Monday, October 26, 2009

We Did It!

7 Days -$50-5 mouths fed.
It can be done. We did do it.
What an eye opener it has been.

Our last supper was Hominy Soup (above) at .35 per serving with leftovers and Turkey Meatballs & Spaghetti at .85 cents per serving with leftovers as well.

I promised I would do a Surprise Giveaway at the end of my challenge.

The winner is Dawn from Are These Kids All Yours? Please take a few minutes to visit her blog and see what a
tremendous heart and the Faith of God allows you to accomplish.

As my giveaway, I will be donating $35 on The Wright Family's blog
for them to bring Naomi (Baby no. 8) home from Ethiopia.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Dinner for 8

Barefoot Contessa's
(click for full recipe)

My friends came over last night and this is what I made for a party of 8! I had to use ONLY the ingredients on hand.

Here were some of my altercations to this recipe, that came out Yummy.

I used a whole chicken, carrots, and celery to make homemade broth instead of purchasing it. Simmered it for 2 hours and reserved the chicken meat and carrots for the stew.

For the roux, I used 2% milk instead of the heavy cream. Skipped out on the frozen small onions.Did not use parsley for the biscuits. The stew was a hit.

My friends loved it and there was enough to fill up all 8 bellies and then some. Thankfully they brought the wine and we did not serve dessert because I ran out of ingredients.

The cost per serving: $1.04 (includes Salad too)

Friday, October 23, 2009

Company's Coming

Tonight, I am having company over. Those of you that have followed me this week, know that I shopped for the entire week with $50.

Yesterday, we ate a lot of leftovers. Bagels in the morning, leftover drumsticks, and pasta for dinner.

Today, I want to use the groceries in my fridge, but still create something substantial and enticing for my friends to eat. I decided that I would cook a recipe from my Barefoot Contessa Book. It is baked chicken stew with biscuits on top. It's homey and makes a nice presentation. I will have to improvise some of the ingredients, but I do have 95% of what I need.

Not sure about dessert yet. Might just bake some cookies or make a pound cake topped with berries.

Come back tomorrow to see what I was able to entertain with, while remaining in my budget. Wish me luck!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Day 3: Grocery Challenge Meals

I am almost half way through my challenge! Here are some of the observations I've made along the way.

a. when you need to consume all that you have purchased for $50, there is Zero waste
b. there is little trash
c. you end up eating proper portion sizes

Yesterday, we did not necessarily eat the lowest fat food content, but again the portions were smaller.

For snacks, we ate a lot of fruit and carrot sticks. Pears, apples & bananas. Drank a lot of water and tea.

Sunny side Over Hash
Cost per serving: .36 cents

.88 cents for potatoes
.5 cents for onion
free tomato from garden
.50 cents for 5 eggs
.25 cents shredded cheese
.10 cents for oil/butter
.2 cents for seasonings

Total $1.80 divided by 5 = .36 cents per serving (shown above)

Note: you can shred your own potatoes. I purchased a bag of Simply Potatoes sold in the Egg Section at King Soopers for .88 cents per bag.

Hoisin Glazed Drumsticks Over Rice
Cost per serving:
.72 cents (includes 2-3 drumsticks per person)

.10 cents for rice
3.00 for 15 drumsticks
.50 cents for hoisin & seasonings
.50 cents for chicken stock

Total $4.10 divided by 5 = .72 cents

Ice Cream Wednesday
(My son thought it should be called Wednesday instead of Sundae)
Cost Per Serving: .38 cents

.50 cents for 3 scoops of ice cream
.50 cents for cherries
.10 cents for bananas
.5 cents for chocolate syrup

Total $1.15 divided by 3 (only 3 of us tackled this one) = .38 cents per serving

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Day 2: Grocery Challenge Meals

Last night, my husband and I were discussing the "what ifs" scenarios. I grew up in NYC and he lived there for 10 years, working as a hairdresser. We made so much money, only to be in debt today.

We calculated that on an average, and this is a low guesstimate, we spent $10-$12K a year in dining, drinking, and transportation while living in the Big Apple. We were single and blowing away every penny we earned, in order to have "fun". If we took that money and invested it for over a period of 10 years, we would've paid our house outright and had some savings.

