Sunday, November 21, 2010

Thrifty game-day snack

I'm a little disappointed today that the Cincinnati Bengals will be blacked out in my area today, but I'm having a game-day lunch anyway! Here is my recipe for Bagel or English Muffin pizzas! In my house, we usually wind up with 2-3 halves per person, so my recipe equivalents will be a little vague.

English muffins or bagels (plain or cheese work best), halved
Tomato sauce
Shredded cheese (your choice!)
Assorted toppings (pepperoni, cooked sausage, mushrooms, etc)

1. Preheat oven to 350.
2. Lay english muffin or bagel halves on an ungreased cookie sheet.
3. Spread 1-2 spoonfuls of sauce on bagel/muffin halves (my note: if using bagels, it works to lay a pepperoni over the hole in the bagel to keep your toppings from falling through. Put the pepperoni down before the sauce to prevent messes!)
4. Top with your favorite pizza toppings!
5. Sprinkle your favorite shredded cheese on top!
6. Bake in oven until cheese is good and melted.
7. Enjoy!

I had a free bag of bagels, and an 88-cent bag of Kraft cheese from an earlier grocery stock-up. Pepperoni was probably the most expensive item in the recipe, but it doesn't take much.

I love this recipe for quick game-day cooking when we're trying to fit lunch in between church and the football game. It also works well for movie nights, or when you don't want to spend an extraordinary amount of time on dinner.


Saturday, August 21, 2010

First trip on cash, and LOTS of tomatoes!

Today was my first shopping trip under the new budget rules, and I think I did pretty well. First stop was to the farmers market for a LOT of tomatoes for salsa. Our own tomatoes got fried in this heat, but our hot peppers are thriving. Also picked up 3 green pepper, 2 red peppers, and 3 pints of cherry tomatoes. Total for the farm market run: $25.75

Also made a stop at the feed supply store. I had a coupon for a free 5-lb bag of dog food!

Picked up some mozzarella at Kroger to go with the cherry tomatoes. Also scored on B1G1 bologna, $1 each for the salsa and the lettuce and the Chex Mix was $0.50 after coupons. Total for the Kroger run: $30.18!

It felt really good to get so much, and get under my $60 budget!

Friday, August 20, 2010

Moving to cash-only

Our budget, after almost a week of tweaking, digging through piles to find past copies of bills, and discovering those couple of credit cards that somehow failed to make the "list", our budget is complete. And to be honest, it's very scary to see how much we were relying on our credit cards to do so much of our purchasing. Now that incomes aren't quite what they used to be, it's caught up with us.

So we're going "cold turkey", as my husband calls it. Cash only! Now, that doesn't mean that the whole paycheck gets cashed (because most of it would go right back into checking to write checks for bills), but the debit card will be our primary purchasing unit. Allowance (for eating out and "fun money") is still in place as cash, and now the grocery purchasing is becoming strictly cash as well. For me, that's a little bit scary (okay, a LOT scary). But it's inspiring me to be much more creative! Our new budget is now set up on, allowing us to track EXACTLY where those funds are going!

It's also requiring me to be a better steward, to be more responsible for my finances. The Bible mentions finances over and over, and it's taken until now to realize that I'm not just doing this for myself, but to improve my finances in the eyes of God. He calls us to be without debt, and that's my goal someday. In order to get from point A to point B, I have to determine what is really necessary in my life, and what has become material or "idolistic".

So I sit here tonight, doing my electronic coupon print for the week! Not needing much of a grocery shop this week, so I may spend a little of my funds at the Wilmington Farmers Market. The heat is killing our tomatoes, but the cayenne peppers are thriving. Thinking I'll invest in the local economy, and purchase somebody else's tomatoes for another batch of salsa!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Becoming more financially frugal

Nate and I have made quite the financial adjustment over the last year. I lost my job, he changed his, and now we're rethinking our financial future even more.

Years ago, my parents introduced me to Crown Financial Ministries and learning to budget. Granted, I've made my own mistakes, and sometimes I've learned the hard way, but we've worked hard to make ends meet. In order to make sure we can begin to dig out from under our debt, we're reconstructing our budget.

Crown Financial ministries has a free 30-day trial of their budgeting software. Pair this with for tracking your newly-created budget, and you have 2 free tools for becoming more responsible for your finances.

We spent some of our Spiritual Study time last night working on our budget last night, and I'm working today to finish it. I'll keep you updated!

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Everybody loves Shrimp Scampi!

Sometimes I just can't resist it when Kroger has shrimp at buy one-get one free. It's one of the few culinary splurges I make, especially for my husband. This is from Pillsbury's "Cooking for 2" collection. If it's just you, or you-plus-one, their recipes are perfect for those who want to cook, but don't want to eat the leftovers for a week.

Here's the link to the recipe:

Shrimp Scampi

Happy cooking!

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Homegrown...and Thrifty!

Rain put a damper on our "surf & turf", so dinner was a little improvised...and the whole dinner was not only inexpensive, but homegrown!

We kept the "turf", sirloin steaks of the Grandpa variety. If you have never experienced the wonders of homegrown, grain-fed beef, you have never lived! I have the advantage of having farmers in the family, but what you get from my grandfather is far more tender and lean than anything I could buy at the grocery. We purchased a half-side of beef (enough to stock the freezer), and the initial investment was a bit of a hit, but the cost was FAR less than what it would have cost at the grocery.

Roasted red potatoes! Mmm... This recipe was originally intended for cauliflower, but I gave it a try with potatoes, and instantly became a family hit! I picked up these potatoes at the farmers market last weekend, and not only were they inexpensive, but we were doing our part to stimulate the local economy (especially in an area that is already hard-hit for employment).

Cantaloupe! Can never go wrong with this as a side! Also purchased this at the farm market. And as a side note, this was a REALLY good melon.

All in all, our steak dinner with the trimmings cost about $2 per person! to come up with dessert. I think I still have a jar of baked apples from the fruit trees in my yard. I think hot apples and ice cream (sorry, the ice cream isn't homemade) would hit the spot!

Here are the recipes I used tonight:

Dry rub put on the steak:
All-American Barbeque Rub (courtesy of Weight Watchers)
2 tablespoons mild paprika
2 tablespoons packed dark brown sugar
1 tablespoon dry mustard
1 tablespoon chile powder
1 tablespoon onion powder
2 teaspoons garlic powder
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground black pepper

Roasted red potatoes:
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Dice red potatoes (eyeball the serving size) into bite-sized pieces and place in a bowl. Drizzle lightly with olive oil. Add 1 clove of finely chopped fresh garlic or sprinkle (we prefer generously) with minced garlic. Empty content onto a cookie sheet. Roast in oven for 30 minutes or until potatoes are done and turning a golden brown.