Grocery store produce aisle

(Image source)

We keep a pretty tight grocery budget. Sometimes it has been intentional, and sometimes it has been out of necessity. We also love good food and are adventurous eaters, so it takes a bit of work to make that happen. I have gotten a lot of questions over the years on how to save money on groceries, and I have been wanting to gather and share my thoughts for a long time. I do not have it all figured out, and as life has changed over the years, my methods have had to change as well. Staying in budget is not easy for me (though I do stay within budget), and I definitely feel the stretch. I just want to share some things I have been learning over the years in case anyone else feels a few familiar things pulling them in different directions when they try to plan meals or go to the grocery store.

Here are the things I personally try to reconcile as I’m feeding my family:

  • Our grocery budget is not just a nice idea. I have to stay within my budget.
  • My people eat a lot (there are six of us, and my kids are not dainty eaters).
  • We strongly prefer to eat healthy, fresh, unprocessed, “real” food for the most part. We certainly enjoy the occasional drive-thru combo meal or frozen dinner.
  • Having people over and sharing food with friends is an important part of our lives.
  • I have four kids 7 and under, and we homeschool. When I cook, someone is usually either “helping” me or needing something from me. It also means it is less realistic to quickly run to the store for that one thing I forgot.
  • We get tired of repetitive meals, so while “taco Tuesday” and regular weekly meals make sense for some families, they make our family want to ditch dinner and order pizza, which is not a helpful long-term habit. Thus, I have to spend more time and effort to be creative and come up with a wide variety of meals every month.

Does any of that sound familiar?

We buy very little organic food. And as much as my inner Ma Ingalls longs to eat local, farm-fresh everything, it just will not realistically fit in our budget. But we also eat very little processed food, so there’s that. In the end, we do what we realistically can to be healthy, but I’m not going to live as if eating 100% cage-free, organic, grass-fed, locally-sourced, raw, made-from-scratch-with-love-and-kale-dust healthy food is the most important thing in life. It’s just not.

We eat very well on our budget. But there are also a lot of things that we simply do without. As much as I love salmon, I haven’t bought it in years, because the cost per pound for six people is just not a prudent purchase for us. Cheese sticks are a rare treat for my kids. We don’t stock the fridge with bacon. You might be able to buy those things on a regular basis, and that’s great! But that is, I think, an important part of eating well within a budget. Learn what your budget can handle, and get really good at those things. For example, I have developed a vast chicken repertoire and can do magical things with a bowl of oatmeal.

I have a long list of ideas, habits, and tips I have collected over the years, and I look forward to organizing and sharing them with you. Hopefully they can be a help to someone! Is there anything you specifically want to know? Let me know in the comments!

Other posts in the Stretch Your Grocery Budget series:


Green Noodles

Green Noodles - quick, healthy, delicious pasta with spinach and herbs

Flowers would look beautiful in front of my house, but since I am extremely pragmatic, I am using that space for herbs. (Curb appeal? What’s that? At least it’s not weeds.) I have basil, oregano, mint, and parsley in the little flower bed area by my front door. Just a few dollars spent in the spring, and I get fresh herbs until the following winter.

One of my favorite uses for fresh herbs is “green noodles.” The name is not glamorous, but neither are toddlers, so that is what we call it in our house. I make green noodles at least every few weeks, which is quite frequent for me. My kids (5, 3, and 1) love it, and so do I. It is quick and easy. They are not fans of the leafy texture of spinach, so this is an easy vehicle for spinach that they actually like. (However, they are not picky eaters, so I make no promises for you.) I make it with whatever I have on hand — it is never the same twice. I do use dried herbs in the winter when my plants are dead, and this “recipe” still turns out just fine. I just prefer the taste of fresh herbs.

Disclaimer: If you need specific measurements and precise instructions or are extremely Type A, you may want to leave now to preserve your sanity.


Seriously, I use whatever I have on hand. It is usually some combination of these things, and it is never measured.

