$75 Meal Plan #5 – Sugar Free Edition

A meal plan, if it’s going to work, isn’t broken down into weekly measured portions and their associated costs. It’s a mix of this week’s purchases, what’s in your pantry, gifts and ground-scores.

So, following this format, I’m pitching in my budget. I spend $50-$75 a week on me and my husband. I’m currently breastfeeding so I eat twice as much as I previously did.

But we have no other sources of food beyond our budget. No garden, herbs in the window sill – nothing. I use coupons sparingly – the store ad for wherever I’m shopping, the occasional newspaper and coupons.com. When I get the mood I also use Ibotta, Grocery 51 and MobiSave. But these aren’t included in my grocery budget; they pay for date night.

THIS WEEK WE BOUGHT:

 Bananas, eggs, russet potatoes, sweet potatoes, 1 romaine head, milk, sugar free salad dressing, 3lbs. apples, honey, angel hair pasta, 8oz salad shrimp, 1 cabbage head, red onion, celery, 2 lbs. Bag of carrots, 1 corned beef roast, 8oz. saltwater salmon, asparagus, cilantro, 2 tomatoes.

BREAKFAST OPTIONS:

Fruit

Oatmeal with honey

Banana Peanut Butter Smoothies

Scrambled eggs and hashbrowns

Baked sweet potato

LUNCH OPTIONS:

Burritos

Tuna salad

Leftovers

SNACK OPTIONS:

Popcorn

Fresh fruit

Vegetables

Boiled eggs

Pickles

Tea

Coffee

DINNER MENU:

Thursday  – creamy garlic chicken with rice.

Friday – shrimp pasta.

Saturday – chicken stir fry.

Sunday – corned beef with cabbage and potatoes.

Monday – southwest chicken salad.

Tuesday – grilled salmon with asparagus and quinoa.

Wednesday – corned beef hash (using leftover corned beef).

MEAL PREPPING I DID THIS WEEK:

These foods were prepared over the course of the weekend. Some was stashed away for later and some was consumed this week.

  • Crockpot beans
  • Boiled eggs
  • Baked sweet potatoes
  • Chopped cabbage in thin slices.
  • Shredded 2 carrots; roughly chopped 1; sliced 4 into sticks.
  • Diced small red onion.
  • Diced 5 sweet onions.
  • Quartered 1 yellow onion.
  • Cubed 2 lbs. Chicken breasts
  • Shredded lettuce
  • Celery sticks
  • Minced cilantro
  • Diced tomato

THIS WEEK’S TOTAL SPENT: 

How do you spend your grocery budget?

Bachelorette Party – Clean, Sober and Cheap

I recently helped plan the bachelorette party for my sister in law. We were faced with a challenge though – our party had to be kid-friendly, dairy free, low budget, and sober. The bride to be didn’t drink alcohol or consume dairy products, we were all broke and there was going to be about 6 kids under the age of 5 present. 

Our party started at 5, lasting about 3 hours. We had awesome music playing on the laptop as guests arrived. We picked three games, and one back up in case something went wrong. If its a long party, you might do more. There’s a list of my favorite games below.

Our party was at dinner time so we served pizza and drinks (soda and juice), getting a dairy free pizza from Papa Murphy’s. Surprisingly delicious and soooo convenient. Other good options would be BBQ chicken sandwiches in the crockpot, spaghetti or a burrito bar.

We couldnt afford decorations. Spending about $10 at the dollar store we put together party favors with candy and cute bows. Looking to go zero waste? Get cute coffee mugs and buy bulk candy to put inside – or bulk coffee.

All you other party planners might flinch at the idea of no decorations. But they weren’t necessary – they produce waste and cost money. And none of the guests even notoced. You dont need much for a kickass party!

