Archive for the ‘Living a Frugal Life’ Category
With a one-year-old, and a four-year-old dinner time can be stressful. I have found a simple, delicious way to keep my kiddos happy while keeping my budget, and time to a minimum. Today I am going to show you how to make this kid approved Cheeseburger Casserole.
You will need:
1 lb ground beef
1 package of tater tots
1 lb of shredded cheddar cheese
1 can of cream of onion soup, or learn to make your own HERE.
Cook your beef.
While your beef is cooking place frozen tots in bottom of a baking pan.
Drain your beef, and crumble on top of tater tots.
Dollop on cream of onion soup evenly.
Cook on 425 degrees F for 20 minutes
Take out pan our and put shredded cheese on top.
Bake for another 5 minutes, or until tater tots are cooked.
You can substitute the cream of onion soup for something else, and you can also mix in any veggies that you would like. Have you made it? Comment below with how it turned out.
These moist, delicious and decadent 2 ingredient brownie bites are the simple cousin of the cake balls. The time to make these are cut in half, but they are packed with flavor.
What you will need:
1 pan brownies, cooled
1 cup chocolate chips
You can use pre-made brownies or make your own. I used a boxed version. It’s important that whatever recipe you used the brownies are moist. Make sure they are cool, then roll them into bite-sized balls on a cookie sheet. You may have to discard the edges if they are too hard.
Pop them in the freezer for 15 minutes.
While they are in the freezer warm up the chocolate chips in the microwave. Be sure to stir frequently until melted. If the chocolate is thick you might want to add some oil, (coconut or vegetable.) until it is the perfect consistency. You want it to stick to the brownies without being too thick.
Take your brownie bites out of the freezer and dip them into the melted chocolate, and put onto a cookie sheet with waxed paper.
Decorate as desired with chopped nuts, sprinkles, or anything you can think of.
Have you made these? Let us know how they turned out by commenting below.
This is not a give-away. This is not a coupon strategy, or a quick way to make money or an instant win sweepstakes. If that’s why you follow this blog (I’m not mad about it!) this might not be the article for you.
If you’re interested in hearing some kinda random thoughts from a mama with a full life, who is flat-broke, read on. ~ Amy
I don’t like looking stupid. Does anyone really like looking stupid? I have such a fear of looking stupid that it really stands in my way of being the person I want to be sometimes. See, I’m so afraid that if I do something new, that it will be hard, and I won’t be able to do it and I will look stupid.
Whole lot of assumptions there aren’t there? It’s the Anxiety Assumption Trifecta!
It’s new; therefore it will automatically be hard – not necessarily true.
If it’s hard I probably won’t be able to do it – also, not necessarily true.
If I can’t do something correctly right away, I look (and should feel) stupid – definitely not true.
I can’t be the only person who struggles with this. One of the things that used to make me feel stupid: cooking. It used to intimidate me because I didn’t know how to do it. Because of the 3 assumptions – its new, therefore hard and I’ll look stupid.
Letting go of all of that as true frees you up friends.
I decided to let go of the “what if I do it wrong?!” and just do it.
Now, maybe you already knew that. Maybe I’m preaching to the choir and that’s awesome. But if one person reads this and decides that not knowing how to do something doesn’t make them look stupid. Well, I’ll call that a win.
Anyway, I’m supposed to be telling you about making Chicken Noodle Soup, huh? Alright, here we go. I bought some bone in chicken breasts (because that’s way cheaper) and then I butchered them using the technique outlined HERE into boneless-skinless breasts, chicken tenderloins and stew meat.
So, lets talk about what to do with all that stew meat?
Basically, throw it in a stew pot, add whatever veggies you have laying around. Season generously with salt, pepper, garlic powder, fresh or dried herbs and cover with water. Bring it to a boil and then reduce the heat and simmer. Keep adding water as it evaporates off. You want to keep the veggies and chicken covered!
Here’s before and after:
After the 4 hrs were up I poured liquid into containers. I wound up with 2 quarts of pure liquid stock, and 2 pints of liquid + veggies and chicken for soup. I let the liquid + meat and veggies cool a little and then carefully picked out chicken rib bones with a fork. That part was annoying, but worth it. I put the 2 quarts of pure liquid in the fridge and poured the meaty-veggie broth back into the pot. I added another quart of water, some more salt, pepper, garlic and onion powder brought that to a boil, dumped in some egg noodles and let them cook and called it dinner.
