Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Monday splitting the chicken and cooking like Mama

Today I COOKED!   I am not much of a cook but I did and I have to admit it felt good!

For breakfast the kids had milk, cereal, and some berry dessert my mom gave me last night.  I don't normally feed my kids dessert for breakfast (our sleepover guest asked so I gladly said yes to all the kids).  

Lunch was sandwiches and or hot dogs with grapes, pineapple, bananas, and pretzels.

For snack time the kids ate every last bit of that berry dessert (I will get the recipe from her and share it with everyone).  My kids and our visitor LOVED it!  They also had fruit, fudge pops, and lots of cookies.  It was a big snack day today!

Dinner!   I cooked and cooked!  

One full bag of frozen corn, mashed potatoes, homemade stuffing, roasted chicken breast, gravy, bread and butter with Koolaid to drink.

I have a lot of corn, gravy, and mashed potatoes left over (my hubby will eat leftover mashed potatoes as long as we have gravy) so expect to see some of this food again.   I served lots of bread and butter because my two youngest kids don't like stuffing (bread helps make the food go further).  This was my first time ever making my own stuffing from scratch (I was worried it wouldn't be good so the extra bread was ready to replace the stuffing for everyone)!   The meat I served was ONLY 1 chicken breast.  I cut the one breast off the chicken and told the family if they were still hungry I would cut off more but I would like them to eat all the side dishes and see how hungry they were when done.  I also reminded them that we had lots of cookies to pick from after dinner.   I didn't have to cut anymore meat off the bird.  I actually ended up with left over chicken (enough for a sandwich or two) from this one breast!  I made my own gravy (saving us more money). 

If you don't already know gravy is easy to make.  Just take the liquid from the bottom of your roasting pan (after you take out your roasted chicken).  Pour it in a pot.   Take any kind of plastic container with a lid and put some flour in it (I use prob. about 1/4 a cup) add in a cup of water.  Put lid on the plastic container and shake hard.  Make sure you have no lumps in the flour/water mixture.   Put your pot of chicken liquid on med heat.  Stir with a fork as you slowly pour in your flour-water mixture.   Continue to stir until it gets thick (a gravy thickness) add salt and pepper and BAM you have gravy!

Stuffing was a new adventure for me and I'm happy to say my family LOVED it (well the 3 of us that like stuffing loved it).   All I did was cut up 6-8 pieces of bread (I didn't count) into 1/4 inch cubes.  I put them on a cookie sheet to crisp them some in the oven (about 10 minutes at 350).    I cut a stick of celery and  1/2 a large onion into tiny bits.  I tossed onion and celery into a fry pan  with a bit of butter (did this while the bread cubes were in the oven).  Once I had the onions and celery cooked I buttered a baking dish, dumped in bread cubes, mixed in the celery & onion, then added in some seasonings (I didn't have the seasonings listed in the recipes I found online so I added a bit of what I had (I freely tossed in whatever looked good thinking if it didn't turn out loosing a few slices of bread wouldn't be too much of a loss in this food stretching adventure).  I then spooned a bit of the drippings (liquid I took from the bottom of the cooked chicken pan before I made gravy) until it was all damp but not real wet (no pools of water in the dish).  I put the the dish in the oven and baked until it turned brown and looked done.   My husband ate a big plate of seconds with the stuffing and asked that I never buy Stove Top again!   WAY TO SAVE!   WOOT!

After dinner I got to work picking every bit of meat off that chicken!  I really want to get several meals from this one bird!

My future chicken plans are to serve the other chicken breast for dinner.  The meat from the legs and back of the chicken I put in the freezer.  My family doesn't like dark meat, BUT! If I take the dark meat and heat it in gravy for hot chicken sandwiches  OR heat it in BBQ sauce for chicken BBQ sandwiches they will enjoy eating it (never seeing or tasting the dark meat).  ;-)

The left over bits of chicken from the one breast we had tonight I plan to serve on top of a tossed salad with some garlic bread for a meal one night this week. 

I saved all the bones (and bits of meat and fat on the carcass)  I have it all in the slow cooker with 1/2 of a large onion (other half from the stuffing) and some carrots (handful of baby carrots).  I filled the pot with water and plan to make lots of soup for a few more meals.  I plan to stretch this chicken as far as I can.  I'll share how it all works out. 

Monday, July 30, 2012

Day two (first full day).

I did amazing at the food planning today!  The kids had yogurt, cereal, and milk for breakfast.  I was rushing to get ready for church so no pictures of it (hubby and I didn't eat breakfast).  Lunch for 5 people (my son has a friend sleeping over) today's lunch looked like last nights dinner,  Pretzels, carrot sticks, pineapple, and sandwiches (PB&J, Nuttella, and pepperoni).I didn't take a photo of lunch because it looked just like last nights dinner. For dinner tonight we ate at the church!   Our church had a community corn roast!  What a blessing when you're trying to stretch out groceries!   I made no bake cookies for the corn roast.  My first batch turned out a bit gooey.  The second batch turned out better.'

