I occasionally make fruity smoothies, but most of the time I do some variation of this one. It’s sooo yummy and helps with my ice cream cravings. Ice cream is probably my all-time favorite food, but I know that this is healthier and just about as good. I like to make it thick so it’s almost the consistency of soft serve ice cream. I don’t have exact ingredients, if you like it more peanut buttery, add more peanut butter. If you like it thicker add more frozen bananas, thinner, add more milk. I’ve done it with out the chocolate powder and chocolate chips. I’ve even thrown in raw spinach and leftover oatmeal.

  • Frozen bananas-This is one of many great ways to use up those browning bananas!
  • Milk
  • Peanut butter – I’ve done it both with natural peanut butter with no added sugar and with the regular peanut butter.
  • Cocoa powder – This is optional.
  • Chocolate or carob chips – Also optional.

Mix it the ingredients (except for the chocolate  chips) in your blender, then top with the chips and enjoy!!!

Amy 

AProverbs31Wife.com

Protein is so important in our diets, but it can also be one of the most expensive parts. So how can you get enough protein without breaking the bank?

Beans & Legumes

Beans are a staple here at our house! Bean burritos are my go-to quick meal and lentil and bean soups warm us up in winter. A bag of dry beans just can’t be beat! Take a look at the nutrition info on the bag of beans and you’ll see protein, fiber, vitamins, and very little fat. Plus beans come in such a variety of shapes, sizes and colors! Black beans, red kidney beans, navy beans, chickpeas lima beans, pinto beans, black-eyed peas, various lentils, and the list could go on..

You can use beans to cut back on meats by either replacing the meat in a meal with beans, like bean burgers, or by using the beans to stretch the meat, like using beans to stretch the meat in chili.

Bean Recipe Ideas:
Basic Bean Cooking and Freezing
Crock Pot Vegetarian Stuffed Peppers
Stretched Taco Meat
Crock Pot Savory Pinto Beans
Chicken Tortilla Soup
Bean Burgers

Beans are a perfect low-cost source of protein!

Other Vegetarian Options

Okay, so I  mentioned beans and legumes, but if beans aren’t your thing, there’s plenty of other options. Eggs, milk, cheese, yogurt, nuts and seeds are great protein sources. Try quiches, egg burritos, smoothies, or sunflower seeds sprinkled on your salad. Check out this list of  fruits and vegetables high in protein…a few of them really surprised me!

No-Bean Meatless Recipe Ideas:
Spinach Mushroom & Feta Crustless Quiche
Veggie & Cheese Pizza
Egg Salad Sandwiches
Grilled Cheese Sandwiches (Try tomato or avocado added to them!)

Hunt, Fish or Raise Your Own Meat

This isn’t an option for everyone, but even if it is, make sure you don’t spend more on tools and equipment than you save in meat. We’ve  received quite a bit of free venison from people we know getting more deer than they need and generously giving us some. It’s been a huge blessing to us!

Another option, if you want to raise your own, but can’t is to purchase a side of cow. I’ve never done this but you can go to this article to read more about it. I imagine you could also do this for pork and other animals.

Recipe Ideas for Venison:
Venison Steaks
Roast with potatoes and carrots
Stew with a variety of veggies
Kabobs (especially if you marinate them for awhile before cooking)

Buy Meat On Sale

Some cut of meat is pretty much always on sale at your local store, if it happens to be the kind of meat you like, you could always plan that week’s menu around it or buy extra to freeze for future use. For example, if whole chickens are normally 99 cents a pound in your area, but you see them go on sale for 79 cents a pound (20 cents less for every pound), you could decided to cook up a whole chicken that week, or buy a couple of chickens for the freezer to tide you over until the next time they go on sale.

Other options are to buy meats with price matching, if you know of a good sale at another store. Just make sure to check your store’s policy. You can also keep a look out for “reduced for quick sale” meats. I used to buy hamburger a lot at Sam’s Club this way. As long as you cook or freeze it soon after, it’ll be fine.

Purchasing sale meats and freezing them in individual bags can save a lot of money!

