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eating out is expensive

April 6th, 2023 at 05:27 am

Eating out is getting really, really expensive.  Before COVID I know we ate out a lot.  Probably mostly takeout and fast food being busy.  But I can say with a certainty we were eating out 6-7 times a week.  We typically ate out Friday nights, Saturday/Sunday Lunches, and then maybe Saturday dinner, then 1-2 dinner during the week.  This was not occassionally but with regularity.

Then Covid hit and we like everyone else went to zero/cold turkey.  It was like a special diet.  Not only did I not get to eat out but I also had to cook.   Of course I found my groove again and began cooking from scratch.  During the time pre-covid I pseudo cooked. I heated pre-made costo or trader joe's meals.  Something easy and fast and cheaper than takeout.  But definitely not from scratch.

But with covid, being home, going nowhere?  Cooking from scratch became more of a hobby.  Something to do out when I had so much time.  It also made eating at home more fun.  We were going months without eating out.  Definitely not eating in restaurants, maybe occasional pizza.  Then Covid began easing and we've been getting busier.  I'd say we definitely were going to start eating out more last year but then I noticed probably middle of last year that food prices were getting really expensive.  Some food places raised prices faster than others.

But really I would say in the last 6 months it's really hit home. I don't know why but I guess since school started I consciously have not eaten out.  We aren't afraid of covid, and our income hasn't changed but our perspective has.  Now I see my $100 eating out bill and think "geez i can do better."   And sometimes I can.  

Eating out is definitely a treat and something we savor more.  As a family we savor it and really think about what we want and what is a bit harder for me to make.  Covid brought back my cooking and DH's cooking skills.  Unfortunately i'm in a rut again making the same things over and over.  But the number of recipes has broaden.  My kids would agree.  

DH and I when we met agreed we should cook.  So he came up with this idea of 10 easy meals that we would learn to do fast and leave always on tap.  We did that, mastered it, and always cooked.  We brown bagged our lunches easily over 15 years together even with kids.  We always made a concerted effort to make lunches during the week.  But before covid we were "boring".  We ate a lot of the same meals over and over.

But now with food prices rising, I noticed I also cook a lot of the same things because I am shopping what's on sale and that sort of drives the menu.  Ground beef on sale?  Burgers, shepards pie, meatloaf, salisbury steak, indian curry, loco moco, bolognese.    Chicken is curries, fried, breaded, baked.  So it really depends on what is on.

But eating out?  Well we ate out tonight and it was okay.  Convienent and super close to home.  But maybe a 7 out of 10.  We went out to eat on Saturday since we went to see a movie, quick burgers by the theater.  That was better than tonight.  This weekend?  Right now no plans since we ate out this week and were invited over for Easter brunch to someone's house. Let's see if we can make it through the weekend.

I will admit I do buy still some costco instant fast meals like ravioli.  It really has been saving me recently with not cooking and being extra busy.  I bought costco lasagna and might make that this weekend.  

Have you cut back on eating out?  Prices?  Habit?  Not enjoying it?  What changed?  For us it really is noticing the prices.

I must be going crazy

November 3rd, 2022 at 07:34 pm

I swear I'm going crazy with how fast prices of groceries are going up.  I swear my CC bill, which I pay off every month is getting higher.  We really are making a super big conscious decision to eat out once week and cut back on take out.  So I've been cooking very consciously every meal even on weekends. 

But perspective for eating out this weekend Sunday dinner it was $160 for chinese takeout for 6.  That meals should not have been that much and we had some leftovers enough for 2 lunches (DH and I each).  The weekend before we paid $150 for brunch at a restaurant for the 4 of us.   We had 4 meals, each averaging around $21-23, 2 alcoholic and 2 non-alcoholic drinks, 6 deviled eggs appetizer (around $15) and that's it.  $150 for 4 of us tax and tip.  That was our meal out. Monday halloween I bought a papa murphy's cook yourself XL pepperoni sausage pizza thin crust 16" was $10 plus breadsticks $6.99 and it cost $18.17 for it and I ordered online and picked up from a cart without a tip.  That was one meal and we had no leftovers for the 4 of us and the kids were a bit hungry after trick or treating.

So the expense of eating out is out of control.  And that's what has lead to cooking all the time.  But groceries I can't get over how much I'm spending.  I can tell when I can't walk out of costco for less than $200.  Then adding on other stores makes it ridiculous. I pay $12 for 2 gallons of lactose free milk from costco.  Eggs at walmart are $9 for 60 and the cheapest.  Chickenthighs are $3/lb for blsl thighs and they still had bones and tons of fat.  And the fresh veggies?  Or my family loves mushrooms and it's $6+ a pound.  And they eat a lot of veggies each meal.  Brussell sprouts tonight are $3/lb and I bought a 2 lb bag.  Last night it was a bag of Bok Choy that was $8 at $3.99/lb for 2 pounds.  Add in the fresh fruits and I'm making the kids lunches everyday (it was free last year and I refused to make lunches).  They hate school lunches both of them, but occasionally when things are nuts in the morning they have to suffer with school lunches.  They pay $4.25 a school lunch and my DK say it's not enough food!  This I hear from other parents as well.  

I will admit we don't have to eat what we eat and I probably should scale back on what I buy.  But I feel like we already are not eating out so scaling back on groceries seems harder than not eating out.  I'm trying to be very conscientious and not waste any food and usually we are very good at this.  I repurpose all rice into fried rice, i make broth from chicken and beef bones and use that to make congee.  I make a lot of stuff from scratch including I've been making sourdough bread again.  

But the prices of food just seems to rise.  I can't get myself to garden I hate it.  I probably need to start though even in pots.  Have you noticed the food prices?

Has inflation changed your behavior?

October 10th, 2022 at 07:16 pm

Disneysteve asked this on the forum boards and I said yes.  But it's a bit of a layered question.  There are a lot of things that have changed.  Covid forced at least us to stay at home and be less busy, which was nice, but also forced us to cook a lot more.  Restaurants weren't open and even if they were, we weren't interested in leaving the house.

Over the past 2.5 years i will admit that we used to eat out, well do mostly takeout, 5-6x/week pre-covid.  We might sit down 1x/week pre-covid.  But eating out was a lot cheaper.  We could do it for $150-200/week for that many meals out.  The kids were smaller and we could share meals, the portions were larger, there was less service fees, etc.  But being less busy, less activities meant we also just had more time to cook and enjoy our meals at home.

Then it seems like life has been getting back to more normal.  The pace of life is much faster and there are more things going on.  So it would be so easy to slip back into at least picking up take out during the week like I used to.  2-3x/week I'd grab takeout.

But now I don't.  It's the expense.  It's shocking how expensive a meal from Chick-fil-A is now for our family of four.  Or burgers from a local place. It's insane how a pizza at a fancy place is $35 for large or even 2 pizzas from Papa Johns is $25.  A takeout from our local thai place for 3 dishes cost me $57 and the portions were enough for the 4 of us for 1 meal.  We had no leftovers.  So eating out 5-6x/week now there is no way to do it for $200/week. 

Even cooking every meal $200/week isn't a lot of money for the four of us from the grocery store.  The price of meat, veggies, fruit, milk has gone up a lot. I understand it's likely due to the fact that we have had long term inflation.  But I don't think I'm alone in looking at my DH's paycheck and thinking we did not get a 10% raise, our investments are down, and our medical/vision/dental/auto/home insurance premiums are up as well as a lot higher property taxes.

So our real purchasing power took a severe hit.  We already took a massive paycut with DH's job switch and I don't know how long this will go on for.  But to compensate we've really tightened up on eating and groceries.  This seems the new normal how expensive everything is.

Have you seen the inflation at stores?

November 9th, 2021 at 06:00 pm

I know that our biggest budget item and most noteworthy is groceries.  Eating out somewhat.  Travel sure we probably spend $ more.  But Travel is easy to track with airline tickets, hotel rooms, rental cars, attractions, dog boarding, etc.  But the day to day spend is the one that's easier to cut and hard to keep track of.  But this year well I've been doing reasonably well I think. 

