Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Frugal Challenge - Feeding Your Family On Less

Let me start this post with this. Every morning I get up and make a cup of coffee, turn on the computer and watch Stu Varney on Fox Business News. My favorite show. I am a nerd I know. But what I do follow closely is the economy and let me also say this, folks we are not only heading for another recession, I don't believe we ever came out of the last one. What "recovery" there was, was so weak, that most of us are not better off than we were last year or the year before but either stagnant if you are lucky or doing worse.

I do not foresee improvement for a very long time, if ever. This is perhaps the new America. Let's all hope I am completely off the mark but I suspect I am not. BUT for my kids sake, I hope there are brighter days ahead. That all being said, whew, I am taking some of the summer months to double down on money saving areas in our house. 

First off is food. It is a huge expense in this house. We feed five adults and one little one.
I must keep focused on spending as little as possible to feed us while making meals, nutritious and satsifying.
One area of our food budget that will be watched carefully is meals out. We usually pick up dinner lately once a week but I would like to cut that to once every two weeks. The urge to pick up meals comes on days when I am busy or don't have a plan. I am making sure the pantry is stocked with easy homemade fast 
food. One favorite is make your own nachos. I cook up some ground turkey, open up some beans and dice up and set out whatever might taste good on nachos. Everyone makes their own and clean up is easy.

Even Q loves nacho night. We will have it at least once or twice a month to save on running out for take out.

Using up every last bit of food. If we cannot possibly eat it, then the chickens may get it but with things like odd slices of bread and buns in your bread box, why not make garlic toast out of it? My family loves when I do this. Great filler too when extra guests decide to have dinner with us.

Eat as much as we can out of our own garden. I have been replanting square foot areas from seed every two weeks so we always have a supply of extra salad fixins or veggies for dinner. That has been one of my goals this year and I have stayed committed to always have new plantings in as soon as something else comes out.

Oh how I love a Starbucks run but I am saving that for special treats with hubby on the weekends. It is just so spendy to pick up a coffee there. My replacement coffee maker has come so I am back in business with the Keurig. Love it!! I may treat myself to some tasty creamers as a bottle spent on that with a coupon lasts a while and makes the morning cup extra yummy. Less temptation to run into the coffee shops.


  1. such wonderful tips, you are so organized!
    Your little girl is such a sweetie,

  2. I so hear you about the cost of food and necessary items. It is really getting expensive just to eat in...we rarely eat out anymore...and then only if we have a buy one, get one.
    Glad to see you got your Keurig back....I would so miss mine. I do splurge and get half and half for my tea...it lasts quite a while and I am the only one that uses it...my treat!

  3. We rarely eat out, so I constantly keep the pantry and freezer full. I always look first at the meat markdown section at the store. Then I separate it into meal size and plan the rest of my meals around whatever I find. There's always a lot of steak for really cheap and so I use part of that to grill and then slice really thin for fajitas. I try to never waste anything and definitely shop the ads. Great idea with the nachos, they really are soooooooo good. Hugs, Marty

  4. Also freezer cooking is a big help in terms of time, and sometimes money too if you plan ahead and buy in bulk too.

  5. Elaine,
    I am with you on the state of the economy. When we suffered the Great Depression it lasted from 1929-1939. I have heard predictions that this could last that long or longer. Food is a huge expense, we have tried to eat frugally for the last 16 years, but I love to eat fresh food. So we have a great looking garden this year. I hope it helps.

  6. Every year I think I'll have a garden, but I just never do. I think I'll have to start really small (or just do a container at first) and then work up.

    Have you ever tried lentils and brown rice tacos? They are really yummy and really economical.

    When my kids first tried them years ago, I didn't tell them there was no meat.

    It wasn't until they enthusiastically had seconds that I told them and my oldest said "Wait, you mean there's NO meat? Seriously?"

    They didn't miss the meat, lol! I honestly didn't think I'd like it at all but I loved it. Who knew? Since then I've tried several recipes with lentils and incorporated them into our meals!

  7. The economy is a concern. I have my garden and that makes such a big difference. It feeds the body, nourishes the soul, and saves me money.

  8. Your green background is so relaxing to me... I don't buy a coffee out. Just feels too decadent, I guess. But that's a cheap date for you and your husband!

  9. Gosh those Nachos look good! Great, reasonable ideas. I feel we waste too much. I need to work on that in particular...Your garden looks GREAT!! Does your husband know how blessed he is to have you for a wife? You are on your game!!

  10. Wonderful advice here! We don't eat out nearly as much as we used to..and I cook more now that I am not working so many odd hours, too.

    Blessings to you- xo Diana

  11. Wonderful, and timely advice, it's true I don't think that the economy has recovered...yet. Hoping that good changes will happen soon.

