September: What We Ate + Grocery Budget Recap


After I posted my mid-year food budgeting update, I got a few comments and emails wondering what we eat. So I decided to track all of our meals for the month of September and share that with you here on the blog!

Every month looks different, of course, and random things are always popping up, but I'd say in general this is a pretty typical month as far as food. Even though I knew that I was tracking our meals to put on the blog, I was intentional about not changing any of our meals just to look good. This is honestly what we would have eaten whether or not I blogged about it!

I tried hard to stay under our $200 grocery budget, and I got close. Total in September we spent $227 on groceries. Plus an additional $50 for takeout and $50 on eating out for lunch during the week. So that's $327 total on food in September.

I'm copying our daily meals below. What we ate for dinner is in bold, and I added links where appropriate for recipes in case you're interested. Below the schedule, I've written down some general observations. I have some other thoughts about meals and food that I'll share in another post in a few weeks!

*In my head, a week of meals runs Monday to Sunday.
**I didn't write down any of Jordan's breakfast or lunch, but usually he either doesn't eat breakfast or he eats cereal, and for lunch he eats a peanut butter and honey sandwich with chips or he eats out for lunch somewhere cheap. It's pretty sad, but the type of job he has isn't great for meal options and we haven't figured out a good solution to this problem! (I do make a batch of homemade breakfast burritos for him and need to do that again soon!)

Week 1
-Thursday (Sept 1): Breakfast: Oatmeal w/brown sugar and 1/2 a banana / Lunch: Potluck at work / Dinner: Buffalo Wild Wings takeout for at-home date night.
-Friday: Breakfast: Oatmeal w/brown sugar and ½ banana / Lunch: pb&j w/apple and chips / Dinner: pancakes for Amanda and leftover baked ziti from Monday for Jordan
-Saturday: Breakfast: cereal / Lunch: tacos at a birthday party / Dinner: Jordan was at a friend’s house and they grilled burgers. Amanda ate: leftover tacos from Tuesday
-Sunday: Breakfast: cereal / Lunch: BBQ sandwiches in the crockpot with sautéed squash and zucchini / Dinner: Jordan ate leftover tacos & Amanda ate leftover crockpot BBQ chicken

Week 2
-Monday (Labor Day): Breakfast: cereal / Lunch: grilled cheese w/fruit and chips / Dinner: leftover BBQ chicken
-Tuesday: Breakfast: Oatmeal w/brown sugar and ½ banana / Lunch: pb&J w/chips and fruit / Dinner: sausage, apple, sweet potato casserole
-Wednesday: Breakfast: Oatmeal w/brown sugar and ½ banana / Lunch: pb&J w/greek yogurt, honey and strawberries and ½ banana/ Dinner: leftover casserole + the rest of the BBQ chicken
-Thursday: Breakfast: Oatmeal w/b.sugar and ½ banana / Lunch: pb&j w/greek yogurt, honey, and strawberries and ½ banana / Dinner: sautéed squash and zucchini w/baked chicken and wild rice (I browned the chicken in a cast iron skillet then added chopped zucchini and squash and put in the oven)
-Friday: Breakfast: Oatmeal w/b.sugar and ½ banana / Lunch: the rest of the sausage, apple, sweet potato casserole from Tuesday/ Dinner: Chicken with wild rice freezer meal… I totally forgot I had already taken this out of the freezer on Wednesday to cook tonight or I wouldn’t have made almost the exact same meal for dinner on Thursday. Oops.
-Saturday: Breakfast: Cereal / Lunch: Freddy’s takeout burgers & fries / Dinner: Tacos with sautéed green peppers/onions (for the taco meat I used a pound of cooked meat I had in the freezer after doing this. Makes it so simple!)
-Sunday: Breakfast: Cereal / Lunch: The rest of the tacos / Dinner: Homemade pizza w/ homemade whole wheat crust, turkey pepperoni, sausage, green pepper, onion, mozzarella cheese

Week 3
-Monday: Breakfast: Oatmeal w. b. sugar and ½ banana / Lunch: pb&j w/greek yogurt, honey, and ½ banana / Dinner: leftover homemade pizza from Sunday and the rest of the chicken and rice from Friday
-Tuesday: Breakfast: Oatmeal w. brown sugar and ½ banana / Lunch: pb&j w/greek yogurt, honey, ½ banana, and chopped mango / Dinner: Amanda got together with a friend; Jordan ate the rest of the pizza (which he says didn’t fill him up but he didn’t feel like making anything else)
-Wednesday: Breakfast: I picked up donuts for the office and ate two plus half a bagel with butter / Lunch: leftovers from my dinner Tuesday + greek yogurt w/honey and ½ banana / Dinner: Homemade chicken pot pie
-Thursday: Breakfast: oatmeal w/brown sugar and ½ banana / Lunch: pb&j w/chips and fruit / Dinner: leftover pot pie
-Friday: Breakfast: Oatmeal w/brown sugar (didn’t have any bananas!) / Lunch: the rest of the pot pie + crackers and cheese / Dinner: Homemade pizza using the second ball of homemade whole wheat dough that I pulled from the freezer, turkey pepperoni, and the second half of the sausage/green pepper/onion combo that I cooked on Sunday.
-Saturday: Breakfast: Eggs and cereal / Lunch: Amanda ate grilled cheese and Jordan ate leftover pizza/ Dinner: Grilled chicken, potatoes, and Brussels sprouts
-Sunday: Breakfast: cereal / Lunch: Ravioli with steamed broccoli / Dinner: Grilled burgers and chips

