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Archive for the ‘Crock Pot Madness…How to Feed Two Hungry People on $5 or less for 2 days’ Category

Use-It-Up Beef Vegetable Soup

The beauty of this soup is in it’s versatility; you can use most vegetables and any number of meat products that are available to you, and it will still taste delicious. Personally, I use up any leftovers I have from a beef roast,  and I incorporate whatever veggies I have on hand that are looking sad in the fridge or need to be used up from the garden. You can also go simple and use a bag of frozen mixed vegetables from your freezer. This soup is thick and hearty enough for a meal if you include a loaf of homemade bread or a salad. Followed exactly, this recipe will feed at least 6 people. You can also adapt this recipe for the slow-cooker. From my estimates, this recipe cost me around $2 in total to make. Please note, I did go a little easy on the meat because I didn’t have much left this time. This dish has a great tomato flavor and a bit of a spicy kick; if you don’t care for heat in your food, decrease or omit the red pepper flakes.

  • 1/2-1 lb. of leftover pot roast (or cooked ground beef or sausage)
  • 2 large potatoes, cubed
  • 2 stalks of celery, chopped
  • 6 cups chicken stock (I use my homemade stock because it’s free, but you can also use veggie or beef stock, or water with bouillon)
  • 2 can condensed tomato soup
  • 1.5 cups of chopped veggies (either raw or frozen–use whatever you have on hand that you need to use up)
  • 1/4 box of ditalini or macaroni noodles
  • 2 TBS Worcestershire
  • 2 tsps. red pepper flakes
  • salt, pepper and onion powder to taste
  1. Bring the stock to a boil; add celery, potatoes and any raw veggies to the stock and boil for 10 minutes.
  2. Add the tomato soup and any frozen pasta noodles. Bring back to a boil and continue simmering for 10 minutes.
  3. Add any frozen veggies, Worcestershire sauce, pepper flakes, and seasonings. Continue to simmer 10 minutes more or until pasta and veggies are tender.
  4. Add beef or ground meat and heat through. Don’t worry if your leftover beef has gravy on it; this will add flavor to the soup.
  5. Serve with sprinkled parmesan or Romano cheese on top.

This leftover soup is a big hit in my house; my fiancé is super-picky and he still loves it. This is one of those recipes that has endless variations, so don’t be afraid to play around with it in order to use up any leftovers you have sitting in the fridge. It’s great for using up some of that end-of-summer zucchini surplus as well if you have a garden.

What about you? Any no-fail recipes that you use to get rid of veggie or meat leftovers?

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Top 11 DIY Recipes for Cheaper, Healthier “Convenience” Recipe Ingredients…Get Your Grocery Bill Lower Than Ever!


Cheap, Healthy Homemade Alternatives to Popular “Convenience Foods” Commonly Used in Recipes

Face it, there are a TON of ingredients that are commonly used in recipes that even the most vigilant home cook routinely reaches for on the grocery shelves without thinking that there may be a cheaper (and healthier) version available.

Here are several of the most common recipe ingredients that I’ve used in my cooking, and the DIY alternative recipes I’ve found for them. Even if you don’t use these all the time (I know life can be hectic!), they can come in handy when grocery sales/coupons are uninspiring, because they are generally way more affordable (even with sales and coupons!)  than their packaged counterparts.

These recipes are all easy, inexpensive and healthy. If you have a few extra minutes of time they are a great alternative to buying the packaged alternatives that are often laden with sodium, preservatives, and unpronounceable chemical additives. If you grow a few of your own vegetables and herbs in the summer, and/or buy spices in bulk, the cost for many of these is slim to nil.

 

What’s For Dinner? Super-Cheap Ground Meat, Chicken, Pasta and Potato Recipes (Based on Sales and Coupon Matchups 9/6-9/14)

Listed below are a few new recipes designed to utilize the best grocery deals that were available starting yesterday.

