10 Tips to Spend Less on Food

I know it has been awhile since I have posted on my blog but life has just been so busy! My boyfriend is moving in with me so we’ve bene working on that then he dislocated his shoulder which has left us in a bind. So we’ve been focusing on the move and almost nothing else! After looking on pinterest I found a post about top 10 tips on how to save on food. Being a frugal person I love this pin and I do several important things on it to keep my own costs down.

The Pin:

Food saving tips

Food saving tips

Tip #2: I always use brown bananas to make banana bread! I don’t know anyone who doesn’t but I never thought about freezing them! A local store always has cheap, brown bananas for super cheap so I may try this once.

Tip #3: I rarely have leftovers because I usually cook just enough for my family because a lot of us don’t like to eat them. If there are leftovers I will take some for lunch the next day but things that won’t taste good reheated I will put out for the strays.

Tip #5: Every Wednesday I get the food ads in the mail so I will look at whats on sale and plan my meals around that. If chicken is on sale for a cheap price, $1.99/lb or less I will buy enough for 2 weeks worth of meals. I also combine this tip with #4 and use items on sale this week with items I got for cheap last week. It works well and saves me a lot of money every week/month/year. I also combine these sales with tip #10 and get things on sale then use coupons on them to pay a lot less. This week target has Campbell’s cream of mushroom soup for $0.69 and I have a coupon for $0.40/4 and 5% off so for 4 cans I will pay $2.22 (about $0.50 each).

Tip #6: This tip also gets combined with #5 in those weekly ads you will see cheap produce on sale and the cheaper items are the ones in season. Also in the fall I will go to local markets like an Amish store or the local farmer’s market for cheaper, local fresh produce.

Tip #7: I don’t think I have ever done a meatless meal….I love my chicken, pork and fish lol!!

Tip #8: This is a good tip but I don’t make a list I have a rotation system in my freezer. I have my packages of chicken on one shelf and when I get more I pull the older ones to the front and put the newer ones behind them. So when I grab a package in the front I know it’s the older ones. I also will date the packages, sometimes with a date, but at times I get to lazy for this lol!

Tip #9 and #10: I will buy generic foods but often times I find I can get name brands for cheaper with coupons and sales. I haven’t had a good trash bag deal so I got the Target brand and used a 5% off to get some cheap bags. As for coupons….I could write a whole post on this!! Now I am not extreme…most legit coupon users find this to be an insult…I am a logical coupon user. I make sure to use them on the right things and never try to cheat the system! Target is the best place to shop since they have their own coupons on their site, you can use Sunday paper coupons, get their debit card to get 5% off, use their mobile q’s, and their new Cartwheel which gives you % off items. So I can clean up there lol!! I often save thousands of dollars by using coupons matched with sales and gift card deals!!

I love this list of tips since it can save you lots of cash! I am a big fan of saving money, using coupons, and by reusing items you have at home! I never realized how much I do this until I cleaned out my boyfriend’s deep freeze, freezer, fridge and pantry durin the moving process! He had so much expired foods in vast quantities…it looked like he forgot he had certain things in back so he bought more. The deep freezer was the worst he would just pile fresher foods on top of the old foods (he has a chest freezer mine is an upright) and by the time I got to the bottom of it he had food from 2007!!! Thankfully we agreed that I would do all the shopping for us lol!! Hope you  like the tips!!

Happy Pinning!

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Healthy Crock Pot Meatballs

I love my crock pot because there is nothing better then coming home at the end of the day and dinner is done! You just add ingredients, set the time, and it takes care of the rest! Love it! So I am ALWAYS on the hunt for new recipes for my crock pot. I used to just use it to cook roast. stews, and cream of mushroom chicken but other then that I had no idea what to do. Now thanks to Pinterest I can find TONS of recipes and I can use my much loved crock pot more! I found this yummy sounding meatball recipe and I just had to make it! Meatballs are so versatile! You can make sandwiches with the, put them on noodles for spaghetti, eat alone, or put on spaghetti squash!

The Pin:

http://glow.beautygala.com/healthy-crock-pot-meatball-recipe/

Ingredients:

1lb ground turkey (you can use any ground meat chicken, pork, or cow)

1 egg

1/4 cup Italian breadcrumbs

1/4 Parmesan cheese

4 garlic cloves

2 28oz crushed tomatoes

Italian seasoning

2 bay leaves

salt and pepper to taste

Ingredients

Ingredients

Combine ground meat, bread crumbs, Parmesan cheese, egg, and 2 cloves chopped garlic in a bowl. Mix the ingredients with your hands (do not over mix because it will  make the meatballs tough). Then create (with your hands) meatballs the size of a tablespoon, you can vary the size depending on your taste.

