Home > Category: Cooking on a Budget

Viewing the 'Cooking on a Budget' Category

Eating from the Stocked Items for the Month

March 5th, 2008 at 12:04 pm

In order to include some of the meals I've had this week, I'm starting with Friday because on Friday I had a crock pot dinner that carried over to two more meals this week. So here goes:

Friday: Beef Pot Luck Dinner

6 lb. Beef Shoulder Road
8 peeled potatoes
1 lb. baby carrots
1 chopped up onion
2 cups of water
Salt and Pepper to taste

I put all this in the crockpot with the veggies on the bottom, added two cups of water and put it on high for six hours. Meat was cooked medium well and there was nice au jus.

Saturday: Hearty Beef & Barley Stew

1 cup cubed up beef
1 cup cubed up carrots
1 cup cubed up potatoe
Juice from crock pot
1/2 cup barley
2 cans of Beef Broth
Spices to taste

Put it all in the crock pot on high and let cook for about two hours. Then I take a 1/2 cup of cold water add 3 T of flour and stir it together until all flour is dissolved and pour it in the crock pot to thicken the stew. Very delicious and we ate it with Texas Toast.

I still had enough beef, carrots and potatoe cubed from the Friday night pot luck to make another stew so I put it in the fridge for another nights menu.

Sunday: Chicken, Brocolli Alfredo

1 8 oz. chicken breast (cubed)
1 cup frozen chopped brocolli
1 jar alfredo sauce w/cheese
Angel Hair

I sauteed the cubed chicken breast in olive oil until all pieces were white and then I added the brocolli, I sauteed on low until the brocolli was fully thawed and the chicken was fully cooked and slightly browned and added the alfredo sauce.

As I was cooking the chicken alfredo I cooked up enough angel hair for four servings.

I served it with Texas Toast.

Monday: Beef Pot Pie

Two pie shells
Beef, Carrot & Potatoe Mixture
1 can of Beef Gravy

I lined a pie plate with pie pastry. I mixed the beef, carrot & Potatoe with gravy and poured it in the pie shell and then put on top layer; put it in the oven at 350 degrees for 35 minutes.

Tuesday: Lemon Chicken & Rice

2 large Chicken Breast
1 can of Chicken Broth
1/4 cup Lemon Juice
1 beaten egg
1 c. flour season with Lemon & Pepper Spice
Salt & Pepper
1 C. Rice
2 C. Water
2 T. butter

I first put 2 cup of water and 1 cup of rice with 2 T. butter in a microwave safe 2 quart pyrex dish. Put it on high for 18 minutes.

I pound the chicken until it is flat, cut it into four pieces. Dip it into the egg batter and then roll in the flour and place in a hot pan with olive oil and saute until browned on both sides and cooked; usually no more than 15 minutes. Take chicken out of the pan, put 1 can of chicken broth, 1/4 cup of lemon juice in fry pan. In a separate cup put 1/4 cup of cold water and stir in 3 T. flour, pour into chicken & Lemon broth and stir quickly with a fork so no lumping occurs. Spice to taste with lemon pepper and salt, when slightly thickened, add the chicken back into the mix and coat chicken. Serve over rice with canned asparagus pieces (the lemon from the chicken taste great on the asparagus).

Wednesday: Chili & Texas Toast

1 lb. of ground beef
1 large can of red kidney beans
1 jar of ragu sauce
1 large can of diced tomatoes
1/2 c. brown sugar
1 tsp. cloves
1 tsp. italian spice
1 tsp. chili powder
1 tsp. basil flakes
red pepper flakes to taste
Salt & Pepper

In a crock pot brown the ground beef on high, drain off grease. Pour in the remaining ingredients add spice and let it simmer for at least four hours. Serve with salad and texas cheese toast.

