Thursday, December 20, 2007

Freezer Pleaser Thursday: quick meals that the kids will even like

There are times during the year that we have gynastics, soccer, and t-ball. That makes getting a healthy meal really hard. We hardly ever go to fast food. Its SO expensive for what you get. I just do not get why people think its cheap. The McDonald's salads are expensive and small, and really NOT that healthy. So, during the super busy times I will make a double batch of spaghetti and a triple batch of macaroni and cheese. I make them healthy by using less meat in the spaghetti and the macaroni and cheese I make from scratch using skim milk, and 2% cheeses.

I freeze these in containers that will feed my family. They both freeze very very well. When we get home I pop one of these in the microwave, I will serve with a vegetable and fruit, or a salad. I also like to bake bread so we might have some bread on hand too. It usually takes me about 15 minutes to get this on the table.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Kitchen Tip: cut it like a pie

When trying to make something like meat patties the same size I squish the meat down into a round dish and cut it like a pie into 8 sections or however many I need. This picture is how I make the patties for my Easy Salisbury Steak dish. I make it from 1 lb of ground beef and need to make into 8 patties. I can pick up each section and form it into the patty. Thats my kitchen tip. See more kitchen tips at Tammy's Recipes.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Menu Plan Monday

Monday: Homemade Chili

Tuesday: Cheesy Turkey Dumplings (using more leftover turkey from Thankgiving that is in my freezer) :)

Wednesday: Ravioli Lasagna

Thursday: Meatloaf with cheesy augratin potatoes

Friday: Homemade Pizza, I use a pizza crust recipe from Tammy's Recipes.

For more menus visit here.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Cauliflower here, cauliflower there....everywhere cauliflower for FREE!!!

Last Sunday Target came out with their new Super Target coupons. They have the $1 off fresh cauliflower, broccoli and celery again. This excludes organics. In this Sunday's Target ad here in Cedar Rapids, Iowa cauliflower and broccoli are .99cents!!! Can you say free!!! Yes you can!!!! BTW celery was 1.39!!!

I got five FREE heads of cauliflower on Sunday. You may wonder what I will do with FIVE heads of cauliflower. Yup...I am going to use it all....keep reading to see how I plan to preserve these FREE veggies.

I cut it up and steamed it in about 3 cups water in this big stock pot. I wanted to steam it rather than boil it to keep the nutrients. You do have to like the taste of cauliflower, which I do!!! You do have to tolerate the smell while it cooks, which I don’t mind but the family kept saying what is that smell??? 1 cup comes out to 1 point, 2 cups is 3 points if you are following weight watchers, which I am!!!! Nutrition per cup is 75 calories/2 fat/4 fiber.

After its tender, about 45 minutes steaming in the stock pot drain the water and mash it using a hand mixer. I will use this mashed cauliflower as faux mashed potatoes, also it makes good cheesy cauliflower soup. I have also make augrain cauliflower with sour cream and cheese. I have topped it on shepard's pie in place of mashed potatoes.

Mashed cauliflower also freezes very well and keeps good for several months.

Friday, December 14, 2007

yes Oatmeal is a good food for your diet, and its good in cookies too :)

Okay, want to know how I have stayed on weight watchers for almost two years? I don't deprive myself of things I really enjoy. The trick is don't eat them all the time. Christmas is here and I always make these oatmeal cookies. They really are the best oatmeal cookies ever and I will be having a few this Christmas season, just like I did last christmas and if I gain, its okay. You have to enjoy these special times or you just can not maintain this lifestyle. The cool part about weight watchers is you can use your flex points for this! I have not pointed these but I would guess they are at least 6 points each.

The best Oatmeal Cookies ever!

