Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Week One's Grocery Shopping Totals

This weeks grocery shopping is done and all organized. I have to say after being trapped in the house for days because of hurricane Sandy I was more than happy to get out of the house and get some real food.

Totals for this week were higher than normal. I am sure it was because of buying so many new staples. Luckily some of those staples will last for several months so it should all even out.

Total for this week was $179.06
I had $140 in cash from under spending previous months
Total out of this weeks budget for food: $36.06

Week 1 of the Trim Healthy Mama Challenge ~The Menu~

Well I have finally finished reading the entire Trim and Healthy Mama book. Man did that take some time! Such a large and informative book!  I was a bit overwhelmed with the idea of planning out our menu for this month. I decided that until I feel more secure in planning out S and E meals I would do a weekly menu instead of a monthly one. This means changing up my normal monthly grocery shop into a weekly one. Since my husband is home from his deployment that isn't a big deal....actually it could be kind of nice to get out of the house alone for a bit. (I am sure all you mama's of many young children understand where I am coming from!)

Once I got started making our meal plan for this week it actually went pretty easily. I decided to alternate meals each day between the S and E's and also to start each day with the opposite of the day before. The result was that one days dinner worked well as the next days lunch. Such a time and money saver! I used this weekly meal planning template to help me keep track of what I was making for each meal.

Day 1
Simple fried eggs with zucchini (S meal)
Waldorf cottage cheese salad (E meal)
Creamy Cheesy Chicken with steamed broccoli (S meal)

Day 2
Egg white omelet with toast (E meal)
Leftover creamy cheesy chicken and broccoli (S meal)
Italian Chicken (E meal)

Day 3
Cheesy omelet (S meal)
Leftover Italian Chicken (E meal)
Meatloaf with califlower mashed potatoes (S meal)

Day 4
Oatmeal with berries (E meal)
leftover meatloaf and califower mashed potatoes (S meal)
Chicken yogurt bake with quinoa (E meal)

Day 5
Simple fried eggs with zucchini (S meal)
leftover chicken yogurt bake with quinoa (E meal)
Whole chicken with zucchini fries (S meal)

Day 6
Oatmeal with berries (E meal)
Leftover whole chicken with zucchini fries (S meal)
Mexican style chicken (E meal)

Day 7
Cheesy omelet (S meal)
leftover mexican style chicken (E meal)
Cabbage rolls with green fries  (S meal)

Next up is as trip to the grocery store. Lets see if I can  stick to our budget and bring this meal plan in under $100  for the week. It might be a little tight this week since there are some larger basic purchases I will need to make. Things like switching to coconut oil and sea salt will take an investment at the beginning of the month but will last the entire month (or several months).

Trim Healthy Mama Challenge!

Ah November, how did you get here so fast?!  This month  is going to be a bit different around our house as we will be making some changes to our diets and menus. During the last two weeks of October I found that I am having a few minor complications with my pregnancy. Nothing major and the baby and I are both fine, but I need to get a better control on my insulin levels and my salt intake. After not gaining any weight my entire pregnancy I have suddenly gained 9lbs in 5 weeks. Not the end of the world but it is showing that there is something going on with my body. I have had gestational diabetes in the past and I REALLY don't want to go back down that road again. I also have underlying hypertension so anything I can do to control my high blood pressure before it becomes a problem would be a good thing.

I do have to say I am ornery when it comes to food. I don't like being told no. If I want salt and carbs then I want salt and carbs and you better watch out! However I do need to make some changes and I know I need to make those changes for my kids if not myself. They deserve a healthy mama.

While doing my research I discovered the book Trim Healthy Mama. The book seems to have been written with me in mind. The book covers a lot of nutritional ground, a lot more than I was expecting. The authors focus on controlling insulin levels while allowing some carbs (low glycemic index foods), and splitting fat and carbs into separate meals. The thought being that when you eat fat and carbs in the same meal you are double fueling your body. Your body is not able to burn both fuel sources so you end up storing one of them and ending up getting fat. The way the authors describe the process really makes sense and was kind of a "duh!" moment.  By splitting the two fuel sources in to different meals you are giving your body a chance to use the one fuel source as well as burn some of your excess fat stores (a win win in my book!).

They break the meals down into two types: Satisfaction (S meals) and Energizing (E meals). The S meals being the ones with fat in them and the E meals being the ones with carbs.

I am more than willing to give this a shot....after all I already made the investment in the book why not? I thought it would be interesting (at least for me) to track my progress (and struggles) for one month on here. Sort of a blog diary of how it is going. How my body is adjusting, how the meals are, that sort of thing.

So here it goes!

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Feeding 7 on $400 a month ~Octobers Final Numbers~

Well the month is over and the results are in! Since we get paid on Monday our November budget starts a few days before the end of the calender month. Meaning we are done with October and ready to tally up the totals! 

Week one $66.83
Week two $99.03
Week three $85.02
Week four $124.66

Total for the month of October: $375.54

Shew! That was a lot of calculating prices for every meal! I did find it pretty informative, at least for me. I will not be continuing the cost breakdown for every meal for the next month. Instead November will be focused on trying out a diet change we are considering. I found a great book with tons of ideas and recipes for helping me stabilize my insulin levels. The month of November will be focused on how the program is working and trials and successes I face trying to feed my entire family these new recipes.

Feeding 7 on $400 a mth ~October week 4 breakdown~

Homemade waffles $9.36
Bagels $0.76
Fruit Salad $1.80
Oatmeal, Apple, and Raisin Bread $3.76
Sausage Biscuits $3.20

Total for breakfast: $18.88


Total for lunch: $0

Apples $1.29
String Cheese $2.89
Peanut butter sandwiches $2.46
Oatmeal, Apple, and Raisin Bread $3.76

Total for snacks: $10.40

Pulled Pork Sandwiches on homemade french bread $5.13
Take out pizza night (the night of my sons surgery)  $35
Tastefully Simple Hearty Italian Soup with bread $11.09
Spaghetti $4.49
Mini meatloafs with cheesy fries $14.45
Chicken Pot Pie $3.93

Total for dinner: $74.09

2 gallons of soy milk $11.20
1 gallon of skim milk $2.48
4 gallons of Lemonade $5.25
1 gallon of OJ $2.36

Total for drinks: $21.29

Total to feed my family of 7 this week: $124.66

Chicken Pot Pie

I love chicken pot pie. My husband....not so much. Luckily there is still plenty of meatloaf in the fridge for one more night, so if he isn't in a chicken pot pie mood he can have more leftovers. Mama is getting her pot pie!

