Friday, March 1, 2013


Last night, I went shopping with a belly full of sadness and quite empty of food, in the dark. Any one of these is dangerous. Combined, they can be deadly to a budget. I walked into the Aldi KNOWING this.

My impulse buys were

tri-color rotini                       .99
Asian noodles                       .79
rice crackers                        1.49
Asian trail mix                      1.99
bananas                                 .96
avocado                                 .59
1 more mac & cheese             .39
Kiddie cereal                        1.99
TOTAL                                9.19

I can justify the extra mac & cheese as stock-up, because they were .39 rather than the .45 I expected. I didn't NEED the rotini, but I LOVE tri-color rotini, and once I'd realized that Circumstances had burned Too Much Time for burritos to be feasible (and feed the gaping maws before 9 pm), I was going to switch up to White Pasta instead and by damn, I NEED that tri-color pasta.

The Asian noodles were a special deal- Aldi doesn't always have everything it has- that I thought might be nice to try instead of rice with stir-fry veggies. I adore avocados, and there was just the one lonesome one left on the shelf, and .59 is a good price. Of course, it's rock hard, but it probably will be my breakfast on Saturday morning when Wednesday and Pugsley are eating cereal and watching cartoons.

Aside: One Saturday during Winter Break in January, my son, who was then 17 years old, went downstairs to his sister's room- she's 14- and woke her for Operation Saturday Morning. They poured bowls of the "fun" cereal Pugsley had requested and snuggled into the squishy blanket-rich sofas and turned Netflix to a show about medieval mice in an abbey... maybe I'll remember the name of it before I hit Post, but anyway. Edit: It's called Redwall. When I came downstairs, I found my teenagers crunching sugary cereal and watching cartoons. Awwww. Last week, it was Rugrats. This, by the way, explains the kiddie cereal- a Cap'n Crunch knockoff.

The rice crackers and Asian trail mix were due to my extreme hunger and self-pity. I ate about half of the trail mix before I even got home, but didn't open the crackers.

Ordinarily, I would have gone to Costco next (or before, probably), but.... Circumstances.

Yesterday I went to the Costco during the day, feeling okay about everything, and got in and out of there with only

ground beef      12.86
butter                 7.49
milk                   2.99
TOTAL                      23 .34

Aldi Total                    35.95
GRAND TOTAL         59.29

Well, shit.

If I'd've avoided those impulse buys, I'd've missed my target by only 10 cents. However, taking Circumstances into consideration, $10 isn't awful. Still, since I have actually fed me and the kids on $21/week for a couple of weeks a few summers ago, it's a trifle embarrassing. I'll do better next week.

Although, in the interests of full disclosure, I didn't NEED six pounds of butter. I have one whole stick in the freezer, and a partial stick in the fridge. But at under $2 per pound, I can't beat the price anywhere, and so buy 6 at a time every other month; more often only if we're baking frequently.

Because of bumping burritos from Wednesday night in favor of White Pasta, I need to rearrange my Meal Plan. I'd intended to make a big Veggie Mac casserole on Thursday, so that Pugsley could have large portions of leftovers at school  during his Extremely Long Rehearsal, but he said he wanted to go out somewhere to eat with his friends. I gave him $10.00

Which brings me to another issue. If I give the kids money to eat out, does that make my budget invalid? Do I need to include Away Meals in the budget? I'm going to say No, it doesn't ruin the experiment, because I could have said "No, you can have Veggie Mac and not spend the money" or made him use his own funds (He did volunteer to use his own money, but since I don't give them allowance, I try to take care of their 'social' expenses, within reason.) But if I do hand out money for them to eat out, I'll say so, so you can include it in the Weekly Food Cost total if you wish. I gave Wednesday $10, too, even though she doesn't need to stay for Extremely Long Rehearsal, as freshmen aren't permitted to do much of anything. She has a half-day, though, and might socialize awhile.

At any rate, large portions of leftover Veggie Mac weren't necessary for Friday, so I moved Veggie Mac to Tuesday and had burritos last night.

White Pasta Recipe:
1 jar Alfredo sauce                  $2-$3 (I bought it last week & don't remember)
1 can black olives, pitted         $1  (purchased last week, and I DO remember)
1-3 large spoonfuls of pesto sauce   $2.50 (not sure- jar was purchased sometime in 2012)
1 can or jar of artichoke hearts        $2.50 (again with the not sure; purchased more than 2 weeks ago)
1 box pasta                                $1

Boil water for pasta. Dump Alfredo into large saucepan. Add black pepper and pesto to the sauce, stirring gently over low heat. Reserve liquid from artichoke hearts and slice them into bite sized pieces.Drain olives, reserving brine, and slice them with an egg slicer. Add artichoke and olive to the sauce. Add enough of either or both liquids to keep the sauce saucey and not clumpy. Boil pasta until it's as done as you like. Serve sauce over pasta, with salad or bread or both.

The White Pasta was dinner for 3 of us, lunch for 2 the next day and there are still 2 dinner or 3 lunch portions. For about $9.00, only $1 of which I spent this week, and that works out to about $1.30 per serving.

 It's one of my more expensive meals, but it only takes about 12 minutes to prepare, and I happen to love it. The kids eat it, but it isn't one of their favorites, so we don't have it very often, once every other month, I'd guess. I do tend to restock those ingredients when I use them, because it gives me mental security to know that I have the elements for a meal that makes me feel special with almost no work.

Burritos used a whole block of cheese, a can of black beans, one of the two containers of diced tomatoes in the fridge, 1/3 jar of salsa, 7 tortillas and 1 packet of taco sauce mix.  There are 2 burritos left, which is 1 dinner or 2 lunches. I think we won't need soup on Monday night.

New Meal Plan:
Dinner                                                                 Lunch                                                    Breakfast
Wednesday: White Pasta                                  Lasagne & salad                                  oatmeal
Thursday: Burritos                                             White Pasta & salad                           banana & yogurt
Friday:    Tuna melt                                          Pasta and snacks (lunch out)                 banana & yogurt
Saturday: Psyche Casserole & biscuits           Oh. Hm. Not sure right now.                    cereal & milk
Sunday: Crock Pot Meatloaf                              Ditto Saturday                                     eggs & quesedilla
Monday: CORN or soup and sandwich             Psyche Casserole                              smoothie or oatmeal
Tuesday: Veggie Mac casserole                 Leftover meatloaf? Psyche? Tuna?          egg & toast  or oatmeal    

CORN (have I said this?) is Clean Out the Refrigerator Night. Our garbage day is Tuesday. I have many fewer scientific discoveries in my fridge since we started CORN once a week. Sometimes I'll even wipe off a shelf while we're at it.

I will try to photograph my receipts and by some magical incantation make them show up here. Dog food, vitamins, bathroom tissue, laundry soap and so on I don't include in my food cost calculations, but they will show up on the register receipts.

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