Sunday, September 29, 2013

Foot Smart

I may have found my new favorite catalog.  I have very bad knees and high arches.  I need to pay good money for shoes.  However the kind of shoes that are available in a retail store are usually ugly and expensive.

A co-worker turned me on to the FootSmart catalog.  They have CUTE shoes that are good for your feet.

The best part is, the listings show what shoes are good for arch support, cushion, bunions, etc.  They also carry things besides shoes.  There are circulatory socks, bunion cushions, arthritis products, braces for knees and ankles and much more.

Yes, these things are pricey, but I have found that I cannot buy inexpensive shoes and not have problems.

If you have foot, knee or arthritis issues, check this out.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Meals on a budget

I went grocery shopping today for the next 2 weeks. I spent $106.  Here are my purchases.

As you can see, there is produce, meats and pasta.  Being frugal does not mean you have to eat junk.  In fact, I am renewing my commitment to get healthy, so health was a large decision in my shopping.

If you know me, or follow this blog, you know I despise grocery shopping and cooking.  The nearest grocery store is 15 miles away, so I must plan meals.  There is no quick running for a missing ingredient.  I have ingredients for breakfast, lunch and dinner here.

This is our menu for the next couple of weeks.  Maybe a little bit longer because there will be leftovers.

One of my keys, which I have blogged about before, is my slow cooker.  Several of my meals will be bagged up to go in the slow cooker.  But I do all the prep in one day, so my cooking time is minimal each night.  In fact, I set up that my husband can actually have dinner on the table when I get home.

Right now my slow cooker is working with a whole chicken.  Part of it will be used in salads for me for lunch.  The rest will go in

Moroccan Couscous Salad - I am not a fan of chick peas, so I take them out and put in chicken instead to keep my protein.  I also change out the raisins for dried cranberries.  I like the tart taste with the chicken.

Chili - Fall is approaching and that means chili around here.  The recipe is not hard.  1 28 oz can of crushed tomatoes, 1 6 oz can tomato paste a can of kidney beans and some ground meat.  I use ground turkey for the health benefits, but you can use whatever you want.  In our area, we are known for putting pasta in our chili.  Try it some time.  It's quite good.  This is all bagged up and will go in the slow cooker.  A nice slow cooker all day brings the flavors together.

Spaghetti-  Since I made the ground turkey for the chili, I made all of my ground meat at one time.  I bagged the cooked meat with the spaghetti sauce.  It just needs to be thawed and combined with the hot cooked pasta.  Add a salad and we're ready to go.

Pork chop, veggie and rice bowls- This recipe is just for a veggie and rice bowl, but my husband doesn't do vegetarian, and I struggle with keeping my protein up, so I'm adding pork chops to this.  The boneless chops were the cheapest this week, so that's what we got. They will go in the slow cooker with a little bit of apple cider vinegar and some soy sauce.  This will tenderize them enough to be stirred into the rice and veggies and just break apart. The soy sauce will work well with the rice.  I use a quick cooking brown rice, again for the health aspect.

Slow Cooker Pepper Steak - My husband is a beef man.  This recipe works for him.  I bought a bag of mini peppers.  They were around $3.  If you have ever tried to buy colored peppers, you know they are expensive.  This bag of peppers is affordable and has enough for this dish and the couscous salad above, plus a few left over to top a salad.  Served over rice, this is a meal in itself.

Chicken Alfredo - This is often requested at home and it's a quick dish.  I know jarred Alfredo sauce is loaded with fat, but I don't have time to make it from scratch.  What I do is buy a small jar, and add one half to a full jar of skim milk to it.  It stretches the sauce, and reduces the calories because you're not getting as much sauce.  I cooked a 3 pound bag of chicken breast.  Some of it is diced for this dish, and the rest will be used in another dish to come.  Cook the pasta of your choice, and steam some broccoli.  Mix together and you're good to go.

Chubby Chicken and Cream Cheese Taquitos - My husband loves "messy food" so this one is for him.  This is where the rest of the chicken breast will go.  It has spinach in it, so it helps with the veggies, and it will use low fat cream cheese.  Again, add a salad and we're good to go.

Fish tacos - I eat these when I go out to lunch with my friends from work. I love them and our daughter loves fish, but hubby, not so much.  I have tilapia in the freezer so we're using that and we have fresh veggies from my trip to the farmer's market.  Tortillas will be used for this and the taquitos.  I bought an extra package, which I'll explain in the breakfasts.  Corn tortillas make this a great gluten free meal.

Grilled Kielbasa and Pesto Penne - I cooked this tonight and put it in a bag.  It will just need to be reheated.  We're going to have Roasted Okra along with this.