I’m the worst recipe writer ever, I’m sorry. I’ll try to make this easier and put it in list form.
- 6 chicken quarters, with the breast and tenderloin removed (so with rib meat only)
- 1 bag baby carrots
- 3 stalks of celery (I used green beans, stock is VERY forgiving)
- 1 onion
- Salt, Pepper, Garlic Powder, Onion Powder, and other seasonings (I used fresh thyme) to taste. (Remember you’re making a giant stock-pot, season generously)
- Enough water to cover
Add all ingredients and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer uncovered for 3 to 4 hours adding more water as necessary to keep the solids covered. Pour out 2 quarts (approx) of liquid. Remove bones with tongs or a fork. Reserve remaining contents.
- Reserved broth and liquid
- 1 quart water
- ½ bag egg noodles
- Salt, Pepper, Garlic Powder, Onion Powder, and other seasonings.
Since you added water, re-season the broth. Bring the contents to a boil. Add in the noodles. Cook until soft and serve.
Easy-Peasy. Take that Anxiety Assumptions Trifecta! I did something new today and it wasn’t hard, and I didn’t look stupid. In fact, I look pretty awesome. Win!
Alright, so we all (I hope) know that you can buy plain frozen veggies at the grocery for $1 on sale. Whenever there’s a sale on these things I stock up up!! We have at least one veggie as a side with every meal here but I hear people say that they CANNOT get their kids or husbands to eat veggies.
Yeah, that blows my mind. I love veggies – Chris loves veggies – the kids love veggies, I can’t imagine not loving veggies. Annnnnd then I remember how some people tend to prepare veggies – they put them in the microwave plain and plop them onto the table.
Of course that’s gross. If you’re preparing them like that, nope, your kids aren’t going to eat veggies and I wouldn’t either. But that doesn’t mean veggies aren’t delicious. I have compiled here, a list for you of 5 different things to do with common frozen veggies. I ABSOLUTELY welcome other preparation suggestions in the comments (I’d love them, really!)
So, without further ado – 5 different ways to prepare each common frozen veggie!
Add to mac n cheese or tortellini to add color and to make it healthier.
Add butter, salt garlic powder and onion powder.
Veggie Fried Rice
Serve in a simple cream sauce (This is surprisingly REALLY Good!)
Butter, wine, onions and herbs
Alright, so there you have it 35 different things to do with cheapie frozen veggies. No excuses!
Hey ya’ll! I am so, so, so sorry that the meal plans have been MIA for the past month. It’s been a little nutso in my life and um, we haven’t been eating from a meal plan. We’ve been making it up. Which means we’ve been eating a lot more crap than I’d really like to talk about.
Now that school will be out next week (Who’s excited?!?!) it should be less hectic. It also means I’m going to need to keep more food around the house, with the kids home for breakfast, lunch and dinner we have to have healthy stuff on hand and planned out.
Now, over the past month our readership has grown from 200 to 500 subscribers – THAT IS AWESOME. We regularly get over 900 views per-day on this blog. Also, AWESOME. But what that means is planning menus specifically around what’s on sale in Northeast Ohio Grocers is no longer logical. So, I’m just going to give general price points of things.
So here we go with what’s on sale this week:
It’s memorial day weekend, which means its a great time to stock up on meat! I found ground beef, chicken breasts and porkchops all on sale for $1.99/lb (this was at SuperK if you’re local) but I imagine other stores are selling meat discounted too in anticipation of the grilling holiday.
Also, if your household drinks pop (I admit it, me and Chris drink quite a lot) you should be able to find it at the stock up price. If you’re local, Marc’s had the 24 pk cubes of pepsi products for $5 with a limit of 8. I stocked up and put it in the basement.
Also, strawberries and green beans are super cheap right now as they’re starting to come into season down south. 16oz of strawberries can be easily acquired for $1.99 and green beans at .99c/lb.
So, what are we having for breakfast this week you ask? How about strawberry, yogurt and cheerio parfaits.
We are not layering ours this pretty, I’ll tell ya! Toss it all in a bowl and scoop it up with a spoon. Good enough. Also, don’t buy individual yogurt cups for this. Buy the 16oz container, so much more economical!
We’re taking advantage of the fact that strawberries and green beans are in season here too. Strawberries just sliced in half make awesome snacks for the kids, also we like raw green beans with the ends snapped off and dipped in ranch.