Chicken Pot Pie
2 Pie crusts ($1.89)
2 Tbsp Flour ($0.01)
2 Tbsp butter ($0.04)
1/2 tsp salt ($0.01)
1/4 tsp thyme ~Free from garden~
1/8 tsp pepper ($0.01)
1 cup chicken broth ~Free from homemade stock~
1/4 cup milk ($0.03)
2 cups cooked chicken, shredded ($1.00)
1.5 cups frozen vegetables ($0.89)
1/2 cup onion chopped ($0.05)

Preheat oven to 425. Line bottom of pie plate with one pie crust. Melt butter in saucepan and stir in flour, salt, thyme, and pepper. Cook stirring till mixture is smooth and bubbly. Remove from heat. Stir in milk and broth. Heat to boiling, stirring constantly. Boil and stir one minute. Stir in chicken, vegetables, and onion. Pour into bottom pie crust.  Top with remaining pie crust. Seal edges, cut several slits on top. Bake on cookie sheet 35-40 min. until golden brown.

Total for pot pie: $3.93

Friday, October 26, 2012

Homemade Bagels

I just got done writing a post about how much my children love you are lucky enough to get a post about how much my children love bagels. Seeing a theme here? They are their mothers children and know a good carb filled breakfast when they see one. I am also slightly obsessed with bagels at the moment myself.

I have been buying our bagels in bulk and freezing them so that they last the entire month. A friend of mine however has been making homemade bagels and I thought I would give it a peak to see how hard it would be to do myself. Turns out it is seriously easy, and MUCH cheaper to make you own.

12 mini bagles from the grocery store: $2.22
12 mini bagels made from scratch: $0.76

Kind of a "what was I thinking" moment for me! So we are gonna give making homemade bagels a shot!

Homemade Bagels
  • 1 1/4 cups milk ($0.18)
  • 1 tsp Active dry yeast ($0.02)
  • 1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar ($0.01)
  • 1/4 cup oil ($0.09)
  • 2 Tbsp sugar ($0.08)
  • 1 tsp salt ($0.01)
  • 1 Tbsp baking powder ($0.04)
  • 3 3/4 cups all-purpose flour ($0.33)

  1. Preheat over to 425.
  2. Warm milk to almost boiling. Add yeast and let dissolve.
  3. In a large bowl, add sugar, salt, baking powder and flour. Mix well.
  4. Add vinegar and oil to milk/ yeast. 
  5. Add your wet ingredients to your dry ingredients and mix thoroughly.
  6. After mixed, separate dough into 12 small balls.
  7. Line baking sheets with silicone baking mats.
  8. Slightly flatten circles and poke hole through the center. Lay on baking sheet.
  9. Cook for 20-25 min. Until bagel is light golder brown.

Mini Meat loafs and Cheesy Potato Fries

 Tonight we are having mini meat loafs and cheesy potato fries. Talk about a meal made in heaven for my meat and potato loving husband! We don't usually have meatloaf since it is meat centered meal, making it pretty expensive. We are however preparing for hurricane Sandy to make landfall next week and need to clean out our freezers. I would rather have a more expensive meal now and use up the meat in our freezer than have the power go out for several days and then have to throw the meat out.

To cut down on the baking time we will be making the meatloafs in a muffin tin. Then each child gets their own little mini meatloaf. That makes it a bit more fun for the kids and a bit quicker for me. Win win in my book!
green bell pepper $0.25
onion $0.08
celery $0.09
ground beef $5.60
mild pork sausage ~I skipped this ingredient and just doubled the ground beef~
cracker crumbs ~Changed to Oatmeal~ $0.20
dry onion soup mix $1.02
salt $0.01
ground black pepper $0.01
dried sage $0.02
milk  $0.22
ketchup $0.30
Total for mini meat loafs:  $7.80

Cheesy potato fries

Potatoes $2.50
olive oil ~Changed to vegetable oil~ $0.04

Sour Cream/Ranch Sauce:
sour cream $0.75
ranch dressing  $0.50
milk $0.03

Shredded cheddar cheese $1.00
shredded mozzarella cheese $0.50
bacon bits $0.83
green onions ~Free from re-rooting green onion roots~

Total for fries: $6.65

Total for meal: $14.45

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Blank Meal Plan Day

One of the things I like to do when I am making my meal plan is to leave a few days blank through out the month.

There are several reasons for this:
* Sometimes I don't feel like cooking and we just have a sandwich and some fruit for dinner.
*Or A meal turns out to make double the amount I anticipate and we have that two nights in a row instead of just the one night on the meal plan.
*Or we are invited out to have dinner with friends

If I had made a meal plan for those days I would have been left with unused food in my fridge and pantry, so this way I keep the clutter and unnecessary buying down to a minimum.

If however none of those things come to pass and we are home and needing dinner I am planning ahead to challenge myself. You know how you look in your pantry and see that odd jar of something and think "I know I bought that for some recipe and never made it.....but I can't remember what I was going to do with it". So your pantry fills up with these odd bits and pieces that you never actually use. With the blank meal plan day I am issuing myself a challenge. I am challenging myself to fly by the seat of my pants and use up what I can find in the freezer or pantry. It cuts down on the clutter and over stock in my pantry and freezer, keeps my grocery budget down as well, and lets me get creative and come up with something I normally wouldn't have thought to make.

Tonight while I was scrounging around in the bottom of my freezer seeing what I had available I found some of my grandmothers spaghetti sauce that had gotten buried and forgotten. Paired up with the spaghetti noodles I bought months ago in bulk and we are good to go for dinner. Technically this meal didn't cost me anything for this months meal planning challenge since the spaghetti sauce and noodles came out of the grocery budget months ago when they were prepared and stocked up. However I hate when I read a blog and the blogger does that to me. I want to see the costs, all the costs, even the ones that were incurred months ago while doing a stock up. After all I can't get a clear picture if I don't have all the numbers....apparently I like numbers....who knew?! So in an effort to show all costs I will record it in our end of week breakdown.

I would say tonight will be a nice easy night in the kitchen but I have a lot of bulk cooking to do instead of dinner cooking. I need to make bagels and waffles from scratch tonight for the rest of the month. Having dinner already done does help though!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Tastefully Simple Hearty Italian Soup

A few weeks ago my neighbor was having a Tastefully Simple party and I decided to try some of their soup mixes. My thought being that they would be a nice simple shelf stable thing to have on hand for nights when I didn't feel like cooking but we needed to eat. Tonight we are trying the Hearty Italian Soup Mix. Seems simple enough. Just add a 1/2lb of cooked ground beef (which I have already cooked and in my freezer) and simmer for 15min. That with a loaf of frozen bread heated up and we are good to go!

Soup mix $8.69
Ground beef $1.40
Loaf of bread $1.00

Total for meal: $11.09

Not the cheapest meal but it is seriously easy, and that is what I need for tonight. My son had minor surgery yesterday and I am pretty far behind around here after taking all day yesterday to care for him. So more expensive than from scratch, but cheaper than takeout. It is a win in my book!

The $13.06 Clothing Challenge

Ever have one of those mornings where you wake up to realize your child has outgrown all their clothes? Maybe it is just my kids that grow like mutants in the middle of the night, but I doubt it! This morning I found that my son had outgrown all his pajamas, seriously none of them fit anymore! How is that possible?

