Saturday, May 30, 2009

Menu Plan - June 1, 2009

Monday - Barbecued Beef on homemade buns with veggies (Make extra buns for Friday)
To Do: Soak beans all day and cook beans in slowcooker overnight.

Tuesday - Homemade Baked Beans with Boston Brown Bread and raw veggies

Wednesday - Macaroni and cheese with veggies

Thursday - Leftovers

Friday - Hamburgers with Homemade buns and raw veggies

Saturday - Lamb chops with potatoes and veggies

Sunday - Pork chops from pork tenderloin with potatoes and veggies

For more meal plans, visit the Organizing Junkie!

Friday, May 29, 2009

Ontario Food Deals for May 29 - June 4, 2009

There really isn't anything to get excited about this week, other than the deals at Bulk Barn I posted earlier in the week.

I'll make a trip to Zehrs (Loblaws) to get some frozen peas because they are a quick and healthy veggie that my kids love. The whole wheat pasta is also a pretty good price this week, so I will get a few boxes. The sales price should be better than the regular store brand whole wheat pasta, but if is important to check carefully because the different pasta shapes have different weights. Some shapes are better deals than others!

The other nice deal this week is the yogurt at No Frills, but it is too far out of my way to go just to save a quarter on yogurt. Oh well!

Zehrs (Loblaws)
  • Green Giant frozen vegetables (peas, corn, etc.) 750g for $1.99 (lowest price I have seen them is $1.88, so not bad at all. We might get some peas as we are out and they are a favourite around here. Don't need as many frozen veggies as the weather gets nicer though.
  • Catteli Healthy Harvest pasta (whole wheat) (300-454 g) at 3 for $4.00 (about $0.29 per 100 g for the heavier boxes)
No Frills
  • Astro yogurt (650/750 g) selected varieties, $1.88 (best price I've ever seen)
  • Asparagus, product of Ontario, $1.49/lb or $3.28/kg
  • Life, Oat Squares, Corn Bran or Cap'n Crunch (350 - 730 g) for $2.99 (plus 10 bonus Sobey's points). If the box is regular size (540 g), this is a pretty good deal on Corn Bran. Last time I got a good deal on it, I paid $2.37 a box. The normal sales price is $3.69.
Price Chopper
$1, $2, $3 Sale
  • Seedless cucumbers, product of Ontario, 2 for $1

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Bulk Barn Coupon (May 30 to June 12, 2009)

I just got a Bulk Barn flyer in the mail box, with a coupon to save $3 when you spend $10 before taxes. The flyer and coupon are good for two weeks, from Saturday May 30 to Friday June 12, 2009.

The coupon reads:

Save $3.00 on your total purchase of $10.00 or more before taxes available at any Bulk Barn. Coupon effective from Saturday May 30 to Friday June 12, 2009. Limit one coupon per store visit. This offer excludes the purchase of gift cards. While supplies last. We reserve the right to limit quantities. All applicable taxes shall be payable on the full value of the merchandise. Coupon cannot be used in conjunction with the 10% Seniors' & students' discount. No mechanical reproductions accepted.

In the past I have found that Bulk Barn prices are usually higher than my local independent bulk store (Ayrs Baking Supplies, if anyone is interested), but with the $3.00 off coupon, you are basically getting a 30% discount on $10.00 worth of food. If you are very careful to only spend just over the $10.00 minimum, especially if you buy things that are also on sale, it can be worth it.

You do need to be careful because their are some items that are actually more expensive to buy in bulk than to buy at the regular grocery store. A price book can really make a difference. Last time I was at the Bulk Barn, I noticed that the regular price for whole wheat pasta is $0.61/100 g. Even with the coupon, that would be $0.43/100 g. If I head over to Zehrs (Loblaws) and buy their house brand whole wheat pasta at regular price, I will only pay $0.34/100 g. If I find a sale, the difference is even more. I have often paid as little as $0.26/100 g for whole wheat pasta.

Another peril of the Bulk Barn is all the sweets and treats. We try not to buy these things, but we (the kids and I) find Bulk Barn very tempting! Make sure you do not go when you are hungry or feeling snackish!

When you go to the Bulk Barn to use your coupon, it is harder than you might think to spend only $10.00. You need to weigh each item to determine how much your bag will cost. I suggest you bring a paper and pencil and a calculator. Make use of the scales located around the store to weigh your items. You can also use this handy chart to get an idea how much a cup of different items weigh. For example, a cup of brown sugar weighs about 110 g and a cup of almonds weighs about 225 g and a cup of raisins weighs about 100 g.

