HELP ME!!! I spend nearly $900... - Page 3 - Mothering Forums

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Old 02-25-2009, 02:23 PM
 
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so many good idea! We spend more per month than the OP on food but we also have 6 people in our family. I have been trying to figure out ways to cut the cost just a bit and still eat well.

Thanks for all the suggestions and recipes. :

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Old 02-25-2009, 02:59 PM
 
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by the way, automatic coffee pots are like god's gift to us. I'm not religious but seriously. Someone loves us and wants us to be happy and coffee pots that turn themselves on at a programmed time before you wake so there's fresh coffee in the pot when you stumble bleary-eyed to your kitchen is a sign of that! Just sayin'.



my eyes do NOT open until that first sip and my children know that I step into their doorway and call to them to wake them and then disappear for 2 minutes to get coffee and do NOT speak to me until I return.

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Old 02-25-2009, 03:38 PM
 
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The reason we eat out so often is because I'm a SAHM, and DH works from home, so that means preparing 28 meals a week (we eat about 4 times a day), and that's HARD with chasing after 2 kids! So that explains the nights out. So how do I do this? I want to stop wasting so much money!
You don't have to be Martha Stewart or Rachel Ray to feed your family. I didn't know how to cook when I got married either.

We rarely eat out (even the "cheap" places) and I'm a SAHM with two children and dh and I both go to school (I go online).

One of our freezer meals is to get a ham then make red beans and rice out of have of it and freeze it in baggies.

Fish is another good quick meal. I batter fillets in egg, flour, salt, flour and Parmesan cheese and pan fry them in olive oil and a little butter and steam some veggies (I have a double boiler type steamer).

I make a creamy sausage pasta with 1lb of sausage, 24oz of spagetti sauce, 1lb of penne pasta, and 2cups of sour cream, salt and pepper. Cook the pasta and sausage then mix it all together and heat through.

I do sausage and potatoes. Usually a big batch with a bag of red potatoes, a couple of large onions, 4 red, yellow, and/or orange peppers, olive oil, salt and pepper. I chop it all fairly small stir it all together and cook it at about 450 (covered) until the sausage is cooked through and the onions are caramelized a bit. I forgot that I precook the chopped potatoes in two batches in the microwave for 8min each.

My BBQ potatoes are 3-4 chicken breasts boiled, shredded and mixed with BBQ sauce, then served over baked potatoes with cilantro, sour cream, red onions and cheese.

I also broil drumsticks in the oven with seasoning salt and serve them with BBQ sauce and veggies.

Saving Dinner is a good cook book for things like this.

I usually make scrambled eggs with cheese for breakfast or cereal, fruit smoothies for lunch (with frozen fruit, 100% juice, yogurt, flax seed, wheat germ, kale ice cubes and bananas), and cook for dinner. The Saving Dinner book says not to "prepare" sides, instead use steamed veggies or fresh, pretty much. Fix it and Forget it is a crockpot recipe book.

I also make a list by category a la Saving Dinner and write down the prices as I shop.

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Old 02-25-2009, 03:53 PM
 
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I think one thing that helps us is to budget everything. I go to Starbucks at least twice a week, but it's out of "my" money (hubby and I each get fun money for the month). We also divide out a section for going out to eat. And finally we have $500/month for groceries...although it usually ends up being more like 600 when it's said and done. My husband tutors for extra cash, so whatever he gets from that is our money to go out to eat or for extra groceries.

Hubby and I both work as well with two little ones, so I understand the feeling of not wanting to cook, but you have to make a decision to do it.

If not, and if it's not really hurting your budget, maybe things in your house are fine.

