Category Archives: Freezing

Budgeting for food for your family

IABM_1437409961 am asked all of the time… “How much do you spend on groceries a month?”

$600 (ok, pick your jaw up off of the ground) Yes, for our family of 10, I only spend $600 a month. Do you know why? Because that is all that is in the budget anyhow! So I make do!!!

My kids do not go without EVER! They just don’t get filled up with processed foods.

Every month, I take $600 cash out of my account. I DO NOT use my debit card for groceries EVER! I would tend to spend as much as I want if I do not budget out cash. I always take a calculator with me to the store or use my cell phone in order to budget better. And I know exactly what I am buying before I walk in the door. A list truly helps.  In this budget, we do buy gluten free bread and occasionally GF pasta. Although, Zucchini makes REALLY YUMMY pasta noodles.

Let’s do a breakdown. 

  1. For starters, I don’t buy eggs, I have chickens, ducks, geese and quail. They give me sufficient eggs and then I sell what I have left for money to go to chicken and quail food. We eat eggs about 4 times a week. And I sell enough eggs to cover their feed.
  2. In the summer, I grow my own veggies, including lettuce that I eat at every meal. We have a 1/4 acre garden and an aquaponics system. We plant lettuce, spinach, kale and Swiss chard for salad greens as well as tomatoes, egg plant, peppers, tomatillos, zucchini, onions, etc. If you don’t have a lot of time, you can plant spinach and lettuce in big pots on your back porch and grow the base of your salad.
  3. I buy in bulk every chance that I get. I buy bulk meat. I buy bulk fruit. Heck, I buy bulk rice too!
  4. We do not buy hamburger helper or rice-a-roni. I used to, but then I realized how bad those foods are for me. So, we make our own. It may be cheap… but… Try mixing cheese in with hot quinoa. Or some ranch dip mix(we make our own dip mix too) in with pasta and a little milk.
  5. I don’t clip coupons anymore because the foods on the coupons tend to be the processed foods that are full of artificial EVERYTHING that I don’t want my kids eating anyway. I do however watch the sale flyers for my local Sprouts and Safeway stores for meat and veggie deals.
  6. I make a menu for the week. I do not always stick to it, but I do make it so I know what we “plan” on eating and what we have in our cabinets.
  7. Figure out your staples in your household. We eat refried beans and ranch beans several times a week for a side. I make my own by buying dried beans in BULK!!!  We cook in a pressure cooker to get the beans going. We also cook chickpeas in the pressure cooker (that I also buy in bulk) to make hummus as a snack. We buy rice in 50 pound bags, and beans in 20 pound bags. I buy several pounds of quinoa when it is on sale and I fill up 1/2 gallon jars for storage.
  8. If I am buying chicken, I only buy boneless chicken breasts on sale ($1.77/pound or cheaper) and I buy a lot of them and fill up my freezer. I do NOT buy ground chicken even though we use that often for tacos and burritos.  Ground chicken costs $3.99/pound so instead I invested in a meat grinder to attach to my kitchen aid and grind my own.
  9. My kids LOVE dehydrated fruit! I have 2 of the big Excalibur dehydrators, that I have running all of the time. If I find a great sale on strawberries, then I buy a lot of strawberries.  They go great in homemade instant oatmeal, granola snacks and even fresh yogurt. We get our fair share of strange looks from people when I purchase 25 watermelons – you should try dehydrating watermelons… they are SO YUMMY!
  10. Costco and Sam’s Clubs are great… But know that your will not get out of there without spending several hundred dollars or more. Every month, I stock up on certain items that I know that I will use like canned goods as a go-to meal add in like corn or green beans or even green chilies. Again make a list.
  11. If you are worried about budgeting, try pre-making freezer meals for later use. 10 meals can be put together in a single afternoon with no problem. Meat and veggies go a long way in a stew. Honey mustard chicken and pineapple chicken can be prepared ahead of time and then put in a crockpot in the morning to cook all day. If you premake the meals, it is as simple as defrosting and pouring in. (All of the veggies are already cut for you.) My secret is to put on a movie and work while that movie is on. It keeps my mind going and then I have set my limit, so I need to work.
  12. Use what you have in your pantry. You bought it at one time for something! Rotate!
  13. Making bread from scratch only takes a few minutes of prep time. We make dough just once a week and I put that in the oven after dinner or when I am getting kids up and going in the morning. We even buy bulk wheat seeds and grind my own wheat for the kids who can eat gluten. Pitas and tortillas are simple to make too.
  14. Water can and should replace kids drinks like koolaid. We drink water and iced tea rather than Koolaid and soda in our house. Tea bags are inexpensive. Juice is a rare thing here, because of juice rotting teeth and we do not buy soda. For tea sweetener, try liquid stevia. A jar lasts forever. Or slice up fruit and add to pitchers of water.
  15. Try buying a pig from a local farm to send to the butcher. Better meat! Try you local 4H or FFA groups, they will often have animals ready to go. This actually helps local and allows you to use all different cuts of meat. Or, you can raise your own. (Not for everyone!)
  16. Find a fruit and veggie co-op. Bountiful baskets offers awesome produce weekly.
  17. I do not buy laundry detergent… I make my own. Fabric softener… Yep, make that too… When my kids were little, heck, we even used cloth diapers. I buy theives cleaner in concentrate and mix my own.

Here is an average day of meals for us.  (Remember too that we homeschool so kids are not getting a school lunches either) The kids ages are 3, 7, 7, 9, 9, 11, 13, and 17.

