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Category: From My Kitchen

We spent $84.09 on groceries this past week (ground beef stock-up!)

Want to see what we bought for this week’s $70 grocery budget? I’m currently challenging myself to stick with a $70 budget for our family of seven. This includes almost all of our breakfasts, lunches, snacks, and dinners + most household products (toiletries, laundry soap, etc.).

For live updates, be sure to follow my Instagram Stories. See all posts on my $70 Grocery Budget here.

Last week, I talked about how we were around $15 under our $70/weekly budget and how I wanted to use that extra to stock up on a good deal this week. I wasn’t sure what good deal I was going to stock up on… until I saw ground beef marked down to $1.99/lb.!!! You better believe I grabbed up that deal to stick in the freezer!

Here’s what we bought at the store this past week…

The boxes of cereal were only $0.79 — because they were bent. Hey, so long the boxes are not torn, I will gladly pay half price for boxes of cereal that just don’t look as pretty!

Kroger Shopping Trip #1

  • 6 jars Pasta Sauce — $1 each
  • 3 2-lb flats of strawberries — $1.88 each
  • Facial Tissue — marked down to $0.49
  • Breakfast Sausage — marked down to $1.79
  • Burnt Pork Ends — marked down to $2.99
  • Marshmallows — marked down to $0.69
  • Comet — marked down to $0.49
  • 8 jars peanut butter — $0.99 each
  • Cinnamon Cereal — marked down to $0.79 per box
  • 2 meatloaves — marked down to $3.99 each
  • Milk — $2.59
  • Chocolate Chips — $1.99, used $0.30/1 Kroger digital coupon = $1.69
  • Organic Bananas — $1.27
  • Half & Half — $1.99
  • White vinegar — marked down to $0.89
  • Total with tax: $48.55

I could not believe this price on ground beef when I saw it — WOW!!

Kroger Shopping Trip #2

  • 6 pounds ground beef — marked down to $1.99 each
  • Danimals — marked down to $1.59
  • 2 cans refried beans — marked down to $0.49 each
  • Milk — $2.59
  • Salad Greens — marked down to $2.49
  • 2 packages Butterscotch Chips — on closeout for $0.80 each
  • 3 bags Flaxseed Meal — on closeout for $0.67 each (we use this in Energy Bites)
  • 2 Mott’s Fruit Snacks — $0.99 each when you buy 5 participating items
  • Cheerios/Honey Nut Cheerios — $1.79 each when you buy 5 participating items, used $1/2 Kroger digital coupon = $1.29 each
  • Rice a Roni — marked down to $0.39
  • 2 loaves bread — $0.99
  • Water — $0.79
  • 2 bags Chex Mix — $0.99 each when you buy 5 participating items, used $0.50/2 Kroger coupon — $0.75 each after coupon
  • Total with tax = $35.54

Total spent on groceries this week — $84.09

What We Ate This Past Week

Note: When you see the meals below, please remember this: I buy ahead often. Which means that when I find a great deal on something I know we’ll use, I buy as much as I can afford in our budget to have on hand.

This means that you aren’t going to see all of the groceries my shopping trip that I used to make all of the meals we ate.

Please also remember that I’m putting this out there and it’s not a perfectly balanced menu. This is just really what we ate — and I hope that it encourages you to see the real-ness and lack of perfection here.

Breakfasts — Cereal, Eggs/Avocados/Strawberries, Toaster Pastries, Apple Cinnamon Bars, Energy Bites, Breakfast at McDonald’s (Saturday morning), Breakfast at the hotel (Sunday morning)

Lunches — PB & Honey Sandwiches, Eggs, Salad, Leftovers, Cereal, Strawberries, Bananas

Snacks — Cereal, Strawberries, Energy Bites, Oatmeal/Chocolate Chip Cookies, Banana Bread, Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins

Dinners:

  • Sunday — Eggs & Sausage with Cheese
  • Monday — Egg Casserole, Banana Bread, Strawberries
  • Tuesday — Salad topped with marinated chicken and hardboiled eggs, Banana Bread
  • Wednesday — Leftovers
  • Thursday — Meat loaf, mashed sweet potatoes, salad, peas, strawberries/bananas
  • Friday — Dinner on the road: Peanut Butter & Honey Sandwiches, Chex Mix, Fruit Snacks, Danimals
  • Saturday — Dinner out with two of my sisters and their families

Cashback Earned: 100 points from Fetch Rewards

We spent $125 on groceries the past two weeks

Want to see what we bought for this week’s $70 grocery budget? I’m currently challenging myself to stick with a $70 budget for our family of seven. This includes almost all of our breakfasts, lunches, snacks, and dinners + most household products (toiletries, laundry soap, etc.).

