Tuesday, January 27, 2009

More on Angel Food Ministries

Since I've started using Angel Food boxes I thought I'd share a few other websites that have great recipes and ideas of how to make the boxes last and what meals they make out of them.

Jen has a great website with printable menu's and grocery lists as well.

The Hillbilly Housewife is an amazing site that not only lists great money saving recipes, she's got tips for cleaners and learning how to keep a cost-cutting home.

Of course like everything you can pay to have menus at your disposal found here at Menu Planning Central.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Menu Plan Monday, ok so Friday but whatever

It's that time again - Menu Plan Monday!

where you turn people are tightening their belts, and like the rest we are too. I posted earlier about my attempts to get a better handle on our finances and what I've been doing to help. While some things are a fixed cost like rent and our car payments, others can easily be changed. One of the easiest ways to cut costs is in the food bill. Granted we hadn't been eating out alot there are still ways to cut back even for us.

We're lucky that the hubby hunts and fishes for practically nothing and then can process and fillet the fruits of his labor so that we have a freezer full of meat. This enables us to cut our grocery bill in half I'd estimate. For any meal that uses hamburger, roast, stew or even steaks we can use venison and save the raising cost of beef. The only thing that I buy true hamburger meat for is meatloaf or hamburgers. So this leaves just pork and chicken for us to purchase out of pocket. Even so those pockets are running emptier lately and I needed to find a way to cut our costs even more.

The answer is AngelFood Ministries. I stumbled upon this by accident really and I believe this will really help our family cut costs. I compared prices and decided that purchasing 1 or 2 boxes (designed for 1 week's use) could help get us through a month of groceries. Granted I'll still have to make a trip or two to the grocery store but I believe we could come in under $150.00 for a month's worth of meals.

For the month of January I purchased the Regular box and the January Special #5. Items used from the box can be found in blue and like before you'll find the supplemental grocery list at the end.

Saturday, January 24th

Breakfast: Pancakes
Lunch: Tomato Soup and Grilled Tomato, Smoked Turkey and Muenster Cheese Sandwiches
Dinner: Steakhouse Night - Grilled Ribeye Steaks, Loaded Baked Potatoes, and Steamed Broccoli

Sunday, January 25th
Breakfast: Everything but the kitchen sink Omelets (eggs) and Toast
Lunch: Sandwiches
Dinner: Cheese Filled Manicotti with Homemade Marinara Sauce, Cesar Salad and Breadsticks

Monday, January 26th
Dinner: Pinto Beans, Honey Cornbread Muffins and Collard Greens

Tuesday, January 27th
Dinner: Chicken Fajitas with Bell Peppers and Spanish Rice

Wednesday, January 28th
Dinner: Slow Cooker Venison Stew and cheddar biscuits

Thursday, January 29th
Dinner: LaBamba Casserole (ground turkey)

Friday, January 30th
Dinner: Pork Ribs (recipe tbd), Scalloped Poatoes and green beans

Saturday, January 31st
Breakfast: Pigs'N Blankets, Blueberry Muffins and Oranges
Lunch: Sandwiches
Dinner: Lady & Sons Lasagna, salad and garlic bread

Sunday, February 1st
Breakfast: French Toast, Bacon and Scrambled Eggs
Lunch: Leftovers
Dinner: Super Bowl Sunday dinner at my parents' house

Monday, February 2nd
Dinner: Pastor Ryan's Mexican Lasagna and a southwest salad

Tuesday, February 3rd
Dinner: Grilled Chicken, Chicken Flavored Rice and Brussel Sprouts

Wednesday, February 4th
Dinner: Fend For Yourself, Mommy's tired

Thursday, February 5th
Dinner: Fried Chicken with Red Beans & Rice

Friday, February 6th
Dinner: Take 'n Bake Pizza and salad

Saturday, February 7th
Dinner: Hamburgers and Potato Salad

Sunday, February 8th
Dinner: Fried Fish, Coleslaw and French Fries

Monday, February 9th
Dinner: Maple Glazed Salmon, Baked Sweet Potato and Broccoli

Tuesday, February 10th
Dinner: Venison Stroganoff

Wednesday, February 11th
Dinner: Chicken Pot Pie (carrots, peas and potatoes) and Spinach Salad (tangerines if left over)

Thursday, February 12th
Dinner: Spaghetti and breadsticks

Friday, February 13th
Dinner: Chicken Enchiladas and black beans

Saturday, February 14th
Breakfast: Waffles and fruit
Lunch: Sandwiches
Dinner: Out to Eat for Valentine's Day!

