"A Penny Saved Is A Penny Earned"

Friday, June 26, 2009

Family Meals Under $5 - Spaghetti

Family Meals Under $5 - Spaghetti


"...Weekly grocery circulars often read “feed a family of 4 for under $10!”. I’m sure most of you have laughed at this as I did. As a result, I began to wonder what does dinner really cost for my family of 8? So I set a challenge for myself and I figured if I kept it under $5, I was doing good..."

We all know spaghetti is the way to go if you want to have a cheap dinner but you'll be amazed at just how far under $5 I was able to go.

I tried some new things on my family too and was pleasantly surprised at their response. I usually get a lot of "Uughs" when I try something new but not this week! I hope you'll like it too.

Spaghetti with tofu & tomato sauce - $3.27
French Bread - .50
Salad - Free

Total -$3.77

Tofu and tomato sauce
Medium/firm tofu - $1.28
1/2 onion chopped - .13
2 cloves garlic, minced - .04
2c tomato sauce - .32
basil - free from the garden
oregano - free from the garden
1 1/2 lbs penne pasta - $1.50

French Bread - .50 on sale at Super 1 Foods

Salad
lettuce -free from the garden
broccoli - free from the garden
spinach - free from the garden
beet greens - free from the garden

Tofu can be an inexpensive alternative to meat. I buy the medium/firm type and crumble it. It generally takes on the flavors of what you cook it with so I browned my onion and garlic first, then added the spices, then added the tofu and cooked it a little to crumble it. Finally I added the sauce and let it simmer for about 15 min.

Having a garden is a great way to cut expenses. On top of that the food value is so much better than what you'd buy in store. If you've never had a garden before I suggest you try it out. You can start out small by having just a few plants in containers. Before you know it you'll be hooked.
Finally, when the garden is in, the salad is cheap and plentyful, so make sure to plant a garden. For great gardening tips checkout our raised bed gardening blog.



Live less, Live more
Renee


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Monday, June 22, 2009

Family Meals Under $5 - Pizza


Sorry about the late post. This was an eventful weekend for our family with a birthday on Friday, Fathers Day on Sunday and our anniversary today. 19 wonderful years!
So for our Under $5 dinner I have what you might think is a suprise. Pizza. Believe it or not you can have pizza for under $5. There are a lot of frugal ideas in this weeks post so here we go.

Pizza - $4.12

Salad - $.54

Total = 4.66

Pizza
Crust = .71
2 pkg yeast ( or 41/2 t) = .06 - ($3.89 for a 2lb bag at Costco)
2 t sugar
1 c warm water
5 c flour = .55
4 T oil = .10
2 t salt

I got this recipe from Allrecipes.com. It's called Quick and Easy Pizza Crust and it is quick and easy. This is a great site I go to a lot and have also signed up for their newsletter "The Daily Dish" . Check it out.

Knowing what you're going to cook ahead of time is a huge help in saving money. It prevents you from running to the store to grab something and spending more than you planned - I've been there or from eating out. Ordering a pizza is WAY more than $5.

Sauce
Sauce = .25
tomato sauce = .16
1/4 c chopped onion = .07
minced garlic clove = .02

I just use tomato sauce and add some chopped onion, garlic and spices. I buy my tomato sauce at Costco in the big #10 can. It's $2.12 so that's .02c an ounce. I'll use what I need for a recipe and freeze the rest in separate containers. When I need tomato sauce I'll just defrost it in the microwave. .32 c for 16 oz is a lot cheaper than I can find anywhere else.

I also buy a few of these #10 cans at a time. My family goes through about 1 can a month so thats 12 cans for the year or $25.44 - not too bad.

Buying in bulk when it's possible really does save. Plus you can stock up at the cheaper price. Prices are always going up. Who knows what they'll be in the future.

Cheese = 2.01 for 6c of mozzerella ($3.69 for a 2lb loaf at Costco)
Meat = $1.15
1lb of ground turkey at Winco Foods (the price went up!)

This was my basic pizza. You could raid your fridge for leftover meats and veggis and bring your cost down.

Salad
Salad = .54
Lettuce - FREE from the garden
cucumber = .20 from a local fruit stand - a great place to get cheap fruits and veggis
tomato = .25
carrot = .09
Dressing - FREE

This week I got 2 bottles of Kens Steakhouse Dressing for free.

I have been wanting to use coupons more since I have some friends that are saving HUGE amouts of money using them. I don't know a whole lot but am anxious to learn. I'll be sure to post how I'm doing.

