Tuesday, October 26, 2010

7 soups in I don't know how many days...

Ha!  Well, it was 7 soups in 7 days.  Now I've lost track.  Work, out of town, hubby gone, birthday parties all equal not really sticking to a plan.  I finally made the chili I was talking about tonight for dinner.  Chris is at work tonight so I guess we'll eat it tomorrow too.

I have seen and experienced both sides of the coupon world.  I have done the "hit every store for the great deals" thing, and I have also spent time waaaaay mellowed out.. almost too much :)  I have now found such a nice medium to it all.  I stay in a comfortable budget.  It still challenges me, but it doesn't keep me running from store to store.  When you get a grasp on how to really use coupons to their fullest (i.e. only using them when the item is on sale, etc.), and even without coupons, only shop the sales, you can sort of live a lifestyle of savings without the "crazy" aspect.

With that said, I still got 8 boxes of Cheerios today for $0.49 a box with my coupons.  It was a deal I just couldn't pass up!  I didn't even have a cart and just piled them up in my arms like a dork.  I obviously didn't go in the store planning to buy 8 boxes of Cherrios. :)

Where are you in your food budget?  Tight?  Comfortable?  Still spending too much?  Its a journey, isn't it?  I think most of us here are women that are working the food budgets (no offense if there are some guys!)  As women, wives, moms- it is empowering to save money in the kitchen and on household needs.  It frees us up a little and most of all, gives us more money to pay down debt and funds to give away.  I love watching God work in my little ol' food budget, don't you?!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

7 Soups in 7 Days- Soup Fail

So I forgot to soak my beans for chili, and when I got home from work yesterday I was at a loss for what to make... EXCEPT for the broth and cut up chicken in my fridge left over from the last few days of soup :)  So I hate to say it but yesterday's "soup" day was a big FAIL, except for the fact that the meal I made had all soup ingredients... it just wasn't runny like soup, ha.  I made chicken pot pie with a biscuit top.  Betty Crocker has a great recipe from scratch HERE- just top it with some homemade biscuits instead of the crust.  Soup and bread, right?  :)

I guess I didn't time things just right because now my husband is out of town for the next few days (lucky him to not have to eat any more soup ;), but me and the girls will just eat leftovers.  Tomato Basil and Hot and Sour will be on tonight's menu!  I plan to soak my beans for chili tonight so we'll have that tomorrow (and a bunch for the freezer too)!

If you have read my blog in the past, you've heard me say this before--- One thing I love about making things like biscuits is that you can make a few "mixes" for the next time you need to make that particular food.  I made up my biscuits and then made 3 extra baggies with the dry ingredients.  If you write on the front with a sharpie, you'll know what you need to add to complete the recipe and what temp to bake them on.  EASY!

Here's to a great night of soup leftovers and keeping cash in my wallet! :)

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

7 Soups in 7 Days- Day 4, Hot and Sour

Well, we made it past the halfway point!  I can't tell if everyone in my family is genuinely excited about the soup each night or if my hubby has discovered my blog posts LOL! :)  Either way, I think the soup last night went over well.  I've never made Hot and Sour Soup before so it was a fun learning experience.  I *loved* pouring the egg in the swirling water and watch it cook before my eyes.  I could definitely do that again!

Of course I added an "extra" with the meal.  We had a bag of the Ling Ling wontons in the freezer from Costco that were super easy and went with the soup well.  This was probably the most expensive soup so far- I'll tally everything up at the end for us to see.  Shitake mushrooms aren't the cheapest things in the world.

HERE is the recipe I used, but modified quite a bit.  I kept the stock the same, used chicken instead of pork among a few other things.  Let me know if you try this or have another recipe you love!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

7 Soups in 7 Days- Beef Stew was a WIN!

Ahhhh so much comfort in a good Beef Stew.... We have lots of Irish going on over here so it always has to have Guiness in it :)  Still no complaints on soup now 3 days in a row.  That amazes me!  In fact, my husband raved about the stew.  We'll see how tonight goes... I'll be trying something I've never made before!

The "extras", as I was reminded by a friend (thanks Andrea!), are very important to keep the man-folk happy when eating soup.  With the stew, my extra was homemade french bread.  You can view the recipe HERE.  Its an awesome and easy recipe.  I let it rise longer than she states though (I don't have a bread machine), and I usually triple the recipe to get 6 loaves and freeze them.

Here's how I make my Guiness Stew (makes enough for 4)

1.5 lbs stew meat
2 cloves garlic, chopped or sliced
1tbsp olive oil
2 bay leaves
small sprig of fresh rosemary
1 bottle Guiness
3/4 c beef broth
3 potatoes, chunked (smallish)
10 baby carrots, cut in half
2 tbsp flour mixed in 1/3 cup water

Brown the beef in olive oil and garlic.  Add bay leaves, rosemary, salt, pepper, Guiness and broth.  Cover and let simmer on low for a looong time :)  I think I let mine simmer for 2.5 hours or so.  During the last 25 minutes of cooking, add the carrots and potatoes.  When there are 5 minutes left, thicken it up with the flour and water mixture to your liking.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

7 Soups in 7 Days- Tomato Basil Success!

Day #2 was a success!  In case you didn't figure it out from the hint I gave at the end of the last post, I was roasting the last of our tomatoes from the garden to make a DELICIOUS (and mostly free) Tomato Basil Soup.  I got the recipe from a friend and it has changed my life.