Thursday: Garlic Pork Lions

1 lb. pork lions
(soak in olive oil and crushed garlic for at least a couple of hours with salt and pepper to taste).
2 baking potatoes
1 can Green Beans

When pork is fully marinated. Start your oven at 350 degrees, wash you baking potatoes and punch holes in them with a fork. Let the potatoe cook for 30 minutes then arrange your pork loins in a baking dish. Put them in the oven for approximately 30 minutes along with the baking potatoes. Heat your green beans in the microwave and add butter, salt and pepper to taste.

Friday: Pork Stir Fry

1 frozen bag of snow pea stir fry
Leftover Pork
Soy Sauce

Start your rice in the microwave, 2 cups of water, 1 cup of rice and 2 Tsp. of butter. Cook on high for 18 minutes.

Slice left over pork into thin short pieces. Saute the snow pea stir fry veggies in olive oil, when melted and cooked pour in your pork pieces, continue to saute until heated; add soy sauce to taste and serve over rice.

So there is our week menu. For meat I used 1 beef roast, 1 package of chicken (3 breast), 1 lb. of hamburger and 1 package of pork loins (4 pieces). We are still in good shape and I haven't had to go to the store for anything yet. The only item we seem to be low on right now is milk which I will pick up on Friday before the weekend.

$50 Free at Walmart and $28.48 in Free Groceries

March 2nd, 2008 at 02:53 pm

So the DH and I sat down to do the March budget. We take our current checking balance, add in potential income and then minus out all the debts; including my DH's medical bills and gas for work. We didn't factor in his habitual convenience store stops or cigarettes, he said he is going to stop smoking this week; he's on the pill and chewing the gum so we will see (as I write this he has gone to the store; hmmmm must be a cigarette run, not a good sign). Our bottom line is that we are about $1,500 short to pay all the bills this month and I was given a $300 grocery budget to work with. So we will figure it out even if we have to push a few things into April or borrow from the DS account (I don't really want to touch that).

So I had applied for some ebay bidding tool on line; it came and had a free offer for $50 in walmart gift cards to do a free trail membership in a savings club; which I joined for the trial period and then cancelled before I was charged a fee. So I filled out all the paperwork sent it out, it came back and had another process of filing out more paperwork with my savings club account number; I filled it out and sent it in and I received two $25 Walmart cards totally free. I wonder how many people just don't take the time.

So DH and I go to Walmart to pick up paper products; cleaning supplies, personal hygiene items and eggs; that's right eggs are $2.78 for 18 eggs at Walmart; best deal in town. I further bought a 3 lb. block of cheddar cheese, some dish clothes and face clothes and a few cans of veggies and some salsa. My bill comes to $61.69. $11.69 over the budget so it gets taken from my grocery account.

So now I have to plan the family meals to stay within my budget of $300.00; I assess my current supplies and what is in the freezer before I go. I go to Shaw's and buy three packages of chicken breast (this is usually two meals from each package for us) sales price is $1.99 per pound; I buy a large package of hamburger that I will divide up into three servings to make lasagna; chili and shepards pie out of. I picked up other items including fresh fruit, veggies and canned products, my bill came to $138.68 after my Shaws discount of $28.48; so now I have used $150.37 from my $300.00 budget and I have gotten $78.48 in groceries free.

As I assess my situation; I know that doing bulk shopping on paper products and laundry supplies and all other groceries through the months gives me extra for times like this when we need to sharpen the pencil. I'm set for the month. I generally shop at BJ's once a month for the bulk items; I won't need to go there this month because we have not used up many of the products we bought the last few times.

Now I have many pieces of meat in the freezer to work with; a ham, a broiling chicken, two packages of pork lions, five servings of hamburger; six packages of chicken breast (1.99 a lb), six pizza's, A beef roast, a 2 lb. sirlion steak which was purchased at $1.99 a pound, 4 lbs. of butter; bag of pecans; bag of walnuts; bag of sliced almonds; 4 loaves of bread; 1 package of bagels; a bag of hamburger rolls; frozen french fries; a bag of stir fry veggies; a bag of broccoli florets; bag of frozen peas and mixed veggies; a 4 lb bag of mozzeralla cheese, a 3 lb. bag of shredded cheddar cheese.

