Category Archives: Money Savvy Meals

Creamy Macaroni and Cheese

 

Creamy Macaroni & Cheese | Money Savvy Living

 

Macaroni and cheese is one of those comfort foods that you really just never outgrow.

Of course, the cheesy Velveeta macaroni and cheese is a childhood favorite, but this creamy, cheesy recipe is sure to be a hit with the adults…and kids!  You won’t even miss the processed cheese—I promise!

I also love to make this recipe with gluten free elbow macaroni and low fat milk, to make it a bit healthier.

Creamy Macaroni and Cheese

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Time: 2hr 30mins
  • Difficulty: easy
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2 cups uncooked elbow macaroni (use gluten-free rice pasta)
4 tablespoons butter
2 cups grated cheddar cheese
1 egg, beaten
½ cup sour cream
1 (10¾ ounce) can condensed cheddar cheese soup
1 cup milk (I use 2%, but you could use whole milk to make it a bit creamier)
½ teaspoon dry mustard
½ teaspoon black pepper
½ teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Lightly butter (or spray with cooking spray) 8”x 8” baking dish.
Boil the macaroni in water per package directions. Drain.
In a medium saucepan, mix butter and cheese on low to medium heat. Stir until the cheese melts.
To the cheese and butter mixture, add the beaten egg, sour cream, cheese soup, milk, dry mustard, pepper, and salt. Add the drained macaroni and stir again.
Top with bread crumbs and/or additional cheese, if desired.
Bake for 35 minutes, until bubbling and slightly golden.
Let the macaroni and cheese stand for 15 minutes before serving.

 

Enjoy!

Homemade strawberry jam– money savvy and healthier than what you buy at the store

Homemade strawberry jam... delicious and makes a wonderful gift idea

Homemade strawberry jam… delicious and makes a wonderful gift idea

 

There is nothing better than homemade jam on a hot, homemade biscuit! One of my favorite indulgences– and it brings back wonderful childhood memories of my grandmother who always made special, bite-sized biscuits for us kids. Of course, my mother also made delicious biscuits which we would top with butter and strawberry jam. YUM. YUMM. YUMMMM…

 

Besides the fact that homemade jam is sooo much tastier than store-bought, it also comes with other benefits: no articial flavors, additives, or high fructose corn syrup… and it will save you money!

 

Making homemade strawberry jam consists of just three things: strawberries, sugar, and fruit pectin. This is huge when you consider that regular jam that you buy off the shelf at the grocery store has high fructose corn syrup, with other additives for color or flavor. I don’t know about you, but I’ll take strawberries and sugar over high fructose corn syrup and additives any day.

 

To buy a jar of strawberry jam at the store with high frustose corn syrup and other additives, you will spend about $0.17-0.22/oz. If you are fortunate enough to find a brand or line of product that doesn’t have the high frustose corn syrup, you will definitely spend more. Much more, in fact, anywhere from $0.25-0.38/oz. Making it myself, the final cost was $0.14/oz! So to buy the kind of jam at the grocery store that I make at home, I would spend 2-3 times as much!!

Homemade Strawberry Jam

  • Servings: approx. 28 ounces
  • Time: 30mins
  • Difficulty: easy
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3 cups crushed strawberries (2 pounds whole strawberries)
2 cups sugar
1 1/2 Tbsp of fruit pectin

*optional*
1 tsp lemon juice
small pat of butter (I always put a little butter in to cut down on the foam)

  • Only use ripe berries at their peak
  • Wash strawberries, remove tops/stems
  • Crush with a potato masher. Pour into pan
  • Mix about 1/4 c sugar with the fruit pectin, add to strawberries
  • Bring to rolling boil
  • Stir in remaining sugar, bring to full rolling boil stirring constantly for 1 minute
  • Remove from heat, skim off foam
  • Pour into prepared jars (clean and dry)
  • Wipe away any excess from rim, place canning lid and ring on jar

**Jams are the only thing that I will can without using a canner or placing in boiling water. At this point, I invert for about 20 minutes. Place jars upright and check to be sure the lid is completely sealed (should not be springy) for storage.

 

But strawberry jam isn’t the only great summertime recipe, featuring this juicy, delicious fruit.  Here are some other great recipes for strawberries:

Best & Easiest Strawberry Pie Recipe / My Creative Days

strawberry pie

Strawberry Cheesecake in a Cup / Tastefully Frugal

Strawberry Cheesecake-In-Cup

Strawberry Lemonade Popsicles / Tastefully Frugal

Strawberry Lemonade Popsicles

Lemonberry Slush / Tastefully Frugal

Strawberry Lemon Berry Slush HERO

Ba-cchini Bread: The Best Banana-Zucchini Bread You’ve Ever Tasted

Soooo delicious!