I was especially excited about these finds, and did some internet sleuthing to find a few new dinners to cook in the upcoming days:

  • Ground Chuck $1.99/lb (at Shop ‘n Save)
  • 10 lb bag of potatoes $1.98 (at Shop ‘n Save)
  • Helluva Good Cheese, multiple varieties, 8 oz, $1 (at Giant Eagle, with coupon)
  • Ragu Pasta Sauce and  Giant Eagle brand Pasta $2.25 for 2 jars and 1 box of pasta (Giant Eagle, with coupon)
  • 3 lb bag of boneless, skinless Chicken Breasts $5…or $1.34 to $1.67 per lb ($4 if you got them last week, at Shop ‘n Save)
  • Skippy Peanut Butter $1.69 (at Giant Eagle, with coupon)

These are recipes utilizing two or more of these great deals (these will all feed four people for under $5…some for WELL under $5…and don’t be afraid of substitutions/omissions on the ingredients…make it work with what you already have!)

Happy Cooking!!

Print Now! Sun-Bird Asian Seasonings Coupon…Have Chinese Takeout at Home for $3 or less

I’m a big fan of Sun-Bird seasoning packets…especially the General Tso’s Chicken. Add a little soy sauce, sugar and water, and you’ve got a yummy chicken dinner to serve over rice. In fact, I’d go so far as to say I prefer it over Chinese takeout or restaurant meals. Their seasoning packets are frequently on sale for $1 at supermarkets, and this coupon will take half off that price (if your grocery store doubles coupons):

25 cents/1 Sun-Bird Seasoning Packet

This makes a low-cost, delicious dinner. For example:

  • 1 Sun-Bird seasoning packet (after doubled coupon): 50 cents
  • 1 lb of chicken, from our $1.33/lb stockpiled boneless, skinless chicken breast bags (on sale at $4/3 lb)
  • 1 cup of rice, cooked in our rice cooker 25 cents (probably less expensive if you’re buying rice in bulk)
  • a bit of sugar and soy sauce 10 cents (if that)

So for around $2.50, we can feed 3-4 people with this meal, or just feed the two of us and have leftovers at the end of the night. If you add a bit of broccoli (especially if you’ve grown it yourself or purchased it frozen with a coupon), the price only increases by a few cents.

Compare that to Chinese take-out, which costs around $10 per entree, and is often concocted from stringy, dark meat and more “breading” than chicken.

Plus, it couldn’t be simpler to cut up and brown the chicken and add the sauce…all while the rice cooker is casually doing it’s thing to give us perfectly cooked rice…no matter what.

If General Tso’s isn’t your thing, Sun-Bird has a variety of other seasoning packets, including Kung Pao, fried rice, sweet and sour, etc.

“What In The Heck Do I Do With These Potatoes??” Soup Recipe…Super Cheap, Super Easy, Super Yummy!

"Don't just throw me away!! Eat me, for God's sake!!"

OK, we’ve all been there…you take a peek down into that dark, cool place you stored your last 10 lb bag of potatoes (for only $2.50!) find, and you realize…GASP!!…they aren’t going to make it very much longer!! Hating to chuck out some perfectly good (for now) spuds, you wonder, what on earth am I going to do to use up the rest of these potatoes, and fast??

Here’s a very delicious answer…a very easy, adaptable potato soup recipe that will do nicely as a meal for the evening, and, after that, be very much appreciated in lunch thermoses for the rest of the week. I made it with a nice batch of corn bread muffins for dinner tonight.

I just had this conundrum this evening, and I’ll dictate the recipe as I made it (I had some ham on hand), but the truth is it’s a very versatile cream of potato soup recipe that can just as easily stand on its own…or be equally delicious with bacon instead of ham…or be even more delicious with a bit of cheese and ground meat thrown in for a kind of Cheeseburger Chowder (which is always a hit with the kiddos!)

The important thing is that it will allow you to use up any iffy potatoes you have laying about, and ease your guilty conscious…don’t let the angry potato-with-eyes haunt your nightmares!!