I have stock piled 8 cans of corn, peas, green beans, kidney beans, cubed tomatoe pieces, 2 cans beets, 2 cans of asparagus pieces; 5 cans of tuna fish, 3 jars of tomatoe sauce, 2 cans of black olives; a liter of olive oil, 2 bags of dried peas and beans.

Regarding baking supplies and spices; everything I need and more; flour, sugar, baking powder and soda; baking cocoa, oatmeal, corn meal, bread crumbs.

Starches include a 10 lb. bag of potatoes, 3 lbs. of angel hair and a 5 lb. bag of rice and a package of lasagna noodles and a 24 package case of chicken flavored roman noodles.

I have about six bananas, 4 apples, 4 peaches, a bag of 10 Florida fresh tangerines for $2.99 and a lb. of grapes for fresh fruit and I have individual servings of about 8 cups of fruit cocktail and one can of pineapple slices and a jar of cherries.

I got two bags of packaged salad mix for the price of one and I still had a head of romaine lettuce; five green peppers, fresh sliced mushrooms and a cucumber. I have a bulk bag of gourmet croutons too and plenty of salad dressings. The problem I have with those bag salads is you have to eat them very quickly after you open them. These will probably last a couple of weeks.

My husband is a diet coke fanatic so I bought 4 - 24 can packs of diet coke for $23.96 that figures out to about .40 cents a can; huge savings and it should keep him out of the stores. I had recently purchased a 3 lb. bulk package of granola bars and a bulk package of 24 servings of Activa yogurt so he will take a six pack of the yogurt and enough granola bars for the week. We pack his lunch from leftovers from the night before so he shouldn't have to buy lunches. So I think I have plenty to work with to stay in budget.

This is looking pretty good so it looks like I'll just have to pick up things like milk, coffee creamers and possibly a few ingredients for things I make.

I may get to save some of the $300 to apply toward other things. When I shopped yesterday I also got a $5.00 coupon off my next time shopping at Shaw's and $3.00 off my favorite bottle of wine. So $8.00 already to save when I go to the store again.

It was a great day and we'll see what I can do with this to make 30 meals for the evenings. We also eat light for breakfast, a toast and egg; or bagel and yogurt and coffee. For lunches we eat leftovers; there are always plenty of them and if not; open a can of tuna and make a sandwich or have a package of roman noodles and add some leftover chicken to it or veggies!

I'll make my first week dinner list and post it tomorrow with meals starting today.

Special Birthday on a Budget

January 31st, 2008 at 11:31 am

It was my husbands birthday last night and we usually would go to a really nice restaurant to celebrate. Since we are savings as much as we can, I had to become a Gourmet Chef, normally we would spend about $90-$100 for dinner, this would include the wine and tip. So what did I make:

2 NY Sirlion $14.38 at $7.49 lbs.
Bone In
Bernaise Sauce .99
Baked Potato 2.00
Greek Salad 2.00
French Bread .99
B-Day Cake 5.49
Pinot Noir 8.99

I tried something new with the steak. I had a jar of steak seasoning someone gave to me, it had salt, garlic, pepper, red pepper, dehydrated onion, in it, its a Canadian mix purchased at BJ's. So I took the steak seasoning and pressed it into the steak on both sides, then I got a pan very hot with olive oil (by getting the pan super hot, it seals the beef and keeps in the juices), I put the steak in and let it brown on both sides, then turned the heat to medium for about 4 minutes on each side: these steaks were about an inch and a half thick. While the steak cooking I made up the bernaise sauce from the package directions. When all was ready I served the steak on a plate with a touch of bernaise sauce (just like the restaurant does, beautiful presentation), we had baked potato and salad (romaine lettuce with black olives and a touch of shredded parmesan cheese with a oil based greek salad dressing) and bread.

It was so delicious, my husband kept commenting on how good it was and even said it was better than what we had had at our favorite restaurant. Nice dinner and all for under $35.00 - This was a splurge and I know I could have saved more, but after all, it was his birthday!

How about some Chili and Humor?