Coupon Saving
So I got 2 coupons from my paper for $1 off Kens salad dressing. Albertsons has been having doubler coupons where they will double your manufactures coupon up to $1. They also had the Ken's dreesing on sale for $2 each so -whala $2 for the dressing minus $1 with the coupon and $1 with the doubler = free. I had 2 coupons and 2 doubler coupons so I was able to get 2 bottles of dressing for free. It really is a lot of fun to see hao much money you can save. We've added a link on the right so you can get coupons and get started with couponing too.

I know there was a lot in this post. It just goes to show you that there are so many ways to be frugal.

Live less, live more
Renee

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Thursday, June 11, 2009

Family Meals for Under $5 - Tater Tot Casserole

A close-up of a plate of Tater Tots.Image via Wikipedia


Family Meals for Under $5 - Tater Tot Casserole

"...Weekly grocery circulars often read “feed a family of 4 for under $10!”. I’m sure most of you have laughed at this as I did. As a result, I began to wonder what does dinner really cost for my family of 8? So I set a challenge for myself and I figured if I kept it under $5, I was doing good..."

This weeks meal is Tater Tot Casserole. I have fond memories of friends bringing me this dinner after I'd had a baby and again when I was pregnant and just didn't feel like cooking. The kids loved it too. I hope your family will like it as well.

I had thought of this recipe back when I started doing this but the cost of the tater tots combined with the meat just wouldn't let me keep it under $5. So when I saw them both on sale at Winco a couple of weeks ago I knew it would be possible. I made a full tossed green salad to go with it.

Tater Tot Casserole = $3.70

Tossed Green Salad = $1.21

Total = $4.91

Tater Tot Casserole
1 1/2 lb ground turkey @ .79 lb = $1.18
1/2 c chopped onion = .13
1 can cream of mushroom soup = .50
1 15 oz can green beans = .54
2 lb bag frozen tater tots (on sale @ Winco) = .99
1 c grated cheddar cheese - $1.98lb @ Winco = .36

Normally I'd use ground beef but since I saw the great deal on ground turkey I couldn't pass it up. I have been using ground turkey a lot more lately because I can usually find it cheaper than the ground beef.

Brown the ground turkey with the onion till no longer pink. Season well with salt & pepper. Stir in the soup and drained green beans. Spread into a 13 x 9 baking dish. Top with bag of tater tots. Cover with foil and bake for 1 hr @ 350. Uncover, top with cheese and place back in oven for 5 more min or till cheese melts.

Tossed Green Salad
1/2 head Romaine lettuce @ 1.50 = .75
1/2 cucumber @ .50 = .25
1 Roma tomato, diced = .12
1 carrot, shredded = .09

Total = $1.21

Remember when the garden is in the salad is even cheaper, so make sure you plant a garden. For great gardening tips checkout our raised bed gardening blog.

Live less, live more
--Renee

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Thursday, June 4, 2009

Family Meals for Under $5 - Oriental Oven Baked Chicken

Family Meals for Under $5 - Oriental Oven Baked Chicken

"...Weekly grocery circulars often read “feed a family of 4 for under $10!”. I’m sure most of you have laughed at this as I did. As a result, I began to wonder what does dinner really cost for my family of 8? So I set a challenge for myself and I figured if I kept it under $5, I was doing good..."

For this week's recipe, I found it probably 17 years ago off the back of a Campbell's soup can. I always liked it because not only was it good, it was quick and easy. You've heard that before, I know. I hope you enjoy it too. I always serve it with rice and a vegetable. This time it was steamed broccoli.


Oriental Oven Baked Chicken = $3.63
Rice = .50c
Steamed Broccoli = .87c

Total = $5.00

Oriental Oven Baked Chicken
4lb chicken pieces (quarters were .79c lb at Fred Meyer) = 3.24
1 10.75 oz can condensed tomato soup .25c @ Fred Meyer = .25
3T white vinegar = .02
2T soy sauce = .10
2T brown sugar = .02
1/2 t garlic powder
1/4 t ground ginger

Preheat oven to 375. Place chicken in 13 x 9 baking dish and cover with foil. Bake for 30 min. Meanwhile mix all other ingredients together. Pour over rice and bake, covered an additional 30 min or till no longer pink.

After adding sauce to chicken, start your rice and water in steamer for broccoli. When steamer water is ready add broccoli and cook to desired tenderness. The rice and broccoli should be done at the same time as chicken.