DO NOT delude yourself into thinking (as I have many times before) that you are going to make a fabulous potato side dish for dinner every night for the next three nights to use up that nearing-death bag of Idahos…that’s too much pressure, and I practically guarantee (unless you are a better woman than I, which you may well be!) that you will end up taking out your taters with the trash come garbage night! Instead, make a big ol’ pot of this potato soup, use them all up at once, and say goodbye to food-waste guilt!! All you’ll need are a soup pot and a saucepan for the roux, and perhaps a cutting board to chop everything up on. I didn’t even make a mess tonight creating this!! Hallelujah!

Estimated Total Cost: $3.00 for my batch (remembering I stock up on super-sale prices, and coupon quite a bit!)

“What In The Heck Am I Going To Do With These Potatoes??” Soup

Note: Besides the making of the roux (which I’ll explain in a minute) this is a very simple and adaptable recipe. Feel free to add more potatoes, onion, celery, carrots, seasoning, etc. It’s very hard to screw it up…use your personal tastes as a guide!

Ingredients:

  • approx. 3.5 cups of peeled and diced Idaho or Russet potatoes (more or less will still work, just remember they should be covered with chicken broth when boiling and simmering, so you may have to adjust the amount of that as well)
  • 1 clove of garlic minced
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped onion
  • 1/3 cup chopped celery
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped carrots (optional, will add a bit of sweetness)
  • 3/4 to 1 cup diced ham (you could also use bacon or ground meat!)
  • 3 1/2 cups chicken broth/stock (homemade is the bomb!! But a carton or can will do fine!)
  • 1 tsp salt and 1 tsp pepper to season (sea salt is best)

Ingredients for the roux:

  • 5 TBS butter (please use REAL butter in this dish, unless you have a health condition that prohibits it! It won’t turn out as nicely!)
  • 5 TBS all purpose flour
  • 2 cups of milk (again, I recommend using WHOLE milk for this dish…this is a roux, and low-fat just doesn’t cut it unless there are health issues that warrant it!)

Optional Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup to 1 cup of your favorite cheese, especially if you’d like to do cheesy potato soup (you can still add the ham!) or if you’d like to substitute ground meat for the ham and do a Cheeseburger Chowder

 

Easy Instructions (Don’t be afraid!):

  1. Hack up every ingredient that calls for cutting/chopping/dicing/etc (this would be potatoes, veggies, pre-cooked ham). Note: If you are using bacon or ground meat, that should be cooked beforehand in a skillet and added after it’s no longer raw! Chuck it all in a soup pot and cover it with the chicken stock. (Remember, if you’ve decided to add more potatoes, ham, etc., you may have to add a bit more stock/broth. That’s fine. Just make sure it’s covered. Bring it up to a BOIL for a minute, and then crank the heat back down to medium (a fast simmer) for about 15 or 20 minutes so everything gets nice and tender. Season to taste with your salt/pepper/etc. now.(If you want to add cheese, the end of this phase would be a good time to melt it in.)
  2. That’s it for the soup pot, now all you have to worry about is making a roux. This is done in a separate skillet, on low to medium-low heat, and a successful roux requires constant stirring, a low temperature, and a little bit of instinct. After the roux is finished you will add it to the soup pot, and the purpose of the roux is to thicken the soup in a most delicious way. Don’t worry, you’ll be fine!!
  3. Start by melting all the butter over med-low heat. Next, add the flour tablespoon by tablespoon while constantly whisking/stirring so the mixture doesn’t burn. You may have to adjust the temperature a few times to get it right. It should be thickening, but not sticking or burning. This is the only tricky part because you DO NOT want to burn your roux. I’ve done it before! If it happens, start fresh, you’ll get it the second time around. Continue stirring this for around a minute.
  4. Next, add your milk sloooooowly. The mixture will probably thin out again, but you eventually want it to thicken back up, so you may have to turn the heat up just a notch. Stir the whole time you’re adding the milk, and keep going (feel the burn!) for around 5 minutes. You’ll know you have it right when the consistency is thick-ish, but there are no lumps. It should be smooth, blonde in color, and thick but not pasty.
  5. That’s about it! Simply add this roux concoction to your pot of soup, and heat through a bit on medium-low while giving everything a good stir!
  6. If you’re like me, some nice cornbread muffins on the side are a must-have, but any kind of bread or biscuit will compliment this hearty soup! Enjoy!!