I have an excel spreadsheet tracking everything and breaking down categories and pulling to an annual statement.   Jan/Feb I spent an average of $1037 and $1056 respectively on groceries. Then when I got serious about our new budget I spent $313-820 from March to August.  Our eating out was $362 Jan and $45 Feb.  But March to August it was $112 to $1553 (month of august away).  

But these last two months our grocery bills are averaging $950 and $919.  The eating out bill has been $412 and $664.  Everything I feel these last two months has become astronomical.  I really noticed coming back from Hawaii end of August that groceries went up like on average 20%.  I also noticed how expensive 1 meal out for a family of four is running more like $100.  

So far this month we are at $160 groceries and $129 eating out.  I am hoping to stay under $600 for groceries and $400 for eating out.  

Meal planning

October 24th, 2021 at 07:21 pm

I hate to admit but I hate cooking.  I'm still getting the hang of cooking enough.  I mean my kids eat like adults so now I need to double meals more because I find I have to still cook daily (VERY annoying) versus once and eating for 2-3 days.  So my goal has always been to cook have enough leftovers for another meal.  Well now that's not happening and sure the costs suck but it sucks more to cook everyday.  We also NEVER have enough for a meal so we have to wait till the end of the week and do a leftover night so that there is enough food for everyone to eat a leftover and finish it! Lunches is scrounged because it's just me unless it's a weekend and we cook or get takeout

18 - leftovers
19 japanese curry
20 leftover japanese curry
21 lunch - leftovers, stuffed bell peppers
22 lunch - salad, family leftovers (eat from week)
23 lunch - hot dogs, dinner - roast pork from chinese market $46.27
24 lunch - leftovers, dinner - out with friends

I'm looking at hello fresh.  It looks like it would be cheaper than what we pay. But of course i can't tell.  I haven't ever done those meal plans and my friends say it costs $135 for 4 meals for 4 people.  But there are leftovers.  So the question is how much does a family of 4 doing hello fresh really spend?  Obviously there are going to be other costs so it's hard to estimate if these meal planning kits which have supposedly less waste are more economical than shopping. I don't know. 

Does anyone else do it?  How do you find it? Have you done a price comparison? Do you do it because it's easier and not more cost efficient.

Inflation is crazy

October 19th, 2021 at 08:38 pm

Inflation is crazy right now. You can just see it everywhere.  In my car mileage sheet the year started 1/7/21 with gas at $2.60/gallon. My recent fill up a week ago was $3.60/gallon.  38% increase in gas in 10 months. 

Eggs were $1.79 for an 18 count at target in July 2021 is not $2.49 for the same 18 count.  Sugar 4 lb white bag was $1.79 it's not $2.49.  Dark brown 2 lbs sugar was $1.59 it's $1.99.  Chicken breast and thighs boneless/skinless was $2/lb, but now I'm lucky to find $2.49/lb.  Stew meat was $5.49/lb and now it's $7.49/lb.   I also think the sizes of things like chips, cleaning stuff have all shrunk an oz or two not easily discernable but it's the same "price" but you get less.  

Definitely you get less eating out.  I mean 3 bowls of noodle cost us $55.  I think the same restaurant last year was maybe $45?  This is for takeout.  Then on Sunday I had a girl scout troop event of pizza, pumpking carving, etc outside.  And I ordered pizza with troop funds.  It was $153 for 4 pizzas delivered.  Yes it was not dominos/pizza hut and higher end.  BUT $40 a pizza?  Pizza is supposed to be a cheap meal for people.  We had 10 adults and 10 kids.  Let's say for our family of 4 we ordered one pizza for $40.  Okay I could have saved on tip $20 and delivery $5.  But it's pizza.  The pizza itself was like $33 plus tax.  A large pizza at dominos was $16.99 plus tax and delivery.  So I was looking at $100 at a cheaper pizza.  Yep dominos still would be $100 to feed a group?  Pizza is supposed to be cheap food to feed large groups.  Not expensive.

Last year I spent $1000 on groceries and we weren't eating out because of covid, and I felt we ate like kings.  Lobster, steak, high quality meats, veggies, etc.  I could buy what i wanted for the family for $1000 and it might include alcohol.  Now last month I spent $990 and I certainly was not buying as much meat, nor seafood, nor as much fresh veggies.  It's crazy.  

And certainly from last year I have noticed how expensive eating out has gotten.  I felt like before okay a meal out was $60-70 mostly ethnic food takeout.  But now it's more like $100 and that's takeout same restaurants and same meals but smaller portions and each dish is couple of bucks more.

Am I going nuts?  Is this going on everywhere?  Does anyone else feel this?  I swear it really started ramping up as the summer ended. I don't think I felt quite this way before.  And of course part of it might be that we are living on a new budget, but still I feel like 6 years ago when we lived on the same budget it wasn't so tight.  I shopped easily on $600/month groceries very similiarly to my last years $1000/month so there was some inflation and my 5 and 3 year old are now 9 and 11 and eating adult portions (sometimes more than us).  But  price per pound is substantially more.

I think my family's noticed that I am really not buying takeout and going out to eat is minimal.  Now one takeout meal is $100 that going out once a week is costing us $400/month. Before $400/month was like 2x/week eating out.  

With gas, clothes, food, everything seemingly more expensive the budget just feels tight.  Have you even felt any inflation?

3/30 Update on Groceries and Spending

March 30th, 2021 at 07:58 pm

Okay before I decide if I'm going out shopping tonight for a bit more groceries I am at $805.59 for groceries for the month.  That does not include cleaning supplies, toiletries, paper products, or alcohol.  So far we spent $167.14 on alcohol (1/6 keg, $22 beer, and $7 wine) for the month.  I spent $86.82 on cleaning supplies at costco like paper towels, tp, dishwasher pods, laundry, ziplocs, etc.  That means I am all in for $1059.55 for the month on "grocery" stuff.  But the actual grocery is going to be $805.59 plus I'm not sure what I am spending tonight.   I also spent $112.72 on eating out.

On March 2nd, I wrote i want to spend $800 for a family of four with $100 for alcohol and $50 for cleaning supplies. I went over budget on both those two categories, but I suspect it's because i won't buy as much beer or cleaning supplies for 2-3 more months.

I am at $805, so $5 over with a full freezer unlike end of February where i had no stockpile in pantry or freezer/fridge!  So I'm super happy.  I am debating buying tonight frozen turkey breasts with bone and salmon.  That is what I was looking for at the store. I am also going later this week to buy vitamins from costco for me and the kids since it's on sale till thursday.

So my grocery update 

3/25 Walmart $9.43 (happened to be in the area buying shoes)
Feta $2.54
Ricotta $3.42
Yogurt $3.47
= $9.43

3/25 Grocery $5.97
Rice Rolls $0.99
Italian spices $2.99
Onions $1.99 (6 lbs)

3/25 Grocery $10.94 on spices, lost receipt

3/27 Market $14.98
Salami $8.99 BOGO
Gouda $5.99
= $14.98

3/28 Safeway $3.49 Apricot preserve
3/28 FM $24.71
Ham $7.85 (.87/lb)
Ham $8.45 (.87/lb)
Beans $2.99
Carrots $3.49 (5 lb bag)
Celery 1.93 (.99/lb)

On 3/25 I stopped at walmart because I bought shoes on sale at road runner sports.  They were having a special 2x year sale and I bought 4 pairs of brooks adrenaline sneakers.  I only wear those specific line from that specific brand.  I have my exact size and I've worn them for 15 years?  I used to order them online when they went on sale and in 2019 they changed it. So at that time I bought about 6 pairs and they've finally worn out.  I know because I bought only 2019 multiple pairs and stashed them in my closet.  Any one who is a runner knows you just know exactly how your shoes wear.  These shoes in particular run $129.95 and if they go on discount and they happened to have my exact size then I would buy them.  I couldn't even wait to get to the car before I swapped out these new balance shoes i bought that were supposed to be comfortable but weren't.