Games

  • Flower arrangement contest /scavenger hunt in teams (fake or real flowers) – race to see which team finds all the flowers and puts them in the vase first.
  • Cold feet – fill a bowl with ice water and some costume jewelry rings. Tournament style – first person to fish out all the rings with their feet wins the round. Continue until you have a champion.
  • Pop! The Question – two teams. Attach two inflated balloons to everyones butt. No hands, no feet. The first team to pop everyone elses balloons wins.
  • Chocolate Unicorn – tournament style. Whoever stacks the most oreos on their forehead wins the round. No help, and you can’t hold the stack with your hands. Repeat until you have a champion.
  • Kiss the Bride – team pictionary, except the artist holds a tube of lipstick in their mouth to draw. No hands.
  • Junk in the trunk – teams or individual. Fill an empty tissue box with ping pong balls. Attach the box to your butt. First person to shake out all the balls wins. No hands!
  • Blind Love – blindfold one person. Have them do someone else’s makeup. Best makeup artist wins.

Ways to Save More Money

  • Have guests bring food and drinks.
  • Don’t provide prizes or party favors.

What’s your favorite party game?

What We Actually Needed for Baby: Zero Waste Style

*This post contains affiliate links, where I recieve a portion of your purchase at no extra cost to you. All affiliate links are to products I have actually used. 

Raising a baby requires a lot of crap. And if you go mainstream it requires an absurd amount of crap. Every child is different; every lifestyle, climate and laundry schedule are different too. But it is helpful as a new parent to see what other moms did.

Whether you’re a new mom or not, if you want to raise your child with a minimalist and zero waste attitude, this checklist is for you. Below you will find all the things we actually needed for our little Pudge’s first year, as we pursued a zero waste and minimalist lifestyle.

Keep in mind lifestyle differences as you read – I have full access to a washer and dryer, I breastfeed, Pudge comes to work with me so my pumping needs are limited, and I live in a spastic climate with extreme cold and hot weather.

Items in green were absolute necessities – everything else just made life easier.

Diapering

  • Cloth wipes. We have enough to fill 4 quart size mason jars because I’m paranoid about running out. This lasts 2- 3 days.
  • 30 reuseable cloth diaper liners/inserts.
  • 25 cloth diaper covers. Our Pudge had bad diahrea from antibiotics so we would go through up to 12 a day.
  • Spritzer bottle with DIY wipes solution.
  • Mason jar.
  • Small jar with DIY diaper rash cream.
  • Diaper changing pad/waterproof blanket.
  • 2 small portable wet bags.
  • 2 large wet bags that fit diaper pail.
  • Diaper pail.

Bathing

  • Two towels
  • 3 soft washcloths
  • Baby castille soap
  • Baby lotion
  • Water pitcher

Feeding

I breastfeed. If your planning on formula feeding or doing a combination of the two this list will need alterations. If you have the choice, always breastfeed exclusively. Its better for you, your baby and the planet. And your wallet!

  • 2 glass bottles
  • Electric pump
  • Pumping bra
  • Bottle brush
  • Dishwasher bottle basket
  • Castille soap for washing bottles
  • 304 steel pot for sterilizing pumping supplies, bottles and pacifiers.
  • Reuseable milk storage
  • Insulated cooler and ice packs for transporting milk.
  • Nursing pillow and washable cover
  • Lasinoh cream for your nipplies
  • Reuseable WATERPROOF nursing pads (if theyre not lined with waterproof material on the back you’ll leak right through them).
  • 2 nursing bras
  • Clothes you can nurse in public in – stretchy T-shirts, loose sweaters and low tank tops work great and are cheap. Or get the amaaaazing nursing sweater I have.
  • Nursing cover (if you’re uncomfortable in public).
  • Prenatal vitamins for mom.

Moving on to solids between 4- 6 months, you will also need:

  • Whole foods – bananas, squash, etc.
  • Small mason jars for prepped food – these will also freeze.
  • Lunchbox for on the go.
  • Potato masher.
  • Teething bags (stuff it with frozen berries. Seriously, no orajel needed).
  • 4 Bibs

Bedtime

  • 3 Velcro swaddles (these saved my life – seriously. I wasn’t going to buy any but one was given to me and I loved them so much I bought two backups)
  • Two heavy blankets
  • Two medium blankets
  • Two light blankets
  • 6 recieving blankets (these double as burp rags)

Clothes (year one)

In the spirit of zero waste, buy as much of these used as possible. For when you can’t, I’ve provided links to organic cotton clothing that can be passed down until it’s ready to be composted.