Week 4
-Monday: Breakfast: Oatmeal w/ b. sugar and ½ banana / Lunch: pb&J w/greek yogurt, honey, and ½ banana / Dinner: Grilled pork chops (that we grilled the night before) w/roasted Brussels sprouts and potatoes
-Tuesday: Breakfast: homemade banana nut muffin + oatmeal w/b. sugar and ½ banana / Lunch: pb&j w/ greek yogurt, honey and ½ banana / Dinner: Leftover burgers, pork chops, and potatoes
-Wednesday: Breakfast: oatmeal w/brown sugar and ½ banana / Lunch: pb&J w/greek yogurt, honey and ½ banana + an apple / Dinner: chicken & rice using the rest of the grilled chicken we cooked on Saturday + frozen veggies and instant white rice (<---one of our favorite and easiest meals!)
-Thursday: Breakfast: Oatmeal w/brown sugar and ½ banana + donut at work/ Lunch: pork chop from Sunday + greek yogurt w/honey and ½ banana / Dinner: Southwest enchilada bake (freezer meal I made last month)
-Friday: Dinner: Amanda and R were on vacation for the weekend / Jordan ate: the last of the burger and potatoes from Sunday
-Saturday: Amanda and R on vacation / Jordan ate the chicken & rice for lunch + SW enchilada bake for dinner
-Sunday: Amanda and R on vacation / Jordan ate the SW enchilada bake for dinner

Week 5
-Monday: Driving back from Texas with R, so I ate a granola bar in the car / Dinner: the rest of the SW enchilada bake
-Tuesday: Breakfast: ½ banana with oatmeal w/b. sugar / Dinner: Chicken pot pie freezer meal that I made last month
-Wednesday: Breakfast: Cereal / Lunch: Takeout burgers for Jordan and me / Dinner: tilapia w/steamed veggies
-Thursday: Breakfast: Oatmeal w/brown sugar and ½ banana / Lunch: someone made pasta for everyone at work + greek yogurt w/cinnamon, honey, and ½ banana / Dinner: Cheeseburger macaroni
-Friday: Breakfast: oatmeal w/brown sugar and ½ banana / Lunch: English muffin w/peanut butter + greek yogurt w/cinnamon and honey / Dinner: Leftover cheeseburger macaroni


1) We don't eat out very much. Getting takeout or going out to eat is a special occasion for us. This is mostly because it's cheaper to eat at home and it's healthier. We save eating out for times when we're really desperate or just craving a greasy cheeseburger and fries or when we're on a date or something.

2) Leftovers are the life blood of our meal planning routine. This is a big one. I don't even know what I am going to do with myself when my kids are older and eating more and there aren't any leftovers. I had an old roommate who refused to eat leftovers of any kind, and I couldn't wrap my head around it. As you probably noticed, we generally eat leftovers on a meal at least twice, which means I'm only cooking about every other day.

3) For the most part, I am perfectly content eating the same thing for breakfast and lunch every single day. Every so often the thought of eating another peanut butter and jelly sandwich makes me want to cry, but for the most part I'm okay with not a huge variety in those meals. And I honestly love my bowl of oatmeal with brown sugar and banana. So yummy. I know some people can't handle that kind of thing, but I really don't mind it.

4) We are not now, nor will be ever be, vegetarians. Meat. Amen.

So that's about all I've got for you! What questions do you have for me? Leave them in the comments or shoot me an email. I really hope this has been helpful for you!

p.s. Check out the Recipe tab on the blog for more of our favorite meals.
Maria said...

1. Thank you for linking recipes to a new window. Blogger pet peeve of mine. You get points for that.

2. I bought the ingredients for cheeseburger macaroni and I cannot wait!

3. My husband makes sure that we never really have leftovers. It's terrible. I make recipes that serve for 4-6 and he has an appetite that size of Michael Phelps. It suuucks.

4. I'm impressed.

Katie @ Live Half Full said...

This is so interesting to me! You guys are so good at leftovers- we're not awesome at eating them. We mainly use them for lunches.

Sarah @ Sometimes Photojenik said...

This is fascinating and looks really similar to our meal plan; not a ton of variety in breakfast/lunch and not too much eating out... figures our grocery budgets are about the same :) We were actually trying to stick to $200-225, but now with us both in school I don't have the time or energy to plan and track that closely. An extra $60 has been worth less stress for us. Also, can I just say, we love leftovers but I feel like we don't have them last nearly as long as you seem to. I don't know if that's because Alex eats a ton or I eat a lot or what... but in general, I'm all about the leftovers too!

Beka @ Sunshine to the Square Inch said...

