Grams Image

Grams Image

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Family of four can eat on $80.00 a week or less!

Food budget for $80.00 a week or less.


Do you think you could feed your family on a budget of $80 a week for food only that could be for a family of four, 2 adults and 2 children which would be a 7 year old and a 12 year old. Take the ideas that interest you and make changes to your menus and shopping plans.  Substitute your favorite meals for some below and try to substitute less expensive meats for what you have used in the past. 


Menu's - shopping lists – Tips and Tricks to cutting the food budget.



Day 1 of $80.00 week.
Breakfast -
Oatmeal Old Fashioned - one cup per person
- 2% milk - raisins 1 oz.
- sugar 3 tsp. - apple juice 4 oz.
- 1 hard or soft boiled egg.

Lunch -

1 grilled cheese sandwich or 1 bologna sandwich, 1 small apple
Carrot sticks, one glass of kool aid or iced tea

Dinner -
Spaghetti and turkey meatballs, Salad small with oil and vinegar dressing, garlic bread

Snack - homemade cookies make enough for the week of snacks and freeze
Milk for the kids and tea for the adults

Day 2
Breakfast -
Rice Krispy Cereal – Store brand with ½ of a banana – 2 % milk – 2 tsps. Sugar
4 oz. of O.J. made from frozen concentrate

Lunch –
Peanut butter and jelly sandwich, Raisins and celery sticks

Dinner – Chili with beans made with ½ lb. frozen ground turkey and lentils and kidney beans homemade of course. Corn bread homemade.

Snack – Milk and cookies Milk for kids and tea for adults Cookies made
for the week homemade

Day 2 has about 6 servings of fruit and vegetables, plenty of fiber, protein, and carbs.

Day 3
Breakfast – Cheese omelet – toast– 4 oz. of apple juice

Lunch – Tuna sandwich with celery and onion to help stretch it.
Carrot sticks, Tea or Kool Aid

Dinner – Homemade baked beans with kielbasa or smoked sausage, or franks sliced in it
Lettuce wedges with homemade thousand island dressing. Leftover corn bread.

Snack - Popcorn with milk for kids and tea or lemonade kool aid for adults.

Day 3 has at least 5 or 6 vegetables/fruits, loads of fiber, loads of protein and great carbs.

Day 4
Breakfast – pancakes with syrup – 4 oz. of frozen o.j. from concentrate, 6 oz. glass of 2 % milk

Lunch – Leftover chili or Baked bean dish for those who can reheat it and bologna sandwich for kids in school. Carrot and Celery sticks, tea or kool aid.

Dinner – Chicken stew with potatoes, carrots, celery,
and onions, homemade biscuits, Jello salad with fruit cocktail.

Snack - homemade pretzels and Kool aid or tea

Day 4 has between 6 and 8 veg/fruits for the day and plenty of protein, fiber, and carbs.

Day 5
Breakfast – Biscuits and turkey sausage gravy – small apple and 4 oz. of OJ from frozen concentrate

Lunch - Peanut butter and jelly sandwich, raisins, and iced tea or kool aid

Dinner – Vegetarian taco’s and leftover beans from day 3 Leftover Jello / fruit cocktail salad

Snack – Homemade pretzels reheated and dipped in butter and cinnamon sugar, Milk for kids
and tea or kool aid lemonade for adults

Day 5 has plenty of veg/fruits, protein, fiber, and carbs

Day 6 - Breakfast – biscuit sausage sandwich, apple sauce, milk

Lunch – cheese sandwiches with lettuce and thinly sliced tomatoes, tea or kool aid

Dinner – Mexican soup or Minestrone soup Homemade with Saltine crackers or buttered garlic bread, Cabbage, carrot, raisin cole slaw homemade.

Snack - saltine crackers with American cheese. Cut slices into cracker size pieces. Milk or kool aid or tea.

Day 6 has plenty of vegetables/fruit, protein, fiber, and carbs.

Day 7 -
Breakfast - Oatmeal with brown sugar and cinnamon homemade applesauce and 6 oz. of 2% milk

Lunch – Egg Salad sandwich, carrot, celery and raisins. Tea or kool aid

Dinner - Rice and chicken casserole, Peas, and homemade bread pudding

Snack - Popcorn and Kool aid or milk

Day 7 has plenty of protein, 5 veg/fruits, and lots of fiber, and carbs.
If all of this was bought as inexpensively as possible such as store brand items, in bulk items and homemade it would be a very inexpensive, healthy, and filling menu for a day. The first week when
you start buying bulk will be more but it will average out to be approximately $8 a day when you stop buying convenience foods and junk foods. Do you only make cookies at Christmas and then you buy slice and bake cookies to make? That will change when you find your favorite recipes and make your own mixes to make cooking easier. I make a homemade slice and bake refrigerator dough that I bake
in my hot oven after baking a casserole or meat. It saves power and will give fresher cookies by only baking when your oven was already hot.

This sample menu gets in your 5 fruits and vegetables a day, at least 6 ounces of protein and healthy carbs, and all the fiber you need for a day. I would suspect if it was broken down it would cost this family of four about $8 of their food money for that day. Of course I am assuming they buy their food at the least expensive store they can and use store brands as well as making homemade bread, meatballs and spaghetti sauce. Homemade salad from lettuce and carrots and croutons. Use frozen ground turkey for the meatballs with oatmeal and an egg as filler. The homemade cookies can be oatmeal cookies or simple sugar cookies for very little money.

Most of what is on this menu is bought in large enough sizes to be used for at least 2 weeks such as flour, rice krispies, oatmeal, peanut butter, popcorn, saltine crackers, rice and beans.