Since he is our only son I don't have any hand-me downs stashed in a closet for him so I needed to go out and buy him all new pajamas, trouble is new clothes were not budgeted for this months paycheck. In a effort to be as frugal as possible I decided to see how much cash I could come up with from around the house. After scrounging around in the bottom of my diaper bag and my car ashtray I found $13.06 Now if I was shopping in a retail store this would get me maybe 2 outfits, if I was lucky. Instead of shopping retail I decided to go to the local thrift store and see how many pairs of jammies I could find for my little man. Unfortunately they were not having any killer sales this week but I did do pretty good, 7 pairs of pajamas for $12.20

The even better part is that these are 3T jammies and he only needed 2T. With a little creative sewing I will be able to baste up the pant legs to fit him now, and then with a little snip of a thread they will still fit him through his next growth spurt. Talk about getting your moneys worth!

Freezer waffles

My children love waffles. I don't know what it is that makes them better than pancakes, but in my children's eyes waffles are always the better choice. Since I have 5 children to feed I can go through some waffles! In the past we have bought the prepackaged frozen waffles because well I am lazy and not a morning person. The prepackaged ones just seemed simpler so that is the way we went. Since we are now trying to cut out all prepackaged foods from our diets I decided to give homemade waffles a chance and was surprised how easy they were to make. The bonus is that they are SO much better than the frozen waffles from the store. The homemade ones are softer and twice as thick...gotta love that! I add all the ingredients to my kitchenaid mixer and let it do all the work for me while I put everything away. Then I keep my waffle maker going while I clean the kitchen, do laundry, etc. Much easier than pancakes that you have to stand there the entire time to watch and flip.

Since we go through them quickly I don't even bother freezing them when I make them. I just put them in a bag in the fridge and they are usually gone pretty quickly. If you wanted to freeze them I would suggest flash freezing them on a baking sheet and then adding them to a bag for storage. If you lay all of them together in a bag to freeze you will find you have a block of frozen waffles and need to defrost them all before you can eat one. Another tip I have learned is to put a piece of tinfoil under my waffle maker in case of batter oozing out the sides. Makes clean up much simpler.

I did some price comparisons the last time I was at that grocery store comparing the box mixes, the frozen waffles and homemade waffles and this is what I found:

Box of mix for 10 waffles $2.10 + eggs and oil
Box of 10 frozen waffles $2.70
10 Homemade waffles $2.34
  • All-purpose Flour .18
  • Baking Soda .01
  • Baking Powder .04
  • Granulated Sugar .06
  • Salt .01
  • Eggs  .18
  • Buttermilk  .30
  • Butter, Melted .30
 Total savings for 10 waffles made at home is $0.36

Okay so it isn't a ton per batch, but honestly the fact that the homemade ones taste so much better and are so much softer would have sold me even if they were more expensive to make. I also love being able to control the ingredients. I like knowing that I am  feeding my children something with ingredients I can actually name.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Pulled Pork Sandwiches on Homemade French Bread

Last night we had pork carnitas for dinner and I have a ton of shredded pork leftover. In a effort to use the leftover pork we will be having pulled pork sandwiches on homemade french bread for dinner tonight.

Pulled Pork Sandwiches
leftover shredded pork $2.80
coleslaw or broccoli slaw, prepared with a bit of light mayo $0.60
Loaf of french bread $0.53

Super simple to put together :)

Total for sandwiches: $3.93

I will add in a can of fruit salad so we have a balanced meal.

Total for meal: $5.13

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Feeding 7 on $400 a mth ~October week 3 Breakdown~

Muffins $3.50
Apples $1.19
Bananas $2.00
Frozen Waffles $5.00
Cereal $4.99

Total for breakfasts:  $16.68

Oyster crackers $1.19
Mini Strawberry Pies $4.57
Muffins $3.50
Apples $1.19

Total for snacks: $10.45

Bacon and egg sandwiches $2.42

Total for lunch: $2.42

Meatball casserole with homemade french bread $5.98
Teriyaki BBQ Chicken with stir fry vegetable and rice $5.75
Tex Mex Stew $6.97
Sweet Chicken with rice and green beans $4.85
Pork Carnitas with double chocolate zucchini bread  $7.54

Total for dinner: $31.09

2 gallons of soy milk $11.20
1 gallon of skim milk $2.48
4 gallons of Lemonade $5.25
1 gallon of OJ $5.45

Total for drinks: $24.38

Total to feed my family of 7 this week:  $85.02

Crockpot Pork Carnitas with Double Chocolate Zucchini Bread

Tonight I am not feeling all that well. Unfortunately I think I picked up a bug while attending dr's appointments last week. Fortunately though I have a crockpot so I don't actually have to do much for dinner tonight.

We are having pork carnitas for dinner.I also saw that my husband pulled a double chocolate zucchini bread out of the freezer this afternoon so we will be having that for dessert.

Pork Carnitas
  • pork roast $2.80
  • onion $0.10
  • garlic $0.06
  • chili powder $0.05
  • cumin** I was out of cumin so I didn't use**
  • taco sauce. Um I don't know what taco sauce is and I wasn't feeling well enough to look up how to make it so I went with a can of enchilada sauce I had in my pantry. $0.85
  • Tortillas $1.00
  • Cilantro $0.10
  • Tomatoes ~Free from garden~ 
  • Green onions that I found in the bottom of my fridge and really needed to use $.40
Total for dinner:  $5.36

Double Chocolate Zucchini Bread

all-purpose flour $0.11
unsweetened cocoa $0.25
baking soda $0.02
cinnamon $0.01
ground cloves **Didn't have so I didn't use**
butter, softened $0.27
sugar $0.25
oil $0.05
eggs $0.10
buttermilk **I just used regular milk* $0.04
vanilla extract $0.09
zucchini, unpeeled and shredded $0.52
bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped  $0.50

Total for the 1 loaf for tonight's dessert: $2.21

Total for entire meal: $7.54

Friday, October 19, 2012

Sweet Chicken with rice and green beans


I found a pin on pinterest for this recipe and thought it was worth a try. I have named it "sweet chicken" since the link in the pin doesn't go to the individual recipe but rather the entire blog. I don't have the time to go through the entire thing to find the authors real name for the recipe so "sweet chicken" it is!

Sweet Chicken
1c pineapple juice
1/2c brown sugar
1/3c soy sauce
2lbs chicken breasts

Cook on low in crockpot 6-8 hours till the chicken falls apart.

Financial breakdown:
Pineapple juice $0.50 (I ended up using half a can of crushed pineapple since that was what I already had in my pantry
Brown sugar $0.25
Soy sauce $0.10
Chicken $2.00 (The chicken was precooked and shredded before being put in my freezer)

Total for the sweet chicken: $2.85

I added some rice and  green beans to make this a meal.

Total for entire meal $4.85

Dinner was really good. My son and husband cleaned their plates! I am not overly in love with pineapple so I was a bit hesitant to try this recipe but it turned out you couldn't really taste the pineapple at all. It mixed in well with the brown sugar and soy sauce and made a not overly sweet topping for the chicken.

Tex Mex Stew

Since my husband (the beef lover) is home we decided to have this Tex Mex stew for dinner. The original plan was to make some cornbread to go with it but I had had an emotional day at the Dr's office so I decided just to go with the stew. I also altered the recipe to cook in my crock pot instead of on the stove top, just to make my life easier.

