Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Vegetable Chowder

Its been awhile since I've posted, but just haven't had anything jazz me enough lately to where I felt like I needed to share. Lazy, I suppose. :) Here's what was for dinner tonight though! Every time I make this, I'm amazed at how good it is for being so simple. You can play around with the veggies and try different cheeses...

Vegetable Chowder
4 c diced potatoes

1 can corn (drained)

1 c diced carrots

1 c diced celery

1/2 c chopped onion

3 tsp salt

Cover all the above with water, and boil for 15 minutes (or until veggies are soft). Drain off water. Pour sauce into veggies, and mix, heating thoroughly.


1/2 c butter or margarine

1/4 c flour

2 c milk

1 c shredded cheese

Melt butter in pan, wisk (well!) in flour when butter is bubbly, slowly pour in milk, continually wisking. Bring to just bubbly again, and add cheese to melt.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Multigrain Waffles

I like to have breakfast for dinner sometimes, esp when I don't feel like cooking! So this week, I've been trying to not go shopping until the weekend. Our shopping trips got all messed up since my husband's been laid off, so its not a weekly thing the past month. I thought I'd see if I could scrape together some meals to last us to the end of the week. Tonight seemed like a great night to have waffles, so I searched RecipeZaar.com for a "healthy" version of them. They turned out sooo good!! Even my husband was like, wow, these are really good! We'll see if he's hungry in a few hours, or if the whole grains keep him full. :)

Multigrain Waffles
2 eggs
1 3/4 cups milk
1/4 cup oil
1/4 cup applesauce
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup flax seed meal
1/4 cup wheat germ

1/4 all-purpose flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
1 tablespoon sugar

1/4 teaspoon salt

Wisk first 4 ingredients in a large bowl. Combine remaining 7 ingredients and beat into wet until smooth.

I didn't have any wheat germ, so I just added a little bit more all-purpose flour to make up for it. I also added a teaspoon of vanilla. They were nice and crisp and surprisingly light.

Check out Grocery Cart Challenge Recipe Swap for more!

Friday, May 1, 2009

Enchilada Pie

Like most recipes I have, this one came from my mom. :) I had a huge package of tortillas I bought for a taco potluck that I needed to use up and was going to make the roll up kind of enchiladas, but as I was searching through my recipes for menu planning, I found this one from years ago. I'll take some pictures to add when its all done. Check out the recipe swap at Grocery Cart Challenge for more!

Enchilada Pie
(serves 8)

1 1/2 lbs ground beef
1 large onion
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 4oz can chopped green chilies
1 can mild enchilada sauce
1/4 c milk
1 pkg soft tortillas 10 in
1/2 lb grated cheddar cheese
1/2 lb grated monterey jack cheese
1 pint sour cream

Brown meat and chopped onion in a skillet, seasoning with salt and pepper to taste. Add soups, green chilies, enchilada sauce and milk. Line an oblong pan (13x9) with 3 or 4 tortillas. Top with a third of the meat mixture and a 1/3 of cheese. Repeat 2 more times. Bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes. Cool slightly and cut into squares to serve. Top each square with a dab of sour cream.

So it actually cost me about $10 to make this. Of couse it would have been less had I not used almost 2 lbs of cheese instead of the 1 lb it called for. But who doesn't like cheese? I only used 1 lb of ground beef, which I got on sale for 99 cents a lb. And I got my canned goods at a liquidator store, so they were much cheaper than is normal. We'll get at least 2 meals out of this, maybe a lunch or 2 as well.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

I heart my breadmaker!

Bacon cheeseburgers with Honey Wheat Sandwich Roll

My MIL called one day when they were on the way to the Goodwill with a load of stuff to donate. She thought I might want this bread machine... I didn't know if I would ever really use it, but took it anyway with the thought that I'd try it out someday. It sat on the top of my fridge for months.

In this quest to be more frugal, I had started buying bread at the Franz outlet. Even though I was trying to buy the most healthy kind, whole wheat, whole grains, etc, I still thought there's gotta be stuff in there that we don't know what it is, or how it affects us, and I would really feel better about making my own. When I was in high school, my mom made bread all the time. She had a wheat grinder and a Bosch mixer (what an amazing appliance! And of course they don't make those specific ones anymore...) and had perfected her recipe. Soon, the job turned to me, and before I knew it, I didn't even need to look at the recipe. That however was over 15 years ago!

