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Have you heard the one about the homeschooling family that lives on less than $22K a year in an area that costs above 100% (116%) of the National CoL Index?

I haven't quite figured out why so many people still persist in perpetuating the myth that living on a single income and homeschooling on a dime aren't possible. I can only suppose these are people who can't imagine life without a daily trip to Starbucks and dinner out several times a week. The people who actually shop at malls (*shudder*) and think "Brand Name = Best". The people who really live by the "Keeping up with the Joneses" mentality.

That? Would not be us!

Welcome to our world. We cook from scratch. Buy from thrift stores. Find 95% of our homeschool materials for free. This is my blog and this is how we do it.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

How I shop, Part 5.

The lowdown.

I said I wanted to give a complete breakdown of one entire shopping day, and so here it is. Please note - if you were to only buy what I've bought this week alone, you wouldn't be able to make many meals. This is because I buy things over time and keep them as staples, so each week I'm only picking up some particular needs and items I find on sale. (More in full post.)

We did not go to any garage sales this week. The weather was hot and we aren't currently looking for anything in particular. We did stop by a used book store, where I found a Spanish 1 for Christian Schools textbook and teacher manual for $1 each and I picked those up. We have been listening to Spanish language CDs from the library and I figured this could give us some reinforcement.

Total: $2.13

Our first store stop was Dollar General. I bought a 6 pack of toilet paper (which we won't actually need until next week) for $1, a bag of cat food for $3, also not needed for another week or so, and a $1 stick of Suave deodorant.

Total $5.33

Next we went to Save-Rite, where I bought:
1) 1 bag of potatoes: $2.50
2) 2 lbs yellow onions: $1.25 - didn't need them right away, but this was a good price.
3) orange gelatin mix: .32 cents
4) raspberry gelatin mix: .32 cents - My daughter handed her cold on to my son and jello is one of his "comfort foods".
5) one can of no-salt added corn: .40 cents
6) one can of diced tomatoes: .50 cents
7) two cans of tomato paste: .68 cents
8) 1 bottle of BBQ sauce: $1.00 - because we'd used up the last of it in our BBQ chicken sandwiches last week; don't need it right away, but I consider it a staple to keep on hand.
9) 1 carton of oatmeal: $1.35 - my son also loves oatmeal for breakfast when he's feeling ill - this will last us a long time.
10) vegetable oil: $1.65 - don't need it currently, but was on sale

Total: $9.97

At Winn Dixie we only bought 2 bell peppers for .98 cents and a 4 lb. bag of kidney beans for $3.49 - another item that will last us a long time.

Total: $4.47

At Wal-Mart we bought:

1) 1 lb. bag of carrots: .79 cents
2) bananas (at .48 cents a pound): $1.15
3) raw spinach: $1.98
4) mayo: $1.00 (to use in a salad dressing)
5) Cajun seasoning: .50 cents (didn't need right away, but is often hard to come by at this price)
6) oregano: .50 cents
7) 12 oz bag of egg noodles: .60 cents
8) one whole chicken: $3.62
9) ham: $2.50 (marked down)
10) 1 5 lb. bag of "tortilla mix" on the clearance aisle - .50 cents. I've never tried making tortillas before, but I figure if I blow it, I only wasted 50 cents, but if I succeed, each tortilla will cost less than 2 cents.
11) large bottle of white vinegar: $1.85 (didn't need immediately, but my supply was getting a little low)
12) one bag frozen mixed veggies: .78 cents

Total: $15.77

Grand Total: $37.67

In the interest of full disclosure, my husband bought yogurt and fruit on Friday on his way home, for a total of $5.85, so he could make my son some smoothies as snacks, so to be fair, our real total for this week is: $43.52

When you combine the things we bought this week plus things we already had on hand, these are our 14 lunches and dinners for the week -

1) chef salad and cheese bread
2) roasted chicken and vegetables (onions, carrots, potatoes), steamed green beans (from a frozen pack), rolls
3) baked potatoes "stuffed" with broccoli and covered in a cheese sauce, spinach salad
4) "fake" red beans and rice w/ ham chunks (I say "fake" because I used kidney beans instead of genuine red beans), biscuits, jello
5) chicken noodle soup and garlic cheese biscuits (both at son's request.)
6) garden chili - a chili made with beans, ground beef, and veggies: some carrots, corn, bell pepper, and tomatoes - Texans you are free to groan at my calling it "chili" ;), corn bread
7) chicken enchiladas, refried beans, Spanish rice
8) ham and mashed potatoes, broccoli, rolls
9) vegetable-beef soup, garlic bread
10) chicken creole served on rice, biscuits, chocolate pudding*
11) hamburger-macaroni casserole, jello
12) Sloppy Joes, oven fries, carrot sticks with ranch dressing as a dip
13) veggie-topped pizza and garlic bread, leftover jello or pudding
14) Potatoes O'Brien and scrambled eggs. (Yes, we eat eggs for dinner sometimes, typically on Fridays if we do.)

Breakfasts are a choice of waffles, pancakes, muffins or oatmeal - with bananas, apple slices, or oranges on the side.