Tex Mex Stew
lean ground beef $4.20
frozen chopped sweet green and red peppers ~Free from garden~
black beans $0.12 (made from dried beans and then frozen)
corn nibblets $1.00
diced green chiles $0.85
onion soup mix $0.75
ground cumin **I was out of cumin so I didn't use**
salt $0.02
dried oregano $0.02
cayenne pepper $0.01
all-purpose flour **Forgot this step and didn't use**

Total for stew: $6.97

I could have cut the price down on this recipe considerably by cutting the meat in half and upping the amount of beans, but as I said my husband is a beef man and had been playing hockey all afternoon so I took pity on him.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Blank Slate Muffins

 Years ago my children were diagnosed with a milk protein allergy and I ended up doing lots of research trying to find recipes for baked goods that didn't use any butter. I found the recipe for these muffins and  realized I could add anything I wanted to them. They quickly became my blank slate muffins. I have made so many different variations of these muffins that I can't even remember all of them anymore.

Blank Slate Muffins

1.5c flour
3/4c sugar
1tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1.5c fruit or veg puree
1 egg
1/3c oil
1/4c soy milk or cows milk

Once you get all the above mixed together you can add 1-2cups of another grain. I have done baby cereal, oatmeal, wheat germ, flax seed,etc. Just keep adding till it starts to thicken up but is still scoopable. Also you can add a few handfuls of dried fruit or chocolate chips if you like. Bake 350 for 25-30min.

I have found that you can use just about any type of oatmeal mix in these as well. You know those packages of flavored oatmeal? Works great in these. I also use prepared granola in them as well. The last batch of muffins I made had apple, honey, nuts, and raisin granola added. My husband said they were really good and tasted buttery. My kids go back for seconds every time I serve these. 

I make a massive batch of these muffins once or twice a month. Usually about 6 dozen or more at a time and then store them in the freezer till I am ready to use them. Another option is to turn these muffins into a loaf instead. A dozen muffins makes about 1 loaf, just double the baking time and check every so often till the center gets firm.

Financial breakdown  for the basic muffin mix:
flour  $0.13
sugar $0.75
baking powder $0.03
baking soda $0.02
salt $0.01
fruit or veg puree $1.50
egg $0.09
oil $0.20
milk $0.03

Total for 12 basic muffins: $2.76 
+any additional dried fruit or grain you choose to add

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Homemade Breakfast Biscuits

My hubby loves his hot breakfast in the morning and I am not much of a morning person. Doesn't really work out well for us. Instead of getting up early and cooking for him before he leaves for work I decided to start making things for him to have in the freezer or fridge ready to go. I shared some of the ideas in a past post, but thought I would share the breakdown for some of the items. Tonight I made sausage biscuits to package for the freezer.

First I start by making these baking soda biscuits. They are super simple to make and take no time at all. I make my dough in the food processor. I could say there is some super amazing reason I do it this way instead of by hand but really I am just lazy and don't feel like cutting the butter in by hand. Once the dough forms in to a ball in the food processor it is ready to roll out and cut into biscuits. Simple.

 Next up we have the sausage. I do not like standing over a frying pan frying sausage. I don't have the time and I hate the mess the splattering makes all over my stove. Instead I put my sausage patties on a baking sheet (if you are smarter than me you will line that baking sheet with tinfoil first) and throw it into a 425 degree oven for 12-15min till done in the middle.

Then I lay out all my tinfoil sheets and assemble the sausage biscuits. Wrap them up and throw them in a ziploc bag, be sure to label the bag!! And place in the freezer. Seriously only takes a few minutes of actual hands on work, the majority of the work is done by the oven not you.

When you are ready to eat these bad boys just unwrap and microwave till warm in the middle. Just like those frozen breakfast sandwiches you can buy in the store.

Financial breakdown:
Flour $0.18
Butter $0.29
Milk $0.13
Sausage $1.00

Total for 12 sausage biscuits: $1.60

That same amount bought ready made in the freezer section of your grocery store would cost you between $5-$10 depending on sales.

Mini Strawberry Pies

I am using this recipe as a jumping off point for today's after school snack.

Here is my version:

Mini Strawberry Pies
1 package refrigerated pie dough
1/2 bag frozen strawberries
1 Tbsp sugar
1/2 package cream cheese

Roll out pie dough and cut out your shapes (we are going with hearts). Add a scoop of  cream cheese on one of the dough hearts. Then toss your defrosted strawberries with the sugar and top the cream cheese with a few spoonfuls. Add the top dough heart and crimp the edges down. Bake at 375 for about 15min till golden brown.

Cost breakdown:
Pie crusts $2.50
Strawberries $1.37
sugar $0.05
Cream cheese $0.65

Total for Mini Strawberry Pies: $4.57

Teriyaki BBQ Chicken in the slow cooker

Okay this recipe is so simple it can't help but be cheap!

Teriyaki BBQ Chicken in the slow cooker
chicken breasts $1
1/2 bottle Teriyaki Sauce $1.25
1/2 bottle of BBQ Sauce $0.50

Total for chicken: $2.75

I had some stir fry veggies in my freezer that I paired with some rice as a bed for this chicken.

Total for meal: $5.75

I thought it was really good. Hubby felt it was too many flavors all at once. I may play around with the percentages of teriyaki versus BBQ sauce and see if we can find a version that isn't as overwhelming for hubby. 

Flannel and terry cloth burp cloths and wipes

I have been spending lots of time playing around on pinterest lately and found a tutorial for making cloth "paper towels". I thought I would give them a try since I hate the massive waste that goes along with real paper towels. After making these though I decided I didn't like them in the kitchen at all. Instead they make perfect burp cloths! What a happy accident!
I used this tutorial for making my burp cloths only stopping before adding the snaps. I then used the same technique with the leftover fabric to make matching cloth wipes.  
These burp cloths are flannel on one side and terry cloth on the other, and super soft. The flannel is gentle on little faces while the terry cloth is absorbent and just right for wiping bottoms.  These will be perfect for our new little one that will be here in just a few short months.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Meatball casserole with homemade french bread

Tonight's dinner is super simple and will be a big hit with my meatball obsessed husband. We are having a meatball casserole with homemade french bread!

This is my all time favorite french bread recipe and very easy to make. I will make the full bread recipe. One loaf for tonight's dinner and one loaf to use with honey butter for snacks this week.

French Bread
3 cups flour $0.27
Active yeast $0.10
Salt $0.05
Corn meal $0.02
Egg white $0.09

Total for 1 loaf of bread: $0.53

Meatball Casserole
1 Baguette French Bread $0.53
Olive Oil $0.20
1 pkg. frozen Italian meatballs  $2.00
1 pkg. frozen onion and bell pepper mix $1.50
1 1/2 cups spaghetti sauce $1.25
1 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded $0.50

Total for meatball casserole:  $5.98

The casserole was really good and the men in our house especially liked it! My husband REALLY doesn't like soggy bread so instead of putting the bread on the bottom and layering the meatballs and sauce on top I put the bread on top and covered it with cheese. It turned the bread into a giant cheese covered crouton, come on who wouldn't like that? The only complaint was that it needed more meatballs. I will be keeping this recipe in our rotation and adding a second bag of meatballs.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Free Jr Frosties at Wendy's

Wendy's is offering 10 free Jr frosties when you donate $1 to their adoption charity. I don't know about you but I am a supporter of adoption and I am a major fan of chocolate ice cream.

