Little did I know when I started this challenge that I would be in direct competition with squirrels when it came to getting fruit in the wild. I had already had a standoff with a squirrel in front of a lemon tree. This morning the stakes in our battle significantly increased when I caught a squirrel stealing fruit from the loquat tree I had been getting my supply from and noticed that a large amount of the fruit on it had suddenly disappeared. When you begin to forage, you quickly realize that squirrels are evil creatures sent to earth to steal what you had been planning to gather.

Despite the squirrel's attempt to deprive me of all loquats, I did manage to get a few along with a few blackberries. If you have any good blackberry recipes that can be made with what I have on hand, feel free to send them my way because from the look of the blackberry bushes, I'm going to be swimming in them (as long as those damn squirrels don't claim them first):

blackberry and loquat foraging

I'd also like to try a loquat recipe beyond the morning smoothies, but I'm also finding that loquat recipes seem to be few and far between. I'm debating what would be the closest fruit that I could use them as a replacement — should I be leaning toward apricots???

I decided I needed to make a run to Safeway to take advantage of the free yogurt opportunity that was ending. I had eCoupons loaded on shortcuts and cellfire, so I knew that I would be able to get 2 free when also using $1 off printable coupons. I noticed that I actually had 2 coupons for the yogurt banked in shortcuts and I wasn't sure whether they would both come off or not. Since I didn't want an overage, I decided to also buy $1 worth of bananas in case they both did come off. It was a good thing that I did (and I actually should have purchased another dollar of something) because 4 eCoupons were triggered meaning I only used one of the two printable coupons I had on hand. I'm still not sure where the extra eCoupon came from and it's a shame that I wasn't planning on buying more because I could have taken advantage of it. In the end, I purchased 4 bananas and two 4-packs of yogurt for $0.01

free yogurt and bananas

day 53 safeway receipt

Since it was the last day of the grocery store sales week, I also decided to make another trip to the local Lucky grocery store to take advantage of their $0.33 heads of lettuce and $0.77 per lb on the vine tomatoes. The cost for the head of lettuce and the 3 tomatoes came to $1.15.

lettuce and tomatoes

day 53 lucky receipt

I'm hoping that in another couple of weeks that I won't have to purchase any more tomatoes for the rest of the summer when they begin to ripen in my garden.

Loquat Yogurt Smoothie

I decided to give the morning smoothie a try without the banana and replace it with one of the cups of yogurt . This definitely sweetened up the smoothie which I'm not sure is a good thing. I've become accustomed to the natural sweetness of the fruit only smoothies, and the yogurt seemed to make it a bit too sweet. On the positive side, it did make the smoothie thicker and more filling, so I think I need to get some plain yogurt for them when I get a chance.

loquat yogurt smoothie

Peanut Butter Banana Pancakes

I had a bunch of peanut butter pancake batter left that I needed to use, so I decided to give them another try. I wanted to figure out how to make them better since they fell short of expectations the first go around. The pancake batter was pretty thick, so I first added a bit of milk to thin it out. I then decided to take half a banana and mush it into the mix:

 peanut butter banana pancakes

When cooking them last time, the centers were a bit mushy and maybe not quite fully cooked, so this time I pressed down hard on them to make sure that the inside was fully cooked. I then made a blackberry and banana topping and they turned out much better than the first time. I may even make them again in the near future.

peanut butter banana pancakes topped

Vegetable Rice Egg Drop Soup

I knew that I was going to be gone for the whole day on the 23rd, so I decided that I should try and use as many of the leftovers that I had. For lunch, I finished off the rest of the veggie rice egg drop soup:

vegetable rice egg drop soup

Salad and Quiche

Keeping with the finishing off the left over theme, I finished the last of the spinach quiche that I had made. I think I will be making another one of those because it was quite tasty and an easy thing to add to and lunch or dinner to make it more filling. I also made a salad with lettuce, tomato and a hard boiled egg with Italian dressing on top:

salad and quiche

This is the current list of food I still have
This is the current list of what I have purchased:

Money Spent $38.66
Money left to spend: $22.34 ($5.04 must be spent at CVS)
Retail Value of everything bought: $1023.17


The Beginning ::: Day 54: Air Travel On A Tight Food Budget Sucks


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  1. You have been doing great so far but I am curious; are you going to continue for a third month? If so, are the rules going to change again?

  2. @Pangie — I’m not sure I’ll be able to pull that off, but i should come in well under the $61 I have to spend.

    @Molly — I’m taking it month to month so I’m not sure. I will decide when the end of the month comes. I think the rules are pretty much set now if I do continue by letting the readers decide what should and should not be allowed when questions arise.

  3. The devil squirrels are storing most of their haul. They are probably after the seeds rather than the fruit.

    Plain yogurt is the way to go. Really you should start making it, so easy and so cheap!