The meat such as frozen ground turkey will be bought on sale if possible or at the least expensive grocer you can find. Kielbasa, smoked sausage or franks will be a toss up on how much per serving they will cost you but if you watch the sales and buy in quantity when on sale you can freeze these and use until the next sale.


I suggest buying whole milk and mixing it half and half with instant dried milk to stretch it and to make it 2%. Keep it cold and if you can make chocolate syrup to stir into it the kids will never know it is part instant.

Make all your breads homemade. If you want to use a bread machine, then try the thrift stores, many people get on a health kick and then decide they don't want to take the time or effort to continue and they donate the machine after only using it once or twice. I bought my bread machine for $5 and I often see them in thrift stores for $15 or less. You can buy 25 lbs. of flour at a time very reasonably. 5 lb bags of flour costs a lot more. Sugar is the same way. 25 lb bag will last for months for about the cost of 2 or 3 five lb. bags. Rice is the same way.

Yes this diet I propose has some sugar and white rice and white bread. As the shopper goes along they may be able to introduce some wheat flour into the family’s diet and brown rice. After shopping for a few weeks and cooking from scratch and you start seeing savings in the food budget then add in some brown rice bought in 1 lb bags and whole wheat pasta and see if your family will tolerate it. As you start seeing savings I suggest you add a larger variety of vegetables in season and fruits as well. The ones listed here are less expensive and very healthy. When fall rolls around start serving more winter squash when the price is low like butternut or acorn. You can serve it as a side vegetable or in soups or in breads or sweet breads or muffins, you can also make a pie from it like pumpkin. When turkey goes on sale at Thanksgiving buy at least 2 turkeys and cook one at Thanksgiving, immediately after the meal start a turkey soup with the bones and skin left over, package any sliced turkey for sandwiches hot or cold, and save the bits and pieces for a turkey pot pie along with leftover vegetables, and potatoes and gravy. Freeze the other turkey and do the same things with variations for Christmas and the following week or two. Apples are much less expensive in the fall as well as pears. Raisins are good value but seem expensive when you buy them but they go a long ways. You only need an oz. of raisins to have a fruit serving. It is about the size of walnut in your hand. Nuts are good for you but expensive. If you can buy nuts on sale near Thanksgiving or Christmas then freeze them. You can take them out of the freezer as you are going to serve them. They make a great snack mixed with raisins. Walnuts are very good for you so you could pan roast a few to add to your salads to perk them up. Seafood is another item that can be expensive so you have to be watchful of sales. Often the frozen filets are your best bets. Flounder, perch, tilapia, and cod. Catfish is affordable if you like it. If you fish you can eat what you catch. If you have to buy fish then consider stretching it with a homemade stuffing made with diced apples and raisins, celery, cubed bread, onion, and lemon juice sprinkled over the fish and stuffing, bake it all in the oven and serve like you would any casserole.

When cooking with turkey instead of beef consider adding a beef bouillon cube or granules to your spaghetti sauce or chili and it will help the flavor. Also cut back on how much meat you put in dishes like spaghetti or chili. By making meatballs you can stretch them using your oatmeal, onions, egg and even some lentils if you have some cooked up. Make bread for sandwiches about every 4 days to make sure it stays fresh. Put it while still a little warm into a zip lock bag, or a cereal box wax paper bag that you save. They work great and keep the bread moist and tender. When you make corn bread make enough for at least 2 meals to save on electricity. Wrap well and refrigerate to keep it fresh for later in the week. Biscuits can be done the same way. Leftover cornbread after serving it twice can
be crumbled and added to leftover sandwich bread to make your stuffing’s for chicken or fish meals. Stale biscuits you can rehydrate by adding a few drops of water and I mean just a few and steaming in the microwave for 30 seconds. Then use them as a base for sausage white gravy. When you make sausage gravy use no more than about 2 patties worth to make it and save the rest for sausage biscuits on another morning. Turkey sausage in the roll is a great low cost substitute for pork sausage and is healthier for you. You can make homemade pizza and use leftover turkey sausage with your cheese for a more interesting and filling pizza. Buy tuna when it is on sale or buy the store brand at a discount store. We have Farm Fresh discount grocery here which is called Sav a Lot. I buy my tuna there when it is not on sale cheaper somewhere else. They want 73 cents consistently. I do stock up in large amounts when a store in the area has tuna for 39 to 50 cents as a loss leader. It will save you time and money.


You won’t be as tempted to run to the store for a can of biscuits or Bisquick if you keep a homemade biscuit mix in your fridge. They make everything that Bisquick will make and won't have extra unneeded preservatives.


You can always cook with instant milk it will save you a lot of money over a period of time. Save the store bought gallons for the kids to drink but do try to add some of the instant as about a quarter of the gallon is gone, the kids won’t even notice and then add another quarter as it is drunk down to that level again. Don’t go past the half regular milk and half instant or you will probably get yucks coming out of your kids mouths. My husband was please with all instant milk on cereal. He said he couldn’t tell the difference. I think the cereal has enough sweetness and flavor to mask it’s instant flavor.


Consider cooking a lb. of kidney beans or pintos once a week also consider cooking a pot of lentils and you can freeze them to use in chili, soups, and as fillers in taco’s, and salads. The dried beans are inexpensive a great source of protein and very good filling high quality carbs.


If your family likes Velveeta type cheese then consider buying one store brand 3 lb. package each month. It lasts well in the fridge and makes good grilled cheese and is great for cubing and adding to casseroles instead of the more expensive cheddar type cheeses. Processed American cheese is usually kind of costly but you can buy it on sale once in awhile. When you find things like this on sale freeze the extra’s that you can’t use in a couple of weeks. Cheese freezes well. Grate your own cheese. It will be more flavorful and fresher and you won’t have to pay for someone else to do it.


