Friday, October 10, 2014

Saving Money in the Kitchen and on Photos

Since September is over and I was thinking about it I wanted to see how we did with grocery
shopping for the month of September.. I was shocked!
We spent $135 ALL MONTH!! That means total for all groceries and out to eat!! We are a family
of 6. I home school our 4 children so that means we eat at home every single meal!! With my husband bringing leftovers or a frozen homemade runza/hot pocket for lunch.
We did not eat out but 1 time this past month and that was a trip to Sam's Club at the cafe for under $20, spent $100 at Sam's Club, $25 at Freds and $10 at Safeway. All that was for some dairy and fresh veggies and bacon. We did clean out the garden this past month so we have been using up all our garden veggies and I have been canning and freezing for the winter.
We ate well this past month but I have been making a lot more soup and warm comforting meals..since the snow has decided to stay for the winter.
What makes this possible is that we have 2 chest if full of garden veggies and fruits. The other is full of meat, fish and chicken. (Fish is salmon we caught or were given, chicken from the old laying birds and meat is a variety of beef and game) We also have a well stocked pantry, we buy
brown rice and beans by the 25# bag, flour and sugar by 50# and whole grain wheat berries by 50# bags. I also buy spices by 1# bags and use powdered milk in our baking and cooking (not drinking).
I only buy a gallon of milk every 2 weeks and cheese/sour cream by the 5# to 10# sizes. That way it lasts me longer and saves me a trip to the grocery store.
DON'T Give UP, keep saving the money and finding how to be more creative in the kitchen.
Yes that means you might be spending a few hours in the kitchen so you can freeze some french bread so you can make that quick lunch or dinner. Involve your kids let them help you and show how much those convenience yogurts or bag of chips really cost! and more importantly what is IN those convenience foods!
I have a picture of my kids to show that they are healthy kids! :)

Another MONEY SAVER: Take your own family photos and School photos. I loaded them onto our local Sam's Club website and printed them for under $20 in a variety of sizes. With cheap $1 frames from Walmart it gives my living room a great update for hardly anything. You can get wallets or 5x7s to send to your family for hardly anything and personally I find these way nicer than standard school photos!

Monday, July 14, 2014

How to stretch Chicken

I will on the occasion buy a bag of the best boneless skinless
chicken I can afford. Rarely it is the organic kind but if I have
the budget for it that month, I will. Though that one bag of chicken
can last me 7-15 meals depending on how many breasts were in the bag.
(Yes, thighs are cheaper but my hubby just doesn't like dark meat)
I have learned to be very frugal with meat and still feel like
you are getting some meat in your food. The key is to bag up
each breast or only grab one frozen breast at a time when making your meals!
I know that doesn't sound like much meat but when you cut it up thinly,
you would be surprised with how far that meat will last.
Here are some of the meals I make with each only 1 chicken breast!
1. Taco Salad
Basic: Lettuce, crushed chips, shredded chicken breast, sour cream mixed with salsa, cheese then all mixed together in a large bowl, super easy and quick

2. Chicken/Spinach Lasagna (family favorite and perfect for company)
each 9x13 pan uses 1 breast so for company I will make 2 pans.
1 breast cooked then shredded, mixed with 2 cups cottage cheese, 1/2 cup parm. cheese, 2 eggs, and some herb d' provence (or italian). Pour 2T on bottom of pan with heavy cream (or half/half) then layer (lightly cooked) lasagna noodles, cott.cheese mixture, handful of spincach, mozz. sprinkled and then noodles and cheese mixture then pour approx. 1 cup cream (or half/half) over whole lasagna and bake in 350 oven for 20-25 min
or until bubbly and hot.

3. Chicken Soup (with noodles or rice) Use your favorite recipe

4. Thai Curry Chicken over rice or with rice noodles
This was just a chicken breast cooked with the brown rice then sliced, the curry is a basic cumin, cilantro,ginger, garlic, anaheim pepper, sugar, fish sauce and coconut milk (or use a mixed curry base and add some frozen peas and coconut milk) then add chicken and and serve over brown rice. Super yummy and it fed our family of 6 with enough leftovers for hubby's lunch tomorrow and rice for something else.