My family still doesn't know I am attempting 7 soups in 7 days.  I probably would have heard some complaining by now if they knew that is what I was doing, but nothing yet :) They were "soup"er (sorry, couldn't resist) excited about the tomato basil soup... I also made grilled cheese to compliment it.  Its the end of tomato season, but you may still be able to get a good deal at your local farmers market!

Here's how to make the amazing Tomato Basil Soup (thanks Jennifer B!!)

21 tomatoes (or so)
7 cloves of garlic
4 cups (or so) chicken broth
3 basil leaves
salt to taste
dollop of sour cream to garnish

Wash, core and seed your tomatoes (I leave some seeds for texture, but not a ton) set in a roasting pan/casserole dish.  Put a peeled garlic clove in 1 out of every 3 or so tomatoes.  Drizzle olive oil over.  Roast on 350 for 45 minutes.  Let cool enough for you to handle and then peel each one and put into your food processor/blender.  Pour some of the juices from roasting in as well. Blend completely.  Put back on stove, add chicken broth, a few basil leaves and salt to taste.  Add sour cream dollop for garnish. YUM!!!

Tomorrow we're going to go the beef route to keep everyone happy... I bet they still won't notice what I'm doing! :)

Saturday, October 16, 2010

7 Soups in 7 Days

Wow!  Its been a long time since I have posted.  I miss it so much!  Life is busier now than ever- I am a preschool teacher 4 days a week and clean a house bi-weekly to help pay for our daughters tuition.  We LOVE her school so it is totally worth my time away.  A huge plus is that the girls hardly notice that I am working since I'm at the same preschool as our youngest.  God is good :)

Since my hours at home each day are much less than they used to be, I've had to get creative to stay on top of meals and honestly, as many of you know, cooking after a day at work is sometimes the last thing I want to do.  With a little planning (simply writing my meal ideas out on a calendar), we manage to stay pretty much in our food budget.  I do have to say that eating out here and there has been an amazing break on those needed nights, but I'm really going to try hard before the holidays to save eating out for date nights only.  We'll see how that goes.

In honor of it officially feeling like fall, we are going to attempt 7 soups in 7 days... Shhh don't tell my family.  I'll let it be a surprise, ha.  I'll cook some other things here and there to break up any monotony, but we'll try a different soup each day.  It will be great to have left overs as well for the freezer!

Day #1 (today)- Chinese Chicken Soup (not pictured... that is just a random pic)

This is how I made it today (using up some of the last of my garden ingredients), but it always changes.  Cut up bok choy is good in it, as well as spinach.  Sorry, no measurements.. just throw it all in to taste :)

-Chicken Broth
-Chopped Chicken (I boiled my whole chicken to get the first 2 ingredients)
-Brussel Spouts, chopped
-Swiss Chard, chopped
-Carrots, chopped (just a handful or so... it tends to get sweet if there are too many)
-Thai Hot Peppers... or whatever "heat" you have on hand, optional
-Green Onion, chopped
-Basil leaves (2)
-Soy Sauce, a splash
-Salt/Pepper, to taste

What will tomorrow bring?  Here's a hint: its more from my garden and the main ingredient is roasting in the oven right now! ;)

Monday, April 12, 2010

Monday's Meal Plan- Beef Week

I have another post that is more of an update coming, but I thought I'd get a meal plan out since I need to add pictures to the other one.

You haven't seen a meal plan in a long time... and I haven't officially written one out lately, which usually equals bad news.  :)  I do it in my head and then forget stuff.. no bueno, especially for the budget.  So here it is, in all it's glory.  I would LOVE to hear what you are cooking up!  We are supposed to be getting chicken that I ordered from a local farm this month, so until then, we're going to be using up ground beef from the freezer.. sorry family :)

Monday: Pot Roast with potatoes and carrots
Tuesday: Hamburgers, homemade buns, fries
Wednesday: Homemade egg noodles, Beef stroganoff
Thursday: Fish tacos and fixins
Friday: Beef Chili and cornbread

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Monday's Meal Plan

Well, a little late on the meal plan for the week!  We were out of town from Friday-Monday so I focused in on the laundry piles between last night and today :)  After my girls slept between 6-8 hours each night (which means I slept way less), imagine my delight to come home to a freezer full of easy food after last weeks couple of big cooking days.  Monday we did BBQ Chicken Calzones and Tuesday (tonight) we did Quesadillas.

If you are new to meal planning, let me encourage you to go for it-- What a HUGE money/time saver!  Pick a day (I like Monday) and take 15 or 20 minutes to start with your pantry and create meals out of what you have.  Create your grocery list on what you still need and make one trip to the store with your coupons in hand!

Here is the remainder of the week for us:

Wednesday- Pasta and Turkey Meatballs, steamed spinach
Thursday- Beef Stew, homemade bread
Friday- Meatloaf, scalloped potatoes, salad

What are you cooking up this week?