Monday, June 30, 2008

Grow your own veggies

Finally started a garden this year, and with minimum expense it should yield quite a harvest.

I spent money on seeds which are about a dollar a bag (some less) and some of them made it to planting (don't have quite the green thumb I had hoped and also found out I started some to early and some should have been started outside that I started inside, but I'll know for next year at least:)

Anyway, I bought eggplant, peppers, cucumbers and zucchini plants at $1.99 a flat at the local garden center. I already have four eggplants almost ready to pick and my zucchinis and cucumbers are starting as well.

My grandfather gave me three tomato plants which have grown quite tall and now have 36 tomatoes on them!

Gardens may be a bit of work but it's worth it, especially for the savings. An added bonus is that my kids are more excited to eat veggies out of our own garden. My pickiest eater actually tried raw green beans and my oldest ate them as a snack with ranch dip!

Next year my goal is to have an organic garden like my friend at A Little Greener Everyday, I've already started my compost!

Anyone else try a garden this year? How's it going?

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Another use for produce

Another use for your produce at Christian Parenting.

Easy, Healthy Kids Snacks & Desserts

Thinking of the song "I like to eat, eat, eat apples and bananas..." Stuck in your head now?

Kids are home. Here are some healthy and affordable ideas.

Buy some berries, apples and bananas in bulk at local produce store (or buy local at Farmer's Market if they're from your area) or on sale and get store brand peanut butter, honey and chocolate chips.


-Bananas & Honey (thanks to my neighbor for this one, my daughter came home asking for it) Simply cut up the bananas, drizzle with honey and eat! Get that potassium in your kids plus honey is a great natural sweetener and also a natural throat and cough healer.

-Apples & Peanut Butter - Another no-brainer. Slice up apples and dip in peanut butter. Keep the doctor away with vitamins and protein.


-Bananas or berries dipped in chocloate - Soooo good & sneaks in healthy fruit! Don't pay for chocolate syrup. Buy store brand chocolate chips and melt them down in the microwave. Do 45 second incriments and stir in between until it's nice and goey and ready for dipping.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Buy Your Groceries at Target???

OK, so you can't get everything at Target. However, you would be surprised at what you can get, at pretty decent prices.

I always get my cereal there and my chocolate Carnation Instant Breakfast which I have every morning in my coffee for my chocolate fix (plus prtotein vitamins and caffeine:)).

Can't get fresh fruits and veggies but you can buy them frozen. You can also get frozen chicken breast, ground beef & turkey, appetizers, pizzas, Bubba burgers, desserts and quick meals.

Check out the fridge section for milk (including a cheap hormone free brand!), lunch meats, breakfast foods and cheese.

Of course there's tons more. Their store brand is Archer Farms and so far I've liked everything I've bought there.

The bad side is, you're in Target, and if you're just buying food you have to make a b-line, ignoring the rest of the stuff that just happenes to fall into your cart.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Upcoming Blog Carnival

Cheap Cookin' Mama will be hosting the blog carnival "Frugally Feeding a Family" on July 7, 2008.

There are some great submissions I can't wait to share with you.

So stay tuned for some money saving tips and recipes from other bloggers.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Try a new store

Yesterday my husband and I tried a local Asian food store. It was definately a money saving experience on a few things. Plus my four year old daughter and her friend were thrilled by the tanks that held not only live lobster but live fish! They were not to happy to find out what would happen to them though.

Many things were around the same price range as the name brand grocery stores but I did find some good buys.

1 - Teas - my husband was fasinated by all of the teas and I loved the price. Stocked up on quite a few and I'm making myself a sinus relief one right now. Gotta love Spring allergies.

2 - Supplements - my husband was also in heaven when he discovered affordable supplements (vitamins) that weren't GNC or health food store prices. He's quite the vitamin nut.

3 - Asian spices, sauces, oils, and vinigars - OK, this should have been a no brainer, but I have spent way to much time in my grocery stores searching for a specific sauce or spice for a recipe only to find that it's like $10 for four ounces or something. But of course in the Asian store these are more common items with regular prices. Guess who's going to be searching for more recipes.

4 - Affordable quick potstickers, dumplings and buns - once again, since these are more common they're quite cheap. My kids liked the pork and bamboo stuffed buns and I can't wait to make them the Chinese pizza, since this is their favorite take-out item. My son is also waiting for me to make the seafood dumplings, they look like potstickers, but not I'm sure if they're the same.

I think I'll be back, especially after I look up those recipes.

Monday, June 9, 2008

My kids (and Husband) ate and like fish!

Last night I tried out a recipe from Gourmet Magazine - Fish Tacos.

My nine year old son, who was dreading dinner and swore he was allergic to fish, took his first bite and declared it good. Think I found a winner.