If you look over what I bought and compare it with what I have/will be cooked/cooking, you'll see that several ingredients I already had. For instance, I still had several containers of ground beef from last week, as well as already prepared refried beans. I also had eggs already and some iceberg lettuce. I almost never buy iceberg lettuce, but we had it from last week because of the tacos we had, so I used it up in a chef salad with ham, cheese, cucumber and carrots. We had BBQ chicken on hamburger buns last week, so I'm using the remaining 4 buns from the pack to make Sloppy Joes this week. I also didn't need any baking supplies this week. My muffins were made with leftover zucchini from last week and I had plenty of my master baking mix on hand to make waffles, pancakes, rolls and biscuits.

One other note - because of the price of milk lately, we've cut back to only one gallon every two weeks. I "stretch" it by mixing it with reconstituted powdered milk.

I don't know how helpful this information truly is, but I wanted to show specifically what one week's shopping produced.

*I make chocolate pudding using this recipe:

1 1/2 cups instant nonfat powdered milk
5 cups sugar
3 cups cornstarch
1 teaspoon salt
2 1/2 cups unsweetened cocoa

Mix all ingredients until they are well blended. Store in an airtight container.

To use, stir the mix in the container before measuring out 2/3 cup of the mix into a saucepan. Add 2 cups milk and cook over low heat, stirring, until mixture thickens and comes to a boil. Continue stirring for 1 minute. Remove from heat and pour into individual serving dishes. Pudding will thicken further as it cools.

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10 Comments:
Anonymous Anonymous said...

That is helpful. Do you have air conditioning? We don't and we live in Michigan but when it gets hot, like now, we grill a lot. Silly, I am sure you have air in Florida. Your food prices seems cheaper then ours. I am inspired though to keep my groceries for the next week under $20. My freezer is pretty stocked.

Christy

June 27, 2007 at 7:41 AM  
Blogger Just Me, Jenni said...

Yes, we have AC. Though, you know, when I went to University of Florida, I lived in a dorm w/o it. And we were fine! This was a building that was over a 100 years old and had super-thick walls and all we needed was a couple of box fans and our room was always perfectly comfortable. They sure don't build 'em like that any more!

We do grill sometimes, but honestly, it's so hot outside, no one really wants to be out there monitoring the grill much. We actually do more grilling in the fall. :)

I do use my oven a lot less in the summer. My menu for this week is pretty much exclusively just stove-top cooking. :)

June 27, 2007 at 9:53 AM  
Anonymous Anna said...

You said you do not have a garden but you might think about just planting say one bush type tomatoe plant or such in a big pot. Needs less water and maintance than a full garden. I water somethings with the rinse water from my dish washing...The kids might like growing it too. Thanks too for any recipes I have enjoyed using them. I am one of those who has gotten a lot from your writing.

June 27, 2007 at 10:29 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi jenni, you are a blessing to a lot of people that read your blog like me thank you, would you mind showing some pictures.Thank you


Iris

June 27, 2007 at 2:35 PM  
Blogger Just Me, Jenni said...

Anna, it's so funny you should bring that up today! A neighbor who is moving gave me three enormous planting containers just this morning and I was thinking, "Oh, cool! I can try to grow something!" Woo-hoo! :)


Hi, Iris. Thanks for commenting. And - *blush* - I'm not sure I understand you. Pictures of what? I mean, did you have something specific in mind - like of the food I cook or something?

June 27, 2007 at 2:58 PM  
Anonymous Mrs L said...

Jenni,
Your shopping series has been spectacular, thanks!

Just a thought - I 2nd the growing a few items thing. I only have a deck and I am growing leafy lettuce & herbs this year. It's so easy, really, or I wouldn't be doing it. Give it a try. You can pick off leaves as it keeps growing, which is really nice (could be used for your tacos). Since your growing season is long, I would imagine you could still start now.

Also, since you are very keen on making mixes, etc. (which is awesome), how about making your own barbeque sauce? You do a lot already, but I was thinking of that item since you mentioned it.

June 27, 2007 at 4:16 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is Iris yes,pictures of your food and the presents you give for christmas. I'm sorry for my gramar but I'm not very good at it.

June 27, 2007 at 7:22 PM  
Blogger Just Me, Jenni said...

Hi, Iris! Don't worry about your grammar! I just wasn't totally sure what you were asking. :)

June 27, 2007 at 8:16 PM  
Blogger Just Me, Jenni said...

Mrs. L - Every so often I will make my own BBQ sauce, but since I can get it for $1.00 (28 oz) I do tend to get lazy there. *blush*

I do make it, though, for "special" occasions, like if my husband has invited friends over for a grill-out.

This is a recipe I've used with success:
http://allrecipes.com/Recipe/Nanas-Barbeque-Sauce/Detail.aspx

My children in particular like that one.

Do you have any faves you're willing to share? (She asks in her best "pretty please" voice.)

June 27, 2007 at 10:22 PM  
Anonymous Mrs. L said...

I am the type of cook that just throws things together, lol. So I start off with some ketchup (lots), brown sugar, a bit of molasses, mustard. I've added garlic powder, vinegar, salt & pepper (real simple here). You can add other spices to give it a zing.

I actually thought about the fact that your sauce is $1 bottle after I posted. That's pretty inexpensive. Although one good reason to make your own would be to avoid any additives. You are getting a good deal though. Your prices in Florida are really inexpensive for groceries!

June 28, 2007 at 9:40 AM  

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