Meat that is being sold at the store at a low reduced price because it is ready to expire on its sell by date is just fine. I buy cubed steak, round roast and chuck roasts this way. Cut your own stew meat out of the tough roasts and cook low and slow to get tender flavorful stews, beef burgundy and soups. Get to know your butcher and ask when they mark down the meat and put it out. They may even tell you to be there a certain time and you can pick out the cheapest and best of the bunch.

If you hunt ask your butcher about saving you beef fat to add to your venison when you grind it. It will improve the flavor. Try not to use the fat of the deer because it tastes very gamey. If you like calves liver then try cooking the deer liver the same way. If you don’t like liver, heart, and kidneys then still save them and grind them or chop them and stew them for your dogs. They will love it. Also cook some rice in bulk to add to your dogs food to make it filling and cheaper.

Usually when you buy fruits try to buy the fruit in a 3 lb. bag but make sure they are small apples or oranges. A small apple or orange is about all you will get most kids to eat without waste. Buy bananas close to the day of serving. They go bad fast. If they start to turn before you can use them, then stick them in the freezer. The peels will turn black but the banana will be great for muffins, quick sweet bread or pancakes. Allow ½ a banana per person for cereal. A half of a banana is one serving. People get too generous with juice. Try measuring your juice out for the family. Juice is part of their nutritional requirement but it shouldn’t be drunk like water. It shoots the blood sugar up and then they will have a large sugar drop in 2 hours, that will make them feel bad and they will be hungry again. If you can get them to eat the fruit instead they will be much better off. Four ounces of juice is a serving which equals a small piece of fruit. If they still want something to drink then serve them their milk or water. Kids usually don’t drink enough water. Kids don’t really need a lot of milk but they should get 2 eight ounce glasses a day. Younger children should have at least 2% milk. There are vitamins that are in the fat that they need and they should be burning off the fat calories by playing outdoors.

If you can buy from a warehouse store then consider buying 5 lb. packages of carrots. A 5 lb. package will last you for two to three weeks. You can serve it as cooked carrots for a vegetable, on the side, or you can put it in soups and stews, you can serve carrot sticks and carrot slaw either by itself or with cabbage. It is great added to salads and Jello. When you get home from shopping take out 4 carrots and wash and peel them. Then cut into sticks do the same with celery and put them into a container of water that you can seal. They will stay super crisp for serving with lunch and for snacks. If you don’t use them within 4 days then dice them and add them to a stir fry, salad or soup. Then start all over again. If you grow your own cucumbers then add them to your snacking items. If you can, make ranch dressing, that will make a great dip for kids who don’t want to eat them plain. If you have a garden make sure you plant the vegetables your kids love and feed them as often as possible. The nutrients in truly fresh vegetables build their immunity so that they won’t catch the fall colds, flu, and viruses. Warehouse stores like Sam’s are the cheapest place to buy bulk flour, rice, sugar, oils, and pastas. If you don’t have a membership then find a friend or relative who does and ask to tag along. You will need to take cash since you have to have a membership to buy foods yourself and they can’t buy foods with your debit card or check. I suggest you never buy groceries with a credit card because the interest you will pay will take away from your savings.

When you make your homemade breads make your white sandwich bread, make French bread for garlic toast, make sandwich rolls for Sloppy Joes, and your salad sandwiches such as egg salad, tuna salad, and chicken/turkey salad. It makes the sandwiches seem more filling and interesting to be on buns rather than ordinary bread. Save the bread for bologna, grilled cheese, peanut butter and jelly, toast and French toast. Make up your own pretzels and pizza dough as well. You will be pleasantly surprised how easy and delicious homemade pizza is and the pretzels as well.

Buy your poultry on sale only. The stores are always having sales on chicken drumsticks and thighs in 10 lb packs and the chicken breasts go on sale for 99 cents  on the bone. Don’t pay an extra $1.00 a lb. to get them to cut the meat off the bone. It is easy to do yourself. Just be careful with sharp knives. Use paper towels to hold the slippery meat and you will have an easier time of it. Use a separate cutting board for poultry and pork. After cutting your breasts from the bones throw the bones and skin into a pot and simmer to give you broth for some of your meals to make gravy, soups, or to add to casseroles as your liquid for more flavor and you won't have to buy canned broth.  Disinfect anything that has touched raw poultry or pork with a weak solution of chlorine bleach and water. Wash the board and knives and your hands in hot soapy water or your dishwasher. When you get home from the grocer with your bags of chicken separate them into meal sized portions, I allow one thigh or 2 drumsticks per person. That is plenty of meat for a meal. If you like you may separate the drumsticks from the thighs and serve some meals with just one or the other. The thighs are good for baking and frying and fricassees, and the drumsticks are great barbecued, or like hot wings, or lemon pepper chicken. It used to be that whole chickens were cheaper than cut up chicken but it isn’t that way often anymore. If you just have to have a whole chicken then consider the waste. Make sure you use everything. After serving the whole chicken there will be leftovers. Don’t waste the bones and skin and bits and pieces of meat. Make a big chicken vegetable or chicken noodle soup. Strain your broth after cooking, pick out your meat, feed the skin to your dogs and then you can throw out the bones. Let the broth sit until the fat rises and then skim it. Add back your meat, then add whatever else you will be putting in your
soup and cook till the noodles or veggies are done. Americans waste more food than most families ever have to eat in other countries. We need to learn to use our food wisely and completely. Only discard inedible parts of food such as well used bones and fat. Remember your dogs will love well used beef soup bones but not chicken or turkey bones and not the cut chop bones etc. They splinter and can harm your dog’s tummy or throat.  Spices and seasonings can make the difference in having delicious food and bland food.

Simple foods can be like gourmet with some simple spices and herbs.