Some of the good deals:

I have included the price per 100 g if you make use of the coupon, but remember that only applies if you spend the $10 before the discount! Also, it only applies on your first $10.00. If you spend more, you just get the regular sales price!
  • Natural Almonds (California) $5.89/lb, or $1.30/100 g ($0.91/100 g with coupon)
  • Sunflower seeds, hulled (roasted, salted or unsalted) $2.89/lb or $0.64/100 g ($0.45/100 g with coupon)
  • Walnut halves or pieces (California) $5.39/lb or $1.19/100 g ($0.83/100 g with coupon)
  • In-shell peanuts (dry roasted, salted or unsalted) $1.79/lb or $0.40/ 100 g ($0.28/100 g with coupon)
  • Large Prunes (pits removed) $3.49/lb, or $0.77/100 g ($0.54/100 g with coupon)
  • Sultana Raisins $1.89/lb 0r $0.42/100 g ($0.29/100 g with coupon)
  • Turkish Apricots $3.79/lb or $0.84/100 g ($0.59/100 g with coupon)
  • Dried Cranberries (assorted flavours) $6.19/lb or $1.37/100 g ($0.96/100 g with coupon)
  • Dried blueberries or Dried cherries 20% off (probably a good deal... where else do you buy these?)
  • Brown Sugar (Golden yellow or dark brown) $0.75/lb, or $.17/100 g ($0.12/100 g with coupon)

Canning Rhubarb

I have three big clumps of rhubarb growing in my garden. They were there when we moved in. Since we moved in, I have harvested a little, and even got some in the freezer last year, but a lot ended up in the compost heap because it had become so old and overgrown by the time I got to harvesting it. This is not the frugal option!

This year I decided that I really want to preserve as much of my own garden produce as possible and the rhubarb is first! Although it takes time, and a small cost, preserving my own produce is the best way to stock up. After doing some research and some thinking I decided that canning the rhubarb would be the ideal way to preserve it. Canning doesn't take up any room in my freezer, which is only so big. I already own all of the canning equipment, and I was delighted to discover it wouldn't be much more work then to prepare it for the freezer. Because of the high acidity, canned rhubarb only requires a hot water bath to make it safe (not pressure canning, a whole other kettle of fish!)

I love rhubarb, but if you aren't sure about it, try reading this post about a reluctant rhubarb eater who recently discovered how yummy it can be!

In my quest for a canned rhubarb recipe, I started with my favourite food preservation book, Stocking Up. This book is great because they don't use any sugar in their recipes, even in the jams and jellies! As a side note, apple jelly made with honey is the most amazing thing I have ever tasted.

The canned rhubarb has only a little sweetener, and the recipe is very similar to many I found online, replacing the sugar with honey, and reducing the amount of sweetener.

Stocking Up Canned Rhubarb
Wash and trim the rhubarb. Discard all leaves - they are poisonous. Cut into 1/2 inch pieces. Add 1/4 cup of honey to each quart of rhubarb and let stand 3 to 4 hours to draw out the juice. Bring to boiling. Pack hot, with 1/2 inch head space. Process in a hot water bath for 15 minutes for pint or quart size jars.

This turned out well, but it is a little too tart for me to eat straight out of the jar. I will be able to use it in cooking or over something very sweet, like ice cream. I am looking forward to experimenting with this in my cooking. I am imagining it could replace applesauce in many baked goods, like applesauce bread. I am imagining combining it with a variety of fruit to make a lovely fruit crisp in the fall. I suspect with some other fruit (maybe strawberries?) it would make a great pie filling too! I will post recipes results as I try them.

I decided what I really want is a rhubarb sauce. Something just a little sweeter that the first canned rhubarb. Something that I could use over pancakes or plain yogurt, straight from the jar. Something like a tart and runny rhubarb jam.

I decided to try doubling the honey in the original Stocking Up recipe. I am very careful about mucking around with canning recipes. There are potential risks in canning, and you don't want to mess around. As I already know that most jams are safe to can, I decided that adding extra sweetener should not alter the food safety. In fact, as I understand it, the sugars add to the food safety, making it harder for bacteria to grow. More importantly, the acidity of the rhubarb is what makes hot water canning safe, and sugar alters the flavour, but not the acidity. Also, the other canning recipes I found used more sugar than I had used honey! (I can't find anything on the web or in a book to back me up. Does anyone have any information?)

Meredith's Simple Rhubarb Sauce
Wash and trim the rhubarb. Don't forget to discard the poisonous leaves. Cut into 1/2 inch pieces.

For each quart (4 cups or 1 liter) of rhubarb, add 1/2 cup of honey. Let it sit 3 to 4 hours, then bring it to a boil.