4 cups flour
2 cups sugar
2 cups brown sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 sticks margarine
4 eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla
3 cups quick oats

Mix the first 6 ingredients in a large bowl. Add the rest of the ingredients except the oats. Mix well. This recipe never gets to the creamed stage, its just too stiff. Add the oats and mix. You will have to use a large spoon because the dough is stiff. Refrigerate or overnight or at least a couple hours. The dough just works better cold. Roll into balls, and roll in sugar. Bake at 325 or so, whatever works good for cookies. Don't let them sit too long on the cookie sheet after they are done, they will stick.

This produces the best chew oatmeal cookie I have ever tasted. Everyone who tries it loves it. This recipe comes from my stepdad's mother, who said it came from her mother.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Freezer Pleaser Thursday: Easy Salisbury Steak

This is one of my favorite recipes to make and put in the freezer for those busy evenings when there is just not enough time to put a good meal on the table. I serve this with a baked potato and a lettuce salad. YUMMO!

1 lb 93% lean ground beef $1.99
1/2 c crushed cracker crumbs (about 28 saltine cracker squares) $ .15
1/2 c skim milk $.10
pepper to taste
2 jars of beef gravy (12 oz) or you can always make your own $.88 x 2 = $1.76
1/4 c ketchup $.20
1 t Worcestershire's sauce $.05

Preheat oven to 350. Combine ground beef, bread crumbs, milk and pepper. Mix well. Make into 8 patties and place in a 9x13 baking dish. Mix the gravy, ketchup and Worcestershire sauce and pour over the meat patties. Cover with tin foil or a lid and bake for 1 hour. Makes 8 servings.
Total costs for this main dish is $4.25. Cost per serving is $.53 cents.
Nutrition per serving: 165 calories/5 grams fat/0 fiber A serving is one patty with 1/3 cup gravy and is 4 weight watcher points.
Its always wise to double check the nutrition on recipes.

This recipe is from JoAnn Lund's cookbook "Cooking Healthy with a Man in Mind".

Works for me Wednesday: cash only

My hubby and I are trying to get our finances under control. We developed a budget but we had a hard time sticking to it when we were using our debit cards. I kept going over my budget. So, I switched to using cash only. When I go to the grocery store I know I only have so much money to spend. I refuse to use the debit card or write a check. This has worked to keep me on budget! I don't like to carry a lot of cash, so I plan to stop at the ATM and get my budgeted amount before I go to the grocery store. This also forces me to stick to my list because I have roughly figured out before I go to the store what my total will be. This works for me!

For more works for me ideas visit Rocks in my Dryer.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Frugal Tip: This little piggy has roast beef

Roast beef is yummy and it's lower calorie than ground beef. I often will use it instead of ground beef in recipes. If you get it on sale it can be very comparable to ground beef. I got this roast beef for $2.69 lb for chuck roast. When I buy roast beef I always buy two and roast them at the same time. This saves time and energy cost. I will also roast some onions, celery and carrots with the roast, this flavors the broth and the veggies nicely. We will eat that with some of the roast the day I cook the roasts. I boil and mash some potatoes with it, my hubby doesn't care for the potatoes cooked in the roast.

I let the roast cool then put in the refrigerator for 24 hours. I also save the broth off the roast. After the leftover roast has been in the refrigerator for 24 hours I carefully trim the fat off the meat and de-fat the broth. I use my vacuum sealer to freeze the leftovers in 9 oz portions. Nine ounces roast beef is a cup and half which works out good for most average size recipes for my family of 4.

When I freeze it I will dice some up for soups, I will slice some up for hot roast beef sandwiches, and I will leave some in a chunk so I can decide what to do with it when I need it. I use my vacuum sealer to keep the meat fresh and free from freezer burn. This little device is awesome! I got mine for Christmas last year and have used is several times.

I spent $18.69 on these two roasts, we will have 7 meals out of it plus I got 6 cups of very good broth for soup or stews. That is just $2.67 for meat per meal. Having the meat handy in the freezer is a great time saver. This will last me probably 3 months.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Frugal Tip: Make your own cooking spray.