My sister had a bread machine she used just for making dough. So I thought I'd try mine out. Down it came, and then the hours spent looking online for the user guide. I finally found a free one to download, and I was in business. In reading people's blogs, and looking for recipes, I found there's TONS of recipes just for bread machines! And since I don't like baking the bread in the machine, I was super happy about discovering sites like www.recipezaar.com. I've been making pizza dough, bread, and rolls by putting the ingredients in the machine and walking away for an hour and a half! Come back, set things up for a 2nd rise if need be, and then bake in the oven. Super easy!

Honey Wheat Sandwich Rolls in the bread machine

A favorite of mine to make now is Honey Wheat Sandwich Rolls. My sister and I were grocery shopping together, both with hamburgers on our menus. We looked through the bread sections for healthy buns, and the ones we going to settle on were approximately $4 for the package. "Do you want to split them?" we asked, not wanting to spend that much on a bread product. Not really. Well, I guess were going home to look for a hamburger bun recipe! She found the recipe, tried it first and liked it, so I made my attempt. My husband loves them!! They're great for sandwiches, hamburgers, or just eating them plain (my 17 month old gobbles them!).

Rolls rising, and fresh out of the oven.

I started out following the recipes I've found exactly to see how they turn out and now I'm experimenting with adding whole wheat flour, flax meal, etc to make things more healthy. As bad as I felt about eating white bread in the beginning, I thought at least I know whats in it! Now, I'm using my mom's old wheat grinder and we have fresh ground wheat flour! So much better for us than store bought. I've read there's more protein in fresh ground and many more benefits I'm sure that I haven't even found out yet.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Comparing grocery prices

I just took a late night trip to the local grocery store to compare prices on groceries I bought last week. I knew there would be some big differences, especially with the things I got at a liquidator store. But there were some surprises as well... sometimes bulk isn't the best price! I'm so excited to see what I'm really saving though! My favorite is the Starbucks coffee! I'll put the prices I could have paid in ( ). Some are not exact, due different package sizes, having to figure out ounces vs pounds, etc.

S +S Liquidators:

3 cans S+W white beans 1.17 (3.00)
1 can tomato paste .29 (.99)
2 bunches of bananas 1.00 (1.77)
2 onions .50 (1.18)
Disp razors 1.99 (5.49)
5 bulbs garlic 1.00 (2.50)
1 lb fresh ginger 1.00 (3.99)
Kettle chips (big bag) .99 (2.50)
Quaker Oat squares 1.99 (3.99)
Fiber One honey clusters 1.99 (4.49)
Fiber One bars .99 (3.00)
1oz Cheerios container .25 (1.99)
Starbucks 12 oz beans x2 3.49 (17.98)

TOTAL 16.65 (52.87)

So that's pretty amazing right?

Here's Winco:

Thomas Bagel (ww) 1.48 (4.19)
WW Tortilla 2.98 (5.49)
Mozzarella cheese 2 lb 3.98 (5.99)
Bandon cheddar 2 lb 4.98 (6.49)
Cream Cheese x2 1.96 (2.98)
4 lbs Chicken legs 4.03 (4.03)
½ lb sliced pepperoni 1.95 (2.50)
2.09 lb broccoli 2.05 (4.15)
Green onions .48 (.79)
5 lb potato 1.28 (2.99)
1.58 lb Fuji apple 1.39 (1.58)
2.49 lb oranges 1.44 (2.44)
Olive oil spray 2.16 (2.79)
Kraft BBQ sauce .98 (1.97)
Whipped topping 1.18 (1.50)
Langers apple juice 1.58 (1.99)
3 lbs beef patties 5.98 (7.99)
.29 lb yeast .89 (6.49)
3.45 lb sugar 1.86 (1.37)
.35 lb baking powder .37 (1.19)
.28 lb flax seed meal .40 (1.31)
.20 lb slivered almonds .82 (3.95)
4.86 lb white bread flour 1.99 (2.05)

TOTAL 46.21 (76.22)

Alot of the ( ) were sale prices even! Some items didn't have that much of a difference in price, but things like the yeast?? Shocker! I love it! Things like spices and baking stuff (but watch the chocolate chips...) are way cheaper in bulk. Flour and sugar, not necessarily, as you can see. But all together, we're talking about a 50% savings!! I paid $62.86 total and could have spent $126.23. Even with the gas it took me to get to these stores (30-ish miles round trip), still WAY worth it.

Evan, almost 17 months old, sitting in his new chair, and sporting his boots and plaid shirt he brought me to put on him.