Leftovers really are an amazing thing. Making sure all our leftovers are eaten is a big thing Dave taught me. Also, I feel guilty if we don't eat our leftovers because I feel like that is wasting something God gave us.

I admire your discipline! Maybe when your kids are older you can just double the meal size and still have leftovers?

I honestly don't plan meals very much anymore because Dave can eat for free at work and for some reason he prefers hospital cafeteria food to my homemade meals. I think it is because it is free,even though he pays $150 a year for working at the hospital, which Dave definitely eats his $150 worth.

Unknown said...

My in-laws are not leftover eaters and so when Fredrik and I first lived together he thought it was weird but now after 8 yrs he says he likes leftovers better! When I make dinner I usually plate our meals and then also fill up two lunch containers straight away so we make sure to have leftovers and also have normal portions!

Laura Darling said...

This is awesome, thanks so much for sharing! I definitely got some ideas, and can't wait to make some of those recipes! I LOVE leftovers. We usually eat them two or three times a week, and I take them for lunch a lot. They're the best!

Nadine said...

I love getting to see how other people set up their meals for the week. I can eat the same thing for breakfast for weeks at a time but then I have to start changing it up. Lunches I switch between soups, peanut butter sandwiches, quinoa or couscous salads, etc. I try not to let myself get in a rut because as soon as I do, it is easier for me to ditch them!

Laura Morgan said...

I'm trying not to be jealous. Mike won't touch leftovers at all. I love them, but if I'm cooking a new meal every night, I'm usually unable to finish all the leftovers before they go bad. That's a lot of food waste. Ouch.
Leftovers aside, I'm still mega impressed at your discipline, and I think I'm coming over for dinner every night this week because it all sounds delish.

Audrey Louise said...

You are dedicated. I would totally forget to track out food after a day or two!

K doesn't really like leftovers. If he LOVED the meal then he'll eat them, but usually when he loves the meal there AREN'T any left overs. Ha. I can't eat the same thing for breakfast or lunch, day after day. I like mixing it up :)

Erin LFF said...

Thank you for sharing so much about your meal plans/grocery stuff- I really do find it insightful and helpful. We are big leftover people as well. My goal is always that our dinner leaves at least enough leftovers for Jared to have enough for lunch the next day- preferably more! I eat the same couple of things for breakfast every day too, I don't need variety for the most part.

Kayla MKOY said...

I seriously love these posts from you! I think they might be my favorite. I love having leftovers, I find that most meals feed about 4 people, which is perfect for us for dinner that night, and then each of us for lunch the next day!!! I'm saving this!

Rach said...

We love that homemade whole wheat pizza dough from Sally's Baking Addiction! That's what we use for our pizza nights most of the time lately. So yummy! :) And I'm glad you guys have liked the baked ziti. I need to make that again soon. It's so good!

I'm with you on eating leftovers! We are big fans of leftovers (though usually they end up becoming lunches for later in the week). And I am perfectly happy to eat the same thing for breakfast for months at a time. And the same is true of lunches.

Sara Oss said...

I married someone who hates takeout (I didn't realize these people existed) which eliminates most of the convenience of food made elsewhere. Going to a restaurant after work on a whim just seems like so much of a hassle. So we tend to spend a big chunk of most Sundays preparing three or four meals for the week and wind up only coming home to cook one or two nights each week. I'm most impressed that you're able to eat at home so much while doing what appears to be the lion's share of cooking and food prep. I think the main reason that we are able to prepare almost all of our own meals is that we each spend a lot of time in the kitchen.

This is more of an observation, but it appears that most of your meals revolve around a lot of the same ingredients. Is that intentional in terms of savings, taste preferences, ease of meal planning, or something else?

Kristen @ See You In A Porridge said...

hahaha @ #4. i'm not a vegetarian, but i like meat less than KC, so we have issues sometimes. he 'needs' it, i prefer to leave it out if i can.
i can eat leftovers if i cook, but i am not good at taking food home from restaurants.. which is okay because i'm a fatty and normally eat all of my food anyway so there is nothing to take home. but anyway, i try and make smaller meals because leftovers sometimes get forgotten about in my house, so i'd rather just make enough for one or two meals, max. i like variety with dinner, but i could eat the same thing for brekkie or lunch every single day for weeks or months, something people at work feel the need to comment on at least once a week (you're eating that AGAIN?).
we do eat out more often than we should. sometimes it is because i'm lazy and didn't get the meat out to thaw, or i didn't plan at all, or i feel like being a fatty. we are in the process of (possibly) selling our house right now, lots of projects and not a lot of grocery shopping = spending way more on eating out in the last couple of weeks. not good. i would love to get my grocery budget as low as yours.

Julie @ Just the Joy's said...

Goodness, you rock. I am terrible about making meals. And I am terrible at eating leftovers. I confess, I throw a lot of leftovers away because I intend to eat them but then they never sound good so I never eat them and then they go bad. Fail. That sweet potato, sausage, and apple casserole sounds yummy. Thanks for sharing. I hope to someday be this organized and budget savy. ;)