Saturday, January 16, 2010

Grand Total for the week-a whopping $ 38.95

Yes, I had to double check my numbers several times, but when I really think about it, it makes sense. I really and truly went to the grocery store for my 7 dinners last week once, and once only, and I believe my total came to somewhere near $45.00, I still have partial items still left over from last weeks grocery shopping. What is truly so amazing, is our dinners are really good, the recipe are simple, fresh tasting and healthy. $38.97 is less then I would spend on ordering two large pizzas!! I cant wait to do my shopping tomorrow for next week!!

Saturday clean up the fridge faitas $2.95

So Kim and I have come to the conclusion that Saturdays are going to be our casual meal day, and that doesnt necessarily mean it has to be the same for everyone. Our ultimate goal is to figuire out how to get a nice meal(usually) dinner on the table, and have it be done rather quickly, and very healthy and inexpensively. So far, two weeks in, its going great. I think what is making it so doable is having a menu and a grocerylist. Not having to run the store everyday eliminates so much stress and anxiety. So what works for me is to "clean up" the fridge on Saturdays. That could mean leftovers, it could mean going through produce, meat etc...
Tonight is faita night. I have leftover red peppers, onions, tomatos, chicken, and tortillas. Faitas can include any vegetable, chicken, shrimp, beef, you name it.
My left over Faita recipe
1 onion sliced .30
2 tomatos sliced .40
1/2 cup red pepper.40
2 chicken breasts diced $1.40
4 tortillas.20
2 tblsp olive oil.25
Total $2.95
Heat saute pan with oil, toss in chicken
saute until well cooked, 7 minites approx
remove from heat
add onion, tomato, peppers to oil, cook until onions are soft, add chicken for two more minutes
remove from heat
lay out tortillas and fill and roll with the filling
and wha la, my refrigerator has been cleaned out suffiently. Thats a first!!

What's For Dinner - January 17-23

Hopefully this is getting easy for you, and the mystery is all unveiled in this post.  Our line up this week is...

Sunday - Paninis
Monday - Taco Night (w/ guacamole)
Tuesday - Ham and Swiss Frittata
Wednesday - Panzanella Salad
Thursday - Lemon Chicken w/ Aspagras
Friday - Mustard Crusted Salmon, Roasted Potatoes with Rosemary, and Broccoli with Carmalized onions
Saturday - Pasta Primavera clean up frig meal!

So, with the exception of Saturday's clean up the frig meal, you can switch any of these around.  We did ... we put fish on Friday this time instead of Wednesday!

Time to Shop!!

Next I'll post the menu ... but if wanted to leave for the store by 10 am today, here's the list... it'll be like the old times ... a bunch of stuff, thrown into the card, and what on earth am I gonna make with them.  We are so here for you, friends, and won't let that happen.  The menu will be up in 10 minutes!

Red roasted peppers
Black olives
Aldi’s Blue Organic Chips
Stone Ground Mustard
Slivered Almonds
Balsamic vinegar

Canned Vegetable Aisle
Taco Seasoning packet
Taco shells
Spaghetti or penne pasta

Fresh Vegetables
Tomatoes (approx. 4 to 6)
Onion (at least 2)
Lemons (at least 2)
Green onion

Mozzarella Cheese – shredded or block for slicing
Fresh mozzarella ball
Sliced Swiss cheese
Sour cream
Fresh refrigerated Sweet Onion Salsa or Artichoke Salsa
Shredded Cheddar cheese

Lunch meat slices – ham is recommended
Fit & Active lean ground turkey

Individually quick frozen salmon fillets
Boneless Skinless Chicken breasts or Chicken Breast Tender
Frozen Asparagus

Chiabatta Bread
Old bread
Winking Owl Chardonnay (or another white wine)

happy shopping ... we're totally confident this list will be under $70 IF YOU SHOP AT ALDI... why take matters into your own hands with brands, quality, and waste your time... make it simple, shop at Aldi

Thursday, January 14, 2010


Such a boring title for an amazing stew.  Given to me by my old neighbor and good friend, this is one of her best friend's stew recipe.  LOVE IT!  And it's really healthy and low in fat.  High in carbs due to healthy veggies and the protein is all driven by how much beef you add... start with what the recipe calls for and add more next time.  I'm betting there'll be a next time!

