Posted in Budget Friendly Meals, Cooking Tips, Recipes

Cheap and Easy Sausage and Peppers Grinder ($1.51 per serving)

Cheap easy Sausage and peppers
cheap easy sausage and peppers

We are continuing on our journey (or challenge I guess) to feed our family of four for only $500 per month. You can read more about our budget plan HERE.

Feeding a Family of 4 on $500 a Month

Cheap and Delicious sausage and Pepper Grinders

4 shady Brook turkey spicy Italian sausage (1.84)

2 Bell Peppers ($1.06)

1 yellow onion ($.16)

1 jar tomato sauce ($.88)

4 Hoagie Rolls ($1.32)

1/2 block cheese shredded ($.80)

Total Cost $6.06 for 4 servings or $1.51 per serving.

The Turkey sausages were originally priced at $5.49 per pack of four links. But Big Y had them on sale for buy 1, get 1 free. Making the cost per pack only $2.75 per pack of six links.

The Hoagie Rolls are Big Y brand and again were on sale for buy 1, get 1 free. Original price was $3.99 per pack of 6. The sale brought the price per pack of 6 down to $1.99 and the price per roll to $.33 per roll.

The bell Peppers were at Super walmart for $.53 cents each and the Pasta sauce also at walmart for only $.88 per jar.

The onions we had bought a big bag of at Aldi and the price per onion was calculated out to be $.16 per onion

Now we calculated out these portions based on the assumption that all four members of your household will eat all the ingredients. But being a mother I totally understand that this is not the reality of family dinner. One kid may only eat the sausage and bun without the peppers and onions, one kid may only eat the cheese and bun, one kid might just eat the veggies and then there is that one kid, like mine that will only eat the bun! Ohhhhh! Such is life at the family table. So if that sounds lie your family , the good news is the meal may end up even cheaper. BONUS!!! HA HA!

To make these Cheap and delicious Sausage and pepper Grinders:

Brown Sausages in fry pan or dutch oven until cooked through and brown on the outside.

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Remove sausages from the pan. Slice the peppers and onions into thin strips and cook in the sausage juices until soft. Add in the pasta sauce and stir until heated through. place the rolls on a cookie sheet and fill with 1 sausage link , cover link with the pepper and onion mixture and sprinkle cheese on top.

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Bake at 350 in the oven until cheeses is melted.

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You may also like to check out our other budget recipes:

Two Family Dinners under $6

 

Bonus Meal:

Used the leftover peppers and onions and mixture to make a yummy cheap gourmet breakfast.

Toast ($.15)

Egg ($.10)

Peppers and onions ($.00)

Coffee ($.16)

Total breakfast cost ($.41)

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Posted in Cooking Tips, Recipes

Two Family Dinners under $6

Our family is attempting to keep our grocery budget under $500 a month for a family of four.  You can read more about our plan Here. In order to make this work our daily dinner budget has to be between $6 and $8 most nights. If we can find dishes that are even less on some nights we can then use the saved money to splurge a little on a dinner here and there. So this week I tried to come up with two dishes that were about $5 per meal. We also save money in the budget by having leftovers for lunches. So both of these dinners provided enough for us to have a hearty dinner meal and also left overs for a few of us to have for lunch the next day.

We are super sale shoppers and we buy a lot of our meat when Big Y has their buy 1, get 2 free sales. We have a chest freezer. So we can store the meat for when we need it. We also have chickens, which means we get eggs very cheap. But if you do not have chickens you can buy cheap eggs at walmart or Aldi. You can also stock up when big Y sells them for $.99 a dozen. Crack the eggs into ice cube trays to freeze them.

I hope you like these super cheap dinner ideas. They were easy to make, tasted great and we very budget friendly! Enjoy.

Chicken Club Quiche Bake

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6 eggs  ( $1.00)

1 cup pancake mix  (.40 )

1/2 cup water (free)

1 tomato chopped (.50 cents)

3 strips of bacon chopped (1.20)

1 chicken breast (1.60)

1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese (.40)

1 yellow onion  (.16 cents)

 

1 sweet potato (32 Cents)

2 tablespoons pancake mix (.10)

 

Total Cost  $5.68

This made enough for all of us to have seconds for dinner plus lunch for my husband the next day.

