Monday, August 16, 2010

Week Two: $21 Challenge

This week I made good use of my $21 dollars. I only had a couple things on my mind: something Mexican-ish, lentil soup, and cold cereal. I planned out the week's food because I found that in order to get the most use out of the limited amount of groceries you have, you need to plan meals around them. Many of the things I bought this week, such as the rice, lentils, onions, and cereal, will probably extend into next week. This will help give next week's meals a little more flexibility. Everything in the picture was bought at Aldi's except for the diced tomatoes and tomato paste, which are from Big Lots (they had a lot of soymilk at Big Lots, I was surprised. They always have good stuff there). The bulk lentils were from Whole Foods, which is a place I don't actually get to shop at. It's over an hour away so it was kind of a special trip and when I'm there I only buy stuff that I can't find in my home town. When buying in bulk, I only buy what I would use in the near future. This helps keep the price down. These French lentils equal about 1 cup, which will still make me quite a few meals. The brown rice and the peanut butter (not shown) were both from WalMart. Peanut butter is one of those items that I'm very picky about. There are only two brands that I like to eat. So yeah, we all have our quirks. :)

This week's grocery bill was as follows:

Vanilla Almond cereal (like Special K) @ $2.29
Original flavor rice milk @ $1.59
       This is the correct price (a correct AWESOME price). In a previous entry I stated it to be higher than it actually was because I was going from memory. In the little grocery store in my head everything costs $2.29 or $2.89...
Authentic tostada shells @ $0.99
       These were on special for the week.
White mushrooms @ $1.29
Vidalia onions @ 1.99
       These were looking real pretty today!
Flat leaf spinach @ $1.69
       That is an awesome price for a bag of baby spinach.
Roasted red pepper hummus @ $1.69
       Aldi's has very tasty, all-natural hummus. I usually get the roasted garlic but that was all snatched up.
Pinto beans, 2 lbs. @ $1.29
       That's about $0.65 a pound for a low-fat, super heart-healthy protein source.
Celery @ $1.19

My subtotal for Aldi's was $14.77

Big Lots:
Tomato paste @ $0.33
        This price is cheaper than Aldi's (theirs is $0.39)
Diced tomatoes @ $0.50

My subtotal for Big Lots was $0.87. I love Big Lots. I need to start going there more often. They have lots of overstocked items and such, and the prices can't be beat. Also, if you look around, you'll find lots of organic foods there for much cheaper than the conventional ones! This week there happened to be a lot of organic beans and jams. I once saw a 12 pack of Amy's Organic soups there once for either $5.50 or $7.50, which is nowhere near the regular store price. Nothing is ever expired and they even get a lot of awesome import foods (like sweet British biscuits and cereals). Today I saw packaged soups that were like ramen noodles, only there were made of udon noodles. They were in vegan chicken and beef flavors and they had all the fun little packets of veggies and oil in them. If you have one near you and you've never been, you should definitely check it out.

Long-grain brown rice @ $1.99
Skippy Natural peanut butter @ $1.99
         I used a coupon from the Sunday paper for $0.50 off. The original price was $2.49 (umm, I think). I should've been paying attention!

Whole Foods:
French lentils, bulk @ $1.31
        This is an estimate, but I know that's about right. I got about a third pound of lentils and the unit price was probably about $3.99 per pound.

Add all these together and you get a grocery bill of $20.94 and a pantry full of delicious, healthy food. I will be making lentil soup and tostadas with these so I'll put those recipes up on here with pictures when I do. I'm having a lot of fun showing that you can survive on $21 a week as a vegan because really, it's the meat, dairy and eggs that are expensive!


Anonymous said...

I love Aldi! You can't beat their prices, that is for sure. I don't get everything there, but there are certain things I get there every week, and they usually have good produce specials too.

I have never looked in Big Lots before...I will have to check it out!

You must be having cooler weather than we are in my part of the mid-west (MN). Or you have AC :-) With no AC and high humidity and temps in the 90s I am living off of salads because I can't bring myself to turn on the oven or the stove and heat up my apt even more! I love lentil soup, though...fall can't come soon enough for me :-)


Jess of Midwest Vegan said...

Lol. We just got out of a really bad heatwave. It was in the upper 90s with real high humidity here but it finally broke a couple days ago. Yesterday it was only 80 and I loved every minute of it! I do have AC though and it's on most of the time, lol. I was actually thinking of making the soup in the crockpot so I didn't have to turn on the stove, but I know what you mean. I didn't have AC until I moved out on my own and I must say, all I ate was salads and sandwiches and smoothies. :)

I'm so ready for fall too! I'm just about fed up with being all sweaty!