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Oh boy, what a week. I can tell y’all right now that we had a rough time on the homemade food front. I was traveling for work and that seemed to trip us up quite a bit. Ack! I think towards the end of the week we recovered, but not after grabbing way more takeout than I care to get.

We’re always a work in progress, and sometimes we have difficult weeks. I think we tried to jump in too quickly to healthy eating recipes. From now on, we’re going to try one healthy recipe per week so we can build a backlog of reliable recipes.

P.S. Be sure to check out The Picky Pinchers Cookbook, which went live this morning! Score early bird pricing for just $4.95 before the price increases on December 15. 


Breakfast: Nasty green smoothies. Mr. Picky Pincher and I each tried to make our own smoothies for breakfast. Sadly, they were both flops. I got too excited and added far too many greens in mine – it tasted like licking lawn cuttings. Mr. Picky Pincher’s was also punishingly grassy. This is why you follow recipes, folks!

I think Mr. Picky Pincher grabbed taco on his way to work and I nibbled on some granola bars.

Lunch: A McDouble.

On Sunday night we made a beautiful dish of grilled steak with blanched green beans in a spicy coconut broth (recipe here). The meal was ‘meh’ aside from the dynamite coconut broth, which we devoured. 

steak and haricot vert in coconut broth

Mr. Picky Pincher ate these leftovers. I had to get on the road for a work trip, so I grabbed a McDouble. In my defense, I checked “Eat This, Not That” before ordering and the McDouble outranked the salads, which I found weird.

I couldn’t beat the $1.50 price tag, though.

Dinner: Pork chops with rice pilaf and salad / ciabatta chicken sandwich. Mr. Picky Pincher was on his own for dinner, so he whipped up pork chops. I despise pork chops, so this is a meal he likes to make when I’m out of town.

I got to my hotel after a five hour drive and was totally spent. I grabbed a hot sandwich from the hotel lobby deli. It tasted … weird. It was supposed to be a fancy chicken ciabatta sandwich but … it was off. That’s hotel food for ya.

I’m glad I get reimbursed for food expenses while on these trips!


Breakfast: Oatmeal with bananas, raisins, and nuts / weird breakfast sandwich.

Today Mr. Picky Pincher had oatmeal and I had a weird breakfast sandwich from the hotel deli. I should have just stopped somewhere on my way to a work event because it was nasty. Ugh!

Lunch: Soul Man’s BBQ. After a successful work event (phew!), I grabbed lunch with my boss and coworkers. I’d never had Soul Man’s BBQ before; it was kinda like Bill Miller’s or Dickey’s. Naturally we picked the messiest food ever, so I got barbecue sauce all over my face.


Dinner: Pork fried rice / Nasty Dairy Queen. Mr. Picky Pincher used leftover pork chops and made himself pork fried rice. I had to drive back home today in another grueling five-hour drive. I was hoping to find a deli or sandwich place, but the best I could do was a Dairy Queen. Boooo.


Breakfast: Sweet potato waffles with eggs and sausage. Finally, some real food! I cooked these sweet potato waffles the other weekend and froze them. I heated them up in the microwave, but I think the waffle iron would have been a better choice to get them crunchy.

I defrosted one of our homemade sausage patties and topped it with a pan-steamed egg. Hom nom nom.

sweet potato waffle with sausage patties and egg

Lunch: Whataburger. Oops. We didn’t have leftovers for today. Mr. Picky Pincher came by the house for lunch, so he snagged some Whataburger. In other news, I am sick to death of burgers.

Dinner: Taco Bell and Failure.

I thought, “Ahh, well we’re going to have a tasty homemade dinner so we won’t have to feel so guilty about eating out a lot this week. We’ll get back on track in no time!

Except we didn’t. Dinner was disgusting.

sausage and quinoa chickpea salad

I defrosted some chicken sausage, sliced it, and steamed it. I also defrosted some quinoa-chickpea salad from a few weeks ago. There was just something … nasty about this. The quinoa-chickpea salad didn’t defrost well and it was grainy and wet and weird.

I tried to choke down a few bites and just couldn’t do it. We swung by Taco Bell to get a hot meal. I ordered two quesaritos – one for dinner and the other for lunch. At $2.50 apiece they were roughly within our cost per meal, although they’re not the healthiest thing in the world. 



Breakfast: Dark chocolate quinoa breakfast bowl. Today we actually had some decent meals, y’all! I think I was struggling to get back into my groove after a crazy start to the week with work. 

I used this recipe to make a dark chocolate quinoa breakfast bowl with chopped dark chocolate chips and a sliced banana.

dark chocolate banana quinoa bowl

I admit it felt weird getting used to quinoa in a sweet application. I’ve only ever eaten it savory, so that was an adjustment. Regardless, this meal was incredibly filling, high in protein, and tasty.

Lunch: Leftover Taco Bell. Quesaritooooo.

Dinner: Bacon and apple farro salad with cranberries and barbecued chicken. Another win! We found this recipe in a library cookbook.

This salad has:

  • Chopped green leaf lettuce
  • 1 cup farro, cooked in 2 cups of diluted apple cider vinegar (1 cup of vinegar + 1 cup water). It called for apple cider, which I didn’t have, so this was a close second.
  • Crumbled bacon. We pre-cook bacon and freeze it for easy eating.
  • Pulled chicken. We barbecued a chicken and froze it a few months ago. I defrosted it and pulled out the white meat
  • Thinly sliced apples
  • Feta cheese
  • Salt and pepper
  • Onions marinated in red wine vinegar
  • Cranberries

apple farro bacon salad

I was afraid this dish would be too vinegary or sweet, but it was just perfect. The bacon balanced out the sweetness for a great balance of flavor. It was also extremely filling, which is what I look for in a salad! 


Breakfast: Breakfast bowls with rice, black beans, scrambled eggs, salsa, spicy homemade sausage, and braised kale.

Another win! This dish was put together with odds and ends from the fridge. It isn’t much to look at, but it was mighty tasty, high in protein, and filling. I snuck in the braised kale so I’d eat at least a few greens.

A girl can try, right?

breakfast bowl

Lunch: Leftover salad. One of the few times in my life that I’ve been excited for salad.

Dinner: Burrito bowls. Today’s dinner is going to be suspiciously similar to today’s breakfast. I’ll put homemade black beans, rice, corn, salsa, and fire roasted bell peppers in bowls. I’ll probably toss some cooked chicken fajitas in there that I found in our freezer. Hopefully it’s tasty!

Grocery Costs

Let’s see what we spent this week!

On sale: $5.18

Coupons: $10.75

Total: $117.92

Goals for next week

At first glance it looks like we’re over on our food expenses for the week. But we actually spent an additional $30 on two turkeys that were on sale. Since it was after Thanksgiving, HEB sold the turkeys for half price to reduce inventory. It was a great deal, so we got two turkeys and froze them for later.

If you subtract the turkeys, we’re at budget. 🙂 I know our week was far from stellar, but that’s why I share our meals here with you guys. Most of the time we keep the faith and cook at home diligently. Other weeks, like this one, we have a really hard time keeping it healthy and frugal. We’re always a work in progress; I don’t think you’re ever truly done learning on the journey to get out of debt.

For next week I’d love for more of our homemade meals to work out. Over the weekend we plan to cook a few more freezer meals that Mr. Picky Pincher will enjoy, which will reduce our dependence on takeout.

Also, If you’re interested in our grocery shopping system, I go over it in depth in this eBook.

We want to know: How did you save or spend money this week?

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