  4. Plain yogurt is good, but I think the banana goes a long way to dull the sweetness a bit. If you did the yogurt and maybe 1/2 a banana, would probably taste better.

    I put both yogurt and bananas in most my smoothies.

  5. Here is a quick and easy scone recipe. You may omit the icing if you want a healthier breakfast.

    Breakfast Bisquick Scone Recipe
    3 cups Bisquick
    4 Tbsp. Sugar
    1/2 to 1 cup blackberries or any fruit, fresh or dried
    1 cup milk
    Icing: 3 Tbsp. Sugar
    1/4 tsp. Cinnamon
    1 Tbsp. softened cream cheese
    Heat oven to 375 degrees.
    Mix the icing ingredients and set aside.
    Combine the Bisquick, sugar, and milk. Gently stir in blackberries. Drop by tablespoon on greased cookie sheet.
    Bake 15 minutes or until done. Remove from the oven and allow the scones to cool until slightly above room temperature. Add icing to the scones while they are still warm, not hot.Enjoy!

  6. Jeffrey, you mentioned in a previous post about coupons for milk, produce and meat being available. What are your ideas for looking for them?
    I did find two coupons for $3 off fresh fruit with the purchase of 5 Quaker products, but no Quaker coupons or sales. This coupon expires at the end of the month. But for the price of the Quaker products, it really isn’t worth it. What are your ideas?

  7. @Nicole

    I buy most of my fruit when I find moneymakers like the Kraft salad dressing this week at Safeway. I get milk at CVS when I get the $5 off $20 coupons (Safeway currently has one when you buy Kellogg’s cereal). Deals like the Quaker one often come around and you have to use your judgement on whether they are a good deal or not They certainly aren’t consistent so it’s not possible to get big discounts on milk, produce, meat, etc on a weekly basis. I did find some Quaker coupons ($1 off 2) in the produce section at my Safeway this week near the bananas — if you can find those, pick them up and hope that Quaker goes on sale next Wed.

  8. @Denise

    Thank you for the recipe. Looks like I will have to bt buying another box of Bisquick when it goes on sale 🙂

  9. I’m still amazed by your incredible ability to find deals! For the first time ever, I used eCoupons and paper coupons. Instead of my normal method (shopping from a list made from what meals I wanted), I shopped based on good deals and the best coupons. I saved over 33% on my bill, and that’s without any Sunday insert coupons! You’re an inspiration to the broke college student.

  10. I have been reading for awhile, but I was behind and never bothered to look at the date. I missed a lot of your good deals because I just assumed you started this project a long time ago. Oh well. As for the blackberries, blackberry crisp is delicious and you have all the ingredients except butter. You could probably use margarine instead, but butter is always better. I have been seeing a lot of $0.55 off challenge butter coupons online, and Smith’s (Kroger) will up all coupons to a dollar this week.

    This recipe seems pretty good

  11. I was wondering if you use canvas bags to haul your food home & to the food bank. A lot of grocery stores in California now give 5 cents back for each canvas bag used.
    They’re pretty cheap to pick up at Goodwill, I got 25 or 30 from work from a co-worker who attends lots of trade shows and picks them up.

  12. Squirrels are evil!!

    This is our all time favorite cobbler recipe, from Mark Bittman, “The Minimalist,” which seems appropriate. Your are only missing butter — is it possible to buy a stick with some of the overages you have mentioned, or even with ECBs at CVS? One stick is your ticket to blackberry heaven.

    Do not skip the lemon zest !!– using the smallest side of a box grater, skim off only the yellow part of the peel and sprinkle it into both the berries and the dough — he suggests a teaspoon or more. The zest is an amazing flavoring — try not to get the bitter white pith. I also sprinkle a splash of lemon juice on the berries, depending on their sweetness. The sugar he uses for the fruit is a a bit high– you may prefer to bring it down to less than half a cup, sugar depending the berries, but do use the full 1/2 cup sugar for the dough (and zest!)
    BLACKBERRY COBBLER by Mark Bittman
    4 – 6 cups blackberries, washed, dried
    1 cup sugar OR TO TASTE
    8 Tablespoons (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into bits
    1/2 all purpose flour
    1/2 baking powder
    pinch salt
    l egg
    1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

    1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees, Toss fruit with half the sugar (or your preferred amount) and bit of zest and spread it in a 1 1/2 inch deep lightly buttered 8 inch pan. (can use oil here, or take the leftover butter wrapper and use the butter residue to grease the pan).

    2. Combine flour, baking powder, salt and remaining 1/2 cup sugar and pulse in food processor (Can just mix it by hand). Add butter and process till well blended. Beat egg and vanilla together by hand and add to mixture.