For live updates, be sure to follow my Instagram Stories. See all posts on my $70 Grocery Budget here.

I didn’t get a chance to post our groceries and menu plan last week, so I’m posting both weeks this week. We were well under budget both weeks. I’m hoping there’s a great sale on something in the next week or two and I’ll use the extra to stock up on that. I’ll keep you posted!

Kroger Shopping Trip #1

  • 3 dozen eggs — marked down to $0.20 each
  • 2 boxes Yoplait Dunkers — marked down to $1 each
  • 4 bags of peppers — marked down to $0.99 each
  • 3 2-lb tubs of strawberries — $1.88 each
  • 2 boxes Instant Potatoes — marked down to $0.35 each
  • Milk — $2.59
  • Total with tax: $16.46

Kaitlynn turned 13 this past week and she had a birthday party with friends that she planned and pulled off entirely by herself.

She put together a plan and worked within a budget and made all of the food herself. We used some of our kids’ activities budget for her party since she had specific decor and food she wanted to make/buy so all of the food costs for it came out of that.

(I’ll share more details on her birthday party and how she did it on a budget in a blog post soon!)

Kroger Shopping Trip #2:

  • Sugar — $2.69
  • Honey — $8.69
  • Formula — $29.96
  • Total with tax: $45.06

Creative Meal Planning

I love coming up with creative meals based upon what we have on hand, what’s on sale, and what’s marked down. Pictured above was one of our dinners recently — banana bread (using marked down bananas), strawberries (on sale), sweet potatoes/sausage/peppers in the crockpot (I had the sweet potatoes in the pantry from a number of weeks ago, the turkey sausage was in the freezer from a deal a few months ago, and the peppers were marked down).

Here’s another meal I’ve eaten for breakfast many mornings the past two weeks: fried eggs (since I got SO many marked down recently), avocados (that I got 7 for $1 two weeks ago), and strawberries (on sale).

One more example: We had some chicken wings in the freezer from a Kroger deal a few months ago so we baked with some barbecue sauce I had gotten marked down. We served it with a side of brown rice, roasted broccoli, and English Muffin Bread.

Kroger Shopping Trip #3:

  • 3 jars peanut butter — on sale for $0.99
  • Toilet paper — $9.99
  • 2 bags chicken — $6.99 each
  • Tikka Masala — marked down to $0.69
  • Water — $0.79
  • Milk — $2.59
  • 2 boxes cereal — $1.49 each
  • 4 boxes Simple Truth Organic Apple Cinnamon Bars — on closeout for $0.57 each
  • 4 boxes Annie’s Toaster Pastries — on closeout for $0.87 each
  • 2 bags red peppers — marked down to $0.99
  • Bananas — marked down — $0.50
  • 3 bagged salads — marked down to $0.99 each
  • 2 tubs lettuce — marked down to $0.79 each
  • 4 boxes Kashi granola bars — on closeout for $0.75/box
  • 2 snack trays — marked down to $0.99 each
  • 2 snack trays — marked down to $0.59 each
  • 4 cans energy drinks — marked down to $0.59 each
  • Total with tax: $63.81

There haven’t been many great deals on toilet paper recently, so I just got the best deal I could find at Kroger — and hopefully I’ll find a great deal before we need to stock up again!

There also haven’t been almost any markdowns or sales on meat recently and we’re getting down to the last few pounds I’ve gotten on sale and marked down in our freezer, so I bought the best deals I could find at Kroger this week — 2 pounds of sausage for $2.50 each and 6 pounds of chicken for $6.99 per bag.

Total spent the past two weeks: $125.33

What We Ate The Past Two Weeks

Note: When you see the meals below, please remember this: I buy ahead often. Which means that when I find a great deal on something I know we’ll use, I buy as much as I can afford in our budget to have on hand.

This means that you aren’t going to see all of the groceries my shopping trip that I used to make all of the meals we ate.