Buy Cheaper Cuts of Meat

Even with sales, there are certain cuts of meat that are usually cheaper than others. For example, whole chickens are a lot cheaper per pound than t-bone steaks. At our house we eat a lot of hamburger meat, whole chickens and chicken breasts (even though bone-in breasts are cheaper, I usually opt for the boneless skinless kind).

Canned salmon is a great way to get cheap fish. Canned salmon is really healthy with omega-3, and doesn’t have as much mercury as some other types of fish. We’ve used canned salmon for salmon patties and salmon melts.

Canned salmon is a cheap way to buy fish.

Stretch Meat

You can easily stretch the meat in recipes. I’ve started putting black beans in chicken tortilla soup to stretch the chicken, or make your layer of meat thinner in shepherd’s pie, but add a thicker layer of mashed potatoes. I like to make my taco meat half with hamburger meat and half with black beans.

Stretching Taco Meat with Beans and Potatoes

Serve an Abundance of Sides

Let’s say you’re making roast for a crowd, you can make sure to add lots of extra potatoes and carrots to help fill everyone up and stretch the meat.

Only have enough hamburgers for everyone to have one, but you’re feeding some hungry teenage boys? Serve up plenty of home-made oven fries or another filling side to guarantee they don’t go away hungry!

Lots of carrots and potatoes help stretch roast!

Make Broth with the Bones

When you’re done with your meat, don’t toss the bones, instead use them to make a hearty broth perfect for soups, stews and even casseroles! Sometimes I make chicken broth at the same time as cooking the chicken. Recently I read an interesting article about how important bone broths are for the health of your gums and teeth! Talk about a healthy reason to not waste bones!

How do you get protein without spending an arm and a leg?

This post is linked at Frugally Sustainable.

 

 

 

Exercise is a part of being healthy, but so is eating right. I’ve heard so many people say that they can’t afford healthy food. I won’t deny that some healthy foods are expensive, but there’s actually a lot of very affordable healthy foods out there. You may even find that you eat cheaper when you eat healthy.

Here’s a list of a few cheap and healthy foods (this is by no means all of them):

  • Oatmeal – Has iron and fiber. Costs $2.24  for a big thing of it that makes 30 servings! Or if you don’t like eating hot oatmeal you can make granola out of it.
  • Potatoes – Keep the skins on, that’s where most of the nutrients are and nothings wasted.
  • Beans – High in fiber and protein. And they’re not only way cheaper than meat, but also a lot lower in fat!
  • Lentils – These are not only cheap, but easy to cook. Unlike beans they don’t need to be soaked overnight.
  • Raisins – I love dried fruits, but most are expensive and some have added sugar. But raisins don’t have extra sugar and they are the cheapest dried fruit I can find.
  • Fruit and veggies – Buy in season, locally grown and on sale to get the most for your money. I find that things like carrots, bananas and apples seem to pretty much always be cheap.
  • Whole wheat bread – It usually doesn’t cost much, if any more, than white bread, or you can make your own.
  • Brown rice – it only costs a little more than white rice, but it goes a long way.
  • Whole Wheat Pasta – I’ve only cooked with this a few times, but you can get it pretty affordably.

Here’s some other tips:

  • A lot of regular grocery stores are carrying health food items, and it’s probably cheaper there than at a health food store, but compare prices to make sure.
  • You may be able to get some healthy foods cheaper at warehouse stores. The cheapest unit price I’ve found on honey is at Sam’s Club.
  • Eat the right sizes, if you eat too much it not only isn’t healthy, it also makes your grocery bill higher.
  • Skip the unnecessary and completely empty calories like soda and candy. There’s nothing healthy in it and the cost really adds up. Save that money to buy healthy food instead.
  • Cook from scratch. You have more control over what goes in, and don’t have to worry about all the preservatives that are in prepared foods. Plus it’s usually cheaper.