Here's this month's supplemental grocery list, and as always there may be items that I have in my pantry that I didn't include in the list so double check the recipes so that you don't miss an ingredient.

Grocery List

And as always be sure to check out the rest of the group's menus at the Organized Junkie.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Beef and Beer Chili

What a great long weekend! I wish everyone could have had Monday off, its so great to have MLK Day off because it really helps to break up the dull after Christmas. Anyways the weather was a bit chilly outside so we decided to stay home and what's better to curl up with on a cold day than a bowl full of chili? This is a new recipe that I tried and I think it turned out really great. Its a different spin on chili, it's not a red chili but it's not a white chili either. It's more of a broth chili, is that even a type? Anyways it was great and I think it would taste great finished with cilantro and monterry jack cheese but I didn't have either of those and it wasn't called for in the ingredients though. But trust me add these to your bowl!

Picture and recipe from CookingLight.com

Beef and Beer Chili

  • 1 1/2 cups chopped red onion (about 1 medium)
  • 1 cup chopped red bell pepper (about 1 small) *I didn't have one so I omitted this
  • 8 ounces extralean ground beef *substituted venison
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 (19-ounce) can red kidney beans, drained *I used pinto instead
  • 1 (14.5-ounce) can no-salt-added diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 1 (14-ounce) can low-sodium beef broth
  • 1 (12-ounce) bottle beer (such as Budweiser)
  • 1 tablespoon yellow cornmeal
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice

Combine first 4 ingredients in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Cook 5 minutes or until beef is browned, stirring to crumble. Stir in chili powder, cumin, sugar, and salt; cook 1 minute. Add oregano and next 4 ingredients (through beer) to pan; bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer 15 minutes. Stir in cornmeal; cook 5 minutes. Stir in juice.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Very Sneaky Veggies

I know we all struggle to eat our veggies, let alone the mountain of a task in getting a picky toddler to as well. With such a fast paced life I have found that we end up feeding Chase quick fix foods, and what's a quicker fix than chicken nuggets or raviolis? But I hate feeding him full of fatty foods and God knows what else is in those things. And of course who would want to eat those weird looking green things when you've got yummy chicken nuggets in front of you. I know that all mom's have a fun time trying to get our kids to eat fruits and veggies so I have collected a few of my no-fail tricks.

Jessica is an artist when it come to disguising food, her book Deceptively Delicious has great advice and recipes on how to sneak veggies into common foods. And likewise Missy, The Sneaky Chef uses purees to hide those important ingredients.

While making your own purees is a great idea, and maybe I'll start doing that this year. But I honestly just found it much easier to buy jars of baby food. But the recipes still work with the jarred stuff.

So one of my favorite recipes is from Jessica and it's making your own chicken nuggets! This is an ingenious idea and works wonders. Instead of using chicken chunks like her recipes called for, I blended my all of my ingredients together and made it the consistency of a crabcake or salmon patty. A quick dip in the skillet and they're ready to eat. OR you can make bunches (with different veggies) and freeze them. Then you've got your own go-to chicken nuggets. I did find however that they work best if you put them in the oven for reheating.

Pancakes with power are a great way to start the morning off right. Jessica also has a sneaky recipe for pancakes, or waffles work too, that includes blending sweet potato puree into the mix. This makes the pancakes a fun orange color, perfect for Halloween, and they taste great with cinnamon and nutmeg. Or is you have little girls, try using beet or plum puree for pink and purple pancakes. What better idea for a girls slumber party.