Then my middle child (7 year old) dumped my box of oats all over the floor.   I think they ended up being rather expensive cookies (2 tries to get a good batch then 5 cups of oats dumped on the floor).  The oats I have been in the cupboard for several months now (nobody wants hot oatmeal in the morning when it is 90 deg. outside) so it didn't really hurt me with my food stretching.  OH I almost forgot!  My mom gave me her leftover dish from the corn roast so I came home with some of the cookies I made and 1/2 a dish of some delish berry treat my mom baked (my mom is amazing in the kitchen so I really made out today).  Snacks were cookies today and some popcorn I'm going to make now.   Hubby was at work all day so he took 3 sandwiches with him and I plan to make him tomato soup and grilled cheese sandwiches when he gets home.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Food budget (saving money for vacation)

OK, I know I haven't wrote on this blog in years. My oldest 2 children went to private school last year leaving me homeschooling only one child. I guess I didn't think I was doing anything "new" with her (same things I did with my older two) so I didn't bother to write.  I feel kind of sad leaving this blog get all old and dusty so I'm going to use it for a project I'll be working on for the next two weeks (maybe longer). I'm looking to save some money for a vacation we are going on in the near future so my project is to save money! We ended up with some unexpected car repairs (big ones) that set us back a bit. The first thing I do when I am trying to save money is cut our food cost. We often spend about $90.00-$110.00 a week on food. I can cut our food bill down to $50 a week but when I do that I have to plan in advance. I didn't have time to plan out for that kind of savings so I'm jumping in "real time" and going to plan and stretch the best I can over the next two weeks. I did make a shopping list before food shopping and I stuck to it earlier today (if it wasn't on my list I didn't buy it). I cut out a lot of the "extra junk" that sometimes sneaks into the cart (I shop with 3 kids at my side so extras often sneak in). My kids helped me stick to my list and my oldest picked out the item that cost less on his own several times today (I have amazing kids).

Keep reading the next two weeks to see how far I can stretch $150 of groceries with my family of Five that need to eat 3 meals plus snacks every day.


 Please understand this is a very personal journey for me! I don't like having to plan meals and stretch them so much but I do when I want to save cash. To be honest, I feel a bit uncomfortable letting anyone who might find this blog take such a close look at my dinner plate,peak inside my kitchen cupboards, and get a look at my wallet! I've decided to do it so I can take a look back sometime in the future and the thought that someone might see what works for me and in some way use it to come up with a plan that works for them makes me feel like I have to share (I'll try not to cry if I get nasty comments on the food we're eating this week).


Here is what I have to work with this week. I had very few items left in my fridge, freezer, and food cupboards (blush). The items I have I will use but for the most part I'm working with $151.54 of food. I didn't use coupons at all. I bought everything at Walmart. I think I can stretch this food for 2 and 1/2 or 3 weeks. It HAS to make it 2 weeks. My husband gave me a food budget of $185 for 2 weeks (about $20 less than our normal food budget). On top of that $20 savings have an additional savings of $33.46 by only spending $151.54 of the $185.00 (that's if I don't run out of  food) we will be ahead $53.46 in two weeks.  . If I can stretch it out 3 weeks I'd be saving another $100 we normally spend on food (money can add up quick if I can stay on track, plan, and S T R E T C H out the meals).

 This is a photo of my food purchase (I felt kind of silly snapping a photo of my groceries).

Breakfast foods

2 boxes of cereal (I think we have a box or two already in the cupboard), coffee creamer, syrup, a gallon milk (we have another gallon opened a day or two ago), honeydew, yogurt, grapes, bananas, and pancake mix. 


2 loaves of bread (we have another loaf in the freezer left over from last week), a 24 pack of rolls, a pack of wraps, 5 cans of soup, Nutella,  crackers, 3 packs of Ramen noodles (I never buy them but my son asked today so I gave in), 1/2 pound cheese, 1/2 pound of pepperoni, 1/2 pound of hard salami. (I have lots of peanut butter and jelly on hand).



One whole chicken, 5lbs of beef, 2 ham steaks, and one pack of hot dogs.

I would love to use this meat to make 11 meals.  I don't know I'll be able to stretch it that far for my family of 5 but I'm going to try my best.  I'll let you know. I know I will get at least 6 meals with this but I hope to make it more like 11.

Other dinner items.

Veggies, cucumber, tomatoes, iceberg lettuce, romaine lettuce, carrots, cabbage, grape tomatoes, fries, and onions (onions didn't make the photo but I did buy them).  I have some potatoes in the cupboard left from last week.


Pasta sauce, Manwich, Hot dog, sauce, bread crumbs, egg noodles, hamburg buns (2 packs), and hot dog buns.

 Snacks.  I hope I can make it 2+ weeks with jello, sugar, butter, popcorn, freeze pops, and animal crackers.   I will also use fruit and yogurt for snacks if the kids don't eat them all up for breakfast. 

Here I go with my new food stretching adventure Meal #1

Dinner #1.  Hubby was at work and it was late when the kids and I got home from shopping so we  had quick and easy sandwiches for dinner.   My youngest had Nuttela on a wrap with a slice of cheese.  My middle child had toasted PB&J with a slice of cheese, My son and I had pepperoni and cheese on sandwich rolls.  Pretzels (we had an open bag on hand), carrot sticks, fresh pineapple (I had over 1/2 a pineapple in my fridge from last week), and glasses of water finished off the meal.  End of my first day and I didn't dip into our dinner meats yet (I'm sure that will help stretch my meals to go a bit further).


I didn't want to buy the kids candy at the register so I told the kids we could bake cookies at home after dinner instead of candy (they loved this idea and saved myself $3).   I had a cookie mix in the back of the cupboard.  I made up 30 cookies with it.  30 cookies for a family of 5 gives each person 3 snacks this week (serving size 2 cookies each).    I gave the kids 2 cookies each after dinner.  I wrapped up the rest for tomorrow.  

 My husband came home around midnight and had 3 burritos that were left over in the freezer from last week.  I'll be back tomorrow night to share how I managed the meals for the day.