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May 17, 2021 6:19 PM

The food blog before the food blog

This is a set of 9 blog posts that I wrote in 2018, detailing the food the I made and ate over the course of 9 weeks. I had a very specific goal of having a $30 a week food budget, and I basically failed that because I always do :P I had considered just inserting these entries at the time that they were written, but I decided I wanted one long-ass blog post instead. With commentary!

Weekly Food Review 1: 8/10 - 8/17

Welp, one week in, and I've already failed to stay within my food budget. It really wasn't too bad considering I did stay under $30 in groceries, but I gave myself a special birthday treat and I was also obligated to get coffee at a programming meeting. (Girl Develop It! I miss those meetups)

Groceries: $29.08
Coffee: $2.94
Eating Out: $11.28
Total: $43.30

90% of the meals I make are from Budget Bytes (If you've never checked out this blog, you need to. It's amazing. I think it actually changed my life.) So this week I made three different dishes:

If you actually read through those recipes carefully, you'll notice that I stretched out the chicken skillet to 5 meals--one of the meals just didn't have much chicken, and I supplemented it with an egg. I actually still have one more meal of this left. I also really stretched out the salmon meal, but that's because I bought over a pound of salmon and a pound of green beans.

I don't know if it was because I ate way too much in the two weeks prior to this, but I was feeling really hungry a lot of the time. For next week, I'm going to plan four dishes and make the portions a little larger. I know, I still need to stay within my budget. Salmon was about a third of the grocery bill, so I think I can replace that with something cheaper and more filling. For this first week, I didn't actually think about how much each meal would cost, nor did I utilize much that was already in my kitchen or think about what foods were on sale.

My eating out meal was at a fancy restaurant because I had a $30 off birthday coupon! (Man I also miss birthday coupons) Of course I still ended up spending a lot on it because of tips. I've already committed to a meal out next week, but I'll actually try and see if I can keep my grocery bill under $20 for this next week.


Weekly Food Review 2: 8/18 - 8/24

Week two, and I managed to spend even more money! The week really did start off well, and I spent less on groceries than I did last week. But the birthday celebrations continued this week, and I went out a bunch of times.

Groceries $23.96
Eating Out $19.86
Total $43.82

Just for fun, I have a grocery breakdown too!

Chicken Breasts 9.43
Brussels Sprouts 2.19
Olive Oil 3.79
Diced Tomatoes 0.89
Green Onions 0.99
Pesto 2.00
Cannellini Beans 0.69
Relish 0.99
Kale 2.99
All Groceries $23.96

I actually planned out four main dishes this week, but I only ended up making three of them. And I didn't even finish eating all of them yet!

Since I picked out two chicken recipes, I decided to buy the family pack of chicken breast (though if I had gone shopping earlier in the day, I probably would have found a smaller value pack). I managed to stretch out the pasta to 5 meals by doubling the amount of pasta. I find that it works a lot better if I don't mix the pasta and the sauce until right before I eat it, and then I'm able to use more pasta with less sauce.

I've also had a few cans of tuna in the cabinets that I've been meaning to use, so I decided to just make a basic tuna salad. I used All Recipes to search for a recipe that involved the fewest number of ingredients I didn't already have. I know that tuna salad on its own isn't really a meal, but I made it into a sandwich and ate some other healthy snacks to go with it.

I ended up eating out four times this week. Amazingly, I didn't actually spend that much more than the week before. Every single one of these meals was a birthday meal, for both my birthday and some friends' birthdays. I have zero birthday meals planned out next week, so I'm hopeful that my spending will go down! (Ha. I'm hopeful. I never learn, do I?)


Weekly Food Review 3: 8/25 - 8/31

Man, I was doing so well this week and then I drove home and got sleepy, so I bought a coffee which cost me $5.19! Can you believe that?! A tall drink that I customized so I would receive fewer pumps of flavor than it's supposed to have, and yet I still get charged a ridiculous amount. (Hahahaha. I still struggle with this today -_-)

Groceries 15.97
Eating Out 12.55
Coffee 5.19
Total $33.71

Alright, so I actually did a lot better this week than my first two weeks. My grocery bill was really low because I was able to utilize a lot of food that I already had in my fridge and freezer.

Ground Beef (2.3lbs) 6.44
Tomatoes 1.69
Iceberg Lettuce 1.29
Ranch Dressing Packet 0.39
Canned Chickpeas (x2) 1.38
Lemon 0.69
Pasta 0.89
Grapes 1.70
Salad Dressing 1.50
All Groceries $15.97

Look! I actually bought fruit this week! I don't eat too much fruit, and I especially don't buy much fruit because I can get it for free at work. (Hey! I eat a lot more fruit now!) But grapes were only $.89/lb and I figured it would be good for me to have a healthy snack at home. On to the things I cooked...