Fill clean, hot jars leaving 1/2 inch of head space. Process for 15 minutes in a boiling water bath.

If you have hard water, don't be afraid of the white powder all over your jars when they come out of the canner. When they are cool and sealed, you can wipe it off with a damp cloth.

The result is still tart, but sweet enough that I can eat it straight out of the jar. I am looking forward to trying it over pancakes. Yum! I think I could use it as a substitute for the first three ingredients in these rhubarb upside down muffins, although I haven't had a chance to try it yet.

Keep in mind that my recipe is not a "tested" recipe, but I can't see any reason why it shouldn't be as safe as any other home canned produce. I am going to store it in my cold cellar and enjoy it all winter. I should get another harvest of rhubarb, and I will make some more. Yum!

A note about quantities: I made three different batches, two of the Stocking Up canned rhubarb and one of my own rhubarb sauce. When I used 3 quarts of rhubarb, I got 4 pint jars of canned rhubarb. When I used 4 quarts of rhubarb, I got 5 and 1/2 pint jars of canned rhubarb. I used 4 quarts of rhubarb to make my sauce, and ended up with 8 half pint jars, or 4 pints total.

How much rhubarb makes up a quart? Well, I weighed several of my quarts, and got different weights each time. The average weight was 524 g or just over a pound.

For more ideas on what to do with fresh rhubarb, visit Tammy's Recipes.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Menu Plan - May 25, 2009

Monday - Pasta with meat sauce
To Do: Defrost beef

Tuesday - Cheesy Beef and Rice with veggies (make a double batch and freeze one.)
To Do: Defrost sausage

Wednesday - Sausages with mashed potatoes and onion gravy and veggies

Thursday - Leftovers
To Do: Make hamburger buns

Friday - Hamburgers with potato salad and raw veggies
To Do: Defrost lamb

Saturday - Lamb chops with baked potatoes with veggies
To Do: Defrost pork

Sunday - Pork tenderloin on the bbq with mashed potatoes and veggies

For more menu plans, please visit the Organizing Junkie.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Extra Food Deal: Apple Juice

I just noticed in the Rexall/Pharmaplus flyer that Rougemont apple juice is on sale this week. It is a really great bargain at $0.69 for a 1.2L can (standard size). Normally, this goes on sale for $0.88, so this is a deal indeed if you want 100% juice.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Growing Food: Potatoes

The idea that you can grow 100 lbs of potatoes in 4 square feet sounded impressive, but we decided to go with the original plan and use the garbage pail method.

I know I said it was going to be my project, but it just didn't work out that way. My husband did a great job putting this together from an old garbage pail (and even took photos for me!). I will just have to keep an eye on my pail and add more soil when needed. I am excited to see how many pounds of potatoes we get from the three we started with!

Our seed potatoes came from a bag of regular eating potatoes that had started to grow in the cold cellar. I am glad we will get good use out of them!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Ontario Food Deals for May 22 - May 28, 2009

The most exciting thing this week is the $1, $2, $3 sale at Food Basics. There are a few good deals, which I pointed out below, but there are also some things that have actually been rounded up to go with the sales theme. Their sales price on mayonnaise is usually under $3, but has been rounded up to $3 this time! Don't forget, you need to know your prices!

I will also make my way to the Superstore to look at the big box of granola bars on sale. These make a good snack I can keep in the car for the kids, saving me money on trips to Timmie's with "starving" children.

I may also pick up some bacon. We are running low in the freezer. I have seen bacon for as little as $2 per package for good quality, and the sales this week are $3 per package. Was the extra low sales price a fluke, or part of the regular sales cycle? Looking in my price book, I saw the lowest price in March, when I last stocked up. Bacon was available at $3 per package in February, and again over the last two weeks. This is where stocking up takes experience, thought, planning and a little luck. It may be that the "new normal" sales price of bacon is $3 or it may be that I should wait longer for the next good sale. We will see!

Although I blew my $100 challenge this month, I still want to keep my spending as low as I can. Still, it doesn't make sense to pass up good deals when they are around, unless my store cupboards are already overflowing with those items.

