Samantha’s Story: Part 2

(Continued from Samantha’s Story: Part One) After discovering her family of three spent $933.51 last month on food–groceries and eating out– Samantha decided to see how little she could buy for a month.
Week Two Update…including two creative recipes she invented.

$37 worth of produce from Farm Fresh on Charlie Smith Hwy, St. Marys, GA

Told in her own words:
So, since the evening Mike went to the farmers market and spent $37.00 and then $12.00 at Winn Dixie, we did not buy any additional food for the next week. We did end up going to Chic Fil-A one evening. My son had basketball practice and I thought I could wait until practice was over at 8:00. Needless to say, low blood sugar + Samantha = a very not nice lady. But…I was smart and only ordered a Southwest Grilled Wrap. (No drink. No fries. No guilt).

This past Friday, I had much homework to get done, so Mike and my son had a dude date. And of course, this involved food. However, they went to an all-you-can-eat Mexican restaurant. So…they got all-you-can-eat cheesy, saucy, greasy gunk for $20.00. I feel somewhat defeated as we intended to eat dinner in every night, but we are doing much better than previous months.

Saturday morning we ventured out to the St. Mary’s Farmers Market and bought a couple of items to tide us over for a few days. My son went to a basketball party and ended up spending the night at his friend’s house. Date night in it was! I made a relatively quick meal of broccoli pasta: I boiled fettucine and put fresh broccoli in the pot for the last couple minutes. I like my broccoli kinda crunchy. Once drained, I added a small amount of olive oil, parmesan cheese, red pepper flakes and dried basil. It turned out really well. We love date night in! Our schedules tend to get the best of us, so it’s nice to relax at home.

The fettucine dish was good, quick and last minute-ish but it was not our random meal of the week. This was:

I soaked kidney beans overnight and cooked them the next day in the crock pot while I was at work. I had no idea what I was going to do with the beans, but darn it, we were gonna have kidney beans. When I got home, I drained them and searched the cabinets and fridge. I roasted a poblano pepper, part of a green bell pepper and a couple of jalapenos, along with two tomatoes. I added some chili powder and mixed everything together, putting it in a casserole dish. I sprinkled some cheese on top. Also in our deep, dark cabinets, I found a box of Jiffy Cornbread Mix. I prepared the mix and spooned it on top of the cheese that was on top of the bean mixture. I baked it until the cornbread was done (about 15 minutes). It turned out great and served as a meal for dinner that night and lunch for Mike and I the next day.

Now for the “boys cannot live off of grapefruit dilemma”. Mike and my son have been pretty good sports about this saving money on food stuff and my desire to get rid of processed gunk that we have. They did, however, express their need to have things other than grapefruit and chicken. So…we ventured out to the Commissary today. We ended up spending $160.00 (YIKKKEEESSSS!). Granted $25.00 of it was on dog food alone. The only processed item I bought for my consumption was Oatmeal. Oh, and popcorn. I LOVEEE The Better Oats brand oatmeal. It is so much better than Quaker and the packaging is much more environmentally friendly. (I think Jenn is rubbing off on me). I was a bit upset about how much we spent. But we did need to stock up on meats, dairy, bread and bologna. (Don’t ask, but it was really, really cheap). Unfortunately, the boys like oatmeal, but in limited quantities so we bought cereal as well. Mike also packs lunch everyday and loves the Campbell’s Select Harvest soups. Luckily they were on sale for $1.00 a can. I felt a little deflated, but then I realized we got a huge amount of stuff and it will last for a couple of weeks, at least (!!!)

Our total spent on people food this week:

$37 Farmer’s market
$12 Winn-Dixie
$17.00 Chic fil-A (sigh)
$20.00 Mexican son/husband date night
$6.00 Farmer’s market on Saturday
$135.00 Comissary

What I did not spend money on this week:

Impulse items
Gum (I am a fiend)


24 responses to “Samantha’s Story: Part 2

  1. I’M BORROWING THE BEAN RECIPE. i have found some ignored items in the back of the pantry.
    however, you can keep the grocery bill; i refuse to go out to the store before my frozen goods and staples are used up…uh, except for coffee-sugar and other necessities of the spoiled life…walking everywhere does reduce temptation, you can only carry so much in a backpack..

