Friday, June 3, 2011

Wow, it has been a long time since the last post. We just get busy with life and bam... a year goes by. Well, the last several months I have been trying very hard to keep our grocery bill low. Groceries are just so expensive these days.

I have found a store that I really like - Grocery Outlet. Since going there I have been able to save so much money. I am going to try a new goal- that is spending $250 on the food budget. I was talking to my husband about it last night. It will require stopping at a few different stores.

1. I will get a big load of food from grocery outlet - $100

2. I will get meat and cheese at Sams - $100

3. I will get milk at Aldi. So far it has always been cheaper for us there. I think the most it has been is $3.00 a gallon.

If I have money left I will even include diapers, toiletries, and dog food into this budget.

So far we have sold my van, gotten two used suburbans (which only require tune up and ac charges) for $3000. $3000 for two vehicles. I do not drive alot so a used car does not scare me and for a trip I can rent a car because of the money I am saving with no car payment or if we go with my mom I will share in her expense of gas and ride with her.

So the expenses we have left are around $2000 credit card and the mortgage which we would love to pay early. And we still are trying to sell Brian's truck. Getting rid of the truck will save us - $408 month.

Food bill has been lowered atleast $100 a month because of Grocery Outlet. There is not alot of variety but sometimes that really is not a bad thing. Oh and I forgot to say that we are getting these basket of veggies at our local farmers market for $5 until our garden comes in so we spend like $15 on fresh veggies which is so,so,so much cheaper than in the store. Our electric has been lowered $50 this year and joined this program where they turn your electric off so many minutes a day which is $75 credit a year :). The water went down $20 every other month. The DSL is going to be $29 from $118 (phone/internet). We cancelled the phone and will just use cell phones. And if we cancel the tv and go with netflix we shave another $90 off our bills. I do think this is a great idea but I still am hesitant to actually cut the tv cord. :) That is silly though because I know that all my shows are on the computer and we have gone three years without tv so I should just cut the cord.

Money saved in one year:

1. Electric - $675
2. Water- $120
3. phone/dsl - $1068
4. cable (if we do it :)) - $1080
5. Groceries- $1200
6. Truck- $4896

That is a total of $8919 a year. Wow, I had no idea until I just added that up that those bills had such an impact. Of course, that includes the cable and truck(but they will be gone soon) :) This is very motivating. WOW - $8919.

So I challenge all of you to look at your budget and see where you can cut because I guarantee that most of you can cut your budgets and make a significant impact on your budget.

The best news which is not official is that my husband might be getting a really good job. He owns his own business which has been a REAL challenge since the economy went south. He has struggled on and off for 2-3 years. There was a chain of events that led to this job. He was going to be remodeling a kitchen. He had checked on cabinets and the guy there told him about possible subcontract work at this homebuilder place in town. When he called the owner, whom he has done work for before said he might have something for him. Yesterday, the guy all but offered him a job. I am praying that this works out for him and is a very positive change. Right off the bat he would eliminate his gas bill and vehicle wear and tear because of company truck/gas. That would save us $300-$400 a month. :) It is perfect timing because at the same time the kitchen backed out because they might be relocated through their job. So aside from a few smaller jobs he does not have anything big to clear off his schedule. But, it is a lot he could do on the side. That would mean weekend work to finish some obligations but it would also mean more money to pay off the rest of our credit card which means by the fall our only debt will be the mortgage and my student loan which is deferred until January. Of course, with everything else paid off we could pay that off very quickly. it is right at $9000. Just remember to explain to your kids thoroughly that if they take a student loan - they have to pay it back, so avoid it at all costs.:)

Just keep motivated to pay off debt and live a free life. You can do it. :)

Oops, forgot one thing. My husband was fortunate enough to borrow $3500 (business related) from my dad in March which I DEFINITELY want to repay by the end of the year. :) That is one thing I forgot to include in my list.

I still cannot believe we save almost $9000 by cutting all of those things. WOW

Monday, February 8, 2010

Turkey Tacos Yummy, yummy

I hope everyone had a nice start to the week. This is a tough economy and times are tough for many but things will get better. We just have to keep hope alive. Tonite we will be making turkey tacos.

Turkey Tacos are one of my favorite.

You will need:

One box of non-name brand taco shells (12 in a box I believe)
One bag of non name brand tortillas
1-2lbs of ground turkey meat (For 4 adults and 2 kids we use 2 lbs and 2 adults and kids 1 lb)
Taco seasoning (if you do not have it I have included a recipe for it below)*
One onion
One tomato
Shredded Cheese - I shred around 2 cups or so
tortilla chips (optional)

I start by putting the turkey meat in a frying pan on high. After a few minutes turn to medium. Brown the meat and then, drain it. Then add the seasoning to the meat. Turn the meat to low and let it cook while you open the pinto beans. I pour them directly into a little food processor and blend them together. A blender would also work. It is just easier to scoop beans out of the mini processor. After the beans are blended I put them in a small pot on the stove. If I am lazy I put them in a microwaveable storage bowl. This way I can microwave them (2 minutes) and when we are done put the lid on and put them in the fridge. Easy... While the meat and beans continue to cook I cut the lettuce (just a cup or two),dice a tomato, and dice an onion. Then I shred the cheese. All that is left is to turn off the burners and stuff the tacos. I usually put beans first in the hard shell to hold it together in case it cracks. Then I put everything else. With the tortilla I put beans first also. After I fill the tortilla I microwave it 15-20 seconds and then roll it up while it is hot. Then we eat. Yum.
Enjoy. This meal is very good and under $10.00 for everyone.
Have a great evening.