Dice chicken in to small pieces. Cut up the bacon into small pieces and  dice the onion.  Cook the bacon on medium heat in a fry pan until crispy. Remove bacon from pan and add chicken and onion into the bacon grease. stir over medium heat until chicken is cooked through. Drain off excess grease. Scramble 6 eggs and mix with 1 cup pancake mix and water. Pour egg mixture into a 8×8 greases baking pan. Add chicken , tomato , onions and bacon to the pan of egg mixture. Cover with the Parmesan cheese. Cook in a 400 degree oven until egg is cooked through and firm.

While Quiche is cooking, grate the sweet potato and mix with the 1 tablespoon of pancake mix. Using the extra bacon grease in a frying pan. Form the potato mix into 4 small patties and fry until brown on either side. You can put them aside and then heat them on a cookie sheet in the oven for a few minutes before the quiche is done.

Check out How to Dice An onion

Chicken and Zucchini Pasta

1 tomato (.50)

1 zucchini (.33)

1 chicken Breast (1.60)

1/2 block of cheese  (.90)

1 cup Parmesan cheese (.50)

1 box of elbow macaroni (.88 cents)

1/2 container of pasta sauce (.50)

 

Total cost 5.11 cents

 

This made enough for everyone to have two helpings for dinner plus three lunches leftover.

Cook the pasta according to the directions on the box. Cut the chicken breast into small cubes and saute in a fry pan with some oil until cooked through. Grate zucchini and dice tomato.

In a 9×13 baking dish, mix pasta, pasta sauce, zucchini, tomato, and season with salt, pepper and garlic powder. Sprinkle the Parmesan cheese over the top and bake at 375 degrees for 45 minutes.

 

 

 

 

Posted in Cooking Tips

All Natural Food Coloring

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I was cleaning up after my daughter’s birthday yesterday and was disgusted at the frosting from the cake. The blue frosting stained the plates, the kids hands, the table cloth. I could only imagine what it was doing to the kids insides.

In our house we don’t eat a lot of sweets or junk food. So I don’t think too much about what I serve at a party. I consider it a special treat. But after seeing what the food coloring had done, I started to wonder if there was a more natural way to decorate the cake.

The fact is, that it has been known for awhile now that artificial coloring in food can be potential toxic and should be avoided. Artificial coloring has been linked to a variety of tumors and also is know to cause hyper activity in children. I can always tell when my son has had a red Popsicle, he ends up with “ants in his pants” and can’t sit still. So between the fact that artificial food coloring cause cancer and are behavior altering, I went looking for a more natural solution.

Here is what I came up with:

  1. Reds or Pinks: To make a natural dye for foods you want to be red or pink you can use beets , raspberries or pomegranates.

Steep the beets in boiling water until the water turn a nice bright shade of red. Then you can strain out the beets and allow the water to cool ,use a dropper to add small amounts of the red water to the frosting to get the desired color.

The raspberries can be put in cheese cloth and squeeze the juice out of them into a bowl. slowly add the juice to the frosting until it gets to the color you want.

2.Orange: To make a natural orange food dye, boil carrots in water until the water turns orange. Strain out the carrots and allow the water to cool. Add small amounts to the frosting to get the desired color.

3.Yellow: Saffron, yellow Beets or Dandelion fluff can all be used to naturally dye foods yellow. You can boil the beets the same as the carrots or red beets. With the saffron and dandelion fluff it can be added directly to the frosting. I highly recommend the dandelion. It has a naturally sweet flavor similar to honey.

4.Green: To make green food dye, spinach is the way to go. Boil the spinach same as the carrots or beets to dye the water.

5. Blue or Purple:  To make various shades of blue or purple you can experiment with straining juice from blue berries and blackberries. Add small amounts of the juices until you get the desired color. Boiling purple cabbage is another way to get a nice natural purple color food dye.

Next year’s birthday cake will not be staining my kids with unhealthy artificial food dyes.

Posted in Cooking Tips

Feeding a Family of 4 on $500 a Month

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With the Government shut down going on it’s 13th day, many American families, including ours is facing no paycheck coming in. Now in our case my husband still has to go to work everyday, but without pay. We went from having a comfortable income to nothing at all. We do not qualify for unemployment or food stamps. So We now have to make our budget work as best we can to protect our savings until the government decides to resume payroll.

So we decided to see if it is actually possible to feed a family of four (with two teenagers in the house) on only $500 per month. AHHHHHHH! I really didn’t think it could be done. But we have crunched the numbers and we are optimistic. We will be keeping track of all of our grocery spending and see how we do.

Now I need to say, we are sale shoppers. We do not buy anything unless it is on sale. We have a chest freezer so we can stock up on meat when it is on super sale. We love the buy 1, get 2 free meat sales at Big Y.  We also buy our vegetables either at Aldi, super walmart or the Misfits Market produce box.  We also have chickens, so we get eggs very cheap. I calculated the cost per egg based on the food we feed the chickens and how many eggs they produce each month. This helps keep our costs down and without doing these things I am positive we would not be able to stay under the $500 mark.

My kids love waffles and pancakes for breakfast. I use to buy the frozen ones for them. But found that it is much cheaper to buy a box mix and make them myself. I make the whole box at once and then freeze them. This makes the cost per pancake only 10 cents each.

We also are not huge snackers.  We eat well at meal time and maybe one snack a day outside of that. We also have never been juice drinkers. We do milk , water or tea in our house. We brew our own iced tea. Mike and I do make coffee in the morning.

We decided to try to stick to this break down that I have outlined below. The idea is that if we can on days where we eat leftovers for lunch or days that we go under budget on breakfast or dinners, we can then use that money to “splurge” a little and go over the dinner budget on some days. We actually have leftovers for lunch for a least one or two of us a day. So it gives us some wiggle room.

I also found a list of dinner meals under $5. You can check it out HERE . By only spending $5 per meal for a few meals a week , we can then do some dinners that cost more than the allotted $7.50 per dinner. Same idea in that if my kids only eat 2 pancakes for breakfast, that money then covers extra snacks for the day.

Breakfasts:

Oatmeal  and apple sauce: 1 packet of oatmeal 29 cents, 1 Apple sauce 25 cents   (54 cents total)

Pancakes, syrup and eggs: two pancakes .20 cents, egg .10 cents,  (.30)

English muffin and Egg: muffin .15 cents Egg 10 cents (25 cents)

peanut butter toast and apple: Toast .15 cents, peanut butter .24 cents  .25 cents per apple( .64 cents)

Coffee .16 cents per cup

Tea (.20 cents)

Cost per person for breakfast is  between .84 cents and .60 cents or 2.88 total

 

Lunch:

 

Peanut butter and jelly sandwich .40 cents

Lunch meat and cheese sandwich: .98 Cents

Pretzels: .16 cents

Fruit: .25 cents

Leftovers: 0.00

hummus .50 cents

carrot sticks .25 cents

Cost per person 0.00 to 2.14 cents

Average cost for lunch per day is 1.07 pp or 4.28 cents a day

 

Dinners:

$6- $8 per meal

 

Snacks:

fruit .25 to .50

Cheese sticks .33 cents

Granola bars .16 cents each

glass of milk  .15 cents

 

Snack aprox .50 cents per person or $2.00 total

 

I will keep you guys posted of what we have been cooking, eating and hopefully saving! Wish us luck!

 

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Posted in Cooking Tips

What Cut of Chicken to Buy

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Getting the tastiest chicken for the best price.

Until recently, we always bought the boneless, skinless chicken breasts to cook with.  They come all trimmed up and required little to no prep before seasoning and cooking them. Plus, white meat is better, right?

That’s what we thought until we tried some recipes that specifically called for thigh meat. Thigh meat is darker, and juicier, with a richer meaty flavor. The little bit of extra ft keeps it moist and tender while cooking.  Muscles that are exercised more, have more oxygen and are richer in nutrients, since chickens don’t fly, the thighs are the darkest and most nutrient rich meat on them. It does have a higher fat content than the white met. But as I mentioned earlier the ft helps keep it extra tender and juicy while cooking and is worth the extra flavor and melt in your mouth texture it gives the dark meat. Dark meat only has 3 more calories per once than white meat.

Dark Meat takes a little bit longer to cook, once per once, than white breast meat, but the thighs are usually smaller, making them quicker to prepare.

The best part about thigh meat is that it is cheaper per pound than the breast meat. Skinless chicken breast averages about $4.oo  per pound (for regular, non organic) and skinless chicken thighs average only about $3.00. That dollar per pound really adds up if you are cooking for a big family.

You can save even more money per pound by buying the thighs with the bone still in and deboning it yourself. It takes a little more prep work, about 1-2 minutes per thigh. But it can save you a lot of money, bone in chicken thighs average around $1.00 per pound. I get ours at Stop and Shop for $.89 per pound. Now, I am not professional butcher, so a small amount may get wasted in the deboning process, but all in all , I am still saving a lot of money by doing myself.

So there you have it, chicken thighs, tastier and cheaper than chicken breast!

Here is a short tutorial on how to debone a chicken thigh.

