Friday, July 29, 2011

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Easy frugal cooking tips for leftovers

As a busy mom of 3 boys I  try to make sure I am not wasting food.  I have in my menu plan using leftovers and it helps keeping my food budget down. 

The fridge

One of the problems with leftovers, is that we tend to serve them day after day until they are gone.. Say you prepare a giant roast beef for Sunday dinner - there are plenty of leftovers, but the family will get tired if you keep serving slices of roast beef over and over for the rest of the week. You will have to get creative with your meal planning to keep dishes on the table that your family will actually eat.

You can start by chopping that roast up into bite size pieces. Add in some frozen vegetables, and some instant rice. Cook in a large frying pan or a wok, add in soy sauce and a beaten egg and you have a frugal meal of beef fried rice.

That's just one way that a leftover roast can be re-used. Don't forget beef stroganoff, a classic that's simple to make - just add some cream of mushroom soup, sour cream and egg noodles and you have a classic comfort food dish.

Another option would be to make a fritteria added the chop up roast (actually any leftover meat), added 2 cups of frozen brocolli, milk, 4 eggs, cheese and simply bake.  I will usually add some chop up roasted potatos as a side.

Don't let leftover meatloaf go to waste  - just take them and break them apart - they can become the basis for a traditional spaghetti meat sauce or you can add some taco seasoning and create a meal of tacos or burritos that is sure to be a family crowd pleaser. If doing the spagehtti and beef, I usually throw it in the crockpot to left the sauce and meat soak together,

Using a little creative thinking can turn any bunch of leftovers into frugal meals that last the whole week. Just take a moment to plan your main "big" meal and then brainstorm 2 or 3 other meals that can be made with it and make sure you have all the ingredients on hand in your pantry.

You'll be more likely to re-use leftovers if you don't have to hit the grocery store for last minute items. If you have enough leftover leftovers, you can even freeze this meal and pull it out of the freezer on another night.

By strategically using leftovers you will save time and money. Just watch your grocery bill go down and your free-time increase. You can even use the savings to order in one night - don't worry - we won't tell.


Monday, July 11, 2011

Frugal back to school tips

Depending on where you live you may only have a few more weeks left of summer vacation. 
As frugal SAHM (stay at home moms), getting ready to send our kids back to school for another school year, there are a few tips that I recommend that can make the transition smoother, while saving money and even teaching your kids a thing or two about tightwad living.

1. Stock Up on Supplies
Late July and the month of August are the best times for a SAHM to get school supplies for literally pennies on the dollar. Most SAHMs get what is on their child's supply list and are happy with their savings. But then, most moms also run out of sharp crayons, filler paper, notebooks and scissors (anyone here actually remember where their scissors are?) by mid-year. Be a frugal SAHM and spend a little extra money now to stock up on supplies to last you through the entire school year.

2. Color Coordinate
In our house, each child has his or her own color. It makes life so much easier! The red backpack, lunch box, pencil box, folders and notebooks belong to one child, while the blue belong to another. Now when someone leaves their notebook in the middle of the floor after school, I don't have to dig around to try to figure out whose it is!

3. Butter Up the Teacher
Remember all those cheap school supplies you got? Well, with the economy as it currently is, more and more parents are not able to provide what their children need to be successful in school. Usually, it is the teachers that end up picking up the slack, at a great expense to their already tight funds. Consider donating extra supplies to your child's teacher directly.

4. School Food
In our frugal SAHM house, we pack our lunches and snacks instead of purchasing them from school. Sunday is our preparedness day. We bake cookies and other treats to last the week (well, sometimes they get gobbled up early; we've learned to hide things from Daddy!) We also prewash, peel, and cut up veggies and put them into sandwich baggies for the week, such as carrots and celery. Juice boxes are stored in the freezer to keep lunch (and juice) cool until lunchtime everyday.

5. Money Management for Teens
The frugal SAHM tips above work great for elementary-aged kids, but what about teenagers? There is a whole different set of rules when it comes to teens! First, they should be given control over some of their own finances.
Offer to give your teen the same amount of money you would pay each month for school lunches. Your teen has the option of buying school lunch or using the cash to buy food at the grocery store to take a sack lunch, and pocket the difference. The rule here is that lunch must be eaten. Your teen will surprise you!

Hopefully these SAHM back to school tips will get you off to a great school year!
Rayven Perkins is an expert at saving money. She has spent more than 10 years finding and implementing unique cost-cutting strategies that allow her family to live comfortably off one income in a two-income society. Visit her site to learn how to stretch your dollar, easiest ways to save money and supplement income in order to stay a stay at home mom.