    • Nadinesellers, the back pack is a wonderful idea.

    • Coffee is totally a necessity. I think I would sell a kidney before I give up coffee. We still have a bunch of frozen stuff too. We are finally putting a dent in cabinet stuff. The bean recipe is good. You can also just do ground meat and tacoseasing and whatever else and put the cheese and cornbread mix over it.

  2. It’s hard, adjusting to cooking for only two of us, both over 63. I tend to buy out of habit, and the stuff mounts up in our pantry. Ex: I bought five cans of soup and he tells me he doesn’t like soup anymore. Now I see why old ladies have overflowing cupboards. Time to apply the Samantha rule to my own shopping.

    • Anne, that made me laugh when you said he told you he doesn’t like soup anymore! 🙂

    • It’s like having a toddler sometimes isn’t it? Like all of a sudden they decide they don’t like anything. Gotta love ’em though. Stuff does really pile up quickly in the cabinets.

  3. That recipe with beans souns really good. I actually need to start cooking more with beans but they intimidate me so much. I know how to cook a simple bean mix soup but nothing else. I might try Samantha recipe!

    I’ve noticed after our last grocery shopping that we spent much less than normally. I actually started making much more things from scratch (like ricotta, all kinds of breads, and soups) and we cut a little bit on snacks.
    Cooking from scratch makes a big difference in the budget…, and it’s sooo good! (oh maybe noodles with honey-orange chicken from PandaExpress is better than antyhing else cooked from

    • You made me laugh with that one about the PandaExpress. Samantha will love to hear you’re using her recipe! She’s so creative. Yeah, I try to throw beans in everything. Just because I can. 🙂
      And the cooking from scratch does save a mega amount on groceries. I couldn’t believe the difference. Samantha seems to lack the time. She works like an hour away. It’s crazy. She needs a cook!
      Sorry about the big mass of text without the paragraph spacing. I fixed it. Made it hard to read. WHAT is up with WordPress lately??

      • WordPress really sucks lately. I still can’t comment on many blogs with it’s profile. I need to change to twitter or something else. that’s really making me angry!
        Anyway, I wish I knew how to cook with beans. I mean whenever I go somewhere and they serve beans I always eat it and like it but it seems like I just can’t do it at home. I mean I’m afraid of beans… can you imagine! So silly!

    • How do you make your own ricotta? I love baking bread, but it’s so time consuming (unless you have a bread machine). We have cut down drastically on snacks. Cooking from scratch makes a huge difference. It tastes better too. I like knowing what I’m eating. I agree, though, there are somethings that you just can’t make the same as a restaurant.

  4. This is great. I applied this same idea to my own pantry a few months ago and have not looked back. I’m really trying to watch sodium and sugar intakes.

    • All right Jody! Here’s to cleaning out the pantries this year! (Sorry about that crazy font. I just noticed it was all clumped together. I hope it wasn’t too difficult to read!)

    • We are really appreciating the differences in both our budget and health. Something can be super healthy-until it’s canned-unless it’s picked from someone’s garden. Like green beans-I totally don’t do the canned ones. They are gross and the fresh ones are nice and crunchy.

  5. Well done Samantha, you’re doing brilliantly. Incidentally, I live in the UK and I spend around £120 per week on food for a family of three, none of which is ‘take out’ food. I couldn’t reduce that bill unless I compromised on the quality of our food, which I’m not prepared to do. So, ya know, spending $900 or so dollars for the month isn’t so bad in my book!

    I’m having a ‘use it up’ month however and have only bought fresh fruit and veg which I can get from a local organic farm shop for around £20 per week, so I’m thrilled at what we are achieving this month. Everything else if from the freezer, old tins and packets or things I have preserved.

    It’s tough though, I prioritise good food and I’m a creature of habit so that’s where the majority of my money goes.
    The broccoli pasta idea sounds like heaven; my daughter will absolutely love it, and as she is ill at the moment it sounds like the perfect healthy, but comfort dish! – I am so trying that this week; thank you for the inspiration and keep up the great work!