We’re also doing sandwiches, since Memorial Day is also a picnicking holiday you should be able to find lunch meat and cheeses at a decent price. We paid $3.99/lb for both honey ham and colby cheese at SuperK and we’re doing sandwiches on bakery rolls that we bought 8 for $1.99.
Also, seems like there are always dinner leftovers. When dinner is good, NO ONE objects to having leftovers for lunch the next day.
Monday: Picadillo & Cowboy Caviar – this is a delicious way to use cheap ground beef to make it flavorful. This also makes awesome leftovers. It’s the kind of thing that it’s actually better when it sits for a day. Click the pictures below to be linked to the recipes.
Chicken with Kraft Fresh Takes Breading.
Cornbread and Fresh Green Beans.
I highly, highly recommend the Kraft Fresh Takes Cheddar and Bacon breading for a quick and delicious meal!
London Broil with Simply Salad Pasta Salad and Brussel Sprouts with Bacon. Giant Eagle had London Broil BOGO this week and Simply Salad Pasta Salad for $1. A large bag of frozen brussel sprouts can be purchased for $1.29 making this fancy looking meal budget friendly!
Mushroom Tarragon chicken with fresh green beans and egg noodles. Just toss the green beans into the pan with the rest of this dish, boil your egg noodles (which are frugal and delicious) and serve.
Brown Sugar Pork Chops, Creamed Spinach and Red Skin Potatoes. Halve and quarter those potatoes, stick them in a glass baking dish with some butter and parsley and roast til tender!
And finally, you have to have dessert and bananas are super cheap, pick up some chocolate chips from Aldi and follow this super simple recipe for chocolate chip banana bread for an awesome week of menus.
Have a great week ya’ll! If you make something from the meal plan please feel free to post it on our FB wall. We love that. Also, you can follow us on pinterest for more recipes and frugal tips!
What to do with Chicken Legs (And other cheap cuts of meat)?
Frugal living tip of the day: Buy the cheap meat! So, I grew up in a house where the main dish choices were: Boneless Porkchops, Chicken Breast, Beef Roast and Ground Beef. Yeah, I’m totally serious. Those were the proteins we ate. Maybe a pork roast once in a while. Also, my grandmother is a wonderful, amazing person but awesome cook is not on her resume.
As a result, awesome cook is not on my mom’s resume. This is entirely not her fault. She had no one to teach her, it was before the massive internet boom and she was a busy working single mom. So, hey, I’m grateful that we had food and roof!
Fast-forward to my own life though: Eating healthy and real foods is important to me. Buuut when the budget is $485/month for food you have to find ways to make it work! I CANNOT pay $4/lb or more for meat! That’s craziness. I try to keep the cost of the protein for the meal $5 or less.
One way I save money at the grocery is by buying “cheap” cuts of meat, Chicken leg quarters, pork picnic roast, and split chicken breasts (with the bones) can all be purchased for .99c/lb or under!
You can get chicken breasts, ground beef, turkey or chicken, western pork ribs and pork tenderloin for under $1.99 with ease!
Giant Eagle often runs steaks, pork chops and beef roasts on buy one get one promo. Stock up when things are cheap!!
Now, I see the gears in your head turning. But Amy, What do I do with _________? Honestly, I still feel the same way sometimes. I just bought chicken leg quarters for .68c/lb. I had no idea what to do with them. Google is your friend. Seriously. Watch this video, its very funny!
Alrighty, so now that we’ve established google is awesome here are some links for cheap meat:
Making dirty rice with chicken livers (Sounds gross, is good, promise!)
Spinach and Mushroom Lasagna (omggg so good!) – never pay more than .99c/pk for mushrooms. Between Aldi, Marc’s and Save-a-lot somebody will have them on sale. Check your ads!
This is obviously not a complete resource! Once again. Google is your friend. If there is meat, ANY kind of meat on sale for .99c per pound BUY IT and google!
Also, consider replacing meat one night a week with legumes, tofu, pasta, veggies etc! That obviously saves money too.
So it’s Summer-ish, YAY! I live in Ohio, so I can’t say that it’s summer for sure. I love the warm weather, but it sucks all of the moister out of my skin. I always have dry skin though, so I am constantly looking for a great exfoliator. I just don’t like to spend money on this type of stuff. Even the home masks always ask for avocados. If I am going to spend money on avocados I am going to eat them. I usually come up with these concoctions off the top of my head, and I never actually measure anything, so bear with me.
