Jul 16, 2005

Gotta Love Safeway :)

I must sound like a giddy child, LOL! I am still so excited about having our groceries delivered. I did really great this time! All food, paper goods, toiletries, diapers and cleaning supplies for $230. Food was $150 of that and I won't shop again for 2 more weeks.

Tonight I made a beef stir fry for dinner. My 5 yo loves vegetables (praise God!). I made the sauce myself, it was really good.

Stir Fry Teriyaki Sauce

1/4 c. soy sauce
1 Tbsp. corn starch
2 Tbsp. brown sugar
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp rice wine vinegar
dash black pepper

Combine all ingredients. Stir fry lean beef or chicken strips in small amount of oil. Add frozen Japanese Mixture vegetables. Pour in sauce and cover a few moments to allow vegetables to steam. Serve over rice.

Jul 9, 2005


I made menus for the next pay period, now just need to make grocery list and assess costs.

Menus as follows...

July 16 - tostadas, refried beans, spanish rice
July 17 - spaghetti, broccoli-cauliflower
July 18 - butter beans, corn bread, greens
July 19 - chili and mac and cheese
July 20 - leftovers
July 21 - bbq chicken, broiled potatos, broccoli mix
July 22 - curry chicken and rice, broccoli
July 23 - pepper steak and rice, mixed vegetables
July 24 - pinto beans, corn bread, rice
July 25 - leftovers
July 26 - enchiladas, refried beans, spanish rice
July 27 - baked beans, hot dogs, mac and cheese
July 28 - northern beans, rice, corn bread
July 29 - leftovers
July 30 - ground beef and rice casserole, vegetables
July 31 - soba noodles with beef and vegetables, rice


The sherbet recipe came out great! I made a couple changes and updated the entry from yesterday to reflect the changes. Now I'm going to work on a new grocery list. I'm starting to realize that the kids drink more juice and milk than they used to, so I am going to have to make some adjustments for that this time around. This two week period I should be ahead by two days as far as dinners are concerned. So the money I save on those meals will be spend on "stock-ups". Whatever is on sale that we use regularly I will buy. More to follow...

Jul 8, 2005

Dinner and recipe ideas

Tonight's dinner came out really well. I made a hash with gravy, a pretty basic recipe I came up with but one of my family's favorites.

Hash With Gravy

6 potatoes, cubes
1 lb. ground beef
1 bell pepper, diced
1 tsp. onion powder
1 tsp seasoned salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp paprika

for the gravy

2 c. water
1 1/2 Tbsp. corn starch
2 tsp. beef bullion granules
1/2 tsp browning sauce
1/2 tsp Worshteshire sauce

Brown potatoes, ground beef, bell pepper and spices in a skillet over medium-high heat. Turn down to medium and cover so potatoes will fully soften. While meal cooks, prepare gravy. In a saucepan add water and corn starch. DO NOT TURN ON HEAT YET. Whisk well until corn starch dissolves. Add remaining ingredients and whisk well. Turn heat on to high. Whisk constantly until gravy starts to bubble thicken. Remove from heat and stir well.

Check potatoes and ground beef and stir often until fully cooked. When done remove from heat and stir in gravy.

I wanted to make ice cream for the kids tomorrow but don't really have all the ingredients needed. So, as not to make another trip to the grocery store I thought I'd improvise and create a sherbet recipe. I feel this one will work well although I have not tried it yet. I made it up based on several recipes I looked at. Will see how it turns out.

Fruity Sherbet

1 c. sugar
1 c. milk
1 can evaporated milk
1 pkg. Kool-Aid (lemon, mango, orange, tangerine, strawberry)
1/3 pkg. gelatin
1 large can crushed pineapple

Blend ingredients in blender then transfer to ice cream freezer and freeze as directed.

Jul 6, 2005

How Do You Do It???

Whenever I tell people I can buy a months worth of groceries for $300 (or $200 in a pinch) they ask HOW do you do THAT?? Well, it's really not as hard as it sounds. The key is organization and planning. Here are a few tips for newbies to the world of frugal grocery shopping.