  • 10 newborn onesies – 5 long sleeve, 5 short sleeve.
  • 2 newborn hats.
  • 10 newborn pairs of pants.
  • 2 newborn light zip up footie pajamas.
  • 2 newborn heavy zip up footie pajamas.
  • 20-40 pairs of 0-3 month socks (Dont waste money on newborn ones).
  • 2 pairs of 0-3 month booties (only if it’s really cold).
  • 0-3 month snowsuit (only if it’s really cold).
  • 10 0-3 month onesies – 5 long sleeve, 5 short sleeve.
  • 2 0-3 month hats.
  • 10 0-3 month pairs of pants.
  • 2 0-3 month light zip up footie pajamas.
  • 2 0-3 month heavy zip up footie pajamas.
  • 20-40 pairs of 3-6 month socks.
  • 2 pairs of 3-6 month booties (only if it’s really cold).
  • 3-6 month snowsuit (only if it’s really cold).
  • 8 3-6 month onesies – 4 long sleeve, 4 short sleeve.
  • 2 3-6 month hats.
  • 8 3-6 month pairs of pants.
  • 2 3-6 month light zip up footie pajamas.
  • 2 3-6 month heavy zip up footie pajamas.
  • 20-40 pairs of 6- 18 month socks.
  • 2 pairs of 6-18 month booties (only if it’s really cold).
  • 1 6- 9 month snowsuit (only if it’s really cold).
  • 8 6- 9 month onesies – 4 long sleeve, 4 short sleeve.
  • 2 6- 9 month hats.
  • 8 6- 9 month pairs of pants.
  • 2 6- 9 month light zip up footie pajamas.
  • 2 6- 9 month heavy zip up footie pajamas
  • 20-40 pairs of 18- 24 month socks.
  • 2 pairs of 18- 24 month booties (only if it’s really cold).
  • 1 9- 12 month snowsuit (only if it’s really cold).
  • 8 9- 12 month onesies – 4 long sleeve, 4 short sleeve.
  • 2 9- 12 month hats.
  • 8 9- 12 month pairs of pants.
  • 2 9- 12 month light zip up footie pajamas.
  • 2 9- 12 month heavy zip up footie pajamas
  • Dirty clothes basket
  • Baby safe stain remover
  • Baby/cloth diaper safe laundry soap
  • Net bag for washing socks in (so your machine doesn’t eat them)

Gear

  • Convertible car seat
  • Stroller and rain shield
  • Car mirror (so you can see baby)
  • Car window covers
  • Diaper bag (if you’re not using your purse)
  • Convertible crib. In the United States you are legally required to provide your baby an age aplropriate bed with a frame.
  • Highchair or other seating while eating device.
  • Somewhere to keep clothes off the floor; Baskets, bookshelves and dressers all work.
  • Boba wrap or baby carrier

Playtime/Learning

  • Hand-held rattle
  • Two stuffed toys (ours sing)
  • Foot rattles
  • Rings
  • Books to read (As many as you feel is apropriate)

Misc.

  • Pacifiers and clips
  • Nail clippers
  • Hairbrush
  • Missing persons kit
  • Waterproof file for important documents

Baby Health

  • Forehead thermometer.
  • Lavendar vaporub for colds.
  • Nasal aspirator (there are different sizes – get all of them).
  • Syringe for medications/vitamins.
  • Infant tylenol.
  • Peppermint tea (for belly aches).

What did your baby need?

This is part two of a series on raising a zero waste family.

Part One

Part Two

Potato Leek Stoup

This is probably my most requested recipe. It’s my husband’s favorite, my brother-in-law’s favorite, my mom’s favorite… pretty much everyone who eats my food always wants this recipe.

I’ve done different variations over the last three years but this is by far the best way to do it. Perfect for a rainy day dinner, this recipe is particularly filling for a “soup” and is very affordable to make.