I choose to cut back in other areas to keep my Starbucks!
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Old 02-25-2009, 04:11 PM
 
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The Saving Dinner book says not to "prepare" sides, instead use steamed veggies or fresh, pretty much.
Seriously this is like the single best time and money saving thing you can learn. I do not make side "dishes" during the week. Simple sides are your BFF. Plain rice, plain steamed veggies with or without butter or cheese, pasta tossed with butter and Parmesan. If you eat rice, IMO it is completely worth it to get a rice cooker. They have some that have little baskets that sit on top of the rice cooker to use the rice steam to cook veggies too.
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Old 02-25-2009, 05:14 PM - Thread Starter
 
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ok my chicken will be done in about 1/2 hour (we eat at weird times I know)...and I threw some rice in the water (which is now some really yummy smelling stock)...I hope that wasn't crazy and it will cook so I can just strain & eat the rice as a side. However if it doesn't, whatever I'll just strain it anyways and use the stock later. I've never cooked rice outside my rice cooker but I think boiling is the normal way?

should I put any salt & pepper on the chicken or in the stock?

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Old 02-25-2009, 05:15 PM - Thread Starter
 
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that's weird it says I posted at 12:14 when it was really 2:14...

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Old 02-25-2009, 05:50 PM
 
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I've never tried that with the rice in the crockpot, but I'd think that it wouldn't cook quickly, because the crock pot is lower than average stovetop heat. Defintiely let us know if it works though! That would be awesome
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Old 02-25-2009, 06:07 PM
 
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Yes you can do rice in a crockpot. The timing of it I'm not sure of.

But I have slow cooker recipes that utilize rice. So it can be done.

Just keep an eye on it so it has enough liquid.

V

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Old 02-25-2009, 06:09 PM
 
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Check out your local grocery stores for organic food. Whole foods is really expensive. I buy lots of organic food at our local Meijer. They even have their organic house brand and it goes on sale a lot!!! They also have a nice selection of organic produce that goes on sale. Bags of carrots and celery for $1 and so on.

Cut back on eating out. All that cheap Cracker Barrel food isn't all that great for you anyways. Maybe choose one night a week to eat out. At our house Saturday we either eat out or get take-out. The rest of the week I cook.

Stock up on healthy snacks and ingredients for quick simple meals. Every meal doesn't have to be a major ordeal. Dinner can be pasta with sauce and some fresh veg and fruit.

Fast yummy pizza- Make pita pizza. Buy your favorite pita bread and top it with sauce, cheese and your favorite toppings. Toss it in the oven for about 10 minutes and viola dinner is served. Tasty and healthy!
Totally agree. I think on some parts of the country, Meijer is Fred Meyers, though, isn't it? If so, then I second their organic section.. I often find organic canned stuff on clearance there..
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Old 02-25-2009, 06:14 PM
 
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Yes you can do rice in a crockpot. The timing of it I'm not sure of.

But I have slow cooker recipes that utilize rice. So it can be done.

Just keep an eye on it so it has enough liquid.

V
I've made rice pudding in the crockpot, but even then the timing varies..
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Old 02-25-2009, 06:50 PM
 
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Yes, add salt and pepper! You can cook rice in a crockpot. I know I allow more time, although I am not sure how much.

This thread is making me realize how much of my cooking I do intuitively. How long? How much? I don't know.

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Old 02-25-2009, 07:10 PM - Thread Starter
 
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: Totally worked!

Didn't time it exactly, I just kept checking it, it took about 45mins - and hour and it was done. I took the chicken out, and instant soup! I had put carrots in also, so just some celery would make it the perfect chicken rice soup. So we had our chicken, carrots & rice side. Than I added some chicken to the stock and put it in the fridge for a soup side. Than I took chunks of white meat, shredded it, added mayo, and I'l have chicken salad sandwiches tomorrow!

Thank you!!! $8 chicken and I got 3 meals out of it!

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Old 02-25-2009, 08:49 PM
 
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Fantastic! BTW - the soup will also freeze well.

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Old 02-25-2009, 10:20 PM
 
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I may actually print this whole thread it's so helpful!

