Saturday, November 29, 2008

Thanksgiving Leftovers

Turkey day has passed, are you sick of turkey sandwiches yet?

How about a way to remake the turkey and ham to something else?

Thanksgiving Leftovers Crustless Quiche

1 Dozen eggs
2 cups heavy/light cream or half & half (or combo thereof)
2 cups shredded cheese (cheddar, swiss, mozzarella, monterey jack)
1 to 2 cups of cooked turkey or ham(Thanksgiving leftover meats)
chopped onion to taste (optional)
broccoli or other cooked veggie (Thanksgiving leftover from the veggie tray)

Steam the left over veggies.
Whip up the eggs and cream.
Fold in other ingredients.
Spray pan with non stick spray.
Pour in a 9x13 inch pan or into 12 muffin tins.
Cook at 350 for 35 minutes.. Let cool before cutting.

More leftover recipes are found here.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Need Low Cost Menu Plans?

It's been a busy month here as I am trying to make a military move. All the extra tasks to do with getting a house ready to rent have limited my blogging time. I'm still in cheap and easy cooking mode though. Right now I have next to nothing in my cabinets so I am thinking in terms of one meal at a time. This is definitely different for me as I am typically a menu planner. I find it easier to cut my grocery budget when I menu plan and take advantage of larger packs of meat or the ability to recycle left overs. I have several meal plans on Associated Content which may give you an idea of how to cut grocery costs by menu planning.

View my article with three weeks of dinner meals for $75 here

Fourteen Days of Cheap Dinner meals can be read here.

Cheap Pasta Meal ideas are found here.

I'll be working on more as I set up a new household and start back with grocery shopping based on a menu plan.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Low Carb Thanksgiving Side Dishes

Low carb is definitely a better way of eating for me. Note I said "LOW" carb, not "NO" carb. My body doesn't handle starchy carbs well. I know that, but boy do I love them. It's hard to give them up but I've learned in the process there are other vegetables that I love as well. I'm a Calulflower fan. I can eat it pretty much any way it is prepared. With Thankgiving around the corner if you are low carb living, or maybe have guests coming whose diet is low carb based, consider adding some low carb side dishes to your table. This is one of my favorites:

Scalloped Cauliflower

Instead of Scalloped Potatoes serve Cauliflower.
Scalloped cauliflower can be made from either frozen or fresh. If using frozen, use 2 bags thawed before use and for fresh use the flowers of a large head which has been steamed. Lay half the cauliflower in a casserole dish. Sprinkle with salt, pepper, and garlic powder. If your low carb plan allows you to have onions you can sprinkle chopped onions over the cauliflower also.

Using a half stick of butter, slice into pats and drop onto the cauliflower. Top with a cup of shredded cheddar cheese and repeat the layers.Bake at 350 for 45 minutes. Makes 10 servings.

Low carb side dish count:4 net carbs per serving

You can find a couple of other low carb side recipes here

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Green Giant Steamers

Green Giant outdid themselves this time. I love the Steamers line. Since it's just two kids and me needing dinner meals right now, I've looked for easier means of filling the menu without destroying the budget. The Green Giant Steamers have helped. We love veggies and these are perfect. Each bag has about three servings so it works out great as a supplement to whatever main meal item we are having. We've had the Broccoli and Cheese, the one with rice and broccoli and our favorite, the broccoli, carrots and caulifower. All of them have a cheese sauce and they are very easy to do. Just stick the bag in the microwave and tear the top off when done. Texture, flavor, and taste are all great. It doesn't get any easier than that, and the cost is only about $2 a bag. That's less than I would pay to buy the fresh veggies and I dont have to cut them up. If you want to see the nutitional value on the Broccoli, Carrot, Cauliflower one, see my AC product review here.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Cheeseburger Baked Potatoes

I love fall. It's time to bring out the recipes of the warm comfort foods. What better comfort food than potatoes? And baked potatoes are especially easy to do. Here's a great recipe for a stuffed baked potato that is easy to make and not very expensive.