Meat mixture ready to form.

Meat mixture ready to form.

In the crock pot place the two cans of crushed tomatoes and the 2 bay leaves then add 1 tablespoon of Italian seasoning. Add the meatballs on top of the tomato mixture then add the other 2 garlic cloves, you can mince them if you want.

Tomatoes, bay leaves, and Italian seasoning.

Tomatoes, bay leaves, and Italian seasoning.

Cook on high for 5-6 hours or on low for 8-10 hours, Salt and pepper to taste before serving.

Ready to cook.

Ready to cook.

All done and looking so yummy!

All done and looking so yummy!

 

 

Tips from me:

#1 I cooked these on high for 4 and half hours and it was delicious but next time I will cook on low for the 8-10 hours. By letting it simmer longer it will give the flavors longer to mingle and should taste amazing.

You can serve these on spaghetti noodles, on a sandwich, brown rice, or over vegetables like spaghetti squash or zucchini. I love spaghetti squash so I had mine this way and it was so yummy! I love how these turned out they were so light, tender, and flavorful these will become a staple in my family from now on! Plus the ingredients are so cheap and made of things I already have in my pantry and freezer. You should know by now I am all about using what you have on hand and things you can get on sale like the ground turkey! Since I bought the bread crumbs for this recipe alone so I know for a fact I will be making it again, and again until these are gone lol!

Enjoy and Happy Pinning!

Food (and life) Saving Tips

Imagine you’re cooking your favorite meal and halfway through it you realize you don’t have the spices for it or another important ingredient. Nothing is more frustrating right? Well thanks to Pinterest I have found so many neat tricks that have saved me a lot of time, money, and most important frustration!

Seasonings

I was halfway through making tacos one night when I realized I didn’t have any taco seasoning packets! I was also broke so I couldn’t just run out and buy one! Thankfully I remembered I had pinned some seasoning blends so I went to my computer and found this lifesaver!

Taco Seasoning:
1 tbsp chili powder
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp onion powder
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1/4 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp paprika
1 1/2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp sea salt
1 tsp black pepper
mix and use! When I made this I omitted the red pepper flakes since I don’t like it to spicy. Also when using this put a little in at a time then taste it before adding more. I didn’t do this and my meat came out really spicy so I had to cut it down with water and more meat before we could eat it.
Pumpkin Pie Spice Blend:

I was making the pumpkin pie steel cut oats I realized that it called for pumpkin spice blend and I didn’t have any! S0 again I dug through my pins and found a great helping recipe.

1 tsp ground cinnamon

1/4 tsp ground nutmeg

1/4 tsp ground ginger

1/8 tsp ground cloves

mix together and use!

The best thing about these blends is the fact that they have no MSG, preservatives, or other additives! I like knowing what is in my food and I love how with a few simple spices you can save money by not buying packets at the store!

Freezing

Ever make something only to have a TON of it and no idea what to do with it all? I always freeze items for quick and tasty meals but I found some great tips that made this process a bit easier.

#1 Use a muffin tin!

Oatmeal in a muffin tin

Oatmeal in a muffin tin

(the pin http://highermiles.blogspot.com/2012/03/friday-food-oatmeal-from-freezer.html) After I made the pumpkin pie steel cut oats (post here https://aradiasilvermoon.wordpress.com/2013/09/19/pumpkin-pie-steel-cut-oats/) I took a 1/2 cup measuring cup and filled the muffin tin with the oatmeal then I put it in the freezer. After they froze I used a knife to gently loosen them so they popped out and I put them in the baggie to save for later!

bag of oatmeal!

bag of oatmeal!

You can also use your freezer to make yummy desserts!

The pin: http://www.funelf.net/ice-tray-strawberries-chocolate-go/

Slice strawberries in half, place in an ice cube tray, pour melted chocolate over,and freeze! I would spray the tray with a bit of non stick spray so you can pop them all out then break apart!

Misc Tips: 

#1: Use your muffin tin to poach eggs!

Poached eggs

Poached eggs

Crack the eggs into a muffin tin and cook at 350 degrees for 10-15 minutes! You can then freeze them like this then heat up for breakfast or make sandwiches out of them and freeze those!

#2 Use 2 cookie sheets to make crispy, baked sandwiches!

Perfect grilled sandwiches

Perfect grilled sandwiches

Hopefully these tips will help you in your cooking future!!

Happy Pinning!

Skip Grocery Shopping This Week part 2

In this post: https://aradiasilvermoon.wordpress.com/2013/08/26/skip-grocery-shopping-this-week/ I organized my cupboards thanks to some wonderful tips posted by The Budget Diet blog. Well since it said it would be a week long project I decided to clean out and organize my deep freezer!