Food Basics

$1, $2, $3 Sale
  • Saporito Vegetable Oil, 3 L for $3
  • Chicken breasts, boneless, skinless, frozen, seasoned for $2 per lb or $4.41 per kg
  • Marc Angelo Italian Sausage, hot or mild, 500 g for $2 (I have never tried this brand, but it is a pretty good price)
  • Italian home bakery Calabrese style bread, 675 g for $1
If you are in Kitchener or Waterloo, there is a new Food Basics open at 600 Laurelwood Drive in Waterloo. There are a few extra deals in town, available only at the Food Basics located at 600 Laurelwood Drive, 851 Fischer-Hallman Road and 370 Highland Road West only.
  • Black Diamond cheese, selected varieties, 500 g for $3.99, limit 2 (This is actually a few cents more expensive than a similar cheese at Walmart last week. Still a decent deal though.)
  • Piller's Black Forest Style Ham, smoked and cooked, 900 g for $3.99. This comes to $0.44 per 100 g, much cheaper than buying it pre-sliced at the deli counter.
No Frills
  • Pork side rib portions for $1.97 per lb or $4.34 per kg (Not a bad price if the good weather has you in the mood for ribs!)
  • Unico tomatoes, still price locked at $0.79 per 796 mL can
  • Nature Valley crunchy granola bars, club size (1.12 kg) for $8.79. I think this is a good deal, but I don't know how many bars are in this box. You can get a regular size box with 5 double bars for $1.99 at Zehrs (their ongoing semi-permanent sales price). That works out to just under $0.40 per bar. If there are over 23 double bars per box, it is a good deal! Do keep in mind that each individual sleeve contains 2 bars. I think this is clear from the packaging, but make sure there are over 23 pouches of double bars if you are looking for the best deal. I think these jumbo packs are usually in the $10 range. Also, each box contains a variety of flavours, so if your family won't eat all the flavours, it isn't a good deal! I will post when I have more details.
Price Chopper
  • Asparagus, product of Ontario, $1.49 per lb or $3.28 per kg
  • Kellogg's Cereal (Mini-Wheats or Raisin Bran, Froot Loops or Frosted Flakes, selected, 275 - 475 g), 3 for $5
  • Schneiders Bacon, regular, salt reduced or thick, 500 g for $2.99 (Good deal for name-brand bacon!)
  • Maple Leaf Bacon, 500 g for $2.99. Similar deal to at Sobeys
Zehrs (Loblaws)
  • Asparagus, product of Ontario, $1.77 per lb or $3.90 per kg (It is a bit cheaper at Price Chopper, but if Zehrs is more convenient, go there. Just don't forget to eat your local asparagus while you can!)

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

$100 Grocery Challenge: Week 3

I did something last week and this week that you should never do when trying to stick to a budget. I sent my husband to the store and then I went to the store hungry!

On Friday, my husband went to the grocery store to get the milk, eggs and sugar. He ended up spending almost $20.
  • Regular chips at $0.99 + $0.13 tax
  • Other chips for $0.99 + $0.13 tax
  • Onion soup mix for $1.49 (to make dip with the sour cream)
  • Eggs for $1.97
  • Sugar (2 Kg) for $2.03 (Interesting side note, sugar is cheaper at the grocery store than at either of the local bulk stores. It always pays to compare prices!)
  • Frozen blackberries (600 g) for $2.99 A good deal, but not as good as the $1.49 I was paying for frozen fruit with my coupon. He saw everyone else grabbing them and fell into the trap of believing it must be a great deal.
  • Pickles for $3.89 I have no idea what he was thinking. We have lots of pickles in the cold cellar!
  • Milk (4 L) for $3.97
  • mini carrots for $0.99
  • TOTAL = $19.57
Today I went to the grocery store because we were out of milk, and my bread machine is broken, so we are out of bread. We also needed cat food. Rather than going right after breakfast, we procrastinated and went right before lunch when I was hungry. I was just as bad, spending nearly $20 myself.
  • Cat food (1 kg) for $1.59 + $0.21 tax (I bought a small container beause it is a new kind I am testing on the cats)
  • Yogurt for $2.89
  • Milk (4L) for $3.97
  • Cucumber for $0.99
  • Ham (300 g) for $3.17
  • Artichoke dip (my favourite indulgence!) for $2.99
  • Bakery bread for $1.69
  • TOTAL = $17.50
Total this week = $37.07

Total spent to date = $99.20

I am SO disappointed! There is no way we are going to make it to the end of the month without buying anything else. I am going to keep on trucking though, and do my best. I am definitely motivated to try again next month. I should be able to buy only milk and eggs next week, but I will probably buy some local asparagus too. It would be a shame to miss out on the short season.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Menu Plan - May 18, 2009

I was sick Sunday night and didn't do a menu plan last week. It has reminded me why menu planning is SO important, even though I don't buy my weeks groceries based on my menu plan. We ate lots of soup and canned beans this week, and ate out a couple of times, all because I didn't know what to cook. I didn't get the advanced preparations done, and that makes a huge difference.