Soooo delicious!

Ba-cchini bread. That is what my kids started calling the banana-zucchini bread that I make. In their effort to shorten the title, it really comes out sounding like “bikini.” While this recipe is delicious, and of course, money savvy (you can make two loaves of this delicious bread for about what it costs to buy one slice of this type of specialty bread at a bakery or coffee shop!), I can definitely say that it is NOT good for your get-into-a-bikini diet! But hey, we all need a little bit of decadence now and then, right?

I can honestly say that this recipe makes the most moist, delicious banana zucchini bread that you’ve ever tasted! Good as muffins or in loaves, just adjust your cook time.

Ba-cchini Bread

  • Servings: 24 muffins or 2 loaves
  • Time: 1 hour
  • Difficulty: medium
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  • 3 eggs
  • 1 c. oil
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 2 c. sugar
  • 1 c. grated zucchini
  • 1 c. mashed bananas
  • 2 1/2-3 c. flour
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 walnuts or raisins *optional *

Cream together eggs, oil, vanilla, and sugar. Sift together dry ingredients. Add the dry ingredients to the creamed mixture and then add the grated zucchini and mashed bananas. Bake at 350 degrees until golden brown.

Loaves of bread: Pour into 2 prepared (greased and floured) loaf pans and bake at 350 degrees for 45 min -1 hour.
Muffins: Fill muffin cups 2/3 of the way up. Bake at 350 degrees for approximately 25 minutes.

Baking Tip: To make sure muffins or loaves of bread are done in the center, stick a toothpick in. Bread is ready when it comes out clean (no batter on toothpick)

Waffle Strawberry Shortcake

Strawberry Shortcake

Here is a fun twist on breakfast– or dessert! Of course, waffles are great with butter and syrup, but next time you want to make a brunch extra special, try this kicked-up Waffle Strawberry Shortcake. It is quick and easy… and it looks like you went to a lot of trouble!

Waffle Strawberry Shortcake

  • Servings: 4
  • Time: 10 mins
  • Difficulty: easy
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Toast 2 Eggo Mini Waffles, as desired. (I used the Eggo mini waffles, but you could use any waffles that you like!) Break apart the 4 mini waffles.

Wash and slice 4-6 large strawberries. Put in bowl and mash slightly with fork. Sprinkle with sugar to taste.

Mix 8 oz. softened cream cheese with 3 Tbsp mascarpone. Add 1/4 c powdered sugar. Add a splash of pure vanilla extract. Cream ingredients together.

Take 4 mini waffles and cover with heaping spoonful of cream cheese mixture. You can even add a few strawberries if desired. Add a 2nd mini waffle on top of cream cheese. Top with strawberries and whipped cream.

Enjoy!

Homemade Gluten-Free Freezer Pancakes

Delicious and Healthy too!

Delicious and Healthy too!

 

My kids love pancakes and eggs for breakfast, which is fine, except, those things can be time consuming to make from scratch or can get very expensive to buy ready-made. Anyone that has ever tried to get kids ready for school in the morning knows that there is just never enough time. Packing lunches, getting homework gathered up, making sure hair is combed, and making sure everyone is fed is quite a task. So I have figured out a way to make morning less hectic—and save a bit of money in the process!

 

If you have ever bought a box of freezer pancakes, you probably paid about $3.00 for 8 pancake, or $0.38 per pancake. In our house, we would go through one of these boxes in 2 days—and that can really add up! By making my own, I save money, and I know that there are no preservatives or high fructose corn syrup in there: just pancake mix, egg, milk, and oil, so overall, healthier too! You really do need to read the ingredients in the pancake mix as well; there may be hidden preservatives or fillers in there that you don’t want. I have chosen to get gluten free pancake mix (I like Glutino Gluten Free Pantry). My kids don’t even notice the difference from regular pancake mix!

 

From one box of pancake mix, I can make approximately 48 medium sized pancakes. Including other ingredients too, my cost comes out to about $0.13 per pancake! This is about double the price when using regular pancake mix (about $0.06 per pancake), but still about 3 times less than buying them ready-made from the freezer section at the grocery store.

 

Gluten-free Freezer Pancakes

1 c. gluten-free pancake mix
1 egg
2/3 c. milk
2 Tbsp canola or vegetable oil

Mix all ingredients together in large bowl.  Let sit for 5 minutes before making pancakes.  I have noticed that the batter thickens and makes fluffier pancakes, rather than using right away.

