I just found some great recipes on the Kraft Website. They have a bunch of quick and easy 500 calorie or less recipes for all of us watching what we eat!
Alright, you caught me; my dog’s name isn’t Fido. It’s Rusty. He’s a Border collie Australian shepherd mix we rescued from the pound. We’ve had him for about four years now and he’s a much loved member of the family.
Because he is a member of the family – we do need to feed him. With this being the case, his food must go into our budget. Now Rusty has a pretty sensitive tummy (I’ll spare you the rest of the details) so we only feed him dog food.
We settled on Purina’s Beneful (no, I’m not getting paid to say this. But if Purina sees it – Send me some free coupons!!!). It’s a mid priced dog food that he really enjoys. For a 15.5 pound bag, it normally retails for $19.39. Now this is good to know, so when it goes on sale, I know to buy up. This is also where a price book comes in handy. Whenever I see it on sale, for maybe $17.00, I will just buy the one. Until it really goes rock bottom around $12 - $13. Safeway normally will have this at the lowest price. If I have a coupon as well, I’m really happy!
I do purchase soft dog food for him. He’s a middle age dog and I think he deserves a little extra love from time to time. This is where I won’t remain loyal to a brand. If I have a coupon for it, and the soft dog food is on sale, I’ll try it out.
This all still applies to portion sizes. Don’t over feed your dog. Consult your veterinarian on how much your dog should be fed. If you just fill up his bowl, and the food goes to waste - that’s wasted money. On the other hand, you want to make sure he’s getting fed enough!
A note on treats – coupons are huge here. You can get many dog treats for very little to almost free. There is major competition in this category so you can really benefit from that.
I’ll be honest though, I make my dog his treats. There are super simple recipes out there. Here is my favorite for milk bones:
3/4 cup hot water
1/3 cup margarine
1/2 cup powdered milk
1 teaspoon salt
1 egg, beaten
3 cups whole wheat flour
In large bowl pour hot water over the margarine. Stir in powdered milk, salt, and egg. Add flour, 1/2 cup at a time. Knead for a few minutes to form stiff dough. Pat or roll to 1/2 inch thickness. Cut into bone shapes. Bake at 325 degrees for 50 minutes. Cool. They will dry out quite hard. Makes about 1 1/4 pounds of biscuits. Costs around 30 cents per pound.
It’s all about knowing your dog, what kind of food he likes and how he responds to new foods. Having a pet is fantastic and there is no reason you need to go broke feeding him!
Here are some free samples for your four legged friend:
Get a sample of Blue Buff Dog or Cat food
Wednesday in the Rocky Mountain News is Foodie day to me. The grocery sale fliers come out and the spotlight insert is always food related.
On the back of today’s spotlight, there was a column that highlighted the Food Stamp Nutrition Connection. Now before you write this site off as you may or may not be on food stamps, you may still want to check it out.
Hosted by the US Dept of Agriculture, this site provides the cost per serving and lots of healthy and cheap recipes.
I went over to see what the site had to offer. The Recipe Finder has a series of questions to ask you. Including what type of meat you have, what style of recipe you are looking for, what cooking equipment you have and for what meal you are looking for. You can also include how much you want to spend per serving or per meal.
Just for fun, I put in a few numbers.
For a meal under $0.25 cents – try the Italian Bean Patties
Looking for some Southern Meals for under a $1.00? Try the Slow Cooked BBQ at $0.97 a serving (5 servings), or the Red Beans and Rice and $0.37 a serving (8 servings).
Maybe you need a side dish for young kids at under $0.75 there are a bunch of ideas. Including Fiesta Mix at $0.28 a serving. Try the Granola Bars at $0.24 a serving. And there is still the Peanut Butter and Fruit-wich, the Peter Pumpkin Squares and the Peachy pops!
If you know how much you have to spend on a meal, try the site out. Or just check it out for some healthy and quick meal ideas for not a lot of cash!
Ok, ok, I know. . . snacks is not a category in the food pyramid per se. But, how much do snacks take out of your grocery budget.
Let’s be honest with ourselves, when you are going down the snack aisle in the store, throwing in crackers, cookies and the such. How much of that is actually eaten. Is there opened bags of chips in your pantry that have been there for months. Graham crackers for s’mores that you never got around to making. Opened keebler cookies that are stale and crumbly?
The same rule of them applies to snacks as any other category. It’s about buying food with and for a purpose. We need to examine how much our family actually consumes, is it healthy and what do we actually need.