Monday - Steak with baked potatoes and vegetables
To Do: Soak lentils

Tuesday - Sweet and sour lentils, with rice and vegetables. I made these lentils a few weeks ago and they were GREAT.
To Do: Defrost ground beef

Wednesday - Spaghetti with meat sauce. I will make a big batch of sauce so I can use leftovers to make chili and also have some to freeze.
To Do: Soak dry kidney beans

Thursday - Leftovers
To Do: Cook the kidney beans

Friday - Chili with cornmeal muffins
To Do: Defrost pork

Saturday - BBQ'ed pork tenderloin with potatoes and veggies

Sunday - I will be out for supper at a scrapbooking event. I think the boys will probably have hamburgers with carrot sticks (if I remember to cut them ahead of time!)

For more menu plans, visit the Organizing Junkie.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Ontario Food Deals for May 15 - May 21, 2009

Lucky for me and my food challenge, there isn't much to excite me this week. I have lots of peanut butter, so don't need to stock up. I'll probably buy some asparagus, because it is in season now, and doesn't last long. It should be easy to stay under $15 this week.

No Frills

The Half Price Sale continues. The deals listed last week should still be good this week, according to last week's flyer! Additionally:
  • Kraft peanut butter, selected varieties, 750g or 1kg. This may include Kraft's natural, 100% peanut butter, which comes in the 750g size for $1.99
  • Kellogg's Raisin Bran (675 g), Mini Wheats (540-555 g) or Rice Krispies (525 g), selected varieties, $2.49
Zehrs (Loblaws)
Price Chopper
  • Kellogg's Raisin Bran (675 g), Corn Pops (345 g), Rice Krispies cocoa (420 g), All Bran (525 g), $2.49
  • Asparagus, Product of Ontario, $1.47 per lb, weather permitting
  • Chicken breasts, boneless, skinless, value pack, $2.99 per lb or $6.59 per kg
Real Canadian Superstore
  • Post cereal, selected varieties (Shreddies and Honeycomb are pictured) (400-620 g) for $1.99 (price lock)
  • Cracker Barrel cheese (500 g) for $3.97
Food Basics
If you are in Kitchener or Waterloo, there is a new Food Basics open at 600 Laurelwood Drive in Waterloo. There are a few extra deals in town, available only at the Food Basics located at 600 Laurelwood Drive, 851 Fischer-Hallman Road and 370 Highland Road West only.
  • Irresistibles white meat chicken strips or nuggets (908 g) for $3.99

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

$100 Grocery Challenge: Week 2

Last week, I spent $33.14. I was hoping to stay under $20 on my second week of grocery shopping, so I have $50 for the rest of the month.

Thursday I went to the farmer's market and picked up two bunches of fresh Ontario asparagus for $5.00 and a loaf of fresh bread reduced to $2.00. On the way home we stopped at Food Basics because we were out of milk ($3.97), and faced one of the perils of making extra shopping stops: the extra purchases! We grabbed another bag of cookies, still on sale for $1.99.

Thursday total: $12.96

Friday I went to Food Basics and picked up my potatoes, and while I was at it I got a few more things:
  • White potatoes, 10 lb bags, 2 for $3.00 = $3.00
  • Bananas = $2.28
  • Lemons and limes, reduced for quick sale = $.79
  • Lemons (nice, shiny, new, 3) = $0.99
  • Food Basics TOTAL = $7.06
Today I went to Zehrs to pick up the Europe's Best vegetables and bought a couple of other things:
  • Europe's Best Frozen Vegetables, 4 for $1.99-$1.00 each = $3.96
  • Bread (50% 0ff) = $1.34
  • Sour Cream = $1.99
  • Snap lids for canning = $1.49 + $0.19 taxes
  • Zehrs TOTAL = $8.97
Oh, and I think my mother is worried I am going to deprived my kids. She bought us 8 liters of milk, a dozen eggs and several bunches of lovely asparagus when they visited this weekend. Thanks Mum!

Total spent this week, $28.99

Total spent to date = $62.13

Humm... this isn't looking good for my challenge! Especially as I just ran out of baking powder and sugar (white and brown)....

One thing I am realizing is that I tend to buy extras on each shopping trip. I had read that reducing your shopping trips reduces spending. I think this is one reason meal planning saves you money. I made 4 stops this week on three different days. I spent about $10 on "extras" this week. Many of those purchases were reasonable purchases, and none were particularly extravagant, but it was extra!

Next week I am going to try doing all of my shopping on one day, even if it requires multiple stops. I feel that this may reduce my chances of spending as much on extras.

If I am lucky, there won't be any good deals in the flyers!