First off if you can grow your own herbs and preserve them it will save you a lot of money each year. Rosemary is a perennial and basil and parsley are easy annuals. You can also grow oregano and thyme. Chives can be grown on your windowsill. If you can buy Kosher or Sea salt it makes a big difference in flavor. Pepper cracked and ground fresh has more flavor, also nutmeg grated fresh is the best way to go.

The bare minimum for your spice cabinet is as follows; salt, pepper, basil, oregano, thyme, cinnamon, cumin, and chili powder. If you like curry then that is good as well, I always have turmeric, cloves, nutmeg, and allspice. But I could live without them. Last on my list but useful are rosemary, parsley, and cayenne. You may like or hate some of these herbs and spices. So you choose what you like to keep on hand. The Dollar Tree carries a fairly large selection of spices and

herbs. Grow what you can and even ask for a small amount of spices and herbs from a friend to try them out before investing in them. Also if there is a dish you want to try that you won’t have use for the herb or spice except for this one dish ask your friend, mom, or sister for a spoonful to make it. If you only want curry once a year then you don’t want a bottle that will sit and gather dust. Maybe you can find a friend or relative that you can go halves with on some seldom used spices. I would like to suggest you try cooking cinnamon chicken and use nutmeg in your greens of any kind that you cook. Turmeric will make your rice yellow and add a zip to a meal that otherwise would be boring. I use onions, garlic, celery and carrots for flavor in soups, stews, casseroles, boiled
dinners and salads. I grow hot peppers in the summer and put them in vinegar and use the vinegar as my hot sauce. You can make some of your own condiments but I find that buying mustard is cheaper than making it and mayo/salad dressing and ketchup are items I would rather buy than make. Barbeque sauce is easily made though so you can make it or buy it on sale. Pickles can be quite expensive so watch for sales or go to the dollar tree. If you grow cucumbers or are given some try making fresh refrigerator vinegar pickles. You slice the cucumbers; I peel mine, then slice an onion thinly and add both to a container that has a lid. Add salt, pepper, and vinegar leave for at least 1 or 2 days then serve. Vinegar pickles are very sour but delicious as a little side dish to heavier meals. Vinegar helps level out blood sugar levels so eating something like these fresh pickles will help with a starchy meal such as macaroni and cheese or a rice casserole.

Try to have themed nights to make your meals more

Mexican night – Vegetarian Chili and cornbread, Tacos or Taco Salad, or Enchilada Casserole

Italian night – Spaghetti and meatballs with garlic bread, Rotini casserole and brushetta, or Pizza

Chinese night – Stir fry and egg drop soup, or Fried Rice and garlic green beans

Breakfast for supper night – pancakes and sausage, Frittata and salad, or omelets with salsa

New England night – boiled dinner and cornbread, Boston Baked Beans and Ham Steak, or New England Clam Chowder and crackers

New Orleans Mardi gras night – Red Beans and Rice, cornbread, Jambalaya and Biscuits, or chicken creole

Down by the Sea Night – fish and stuffing casserole, Mackerel, salmon or tuna patties and macaroni and cheese, Manhattan Clam Chowder

Barbeque Night – Barbeque chicken or hot dogs and macaroni salad, Barbeque Turkey burgers with grilled vegetables

Night in Paris – Quiche and Salad, or Beef Burgundy and noodles

Vegetarian Night – Macaroni and Cheese, Stuffed Baked Potatoes, Lentil or Split

Pea Soup, Minestrone Soup, French Onion Soup

Inexpensive meals:

Potato Treet Casserole

Soup and sandwiches

French Toast

Potato Soup


Spaghetti Carbonara

Stewed Canned Corned Beef over rice or mashed potatoes

Lemon chicken drumsticks and yellow rice

Fricasseed chicken thighs and rice

Tuna Noodle Casserole

Homemade Desserts:

Egg Custard

Bread Pudding

Rice Pudding

Chocolate or Vanilla Pudding


Homemade Cookies:







Baked Apples

Homemade Pies:

Custard Pie

Squash Pie

Vinegar Pie

Homemade Quick Breads:



Lemon poppy seed
Banana Nut

Side Dishes:

Potato Salad


Spanish Rice

Yellow Rice

Buttered Noodles

Boiled Potatoes

Baked Potatoes

Potato Planks or wedges

Mashed Potatoes


Cheese Grits

Macaroni and Cheese

Sweet Potatoes

Baked Onions


Butternut Squash


Green Beans

Dried Kidney Beans

Dried Chick Peas

Frozen Green Peas

Frozen Corn

Buy plenty of eggs which are inexpensive protein. Always have a good sized jar of peanut butter. Always have beans of different varieties on hand such as pinto, lentils, kidney beans, black beans, navy beans, or great northern and garbanzos. You can substitute beans for oil in recipes and beans for meat in recipes. They are good for you and are high in fiber and complex carbohydrates.

Have at least 3 or 4 meals a week that are non meat. Don’t make more than one or two lunches a week that have meat except for leftovers.

Turn leftovers into new meals, be creative.

Leftover pinto’s and rice can make refried beans for tacos

and rice can be made into red rice to serve with them.

Leftover black beans can be used as an oil substitute in

brownies or chocolate cake or cookies.

Leftover spaghetti can make minestrone soup with all the

leftover veggies from the week.

Leftover lentils and kidney beans as well as black beans can

be put into chili or make veggie burgers by mixing with rice and egg.

Cook enough corn bread or muffins for 3 meals a week when

you cook it. As soon as it is cool place
in plastic bag and store in fridge.

Make enough biscuits for at least 2 meals a week and while

still warm place in plastic bags and store in fridge.

