Tag Archives: cheap

FREE Ebook on Canning, Pickling, and Freezing

I see a lot of ebooks out there in the world every day that are free – if you aren’t aware of these resources, always check Amazon! A ton of ‘classics’ are free and they run a good deal of temporary promotions outside of these as well.

There’s one in particular that is being offered for a limited time. Canning, Pickling and Freezing with Irma Harding: Recipes to Preserve Food, Family, and the American Way is a book that is not only FREE right now, but one that will help you maintain some money-saving habits through the process of food preservation.

These days, canning preservation is not nearly as common as it was awhile back, but it’s an incredibly budget friendly way to maintain food.

Reviews look incredible – say that it is a must-read for canning newbies, and that the instructions make things sound super easy.

Check it out! Let us here know how you fare!

#NationalEatAHoagieDay

First things first: what is a hoagie? This term is certainly not used nation wide.

According to my National Day Calendar:

The hoagie consists of a meats, cheeses, vegetables, sauces and seasonings on a long roll of Italian or French bread.  The hoagie goes by many names including:

  • torpedo
  • grinder
  • hero sandwich
  • Italian sandwich
  • submarine sandwich
  • sub

“Hoggies” was a nickname for Italian workers at the Hog Island shipyard in Philadelphia during World War I.  These workers were known for bringing giant sandwiches for lunch.  The nickname became associated with the sandwich and the spelling has been altered over time.

Hoagie is a very ‘Philly’ term, but around my parts we just call them subs 🙂

I couldn’t find any great deals from all of the sandwich chains we all love so much, so I wanted to write a little bit about how to make hoagie-making cost efficient. With a meal like this, it’s a little tough, since almost all ingredients have to be fresh, from the bread to meats and cheeses, to veggie toppings.

GoodCheapEats.com gives us some great tips on how we can maximize our sandwiches at smaller costs. Recommendations include:

  • Buying big baguettes and chopping into smaller rolls
  • Turkey clocks in at the cheapest cost deli meat
  • Grilled chicken is also an inexpensive option and allows you to use bulk-brought frozen breasts
  • Tuna – canned, cheap!
  • Egg salad – you all already know how I feel about the incredibly budget-friendly, protein-building power of the simple egg
  • Don’t overbuy on the toppings! Most sandwiches just need some lettuce, a slice or two of tomato, maybe some onion, jarred pickles – don’t overcompensate toppings wise. Buy within reason, and it’ll be enough
  • Standard condiments – mayonnaise (jar, bulk buy, or even, make your own!), mustard, pesto (make your own!) – these are all simple and one container generally lasts a long time

It’s simple, although sandwiches are so easy to pick up on the go, don’t forget that if you have enough foresight, these are the easiest of meals to make, and can be immensely cost-efficient if you make them on your own.

Enjoy celebrating #NationalEatAHoagieDay!

#NationalTVDinnerDay

Happy Thursday! This week is flying by! I’m thinking every week should only last 4 days…agree?

Today, so I hear, is #NationalTVDinnerDay. I’m not here to support the TV dinner, but rather give you some history on this craze and provide you with equally as easy, equally as convenient, but so, so, so much healthier of options!

According to Wikipedia, the term ‘TV dinner’ is a genericized trademark originally used for a brand of packaged meal developed in 1953 by C.A. Swanson (sound familiar?). In the United States, the term remains synonymous with any prepackaged dinner purchased frozen in a supermarket and heated at home.

I’ll admit, I have been guilty of these, as they are junkily delicious and so easy to pop in the microwave, but I couldn’t tell you the last time I had one, as luckily, in the past decade or so, I’ve become more health-conscious.

To give you a breakdown of health concerns with TV dinners, there are quite a few:

  • The freezing process degrades the taste of food and the meals are thus heavily processed with extra salt and fat to compensate.
  • Stabilizing the product for a long period generally means that companies will use partially hydrogenated vegetable oils for some items (usually dessert), which are high in trans fat.
  • Generally, these meals contain preservatives such as BHT

I know that they’re very convenient, but guess what else is just as convenient? HOMEMADE FREEZER MEALS!

I’ve placed links to all of my compilations of freezer meals to date for your convenience below:

Week 1

Week 2

Week 3

Week 4

Week 5

Week 6

Week 7

Take a look, put a little bit of extra effort in, and call it your very own version of a TV dinner. Enjoy!

Freezer Meals: Week 7

It’s Wednesday already! It’s crazy how quickly mid-week creeps up on  you after a holiday weekend. Anyways, what that means is that it’s already time for our 7th week of freezer-friendly meals to help cut costs and prep time for meals for your family!