1 lb. ground beef (leaner is better)
1 lg. clove garlic, minced
1 tbsp. vegetable oil
Salt and pepper
4 lg. baking potatoes
1/3 c. hot milk
2 tbsp. butter, soft
1 c. shredded Cheddar cheese

Heat garlic and oil in skillet. Add the beef. Cook until browned. Add salt and pepper. Using potatoes you already baked, cut a thin slice from top of each. Scoop out the potatoes, leaving a 1/4 inch shell. Place potato in a mixing bowl. Arrange shells on baking pan. Add milk and butter to potato. Whip until smooth and fluffy. Stir in half the cheese. Fill potato skins with cooked ground beef. Press potato mixture over the meat. Sprinkle with remaining cheese. Bake for 10 minutes at 400 degrees until cheese is melted.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Shepherds Pie

My kids love Shepherds Pie. They would eat it every week if I made it that often. The good thing is it is cheap and definitely an easy prep meal. Here's my version, your's may be different. If so please leave a comment and tell me how you make it.

Shepherds Pie Using one pack of browned ground beef (I brown ahead and freeze it) , add in some beef broth for flavor. I usually add about a quarter cup. Bring to a boil. Then take a little corn starch dissolved in cold water and when the broth is boiling add it as a thickener. Put in a 9X13 dish. Top with the can of green peas, and then add 2 ½ cups mashed potatoes. Bake for about 15 min to heat it through, you can add cheese to the top if you want.

Want more cheap beef recipes? see my Associated Content article with more recipes here

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Menu Planning - Fourteen Meals $5 each

One of the best ways to reduce your grocery bill is by adding cheap dinner meals to your menu plan. Menu planning is important to get the most benefit of what you are buying. Meals can still be made for under $5 but you must plan ahead to buy what is needed for these cheap dinners meals. This menu plan covers fourteen dinner meals for less than $50 total with one meal as a backup. Each of these meals is designed to feed four for dinner and is based on cost in northern Florida in 2008. While you may have to adjust the costs upward for a larger family or because of a higher cost of living in your area, you should still find these meals to be lower in cost than other possible dinner meals.

Meal 1 Chicken Salad Wraps
Meal 2 Chicken Quesadillas
Meal 3 Chicken Casserole
Meal 4 Chicken Primavera
Meal 5 Tuna Dogs
Meal 6 Tuna Fritters
Meal 7 Tuna Potato Cakes
Meal 8 and 9 Chicken Thighs - Two different marinades
Meal 10 and 11 Shepherd Pie
Meal 12 Spaghetti
Meal 13 Blackeyed Pea Soup
Meal 14 Hamburger Pie

Find recipes, cost breakdown, and grocery list here

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Slow Cooking Thursday - Sloppy Joes for a Crowd

Got plans for a get together and need something easy and quick to make? How about Sloppy Joes in the Crock pot?

Slow-Cooked Sloppy Joes
3 lb. lean ground beef
1 cup chopped onions
1 cup chopped celery
1/2 cup chopped green bell pepper
1(12-oz.) bottle chili sauce
1(6-oz.) can tomato paste
2 to 3 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1/4 teaspoon pepper
21 sandwich buns, split
Yield: 21 sandwiches
In large skillet, brown ground hamburger beef, onions, celery and bell pepper until beef is thoroughly cooked. Drain.
Place ground beef mixture in 3 1/2-to 4-quart slow cooker. Stir in all remaining ingredients except buns.
Cover; cook on low setting 3 to 5 hours, stirring occasionally. Serve on toasted buns

Crock pot/Slow cooking is a life saver for me when work and home schedules are busy. Have a favorite slow cooker recipe? Add it to your blog and link back to Diary of a SAHM

Pasta and Veggies - Another Easy Inexpensive Meal

Noodles are almost always cheap. If you watch the sales, you can get them on buy one get one free sales which can lower the cost to less than 50 cents a pack. But who wants to eat spaghetti day in and day out? Here's an idea to use those spaghetti noodles and add some veggies to your diet too. This meatless cheap dinner is a favorite in my house. If you have a family of meat eaters you can add canned chicken or chunky ham to this recipe.

Pasta and veggies

Cook one bag of spaghetti, cook one bag of frozen veggies.
Make a white sauce for the veggies.

White Sauce
1 c. milk or Half and Half
2 tbsp. butter, softened
2 tbsp. all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. black pepper

Bring the milk to a simmer in a 2-quart saucepan over moderate heat. In a small bowl, blend the butter and flour together with a spoon to form a smooth paste.
Using a wire whisk vigorously beat the butter-flour mixture, 1 rounded teaspoonful at a time, into the hot milk.
Cook, stirring constantly, over moderate heat for 2 to 3 minutes, or until the sauce is smooth and thick.
Season with the salt and pepper. Makes 1 cup.
Add Parmesan cheese or substitute chicken broth for half of the milk to add more flavor
Add white sauce to the veggies then lightly toss with the spaghetti.