  • 1 lb pasta (or more… or less) — we have also used egg noodles.
  • Several handfuls of fresh spinach, preferably lightly steamed (I like to pack it into my little microwave steamer, steam for 1 or 2 minutes, and then just rinse out the steamer after removing the spinach. One less dish to wash. Did I say that out loud?)
  • Handful of fresh basil (or about 1/2 – 1 tsp dried basil)
  • Maybe about 1 teaspoon fresh oregano leaves (stripped from the stem) (or about 1/4 tsp dried oregano)
  • Handful of fresh parsley (or about 1 tsp dried parsley)
  • Sprinkle of smoky paprika
  • Tiny sprinkle of cayenne pepper (this does not make it spicy; it just adds flavor)
  • Maybe 1/4 – 1/2 tsp salt
  • Maybe 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 1-2 cloves fresh garlic — you can also use a sprinkle of garlic powder if you don’t have fresh garlic
  • 1-2 Tbs extra-virgin olive oil
  • Blob of plain yogurt (Greek or regular) OR about 1/4 cup pasta water (the water you drain out after cooking the pasta)
  • About 2-4 Tbs parmesan cheese


This recipe is similar to the avocado pasta recipe I posted a while back, but this is more of a pesto than a sauce and is a little quicker to make.

  1. Boil pasta according to the package directions. While it is heating and cooking, you can assemble the pesto.
  2. Toss the remaining ingredients into a blender or food processor. (If you are using pasta water, you can blend everything else, and then blend again whenever the pasta is done and you get some of the pasta water.)
  3. Taste and add spices as needed. Also add additional liquid or yogurt as needed to thin it out to your desired texture. Remember – this is supposed to flavor the entire batch of noodles, so you want the flavor of the sauce to be a bit stronger than you might want just to eat by itself.
  4. Stir the pesto into the pasta.

After you have made it a few times, you may learn your favorite ratios and be able to toss it together quickly and with little thought (which is a win in my book). I’d love to hear your favorite way to make it!

Quick And Easy Spinach Herb Pasta - delicious!


Blueberry Banana Pancakes ~ bonjourHan.com

These pancakes look and smell amazing. I’m sure they would taste amazing too, but unfortunately I don’t like bananas. “Don’t add bananas,” you might say. But these faces love bananas.

This is why I make banana pancakes even though I can't stand bananas.

So the bananas stay.


  • 3/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup buckwheat flour
  • 1/4 cup white whole wheat flour
  • 2 Tbs cornmeal
  • 1 Tbs sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 Tbs coconut oil
  • 1 – 1 1/4 cup unsweetened almond milk (My 3-year-old is lactose intolerant)
  • Butter for greasing the pan (Not THAT lactose intolerant)
  • 1 cup fresh blueberries
  • 1 banana, thinly sliced

I doubled the recipe and froze most of the pancakes. On busy mornings (or regular morning, let’s be honest) I can just pull a few out of the freezer and pop them in the microwave. My kids eat them unadorned with their hands, and aside from random smears of blueberry juice, cleanup is minimal. Unless the 3-year-old wants to see what happens when he crumbles the rest of his pancake into his cup.


  1. Whisk the dry ingredients together in a bowl.
  2. In a separate bowl beat the eggs.
  3. In a third bowl or microwavable measuring cup, heat the almond milk and coconut oil in the microwave until slightly warm (try 30 seconds). The coconut oil should be melted, but you should be able to stick the tip of your finger in it without feeling pain. That is my highly technical method for calculating the temperature of my baking liquids. If it is too warm, let it sit for a few minutes.
  4. Slowly pour the milk/coconut oil mixture into the egg bowl while whisking.
  5. Add the dry ingredients to the bowl of wet ingredients and whisk gently until mostly smooth (some lumps are ok). It should be somewhat thin, like cake batter.
  6. Gently fold in the blueberries.
  7. Heat a skillet or griddle over medium heat and when hot, “draw” all over the griddle with the unwrapped end of the stick of butter (or do something more civilized, whatever).
  8. Ladle about a 5″ circle of batter onto the griddle and drop a few banana slices on top. Repeat until you run out of space. Once the tops have lots of tiny bubbles and the pancakes appear to be more solid, flip them over to finish cooking.

