"That they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children, to be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed." Titus 2:4-5

Friday, October 28, 2011

Tips on Bulking Up Meals

Awhile back I asked for help from all of you.  I wanted some ideas on how to bulk up dinners to fill hungry bellies (especially those of teenage boys), without spending much money, as we are on a super tight food budget.  Now I'd like to share the great replies I received...

Lisa Maria says:  First of all, I buy dried peas and beans and cook them up in my pressure cooker then freeze them for later use. This is MUCH cheaper than canned stuff or fresh sometimes, better yet, the seasonal things are always available this way. With these I can make healthy 3-Bean chili, bean burgers, soups, bean salads. Remember beans have tons of protein so that's always a plus!

You can cut back on how much meat you use by using bite sized pieces in rice dishes and pasta dishes.. this stretches it a long way. I'll send you a few of these recipes when I can type them up (I'm so pressed for time these days!)

When a recipe calls for something expensive or exotic, I try to improvise with something similar that's cheaper. I've used cucumbers in place of zucchini (which costs more in my country), local pumpkin in place of squash.

Also, I have found that starting dinner with a light soup (inexpensive to make) helps to fill up those tummys quickly. You can try potato, squash or pumpkin, cream of mushroom (homemade), tomato (made with fresh, if in season, or canned crushed if not expensive), onion...there are so many easy simple soups that don't have a lot of ingredients.

I use alot of homemade bread, rolls and pizza to help stretch things as well. Pizza can be fun too because the toppings can be anything you want.. even stuff leftover in the refrigerator and if cheese is expensive you can cut back because, while gooey, hot cheese on a pizza is heavenly, in a pinch the sauce and toppings make it work too, especially if you make inside out pizza (just roll the pizza up and seal the edges.. you don't really need alot of cheese.

I always have to remind myself too that, even though I'm on a budget, eating healthily means that we have to have that fruit and vegetable intake. I try to always include a simple salad and whatever fruit is in season will be the cheapest. Peppers have a lot of good stuff in them, including a wallop of Vitamin C.. I put them in almost everything I cook.

Susan says: One thing I did was eliminate what I consider expensive meals (ones that use a lot of bread like French Toast or a lot of eggs or fruit) We ate a lot of cereal this summer. And A lot of Bisquick made meals. We also did a lot of U-picks (but unfortunately the season is almost over.)The biggest cut was meat. We were eating on $28 a week for awhile for a family of 5. It really only bought milk and produce. Fortunately I had learned couponing right before all this happened and I had stocked up.

Andrea shares:  No processed/packaged/pre made anything. It's far more expensive to use this food, less filling, less nutritional and less tasty. I also use my food processor to make my own ground beef. I buy large packages of high quality beef, and grind my own.

Whatever I make, I ensure protein is a large component, along with complex carbs. Filling up tummies is a good thing, but if it is gone in an hour, then it doesn't much help.

We have 6 children who are all eating meals. One boy who is 14.5 and grew 6" in a few months! William is 9, and has a huge appetite, as all our children are active and not sedentary through the day.

I eliminated breakfast cereal about a year ago, aside from keeping a bag or two for some major situation where I can't make breakfast. We have oatmeal, cream of wheat, eggs, smoothies from yogurt and fruit, homeade bread toasted, breakfast burritos, hot ovaltine sometimes, etc. All of these are extremely economical, and are filling and healthy.

For meals, I usually double or triple recipes a couple of dinners per week, and we eat the leftovers for lunch, as homemade dinners (pastas, soups, stews, meat and veggies) are far heavier in protein and complex carbs than any usual lunch fare.

I make large amounts of egg salad and tuna salad for the week, as that is healthier and far cheaper than lunch meats.

Nicole shares: Food prices are definitely a concern in my household. My kids are young but have huge appetites already (two boys 6 and 4, one girl 2). Plus, they are on special diets (gluten-free) and I'm dairy/soy/egg-free so our budget tips aren't always in sync with the average family.

We eat more meat than we used to because of cutting down on beans (I can only handle so much) but to stretch it, I try to cut it up into a meal and use less. For tacos we add rice to our meat mixture to bulk it up. We add rice to quite a bit of things.

I try to buy specialty items in bulk when I can and I still am learning how to fit this in the budget (to plan for it).