Works out to $0.10 per frosty and in one trip saves my family $4.62 . My kids think I am a rock star for buying them chocolate ice cream for no reason and I get to support a worthy cause. Win win in my book.

Feeding 7 on $400 a mth ~October week 2 breakdown~

Mini bagels $2.22
muffins $3.50
egg and bacon sandwiches $2.42
Apples $1.19

Total for breakfasts:  $9.33

Lunch out at the pumpkin patch $24

Total for lunch: $24

Apples and fluff $3.43
Chocolate chip cookies $5.67
Half peanut butter sandwiches  $0.82
Parmesan Bites $3.42

Total for Snacks: $13.34

Honey Hoisen Chicken $4.14
Taco pizza $4.03
Fiesta Chicken soup $4.41
Leftovers $0
BBQ Brisket with mashed potatoes and green beans $16.61
Dinner with friends $0
Spaghetti and Meat Sauce $4.49

Total for Dinners: $33.68

2 gallons of soy milk $11.20
1 gallon of skim milk $2.48
2 gallons of kool aid $5.00

Total for drinks: $18.68

Total for weekly meals: $99.03

Spaghetti and Meat sauce

Tonight's dinner is another of my husband's favorite meals. Luckily it is also my kids favorite as well so everyone over here will be quite happy tonight.

I am making my grandmother's meat sauce. This sauce is super yummy and so easy to make. This is actually one of the meals I make in bulk every month. I multiply the recipe by 6 and have 6 dinners done in no time flat. I store them in gallon sized ziploc bags and freeze. On the day we want to eat them I throw the frozen sauce in the crockpot on low all day and all I have to do at dinner time is boil the pasta. 

Since I am cooking in bulk I also save a ton of money. I am able to buy the gigantic #10 cans of tomatoes from Costco for $2.50 per can. When you do this recipe by 6 you need one of the #10 cans of tomatoes ($2.50) and 1/2 of a #10 can of tomato paste ($1.25) then you just have the meat as a big cost and you are done. Super frugal.

Meat Sauce
1 clove garlic minced
2 c tomatoes
1 Tbsp Sugar
1/8th tsp Paprika
1 lb hamburger
1/4 c chopped onion
Two 6oz cans of tomato paste
2 tsp salt
1 bay leaf

Brown the meat with the garlic and onions. Add the remaining ingredients and simmer till heated through. Done!

Financial breakdown:
Garlic $0.05
Tomatoes $0.41
Sugar $0.05
Paprika $0.02
Hamburger $2.85
Onion $0.10
Tomato paste $0.20
Salt $0.05
bay leaf $0.07

Total for meat sauce: $3.29

Add in $1.20 for the box of spaghetti and you have an entire meal (plus enough for lunch the next day) for $4.49

Childhood Epilepsy

My oldest daughter was diagnosed with PDD-NOS when she was 3 yrs old. You can find our back story here. We thought that after dealing with her PDD and finding a good routine and coping mechanisms that we were in the clear. She had an IEP (individual education plan) in place and was working hard at learning and keeping up with her peers. She was developing friendships and most people when they first met her couldn't tell there was anything "wrong" with her.  We were finally out of the woods after years of intensive therapy.

Then 2 days before her 7th birthday I got a call that shattered our lives. Her teacher was on the phone saying Hailey had had a seizure and stopped breathing. The paramedics were on the way and I needed to get to the school as soon as possible. If you have never experienced that phone call I hope you never do. It feels like you have been punched in the gut. You can't think, you can't talk, you can't breathe. The world stops and you feel totally helpless. I had a two week old baby and a husband who was working in another state. We were very lucky that my mother was visiting and in the school parking lot waiting on Hailey to get out of school. She rushed in to the nurses office and waited with Hailey till I got there. By the time I arrived the seizure was over and she was breathing normally. The paramedics felt she was fine and I decided to take her to the ER myself instead of going in the ambulance.

When we got to the ER no one was willing to say it was a seizure. She didn't present like a "typical" seizure since she kept her eyes open and didn't shake violently. She also threw up after the seizure so the dr's were sure it was just a virus and she would be fine. I knew in my gut that wasn't it but no one listens to the mother.

A month later I was woken up by my 6yr old coming to tell me she thought her older sister was choking. I flew out of bed and found Hailey on the floor unresponsive in the middle of a seizure. I called her father and the ambulance and held my child while she seized. It is so hard to see your child go through a seizure. You are totally helpless. Sitting there holding her and talking to her while waiting on the ambulance was torture and seemed to take forever. This time the dr's agreed it was a seizure and we were able to schedule tests and an appointment with a neurologist. 

Getting the tests done wasn't easy, after all there is always red tape. She did finally have a MRI and an EEG done. The MRI was clear, she didn't have a brain tumor. The EEG showed abnormal activity and she was diagnosed with epilepsy. The dr however did not want to medicate her. After all only a VERY small percentage of children develop recurrent seizures.

Turns out my child was one of the small percentage, a few months later she had another grand mal seizure. We also started to notice that she was having petit mal seizures through out the day as well. At this point we had moved to a new base and were seeing a new neurologist. The new neurologist did a repeat EEG and was shocked by the results. The EEG was "horrible" according to the dr. She has several petit mal seizures during the EEG and they were able to trigger a grand mal seizure as well. The estimation based on that test was that she was having over a hundred peit mal seizures a day. She was diagnosed as having two different types of epilepsy and started medication right that second. It was at this point that I learned that children with PDD-NOS are actually more prone to developing epilepsy. I really wish I had had that little piece of information before.

I am happy to report that she is only a few days shy of making it 1 yr without a seizure. She is on some pretty strong medications to stop the two different forms of seizures but she is responding well to them. She still has to have routine EEG's and blood tests and will for as long as she is on the medication. They tell me there is a chance she will outgrow her epilepsy when she starts puberty but there are no guarantees. It is hard to not know the future. It is hard to wonder if she will have to take medication twice a day for the rest of her life. We are taking it one day at a time and feeling blessed everyday that she is seizure free.

Quick and easy breakfast ideas for the refrigerator or freezer


My husband is in the military and usually has a pretty wonky work schedule. Since the majority of the time he has to be up at 4am and at work at 5am I needed to come up with some ideas for items he could make for himself in the morning that would keep him filled up longer than a bowl of cheerioes. I started off going down the frozen breakfast aisle and just throwing boxes into my cart. Easy on me not so easy on our budget. I quickly realized that I could make the same thing for half the price with just a little effort so I started looking around for ideas. There were tons of great ideas out there and it didn't take long to get a plan in place.

