Saturday, August 15, 2015

Entertaining on the fly AND on a budget

our dear friend made plans with us yesterday to come over for the day. I was excited as we haven't seen him for awhile and offered to make lunch/dessert. At the time, I had no idea what I was offering to make! Let's see what I was able to pull together from what I  already had.

We all know pasta is a dish that can easily feed several "on a dime"but you don't want your guest to feel like they're just eating what You could throw together. There are simple things you can do to "spruce it up" and still stay within in your budget.
This dish was $4 and easily fed all three of us with some to spare.
I used:
8oz cooked elbow noodles
Left-over sausage from breakfast and 1/4lb ground beef
1cup pasta sauce
1/2 onion and 4 diced mushrooms
1 1/2c shredded mozzarella

I browned the meat with garlic powder and parsley and put it on a towel to drain the grease. Then, using the same pan I sautéed the mushrooms and onions (this is a great way to make your clean up easier and marry the flavors!) I stirred all that together with the sauce and mixed it in with the cooked and drained pasta. Then, topped it with some freshly shredded mozzarella in an 8" baking dish. Closer to time, I put it in the oven at 350 for about 20 minutes.

Then, I pulled some bread out of the freezer the night before to thaw. I've been saving these breadsticks. They were only 1.00 from the deli and hold well in the freezer until I'm ready to use them. They only take a minute in the oven.

For dessert, we had blackberry cobbler. Cobbler is SO easy and versatile. I had 2 cups of blackberries that had been picked and washed.
For the dough I sifted together
1/2c sugar,
1cup flour,
2tsp baking powder
and then added 1/4c melted butter and about 1 cup of milk.
 I poured the berries on top, sprinkled with sugar and then drizzled over 1/2 cup water.
This will create a "syrup" when it bakes in the oven.
This also goes in at 350 in a greased 8-9" baking pan.
so, I just put it in the oven with the pasta and kept an eye on them both as their cooking times are a little different. 

Entertaining is SO fun and doesn't have to be expensive or complicated. More often than not, friends just want to hang out. Food is always a plus BUT if they are true friends, they are there for the company! (I could make a sandwich and Jeff would thank me then offer to wash his plate!)

We also spent some time cooling off in the pool after lunch. Phoenix loves her uncle Jeff.
He bought her an early birthday present! I'm probably more excited than I should be but we needed a baby gate! Like with the food, gifts don't have to be expensive or fancy. I love practical gifts! 

Monday, August 10, 2015

Two more weeks and two mouths to feed (on a budget)

Guys!! This week I did very well! Not only did I stay on track with our budget, I got some "extras" for FREE! I wouldn't be a good friend if I didn't let you in on a little secret.. Dollar general (with a clipping from previous visits receipt or a digital coupon) gives you $5 off a purchase of $25 or more! So this week I hit dollar general first to see what I could get from my list.. Here's what I bought there. 

2 for $1.00 taco seasoning and country gravy 
1.00 instant rice
1.00 hamburger buns
3.00 protein bars
2.00 paper plates
2.00 toilet paper
1.00 paper towels
5.00 charcoal
1.00 pancake mix 
2.00 instant potatoes
2.00 cereal
3.00 dr pepper 
1.00 tortillas 

So, my total was a little over $25.00 and I got $5.00 off! Can't beat that! :)

Then I was off to Walmart to get the rest of my list.(notice, I made sure to get only dry goods from dollar general)
5.00 rotisserie chicken 
3.00 burritos
3.00 potatoes
3.00 green onions, onions, mushrooms
3.00 ham steak- price matched from harps
4.00 ground beef
.88 stick butter- price matched from harps
2.00 potato wedges
1.00 biscuits
2.00 sausage
3.00 mozzarella 
4.00 chicken fried steak

Here we go.. 
The buns will be used for a few meals.
 First, I am using 1/2 the chicken to make chicken salad sandwiches
1/2 the ham steak will be used to make grilled ham and cheese sandwiches 
(They will both be served with a side of potato wedges)
The other half of the chicken will be paired with rice, eggs and veggies to make chicken fried rice
The other half of the ham steak is for breakfast. I'll make eggs with veggies and cheese

The potatoes are for potato soup (I keep the other ingredients stocked at home because they can no longer be found at Walmart)

I will use 1/2 the sausage to spruce up the country gravy and serve over biscuits
The other 1/2 sausage will be used with the mozzarella to make a pasta bake (I keep pasta odds-and-ends to make this) and I have some breadsticks in the freezer that I got for super cheap!

We will have pancakes one morning with whatever eggs I have left 

The ground beef will make 3 meals!! I've discovered that I can get 32 meatballs from a pound which is 3 meals, 5 each! I'll serve with the mashed potatoes, left-over breadsticks and gravy or veggies

The chicken fried steak comes in a package of 5.. Which is two meals for both of us and a left-over to be creative with. One day I'll use the remainder of the hamburger buns to make sandwiches

The other day I will use it in a more traditional sense.. With potatoes and gravy
A package of burritos (8) is two meals and sometimes a few left-over. I like to bake them and melt cheese over the top. 

We also have cereal and protein bars for a snack or easy breakfasts. 

Shopping doesn't have to be complicated or expensive. Stick to a list and portion control!