Here ya' go...

about 2 Tbsp flour
1 - 1 1/2 lbs stew meat, cubed
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 can tomato sauce (8 oz)
1 1/2 cans water
1 large sweet onion sliced into large pieces
2 cloves garlic, chopped
3 cups potatoes cubed
1 sweet potato cubed
2 cups sliced carrots
1 cup sliced celery
3-5 beef boullion cubes

1.  Heat oil in large dutch oven type pan over high heat - no smoke
2.  Cover meat with flour in a ziplock or on your cutting board
3.  Brown meat in hot oil, add in onions at end
4.  Once browned...add tomato sauce, water, garlic, boullion, basil and thyme
5.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer covered for 1 1/2 hours (90 minutes)
6.  Add potatoes, sweet potatoes, carrots and celery.
7.  Simmer, covered, at least another hour... or until dinner time.

Now I've never done it this way, but Barbara asked me to suggest a way to make in the crockpot... here's my best guess ... brown the meat as in 1-3.  transfer to crockpot and follow step 4.  heat about 3 -4 hours on low, then follow step 5 and return to low for another 3 or more hours.  Crunchy potatoes in the stew aren't be sure to allow enough time. Always keep your crockpot covered.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Southwest Chicken Salad $6.19

AHHH... time for a really refreshing salad.
This salad comes from the Jillian Michaels Master Your Metabolism start up diet ... it's in the book.  It's so so so yummy that that fact shouldn't scare off the non-Jillian fans or those not thinking in any way of dieting.  But, since Barbara and I are fit, fast and frugal foodies, we're concerned about what you're eating, and this is a great choice!

Southwest Chicken Salad

1/2 cup lime juice
2 Tbsp olive oil
4 medium garlic cloves, minced
8 tablespoons chopped cilantro
2 tsp chile powder
2 tsp ground cumin
4 medium boneless, skinless, chicken breasts
1-15 oz. can black beans, drained
4 Roma tomatoes, diced
1/2 cup chopped scallions, green onions or regular onion
4 or more cups romaine lettuce, washed.

Place the lime juice, olive oil, garlic, cilantro, chile powder and cumin in a small bowl - whisk to blend well - add tomatoes to mixture to "marinate". 
Saute the chicken in a grill pan, on the grill outdoors, or in a frying pan - whatever you got.  You could even use the pre-made chicken from the store, though it can be salty.  Slice into 1 inch strips when done.  Then mix beans, chicken and scallions.

Place lettuce equally in four serving plates or bowls - top with chicken/beans mix, then spoon the tomato mixture over the top.  Serve. 

So yummy - and the cumin/chile powder combo is delish!!  ENJOY! - Some people might add another slice of bread of choice, but with the beans and tomatoes, there really are enough carbs in this dish to fill you up without the added bread.

Mediterranean Fish Fillets $6.32

If you know Barbara or me, you know we love Jillian Michaels ... this recipe is from her website for some really yummy fish fillets.  Nutritionally about 225 calories with 7 grams fat, 9 g. carbs and 25 g. protein.  A favorite way to make eating the "fish" (you know the voice and eye roll) more paletable.

2 tsp. olive oil
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
1/4 c. dry white wine$1.25
2 cloves garlic .10
2 cups tomatoes, diced .59
8 black olives.30
1/4 tsp. orange zest.05
1/2 tsp salt.02
1/2 tsp fresh ground pepper.02
16 ounces fish - like tilapia or mahi-mahi or halibut$3.99

Preheat oven to 450 degrees

Heat oil in medium non-stick skillet over medium heat - add onion slices, saute until lightly browned (3 minutes).  Add wine and garlic - simmer 30 seconds then stir in tomatoes, olives, and orange zest.  Season with 1/4 tsp. salt and 1/4 tsp pepper.

Season fish with the remaining salt and pepper - arrange in single layer in a pie pan or baking dish.  Spoon the tomato mixture over the fish and bake, uncovered, until the fish is just cooked through - 10 to 20 minutes depending on thickness of meat.  The fish will flake easily when it is done.

We're plating this with asparagus, which you can cook any number of ways - I'll suggest my personal favorite...

1 Tbsp garlic
1 Tbsp olive oil
enough asparagus for your family

place asparagus in a non-stick frying pan with enough water to cover the bottom - maybe 1/8 to 1/4 inch in pan.  heat over medium heat until the water is boiling, cover and reduce heat to maintain boil for about 4 to 6 minutes - drain excess water add oil and garlic - saute for about 2 minutes - ready to serve.

the directions on the bag of frozen asparagus will work nicely too, though.