Brought some really awesome sounding recipes to the surface this week, super excited to try all of them!

Creamy Spinach and Mushroom Lasagna

Spinach and Mushroom Lasagna

Spinach and Mushroom Lasagna [http://damndelicious.net/2015/03/07/creamy-spinach-and-mushroom-lasagna/]

Damn Delicious provides us with a recipe that is just that. Lasagna is a go-to freezer meal, but this recipe puts a fun, veggie-laden spin on the usual. If you’re missing the meat, this is easy enough to add any desired protein to – ground turkey, italian sausage, chicken, what have you. We have all the lasagna basics here: lasagna noodles, ricotta, frozen chopped spinach, shredded mozzarella, fresh Parmesan, chopped fresh parsley.

What’s new and fun here is the homemade mushroom sauce that makes this dish such a winner. The sauce includes butter, garlic, cremini mushrooms (yum!), an onion, flour, milk, dried basil, oregano, nutmeg, and salt and pepper to taste. Without even ever having tried this sauce, I know it’s going to be a complete hit.

To make ahead, cover the lasagna tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate up to 24 hours. Then simply remove the wrap and bake for 40 minutes, covered.

To freeze, cover the lasagna tightly with plastic wrap, and then aluminum foil – this will freeze up to 3 months! To bake, just remove the plastic wrap and bake for 90 minutes, covered.

Pretty easy and worth the effort to make the homemade sauce for this savory, fun lasagna!

Stuffed Peppers

Stuffed Peppers

Stuffed Peppers [http://www.chachingqueen.com/stuffed-peppers-easy-freezable-dinner-meal-recipe/]

I love, love, love stuffed peppers. They’re versatile, easy on the wallet, and incredibly simple to make. This recipe from Cha Ching Queen really capitalizes on this versatility. She breaks stuffed peppers down to 4 parts:

  1. The peppers – she prefers green (and I do too!). Rinse, cut off the tops, rinse out the seeds. Place the peppers face down on a plate and microwave for 5 minutes to soften them  up.
  2. Rice – use any rice. Brown, jasmine – even try other grains like quinoa or farro – it doesn’t ultimately matter and is entirely your preference. 1 cup uncooked and cook to directions.
  3. Veggies – also up to you. She prefers carrots and celery but I go a little bit more crazy. I love portobellos and zucchini in mine, and have even had butternut squash! Depends how much your family likes veggies and what protein you are pairing this with. Which brings us to…
  4. Meat/Onions – She uses ground beef or turkey – brown with the onions and add to the  mixture. I’ve even used tofu, or no meat and simply added some nice feta into the mix for a Greek spin on stuffed peppers. Again – totally up to you!

These freeze really well. Simply go through the motions – tight cling wrap and foil.

Chicken and Wild Rice Bake

Chicken and Wild Rice Bake

Chicken and Wild Rice Bake [http://www.thekitchn.com/recipe-chicken-and-wild-rice-bake-freezerfriendly-recipes-from-the-kitchn-216431]

Cooking time for this recipe is a tad long, but don’t be intimidated by it, says The Kitchn – it’s worth it! Ingredient list isn’t long here – chopped onion, sliced mushrooms, celery, 2 pounds of skin-on, bone-in chicken thighs, vinaigrette, uncooked long grain brown rice, wild rice, smoked paprika, dried thyme, salt, pepper, and chicken broth. It’s really just a lot of prep:

Prep your bags: Label a 2-gallon freezer bag “Chicken and Wild Rice Bake” and include baking instructions. You will also need a gallon-sized bag, a quart-sized bag, and a sandwich bag. (If you prefer not to use bags you can use glass freezer containers instead.)

Prep the vegetables: Spread the onion, mushrooms, and celery in a single layer on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Freeze for about 20 minutes. After they are frozen, remove them from the freezer, place them in the sandwich bag, and seal.

Prep the chicken: Combine the chicken thighs and vinaigrette in a gallon-size freezer bag. Seal and massage the bag to coat the chicken.

Prep the rice: Combine the brown rice, wild rice, paprika, thyme, salt, and pepper in the quart-size freezer bag.

To freeze: Place all three bags in the labeled 2-gallon bag. Freeze for up to 3 months.

To thaw: Remove the bag containing the marinade and chicken from the larger bag. Place in a dish and thaw overnight in fridge or until thawed. Remaining ingredients can stay in the freezer

Baking Instructions: When ready to cook, preheat the oven to 375°F. Grease a 9×13-inch baking dish with nonstick cooking spray.