Unfortunately, we cannot turn back time, but we can change how we live in the present. Is owning the new "it" item in your life, really worth it? True fulfillment in our lives does not come from material or monetary things, but from something deeper inside of us. Friendships, family, experiences, our Faith, our generosity and giving back, learning something new, being a part of the world we live in.

I am not implying that there is anything wrong with owning luxury, as long as you can truly afford it and not go into debt for it, just to keep up with the Joneses.

OK, now back to the meals.

Ricotta Pancakes w/ Bananas & Maple Syrup
Cost per serving:
.45 cents

$1.50 for ricotta
.20 cents for 2 eggs
.20 cents for maple syrup
.10 cents for banana
.20 butter
.5 flour

Total: $2.25 divided by 5 = .45 cents per serving

Each serving is the 4 pancakes shown above.

Tell me what I-Hop or McDonalds can you purchase Ricotta Pancakes for .45 cents?

Whole Grain Pasta w/ Garlic Shrimp & A Salad (shown below)
Cost per serving: $1.61

$5.59 shrimp
$1.00 pasta
.5 cents garlic
.10 cents butter
.10 cents oil
free garden tomatoes
.5 cents parsley
.50 salad greens
.50 cucumber
.15 cents for salad dressing

Total: $8.04 divided by 5 = $1.61 per serving

Again, I am trying to show you, that you do not need to completely deprive yourself of the things you love to eat, just because you are on a budget. With some planning, supermarket deals, and coupons, you can still eat well.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Day 1: Grocery Challenge Recipes

OK, so you are broke and living on a really, really tight budget! You want to get away from eating peanut butter or tuna fish sandwiches, or warming up Romen noodle soup, or considering cereal your main course for dinner tonight. Now what?

The following meals cost me less than $1 per serving. That's right! Less than $1. So it's not Food Network material, but every family is capable of purchasing and eating it too.

Scrambled Eggs w/ Fresh Tomato, Jalapeno, & Chives Salsa
Cost Per Serving: .60 Cents including the Bagel

You can purchase a carton of eggs for $1 these days. That's around .8 cents per egg.
The bagels were on the clearance rack at King Soopers for $1.25 for a bag of 6. That's .20 cents per bagel.
I used fresh tomatoes & chives out of my garden.
Jalapenos cost .10 or less each at the market.

Baked Kraft Mac & Cheese with Broiled Turkey Franks
Cost Per Serving: .35 cents

OK, you might think I'm lying, but here is the breakdown.

I bought 3 Boxes of Kraft Mac & Cheese for $1 at Safeway (weekend promotion). I only used 2 boxes(.67 cents). I cooked it according to the box instructions. I then added an additional 1/3 cup shredded cheddar and 1/3 cup of breadcrumbs in a bowl. Baked at 350 degrees for 15 minutes in a muffin pan, in order to create individual servings for the kids.

The turkey hot dogs cost $1.00 for 8 franks. That's around .8 cents per link. I broiled them for approx 8 mins. I thought the boys would enjoy them crispy.

Creamy Carrots Soup
Cost Per Serving: .80 cents

$1.00 for a 1 lb. bag of carrots
$2.00 for homemade chicken broth
.50 for sour cream
.50 cents for 1 potato, 1 onion, & seasonings

That's $4.00 total divided by 5 servings = .80 cents per serving

Homemade Bread

I ran out of bread last night & knew that my son and husband needed to take a sandwich for work today. Instead of running to the store, I baked my own. I had plenty of flour & yeast at home to whip up a batch. The texture is so much more substantial and the taste is incomparable. I will be honest in saying that it takes finesse to work with dough.

If you've never made bread before, start with a loaf of Irish Soda bread, which is less work and easier to maneuver. If you have a Bread Machine that has not been used in 15 years or so, time to wipe off the dust and use it. And if you feel extra domesticated today, then get your hands dirty.

Thanks for stopping by today and come back tomorrow for more Budget Friendly meal ideas.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Grocery Spree

The Grocery Challenge was to spend $50 for 7 days worth of food for a family of 5! Well, I am thrilled to say that my overall bill for the groceries in this photo came out to $49.11.I was .89 under my goal, .30 of that was bag discounts
(bring your own Earth Friendly bags).

