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.