Thursday, October 30, 2008

October's LOK Kitchen Challenge Entry

The challenge was to feed a family of 4 for $10 for all day. A family of 6 or more was allotted $15 for the day's meals. This is my entry for the challenge. The total cost was $14.31. It made the following menu:

Breakfast: Blueberry Waffle Sandwiches, Banana, Milk
Lunch: Toasted Bread, Tomato Soup
Dinner: Goulash, Broccoli

Grocery List
Waffles, frozen 10 ct -- $1.15
Eggs, dozen --$1.29
Milk, 1 gallon -- $2.50
Bananas, 3 lb -- $1.50
French Bread, 1 loaf -- $1.50
Tomato Soup, 3 10-oz cans -- $1.37
Macaroni, 2 lb -- $1.69
Corn, 1 cans -- $. 45
Chili Beans, 2 cans -- $ .90
Spaghetti Sauce, 1 26-oz can -- $ .98
Broccoli, frozen 1 lb -- $ .98

For breakfast, I used frozen blueberry waffles. While toasting the waffles, I cooked the eggs to make breakfast sandwiches as posted in this blog post. The breakfast sandwiches were served with banana chunks and a glass of milk.

For lunch, I used some store-bought french bread. I buttered the slices and baked at 350 until the bread is toasted. I mixed up the tomato soup with milk with a ratio of 3 cans to 2 cups of milk.

Goulash Ingredients for Dinner

For dinner, I made goulash as it is a favorite among my kids. I cook the pasta according to package directions and drain. I then dump in a can of spaghetti sauce, can of corn (drained), 2 cans of chili beans into the pot with the cooked (& drained) macaroni. Mix it well and serve. I serve with a steamed vegetable like broccoli (cook in microwave when pasta is cooking).

Dinner is served

Note: I used green beans for our meal since I had some fresh from our garden, but for costs I priced a bag of broccoli.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Budget Saving Tips

Below are some tips that I found on a site I had enjoyed (the site is no longer available). I follow these tips and find them to be good advice.

  • Plan your meals (including desserts, if desired), make a list, and stick to it. Plan meals according to your grocery stores specials.
  • Plan on using leftovers (Mondays Pot Roast turns into Tuesdays Roast Beef Sandwiches).
    Incorporate at least one or two meatless meals a week into your menu.
  • Reduce the amount of meat in recipes and increase the amount of another less expensive filler such as rice, beans, or pasta.
  • Make your own cookies, cakes and breads instead of buying them premade (they're tastier this way, too).
  • Compare prices. You may be surprised to discover a sale item isn't always cheaper than another brand not on sale.
  • Browse through the discontinued and damaged items. They are still good, and a lot cheaper.
  • Stock up when you come across an unbelievable buy. Spending a few extra dollars one week will yield high rewards in the following weeks.
  • Never shop hungry. You'll find more wanders into your shopping cart than normal.
  • Use coupons. Better yet, couple them with an in-store special for an even bigger savings.

I use coupons rarely because I simply do not use name-brand items much. Even with coupons I find name-brands are not cheaper most of the time. When I do I wait for sales and/or use a coupon if at all possible.

Another tip I can offer is to take advantage of a store's meat department slicing meats free. For instance, beef stew meat costs $4 a pound or more on a normal basis. I cannot bring myself to pay that price. When beef roasts go on sale I pick up a few and have the butcher at the store cut them into stew meat for me. So instead of $4 a pound, I can buy it for $1.60 or less a pound. That is a huge savings. I make the meat department my first stop on those days so while my meat is being cut I can pick up other items on my list.

I do the same for ham steaks. Around Thanksgiving and Christmas as well as Easter hams go on sale. Again ham steaks are $4 a pound, but I have been able to buy a whole bone-in ham for $1 a pound. I have it sliced free into steaks. The end portion that is left is good for White Bean and Ham Soup. Pork Loin is the other meat I get slice free when it is on sale. The boneless loin chops are best on the grill especially with an Apple Barbecue Sauce. Mmmmm!

Friday, October 24, 2008

AngelFood Ministries Meal Plan for October

I bought just two regular units from AngelFood Ministries this month. There were more processed foods this month so I cut back. I did purchase a fresh fruit & veggie box as well. In addition to AFM, I picked up my SHARE Foods order (2 units).