    3. Drop dough onto fruit by tablespoonfuls — do not spread it out. Bake until just starting to brown, 35 – 45 minutes — serve within an hour or so.

    Vanilla ice cream is lovely, but the dough is so nice and rich, it is good alone. Sorry to take up so much space here — good luck!

  13. Looks like you could whip up a pretty awesome taco salad with what you have! Peanut butter raisin oatmeal cookies are easily within reach, too, as are french fries.

    Taco salad: cook beef. Drain. Add taco seasonings. Chop up some lettuce, tomato, onion, top with beef and sour cream.

    Cookies: 2 c. uncooked oats
    1 egg
    1 cup peanut butter
    1/2 c. cooking oil
    1/2 c. milk
    1/4 c. dark brown sugar
    2 c. raisins
    Mix – drop from spoon (like any others). Bake at 350 degrees for 12 minutes. (Please note, I haven’t tried these.)

    Fries: cut potato into fry-sized pieces. Boil pieces for 5 minutes. Drain, put in fridge to cool fr 20 minutes. Put a few inches of oil in tall pot, heat to around 375 (to test drop in small piece of fry, should boil around fry.) Put in fries until golden-brown. Drain. Toss with salt, pepper, a little garlic powder and oregano, and eat with BBQ sauce. Theoretically you could instead season them with the cheese sauce packet. You can reuse the oil 4 times for more fries.

  14. I’m a fan of plain yogurt in smoothies – it does give it a better texture without added sweetness.

    And to be fair, the squirrel is probably somewhere blogging about YOU stealing HIS food…he’s trying to feed a family of 4 on $40 this month!

  15. You can put your grated cheese on the taco salad too! Oh, and a little vanilla in the cookies would be good.

    And I forgot taco pie. Make taco beef. Make mashed potatoes (add milk and cream cheese into these!) Mix up Bisquick according to directions. Layer potatoes, then beef, then Bisquick mix into casserole dish, and bake according to Bisquick directions. You can also add veggies into or instead of potatoes; we usually use corn. Putting the grated cheese between the beef and potatoes might be nice.

  16. @hippiefemme

    A huge congratulations on the savings. The best part is that is just the beginning. The more you practice and become comfortable with the changed behavior, the more you will end up savings. Just keep plugging away at it and enjoy the savings 🙂

  17. @Kelly

    The grocery stores in my area do not give a discount for use of reusable bags (CVS does – $0.25 each shopping trip).

  18. Thanks to all for all the recipe suggestions. They really do help me quite a bit. I can’t figure out why I can be creative in most areas, but have absolutely no creativity when it come to making food. It’s much appreciated and keep them coming!

  19. It’s super easy to make jam with the blackberries (or strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, etc). Usually I make a batch that would be about the same amount of 2 standard size jelly jars-I use 4 cups of berries and 2 cups of sugar. Put them on the stove on a medium low setting for about 45-60 minutes, stirring often.
    I don’t even bother with going through the whole canning process. I just use a clean jelly jar (leftover from the store bought ones we get) pour the contents from the stove in while hot, put the lid on then put it in the fridge to chill.
    It’s actually very delicious-it would be a great addition to your pancakes, or your smoothies once you can’t find fresh berries. Without canning properly they will be good for about a month in the fridge (although they never last that long in my house lol!).
    So, long story short, However many cups of berries you have, just use half as many cups for the sugar.

  20. Squirrels are fearless! They will grab stuff out of your hands if they want it bad enough. So be careful not to let them get close enough to bite.

    I can’t believe the prices on the Fiber One Yogurts. I swear they are priced @ $3.50 or higher here. We don’t have Safeway, nor any stores that do double coupons. *grumble*

    I can’t believe I’m jealous over double coupons and yogurt prices!

  21. @Mel

    I look at the deals that Niki posts about Albertsons (there are none in my area) and think what I could do if I lived somewhere where there were double coupons. I may have to visit some place where they are available during this challenge just for the experience 😉

  22. You’ll want to look at this blackberry jam recipe (link below). It looks pretty simple and the only thing you’d need to get your mittens on that you don’t already have is cornflour. You seem to have a source of lemons and I’d use that instead of the lime juice. Have a look here:

  23. Bisquick is mostly flour with the baking powder and soda already added in a balenced amount for most simple uses. If you don’t get another coupon/sale for it you can get both baking powder and soda for cheap. Then you can make pancakes, quickbreads, cookies, etc. Just don’t mix the two up or you will have bad tasting flat food.

