Meals

Keeping Kosher for a Family of 5 under $100 a week

carrotsThe news has been viral with all this talk about SNAP (Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program) and as a former food stamp recipient I can attest that getting $29 a week is GENEROUS. When I was a recently divorced single mom with four kids and a job that only paid $7 an hour, I only got $269 for the MONTH! On top of that I was Jewish and following a Kosher diet that prevented me from getting many things with my “allowance”. (Kosher meat was exempt from the program.) So unless mommy got some extra cash, we became vegetarians at home.

Now flash-forward to the present. I have a loving husband, with a good job and makes enough that I can stay home with the kids. However, that doesn’t change the way I shop for food. I still work on a budget of a $100 a week to feed my family of five. (My oldest is an adult living in another state so that why I’m not counting six.) When you think of it, that is $20 per person, per week. Much less than SNAP. Yet, I do it. My mother still is in awe of my food budget.

Now, this is for FOOD. Not other things like soap, toilet paper, etc. Just food. I keep separate expenses for those items. Plus, with coupons I can get most of those items free.

Now to get us started, I’m going to start with appliances. These are what make my job easier AND what help keep your food budget down. The savings you get from USING the product more than makes up the cost. Next time family ask you what you want for the holidays, think these items.

Appliances:

*KitchenAid Mixer- Make sure you get one that is large enough for your family and has all the attachments to make bread. Also, if you can get it, get the ice cream maker attachment too.

*Blender-any will do. We picked up ours from Goodwill and it’s always done us good.

*Food Processor-a 5 pound of bag of potatoes, shredded to hash browns will feed your family for a month. Of less, if they love it enough.

*Bread machine if you want loaves, this is a good option. You just add ingredients then go about your day. I was lucky enough that my mom gave me her old one since she never uses it. Again, check Goodwill. They seem to have lost their popularity so I see them there all the time. User manuals are plenty online.

*Crockpot- make sure it’s a LARGE one. You want to be able to fit a roast in there.

*Soda Stream- From fruity seltzer water to your own soda on a whim. It’s worth it if you’re a soda junkie.

A word about meats….

Prices of meat are high in general across the country. Even here in Texas prices are high. Now add the luxury of Kosher meats. Here are some tips that I go buy when buying Kosher meats:

*Buy lots of chicken at 2.99lb or less,

*Buy lots of beef at 5.99lb or less,

*If prices are higher than buy lowest price meat that is slice-and-dice-able. Use these meats as fillers for tacos, spaghetti dishes, pot pies, or rice dishes.

*Fish doesn’t have to be certified Kosher. Just follow standard Kosher law. (ex. no shellfish) If salmon is cheaper than beef one week, buy salmon.

*I’m not above buying tuna in a can. Especially when it’s on sale for 50 cents a can. Those are a great addition to Mac N’ Cheese.

Now for some menu ideas…

BREAKFASTcin rolls

*cinnamon rolls (homemade or the Pillsbury ones. They always have a coupon)

*bagged cereal or Pop tarts (whichever is less, or gives me the free milk savings. Also, check the organics aisles. Many times I will find their cereals on sale for less than the popular brands. Remember to always check the per unit price vs the total cost.)

* coffee cake (I always have some leftover from Passover that I need to use before they expire)

*Pancakes/waffles

*French toast (for stale bread)

LUNCH

*Grilled Cheese sandwiches

*Egg salad Sandwiches

*Leftovers (usually stolen by my husband)

*PB&J or Nutella & bananas (one of my kids is allergic to peanuts)

*Nachos (usually make the chips from corn tortillas)

DINNER

*Fried Bread Mexican Tacos

*Spaghetti (with alfredo or marinara, whatever is on sale that week)mac and cheese broccoli

*Kraft Mac & Cheese or Anne’s if it’s on sale for $1 (bulk up with tuna, broccoli, or some other veggie you would like to hide from the kids)

*Sliced Potatoes and eggs (my dad makes then when my mom would go out-of-town. now I make it!)

*Store brand American Blend salad (its $1 a bag x5 days, its works for us)

*Store brand $1 frozen veggies (always frozen. can veggies are so bad for you)

*Tacos (either I make it with corn tortillas or make my own flour tortillas) with veggie refried beans

spagetti tacos*Spaghetti Tacos (for when I don’t have enough spaghetti for a meal)

*Oil-free “Fried” chicken

*Breaded chicken (when I am in a pitch for breadcrumbs I will use FiberOne or Leftover Matzah Meal from Passover mixed with Spike seasoning and Paprika)

*Fried Rice (usually leftover white rice mixed up with egg and some frozen veggies, and soy sauce)

*Leftover soup (throw what you have in a pot, add water, and cook) served with a side of garlic bread and saladleftover soup

SNACKS

                Most of our snacks are homemade, but once in a while we will indulge. My daughter LOVES to make cake.

*Chocolate chip cookies

*Cake

*Brownies

*Oreos

*Goldfish (only when on sale)

*Chips (from corn tortillas or store brand. whichever is cheaper per unit)

*Fruit (whatever is in season and on sale. We will freeze anything that is in excess and use for smoothies later)

*Ice cream (what is on sale or make at home. Freezepops are the BEST cheap eat.)

*Popcorn (we have an air popper, but you can easily make your own microwave popcorn using a bag or a glass bowl or, like my husband, in a pot or wok)

 

Of course this list is not exclusive. We always have a full fridge, and the kids never feel starved. You must decided what is best for your family. Coupon is great but forced me to buy a lot of food I would never buy or was just TOO unhealthy. Most of my food budget is pulled from the meat and produce department.