Make 4 loaves of bread on the same day and keep 1 loaf out

and store others un-sliced in plastic wrap in the fridge.

Cook your beans for the week all at the same time and you

will only be stuck watching them for the 3 hours or so that it takes to cook
them instead of 3 hours each time you need them.

Plan your menu’s ahead. Shop for basics and then fill in with sale meats and change the menu accordingly.

For example:

Chicken is on sale for thighs and drumsticks 10 lbs for 5.90 so you buy a bag and repackaged your chicken in bags separated for
3 or 4 meals. One night will be bbq drumsticks and Mac and Cheese, one night will be baked garlic chicken thighs (one a piece) with homemade stuffing. One night will be Chicken and dumplings and carrots.
Any leftover chicken uncooked or cooked will be turned into chicken stew later or added to your leftover soup or make a pot pie or shepherd's pie.

Pork roast that is on sale for 99 cents a lb. you buy a 3 lb. roast and turn it into at least 3 meals. Cook the roast and serve thinly sliced roast one or two slices per person for a Sunday dinner. Cut up about 1 cup of pork for pork perlau and one cup of pork for fried rice, and lastly any other left over can be added to your homemade soup along with other meats and vegetables left over from other meals.

Once a week cook 3 cups dry weight of rice. Store in plastic bag in fridge.

Prep your carrots and celery when you come home from the store. The carrot and celery sticks go into storage containers with clean water which you should change daily and the rest should be prepped into chunks or dices for meals and stored in baggies.

Have one big meal a week that is breakfast for supper, such as; pancakes, omelets, frittata, or quiche. These meals are good for stretching your food budget and have plenty of protein.

Unless ground beef is on sale for a very low price I find that it is an expensive meat to serve. If I can get it for approximately a dollar a pound I will scarf it up but
usually I think that the $1 to $1.40 a pound ground turkey is more economical and better for you. But if you really want some ground beef in your diet then buy it on sale for approximately $2.00 a pound and then mix it with the ground turkey or stretch it by adding oatmeal, crackers, or breadcrumbs.

Turkey is fine in chili, spaghetti, and meat balls. Turkey sausage is much cheaper than pork sausage.

I hope this article will give you ideas you can use and will make you think about your own family and how you can save money on your food budget and still give your family nutritious foods and variety.

Monday, April 22, 2013


I was watching some of BugOutVehicles videos this morning.  He tends to be very cerebral and yet gives encouragement for people to be prepared and not let THINGS get in the way of being physically and mentally prepared for the worst times ahead.  He uses the term Zero to mean Goal  Zero...  Zero dependency on others or government for our survival and comfort. 

My Goal Zero is to become off grid and owning no one for anything.  My husband and I sat down and talked about what it would require to do that.  Let's think about it. 

1. We (own) a house.  Not true as we owe more than half of the value of it still. So we don't really own it at all.  If we miss a few payments we would lose our home and our equity in it.

2.  Utilities are a burden and it would be very hard to live in the city without them.  Most utility companies require you to pay deposits and at the very least minimum charges to live in your homes or the social services and or child protective services could get involved.  You cannot build fires in your backyard in our area except in barbeque grills.  We have to pay city sewerage bills whether we use it or not.  We also have to pay for stormwater drainage.  In effect that means we are paying for the rain.  We also use natural gas for our heat and we have to pay minimum on that even in hot weather.  So you can see how much we are in monthly debt to our utilities companies.  That doesn't include the real estate taxes which pay for city services and schools.

3.  We are constantly reminded that we live under government rule whether it is local, state or federal all the time.  We can't burn anything in a burn barrel, we can't have chickens, we can't leave anything for the trash collection on our driveway a few days ahead, we can't water the yard or garden when they say we can't.  We have to have our grass mowed even when we are on vacation, etc. etc. etc.
We are just fed up with all the rules and restrictions and we don't even live in a restricted neighborhood.  Our city is just very restrictive and we would love to get away from these restrictions.
Of course you can't discharge firearms in the city limits so you can't even target practice much less hunt nearby.

4.  We have had people stealing parts off of vehicles, bicycles, rototillers, etc from our yard and garage.  I am really fed up with the area.  They even came with bolt cutters and tried to cut the chain that we had our small trailer locked up to a tree.  The neighbor across the street stopped him but didn't call the police.  My husband had his Snapon tool chest full of tools stolen by someone who broke into our garage.   I am ready to live in the country!

5.  Now that I am finished with most of the negatives let me start telling you what I want to happen in my and my family's future.......  I want to live where is no state income tax.  We pay out thousands every year in State Income tax in VA.

6.  I want to live where there are no restrictions on the type of home, or how much water we can use, or whether we can burn our trash, or whether we can hunt on our own land.

7.  I want to get rid of monthly utility bills.  Yes I know it costs a lot to drill a well and dig a septic system.  We already have part of our solar electric system and will have to buy our batteries yet. 

8.  I would like to have privacy from prying eyes looking down at us for having our grass 3 inches high.  I would like to have a place you can't see from the street so theives won't see our equipment and trailers and not be tempted to steal from us.

9.  I would like to be able to not worry about making those mortgage payments.  Not worry about being laid off from a job.

10. And most of all we will be drinking well water instead of city water which is full of toxic chemicals and is still dirty when it comes out of your tap.   I would like to eat food grown in clean ground and raised from heirloom non genetically modified seeds.  Being in a rural area would hopefully be cleaner air by being away from the millions of cars in our present area and being where there are a lot of trees to produce a lot of oxygen.  I also want my CHICKENS!!!!!!!!!!!

Well, folks, now you know what I want to get rid of out of my life and what I want to bring into my life.  I heard something recently which I would like to do and that is to set in my mind what I want for myself and concentrate on getting it and thank God for allowing me to get it and I will.