Costs: Veggies, $1.00; Spaghetti, .80; milk, .50; other ingredients assumed to be on hand. Total Costs: $2.30

See other inexpensive meal ideas

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Make a Halloween Pep-o-Lantern

Halloween is a fun time for kids but often the decorations and food preparation are not easy enough for them to take an active part. Easy, yet fun to make, Halloween foods can make the holiday even more fun for your kids. Carving a jack-o-lantern isn't easy enough for little kids and winds up being a Halloween project mostly done by the parent. Consider carving Halloween pep-o-lanterns with your kids for an easy, fun food project this year. Pep-o-lanterns are fun to make, and are easy enough for even a small child to work with their own pepper.You can make your Halloween Pep-o-Lantern with any type of stuffing you want. You can use a standard pepper stuffing (the ground beef and rice recipes you easily find by a quick Internet search). Or you can make them even more fun for the kids by making Pizza Pep-o-Lanterns. A Halloween Pizza Pep-o-Lantern is an easy, fun, kid's Halloween project. Each child can choose the pizza fillings they like since each pepper is done individually. Click here the steps to making Pizza Pep-o-Lanterns.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Monster Nacho Bar - Teen Halloween Party

Having a teen Halloween party and wondering what to feed the goblins? How about a Monster Nacho Bar? It won't cost you any more than feeding them pizza and is easy to do.

A Monster Nacho bar is simple to put together. For your shopping list you will need the following:

Plenty of nacho or tostado type chips
Ground Beef, plan ¼ lb per teen attendingTaco seasoning mix 2 large blocks Velveeta cheese, one regular one Mexican style
Chopped tomatoes
Chopped onions
Chopped green chilies
Halloween plates

The afternoon of the party, place the Velveeta cheeses in a crock pot together. Set the crock on low for several hours so they melt before the party. Brown the ground beef, season with the taco mix and place in another crock pot to keep it warm until the party. Just before the teens are ready to eat, heat up the chips. Place the chips in a large bowl, so they can build their own monster nacho plates with the toppings of their choice.

Read more tips for a teen Halloween party here

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Got Hot Dogs?

Hot dogs are an item that Grocery stores seem to run on sale frequently. They may not be the most nutritious food but with the pinch on to cut grocery costs, hot dogs may be a meat that can be increased in the meal plans. Just having a dog on a bun gets old though so here's a simple hot dog recipe that my bunch likes

Hot Dog Noodles
1 lb Hot Dogs, chopped into bite size pieces
4 cans of tomato sauce (8 oz) or one large spaghetti sauce
1 lb bow tie noodles
8 oz Mexican type shredded cheese
Onion power or flakes

Preheat oven to 375°F
Chop up hot dog, add to sauce, and sprinkle with onion powder.
Cook noodles according to package directions.
Put noodles in baking dish.
Pour sauce over noodles and stir.Sprinkle cheese on top.
Place in oven and heat until cheese is melted.
This usually takes about 10 minutes.

You can read a few other hot dog recipes here.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

No Cook Day - Taco Dip

Fall brings busy days with hectic schedules. Many times this means spending money at a restaurant since it may be to late to cook by the time your day ends. Make this taco dip ahead of time, buy a few bags of chips and enjoy this along with a bowl of soup as an evening meal.

One Can refried beans (15 oz)
One cup sour cream
One cup mayonnaise
1 packet of Taco seasoning mix
1 can green chilies
1 bunch green onions
1 tomato
1 pack southwestern flavored chicken strips
2 cups shredded Mexican flavored cheese

The night before you want to have this meal, you will make this dip. It is much better if it sits over night. I make this in a 9X13 Tupperware dish that has a lid for cover. Empty the can of refried beans out into a bowl and stir them until the lose the stiff consistency. Spread them in the bottom of the 9X13 container. Use the bowl to mix the mayonnaise and sour cream along with the taco seasoning. Add the seasoning gradually so it doesn't clump up in your mix. Spread this on top of the beans. Shred up the chicken into small pieces or strips and place it on the top of the mayo and sour cream mixture. Remember this is a dip, so the chicken cannot be in huge chucks or it will break off the chip.Next add the green chilies to the dip. If you like black olives you can add those too. Chop up the green onions, to include some of the green stem. Chop the tomatoes into chunks. Spread the tomatoes and onions over the chicken. Sprinkle the entire container with shredded cheese. Place the lid on and refrigerate over night.My family likes this dip with Fritos or Doritos type chips but you could also use tortilla strips.