Stock up! Your first grocery trip on your road to saving is actually to spend a little more than you are used to. Items that are staples in your pantry should be purchased in large quantity if possible. These include items such as flour, sugar, pasta, dry beans, rice, oatmeal, canned goods, etc.

Plan your menus. Before you head off to the grocery store, make a list of the meals you plan to prepare. If you shop every two weeks make a list of two weeks worth of meals. Take a look at what you have on hand and what is on sale in the weekly circulars from the grocery stores before you plan your meals.

Use Coupons. If there is a particular item you always purchase look for coupons. If an item is on sale and you have a coupon then buy that item. Don't use a coupon just because something is new or trendy, only use coupons if they will save you money.

Buy Store Brands. It's true that all the ads on TV and in magazines make the name brand items look much more glamorous, but often times the store brands are just as good if not better. Actually, many store brands are manufactured by the same name brand companies we all know and recognize.

Shop on sale days. Our local grocer offers specials every Thursday. They range from a one day meat sale to a Pillsbury brand sale. No matter what the theme is for the week, the prices are always great!

Don't buy convenience foods. It's so easy to load up a grocery cart with frozen meals, instant boxed dinners, individual serving sized juices, pre-packaged lunches and junk food. However, not only do these items offer little nutritional value for your family, they are a huge waste of money. Which is why I almost always...

Cook from scratch! The more you can prepare meals from scratch, the more money you will save. Home cooked meals are also higher in nutrition and you know exactly what you are eating, unlike many pre-made meals. From scratch doesn't have to mean a lot of time and clean up. A simple meal like baked or grilled chicken, steamed vegetables and rice can be prepared in under 30 minutes with minimal clean up.

Freeze Things. I always try to prepare a double batch any time I cook anything. It saves me time and effort for future meals and on days that things get really hectic I don't have to worry about what is for dinner. I also freeze bread ends to make my own bread crumbs (which I store in the freezer), leftovers to use for future lunches, bananas for breads and muffins and anything else that might otherwise get thrown out and wasted.

Keep a Price Book. When you shop take a few moments to jot down what you buy and how much it costs. Make a master list of items and the prices (include prices from each store that you shop). When you take the time to do this you will know if it's worth it to go to a different store to stock up on a sale item. It is also a great way to calculate how much you will spend before you get to the grocery store. I actually use a software called Home Cookin to keep my Price Book.

Only take what you plan to spend. If you use a debit card, take your draw from the ATM in the amount you plan to spend for groceries. Then leave your card AT HOME. That way you won't be tempted to spend more than you have budgeted.

Eat Your Leftovers. Have beans leftover, make refried beans. Stale bread can be made into bread pudding. Chicken from last night's dinner becomes chicken salad. Leftover pasta sauce can top a pizza. Don't prepare a new meal until all the leftovers are gone.

Forget the junk food. My theory is if you don't buy it then you can't eat it. We RARELY buy sodas, chips, cookies, ice cream, pastries or any other junk food. I give my kids healthy snacks and we drink a lot of water. I do make them Kool Aid, lemonade and tea but they don't miss the junk food because they are not used to having it.

By following these simple guidelines I have been able to keep our budget down and our nutrition level optimum. It's really not that difficult once you give it a try!

Jul 5, 2005

Small Appliances

With the warm weather I have been really making use of all my kitchen gadgets. Anything to keep the heat outdoors! My favorite items to make use of for the summer are my crock pot, contact roaster and steamer. Often times the items my family wants to eat require stove top cooking which of course lets off quite a bit of heat. I'm also always looking for new recipes to make with these gadgets. I have a Rival 5-Quart Crock Pot, a George Foreman Contact Cooker and a Black & Decker Flavor Scenter Steamer and Rice Cooker.

I find the contact roaster to be very versatile. When I first saw it on an infomercial, I thought it would be great to prepare meats in. Now I find it works for much more than that. I do wish I had purchased the larger model. This particular one will fit a 4-5 lb. chicken. It can be used to roast any meat including beef roast, whole or cut up chicken, a breast of turkey, etc. I did a little research on-line and found that the roaster temperature is 350 degrees. I got to thinking that anything that I could cook in my stove at 350 could probably be cooked in the roaster. I used the pan that came with it to make brownies, coffee cakes and corn bread. I also use it to roast potatoes and to steam hot dogs. It's a great little machine to have in the kitchen.