    • I hope you love the pasta like we do. You can actually add whatever veggies you want, also. It saves a lot of time just to put them in the pasta pot for the last few minutes.

      It is really easy to spend so much on groceries, isn’t it? We really had to examine our budget and food was the one thing that we could use to spend less. Also, I totally have not bought clothes in like a month (this is quite catastrophic for me…haha).

      I wish we had more organic places locally. There is a little farmer’s market spot that Jen introduced me to. Also, she has awesome grapefruits and oranges. OH and kumquats. I don’t know if you have them in the UK but they are sour little things. But oh so good. That reminds me: it’s time to raid Jen’s front yard again for oranges…haha

  6. @ Mom Photograper, don’t be afraid of the beans! Once you do it a few times, you’ll be a pro. It’s SO easy!! I usually don’t even soak mine the night before (which just makes them cook faster). I just throw them in the crock pot and they always get done.

  7. My budget on food, pets, cleaners, hygiene products, toilet paper, foil, etc for this month is $400.00. For the remainder of the month I have $62.99 which should be just enough to get us through. We have four in our family (one being a teenage boy). I cook dry bean, ‘rubber chickens’, soups, and lot of home-processed goodies. The only snacks we have are Popsicle, fruit, popcorn (kernels popped on the stove top), tortilla chips, and home-baked goods. Eating like this means I spend more time in the kitchen than some folks might have, but I look at it as my job ~ the more I save on the food bill, the more money we have coming in. We even buy food, shampoo, flea collars, treats, worm meds, and litter for 6 dogs and 4 cats out of this money! After reading all these posts, I guess I’m doing pretty darn good!

    • one teenage boy plus 6 dogs equals one elephant in the garden…and one more child and 4 kitties is the equivalent of a monkey in the pantry…i can see that you do manage very well with the options you have.
      may i offer my pet food recipe to supplement the pet care budget?
      homemade casserole for dogs, cats and chickens or piglets:
      scrape plates and pans into a large pan, add water, bones from meats, fat from bacon and garden rejects ( dead lettuce, wilted greens and peelings) crushed eggshells also provide necessary mineral for the animal’s coats and well being.
      throw in a handful of old noodles or less desirable gleanings from your friends’ pantry < a few weevils and flour moths add protein.
      bring to a boil and simmer for one hour.
      if short on time, crock-pot it all night. let it cool and serve with stale bread and other culinary projects gone wrong or the neighbors barbecue failures.
      the smile on their beaks or snouts will be a testament to your ingenuity. you may have to share the savings with the bipeds in the family.

    • Rockycropfarm, you’re doing FANTASTIC!! Making your own food sure does help, huh? 🙂

    • @Rockycropfarm
      You are doing fantastically. I’m assuming by rubber chickens you mean whole chickens? We have about the same snacks in our house. Luckily, our son LOVES grapefruits!

  8. nadineseller, we have no scraps. I cook portions with very, very little leftover. I was fortunate to grow up knowing senior relatives who literally defined the word frugal almost to the point of total cheapness or even hoarding. I’ve tried to instill this “frugality” into my own children but I find them becoming more and more frustrated with me and my ‘cheapness’, especially the eighteen-year-old who now has a job and often pulls through a drive-thru at the end of the day for a quick milkshake.

    • rockycropfarm. i could guess that you had no leftovers of your own, that’s why i included the neighbor’s donations and culinary goofs in the “recipe” for pet nutrition..
      i sympathize with you and all parents who feel the welcome mat slipping from under their best lesson plans…
      fortunately, my own experience shows that by example you shall lead..and comfort the next generation.
      i have found that with time and solid determination, people will come to respect the frugal ways you practice (even the children) three deep breaths and a hug toward sustainable ways. ns

  9. Pingback: Samantha’s story: Part 3—the close of her month | Attempting zero waste lifestyle in a military household

Tell me what you think. I don't get to answer comments like I did before baby but I read every single comment. And they really make my day!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s