January 29th, 2008 at 10:42 am

I couldn't sleep again tonight so I got up and decided to cook up a fast batch of my signature chili. It's cold out today and I thought it would be nice to have something hot and a little spicy to eat, so here it is:

1 lb. ground beef
2 19 oz. cans red kidney bean
1 29 oz. large can tomato puree
1 14 oz. can cubed tomato chunks
1 t. garlic powder
1 t. black pepper
1 T. salt
1 T. oregano
1 T. Basil
1 t. cloves
1/2 t. red pepper flakes
1/2 cup brown sugar

Brown the ground beef in a pan and drain off the fat, put the ground beef into your crock pot, add all other ingredients and let simmer for two hours and its ready to serve, sprinkle some shredded cheddar cheese on top if you like and serve with rolls. It's a delicious and hearty meal.

I guess what made me start to crave some chili is a recent joke that I found on one of the forums. My chili is not from Texas and obviously will not compare because it is tasty and mild in spice, but you need to read this joke and see what could happen.

A Texas Chili Contest

Warning - If you can read this whole story without laughing out loud, then there's no hope for you.

Note: Please take time to read this slowly. If you pay attention to the first two judges, the reaction of the third judge is even better. For those of you who have lived in Texas, you know how true this is. They actually have a chili cook-off about the time Halloween comes around. It takes up a major portion of a parking lot at the San Antonio city park.

The notes are from an inexperienced chili taster named Frank, who was visiting from Springfield, IL.

Frank: "Recently, I was honored to be selected as a judge at a chili cooking contest. The original person called in sick at the last moment and I happened to be standing there at the judge's table asking for directions to the Coors Light truck, when the call came in. I was assured by the other two judges (native Texans) that the chili wouldn't be all that spicy and, besides, they told me I could have free beer during the tasting, so I accepted." Here are the scorecards from the advent: (Frank is Judge #3)

Chili # 1 Eddie's Maniac Monster Chili...

Judge # 1 -- A little too heavy on the tomato. Amusing kick.
Judge # 2 -- Nice, smooth tomato flavor. Very mild.
Judge # 3 -- (Frank) What the hell is this stuff?! You could remove dried paint from your driveway. Took me two beers to put out the flames. I hope that's the worst one. These Texans are crazy!

Chili # 2 Austin's Afterburner Chili...

Judge # 1 -- Smoky, with a hint of pork. Slight jalapeno tang.
Judge # 2 -- Exciting BBQ flavor; needs more peppers to be taken seriously.
Judge # 3 -- Keep this out of the reach of children. I'm not sure what I'm supposed to taste besides pain. I had to wave off two people who wanted to give me the Heimlich maneuver. They had to rush in more beer when they saw the look on my face.

Chili # 3 Ronny's Famous Burn Down the Barn Chili...

Judge # 1 -- Excellent firehouse chili. Great kick. Needs more beans.
Judge # 2 -- A beanless chili, a bit salty, good use of peppers.
Judge # 3 -- Call the EPA. I've located a uranium spill. My nose feels like I have been snorting Drano. Everyone knows the routine by now. Get me more beer before I ignite Barmaid pounded me on the back, now my backbone is in the front part of my chest. I'm getting pie-eyed from all of the beer...

Chili # 4 Dave's Black Magic...

Judge # 1 -- Black bean chili with almost no spice. Disappointing.
Judge # 2 -- Hint of lime in the black beans. Good side dish for fish, or other mild foods; not much of a chili.
Judge # 3 -- I felt something scraping across my tongue, but was unable to taste it. Is it possible to burn out taste buds? Sally, the barmaid, was standing behind me with fresh refills. That 300-lb. woman is starting to look HOT...just like this nuclear waste I'm eating! Is chili an aphrodisiac?

Chili # 5 Lisa's Legal Lip Remover..