Shop ‘n Save 2-Day Sale…3 lb Bags of Chicken Breasts Only $4…Some Easy Recipes for You!!

So many things you can do with a chicken breast!!

This Thursday and Friday at select Shop ‘n Save stores around the Pittsburgh area, 3 lb. bags of chicken breasts are on sale for only $4…which works out to around $1.33/lb. Not a bad deal at all!! I recommend a stock-up, as these bags normally go for $5 each, even when they are on super-sale like this!!

But what to make with all of that chicken breast??

First, if you’re buying in bulk, you’ll want to wrap the breast tightly in 1 lb portions (or whatever portions make sense for your family when cooking a meal). Even in the bag, chicken can become freezer burnt when you are taking pieces of chicken out randomly to cook meals, and you may not be sealing the bag properly….better to wrap your portions in saran wrap and then aluminum foil…then add a sticker with a date on it, so you know when to toss chicken that has exceeded it’s expiration date.

Most of these recipes are pantry-friendly, meaning you don’t have to run to the store to buy five “what the heck is that?’ ingredients.

Anyway, some great recipes using chicken breasts from all over the web, including a site dedicated to the picky-palates of children (featuring…you guessed it…chicken breast recipes)!!

  • Smothered Chicken Breasts (allrecipes.com) Love bacon?? Try this recipe…
  • Candied Chicken Breasts (allrecipes.com) If you love that sweet, tangy, tropical flavor, this one’s for you…
  • Chicken Parmigiana (foodnetwork.com) Bobby Flay’s famous recipe…you’ll find you probably have most of the ingredients in your pantry/refrigerator!)
  • Barbeque Chicken (foodnetwork.com) Straight from the Neely’s recipe repertoire…instructions for the grill, and for the grill-less…
  • Mustard Chicken (epicurious.com) This recipe is for a whole chicken cut into sections, but this can easily be translated into several breast portions. Straight from Paris, France, this recipe simple to make, yet leaves a complex, satisfying taste on the palate. Impress your friends and neighbors!!
  • Chicken with Crispy Panko Coating (southernfood.about.com) Fans of the South, rejoice! Mayonnaise, mustard, and fried chicken breasts are given an Asian twist with Panko bread crumbs. It’s finger-licking’ good!!
  • Kid-Friendly Chicken Breast Recipes (Grandparent’s Cafe) FOR KIDS!! This page contains several “kid-tested, parent-approved” chicken breast recipes, if you have picky wee-ones!!

Have a great chicken breast recipe you’d like to share?? PLEASE leave a comment and let me know about it!! (I’m always looking for new recipes!)

And don’t forget to subscribe to the blog if you don’t want to miss out on any deals!! They will be delivered straight to your e-mail inbox for FREE!!

How to Eat (Well!) for a Week on $20…Without Coupons!!

You don't need a wad like this to eat great meals all week long...

 

Hi friends! I’m happy to report that we are (almost) settled in our new home, meaning I should now have the time and energy to do regular posts and coupon matchups! Yay!! I’m also happy to report that my new kitchen affords me A LOT more room to maneuver and whip up some tasty dinners.

Alas, a new house means we are putting out more money every month on bills, housing costs, utilities etc., so I’ve been thinking extra hard about how to cook up a week’s worth of delicious dinners (and pack a big enough lunch for Mike and myself), while spending even less money on groceries than we usually do. I guess my gratuitous shopping trip to Pier 1 Imports for new (upholstered) dining chairs and a hand-carved trunk from India to serve as a new coffee table (with storage space!) didn’t help financial matters much either, but a girl has to shop sometime (especially when decorating a new house), and FYI I got everything I wanted for half off or more, thanks to a few barely noticeable scratches and stains. Don’t be afraid to point out imperfections when shopping the more expensive stores, or to purchase floor models, it can save you a butt-load of dough!

My new coffee table from Pier 1...a trunk from India hand-carved from mango wood...got it at over 50% off!! Love at first sight!!