Monday, May 11, 2009

Quick and Easy Europe's Best Stir Fry

If anyone was wondering why I am so excited about the sale on Europe's Best vegetables this week, it is because of their Zen Garden vegetables. I paid only $0.99 for 600 grams of frozen veggies. The ingredient list is simply and delicious:

Snow peas
Yellow carrots
Orange carrots
Water chestnuts
Red pepper
Baby corn
Bean sprouts

For a quick meal, combine the frozen vegetables with some cooked protein (leftover chicken, pork or beef are all nice) in a hot pan. I used leftover popcorn chicken this time. Cover for 3-5 minutes, so the veggies can thaw. Take off the lid and continue to cook while stirring until it is hot, another few minutes. Throw in some kind of Asian sauce. I like Hoisin sauce. Add a little soy sauce if you need more seasoning.
For a complete meal serve with rice!

One word of caution here, if you are into the 100 mile diet or worried about food from China, you might want to avoid Europe's Best vegetables. These ones are a product of China. For me, at this point, it is worth it! You will have to make your own choice, but I felt I should offer full disclosure in my review!

Also, I wonder if I should consider adding Hoisin sauce to my homemade convenience challenge?

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Ontario Food Deals for May 8 - May 14, 2009

I am most excited by the Europe's Best frozen vegetables that have been reduced to $1.99 at Zehrs! With my coupons, I will get them for $0.99! I LOVE the Zen Garden mixed veggies for a quick stir fry. I'll head over to Price Chopper to stock up on some apple juice.
We need milk, eggs, yogurt and fresh veggies this week, but I should have an easy time staying within my budget for my $100 challenge. I'll post pictures and let you know how I did, probably on Friday.

  • Europe's Best frozen vegetables (300 g - 600 g) for $1.99 - $1.00 in-store coupon. According to the flyer (We've checked, lowered and locked prices on items you buy the most)
  • PC soft drinks on sale for $0.99 for 2L (Okay, I'm joking! I'm not buying it!!)
No Frills
Half Price Event, Flyer Prices are effective for 2 weeks, Friday May 8 to Thursday May 21, 2009)
  • Colgate toothpaste (regular), 75 mL for $0.41
  • Suave shampoo or conditioner, 444 mL for $0.99 (I will need to test the smell. Sometimes cheap shampoo is really stinky and I can't use it!)
Price Chopper
  • Cashmere toilet paper, 24 single rolls or 12 double or 12 ultra rolls, for $3.97. This is about $0.33 per double roll. The cheapest I have bought toilet paper is $0.25 per double roll, with a coupon. This seems to be the lowest price that "nice" toilet paper regularly goes, without a coupon. I think if you don't care about your toilet paper, you can get it cheaper, but my husband is picky!
  • Pork tenderloin, fresh for $2.79 per lob or $6.15 per kg. I bought it a month ago for $1.99 per lb at Superstore. It was frozen, but I don't care. I would just freeze it when I get home anyhow!
  • Maple leaf or Shopsy's wieners (hot dogs), 450g for $1.66
  • Oatmeal Crisp or Fiber 1 cereals (425-505 g) for $3.49. Buy 2 and get a free box of Nature Valley granola bars (160g-230g). I don't honestly know if this is a good deal for the cereal. I have found those granola bars on sale for $1.99 per box, if that helps you decide. Also, this cereal is priced at $4.49 at Sobey's this week. They have a similar deal, buy 2 boxes of either, and get a free box of Fiber 1 cereal.
  • Rougemont apple juice, 1.2L can for $0.89
  • Maxwell House ground coffee, 925 g tin for $4.44
  • Campbell's cream of mushroom, tomato, chicken noodle or vegetable soups, 284 mL condensed, 2 for $1.00 (or $0.69 each - make sure you buy multiples of 2 only!)
  • See also the Oatmeal Crisp/Fiber 1 deal, listed under Price Chopper
  • Mr. Clean all purpose cleaner, 800 mL for $1.99 - coupon from paper (buy 2, get $2 off).
  • Teddy's Choice soft touch baby wipes, 560-575 for $10.99. Includes one tub and 6 refill packs, I think.
Food Basics
  • Black Diamond cheese (Including old cheddar), 500g block for $4.44
  • Schneiders Oktoberfest sausages, frozen, 450 g fro $1.49 (great on the BBQ!)
If you are in Kitchener or Waterloo, there is a new Food Basics open at 600 Laurelwood Drive in Waterloo. There are a few extra deals in town, available only at the Food Basics located at 600 Laurelwood Drive, 851 Fischer-Hallman Road and 370 Highland Road West only.
  • Kellogg's Corn Flakes (Jumbo-1350g), Corn Pops (Jumbo-775g) or Special K (475g) for $3.99. We don't usually eat these cereals, but the Corn Flakes are a great unit price, if you like them!
  • White potatoes, product of Canada, 10 lb bag, 2 for $3

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Homemade Soft Drink Replacements

My little epiphany regarding convenience foods compared to making things from scratch, and my goal to make some changes and share them with the world was challenged this morning. I remembered I have guests coming tonight and no pop in the house. Not only that, I haven't had anything to serve my guests for the past 3 or 4 weeks, and I am starting to feel like a very lousy hostess!

