Although my husband and family encouraged me to visit Aldi’s or Shop N Save for the $29 week challenge, I chose to go to Schnuck’s because I wanted to see how I could manage my budget shopping at the store which I typically frequent because it is closest to my house. Like the other Food Outreach bloggers, I went to the store armed and ready with a well planned grocery list for the week(note, week, not weekend yet…too daunting). As I shopped, I found myself being very grateful for the “price per ounce” assistance on the grocery shelves. I used this reference for almost every item comparison. I had no idea that a food like vegetable broth (which will go in my parsnip soup recipe) had such a wide range of prices when compared by the ounce. The soup recipe called for 64 ounces, so the highest broth price at 14 cents per ounce compared to the cheapest broth at 4 cents per ounce really made a difference . Another shocker, or shall I say disappointment, was how small the apples are that came in the #3 pound bag. With 13 apples in the bag, each apple set me back 23 cents. I did feel better knowing the apples were grown in Missouri, but when eaten as a snack, the small portion left me wishing for more. Once I got home from the store, I decided that preparing my dinner meals for the week would ensure I stuck to the meal plan. The first recipe (which I will share later) was a parsnip and carrot soup and the second meal was a lentil, pasta, and rice dish with a mint butter sauce. Both recipes turned out pretty tasty, and I was happy to be able to include my “mint on steroids” plant from backyard garden. Free herbs are coming in handy. As I mentioned in my previous blog, I am addicted to the 94% fat free Act II kettle corn. I am not for sure if it’s the popcorn that I love or the relaxation of eating the popcorn while I watch “Chopped” on the Food Network. Either way, the microwave popcorn was too expensive so I grudgingly purchased the plain popcorn kernels. After two hours in the kitchen preparing my weekly dinners, I found myself hungry and decided to introduce the kernels to my air popper. For 5 cents, I popped ~6 cups of popcorn and after adding a touch of salt and sugar was pleasantly surprised with the tasty and nutritious, and most importantly -inexpensive, source of pleasure. I do have a confession already for Day 1. After today’s lunch, I received the gift of a diet coke. I didn’t allocate any money to my afternoon soda habit, so I am very gracious to my caffeine angel.

Jennifer McDaniel

Jennifer McDaniel is a Registered Dietitian, Media Spokesperson, and co-author of Prevention's Mediterranean Table Cookbook. She and her team of Registered Dietitians aim to help their clients go further, make change last, and unlock their potential. She lives in St. Louis, MO with her husband, and three young sons. If you are interested in working with Jennifer, please visit our contact page.