Potato Leek Stoup

Comfortably served 7 people (2 teenage boys and two large men included)

 

You Will Need:

1 tbsp butter

1 bundle leeks, white parts, thinly sliced (about 3 cups sliced)

1 rib of celery

1 tbsp salt + more to taste

1 lbs thick cut smoked bacon, sliced width-wise (pork jowl is a good substitute, and ends and pieces bacon is a budget friendly change that still tastes damn good)

Pepper to taste

3 lbs potatoes, un-peeled and cubed

4 cups water

2 beef bouillon cubes (or sub 2 cups of water for 2 cups of beef broth)

2 cups whole milk

 

Note: if you like crispy bacon cook the bacon in the pot first, scoop it out with a slotted spoon and let crisp on a paper towel. DO NOT drain the grease – add the butter and leeks straight to it and follow instructions from there.

 

To Prepare:

  1. In a soup pot melt butter over medium heat. Add sliced leeks, celery and salt generously (about 1 tbsp). Stir until coated in butter.
  2. Toss in bacon and a pinch of pepper. cook until leeks are translucent, stirring frequently. The bacon should also be cooked thoroughly at this point but not necessarily crispy.
  3. Add potatoes, bouillon and water to pot. Mix. Bring to a boil.
  4. Cover and reduce to a low heat. Let simmer for 10-30 minutes (depends on how small your potatoes are cut – 20 minutes is usually perfect).
  5. Remove from heat. Add milk, salt and pepper to taste. Serve hot with crusty baguettes for an authentic French dish. If you reserved the bacon for crispness, sprinkle it on top before serving.

 

This would taste very good with a German beer if you don’t mind disgracing the French history of the recipe 😉

$50 Meal Plan #2

*UPDATE: This was originally posted in January on the old blog*

A meal plan, if it’s going to work, isn’t broken down into weekly measured portions and their associated costs. It’s a mix of this week’s purchases, what’s in your pantry, gifts and ground-scores.

So, following this format, I’m pitching in my budget. I spend $50-$75 a week on me and my husband (plus the weekly family dinner of 6 people, my younger siblings’ weekly visit, and all of the friends that come and devour my muffins. Every. Freaking. Day.)

But we have no other sources of food beyond our budget. No garden, herbs in the window sill – nothing. I use coupons sparingly – the store ad for wherever I’m shopping and coupons.com. Nothing complex. About 10 minutes a week and I save about $5 each shopping trip.

This hasn’t been the healthiest week for us. I’ve been working late nights so when I come home dinner is the last thing I want to do, and I can’t prep it in the morning because I’m doing homework in the mornings.

 

This week we bought:

Boneless skinless chicken breast (4 lbs.), ground turkey (2lbs.), mushroom-chicken sausage (1lbs.), beef ramen, coffee creamer, kale, lettuce, green onions, asparagus, bananas, 3lbs. bag of onions, yogurt, 2 boxes of cereal, and 1 jar of pasta sauce.

Meal-share Benefits with Family: 1 whole turkey and 3 goose eggs. My husband’s boss cleaned out his freezer.

From the Garden (and some Foraging): Morel mushrooms(!!) and dandelion greens from our yard (because I know they weren’t sprayed).

 

Breakfast Options:

Yogurt and granola

Frogs in a Hole

Oatmeal

 

Lunch Options:

Vegan Chili Verde

Cornbread

Turkey wraps

Sausage pasta with spinach (sausage+pasta+spinach+milk)

Leftovers

 

Snack Options:

Crackers

Granola bars

Fresh fruit

Crunchy roasted chickpeas

Quesadillas

Green salad

Pickled eggs (just throw boiled eggs in an empty pickle jar with leftover juice. One batch per pickle jar – refrigerate please)

French bread (homemade) and butter

Peanut butter edible cookie dough

Tea

Hot Cocoa

 

Dinner Menu:

Thursday  – Chicken curry with brown rice

Friday – Enchiladas

Saturday – Turkey and kale soup

Sunday – Ground beef ramen (ground beef+ramen+green onions) and salad

Monday – Turkey gravy over potatoes

Tuesday – Steak, garlic creamed pasta and asparagus

Wednesday – Turkey meatballs with marinara and fresh bread

 

Meal Prepping I did this week:

These foods were prepared over the course of the weekend. Some was stashed away for later and some was consumed this week.