My absolute favorite way to cook any time of year, especially in the summer, is in the crock pot. I love barbecue sandwiches but since we don't have a grill I prepare barbecued meats like brisket, hot dogs and chicken in the crock pot. I've been experimenting with baking in the crock pot and have made a pudding cake, rice pudding and banana bread. The all turned out moist and delicious.

I got a steamer for Christmas from my sister after the one I had quit working. This new one is great! It has two tiers so I can make meats and vegetables at the same time. Steamers also work great for cooking tamales or steamed breads or puddings, you just have to do a little trial and error to figure out how long to cook them. I always make my Spanish Rice or Rice Pilaf in the steamer as well.

Jul 4, 2005

Soul Food

Tonight we're having pinto beans, collard greens and corn bread. This is one of my husband's favorite meals.

Pinto Beans

2 lbs dry pinto beans
4 slices turkey bacon

Sort and rinse beans. You can soak them overnight and then drain them. Put beans in a large pot. Cover with water to about 2 inches above the beans. (If you don't have time to soak them just rinse them well and put them directly in the pot, add water and bring to a boil and allow to boil for 10 minutes then turn down to a simmer.) Allow to cook on medium with cover on for about two hours. Check every so often to make sure there's enough water in the pot and give a quick stir. When the beans are soft enough to mash with a spoon add about 2 Tbsp. salt. Stir well and taste to make sure they are salted to your liking, if not add more salt. Allow to simmer uncovered for about 30 minutes to allow the juices to thicken.

Collard Greens

3-4 bunches collard greens
3 slices turkey bacon or a smoked turkey wing
2 c. water
1 Tbsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
pinch of red pepper flakes
vinegar (for serving)

Wash greens well in cold water. Drain water and one at a time, cut the stem from each leaf. Also cut off any discolored or shriveled areas of the leaf itself. roll a few leaves together and cut into about 2 inch pieces. Press greens down into a cooking pot and add remaining ingredients. Bring to a boil then turn down to a simmer. Cover and allow to cook about 1 hour. You will need to check them often and stir because the greens will wilt. Drizzle with a little vinegar before serving.

Corn Bread

1 c. flour
1 c. corn meal (yellow or white)
1 Tbsp. baking powder
3 Tbsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
2 eggs
3 Tbsp. cooking oil
1 c. buttermilk (or regular milk)

whisk together dry ingredients. Add wet ingredients and mix well. Pour into a 8 x 8 in. pan. bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.

There are lots more great soul food recipes on one of my favorite websites from the movie Soul Food.

Jul 3, 2005

Stocking Up

Today on the way home from church we had to stop by the grocery store to buy some diapers. When I walked in I heard someone from the meat department on the intercom saying there were whole chickens on sale for 49 cents/lb. Of course I couldn't pass up that deal! I am way ahead on the grocery budget so I figured I'd use the remainder to hold back for a great "stock up" deal such as this. I grabbed a chicken and two packages of ground beef that were also on sale for $1.99/lb. At home I stuck the chicken in the freezer for later and made meatballs from the ground beef. I'd say we will get 3 - 4 meals out of those. I had about 2 1/2 lbs. of meat. My meatball recipe is a simple one and freezes well.


2 1/2 lbs. ground beef
1/2 c. onion, minced
1/2 c. milk
2 eggs
2/3 c. bread crumbs
2 tsp. Worcestershire Sauce
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp pepper
2 stalks celery, minced
2 Tbsp. Parmesan cheese
2 Tbsp. Parsley
squeeze of lemon juice

Mix all ingredients well with your hands. Using a cookie scooper or soup spoon, scoop out equal amounts of meat mixture. Form into balls with your hands or on a work surface. When finished shaping, roll lightly in flour. Bake in a lightly greased pan for 30 - 35 minutes at 375 degrees. Drain off fat before serving. These can be frozen then thawed and baked as directed.

Tomorrow since were having beans, greens and con bread I'll make an extra pan of corn bread for the freezer. I'm also going to make pancakes for breakfast and will do a double batch so I can freeze leftovers for breakfast later this week. Pancakes are so easy to make from scratch and the kids love them!


