Saturday, June 27, 2015

This is and isn't my kind of dish. 
It is because it's pasta! It's cheap and it's easy. 
It isn't because it's tuna.. Dylan loves it; however, so I make it sometimes. 

For this dish I used a little mustard, mayo and soy sauce wich I already had. 
Some diced green onions,
Small shell noodles,
1 can of drained tuna
Salt, pepper and garlic powder

So the total cost was about $3.00 and I still have some green onions and shell pasta left for another dish! 

This is pretty straightforward:
1 tsp mustard
2tbs mayo
Salt, pepper and garlic to taste
Diced green onions
Mix with cooked and drained pasta. (I used 2 cups since it's just us. If you're making more you'll need to adjust the mustard, mayo and maybe use 2 cans of tuna) 
Fold in drained tuna (1 can)
Chill and serve!

Monday, June 22, 2015

Stuffed shells

This is a recipie that you will fall in love with for the following reasons:
It's super easy
It's cost effective
It tastes  like it could have come from a restraunt!

What you will need:
1 bag frozen spinach (thaw and drain, if desired)
1 small container of ricotta cheese
Jumbo shells
Pasta sauce (I use Ragu)
Mozzarella or Parmesan cheese for the top. 
Salt/pepper/garlic to taste 
It only took about $5 to buy those items! To make it even better I have shells, pasta sauce and cheese left-over to make more or another dish. 
So, for 4 servings I spent $5.00.. When you break it down this meal really is cheap. 

As I said, it's also really simple to make. 

I cooked the shells, 
combined the salt, pepper, garlic, ricotta and spinach together in a bowl and placed a generous spoonful in each. 
Then, to top it all off I added sauce to half (Dylan doesn't care for it) and mozzarella cheese. 

Since the shells were already cooked it didn't take long at all to bake. I used my best judgement with 10 minutes @350* and they turned out great. 

when baking, cover with foil

I hope you'll give it a try, enjoy it and let me know what you think!

Thursday, June 18, 2015

A peek inside: the major move

If you've followed me very closely lately you've heard me speak of financial stress.
 I was at a place in my job that I was losing more than I was making. I loved my job but couldn't sacrifice providing for my family. 

So, after a few long talks with Dylan and some math we decided the best thing for our family at the moment was for him to work as much as he could at his current job and pick up some other things on the side as needed.
 This takes a lot of stress off the car and our gas fund (with us both using the car for work it's 100 miles a day and about $90.00/week in gas..) Not counting the insurance, loan payment, oil, tires and everything else it takes to keep the car going! 
My paychecks over the course of a month weren't even covering what's listed above and we have bills other than those. 

I'm still warming up to the idea of staying home. My type A personality tells me "if you're not working, you're a lazy bum. You aren't contributing"
While this isn't true and my husband doesn't tell me these things it's something I'm working through. 

I have to remind myself that me not working at that job is what's better for us right now. It's saving us money (not having to pay a babysitter, borrow a car on the days Dylan can't ride his bike or has to go in early, extra gas..) it's allowing Dylan to work more which he wants to do, it takes some stress off me trying to find a full-time job while pregnant (many employers done like to hear "by the way, I have to leave soon for maternity leave" 

and it helps me to be a better mom. This, is my new priority. 
Up to this point in our relationship I have ALWAYS been the bread-winner in the family. Even if I made less per hour I have worked more hours by having a full time job or two jobs. I felt accomplished because I was making money for my family.. What I didn't realize until it was too late were the sacrifices I made to do that. Sure, I missed some fun stuff but that's not what I mean. I've missed my baby!
Phoenix is almost 9 months and apart from maternity leave (I took 3 weeks after she was born) I can count on one hand the amount of days I have stayed home with phoenix by myself. It's sad really.. 

She prefers her daddy, said his name as her first word and takes after him very much so. As much as it hurts to admit, she may even reach for my mom over me. 
I'm always the "bad guy" the one that tries to keep her clean, gives her medicine, makes her go to bed at a scheduled time every night or doesn't let her play with her food.. 
By the time I got home from work, changed, kissed my husband goodbye until 1 a.m, did a chore (laundry, dishes, vacuum, scrub the shower or dust..etc) it was time to give her a bath and put her to bed. 

