Menu and Cutting Costs

Some of you have asked how I cut my grocery bill just about in half (yes, I really did) and so after my weekly menu I’ll let you know what I’ve done recently to save us money.

 

 

 

  • Wednesday– Chicken casserole and cheesy biscuits; pineapple cake for Zachary’s 1st birthday!

 

 

  • Thursday– Raspberry grilled cheese sandwiches, salad

 

 

 

 

  • Saturday– Pasta and salad

 

 

  • Sunday– Crockpot beef stew, egg noodles

 

Here are some tips that I used while cutting my grocery bill. These are not new tips, and most of you probably do a lot of this and more! It’s amazing what you can do when you have to, that’s all I have to say! I don’t even want to think about the waste we practiced before but I’m so glad that I have found great ideas that work to allow us to save more and spend less.

    • Shop multiple stores– This is one we never did for reasons of time. But we have found that we can save a ton of money getting a few things here and there. We currently are shopping at 3 grocery stores and one warehouse store.

 

  • www.thegrocerygame.com– I saw this link in three different places in the same week and I checked it out. I did their $1 trial and found that I can do most of the work myself. The website was very helpful and showed me what to look for and how to best maximize my coupons and circular sales.

 

 

  • Buy meat at deep discount or buy cheaper meat- Now we are a family that likes good fresh(er) stuff. I don’t often buy frozen meats or veggies. But we have begun buying, for example, chicken legs and thighs for .99 per pound instead of chicken breasts and buying ground beef in bulk.

 

 

  • Using the crockpot– I have become better at organizing my meals ahead of time. I cook meats when I get them and freeze them in 1-2 lb portions so I can defrost them quickly and toss them in the crockpot for soups or stews. Dark meat chicken is much better in the crockpot than white meat, too.

 

 

  • Matching coupons with in-store sales– Again, this just takes time, but has a big payoff.

 

 

  • Making my own bread in the breadmaker– this has easily saved us $30-40 per month. I no longer buy bread, but buy bulk sugar and flour to make my own.

 

 

  • Reduce waste by planning ahead– This is self-explanatory. I also am not giving the kids portions that they won’t end up eating.

 

There might be more, but these are the basics. I feel freer and my budget is thanking me!

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Menu Plan Monday

Haven’t done one of these in ages and since I’m trying to get back into cooking more, I thought I’d jump in. I have always been one to try to make a couple of new recipes per week (marked with *), rarely resorting to sandwiches or throw-together meals for dinners. Since Zach was born, however, we have gotten take out more times than I’d care to admit!! Now that our schedule is more regular again we have at least 4 nights of sit down family dinners per week, and usually 5.

Monday- *Breakfast Burritos and fruit salad
(I’m off to Mom’s Night Out with Thea and some other wonderful ladies!)

Tuesday- Steak Kabobs with jasmine rice

Wednesday- The Gathering– our weekly meal and event night at church

Thursday- sandwiches packed for our travels to violin lesson and church

Friday- Chicken curry and rice (recipe below)

Saturday- *Ricotta pasta with sausage (from Rachel Ray’s No Repeats cookbook)

Sunday- *Sweet Lemon Salmon (also a Rachel Ray recipe)

Creamy Chicken Curry in a Hurry

1.5 Tbsp veg oil
1 med. onion, diced
Salt
2 tsp curry powder
1 (12-14 oz) can unsweetened coconut milk
1 c. canned diced tomatoes
2 Tbsp tomato paste
1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1 in. cubes
3 packed c. fresh baby spinach

Heat oil in lg skillet. Add onion and 1/4 tsp salt. Cook, stirring often, until soft. Add curry powder and continue stirring for 1 minute more.

Stir in the coconut milk, tomatoes and paste. Continue cooking the mixture, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes or until the sauce thickens slightly.

Add the chicken, stir well, and cook for 5-6 minutes or until the meat is cooked through. Add the spinach and cook, stirring occasionally, until wilted, about 3 minutes. Add salt to taste. Serve with rice.

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Works-For-Me Wednesday- Yummy edition


So we have been asked to share a low fat menu item for this week’s WFMW. I have a great recipe for french fries made in the oven with hardly any fat at all, and what there is is from olive oil. So, thanks to my mom, here’s the recipe:

1 1/4 lb baking potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2″strips
3/4 t. salt
1/2 t. sugar
4 t. oil
1 t. paprika

(Just a note: I rarely measure, so I use as many potatoes as I need and go from there. I also have made these without paprika.)

Preheat oven to 450. Spray nonstick baking sheet with oil spray. In a large bowl, combine potatoes, 1/4 t. salt and all of sugar in cold water to cover. Soak 15 minutes; drain and blot dry.

In another large bowl, toss potatoes with the oil and paprika. Place in a single layer on the baking sheet. Bake, turning the potatoes over as they brown, until cooked through and crisp, about 35 minutes. Sprinkle with remaining salt.

These are really good, especially if you get a good balance of crisp on the outside and still potato-y on the inside. Enjoy!

And click the image above to find more great healthy recipes!

Failed again!


Now, if you have read my blog lately you know that I don’t like egg nog. However, my hubby loves it.

Now, I pride myself on providing meals he likes, wearing my hair the way he wants it, usually letting him choose the television show, but for the duration of our marriage I have failed miserably, over and over, in one area:

I have never been able to find the brand of egg nog he likes.

You may think, “That’s easy, just go to a bunch of stores and see who carries it”, right? But I beg to differ! It is not easy and this is why:

He doesn’t even know what brand it is.

He has this ideal, perfect, pie-in-the-sky, Valhalla image of what egg nog should be like. He’s obviously had the egg nog of his dreams before, but not since we’ve been married! I try a few different brands every Christmas season and so far no luck. It’s either not creamy emough, has a funny aftertaste, or just plain isn’t right in some vague way he can’t define.

I feel beaten down, lower than low, defeated by this ideal that I simply can’t find.

Well, Jason did the shopping yesterday for me, wonderful guy that he is, since I was feeling tired from our morning of church services and my tummy was feeling bloated and, well, just pregnant. And lo and behold he comes home with a new brand of egg nog- Sounthern Comfort- to try. I said, “That has liquor in it”, which is why I never bought it, but he said, “No, it says alcohol-free”.

And guess what.

He likes it.

He says it’s not perfect but it’s the best we’ve found yet.

See, I failed, he had to go out and find it himself.

Bah, Humbug, I hate egg nog!

Yummy recipe

After checking out Wendy’s yummy dinner recipe, I thought I’d post my own. I made this tonight and it’s is easy, quick and delicious. It’s also vegetarian for those who don’t eat meat or are lokoing for a cheap dinner for the family.

Vegetable Fajitas

3 cloves garlic, pressed
2 Tbsp lime juice (I use more)
2 tsp cumin
1 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
2 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 medium red onion
2 medium carrots, cut into matchsticks
2 small zucchini cut into matchsticks
1 red bell pepper, cut into strips
8 oz mushrooms, sliced
flour or corn tortillas
sour cream
cheddar cheese

  • mix the 1st 6 ingredients and set aside
  • heat the oil over medium heat and saute the onion and mushrooms for 3 minutes
  • add the other vegetables and saute for 5 minutes
  • add the garlic mixture and cook for 2 more minutes
  • spoon onto tortillas with sour cream, cheese and salsa to your liking

Serves 4. Enjoy!