Cooking spray gets expensive, not to mention, what is it???? I found this item last summer when I was at the Mall of America. It really works, and I have not bought cooking spray since. It costs $15.00 at William Sonoma but it really will pay for itself in about 6 months. I do not flavor the oil like the picture shows, I just load it up with a good olive oil that I get at Sam's.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Chili for a Chilly day and a Cheap meal!

This chili is great on a cold day, it will make a big batch to eat that night and freeze a batch for some evening when a fast meal is needed.

Linda's Homemade Chili

Tomato Soup (2 cans) .44 x 2 = $.88
Chili Beans (4 cans) .39 x 4 = $1.56
93% fat free Hamburger (1lb) $1.99
chunky salsa (24oz) $1.48
Chili spices to taste.

Brown hamburger, add chili beans, tomato soup and salsa. Simmer for a couple hours. This will make 16 cups soup. I usually do add about 1 can water.

I buy most of my canned products such as the soup, beans and salsa at Aldi's. I got a good deal on my 93% hamburger at $1.99 a pound. Most of the time it costs around $2.98 a pound at Walmart. Total cost per cup .37 cents!

193 calories/3.5 fat/4 fiber 3 points per cup if you are following weight watchers program.

I freeze half of this recipe for another meal. My hubby says its better after I freeze it! LOL!

Friday, December 7, 2007

Frugal Friday leave the fat out...

Happy Friday!!! In my neck of the woods (Cedar Rapids, Iowa) we are digging out from about a 4 inch snowfall last night. Lots of activity points for shoving!!! It sure is pretty! I am not crazy about winter but I think its pretty, and I will leave it at that. LOL!

This Frugal Friday I wanted to talk about leaving the fat out or reducing it in your cooking. This will save money because oil is pretty expensive. I get mine at Aldi's and its $1.69 for the canola oil, 48 oz bottle I think. I occassionally get a good deal with a coupon for name brand oil. The lite margarines are running around 2.99 for 4 sticks here not on sale. While you do not use a lot of oil or margarine in recipes, try using half the oil and see how the recipe turns out, and then the next time try to half it again. You will save a little money, but the big payday will be in calories.

I have tried the reduced oil in waffles, my recipe calls for 1/3 cup oil, I have gotten it down to 2 tablespoons and the results are perfect. My waffles are pretty big and are 3 points each. I have reduced the recipe fat from 5 tablespoons to 2 tablespoons and saved myself 360 calories and 40.5 fat grams for the entire batch!!! This is good for me and my family!!! I use extra light Hungry Jack pancake mix. Got a great deal on it back in October for .75 cents a box on sale and with a coupon. I bought 10 boxes! It doesnt expire until 2009, but I seriously think we will be through it in about 6 months!

I have also eliminated the margarine in boxed potatoes, macaroni and cheese, and stove top stuffing with great success. Have you reduced or eliminated the fat in any recipes?


Thursday, December 6, 2007

Frugal Tip: beat the 100 Calorie packaging scam!

The 100 calorie packaging scheme is everywhere these days. I understand that this is convenient and it helps with portion control, but its a rip off! The cost per ounce of food product is easily doubled by buying the portion controlled packages. I never buy these, it is so much cheaper to buy a bag, box, or jar of an item and use my food scale to measure out the proper portion controlled serving and store in baggies or some kind of appropriate container. For example, I recently had a coupon for chex mix. I usually make this but when it went on sale for .99 cents a bag I used my coupon and got a bag for .49 cents. I measured out seven 30 gram servings out of that one .49 cent bag of chex mix. When I was at the store last week I noticed that the 100 calorie packages of the chex mix sell for 2 for $4 on "sale" for 5 individual serving bags. That is a 400% price markup just in price alone. I should also mention that you actually get more ounces in the big bag than the individual 100 calorie bags. Even with coupons and sales you can not overcome that big of a price difference.

So, take a little time and measure out individual servings and make your own 100 calorie packages.