Monday, April 13, 2009


I remember when I was a kid, every friday night my dad would come home, get the checkbook, go to the bank, and then go pick up the pizza that mom had ordered. We have the BEST pizza place in town so what a great friday night dinner that always was. It became a great birthday tradition in our house as well.

Unfortunately, pizza every friday night doesn't fit in our budget these days. But several months ago, I told my husband that there was no reason why we shouldn't still have pizza every friday night even if we couldn't afford to get take-out. So began my experimenting with different doughs, toppings, etc.

The pizza above was made with Pizza Hut Style Pizza Dough (without the msg). I made this same recipe last week, and it was like thick crust, so I divided it in half this time and made 2 pizzas. The first time I made it I pre-baked the crust for a few minutes. But this time, I opted not to pre-bake since it was much thinner. I did have to bake the pizzas longer however. The pepperoni I bought at Winco, $2 worth that was enough for 2 pizzas. Cheese was also purchased at Winco for $3.98 for 2 lbs. I only used half of the brick for these 2 pizzas shown here. So including the 1/2 can of pineapple pieces I used on the pepporoni (liquidator store for .69 i think), the ingredients I had on hand (homemade pizza sauce, flour, yeast, etc), cheese, and pep, the total for this weeks 2 pizzas was roughly $4!!

The 2nd pizza is just plain cheese, a favorite of mine when I was a little girl. But I think I should have baked it longer so it might have had that crisper crust and browned cheese on top. Mmmm... nothing better than bubbly golden cheese! I thought my 16 month old would enjoy the plain vs the spicy pepperoni.

My husband and I went to Italy for our honeymoon and enjoyed real Italian pizza several times. I've been searching for a recipe that would mimic that. I might try Pizza Marinara this week. We'll see if I have time to do the dough by hand. :) (I usually use the bread machine.)

I found this recipe for All Purpose Pizza Sauce at The Grocery Cart Challenge recipe swap a while back:

All Purpose Pizza Sauce

1 can (28oz) tomato puree
1 1/2 to 1 3/4 cup water
1 T dried parsley
2 t basil
1 t oregano
1/2 t thyme
1/4 t pepper
1/4 c olive oil
2 T garlic powder
1/4 c red wine vinegar
1 to 1 1/2 t salt

Just wisk it all together! I put mine in ice cube trays and when solid, transfered them to freezer bags and just take out a few each time I make pizza. So convienient and yummy!!

Its been fun to try different recipes, add different spices to the doughs, try different flours, think of different toppings, etc. Most every pizza you've ever seen or tasted, you can make at home! You can go as cheap or expensive as your budget allows.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Home made baby wipes

So since I've been trying to cut down on our grocery budget, I've been trying my hand at making different things. Today I made another batch of baby wipes. This is only the 2nd time I've done this, and might still try a different recipe or paper towel (I've read that the blue shop towels work great). But for now, this is how I did it.

A while ago, I bought a roll of Viva paper towels for 1.98 at Winco. You cut it in half so you have a roll more like the size of toilet paper and take the cardboard tube out. Put paper towels inside airtight container. (I used a square 2.6 liter Tupperware because that's the only airtight container about the right size that I have right now. Others recommend a round container where you can keep roll upright.) Bring 2 cups of water to a boil, and add to that 1 tsp each of baby oil, baby lotion, and baby wash. I used ABC Arbonne Baby Care because I know its pure, safe and beneficial! :) Stir everything in the hot water, but don't shake, it will suds up. Pour mixture over towels, turning, soaking the whole roll. I had to squeeze the roll to distribute the liquid a bit, and then there was some in the bottom of the container that I poured on some dry spots.

It works better for me to just take off a "wipe" from the outside of the roll, although I've seen it recommended that you take from the inside. Maybe that method would work better with a different brand of paper towel. I also have to turn the roll on its side and flatten it a bit in order for it to fit in the container.

Some people have had problems with wipes starting to mildew or go bad and have had to add some sort of natural (after all, that is one of the reasons to make your own baby wipes, so we KNOW what is in them!) antiseptic, but I didn't have any problems with that. I'm sure I used a batch of wipes like this for at least 2 weeks.

So I'm impressed with how long a roll lasted (even with my husband using half a roll for one poopy diaper!). Right now, my 15 month old only has 1-2 icky diapers a day, so I would imagine when the new baby arrives, we'll be going through them much faster! But for the price and especially for me knowing exactly what's in them, I think its worth it!