I know that baking soda is a great exfoliator, just be careful, because it definitely will irritate your skin if it’s sensitive. It takes a lot of layers off quickly, so try not to rub when you slap this stuff on your skin.
Alright, all you do is put some baking soda in a bowl. Then you pour some oil on that shit. I used vegetable oil. I’m not sure the difference, but it did the trick. I think olive oil would be the best bet. Now you need to mix that crap up. Make a paste out of it. When you are done with that smear it all over your face. Then rub it a little. Seriously, don’t go to town scrubbing. I went a little rub-happy last night and I looked like I got sunburned. But now my face is baby smooth. Comment below and share your frugal beauty tips. Do you have any other go-to masks?
So, Megan and I were just talking about her need to go gluten-free for a while. I’m not gluten free but I have gluten “issues” – I have IBS and gluten is one of the things that irritates it. So, I still eat it, I won’t lie but I try to limit it and I pay for it when I DO eat it.
I was telling her I have this awesome cornbread recipe that’s 100% GF that you can throw together super-quick.
Here’s what you need:
- 1/2 cup butter (melted)
- 2/3 cup sugar
- 2 eggs
- 1 cup buttermilk*
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1 cup cornmeal
- 1 cup masa harina **
- 1/2 tsp salt
Heat your oven to 375*. Spray some cooking spray in an 8″ square pan. Stir together your melted butter, sugar and eggs. Dump your baking soda into your buttermilk and stir, pour that into the butter/egg/sugar mixture.
Now, add your dry ingredients, the cornmeal, masa and salt. Mix until moistened, pour into your baking dish and bake for 35 min.
So good! You can use less sugar if you prefer less sweet cornbread. You can also spoon it into muffin tins if you want corn muffins.
*Who keeps buttermilk in their fridge?! I certainly don’t. Combine 3 tablespoons white vinegar with 1 cup of milk, let it sit for a minute. It will thicken, ta-da: Buttermilk substitute.
**Masa Harina is cool stuff. It looks like this. It’s basically flour, made from corn and you can pick it up in the hispanic section of any major grocery. You DO NOT have to go to a special store to get this. It’s like, $1.99 and it looks like this:
I probably have the worst immune system in the world. I’m always coming down with crazy shit. I’ve had shingles twice, once when I was pregnant with Benny. I’ve had strep throat close to a million times. Pneumonia? Yeah, all the time. So when my body starts going a bit “cray” I don’t think much of it.
Well that’s not always the best way to go about things. I was having the most intense pain of my life right under the sternum area.
Now, I don’t want to brag BUT, I am pretty fabulous at drawing in Paint. So I decided to draw you fabulous folks a picture of exactly what my pain would look like, had it been visible.
Obviously the pain is red, because red reminds me of Satan, and so does pain. So that picture was me for the last 3 weeks, give or take that awesome hair.
So, one beautiful morning I decided to have scrambled eggs, and cheese with a tall glass of whole milk. What could possibly happen from a sensible breakfast like that? It felt like a garbage disposal was ripping my guts apart. Let me also tell you guys that I’m not a sissy. My tolerance for pain is high, and my tolerance for any type of pain killer is low. That particular breakfast got me a dose of Morphine. Yipppeeeeee!
After that I was in the ER a few times a week, and a getting a ton of tests done, and going to a million doctors appointments. I finally got to see a specialist! Yay! They will surely fix me up.. but wait. Not so fast. I have to get a colonoscopy first.
The idea of putting (mostly) anything up my butt sort of puts me in a bad mood. So, I wasn’t particularly thrilled about this idea, but I wanted to find out what was wrong with me. If you have had the pleasure of having a colonoscopy before you know the joys of prepping for one, and my joy I mean fucking awful. It was awful. You can’t even PLUG your nose to get the shit taste out of your mouth. My particular blend tasted like watered down Sprite that someone dumped a cup of salt into. You have to drink 8 0unces every 15 minutes, which isn’t a problem if it didn’t taste like butt. I have been known to down a couple of beers in under a minute before (back in the day, of course.), but THIS concoction is no beer. Natty Light tastes like a filet Mignon compared to this stuff.