I then cool them on a cooling rack and pop the whole thing in the freezer to flash freeze before removing them to a gallon-size plastic bag. Because I’m not the awesome mom who cooks breakfast in the actual morning (ain’t nobody got time for that).

Blueberry Banana Pancakes from bonjourHan Blog


This recipe is adapted from a book called “Cast Iron Cooking” by Dwayne Ridgaway.

Breakfast Frittata

Breakfast Frittata - bonjourHan.com


We try to limit the amount of carbs we eat, and this frittata gives us a healthy option to grab in the mornings. I usually make it at night and then slice it into eight pieces and stick it in the fridge. For the next few days we grab a piece and microwave it for about 45 seconds for breakfast. It’s good for you, and it’s full of flavor. It’s also very flexible with what you have in your fridge.


It changes every time I make it, but this is what I used most recently.

  • 1 Tbs butter
  • 1 Tbs extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 to 1/2 of a large onion, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 package sliced mushrooms (This ingredient can be substituted for any number of other vegetables. Roasted red pepper is delicious too!) (Also, I can’t remember off the top of my head how many ounces are in a package of mushrooms. Is it 8 oz.? Basically, you’re going for one of those regular containers or mushrooms with the plastic wrap over the top. Or another kind. it doesn’t really matter.)
  • 2-3 cups chopped fresh spinach (or kale, or swiss chard, or any other leafy green besides lettuce)
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh basil (or 1 teaspoon dried basil)
  • 8 eggs
  • 1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt (you could also use sour cream or heavy cream or even milk, though if you use milk, I would reduce the amount to about 1/3 cup)
  • 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 to 1 cup of another cheese, grated or crumbled (Our favorite in this is feta, though it’s also delicious with cheddar, monterey jack, etc. We even used goat cheese once, and it was amazing.)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper


It takes a little time, but most of it is hands-off. I use my cast-iron skillet, so I don’t have to change pans to put it in the oven. If you don’t have a cast-iron skillet, you can sauté everything in one pan and transfer it to a pie pan for baking.

  1. Preheat oven to 375° F. Heat the butter and oil in a pan over medium heat.
  2. Add the onions and garlic and sauté until the onions are tender.
  3. Add the mushrooms and sauté a few minutes more, until they begin to soften.
  4. Add the spinach and stir until it begins to wilt. Remove from heat and stir in the basil. If not using a cast iron skillet, dump the contents into a pie pan.
  5. Whisk together the eggs, Greek yogurt, both cheeses, salt and pepper in a separate bowl.
  6. Pour the egg mixture into the skillet or pie pan and gently stir to distribute everything evenly.
  7. Place in the middle rack of the oven and bake for 30-40 minutes (you may need to watch it off and on for the last 10 minutes to keep it from getting too brown on top).

You can also mix everything up at night and store the sautéed vegetables separately from the bowl of whisked eggs. In the morning, just combine and pop into the oven.

Having a frittata ready to go in the fridge helps me actually eat breakfast, since I’m usually busy with these two cuties:

Brotherly love - bonjourHan.com


He squints one eye when he smiles, just like his daddy.




Smiling baby - bonjourHan.com

Mommy and big brother - bonjourHan.com


What would you put in your frittata?


Peach Galette

Peach Galette ~ bonjourHan

Ah, peach season. Warm, juicy, ripe fruit dripping with the sweet nectar of summer in Texas.