I love the idea of cutting up onion (and for me pepper also), and freezing a bunch...I know you can't freeze broccoli because it will lose it's taste, are their any other things I definitely shouldn't freeze?
I find frozen pepper loses its texture. You're supposed to be able to do carrots, too, but you blanch them first. Peas and corn are better frozen than fresh.
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Old 02-25-2009, 10:21 PM
 
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I think on some parts of the country, Meijer is Fred Meyers, though, isn't it?
No, those are different chains. Meijer originated in and still remains in Michigan. Fred Meyer originated in Oregon, has since been bought by Kroger, and is mostly in the Northwest.
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Old 02-25-2009, 10:30 PM
 
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I didn't read all the replies, but I have to say I totally understand the SAHM and eating out thing. I love to have a break and not cook. We try to limit eating out to once a week, and DH would cook something simple or BBQ one night a week, so that's two nights off for me. If we make something special together it might feel like more fun than eating out.

Sometimes it's not the need to eat out, it's the need to get out of the house and do something different. You can try to replace eating out with going out to somewhere cheap or free instead. Like going to the library, go to the park to have a walk, go watch the stars. We bought some passes to the community pool, going swimming is fun and good for your body. DH and I frequently go out for a walk at night after putting the kids to bed. Fresh air and exercise and couple bonding time really lift the mood. I'm sure there are many other ways to get out of the house and do something for cheap or free as well. When my DS2 is a little more mature I plan to take them with us to do some volunteer work as well.

If your budget is not tight, I wouldn't cut out the eating out, just reduce it to a more reasonable amount.

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Old 02-25-2009, 11:28 PM
 
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My husband also works from home and recently I said NO MORE making so many meals per day for us all. I'm only cooking dinner and occasionally a special lunch.

Everyone gets their own b'fast. Cereal, oatmeal and just fruit for me.

For lunch now, we eat lots of sandwiches, wraps, leftovers, salads, soups from the freezer...you get the idea. No need to COOK all those meals every single day. That way, you won't get tired of cooking and will eat out less.
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Old 02-26-2009, 09:02 AM
 
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Ummm well I guess we're in the same club... I should preface this with my family likes to eat. My DH and my 3 year old DD love to eat, and eat they do.

We participate in a weekly veggie box and a monthly meat CSA. The box is small and its $18, the meat is $84. When I go to the grocery store, I buy organic dairy but not fruits and veggies. Typically I spent $40-50 weekly on fruits and veggies, plus fish (we eat it weekly). Then a monthly trip to TJ's, which is $80. So alone on groceries we spend over $500...

We eat out once a week for dinner and eat out for lunch almost daily, so that's another $100 a week. Which brings us to a grand total of $900 a month. Yikes I guess we have a problem. I knew I should have never read this thread. My DH is going to make this face when I bring this up in the morning.
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Old 02-26-2009, 01:15 PM
 
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Yes, I do understand the need to eat out! I am also always in the kitchen, but because I have a gluten-free diet, it seems like I have to cook more, and more elaborately too, and I get burned out! No sandwiches for me because gluten-free bread is awful, so everyday I make rice and/or pasta, I make salads and cook beans from scratch and specially prepared meats. I try to vary our meals so I've always got my nose in a cookbook. Frankly, eating out means so much to me, but then again, being gluten-free, it's kinda the same places and the same dishes over and over. Sigh.

Anyway, dh and I agreed that we won't eat out unless we get the discount coupons from www.restaurant.com. We put in our zip code and several of our fave restaurants participate. You do have to spend $35 total but that is very easy to do when eating out, and then you get your discount too so it ends up closer to $20 total. I refuse to pay full price to eat out! Also allow yourself maybe one night out a week, or even better, lunch out a week since that will be cheaper. That night, toss something frozen in for dinner so you give yourself one full day of no cooking per week. Also, enlist your dh to cook! Mine does breakfast both days off and often lunch too and I get to sit on my butt and get served. I'm sure he can cook eggs and sausage and toast at least?

Cook healthy muffins once in awhile, and you'll have instant breakfast, no bowls, messes, cooking. I cook up a batch and we eat breakfast for 3 days.