  24. Too sweet a smoothie, well, a couple of less ripe blackberries should fix that.

    I looked at your list and I think that blackberry cobbler, blackberry crisp, blackberry clafouti (look it up), perhaps a blackberry pancake or two. Blackberries freeze pretty well if you want to fiddle. Take a cookie sheet, layer with one layer of whole blackberries, cover, freeze overnight, put the frozen blackberries in ziplock bags. Repeat. Frozen blackberries make especially good ammo for the squirrels. 🙂 If in later months your challenge is not so tight, blackberry vinegar is excellent as is homemade blackberry liqueur. 1 part blackberries, 1 part sugar, 1 part vodka.

    Are you allowed to barter? 🙂

  25. My wife and I had a baby on the 23rd of June – and today, the 24th, I made our first shopping list based on sales, and only six copies of the 6/20 Sunday paper that I managed to find last week in 20 minutes by going to coffee shops and even the library (and securing commitments from the managers to reserve a few more regularly). Here’s to the start of a new way of shopping… thanks for the blog and tips. Perhaps someday I’ll teach our new daughter how to shop smarter for her family too. I’m going to see if there is a way I can knock down our $740 monthly grocery budget down starting now.

  26. @Ryan

    A huge congratulations on the new addition to your family. Here is my challenge to you — using the methods here you will save a ton of money on diapers. Take the difference between what you actually pay and what the diapers would have cost had you paid regular price ans place that money into a college fund for your daughter. By the time she gets out of diapers, you should have a nice college fund set for her 🙂

    As for the food, it will take time to gather the inserts, but each week as you get more comfortable with couponing, you should see a significant drop in your food spending even with the new addition to the family.

  27. Have you tried freezing your fruit (for smoothies) instead of using ice cubes? Using frozen fruit eliminates the need for ice cubes, keeping your smoothies thicker and not watery. Cut the fruit into bite sized chunks and lay it all out on a a cookie sheet or something flat that will fit in the freezer. After it’s frozen, measure it out into zipper bags or other containers and pull them out of the freezer as desired. I’m not quite sure if you could make it work on this challenge — I’m still trying to figure out the rules. (I haven’t read ALL the comments so if you knew this already or someone else suggested it, oh well. LOL.)

  28. I don’t know if you have a HyVee near you, but if you do, today is the last day of a big $1 sale there. Eggs are 2 dozen for $1, Skippy PB is $1, and other items as well. If you have coupons, even better!

    Note, HyVee doesn’t double coupons, give you overages or do BOGO deals.

  29. When life hands you lemons, you make lemonade. When life hands you squirrels you make squirrel stew? Our ancestors would run to get the squirrel rifle and have both squirrel and loquats.

    I had not idea what a loquat was before today.

  30. I grew up on a farm and did a lot of canning when I was growing up. I had strange interests as a child and my parents humored me, much to their benefit and mine.

    I’ve always had great success with the Sure Jell (for Less or No Sugar) kind, even when I started with no experience canning before.

    I think with blackberries, it was about 4 c. of blackberries to 3 c. of sugar (normal recipes call for like 6 or 7 c. and turn out much too sweet). Other ingredients include the Sure Jell and sometimes lemon juice, I think. It’s been several years since I’ve done it. The recipe for almost any type of fruit is listed on the instructions in the box.

    The most time consuming part of canning anything, I thought, was sterilizing the jars. Easy solution: bake the jars and lid rims, only use the boiling hot water method for the lids with rubber.

    Maybe canning wouldn’t be a great idea on your $1 day challenge unless you can find a good deal on sugar and Sure Jell (sometimes I see coupons in the summer). But I always put everything in the smallest size Mason jar I could find (another cost unless you have jars saved from previous years).

    Small jars make great sense for two reasons:

    1) I don’t eat much jam on my toast or biscuits, and I like variety and can change up the kind I eat every month.

    2) Gifts! It’s cheaper and sometimes more special to give someone a jar of homemade jam and maybe some candied pecans than a store-bought gift. (We had a naturally growing pecan orchard on our farm to forage from but pecans could also be harvested from parks, outside public buildings like libraries or college campuses wherever pecan trees grow).

    Oh! Another tip on canning… use more less-ripe berries for a less sweet taste. My favorite jam of all time is Algerita berry. It comes from a plant native to Texas. The berries often grow to about the size of a blueberry but rarely taste sweet when ripe. With the sugar added for the preserving process, the jam comes out perfect since I don’t like overly sweet things. (I rarely eat vanilla ice cream for that reason. I prefer the more tart frozen yogurt.)

  31. Sorry dude, squirrels over you. They live out there and it’s probably their only food source. You have a job and can buy your food. They are not “stealing” from you.

  32. Why not make a blackberry crisp. Just put your blackberries in a buttered baking dish and sprinkle with sugar.
    Then take a little brown sugar, flour, a small amt. of butter and a
    little oatmeal. Mix with your hands
    and sprinkle on top of blackberries.
    bake at 350 degrees for about 25 to
    30 mins.

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