Here are some things I make and keep either in the fridge or the freezer:
*Muffins in the freezer, be sure to freeze them on a baking sheet and THEN put them in a bag otherwise they freeze together and make a giant block and you have to defrost all of them to get one.
*Breakfast burritos. I fry up some sausage, eggs, hashbrowns, etc and then layer them into burritos with cheese or whatever he wants. Wrap individually in tinfoil and freeze. He just has to pop them in the microwave and he has a hot meal he can eat on the go.
*Mini omelets in muffin pans. You can make several up the day or so before and store in the fridge. He just has to warm them up when he wants them.
*Bacon. Same thing you can make them into all sorts of shapes and bake them. I just saw cute heart ones. Then he just has to heat them up to go with his omelet.
*I also make homemade pancakes and freeze them (again freeze separately then bag them). Just pop them in the toaster for a bit and he is good to go.
*Breakfast sandwiches as well. Homemade Biscuits and whatever he likes inside (bacon and egg, sausage and egg, whatever). Then wrap with tinfoil and freeze. Easy to warm up.

Super easy to make and super simple for you or anyone else to heat up in the mornings.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

BBQ brisket and mashed potatoes

My husband just returned from his deployment and there was only one thing he wanted for dinner. BBQ brisket and mashed potatoes. I don't normally make entire meals centered around a massive cut of meat but what hubby wants hubby gets so we make it work. I do however cheat and instead of using a massive fatty cut of brisket I use a smaller leaner cut of london broil. He can't tell the difference :)

BBQ Brisket
1Tbsp Celery Salt
1 Tbsp Onion Salt
1 Tbsp Garlic Salt
1 Tbsp Salt
1/2 Tbsp pepper
2 Tbsp Liquid smoke
2 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
5-10lbs Brisket
2-3 cups of BBQ Sauce

*Add the brisket to the crockpot, add the liquid smoke and worcestershire sauce and sprinkle the top of the meat with the salts and pepper. Cook on low for 6-8 hours. 30min before serving add the BBQ sauce and cook till heated through.

My financial breakdown....
Salts $0.40
Pepper $0.02
Liquid smoke $0.20
Worcestershire sauce $0.20
London Broil $8.79
BBQ Sauce $3.00 (I bought homemade BBQ sauce from the local Amish market. It was a splurge but I like supporting our local community.)

Total for Brisket: $12.61

Total for Mashed potatoes and green beans:  $4.00

Total for meal: $16.61

Good thing we don't eat like this every night. There was enough to have for lunch today but still that is an expensive meal compared to what we are normally used to eating. It was worth it to see my husband smile though :)

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Meal Planning ~The meal philosophies~

If you are looking to cut your grocery budget down the major tool you should be using is meal planning. It sounds easy enough. Just pick some meals your family likes and go shopping. However I have found this is the most expensive way to do it. You have to have a plan in place for your meal plan. Man that sounds like a lot of work doesn't it? Since I only meal plan once a month I don't mind as much. Now if I was doing it every week I would probably cry.

First off lets think about the types of meal you are going to be making. I have done some research and some reading and come to the conclusion that there are lots of ways to make cheap healthy meals that still taste good. Here are the tips I have found from speaking with some majorly frugal mamas....

  1. Meat is not the center of the meal. Meals that call for a cut of meat to be the star are going to be more expensive to make. I don't know how many times I have heard "meat as a side dish" when it comes to frugal cooking. I don't know about your family but in my family my husband LOVES his meat. I serve something with no meat in it and he is not a happy camper and will not be eating the leftovers. I instead pick meals that call for meat as an ingredient but not the main star. These include casseroles, soups, and stews. He can see the meat so he is a happy man and I don't use nearly as much meat as if I were making a meal where the meat is the center of the dish.
  2. Cut the expensive ingredients in half. If you are going to make a meal where the meat is the center of the meal you can always cut the meat in half and replace it with other more frugal options. A half a pound of ground beef and the same amount of mashed black beans make a great frugal taco. Same with hamburgers, half a pound meat and equal portions of rice. Same flavor, same filling meal, half the price.
  3. Filling side dishes. Makes sense doesn't it? Good options include rice, pasta, homemade bread, potatoes, and vegetable casseroles.
  4. Choosing meals that  don't require 24 different ingredients. Lets just face it the more ingredients in a meal the more it is gonna cost and the longer it is gonna take you to make it. No fun all around. I try and stick with meals that have less than 10 ingredients, and I try and make sure that at least half of those ingredients are staples I already have on hand. I also refuse to buy a entire bottle of something if all the recipe calls for is 1/4th a tsp. I mean come on! Not happening. I will never use the rest of that bottle and you will never be able to tell that I left that ingredient out.
  5. No prepackaged mixes. I can make muffins, bread, pancakes, waffles, cookies, etc all a whole lot cheaper from scratch than I can from a mix. I usually make up a GIANT batch of what ever I am baking and then freeze 3/4ths of it. So if I make 4 dozen muffins I freeze 3 dozen and leave one dozen on the counter for the week. Makes my life easier since I only have to bake that item once and I can feed my family for a month. Plus it is cheaper, which we like.
  6. No store bought frozen meals. My husband gets up at 4am for work. I love him to pieces but I am NOT getting up at 4am to making him a hot meal. I used to buy him those prepackaged frozen sausage breakfast biscuits. Then I got smart. I can take one afternoon and make double the amount of the same thing for half the price. Kind of a no brainer. Again I make up enough for a month at one time and call it a day. He can just warm up his breakfast and he is good to go.
  7. Leftovers are your friend. I was shocked when I heard that people throw away their leftovers. Seriously shocked! Those leftovers are lunch in our house or used for dinner the next night. 
There are my basics "meal philosophies" when I am picking meals to add to our monthly meal plan. Really nothing complicated or shocking there huh? Pretty simple and straightforward. Stay tuned for my next meal planning post where I will breakdown the actual step by step procedure I use for setting up my monthly meal plan each month.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Fiesta Chicken Soup

 Fiesta Chicken Soup
  • 1/2 cup diced onion $0.31
  • 1 clove garlic, minced $0.05
  • 30 oz Beans $0.75
  • 1 (4.5 oz.) can diced green chili peppers $0.89
  • 1 (14.5 oz.) can diced tomatoes ~Free from garden~
  • 1 1/2 cups chicken broth, low sodium, fat free ~Free, used homemade stock~
  • 1 cup frozen or fresh corn $1.00
  • Juice from 1 lime $0.05
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder $0.05
  • 1 teaspoon cumin $0.02
  • 1/2 cup freshly chopped cilantro $0.29
  • 2 chicken breasts fillets $1.00
Total for a giant pot of soup:  $4.41

Soups seem to always be the most economical food choice. For less that $5 I have dinner for 7 done for two nights. You can't beat that! I left the cayenne, salt and pepper out since I am cooking for toddlers so it was kind of bland. I meant to add the seasonings to my bowl but I forgot till after I had sat down and then I was just to lazy to get back up. I did add some sour cream, cheese, and tortilla chips to the top of mine. The salty crunch of the chips was a nice addition if you ask me.