So I got 2 pairs for $110 with 10% off so it was $220 for 4 shoes including taxes.  I thought a very good deal. Should last me 18-24 months.  Tomorrow I'll wrap up the month of spending. I think from now on in April I'll just track my grocery spend and spending in general but not in detail.

I've learned i can definitely live on $800/month groceries. I need to budget a teeny bit better.  I am hinking of spending another $30 tonight on salmon and turkey breasts. I also am planning on eating out dinner thursday or friday for $30 burgers.

Oh no...costco trip

March 23rd, 2021 at 01:36 am

So I think I posted about using my rebate rewards at costco.  And the suggestion was use it but account for it.  So I did.  Today I did a huge costco shopping trip and there is a lot to unpack on my trip.  First off until today I had spent $566.86 on groceries for the month with I will say a lot of meat in my freezer.  I probably could easily have made it without buying more meat but I bought some extra stuff.  Also DH bought another 1/6 keg, last time was 1/26/21 for $105 and this time it was $137.61 for the 1/6 of Elysian Space Dust IPA.  Should put that in as well.  I am tracking but I'll do a monthly roundup

3/20 Saturday FM = $12.11
Whole Chicken $4.36 (.77/lb)
Chicken Drumsticks $3.53 (.77/lb)
Chicken thighs $4.22 (.77/lb)

3/22 Grocery FM $42.89
Mac and Cheese .50 (10x) = $5
4 lbs sugar $1.89
Iodized salt $.49
Kosher salt BOGO $3.99 (2x)
Fritos $1.87 x 2
Cheetos $1.87
Doritos $1.87
Asparaus $1.99 (clearance)
Green beans $2.19 (1.99/lb)
Zucchini $3.39 (1.29/lb)
Clementines $3.99 (3 lbs)
Potatoes Gold $2.99 (5 lbs)
Broccoli $2.40 (1.29/lb)
Avocado $3.96 ($.99/each 4x)
Roma Tomatoes $.82 (.99/lb)
Bok Choy $3.31 ($1.39/lb)

Costco Food $112.65
Milk $9.99 (2 x 1.5G)
Ham and Cheese Croissant $7.99 (prepared breakfast I couldnt resist)
Probiotic Yogurt $7.99
1/2G Heavy Cream $7.39
Beechers Cheese $11.95
Butternut Squash $5.99 ($3/lb)
Nutella (2 pack) $12.39
Bacon $14.99 (4 x 1 lb packs)
Sweet Potatoes (6.5 lbs) $9.99 (1.53/lb)
Brussel Sprouts $4.99 (2.50/lb)
Cosmic Crisp apples $8.99 ($1.63/lb)
Garlic $13.49

Costco Other stuff
Paper Towels $14.79 (bought in January and not gone but bought since I"m using my rebate)
Toilet Paper $16.49 (January purchase)
Weather Tech Matss $23.99 (unsure if I'll keep)
Dentastix 65 pack $12.99 (regular $19.99 bought 5, will last 10 months haven't seen in months)
Dishwasher Pods $9.99 (115 pods)
Wiper Blades $5.99 (bought 4 unsure if needed)
Sonicare $49.99 (bought 2 different sets unsure which head we need, will return 1)
Bully Stick $32.99 (dog treat)
Clorox2Max $9.99 (bought spare for sale)
Gallon Bags(154 bags) $11.89
Palmolive $5.99 (0.057/oz)
KS fabric softener $6.99 (bought spare since sale)
All Laundry detergent $10.69 (bought spare since sale)
=$366.62 (total spent was $479.27)
-$293.77 rebate LAL and -$93.75 DH rebate check

I definitely bought "stockpile" if you mean buying a backup of stuff. I was not quite out of toilet paper or paper towels or cleaning supplies.  But I decided it was wise since I wanted to use my rebate checks to do it. I figure that I might as well buy backup of things we use regularly and consistently when they go on sale. I do that with most things.  The dog treats might be the only excessive thing but we give the dog 1x/day and I hated that we haven't been since Christmas and it hasn't been in stock and I prefer to buy it on sale.  Also I would argue that the toothbrush heads I maybe should wait and see if it goes on sale but DH didn't tell me early enough so we're on our last toothbrush heads.  

I have never had much space to stockpile so DH and I usually don't.  He prefers I just buy when needed but it annoys me to no end since I might miss a sale.  So I try to be judicious and stockpile just one back up so that I can try to ride out to the next sale.  Right now he is running on fumes of his "coke" stockpile. I usually buy him 12 packs for 4 for $11 or something like that. I haven't seen a sale in awhile.  He's got like 3 x 12 packs left.  I'm hoping it comes up soon because otherwise he's drinking 2L.  And yes I know it's bad. And yes I know I shouldn't indulge him.  But he won't drink water and only drinks coke zero.  If you met him you'd be horrified at the skinny fat guy he is and his eating habits. 

Grocery Update and Frugalness just happened

March 18th, 2021 at 09:14 pm

So I guess tracking my spendy ways on groceries has made me more frugal overall.  My costco rebates last year are as follows $347 for 2% executive membership, $293.77 for my costco CC rebate (citi), DH's $93.76 for his costco CC rebate.  $734.53 for all our spending last year mostly at costco on groceries but also some gas $844.68 for me and $633.51 for DH for gas all year.  Yeah it's hard to justify buying an e car when we spend very little on gas = $1467.19 all year including a huge road trip in the summer which was $224 for that trip alone.  Plus earlier in the year all the skiing we did so that was a lot of miles.  So we average less than $100/month.

Grocery 3/16
Bread $2
Irish Soda Brea $2.99
Cabbage $1.49
3 Bell Peppers $3.00
Corned beedf $10.47 ($2.99/lb)
Popcorn $1.99
Nestle Chocolate chips 5 bags $1.99/bag = $9.95
Strawberry 1 lb $3.00
Marshmallows $1.49
Green Bell Pepper $.79
Tomataoes Roma $1.60 (.99/lb)
Costco 3/16
Milk $9.99
sour cream $3.99
peanut butter $9.99
Crescent rolls 7.89-3.40 =$4.49 (for 5)
Walnut Shrimp $12.99-4.00=$8.99
Brussel Sprouts $4.99 (2 lbs)
Bacon $14.99 (4 lbs)
Bananas $1.69
Costco dog dentastix $19.99-7 = 12.99+tax (i think I'm putting in pet category)

3/17 couple of items
Basil $3.49
Eggplant $2.97

Monthly Running Total $554.75, $22.53 Beer, $69.48 eating out

Eating out = $69.48
Living Social $24
Mcdonalds $10.99
Froyo $4.78
Costco pizza $21.93
coffee (DH) $3.25
Boba tea & waffles $4.53

I haven't been frugal in about 5 years since DH started working in 2016 after a year off.  During that year off I was super frugal and budget conscious.  Before then I was somewhat budget conscious but not terribly.  I was more of a pay yourself first.  After 2016 I was still a pay yourself first person but our budget was extremely generous even after paying ourselves first we had a lot of play money.   So I would not call myself frugal before or after.  

But being back on a budget we've spent $1891.78 this month on groceries, eating out, vet visits, $957 on hotels and camping reservations.  I'm hoping to stay under $3500 most months. I think if we keep traveling we won't be able to do it, but I might be switching the hotel stay to points.


Groceries 3/10 Update

March 11th, 2021 at 10:04 pm

Yesterday I went shopping, cooked for dinner and bought 2 pizzas for the kids and friends from costco.  Costco Pizza was $21.93 for 2 whole pizzas.  I froze more than a pizza but I also thought the kids would eat more.  I also grocery shopped and spent $46.43.