  • 3 loaves of french bread
  • Turkey meatballs
  • 2 cups brown rice

This week’s total spent: $46.00 

 

How do you spend your grocery budget?

Preparing for Parenthood: The Zero Waste Baby

Zero Waste Baby NeedsI’m having a baby in December, and as our lifestyle has transitioned to zero waste and minimalist living, it’s just as important for that lifestyle to continue with us as our family changes. This is my first child, but I cared for my younger siblings for years as well as did daycare for a variety of families.

There are lots of cool gadgets out there for babies and young children. But very little of it is necessary, and some of it is straight up ridiculous.

Given my family’s tight budget and our commitment to reduce consumption in all areas of our lives, we’re sticking with the minimum. Lots of this has been gifted to us by family and upon our baby shower we’re probably going to receive more. I’ve also perused Facebook classifieds, craigslist and Freecycle for many free items. I encourage you to do this if you have the time or if you’re on a tight budget.

Household Changes

  • Water filter for sink
  • Filtering shower head and bath faucet
  • Waterproof mattress cover (for my mattress)
  • Cotton sheets (for my mattress)
  • Outlet covers
  • Dog bed (because we’re co-sleeping in the beginning and the dog can’t sleep on the bed anymore…)
  • CO and radon detector
  • Fabric shower curtain
  • If you haven’t already switched, get all the plastic out of your kitchen and switch to:
    • Bamboo cutting boards
    • Cast iron or 304 Steel cookware
    • Ceramic or cast iron bakeware

Baby Bedding

  • Crib or convertible bassinet (Convertible is better!!) with matress
  • Cotton sheets for crib (x2)
  • Homemade crib quilt
  • Light receiving blankets (x4)

Bathtime

  • Cotton undyed towels (x2)
  • Cotton undyed wash cloths (x8)
  • Baby grooming kit
    • Soft hair brush
    • Infant nail clippers
    • Snot sucker
  • Baby mild castille soap
  • Gentle baby lotion (you can make your own if you’re ambitious)

Diaper Changing

  • 20 cloth diapers
  • Homemade diaper rash balm
  • Diaper pins (steel; x4 sets)
  • Reuseable wipes, in a homemade solution, in a reuseable container
  • Waterproof diaper covers (x8)
  • Dirty diaper container and reusable liner (x2)

Clothes

  • Onesies (x16)
  • Socks or booties (x8)
  • Coming home outfit <3
  • Swimsuit
  • Scratch-proof mittens
  • A hat
  • leggings/pants (x16)
  • Pajamas (Light; x8)
  • Pajamas (Heavy; x8)
  • Swaddle wrap (x2)
  • Dirty clothes hamper

Feeding

  • Burp clothes (x8)
  • Glass bottles (x3)
  • Bottle brush
  • Breast pump
  • Freezer storage for pumped milk
  • Bibs (x3)
  • Highchair or seat with support

Misc. Needs

  • Moby wrap carrier (make this myself)
  • Stroller
  • Car seat
  • “Diaper Bag” (A bag that accommodates my normal purse items and baby needs when travelling)
  • Baby thermometer (I suggest the pacifier ones)
  • Baby book (if you’re nerdy like that…)
  • Developmentally appropriate toys (not very many are necessary – my niece’s favorite toy is a red rubber spatula)
  • Books (because even infants enjoy stories)
  • Baby monitor (for when you’re getting it on in the living room while the baby snoozes 😉 )

Parent Needs

  • Nursing bras (x8)
  • Nursing cover (make this myself)
  • Reuseable nursing pads (x16)
  • Scheduled dates (and gift cards if you can afford it) for after baby

I hope this was helpful! If I’ve left anything out, please let me know. Also it’s worth mentioning that I won’t be stocking up ahead of time on clothing and we have a washer and dryer. If you don’t have access to a washer and dryer and aren’t planning on hand-washing poopy diapers this list might be very different for you.

What did you need for your first baby?