1 1/2 c. flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
3 Tbsp. sugar
1/4 tsp. mace
1 1/2 c. milk
1 egg
1/4 c. oil

Whisk together all dry ingredients. Add wet ingredients and whisk until well blended. Add oil to a griddle or skillet and heat to medium-high. Pour 1/3 c. batter per pancake, cooking one at a time unless you have a large griddle. When the middle looks bubbly and the edges are dry looking it's time to flip them. Stack cooked pancakes on a plate in the stove or microwave to keep them warm until time to sit down to eat.

Jul 2, 2005

Deals and Dinner

The Safeway experience went well! Everything was delivered in a timely manner and there were even a couple freebies thrown in for the kids. I will be watching for coupons and ordering from them again as soon as I find a coupon for a free delivery. I did have to pick up a few things at our local market as well. There were several great deals there this weekend. I got three packages of margarine (the soft kind with two little tubs in a pack) for 50 cents each. Oscar Meyer hot dogs are normally around $4.25 per package and those were on sale for $2. I also got a family package of boneless skinless chicken breasts that was normally $14.50 for $5. That was a great deal!

Tonight for dinner we had spaghetti. I had planned to use a sauce I found on sale but my hubby insisted in Ragu so now I have an extra jar of sauce. I might just make a pizza for the kids next week. This is my recipe for pizza crust, it's really easy and good and you don't have to let it rise forever!

Pizza Crust

1 cup warm water
pinch sugar
1 package dry yeast (2 1/4 tsp.)
3 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 1/2 cups flour

Stir hot water, sugar and dry yeast until blended. Add oil, salt and flour. (I use a food processor). Stir until mixture forms a soft ball. Let rest 5 minutes. Roll out on a pizza stone or cookie sheet sprinkled with corn meal. Top with your favorite pizza sauce and toppings. Bake 450* 10-12 minutes or until golden brown.

I've really been trying to find a good source for organic foods. I know that the processed things we eat are not that good for us, but the prices of organic are just too high for our budget. I found a great website, Wellness Grocer which looks like it has some good prices. I plan to order some things in the near future. I also found a great source for imported foods with prices lower than many grocery stores - Parthenon.com. Lots of great sites out there, it just takes time to find them :)

Jul 1, 2005

Woo Hoo!

I called the Safeway hotline to confirm and they DO deliver in our area! So tomorrow morning our groceries will arrive without any trips out into the heat. What a blessing! My total was around $70 and I have about $30 worth of items to buy at our neighborhood store (lower prices) so it looks like this two week period will be around $100 total for us for groceries.

I found a great site that lists all sorts of on-line coupon codes - Coupon Craze. To top off my day of great deals, I called Penzey's to see if I would receive the discount I was expecting from a recent catalog promotion they offered. They said yes, $6.50 has been credited to my account so now I am going to do a little shopping for some spices I really need.

Speaking of great deals, have you seen the sale amazon.com is having on cookware? They have some of the really nice, high end cookware for about 50-60% off! I am going to buy a nice sauce panI have really been needing. It's $17.99 right now and normally sells for $101.00. What a steal!

I'm working on a cookbook right now. I have so many great recipes that I have created I decided to compile them all. I am planning to have it done before the end of the summer.

I'm going to cook a big crock pot of beans this weekend to freeze. I found a great article on how to do it at Frugal-Folks-Life (about half way down the page).

I'm really focusing on getting ahead right now. Today I plan to make 2 quiche to freeze. I had some Swiss cheese left from sandwiches we had last week so I will pull that out of the freezer and with some turkey bacon should make two nice quiche. Here's the recipe I use:


1 uncooked pie crust (homemade or frozen or refrigerated)
4 eggs
1 and 1/2 c. milk or creme
1 c. shredded cheese (cheddar, Swiss or similar type)
1/2 lb. meat (bacon or ham works well)
1/4 c. diced onion or scallions
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
dash nutmeg

Whisk together eggs, milk, salt, pepper and nutmeg. Into pie crust put cheese, meat and onions. Pour in egg mixture. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes to one hour or until golden and center is set. (You can test the center by using a wooden skewer or a sharp knife).