We do a lot of soups. I'm so glad fall is coming on as it's hard to eat soup in the summer (not a cold soup fan). I make all my own stocks. Roast up some chickens to make stock, have cut-up meat for different dishes, etc. I rarely use beef stock so that I will buy if needed. For vegetable stock, I keep a container in the freezer and throw in veggie scraps. When it's full, I put the scraps in the crockpot (which it fills just right) and top with water and let it cook on low all day.

For fruit/vegetables, I buy what's on sale. Fruit I will buy in a can or fresh but I hate frozen unless I'm doing a smoothie. Vegetables I'll buy fresh or frozen and some canned.

But for each meal I do use at least one fruit/veg, a carb, and protein (eggs, meat, dairy, beans, nuts) to keep them fuller longer.

I remind the boys to drink water to fill up. And, like the above poster, I think that we're going to have to nix cereal again. The kids went on a cereal binge this summer with me being sick with a new pregnancy but it doesn't fill them up at all.

Carmen shares:  I can share how we stretch our food budget: lentils and rice, black bean chili, lentil soup, all kinds of bean soup (cornbread goes great with these), and my new favorite: no-bake cookies. We also make our own granola to save $$, and I bought a $15 yogurt maker this summer from Craig's list and hope to save about $100 in grocery money over the course of a year. I was spending $5/week on yogurt, now I'm not.

Thanks so much, ladies!  That was a lot of very helpful information, that I'm sure will benefit many readers.  Keep up the good work!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

More Benefits to a Stocked Pantry

I have posted more than once about how important it is to keep a well stocked pantry.  Usually my reasons are related to preparedness for uncertain events.  Today, I am grateful for my pantry because it is a tight food budget week!  Well, it's always tight, but I'm at the end of the month's food money.  I realized today that I have $45 to stretch for 9 days of meals.  I don't know how much you usually spend, or how much the cost of food is in your area, but around here that doesn't go very far!

However, I am very happy with the fact that I have come far with planning frugal meals and making my grocery money streeeettttcccchhhh.  I thought it might be tough to stretch that money, but....I sat down with my pen and paper, and in less that five minutes I had a list of 9 meals down.  AND....all I would have to spend in order to make these nine meals was 6 dollars!!  Wow!  Why???  Because of my well stocked pantry and freezer.

Here is the list of meals that I quickly came up with:

  • Whole chicken (need to buy: $3.50) with either potatoes or rice, veggie (all on hand)
  • Chicken rice soup with leftover chicken (rice in pantry, veggies and stock in freezer)
  • Ham and Bean soup with leftover ham from fridge (pantry FULL of beans)
  • Pork chops (in freezer) and potatoes (in pantry)
  • Steak (in freezer), baked potatoes
  • Beef stew (stew meat in freezer, potatoes, carrots, beef broth, etc. in pantry and fridge)
  • Beans and rice (pantry)
  • Pasta with marinara sauce (both stored in pantry)
  • Shepherd's pie (buy ground beef:$2.50)

Now, I will likely add bread and/or salad to some of these meals, as I'm not completely done planning them yet.  I can bake the bread or biscuits or whatever, and I have a lot of lettuce in my fridge.

So, with my measley little $45, I'll be picking up the ground beef and chicken that I need, then using the rest to stock the fridge with the basics: milk, yogurt, butter, juice, etc.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Frugal Meal Friday

As food prices have gone up and my food budget has shrunk, I have really had to get good at making cheap meals.  I'm actually really enjoying the challenge of coming up with more and more ways to stretch my food money and still feed my family well.  Here is an example of what I'm doing this week:

Pinto Beans and Rice:

Do you think it sounds boring?  It's not!  My entire family loved it.  It's frugal, healthy, and tastes really good.

Here is what I did: early in the morning, I put 3 cups pinto beans (no need to soak), 1 chopped onion, 4 cloves minced garlic, 1 tsp pepper, 1/4 tsp cumin, and 9 cups hot water in the crock pot.  I cooked this on high for 8 hours.  Then I poured it all into a colander to drain the liquid off, and stirred in 1-1/2 tsp. salt.

Next I cooked 2 cups of  white rice (you could used white out or brown; I alternate for variety) in 4 cups of water for 15 minutes.  Then I let it set for five minutes, and sprayed a 9 x 13" pan with cooking spray while I waited.  I fluffed the rice with a fork, then spread it into the pan.  Next I poured the beans over the top of the rice and spread them evenly, and topped with cheddar cheese...