I hope you all can decide what you want for yourselves and find a way to get it.

Have a great and happy journey to your future!

Saturday, January 5, 2013

January 2013 - A New Beginning

The Mayan Calender said December 12, 2012 was the end of the one cycle but said nothing about the future.  Obviously it is the beginning of a new cycle.  Now what will this new cycle bring?  Is it going to just happen and have nothing to do with us or do we have an influence on it by our actions, our thoughts, and our emotions?

I have been doing a little browsing on the net watching a few you tube videos here and there and have really started to realize that every action, thought and feeling we have has far expanding circles of reactions.  Wasn't it Einstein who said that for every action there is an opposite and equal reaction?
Think about it.......isn't it just physics to admit that for every good deed we do that there will be a reaction by those who are good to pass it on.   But think about those that are bad will they dislike our good deeds and do the opposite action which is evil deeds and try to nullify our good deeds.  Yes I believe that can happen.   I see our great country being dominated by the minority of evil do-ers.  If one person doesn't believe in God and speaks out against prayer in public settings or the Ten Commandments in the court houses or a Nativity Scene in a park then they always seem to win the battles almost by default because no one wants to be politically incorrect.  But if the Islamic community wants to do something the government protects them.  I have no problem with the Islamic believers being protected but what I want to ask is why aren't the Christians and Jews protected just the same?   Why can one complaint from an atheist shut down Caroling in the park when the Muslims can lay down their prayer rugs no matter where they are and pray at their appointed times? 

Christians and our Jewish brethren need to stand up for our rights under the Constitution to be able to practice our faith in a possitive way.  We need to march with permits on Congress praying for a return to the original intentions of our fore fathers to allow us to believe in the God of our choice and be able to practice our faith without interference from the Government of our great nation.  We pray for our Congress, and our President and our Supreme Court to have Gods wisdom and blessings to run  our country for the benefit of all citizens of any religion or faith or even those who don't wish to believe in God at all.  Christians, Jews, Muslims, Atheists, and all other faiths have the benefit of the faith based community praying for good and blessing for all who call this country home.  I think this is where it was meant to love your enemies, turn the other cheek, and bless those that would despitefully use you comes in.  I believe if we start praying for good things and always pray for possitive things then we will spread out in circles that will be hard for those who hate to have a leg to stand on. 

Hatred is evil and harmful not only to those that are hated but to those who do the hating.  This new year is a chance to spread love and goodness that may make a change to our country that will be
overwhelming to the evil do-ers.  We may even be able to change a few of them to stop hating and start loving their fellow man. 

What do you say, should we try it? Should we make a stand for good and love and hope for our nation?  Maybe bring back some of the values of the past that were good like having faith based families and homes.  Like teaching our children to love and do good deeds just for the sake of doing them.  How about we teach more of our kids to have good old fashioned manners like opening doors for the elderly and picking up things that someone drops and handing it back to them.  What about saying please and thank you and excuse me.  How about not interupting when someone else is talking?  There are a lot of old fashioned manners that would maybe make our children more able to cope with the world around them.  I see nothing but rudeness, hate, and foul language coming from the youth of today.  That is exactly what the evil do-ers want to see.  We need to take up the call to change our children's attitudes and manners. 

Yes, I know I am old fashioned and ridiculous but I have just spoken in this post what I believe and pray will start happening in our country.  I think it would make a huge difference.  Maybe if we could change how our kids and how we act ourselves then the politicians could stop their  nastiness and maybe they would look at our country in a different light.  Like what kind of a country are they legislating for our childrens, and grandchildrens future.

Well, whether you believe or not I want to pray for you all that read this and pray for blessings for you all.  Remember that if you put out positive thoughts it will return to you in the future in ways that will surprise you!

Sunday, December 30, 2012

I guess the world didn't end!

Well, all those television shows talking about the world ending on December 21, 2012 were wrong!  I don't know about you but when people called me asking what I was doing to prepare for the end of the world I told them I was doing absolutely nothing beyond reaffirming my faith in God and my savior that I would be at peace that everything about my death would be in His hands......

My favorite answer when I got a call was I don't prepare for the end of the world but I do prepare to live in case of natural disasters, job loss, war, or economic collapse.  You know the ordinary things that we as humans have had to face for all of our existence. 

My opinion is that we as humans and as American citizens are in control of our own destinies but we are not in control of others actions nor are we in control of natural disaster occurences.  It is our responsibility to be prepared for survival in the future just the same as the Amish of today and our ancestors in the past made sure they were prepared in case of crop failures, hard times, weather anomalies, etc.  We must open our eyes, minds and hearts to the possibilities of the future and protect and preserve our family's well being and be able to thrive in the event we lose our jobs or there is an economic collapse because of the world's economic decay. 

Every American knows more than one family that is dealing with job losses and we are all dealing with the price of groceries skyrocketing as well as gasoline staying high, which by the way they removed from the formula that the Government uses to show how we as a nation are doing economically.  They say we are improving and we have come out of the recession and have a bright future ahead as long as we let the President and Congress do their jobs.  Well, so far I have seen the government change their formula's on how to figure how we are progressing to suit their political agenda's.  If you add back in the cost of groceries rising and the cost of gasoline which has more than doubled in 4 years, we not only are still in a recession but are precipitously close to a very bad depression.  If they keep making the market so bad that people keep losing their jobs and businesses have to go to other countries to survive then we will be facing a terrible depression.  The politicians of both main parties don't want us to think about what has happened under their watches.

Food has gone up for many reasons.  Let's take a look at a few of the reasons.  Ethanol has taken much of our crop lands to grow corn for additives to our gasoline supply.  Big Agra has introduced genetically modified organisms into our food supply as well as hybrid plants to supposedly increase our food supply.  If you do even minor research you will find quickly that gmo and hybrids are not able to be replanted because of all the manipulations.  The plants either will not grow or will not reproduce the plant in a true form.  GMO plants have been documented as making our meat animals ill and even has killed them.  Now just think what it is doing to us if it is killing the beef steer, pigs, and chickens which are eating the GMO corn!  It makes me squemish every time I feed my family any of the thousands of items containing corn products. 

Corn products are in thousands of foods we Americans eat daily such as corn starch, corn syrup, cereals, corn meal, corn in cans or frozen or fresh.  If you think about how many foods that high fructose corn syrup is in you would be surprised.  Also look as corn meal, corn bread, muffins, stuffing, breading for fish, and corn chips. Let's not forget the movie treat popcorn. I don't trust any corn any longer to be healthy unless I grow it myself from heirloom seeds.  Even organic corn could have GMO corn in it because Monsanto pays off the politicians to keep them from passing laws that they have to label the products that contain GMO. 

If you spend a  little bit of money on heirloom seeds and grow your own vegetables and grains if it is possible for you then you will know that you are eating a healthier diet. 

As far as gasoline prices go, we are duped by the oil industry to pay higher prices because we have no choice.  They tax the gasoline and control the amount that is produced in our own country.  So we are going to continue to pay through the nose for gasoline and diesel in this country.  The thing that makes me angry is that there are other means for producing energy or running vehicles which are quite inexpensive but the automotive industry paid the inventors off and have hidden these new technologies from the public.  The government again in paid off to keep it quiet by the auto big wigs and the Unions.

Natural disasters will always be a part of our lives and we should be prepared for these occurences.  We never know when our Sun will throw a temper tantram and send us a large solar flare or CME.  We can't control hurricanes, earthquakes, blizzards, volcanic eruptions, floods or even tsunamis but we can be prepared for them.

Lastly the people who can cause disasters who are in control of our economy and relations with other countries are only minimally controlled by the population through elections and being in contact with our Senators and Representatives.  They can go to war or cause a war without our permission.  So we must prepare ourselves to survive a possible war whether nuclear or conventional.  Wars always seem to bring rationing and shortages. 

Lastly take a look at our country and the runaway spending on everything from a turtle crossing costing a fortune to subsidies to museums, auto industries, and the new Affordable Health Care that is starting this year.  If we hit the fiscal cliff and dive off of it then we will be hurting by taxation and job losses, reduced military to defend our country, and government expenses skyrocketing.  The government goes into debt without our knowledge for unknown reasons all the time.  I remember the House investigating where the huge amounts of money was being spent.  They asked Bernanke where three trillion dollars was and he answered them with "I don't know".  Believe it or not they accepted that answer and dropped it.

There are many reasons to prepare for your future that I haven't even mentioned.  You know now that December 21st was not the end.  We will have to face the future and if we don't have our preparations in order then we will struggle and fail taking care of our basic needs.  I want to help my family to not only survive but to thrive by work and preparations to hold us over till we become more self sufficient and learn to live a basic and frugal lifestyle. 

I wish you all a wonderful New Year!  God Bless all who try to take care of their families and I pray you all success in your endeavors.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Cooking Methods for the Future!

Have you thought about how you will be cooking your foods? Most of us do the majority of our cooking in our kitchens on our electric or gas ranges.   What would you do if there were no power or gas to cook with?  Many of us have a propane or charcoal grill and do some of our cooking in the summer months on it outdoors and I would also imagine that we keep at most one tank of propane or one bag of charcoal to fuel this grill.  Am I right?

Well, that also will run out fairly quickly.  So what will we do now?  I don't know about you but I don't care much for eating canned foods cold unless it is fruit or tuna fish!

If you don't have much money there are some cheap alternatives for heating canned foods or cooking quick cooking foods.  Hobo stoves were used a lot during the depression by the really poor or traveling families or single men on the road.  You can use several kinds of fuel with these such as; small pieces of wood like branches broken up or small pieces of leftover lumber, also you can gather pine cones and pine straw for fuel if it is plentiful.  One of the best fuels I have found is Buddy Burners, that are made from cardboard coiled in a tuna fish can and then saturated with melted candlewax from junk candles which would essentially be free if you have access to old candles or candle stubs.  Lastly you can use several candles placed in a circle to increase the heat for your food to be heated with.  The Buddy burners and candles can be used in the house if it is cold, wet or dangerous outdoors to cook.  Do a search on how to make hobo stoves and Buddy Burners to get your directions for making these.

Next I would suggest a small contained cook fire in your backyard if you have one (backyard I mean),  You must be very careful with campfires that you don't let them get out of hand due to the fact that Firestations may not be working in a scenario without power due to communications problems.

I would suggest you gather yourself  a small metal drum or a large metal can and cut them off at about 4 to 6 inches from the bottom then put some slashes or drill holes for air and then place them on some concrete or cinder blocks to bring them up to a height that is more comfortable for you to sit on a bench, log or chair to make it easier to stir and watch your food.  Learn to lay your firewood in such a way that you have air circulation around and under your fire.  You don't need a large fire to cook your food.  Think about how large your burners are on your range.  They aren't huge so keep your fire small and feed it fuel as needed.

You can use a campfire and a hobo stove to bring longer cooking foods to a hard boil and then you can combine thermal cooking methods with the boiling foods to complete the cooking process.  Thermal cooking can be done with several different things. 