Farmer's market in the spring/summer! We save like 50% on produce shopping there. Most stuff is organic or spray-free, which is good enough for me. I like organic too but I have given up on organic chicken, too $$. I buy grass-fed ground beef only, not steaks which are also $$. I buy Tillamook cheese which is very good quality though not organic. I don't buy organic grain products except bulk rice. Some produce is low on the pesticides list like broccoli, bananas, cauliflower so unless those are on sale in the organic section, I buy conventional. I do always buy organic celery, apples and bell peppers. I peel tomatoes and potatoes anyway and they are way too $$ to buy organic. If your spending is causing you hardship, I would start by eliminating some of your organic choices. Also, I hate to say this, but I shop at Walmart ONLY for canned goods. They have Muir Glen tomatoes for $1 a can and my local store has them for $2 a can. BIG difference! I shop at like 3-4 different stores to take advantage of each of their best deals / loss leader specials. If its non-perishable, I just stock up so I only need to go there once a month.

Skip meats, have one meat meal a day or even go vegetarian 2-3 times a week. Eggs can replace meat. We had an omelette and rice and asparagus for lunch yesterday. No one complained. Dinner was lentil salad with goat cheese and a kale salad. Meatless and good. A bit of work yes, but I love how much more nutritious food is when you prepare it yourself and make a goal to include veggies with each meal.

One thing I need to do that's been advised here is to cook enough for leftovers the next day. Dh tends to eat up whatever is left from the start so that is not always so easy for me but if I plan better I should be able to pull this off. I know that when we do have leftovers, it is a wonderful feeling to have a home cooked meal with little effort, so this is an area I want to focus on. It's probably money-saving as well.
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Old 02-26-2009, 01:55 PM
 
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We've gone out a total of 33 times for food (this includes, groceries, Dunkin Donuts, and eating out)

<snip>

I buy almost exlusevley organic, so I understand that makes it more expensive,
What I can't wrap my head around is that if you care enough to buy organic at home, why are you eating out to just undo the good that buying organic does?

I'm not trying to be snarky, although I don't really know a better way to put it that sounds any less harsh. It's an honest question to help you think about what you are doing and I mean it with good intentions. It just seems ironic that you're spending so much on organic, but then eat out (at cheap places like Cracker Barrel) where they notoriously have low quality food, high in sodium and fat. If you're eating food like that, why not just buy non-organic at the grocery? It would help with the bill. Do you see the disconnect?

ETA: I really do mean this to be a thought-provoking and not a finger-pointing post. I hope you take it that way, as it might help you to look to cooking at home (and the *desire* to cook at home) in a different light. From a health perspective it doesn't make sense to spend the money on organic if you are eating at chain restaurants every day. I guess it's a lifestyle perspective. I'll quit rambling now. Sorry.
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Old 02-26-2009, 03:31 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I did think of that and no I don't mind you pointing that out But it really isn't so much a money & health thing as it is a time thing with the eating out...I HAVE $900 to spend on food, I just don't WANT to spend that much because I feel it's wasting. And I'm not completely obsessed with health either, but if I have the choice, I'll buy organic, and nowadays there's a lot more available. Hope that makes sense and answers your question. Good point And I'm always striving to eat healthier, and would prefer to never eat out and eat entirely organic, and thus the original post.

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Old 02-26-2009, 04:22 PM
 
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Well, it's possible to completely nix out eating out, AND buying convenience food. I know, because I do it and I have 4 kids running around. I make every meal we eat, with the exception of very occasional pizza out ($5 large). I'm a SAHM, we have four closely spaced kids, I homeschool and make time for homesteading activities and projects. it can be done.

The trick is managing your time, planning your meals, buying only raw and basic ingredients (so you're forced to cook.. doesn't sound fun but ifyou buy canned and frozen meals, those will be the first to go and a waste at that... dont knwo about your family but those meals dont fill our tummies so they're a huge waste of moeny because I find myself having to cook something to supplement them anyway), bulk cooking once in a while (so you're not cooking EVERYTHINg from scratch EVERY night) and making it happen.

