The Great Oatmeal Challenge – Complete!

Well, I did it. Yesterday, I completed my Great Oatmeal Challenge. It took me over 6 weeks and approximately 32 oatmeal breakfasts to finish. Talk about a feat!

Thanks to all of you who sent recipes and ideas to keep me from getting bored! Since I make my breakfast at work, it was a little hard to try all of them. I did manage to try a few, but mainly I stuck to oatmeal, flax-seed, cinnamon, and either berries or half a banana. You should see the cabinet where I keep all this stuff in my office. It looks like I knocked over the Harris Teeter.

The fruit was a great addition, and it helped the oatmeal be a more filling. I really need a stick to your ribs breakfast. Otherwise, I become ravenous in the afternoon, and I’m entirely inconsolable until I eat a bag of swedish fish. It’s a bad, bad situation.

My challenge did help me stay off the fish (mostly), and it also allowed me to save a BUNCH of money. By my calculations, each bowl of oatmeal cost a whopping $0.08. Not too shabby! The fruit cost extra, but even adding in the cost of fruit, the meal is still well under $1. Compare that to a $3 oatmeal from Starbucks, and I think you’ll see who the clear winner is…

ME.

Red Carpet Chili Dinner

My Oscar party and critique session was a huge success! Thank God I strategized in advance – it turned out to be the perfect action plan.

For hors d’oeuvres, we had hummus and carrots and crackers with cream cheese and pepper jelly. And wine of course! I happened to own all of it, even the pepper jelly, which I actually made with a friend a few weeks ago.

The one-pot meal was ideal. It was delicious, inexpensive, and so easy. I’d highly recommend this for an easy meal for a big group. I was able to heat it up on its own, so I could concentrate on the travesty that was 2013 Oscar fashion (check out this excellent recap from my friends at Cardigans and Couture).

Here’s the recipe:

Firehouse Chili

1 Tbsp. Vegetable oil
11/2 lbs. ground turkey (you can use ground beef as well)
1 large onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 jalapeno, seeded and finely chopped
Salt to taste
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp. oregano
1/4 tsp. cumin
2 Tbsp. chili powder
2 10 oz. cans Rotel tomatoes, undrained
1 8 oz. can tomato sauce
2 16 oz. cans red kidney beans, undrained

Heat the oil in a large dutch oven. Add the meat, stirring to break up the lumps, and cook until brown. Add onion, garlic, and jalapeno and cook until the onion is limp. Drain off any excess fat from the pan.  Add salt, cayenne, oregano, cumin, and chili powder. Add tomatoes, sauce, and beans. Mix well and bring to a simmer. Simmer for 30 minutes uncovered. Cover and cook for 1 1/2 hours more.

Serves 8.

For the fixins bar, I had red onion, cheese, sour cream, avocado, chopped tomato, fritos scoops, and fresh chopped cilantro. Of course, I forgot to take any pictures, but it looked something like this:

A friend contributed the salad, which she threw that together right before we ate. Another 2 ladies contributed cookies for dessert (including my favorite homemade molasses cookies – thank you Christina!). And the rest of the ladies brought wine and champagne.

Everyone ate a ton and talked even more. When I turned on my TV this morning to watch the news, the volume was at 74. Clearly, the TV couldn’t compete with our strong conversation skills!

But, I have to say the best part of the party was the clean up. One lap with a trash bag, and it was all done. Genius!

Here is my total tally for the dinner party (note: I made a double recipe of the chili to have some extra for dinner this week):

Turkey – $7.99
Kidney Beans – $1.89 x 2
Tomato Sauce  – $.65 x 2
Rotel – $1.99 x 4
Jalapenos – $.11 x 2
Fritos Scoops – $3.89
Sour Cream – $2.50
Cilantro – $1.09
Avocados – $1.70 x 2
Hot House Tomatoes – $1.65 x 2
Paper bowls – $2.29

Grand total to serve dinner to 8 of my dear friends and me: $37.72

Dinner for 9 under $40 = one happy Discountess!

Checking In On the Great Oatmeal Challenge

I’m about halfway through my tub of Oatmeal, which means I’m about a month in to my challenge. I’m not bored with my combos yet, but it’s dangerously close. I’ve mainly been doing one of two things to take my breakfast up a notch  – adding berries OR adding half a banana and a dash of nutmeg. The latter version tastes a bit like banana bread. Delish!

I did give the pumpkin “pie” oatmeal that my friend Kate recommended in my last post, but I have to say that it wasn’t my favorite. I could never get the sweetness to vegetable ratio right, so it just tasted starchy. Plus, it made my breakfast an unsettling neon orange color.

Any other thoughts for me as I start month 2?  I’m desperate for a new option!

The Great Oatmeal Challenge

Today is the start of the great oatmeal challenge. The Safeway currently has a special on Quaker Quick Oats for Just 4 U members–a whopping 42 oz. for $2.50. That’s a lot of oatmeal for not a lot of money, no? My goal is to see exactly how many breakfasts I can get out of that $2.50 canister.

Note: This is the part where my mom, who I might add fed us oatmeal for breakfast for YEARS on end, turns up her nose and starts talking about how gross it is. She’s lucky we didn’t feel the same way.

So,  starting today, I will eat oatmeal every morning (work week morning, that is, since I keep the canister at work) until my supply runs out.  Straight oatmeal for days on end might be a tall order, so I am planning on supplementing it with something to spice it up. Typically, I do a teaspoon of flax-seed (which gives it a nutty flavor) or some cinnamon with a splash of agave to sweeten it up. Today, I’m trying flax, strawberries, and agave. There is a whole list of ideas on the Quaker website. The PB&J recipe is a bit much (see below), but I’m sure there are others that I can tap into. Got any recipe ideas for me?

PBJOats

Wish me luck! I wonder how long this is going to take. Anyone care to wager a bet?

 

 

Safeway – You’ve Foiled Me Again

So I headed to the Safeway this weekend to buy groceries for the week. According to my financial planner, I should only be spending $150 – $200 on groceries per month. I went to see if it was possible, and frankly, I don’t think it is.

First, I used my Safeway app on my phone to apply coupons to anything that I was planning to buy that was on their list. That saved me a whopping $2.13. Then, I went through the store and bought 20 food items and 3 birthday cards – some of which were on the club card savings. AND, there was no meat, no wine, and no household products either, mind you. This is my measly cart.

And for all of this effort, my stuff STILL cost $75.44 – half of my costs for the month. I usually get 2 boxes from a local CSA each month. Those are $30 a piece, so basically that taps out my monthly budget.

I’m going to have to get real creative to make this stuff last – I think I have some chicken in the fridge. But I don’t know how to make this last – and, seriously, I cannot live without meat or wine. It’s just not possible.

Is there a cheaper grocery store anywhere in D.C.? Does anyone know how to game the system??