For those of you that have no idea what I am even talking about it’s designed to clean you out. I will just let you use your imagination with that one.
After I gulped that down, I had to wake up at 3AM to drink another liter….
Lets add some happy back into the mix.
I’m pretty sure if you used the prep for a colonoscopy to get people to tell you their darkest secrets they totally would.
I get to the hospital at the ass crack of dawn, and they immediately ask me if I want to take a pregnancy test. (LOL) Yeah, no thanks. I PROMISE I am not pregnant. They strip me down and put in IV in the worst spot, ever. Right on top of my hand/wrist. My RIGHT hand, which means I am snagging it on everything. The nurse decides to give me the run down on what is going to happen to me. I also got an endoscopy, which isn’t nearly as scary. I shove stuff down my throat no prob.(Amy told me I am allowed to be saucy.) So, the nurse tells me that I will be gagging, and gag. Gaggity-gag, gag.
Seriously, the amount of jokes I could have said was literally about to make my head explode. Alas, I was all alone and I didn’t want to be that person. I squeaked a laugh out and the nurse shot me a look of death. I’ve always made a joke out of uncomfortable situations, and this one wasn’t going to be any different.
They wheel me into a room, and stick a cool thing in my mouth to protect my teeth. About that time they also pumped me full of a narcotic pain killer and a medicine for anxiety. This doesn’t knock you out. Oh, no. This only makes you FORGET what is going on. Now, it has been a long time since I have blacked out. The last thing I remember is the nurse saying, “She’s a chatty one isn’t she?”
I don’t know WHAT I said, I don’t even want to know what I was trying to say. He did have a scope up my b-hole so I can only imagine what my ridiculously stoned brain came up with.
Good news! They found out what was causing all of my pain. Gastritis. It’s inflammation of your stomach lining. There could still be more to it, and I will find out when the biopsy comes back. But for now they gave me a list of foods to eat, and a list of foods to stay away from. I am now lactose-free, and gluten-free. Sort of, this is hard to completely change the way you have been eating for 23 years. I don’t even KNOW where you find bamboo shoots, and what do you do with them when you do find them. I am sure I will have a lot of funny blogs to write about this new food venture. Expect some gluten-free coupons to follow.
So, does anyone else have kitchen cabinets that look like this?
Until yesterday I would have had to raise my hand as completely guilty. I keep seeing all this organization stuff on Pinterest that requires someone to either:
A.) Be Super Crafty and make shit out of fabric, chalkboard paint and cardboard boxes.
B.) Spend a million dollars on fancy organizational-storage products.
Look, I’m not either of those things. I’m a little crafty and I firmly believe in making and doing things yourself but I’m a busy person. I do not have time to cover cereal boxes in fabric and contact paper. That’s absurd.
I also am not going to drive to Ikea (in Pittsburgh is the closest one FYI) to buy their skaangrad collection or whatever crazy name they give to their organizational products.
I’m not really an Ikea kind of girl. Target is about as classy as I get and honestly, Family Dollar is more in my price range.
That being said, check out my awesome kitchen cabinets make-over accomplished by buying things from said stores:
OMG! So much better right? And no craftiness or trips to Ikea required.
So, here’s what you need:
That’s a 3 Drawer Organizer, some plastic “file bins” (They’re in the cheapie section near the front of the store at Target) and plastic baskets from the dollar store. Yeah. Thats it.
In your pots and pans cupboard:
- Stand your lids up inside one file bin and stand your pans up inside another.
- Nest your cake pans and pie pans together and stand them up inside one of the baskets from the dollar store.
- Nest your small pots and your big pots together.
- Nest your cookie sheets together and have them on one side.
- Nest your glass baking dishes and have them on the other.
In your “Plastic” cupboard:
- Throw out anything you don’t have the mate for (be it a lid or bowl!)
- Put the organizer in the cupboard*
- Put all your lids in the top drawer.
- Nest all your plastic containers and put them in the bottom two drawers.
- Nest your large mixing bowls.
- Put random things (my cookie cutters, mixer and strainer) in the basket.
*Getting the organizer in the cupboard is difficult. You’ll have to disassemble it and then reassemble it inside the cupboard. Trust me, its worth it. But it is a pain. Also, make sure you measure how tall of a drawer organizer will fit in your cupboards!
Ta-Da! Organizing the cupboards real-mom style.
I think I just showed Pinterest who’s boss.