Posted in Cooking Tips, Join Us in Our Kitchen

Caring for and Cleaning Cast Iron Cookware

 

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We cook in Cast Iron a lot. It can take some getting use to, as it takes longer to heat up and becomes very hot and cast iron definitely has some unique needs as far as care and cleaning.

 

 

Here are some advantages and disadvantages to cooking with cast iron cookware as outlined by shopperschoice.com

Advantages of Cast Iron

  • Low Cost – One of the biggest advantages of cast iron cookware is the low cost compared to that of similar quality aluminum or stainless steel cookware. You can usually find a quality cast iron sauce pan or cast iron griddle for a fraction of the cost you would pay for other materials.
  • Even Heating Area – Unlike stainless steel and aluminum, cast iron cookware offers an even heating area for cooking no matter what type of cooking surface you use. This is extremely advantageous when cooking over an open fire.
  • Naturally Non-Stick – A well seasoned cast iron skillet or cast iron bakeware becomes naturally non-stick when properly seasoned. This natural non-stick characteristic offers another advantage over stainless steel and aluminum cookware as well. Unlike other materials, seasoned cast iron eliminates the need for using oil or butter on the cooking surface, making your foods lower in fat.
  • Dietary Iron – Cast iron cookware offers a major health advantage as well. During cooking, iron from the cookware flakes off and is then consumed with the food, making cast iron a great source of iron, especially for people with anemia. What other materials can actually claim to make your food healthier?

 


Disadvantages of Cast Iron

  • Seasoning – Many people consider the fact that you have to season cast iron every so often to be a major disadvantage because the process takes time. The advantages that you get from a properly seasoned cast iron skillet or dutch oven, however, make the seasoning process well worth the effort.
  • Cast Iron Is Heavy – This is one fact that cannot be argued. Cast iron cookware is much heavier than other materials including stainless steel and aluminum. In fact, some cast iron dutch ovens and camp pots can weigh as much as 20 pounds. This weight, however, also adds to cast iron cookware’s durability.
  • Cast Iron Rusts – Another point that is hard to argue. If not seasoned properly, cast iron cookware will rust when exposed to moisture. Properly seasoned cast iron will not, however, and rust can be easily removed and the cast iron cookware re-seasoned without much effort. This aspect is especially useful if you find an old, rusty cast iron skillet at a yard sale or flea mall. Read more on using and caring for cast iron.
  • You Can’t Cook Acidic Foods – Cooking acidic foods, such as tomato sauce, will turn your food a darker color because the acid in the foods pulls iron from the cast iron skillet or sauce pan. Many people actually enjoy this because it adds iron to their diet. It is very important, however, to never leave foods, especially acidic foods, in cast iron cookware for very long

 

Some of our Cast Iron recipes:

Ground Turkey Salisbury Steak with Bacon Jam Gravy

How to Cook the Perfect Steak

How to Cook the Perfect Steak

Mojo Pork with Orange Apple Salsa

Homemade Corn Tortillas

Roasted Turnip, Sweet Potatoes and Chickpea

Posted in Cooking Tips

How to Cook the Perfect Steak

 

How to cook a perfect Steak
How to cook a perfect Steak

 

Cooking Steaks Just the way you want them can be tricky. After years of trying to learn to cook steaks o the grill or in a frying pan to the exact right doneness. (I like mine medium to medium rare) My husband discovered a trick that works every time.  It’s called a Reverse sear. It allows the inside to be cooked to a nice even medium rare, while still getting that nice crispy layer on the outside of the meat. Don’t tell him that /i shared his secret, But here’s how he does it.

  1. Rub the meat with a generous amount of salt and garlic. Wrap the meat in plastic wrap and put in the frig for 24 hours.
  2. After 24 hours of seasoning the meat you are ready to cook it. Preheat the oven to 225 degree Fahrenheit. Place the Meat on a baking sheet in the oven until the internal temperature of the steak reaches 115 degrees. The amount of time will depend on how think the meat is. We did a nice thick 2 inch steak and it took about 45 minutes to reach 115 degree internal temperature. Remove the steak from the oven and let it rest while you heat up the pan.
  3. Now for the Sear. Heat a cast iron skillet on the stove top until scalding.Do not use any oil or butter in the pan. Use a cast iron grill weight to weigh down the meat in the pan. You don’t want to squish out the juices, just weight it to the pan. About 3-4 minutes per side until a nice dark sear appears on the meat.

 

Slice your perfectly cooked steak and serve. Your guests will be amazed!

 

 

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Have left over steak:   Try Fresh Steak Salad

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