Friday, May 30, 2014

$50 Challenge: How Many Meals Can I Make?

It is no secret that I love saving a buck. And something you may not know about me is that I thrive on a good challenge. So when Indiana Family of Farmers asked if I wanted to be an IFOF Ambassador for the Affordable Food Tips For Your Family, From Our Family Series  and take the $50 Challenge, it sounded like fun to me!

We love to eat around here, but we also love to save money on basically everything we purchase, including food. I don't coupon. I WISH I could, but every time I have a great coupon, I usually ending spending way more than I would have without the coupon. I'm obviously not doing it right!

So since I am coupon-challenged, I had to find another way to stretch out our grocery budget. It was honestly a TON easier when I was single and just buying for me. Now that I have a family, I have a secret weapon....Ruler Foods. Now, I realize everyone doesn't have a Ruler literally a mile from their house, but I am guessing that other discount grocery stores like Save-A-Lot and Aldi will give you similar bangs for your buck. The everyday prices at Ruler are almost always cheaper than the sale prices at it's sister store across the street!

We have very few items that we buy the name brand of and there are two reasons for that...the price of the store brand at Ruler is usually insanely cheaper than the brand names, but more importantly...we actually like the store brand as well if not better than most name brands! I never would have guessed it!

I knew we were getting a deal at Ruler, but I had really had not realized how far we could make our grocery dollar go until this challenge. I am just floored...and humbled after seeing the chart below. I complain as much as the next person about the price of included. However, I now see how good I do have it. AND with some meal planning, that dollar at the grocery store can REALLY stretch! I am completely grateful of the fact that I live in this great country and am not spending close to half of my income on food!

Now for the fun! Here's what meals I came up with for my $50 Challenge! And actually, I thought things cost more than they did when I was planning, so I ended up only spending $43.20! I still have an extra $6.80 left! Hmmm...guess I should have bought a bigger roast! :)

Meal 1: (Breakfast 5-6 servings)
French Toast and Bacon....mmmm, bacon

Meal 2: (Dinner 4 servings)
Hamburger Biscuit Casserole (Recipe Below)
Green Beans

Now this is one of my absolute favorite recipes from my childhood. Michael had never had it before, but it won him over immediately. He is just as excited as I am when I make it. Now Cris is not a fan of this recipe. In fact, there is a great debate any time either one of us mention this recipe. So, I'll let you decide (that I'm right!).  :)

Meal 3: (Dinner 4 servings)
BBQ Pork Chops on the grill
Brown 'n Serve Rolls (LOVE these!)
Mashed Potatoes

Meal 4: (Dinner 4 servings)
Homemade Pepperoni Pizza

Meal 5: (Lunch 6 servings)
English Muffin Pepperorni Pizzas

Our recipe is basically this recipe from Cris, but we add on some pepperoni. Yum!

Meal 6: (Brinner 4-6 servings)
Cheesy Sausage Egg Skillet

Meal 7: (Dinner 4-6 servings)
Slow Cooker Steak with Gravy
Brown 'n Serve Rolls

This Slow Cooker Steak with Gravy is amazing! I highly recommend it! I adjusted my recipe this time because I could get a Bottom Round Flat Roast cheaper than I could get a Flat Iron Steak. I always adjust recipes to go with the deals I find in the store and have had great success!

Now that is some bang for our buck! We don't have a grown boy in our house yet (although Michael often eats enough for two people!), so meals last a big longer in our house than it would for some, BUT this is going to be feeding our family for well over a week! Awesomesauce!

Bonus: (Breakfast or Dessert)

Monkey Bread

If it has cinnamon, it can be called a breakfast food in my book, but since I realize that isn't how everyone thinks, so we will just call this a "bonus" recipe. I needed to use my two extra tubes of biscuits anyway...right?! :)

I used this Monkey Bread Muffin recipe from Cris with a few adjustments. I made it in my bundt pan (because I got it for Christmas and need to break it in!). I also used the remaining two packages of biscuits from my 4 pack instead of Grands biscuits.

Hamburger Biscuit Casserole

This recipe is super easy, kid friendly and a family favorite around here!


1 lb of ground beef
1 pkg of brown gravy mix
1 c cold water
1 tube of biscuits


Preheat your oven according to 400.

Brown your ground beef.

Place ground beef in bottom of a greased, round, 1.5 quart casserole dish.

Mix brown gravy mix with 1 cup of cold water and pour over browned beef evenly.

Place biscuits on top of the browned beef mixture.

Cook for 15-20 minutes...until the biscuits are golden.

Serve it up with your favorite veggies!