What a mess!!

What a mess!!

 

As you can see it has been awhile since it has been defrosted or organized! Whenever I wanted to find something I had to dig around and move stuff which, at times, proved to be quite hazardous to my feet. Ever dropped a frozen package of hot dogs on top of your feet?? OUCH!!! So to start I took everything out and placed it on the floor of my utility room and I started throwing out old stuff. I found several pints of frozen yogurt that when I tasted them were gritty and freezer burned…nasty!…so I tossed them. I also tossed some old chili I had made who knows when and a few other waaaaaaaaaaay out of date things! Then I unplugged the freezer,  boiled multiple pans of water, placed them in the freezer and closed the door. When everything was thawed out hours later I wiped out all the water and lingering frost (my deep freezer is strategically placed over the drain in the utility room so when I defrost it there isn’t much mess on the floor.) and started putting things back in a more organized manner.

When I open the door...

When I open the door…

Easy to see what I have!

Easy to see what I have!

Nice and organized!

Nice and organized!

 

 

Now I can see what I have when I open the door without having to shift and move things! Yay no more bruised feet!! Also the frost was so bad that I found a package of tortillas buried under it as the defrosting started!

Tips from me:

#1 When organizing your freezer place the boxed items in a way that you can clearly see what is inside each ones. Now when I go for veggies I can see what each flavor is the second I open the freezer this make is a lot easier to locate what you need.

#2 Group by like items (i.e veggies) or brand (i.e Bird’s Eye or Green Giant) so you always know which self has what. My top shelf contains misc boxed frozen items, my second shelf has all the boxed snack food (ice cream bars, hot pockets, easy fries etc.), one basket holds all my frozen “loose” meats like hot dogs, individually wrapped pork chops and steaks etc along with my cheese, under that is all the frozen meat on a shelf (like packages of roast, chicken breasts,  lunch meats etc.), and the bottom basket holds my frozen creamers and fresh takes.

#3 Like she stated in the blog if you come across anything you have no idea what to with just do a quick internet/pinterest search and you can find lots of recipes!

So now that I can clearly see what I have I cook for a whole other week just using what I have on hand…apparently we’re going to be eating a lot of asparagus lol!!

Happy Pinning!

Skip Grocery Shopping This Week!

I already had dinner planned for tonight and it wasn’t anything I had pinned so I picked another one out that I had been meaning to do. Lets say I have been meaning to do this for a long, long time but always put it off. Well tonight I completed it as my Project Pinterest of the night!

The pin: http://www.thebudgetdiet.com/skip-grocery-shopping-this-week

It states: 

“Good news…here’s a way you can save money at the grocery store – skip grocery shopping this week! Bad news…you’re going to clean out and organize your pantry, refrigerator and freezer! Consider this your challenge for the week!”

I started with my cupboards and oh boy did it take some work! I found a lot of multiples of things all spread out…I had so many because I didn’t see the ones I had so I went and bought more! I had about 10 cans of green beans alone! I only found one expired item so it got tossed and the rest I grouped up into like items and got them cupboards looking mighty spiffy!

 

My drink, oatmeal, and snack shelf.

My drink, oatmeal, and snack shelf.

My veggie shelf. See all the jarred tomatoes and canned green beans I had?

My veggie shelf. See all the jarred tomatoes and canned green beans I had?

Top part is baking mixes, middle is condiments, and bottom is pasta.

Top part is baking mixes, middle is condiments, and bottom is pasta.

Raw baking ingredients.

Raw baking ingredients.

 

In the last photo you can see a pink plastic basket. I decided to use this to hold my loose envelope spices (i.e taco seasoning, gravy mixes, marinades etc) since I never knew what to do with them. Now they are all in one tidy spot ready to use! Tomorrow I will tackle the deep freezer….which I am not looking forward to lol! I will add at this point the reason I have some multiples (like the frosting and boxed pasta) is because I use coupons. No…no…I am not an “extreme couponer” that is actually an insult to good, smart shoppers since that show portrays people using coupons in ways they weren’t meant to be used.  I can get loads of items for cheap but draw the line at like a bazillion mustards! So now you know one of my secrets so please don’t judge me for my 8 boxes of macaroni noodles!!

Changes I would make:

#1 None at all these instructions were very straightforward and easy to follow! 

#2 The writer has some great tips like making a snack bowl and cleaning as you organize to make things easier…love it!

#3 I really liked the tip about searching the internet for cooking ideas if you find items you don’t know what to do with. I found 3 cans of Libby’s canned pumpkin I got for super cheap after the last holiday season. A quick search of Pinterest and I found Pumpkin Spice Steel Cut Oats…crock pot style. Can’t wait to try this!

Happy Pinning!