There's one recipe that's going to be an experiment to see if it goes over.  Hopefully my husband has quit reading by now and doesn't see this.  It's Pasta with Eggplant Sauce.  I bought an eggplant at the farmer's market, so I'm trying this.  I like eggplant, the child has never eaten it and hubby says he hates it.  I'm wondering if he'll notice it in this sauce.  It's loaded with veggies and when I add a salad, even more veggies.

OK, that's the dinners. Yes, this is from the $106 that I spent, and I still have more to go.

For lunches I can eat things that I know my husband won't eat.

A great fall lunch is a Stuffed Acorn Squash, which also happens to be gluten free.  I made the ground turkey for this when I made the rest for my dinner dishes.  

I found this Tuna and Asparagus Salad.  It calls for being made in a bread bowl, but I'm just doing it as a salad.  Who needs the extra carbs?

We have a toaster oven at work so this Baked Avocado Dish is a quick lunch.  I also got some artichokes to add to this.

And my dinner tonight after a couple of hours in the kitchen is a grown up version of grilled cheese.  It's a Tomato, Avocado and Mozzarella Grilled Cheese.  Here I'm using up the leftover avocado from the recipe above.

I'm still on the same $106.  And remember, I have leftover chicken to make salads or sandwiches.  And I can have leftovers from other meals for lunches.  I did buy 2 frozen dinners in case I run out of stuff, but that's still in my $106.

Now for breakfast.  You may have noticed that I bought fresh berries.  I also have a couple of bags of pears from a friend that had an abundance.

I have the extra tortillas and some English Muffins.  I'll put peanut butter and fresh berries on the English Muffins, or rolled up in the tortillas.

I can also roll up the tortillas with peanut butter and some of the pears, thinly sliced and some granola.

I also have a quick breakfast from my childhood.  My grandparents had a farm so we grew up with fresh dairy products.  One of my grandfather's things was to put sliced cheese on buttered toast.  Very simple, but very good. You don't melt the cheese.  Try it sometime.  I'll eat it on the English Muffins.

And all this on $106.  

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Whole chicken in a slow cooker

One of the easiest, and most economical, things is to cook a whole chicken in a slow cooker.  There really isn't a fancy recipe.  Buy a whole chicken, add the seasoning of your choice, about half a cup of stock/broth, plop the top on and away you go.  8 hours on low will produce a juicy chicken that falls apart.

My favorite seasoning is from Costco.  It's an organic no-salt seasoning.  It has a bunch of different spices in it and works in everything.  I just sprinkle some of that on top.  If you don't have a Costco nearby or don't want to get a membership, you can order it on Amazon as well.

You can serve the chicken for dinner, or I use it for various meals.  It works perfect on salads, mixed with rice and vegetables, or one of my favorites, a Moroccan Couscous Salad.  I've changed up the ingredients using whatever happens to be in the pantry.  I throw in chicken breasts and it makes a full meal.

You can use the chicken in soup, sandwiches, kids meals.  All kinds of things.

Experiment with different seasonings and see what you like.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Getting Healthy

Yes, I need to get healthy.  I've seen this simple "solution."

Really, how much simpler can it get?

A few days ago, we got an extended lunch hour (actually 2 hours) to go to the farmer's market.  I actually LOVE fruits and vegetables.  The farmer's market was a plethora of wonderful finds.

I got green beans, beautiful red tomatoes, assorted lettuce (which my husband actually liked), eggplant (which my husband does not like), okra and a bouquet of flowers for myself.  And I spent under $20.  I could have bought a lot more, but the 1 mile walk back to my office with arms laden with produce did not sound appealing.  Hitting the farmer's market tomorrow, does.

I'm also trying to set a good example for my daughter of making healthy choices and setting new habits for our family.

I'm making a commitment to get back in shape, so I'm looking for some good, healthy recipes.  What's your favorite?

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Freebies, Extreme Couponing and Helping Others

I've been very absent lately.  I started a new job in March and many other things in life have had me very busy.  But back to posting....

If you do couponing, or participate in rewards cards offers, you probably get free items.  What do you do with them?

We donate them to homeless shelters or abuse shelters.  We keep a paper bag that we drop our freebies or samples in.  Once a year we donate them to a shelter.

This is the start of our donations.  

If you read my blog, you know that I shop at Ulta and get free gifts.  I don't need the free gifts, so I throw them in the bag.  There is toothpaste, razors, make up cases and various other things.  

I also use Facebook and other sites to sign up for free items or samples. Anything we don't need goes in the bag.

If we are using coupons and getting free items, anything that is more than what our family needs goes into the bag.  

Shelters can always use personal hygiene items, and these items often end up being free with coupons if you're really watching your coupons. 

So, instead of amassing a massive stock pile that will take you years to use, how about giving some things to people who are truly in need?  I assure you every donation we have given has been greatly appreciated.