After my “eat from the freezers and pantry” challenge in September (which saved us $480, woot!), I was ready to stock up again. Here’s a fun post sharing a lot of our October groceries and meals we ate!
My first big shopping trip of the month was at Sam’s, where I spent $571 getting lots of fruits, veggies, dairy products, and meat. Here are my two carts:
Throughout October, I either did Walmart pickup orders or headed to our local grocery stores for our girls’ WIC items. I’m trying to be more intentional about taking kids with me for one-on-one outings like this. Truly, I prefer to run to the store alone so that I can save time and have a little break. But I know having individual time with each kid is important. So taking kids on WIC runs has become a goal. :) As you can see, I ended up two-on-one. Close enough, right?
Mid-way through the month, we were in Lincoln as a family to hear Justus preach at church. After church, we treated the kids to the Costco Hotdog and Pizza Special (they thought it was the best lunch ever) and grabbed more groceries we needed.
There were 12 of us eating that day but no matter what angle I tried, I could not get all of us in the picture. Also, I put a heart over Malachi’s face because he wouldn’t have wanted you to see the face he was making at me. :) :) :)
I ended up spending $435 on groceries at Costco.
Total grocery spending for October: $1,532
Eeeek, I went way over. (Our monthly budget for our family of 10 at home is $1,200.) But, as you’ll see below, we had a lot of company this month, plus we had a few fun family outings. Spending extra on groceries so that we can enjoy our outings and guests is 100% worth it. Also…
Here’s I’ve been contemplating: Remember how I challenged myself in September to eat from our freezers and pantry, therefore avoiding the store? I saved $480 in September, but is it worth it? After all, I ran us out of most of our staples and had to stock up more than normal in October.
Well, I’m not sure I’ve come to a conclusion, ha. But here’s a little math:
- Saved $480 in September
- Went over by $332 in October
- This is still a $148 savings over two months.
Also, if I feed the 10 of us for $1,200/month, that equals $4/person/day. And that doesn’t count the food we share with others. I feel really good about this.
I recently talked with a friend of mine who also has a large family. I asked if her grocery budget was nuts like mine. Her answer? “I don’t even keep track. I just buy food and we eat it.”
Brilliant. Maybe that’s what I need to do. We can still be frugal and make good choices, but no matter what, we have to eat. Keeping track of spending may be more stressful than it’s worth. And this, my friends, is much of what has been going through my head during the past weeks as I’ve grocery shopped and fed people and considered what’s best for our budget.
Obviously, my conclusions are inconclusive.
Now let’s take a look at many of the meals we ate this month!!!
Meals we ate in October
One Sunday morning I put a big container of chicken thighs into the crock pot with a jar of salsa. We came home from church, shredded the chicken, and had a Chicken Burrito Bar with college students.
I forgot to take a picture until after half the leftovers were put away. ;)
But speaking of leftovers, Matt suggested that I use some of the chicken in its natural broth to make soup. I spooned in some of the leftover rice and beans in with chicken and broth and it made a fantastic soup for a lunch that week!
With some of the other leftovers (I had made a huge amount on purpose!), I made a big batch of burritos for our freezer.
When I ran out of tortillas, I put the remaining burrito mixture into a small casserole dish. We ate that for dinner a few nights later as a tortilla chip dip. I love how many meals we got out of this one small effort!
I had bought a huge tub of pretzels at Sam’s, so Keith and I made Chex Mix for snacks.
He also helped me put pretzels into baggies for church snacks. I love making a bunch of these baggies and then just grabbing them for our babies to snack on in the pew.
Early in October, our elementary-aged kids had a four-day weekend so Matt and I took them to the Pumpkin Patch one of those days. It was beautiful, sunny, and fun. I made tuna salad to eat with crackers, plus packed applesauce, yogurt, and Capri sun.
Another day that weekend, we went to Lincoln to enjoy time with Asa and Eva. We actually managed to get all 14 of us together that day, plus Eva’s parents joined us for lunch. We took sandwich fixin’s to the park.
At the mall for another meal while we were visiting Asa and Eva, we sat in the food court and ate beef jerky, cheese sticks, applesauce, and chips with dips. It was a super fun weekend, and while I spent a little extra on fun foods at the store for us to eat on our outings, we still saved a huge chunk of money compared to eating out all of those meals! (Something I had to remind myself about when I saw how much I spent on groceries this month!)
Back at home, I pulled out a casserole that had been in the freezer for a few weeks. I had followed this casserole recipe but switched the ham with leftover pulled pork. The picture doesn’t make the food look very good, but trust me, this was tasty! It was a great way to use leftover meat and leftover cheesy potatoes.
Oh look, another unapetizing-looking picture of food. :) I had stew meat in the freezer plus a couple bags of frozen stew veggies that I’d acquired for free. I threw them into the crock pot one day to create a simple stew for dinner. I made biscuits to go with them because stew and biscuits are the bomb.