Judge # 1 -- Meaty, strong chili, Cayenne peppers freshly ground, adding considerable kick. Very impressive.
Judge # 2 -- Chili using shredded beef, could use more tomato. Must admit the cayenne peppers make a strong statement.
Judge # 3 -- My ears are ringing, sweat is pouring off my forehead, and I can no longer focus my eyes. I farted and four people behind me needed paramedics. The contestant seemed offended when I told her that her chili had given me brain damage. Sally saved my tongue from bleeding by pouring beer directly on it from the pitcher. I wonder if I'm burning my lips off. It really pisses me off that the other judges asked me to stop screaming. Screw those rednecks.

Chili # 6 Pam's Very Vegetarian Variety...

Judge # 1 -- Thin, yet bold vegetarian variety chili. Good balance of spices and peppers.
Judge # 2 -- The best yet. Aggressive use of peppers, onions, and garlic. Superb.
Judge # 3 -- My intestines are now a straight pipe filled with gaseous, sulfuric flames. I pooped on myself when I farted and I'm worried it will eat through the chair! No one seems inclined to stand behind me anymore. I need to wipe my butt with a snow cone.

Chili # 7 Carla's Screaming Sensation Chili...

Judge # 1 -- A mediocre chili with too much reliance on canned peppers.
Judge # 2 -- Ho-hum; tastes as if the chef literally threw in a can of chili peppers at the last moment. **I should take note that I am worried about Judge #3. He appears to be in a bit of distress, as he is cursing uncontrollably.
Judge # 3 -- You could put a grenade in my mouth, pull the pin, and I wouldn't feel a thing. I've lost sight in one eye, and the world sounds like it is made of rushing water. My shirt is covered with chili, which slid unnoticed out of my mouth. My pants are full of lava to match my shirt. At least during the autopsy, they'll know what killed me. I've decided to stop breathing; it's too painful. Screw it; I'm not getting any oxygen anyway. If I need air, I'll just suck it in through the 4-inch hole in my stomach.

Chili # 8 Karen's Toenail Curling Chili...

Judge # 1 -- The perfect ending, this is a nice blend chili. Not too bold, but spicy enough to declare its existence.
Judge # 2 -- This final entry is a good, balanced chili. Neither mild, nor hot. Sorry to see that most of it was lost when Judge # 3 farted, passed out, fell over, and pulled the chili pot down on top of himself. Not sure if he's going to make it. Poor fella, wonder how he'd have reacted to really hot chili?

Well now I'm ready to start my day. Have a great one.

Best Way to Spend Less Than $100 a Week on Groceries

January 18th, 2008 at 12:47 pm

The first thing you need to do to plan your weekly meals is get out the sales fliers for your local food chain. So this is my grocery list for the week based on current sales and a family of three:

3-4 lb. Beef Shoulder Roast
5-6 lb. Roasting Chicken
4-5 lb. Ham, Butt Portion
1 10 lb. bag of potatos
1 Large bag of baby carrots
1 box white rice
1 bag of dried green peas
10 cans of veggies
Loaf of Bread
2 Freacetta 4 Cheese Pizzas
1 c. pineapple slices
1 bag brown sugar
1 lb. of cream cheese
1 Dozen Eggs
1 lb. butter
1 bunch Banana's
1 bag of apples
1 Gallon Milk
Box of Cereal
Sliced Cheese
Rolls in a bag - keep refrigerated to preserve.

For simplicity sake we will assume that you can have eggs, bagels, toast or cereal for breakfast and fruit along with your coffee.

For lunches you can have leftovers to make a sandwich or just eat leftovers and add some fruit. My husband always takes leftovers to work with him so he doesn't have to spend money on the road and he has a microwave at work. I work at home so I eat leftovers as well. My son eats school lunch.


Day 1 - Beef Roast, Potatoes & Carrots

Wash and scrub 6-8 medium potatoes and put them in the bottom of a crock pot, put in desired amount of bagged carrots, wash your beef roast, salt and pepper and put on top of veggies in crock pot, pour one cup of water in the crock pot. Put on the lid and turn up to high for about two hours then turn down to low-med for the additional six hours. It is delicious and you will be able to cut it with a fork. Save all the juices from the crock pot and put them in the refrigerator in a sealed container.
(You can make small slits with a knive in the roast before cooking and add small cloves of garlic to enhance flavor).