Anchovy Paste $2.39
Cremini Mushroom @ $4.49 lb = $4.67
Parsley $0.99
Cilantro $.50
Salted Pork $4.49
Chuck Roast 2x (BOGO) $27.41
Potatoes Gold 5 lbs $3.99
frozen pearl onions $1.99
= $46.43

So now I'm set for a bit.  Last night I made butter chicken and Beef Keema curries with jasmine rice and roti I made.  I have enough leftovers for 2 more nights probably so excited at not cooking.  Plan for chuck roast is Beef Burgandy and japanese curry.

Sunday I think DH will smoke the chicken skin on drumbsticks for the week.  I was also thinking of the costco $5.99 rotisserie chicken this week. I do need to do a costco run for lactose free milk.  And another grocery run for veggies.  I might try some can veggies at some point but I still have brussel sprouts carrots and celery and zucchini.  But I wanted to make ratatouille with the zucchini and bell peppers, I just need eggplant.


Groceries 3/9 update

March 9th, 2021 at 07:23 pm

I shopped quite a bit and a little eating out.  Eating out easier so..

3/2 Living Social $24 (coupons for places)

3/3 Mcdonald's $10.99 - ended up with 2 free mcflurry coupons because they didn't make it shamrock and I didn't realized it we got home.

3/4 Froyo $4.78 (used $10 LS coupon)

3/4 Grocery $5.79 2 lbs of strawberries

3/4 Grocery $5.10 for 5 lbs of Sumo mandarins. They mismarked it from $3.49/lb for $1/lb so win!

3/4 FM $44.34 total
Cream Cheese $1.99 for 2 pack (2x) (made cheesecake)
Yellow onions 6.2 lb @ .39/lb $2.41
Bell pepper 2 for $3 but discounts $2.64 (no idea why)
Spices $10
Dreyers 1/2 Gallon ice cream $1.99
Avocadoes @ $3/5 = $5.94
Baby Back ribs @ $2.47/lb = $8.80
Baby back ribs $8.58
= $44.34

3/6 FM $16.96 - $9.43 (priced wrong so returned me cash) = $7.53
cream cheese $1.99 x 2 (made cheesecake to give away)
Ribs $12.98
= $7.53

3/8 Safeway $65.21
Ground Beef 93% $13.45
Ground Beef 93% $13.45
Ground Sirloin 90% $13.57
Ground Sirloin 90% $13.57
Sumo Citrus 8.05 lbs @ 1.99/lb - $16.17
= $65.21

3/8 Safeway (forgot stuff) $13.94
Hasbrowns 2x $1.99 = $3.98
Frozen Pizza $2.99 x 2
Eggos 2 $1.99 = $3.98
= $13.94

So to sum up this month so far

Groceries $363.34
Alcohol $22.53
Eating out $39.77
= $425.64 total

I am a little nervous because my $850/month budget goal is about half way used up and we are only 9 days out of 31 in the month. That means i'm only a 1/3 of the way through the month and we are halfway through our budget.

Tomorrow we are having DH's cousin for dinner and I couldn't decide between eating out and cooking.  I know I should cook but I'm thinking a meal out.  We also are getting take out thursday for lunch probably.  Let's see what happens.

OMG I'm doing a juice cleanse

March 9th, 2021 at 04:44 am

How do I get myself into these things? I agreed to do a juice cleanse from pressed juicery from Costco.  My neighbors whom I'm doing the whole 60 with and am now a little more than halfway through wanted to do this to bust through their plateau.  Couple of them started it.  But now they are doing two days of juicing.  

So the costco pressed juicery I bought was $54.99.  I started today. I am 4 bottles in and it's terrible.  All parts of the two juices I've had taste terrible. I haven't been hungry bu maybe the ginger is suppressing my appetite.  OMG.  I nearly spat out the roots with ginger.  OMG it was so gross. I can't believe I'm sucking this crap down and not eating. I don't exactly get what I'm supposed to feel.  I supposed I need to blog about this on Wednesday.  I will count this in my budget.  I was charged last month but I'm eating it now because I got it delivered last week and I'm "drinking" this now.

All these crazies I live near think it's great. I personally think if I wasn't in this collarborative weight loss thing I wouldn't do it.  But it does help accountability and weight loss.  Either which way I think my DH thinks I'm nuts.  My kids must think I'm nuts.  I think I'm nuts.  

Let's see what I feel in 36 hours...


Grocery thoughts

March 4th, 2021 at 06:38 pm

I spent on Tuesday 3/2 $9.99 for 3 lbs of Candy grapes at costco.  They are nearly gone by today.  My kids and DH ate about 1/3 Tuesday night.  Last night they had dessert from McDonald's for shamrock shakes for $10.39.  

I went to Costco to get a prescription that wasn't in for the dog so I just did little notes on my new price book. It was what I had thought.  Chicken I can probably snag for $1.99/lb at the grocery store.  Fruits and veggies non-organic were definitely cheaper.  But meat and dairy at costco were by far a better deal.  Things like stew meat for $5.49/lb is cheaper than the store.  At BOGO it's a close call but not necessarily.  $3.99/lb for regular ground beef at 12% fat is better unless like this week there is a sale for 7% fat ground beef for $3.99.  Butter was $1.99 for a 1lb at the store but 4 pounds is $6.99 at costco.  When eggs are very expensive at costco at $9.99 for 60 eggs but walmart it was $6.21 for 60 eggs.  Things like that. 

I need to do more research but i'm starting to realize the price savings on stuff like zucchini.  Organic at costco I think 4 lbs for $6.99, but $.89/lb for zucchini.  Squash is $6.99 for 2 lbs but discounted at store for $1.99/lb (regular is $3.99 so it is more).  Apples are definitely cheaper at the regular grocery where I got honeycrisp and will be getting cosmic crisp today for $1.48/lb versus $3/lb.  Of course the costco apples are organic.  

Luncheon meat at regular grocery was running around $11.99/lb but at costco between $5.49-8.69/lb.  This is the stuff you buy in the deli freshly sliced not in packages.  Fish can be cheaper at the grocery I know I can get salmon for $7.99/lb on sale but costco regularly has it for $8.99 which is cheaper than normal at the grocery.  But if I time thing right.

Strangely this entire week we've been eating leftovers.  We had leftover taco meat from Saturday, Leftover pulled pork from Sunday, leftover butternut squash soup from Tuesday.  Tuesday we had shrimp scampi for dinner I made and last night butter chicken (not new chicken but my leftover).  So then tonight we are doing beef ribs.  And we are still finishing pulled pork and butternut squash soup. 

I'm thinking of making beef bone broth pho with the beef bones.  It is usually a PIA to make pho broth at least 24 hours but we'll see if I can make it happen. Usually we just buy it because it's a lot of work.   I suspect this month we will be spending a less on groceries. I have all the chicken and ground beef I bought still and I'm thinking of buying another 3 lbs of ground beef because it's 7% fat on sale.  Then all we need is some stew meat this month, sashimi one night, fish one night (i have some frozen salmon), and maybe a rotisserie chicken from costco?

Mostly it's veggies, fruit, and eggs for the next week.

March 2021 Food Challenge

March 2nd, 2021 at 11:02 pm

I said I wanted to spend $950 for the month on groceries.  After hearing from others I guess that $950 includes $100 for alcohol and $50 for cleaning.  So that would put us at $800/month for a family of 4.  That will be between thrifty $675 and low cost is $888/month.  If it includes alcohol and cleaning stuff like laundry, dish soap, paper towels etc, it will be tight.  I do have a costco rebate check of $300 and I'll use it but I'll pretend like it doesn't exist so I can see how much we really spend.  Last month we really didn't budget for alcohol because DH bought his first 1/6 of a keg for $155.  It's lasted but I am going to assume soon enough he'll be empty I am guessing this month.  