Taco Pizza

Taco Pizza

ground beef $2.80
taco seasoning mix $0.50
refrigerated  pizza dough $1.75
refried beans $0.85
shredded cheddar cheese $0.50
black olives $0.54
green onions $0.39

Total for Pizza: $4.03

This pizza was seriously good. I ended up leaving off the tomatoes just because our tomato plants have started to die back and I didn't have any ripe tomatoes on hand to use. I also used refried black beans instead of the normal pinto beans. I just like black beans better. This recipe made a large pizza, we had enough after feeding everyone (all 6 of us) last night to have it for lunch today. That is my kind of bargain.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Apples and fluff

Today's snack was seriously easy to put together we went with some slices of apples and some "fluff" as we have started to call it in our house. We used the leftover whipped cream and cream cheese frosting from the strawberry shortcake cookies we made last week as a dip and named it "fluff".

I think my kids would eat anything if I put this dip out with it!

Apples $1.99
Fluff $1.44

Total for snack: $3.43

Honey Hoisen Chicken in the Crockpot

Guess what I just threw in my crockpot....yep.....

Honey Hoisen Chicken
  • chicken breasts $1.00
  • hoisin sauce $0.59
  • soy sauce $0.30
  • honey $0.50
  • chicken broth ~Free from homemade stock~
Total for Chicken:  $2.39

Lets see... I buy my meat, honey, and soy sauce in bulk which saves me a bundle. I also didn't have any ground ginger on hand and was not going to buy an entire jar just for 1/4tsp so I omitted it from the recipe.  I served this with some long grain rice and a can of green beans and called it a day. It was yummy and I may have helped the little ones finish off their leftover chicken.

Rice $0.75
Green Beans $1.00

Total for meal:  $4.14

Reusable Snack Bags

In an effort to reduce the amount of consumables we as a family go through I have been looking at alternatives to ziploc type storage bags. My oldest two daughters take a snack to school every day, usually in a ziploc bag which then would get thrown away. That is 46 bags a mth! So instead I decided to make these reusable snack bags out of scraps I had leftover from a previous project. They were super simple to make, so simple I don't have a pattern for you.

Here is how I made them. First I cut two pieces of fabric 17.5x8.5 one for the inside one for the outside. Turn them right side together and sew around the edges leaving a 2in hole so you can turn the fabric right side out. Turn the fabric. Fold the bottom up to make the pouch (with the hole were you turned it on the top flap that will fold down. Then go around the edges of the pouch part with a pretty stitch. Then turn over and stitch the top flap, sealing the hole as you go. Then add the snap. Simple. Took me maybe 20min for both of them.

Super simple and easy to make. My kids love them and have gotten lots of complements from their classmates.

Stocking up ~Case lot sales~

Twice a year our local store has a case lot sale. Usually this is a great time to stock up on toiletries and cleaning supplies. Since the items available vary at each sale I have gotten in the habit of buying 1-2 years worth of products when they are available. At our last case lot sale there were cases of body wash and laundry soap that were at a stock up price. I took advantage of the fact I underspent that months grocery budget and used the excess money to buy as much as I could. I ended up having to go back a second day because even though I use two carts when shopping I didn't have enough room for all the big boxes and big containers of laundry soap. I am so in love with my laundry soap haul I had to get a picture!

I bought 22mths of laundry soap (doing 2 loads a day). Total cost $48. That is $2.18 a mth! And I don't have to worry about adding it to my budget for another year and half at least.

I love case lot sales. I am hoping that at our next one in the spring they will have shampoo, conditioner, and toothpaste. We stocked up on these items last November and are starting to run low.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Freezer Cooking ~Putting up the harvest~

We have a small garden that does well to provide the daily needs of our family. We are lucky enough to have some leftover produce to put up for the winter, but had to decide how to preserve it. We don't have enough produce in my opinion to warrant canning. I don't feel like dragging everything out to do just one can at a time. Instead I decided to freeze the produce. I had been using ziploc bags and they had been doing a great job. I however am planning a large freezer meal cooking spree in the coming months to prepare for our newest baby. While looking over different blogs on the subject of freezer cooking I saw that a foodsaver was the method of choice for those that do large quantities often. I was able to find a used foodsaver for $20 and snapped that sucker up. It works great and  my kids and I think it is pretty fun to use. Tonight I put up all our leftover tomatoes and peppers. They are in the freezer all ready for the next stew or fajita recipe I feel like making. Aren't they pretty? I just love using heirloom seeds when ever possible. The rainbow of colors that comes from heirloom plants are just so much fun.

Recipe and hard copy

I am slightly obsessed with my recipe binder....okay not so slightly I am flat out obsessed. When we move I actually pack it in my suitcase instead of with my cookbooks. I love this thing! I get meal ideas from all over the place. From magazines, online, cookbooks, etc. When it comes time to make my meal plan I do not have time to sit down and go through all these sources to get my meal ideas. I needed a one stop shop for the meals our family likes to eat. That was when my recipe binder was born.

For cookbooks I make a copy of the recipe I think we would like to try and slide it in the sheet protector and file it according to category. This allows me to pick meals quickly without having to go through countless books. Another great idea is to borrow cookbooks from friends or the library and do the same thing. You get lots of new recipes with no cost to you!

Online recipes have always been a pain for me. They are saved all over the place. Emails and the favorites tab being the top two place I keep the web address for the recipes I want to try. The trouble is who wants to click on dozens of links to see what the meal is before you can even decide if you want to use it or not. Such a pain. Instead I now use pinterest as my online recipe binder. I love pinterest. I find a recipe I want to try and pin it to the appropriate board. Easy peasy and I can find it again with a picture when I want to look through them! Then when I am going through making my monthly meal plan I can just make a board for that month and send a duplicate of that pin to that board. Meals are easy to find when I am ready to print them and add  them to my hard copy recipe binder. I do like to have the hard copy when cooking since I don't trust myself or my daughters not to drop something wet and messy on my laptop while cooking. There is a reason my recipes are in a sheet protector! Having a digital board of all the online recipes is also a great resource for when friends and family want a copy of your recipe. No more searching and trying to remember where you saw the recipe. It is right there under that months board.

My hard copy binder is broken down into the normal categories with two extra special categories at the very front. The first category in my binder is titled "meal plans" and it contains ALL the meal plans from the previous months including the current month. I keep them all because they are great for getting ideas from. I like being able to look back and see "oh yeah that pasta dish we had 4mths ago was a big hit and we have not had it in a while I should make that this month". These are in sheet protectors as well and I keep a  dry erase marker in my binder as well. Sometimes I don't make meals in the order they are outlined. Some times I just REALLY don't want to make what is on that days menu, or I forget to start the crockpot in time. When that happens I pick a meal from later in the month to make. With this in mind I use my dry erase marker to mark off the meals as I make them. That way I know what I have made that month and what I still have to make. And the marker wipes off so I can still read the menu months later when I need ideas.