This post was sponsored by Indiana Family of Farmers, but the opinions and awesome meal planning are all my own! The recipe is from my Momma. :)

Thursday, May 22, 2014

It's a...

So it has been confirmed by four different ultrasounds!

Meet Miss Iyla Jane.

The most asked questions I get are "How do you spell/say that?" and "How did you come up with her name?"

Obviously, you can see how to spell it since you are reading it. ;) And you pronounce it Eye-la.

Her name actually comes from different family members.

Michael's Great Aunt T's first name is Ila. (We just decided to add the "y".) The first time I heard that name, I fell in love. So when we wanted to come up with a name for our little girl, Michael and I were definitely on the same page for her first name.

Now for her middle name, I had decided that when I was a child. My Grandma's name was Elsie Jane. I was all set to be named Sara Jane until another family member protested so much that my middle name was changed by the time I was born to be my Momma's middle name. Now don't get me wrong...I LOVE my middle name, but I always said that if I had a little girl, her middle name would be Jane after Grandma. THEN I marry Michael and lo and behold, Mamaw James' middle name is Jane! So it is a double tribute, and I love it! :)

Now for some cute ultrasound pictures...well, I say cute, but that may just be the proud Momma in me talking. You may not be able tell at all what in the world all that static is, but if you can see her, you can oooh and aahh with me at our precious little girl.

Here she is with in her "The Thinker" pose. (Her head is on the right hand side of the picture and her hand is directly under her chin.)

Her karate kick to the camera. Hiyah! ;)

And she's waving to say hi!

So there ya have some highlights of little Iyla Jane's photo shoot. As of Saturday, we will be halfway there!

Friday, April 25, 2014

Gooseberry Patch Grilling and Campfires Cooking Cookbook Giveaway!

*And the winner is....Hubcubs21!*

I am one happy lady! I am pairing up with Gooseberry Patch this year to be an Early Bird Reviewer. The first cookbook I get to check out AND giveaway a copy to one of my lucky readers is Grilling and Campfires Cooking.

When I received this cookbook, I put so many tabs on it of recipes that I want to try that my cookbook looks like it has a fringe! I have already gotten started whipping some of these awesome recipes and can't wait to try out more!

First up were some great burgers!

These yummy BBQ Bacon Cheddar Burgers were Michael's favorite since he is a lover of all things bacon...and they are scrum-ditily-umptious!

But my favorites were these amazing BBQ Ranch Stuffed Cheddar Burgers...BBQ, Ranch and a hidden surprise of cheddar...I was hooked!

Then we I threw together these yummy Peachy Pork Kabobs. Even a grill that hates me couldn't keep me from finishing these bad boys up!

And you know my sweet tooth couldn't resist this Dutch Oven Peach Cobbler! Dutch Oven Peach Cobbler, how do I love thee...let me count the ways! I love so much about this cobbler that I seriously can't pick just one thing. I love that it can be made in my oven at home or in mom's dutch oven when we visit them at camp. I love that it is a snap to throw together. I love that it is made with things I have in my cabinets. I love that it is amazingly delicious! Can you tell I love this cobbler or that I have a teeny bit of a sweet tooth? ;)

This is just a small sampling of all the yummy goodness in Grilling and Campfires Cooking! I look forward making many, many, many more of these recipes!

And thanks to the generous people at Gooseberry Patch you can win a free copy right here! To enter just comment below which recipe would be your favorite. Easy, peasy, lemon squeezy!

The winner will be picked on May 16th! Good luck!

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

1 +1 = 4

We have a bit of an announcement around here...

So in our house, 1 + 1  will equal 4 come October!!!

Monday, April 14, 2014

Affording Food: For My Family

(Catch up from the beginning here: Affording Food: Growing Up and Affording Food: On My Own)

So we are now up to my life now. I have a husband and child that I need to feed nutritious and flavorful food to on a daily basis (for some reason they won't let me only feed them once or twice a demanding!).

I have to admit that it took a while to figure it out and find what works for us. Now that we have worked on it, things run pretty smoothly around here. I am guessing that we will keep tweaking our plan of action, but this works for us pretty good.

So what is it that we do?

I told you about our great find on a bunch of packs of chicken and some packs of ribs, but unfortunately we can't rely on that happening every few months. So we do a bit of a backwards meal plan.

I have a bunch of Gooseberry Patch cookbooks and some favorite food blogs that are great resources. So when we stop by the store, we look for a Manager's Special sticker and buy the best deal or deals. Then I come home and find a recipe that will go with whatever meat it is we have found for the week. For example, our latest random find was a 2.39 lb Angus roast that was marked down from $7.15 to $2.99! I found this great recipe from Goodeness Gracious.  This one piece of meat has fed us THREE times and we still have enough left for another lunch. That is less than 50 cents per serving of some amazingly yummy roast!