5. Thai Curry Chicken Soup
Basically the same as the above except you add a few cups of chicken broth
and more veggies along with the coconut milk and cook til veggies are tender.

6. Chicken Salad sandwiches, yes only 1 breast
Shred Chicken breast with mayo (yogurt or s. cream can help stretch), celery, grapes, apples, herbs, mix and put on bread with lettuce or whatever veggies you have.

7. Chicken Pizza-
A. chicken/spinach alfredo- basically same as above recipe but add roasted or sauteed garlic with olive oil to use as sauce

B. chicken bacon ranch- use ranch dressing for sauce and add crumbled bacon, and chicken
along with cheese

C. chicken thai pizza- use the Thai Sweet Chili sauce for sauce base, then add shredded carrots, peppers, diced onions,and chicken with cheese all pizzas I use homemade crust and bake until golden brown at 425 (about 12-15 min)

8. Alfredo with Chicken
Make a basic alfredo with half/half or heavy cream and saute your chicken with some garlic in oil before adding to warm cooked fettucine noodles. (you can make your own simply too and that is always yummy!)

9. Chicken Rice Bowls
Cook chicken plain or make it garlicky, cajun, spicy, sweet, whatever sounds good to you then slice up thin, make your brown rice, beans, lettuce, cheese, ranch or whatever you have that needs used up in the fridge

10. Chicken Nachos
Exactly as described, just add chicken, though often I don't use chicken

11. Chicken Tacos
I will mix my refried beans or pinto beans with the cooked chicken to stretch
even more, or just make sure I make all the tacos so I have a say on how much
meat goes in each.

I will be making these and adding pictures of them and recipes, but honestly they are very simple, and really don't need a lot of directions. Use your favorite recipes but just try to cut your meat consumption and you will find you don't need all that meat. :)

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Homemade Yogurt in a Crock pot (using powdered coconut and regular milk)

I have been making my own yogurt from powdered coconut milk and powdered regular milk for over a year and my family loves it!! I make a gallon of yogurt at a time, but even though that sound like too much yogurt I am often making it twice a week. Try it you will be amazed at how many things you will put yogurt in!!
Please excuse my horrible picture taking.. it was on my old iphone3 which isn't known for its quality photos.

1. Start with your 6 qt. crock pot and put it on low heat. I measure out 2 cups (heaping not flat) of powdered coconut milk and 2 cups (heaping) of powdered regular milk. (both can be bought at our Sourdough Girls store or from Azure). Place in the crock pot.

2.Pour 8 cups of warm water in your crock pot and stir with a whisk the powdered milk and water until dissolved.

3. Next at the remaining 8 cups of water and mix again.

4.Then place lid on crock pot and stick a thermometer in the milk with the reading showing with the lid on.

5. I let it get to about 130 then turn off crock pot (you can do a higher temp but I figure I don't need to pasteurize the milk just get it heated to make sure all powder is dissolved). Once I turn off the crock pot
I check on it every hour until the thermometer reads 105-110. When close to the temp, remove lid and use the thermometer and swirl around milk, to make sure there are no hot pockets of milk. If it still reads 105-110, then you are ready to make yogurt.

6. All you need to do is add 8 oz. of starter (This is just an organic yogurt from the store in whatever flavor you want, I usually do vanilla), mix with the whisk. Once mixed, put lid back on crock pot and put a towel over the crock pot and leave overnight. (make sure crock pot is unplugged!)

7. Next Morning, open up lid and you have YOGURT!! Package in whatever size you want, add a dollop of homemade jam on the bottom of a dish and put yogurt on top for "fruit on the bottom," and refrigerate. Make sure you put an 8 oz. container of yogurt in the fridge to use as your "starter" for the next batch.

If you want a thicker more like Greek yogurt, just place a tea towel lined colander with a bowl underneath to catch the whey and leave on counter for the day. Then package once whey has dripped out. I use that whey for some the water when I make bread or add to a smoothie or feed your pets. :)

That's it...I can make this in a few minutes and have yogurt ready for the week. If you want a sweeter yogurt add some maple syrup or add a little organic sugar in the warm milk to sweeten (or scrape a vanilla bean into the warm milk). I have found I don't need to sweeten at all any more as they are used to a not super sweet yogurt now, but I do try to start with vanilla or some fruit flavored starter.