First shopping of March and I spent $63.58 Walmart and $87.02 Kroeger and $22.54 Beer at Walmart.  We are doing this shopping at least 1x/month target or the regular grocery store.

Pepperoni $7.47 (2 lbs)
Milk $3.12
Sausage 2.93
Brussel Sprouds 2.24 x 2
Cucumbers 2.46 x 2
Broccoli 4.92 (1.48/lb)
Celery 1.28
Cantaloup 2.78
Carrots 3.54 (5 lbs)
Bag Spinach 2.98
Chicken Thighs 10.91 (1.99/lb)
Chicken breasts 9.07 (1.99 lb)
5 lbs Drumsticks 4.76
Green Bell Pepper .73
18 large eggs 1.89
= $63.38

Turkey Ham Luncheon Meat $3.99x 2 (per 1 lb)
Bread (discounted) 0.99
Hawaiian buns $2.50
Squash (discounted) $1.99 x 2 - made butternut squash curried soup this morning because it was going bad
Lime 0.50
Beef Ribs 28.33 ($5.99 lb)
Yellow Bell Pepper 1.50 x 2
Shrimp $7.24 (6.99/lb)
Green Lettuce 1.99 head
Asaparagus 3.11 (.88/lb sale)
Plums .80 (1.49/lb)
Ground Beef 80%/20% 7.47 ($2.49/lb) this is more fatty than I buy from costco so I need to price shop more
Nectarines $1.07 (1.49/lb sale)
Zucchini 2.13 (.89/lb sale)
Honeycrisp apple $3.09 (1.48/lb sale)
Green onion .50
Clementines $3.99 Sale
Peach 1.04 (1.48/lb)
Sumo Mandarins 10.58 (2.99/lb)

I am feeling very confident right now about hitting a budget of $800/month.  $150.40 spent in 1 trip but I have enough meat for 2 weeks.  Plus I still have some food from last month. I'm unsure if I can do $100 on toilet paper, paper towels, zip lock, bodywash, shampoo etc. I have a large stockpile of pretty much everything but when it hits what will it cost me?  

It would be amazing to be $675 of thrifty family of 4 according to USDA.  But I'm not sure I'm able to get that chep. I guess if I don't buy anything else but veggies and fruit the rest of the month I might be able to do it.  I figure if i spend $950 and save 10% and then work another 10% in April it would be a win.

Today I made roasted curried butternut squash soup tons of lunches  I am making Shrimp for dinner and Beef ribs are marinating tonight for Wednesday.  My thoughts are that I will have leftovers till Thursday and then Friday I'm thinking of hitting costco and buying a rotisserie chicken, berries, and beef stew meat ( for prime stew meat)

I think costco is more expensive but the quality of fruit and veggies I think are better than the normal store.  But there isn't a variety like I could buy at a normal store.  I think the meat for sure if by far superior. I have started a price book and kroegar, safeway and walmart don't come close for quality for meat. I think chicken they win but beer or pork or bacon and maybe even luncheon meat is by far cheaper at costco.  

If anyone wants to do this food challenge with me and weigh in on pricing for their local stores that would be fun.  Maybe work on decreasing by 10%.  Most people are probably better than I am to begin with.

gift card roundup

March 1st, 2021 at 09:57 pm

So I decided it was time for me to do a gift card roundup.  I have too many by accident.

Thai Restaurant $375 (bought at costco for 35% off $243.5)

Jamba Juice (gifts from my mom) - $50

CPK - $19.64

Justice - $4.14 - they shut down so a loss

Macys - it won't work online to figure out

Disney -$17.98

Local italian - $100 (bought at costco 20%)

Steakhouse - $200 (bought at costco 25% off)

Joann - unable to tell online

French Restaurant - $100 (bought 25% off at costco)

LL bean - $80.10

Cheesecake factory - $25

Panera Bread - $25.27 cents

Regal Cinemas - 2 tickets (gift from client)

AMC - $25 (gift from someone)

Fandango - $25 (gift from someone)

red robin - $25

Japanese Restaurant - $50 (also bought 25% off from costco)

This is a lot of gift cards. I can see in my future some eating out.  The real question is how to use it?  We've eaten out 3x (all three times in September 2020).  Once was shake shack, once a mexican restaurant outdoors, and once was at a beach with a takeout.  And we ate out in Hawaii.  We've done take out but actually going to a restaurant?  It's been a long.  The thai and japanese places we can probably do takeout.

I really need to burn these gift cards but when are we going to a movie again?

February Grocery spending and saving wrap up

February 28th, 2021 at 11:43 pm

Well I made it to March 1st.  How it happened I have no idea. Turns out I had a lot more food than I planned. In fact I am so inspired that we are going to continue eating out of the freezer before I go on a really big shopping trip.  I do need to shop a little bit for fruits and veggies and milk,  but I am going to stretch this out so I am forced to eat what's in my freezer.  Here's what happened.

2/18 - leftovers dumplings

2/19 - bolognese/puttanesa 

2/20 - beef wellington 

2/21 - pulled pork

2/22 - sandwiches and pulled pork left over dinner

2/23 - lemongrass salmon soup

2/24-Dumplings and fried rice

2/25 - penne vodka sauce

2/26 - leftovers

2/27 - Tacos - ate outside with neighbors and smoked 4 lbs of ground beef and made a taco bar.  We fed 6 adults and 5 kids.  We still had leftovers.  Not doing too bad.  We still have fried rice, penne vodka sauce, and taco meat.

2/28 - smoked the other pork shoulder from costco.

The new plan?  Everyone is suggesting a walmart run. So the nearest walmart is 15 miles and 25 minutes away.  I'm going to try it.  I'm also going to try regular grocery stores but looking at flyers for deals. I always shop for coke in flyers and I used to wait for chicken to go on sale.  Now the same thing.  I'm going to do a costco run and price out common items i buy and sort of keep a price book.  

We spent a grand total of $1056.29 for the month for groceries and $45.56 eating out for 1 costco hot dogs & fruit smoothies, kids had burgers 1x, and DH had 1 coffee out.   My goal for March 2021 is $950 or 90% of our February spending.  I also want to keep eating out to under $100.  I figure like dieting I should try small reductions until it hurts, which it hurt this month because of poor planning.

We still had a good month overall up $24k for the month.  Next month even better.   Fingers crossed. I'm debating adding in toiletries and non-perishables to my $950 budget at some point. I did not add in batteries and stuff to it.


The month so far

February 23rd, 2021 at 06:56 pm

So we are 23 days into the month and I'm determined to wait until next Monday March 1st to grocery shop again.  We've already spent this month $1056 on groceries.  UGH.  We have food we just have to eat it.  We have to eat what is in the pantry and freezer and then I can rejigger maybe what we have and rebalance and I'm not sure how we spent so much to not be shopping this last week.  But I did shop on 2/18 about $150 of mostly produce.

I'm thinking of trying the cook smart.  It meal plans for you and helps you with the meals. I also figured from annual Credit Card spends we spent around $13k last year on groceries. A lot less than I thought. I buy other things from costco so it inflates the spending.  But if I sit there and tease out the excel spreadsheet and take out tires, tv, 2 computers, vaccum cleaner, bidet, it then works out to something much more reasonable.  According to my credit cards we spent about $10k on eating out last year but looking again at it in detail a lot was spent in Jan-March, June (roadtrip), and December (hawaii).  So not as bad as I thought.  

Right now DH has started a new job.  I have no idea when we will get paid.  He basically got paid 2x last paycheck with all his vacation days.  So I left it in checking and we are paying all CC, etc and getting the shipped righted.

Right now we have $30k in stock account earmarked for EF, $40k EF, $60k in Ibonds.  I think we are okay.  I'm trying to carve down our spending so that we live on what he makes and instead save.

Last night Costco Shopping trip

February 18th, 2021 at 06:52 pm

I spent $145.14 at costco last night.  Here's what I bought and the prices.  I'm not sure if it's because of where we live but I also did a FM grocery store. No there is not any aldi, winco, grocery outlets where we live.  YMMV. I'm not sure if this is expensive for the area.  