Another essential part of our affordable eating is that we do 99% of our shopping at Ruler Foods. Right across the street is Jay-C, and both stores have Kroger brand items. We have a good laugh when we get the Jay-C ad for the week and see the "sale" price across the street is more expensive than what we pay everyday at Ruler!

We have also learned what Kroger brands we love (sometimes even better than the major name brand) and what name brands Ruler usually carries. There are times that we only pay a third of what we would pay for name brand and have just as good of food with our generic. The name brands that Ruler has are always priced cheaper than we can find them anywhere else. For example, name brand strawberries. The exact same brand was available at both stores. Ruler had them for 99 cents on the same day they were $2.59 across the street! I don't know how they do it, but I am sure glad they do! I would love to know an exact number we have saved over the years by shopping there. It is unreal.

There are some things that we prefer name brand that are not available at our beloved store and the cheapest place to buy them isn't always in our town (welcome to a small town...a small price to pay for this life I love!). So we just have to plan ahead to stop and get these items when we are in the town that has the store that carries them for the lowest price.

By doing this, we are always under budget each week for our food, and I seriously can't remember the last time we had a meal that was more than $5 per serving!

Disclaimer: I received a promotional item from Indiana Family of Farmers, but (as always) thoughts, opinions and stories are all my own!

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Affording Food: On My Own

If you want to catch this from the beginning, check out Affording Food: Growing Up.

In my early twenties, I was very close with some people who were whizzes when it came to gardens. They grew all kinds of great veggies. I can't remember exactly how many gardens they had going each summer, but I can think of at least four different ones. 

It was a ton of work, but they definitely knew what they were doing and all of their family and friends reaped the benefits. Year round we had canned green beans, frozen corn, canned salsa and so much more available to us...they were more than generous when it came to the fruits of their labor.

I wish I had some pictures from the times I spent breaking beans on the back porch, picking fresh veggies or canning and freezing, but I don' just imagine sitting on a upside down bucket pickin' beans or on some lawn chairs break beans in the shade of a tree. They are some of my favorite memories from those years. 

Now I did not and do not have a green thumb or know how to grow a garden (thank you farmers for feeding me!), but what I learned those few summers about canning and freezing have come in handy ever since. Even though I don't grow my own, I can visit a farmer's stand or farmer's market and pick up some great fresh veggies to work up. 

It is a great way to spend time together as a family and save some money! You can grow your own fresh veggies (or buy them for a great deal at your local farm stand) and work them up for very little per serving. Then you have great tasting veggies year round! Win win!

It was also a great way to pass on traditions that have been around for years and years.

I didn't know it when I learned  the recipe for freezing corn, but it was actually the recipe of the sweet lady that lived just one house down from me growing up...which was also across the road from my Gramma's house. :) I love that I get to use Tony's recipe each year. I can remember the wonderful smells coming from her house when we would run over to play with her grandkids or were invited to come pick some veggies in their garden. I am proud to use any of her recipes!

Things have changed a lot since my early twenties, and now I have a family to feed and a budget to keep. So just how do I do that? ( be continued)

Disclaimer: I received a promotional item from Indiana Family of Farmers, but (as always) thoughts, opinions and stories are all my own!

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Affording Food: Growing Up

In case you didn't already know, I grew up on a farm.

And I loved it.

We raised cattle on our farm. We knew them by name and were always excited when a new calf was born. I remember one year there was a major earthquake predicted for a specific day. The day came and went and there wasn't an earthquake, but a calf was born that day that was red on both sides with a white line down it's back. Can you guess it's name? Yep, Earthquake was around for a long time on our farm and was always one of my favorites.

We raised some cattle for market, but we also raised beef for our freezer. It was a great lesson about where our food really came from. It was also a practical way to have a ton of meat in our freezer.

I grew up in a meat and potatoes family. And I mean that in a very literal way. We had meat and potatoes at every meal except when we would throw together our family's famous (to us ;) ) deep dish pizza. So having meat readily available was a must.

As I ventured out into the world on my own, I learned that mom and dad's big ol' freezer was essential if you were going to have a whole beef and while it can save you money in the long run, it is an investment up front.

Unfortunately for me, I didn't have a big ol' freezer or the money to invest up front. So I had to adapt and find my own way of finding affordable food. ( be continued).

Disclaimer: I received a promotional item from Indiana Family of Farmers, but (as always) thoughts, opinions and stories are all my own!
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