Sunday, April 12, 2015

Eating a (Mostly) Balanced Diet on a Budget: Day One--Minestrone Soup


On Sundays, we have cereal for breakfast when we have early church.  This year we have early church, starting at 9 am, so it's easier to have cereal.  That's because we like to sleep until 7:30 and have to be ready to go by 8:30.  Sometimes I will do oatmeal in the place of cereal, but this day that did not happen.


Cold cereal (Cheerios--$.17/serving or Frosted Mini-Spooners--$.23/serving, Lucky Charms--$.12/serving)
2% milk (4 oz for a bowl of cereal, since I bought a gallon for $1.69 this week--great deal I know--that was about $.05/serving)

I bought the Cheerios for $3.58 at Walmart, which is the cheapest I have found for that size (1 lb 2 oz).  I bought the Malt-O-Meal Mini Spooners, Super Size (43.5 oz) at Walmart for $5.98.  These cereals usually last us about three weeks.  Each child had a bowl of one or the other, then they had a "dessert cereal" as they call it.  Usually something like Lucky Charms or similar.  On this day, they all had Lucky Charms.  I had bought about four boxes of Lucky Charms last month when a store was having a cereal deal that left them costing $1.49 for an 11.5 oz box.  I only buy such name brand cereals when I can find these types of deals.  For breakfast today, Corey did not eat anything (ran out of time) but usually he would have a big bowl of Mini Spooners.  I only ate one bowl of Mini Spooners myself.

Cost of breakfast:

$1.91 for six bowls of Mini Spooners with milk (one bowl being double)
$.44 for two bowls of Cheerios
$1.02 for six bowls of Lucky Charms
$3.37 for eight breakfasts of cold cereal=$.42 per person.


We ate tuna sandwiches and/or macaroni and cheese for lunch.  Now, I don't buy macaroni and cheese every week, only on occasion to have once in a while, and I bought the store brand at Aldi, our cheap go-to grocery store, and it was $.89/box.  It was already in the pantry.  Corey cooked up two boxes.  The tuna was already in the pantry too.  I think it was around $.50/can when we got it and we used three cans of it, but there was half of it leftover.  Plus the bread, which was probably half a loaf.  I buy the bread for $1.19 at an outlet bread store.  We also cut up a couple of apples.  I bought a three pound bag of apples for $2.99.  About four apples is one pound, so that is $.50 for the apples.  We drank water.

Cost of Lunch:

$1.78 for Macaroni and Cheese, which all got eaten
$.59 for half a loaf of bread
$.75 for 1-1/2 cans of tuna
$.50 for apples
$3.62 for lunch of mac and cheese and/or tuna sandwiches and sliced apples=$.45 per person.

Dinner:  Minestrone Soup

I admit, dinner will be the most expensive meal of the day, possibly even for the whole week. Many of the ingredients were already in my pantry.

Here is the recipe (attributed to my sister-in-law Andrea, with changes that suit my family):

1 tube original flavored low-fat ground sausage ($2.99)
1 medium onion, diced (I leave this out as I don't tolerate onions well)
6-8 cups beef broth (I used only four) ($1.79)
1/2 large can tomato juice (I used probably 1/3) whole can was $1.58)
2 carrots, peeled and diced (I skipped these, though we did have them on hand)
2 stalks celery, diced ($.69)
1 large clove garlic, minced (I used some seasoning garlic from my pantry)
1 zucchini, diced ($.60)
1 can Italian cut green beans, drained ($.68)
1 can kidney beans, drained ($.59)
3/4-1 c shell macaroni (from my pantry)
2 15 oz cans diced tomatoes (I used petite diced tomatoes and I only used one can) ($.72--the regular diced ones were only $.59)
1 can tomato sauce ($.25)
items from my pantry, don't know how much they were when I bought them:
2 tsp sugar

1 tsp oregano
1 tsp basil
1/4 tsp marjoram
1/4 tsp ground pepper
Grand total for soup ingredients that I bought: $9.10

I baked rolls, as per my favorite roll recipe (Heather's Rolls) and already had all the ingredients, which I keep stocked up regularly.

We opened a can of fruit to have as an additional side: $.89.
We had milk to drink, so about half a gallon in the one meal for the family of eight: $.85.  I don't always find milk for so cheap, but I did this week, so I bought six gallons ($1.69 per gallon).

Cost of Dinner:

$10.84 total for dinner that I spent out-of-pocket this week=$1.36/person

On Sunday, we spent $17.83 on our meals, which was about $2.23/person.  If I were to regularly buy some of the items in the soup, which I might if we decide that soup is one we want as a food storage meal, then it would have cost less out of pocket from my grocery budget.  My food storage items I buy come from a different category in my overall monthly budget, and I make adjustments to what I buy in that category all the time.  Typical items include things I regularly keep stocked, like certain spices or ingredients like vanilla, flour, sugar, pasta, soups, and sides like canned fruits and veggies.


Lara said...

Yikes! If you at 1 lb of a 3 lb bag of apples that cost you $3 I'd say you spent $1 on apples.
While I don't agree entirely with the "food plate" the 1/2 of the plate being fresh veggies and fruits is kinda missing....fruity flavored marshmallows don't really count :( might not wanna advertise as "healthy" meals when there's so much sugar and processed stuff....

JennaK said...

Point well taken. I do agree that cold cereal isn't always the healthiest choice. That is why we don't have it every day.

JennaK said...

Sorry, and actually, I only used two apples, which is 1/2 a pound of apples, if about 4 apples is a pound, so 1/2 a pound of a 3 pound bag of apples that I bought for $3 would be $.50, not $1.


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