*Helpful Tip* To make pancakes that are uniform in size and shape, use 1/4 cup dry measuring cup to dip out batter and pour onto griddle for the small pancakes or a cookie scoop to measure out the small pancakes. It’s less messy than pouring out of the bowl or a liquid measuring cup too!

For the small pancakes:

Homemade Gluten Free Freezer Pancakes | Money Savvy Living

Let cool completely. Cut parchment paper into 4×4 inch squares. Stack pancakes, putting a piece of parchment paper between each to keep them from sticking together in the freezer.

Put in freezer bag for storage throughout the week. Heat 2-3 pancakes for about 50-60 seconds before serving.

 

For the silver dollar pancakes:

Lay out on a cookie sheet and slide in the freezer for about 10 minutes.  I don’t try to stack these or put wax paper in between them because they are so small, they just get put into a plastic freezer bag.  Putting them into the freezer on the cookie sheet allows them to be put into the bag frozen so they don’t stick together.

Homemade Gluten Free Freezer Pancakes | Money Savvy Living

 

*This post was originally for a guest blog that I did for Simply Save and has been updated.

eMeals Launches New Dessert Plan

What is eMeals? from eMeals on Vimeo.

eMeals is launching their new dessert plan! Get inspired each week to make incredible desserts. With mouth-watering recipes like Chocolate Pretzel Slab Pie, Buttery Toasted Vanilla Clusters or Crunchy Streusel Pumpkin Loaf, this plan is perfect for the dessert lover in all of us. Receive 3 indulgent dessert ideas every week including a mix of Crowd Pleasers, Quick & Easy options, and Skinny Sweets. This variety of sweet endings will fit the bill for weeknight desserts, casual entertaining and even healthy treats.

eMeals, the leader in online meal planning, is a comprehensive meal planning resource that helps provide healthy and delicious dinners for busy families and individuals. Endorsed by financial guru Dave Ramsey and highlighted in the Oprah Winfrey blog, the eMeals weekly dinner plans include grocery shopping lists and recipe instructions that are simple and easy to follow.

So what does this mean for you, you ask? eMeals can help you save money at the grocery store by generating lists for you based on the meal plan for the week… follow the list and you won’t overspend on impulse buys!

Sign up NOW to get 15% off eMeals with code USFG!

Meal planning: Creating new meals using leftovers

Stuffed peppers are a delicious, complete meal without any side dishes.

Stuffed peppers are a delicious, complete meal without any side dishes.

Stuffed peppers are a great dinner for any money savvy meal because it is an all-in-one kind of dish: meat, vegetables, and rice. I buy the ground beef when it is on sale and freeze it; then I always have some in my freezer to use when I need it. This is also a meal that I would plan on making when the red, yellow, and orange bell peppers are on sale (or fresh from my own garden– which costs next to nothing!), otherwise, they can be pretty expensive. Green peppers can also be more more affordable alternative, but I find these a little less sweet than the red, yellow, or orange.

STUFFED PEPPERS

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Time: 1 hr
  • Difficulty: easy
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INGREDIENTS
5 large bell peppers
1/2 lb ground beef
1/2 onion
2-3 baby protabella mushrooms (optional)
1 large can chopped tomoatoes
1/2 c cooked rice
shredded cheese, colby jack
salt, pepper, Nature’s Seasoning or Seasoned Salt to taste

Clean peppers, removing seeds and cut approximately 1/2 inch off the top (to saute with onion). Brown ground beef. (I cook 1 lb of ground beef and set aside the other 1/2 lb for the next meal). Add onion, pepper pieces, and finely chopped muchrooms in with beef and finish cooking. Add crushed tomatoes, along with additional seasonings. Add cooked rice and stir together. Fill bell peppers with beef and rice mixture, top with shredded cheese. Bake at 350 degrees for approximately 45-60 minutes.

The next day, you can use the leftover peppers (along with the 1/2 lb ground beef, which we set aside) to make a whole new meal.

Put remaining ground beef, onions, peppers and mushrooms in pan. Cut up leftover stuffed peppers and add to pan. All of these ingredients go perfectly with our next-day meal plan: Enchiladas! The ingredients that I used to make my stuffed peppers ALL are items that I would use for enchiladas. Now all I have to do is heat theses items up, add some enchilada sauce (about 1/3 of the can) and shredded cheese for the filling.

ENCHILADAS

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Time: 30mins
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Enchiladas make a great stuffed peppers leftover meal remake.

Enchiladas make a great stuffed peppers leftover meal remake.

INGREDIENTS:
leftover stuffed peppers, chopped
1/2 lb ground beef (reserved from previous meal prep)
New items: 1 can mild, red enchilada sauce, 5 flour tortillas, shredded cheese, sour cream

*In order to make this meal, it only costs about $3-4 for the additional ingredients! Think about that: you will be saving money by not wasting leftovers AND you are making a completely new meal for your family for less than $5!

