How to to lower your food budget - Part One

Some of you might wonder how I feed my family of 5 for $200 a month. This week and next week I'll talk about the two things that save me the most money at the grocery store.

Take a look at all this stuff I bought at the grocery store a while back, go ahead I'll wait....

Now that you have looked it over, how much would you pay for all of that? Go a head look it over and see how much of all the items I got and do the math, how much would you pay? I'll help you break it down. I got 6 boxes of Krusteaz cookie mix, 3 boxes of 20 count Electrasol dishwashing packets, 2 bags of Kraft shredded cheese, 3 boxes of Ritz crackers, 1 box of Wheat Thins, and 5 bags of Quaker Quakes Rice Snacks. I'm serious I want you to come up with a number in your head, before I'm going to tell you what I paid. Once you got one, you can scroll down and I'll let you know what I paid.

A lot of people think, is using coupons really worth my time? That's what I used to think, but now I know the truth...In most cases yes using coupons are worth your time and the money you spend on newspapers or buying ink and paper for your printer.
When you are using your coupons, make sure to wait to use a coupon until that item is on sale, to get the most for your money. I'll talk next week about how to know how good of a sale it is. Also just because you have a coupon for something doesn't mean you should us it, if you don't use the product and your family doesn't like it why buy it just to save money, if it is just going to sit on your shelf.
Most of the coupons I use are from the newspaper. At our house we get 5 newspapers on Sunday, so that I can get more than one thing at a great price. There are also places to get coupons online. I do print a few every month, like a coupon for cheese, so I never have to pay more than $3 for 2 pounds of cheddar cheese. The resource I'm going to talk about next week, will give you some links on where to find some online coupons.
So by now you are probably thinking I forgot to tell you how much I paid for those 20 items above. Don't worry I didn't forget, I just wanted to make sure you weren't cheating and came up with a number and had time to think about it. So if I would have bought all of these items not on sale without coupons I would have spent $63.83, which is $3.19 an item!!! So how does that compare to your guess? This purchase was made at a store, where you have to use a card to get the sale prices, so after I used my card I saved $31.58, which would bring the total to $32.25, which is now $1.61 an item, not to bad right!?! But then I had coupons from my newspapers, I used $22.25 in coupons, which then brought my total down to $10 for 20 items, pretty easy to do the math right? That is $0.50 an item! Now this isn't the kind of receipt I see all the time, but every once in awhile. But on a normal trip to the store I use several dollars worth of coupons, and use them on sale items which definitely adds up and helps us save money.
I challenge you to try to cut back on your food budget, too. If you have any questions let me know. Also if you live Utah I can give you contacts of people that can help you get better prices on Sunday newspapers. So if you have questions feel free to ask, and I'll do my best to help you!

Orange Rolls

This recipe is a family favorite. Growing up my mom would make these, and one of my brother's would count how many there were, to make sure someone didn't get more than another. If you aren't comfortable with bread making, go check out our post on basic bread to kind of get a walk through on bread making.

1 1/2 c. warm water
1 Tbs. yeast
1/4 c. sugar
1 1/2 tsp. salt
4 Tbs. soft butter (or you can use shortening)
1 egg
5 c. flour

1 c. sugar
1/2 c. butter, melted
Orange zest, from 4 oranges

For the dough, combine the water, yeast and 1/4 c. sugar, and let sit for 10 minutes. Add salt, softened butter, egg and flour. Mix until you have a soft dough, then knead it. Let the dough rest for half an hour.
While the dough is resting melt butter for the filling, then mix in sugar and orange zest and let it cool so it's not hot. After the dough has rested for a half an hour, roll it out into a rectangle so the dough is about 1/4 inch think. Spread filling all over the top of the dough.

You can shape the dough 2 ways, you can either roll it up and cut it like cinnamon rolls, or you can cut the dough into 1 1/2 inch strips, then layer them 3 high, and then cut them into squares, and layer them into a greased 9x13 pan. Cover with plastic wrap and let the rolls raise until doubled.
Cook rolls in a preheated 325 degree oven until very lightly browned. My mom says she cooks her's for 12-14 minutes, but whenever I've made them they have always needed longer. So start with 12 minutes and go from there, when I make them I usually have to cook mine for 25-30 minutes.
I hope you enjoy these as much as we do!

Having Fun on a Budget

Us along with most of a America are living on a budget, for various different reasons. Just because we are on a budget doesn't mean we can't have fun. It just means we have to do more planning to get the most out of our dollar, and maybe not go out as often.
This last week was Jeremy's birthday. I'm a very indecisive person which I'm sure he'll attest to, so it was easy to make him think I didn't really have anything planned. But the truth be told, me and a friend had been planning our night out for about a month. Jeremy's birthday and one of my best friends birthday are a day apart. So myself and her husband decided we would surprise our spouses with a night out. We went and picked up Jeremy from work, he had NO IDEA I got permission for him to leave early. We then went and got some pizza sandwiches (which were super yummy and HUGE!). We then went to see/participate in a murder mystery play, and have dessert.
We had a fun time and did it all on a budget! So how did we do it? If there was no advanced planning we would have paid over $50 in what we did. But since we planned in advance we spent just under $30. We went to a fabulous website called City Deals where you can buy gift certificates to different places at a discount. You don't have to plan a month ahead maybe a week or two for shipping. If you are living on a budget you have probably learned that sticking to your budget does require planning so it shouldn't be too hard. So if you are wanting to save some money on your fun go check out City Deals, and if they don't have it for your area, they do have some things for national brands you might be able to use in your area.

Taco Soup with Black Beans

My kids used to NEVER eat soup, one day we were at the store and they had a sample of this and they ATE IT! So we made it and they ate it at home and I think that started them on eating other types of soup. It has a little different twist from the normal taco soup but it's good.

