Thursday, September 11, 2014

Easy Red Beans and Rice

This is my quick and easy cheat on red beans and rice. It is delicious and filling. You could shave off some time by sauteeing your veggies with your sausages and using canned beans and tomatoes, but your cost per serving would be a bit higher.

EASY RED BEANS & RICE

Ingredients:
1lb dried red beans
1 green bell pepper, chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
2 tomatoes, chopped
1 16oz package smoked sausage, cut into coins
2 garlic cloves, minced
Tony Chachere seasoning or hot sauce
2 cups cooked rice, for serving

Soak your beans overnight, according to package directions. Bring the beans to a rolling boil. Add pepper, onion, and tomatoes. Continue to boil until beans are almost tender. Add sausages, garlic, and seasonings. Boil for 10-15 more minutes. Serve over cooked rice.

PRICE BREAKDOWN :

Beans $1
Pepper 50¢ (on sale)(cents if you garden)
Onion ~25¢
Tomatoes $1 (cents if you garden!)
Smoked Sausage $2 (on sale)
Garlic ~10¢
Seasonings 10¢
Rice 25¢ (bought in bulk)
TOTAL: $5.20
PRICE PER SERVING (six servings): 86¢

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Shopping Less Often

Let's get to it on saving money on groceries. I gave you task #1 here. So, let's move right on forward with task #2. Shop less often. That's it. This task may not seem like such a big deal, but it really is. This has saved our family more money than any other task I'll give you. As a matter of fact, it makes about a $200/month difference for us!

I shop once a month with a trip a couple of weeks in for fresh fruits and vegetables and milk. I started out by shopping every 10 days instead of weekly. Then I eased into every two weeks, and so on, until I was shopping monthly.

Now, this takes planning. You have to go armed with a list made from your menu. Don't go without a list. You'll be throwing items willy nilly in your cart. You'll end up having to figure out how to feed your family on 3 packs of Oreos, some hot dogs, and canned corn for the month. I personally, use a Cozi shopping list on my Kindle. That allows me to make my list and put it in order of where I'll find it in the store. And I am way less likely to lose my Kindle than a paper list.

This is also much easier if you own a small chest freezer. We freeze our bread, meat, and frozen veggies. You can usually purchase one for around $150 if you shop sales. The best months to buy are September and October, when the new models come out and they are trying to move last year's models.

For our next task, we'll talk about price matching!

Monday, September 8, 2014

Easiest Chicken and Dumplings

I love chicken and dumplings, but rarely is there time to cook down a whole chicken. This was requested tonight, so I thought I'd go ahead and share the recipe.

INGREDIENTS:

3/4 lb. frozen chicken breast
5-6 carrots, peeled and sliced
4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1 Tbsp dried basil
4 c flour
4 tsp baking powder
2/3 c butter, softened (just over a stick and a half)
  • Place 3/4 pound of frozen chicken on a pot and add 6-8 cups of water, carrots, 2 tsp. salt, 1/2 tsp. pepper, and 1Tbsp. dried basil; cover & bring to a boil.
You can see this starts like my homemade broth recipe. You don't have to use frozen chicken. I just can't remember to thaw meat for dinner and this seems to work for me. You could shave off some prep time by using chicken and carrots that are already cooked and pre-made broth.

  • While the chicken and carrots are coming to a boil, combine the flour, baking soda, and 2 tsp salt in a large bowl. Cut the butter into the flour until the mixture is crumbly. Add 1 1/3c. of broth from the pot and stir until the dry ingredients are moistened.
You could use shortening instead of butter here, but, personally, I steer clear of the stuff. I recommend getting a pastry cutter, because they are relatively inexpensive and handy to have when cooking from scratch. (Which you are, right?)

  • Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 2 minutes. Roll the dough to 1/8 inch thickness; cut the dough into 2 inch squares. Drop the dumplings one at a time into the boiling broth. Continue to boil, stirring occasionally, for 15 minutes.

I use my tiny counter or table for this. Don't skip the kneading. It elongates the gluten strands and gives the dumplings a great texture. (I know. Gluten is the new Al Qaida, but what are you gonna do?) This will thicken upon standing. It also freezes great or at least it would...If your family doesn't eat it all...like mine...