Please also remember that I’m putting this out there and it’s not a perfectly balanced menu. This is just really what we ate — and I hope that it encourages you to see the real-ness and lack of perfection here.

Breakfasts — Cereal, Oatmeal, Eggs/Avocados/Strawberries, Baked Oatmeal, Eggs/Toast, Toaster Pastries, Apple Cinnamon Bars, Energy Bites

Lunches — PB & Honey Sandwiches, Eggs, Salad, Leftovers, Snack Boxes, Cereal, Peppers, Strawberries, Bananas

Snacks — Peppers, Strawberries, Energy Bites, Oatmeal/Chocolate Chip Cookies, Banana Bread

Dinners:

  • Sunday — McDonald’s on our drive home from visiting my sister — we bought from the dollar menu and spent $17 + ate some snacks we had brought we us
  • Monday — French toast, marked down yogurt, turkey sausage, strawberries
  • Tuesday — Beef hot dogs, twice baked potatoes, strawberries, peppers
  • Wednesday — Sausage/Potatoes/Peppers in the crockpot, fruit
  • Thursday — Leftovers
  • Friday — Homemade Mac & Cheese, Strawberries, Peppers
  • Saturday — Scrambled Eggs, Toast
  • Sunday — Dinner out
  • Monday — Sweet Potatoes/Sausage/Peppers in the Crockpot, Banana Bread, Strawberries
  • Tuesday — Barbecued Chicken Wings, Brown Rice, Roasted Broccoli, English Muffin Bread
  • Wednesday — Chicken Rice Casserole, Peas, Red Peppers, Chocolate Cake
  • Thursday — French Toast, Sausage, Fruit Salad
  • Friday — Friends sent dinner to us from a local restaurant (how kind was this for them to do so two months after Kierstyn was born??
  • Saturday — Oven Fried Chicken, Sweet Potato Fries, Veggies
  • Sunday — Scrambled Eggs, Sausage, Toast

My Favorite Non-Coffee Drink

This post may contain affiliate links. Read my disclosure policy here.

Looking for good non-caffeinated drinks or trying to stop drinking coffee? I’ve tried many coffee alternatives, and this has become my favorite non-coffee drink! It gives me energy naturally, lets me continue the ritual of savoring a hot drink while prepping for my day, and it’s oh-so delicious!

{Psst! You might also like this Decaf Chai Tea Latte Recipe!}

My Favorite Caffeine-Free Coffee Alternative

I stopped drinking coffee almost four years ago. And while I love drinking decaf teas (see some of my favorite decaf teas here), I’ve also had fun coming up with some other creative non-caffeinated coffee alternatives.

coffee alternatives idea

One of them that I concocted last year was a mix of The Morning Motivator and Dandy Blend. I had purchased both of these from Amazon since people told me that were yummy and great substitutes for coffee.

When I tried The Morning Motivator by itself, it tasted too chalky to me. And Dandy Blend tasted too strong by itself. But then I had the crazy idea to mix them together — and I fell instantly in love!

prepping a morning beverage

This is sort of like a fancy mocha drink — that’s packed with nutritional value AND it’s caffeine free! Here’s how I make it…

scooping dandy blend into cup

Add 1 to 1 1/2 generous teaspoons of Dandy Blend to a large mug.

scooping maca blend into cup

Then, add 1 heaping teaspoon of The Morning Motivator.

stirring coffee alternatives together in a mug

Mix together.

creative coffee alternatives

Pour boiling water over.

stirring morning beverage in a mug

Stir until blended.

half and half with morning hot drink

Top with a very generous amount of half & half (if you’re a cream person like me!)

Morning Coffee Alternative Drink

Stir and enjoy!

Crystal Paine with coffee mug

This is the perfect morning or afternoon pick-me-up drink!

sweet foam to top off morning drink

Want to make it really fancy? Top it with whipped cream (and maybe chocolate shavings?) or go all gourmet and use Reddi-Whip Sweet Foam! (Note: This whipped cream is really sweet… so if you don’t like sugar-y things, you won’t like it.)

mug of hot beverage with whipped cream on top

P.S. Want to know more about why I stopped drinking coffee? Read this post here. You might also like this Decaf Chai Tea Latte Recipe or this list of My Favorite Decaf Teas.