Friday, December 13, 2013

More Meals...

Do you ever feel like you spend all day in the kitchen? I do some days but I am very thankful for my new kitchen so at least it's beautiful and I love my kitchen. Well, I am not exactly sure how many meals I am going to remember but I will give it a shot. I guess I need to start writing down exactly what we eat so I am not racking my brain trying to remember.
We had a big Breakfast as Daddy was home in the morning.. That means Eggs, bacon and hashbrowns and I am made a healthy version of shamrock shakes (milk, honey, spinach, ice and mint extract, blend and serve)
Cost: we charge $4 a dozen eggs so I guess I can use that price as my egg price... $4.00
I cut the bacon in half then fry, Our two youngest get 1 piece, older 2 get 2 and we get 3... $3.00
Hash browns (I buy bulk dehydrated shredded potatoes at $40 for 10lbs. which lasts us 6 months)...$3.00
Shamrock Shakes: $2.00
total..$12.00 for 6 of us eat
Lunch: was most likely sandwiches, I think it was ham and cheese with applesauce on the side..
Cost: $3.00 and $1.00 applesauce.... $4.00
Dinner: it was penne pasta with homemade tomato sauce with a red wine vinegar reduction and home grown brussel sprouts sauteed in a piece of bacon... cost $2.00 (tomato sauce I canned this fall and froze the brussel sprouts)
Monday Total: $18.00
Breakfast we had a new oatmeal (it was chopped apricots with vanilla powder) called Apricot and Cream Oatmeal...75c
Lunch we had pb & j sandwiches (homemade jelly)... $2.00
Dinner: it was store night so my business partner and I take turns making dinner and it was her turn so we potato soup
with cheesy garlic bread... Cost.$0.00
I did make a huge batch of homemade cookies so we had that for dessert.. $2.00
Tuesday Total: $4.75
Breakfast: we had Apricots and Cream Oatmeal...75c
Lunch: Potatoes with s.cream with Kiwi on the side...$2.50
Dinner: I had made a huge Cobb salad but my husband wanted to get the kids a treat so we picked up 2 orders of
Drunken noodles at a local Thai driveup to go along with it.. $24.00 (including salad)
Wednesday Total: $27.25
Breakfast: Apricots and Cream Oatmeal... .75c
Lunch: PB & J sandwiches $2.00
Dinner: Baked Potatoes with S.Cream,butter, Bacon and Cheese....$5.00
Thursday Total $7.75
Breakfast we ate Apricots and Cream oatmeal... .75c
Lunch we had fresh bread with honey butter and crackers and cheese and peanut butter... $2.50
Dinner is going to be PIZZA night but as we are having company we made a huge batch of dough and bought some more ingredients we don't usually have... $15.00 for 10 people
FridayTotal: for the whole week...$18.25

GRAND TOTAL FOR THE WEEK: $76.00 for 6 people and some company (family of 4) over on Friday..

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Weekends are budget busters..

It always seems to me that weekends break our budget! We get busy doing things and then its lunch or
dinner and everyone is hungry so out to dinner we go...

Friday night is homemade pizza night.. I make the dough while our 2 year sleeps.
By 5:30 I throw some cheese, onions, pepperoni, ham on it or whatever I have in the fridge that needs
used up. I have made up extra crusts and cooked them for 10 min so when I need dinner really fast I can
take a frozen crust out of the freezer and add the topping and bake at 350 til done. Or I make dough in
large batches and freeze, then let thaw all day in the fridge for dinner that night. I try to buy pepperoni
and Canadian bacon and freeze in baggies so I can just pull out enough for pizzas.
Cost for Pizza last night was $3.50 (.75c for crusts, .75c for toppings, 2.00 for cheese) I made the equivalent
of 2 Large pizzas and I had a few pieces left over (which was unusual).