Put those kids to work if they're old enough. My kids start to really "help" in the kitchen around 2 or 3 yrs. I have a blog post on my closely spaced blog about how they help and what they're capable of year by year. Maybe that'll giv eyou some ideas (look for the post about cooking, or visit the tips/ideas page and the link to cooking with kids is listed there). Look in the sig.

Take a day or two or three or four a month and assign a task to cooking in bulk for those days. One day a month I make up a bunch of mixes I might be low on - coatings for oven fried poultry, bouillon, seasonings, baking mix, seasonings for foods we eat that contain a lot of dry ingredients.

Take another day and perhaps make up a bunch of bread dough, pizza crusts, pie crusts (for meat pies as well as fruit. Basically the same thing). Then freeze it.

Another day could be devoted to making soups and stocks you usually use in your meals. We use cream of celery, cheddar cheese, tomato soup, beef and chicken stock. Freeze in smaller containers based upon the quantities most often used in recipes.

When you cook, cook in double or triple batches. freeze the rest for a conveniance meal on busy days, or for when you're sick of cooking.

Use a timer when you cook so you can multi task doing other things and not let the food burn as its cooking.

I realise not everyone shares my mentality about this, but I figure I'd rather make anything I would like to buy if it's cheaper (and most of the time it is). This leaves us buying mostly things we cannot make. i figure there are many more things to spend my money on than food i could make myself, so if your budget allows $900 in food, and you can trim your budget down several hundred imagine where that moeny could go! For our family of 6, I spend around $200/month.

Also use coupons and match them to store sales, and store coupons!
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Old 02-26-2009, 05:01 PM
 
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I posted in the wrong thread!
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Old 02-26-2009, 08:30 PM
 
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nak...

for limited freezer space, use good quality freezer bags. you will fit more in there.

Happy Homesteading Homeschooling Homebirthing Beekeeping Dready (& a bit redneck even) Mama to 4 fab kids :  dd (23), dd (13), ds (11), dd (5)

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Old 02-26-2009, 11:01 PM
 
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I did think of that and no I don't mind you pointing that out But it really isn't so much a money & health thing as it is a time thing with the eating out...I HAVE $900 to spend on food, I just don't WANT to spend that much because I feel it's wasting. And I'm not completely obsessed with health either, but if I have the choice, I'll buy organic, and nowadays there's a lot more available. Hope that makes sense and answers your question. Good point And I'm always striving to eat healthier, and would prefer to never eat out and eat entirely organic, and thus the original post.
I'm glad you took my post in the spirit in which it was offered. I hope you find a way to trim your budget and start cooking at home. It is so worth it!
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Old 02-27-2009, 01:09 AM
 
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Yow!!! My family of three eats on about $350/month and I don't use coupons.

1) We drink filtered tap water. Once in a while I'll get some fresh OJ.

2) I only hit Starbucks a few times a month. I bought a Mr Coffee espresso machine for $30 at Walmart and I make a nice big latte every morning. It's as good as a coffee shop coffee. Still, I understand the appeal of getting out of the house and having a hot, fresh coffee that somebody else made for me- although I really, really don't understand why your hubby can't rinse out the coffee pot for himself.

3) I keep juice boxes and 'emergency snacks' in the car at all times. If we do get fast food, I order from the dollar menu. I don't get soda (we drink the juice) and I'll get one order of fries to split with the kids.

4) Four meals a day! Do you guys eat that much because you're burning it off, or is it just because you're home all day? Could you replace one of those meals with snacks-on-hand, like a big batch of trail mix you throw together once a week, pretzels, fruit, cheese, nuts, etc...? Do you keep fruit out and available for the kidlets?

5) Are you against breakfast cereal? I would lose my mind if I had to cook every morning. When I make pancakes, I make a HUGE batch and freeze them. They microwave nicely, as does bacon.

6) Leftovers... do you let food spoil in your fridge, or do you try to eat everything you cook? Do you make large batches? Double lasagna recipes and freeze one, bake one? Crock pot recipes, rice and beans, everything that everyone has already said.