October Package (contents of one unit):
1.5 lb. Top Sirloin Strip Steaks (4 x 6 oz.)
4.5 lb. Split Chicken Breast Family Tray Pack
26 oz. Heat and Serve Salisbury Steaks and Brown Gravy
1 lb. Chicken Breast Fajita Strips
1 lb. Boneless Center-Cut Pork Chops (4 x 4 oz.)
1 lb. Fully Cooked Meatballs
1 lb. All Meat Hot Dogs
1 lb. Frozen Sliced Carrots
1 lb. California Blend Vegetables
1 lb. Pasta (spaghetti)
28 oz. Marinara Sauce
48 oz. Hawaiian Punch
32 oz. Borden 2% Reduced Fat Shelf Stable Milk
12 ct. Corn Tortillas
One Dozen Eggs
One Dessert Item (box of oatmeal cookies for me)

October Fresh Fruit & Vegetable Special:
1 head New York State Green Cabbage
1 head California Iceberg Lettuce (Cello wrapped)
1 bunch California Broccoli
2 lb. Medium-Large Idaho/East Oregon Yellow Onions
5 lb. New Crop Yukon Gold Potatoes
3 lb. North Carolina New Crop Red Apples
2 lb. Bag of California Fancy Lemons
1 Super Sweet Gold Pineapple
1 lb. Bag of California Peeled Baby Carrots

So what meals can I make to get the most bang for my buck?

Meal #1: Broccoli Beef over Rice, Fresh Pineapple
Uses: beef steaks, broccoli, onion and pineapple

Meal #2: Chicken Fajita Pizza, Salad
Uses: chicken fajita strips, onion, lettuce, carrots

Meal #3: Barbeque Chicken, Coleslaw, Mashed Potatoes
Uses: chicken breasts, cabbage, poatoes

Meal #4: Salisbury Steaks with Gravy, Mashed Potatoes, Mixed Vegetables
Uses: salisbury steaks & gravy, potatoes, California blend vegetables

Meal#5: Chili Dogs, Coleslaw, Steak Fries
Uses: hot dogs, cabbage, potatoes

Meal#6: Steak Chalupas, Spanish Rice, Fresh Fruit
Uses: corn tortillas, beef steaks, apples

Meal#7: Meatball Sub Casserole, Salad, Steamed Broccoli
Uses: Meatballs, Marinara Sauce, Lettuce, Carrots

Meal #8: Sausage Gravy over Toast, Peas, Fresh Fruit
Uses: shelf-stable milk, onion

Meal #9: Fried Rice, Egg Drop Soup
Uses: eggs, frozen carrots, onion

Meal #10: Apple Barbecue Pork, Cooked Carrots, Buttered Noodles
Uses: pork chops, frozen carrots, pasta

That is for one AFM unit plus most of the fruit and vegetable special unit. With my second unit I can also make the following meals:
Meal: Chicken Tetrazinni, Salad, Cooked Carrots

Meal: Beef & Chicken Fajitas, Spanish Rice, Refried Beans

Meal: Meatball Subs, Fresh Vegetables & Dip

Meal: Pizza, Salad

Meal: Breakfast for Dinner - Waffle Sandwiches, Fruit

**The Hawaiian Punch will be used to make homemade popicles or slushes. The cookies will be a snack served with milk.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Soda Bread

This bread is yummy. My family didn't save me any either when I made it last night. I had a get-together at a friend's house I had to leave for before dinner so it is a good thing I had some yummy treats there.

I use the generic diet lemon-lime soda to make mine, buying a 2 liter and using the leftovers to make a 7-up Pound Cake. The crunchy outside is the best part of the bread in my opinion. It is also a bread Eric can eat although he preferred the chili I paired it with for dinner last night.

Soda Bread

3 cups all-purpose flour
3-3/4 teaspoons baking powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons white sugar
12-ounces lemon-lime soda

In a large bowl, mix together dry ingredients. Add soda and continue to mix, first using a wooden spoon then your hands. The batter wil be sticky. Pour into a greased 9x5-inch loaf pan.

Bake at 350 degrees 50 to 60 minutes. The top will be crunchy, and the insides soft.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Weekly Menu for October 20-25

Beef Stroganoff over Rice
Peas & Carrots


Barbeque Chicken Sandwiches
Baked Beans

Baked Tilapia
Steamed Vegetables
Seasoned Rice

Ham & Bean Soup

Roast Pork
Potatoes & Carrots

Friday, October 17, 2008

When there is not enough frosting ...

