For Smart Couples…Forget the Recession! Learn how to pay 1960's Prices for everything from salad dressing to dressing up for a night out!

Posts tagged ‘Crock Pot recipes’

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?


5 Painless Ways to Save Money On Your Meat Costs Each Week

Stay tuned till the end of this post! 🙂


Beef. It’s what’s for dinner.


Pork. The Other White Meat.


In America, the Big Meat companies spend BIG bucks on advertising and propaganda to convince us that no meal in this country is truly complete without a super-sized slab of beef, chicken or pork taking center stage on our dinner plates.

Compare that to the status quo in most other countries, and you’ll find that meat is most often either served up in MUCH smaller portions, eaten sporadically as a treat, or merely used as a flavorfull accent amidst an abundance of rice, beans and vegetables.

Besides the debated health concerns of a meat-heavy diet, the COST of buying all that meat can really add up! Compare the price of a pound of sirloin to that of a pound of  dry Kidney beans, and you’ll see what I mean!

Now, I’m a happy carnivore (although I do have issues on the way most meat is farmed, fed and slaughtered, but that’s another issue altoghether!), so I’m not advocating a Vegan or Vegetarian diet in this post. But how can we enjoy eating our “finger lickin’ good” wings and drumsticks without spending an arm and a leg??


Here are my favorite tips to save big on buying meat:


  1.  Use a little less meat than a recipe calls for! I find most of the recipes I use for chili, soup, casseroles, meatloaf, etc. call for around 1 lb of meat. I was constantly portioning out and freezing 1 lb servings after I brought it home from the grocery store. Now, If I buy a three pound package of ground meat, I divide it into four portions instead of three. The difference is negligable, and Mike has never caught on he’s not getting that full pound of beef in his chili! You can portion out ground turkey, chicken breasts, and many other cuts of meat in the same way.
  2. Streeeetch that meat! I realized a while ago that great-tasting “fillers” can drastically reduce the amount of meat I have to use in our favorite recipes. For example, instead of just using ground meat in my burritos, I now use half the amount I did before, and replace the missing beef with some rice and/or beans. And I think they actually taste better! Or, if I use the “normal” amound of beef, adding the rice and beans DOUBLES my recipe and gives me an extra dinner’s worth of burrito filling to freeze for a lazy day! I also used to make salmon or tuna patties that were mostly…well, salmon or tuna. Then I happened upon a super-tasty recipe for Salmon Croquettes that reduced the amount of fish I had to use by adding leftover mashed potatoes and extra Panko bread crumbs! You can do this with LOTS of recipes (remember Grandma stretching out the meatloaf back in the day with bread/bread crumbs/cornflakes back in the day?) Same idea here. Grandma sure was smart!
  3. Become a follower of “Meatless Mondays”. This is a wordwide movement to abstain from meat every Monday for health/environmental reasons and benefits. I was initially attracted to this because it’s also historically a tradition in New Orleans (my favorite city of all time). Red beans and rice is cooked up in pots all over the city every Monday in epic proportions, and it tastes like a dream. I find it fun to get creative cooking without meat once a week, and believe me, it’s a challenge to tickle Mike’s tastebuds if his dinner doesn’t contain SOMETHING that once lived and breathed. Check out the Meatless Mondays site for tasty recipes, eye-opening statistics, and celebrity followers that are sure to get you on board!
  4. Buy cheaper cuts of meat, and cook them low and slow. I know, I know, you’d think the Crock Pot people paid me to endorse their products. They probably should. But I can’t sing enough praises to the slow-cooker. With little time and effort, you can turn the cheapest, toughest cut of meat in the butcher’s case into a melt-in-your-mouth delicacy. You can pay 69 cents a pound instead of $3.99 a pound, and your dinner will actually taste BETTER. Best of all, you can throw it in the pot before you go to work, and come home to an aromatic, fully-cooked meal. It’s like my own personal plug-in chef. Check out my Southwestern Pulled Pork Taco recipe (and use a pork butt roast, the cheapest cut of pork you can buy), and give it a whirl! I’ll be waiting for an email on how delicious it was.
  5. OK FRIENDS, I’M INVITING YOU TO THINK UP TIP NUMBER FIVE!! Just post your best money-saving meat tip as a comment on this post! I’ll pick the one I like the best, and the winner will get their choice of a few prizes!! (an AirWick Ultra Fresh Automatic Air Freshener System, a Lysol No-Touch Hand Soap Dispenser, or…well, I’m tossing around a few other ideas!! (must post by August 19th to be eligible to win)


Post in the comment box/link below to leave your favorite tip! Good luck!

Crock Pot Madness!! Southwestern Pulled Pork Tacos (Feed You and Your Honey for Two Days for $5 or less!)

Best Pulled Pork EVER!!

Here’s another easy, breezy Crock Pot recipe guaranteed to save you money and time!! Although we usually pile up the pork in soft flour tortillas, this is also great rolled burrito style and heated an additional ten minutes in a toaster oven or oven, or served on buns as a sandwich. It has a great Southwestern tang, and just a little bite! Seriously, I’ve had sooo many people ask me for this recipe after trying it at our house. The flavor can’t be beat!!

This goes great with a simple side of Mexican-style rice, or any rice and bean dish.

All prices reflect what I paid for the ingredients; this may differ for you based on your grocery shopping habits, coupon usage, creative substitutions/omissions/etc.