I'm not far in at all but I can tell it will be a journey. One that I will learn from, grow from and carry on to our baby #2.. 
I will return to the workforce after having the baby (unless someone would take me before then) and of course if it would be profitable for my family. I'm proud to see my husband work hard to pay the bills but I'm not so ignorant to think that it's 100% practical at our age, given our "skillset" this is a temporary "fix" that we will make work.. I'm not giving up my dreams of going to school and having a career. It's just once again on hold. 

God has a plan. 
There is always a way. 

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Trying new things!

I've never had or made stuffed peppers until today. 
I'm not sure why I decided to try.. But I'm glad I did. 
I hate eating the same thing all the time so I look for ways to try new things without exceeding our budget. 

One way I do this is stretching expensive items as much as I can. 
(Such as beef.) It's 4.16/lb for the cheapest. However; when you split 1 pound into two meals it's really not that bad. Around $2.00 per meal, $1.00 per serving. 
(I know not everyone can do this.. We have a small family.)
Another way I do this by adding more of less expensive items. 
Veggies (sautéed, baked, raw) compare price of frozen/canned/ fresh if you'll be cooking them.
Fruit,  rice, 
pasta (make a pasta salad or use pasta sauce)
 bread (make garlic bread to go with it. Or cornbread.. ) Look for sales at the store on the deli loaves. You can often get them for .60 a piece. They can be frozen to keep them fresh longer and then thawed out the night before. To prevent re-thawing and freezing cut into portion-sized pieces and freeze in sandwich bags. 

For this recipie, the same applied. I had 
1/2 pound left over of ground beef from yesterday's supper: hamburger helper. (Which I added more pasta too.. This stretched the meal and kept it a reasonable price)
I paired it with rice pilaf (.98 at Walmart.. Ready in 90 seconds!)
Sautéed squash, onions and bell peppers. (All are fairly cheap, in season and can help a new go a long way)
And topped it all with cheese. (Which I usually have in the fridge anyway) 
It didn't take long at all to bake which is also a plus because it means I'm not using much propane or heating the house. 

The best part is: I had some of the filling left-over that I can put in a tortilla (left over from tacos) for lunch tomorrow. 

Coking doesn't have to be complicated or expensive. Have fun in the kitchen! There's so much you can do to create your own recipes or tweak others recipes to make them work best for your family. 

Hope you enjoyed this post or learned something new. 

Friday, June 12, 2015

Setbacks, cut backs and comebacks

Due to recent setbacks financially (totally beyond my control) we have been struggling.
 Unfortunately, sometimes financially struggling also means relationship issues. Our relationship has been tested more than I could have imagined. Our savings account has dwindled and we are doing a lot of nothing outside of work/church. 

So, when you experience setbacks.. What do you do? Well, my first reaction was stress and a LOT of it! While there is still stress I'm trying to move forward and make the best of things where we can
One way I'm doing that is CUT BACKS. 

We are spending less at the grocery store.. Comparing prices per ounce/brand/store.. Looking through ads and hopefully we will be harvesting our own crop soon.. We have some corn, broccoli, peppers, squash and beans coming up. 
I spent a hot hour watering and weeding the garden today. 

We are not using the AC
We only drive to work and church.. Dylan drives his bike to cut down on our $90.00 gas bill every week
We don't eat out.. I'm talking not even Taco Bell
We wash dishes by hand
Make our own laundry soap
And my most recent sacrifice.. No more dryer! 

I grew up simply, so I don't mind to do things "the old fashioned way" it is more time consuming and requires more effort but hard work built this country..

 I'm learning to make changes with a smile on my face.. Doing it not because "I have too" but because I know I can and it will improve our situation. 

Now, I'm talking about all these cut backs and making it sound like we live a miserable life. To say that would be a lie. We still have fishing, hiking, swimming, watching a movie from home, seeing friends at church or enjoying the fresh air as I hang the clothes out to dry or weed the garden. 
There are things to do, if you'll only look. There's things to be happy for, if you're willing.. That's where the comebacks are found. 

In every situation there is an action and a reaction. We learn that in school but what does it really mean?
In our situation it means that we learn to live simply, enjoy what we have and find happiness. 
This is my happiness. The family that God blessed me with. Money can't change my love  for them or responsibility to provide. I am not a quitter. I will find a way!