So, thanks to one of these friends I got a domain and blog for Christmas and I am going to try. This is not a blog for moms with large families. (Sorry moms, but I looked and you have plenty of great blogs already out there for you.) I wanted my blog to be for the single woman, single mom, newly wed or wife without children. I also wanted my blog to be for people who are on a seriously tight budget.
I know that salaries change across the country, but it would frustrate me when I would go to blogs about renovating your home on a budget and they would start with: "I only have $11,000 to do a kitchen renovation." OR I would go to books and blogs about living chicly on a budget and they would say "After paying all of my bills, I only have $400 a month left to spend on clothes." WHAT?!?!?! If I had that kind of money for those types of things, I wouldn't be searching sites for how to stretch a shoe string budget.
So my blog is going to give advice for those of us who live paycheck to paycheck and have a very limited amount to spend on anything other than bills and groceries. You know, for those of us who look at a pair of boots in the shop window and think to ourselves, "Well, if I eat nothing but Ramen noodles for a month I can get those boots. Ponder, ponder, ponder, ponder...... Worth it!!!" And then find out how much weight you can lose when you eat nothing but Ramen.
Since groceries are one of those things that you have to buy in order to survive, that is where I am going to start. FOOD!
I love food and I love to cook but groceries can be one of the biggest expenses that a Frugal Femme can have. My solution: THE TWO WEEK MENU! The first two week menu came about when, one day, my husband and I realized that we only had $50 to feed us for two weeks and I had to come up with a menu to keep us fed using only what we had in the house and what I could supplement with the $50. That first menu was pretty desperate, and I no longer have it. But it made me realize that, with a little planning, I was able to make dinner and drastically reduce our grocery bill.
So I am going to give you a two week menu-complete with recipes and grocery list. Some of this list will assume that you have certain staples already in your kitchen (such as bread, milk, eggs, etc.) this list is just the extras you specifically need for the two week menu. This first menu also mostly focuses on weeknight meals. If people tell me they would like it, I will add lunch ideas so that you aren't eating out or bringing sandwiches everyday, but I am trying to keep it simple.)
Grocery List1 whole chicken (fryers are fine and less expensive
2 large chicken breasts
ground beef (2 pounds)
1 pork tenderloin
1 ham (can get at Costco for $20, split into four equal parts and freeze)
refrigerated pie crust OR puff pastry shells
1 can of canned chicken
Bacon ( I put this on the list, but this is a staple for me and I always have some on hand)
1 package torillas
potatoes (preferably small red or yellow potatoes)
Rice (another staple, but I live in Louisiana and know that is not the case for other states)
2 bell peppers
1 egg plant
1 yellow or white onion
1 head of garlic
corn (preferable frozen)
1 package cherry tomatoes
1 (16 ounce) wedge of cheddar cheese
1garlic and herb Boursin Cheese (I get three at Costco and they are a better price and they stay well in your fridge)
1 bottle vermouth (also a staple along with sherry)
The MenuSunday: Roast Chicken, garlic mashed potatoes and gravy
Monday: spaghetti with ground beef sauce, garlic bread and Caesar salad
Tuesday: chicken dill packets, herb rice, salad
Wednesday: Stuffed Bell Peppers
Thursday: lemon marinated chicken and egg plant ratatouille
Friday: super easy taco soup, cheese quesadillas and zesty salad
Saturday: white pizza with bacon and Boursin cheese
Sunday: Pork Tenderloin and risotto with salad
Monday: pan-fried ham, potato latkes and roasted cherry tomatoes
Tuesday: stir fried pork rice and Asian cucumber salad
Wednesday: chicken and gravy with rice and wilted spinach salad
Thursday: ham frittata and salad
Friday: Barbeque pork sandwiches and pasta salad
Saturday: grilled chicken breasts with garlic parmesan spaghetti and salad
Mashed Potatoes2 med - large potatoes OR 4 small red or golden potatoes
butter (REAL butter, not margarine)
1 clove minced garlic
milk (enough to achieve desired consistency)
kosher salt (to personal taste)
freshly ground pepper (to taste)
salt and black pepper can be replaced with Creole Seasoning (such as Zatarian's)
1. If using russet potatoes, skin potatoes and cut into quarters. If using small red or golden, clean potatoes and quarter.
2. Place potatoes in medium saucepan filled with water and boil until potatoes are soft after inserting a fork (between 20- thirty minutes).
3. Once potatoes are cooked, drain and put in large bowl and cover with Saran Wrap or towel.
4. In same medium saucepan, melt 1-2 tbsp. butter (depending on your taste) on low heat. Put in minced garlic and cook until garlic is soft and golden but not brown, about five minutes.
5. Pour melted butter and garlic in potatoes.
6. Add 1tbsp - 2 tbsp. milk (could be more or less depending on the consistency of the potatoes and personal taste)
7. Smash potatoes with a potato masher or fork. Once potatoes are mashed and consistency is achieved, add the salt and pepper or the Creole season and stir to distribute throughout potatoes.
Roast Chicken and Gravy1 whole fryer chicken
1/4 cup room temperature butter
1/4 tsp. olive oil or black truffle olive oil (I know this is expensive, but a little goes a long way and does amazing things to dishes, it is one of those items that is worth the splurge, however, don't pay over $10 a bottle--its not necessary)
1/4 tsp. dried basil
1/4 tsp. dried dill or rosemary (you can also do both)
1/4 tsp. dried thyme
kosher salt and ground pepper to taste
1/2 cup chicken stock (more if necessary)
1/2 cup vermouth
1-2 tbsp. flour
2 tbsp. milk
kosher salt and ground pepper to taste
1. Preheat oven to 450degrees.
2. Rinse the chicken and clean thoroughly. Then pat it dry, both inside and out with a paper towel.
3. In a small bowl, combine the butter, olive oil, basil, dill (or rosemary), and thyme. It should be a soft consistency, but should not be liquid.(At this point, if you want, you can truss the chicken. I'm too lazy to do that, the rest of the directions that follow assumes that you didn't truss the bird.)
4. Carefully lift the skin of the chicken away from the meat of the bird with the fingers of your hand, going around the legs and the thighs. Once the skin is loosened, scoop up the butter mixture with your fingers and spread it under the skin of the bird. Take the remaining mixture and spread over the skin of the chicken.
5. Salt and pepper the outside of the bird. I like a lot of salt and pepper but, you should do it to your own preferences.
6. Place the bird in a small roasting pan. Cover the tips of the wings and tips of the legs with aluminum foil. (This will keep them from drying out, and works in place of trussing the bird.)
7. Pour chicken stock around the bird.
7. Put the chicken in the oven and roast for 45-60 minutes or until done (time will depend on the size of the bird.), basting every 20 minutes. You may need to add more chicken stock during cooking. You want to have about a half inch of stock in the bottom of the pan at all times. You will know the bird is done when a thermometer inserted in the bird reads no less than 165 degrees.
8. Once the chicken is done baking, take out of the roasting pan, place on a carving board, and tent with aluminum foil, letting the bird rest for 10-15 minutes.
9. While the chicken is resting prepare the gravy.
10. Place remaining juices from roasted chicken in shallow sauté pan and simmer on low heat. Add vermouth, flour and milk. Whisk together ingredients and let simmer until liquid thickens. You may add more milk or flour to make the gravy thinner or thicker. Salt and pepper to taste.
Well, there you go. The first grocery list and the first recipe. I will add more tomorrow. I hope to add pictures eventually, so please be patient while I figure that out.