We Spent $68.87 on Groceries This Past Week (Kroger, Aldi, Big Lots)

Want to see what we bought for this week’s $70 grocery budget? I’m currently challenging myself to stick with a $70 budget for our family of seven. This includes almost all of our breakfasts, lunches, snacks, and dinners + most household products (toiletries, laundry soap, etc.).

For live updates, be sure to follow my Instagram Stories. See all posts on my $70 Grocery Budget here.

I’m loving getting back into the swing of bargain shopping again! This week, I went to Kroger twice plus Aldi and Big Lots. Here’s what I got…

Kroger Shopping Trip #1:

  • Salad Greens — marked down to $1.79
  • Greek Salad Kit — marked down to $1.69
  • 2 jars peanut butter — $1.50 each
  • Peppers — marked down to $0.99
  • Grapes — $1.52
  • Total with tax: $9.53

I went to another Kroger later in the week and found crazy egg markdowns!

Kroger Shopping Trip #2:

  • 5 boxes Kellogg’s cereal — $1.69 each when you buy 6 or more participating items + get $0.75 back from iBotta = $0.94 each after iBotta rebate
  • Godiva Pudding — marked down to $0.79
  • 2 Yoplait Yogurt 8-packs — marked down to $2.19 each
  • 5 blocks/bags cheese — $1.49 each when you buy 6 or more participating items
  • 2 Nourish bowls — marked down to $0.99 each
  • 3 cans Pringles — $0.99 each when you buy 6 or more participating items
  • Capri-Sun — $1.79 when you buy 6 or more participating items
  • Dole Spinach — marked down to $0.79
  • 2 30-count eggs — marked down to $0.69 each
  • Kroger brown eggs — $0.99
  • 3 bags avocados — marked down to $0.99 each
  • 2 bags nectarines — marked down to $0.99 each
  • Milk — $2.59
  • Kroger cookies — $1.29, used $1/1 digital coupon = $0.29
  • 3 2-lb packs of strawberries — $1.88 each
  • Total with tax: $47.22

BigLots Shopping Trip:

  • 2 loaves bread — $1.40 each
  • 1 pack hot dog buns
  • Total with tax: $4.48

ALDI Shopping Trip:

  • Oats — $2.39
  • 3-lb bag of Fuji Apples — $2.99
  • Tortilla Chips — $0.89
  • Bananas — $0.89
  • Total with tax: $7.64

Total spent on groceries: $68.87

Our Menu Plan This Week

Note: When you see the meals below, please remember this: I buy ahead often. Which means that when I find a great deal on something I know we’ll use, I buy as much as I can afford in our budget to have on hand.

This means that you aren’t going to see all of the groceries my shopping trip that I used to make all of the meals we ate.

Please also remember that I’m putting this out there and it’s not a perfectly balanced menu. This is just really what we ate — and I hope that it encourages you to see the real-ness and lack of perfection here.

Dinners:

Sunday — Sausage, Scrambled Eggs, Toast

MondayCrockpot Rotisserie Chicken, Twice Baked Potatoes, Salad, Grapes

Tuesday — Chicken & Noodles, Oranges, Cheesy Garlic Bread

Wednesday — Sausage/Potatoes/Peppers in the Crockpot, Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins

ThursdayBreakfast Casserole, Roasted Potatoes, Grapes

Friday — Leftovers, Fruit Salad

Saturday — Peanut Butter & Honey Sandwiches, Strawberries, Pringles (we are taking a short little in-state road trip this weekend to visit my sister and her family who currently live in Johnson City so we’re eating this on the road!)

10 Days of Salads

Want to eat more salads, even on a budget? These are GREAT ideas!

 

Want to eat more fresh vegetables? I shared earlier this week how I eat 2 salads each day. (If you missed that post, read it here.)

Since I’m a visual person, I thought it would be fun to take pictures of my salads every day for two weeks to show you examples of what my daily salads look like. I hope this inspires you to maybe eat more salads — or to see that it doesn’t have to be expensive or time-consuming to eat healthfully.

Spinach, leftover $0.99 pineapple from dinner the night before, and some Swiss Cheese from last week’s Sargento cheese deal

Arugula, marked down apple, marked down avocado, and a hard-boiled egg.

