Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Penny Pinching Meal Ideas

Yesterday I wrote about how to turn one fryer chicken into 6 meals, plus 8 jars of chicken stock.  Writing was about the only productive thing I did yesterday!

Today, I thought I'd tell you another way I use one large cut of meat for numerous meals!

During my big grocery shopping trip, I also purchased a 4 pound roast for $15.92.  When I buy roast, I typically buy the absolute cheapest per-pound cut, so really, that is pretty high for a roast,  It was all that stupid store had, so I really had no choice.  I use roast meat for so many things, and it is something I really need to have around.

Once I got home, I sprinkled Real Salt all over the roast, then placed it in my slow cooker.  I added enough water to come about half way up the roast, then turned it to low and let it do its thing.  (That is why I love slow easy can it be?!)

When the roast was completely cooled, I let it cool.  While it was cooling, I poured the broth into my big stew pot, added a little water, then covered it, allowing it to stew for a bit.  I was able to get 4 jars of beef broth, but didn't can them yet.  (I pressure cooked the cans the same day I did the chicken broth, to help conserve energy and water.  Just like with the chicken broth, you must have a pressure cooker to can beef broth.)

I started working and cutting on the roast when it had cooled.  Since Mr. Picky (aka Barb Wire Man) is so picky, we don't eat plain roast with gravy because he doesn't like it.  I was able to get out enough meat for:
4 shepherd's pie
2 round of bbq sandwiches
3 pots of stew

Broken down, I got 4 jars of beef broth and 9 meals out of a 4 pound roast for $1.22 each.  Not the best I have ever done, but still, not too shabby if you ask me!

One thing to keep in mind is that I use the roast and chicken in meals that do not require a huge amount of meat.  Very rarely to I use more than half a pound of meat.  In fact, it is probably closer to 1/4 pound per meal for my family of four.  In chicken salad, I use a small amount of chicken, but once the boiled eggs are added it doubles in size.  The same goes for the beef I use in shepherd's pie and stew.  A small amount of meat goes a very long way once you start adding those fresh veggies in with it!

Does anyone else have any uses for roast?  Be blessed!

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Frugality and Health

Two posts in as many days.  Think I am setting a record here!

I am the type of person who hates to waste anything.  My mom says I just can't let things die, and she is right.  But, you know the old saying "waste not, want not"?  I can't throw something away if I know I can utilize it in some way.  Plus, I want to be a good steward of the things God has given me.

Some people have asked me what type of things I do to save money, be frugal, and waste as little as possible.  There are so many, I can't ever think of them all, but today, I will share one thing I have done this week to be frugal.

On Sunday, when I purchased my groceries, I bought a whole, organic fryer chicken for $6.92.  It was a little higher than the chicken I normally by, because it was a hormone free organic chicken, but I am going for health here, so I thought it worth it.  When I got home, I immediately threw it into my biggest stew pot and boiled it until it was done.  I will leave out the story about how I forgot to take the bag of giblets out, because the chicken I usually buy doesn't come with giblets.  We won't talk about how Barb Wire Man laughed his butt off at me for cooking those giblets in the plastic bag the entire cooking time.  Anyhow....  Once the chicken was cooked completely, I chopped it up.  Barb Wire Man does not eat chicken, so a whole fryer goes a very long way.  I was able to get 6 meals out of this chicken for my kids:
1.) Plain chicken with veggies
2.) Mac and Cheese with chicken
3.) 4 bags of chopped chicken, which I froze, to use for chicken salad at later dates

Once the chicken was cool, and completely de-boned, I reserved the broth it cooked in, plus all the bones (which I broke up).  Yesterday I put it all into my big stew pan, along with a carrot, a chopped celery rib, half an onion, and a bay leaf.  I let it simmer for a good 12 hours to make chicken stock.  If you haven't had homemade chicken stock, you are missing out!  It tastes about a gazillion times better than what you can buy at the store.  Plus, I was able to keep salt and other things I don't want in there out!  Once it had simmered until I thought it was just right, I was able to can 8 jars of stock!  (Note:  You must have a pressure cooker in order to can chicken stock.  A boiling bath will not get the jars hot enough to make sure all bacteria is gone.)

So, to break it down, I got 6 meals and 8 jars of chicken stock for a whole 49 cents each!  You can't even buy one jar of pre-made chicken stock for 49 cents!  (Sorry about not having any pictures!  I didn't think to take any while I was actually making the stock!)

It certainly takes time, and energy to do that, however, in the end, it is worth it to me.  I'm saving on my grocery bill, but more importantly, I know exactly what my kids are eating.

I hope to write more posts on the little things I do that help save money, and help me feed my kids more nutritious meals.  In the meantime, what are some things you do to stay frugal?

Be blessed!

Monday, February 27, 2012

Just Call Me Superwoman!

Yes, I know, I have not written in over a month.  No, I have not forgotten, but some things have just had to take a backseat lately.

I've totally changed my family's diet, and believe it or not, that really is occupying a lot of my time.  I really always thought that we ate a pretty healthy menu.  I cooked nearly all of what we made, but took lots of liberties.  For example, my idea of homemade spaghetti involved using a jar of pre-made sauce, though I would never go so far as to make Hamburger you know what.  But, after doing some reading, started to get really disgusted with things we buy at the store, and how misleading labels really are.  Did you know the ingredient "natural flavors" is far from natural? They alter it in labs, singling out the "best" part of the flavor gene, then use that.  Sure, that seems good, except then our tongues are trained to only want the "perfect" flavor, and it becomes addicting.

So, we have become a "real food family".  If it isn't something that comes naturally, we don't eat it.  (When I say we I really mean the kids and I, and Mike sometimes).  That means a lot more time in the kitchen.  I'm not perfect, and sometimes something slips in, but I am really trying!  A friend recently pointed out in her blog how we often hear about how the under-privileged are most often overweight, because they cannot afford "health foods", but that in all honesty, it is hard for anyone, regardless of income, to find healthy, real food in a big chain store.

Boy was she right.

I have two groceries stores in my town.  One being Walchainstore, which I hate, and the other is a locally owned store.  Now, the locally owned store is trying to carry more real foods, but with only about a quarter of an aisle, there isn't much to choose from.  The other has more, yes, but certainly not an amazing selection.  I have also noticed that the healthier, real, and organic foods are almost always way up on the very top shelf.  Or, on the very bottom.  With limited selections, I'm just having to make more on my own.  More of my own bread, sauces, you name it.

Tonight, I made stuffed manicotti.  Oh my lands was it yummy!  I used whole wheat manicotti (which I didn't make myself, because it was organic and had only "real food" ingredients.  For the stuffing, I sauteed red, yellow and orange bell peppers with garlic, Real Salt, and pepper.  I wilted a little baby spinach with some olive oil, then browned a quarter pound of hamburger (for the all beef Barb Wire Man) with about a quarter cup of rolled oats.  I mixed it all together with some freshly grated Parmesan, and spaghetti sauce.  I didn't make my sauce this time (hey, I was making soap and canning chicken broth at the same time I was cooking supper!), but did find a really, really good organic spaghetti sauce.  This has Ragu and Prego beat under the table, and the only ingredients are tomatoes, onions, sugar, sweet basil, sea salt, EVOO, Garlic, black pepper, fennel and oregano.  I topped it with some more of the sauce and sprinkled it with mozzarella and Parmesan.  Oh, was it good!

In the last two days, I have also cooked two roasts, cooked and de-boned a whole chicken, canned 8 jars of jelly, canned 8 jars of homemade chicken stock, and made soap.  So, I have been a little busy!

Hopefully will be checking in more often!  Have a blessed day!