Saturday, November 22, 2008

Saturday: Tuna Melts and Veggies

It's Tuna Melt Day! This recipe is so super easy and it's great to use as a stand-by. As meal plans often go, things come up during the week and you may not get to a meal you had planned. That was the case with our tuna melts (sniff **). I decided to still post the recipe, but sorry there are no pictures!

For this recipe you need: 1/2 cup (more or less to taste), 1 can tuna, cheddar cheese (sliced or shredded), white or wheat bread.

Step 1: Mix tuna and mayo together (I usually just add a dollop or two until I get it to the consistency I wanted.

Step 2: Heat up a griddle or pan on the stove to Medium Heat

Step 3: Butter both slices of bread

Step 4: Put tuna mixture and cheese on bread and add to pan

Step 5: Heat until bread is crispy and cheese is melted. If you notice the bread is cooking faster than the cheese is melting, you need to turn down the temperature.

Step 6: Cut and enjoy! Add tomato lettuce if you have it stocked in the fridge already and you've got a great dinner. Also- you can add cold carrots and celery- yum!

This is a pretty basic recipe for tuna melts. I would love to hear some of your recipes for this meal.

Post a comment and let me know what you do to jazz up your tuna melts!

Friday, November 21, 2008

Friday: Out to Eat or Leftovers

Yeah, it's FRIDAY! Do a little dance, sing a little song and take your lovely family out to dinner! Check out your local restaurants and find one that has free kids' meals tonight. Go through your coupons and find some deals to eat out with or check online for coupons.

If eating out doesn't fit into your budget this week; have no fear! Leftovers are always great for a good family dinner. Set out your leftovers potluck style. Everyone can fill their plates w/ leftover pasta, biscuits and chicken, or yummy chili and heat in the microwave. Continue the potluck theme by spreading out a blanket and having a fun dinner picnic style!

Post a comment and let us know your favorite family Friday night dinner ideas.

We'd love to hear from you!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Thursday: Cornbread crust pizza on the grill

This is one of my husband's favorite meals. Okay- it is his favorite! He LOVES anything to do with PIZZA. His mom made cornbread crust pizza for them growing up and he is a big fan! I am not a huge fan of the cornbread crust, but it's still pretty good.


I am going to do this recipe in 2 parts. The crust first and then on to the pizza toppings.

Here is what you need for the 2- 8'' pizza crusts:
1/2 cup yellow cornmeal *Frugal tip: once you buy a container of cornmeal for about $2.00, you will be able to use it to make several more pizza crust recipes in the future as well as homeade corn bread- YUM!)
1 cup flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup water
2 tablespoons olive oil

Here is what you need for your toppings:
1 Jar pizza sauce
2 cups shredded cheese
pizza toppings (we use pepperoni and mushrooms) *Frugal Tip: Use your leftover toppings from "build a pasta" that you made earlier this week! Also, check your local grocery store for manager special items in your produce section.

Cornbread pizza crust:

Step 1: Mix all dry ingredients in a bowl (cornmeal, flour, baking powder and salt

Step 2: Mix Water and olive oil in a separate bowl

Step 3: Make a "well" in the center of the dry ingredients and add water/olive oil mixture

Step 4: Mix until soft dough ball forms

Step 5: Stick in refrigerator until ready to use!

Let's put it all together!

Step 1: Preheat your grill or oven (350 degrees) and then get your toppings ready! I like to pan fry my pepperoni until it is nice and crispy. Then I cooked my mushrooms until they were nice and soft. We bought a bag of cheese this time, so no cheese shredding needed! Remember, if you had ingredients leftover from your "build a pasta" this would be a great time to use them.

Step 2: Get your pizza dough out of the fridge and begin to form your mini pizza's or 1 medium size pizza. I usually make 2 mini pizzas by forming to small balls of dough and then stretching them until they are the size I want. Every once in awhile I try to do the fancy pizza crust toss into the air to see if it speeds the process up a bit.... it doesn't.

Step 3: Put your pizza crust on a pan and start with the sauce. Then pile on your toppings and last your cheese.

Step 4: If you are cooking on the Grill- place foil on the grill and slow cook your pizza until the cheese is hot and bubbly. I say slow cook b/c our grill burns the bottom of the pizza if we turn it up too high. If you are cooking using your oven, place the pizza(s) in the oven until hot and bubbly (about 10-12 minutes for a 8 inch pizza)

Step 5: Cut and ENJOY! Our family also likes to add parmesan cheese or french dressing to our pizza to us a dip!

Cost for 2 8'' pizzas- $3.50 (I was able to get the pepperoni on sale for $1.00 and I used mushrooms from build a pasta. We also had corn meal in our pantry.)

Cost per person- $1.75- Sure Beats Pizza Hut!