If you read this blog, you know that I spend around $20 each week…that includes food, personal care items, laundry detergent, cat food, and everything else in between.

If you are smart (and short on time, as I have been this past month!), you can still accomplish this goal without clipping a single coupon. Don’t get me wrong, I loooove the coupon game. But at certain hectic times in our lives, all the researching, sorting and clipping may not be possible.

Buying grocery store loss leaders, cooking from scratch, utilizing items that you have already stockpiled, and carefully planning meals will be your greatest ally if you need to go “coupon free” for a week (or a month).

Anyway, I thought I’d share next week’s shopping and cooking plan to illustrate how easy it is to have a weeks worth of tasty home-cooked dinners, and simple, filling lunches without breaking the new budget!

Here are my steps in accomplishing this goal:

  1. Take stock of your pantry/stockpile. This will let you see what you have on hand, and you’ll probably see that you already have the ingredients for quite a few meals before you even have to open your wallet. Can of beans and a bag of onions? You’re halfway there towards a huge pot of chili. Tuna pouches galore? (guilty!) Try tuna croquettes, a tuna-based pasta sauce, or good old fashioned tuna noodle casserole (or even Tuna Helper…thanks to some awesome sales on Tuna Helper, my pantry probably contains about 40 boxes of the stuff for lazy, hassle-free dinners.
  2. Read your grocery store ads, and make note of the best deals (loss leaders). These are usually on meat, lunchmeat and veggies. When I see a great deal, I stock up in bulk, portion it out, and freeze it. For example, this week’s ads are compelling me to buy ground chuck (at $1.89 per lb), whole chickens (at .98 cents per pound), and seedless grapes (at .99 cents per pound). Combined with the deals I got in the past week or two (chipped ham for sandwiches at $1.98 per pound, a 10 lb bag of potatoes for $2.25, etc., I should be able to come up with some fantastically tasty (and super-cheap) dinners for the week.
  3. Plan your dinner menu for the week. This saves time, money and, most importantly, your sanity. Remember those chickens for 99 cents/lb I told you about?? Well, with careful planning, a 5 lb bird will easily feed us for 3 days, and the meals will be so different, it won’t get boring. I’ll show you my meal plan shortly.
  4. Keep lunches simple. And breakfast too. Here’s my answer to lunch: I stock up on lunch meat when it’s cheap ( like last week) and freeze it into pound-sized portions. Mike usually gets sandwiches made with said cheap meat and homemade/on-sale/bakery outlet bread. On the side I pack him brownies and cupcakes I make at home from mixes I bought for a quarter or less (sale+coupons), hopefully some fresh fruit (like those grapes for 99 cents/lb), and often some leftovers. Sometimes I’ll make a huge pot of chili or soup early in the week for dinner one night, and use the leftovers to put in his thermos for the rest of the week. It costs me around 50 to 75 cents a day to send him to work with a manly-man sized lunch. Breakfast is usually some cereal or scrambled eggs and toast.
  5. Try doing one meatless dinner per week. A simple pasta, some pierogies with fried onions and sour cream, filling bean burritos, or some black beans ‘n rice are just as satisfying as a hunk of cow. I know the man in your life might protest at first, but sweeten the deal with some homemade, fresh-from-the-oven brownies or cupcakes after dinner. This works especially well if you’re not the Betty Crocker type.
  6. When following a recipe, use slightly less than the called-for amount of meat. As I’ve said before, I portion my ground meat into 3/4 lb portions instead of 1 lb portions, which is what a typical recipe calls for (meat loaf or burritos or tacos or a casserole). No one is ever the wiser, and that 3 lb package of ground chuck just became 4 meals instead of 3 thanks to your craftiness. Good for your heart, great for your wallet!
  7. When it comes to meat, start big and work your way down. I call this method of cooking my 3-Day Plan. By this, I mean it’s usually much cheaper (and tastier) to purchase a whole chicken than boneless, skinless breasts, and you are able to stretch that bird into 3 nights of mouth-watering, unique dinners. Ditto for a roast as opposed to those pre-cut hunks of stew meat that cost about a billion dollars per pound. Don’t pay for small conveniences! You can buy a pork-butt roast and cook it up whole the first night, with some mashed potatoes and veggies on the side, and then re-purpose the leftovers the next night by whipping up some Carnita Quesadillas with the leftover shredded pork, some sauteed onions and green peppers, and a little leftover shredded cheese. Slap it on some flour tortillas, and grill it up on the stove-top grilled-cheese style. Serve some cheap -as -dirt rice on the side, with some mexican seasonings and maybe a can of kidney beans. The next night use the rest of the leftover meat in a stew or soup. If you’re stumped for ideas, the internet is a wealth of information. Some sites, like allrecipes.com, allow you to search for recipes based on ingredients. Be creative! I’ll show you my 3-day plan using the 98 cent/lb chicken below.
  8. Know which stores have the lowest prices for staple items you regularly buy! Especially if you are too busy to do the coupon dance. For example, I know Aldi’s has loaves of whole wheat bread for 69 cents. Dollar General has the cheapest olive oil if I need it. And so on and so on. Don’t get stuck paying a gazillion dollars at the grocery store on a jar of cajun seasoning you need for a recipe. I can tell you from experience: walk away from the overpriced, teeny-tiny spice jar that costs $4.99!! Go next door to your local dollar store and get it for 50 cents. Put it in a cute spice jar. I won’t tell. Trust me, the difference isn’t that noticeable.
  9. Be on the lookout for great sales that you can combine with coupons (especially double coupons!), and when you find them, STOCK UP!! This is how I came to have a pantry/freezer that is full of commonly used staples like frozen vegetables, shredded cheese, cream soups and butter that I got for pennies. While I wanted to do this post to show you can still get a TON of food without coupons, never underestimate the power of a great sale combined with a high-value double coupon!!
  10. Make your own snacks! I plunder the discount produce rack for overripe bananas and make some amazing banana bread or muffins. I also use all those cake/brownie mixes I scored for under 25 cents each to bake up some treats to have on hand. On the healthy side, veggies or crackers dipped in some homemade hummus are amazing! And frozen grapes are a sweet treat that’s right in my price range this week! Don’t pay for pre-portioned, pre-packaged snacks!! If you are getting store-bought chips or cookies, buy the whole bag, not the cutesy, individually packaged mini-bags! You’ll pay over double for the “convenience”.