I love food and cannot live on over-proccessed or unhealthy foods, just to get by financially. The health of my family is too important.
The overall goal then is:
$50 week for a semi-gourmet & healthy menu
I did cheat a little and bought 3 boxes of Kraft Mac & Cheese, but that's because the deal was 3 boxes for $1 at Safeway. I will find a way to spice those boxes up too.

I sat down and scanned my cookbooks for some ideas,
and was absolutely shocked to come up with 50 different recipes for my $50 worth of food. Join me for the next 7 days, beginning on Tuesday, for breakfast, lunch, and dinner,

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Grocery Challenge: Specials & Coupons

For those of you that did not read my last post, I am hosting a Grocery Challenge. The challenge is a $50 shopping trip with enough food to last you for the week. I am a family of 5 so this does feel like a challenge.

Now, I realize that if I lived off of overly processed and boxed meals, this is a very attainable goal, but that is NOT what I am aiming for. I believe strongly in actually nourishing your body versus empty calories. I do have my days, don't get me wrong.

OK, here are my 1ST steps prior to running wild in the supermarkets.

Step 1: Take careful inventory of the groceries that you already have and/or are about to expire.

I have plenty of carrots from my garden, eggs, and oatmeal. Already I know that I will have what I need for some basic breakfast meals e.g. omelets, muffins, boiled eggs, pancakes/waffles, oatmeal, and frittatas. The carrots will provide me with soups and side dishes.

Use up what is about to expire so there is NO WASTE! We waste too much food in the USA. Take a little bit of time to check the labels or freshness of your food and see how you can put it to use immediately, before it ends up in the trash.

Step 2: Check your supermarket specials.

Mine are mailed to me every Tuesday. I have 4 supermarkets in close diameter that I am able to compare for the best deals. I realize that is not the case for all of you and it might require some research. Walk to the store and ask them for their fliers or check out their website.

I have plenty of friends that complain about, " I just don't have the time to go through those."

Well, I have a pretty jam packed schedule too and manage to do just fine. If you only knew how much money it saved you in the long run, you would feel downright dumb if you did not take an extra 20 minutes out of the week to do this. Grab a magic marker and circle ONLY the specials that INTEREST YOU! You do not have to purchase everything that's on sale or use every coupon you come across.

The first items I always look at are the vegetables and then the proteins. I know that if I can manage to get a decent amount of each, I will have a well balanced meal for my family.

I've been using coupons and the papers for years, I just never budgeted an amount of $50 before.

Step 3: Get to know your deals.

Well, what is a good deal on potatoes, you might ask? This type of knowledge will come with shopping your different local markets for a few months. Either way you will recognize any deal when it is astronomically cheaper than what you have been made to believe is the "norm".

Here are some items that I know are a deal:

99 cents or less per lb on protein (usually chicken or pork)
99 cents for a 10lb. bag of potatoes (check it out its in the paper listed above)
$1.25 or less on a box of cereal
50 cents per avocado
$1.00 or less on a box of Barilla Pasta (you can get cheaper pasta, but Barilla to me is the most reliable that does not fall apart)
Under $1.99 for a Gallon of Milk
50 cents for herbs, scallions, or bell peppers

Every state is different, but I guarantee that if you keep you eyes and mind open, you will find amazing deals.

Step 4: Learn the lingo.

Notice below, it says 5 for $5. Guess what? That means $1 each. You DO NOT have to purchase 5 for $5. I know that seems like a "Duh" thing but most of us believe that we absolutely need to buy the maximum amount to get the deal. Read the labels. It will let you know if that is the case, but for the most part you can buy one item only, and still get the deal!

It's all in the marketing Baby! These guys are smart!

Step 5: Make a list.

Once you are done circling what you want to shop for, make a list of all the markets and their items. This is what you will use to shop. One concise list, not 4 different papers to flip through.

Price out each item on your list, total it up (including taxes) and stay within your budget. If you are even $1 dollar off, go back and see what you can live without this week.

Step 6: Coupons, coupons, coupons.

Clip those babies up. It's free money people!!!! Money you can use to save or fix your car with.

My sister in law always told me that she spends more shopping when using coupons. Why? Again, you do not have to use a coupon because it is a coupon. Only clip coupons on items you already purchase on a regular basis or would definitely use.