Breakfast: Eggs and sausage with a slice of fruit or a stir-fry of veggies.  Or an egg bake of eggs, spinach and feta cheese. Homemade oatmeal and dried fruit and milk. Or Rice with butter and brown sugar.

Lunch: PB and honey sandwich with yogurt and carrot sticks. Chicken salad lettuce wrap with coleslaw, or quesadillas with sour cream and salsa with apples and peanut butter.

Dinner: BBQ-ed chicken with BBQed Zucchini,  enchiladas and rice, tacos and beans, or spaghetti and french bread. We offer salads at every meal for the kids. Another favorite in our house is shepherd’s pie. Every meal is cooked from scratch because I want to know what my kids are eating.

Snack: Carrots or Hummus and pita chips, or homemade granola bars, apple or pears, or string cheese (the only thing that I buy that is individually wrapped.)  I always have carrots available for snacks as well as apples, bananas or oranges. I buy all of those in bulk too. Carrots come in 25 pound bags from my local grocery store for only $7. It lasts us about 2 weeks unless the bunnies or goats get it first.(and by that I mean that the kiddoes are feeding them!)

This season, we began raising our own meat in rabbits (we have our first litters to butcher in about a month)  and chickens (we have 23 meat birds that will bulk up in about 6 weeks for my freezer). We also have 4 goats that next season will start giving us goats’ milk for drinking and making cheese. Our budget will go down even more next season with meat and milk. Yea! We have a neighbor that gives us 2 gallons of goats milk a week from her goats and we exchange some veggies and yard work for her. Look into purchasing bulk meat from Zaycon or even from Sam’s Club.  Here is my Zaycon link for bulk meats: http://www.zayconfresh.com/refer/zf52795

Know that you too can budget down you grocery bill if you just follow those simple

Home-made Enchilada Sauce (and Gluten Free and Dye Free)

When I shop for different foods at the grocery store , I am very conscience of every ingredient that is in an item. If I can’t pronounce it, it probably should not be in my body.  We don’t eat anything with dyes in it, stay away from extra salts… and avoid as many chemicals as possible.  (My sister congratulates me on my journey in “turning crunchy” – check out her website at www.turningcrunchy.com) Once I realized that so many of those chemicals were hurting my kids… I started checking out all of them.  (Remember – I have one deathly allergic to red dye, one who is gluten and lactose intolerant, 2 others who are on a processed and dye free diet, etc)

 

Homemade Red Enchilada Sauce

  • 2 Tablespoons butter

    Enchilada Sauce from Scratch
    Enchilada Sauce from Scratch
  • 1/2 cup onions
  • 1 clove garlic, pressed
  • 1-16 ounce can tomatoes, diced & undrained
  • 1-8 ounce can of tomato sauce (We go through a lot of tomatoes in this house, but a few times a year I make a huge batch of homemade tomato sauce and paste from scratch.)
  • 1-1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1-4 ounce can of green chilies (We grow our own chilies)
  • 1/2 teaspoon oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon basil
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt (We use pink Himalayan salt in our house only)
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder (We make our own chili powder from dehydrating chilies from our garden)

Melt butter in saucepan on stove. Add onions and garlic and sauté until tender. Add tomatoes, tomato sauce, chilies, sugar and seasonings. Simmer for about 15 minutes until heated.

Beans in BULK! BBQ Recipe from Scratch

Canned beans can get expensive… since with 7+ at our house at any given time, we need 2 or more cans of beans as a side dish.

I have been buying my pinto beans in bulk for several years. They come dried and in 25 and 50 pound bags from Costco or Sam’s Club for less than $10. I store mine in recycled wheat buckets. (Another story… but I do grind my own wheat for flour)

After I make my beans, I freeze them in either mason jars or in zipper bags. (I will talk canning beans on another day!)

(THIS IS A LOT OF BEANS!!)  I add about 16 cups of dried beans to my stockpot and add water to just below the top of the pot to soak over night. The next morning, dump out the old water and refill the water to above the beans and cook on medium until tender.

8 5-cup bags of cooked plain pinto beans

This is where it gets FUN! You get to decide what kind of beans that you want.

Normally, I bag up half of them plain with no seasonings to use with tacos, in soups, etc.

Then the other half I add sauteed onions & garlic and italian herbs and BBQ Sauce, a can of tomato paste, a touch of brown sugar, salt and pepper. And stir is all in. (These remind me of “ranch” beans with onions.

For the BBQ Sauce, I get so many FREE off of the coupon list, buying them when they are 10 for $10 and having $1 coupons… But, you can easily make your own sauce as well.

My 16 cups of dried beans made 8 5-cup bags of pintos ready to use in tacos, etc. and 4 4-cup bags of beans with onions, garlic, tomato paste, BBQ sauce and salt and pepper.

Home-made BBQ Sauce(from foodnetwork):

Ingredients

Cooked Pinto Beans with BBQ Sauce mixture ready for the freezer.
  • 1 (7-ounce) jar or can  tomato paste
  • 3/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoons spicy Dijon mustard
  • 2 tablespoons BBQ seasoning mix
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
  • 4 cups water

Directions

Whisk all the ingredients together in a large saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to maintain a simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, until reduced by about half or to desired thickness, about 1 hour.

Cool completely before transferring to an airtight container and storing in the refrigerator.

Cook’s Note: Use the BBQ sauce within 1 week or freeze for up to 6 months.