Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving!

Two days until Thanksgiving. What are you thankful for? If you are like me, I am thankful that I still have a job! If you recently was laid off..... my thoughts and prayers are with you.

Whatever your situation, I am sure that you are always thinking of ways to save money. This holiday season I will be gifting alot of baked goodies.

Baking can be expensive, unless you buy ahead and buy items on sale. Starting in November, when I find butter, baking chips (butterscotch, chocolate, white), nuts, pie crust, etc. on sale I stock up.

I also raid my cubbard to find any extra "baking goodies" that need be used up. Of course, I make sure that they are not expired and still have flavor.

Another TIME saving idea is to make your cookie dough ahead of time and freeze it. That way you can take it out of the freezer and have fresh baked cookies in a very short time.

I have already frozen cookie dough for cherry chocolate chip cookies, sugar cookies, and molasses cookies.

Have a blessed Thanksgiving!

Sunday, September 28, 2008

But Mom..... I want chips!

I dread taking my kids grocery shopping with me. Although I must say that is is getting better. When they were small, it was a constant.... "I want this.... I want that!". Sometimes I would buy them something just to keep them quiet.

That added dollars to my grocery bill! Money that I could not afford, but did.... because I did not want to hear the crying and whining.

How do you say "no" and not have your child throw a fit.

These are some of the things I did. First, I will say that I have a very supportive spouse and I leaned on him. If at all possible, I would leave the kids at home with him. If not him, I would call a sister (by the way I have 6 sisters and 1 brother) and see if I could leave my kids with them or do a swap. My sister would watch my kids while I did my shopping, then in return I would watch hers.

Leaving my kids with a sister or spouse was not always possible. There were times, plenty of times, that I had to take them with me. When that was the case, I made sure that I was prepared. I had my grocery list ready. I did not go by memory.... I also went to a smaller grocery store where I could get in and out fast. I also warned my children that if they were not well behaved or they begged a lot..... I would leave the cart where it was and take them home. Once at home they would go straight down for a nap!

Did that ever happen? Yes it did..... once! After that my kids knew I meant business.

How does all this relate to saving money? It should be obvious. I saved money by not having my children beg me for everything. An extra bag of chips is about $3.98 right now. Candy bars are about $0.75 and if your children are like mine.... they want junk food (chips, candy, soda, etc) not the healthy veggies or fruit!

Hope this helps!

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Homemade Chicken Stock (Broth)

To help save my food budget, I make a big pot of homemade soup each Saturday. Today is no exception and I have decided to make cream of potato.

But as I was checking my freezer, I realized that I did not have any frozen chicken stock left. How can I make my family's favorite soup when I don't have one of the main ingredients.

So I switched gears and now I have decided to make chicken stock. With some of the stock I will make a quick batch of chicken noodle soup.

1. Purchase a small to medium size whole chicken. If you purchase fresh one, it will more than likely already be thawed. If not, you will need to hold on making your stock until it is.

2. Rinse your chicken inside and out. Pull out the neck and the gibblets (heart, liver, and gizzard) and discard.

3. Put your chicken in a 8 quart stock pot and fill it about half full of water. If you don't have a stock put, you may want to invest in one. You will find that you will use it alot. I found mine at Shopko for $12.

4. Into the pot add about 1 cup of chopped onion, 1 cup of chopped celery, 1 cup of chopped carrots, and salt and pepper. Bring to a small rolling boil and let it boil until the meat is almost falling off the bone. This may take 1 to 1/2 hours.

5. Let cool.

6. Strain in a collandar. This will separate the chicken stock from the meat and vegetables. Cool.

7. Pour the chicken stock into freezable containers. I usually put about 4 to 5 cups per container.

8. Remove the meat from the chicken. Throw away the skin and bones. The meat can be used for other meals... or in my case to make chicken noodle soup.

9. What do you do with the vegtables? You could throw them away. If you decide to use them, I would suggest that you use them the same day.

If you have another recipe for chicken stock, I would love to hear from you. One batch of chicken stock will fill about 7 freezer containers.

What't the cost?
Chicken: about $7.00
vegetabeles: about $2.50

If you don't have containers.... this will add about $3.50.

If you consider the cost only for the stock, you may think it is a bit pricey, but once you realize that you still have all the chicken meat for other things...... then it's a pretty good deal!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Macaroni and Cheese

Tired of the boxed macaroni and cheese. Why not consider making your own. It is not only healthier, but it is about the same cost.

Take a medium size pot (4 quart) and fill it about 2/3 with water. Bring the water to a boil. To the boiling water add 3 cups of elbow macaroni. Boil until the macaroni is tender about 5 minutes.

Once the macaroni is tender take it and strain it in a colander. Put the macaroni back in the pot, add about 1 tablespoon of butter, 1/4 cup of milk and about 2 cups of shredded American cheese. Mix and put the cover on. The cheese should melt into the macaroni. If not, put it back on the burner (medium) for about 3 minutes. Be sure to continually stir so that it does not burn.

You will notice that I did not add any salt. I think that there is enough salt in the cheese, but if you need to add some... go ahead. For a little different flavor, try garlic salt.

This is a great recipe for a quick meal and is also fairly inexpensive. My children love it..... even more than the box version.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Turkey and Gravy

What a find! This weekend I went shopping and found turkey (frozen whole turkeys) for 79 cents a pound. What a deal and because I had room in my freezer, I bought two. One for now and another for Thanksgiving.

If you are looking for ways to stretch your dollar, consider buying a whole turkey. They are often more than a dollar a pound. But of course, the best value will be when you can purchase one on sale.... and preferably less than a dollar a pound.

How did I prepare it? I baked it. Here's how. First, I let the turkey thaw in the refrigerator. When it was completely thawed, I took it out of the package, rinsed it and put it in a nesco . You could also put it in a roaster pan in your oven. All I put on for seasonings were salt and pepper. Because my turkey was about 14 pounds, it took about 3 1/2 hours to bake (at 350 degrees). You should allow about 20 minutes per pound. Be sure to baste it about every 30 minutes so that it does not dry out.

Once the turkey was done, I pulled all the meat from the bones, threw the bones and skin away, and chopped the meat into medium size pieces.

Because my family likes turkey and gravy, I used the drippings to make gravy. I took a can of cream of mushroom and a can of cream of chicken soup and mixed it in the drippings. Then I added about 4 cups of water and 1 tablespoon of chicken soup base and stirred it well. On the side mix (in a bowl) about four cups of cold milk and 4-5 tablespoons of flour. Once the mixture is at a rolling boil, pour the flour/milk mixture in. It should thicken nicely.

Once my gravy is thick enough, I chop up the turkey into the size of pieces we like (small) and mix it with the gravy.

Because it is way more than my family can eat at once, I put several containers in the freezer for a quick meal at another time.

What did this cost me?

About $10 for the turkey and $1.50 for the soup. I already had the spices, flour, and milk so I did not have to buy any.

Not a bad deal!

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Roast Beef

Are you as frustrated as I am with the price of sandwich meat? I just received a call from my sister who returned from the store. Almost $10.00 a pound for roast beef sandwich meat! What is a mom to do when she wants/needs to feed her growing family? She refused to pay that much and ended up not buying anything. Her solution.... see what is currently in the freezer and cook it up.

My solution: When beef is on sale (less than $2.50 per pound) buy up a few extra packages. Put them in the freezer and when you want roast beef sandwiches, take one out and cook it up. Have it for supper one night and use the leftovers for school/work sandwiches the next.