Sorry there were no pictures this time. Blogger is incredibly slow today and it would not let me download pics. I will add them when things are up and running again!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Wednesday: Build a Pasta!

This is a great recipe to use when serving a large group or picky eaters. Build a Pasta includes pasta and sauce as your base and then you add your favorite toppings to the top. In order to keep this recipe frugal, I go to the produce department the day I am making it to find "manager special"/marked down produce. It is usually on manager special because it needs to be used within a few days. This is a great way to get marked down dairy products as well.

Here is what I used for my "base" pasta:

Bertolli crushed tomato and basil pasta sauce (I love the pouch, you just pop it in the microwave for 90 seconds. No sauce splatters all over my stove! There is a coupon available for $1 the sauce pouches. It ends up only being about $1.27 for the sauce at my Wal-Mart.) I used Rotini noodles b/c I was able to purchase the Smart Taste pasta for .57 at Wal-Mart. There was recently a coupon insert for $1 off Ronzoni pasta. The rotini noodles are also just fun!

Remember, this is your dish- you can choose to make 2 sauces: 1 tomato and 1 alfredo and 2 different types of noodles. I tried to make this dish as frugally as possibly, so I only used 1 of each.

Here is what I used for our toppings:

Sausage, cheddar cheese (shredded), parmesan cheese, mushrooms (manager's special) and a pepper from our neighbor's garden. The possibilities are really limitless for toppings. Buy as much or as little as you want to add to your pasta. Notice that most of my brands are generic. There really is not much difference in taste/quality branded or unbranded. It's a great way to save $$$ on your bill! The texas toast is for a side.

Step 1: Boil your Pasta. Add salt to the pasta water, this is the only time you can season your noodles.

Step 2: Chop your toppings, shred your cheese and prepare to build your pasta!

Step 4: Cook your pasta sauce and begin to cook your garlic bread

Step 5: Start with your base of pasta and sauce.

Step 6: Build your pasta with a few toppings. I liked to add mushrooms and peppers.

Step 7: Add shredded cheese

Step 8: Add garlic bread and a salad and you've built a pasta!

Just to show you how different each plate can be, here is my husbands' build a pasta

and my daughter's build a pasta She is 2 years old and LOVED this dish!

Cost of meal: $5.50 total (includes garlic bread and salad-also a manager's special)
Cost per person (serves 4)- $1.35

I would love to hear what your "build a pasta" toppings included. Leave a comment and let us know what toppings you would add to your build a pasta!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Tuesday: Hot and Cheesy Chili

This is a recipe inspired by my dad who makes the best chili ever! It is not too spicy, but you can easily kick up the spice! As the weather turns colder and the leaves start to fall I begin to crave chili season. Sigh, it's finally here and I have so many leaves to rake!

Here is what you need:
Ingredients: 1 can dark and 1 can red kidney beans, 1 pack of chili seasoning, 1 med. onion, 1 1/2 lb. ground beef, 1 can diced tomatoes, 1 can tomato juice

Step 1: Brown ground beef and onion

Step 2: Add about 1/3 of the packet of chili seasoning and let simmer about 5 minutes.

Step 4: Add tomato juice, diced tomatoes, browned ground beef w/ onion (drain) and both cans of kidney beans (drained).
Step 5: Cook on high until boiling

Step 6: Add the rest of the chili spices and if you like it spicier trying adding more chili powder.

Step 7: Then cover and let simmer on low for 2-3 hours. *Note, if you are short on time, you can eat this right away. Simmering it adds to the flavor, boils the juices down and softens the tomatoes.

Step 8: Enjoy your chili! I love to add shredded cheese, sour cream, cilantro and use tortilla chips to dip in the chili. You could also easily just use saltines or oyster crackers and cheese. Yummy, enjoy!

This recipe serves about 8 people.
*Frugal tip: Freeze what you have leftover to use for another meal.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Bonus Post: Making your own baby food

Healthy, cheap, and very convenient. These are reasons to consider making your own baby food if you are in that phase with your itty bitty(s).
Great foods to start with are apples, pears, peaches, zucchini, squash, butternut squash, sweet potatoes, yams, etc. Steps for each are very similar.

1. Peel (if desired) and cut into chunks.

2. Cook in boiling water until very soft (or use a steamer)

3. Puree in a blender or a food processor with a little water. If I am having a hard time blending all the chunks I sometimes add a little extra water. (Extra tip: I sometimes decide to add a little baby cereal to the blended food to make it thicker, or more substantial.)
4. Pour into ice cube trays, freeze, bag into freezer bags labeled with what is inside and the date you made it. Each food will last about 6 months.