My kids have the same bad habit as I do. We eat the frosting out of the containers. The down side to this besides the killer headache after the sugar rush is there is not enough frosting when I really need some. I mean for a cake not my own sugar rush, but I prefer vanilla frosting.

When I find myself low on frosting with cake batter already made, I make bundt cakes. I melt what frosting I have left and glaze the cake after baking. It looks pretty, is easier to spread and my kids love licking the "pools" of frosting. I have to fight for my fair share of them.

I like bundt cakes too as the cake last longer. Instead of 20 minutes, it takes 30 minutes for my plague of locusts to consume it. I can also slice smaller pieces for diet-friendly portions or to just make up for all the frosting I ate.

The other side is by glazing the cake, frosting lasts longer for those midnight snitches I ... er ... my kids take. It saves me money so I can get some medicine for those killer sugar rush headaches. You'd think I would learn.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Chunky Chicken Soup

I tried a new dish on my family last night. It was a hit and definite keeper. Usually when I make a recipe for the first time I follow the recipe closely. I did veer from that a bit as I know my family fairly well. I knew that a whole can of chiles would be too much so I cut the amount in half. Also I had no vegetable broth in my pantry so used fat-free chicken broth. I made some pumpkin-zucchini muffins to accompany the soup and had some leftover shredded zucchini and added that to the soup. Other than that and using Parmesan cheese instead of mozzarella for topping, I followed the recipe as it was written in my magazine, Simple & Delicious. I found it easy to assemble with basic ingredients. It would be a good recipe to use up leftover chicken, vegetables or even white beans.

Recipe and picture taken from December 2008 Simple & Delicious

METHOD: Stovetop - One-Dish
TIME: Prep: 20 min. Cook: 20 min.

3/4 pound boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1/2 cup chopped onion
1-1/2 teaspoons minced garlic
2 teaspoons olive oil
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 cans (14-1/2 ounces each) vegetable broth
2 cans (15-1/2 ounces each) great northern beans, rinsed and drained
1-1/2 cups frozen mixed vegetables, thawed
1 cup frozen chopped broccoli, thawed
1 can (4 ounces) chopped green chilies
3/4 teaspoon Italian seasoning
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/2 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese

Directions: In a Dutch oven, saute the chicken, onion and garlic in oil until chicken juices run clear. Stir in flour until blended; gradually add broth. Bring to a boil; cook and stir for 2 minutes.

Reduce heat; stir in the beans, vegetables and seasonings. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 8-10 minutes or until vegetables are tender. Garnish with cheese. Yield: 7 cups.

Nutrition Facts
One serving: 1-1/3 cups with 1-1/2 tablespoons cheese
Calories: 332
Fat: 6 g
Saturated Fat: 2 g
Cholesterol: 44 mg
Sodium: 1387 mg
Carbohydrate: 41 g
Fiber: 12 g
Protein: 28 g

Monday, October 13, 2008

Lazy Day Lasagna

I found this lasagna recipe and loved it. Let me count the reasons I love it ...

1. Easy
2. Quick
3. Yummy
4. Easy
5. Freezable
6. Common Ingredients
7. Easy
8. Adaptable
9. Low Cost
10. EASY!

I found this recipe in one of my freezer manuals I enjoy using. I like to put meals in the freezer because it saves time, something I find in short supply. For one-of-those-days it saves my sanity, also something I find in short supply. I also like to be able to help friends. It is so easy to go to my freezer and find a meal to take to a friend who had a baby, surgery, loss or just an overall stressed day. I find adding a bit of love to the ingredient list makes the meal taste that much better.

This recipe makes a 9"x13" pan or 2-8"x8" pans. It serves 12. I always double the recipe and make one for dinner and one for the freezer. Once when I was having dinner company, I doubled the recipe but made a ooey-gooey monster lasagna. It was the best! The recipe is good as is, but I like adding more sauce and cheese to mine. I can also make it healthier (to make up for the extra cheese) by using fat free cottage cheese, whole wheat lasagna noodles and extra lean ground beef.