I could probably find pop on sale somewhere, but that would compromise my $100 challenge. Not only that, but my husband and I are trying to keep pop out of the house for our own health. I tried keeping it around just for guests, but the only success I had was when I bought only root beer, because I hate root beer... but it turns out most of my guests agree with me.

My husband made homemade ginger ale a few weeks ago, following Alton Brown's recipe. He enjoyed it, and will probably make it again. I wasn't particularly impressed with the flavour, and it takes 48 hours to make, so it isn't an option for tonight.

I found a great solution that I have used before and been very happy with. A lovely cold beverage without too many calories, which can be made easily and quickly and costs very little - Iced Tea!


I use the Hillbilly Housewife's Iced Tea recipe for perfect iced tea every time. It is a great, easy recipe I have used before. I made it with 1/4 cup of sugar, but follow her advice and sweeten it to taste.


On her site, she says she makes the entire batch (8 quarts or 2 liters) for only $0.08. I will have to keep an eye out for cheaper tea bags. My batch cost $0.22 for the tea bags, bought last week on sale and $0.03 for 1/4 cup of sugar for a grand total of $0.25 for 2 liters of beverage.

A two liter bottle of no name pop usually costs about $1. I think I have seen it for as little as $0.75. If I am being generous with the price of pop, my homemade alternative still cost only a third of the price of store bought soda. I saved at least $0.50, and given that I was going to go out and buy some pop at full price I saved more than $0.75 easily.

Over a year, if my family drinks 4 liters a week, I am saving at least $52.00. If you drink more pop, your savings could be even greater!

(Please don't remind me that it we just drank the water straight we would save at least $26 more!)


Today, my homemade alternative was more convenient than store bought because I didn't have to make an extra run to the store with two small children in tow.

It took about 15 minutes of my time, from start to finish to make the tea, and then some time to cool, although the recipe suggests serving it immediately over ice too. Most of the "cooking" time is waiting for the tea to steep, which is hardly labour intensive.

Sure, it is a little more work than opening a bottle, but the effort is minimal, and worth it when you compare taste!


I love homemade iced tea. It feels like a special treat and I am proud to serve it to guests. You can adjust the sweetness to taste and experiment with different flavours of tea bags to make all sorts of new beverages. Homemade beats store bought for flavour, hands down.

Environmental Impact

I made my tea in a reusable drink pitcher I will use over and over again, rather than buying it in 2 liter plastic bottles or aluminum cans. We would recycle these things, or possibly even reuse them, but on the waste hierarchy, reduce is the best option, which is what I am doing by not purchasing the bottles.

Sure, I had to turn on the kettle, and I use my refrigerator to cool the tea down, but I am certain that the energy the transport trucks use to tote all those bottles of pop around far exceeds my small usage.


It probably isn't entirely fair to compare store bought soda pop ingredients with homemade iced tea ingredients, but I don't have an empty iced tea bottle at home, and I do have an empty Diet Coke bottle at home!

The Diet Coke contains carbonated water, caramel colour, phosphoric and citric acid, aspartame (contains phenylalanin), flavour, sodium benzoate, caffeine, acesulfame-potassium. Aspartame and acesulfame-potassium are are only there because it is a diet drink. The regular Coke is probably made with high fructose corn syrup, which is full of its own perils. Interesting side note for my fellow Canadians: did you know that the glucose-fructose you see on food labels seems to be the same as the infamous high fructose corn syrup?

If there are 17 teaspoons of sugar in 20 oz of pop, there is over 1 cup of sugar in 2 liters of pop. My 1/4 cup of sugar is starting to look very healthy! If I decided to use honey instead, I could steer clear entirely of white sugar.

There is also some evidence that tea may be a healthy choice of beverages, while I haven't seen any new studies on the health benefits of soda pop!

I won't let my kids drink the iced tea, just as I won't let them drink Coke or coffee or hot tea or any other high caffeine beverage, but I think that homemade iced tea will permanently replace the store bought convenience of soda pop at our house. If nothing else, the way your guests eyes light up when you offer them homemade iced tea makes it worthwhile!