Taco Soup with Black Beans
1 lbs. ground beef, browned and drained
15 oz. can black beans, drained
15 1/2 oz. can red kidney beans, drained
28 oz. can crushed tomatoes
12 1/4 oz. can corn, undrained
1 packet ranch dressing mix
1 packet taco seasoning
1 small onion, chopped

Combine all ingredients in a crock pot. Cover and cook on low 4-6 hours. Serve with shredded cheese, sour cream, and corn chips.

Pigs Bladder - Are you kidding me?

I often am reading blogs around the web. I follow maybe two dozen every day. They don’t post ever day but when they do I follow them. I have recently started reading some cooking blogs. I would bet that there are as many cooking blogs as all other blogs put together. (If you don’t count blogs about how to create a successful blog.) One of the blogs that I do read recently visited a restaurant in New York. You know that kind of place they are talking about. One that doesn’t have prices on the menu and when you get your bill you just pay it with looking. But really is some where in the range of a hundred bucks a plate. The kind of place they make fun of on cartoons because of the portion size. They ordered Poularde de bresse en vessie which turns out to be chicken cooked in a pig’s bladder. You heard me right. You take a pig’s bladder clean it out, put a bunch of chicken in it with a few spices and use it to steam cook the chicken. This causes the bladder to fill up like a balloon. Which is how it is server.

I’m sure there is some guy in Europe somewhere that thinks this isn’t all that crazy. They eat like that every Sunday. You just kill yourself a pig on Tuesday and save the innards Fill said innards on Sunday and your good to go. Where I come from in no where towns Utah this isn’t how it is done. We might eat some crazy things here, you know like pizza and wings from the local wingers. But we don’t pay a hundred bucks a head to eat something that is cooked in the pee holder of a pig. Nope not me.

Why do big time restaurants feel they have to do this. Didn’t they learn anything from ratatouille? (The one with the rats.) People want food from there childhood. Things that remind them of there mom, not something that reminds them of how crazy other people must be. Give me some great corn chowder, or a good meat loaf and I am in heaven. A little sushi is about as adventurous we need to get in my house. Then again a few of the things we do eat might not be your cup of tea ether. I guess we all have our own tastes and are a little crazy in what we eat and wont eat. So next time your coming over to my place make sure you got your pigs bladders ready to go. Because we are having Poularde de bresse en vessie at our place and you have to bring the bladder.


I'm not much of an organizer, I wish I were but I'm not. There is one thing I purchased a while back, that I love and use regularly. So what is this item? It's a white board that is magnetic so I can have it on my fridge.
I keep telephone numbers on there that people might need, and basically everything else has to to do with food. I have written what freezer meals or part of meals I have in the freezer so I know and they don't just get lost in there and forgotten. I have my menu you on there. And last but not least, I have what I need to get at stores. Has this ever happened to you?...You use up the last of something, only to forget to buy it at the store and you remember that you are out of it the next time you go to use it. I do this ALL the time. But now the minute I use something up or know I am getting close (in most cases, sometimes I still forget) I write it down under the store I buy it from. So I usually have 3 to 4 stores on my white board. Also when ads come out I write items that are on sale that I need to get that week.
So here is the challenge for this week...find a way to be a little more organized so you know what you have, where you have it, and what you need, so you don't let things go to waste. Good Luck!

Bread - A Short How-To

2 c. warm water
2/3 c. sugar
1 1/2 Tbs. yeast
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 c. oil
6 c. flour (plus more if dough is still sticky)

Mix together warm water (to see if your water is right temperature, test it with your hand, it should be warm, just on the verge of hot, so you feel a little burn in it), sugar, and yeast in whatever bowl you plan on making it in (kitchenaid, bosch, in big bowl if you are making it by hand). Let sit for 10 minutes until foamy.

Mix in salt, oil, and flour. If you are using a mixer add everything in and mix it up. When everything is incorporated the dough should be slightly sticky and soft, but when you touch it barely any should stick to your finger, if any. If it sticks a lot add a little more flour and mix it in and test it again. Once you get the consistency, on the kitchen aid turn it to medium speed, for a bosch speed 1, and let it knead for 5 minutes. If you are making the dough without a mixer, after you let the yeast get foamy, add oil and salt, and half of the flour, stir to incorporate, Slowly add the rest of the flour.

When it get to the point you can no longer stir the dough, dump the dough on a floured counter and knead in the rest of the dough. To knead fold dough in half on top of each other and push down with your palms, rotate dough and and fold dough in half and push down with your palms. Repeat this process until your dough is the consistency stated above and knead it for another 15 minutes. Once dough has been kneaded, pour a small amount of oil (a couple teaspoons) in a large bowl and use your hand to coat the whole bowl with oil. Put the dough in the bowl and turn it over, so both sides have oil on it. Cover with a damp kitchen towel and let rise for one hour. Once it has raised punch the dough down and take it out of the bowl. Divide the dough into two equal pieces. Use your hands and karate chop the dough into a slight rectangle, then roll up into a log.

Pinch all the ends closed and put in a grease bread pan. Repeat the process with the other half of dough. Cover with a damp towel and let raise 60-90 minutes until it's raised an inch over the top of the pan. (In the summer it will raise faster than the winter when it's colder.) Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 30 minutes. Take bread out of the pans as soon as you take them out of the oven. Put them on a cooling rack. While they are still hot, take a stick of butter and rub them over the top of the bread. While you are at it eat a piece or two, warm out the oven, because that is the best thing EVER!

About this blog

Just two love birds that share a passion for cooking. We are all about trying new things and letting you know how it went. On occasions you will get the ramblings of a crazy geek and a lovely baker.