 

My Shopping List for The Week

(Notice that I usually buy more than what I need for the week when the prices are right, freeze it, and save it for later. So, in actuality, I’m spending less than $20 for the week. Cherry-picking the best-0f-the-best deals each week and buying as much as you can afford or store can add up to tons of $$$ saved. Each week I use a combination of what I’ve newly purchased, and items I’ve stockpiled previously in my pantry or freezer.)

  • 4 lbs of ground chuck at $1.89/lb (which can be divided into 5-6 portion sizes for dinners) On sale at Shop ‘n Save this week (and at Giant Eagle until Thursday as well)
  • 2 4 lb whole chickens at 98 cents/lb (one for this week, one to freeze for later!) On sale at Shop ‘n Save this week, but you can usually find whole chickens anywhere for not much more! Giant Eagle also has fresh boneless chicken breasts on sale for $1.98/lb this week if you’d rather go that route.
  • 3 lbs of seedless grapes at 98 cents/lb (you can freeze grapes too!) On sale at Shop ‘n Save this week
  • 2 loaves of wheat bread (69 cents each at Aldi’s)
  • 1 pint of milk (we don’t drink milk, just use it in cooking) $1.19
  • Flour tortillas (99 cents at Aldi’s)
  • 1 package of generic American cheese for Mike’s lunch sandwiches (99 cents)
  • Beans for chili (I usually use black, kidney and great northern beans) $1.50 for all at Aldi’s. Note: buying dry beans is waaaaay cheaper. I love beans, and plan on starting to use the dry version, which requires an overnight soak. MUCH cheaper, MUCH healthier….slightly less convenient.
  • Red or yellow peppers (in the summer, I’d get this from a friend’s garden for free…now that it’s cold outside, I’m stuck paying ridiculous pepper prices. These babies can cost up to $4 PER POUND at the regular supermarket, but luckily, Aldi’s has 3-packs for around $1.50. This summer I’ll be growing my own out back in my garden!)
  • Spring Mix for salad (99 cents at Aldi’s)

