Sunday, August 21, 2011

Versatile Foods

As my Bear get's older it gets harder and harder to actually make dinner. But I'm a big fan of everyone eating together. Because funds have been low lately and time is scarce we have been cooking with "versatile" foods - there is one food used in all recipes and only 4 other ingrdients. Below are a few recipes that I hope you enjoy too!

Frozen Chicken Patties:
Meal 1: Chicken Parm. - Put one patty for each person in the oven at 450 for 10 minutes while that cooks put a pot of water to boil for your choice of pasta. Flip the patties after 10 minutes and cook for 5 more minutes. By now your pasta should be done so strain and add red sauce to the put and remove from heat. Take out your patties and top with shredded mozarella, put back in oven for 5 more minutes. Put pasta in bowls and top with a cheezy patty.

Meal 2: Chrispy Ranch Sandwiches with home cooked crispy taters. - turn oven to broil. Slice up potatoes thin and coat with olive oil, salt and pepper, lay out evenly on a pan lined with tinfoil, put in the oven on the top rack until they start to brown, flip em and pull them out when they look crispy. If you want to skip this step buy frozen french fries or potato chips. turn oven down to 450 and cook patties 15 minutes then flip and cook for 10 minutes. Put on a bun with lettuce, ranch and whatever else you want - tomato, bacon, etc.

Meal 3: Crispy Chicken Salad. - cook chicken like above recipe. Slice up romaine, cherry tomatoes, peppers and then cut chicken into strips and top with your favorite dressing!

Other ideas - buffalo chicken sandwiches (add hot sauce to the ranch in recipe 2)

BlackBeans (vegetarian):
Meal 1: Black Bean Burrito. Make whole wheat rice (either in microwave or stove top) Drain black beans and a can of corn, rinse and add to rice. Add a can of diced tomatoes and shredded cheddar cheese. I usually add in some kind of seasoning like taco seasoning or soul seasoning but salt and pepper works too. This can be eaten as is or in a tortilla. Extra toppers: hot peppers, hot sauce, chives, sour cream, etc

Black Bean Nachos:
Meal 2: Turn oven to 450. Lay out tortilla chipscorn chips on a pan lined with tinfoil. Drain beans and rinse, evenly distribute over chips, sprinkle mild salsa and top with cheese and pop in the oven until cheese is melted. Serve with sour cream and avocado slices.

Meal 3: Black bean breakfast for dinner! Drain and rinse black beans, cut up chives and add to beans. Add diced tomatoes to mix. Beat eggs in a bowl and heat skillet with butter. Add egg to skillet, when the bottom is cooked flip and add mixture and cheddar cheese. Fold omlette in half until cooked through.

I hope everyone else enjoys these simple recipes! Bear loves beans and chicken so I usually just cut all this up small and give to him too.


Monday, August 15, 2011

Tight Budget with a Growing Toddler

it's so hard staying on budget with a growing toddler. They constantly need meals, snacks, band-aids, shampoo, etc not to mention all the running around! I've recently made a few lifestyle changes in order to cut back on unnecessary spending and I gave up on coupons - as wonderful as they are, I just dont have the time!

Cut back on extra driving - I find I take the long way after I pick up Bear and have had a stressful day. It added up to about $8 in gas each week of extra driving.

Stop drinking coffee - yes it's hard and yes it's a crazy money sucking delicious addiction BUT it was costing me $28 per week because I don't own a coffee pot. I switched to tea and only spend $2.50 for 2 weeks.

Switch Grocery Stores - we used to shop at Hannaford for about $115/week. Then we gave in and switched to Save-a-lot and, go figure, we saved a lot. We brought our weekly bill down $45 for three! And any additional stuff like tp, trash bags, toothbrushes, etc, we get at the dollar store which is conveniently located next to the grocery store - WIN!

Make yourself aware of your budget - open up excel and put your weekly paycheck in, add up all your bills and divide by 4 now subtract that from your paycheck. That is what you have to work with for food, gas and any other expenses. What I did in order to "trick" myself into saving money is I divided my car payment by 3 instead of 4 - now at the end of the month I have $80 in my savings account - genius!

Buy Bulk Where Applicable - if you have a large family or lots of space, buying in bulk is smart. I would only buy canned and paper goods as others go bad fast.

Make healthier choices - when it came to grocery shopping we were being tempted to buy the largest box if cookies because it was cheapest - reality is, we do not need to be eating all those cookies. So we buy the small and make it last or dont buy them at all!

Diaper Butts - try store brand diapers. I like target 144 diapers for $28 and it lasts us around 15 days.

Don't carry the debit card around - I have found this is a big no-no I have been giving myself a cash budget and it's been working so far. I spend less and have found myself not exceeding my budget.

Hope these help!

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Rainy Day Fun

Yet again - we are in for another solid 5 days of rain. How on earth do I entertain a toddler in the rain?? Normally an art project would be fun but he's too little to understand or enjoy doing any crafts so I did the crafting and he reaped the fun!
Diaper Box Rocketboatruck! (I just kept cutting and taping so I have no idea what this could be!)
You Will Need - 1 or 2 cardboard boxes the ones for diapers are ideal.
Box Cutter/Knife
Packing Tape/Duct Tape (or if you're like me) Security Tape

Cut the sides down in a wave shape so you little one can see over the side and can easily be put in/taken out.
Cut out windows - one in the front and two on the sides. Round or square - get creative!
Now cut out various shapes and tape em on. For example, a half roof, wheel, front engine, steam pipe - anything really!
Tape along the cut edges to avoid paper burn, paper cuts or picking/chewing on the sides.
Now push the little bugger around and wear yourselves out.
Now go take a nap ;)

Hope you enjoy this project - here is a picture of ours: