I am a bargain shopper, a coupon clipper and a meal planner. That's how I attempt to keep my food costs under control. But there is also one more thing that I do that you probably won't hear about on coupon blogs or Extreme Couponing. I pray. That's right, the most important tool in my shopping strategy is prayer. I don't always get my coupons organized and matched up. I may need to pick up a few things before I have time to meal plan for the next week. But the one thing that I do everytime I head to the store is to pray.
Usually it's just a simple conversation with God as I'm walking into the store. It may sound silly but if God says that he cares about what we care about then that would include getting the most for our money at the grocery store. A few weeks ago I was making a special trip to the store for some specific items for a dinner we were cooking for a meeting. Usually I plan my meals around what meat is on sale. However, this time I was looking for a specific meat and did not have the time to shop around and compare prices. So as I entered the store, I asked God to please provide this item at a good price. I found 1 package of the meat that I needed on manager special. You may say that it was just a coincidence, but I don't believe in coincidence. Especially when you factor in the fact that I shop 3 - 4 stores each week to get the bargains. And the store I chose to go into that day, had 1 package of exactly what I needed marked down.
And that's not the only time that something like that has happened. Just today, I was shopping for ingredients for a special birthday dinner for a friend. Once again, I wasn't just going in buying what was on sale. I needed specific items to make this dinner and didn't have time to compare sales and visit multiple locations. So as I headed into the store, I asked God to help me find the items that I needed. And once again, he provided. I found some items on sale and others that were on huge markdown. I even found a delicious dessert for half-price. I see that as God's way of providing above and beyond for our family.
I've had similar experiences with shopping for specific items for the kids. Whether it's a certain color of pants for a concert or dance; an outfit for a school project or new shoes for church. I make it a point to pray as I enter a store and ask God to help me find what I'm needing at the best price possible.
The power of prayer is the only explanation when you look back and see that the numbers just don't work. When the budget is so tight and there doesn't seem to be an extra $5 to spare. Yet somehow you were able to pay the bills, put gas in the car, fill the refrigerator and pantry, keep the kids clothed and still have something left to cover that unexpected expense. It could only be God.
So as you clip and organize your coupons, or plan your meals around the sales, remember to take your needs and requests to God and he will answer
We eat lots of chicken in our house. It's a very versatile meat and can be found on sale quite often. There are so many recipes for chicken. Here are 3 of our favorites:
1. Chicken Alfredo-
2 lbs of boneless chicken, cooked & cut into strips or chunks
3 jars of Ragu alfredo sauce
2 lbs of angel hair pasta or thin spaghetti
1 onion, diced (optional)
1 pkg of mushrooms, sliced (optional)
Put chicken, sauce, onions & mushrooms in large pot and simmer for 30 minutes.
Cook pasta according to package. You can combine the pasta & sauce together before serving or dish it up separately on the plates. We prefer the latter. This recipe will serve 8 - 10.
2. Chicken Georgia-
4 lbs of boneless chicken breast, cut in strips
1 cup of butter
1 onion, chopped
2 cups of mozzarella cheese
2 tbsp olive oil
2 lbs of angel hair pasta
Heat the olive oil & butter in a large skillet on medium heat. Add the chicken and saute until chicken is no longer pink. Add the onions. Cook for 2 -3 minutes then turn the heat down to low, cover and simmer for 25 minutes. Remove the lid, cover the chicken with the mozzarella cheese then replace the lid and simmer until cheese is melted. Serve over angel hair pasta.
3. Southwest Chicken Stew
3 - 4 lbs of boneless chicken thighs
1 bag of frozen stir-fry peppers & onions
1 can diced tomatoes
2 cans tomato sauce
1 packet Sazon Goya seasoning
2 tsp chili powder
2 tsp garlic salt
1 cup water
Put everything in the crockpot and cook on high for 4 hours or low for 6-8 hours. Serve in a bowl over rice and top with cheddar cheese & tortilla strips*.
For the tortilla strips, I just cut corn tortillas into strips and fry them in hot oil until crispy.
Those are just the beginning of my many chicken recipes. If you try one. let
A great pork recipe that practically cooks itself.