    What great food ideas, everyone can always use a few hints. Where we live up here we are still into Mexican, and California produce. Salad greens are available, we grow them ourselves, and some local asparagus, and rhubarb, but it's been a slow spring.

    Jen @ Muddy Boot Dreams

  12. The grocery bill has really become one to watch! I have always cooked the majority of our meals. I shop carefully, and use coupons, but they are not very good anymore, so I try to shop according to what is fresh, and in season. I am constantly amazed at the cost of food these days!!!!
    XO Kris

  13. Since both my husband and I work. I keep stews and casserole in the freezer. A couple of minutes in the microwave and I have dinner. For a date night Rick and I would go to Barns and Noble cafe. Have a coffee while talking or browsing thru their books. One of our favorites in the summer was having a night time picnic. It would be cool and the candles made it a little romantic. Watching a movie on our portable DVD under the stars made it perfect.

  14. I have been doing my own garlic bread for years. I have used everything from hot dog to hamburger buns. Just spread some margarine on them and sprinkle with garlic powder, and under the broiler till golden brown. I have even saved these pieces of bread and froze them to used for dressing to stuff a chicken or turkey. I add cornbread to the bread too if I have left overs. Just add your onion, celery, sage, pepper, salt and chicken broth, you got stuffing for the bird. If you want to make your own chicken or turkey broth put what is left of the baked bird carcass in a pot of water and bring to a boil then simmer for about an hour. You can add celery hearts with the leaves on and remove them after simmering. When broth cools you can store in freezer containers and put in freezer. There might be some fat that has come to the top just skim it off with a spoon and pitch it. Next time you want some broth for soup or to add to dressing you have it handy.
    Susanne :)

  15. We love nachos here too and I make garlic bread out of leftover hotdog buns or whatever bread is on hand. I don't drink coffee, but my husband does. We don't do Starbucks. I will occasionally buy him some good German coffee which lasts for months. No garden for me this year, maybe next year. :)

  16. Good Morning Elaine,
    Thanks for the wonderful post!
    I am really trying to be more concious about eating out also. Funny thing is Hubby seems to be the one addicted to it. I thought I was! Go figure! I think you are right about the economy, it gives me shiveers to think about it.
    ladybug cottage

  17. Gorgeous flowers! I think you're right about the economy, and I think it may get much worse, but that's me. I think keeping a full pantry (I use a bedroom closet) is a must right now. When I'm working full time it's tough not to eat out. I can plan ahead better when I'm off for the summer. With cutting back you can- make bread from scratch, buy dried beans, soak over night and cook, instead of using canned; buy corn tortillas and fry your own chips (MUCH cheaper), and buy Starbucks beans and make your own (hubby figured it's about 25% of buying the coffee at the restaurant), it still tastes great! Costco is good for buying large amounts of great cheese, and freeze the excess, thaws fine, ditto french/italian bread, chips.

  18. great tips! I love Stus show too...we have Fox on 24/7 around here lolol...and since my hubbys a financial advisor he watches it every morning. Im hoping things improve...we need LESS government and regulations and maybe just maybe things can get better??? I have never been so pessimistic tho:(
    I love my coffee with creamer and always stock up when its on sale, this week its 2/5.00
    I also signed back up for the grocery game....trial run to see how much I can save....

  19. Elaine you really are my blogging mentor. Love everything you post! xoxoxox

  20. You are organized.
    Wear do you buy your coffee for the Kuerig. I know it is cheaper than starbucks but still feel it is expensive.

  21. great tips! My girls love when I do the hot dog/hamburger buns garlic bread.

  22. Elaine..
    I have to 'amen' your thoughts on the economy.
    I keep wondering where in the world these people are getting their information from that are telling us that we are all doing so much better ??!!

    We have always tried to live a frugal life and make the most out of what we have.

    I'm with you.. we need to try a little bit harder, and be a little bit smarter about our buying choices.

    We too are trying to eat out of our garden... if it would just quit freezing and finally grow ~~LOL!

    Smiles :)

  23. I tend to agree with your projection for our economy. We are very crunched already and I tend to believe it's only going to get worse. I too have been trying to cut corners on our bad spending habits. We do taco (nachos) night about once or twice a month as well. It's easy and filling. Love this post. Great tips. Thanks!

  24. I have been buying Starbucks coffee and making it at home with my French press. I have found that some of their dark roasts truly go a long way!!!

    One thing I do that helps (especially in the winter) is I cook fresh vegetables, and we eat half and then I freeze the rest for winter. I do this all summer long, and buying locally grown food is much less expensive. Of course your "locally grown" is a bit different from mine... ;P