I'm certain you could serve this at this point, but I had to leave the house for a couple of hours, so I covered it with foil and put it in the oven at 250 degrees.  When I got home, it was perfect...piping hot and ready to eat!  We topped ours with some salsa and a dollop of sour cream, and served it with a side of cornbread.

The beauty of this recipe is--while it is already super frugal--it gets even better!  We only ate about half of this, as it was super hearty.  So with the rest of it, I'm going to fill tortillas to make burritos.  I love it when I can get two meals from one dish, especially one that already cost hardly anything to make!

Awhile back, I asked for cheap ideas for bulking up meals to fill the hungry tummies of growing kids.  I will be posting all the wonderful feedback sometime this weekend!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

How Much Do You Value Life?

A worried woman went to her gynecologist and said: "Doctor, I have a serious problem and desperately need your help! My baby is not even 1 year old and I'm pregnant again. I don't want kids so close together." So the doctor said, "Okay, and what do you want me to do?" She said, "I want you to end my pregnancy, and I'm counting on your help with this."

The doctor thought for a little while, and after some silence he said to the lady, "I think I have a better solution for your problem. It's less dangerous for you too." She smiled, thinking that the doctor was going to accept her request. Then he continued, "You see, in order for you not to have to take care of two babies at the same time, let's kill the one in your arms. This way, you could rest some before the other one is born. If we're going to kill one of them, it doesn't matter which one it is. There would be no risk for your body if you chose the one in your arms."

The lady was horrified and said: "No, doctor! How terrible! It's a crime to kill a child!"

 "I agree," the doctor replied. "But you seemed to be okay with it, so I thought maybe that was the best solution."  The doctor smiled, realizing that he had made his point. He convinced the mom that there is no difference in killing a child that's already been born and one that's still in the womb. The crime is the same!

Love says: I sacrifice myself for the good of the other person. Abortion says: I sacrifice the other person for the good of myself.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Zucchini Recipes for that Garden Abundance!

Do you have a lot of zucchini from your garden?  Here are two delicious recipes that I have used recently:

Sausage & Zucchini Polenta Bake

This is very simple and super yummy!  Even all the kids loved it.


18 oz polenta (if you live near Trader Joe's, that is where I got mine)
1/2 lb italian sausage
26 oz. jar pasta sauce
1 large or 2 small zucchini, thinly sliced lengthwise
5 oz.shredded parmesan cheese

Grease a 9 x 13" pan. Brown sausage and drain; slice polenta into thin slices.  In pan, layer half of the polenta, followed by half of the zucchini, half of the sausage, and half of the sauce.  Top with half of the parmesan cheese, then repeat layers and top with the rest of the parmesan.  Bake covered in 400 degree oven for 35 minutes, then take foil off and bake another 5 minutes.  Let stand for about 10 minutes before serving.  Serve with a tossed green salad.  Enjoy!

My other recipe is originally a gluten free recipe for zucchini muffins that I got from Gluten Free Homemaker.  But, for this blog I will convert it to "normal" (hee hee).
You may recognize this picture from a previous post...here it is again!

Zucchini Muffins:
  • 1-1/2 c. flour
  • 1/2 c. sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/3 c. oil
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 Tb. milk
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 c. shredded zucchini
  • 1/2 c. chopped nuts, optional

Combine the dry ingredients in a mixing bowl. Make a well in the center. Add the oil, eggs, milk, and vanilla. Stir with a fork to mix well. Stir in the zucchini and nuts.

Spoon into a greased muffin tin and bake at 400 degrees for 18 minutes.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

And the name is...

Abundant Life on the Homestead!  Same blog, different name...I hope you enjoy it here!  Thank you to everyone for all of your wonderful suggestions.  All of your ideas really helped me come up with a name that I really like!

If you're interested, please visit my other blog that's focused on gluten free living: Gluten Free on the Homestead.

God bless you!

Monday, October 3, 2011

Blog name...

You may have noticed I'm messing with my blog name a bit...thank you for your patience as I figure it out!  I really want this to be a homesteading blog, but with an emphasis on Titus 2.  If you have any suggestions, please throw them out there!  Thank you!