Cost break down for 6 servings:
Chicken - $1.35
Carrots - 50¢ (on sale)
Spices - ~5¢
Flour and baking powder- 15¢ (bought in bulk)
Butter - $2.50

TOTAL - $4.55.   PER SERVING - 76¢


Friday, September 5, 2014

Tub and shower magic review -updated


MCCALL MAGAZINE COVER, GIRL IN RAIN by George Eastman House


Back in early 2012, I made the Tub & Shower Magic that I found here. I LOVE cleaning with vinegar. I just wasn't sure about all of that Dawn...So, here's what's up. I mixed up the solution with a 13oz of vinegar and a 10.3oz bottle of Dawn. The only reason that I did it this way, instead of equal parts, is because of the size of the bottle of Dawn. As a side note, which will help in making this recipe even cheaper, Walgreen's regularly runs this size of Dawn on sale for 99 cents (I price match at WalMart to save the trip) and you can almost always find a 50 cents off Dawn coupon monthly in the Sunday coupon circulars.


The cleaner worked really well. My tub and shower tiles sparkled. However, it was VERY thick! And, you can imagine, there were quite a lot of suds and I spent a good deal of time rinsing and re-rinsing to get the bubbles down the drain. So, after I'd used it a few times, I added about 4 more ounces vinegar to the bottle. It worked just as well.

After using this cleaner for months, I recommend a solution of closer to 3-5oz. of Dawn or any other dish detergent and the rest vinegar. This is a more cost effective solution while being just as adequate a cleaner without all the suds.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Quick, easy chicken broth

Not only do I love saving money, I love saving time, as well. With homeschooling three boys, keeping up with household duties, working part-time, and keeping up with an etsy shop, time is golden!
So, here is my quick cheat for making chicken broth. Chicken broth normally takes over an hour, but once I'm in the kitchen, I don't usually have an hour. I start with frozen chicken breasts, usually about 3/4-1 lb. (I eyeball A LOT). I place it in a pot with about a teaspoon or two of salt, a half teaspoon of pepper, a half teaspoon of dried basil, and two to three crushed garlic cloves and just cover it all with water. I put the lid on the pot and boil it on high for 30 minutes. That's it.
Shred the chicken for another recipe. You can use the broth immediately, keep it in the fridge for up to three days, or freeze it. I tend to never thaw my frozen chicken before hand. I poach it like this, so that I will always have broth when I need it and I don't have to spend money on canned broth.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Tortilla Soup


  • So, here is a quick, easy, inexpensive, and tasty recipe. That's a pretty hard combo to find! You can find the original link here. I, personally, use dried and soaked black beans, because they are cheaper. I also make my own broth, because, again, cheaper. If you use dried beans and homemade broth, this whole batch comes in at less than $4! 

  • TORTILLA SOUP
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 2 cans (14 1/2 ounces each) diced  tomatoes in juice
  • 2 cans (15 ounces each) black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 can (14 1/2 ounces) reduced-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 package (10 ounces) frozen corn kernels
  • Coarse salt and ground pepper
  • 1 cup crushed tortilla chips, plus more for serving (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice, plus lime wedges for serving
  1. In a large saucepan, heat oil over medium. Cook garlic and chili powder until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add tomatoes(with juice), beans, broth, corn, and 1 cup water; season with salt and pepper.
  2. Bring soup to a boil; reduce to a simmer. Add tortilla chips; cook until softened, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat; stir in lime juice, and season with salt and pepper. Serve soup with lime wedges and, if desired, more chips.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Reinventing

So, by multiple requests, it appears that the blog will be back up and running. Apparently my penny pinching is worth following! I have not yet thought out exactly what it will look like, but I know it will include menu planning, recipes, and money saving ideas. I am open to all questions and suggestions!

Task #1 - Plan a menu, even if it is only for this week. Think of 5-6 meals you can cook. Look around your fridge and pantry. Start there and try to incorporate what you already have. Try to plan one night meatless. Try to plan for one left over night. Stretch your meat useage by trying a casserole, soup, or stir fry.

If you need help finding recipes, look on www.supercook.com to enter in ingredients on hand or do a Pinterest search.

Good luck! Let me know how it goes! Jennifer