Lazy Day Lasagna

12 ounces cottage cheese
2 cups mozzarella cheese, shredded
2 eggs
1/3 cup chopped parsley (reduce amount if using dried)
1 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
32 ounces spaghetti sauce
3/4 cup ground beef, cooked
9 lasagna noodles, uncooked
3/4 cup water (for firmer pasta decrease to 1/2 cup)

In a large bowl, mix cottage cheese, mozzarella cheese, eggs, parsley, onion powder, basil and pepper until well blended. Set aside. In a medium bowl, mix together and cooked ground beef. In a 9x13-inch glass baking dish, spread 3/4 cup meat sauce on the bottom. Layer 3 uncooked noodles on top of the meat sauce. next spread 1/2 of the cheese mixture and 1-1/2 cups meat sauce. Layer 3 more uncooked noodles on top of meat sauce. Spread with remaining cheese mixture. Top with remaining 3 noodles and remaining meat sauce. Pour water around the outside edges.

To freeze, place dish in a 2-gallon freezer bag. If you want to wrap it in foil, cover the top of the lasagna with wax paper or plastic wrap and then foil. The acid in the tomato sauce will leave small holes in the foil. Label, seal and freeze.

To serve, bake thawed lasagna covered at 375 degrees for 45 minutes. uncover and bake additional 15 minutes. Let stand 10 minutes. Serve with grated Parmesan cheese, if desired. If cooking from a frozen state, add 30 minutes to the total baking time.

**More notes and changes from me ...

I add plain sauce to the bottom of the pan since I like the meat sauce to be in my lasagna. I also add shredded mozzarella to the top of the lasagna. I told you I like more cheese. I cook more meat and have more sauce on hand than the recipe states. I usually cook mine either from the frozen state or right after assembly. I rarely am thinking clearly enough or soon enough to have the lasagna pulled from the freezer in time for a complete thawing.

The recipe goes together very easily. The hardest part is waiting as you smell it baking.

Weekly Menu for October 13-18

Macaroni & Cheese
Apple Slices

Grilled Chicken Alfredo
Steamed Broccoli
Garden Salad

Ceasar Salad

Barbeque Beef Ribs
Roasted Garlic Potatoes
Baked Beans

Chocolate Chip Pancakes

Ham Slices
Cantaloupe Wedges


Ham and Cheese Roll
Green Salad
Peas & Carrots

Friday, October 10, 2008

Eggplant Parmesan

I first tried my hand at Eggplant Parmesan last year when I had received some in a SHARE foods unit. I had never had eggplant before or at least that I can remember. I looked on-line for some ideas about how to prepare eggplant.

The first thing I found was that before cooking eggplant, it needs to be cut. I slice mine since I make the parmesan with breaded eggplant slices. The next step is to sprinkle salt evenly over the cut eggplant. Let it set for about 30 minutes. This brings out the extra moisture in the eggplant. I cut and salted mine before picking up three children for orthodontist appointments. That way I could start cooking when I got home. It didn't work out that way, but that is a different story. Oh yeah, two medium-large eggplants is enough for my family.

Once the eggplant has set, I pat it dry. Then it is dipped in whisked egg mixture followed by bread crumbs. I then cook the breaded slices in hot olive oil (couple of minutes each side). It can be baked by spraying the breaded eggplant slices with cooking spray and then baked for 3-5 minutes each side. After frying I drain off the excess oil from the cooked eggplant slices.

Now comes getting it ready for baking. My hubby doesn't like meatless meals. He thinks I am depriving him if I try to pull one off. He said this meal is filling, and he would never have guessed there was not meat. That is like scoring an 11 on a 1 to 10 scale around here. Back to getting the dish oven-ready, in a lasanga dish or other deep dish place some spghetti sauce enough to coat the bottom. Then I placed the cooked eggplant on the sauce. The next layer is sliced tomatoes and mushrooms (both fresh). I follow that with a sprinkling of shredded parmesan cheese and mozzarella cheese. I spread on some more sauce and repeat the layers. This last time I had some extra cooked eggplant so finished off by placing those on top of the last layer and more sauce & cheese. Gooey cheese is always the best.

I then bake the Eggplant Parmesan at 350 degrees F for 30 minutes. I served it with salad, steamed veggie (i.e. green beans or broccoli) and some garlic bread. It is yummy, filling and healthy too. Eric wasn't allowed to have the breaded portion of the eggplant or cheese due to allergies. He did love the tomatoes from it, but threw the mushrooms. Eh, can't win them all.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Weekly Menu for October 6-12

Eggplant Parmesan
Green Salad

Chicken Burritos
Fresh Fruit

Fried Rice
Chinese Salad
Egg Drop Soup

(Sausage/Pepperoni, Cheese, Supreme)
Caesar Salad
Dessert Pizza

Shredded Pork Sandwiches
Baked Beans
French Fries

Potato-Sausage Soup
Homemade Rolls