I hope this helps you.

~Gin

Bowling and Bread

 

I’m sorry I’m not updating as much as I would like to on the blog. My wrist causes some awful pain and unless I’m taking my pain medicine, it’s very difficult to type. It seems that my wrist is just getting worse. 🙁 Might be some ripped cartilage? Estimated time of healing is close to three months. The pain is annoying at most and inconvenient to say the least. Working at the computer is not fun. The kids have been mighty helpful though, with cleaning. Knicki has been trying her hand in cooking again. She’s such a natural.

3b479-breadYesterday I decided to show her how to make Basic White Bread in the bread machine. It was part of my intent to show her what “homemade” cooking was like in case of the need to be self sufficient. Here is the recipe that I used. I can’t remember where I got it, but you will have to check your bread machine’s specific instructions regarding placing the items in it. For mine you need to place liquids in first.


Basic White Bread (for the bread machine) breadmachine
1 1/2 cups warm tap water
2 tablespoons oil
4 cups of bread flour, or all purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
2 tablespoons sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast

Add in this order: water, oil & spread flour to “seal it” off.
Circle salt and sugar over flour leaving space untouched in middle.
Use finger to make a small indentation in the center of the flour large and deep enough to place the yeast in. Be careful you don’t press too far that you hit water!
Place yeast in indentation.
Close. Select “Basic” cycle.
Make large loaf.

Then WALLA! Knicki’s bread was soooo yummy! I keep telling her she needs to keep working on her cooking skills. She’s a natural like my mom!
The rest of the day we just spent cleaning up the house to see what we could give to Goodwill. we ended up dropping off 5 garbage bags of clothes and toys and two old TVs.

a3eb5-amfTo get out of the house I then decided to take the kids bowling. AMF has this free summer bowling program that I suggest you sign up and take advantage of if you have children under the age of 16. If you have one near you check this out. You just have to pay for your shoe rental, but you can bring your own bowling shoes if you have them. The vouchers you get each week is for two games, per person, PER DAY! What a deal!35e71-bowling

I invited my son’s girlfriend and her little brother so he could spend some time with her as well. Its clean wholesome fun. They ended up seeing a friend of theirs there too! (See mom knows what’s cool! lol)

The rest of the night I think we are playing the X-box. They have been having tons of fun with the Disney Universe game on the Xbox. It allows them to play up to 4 players co-op so they don’t fight over who’s turn it is. They also like that they could just get on and play so they can start beating each other up like Smashbrothers.  We tried the new Madagascar 3 game for the Xbox and that ended up only allowing 2 players at a time to play and the intro section to do the controls was so long my kids quickly lost interest.

During the summer it can be hard to thinking of things to do for the kids. Tomorrow I think I will take them to my parents for swimming in the pool. Today was a hot day to drive around and this will be a way to cool off in the desert heat. I think the high today was 118?!  UG!

Until tomorrow!

Cheers!

~Gin

 

Slow Cooking CHICKEN WINGS!!!!

EasyHoneyBBQWingsblogOk. So in an effort to reduce some cost and SSSTTTTTRRREEEETTTTCHHH  that money I spend on meat (I SO need to go back to being vegan, ug!) I purchased a Slow Cooker with my Target Gift card that I got for Hannukah from my parents. I bought a 6-qt Hamilton Beach 33966 Set ‘n Forget 6-Quart Programmable Slow Cooker since we have a BIG family. The Programing was a must for me and the Probe for the meat was the decision breaker. I made chicken in the oven one time and a tummy ache later, think I undercooked it. For my FIRST meal, I made Easy Honey BBQ Wings…here is the recipe.


 

Easy Honey BBQ Wings

1-large jar of Fry’s honey bbq sauce

3-lbs or more chicken wings

1 cup water

 

Directions: Cut wing tips and and joints to seperate wings. (So one wing will yeld two “wings” similar to what you get in the restraunts.) Place in crockpot. Pour entire bottle of bbq sauce and a cup of water in crockpot. Mix to cover.Cook on Low for 5-6hrs.


 

The kids LOVED them!!! I only did it for 5hrs, which was good becuase the meat was falling off the bone but that is what the kids loved about these wings. They were juicy and sweet! YUM!

So far this was a nice introduction to slow cooking.

Cheers!

~Gin

Yummy Spinach DIP!!!!

 

spinach-cc blogHave you ever been in the soup aisle and see the Knorr packets and wonder “what the heck to you make with those things?” or “who the heck eats LEEK SOUP that is under 50?!??!” Recently, my mom made this veggie dip and I was amazed. Normally, I’m not into Spinach dip but this was too good to resist. I think I ended up licking the bowl.
It’s just the classic Knorr recipe that is on their packets except it uses the Leek Soup in lue of the Vegetable soup. They recommend using chestnuts and onions, but I don’t really like them and my mom didn’t use them so I’ve omitted them for the below recipe.
 
1 Package of Frozen Spinach (thawed and completely drained of water)
16oz of Sour Cream
1 cup of Mayo
1 package of Knorr Leek Soup
Now before adding the spinach, you need to make sure it’s thawed and dried. Don’t cook it. Just let it sit out of the package in a colander and then pat it dry for any extra water. Next, mix well with the remaining ingredients. Then, leave in fridge for at least an hour or two. It will taste better when chilled.

YUMMY AND ENJOY with your favorite potato chips.

~Gin