The second unique category in my binder is the "This Mth" tab. When I am making my meal plan I pull out all the recipes I want to include. I then put those pages in the tab "this month" That way when it is time to make dinner I don't have to search through the entire binder to find the one recipe I want to make. It is right there in the front. Saves a bunch of time and frustration! At the end of the month those recipes get put back in their appropriate tab and I pull the new ones to put in the front.

Since all my pages are in sheet protectors the pages overlap the divider tabs and make it impossible for me to find the different categories when I am looking for something specific, like my muffin recipe. So I used these printable tabs. I printed them out, used packing tape on the front and back to make them sturdier, and taped them to the TOP of my divider pages. The tabs stick out nicely now and it is super easy to find the sections I am looking for.

Here it 10th baby. I love this thing ;) 

Feeding 7 on $400 a mth ~October week 1 breakdown~

Well the week is over so lets see how we did!

Breakfasts this week were apple, blueberry, and oatmeal muffins and bananas.
2 dozen muffins $7.00
5lbs banana's $3.30

Breakfast total: $10.30 or $1.47 per day

Lunches were leftovers this week.

Lunch total: $0.00

Snacks this week were:
Strawberry shortcake cookies   $5.07
Cheddar cheese crackers  $2.28
Parmesan pretzel bites    $3.42
oyster crackers $1.79
Apples $1.99

Snack total:$14.55 or $2.07 per day

Dinners this week were:
Rotisserie chicken, green beans, and muffins $5.99
Mexican Chicken $6.14
Vegetable bean soup with spinach and homemade focaccia $5.04
Southwestern Eggrolls with Avocado dip $5.81
Leftovers $0
Chicken and black bean nacho's $4.23
Peasant Stew with fresh bread $5.16

Total for dinners: $32.37 or $4.62

And finally we have drinks this week we went through 1.5 gallons of soy milk ($8.37) and 1/2 gallon of skim milk ($1.24).

Totals for drinks: $9.61

So this weeks total cost for feeding my family of 7 is $66.83 or $9.54 per day

Peasant stew with fresh bread

Tonight's dinner is a peasant stew with fresh bread. This dinner could not be easier for me to make, although I did make some changes to the recipe. Instead of fresh chicken thighs I used the same amount of precooked and frozen chicken breast. Also instead of canned beans I used dried beans that had been cooked and frozen. I just threw the cooked and still frozen ingredients in the crockpot with the seasonings and set it on low to defrost and then warm up. Simple and so easy!

Peasant Stew
ground cumin $0.05 
salt $0.01 
black pepper $0.01

Chicken Breast $1.00 (I buy my chicken 20lbs for $20) 
onion $0.09
 Mexican-style stewed tomatoes with jalapeƱo peppers and spices $0.85 
chopped green chiles $0.89 
pinto beans $0.25
 kidney beans $0.25 
1/4 cup minced fresh cilantro $0.29
1/4 cup reduced-fat sour cream $0.47

Total for peasant stew: $4.16

Fresh Bread....okay I am taking some help here. I bought a pack of three rolls of frozen bread dough. $3 for the bag and all I have to do is defrost it, let it rise a bit, and bake it. Come on that is a killer deal! This bread is so soft and amazing that all of my children went back for seconds. I was lucky to get one piece! We put some homemade honey butter on it....yeah it was good!

Total for bread $1

Total for meal: $5.16

Nacho's with Chicken and Black Beans

For dinner tonight we had nachos! I love nachos! So easy and who doesn't love eating something on a salty chip? I made some changes to this recipe just based on what I felt like at the moment. I left off the chicken as I didn't feel like defrosting the cooked chicken in my freezer. I also didn't use the lime juice or the salsa, just wasn't in a salsa mood. I did however substitute in olives since I did want something salty.

Nacho's with chicken and black beans

tortilla chips $1.99
black beans $0.25
Monterey Jack cheese $0.89
onion $0.09

light sour cream $0.47
Olives $0.54

Total for nachos: $4.23 

They were yummy for me but the kids were not fans. They like their chips plain please :)

Friday, October 5, 2012

Halloween Craft Weekend!


I recently dug our Halloween and fall decorations out of our attic and started decorating our house for the season. Once I got our Halloween themed lights hung on all the windows I thought they still looked a bit bare. The kids and I decided to start working on some homemade decorations to add to the windows.
We started with some pumpkins and bats made out of construction paper. We also found a great printable cat silhouette pattern. They are really cute and the kids loved getting to cut them out and decorate them. I also found tons of great printable Halloween themed pages including some printable masks that the girls could cut out and wear. Lots of printing, coloring, and gluing going on at hour house this weekend!

Homemade Cheddar Cheese Crackers

My oldest daughter is obsessed with cheddar cheese crackers, the kid can eat a entire box in one sitting if I let her. Since we are in the process of cutting out all processed and pre-packaged items from our diet I needed to come up with an alternative for her.

Homemade Cheddar Cheese Crackers are our snack today!

all-purpose flour $0.48
3/4 tsp. salt $0.01
butter $0.79
8 ounces grated cheddar cheese $1.00 

Total for Crackers: $2.28 or $0.45 per kid

I like that I can make up the dough for these crackers before hand and store for later use. Half the fun of these crackers is that my daughter gets to pick out the different shaped cookie cutters to use. She loves getting to cook with mama but making this recipe from start to finish right after they walk in the door from school and are hungry doesn't work well. This way she gets to be involved and gets a quick snack at the same time.

The dough was REALLY hard to work with once it came out of the fridge. I think next time I will roll the dough out flat and then put it  in the fridge to harden back up. Our crackers were thicker than they should have been since it was so hard to roll the dough out, and as a result are poofy and not crisp at all. They are good however and they will probably be eaten all this afternoon. 

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Southwestern Eggrolls with Avocado Ranch dip!

I am in love with southwestern eggrolls with avocado dip. Seriously these are on my list of things I would request if I knew I was about to die. Our base offers one afternoon a month of free daycare to all the families going through a deployment. I use my afternoon of free time to drive a hour round trip just to go the restaurant that sells these eggrolls. I am not kidding when I say I am obsessed.

I ended up only using half the filling and putting the other half in the freezer for the next time we want to make these. One package of wonton wrappers used half the filling and made about 48 tiny little "eggrolls". They were good and a bit spicy. I would probably cut the Cayenne down to half if I made them for my toddlers again. There were also plenty leftover for lunch or dinner tomorrow as well.

Southwestern Eggrolls with Avocado Ranch dip

For the egg rolls:
 frozen corn $0.25
black beans $0.12
frozen chopped spinach $0.42
Mexican cheese $0.44
diced green chiles $0.44
green onions $0.09
cumin $0.02
chili powder $0.01
salt $0.02
cayenne pepper $0.05
1 package of egg roll or wonton wrappers $1.79
For avocado ranch:
mayonnaise $0.75
sour cream $0.59
buttermilk $0.04
olive oil $0.03
lemon juice $0.03
green onion $0.02
salt $0.01
1 avocado $0.69

Total for egg  rolls and dipping sauce: $5.81

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