1 lb of long grain white rice = .50

3 broccoli crowns @ .58c lb = .87c

Remember when the garden is in the broccoli is even cheaper, so make sure you plant a garden. For great gardening tips checkout our raised bed gardening blog.

NOTE: When I saw the soup on sale I tried to stock up. I had to use the coupon from the weekly circular and it had a limit of 8. Luckily I was able to get 2 coupons.

This brings up a key point on frugal living and probably a future series of posts on food storage and bulk buying, when you see something you use on a regular basis, stock up on that item as much as you can. This helps drive the cost of you dinners down.

Having a well stocked pantry is important. When you stock up on items that are on sale you reduce your grocery budget. In addition you're also saving up for a "rainy day".

We had a few days this winter when everything was closed down due to heavy snowfall. Later that month our local Wal-Mart was closed for about 4 days to clean off all that snow from their roof. I kept thinking "what if this lasts for a week or more? Would people have the basic necessities to get them by?"

These days there are many reasons we may not be able to go to the store from weather to natural disasters to unemployment. You can start out slow and just get a couple of things you use all the time when you see them on sale and can afford it. No going into debt here. Just having that little bit can be of great comfort to your family in tough times.

Remember Noah didn't start building the ark when it was raining...

Live less, live more
--Renee

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Works for me Wednesday - Frugal Summer Fun

Frugal Summer Fun

Summer is officially here and in a few days the kids will be home. For me this will be a change since I only have 2 at home during the day. Now it'll be 4 and when the teenagers aren't working, 6!

While I'll enjoy spending time with them I'm not looking forward to when they start telling me there's nothing to do. I'm sure they don't want to hear my usual response, "Oh, you need something to do?"

So what can you do to keep the kids entertained without breaking the bank. Here are some things that we have done in the past.

Also if you read last weeks WFMW post about the summer fun bags you can be ready for fun at a moments notice.

1. Nature - It's free! We live in an area with lots of lakes and rivers nearby so this is usually the first thing we do. You can have hours of fun just playing in the water and the sand. I'll usually pack some food, grab our suits and off we go. There's nothing like a cool lake on a hot summer day. In addition to water time there is hiking. Kids love exploring and there is so much to see out on a trail. To find some great places to go in the northwest go to http://www.wildernesstrip.com/.

2. Letterboxing - Speaking of exploring, one thing I found a couple of years ago was Letterboxing. All you need is a stamp and a logbook (a fun craft to do with the kids). Go to http://www.letterboxing.org/ to get clues to where you can find hidden letterboxes. Once you find a box you stamp its logbook with your stamp and put their stamp in your logbook. It's alot like geocaching, you just don't need a GPS.

3. The Library - Most have summer reading programs with lots of fun activities for the kids to do. Plus it encourages them to keep up on that reading.

4. Reading - pick out a couple of books you'd like to read and read them out loud with your kids. Have D.E.A.R. time (Drop Everything And Read). Everyone just drops what they're doing and reads for a specific length of time.

5. Movies - I really try to limit the electronic time in my house because I know if I don't it'll get away from me but once in awhile a trip to the theater can be fun. Regal cinemas has a Free Family Film Festival where they show free G and PG movies every Tuesday and Wednesday at 10 am. Go to http://www.regmovies.com/ and click on the link.

6. Farms - We always have a big garden, but I don't have everything so we've headed out to some local farms to pick fruit. You have to pay for the fruit but it's cheaper and so much better than what's in the grocery store. Plus the fun is free.

7. County Fair - Preparing something for an exhibit can take hours. With so many categories to choose from there is bound to be something your little one can do. I remember walking around in past fairs, looking at all the exhibits and thinking "I can do that" or "My kids could do something like that". I had been wanting our family to enter for years and last year was the first time someone actually did something.

Last year our then 4 yo entered a cabbage he had been tending all summer. He had so much fun entering it and going back to see if he had won a ribbon. A plus to this is that you usually get free admission for entering (a nice frugal way to get all your kids into the fair for free). That leaves more money for elephant ears!

By the way, for great gardening tips checkout our raised bed gardening blog
http://www.raised-bed-gardening.org/

I hope this "Works for me Wednesday" post has given you some ideas on some frugal ways you can have fun with your kids this summer. Enjoy!

To see what others are doing when their children are bored visit Works for me Wednesday.

Live less, Live more
--Renee