The chickpea salad and baked tomatoes were just sides that I accompanied with my burger meals. Although I prepared enough burger patties for 8 meals, I really only ate half of them this week. The rest went in the freezer for whenever I need a lazy-ish meal. The burgers called for saltine crackers and onions, but I ended up using sour cream and onion crackers and green onions because that's just what I happened to have. The ranch dressing packet was also a total steal at Aldi because I found some that had been marked down twice.

I also did a bit of substituting in my salad. The Kale salad on Budget Bytes calls for salmon and caesar dressing, but when I went to Aldi they were out of Caesar, so I bought Parmesan Peppercorn instead. I also used tuna because I still have cans of tuna in my pantry.

I guess I still had one more birthday lunch, which is why I spent some money eating out. We actually just went to the mall and I got cheap Chinese food, which I realized is not so cheap anymore.


Weekly Food Review 4: 9/1 - 9/7

It was a lazy week this week. I went to visit family this past weekend where I got to eat for free and also take leftovers back home. It was also a shortened week with some free meals in the office, which meant I only ended up cooking one real meal all week. Unfortunately, I still went over budget. Getting closer to my goal though.

Eating Out 6.42
Groceries 25.61
Total $32.03

You may be wondering, what the heck did I buy this week if I only cooked one meal? Well, shrimp was on sale and I haven't had shrimp in a while so I impulse bought it. (Some things never change) Honestly though, I don't actually know what a good price for shrimp is. I just know how much my local grocery store sells it for.

Shrimp (2 lbs) 15.98
Ground Pork (.6 lbs) 2.27
Dried Shitake Mushrooms (.04 lbs) 1.40
Hamburger Buns 0.99
Shredded Parmesan Cheese 1.99
Broccoli 1.99
Cilantro 0.99
All Groceries $25.61

I just realized as I'm typing this out that the broccoli was $2. I really thought broccoli was cheaper than that. That's what I get for not looking at the prices as closely this week. I actually bought food for some meals I'm going to cook next week, but before that I need to mention what I cooked this past week.

The lettuce wraps actually called for chicken, but I wasn't about to make my own ground chicken, so I replaced it with ground pork. And I added green onions and removed the water chestnuts because I really do not like water chestnuts.

I cooked the broccoli tonight, and I was going to cook a chicken dish as well, but I got lazy and heated up frozen chicken nuggets instead. The chicken will get cooked tomorrow though so you can see what it is next week!

My eating out meal was tacos with a new co-worker. I really don't anticipate any eating out next week...but we'll see.

Hmm...I don't remember who this new co-worker was. And I don't think I ever go a week without eating out/getting takeout nowadays.


Weekly Food Review 5: 9/8 - 9/14

I finally did it! I spent less than $30 on food this week! I also spent $0 on eating out which was probably why I was able to stay under $30 easy.

Half and Half (1 pt) 1.09
Eggs 1.55
Mojito Lime Marinade 1.69
Tomatoes 1.49
Ricotta Cheese 1.69
Fajita Tortillas (30) 1.99
Pierogies 5.99
Sweet Onion 1.13
All Groceries 16.62

I know, you're probably wondering, what are you even eating since you're clearly not making at least 14 meals every week? Well, I had two free lunches at work this week, and I also ate a meal that was leftover from the previous week. (I miss free work lunches) The pierogies also counted as one meal on their own, and sides for two of the below meals.

I normally wait til I eat pasta to mix the pasta and the sauce, but I didn't do that this time and that was a bad idea. Leftover pasta grosses me out. There was also waay more sauce than needed in that recipe. I probably won't remake the Lemon Ricotta Pasta in the future.

I had deviated from the taco recipe a little. I don't really think mangoes are in season anymore so I omitted that. I still had leftover iceberg lettuce that I bought two weeks ago so I didn't need to buy salad mix.

I will be eating out at least once next week, so I don't expect to have such a low spending week next week. But, we'll see what happens!


Weekly Food Review 6: 9/15 - 9/21

I went back to going over my budget this week. I've basically realized that if I don't eat out at all then I can get under $30 easy, but it gets a little iffy if I add one meal out.

Groceries 28.60
Eating Out 10.54
Total $39.14

I wasn't originally anticipating on buying shrimp, but it was on sale this week, so I couldn't resist! I also really wanted coffee ice cream, but Target was out (which is normal), so I checked Trader Joes. They have a pretty small selection of ice cream, and their coffee ice pops are pretty mediocre ):

Was this before I learned about Trader Joe's coffee ice cream? Did I decide to get their coffee ice pops instead of the tub of ice cream? Why would I do that?

Shrimp (2 lbs) 13.98
Frozen peas 0.79
Red Bell Pepper 1.50
Coconut Milk 2.59
Basil 2.99
Red Onions 1.49
Green Onions 0.99
Diced Tomatoes 0.69
Limes 1.59
Coffee Ice Pops 1.99
All Groceries $28.60

I only really cooked two new meals this week, but I also heated up some burgers that I still had in my freezer from a few weeks ago. I've added Skinny Taste to my list of go to food blogs. Her meals aren't as budget friendly, but they are pretty simple to make, and I can make adjustments when needed.