There are many strategies to lowering your grocery bill. I’ll share mine with you. For my husband, me and my 2 year old girl we’ve been spending about $300 a month on groceries. This month I was able to decrease it to about $255, and I wanna see if I can keep that up. This does NOT include nonfood items like shampoo, paper towels, detergent, etc… It also does not include eating out, which this month was over $100 (I know, that wasn’t very frugal!).

So here’s how I do it:

  • Generic brands – Almost everything I buy is the cheap store brand. A few items I have decided I like name brand, like sour cream. It doesn’t seem to get smelling weird as fast as the generic sour cream. But for the most part I buy the cheapest.
  • Sales- You can plan your meals around what’s on sale that week and/or stock up (as long as it won’t go bad before you get a chance to eat it). For example, my husband likes Tabasco sauce and I have made a personal goal to not ever buy it at full price, as it goes on sale every now and then and I can stock up on it.
  • Buy in season and grown locally – this mostly applies to fruits and vegetables. For example living here in West Texas I almost never buy berries, as they’re expensive from being shipped here. So instead we eat a lot of cantaloupe which grows great out here and is therefore cheap.
  • Cook with cheap ingredients – This can vary, but usually some cheap foods are: pastas, rice, beans, potatoes, etc…
  • Warehouse stores – I have a Sam’s Club membership and recently did a rough calculation of how much we save buying certain items there and was pleasantly surprised to see that in cheese alone we easily cover our $40 a year membership (plus some).
  • Make a price list – This idea I got from “The Tightwad Gazette” by Amy Dacyczyn (highly recommend). Keep track of the unit prices of items you buy often and see which stores are cheapest and when sales really are a good value. This has been really handy for buying things at Sam’s. A lot of things are cheaper there, but not everything.
  • Coupons – Okay, so actually I almost never use coupons for 2 reasons:
  1. They’re usually for name brands, and as I mentioned before I usually buy generic.
  2. They’re usually for items I don’t buy, like pre-made frozen meals.

But on t he occasion that I find a coupon for something that I usually buy and in a brand I usually buy it in, I’ll use it. The other day I printed off a coupon from the Tabasco website and saved 50 cents.

First of all, I LOVE cooking with beans and here’ s why:

  1. Dry beans are DIRT cheap! Especially when you use them as a protein in place of meat or in addition to meat to stretch it. They’re definitely a cheap form of protein (on a side note to make them a COMPLETE protein just pair with some sort of grain, which most recipes do anyways)
  2. Dry beans are healthy. As I just mentioned they have protein, but they also have fiber and iron (at least in some types of beans). But wait…it gets better, they’re low in fat! And I find them very filling.
  3. Yummy…okay so a lot of people think of beans as plain and boring, but you can make so many different ways and there’s a big variety of shapes, colors and sizes in beans.

So…Now to make cooking with them easy. Going with dry beans is going to be your cheapest route, but may not be as convenient as canned beans, so to make your own convenience food, just cook and freeze  dry beans. And then the next time your recipe calls for beans, you don’t even have to get out the can opener!

  1. Pour the beans (I usually do 2, 1 lb. bags at a time) in a colander and rinse off in the sink. While doing this look for small pebbles or freaky looking beans (which by the way I rarely find).
  2. Put the beans in a pot and cover generously with water.
  3. This is the easiest step…go to bed, or do whatever, while your beans soak overnight.
  4. Rinse beans in calender again and return to pot. Cover generously with water and bring to a boil, then lower to a simmer for a couple hours or until beans are soft. I can’t tell you an exact time as it depends on the beans and how many you’re cooking. Just make sure they’re the softness you like before adding any ingredients as things like salt can make it hard for them to soften. I usually try a few beans, in case they didn’t cook evenly. Also I’ve cooked beans in a crock-pot, it takes longer obviously, but works well.
  5. Let beans cool, then bag em up and throw them in the freezer. When I first started this I would freeze them with the bean water, but have decided I prefer to freeze them without it, as I usually ended up draining it off before using anyways. If you want you can add salt and seasoning before freezing or do that later depending on how you’re going to use them.

I’ve done cooking and freezing with pinto beans, black beans, kidney beans and great northern beans all successfully.

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