Day 2 - Beef Stew & Rolls

Cube up remaining beef, potatoes and carrots. Take the juice you saved from the refrigerator, skim off the fat, put the juice and the cubed veggies and meat into the crock pot, add a can of cubed tomotoe pieces. Add an additional four cups of water and spices to taste; I usually add some basil, garlic powder, salt, pepper and a little red pepper. Turn crock pot to high until it begins to boil and then turn down to med for about an hour. Makes a hearty meal if served with rolls. (I sometimes add 1/2 cup barley and a cup of sliced mushrooms to this stew).

Day 3 - Roast Chicken, Baked Pototoes
& Green Beans

Turn on oven to 350 degrees, plan on 20 minutes per pound. Wash and prepare your chicken in a roasting pan. Salt and pepper the chicken, add a 1/2 cup of water to the bottom of the pan, put cover on and start baking. Wash and stab a few potatoes and place them in the oven about an hour before your chicken is done.

Open a can of green beans, put in microwavable dish and warm for about two minutes in the microwave add butter, salt and pepper to taste.

Day 4 - Chicken Rice Soup & Rolls

Boil your remaining chicken from the day before in about six cups of water, until the meat falls off the bone.
Using a colander placed in a another cooking pot, pour contents of boiled chicken into the colander. Put the broth into a crock pot, let the chicken in the colander cool then sort through it and put what meat you choose into your broth in the crock pot. Add a can of corn, can of green beans, can of cubed tomatoes and 1/2 cup white long grain rice add spices to taste (I usually add some salt, pepper, basil, poultry seasoning and garlic powder), turn crock pot onto high until it begins to boil, then turn down to med for an additional hour. Serve with rolls.

Day 5 - Ham Roast, Rice & Corn

Turn oven on at 350 degrees, plan on 15 minutes per pound if it's a precooked ham.

Put Ham in Roasting Pan, add 1/2 c. water to bottom of pan. With toothpicks, put pineapple slices on the ham and save the juice. Cover and put in the oven. When there is only a half hour left take juice from pineapple, add 1/4 cup brown sugar and 2 T flour, stir well and cook on the stove until it thickens, take your ham out of the oven, and spoon the mixture over the ham and put back in the oven to cook for the remaining half hour.

While the ham is cooking, put two cups of water in a large baking dish with 1 cup of rice and 2 T. butter. Put in the microwave for 15 minutes. Make sure the pan is high enough so the rice won't boil over into your microwave.

Open canned corn and warm in microwave in a microwave dish for two minutes and butter, salt and pepper to taste.

Day 6 - Friday Night is Pizza Night

Cook two Pizzas in the oven - I like to add sliced mushrooms, black olives and onion to my pizza. You can add whatever you like - maybe ham and pineapple from the night before (save out a couple of slices of pineapple and slice ham thinly).

Day 7 - Pea Soup and Rolls

Prepare your dried green peas per package directions, cube up a cup of ham, cube up some baby carrots, add an onion (optional) - simmer until done and serve with rolls & Butter.

There are always lots of leftovers at our house so there is plenty of food. A larger family would obviously have to increase the amount I prepare.

I go through the sales flyers weekly and take advantage of all the buy one; get one free sales that my family eat. Many times, beef, pork, chicken, ham, bread, bagels, butter, juice, and etc are buy one; get one free. I freeze the extra items. I buy canned veggies, chopped tomatoes and puree when it's on sale at the price of 10 cans for $10.00. I buy rice in a four pound bag for $4.49 and store it in a plastic container for easy access. Potatoes are constantly on sale here with the buy one; get one bag free. The list goes on and if you are vigilant and use coupons, the savings is even higher.

It is worth the investment to buy a small chest freezer, I bought one at Home Depot for $165.00, I've noticed them at the same price at Walmart. Also, regarding paper products, laundry supplies and cleaning products, I usually watch flyers for Walmart and buy them in bulk when they are on sale.