Combine the rice mixture and the vegetables in the baking dish. Stir in the broth. Remove the thawed chicken pieces from the marinade and place them atop the rice. Discard the marinade.

Cover the pan with foil and bake for 1 hour. Uncover the pan and bake for an additional 45 minutes to 1 hour, until the rice absorbs most of the liquid and the chicken is cooked through and the juices run clear. Serve immediately.

So there you have it! 3 freezer meals. Let us know if you try these and how they turn out!

Freezer Meals: Week 6

Happy Wednesday, everyone! Wednesday before the final summer holiday weekend = grill/BBQ-themed freezer meals. In looking for some inspo for long weekend eats, I think I found some awesome options. Let’s jump right in!

Coconut Lime Chicken

Coconut_Lime_Grilled _Chicken

Coconut Lime Grilled Chicken [http://www.livingwellspendingless.com/2014/06/04/coconut-lime-chicken/]

Living Well Spending Less gives us a recipe that they claim will take us straight to a tropical vacation. To make this a freezer meal, simply split the marinade and chicken into multiple bags, and throw it right into the freezer. You don’t HAVE to make this ahead of time, but if you want to, it doesn’t hurt!

This is super easy – marinade includes 3-4 limes, olive oil, coconut milk, garlic, ginger, salt & papper, and parsley. Combine and marinade with chicken of your choice! If you decide to freeze at this stage, make sure you press all the air out of the bag. Once you’re ready to cook, thaw if frozen, and grill 6-8 minutes per side. Couldn’t be easier!

Boneless Country Style BBQ Ribs

Boneless_Country_Style_BBQ Ribs

Boneless Country Style BBQ Ribs [http://happymoneysaver.com/boneless-country-style-bbq-ribs-slow-cooker-freezer-meal/]

HappyMoneySaver.com gives us a recipe that couldn’t scream BBQ any louder. This is a slow cooker freezer meal, so may take more prep work, but it’s worth the squeeze for this hearty meal. Ingredients are simple: boneless pork country-style ribs, a large onion sliced, minced garlic, brown sugar, applesauce, BBQ sauce of choice, salt & pepper.

Add all ingredients to  your slow cooker and mix. Cook on low for 5-6 hours. To freeze in advance, all you need to do is combine all ingredients and add to a freezer safe gallon sized bag. To cook, thaw + throw in the slow cooker as directed. Once you’re done, top with some additional BBQ sauce and you’re good to go!

Even though this is an awesome holiday weekend meal, I’m pretty tempted to make this a freeze & go weeknight meal for a busy week – total crowd pleaser and easily served with some quick sides for a meal!

Gourmet Spinach Blue Cheese Burgers

Gourmet_Spinach_Blue_Cheese_Burgers

Gourmet Spinach Blue Cheese Burgers [http://www.onehundreddollarsamonth.com/freezer-meal-gourmet-spinach-blue-cheese-burgers/]

I know we all love the classic grilled hamburger, but I love the spin that OneHundredDollarsAMonth puts on this classic recipe. These are super easy to make in a huge batch and freeze. All you need to do is grab them out of the freezer, toss them on the grill, and kick any BBQ up a notch from there.

Ingredients include baby spinach, chopped, garlic, olive oil, ground beef, crumbled blue cheese, salt & pepper. Saute the spinach, garlic, and olive oil and allow to cool. Combine with the rest of the ingredients and form into rounded patties. Lay the formed patties onto a parchment lined cookie sheet and freeze for 30 minutes – then transfer to freezer bags.

Once you’re ready to cook, remove from freezer and throw on the grill as is until cooked through – no need to thaw! Serve on warm buns with any additional toppings you’d want. Love this!

Balsamic Grilled Veggies

Balsamic_Grilled_Veggies

Balsamic Grilled Veggies [https://onceamonthmeals.com/recipes/balsamic-grilled-veggies/]

Can’t leave out my fellow veggie lovers! This recipe is a simple side for any dish – and couldn’t be easier!

OnceAMonthMeals brings us this hearty veggie side that I cannot wait to try. Ingredients include green beans, zucchini, red onion, garlic, basil, bell pepper, canned Great Northern beans, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt & pepper. If you’re looking to freeze, place all veggies and beans in a large bowl, whisk together liquids and spices in another bowl. Bag veggies and sauce separately and freeze.

Once you want to serve, thaw & pour sauce over veggies. Stir until combined. Place in a grill basket and grill over medium heat for 15-20 minutes.

So there you have it! Enjoy these recipes and enjoy the long weekend. Cheers!