Southwestern Pulled Pork Tacos


  • 2.5 lb boneless pork loin roast (if it’s on sale for BOGO), otherwise I use a boneless pork butt roast, which is generally the cheapest cut of pork available. The slow-cooking process makes it taste like a dream! $3.00
  • 1 cup BBQ sauce FREE (I have a TON of Sweet Baby Ray’s BBQ sauce I got free with coupons!)
  • 1 can diced green chiles, or 1 cup fresh green chiles seeded/chopped finely. FREE, used chiles from my friend’s garden.
  • 1 cup finely chopped onion (you could use a little onion powder in a pinch, or to save money) 25 cents
  • 1 cup tomato sauce 40 cents
  • 1/4 cup chili powder 5 cents
  • 2 tsp ground cumin 1 cent??
  • 1 tsp dried oregano 1 cent??
  • 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon (secret ingredient…cost negligible)
  • A few dashes of your favorite hot sauce
  • Soft flour tortillas or buns (I use tortillas, have many packs of 8 I got on sale for 50 cents a pack, so 25 cents…make your own and save money! I want to learn how!)
  • Shredded Mexican/Colby-Jack/Cheddar cheese (optional) 50 cents
  • Sour Cream (optional) I just use a smidge to dip… 10 cents

The Super-Easy Procedure

  1. Mix all ingredients except for tortillas, cheese, sour cream, and pork in the bottom of your Crock Pot. Add the pork and give it a flip so it’s coated all over with the sauce. (note: if you want more heat, feel free to spice it up and add more diced chiles and/or hot sauce.)
  2. Cook on low around 8 hours. Go to work, go to school, live your life. 🙂
  3. Gently pull pork apart inside Crock Pot with two forks. It should shred apart easily.
  4. You can remove pork to a serving dish before shredding  if you want to control the amount of sauce you have in your tacos/burritos/sandwiches.
  5. Enjoy the delectable aroma emanating from your house/apartment. The neighbors are jealous.
  6. Serve on flour tortillas or buns, and add cheese and sour cream as you see fit!! Really though, just the saucy meat is delicious enough if you don’t want to add the extras!!

Total Cost: around $4.63!! Will feed two people for two days or more!!

Crock Pot Madness!! Devilishly Simple and Delightfully Delish Pot Roast for $5 (or less!)

Crock Pot 4-Quart Oval, in super-sleek black!!

As you probably know by now, I loooove me some Crock Pot dinners! Above is my favorite style (I have three). This medium sized guy is awesome for two people because it holds about a 4 pound maximum weight pot roast or pork roast or chicken, which is perfect for feeding us and a couple friends a nice meal…or just feeding us alone for the evening, and supplying us with ample leftovers for the next day or so. I also have a super-big-daddy Crock for JUMBO meals or big party foods, and I have an itty-bitty baby Crock for party dips. I’ve got the whole freakin’ family! The model above is the Crock Pot brand, is priced just right at under $25 on, and has gotten rave reviews. (just click on the crock if you don’t believe me that it’s the bomb…c’mon, I dare ya!)

ANYWAY…this pot roast recipe couldn’t be easier. It’s basically just three ingredients, but you can feel free to add quartered potatoes and carrots into the Crock with it if that’s how you like it. Personally, I looove to make my homemade mashed potatoes on the side, because this recipe makes it’s own super-yummy gravy that is divine on mashed potatoes. My simple version goes like this:

Devilish and Delightful Pot Roast

  1. I give a 2.5 to 3.5 lb pot roast a nice olive-oil and garlic sauce massage on both sides, and if possible, let it chill in the fridge for a few hours. If you’re pressed for time, no big deal. It will still be scrumptious.

  2. In a large skillet on high heat, I sear the roast on all sides, about a minute or two on each side, to get a tasty, blackened crust and seal in the juices.

  3. While the roast is on the heat, simply mix together a packet of dry french onion soup mix, one or two cans of cream of mushroom sauce, depending on how much xtra gravy you want, and a few TBS of either Worcestershire or Steak Sauce (like A1), whatever tickles your taste buds. Mix it up a bit so it’s not too lumpy.

  4. Add the seared roast and cook on low heat for 8 to 9 hours.

  5. Stick a fork in there to serve that bad boy and it’s gonna be so tender it will fall apart, so you may as well just stick two forks in the Crock and give it a nice, healthy shred.

And that’s all folks…

Seriously, you will have the most tender, flavorful, picky-husband and kid proof roast of your life…and it took you less time to put together than a quick makeup job. Bravo!

Now, the trick to eating this meal for under five bucks is to wait until the roasts go on sale for BOGO at your grocery store…and they always do. When they do, I usually stock up on several. That way, if you’re buying a roast that costs $6, and getting the second one free, the cost of the roast is only $3. Soooo…..

  • Roast $3

  • French onion soup dry mix (generic) 50 cents

  • cream of mushroom soup (generic from Aldi’s) 40 cents

  • Few TBS of Worcestershire (ummm…maybe 5 cents?)

  • Some potatoes from when the 10 lb bag was on sale for $2.50…50 cents

  • Butter, milk, a splash of olive oil and a little garlic salt 50 cents 

Right around $4.95 for a hearty, home-cooked, stick-to-your-ribs dinner!! It’s possible the potatoes we used were definitely less than 50 cents, so use the leftover money to add a can or frozen bag of corn or peas, or some free garden veggies and some homemade garlic toast or a nice loaf of bread.