5.16.2012

Using What You Have On Hand to Make Healthy Meals!

Sweet Potato & Crasin Muffins


This week, I have been baking and cooking up a storm...especially for a 39 week pregnant woman. :D My husband and daughter have been happy with all that I have been making.

I got inspired by Money Saving Mom's Freezer Challenge - while I haven't put anything in the freezer...well a few chopped vegetables from our csa box - I have made a few things from scratch. I also was inspired by some people's comments on her site about how $50 per week (or less) for groceries is not realistic if you want to eat healthy. 

As most of you know, I try to keep our budget around $150-160 per month - now with our CSA box I have extended that to $180 per month but still want to try to spend less. This budget gives me room to stock up on everyday items or sweet deals I may find. I also have planted a small garden with tomatoes, romaine lettuce, onions, zucchini and herbs. While I do not get a ton of produce from this - it still gives enough for a bunch of meals. Plus, my in laws have started a garden and I know we will be getting some different things from them too. :D 

{No one has said anything specifically to me about $50 per week being unrealistic - just comments I have read on the guest posts of some blogs. There were people saying that if you only spent that much you were probably feeding your family lots of processed foods. This is not the case in my family.} 

We eat lots of fruits, veggies, whole grains and organic meats. You just have to be smart. Shop that sales, use coupons, buy local and get creative! Now, we do eat some processed foods but in moderation - somethings are just to yummy to give up. :D 

God has blessed us greatly with the resources we need to feed our family healthy food while on a budget. 

Here are some things that work for our family when it comes to grocery shopping: 

- Shop at Aldi. This is the biggest one for us - they have great produce at great prices! I have also found the same brands of fruits and veggies at Aldi that I do at the health food stores. 

- Shop at discount stores - this is mainly for bread for us. $0.99 per loaf for whole grain bread is great in my book! 

- Buy stock up items at Publix, CVS, and Bi-Lo. I also go to Walgreens, Target, Earth Fare, and Whole Foods on occasion. This is where most of my couponing is done. I do not pay very much for toiletries, if anything. 

- Order from Vitacost and Amazon. I have used Vitacost's referral program - made $30 on that alone. Plus to order on Amazon - I use my Swagbucks points to earn gift cards. I love free money! 

- Make food from scratch. I also make our own jams/jellies, can tomatoes/tomato sauces and other odds and ends. 

Avocado, Basil and Lime Pasta 

This week I made Sweet Potato Muffins (2 dozen), Avocado, Basil and Lime Pasta, Homemade BBQ Chicken Pizza and Slow Cooker Chili. I did not have to purchase anything to make these items - I used what I had on hand. And I must say...they were delicious! 

Sweet Potato & Craisin Muffins: eggs, sugar, sweet potatoes (4), milk, oil, applesauce, flour (all purpose and buckwheat), baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, salt and crasins

Avocado, Basil and Lime Pasta: noodles, avocado (1), fresh basil (from csa box), lime juice (made 4 lunch servings)

BBQ Chicken Pizza: flour, vegetable oil, sugar, salt, water, yeast, 1 chicken breast (shredded), mozzarella cheese, bbq sauce and italian seasoning (made 4 1/2 servings)

Slow Cooker Chicken Chili: 1 can corn, black beans, tomatoes with chilies, 2 chicken breasts, chili powder, onion, garlic, cumin, sour cream and tortilla chips (made 6-8 servings)

I will also be making beet green chips (beet greens tossed in olive oil and salt - bake for 10 min at 350 F), lentil and collard green soup, arugala and fennel pizza and some sort of salad. We have lots of greens, beets, radishes and herbs from our CSA box to use up. And we will be getting another one on Friday! I have chopped all the veggies, placed them in ziploc bags and stored some in the freezer for smoothies (kale, spinach and collards). 

I found all of the above recipes on pinterest - except for the pizza recipe - that is from moneysavingmom's blog! I use it every time! There are SO many resources that we have been given. Why not use them?!

Keeping your budget low does take a little work and creativity but it is so worth it! I am able to provide my family with fresh, local fruits, veggies and meats while still staying within budget. 

Remember it can be done! I will say that if I had growing teenagers - our budget would be closer to the $200 range but I am confident that I wouldn't have to go over that. I would say that I could feed up to 6 people on $200 per month. I would stick with what I do now. 

I hope this has been of some encouragement to you. If you have any questions for me, let me know! I will help you in anyway I can!  





                                                
                                                                                              

5 comments:

  1. So true! We rarely eat processed food but we buy tons of fruit and veggies. I think it also depends on where you live though. Like here we never have double coupons and some prices are higher than in other areas of the country. But we have cheaper milk and eggs. And the slow cooker chili recipe was already on our menu this week (minus chicken, we wanted it vegetarian) :) I love Pinterest too!

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    Replies
    1. Yes, it does depend on where you live. Our sales tax is 9.25% here - that is a lot! (I do include the tax in our budget too.) I am glad that our stores double coupons but I get more stuff at CVS now a days.

      Let me know how you like the chili. I added rice to it tonight because we were out of tortilla chips. It stretched the meal one more night! I am so excited!

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    2. Very interesting recipes. I ate pretty healthy all my life.... until I moved here. It is so easy to get addicted to bad foods. I just can't believe the stuff Im craving sometimes. I do love fruit and vegetables and could eat tons of fruit every day (my stomach doesn't like it that much though), so I cant wait for the watermelon season. And cherries and tons of blueberries (they are so expensive now). My husband on the other hand is used to eating a lot of bad stuff and I have a hard time changing his habits. It is a big challenge for me to cook food that he will enjoy. I tried a new recipe today and even though it tasted delicious, I wish I didnt have to put cream of chicken in it. Do they sell that in organic stores? It would be great if i could replace it with MSG free stuff. Here's the recipe. Was trying to make chicken and dumplings, but found this one and it looked great.
      http://www.familycampingchat.com/forum/index.php?topic=192.0
      Tomorrow Im planning to make pizza rolls and chili. I never use the slow cooker... maybe I should give it a try :)

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    3. Totally understand! When I was growing up I know we ate bad foods - not all the time but a good portion and I worked at McDonald's through high school and part of college.

      My husband would starve if he didn't eat what I cooked. haha He eats it weather it is good or bad - I do not eat something I have made that ends up bad but he will. haha

      For the cream of chicken, you can make your own. look on pinterest. i saw it there. that way you know exactly what is going into it. Thanks for the recipe! And the slow cooker is my best friend! I love it. You can toss your ingredients in and let it do all the work!

      Let me know how it goes!

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  2. Wow 39 weeks! I always would try to get in the last of the goodies without guilt right before baby and bake alot too =)

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