Homemade Salad Dressings: Cheaper, Easier, Healthier!

Is anyone else already thinking about Labor Day weekend? I sure am. In an effort to not feel like complete junk on Tuesday after the holiday, I am totally devoted to eating well and exercising outdoors throughout the weekend. We’ll certainly be squeezing in some last summer BBQs. What’s a better complement to some grilled food than a nice, fresh, crunchy salad?

Salads don’t  have to be boring. I repeat: salads do NOT have to be boring. One thing that I’ve found that helps increase the flavor and fun of a salad is homemade salad dressing. Not only does it ALWAYS taste better, but it is easy, cheaper, and healthier. I’d love to share some of my favorite salad dressing recipes with all of you to try out this weekend!

Citrus Honey Vinaigrette

Citrus_Honey_Vinaigrette

Citrus Honey Vinaigrette [http://reluctantentertainer.com/2014/09/citrus-honey-vinaigrette-vibrant-blue-saladsavors-giveaway/]

Reluctant Entertainer comes to us with a great, fresh, citrus-y recipe with this one. It’s crazy simple and takes, literally, 5 minutes to make. All  you need is one medium orange, juice squeezed, 1 medium lemon, juice squeezed, 2 tablespoons olive oil, 2 tablespoons rice vinegar, 2 teaspoons honey, 2 teaspoons grated ginger. Combine and whisk together! She recommends this on greens, crumbled blue cheese, tart dried cherries, and crunch pecans – yum! I have tried it in a ton of salads myself – one of my personal favorites is on a fruity salad – strawberries, blueberries, mandarin oranges, feta, walnuts…I think I know what I want for lunch today now!

Avocado Cilantro Lime Dressing

Avocado_Cilantro_Lime_Salad_Dressing

Avocado Cilantro Lime Salad Dressing [http://thewholesomedish.com/avocado-cilantro-lime-salad-dressing/]

The Wholesome Dish gives us this incredible recipe for the avo-lover, which I, myself, admit to being. It’s creamy without the guilt and just gives such a fresh feeling to anything you add it to. Can’t get enough avo in my life. This recipe is also incredibly easy – 2 tablespoons lime juice, 1/4 cup orange juice, 1/4 cup olive oil, 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar, 1 tablespoon honey, some salt and pepper, 1/2 cup cilantro, and 1 ripe avocado. Add them all into a blender and blend until smooth! If you want it a little more watery, simply add some water or additional fruit juice. Its sweet, bright, and still savory. They recommend this on ANY salad – my mind immediately goes to something a little bit southwestern – black beans, corn, etc., but also can be used as a mayo replacement on sandwiches or even in salads like chicken, tuna, or potato salad. Can’t wait to serve this one to some guests at a BBQ!

Best Dressing

Best_Dressing

Best Dressing [http://www.anediblemosaic.com/best-dressing/]

Ok, anything called ‘Best Dressing’ is something I had to try. An Edible Mosaic truly names this dressing something that lives up to its namesake. This is simple + delicious! This is an all-purpose dressing that can even double as a marinade. Something that they really impress upon the reader in this recipe is how important a good olive oil is (and this goes for all dressings + recipes, makes a world of a difference!) — as they say, it takes a recipe from good to amazing. I’m sold! It’s heavy on the ingredients compared to the other recipes, but is just as simple. All you need is 1/3 cup good quality EVOO, 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar (or red wine vinegar), 2 tablespoons of honey, 1/2 tablespoon of dijon mustard, 1/2 tablespoon of tamari or soy sauce, 1 tablespoon poppy seeds, 1 tablespoon sesame seeds, 1-2 teaspoons of seasoned salt of your choice, some pepper, 1/2 a small white onion, minced, and a small glove of garlic, grated. Whisk them all together – this can be stored and refrigerated for up to 1 week! It’s savory and fantastic – give this a try anytime! It is perfect for any dressing.

So there you have it – enjoy this weekend! Let us know how you like these recipes or any other favorite homemade salad dressing recipe you have! We are all ears.

$1 Short Stack Buttermilk Pancakes at IHOP®

You still have about 5.5 hours to get to IHOP® today to get a $1.00 short stack of buttermilk pancakes! IHOP® is running a deal from 7am to 7pm tonight for the No Kid Hungry campaign. Fifty cents of every $1 will provide 1 child with 5 meals. Learn more here.

This deal runs TODAY ONLY so if you’re a fan of breakfast for dinner, or a $1 dinner, or simply helping an incredible cause, get to IHOP®! File under: FREE, because…it basically is 🙂 Enjoy!