This next picture shows what a typical Saturday morning breakfast looks like. I scrambled a dozen eggs, cooked some sausage, then got out pumpkin muffins, apple muffins, and peanut butter rice krispie bars.
One evening, I had several pounds of potatoes that needed to be used, so I cut them up and made a huge batch of these Ranch Potato Wedges. Wow, these are so good!
For all of the company we were planning to have, I wanted to make soup to go with our meals. So one morning, I made a big batch of broth using soup bones and veggies. I added 5-pounds of carrots to this pot, because why not??
This Simple Ham and Potato Soup is my absolute favorite soup right now. It has a little kick to it. SO GOOD. Here’s the pot of leftover soup I warmed up for lunch one day.
We celebrated a birthday girl this month! Her birthday dinner choice was Sloppy Joes and pickles, which I served with watermelon, grapes, tomatoes, and chips with guacamole.
Several of our bigs were able to come over to celebrate, plus my niece and her boyfriend. There were 14 of us partying that night! (Look at Brayden’s sweet face as he sings “happy birthday!” to his sister!!!!!)
The Saturday after her birthday, I pulled out all the random bits of meat from the fridge and used the leftover sloppy joe buns to make cheesy melts. Some were sloppy joe meat, some ham, some turkey, and some chicken salad. It was fun for everyone to take their pick!
The third weekend in October, our house was filled with company. It was awesome! The first night we had two families over, and they both have a lot of kids as we do. (Between our three families, we have a total of 23 kids! Only 17 of them were at our house that night though, hahaha.) Thankfully, it was a gorgeous evening and all the kids could play outside. Then they came in starving – twice! :) We moms had each made a crock pot of soup and muffins or apple crisp. It was an incredible dinner and even better fellowship.
We ate: Potato Soup, Bacon Cheeseburger Soup, Chicken Taco Soup, Flourless Pumpkin Muffins, Berry Muffins, Apple Crisp, Frosted Brownies, plus a wonderful assortment of fruits, veggies, crackers, and chips.
As the night wound down and our first round of company left, several out-of-state guests arrived for YU Homecoming. I didn’t get any pictures of our meals for the next three days because we were too busy having fun. We ate a huge pan of Lasagna, sandwiches, Beef and Noodle Soup, and leftover Chicken Taco Soup throughout the weekend. Then Saturday night before bed I put a roast in the crockpot to make this easy meal. After church, we ate the roast with Party Potatoes and veggies.
Later in the month, we had another family over. I made a big, but simple, pot of Chili which we ate with fritos, cheese, Pumpkin Muffins, and Flourless Monster Cookie Bars.
One evening we invited new friends in town that we wanted to get to know better. It was wonderful to visit – we ate a Nacho Bar – and I didn’t get any pictures. :)
Late in the month, I started to challenge myself to use up random items in my pantry, fridge, and freezers again, so I started getting creative. I haven’t made my Ranch Dressing Mix in years – which is ridiculous because it’s so easy. I’ve really been missing it so I took five minutes and made a big jar full! Now I have these 24 great meal options I can make!
I had bought a lot of milk to prepare for our company and found that I’d over-bought. So I used a half gallon of milk to make this Vanilla Pudding. The kids loved this!
The last Sunday of October, I made a large pan of Bacon Cheeseburger Casserole to enjoy with guests after church. We were so blessed by all of the people who joined us for meals this month. When I was prepping the large casserole, I also made a small one for my freezer. We have a single lady friend who is having her knee replaced in November. So I’m making some meals for her freezer so that she can have easy meals to eat while she recovers.
Hope your October was as great as ours was! Want me to take pictures of our November food too?
Whew! You had a busy, but blessed month. And I got alot of meal ideas from this post. Thank you!
I just love your blog and look forward to getting your emails. It’s beautiful to see how you nurture so many souls with good home cooking.
Wow, what an uplifting read! Thanks for sharing.
And surely I’m not the only one wondering – how on earth did you feed that many people with one crockpot (was it only one!?) of chicken and still have leftovers to make soup, a casserole and dip?! Every time I try to do, we end up with maybe 1-2 extra meals. How much chicken did you make!?
It was only one crock pot, but it was 5 pounds of chicken – I filled it to the top! Then I shredded it and made it stretch through the first meal by serving it with rice, corn, and beans, plus tortillas or chips. So it didn’t take a lot of chicken per person to feed everyone! Then I was able to use the rest for the additional meals!
Thanks, Laura, for your amazing thoughts on budgeting. In over thirty years of feeding our family that eventually included 10 sweet blessings, we found that budgeting just wasn’t necessary!!!! We almost always purchased about the same from week to week. We also knew that the occasional treats or travel goodies would unavoidable, wisely chosen, and a reasonable purchase compared to eating out. If one strives to be conscious of spending wisely, a strict budget might be more of a hindrance than a help. Just my two cents.