See more no cook meals here

Friday, October 17, 2008

Pasta Meals - Spanish Macaroni

Pasta meals are great for new cooks and are easy on the budget. Many pasta dishes can be prepared as the primary meal item for less than $5.00 and make enough to feed the entire family. Here's one we love:

Cheap Pasta Meal #1: Spanish Macaroni
1/2 pound ground beef
1/2 green pepper, chopped
1/2 cup chopped onion
2 cups water
1 (8 ounce) can tomato sauce
1 (28 ounce) can tomatoes (or 2 1-pound cans)
1-1/2 cups macaroni, not cooked
1 tablespoon chili powder

Cook the ground beef in a frying pan.
Drain the fat. Add all the other foods and mix with the meat.
Bring to a boil. Then turn the heat down to low.
Cover. Cook on low heat until the macaroni is done (about 10 to 15 minutes).
Stir 1 or 2 times so the macaroni will not stick to the pan.
Cost: Ground Beef, $1.50; Green Pepper, .50; onion, .50; tomato sauce, .40; tomatoes, 1.50; macaroni .50;

See More Cheap Pasta Meals

Freezer Food Friday - BBQ Dump Chicken

When life gets busy in this house (always seems that way!) I like to be able to rely on what I have premade in the freezer for meals. Freezer Food Friday always has a good recipe to consider ever week. Don't forgot to look at links to other bloggers adding their Freezer Food Friday ideas also. My recipe this week is definitely cheap and easy. Grab drumsticks or thigh pieces when they are on sale, or pick up a bag of chicken leg quarters and prepare them for the freezer as Dump Chicken. Doesn't sound pleasant but Dump Chicken gets its name because you dump the chicken with your marinade into a freezer bag, remove all the air and freeze until you need it. Remove from the freezer the night before cooking, and dump in a pan to cook. You can do as many pieces as you want. I find it best to marinade them in Quart size freezer bags so they get plenty of marinade around all pieces. Here's a Dump Chicken Marinade I use frequently:

3/4 cup Ketchup
3/4 cup Blackberry Jam
1/8 cup vinegar
1 Tsp Worchestershire
2 Tsp chili powder
1/8 Tsp salt

Mix all ingredients together, place 4 to 5 pieces of chicken in a quart freezer bag and pour marinade in the bag. Remove air from the bag and seal. Freeze until needed. When you are ready to use for a meal cook at 350 for one hour. If you use boneless chicken instead of full pieces, reduce cooking time to 25 minutes.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Crockpot Potatoes- Slow Cooking Thursday

Crockpot Potatoes

1 can cream of mushroom soup
Dash of garlic powder
16 ounces of Velveeta cheese cut into cubes or a jar of Cheez Whiz
2 pounds bag Southern style hash browns
1/2 stick butter or margarine
Mix in crock pot and cook on low for 6-8 hours or high for 3-4 hours.

You can add onions or green peppers to this if you want.

I've read blogs for recipes off and on for a couple of years. Slow Cooking Thursday has some great ideas for Crock Pot meals.

To Busy to Cook today?

Fall brings football and soccer practice, band and drill meets, sports events in the evening hours and additional days of hurricane season. Hurricanes and sports, you might wonder what is the relationship. It's simple. Both events preclude you from being able to have a good hot home cooked meal. Without proper planning, when these times come around you may find yourself at the local fast food drive up window, or standing in line to grab a cold sandwich from the Red Cross or Salvation Army after the storm hits. Not having the time to cook, or the power to cook, doesn't mean that you have to eat bland flavorless meals, or get them from somewhere other than home.

Find out how to handle no cook meals here:

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Cheap and Easy Tuna Meals under $5.00 each

Food prices are soaring and even tuna, which used to be sold for less than fifty cents a can, has risen in cost. Even though you need to watch for a sale to get it for less than .75 a can, tuna is still one of the cheapest ways to fill your table with a nutritious yet inexpensive meal. Tuna can be added to a variety of items for making a meal.

Read more