**Taco Seasoning**

# Add 2 teaspoons of chili powder.
# Add 1 1/2 teaspoons of salt.
# Add 1 teaspoon of garlic powder.
# Add 1 teaspoon of cornstarch.
# Add 1 teaspoon of ground cumin.
# Add 1/2 to 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper or hot paprika.
# Stir to blend.
# Makes the equivalent of a 1 1/4-ounce package of taco seasoning mix.

"Once you choose hope, anything's possible." -Christopher Reeves

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Pinto Beans and Rice

Hello everyone. Today I am going to have one of the easiest meals. We are having beans and rice. I am using pinto beans from a bag that were soaked overnight. Usually, I make about three cups of beans. You can used canned beans (any kind that you like) if you prefer. I also LOVE black beans. But , I will save the easy black bean meal for another day. After my beans have soaked I wash them off and then put them in a pot with water to boil for about 2 hours (taste one and stop when they are the consistency you like). I add in some garlic, pepper, and lemon pepper. I would start with a teaspoon of each and then just add more depending on your preference. My husband and I like cayenne but the kids do not so we have it on the side. Then I make 3 cups of rice. I do either minute rice in the microwave or I boil rice on the stove according to package directions. Either way 3 cups is sufficient for 4 adults and two kids. I also dice up two tomatoes, one onion and some shredded cheese ( We get a big block of cheese 5lb for around $10 or so). Then I let every person make their own plate how they like it. I hope that you enjoy it. I love mine with chips and salsa but that is optional.

Have a great day.

"Most folks are about as happy as they make up their minds to be." ~Abraham Lincoln

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Frugal Family Meals

Hi I am Heather. This is my first time blogging. I decided to start this blog to see how it would be to blog and to give other families ideas for frugal meals and feeding a family in general. We are a family of five, but often (4-5 days a week) have my mother in law and sister in law for dinner. I stay at home (homeschool) with the three kids ranging from 6years - 8 months. In today's economy making good meals on a budget has become a real challenge.

Generally, I have been spending around $300-$350 on food a month. The last 2 months seem to be going to around $400-$500. This includes toiletries such as feminine products, diapers, wipes, deodorant... It includes everything we need for that month. I do this by making a list throughout the month of toiletries that we will need. Then I make a menu for a month on the calendar of meals that we will eat. From that menu I make a shopping list. Although I do not have a menu for breakfast and lunch they are included on the list.

This can take a little time. For me it has gotten easier since I have done it for awhile. For instance, I know that we need 2 big bags of cereal and we have pop tarts (special kid weekend treat) for weekends. I know that we always need to stock canned vegetables because we come close to finishing them off every month. I know to always keep peanut butter and jelly and frozen lunchmeat for lunches. We also have hummus for lunches which we buy garbanzo beans and make our own. This save a few dollars. One can is like a dollar compared to a small $3-$4 container of premade hummus. It is very easy to make (see recipe below).


One can garbanzo beans
lemmon pepper seasoning

Take one can of garbanzo beans and blend it in the blender. We put it on puree but if you like texture you can select a different setting. I put the seasonings in kids little medicine cups (save them from Ibuprofen or tylenol...) so that the kids can pour in the ingredients. I probably put about a teaspoon of lemmon pepper, pepper, and garlic. Then I blend the mixture again. If it seems dry I add a little water. Then you are ready to eat. With the seasoning it is really your own preference. We have made it spicier with cayenne or you can add mustard really just whatever you like.

Some other tips would be to buy a small freezer if you have space for one. You might find one on craigslist or in the Iwanna. Then you always have room to store extra meat, bread, cookie dough... We also have 2 shelves one with mainly toiletries and coffee/juice and one with canned goods, chips, rice... It is always great to have extra space to organize food. It is alot to keep up with but if you can do it you can save money. Before I leave you for today I am going to share what we are having tonight with you. It is one of my favorites. I cook this Chicken/tomato soup in a crockpot but a big pot will do if you do not have one. If you cook it in a pot be sure to keep an eye on it.

Chicken Tomato Soup

three - four chicken breasts or precooked cubed chicken
one big can of stewed tomatoes
baby carrots or one-two cans of carrots
can of corn
chicken bullion cubes or can of chicken bullion
garlic powder
italian seasoning
3 cans pinto beans
one can of peas
green pepper

First begin boiling the chicken in a pot for about 20-30 minutes until all meat looks white. While chicken cooks pour the big can of stewed tomatoes into the blender (if you like chunks you can just get diced tomatoes and stir in spices). Heat two bullion cubes in a cup of water in the microwave. After heating the bullion pour it into the blender. Then put in 1 tsp garlic powder, 1tsp italian seasoning, 1tsp pepper, 1tsp basil (or add basil leaves) and then blend in the blender. Once it is blended pour it into the crockpot. Drain the cans of pinto beans, rinse and add them to the pot. Then add the peas undrained. If you have a bag of small carrots you can cut them up or just add them whole (about 3 cups) to the pot. If you have canned carrots just dump them in the pot undrained. Cut up one green peeper in small pieces and add to the pot. Then cut up the cooked chicken into small pieces and put it in the pot. I put mine in the crockpot so after I finish the last step it is kind of on auto pilot (just stir from time to time or add more spice if you desire). Usually I start this meal at lunch and let it go until dinner. If you are cooking it on the stove bring to a boil and then simmer until you are ready to eat. We like ours served over rice.

I hope some of these tips have been helpful. Have a wonderful day.