Here are some cost efficient snacks:
Jell-o and pudding: If you buy some of the ½ cup reusable plastic containers you can make jell-o and pudding. Don’t buy it pre made. It takes a few minutes to mix it up yourself and costs a fraction of the pre made items.
Popcorn – No not the microwave kind. Get the kernels. Again, it only takes a few minutes to make a bunch of popcorn. You can use healthy oils (like olive oil). I put a handful into resalable sandwich bags. This is a quick and easy snack. You can add your own flavors of seasoning salt, light salt, parmesan cheese. Get creative. Super super cost efficient.
Fruit Kabobs: Remember that snacks are a great way to get fruits and veggies into your diet. Get kabob skewers. Have a variety of fruits like pineapple chunks, strawberries, banana slices, grapes and anything else you can put on the stick. A very fun way to eat fruit.
Veggies: Cut veggies into different sizes and shapes. Make a picture then eat them up!
Again, let me emphasize, I am not saying to run from snacks. We all need something salty or crunchy to chomp on from time to time. I am saying to look at your families snacking habits. Are all the snacks being used. If not, consider buying less or making fun ones yourself.
If all the snacks you are buying are being eaten, are they healthy?
Snacks, like any other food category is buying items with a purpose in mind.
I’m not sure if you have looking at the USDA food pyramid lately, but it has undergone some changes since I was a kid. It’s really interesting; you can check it out at http://www.mypyramid.gov/index.html.
I’m not a doctor or a nutritionist, but I am really concerned about portion sizes, meeting my family’s dietary needs and still managing to stay on a grocery budget.
This week, I wanted to look at the dietary needs of fruit and how I manage to buy all that I need. You can go to http://www.mypyramid.gov/mypyramid/index.aspx to check out what each of your family members need on a daily basis.
My numbers are based on myself, my husband, a 10 year old daughter and my 4 year old son. (The baby isn’t on solids yet!).
So for the fruit category, we need a total of 7.5 cups a day and 52.5 cups of fruit intake a week. That’s not as expensive or as hard as it sounds!
For example, here is where you can find items for your fruit category: Fresh fruit, canned fruit, 100% fruit juice, dried and frozen.
Whenever possible, I like to buy fresh fruit, but with rising gas costs – fresh fruit isn’t always the affordable choice.
I like to buy a fruit that is on sale. It’s not always the old stand buy like apples. Oranges
Since there is two cups in every pound, that brings me up to about 14 cups of fruit. Only 38.5 cups to go.
I always buy frozen concentrated OJ, the store bought tastes great. For $1.92 I can make 48 oz of orange juice. One thing to keep in mind regarding fruit juice, is to always look for No Sugar added and 100% juice. Fruit juice is usually high in sugars since it’s in concentrated form and lacks the nutritious fiber in the fruit.
That being said, I want to make sure I have other fruit options in the house. So checking the sales, Dole pineapples in a can are on sale for $1.00. I divided that into ½ cup containers and put in the fridge for easy snacking. Dole fruit containers were on sale for 2 for $4. I also had a coupon that doubled to $1 off. So they came out to $0.38 ½ cup, or serving size. Not bad.
So for $17.00, I met my family’s fruity dietary needs. We have some fruit with dinner on some days, a glass of orange juice for breakfast. Mid afternoon snacks are filled with a fruit choice. Even some goes in my husband’s lunch!
Buying fruit needs to be done with a purpose in mind – when you are going to eat it. What’s for a snack, what’s for desserts and what goes on that morning breakfast cereal? Why? How many times do you buy fruit with the intentions of eating it and it goes bad in your fridge or on the counter? That can be an expensive intention.
When you have a plan – you will use up your fruit. Don’t just throw fruit into your cart because you think it’s healthy. It is healthy. But when you make planned choices and shop the sales, fruit becomes an affordable and positive addition to your weekly menus!
One of my passions is eating healthy . . . affordably. I don't know if anyone else has noticed, but sales on fresh fruit and veggies are few and far between at the grocery stores. (Which is another reason I can't wait until the farmers markets open.) Incase you are not close to a farmers market (and during winter months) I am putting this series together.
I want to examine portion sizes of food, how we can relate that to our eating habits, and how we can incorporate this into our grocery budgets.
I am starting with fruit, since this seems to be the item least likely going on sale. And when fruit is on sale - it still seems to be expensive.
I'll probably post other categories in between completing this series. I did set up a category for it, so you can always follow there!
Up Next . . .Fruit!