Aug 28, 2005


It's been a while since I posted here, thought I'd put in an update.

The grocery budgeting is going well, but for reasons of a medical condition, we have had to up the budget a bit. As it stand we spend $150 per two weeks but I am adding about $20 to that. My doctor says I need to be on a special diet for my cholesterol so am having to add more fruits, vegetables and other healthy things to the list which of course costs more. We are getting ready to start homeschooling soon so I am really trying to find as many simple crock pot and otherwise easy recipes to add to my weekly repertoire. Here's one I tried tonight which was very tasty!

Italian Sausage over Linguini

1 lb. Turkey Italian Sausage, uncooked
1 red bell pepper, roasted and peeled
1 onion, thinly sliced
1 stalk celery, thinly sliced
2 jars spaghetti sauce
1 lb. linguini, cooked

Add vegetables to crock pot. Dot with slices of the sausage. Top with sauce. Cook on low all day. Serve over linguini.

Aug 21, 2005

Creative Crock Pot Cooking 101

Crock pot cooking is one of my favorite methods of preparing a meal for my family. Not only do they a great time saver but a great money saver as well. Not only will you save on your electric bill on meals that require long cooking times, you can also plan on buying less expensive cuts of meat and still create a delicious meal. A lot of people think that crock pots are only for soups and stews, but there is so much you can use it for! Here are some ideas you may have never thought of:

Crockpot Peanut Butter Loaf
Yogurt In A Crockpot
Broccoli Souffle
Baked potatoes

A couple of things to keep in mind when you are using a crock pot recipe are:

  1. Temperatures vary from model to model
  2. Recipes work best if they are made in the correct size crockpot. For example, a recipe designed for a 3 Qt. pot will cook much faster and possibly burn in a 6 Qt. pot.
  3. Crock pots heat from the sides, not the bottom so things that cook slower like potatoes or carrots should always be put on the bottom,
  4. If you fill your removable crock and set it in your refrigerator overnight, make sure to start your crock on the low setting for at least 30 minutes as not to crack the stoneware from a temperature shock.

If you don't own a crock pot and are considering purchasing one, here are a few things to keep in mind:

  • If you have children, buy a model that is large enough to accommodate the growing appetites of growing children. One quart per person is a good rule of thumb, and if you have more than 6 in your family, consider buying two 4 Qt. models for main meals and a 2 or 3 Qt. version for side dishes or desserts.
  • If you are often gone during the day, purchase a model that has an automatic shut off feature.
  • Removeable stoneware crocks are much easier to clean than the permanently inserted kind.
  • If you plan to do a lot of baking in your crock pot you may also want to purchase a specialized insert for that purpose.
  • If you frequently plan to cook whole chickens or turkeys, an oval model would be a better choice than a round one.
I hope these tips will help you in preparing delicious meals in YOUR crock pot.

Aug 15, 2005

Ethnic & Fusion Cuisine

If you're on a budget, sometimes creativity can make all the difference between just another meal and a memorable dinner occasion. I have found that trying (or creating) various ethnic or fusion recipes.

I love to visit websites that offer a wide variety of recipes from around the world. My absolute favorite is Algerian Cuisine. There are several recipes there I plan to try soon.

Fusion cooking, in case you aren't familiar with it, is melding together foods from two different cultures to create a brand new taste experience. A great example is Thai Burritos from Fusion Recipes.

Another great site that offers both ethnic recipes as well as fusion creations is DMOZ World Cuisines. I love the idea of fusion cooking because you can use anything you have on hand and mix and match your meals to suit your tastes. Some of our *basic* fusion meals include the other night when we had bean burritos and collard greens and my daughter asking to have taco meat over spaghetti. There is no limit to what you can create!

So the next time you are feeling bored with your dinner ideas, try something new! You're sure to be glad you did.

Aug 4, 2005

Eating Out On A Budget

No matter how tight your budget, eating out is inevitable. I'm not talking about special occasions or a well deserved treat, but sometimes a long day of errands or an unexpected trip to the doctor's office makes eating out necessary. I've found a few tricks to help feed us without breaking out pocketbook.

Clip Coupons - even if we have no plans to eat out I always clip any coupon I find for places we normally might eat out. I save those in my purse for those occasions when we need them.

Remember The Specials - there are lots of restaurants near us that have special days when kids can eat free or certain times of day when drinks are free or meals are two for one. I make sure to keep a mental note of those specials.

Think Fast Food - Although it is not the healthiest alternative, fast food is much less expensive than a sit down restaurant. Many places have healthy options now as well such as Subway sandwiches or salads at McDonald's.

Let The Kids Share - My kids are young so often times they don't finish a meal. I have them share and then if they are still hungry we can always order something extra. This way no food is wasted.

Skip The Kids Meals and Combos - if you are just trying to ward off the hunger until you get home, just get something small for everyone -- just a snack until you can get something more to eat at home.

Forget Dessert - not only will this save you money but calories as well. If you just have to have dessert, get one and split it.

Drink Water - sodas and other drinks can add up especially if you have a large family. Drinking water can save you a lot.

Get A To-Go Box - if you are going to eat out, make the most of it. Take home what you don't finish and save it for the next day's lunch or a midnight snack.

Using these strategies can save you quite a bit when you are forced to eat out unexpectedly.

Aug 1, 2005

A Well Stocked Pantry

One of the things I cannot stress enough to people who want to save on their grocery bill on a weekly basis is to keep your kitchen well stocked. About once every 6 months my husband and I add an extra $50 to the grocery budget. This money is used to stock up.

Here is a list of items I suggest that every frugal household should have on hand.

  • A variety of pasta
  • A variety of dry beans
  • Flour
  • Sugar
  • Corn meal
  • Oatmeal (old fashioned or quick oats in a large canister, not the single serve packets)
  • A wide variety of herbs and spices
  • Canned and frozen vegetables
  • Flavorings for baking such as vanilla and almond extract
  • Powdered milk
  • Pudding and Jello mixes
  • Ramen Noodles and boxed maccaroni and cheese
  • Condiments such as mayonaise, mustard, ketchup, barbecue sauce, soy sauce and hot sauce
  • Pickles, olives, salsa and relish
  • Tomato and pasta sauce
  • Dry yeast
  • Baking powder and baking soda
  • Potatos, garlic and onions

The following items I always stock up on when they are on sale.

  • Milk, Cheese, Bread and Meat - whatever I can fit in the freezer
  • Frozen vegetables
  • Canned goods
  • Specialty items
  • Goodies for the kids - I don't buy much convenience food but if it is on sale for a very good price I will buy things that the kids really enjoy.

If you keep your pantry well stocked then grocery shopping will be quicker, easier and much less expensive over all.