Lactose free milk 9.99

ghee 18.99

guava juice 5.79

jacks salsa 6.49

1/2 Gallon Cream 7.39

ground beef (not organic) 26.65

carrots 6 lbs 4.79

bella mushrooms 4.99

K/S butter 6.99

BTB Chicken bullion 5.99

parmigiano 15.99

smoked cheese 10.62

bok choy 6.99

cucumbers 3 pack 6.49

broccoli 6.99  = $145.14

I then spent $28.27 at FM 

Canned Tomatos 1.29x 5

Pasta $1 x 2

Anchovies $1.99 x 2

Nutmeg $5.49

reese peanut butter $1.89 x 2 =$28.27

So this is for the next week but I think I'm still missing buns for the pulled pork we're making on sunday that will help us eat for the week and that should pretty much round out the month.  

I froze the butter and 5 lbs of the ground beef.  Menu plan for week

Tonight/thursday - Salmon (from freezer), making dumplings as well

Friday - bolognese (making it)

Saturday - (pizza) cousin providing

sunday - pulled pork (need buns for family)

Monday - leftover

Tuesday Tacos from ground beef

wednesday - salmon from freezer

Thursday - dumplings

Friday - Chicken

Sat - leftovers?

My goal is to not shop for the next week. I think we're good on fresh veggies and fruits. I have apples from last week and a couple of pears and 6 - 1/2 of milk so I should be able to avoid a costco trip until the 1st of march. 

How did you learn to cook and Jan NW

February 3rd, 2021 at 07:14 pm

Since covid I'm sure as many others I have been cooking more.  I have to say my cooking skills in 1 year have greatly improved.  A lot of it stems from just cooking pretty much daily and often time 2x/day.  But with a new year and my DK1 turning 11 (I have a tween! WTH)  I realized that 11 years ago after first having my new baby I was an okay cook.  Let me explain.

When I left for college my mom was a terrible cook and still is.  Cooking was not a big thing in my family.  As I've mentioned my mom would cook a huge pot of spaghetti and we'd eat for the week.  Variety was not important in our family.  We often ate the same things over and over.  So I went to college not really knowing how to cook. I ate a lot of spam, canned tuna, and rice.  So to say my cooking skills were limited is an understatement. 

I met DH right after college and he was definitely a better cook than me.  Great?  No but for someone right out of college I would say a solid cook.  He could do eggs, steaks, pasta with tomato sauce and ground beef (this turned into our staple meal weekly since it was cheap).  For most of our 20s I would say we were so busy working that we barely cooked and ate a lot of the same food.  Our variety often came in the prepackaged meals from costco.  Sandwiches was our daily staple for work to save money.  A lot of what we did was to save money, but also we had no idea how to really cook.  We also ate out quite a bit being busy DINKS and more dispoable income than we probably knew what to do with.

Then we had our DK1 in 2010 and going out was tiring but we also went down to 1 income and I was looking to make money stretch more.  Our income was better than ever but we wanted a second kid and it was tiring to go out.  So I started to learn how to cook. 

I believe on this blog I asked was it cooking if i used prepackaged meals from costco or trader joes?  Most said yes. But they also agreed it was cheaper than going out to eat and better than just takeout fastfood or restaurants.  So I figured it still was better than eating out even though it was expensive.  But during this time I began to develop a few lazy meals.  DH and I decided we would learn say 10-15 meals and it would be in our rotation. We did this.  We began to cook more and learned to make about 10-15 recipes we always had on hand.  Solid recipes that were tasty and easy to make.  So from 2010-2019 we probably ate the same 20 meals and added one here and there if we found something easy.  I would say these years were my "development" years. It's where I learned to cook and just improve as a cook overall.  Nothing fancy but cutting became faster, baking stuff, experimenting a little.  Just overall more comfortable in the kitchen.

Then covid hit last year and we found ourselves unable to go out and while we could spend more on take out, I found myself wanting to lose weight and hesistant to go out.  So the cooking began.  I also had more time without all the kid activities and working as much to actually meal plan and experiement.  So this year I would say covid has really developed my cooking skills and I would say than I'm definitely in the upper 25% of people out there.  Before I would say I was at the 50% of cooking skill.  Not a fabulous cook but someone solid.

Now my family has a much broader range of foods I make with a wider rotation.  I also do more than just an entree, I have expanded into different appetizers, I do desserts, etc. Things I've done recently is I've done an amazing cheesecake.  I also this week made malaysian chicken satay (more moist than thai), making beef rendang tonight, and leftover beef stew meat I'll make guiness beef stew tomorrow.  I make a ton of different curries now from indian, thai, malaysian, japanese. I am working on stir fry noodle dishes next.  I also made homemade puttanesca and bolognese sauces last weekend for friends.  I think I've got the hang of sourdough bread.   I make cornbread in a cast iron skillet.  Last week was japanese lamb curry and lamb shish kebabs (both dishes i made from around 15 years ago and something I learned way before kids).  But I've improved it. 

Maybe it's the fact that recipes are everywhere.  Maybe it's the time but covid has been good for improving my cooking skills.  Now I find myself just looking over recipes and thinking I can do that and weirdly I have all the ingrediants on hand because I cook so much.  Since I cook so much I have a ton more spices, cream, stuff on hand to cook at any given time.

How did you learn to cook? Do you think you're a good cook and how did you improve? 

NW up $110k.  $1.371M retirement and $706k taxable.  Because DH is leaving his job we are trying to max out his 401k for the year and have contributed $13k thus far I think we should be able to max it out next paycheck.

Has covid changed any habits?

November 13th, 2020 at 07:23 pm

Covid has definitely changed my habits.  We will not be going back to eating out all the time both take out and out once this is all over. I can definitely see myself not going back to quick prep meals either.   As the months drag on I will not say that I am in love with cooking but my skills have greatly improved. I have found many recipes now and I'm doing things my family enjoys.

I was never a terrible cook nor did I not cook.  But I was very limited in my cooking and I cooked the same thing over and over.  So my family I think liked take out because it gave them more variety than I would cook.  But now I feel like my I can make a lot of different foods at a much higher quality than before.  Entire meals are from scratch.

I've started to make yogurt from scratch and the kiddos prefer it. I use it as a base for smoothies/lassi and lots of cooking.  This week I made chicken coconut curry, chicken biriyani, and pork tenderloin.  This weekend I'm making pork belly and korean bbq short ribs.  I can tell my family is loving it. My kids still love the older recipes but it's a big deal that I don't feel so boring.

Also we're more likely to just enjoy staying home.  We've been really working on making our home more comfortable.  We're reorganizing the kitchen, bathrooms, closets, garage, and building a new shed.  

Actually this photo is probably a week old and DH is finishing the interior insulation right now and he will hang drywall this weekend.  I am guessing by the end of the year he will be done.  He started first week in august while working full time and he did everything.  Right now I'm guessing we are running around $15k but it's a large office with electric which was $3000 for electric alone.   So we really have been spending a lot of time just investing in our house.

Because of DH's job change we plan on staying in our place for another 3 years until spring 2023 at minimum.  Hopefully the job will work out and we can afford to move.  But if not then everything we are doing is making our house more comfortable and workable for us. 

Have you changed during covid?  Do you see any habit sticking?

love diet day 5

May 18th, 2020 at 06:23 pm

Okay it's definitely getting harder to do this meat and berries crap. It's boring. It's way easier because I'm at home doing nothing. Literally nothing. But harder because it's boring. Will the whole 30 be better? I don't know. But I know it will be easier. Obviously not going out, not seeing people, not going to people's houses means really controlling what I eat. I acknowledge this in someways is not real life. That we will eventually go back out to eat. We will eventually go to people's homes. So I know that I have to learn how to navigate the world fully of tempting food and temptations.