Unfortunately, it’s January, and while winter grapefruit is delicious, it does not belong in a galette. I have also never successfully convinced Stephen that grapefruit is useful for more than just making the sink garbage disposal smell nice. Peaches are LONG gone, but I saw this picture in some old iPhone photos and thought I would post the recipe, since (A) It’s one of our favorite go-to desserts, and (B) I wanted a galette. I still don’t have a galette, but at least now everyone else can know what I’m missing out on right now.


“Any old pie crust” will not do. The crust is a crucial part of this dessert, partly because it needs to hold up structurally, but mainly because there’s not enough filling to “mask” over it. You will definitely taste it, so it needs to be good.

Side note: Why even have a pie crust if it’s only going to be bland and possibly gross? Why not just have a bowl of pumpkin or baked apple filling and save everyone the trouble? A pie crust should be good. It should actually add to the flavor of the pie, not detract from it or have no taste. Even a simple crust with just a few ingredients can be delicious if it’s the right one for the pie. (If you have any more questions on My Food Philosophy 101, please see me after class.) But seriously. Crust. Don’t waste the carbs if it’s not good, man.


I adapted this crust from a galette crust recipe in “Cast Iron Cooking,” by Dwayne Ridgaway.

For the crust:

  • 1 1/4 cups flour
  • 1 Tbs sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 7 Tbs cold butter, cut into pieces (If you can’t do dairy, then shortening is fine, but if you can, please use real butter!)
  • 3 Tbs ice water
  • Optional: 1/2 Tbs milk to brush over the prepared crust

For the filling:

  • 2 ripe peaches (ideally they will be soft and juicy, but not mushy)
  • 1-2 Tbs brown sugar (depending on how sweet your peaches are. Yes, I advocate taste-testing your peaches as you slice them. For safety purposes. And research. And posterity. And stuff. Basically, you need to end up with approximately two sliced peaches. If you started out with three, it’s none of my beeswax.)
  • 2 dashes cinnamon
  • 1 tiny dash nutmeg
  • Optional: 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

I actually don’t have a “recipe” for the filling and never measure, so this is just a guess on how much of everything to use. It should also tell you that this is a flexible recipe. Use whatever you have, and play around with it if you want. I would say the peaches and the sugar are the only required filling ingredients. And if “sugar” looks like honey  or maple syrup to you, I say go for it (though keep in mind the filling will probably be more likely to ooze out of the galette with the liquid sweeteners).


Preheat the oven to 400° F.

If you have a food processor:

  • Use plastic dough blades if you have them.
  • Toss in all the crust ingredients and pulse until it forms a ball.

If you don’t have a food processor:

  • Mix the flour, sugar and salt in a bowl. Using a fork or a pastry cutter, “cut in” the butter until it looks like large crumbs. Basically, this means mashing the butter until it becomes a million tiny pieces and is evenly distributed in the flour.
  • Add the ice water and mix with a fork until it forms a ball.
  1. Roll out the dough into a big circle (maybe 8-10 inches) on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. The baking sheet must have edges, because the galette will likely leak a bit, and you do not want to chisel a hardened layer of burned fruit syrup off the bottom of your oven.
  2. Slice the peaches thinly and toss into a bowl with the remaining ingredients. It should not be as wet or gooey as a typical pie filling.
  3. Dump the filling into the center of the circle and fold up the edges toward the center, leaving a large “hole” (see the top photo on the left).
  4. Brush the milk over the folded crust for a simple glaze.
  5. Bake for 40 minutes. Let it cool for five minutes after removing it from the oven, then slice it into fourths like a pie. It serves four. Or, let’s be honest, two…

We also love apple galettes and berry galettes, depending on the season.

  • For apple, thinly slice an apple (or two, depending on the size) and mix with some brown sugar, cinnamon and a dash of ground nutmeg or cloves.
  • For berry, mix with some white sugar and about 1/2 teaspoon of lemon juice. Berries are very juicy, so I would avoid using more than 1 cup of berries for the filling.
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