Spoon filling into flour tortilla shells. Roll up and place in baking dish (sprayed with a non-stick spray). Once all enchiladas are filled and placed in baking dish, pour remaining red sauce over the top. Sprinkle shredded cheese over the top. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes. This is a quick, easy, inexpensive meal; and the best part is you will never know that you are eating leftovers!

Money savvy grocery shopping: Stick to your list

money savvy shopping

Grocery shopping is something that we all do. Such a basic task, it wouldn’t seem that much explanation is necessary, or even possible. However, there are two types of grocery shoppers: the Impluse Buyer and the Money Savvy Shopper.

The Impulse Buyer has no list, they buy whatever they see that looks good, has no coupons, has not looked at any weekly advertisements for sales, and has done no menu planning ahead of time. This type of shopper will walk out of the grocery store, with possibly hundreds of dollars of groceries, and get home and feel like they have nothing with which to make a meal. Don’t be this kind of shopper… and if this describes you, take heart, there are grocery shopping strategies that you can implement to save you lots of $$$ at the checkout.

Become a Money Savvy Shopper. This type of grocery shopper has a detailed list, buying ingredients to create planned meals. They have looked through weekly ads to know which stores to shop in that week and which items are on sale.

Get organized for weekly grocery shopping... and save money

Get organized for weekly grocery shopping… and save money

Some money savvy shopping strategies include:

Make a list— and stick to this list. Don’t buy a bunch of items that are not on your list. You will over-spend each visit you make to the grocery store when you stray from your list. I found a great shopping list on pinterest which plans out meals for a week and the corresponding grocery list. You might want to try something similar to this to kick-start organized grocery shopping.

Look at weekly store advertisements— Some things really don’t matter when you buy them, but some grocery items, such as meat, can be very expensive if they are not an advertised special. So when steak or roast are on sale, stock up. Buy a few extra to put in the freezer so that next time you want to cook a roast, you don’t overspend because they aren’t on sale that week.

Use coupons— clip only the coupons of products that you use (sounds obvious, right? But “saving” money on an item that you don’t normally use is actually costing you money!)… and then make sure you use them. File them in a wallet size expandable file by expiration date so that it is easy to see when they need to be used by.

Heart-Healthy, Crispy Chicken

Meke money savvy meals that are healthy and delicious too!

Make money savvy meals that are healthy and delicious too!

Cooking on a budget doesn’t mean that you can’t make savory, delicious meals. Sometimes, you have to be willing to plan your meals around the weekly grocery store sales though. I bought thin-sliced chicken breast when they were on sale, so instead of paying over $5 for the package of chicken, I only paid $3.80. A package of thin-sliced chicken breast usually gives you six pieces of chicken, rather than three regular sized chicken breasts. I like using thin-sliced chicken or chicken tenderloins because they cook much quicker and it is also a good form of portion control. You can also create your own healthy version of your favorite foods.

Crispy, Baked ChickenOur family loves fried chicken, so this crispy, baked chicken is a perfect, healthy substitute.

Heart-Healthy, Crispy Chicken Recipe
(This recipe has been adapted from the Bisquick Ultimate Chicken Fingers recipe)
Crispy Chicken coating
6 thinly sliced chicken breasts
2/3 c. Bisquick mix
1/4 c. grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
1/4 c. crushed corn flakes
salt and pepper to taste (I use Morton Seasoned Salt because it has other seasonings already in it)
steak seasoning to taste (Weber Chicago Steak seasoning is pretty much good on any meat!)
Egg Wash
1 egg
4 Tbsp. milk
2 Tbsp. honey mustard

Chicken in egg
Dip each piece of chicken in the egg wash.

Make sure both sides are drenched.

Crispy coating

Coat the chicken with your crispy coating mixture.

You will need to turn chicken several times to make sure it is thoroughly coated.

arrange in greased pan

Arrange in a glass pan, greased with olive oil. (Olive oil is a healthier alternative to using cooking spray)

Bake for 17-20 minutes at 450 degrees. Turn over halfway through bake time. Depending on how thinly sliced your chicken is, you may need to adjust bake time.

Add brussel sprouts and a sweet potato to this low-fat, heart-healthy chicken dish.

Add brussel sprouts and a sweet potato to this low-fat, heart-healthy chicken dish.


I bought two large sweet potatoes and brussel sprouts to go along with the chicken. Altogether, this meal for four cost less than $8! You can’t even buy fast food for a family of four that inexpensively!