Of course I've already told you guys about my Pea-za. Where I sneak pea puree into spaghetti sauce for mini pizza. This is a fun way to cook with your kids too, just make sure they don't see the pea puree.

And what kid could resist a sloppy joe? Cooking Light has a yummy sloppy joe recipe that includes green bell peppers and corn. I just make sure to chop the peppers up really well, and even though you can see the corn, my picky toddler loves it.

Cauliflower is the miracle veggie. I say this because you can puree it, and then sneak it into almost any dish. It quickly takes on the flavor of anything it is used with. So stick it in your mashed potatoes or mac'n cheese.

I recently got an email from Parents.com about some more easy ways to get kids to eat their veggies and I pulled out my favorites for you...

Roasted Red Pepper Soup
Puree a 12-ounce jar of roasted red sweet peppers packed in water (drain it first) with a garlic clove. Heat puree, 1 cup low-sodium chicken broth, and 3 tablespoons tomato paste on medium until warm, about 5 minutes. Stir in 1 tablespoon fresh basil, a smidge of honey, salt, and pepper.

Crinkly Carrot Fries
Slice 1 pound of carrots into 1/2-inch-wide sticks using a crinkle cutter. Toss with 1 tablespoon olive oil, 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme, and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Bake at 400 degrees F. for 15 to 20 minutes, or until soft, on a parchment paper-lined pan.
Tip: Great for toddlers 12 months and up.

Mini Vegetable Cakes
Combine half an 8-1/2-ounce package corn-muffin mix with 1 egg white and 3 tablespoons water. Stir in 3/4 cup shredded zucchini and 1/2 cup chopped canned beets. Drop batter by the tablespoon into 2 tablespoons hot canola oil. Cook 2 minutes; turn and cook 1 to 2 minutes more, until browned.

Sweet Potato-Parsnip Mash

Peel and cut 12 ounces of sweet potato and 2 parsnips into 1-1/2-inch pieces. Boil in lightly salted water for 15 to 20 minutes, or until tender. Drain and return to pot with 1/3 cup apple cider, salt, and pepper. Mash until nearly smooth.

Pumpkin-Peanut Butter Soup

Cook 1/2 cup chopped onion in 1 tablespoon hot olive oil on medium for 4 minutes, or until tender. Stir in a 15-ounce can pumpkin puree, 2 cups low-sodium chicken broth, 1 cup water, 1/4 cup peanut butter, 1/4 teaspoon curry powder, and 1/4 teaspoon salt; heat through. Swirl plain yogurt on top of each bowl.

Breaded Asparagus
Dip 8 ounces trimmed asparagus spears first in all-purpose flour, then in beaten egg, and then in panko bread crumbs. Drizzle asparagus with 1 tablespoon olive oil. Bake in a single layer at 450 degrees F. for 10 minutes, or until golden. Serve with honey-mustard dip. (I think this would work with green beans too!)

Cheesy Spaghetti Squash

Place half of a 2-1/2-pound de-seeded spaghetti squash, cut side down, in a baking dish with 2 tablespoons water; cover with wax paper. Microwave on high for 10 to 12 minutes, or until tender. Let cool slightly, then scrape strands from squash. Toss with 1 cup pasta sauce and 3 tablespoons shredded Parmesan cheese.

Who knew there were so many ways to eat veggies? I hope these ideas help you as much as they have helped me fix my finiky eater.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Baby steps to resolutions

New Years Resolution number one is to cut costs and handle our accounts better. Its always a tough task when, honestly there's more money going out than coming in. And of course we've only ourselves to blame, I've never been great about controlling my spending. I've had my ups and downs, learned my lesson in college, paid my debts off after college and was doing great. Met my hubby and out came the downward spiral again. And to hubby's benefit, I don't think he was ever taught financial responsibility either. So entering a relationship with a spender enabled my "spender" habits and now here we both stand. And here are the things that I have done to work towards our 1st goal.