I do not clip coupons for junk food or soda if I do not consume them at all. I will clip coupons on butter, eggs, protein, juice, cereal, etc. You get the point. STAY FOCUSED!

I clip my coupons and file them by month. I can keep track of when they expire and make sure I get to use them in time. Once I make my list, I go through them and match them up with my intended purchases.

For example, below, Progresso Soups are on Sale for $1.00 Each. My coupon is good for 50 cents on 2! When that coupon is doubled, I get one can for FREE! Yes, FREE!

Step 7: Check the coupon fine print.

What do I mean by that? Supermarkets will Double even Triple your coupons on certain weeks. Your 33 cent coupon, just became 99 cents off. Your 50 cent coupon, $1 off. Take advantage of maximizing your their value. However, coupons $1.00 or more remain for that value.

Now you have your list, your coupons, and you are right on the $50 mark! Now what?

Come back to see how once you have those groceries on hand, how to plan your meals. I will have a meal by meal plan for you daily next week, starting Monday. I will definitely get creative, because I have a lot of hungry people in my house.

Will I be able to pull it off or will we crack and drive thru Burger King?

For those of you who Participate and Post Comments, one of you will receive a SURPRISE GIVEAWAY at the end of next week. It's useful and handy and ties into what we are doing. Hmmmmmm......what is it? Find out. Come back.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Grocery Challenge

My husband and I got signed up for the Dave Ramsey, Financial Peace University. A friend of ours noticed that we were in dire need of a financial makeover.

We are a family of 5 living on one income, paycheck to paycheck. We are also in a lot of debt. Medical, educational, you name it, DEBT. We acquired it because we did not PLAN. Plan for kids, plan for a home, plan for cars, plan for an education. How funny right? These are common things that we all need to finance at some point and yet we hope that the money will magically appear.

So we Borrowed! Yes we borrowed from our reliable institutions just waiting for our signature on the dotted line. A signature that allows them to absorb what little we do have.

OK, now that I am done whining, it's time to be Proactive. My husband and I created our first Monthly Cash Flow Plan and it wasn't pretty. With every dollar sign, my heart beat got louder and louder. But this was a reality that needed to be faced. We can no longer go through life in ignorance.

What we discovered, is that like the majority of Americans, we are living on an average of $1500-$2000 a month out of our means. What to do? Cut down, cut down, cut down. On groceries, gas, gifts, entertainment and monthly payments. I know you will make the excuse, "Well I am not in debt and KNOW that I am living within my means." Really? When was the last time you actually tracked your expenses? So you have NO DEBT, but how much do you have SAVED?

Stick to the plan to reach a brighter future. Instant gratification robs you of your retirement, your children out of a paid in full education, your emergency fund, and most of all peace of mind.

Now, I am inviting YOU, yes YOU to take this challenge with me. What do you get out of it?
Money in your pocket!

I will have posts on FREE ACTIVITIES, Food Bargains, and FREE GIFTS from the heart. Join me!

My immediate line of duty is downsizing our monthly grocery bill. We are on an average spending $800-$1000 a month on groceries. Yes on food! Add it up to see how ridiculous that is. We are not celebrities or CEO's, just a middle class American Family.

My goal is $460/month or $115/week. That includes dining out, beverages on the go, and dinners at home.

I started the month of October on a high note, since we had a road trip to Austin and stopped at all the food chains for a burger or taco, etc. Which left me with a budget of $50/week for the remainder of this month.

That being said, here is my FIRST CHALLENGE!

What can you purchase with $50 for an ENTIRE WEEK?
That means 3 meals a day for $7.14/day or $2.38/meal!
Mission Impossible? Maybe or not!

Come back tomorrow to see as I make my list, check out the specials, clip coupons, and plan out my Menu, what my goal is and whether or not I can accomplish it.

In the meantime, if you wish to join along POST A COMMENT or E-mail me. Let's empower one another to live within our means and focus on what's really important.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Self-Absorbed People

I am currently reading a book on how to raise giving children in a self-absorbed world.

"Teach them how to look through a window and not a mirror."

My question to all of you is:

What type of child are you raising?

Share some tips with all of us for promoting compassion and responsibility in your child.
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