This is the second time I've made the garlic shrimp, and it was delicious. (Oh it's been way too long. I gotta make this again) The tomato salad was also surprisingly good. The pasta wasn't bad, but like all other pastas I make, the quality is greatly diminished in leftover form.

I actually had a free meal in the office three times this week. I packed a lunch on Monday and didn't end up eating it til Thursday because of all the leftovers from various meetings.

I kind of want to start showing what meals I'm eating each day, but this week was super busy, and I've got a whole bunch of other things I want to get done. I really want to start tracking more information about my meals and food spending in general at some point!


Weekly Food Review 7: 9/22 - 9/28

Back to under $30 this week! I did well with keeping under my food budget, but I am a little concerned that I'm spending too much money at Dave 'n Busters. I played a lot of Pump it Up this week, and at this rate I'm going to have to refill my card once a month. (:

Groceries 19.54
Eating Out 8.99
Total $28.53

I'm gonna try and be more accurate in writing my grocery list, but I lost my receipt and I completely forgot how much those pork chops weighed.

Salsa (24 oz) 1.89
Black Beans (15 oz) 0.69
Sour Cream (8 oz) 1.19
Brussels Sprouts (1 lb) 2.19
Coffee Creamer (16 oz) 3.49
Pork Chops 4.12
Mushrooms (8 oz) 0.99
Shredded Cheese (12 oz) 1.99
Yellow Potatoes (5 lbs) 2.99
All Groceries $19.54

Here are the dishes that I made this week!

The breakfast skillet is something I've been wanting to make for a while. Once a month, there's leftover breakfast at work and they always have a breakfast hash, and I kept thinking to myself "I could totally make this". This recipe wasn't quite the same, but it was still super tasty and I would definitely make it again.

I actually think I may have been using brussels sprouts that had started to go bad, but I still ate them because I wasn't about to waste food. I'm going to try and be better about where I'm keeping my food in the fridge. The vegetables can get too cold if they're stored too high.

Most of these recipes had something that I would modify about it, and I really want to have a place to keep these notes for modifications. I'm hoping to work on a new app for myself to help me meal plan.


Weekly Food Review 8: 9/29 - 10/5

Buying rice + eating out twice means I went waaaay over my budget last week.

Eating Out 36.50
Groceries 43.40
Total $79.90

Holy crap! I actually ate out last night, a meal that I had anticipated would be part of this week's budget instead. Both of my eating out meals were also kind of expensive.

Rice (25 lbs) 23.95
Dumpling Wrappers (100 ct) 2.78
Thai Basil Leaves 4.78
Half and Half (1 pt) 1.59
Red Bell Pepper 1.08
Zucchini 0.67
Panko Breadcrumbs 1.59
Ground Turkey (1.2 lbs) 3.49
Brussels Sprouts (1 lb) 1.59
Green Beans (1 lb) 0.89
BBQ Sauce 0.99
All Groceries 43.40

That rice should last me a whole year, so I think it was worth it. I think I'm starting to do a better job at planning my meals around what's in my kitchen and what's on sale.

Well, I definitely got better at planning my meals around what's in my kitchen. I basically ignore what's on sale though. I don't think I gain much from that.

I really, really need to stop making pasta and mixing the pasta and the sauce right after cooking. I don't understand how anyone enjoys leftover pasta. Besides that, everything I cooked this week was delicious.

I'm starting to work on my meal planning app! I made a little tool that allows me to save recipe links and any notes that I have. (I did?! Where is this tool?) The next step is for me to have an ingredient database so I can link recipes to ingredients.


Weekly Food Review 9: 10/6 - 10/12

Good news: I stayed within my $30 budget this week, despite getting McDonald's because I was feeling lazy yesterday. Bad news: writing this blog entry every week is a lot of work, and I think I might take a break from it, at least until I figure out a way to automate this process better.

Groceries 19.92
Eating Out 5.96
Total $25.48

I forgot to save my receipts so I don't actually have a record of how much each item cost. But I do still remember what recipes I made!

I also had two free meals in the office this week, which was nice.


Wow, if you got this far that means you read everything. Or just scrolled down to the bottom. You probably just scrolled without reading.

These posts (and the other ones I recently discovered from 2018) were written shortly after getting out of a really shitty time in my life. I was trying to give myself a fresh start, to focus on myself more. At least, I told that to myself. I didn't tell anyone about these blog posts except maybe two of my cousins.

But until yesterday, these were totally viewable on the Teochew site in a secret location. (No, I'm not revealing it here, even though I removed it) Now they're here, just slightly less secret than before.