Monday, January 17, 2011

Meals for Week of January 17, 2011

Earlier this week I did some grocery shopping that was coupon-focused.  I shopped at Safeway and I made a point of going there to shop for some items that were specifically on sale or offered to me as a coupon through my Club Card.  In recent years I had stopped shopping at Safeway because I discovered less-expensive options.  But because our school earns money through escrip and we actually have a financial obligation to generate a certain amount of money via escrip and scrip, I have had to be a bit more purposeful in where I shop so that I can be sure it's being "counted".  So, on you can register your Safeway Club Card and you can sign up for Safeway just for U, which is provides personalized Club Card savings for you.  It seems to be based on your shopping habits and I'm guessing that for this first time it was a little random since they didn't have enough data on me to personalize it too much. But they give you 1 dozen large eggs for free on the first time, so that was good.  I was pleased to have some items on sale that I would actually buy. 
And that's the thing (if I may go off on a tangent for a sec) about coupons, sometimes they seem so attractive, but they are often for name brand products or for products I wouldn't normally buy.  Costco is somewhere that I have found their coupons to be useful, except when they provide a Kirkland equivalent to the item, then it usually turns out that is still cheaper than the other item with the coupon.  So because I'm mostly not brand-loyal and will usually go with a store brand, I have not bothered to really learn too much about shopping with coupons.
So anyway..once you're signed up, you see the personalized deals and you can click on the ones you want and those are loaded to your card.  You can even have that emailed to you as a shopping list, which I did and then used that when making my shopping list.  I had about $33 left on a Safeway gift card and told myself I didn't want to exceed that.  I ended up buying 10 items (actually 13 if you count buying more than one of an item) and the total came to $32.86.  My receipt tells me that I saved $11.50 using my Club Card, $5 from coupons and $4.50 from my Just for U, for a total of $20.40 savings.  My "big ticket" purchase was a 24 pack of Charmin Bath Tissue, which as you probably know is apparently made of gold because it's so damn expensive, but one of my Club Card offers was $3.50 off and without doing any heavy cost comparisons, but knowing we would soon need toilet paper, I got some.
So I was pleased that even though I picked up a couple items not on my list, but on sale I managed to not exceed what I budgeted.  But then later I started to think about how 13 items had cost $32 and would actually have been $52 had there been no sales.  That seems like a lot.  To even pay $32 for just 13 items seems like a lot.  Right?  Or was it because $12.99 of it was for bath tissue that sucks up a lot of the cost, so it's not quite a fair comparison?  I really don't know.  I'm sort of set with shopping for the remainder of the month, so next month I'll have to conduct another experiment maybe at my usual cheaper supermarket and do some comparisons.

Onto my suggestions for this week-

Meals for the Week of January 17, 2011

Mexican Taco Stew- This is a healthy, budget friendly dish for the cold weather.

Shrimp, Tortellini & Spinach- A 1 ½ cup serving is 350 calories.  Very quick to make, and it actually works well cooked and served cold, perfect for lunch the next day.  You could substitute chicken for shrimp if you prefer. (calories would be different)

Turkey Cobb Salad- Cobb salad is a great main dish salad and it’s also perfect to prep in advance and then just assemble for dinner.

Coconut Peanut Sauce Beef- So quick and easy to make!  It takes longer to make rice to go with it!  It doesn’t take uncommon ingredients, coconut milk (not cream) is found in supermarkets in the Asian food section and you can use just regular curry, not anything special.  Our suggestion for the sauce is to mix it all together except the brown sugar, then add that one tablespoon at a time, tasting as you go so you can control how sweet you want it.  You can make the sauce ahead and re-heat it, you can do the same for the rice and then prepare the meat at the last minute.  Pan seared or using a grill pan works fine if outdoor grilling isn’t an option.  Serve with steamed broccoli and put a little sauce on it.

Lasagna Tart- I love this recipe.  If you would rather not make the crust recipe provided, just use a pre-made pie crust or a recipe you prefer.

Chopped Greek Salad with Chicken- Here’s a good main dish salad that is also low calorie.

Lemon and Herb Crock Pot Roasted Chicken- Super easy and very flavorful. 

Slow Cooker Turkey Chili- Super easy, kid-friendly chili.  It uses a chili seasoning mix, which I am not a fan of and usually just use my own combination of chili powder, cayenne pepper, cumin and paprika, which you can do or just use a seasoning packet if it’s you’re your style.  Trader Joe’s makes one that I have heard is good.

Veggie Tacos- This recipe is so adaptable.  Use whatever fresh vegetables you like then just follow the instructions for seasoning and preparing the tortillas.  Use the chili peppers at your discretion, you can always omit them and just season the vegetables with chili powder and the cumin and oregano.

Ranch Parmesan Chicken- Every time I’ve made these, I just do it as chicken strips instead of whole chicken breasts like the recipe calls for. They will also cook quicker than whole pieces. Highly recommend using panko breading for a lighter, crispier chicken.

Side Dish-
Savory Greens Stir Fry- This is a super-food side dish.  Winter greens like kale are in season right now and packed with health.  If you don’t want to buy mirin for this recipe, you may skip it or get less expensive rice wine vinegar.

Peanut Butter Power Cookies- Give this a try for a whole grain, higher protein and fiber snack.

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