But I'm hoping that the whole 30 teaches me to make better choices. That it's an easier way of eating and cooking without buying shakes or going crazy on diets or protein shakes or needing to go to the gym for 2 hours a day. I want to exercise but I'm hoping to do changes that stick.

I don't mind walking and walking the dog. I don't mind working out a couple times a week and probably need to get into a body weight program. Anyway onward it is.

I will say that eating now after 4 days without added sugar I can taste food. The blueberries I ate yesterday were crazy sweet.

the love diet day 2

May 15th, 2020 at 10:43 pm

So yesterday I started the love diet with my neighbors. It's a detox diet of meat and berries for a week. Then you start adding things back in. It's based on the 20/20 lifestyle. Apparently a couple of neighbors love to do this reset and whole 30. I'm reading the whole 30 book so we'll see how it goes.

So the detox phase is 4 oz of protein and 1 cup berries for breakfast/lunch, 2 oz of protein and 1 cup berries for snack, and 6 oz protein and berries for dinner. I am doing tilapia because I'm lazy and I bought package from costco. I usually love fish but it's super boring with nothing on it. I am also doing egg whites liquid and couple of hard boiled eggs a day. I'm thinking instead of 1 week, two weeks until May 27th then I'm debating continuing on the love diet and adding back veggies or moving onto whole 30.

Whole 30 is an elimination diet to see what your body might be allergic to or a sensitivity too. It's a more natural way of eating. You spend 30 days eating nothing but unprocessed foods and avoiding some groups of foods like beans as well. It's not a weight loss diet because you aren't supposed to weigh yourself during this time. You are supposed to be looking at other changes and you measuring other things like blood pressure, cholesterol, etc.

I have no idea. But I guess it's worth trying. I'll tell you all how it goes.

YTD spending

May 1st, 2020 at 12:08 am

I was interested to see if our spending habits changed. It has slightly.

Jan $260.42
Feb $192.75
March $200.66 - stay at home started but we took two weekend aways before it did
April $38.71 - filled each car once

Guess we are saving on gas.

Groceries - this is interesting
January - $1237.4
Feb - $413.15
March - $966.25
April - $1322.01
= $984.7 Average

Eating out
Jan - $628.49
Feb - $559.78
March - $614.83
April $404.28
=551.84 Average

Not really a huge savings. I know we are supposed to be saving more but it feels like we aren't. But then again I just shopped today 4/30 and spent $414 at costco included in that $1322 total.

We haven't been buying stuff online so I guess that's savings. But in general we don't. I guess it'll be interesting because our April shopping for groceries is really for May. How much will I really spend in May?

I also know I stocked up on essentials and bought a lot of stuff at costco that wasn't "groceries". Today I bought two bike helmets and 2 LOL toys for $100. I also bought all my alcohol for the past two months and juices and toilet paper, paper towels and a lot of stockpiled laundry detergent, etc.

I will admit that my overall CC is much lower than normal. Also the eating out is like 1x/week but we spend more I think because we want to have more than 1 meal from takeout.

Anyway today I bought beef brisket, bulgogi, pork short ribs, carne asada meat, carnitas. That should last us at least 3 weeks of meat without going to costco. I also bought veggies and fruits.

stocks and meal planning and reopening

April 27th, 2020 at 11:43 pm

I sold two fridays ago and locked in some gains. I bought like $2k of shorts on dow jones and SP. Today i bought however VOO and QQQ, not sure which way it's going. I cashed out the kids and locked in gains for a bit. I want to see where the market is headed.

That being said we're having lasagna tonight with homemade bolognase sauce I made in slow cooker overnight. Last week I made curry. My kids are done with curry, stew, and chili. I think this week I'm making loco moco, dumplings, pierogies. I'm also thinking of going grocery shopping FINALLY first time in a month. It's been 4 weeks since a major costco run and I am due. I also am thinking about trader joes. I haven't been since February.

So if my state re-opens? What will I do? Well we won't be going out to dinner. We will do takeout still probably once a week maybe more. It took us about 3 weeks to do takeout and now we do it about once a week. I think we might do it more frequently if everything lifts.

We will though still likely cook and I'll minimize going to grocery store. I mean we don't use instacart or grocery delivery because it means waiting and I don't bother. But I think we'll start weekly shopping again after we re-open. Right now once a month is hard. But I'll also go to more stores instead of costco and safeway.

I will miss being able to just go to the store when we want. I will also go solo still and leave DH and kids at home. It's been a long time since the kids have been or DH out somewhere. I think they'd like to go, but my kids seem nervous. I also think that we'll probably have friends come over for a meal. Can't wait. That's the biggest thing is this social distancing. We want to see our friends and families. DH's cousin came over yesterday, first time in 8 weeks or something? And we had drinks in our driveway 6 ft plus apart. It wasn't the same. Usually we see them 2x/month or every other week for dinner or dessert. Usually we'd be planning on flying to see my parents or in-laws or BIL. Now we have no plans.

I feel like the days are lovely and calm but dragging on. Anyway I'm hopeful that we can at least socialize a little with people. But I do believe people will socialize differently and not the same way. I really don't think people will go back to eating out asap. Or going to salon. I'll be practicing cutting DH's hair for awhile.

A month of groceries

March 30th, 2020 at 11:17 pm

2 weeks ago I posted I needed to shop, well I didn't. Decided we would make do with what we had and try to last. So we went another two weeks scrounging frozen veggies and luckily the oranges and apples lasted.

Well this month I went to costco first time since Feb 28th for a HUGE shopping trip. I spent $500 on food. It should last about another month. During my Feb trip I spent around $500 and we made it. This time I think we are also okay. I got a package of toilet paper, extra lysol toilet bowl cleaner, windex, large ziploc bags, etc.

I also got unfortunately only 1 package of lactose free milk, I am worrying if I have to go back. I'll wait and limit the kids more. In feb I had 3 packages = 9 * 1/2 gallons of milk. Now I have 3. I also bought 5 dozen eggs non-organic since I was limited to 1 as well. In Feb I had 2 x 24 organic eggs and we have less than 6 left.

I managed to find flour at safeway so I bought 2 - 5 lb bags. I also grabbed 2 - 4 lb sugars. I also snagged 2 - 2 packs of rubber gloves just in case. I was down to my last gloves for cleaning and washing dishes. I also grabbed a spare laundry detergent.
All in all a successful trip and one I probably won't have to replicated for a bit.

I grabbed a ribeye steak roast for tonight DH sliced and we're smoking for dinner. We'll be sharing 2 pieces with neighbors. Twice cooked potatoes, corn, and broccoli for dinner. Then bulgogi tomorrow night with bok choy (i bought 2 cases which will last i hope 2 weeks, we eat a lot of veggies). Then Wednesday our neighbor is offering to cook, so a meal break. Then I'm thinking a loco moco or taco thursday, burger friday, indian chicken curry saturday, teriyaki skewers sunday.

There is fluidity in our meals. I also got bagels for breakfast and will make a couple of bagel egg and bacon sandwiches I also got the girls strawberries 2 packages and we're almost done with 1 today. I did also buy mangoes, asian pears, bananas, and golden nugget mandarins. Again trying to stretch out the fruit.

The cashier said are you an instacard shopper? I said no this is me shopping for a month. I said I haven't been in since Feb 28th. Both the cashier and packer looked at me and said thank you. Thank you for not coming in. Good luck and see you next month. I also bought stuff for a neighbor so I had two overflowing shopping carts.

I ended up spending $500. $500 seemed like a lot (actually it was $850 because I bought Toto Bidet) not sure if we are going to keep and use it. I nearly died when I found out. But the truth is we usually spend about 4x as much eating out and groceries. Usually I spend about $1k a month on groceries and $1k/month eating out. How do I spend so much more on groceries when we eat out?