Marked down mixed organic greens, roasted broccoli from dinner the night before, hard boiled egg, and a marked down apple

Marked down mixed organic greens, leftover Sweet Potato Fries from the night before, and a hard boiled egg

Leftover refried beans and cheese from dinner the night before, marked down romaine, marked down tomatoes, a side of chips

Marked down mixed organic greens, wonton strips, hard boiled egg, and a drizzle of dressing

Marked down romaine, toast cut up for “croutons”, dried cranberries

Marked down romaine, marked down pork loin roast leftover from dinner the night before, hard boiled egg

Marked down romaine, marked down tomatoes, marked down sour cream, marked down turkey that we made into taco meat, sprinkled with cheese

Marked down romaine, hard boiled egg, leftover kielbasa from dinner the night before

What are YOUR favorite toppings for salads? I’d love to hear!

Recipes for a Crowd of People on Family Vacation (Full Menu Plan for 26 People!)

Going on a big family vacation sooner or entertaining a large group? Check out these easy recipes for a crowd of people — including our full menu plan for 26 people!

Be sure to also check out these Cheap Meals for Large Groups and these Easy Meals for 20 People!

easy recipes for a crowd of people on vacation

Recipes for a Crowd of People on Vacation

Need some ideas for food to make while on vacation with a crowd? Two weeks ago, my entire extended family (except my brother who is working on the The Wilds camp this summer and couldn’t take time off) went to Bull Shoals Lake.

We’ve been doing this trip together as a family since before I was married. The number of people who come each year has slowly grown as my siblings have gotten married and we’ve had babies. We’re now up to 26 people total (My parents, my six siblings, plus their spouses and kids!)

crowd of people on vacation

On this trip, we stay in cabins that have kitchens so we bring food and make it there for all but one night. We all pitch in to help with meals, ingredients, cooking, baking, and clean up. This way, there’s not too much work on any one person’s shoulders.

recipes to feed a huge crowd

How We Make This Work

Many of you asked for details on what we cook and how it works, so I’m posting our entire menu plan so you can get ideas on recipes for a crowd of people. 🙂

My sister planned the menus based upon what she knows that everyone would like/eat/would give some options for those on special diets or who have food allergies and then she put together a sign up form on TakeThemaMeal.com for everyone to sign up for what they wanted to bring.

bread and salad for a crowd

I know that this might not work in some families, but because of the dynamics of our family, this works really well for us. It’s also nice because then everyone can sign up for what types of food they like to bring or what meals they’d prefer to help make.

spaghetti pie for a crowd

My sister set up the sign up sheet so that every menu item was on a different line and if you signed up for something, you were responsible to get the ingredients for it and make it for that meal.

Some of the items were really easy things, like bringing a jar of pickles or a bag of tater tots. Others were a little more time intensive, like making bread or mashed potatoes or a main dish.

breakfast for a crowd

Our Menu Plan of Easy Recipes for a Crowd of People

Breakfasts

Pancakes, Eggs, Bacon, Juice
Ice Cream Soaked French Toast, Eggs, Bacon, Juice
Baked Oatmeal, Sausage, Eggs, Juice
Brown Sugar Biscuit Twists, Eggs, Bacon, Juice
Cold Cereal

breakfast for a crowd

baked oatmeal for breakfast

grilling out with family

Lunches:

Salad Bar, Leftovers, Snack-y Foods (everyone brings some snack type foods to contribute and share)

Dinners:

  • Spaghetti Pie, Green Beans, Garlic Bread, Lettuce Salad, Fruit
  • Papa John’s Pizza (we had a gift card and there was a 30% off coupon, so we ended up getting a LOT of pizza for very little out of pocket!)
  • Grilled Chicken, Mashed Potatoes, Roasted Broccoli, Lettuce Salad, Fruit, Biscuits
  • Hamburgers/Hot Dogs, Watermelon, French Fries, Corn on the Cob, Veggie Tray, Steamed Veggies
  • Chicken Bean Burritos (topped with lettuce, sour cream, and salsa) Fried Rice, Fruit

And that’s that! I did want to mention that some of the meals were more allergy-friendly than others, so on a few of the nights where they weren’t as allergen-friendly, those with food allergies made some other for the main dish.

Do you have any other easy recipes for a crowd of people? I’d love to hear in the comments!

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