  1. I have made sure that I am contributing the percentage amount to my 401k to ensure that my company is matching. This has never been an issue, so instead I just increased it to match half of what my salary increase was. This was it'll be like I got a smaller raise than in actuality and I'll never miss the "extra" money I would have gotten each paycheck. I increased the hubby's contribution to ensure he recieved his company match, because that's free money and we'll need it in the future!
  2. I have gone back to the days before online banking and debit cards. I have a duplicate checkbook and use my register! For items that I pay online at their website, I still assign a check to and log it in my register. For gas and other expenses I use cash. I've chosen a bank that only has 3 locations in proximity and of which take 30 minutes of my time to get cash from. This has really helped in curbing my spending, I know I've only got so much cash and that I should save it should an emergency arise.
  3. I closed my Napster account. Yes I love music and it's what helps me get through the work day but alas I could just listen to the radio. And that $15 a month could be used for gas or my ever increasing toll fees.
  4. I drive close to 100 miles a day for work. Yup it sucks but that's life, and my job pays me good money. Much more money than could be found closer to home. And don't get me started on the benefits, I've looked around, been offered other jobs but when it came down to it I stayed because of the benefits. But I digress, so I spend enormous amounts of money in gas and because of where I live I have to drive a toll road. Driving this toll road daily equates to a weekly average of $40 spent in tolls. That's a ton of money just to use a road! I have determined that if I skip 2 toll booths and drive the side road for part of my to and from work each day I could save about $3 to $4 a day. What a savings! Now I just have to tell my brain that that money is really worth the extra 20 minutes in the car. :)
  5. Cable isn't all that it's cracked up to be, really. I mean what channels do you usually end up watching most of the time anyways? If you're like me its the standard Fox, ABC, NBC and PBS so why shell out the extra money for shows you occasionally watch but really won't miss. Now the hubby is obsessed with football so each fall we end up having to upgrade to at least have ESPN but I'm working on him for this one. But for now we're back down to basic cable.

Financially Fit

Just a quick heads up for those looking to get financially fit this year. Oprah has once again struck a deal with the non nonsense money adviser Suze Orman and Suze's latest book is available online until January 15th. So hurry up and download your copy!

Monday, January 12, 2009

New Year and New Resolutions

All I can say is I am thankful that 2008 is done and over with. Yes there were plenty of great times but more often than not it was a rough year and I'm hopeful that 2009 will like Obama's campaign (though I am a republican) will be the year of change! So here are my new years resolutions, better late than never....
  1. Get a better handle on our financial situation. Keep our accounts in the black; make sure that we're contributing to our 401ks even though it would be nice to have that $$ in our paychecks; if at all possible start actually saving $$; cut our expenses as much as possible; cut the debit cards and stop impulse spending.
  2. Prepare for the future. This kind of goes hand-in-hand with the 1st resolution but meaning we need to get on top of our wills, setting a trust up and making sure the hubby gets his life insurance policy increased.
  3. Take charge of our health. The hubby is a diabetic and has not been doing too well with it lately, blood sugar crazy high, depending on the insulin and well he's a stick figure as a result. And on the opposite end of the spectrum, I am now heavier than I've ever been, excluding when I was pregnant. I was lazy after my pregnancy and ate whatever I wanted because it all melted off while I was breastfeeding. But 8 months after the nursing has ended and I'm a whale still eating like I was while nursing. I'm dedicated to eating better and starting to use my gym membership that I purchased!
  4. Have a happy and healthy relationship. I'll admit the hubby and I fight more often than not, and I strongly believe alot of it stems from stress. Stress about all of the above issues has taken its toll and we need to get back to enjoying each other and communicating. Even if we don't accomplish all of the above goals, if we just started communicating better I think it would help, so we're going to work on that.
So that's it, just 4 little resolutions right? Not some long drawn out list but I know these will be tough to conquer as they are deeply ingrained and inbeded in our everyday thinking. But I am determined and taking inspiration from Oprah, this is the year!