Because I don't normally shop sales, I got to the store and buy whatever we feel like and prepare it. I host at least 1x/week friends or family dinner and we make something. $100 for cheese, wine, beer, food is par for the course once a week if not more. I also buy lots of fresh fruit in smaller sizes and more expensive prices going to the store more often because it's fresher and less waste. But now we eat everything in bulk since we are at home 3 meals a day. Before I would buy something small and make it fresh. Now it's like well how can I make it stretch for 2 dinners or dinner and lunch?

Anyway I like reading what people are cooking it gives me inspiration. Keep it coming.

This weekend we made spareribs and teriyaki chicken. we also had pulled pork DH made couple of different ways. See dinner below....smoked steak

Blue Apron?

May 7th, 2018 at 05:35 pm

So I saw for $24.99 a meal package from Blue Apron at Costco. I was super curious. I didn't pull the trigger but I was tempted. I mean I'd like to learn how to cook a different/new meal. But $24 for a meal seems pricey. Of course Blue Apron is a genuis. I mean seriously it wasn't on my radar at all. I usually don't spend money on online shopping and I don't browse for stuff.

But that being said I decided I would read the website this week and maybe give it a whirl using one of the online 1st time user discount.

Talking with DH he said look at the big picture. $25 for a meal is MUCH cheaper than eating out. It serves 4 so $6/portion is less than you pay eating out. True.

But it's not for people who know how to cook. It's cheaper to buy the ingredients yourself and do it. But maybe for a new dish it's worth it. Before investing in the spices it's worth trying to see how easy or complicated and if you'll like it. And I can see how for people who don't cook it's way better and cheaper than eating out.

Anyone do blue apron? I'll review it after I try it. Because I will try it.

new recipe goal

January 5th, 2018 at 08:12 pm

I was thinking of keeping it easy. I want to make 1 new recipe a month. I'm not the best cook and I make a lot of the same meals. My family eats very boring food.

Plus I'm trying to lose weight so I'm trying to eat more veggies. The kids eat a lot of the same veggies and aren't super adventerous with vegetables. I've felt like it's a losing battle because at least they eat broccoli, carrots, celery, cauliflower, chinese broccoli/bok choy, bell peppers, edamame. But they aren't interested in asparagus, artichoke, snap peas, kale, spinach, etc. They also eat very boring apples/berries/watermelon, etc fruits. Sometimes they will eat a banana or pear but they aren't super into new foods.

I know it's more diverse than most of our friends but I feel like we eat a lot of the same meals. So I am going to stretch the kids and my cooking skills this year and make 1 new dish a year.

This week I am making ham bone soup. I have chicken noodle soup on for tonight after rotisserie chicken these past two nights. Tomorrow the plan is short ribs and then ham bone soup and then ham/broccoli quiche. Also clam chowder is on the agenda for dinner next week.

My other plan is to make beef broccoli at home in a slow cooker (new recipe) and twice cook pork. I've made them but I want to make something less labor intensive and I want to try slow cooking it or something. I also want to try a beef taco bake because we eat tacos about 1x every 2-3 weeks. Or switch it to fajitas?

Is there any easy meals you make that is ethnic? I do a slow cooker curry but my kids eat the same 3 curries I can make Japanese, Chicken tikka Masala, and panang. I would like to expand my repertoire.

I might make also for the first time sloppy joes something I loved growing up.

Is it cooking?

October 13th, 2017 at 04:22 pm

Here's an interesting thought and one I hadn't considered in a bit. Is it cooking if you buy premade foods ie from Costco, walmart, etc? I mean the already made lasanga you heat, or stuffed bell peppers, etc? You know what I mean and you make it and feed your family. It's certainly NOT cheap. But at the same time it is substantially cheaper than going out to eat or even take out. I also think it might be healthier but I could be wrong because it does taste pretty good.

Personally I keep a lot of these sort of things on hand because while we don't want to go out, we don't necessarily want to cook from scratch. This week alone it's been all premade meals. We had tomato soup from the box and baked potato soup from a can for 2 nights. Last night I bought from costco the ravioli lasagna and my kids liked it. I might have to do it again and we ate half so we the second half for dinner tonight. I mean I steam some broccoli, bell peppers, zucchini steamed as sides and we have bought bread. But I found it easier, cheaper, and faster than going out to dinner or grabbing takeout.

But I realize it's not cooking. And I can cook. I've made sauce from scratch and made pasta and bread from scratch. So it's not lack of ability. Rather I admit it's lack of desire.

I tend to keep frozen pizza, frozen dumplings, packages of noodles and pasta, cans/boxes of soup, and stuff on hand for super fast and easy meals. This methodology has kept our eating out budget way down to stuff we really want to eat.

But is it cooking? A friend asked me because she realized she cooks only trader joe's packaged meals and stuff from costco. My answer was yes. I said it'd likely be worse if you kept on buying takeout or eating out all the time.

On the weekends we're good we tend to cook sunday for the week. But on weeks we're bad we tend to do what we did this week and cobble dinners together. Sometimes I get my act together and make a slow cooker meal or pull a frozen lasagna I've made. Two weeks ago we made tacos, teriyaki skewers, stuffed bell peppers and spaghetti and meatballs because we bought costco ground beef. This week we did eat braised short ribs sunday and monday actually from scratch.

But I don't think it's wrong to use tools to help eating at home. I think people spend a lot more when they don't have these easy tools. For my family of four a meal at McD can easily hit $30. And going out for cheap noodles of the asian variety is likely $30-$35 with my oldest starting to eat like an adult! Take out chinese, thai, etc is more like $50-60. Not to mention eating somewhere even "family friendly" red robin (tradition now for us to go for birthdays, my kids love the singing) is $50 for dinner (2 adult, 2 kid meals and a beer for DH).

So yes a semi-prepared meal might be $10-20 but it often can bear leftovers. I guess my point to my friend was it still was very reasonable in the grand scheme and easier. It would be great to learn to cook from scratch. But maybe the first step would be to stop eating out so much?

How did you curb eating out? Do you ever cheat and use semi-prepared meals?

moratorium on eating out

May 22nd, 2016 at 02:29 am

So I'm almost done with my second kickstarter and 1st month in a transformer. I'm meeting the transformer goal and it's iffy for the kickstarter although I think I'll make it. Anyway I have to say one of my biggest weaknesses in losing weight has always been eating out.

Even before kids I when we were DINKS I limited my eating out lunches because my shorts wouldn't fit otherwise. So bad for pocketbook, bad for figure.

But I noticed this time it is a lot easier to lose the weight because we've been on a moratorium on eating out. Since we've moved and been "retired early" or on sabbatical we've curbed a lot of our spending. We are living pretty frugally and probably closer to $2k/month, excepting the dog costs (chemo is expensive).

Our biggest budget change we control is definitely eating out. I mean yes we spend about $100/month on gas for cars versus $300/month. And our utility bill was $90 this month versus $500-600/month previously. But that we couldn't really control.

But eating out? Well we used to spend if I had to guess because while does a good job, it's not perfect and there are cash eating out. We spent around $400/month. Our grocery bills averaged $500-600/month, and now they are a solid $750/month. But we eat out under $50/month and the kids are eating more as they get bigger.

I'm not sure if this moratorium will last after DH gets a job. But it's been eye-opening on how much we ate out. It's also been good for us to get back into the habit of cooking more.

When we ate out before it was always the weekends. Compared to most of our friends we cooked "a lot" because most people we knew ate out during the week and weekends. Even now many people we know eat out during the week and weekends.

Do you know how much you eat out? Do you do it because you enjoy it or for convenience? Most would say convenience and I have to agree. It's a lot of work to cook, do dishes, clean up, etc.

But I admit I did miss experimenting with cooking. Last night I made Rolo Cupcakes. And this week we had tacos, burgers, ma po tofu.

On the agenda for next week? Shrimp tempura, fish and chips, and other stuff from the pantry.

But first I have to win my kickstarter.