(This all equals out to around $25, but, as you can see, I’m buying enough meat to be the basis of at least 2 weeks worth of meals. If you only bought what you needed for the week using the sale prices I’ve noted this week, your total would be around $10 for my shopping list. Yours may vary depending on what you have on hand, but remember my shopping tips above to get the best deals and the lowest prices! Remember, this is just an example!)

In addition to the items on my shopping list, I’ll be using some things from my pantry/freezer/fridge: onions, potatoes, rice, tomato paste, shredded cheese (frozen from a great sale+coupon day when it was nearly free!), frozen veggies, spices, garlic, lemons, cornbread, olive oil, butter, etc.

The Week’s Meal Plan

(I’ve included links to some of my favorite versions of these recipes below, but feel free to get creative! Use up what you have on hand, crack open those recipe books your grandma got you for Christmas five years ago, and get cookin’!)

  • Monday: The week starts off with a great big pot of chili. I use a recipe I adapted from this Jamaican Me Crazy Chili recipe. It’s VERY flavorful, and a just a little bit different, but still has that classic chili taste. Feel free to omit or substitute items if you don’t have them on hand, I do. Not only is this a great meal for the start of the week (I’ll probably make some corn muffins or corn bread on the side), but now I have a ton of leftover chili to pack in Mike’s lunch for the week so he has something hot to eat.
  • Tuesday: It’s time to bust out the bird! A simple dinner of Roast Chicken is a nice change-up from the chili last night. I usually make some homemade mashed or scalloped potatoes on the side, and pick a bag of frozen veggies (in winter) from my stockpile in the freezer.
  • Wednesday: Leftover roast chicken makes for excellent Chicken Enchiladas! To complete the South-of-the-Border theme, I usually do some Mexican rice on the side using my rice cooker, and maybe a can of re-fried beans from my pantry.
  • Thursday: I work late on Thursday, and there’s still some life left in that old bird, so tonight I’ll probably use the rest of the meat to make a nice, hearty chicken noodle soup. But first, I make my own homemade stock using the chicken carcass, some herbs, and some onions and carrots and celery I have leftover from Thanksgiving. The soup will taste 100 times better with the homemade stock!! On the side I might make some biscuits or rolls, I usually have the refrigerated kind handy from recent sales to make it easy on myself. A nice salad with the spring mix and some dressing from my stockpile will round out the meal.
  • Friday: To be completely honest, Friday is a day where we will order a pizza half of the time. Mike is super exhausted from a long week at work, and I don’t get home from work til around 8:30 or 9 pm, so a coupon for a $5.99 pizza delivered to our doorstep is a godsend sometimes. Or we might just have some of the leftover chili from earlier in the week to finish it up before it goes bad. We often make some simple grilled cheese sandwiches on the side to go with the chili, using up any leftover sandwich bread from the week. Mmmm…
  • Saturday: I’ll defrost one of my 3/4 lb packages of ground chuck and make a Taco Lasagna. We love mexican! This uses the rest of the tortillas from the package we bought for the enchiladas as well. And I always keep my own special Mexican spice blend on hand. Cheaper than traditional Italian lasagna (damn you, ricotta cheese!), but just as tasty!
  • Sunday: I work til 8 pm and usually don’t feel like slaving over the stove since it’s the end of my work week. We will probably do something simple like frozen pierogies and salad, as well as raid the fridge for leftover Taco Lasagna. I usually do a batch of cupcakes or brownies or banana bread for dessert as well, so Mike can have it in his lunch all next week.

There you have it, my low-cost menu plan for the week! Next week it’s back to coupon-clipping and building up my stockpile! I’d love to hear your low-cost menu ideas in the comment section of this post (I’m always on the hunt for some new ideas!)