With all the carbs we've had with yesterday's pasta and the soup on Monday we're skipping the bread or starchy stuff tonight - but garlic toast or fresh baguette serves really nicely with this really appetizing-on-the-plate meal.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Pasta Primavera Recipe under $ 5.00!!!

This recipe is not only nutritious, delicious, inexpensive, it is also very fast to prepare- hence, earning myself and Kim the title of Fast, Frugal, Fit Foodies.
I can get this dinner on the table in 15 minutes.

1/2 lb fresh or frozen broccoli- chopped. .80
1/2 lb sliced mushrooms .70
2 carrots cut in small peices lengthwise(kinda like matchsticks).20
1 tblsp chopped garlic.20
2 tblsp olive oil .40
1 jar marinara $1.19
1 lb box of pasta(shape of choice) $ 1.09
1/2 cup parm cheese .40
Total $ 4.98

Bring pot of water to a boil and add pasta noodles(dont forget to add salt to water)
at the same time heat skillet with olive oil medium heat, add garlic, and sautee for a few minutes, add vegetables, toss with spoon to mix mixture together.
After 10 minutes, add pasta sauce, toss together, and cook another 10 minutes on low.
In meantime, noodles probably already ready, drain in collander, put asside. Remove sauce from stove, toss in a large serving bowl with pasta. Serve with parm cheese.(optiona)

Sunday, January 10, 2010

ooops Forgot the Garlic

Upon closer examination, forgot the very important garlic!! Saute veggies in olive oil and garlic.

Monday Night Split Pea Soup $5.02

I am going to admit that I am not a soup maker or eater, but my brother made this soup once and it was so thick and creamy and flavorful, I have often thought of it, so my challenge is to make my first successful soup that didnt come from a can or package. My brother said he has made it with either frozen peas or dried peas and said they are both really good. He, being a soup maker, prefers the dried, but I allready bought the frozen, and I can not break my "no going to the grocery store again this week" rule! So here is his recipe using frozen peas, feel free to swap with dried, if you feel it wont be "split pea" without split peas. I can live wth myself using frozen.(:
1 cup chopped carrots .30
1 cup chopped celery .35
1 cup chopped onion .25
1/2 cup chopped asparagus .50
1/2(4 strips) bacon .40
3 tablespoons minced garlic .30
2 tblsp olive oil .25
1 lb frozen peas(or dried).96
2 chicken or vegetable boulion cubes .12
s & p to taste
Total: $ 3.43 with loaf garlic bread $ 1.59, grand total $ 5.02

dice carrots, celery, onion, asparagus
in a large quart sauce pan heat olive oil medium and saute mixture until veggies are soft and onions are glassy.
Rinse and drain peas
dice bacon
add them both to veggie mixture, saute a few more minutes
add 10 cups of water and bouillon cubes, turn up heat and bring lidded pot to a boil, lower heat and simmer on low for 45-60 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste
remove from heat and puree in blender or food processor, reheat to serve if necessary.
serve with garlic bread
BTW, my brother also said, if a really thick soup is desired, throw in a pealed and cup up potato into the pot with the peas and bacon.

Sunday = Pizza and Football

Well, this might be the last week of this pizza/football until September as my Packers lost a HEARTBREAKER in OT to the Cards.  I told my Uncle today there was nothing I'd like to see more than Brett Farve, Tom Brady & Tony Romo all sitting in the stands watching the Superbowl together!  Well, now it's up to someone other than my man Aaron Rodgers to make that happen (and after next weeks Dallas/Vikings game it'll be two of three in the stands!).  Are you kidding me ... 96 points in the game - nearly 900 yards in total offense.  One certainly has to wonder if there were any defensive players in the game ... well, until the final play when one lucky defense play ends our run.  Hopefully the first of many playoff runs for Aaron and the young Packers!

Oh, but about the wonderful husband made fresh bread dough from scratch (recipe for another time!) and we used that for our crust.  I used the artichoke pesto, sausage (about 4 ounces for us), roasted red peppers, yellow pepper, mushrooms, spinach and mozzarella for the endult (as my 3 yr. old used to say) pizza and sausage (about 4 ounces), pepperoni (like six slices), yellow pepper and mozz for the kiddos!  mmm...

well, football is now gone from this equation, but Sunday night pizza is just a good thing in our house.  USUALLY we let the kids "decorate" their own pizzas, but tonight time didn't permit it.  It's just such a wonderful way to start the week... while the kids are excited and jumpy, we're not telling them to eat something they don't want, just to sit down and share their stories after the food is gone.