Price of Store Bought Vs. Homemade

I just read a great article comparing the price of store bought and homemade food. She compares bagels, cream cheese, jam, crackers and granola, and overall, homemade comes out cheaper and better tasting. The author seemed a little surprised, but I'm not! I guess I grew up with a bit of a homemade bias. Cakes were always from scratch, and bread always came out of the bread machine. And I just always assumed that homemade was both better tasting, better for you and cheaper. Over at Home Ec 101, Heather agrees with me, but reinforced the idea that saving money isn't the only goal of making food from scratch.

Some of my assumptions were turned on their head when I read the Hillbilly Housewife's article about "convenience" foods that are worth purchasing rather than making at home. Pasta, frozen veggies and canned beans all make her list of convenience foods. She is right, of course - they are a convenience food compared to what my great grandmother would have used, never mind the fancy stand mixer, the food processor, the rice cooker and the bread machine I have in my kitchen. Go back just a little further, and even my stove starts to look like a convenience item!

All of this got me thinking about my own food assumptions and bias. On this adventure to feed my family on a budget, my goal is to make sure we are eating a healthy diet and that we are being mindful of our environmental impact. Additionally, the taste and flavours of the food we are eating has to be at the top of my agenda, if I want anyone to eat it!

With this in mind, I am going to try doing some comparisons of the prices, flavours, ingredient lists and environmental impact of some foods I already make from scratch as well as some of my favourite convenience foods.

My Comparisons (A Growing List)

A Soft Drink Replacement (Iced Tea)

Monday, May 4, 2009

Can I spend only $100 on Groceries in May?

I have decided to try to lower my grocery budget to $100 for the month of May. This shouldn't be too hard. I don't buy much in the way of meat on a weekly basis, because we buy our meat in bulk and my cold cellar and freezer are full of food.

My goal is to continue to stock up when I find good prices, with the idea that maybe I can permanently reduce my monthly grocery budget to $100. Budgeting is one of my weaknesses, and I am looking forward to making it my focus. At the end of the month, I will reassess my budget and decided if $100 a month (plus extra for our yearly meat purchase) is a reasonable budget to feed my family of 2 adults and 2 small children. Can I do this while still cooking healthy and tasty food?

Now, this idea developed as I was out doing my grocery shopping, so I bought a few unusual treats that were a good price. As the plan is that this will be a permanent change, I'm not going to worry about it.

So how did I do? I stuck pretty closely to the deals I had found by reading my flyers and checking my price book.

  • Clover Leaf Sockeye salmon, Wild red pacific, regular size canned salmon (213 g) on sale 2 for $3 this week. X4 cans = $6.00
  • TOTAL = $6.00
Food Basics
  • Italpasta regular pasta (450 g) for 2 for $0.99, X8 = $3.96
  • Red Rose Orange Pekoe 36 tea bags for $0.99, X1 = $0.99
  • Christie cookies, (550 g) for $1.99, X2 = $3.98
  • Maxwell House ground coffee, 925 g tin for $4.44, X1 = $4.44
  • Brown rice, $1.99
  • TOTAL = $15.36
No Frills
  • Satin Care shave gel for $1.99 - $2.00 from, X1 = $1.99 + $0.26 tax - $2.00 = $.25 (See, even FREE things aren't free!)
  • Delmonte juice boxes for $1.99
  • Cucumber for $0.99
  • TOTAL = $3.23
  • Yoplait yogurt tubs, 650 g for $1.97 - $1.00 coupon found in last month's Chatelaine magazine. X1 = $0.97
  • Always pads (18) for $2.66 - $1.00 coupon from newspaper flyer and online source X2 = ($2.66 X 2) + $0.27 tax - ($1.00 X 2) = $3.59
  • 4 L of milk = $3.99
  • TOTAL = $8.55
Grand Total of $33.14
Coupon Savings = $5.00

Overall, I think I did pretty well. I went over a $25 weekly budget (for 1/4 of my $100), but I find a monthly budget is more practical when stocking up. Depending on sales, I may only buy milk, eggs and yogurt next week!

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Menu Plan - May 4, 2009

Monday - Pasta Carbonara with peas

Tuesday - Baked beans with carrot sticks and Boston brown bread (I usually leave out the raisins, and cook it in an old fashioned British pudding bowl, rather than an old can, because I am worried about contamination)

To Do: Defrost chicken

Wednesday - Tarragon chicken with rice and veggies

Thursday - Leftovers

Friday - Homemade quiche with veggies

To Do: Defrost ham and potatoes

Saturday - Ham with scalloped potatoes and veggies

Sunday - Steak with roasted potatoes and veggies

For more menu plans, please visit the Organizing Junkie.