Monday, January 31, 2011

Dinner Ideas

I haven't made my menu yet for this week because we still have a few things we didn't get to last week. But here are some suggestions if you're looking for ideas:

Chicken Stir Fry w/ Rice
Meatball Sandwiches
Loaded Baked Potatoes w/ Chili
Hawaiian Haystacks
Chicken Salad Sandwiches (with left over shredded chicken from haystacks)
Baked Ziti

Let me know if you are interested in any of the recipes. Hope you have a great week!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

A Great Start to 2011

Here are some pictures of Sara, she is getting so big and even more beautiful every day. We just love having her. We have so much fun doing some of her favorite things: going to the mall, the park, on walks, to the library, throwing pennies in the fountains, playing play-doh, making cookies and going on pretend trips. She is talking all the time and amazes me with the things she comes up with. My favorites are, "Hold you please, Mommy" and "I do it myself, I know how."

Sara loves strawberries. And we add a little powdered sugar!

Sara is going on a pretend trip with daddy to a football game.

This is Sara chewing gum - not the best timing for the picture.

She looks so beautiful in yellow.

And here she is just being Sara. I love those big beautiful blue eyes.

A Friend's Journey

This is a story about a dear friend of mine, Tara, and her journey to Sudan. Thanks for sharing your experience in such a real way, Tara!

e3 Film Festival - Tara

Monday, January 24, 2011

Go Dogs Go!

Dinner this Week

Monday 1/24: Chicken Noodle Soup w/ Rolls

Tuesday 1/25: Shredded Chicken Enchiladas

Wednesday 1/26: Breakfast for Dinner (pancakes, bacon, fruit)

Thursday 1/27: Chicken, Rice and Brocolli Casserole

Friday/Saturday: 4-Way (Pasta, Chili, Cheese, Pineapple)

Sunday 1/30: Baked Potato Soup w/ Rolls

Monday /31: Sloppy Joes and Salad

Saturday, January 15, 2011

What's For Dinner?

We have a pretty tight food budget (about $100 every 2 weeks including diapers) and I'm always looking for inexpensive meal ideas. I've put together a list of the meals we rotate. I make a menu about every 7-10 days and grocery shop based on my menu. I also shop using coupons and price-matching.

Wal-Mart will price match everything except buy one get one free offers. Some cashiers require you to have the ads in hand, but I never do and it always works. I use a web-site called mygrocerydeals that categorizes each item and gives you the best prices. I make my shopping list and write down where things are the cheapest. When I get to the register, I tell the cashier which items I want to price match and that's it!

Several people have asked for my weekly menu, so here it is:

Sunday: Roast (purchased a few weeks ago for $2.99/lb - price match)
Red Potatoes ($ .99/5lbs - price match)
Baby Carrots ($ .99/lb - price match)
*I put it all in the crock-pot with some sliced yellow onion, garlic salt, and salt and pepper in about 2 inches of water. Cook on Low for 6-8hrs or High for 4 or until meat is cooked through.

Monday: Tortellini (Frozen Cheese Tortellini about $2.99/bag and I use half the bag)
Sliced Sausage ($1.49 price match)
Frozen Peas
Sliced Red Pepper (price match this week for $ .20ea)
*Boil tortellini as instructed, saute sausage frozen peas and red pepper. Combine cooked tortellini to sausage mixture and toss in Italian dressing. Can be served cold or warm.

Tuesday: BBQ Chicken Mini Pizzas on Biscuits
*Put 6 or 7 frozen chicken breasts in crockpot. Cover with can of Coke or Dr. Pepper, 1/4 cup brown sugar, garlic salt and onion salt or diced onion. Cook on high for 4-5 hrs or until chicken is fully cooked. Drain fluid. Separate half the chicken to a Ziploc bag and refrigerate. Put other half back in crockpot. Add 1/4 cup brown sugar, BBQ sauce, and half can of Coke or Dr. Pepper (the other half is left to drink. YES!) Cook on low for 1 hr. Bake Pillsbury biscuits (I buy the store brand unless I have a coupon). Cut biscuits in half. Top with BBQ Chicken, cheddar cheese and purple or green onion.

Wednesday: Chicken Tacos (I buy Wal-Mart brand tortillas which are very inexpensive)
Refried or Pinto beans (Usually around $ .80/can)
Cilantro Lime Rice (Limes and Cilantro are price matched)
*Cook white rice as directed. Once cooked, add chopped white onion and cilantro and mix together. Heat left over shredded chicken from yesterday, but add a little taco seasoning and water first. Cut red/yellow pepper and chop lettuce for tacos. Heat refried or pinto beans and serve over rice.

Thursday: Hot Dogs (Hebrew National price matched around $2/6)
Steamed Veggies (Price match cauliflower and broccoli for $ .99)
*I like Hebrew National Hot Dogs the best, but they can be pricey. Bar S Beef Franks go on sale every now and then too. I usually buy a few when they are on sale and freeze them. Buns I buy from the bakery on the 'day old' shelf for a discount. I freeze them until the day I need them.

Friday/Saturday: Shepards Pie (My favorite thing!)
*Brown Meat w/ diced onion while boiling potatoes. (93% Lean Ground Beef price matched $1.99/lb and yellow potatoes price matched 3lbs for $ .99) Once meat is browned, add can of tomato soup. Once potatoes are soft - drain and mash. Add butter and milk to taste. Put ground beef mixture in casserole dish, top with mashed potatoes and cheddar cheese. Put in microwave for a few minutes to melt the cheese.

Sunday: Tortilla Soup w/ or w/o Meat
Black Beans (store brand is about $ .69/can)
Canned Corn (price match for $ .49/can)
Diced Tomatoes (store brand is about $ .99/can)
Chicken Stock ($ .49/can price match at Thanksgiving, so I bought a few)
*If you are using meat, cook as desired. In pot, put in all cans undrained. Add taco seasoning and 1 cup chicken stock. Heat until warm. Serve over tortilla chips w/cheese.

A few things I've learned along the way:
-Stocking up can be great, but if you're already on a tight monthly budget, it may not allow for it. So plan your menu according to what you already have or what is on sale.

-Salad is always a great thing to add to a meal, but buying all the ingredients and making it from scratch can get expensive. Costco sells ready to go salads in a bag including toppings and dressing for $3.49. This salad will last us at least 2 meals.

- Just about anything meat can be cooked and then frozen, so having cooked chicken breasts or left over shredded chicken can be a great way to save time.

- I am a big snacker, so I try to snack on inexpensive things like produce or crackers and cheese that have all been price matched.

- Some people can plan meals farther in advance, but when I have to run to the grocery store for milk or bread, I feel like I might as well get what I need for the week. I prefer to do my menu in 7-10 day increments.

-I am no expert, so any ideas or suggestions you have would be greatly appreciated!!