Sunday Night Pizza $5.89

I am a first generation Italian American and was raised "Italian" as much as a person could be, living in America. My parents held on to as many of their Italian traditions as possible. Food, ofcourse is a big tradition, but more importantly mealtime and breaking bread with family is an even bigger tradition. Pasta Lunch has always been our bigger meal on Sunday. My dad worked 6 days a week, and usually took off Sunday, and our family lunch, which often included other extended family members on Sunday, was vey important to him. He came to America when he was 27, and held on to many Italian traditions until he passed away last April, one of them was our Sunday lunch. We have always eaten our big meal of the day, and always pasta, at the lunch on Sunday. Since he passed, we have continued the tradition, in his honor, so consequently, we eat lite Sunday night. I usually make a salad and order pizza for the kids. Well, carryout pizza is never cheap and not always good, so for this year, and maybe for ever, we are making our own pizzas!!

Recipe (easy peasy)
Any kind of crust- frozen, foccacia, enlish muffins, box mix
I use the Pillsbury Hot Roll Mix(it makes the best crust) $2.29
Pasta sauce or tom basil .75
Mozzarella $1.75
Mushroom .50
Black olives .60
Total aprox $5.89

I spead the dough out in two seperate cookie sheets 12 inch, and bake crust.
remove from oven, let cool. Spread generously with sauce.
I am topping one with mushrooms and black olives and cheese and the other with just cheese.

These pizzas are very flexible, I have made them with spinach, , artichokes, tomatos, basil, bacon, pepporoni etc....anything that appeals can be incorporated into this pizza. Be creative! If doing individual foccacia, put out a bunch of toppings and let kids make their own. Have fun, and enjoy the end of the weekend!

Grocery shopping done for week

OK, its Sunday at 2:00, and all my shopping is complete for the week. I purchased every item at Aldi except for cilantro and pizza crust mix. I didnt need white potatoes or sweet potatoes or mozzarella, so my receipt came in at a little underr $45.00. Those items included on the list will get the total up to around $52.00. Not bad for 7 healthy delish meals.
Gonna start working on some of the recipes for the week now. I cant stress enough how much I love being so organized for dinner, in fact, I'm getting so many requests to come to my house for dinner, I am going to start having other people over besides my usual suspects-my son ofcourse, my mom, a few neices, sometimes my brother. My mother is in a widows support group and they say the lonliest time for them is mealtime, and my moms comment that she is really lucky being a recent widow, and never dining alone, struck a chord with me. I know lots of people who dine alone, since I am making dinner everynight, and a good healthy one at that, I thought, why don't I start inviting people over for dinner who are alone. So my promise to myself is atleast twice a week, I invite a non family member over who is usually alone for dinner. Food and dinnertime should be enjoyable and what better way to enjoy, than with family and friends.
Off to get the pizza recipe posted.

Oh My Gosh(OMG)what a week of savings!!

I sat down this am to total up the meals for the last week, and I was so excited to see that I only spent(used up) $66.52 for groceries for dinner! I came in my first week under $ 70.00. However, when I sat down to total up the cost per person, per meal, I realized our first week consisted of 9 days, not 7, because we wanted to start this project off on Sundays, so as to get the menu out and grocery list out by Saturday. So our $66.52 was actually for 9 meals, which translates into an average of $ 7.39 per meal and an average of $1.84 per person! wow, that is really inexpenssive. What was more rewarding was in general most everyone liked the meals-hey, I am dealing with many different pallets(as most are) so everyone cant always be 100% pleased, but I think this "project" has even inspired my littlest of taste budders, to be experimental. Not having to run to the grocery store even once this week, was amazing. It is usually dinner that sends me to the store in a frenzy at 5 pm, most days. Breakfast, lunch food and snacks, I pretty much have down to a science, and If Im out of ham for packed school lunches, I make pb&j, if Im out of life cereal, then its corn flakes, so those meals dont put me in a panic, dinner does. OK, first week down, with great results. Im off to the grocery store to get my groceries for dinner for the week. My store of choice is Aldi, if there is one near by, it is a great option. best prices in town. and a ridiculously easy, no frills store to shop!! Ill be back to give details of grocery list.