7) Do you shop around? If you could buy your organic milk from a local dairy you could save a bundle just there. Produce from farmer's markets can save you SO much, and then there are those things you'll just want to pick up at the big grocery.

8) Some things you really ought to get organic, some things meh, it's not such a big deal.

I see no reason why you couldn't get your grocery bill down to $450 (not counting eating out) and still eat well, organically. Good luck! I really feel for you, that's a lot of money spent on food!
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Old 02-27-2009, 01:12 PM
 
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(new posting in this forum...hello!)

I remember reading in The Tightwad Gazette that a wife would put the same amount of money that the husband spent on coffee, lunch etc... into a jar. At the end of the month it served a very visual reminder of what was actually spent on convenience foods. The wife neither nagged, or haggled, she just showed her husband the jar of money (I believe it was about $80?), and that was enough for the husband to change his habits.

We used to--a long, long time ago-- spend money like you. It has been over many years that I have learned to budget and cook all our meals at home. I think you are on the right step recognizing the issue, I think you may want to come up with a reasonable goal for proceeding-- perhaps reducing the times going out to eat by half, or learning to cook 5 new, quick dinner meals-- something that will help you get on the way to spending less money.

I think major behavior changes, that will have lasting impact, neither occur instantly nor without a goal in mind. Best of luck!

PS-not to harp on your husband-- what about just getting a second carafe for the coffee pot, and then in the evening just rinse two?
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Old 02-27-2009, 03:07 PM
 
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Originally Posted by lovebeingamomma View Post
thank you thank you everyone!

how do I cook a whole chicken in a crockpot? I just happened to buy one today, and haven't cooked one in like 3 years and when I did it was in the oven.

great ideas, keep them coming!
:
Simple! First, spray your crockpot with pam so that it's easier to clean. Then add your chicken breast side up, and about an inch of water or low-sodium chicken broth. Oil your chicken with a tiny bit of fat (olive oil, butter, veg oil, bacon grease, whatever). Cut slits in the skin and stuff slices of fresh garlic and rosemary (dried or fresh) and/or thyme under the skin. Sprinkle skin with salt and pepper and cook on LOW for 6-8 hours or HIGH for 3-6 hours. You know the chicken is done when the leg joint wiggles very easily. Avoid opening the crokpot, as this will help hold heat and moisture in.

I am also 22, and it is tough to learn how to mealplan, but it is worth it. It sounds like you need two cookbooks that I have taught me so much about cooking. The Idiot's Guide to Slow Cookers and the Dream Dinners Cookbook Both of these cookbooks not only include recipes, but also give you tips on how to modify regular recipes to make them work best for freezing or slow cooking.

An old breakfast standby for us: Eggs, milk, cheese, crumbled breakfast meat, chopped veggies, mixed up like a huge omlet and baked in a 13x9 casserole dish. You keep it in the fridge and cut slices and heat it in microwave for a quick easy breakfast or high-protein snack. And it adjusts well to whatever you have in the house. Favorite flavors for us are: eggs cheese and salsa; bacon, cheese and leafy spinach; ham, cheese and broccoli.

Once you get the hang of cooking from scratch and cooking in doubles, it'll be easier. We have something easy for breakfast, sandwiches or leftovers for lunch, and a fresh meal for dinner. This is our dinner schedule:

Mon - Baking day (bread, a sweet treat) and a crockpot soup.
Tue - Mexican night
Wed - American or German
Thu - Asian (STIRFRY!!!)
Fri - Italian or maybe a "date" night
Sat - Breakfast for dinner (pancakes, omlets, eggs and homefries etc)
Sun - Grab and Growl (leftovers!)

><> I'm a Christian, knitting, sewing, cooking SAHM to the fearless adventurer Jack born 11/08, and  a  USCG wife
And we are joyfully awaiting a new addition in April 2011! <><
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Old 02-27-2009, 03:49 PM - Thread Starter
 
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thank you once again everyone! :

Christian SAHM & birth doula.
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