Three ice cubes are about the amount in an average baby food jar. Keely will eat two to three most times. When it comes time to feed her I just pop a couple of "ice cubes" into a bowl and microwave them, usually for about 30-40 seconds. If it is a little too warm I just let it cool some before feeding her. Keely loved pears, peaches, and zucchini the most. I made peaches today and she cooed at me the whole time she ate them.
Other great foods to start with are bananas and avocados which are already softened when they are ripe enough. When the banana is good and brown mash that thing up with a fork and your baby will get dessert! :)
If you have had the joy of feeding a baby you probably already know that half of the food ends up on them as well as on the floor/ highchair, and sometimes they won't even eat most of the baby food. When I used to feed Preston baby food from a jar it would always bother me to have to throw the extra food out when he wouldn't eat very much. I have found that when I make my own and Keely just nibbles it does not bother me. It feels good to take care of my baby in this way. There is something very rewarding about seeing your baby enjoy food that you prepared. Try it and see for yourself. Then, tell us about it. OR, if you have already tried making your own food, what have you made and how did your little ones like it? We'd love to hear from you.

Monday: Baked cheesy chicken and biscuits

This meal was very easy and fun to prepare. I would describe it as a comfy food that tastes like cheese soup in a casserole w/ biscuits on top. So GOOD!

I would suggest a few things:

1. To save some prep time: Bake the chicken (baking it makes it juicy!) ahead of time

2. Have a sink full of soapy water to put diry dishes in to save clean-up time

3. Make a double batch if you are serving more than 4 people.

This is what you need:

Ingredients: 1 can cream of chicken soup, 3/4 cup sour cream (divided), 2 cups chopped cooked chicken, 1 pkg. frozen mixed veggies (thawed), 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese, 1 cup baking mix, 3 tbs. milk., 8 inch baking dish (or larger if you double)

Step 1: Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Step 2: Mix soup and 1/2 cup sour cream in a bowl (or your baking dish)

Step 3: Add sour cream and soup mixture to thawed veggies

Step 4: Add chicken to mixture and 2 cups of cheese

Step 4: Mix together

Step 5: Mix 1 cup baking mix with 1/4 cup sour cream and 3 tbsp. milk

Step 6: Stir until dough forms

Step 7: Spread mixture into pan and dollop biscuit dough on top

Step 8: Bake at 375 for 35 minutes or until golden brown and bubbly.

This is so yummy! Try it, you won't be disappointed!

Thanks to for this great recipe.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

The Frugal Table: Grocery List

WELCOME! Hopefully you are able to use this meal plan to make some yummy, yet frugal meals for your family!

Here is what is on the table for the week:

Monday: Baked Chicken and biscuit casserole
Tuesday: Chili, one of my favorite fall meals! w/ cheese on top and cornbread on the side.Baked
Wednesday: Build a Pasta! (your kids will love this one) Garlic Bread, Salad
Thursday: Homeade cornbread crust pizza cooked on the grill
Friday: Eat out or Leftover night
Saturday: Tuna Melts and Veggies
Sunday: Sausage and gravy over biscuits

Grocery List:

2 cups chicken (about 1 lb)
1 bag frozen mixed veggies (12-16 oz)
1 can cream of mushroom soup
3/4 cup sour cream
baking mix

1 lb hamburger
1 packet of chili seasoning
2 cans of kidney beans, one dark and one red
1 onion
1 can cut up tomatoes
1 can tomato juice
Cornbread mix
shredded cheese
cilantro (optional)
sour cream (optional)
oyster crackers or corn chips (optional)

Spaghetti or your favorite noodle
spaghetti sauce ( I love new Bertolli pasta sauce in the pouch) and/or Alfredo
Toppings- Cheddar Cheese, mushrooms, onion, hamburger or sausage, green pepper, black olives (anything else you or your kiddos may like on your pasta) *note, only add toppings to your shopping list that you/your family may like and what is on sale!
Garlic Bread

Yellow Corn Meal
Olive Oil
Pizza Sauce
Pizza Cheese
*Additional pizza toppings: green pepper, onion, hamburger, black olives (hey... you may have some of these toppings left over from your meal yesterday!), sausage, bacon etc.

Friday- Out to Eat or Leftovers

Cheddar Cheese
Veggies- carrot sticks and celery are good options!

Breakfast sausage

Sunday: Chicken N' Dumplings

Chicken N' Dumplings

2 cups Bisquick mix
2/3 cup milk
6 cups chicken broth
1 lb. cooked cubed chicken

In a medium bowl, mix Bisquick and milk.

In a stockpot heat up broth and cubed chicken. I chose to add some vegetables we had on hand (frozen or canned is fine, but drain the veges if they are from a can) I added green beans, carrots, and corn.

To makes dumplings, once the broth is boiling, scoop spoonfuls of Bisquick mixture into the broth. Lower heat so it is not boiling too rapidly.

Allow to cook for ten minutes.
Flip over the dumplings.
Cover and cook for ten more minutes.