Everyone says how healthy fish is and that we should serve it at least two times a week. Couple problems with that - 1) Getting my family to eat it and 2) the price.

This recipe, at least, helped solve those. There was enough flavor to mask the fish taste (I did however use tilapia because it was cheaper and tastes less fishy). To help with price, the fish is flaked and mixed in, so a little can go a little further to stretch your dollar. I also bought frozen fish to stretch that buck.

Couple of other things I did differently than the recipe called for:
-used whole wheat instead of corn tortillas - healthier
-used ground coriander instead of fresh - cheaper and don't have to worry about it spoiling
-used romaine lettuce instead of watercress - again cheaper
-didn't fry the tortillas - just plain easier
-to cook the fish I actually microwaved it - I sprinkled it with salt and chili powder and covered

Try it out - maybe your family will discover they can eat fish as well and you'll feel good about serving up a delicious, healthy and not so pricey dish.

Not an expert Cook?

Not an expert cook? Neither am I.

Thought I'd share an article I wrote - Learn to Cook in a Few Easy Steps

Check it out. The tips are how I started out and I'm no chef but I get by.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Buy in season and help the farmers

Made my first trip to a local farmer's market yesterday and I loved it. Thank you to my friend who encouraged me to go because I've benn meaning to but the invite spurred me on.

So here's another tip - buy in season fruits and veges to save. Go ahead and find out what's in season and buy those as they will have the lowest prices. Your farmers market may even have a website to tell you what's in season.

Of course, the other reason they're great is because we can support our local economies.

I could tell you a whole lot more about Farmer's Markets, but someone else already did. So check out A Little Greener Everyday for Farmer's Market tips like how to find one near you and how to shop for the lowet prices.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Tip - Take a stroll down the International Isle

For someone looking to cut grocery costs the international isle is like striking gold! Most stores have one, yet we all just pass by until you have something on your list you've never heard of and the store clerk points you in the right direction, revealing to you a shopping secret, everything is cheaper here!

All the local chain stores by me have them (Acme, Shoprite, Wegmans) and yet I'd never noticed them till last year. As long as you're not stuck on your name brands (there are different name brands here, just not your everyday ones you see on the commercials) you'll do well.

What can you get cheaper in the international isle? How about Olive oil (and other oils but that's what I use) beans, rice, salsas, snacks, cooking wine, rice noodles and spices (much cheaper on spices) for starters. Plus you can expand your horizons a little and try some new foods. Have fun.

So next time you're in your local grocery store, take a stroll down the international isle, explore and save.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Tip - Hey Turkey - Go Ground

Make your turkey go further by buying it ground. You can get it for around $4 or a whole lot cheaper at discount stores (go Aldis!) and you can even get it cheap in Target's freezer section.

Get the protein rich, healthy and lowfat meat for family favorites like meatballs, hamburgers, or even those easy helper meals. Just don't tell them it's turkey, and don't tell my husband that I use it:) Just kidding, I tell him, after he's eaten it and says he likes it. Something about men and red meat.

We tried Rachels Ray's (no, everything I make is not Rachel Ray, I just happen to like her recipes and they're easy) "Great Goulash," and it went over pretty well. Had to make my picky eat the peppers but he did good.
- Health tips - use whole wheat or whole grain macaronis (Barilla has a protein brand for extra protein) and use low-fat or fat-free sour cream.
- Easy tip - buy chopped garlic in a jar, it's easier, your hands won't smell and it lasts longer. Also - you can use dried parsley and dill, just add it earlier.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Great Vegetarian Recipes to try!

Rachel Ray's Veg-Head Three Bean Chili which I'll be making tonight. It was a hit in the past so hopefully they still like it tonight.

Also - Check the International isle in your local grocery store and look for falafel mix. There's one in my store (have to check the brand) that all you do is add water, make it into patties or balls, and fry it (use Olive Oil to be healthier, it's also cheaper in the international isle). We make it into patties and serve it on pita with avocado spread (just mashed avacados and lime juice).

Tip - Go Vegetarian

Most of the time the most expensive part of a meal is the meat.

Try adding a couple vegetarian meals to your repetoire to cut costs.

Beans provide a healthy protein alternative.

I got some grumbling at first, mostly from my husband, but my family as gotten used to, and get this, actually LIKE the vegetarian meals we tried. My husband has just requested we don't it more than once or twice a week:)

Even my pickiest, and I mean gag at food he doesn't like and takes and hour to eat ten bites picky eater, like the vege meals and occasionally will eat more than his required portion.

Cutting Grocery Costs

We're all gawking at our grocery bills lately.

I spent what!?

How much did that cost?!

It also seems that those bills just keep getting higher the healthier you try to eat.

This blog is about exploring ways to reduce those bills while providing healthy meals your family will eat.

Stay tuned for tips and ideas on how to do so!