. My freezer had been full of meat and frozen vegetables but decided that if I buy meat and canned vegetables on sale, we don’t need- so sold the freezer this week which will help the electric bill immensely.
    I confess, did go to the grocery store yesterday and bought two gallons of milk and two cartons of almond milk which will last until they spoil. When I explained why just milk, cashier was quite interested and wanted to know how I was doing.

  9. My goal was $25 for my family of 5 and I am happy to report we did it!!! (So far anyway) I had gotten my wic checks at end of september and my kids are in backpack program at school which provided 3 free dozen eggs coupons and some $5 in fruit for the kindergartner, with some apples and oranges in older ones bags. So I only spent $12 at store getting yogurt to make yogurt and lettuce and peppers. Sadly our garden didnt work out this year. It was too far away for son to bike to and I am to disabled to take him all the time.

  10. Was really trying to avoid purchasing anything, but I had not noticed we were just about out of milk when starting this. Decided to go buy some yesterday. I went to Costco, thinking I could eat lunch from the samples offered. That worked out well! Only problem was, they had an excess of boneless lamb legs in the store and it was nearing the sell by date so had it marked down in order to clear it out. The price was lower than I’ve seen in 3 years, even at Easter time, and the kid really likes lamb. So… I bought one. Had I not been vowing to not spend this month, I probably would have bought two and frozen one, but I kept it to just the one. Part of it made a superb lunch today! Still, those two things are all I’ve bought (in any genre), so I’m still doing well.

  11. I’m trying to stick to no more than $20 a week for this month for our family of five (three littles), mostly fresh fruits and vegetables and milk. We have quite a lot of meat in the freezer, a huge bag of rice, and a fair amount in the pantry so it shouldn’t be too hard. We could probably do two months if we really tried!

    • Dawn Van Haaften says:

      Good for you Susan! I thought my goal of $250 a month for our family of five was a lofty goal. I need to go through my freezer today and get my freezer organized and an inventory made so I know what exactly is in there as well as my pantry. I have a feeling we could do the same as you if we really tried and I knew where everything was! You just reminded me of my big bag of brown rice in the pantry!!! thanks!

  12. I make my own almond butter…took a while to really figure it out. I use either 4 cups almonds or 3C almonds and 1 1/4 C walnuts (richer texture and brain healthy for my little ones). I put them on a cookie sheet at 325 for 12 minutes. Allow to cool then Cuisinart them until they liquefy. THat’s the trick. Liquefy.
    Additionally, I make my own almond milk. You can sweeten (dates, honey, etc) it or flavor (vanilla, chocolate, etc) it as you like but the basic recipe is 3T almond butter to 7-8 C of water. Blend. Stores for about 4-5 days.

  13. Dawn Van Haaften says:

    I am on a budget for groceries this month. Trying to live off of the pantry foods, but know that I will need to get groceries for basics like bread and milk. However, today I am pulling the bread machine out to make bread for the week in hopes my children will eat them. (My son has mild autism so according to him, bread only looks a certain way: Sara Lee 100% whole wheat bread. We’ll see if he will eat the homemade bread for sandwiches. If not, to the store I will go for sandwich bread and milk. My goal is to be at $250 this month for groceries for a family of 5. So far this month I have spent $68. Although, there were plenty on that list I didn’t NEED (like Halloween candy…..give me a break!!!!) Going to finish up some canning today as well. I had 5 pints of pasta sauce yesterday and some green beans. Going to try and get to the vendor in the neighboring town as they still have sweet corn available and get some more processed for the winter. I think after I harvest my tomatoes today I should get about 5-6 more pints of pasta or pizza sauce out of them.