3 lb boneless pork loin or roast
1 bottle of Goya Mojo Seasoning
refried beans (optional)
pico or salsa
Put the pork and half of the bottle of Mojo in the crockpot and cook on high for 4 -6 hours or low for 8 hours. The pork will fall apart in small pieces when it is done.
To serve assemble as follows:
spread a spoon of refried beans on a tostada shell then add pork, top with cheese, lettuce, pico and sour cream.
Serve with a side of white rice. This serves 8 plus leftovers.
Boneless pork $6.00
Mojo seasoning $1.89
refried beans $.89
fresh cilantro $.89
Total Cost: $13.46
Adding the homemade pico will cost $2.40
Another favorite in our house is Hispanic food. We eat lots of Puerto Rican, Mexican, and Cuban cuisine. One of our favorites is Carnitas. When the pork roasts are on sale, I stock up so we cn make this meal very budget friendly.
3-4 lb pork roast- bone-in is best but boneless will work
2 packets Sazon Goya seasoning
homemade pico (recipe below)
long grain white rice- 3 cups cooked according to package
Cut the pork up into 1-2 inch chunks. Sprinkle the goya seasoning on the pork and mix with your hands making sure all of the pork pieces have been seasoned. Cover and let marinate in the fridge for at least a couple hours....overnight is better.
When ready to cook, heat vegetable oil in boiler over medium heat. Drop in pieces of pork and deep fry until thoroughly cooked. It should only take about 6 - 8 minutes depending on the size of your boiler and how many pieces of meat that are cooking at a time. This will serve 8 adults....or kids who eat like ad
Serve over white rice and top with shredded cheese, pico and fresh cilantro. You can also serve them on taco shells with all the fixings.
3-4 diced roma tomatoes
1 cans of diced tomatoes with green chiles
1 medium onion diced
1 green pepper diced
2-3 cloves garlic minced
1 jalapeno diced (optional)
1- 2 tbs of lime juice, if you use the jalapeno
chopped fresh cilantro
mix all ingredients in a bowl, cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours. We
use about half of a bunch of fresh cilantro but you can use less
Cost breakdown for this meal:
4 lb pork roast - $5.96
Goya seasoning - $.20
Cilantro - $.89/bunch
rice - $1.00
cheese - $1.00
Total cost - $9.05
roma tomatoes - $.75
rotel tomatoes - $.50
onion - $.25
green pepper - $.50
garlic - $.10
jalapeno - $.15
lime juice - $.15
cilantro - (use what was purchased for Carnita's recipe)
Total cost - $2.40
So grand total for a super yummy Puerto Rican meal is $11.45
We are a pasta-loving family. So of course spaghetti is a popular meal at our house. It's a budget friendly meal that goes a long way. In our house we don't use a ready made jar sauce. We make our own. My hubby taught me how to make this sauce while we were dating. It's a simple recipe that you can adjust the seasonings to your own personal taste.
The ingredients are:
1 lb of ground beef - browned & drained
4 - 15 oz cans of tomato sauce
1 green pepper - diced
1 onion - diced
1 packet of Sazon Goya seasoning
2 lbs. thin spaghetti
In a large pot, heat a couple teaspoons of oil on medium heat. Saute the onions and green peppers, just until soft, about 2 - 3 minutes. Add the cans of sauce and the goya seasoning. Stir then add the other seasonings. I don't measure those. I just sprinkle some in, stir and then taste. Then after it simmers for about 30 minutes, I'll taste again and add more if needed. We use at least 2 tsps of each. Simmer for another 30 minutes and taste again. While the sauce is simmering, I cook the noodles. Chop some of the fesh cilantro and sprinkle on top. This amount will serve 8 with leftovers.
ground beef - $2.49/lb (less if on sale or markdown)
green pepper - $.50
tomato sauce - $2.oo for 4 cans
onion - $.25
goya - $.10
thin spaghetti - $2.00 for a 2lb box
(you probably have the other seasonings so I'm not going to include them in the cost)
Total Cost - $7.34, add a salad for another $1 and a loaf of fresh italian bread for $1.50 and you have a complete meal for less than $10.