Lunch was unusual as I made the boys baked potatoes but the girls and I went out to lunch. I haven't
taken the girls out on a date in a long time. We went to the Nutcracker than their favorite restaurant.
We splurged and had hot cocoa with our food and shared a big piece of chocolate cake. We budget $50 for
entertainment a month so we blew that whole month but it was fun and the girls loved it!
Cost for Boys: $1.50 (5 potatoes with s.cream and cottage cheese)

Breakfast: .75c as it was strawberry and cream oatmeal again (everyone loves this)

Friday's Total: $5.75 (not including the lunch out) for a family of 6 for 3 meals

We all slept in until 10 am!! I know crazy! We were very lazy and decided to just have brunch..we had
bacon cups..where you wrap a piece of bacon in a muffin cup then fill with eggs and bake for 30 min.
It was very yummy and super easy..
Cost.. $2.00 bacon (I used a half a slice per muffin)
0 eggs (we have our own chickens so I honestly don't know how much but I know not free :) )
$2.00 for a family of 6
I threw some chuck steak in the crock pot added some broth, spices and an onion and cooked while we
ran around and did our errands. Then when we got home I added a little sour cream and cooked some
noodles and threw a simple salad together. My family loves this simple Stroganof and salad for dinner!
Cost: 0 meat (a friend cleaned out their freezer and gave us some older meat but was still good)
0 broth was bones of various meat and I cooked down to make broth then frozen
.50c sour cream (I used about 1 cup)
2.00 noodles (I used 2 lbs. of egg noodles I buy these in 10# boxes)
1.00 lettuce (I used 1 head of romaine and 1 huge handful of spinach, I buy these organic at Sams)
.25 a carrot
.25 a little almonds, sesame sticks, sunflower seeds, sprouted pea sprouts
1.00 cottage cheese, homemade ranch dressing
Total $5.00 (I realize if you don't have free meat this will be more, but use the cheaper cuts of
meat and use it sparingly I used only 1/2 lb of chuck steak cut small)
Saturday's Total: $7.00

We had a quick breakfast this morning of strawberry and cream oatmeal as we were running a little late to church.

Ham, cheese and lettuce sandwiches with potato chips and a sour cream dip
6.50 (meat, chips, cheese and s. cream add up :) )

Ham, Egg, Cheese Burritos
3.00 (3 slices of ham chopped up, 8 eggs, a handful of grated cheese and a package of ww wraps)

Sunday's Total: $10.25

Grand Total for Friday-Sunday: $22.75 for our family of 6

Not too bad and have to say as I type this I am shocked this is less than it would cost for 1 meal out eating Pizza or our family to go out to McD.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Girls room

The Girls room.... the girls room is really our son's room too..It is a shared room... :) Anyways...I have been working on it.. First, added some beadboard to 2 walls
Second, painted the beadboard a pastel pink
Third, paint over the stripes a solid cream
Fourth, Outline with pencil over 200 polka dots...
Fifth, Fill in polka dots with pink paint Sixth, Add the homemade initial letters
...still have to paint the baseboards, make a large canvas art and paper flowers, and some actual pictures taken with the camera NOT my phone. :) ~Fawn

I have now added our youngest next to the girls beds and have all three in a row. They did take longer to settle down tonight so we will see if it works out. We are trying to get our youngest to stop sneaking into his big sister's bed every night.

Day 2 of under $250 a month

Today's meals and costs..
Strawberry and cream oatmeal .75

Sandwiches of pb and apple butter
(I used up some older buns) 1.50
Homemade yogurt 1.00
Homemade applesauce .50
Water and sweet tea

Homemade Korean Beef with brown rice 2.00
(I was given the 1 lb of caribou for letting a friend
borrow my meat grinder to cut up their meat) the cost was for the 3
cups of rice, Coconut aminos, sugar, onion and spices. I found the recipe on
Green peas 1.00
(I used whole dried peas that were soaked overnight then pressure cooked for
5 min. I bought a 25# bag and use it also to make pea sprouts for
sandwiches and salads.)
Hot Chocolate with eggnog .50
(I use a pre-mixed non hydrogenated oil hot chocolate mix and I found some
eggnog on sale for 1.00 at the grocery store, I did not use all of it only
about a cup and only a heaping Tablespoon per glass of mix)

Yesterday's leftover apple pie egg rolls with vanilla ice cream

Total cost: $9.25 for 3 meals and dessert for a family of 6