Our $1,000 Food Bill

We must be fancy, because the hubs and I dropped $1,000 on food expenses during the month of August.

It didn’t really come as a huge shock given the month we’ve had, but we obviously can’t spend that every month. We’re not that fancy, blog friends.

Here’s what happened:

1. We spent half of August in the U.S. and half of August in Grenada, the little Caribbean island we currently call home. We went out to eat several times before we left and then had two days of traveling where we ate delicious airport food. ;)

2. When we got to Grenada, we had an empty fridge. We had to make a huge grocery trip to stock up on regular everyday items like spices and condiments. We also needed dog food, detergent, and other cleaning items that are rolled into the grocery bill.

3. We had a week off from work and school right when we got to Grenada, which led to several outings and invites from our friends. We contributed a few bottles of wine to group dinners, which is always worth the expense in my humble opinion.

4. I started working full time, and it took a bit of adjustment to get used to the schedule. After working all day and then working for a few hours on freelance projects at night, my Susie Homemaker skills were at nil. So, we purchased lunch at school/work around four times a week in August, which was a stark change from last semester when I made the hubs lunch every day.

5. We had some amazing friends leave the island for good, and we went to a particularly nice restaurant to say goodbye. It’s the sort of place we never go, and we spent $84US in one fail swoop.

6. Groceries in Grenada are very marked up. Your average $100 grocery trip in the US for normal items would cost you about $175-$200US here.

7. The hubs and I have mostly gone without eating anything white for the past few months (rice/bread/pasta/etc.), so when I do make lunch, it’s little strips of chicken or steak, which are very expensive here. We like to get a lot of protein in during the day since we both work long hours.

To be honest, I am not even bummed about this $1,000 food expense like I usually would be. The reason is because it didn’t hurt us too much budget-wise (we were just able to save slightly less than expected), and we were able to really enjoy time with our  friends. The hubs and I work extremely hard during the school year, and outings like these are a rarity. Still, note to self, we’ll have a similar week in January right before school/work starts again after a break, so we should be a smidge more prepared.

Of course, for September, we’re doing a lot better already. I’ve been more diligent about packing lunches and making snacks ahead of time. My goal is to hit around $500 this month in food bills mostly because I know there will be times when we will have to purchase lunch on campus/at work due to our busy schedules.

Of course, I welcome any advice you may have on meals that are quick to make and easy to freeze. I’ve found myself googling “5 ingredient crock pot meals” pretty much every day. Essentially, if it involves chopping lots of things, I don’t even want to know about it. :)

Has anyone else gone over their grocery budget lately? How did you adjust the following month?

Budget Eats: Spinach & Artichoke Dip

Okay let’s chat about something I don’t usually write about: food.

I’ve entertained all of you with my cooking adventures like burning popcorn and the like.

But, I have to say this gal over here authoring this blog has truly learned a thing or two from my talented hubs in the cooking department. There are a few things that are constantly on “repeat” on our menu that hubs taught me how to make like spaghetti from scratch (red gravy as he calls it), chicken and gravy (basically making my own gravy from the juices and the oil left over by baked chicken…never knew this was possible), red beans and rice, some soups, etc.

I have to say, I still don’t really like cooking, but our crazy situation with hubby studying all day long has really put me in a “do or die” position where I either learn how to cook or my hardworking hubby has to buy food on campus. And, since I am the crazy budget lady in our household, I’d much rather figure out cooking than have sweet hubby blow the budget buying supbar food on campus.

Every now and then, I spring for a few extra ingredients to make something special.

Coached via phone by my Milly (mother in law), I made spinach & artichoke dip. It was really, really easy, and the hubs loved it. We’ve been using it as snacks and appetizers all week.

Here’s the recipe (I halved this since it was just for hubs & me).

Also, we fried some bowtie pasta as is done at my favorite Louisiana restaurant, Copelands, to eat with it.

Ingredients:

2 (10 oz) packages of frozen chopped spinach
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
1 (15 oz) can of artichoke hearts, drained
8 ounces of cream cheese, softened
8 ounces of Monterey Jack cheese, shredded
1 cup sour cream
Chopped or minced garlic to taste
Cajun seasoned sal to tastes
1/2 cup grated parmesan Cheese

Directions:

Cook the spinach using the package directions and drain.
Meanwhile, saute the onion in the butter in a skillet until tender.
On the side, mash the artichokes in a bowl.
Add the cooked spinach, sauteed onion, cream cheese, Monterey Jack cheese, sour cream, garlic, and Cajun seasoning to the bowl.

Stir and spread the whole mixture in a shallow microwave safe dish. Sprinkle the parmesan cheese on the the top and microwave for 5 minutes.

That’s all folks.

It’s pretty yummy. My in-laws serve it at every family gathering, and I truly missed it!

What have you been cooking up lately?