Have you ever heard of how the Pacific Island people cook their whole pigs?  Well they get a fire going and use the hot coals to line a pit dug in the ground then they put wet banana leave or other fragrant leaves on the coals to protect the meat then they place the cleaned and gutted pig and then they place more wet leaves on top and place more coals on them then place the soil back over the pit to cook everything slowly the coals keep the buried pig hot and steam and roast it with residual heat.  There is no flame just coals and the meat comes out moist and succulent 12 hours or more later.  That was probably one of the first thermal style of cooking done.  Today we have come up with other ways do thermal cooking.

We can do some cooking in good thermos bottles.  Rice, spaghetti noodles, small cut and cubed vegetables, etc. can be cooked in a thermos by adding the room temperature food in the thermos and adding boiling water.  Remember some foods expand with cooking such as rice and noodles.  So leave room for expansion.  It works really well and saves fuel.

Another way to cook thermally is the haybox style of cooking.  You take an item which is to a boiling state and in a pot like cast iron and wrap it in towels and place it in a box lined with an insulating material such as hay, straw, blankets, comforters, etc.  Leave it cook for at least 6 hrs before checking it and then if it is not done bring it back to a boil again, re-wrap and wait for approximately 2 to 3 more hours.  Works great!  My Uncle used to make whole hams this way for family reunions and it was so moist and tender and succulent we would beg it to be done the same way next time......

The next method of cooking is the Rocket Stove.  These can be bought and are fairly reasonably priced but they also can be made for next to nothing with castoff items.  This is another item you should do a net search for the directions to make one.  The rocket stove is a healthier option for cooking because it puts off very little smoke or carbon monoxide.  The missionaries in third world countries are teaching how to make these and use them for the health of the people as well as for conservation of fuel.  The Rocket Stove uses very little fuel and uses it very efficiently.  It is also a very versatile stove in the fact that you can use most any kind of flamable material to fire your stove.
Pine cones, sticks, straw, needles, paper, cardboard, and wood of course.  If you are needing to keep the smoke down for security reasons then this method is a good choice.   If you use a cast iron pot with a lid you can heat the pot and contents and cook for a short time then leave it over the fire as it dies down then put in a thermal wrap and let it finish cooking.  This method is a good fuel saver.

Next is solar cookers.  There are several kinds starting with the least used which is parabolic solar cookers.  The requires a parabolic or convex lens to cook with.  It is a little more dangerous in the fact that you can get burned if your are not careful with this method.  Search the net for it and see if this is a style of solar cooking you would be interested in. 

Secondly is a popular method in the 3rd world countries and is spreading rapidly there especially in desert countries or countries with little or no wood.  This method is a Solar Cookit.  It is a metalic or aluminum covered cardboard that reflects and concentrates the suns energy toward the food in a black pot and cooks the contents on the inside of the pot.  This is extremely useful for people who are so poor that they cannot afford fuel and food.
This way they can concentrate on just buying the rice and other foods that they need for survival.

Lastly is the Solar Box Ovens which are the most popular in this country.  They can be homemade but are rarely as efficient as commercially built ones.  If you can afford to buy this one then please do so.  You can bake, roast, boil, steam, and do just about everything but fry in a Solar box oven.  It cooks similar to a slow cooker.  Bread, cookies, potatoes, rice, casseroles, meats, soups, deserts, and many more things can be made in these.  This style of cooker works well in the cold or hot summer as long as there is sun shining you can cook.  If it is very overcast and rainy you need to use another method such as the hobo stove, rocket stove or combination of those with themal cooking.  It has the added plus factor of creating no smoke or pollutants.  That is not to say that the delicious aromas won't escape.  So you will probably have to guard your cooker with an eagle eye or you will be fighting off the neighbors who smell your delicious cooking.

My suggestion is to build yourself a hobo stove and buddy burners, a rocket stove and to purchase a good box Solar Cooker.  You will be set then for indoor or outdoor cooking.  Do some research on alternative non-electric and non-gas cooking and on the methods I mentioned above.  You will find directions and all kinds of alternatives that I have not mentioned such as alcohol stoves,  Don't forget that you can stockpile propane and wood to have alternative methods which would be dependable.

There is no substitute for your own research.  You Tube and the Net are full of great teachers and you can then learn to be self sufficient in this one endeavor.  The last thing I would like to leave you with is to have many 3 or more hand operated can openers so you can use your commercially canned foods.

Happy Journey into your own Survival Kitchen!

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Cooking and life in the 1800's

Cooking like they did in the 1800's was much different than it is today. If things go awry and we have to go back to basics do we all have the knowledge, recipes, and or equipment to accomplish what we will need to do to be self sufficient. We would have to eat differently, cook differently, obtain our food differently than we do in todays world. That is why I think that many people will have a hard time surviving any collapse of society. The ability to live without electricity alone would be totally catastrophic to most people. We have only been slightly inconvenienced by power outages in the U.S. in my lifetime. The longest I have had to go without power was 2 1/2 weeks. Many had to do without in the U.S. for much longer after some of the weather and seismic anomalies. Most of us haven't really had to do it on our own though. Fema came in and supplied water and ice and offered shelters in the local schools and other large buildings. We cannot count on the Government to come to our rescue when the whole country is having a problem. They just don't have the resources to take care of all of us. Let's take a look at how we would eat when we are without power and running water. Also when we don't have grocery stores to go to when we are out of something. We will have to make do or do without. I know that we will be eating much less meat even it we have food storage if we live in a city or suburb. We can only store so much meat in most situations. So we will be eating much more rice and beans, garden vegetables for those of us who will be gardening and will gradually use the items that we have put aside. Instant potatoes, dehydrated foods, commercially canned foods, home canned/bottled foods, etc. will have to be spread out to give some relief from food boredom. I personally plan to have meat as a flavoring in dishes instead of having it as a meat course. Beans will be much more pallatable with ham flavoring to give it a boost in flavor. Chicken will be a welcome addition to a rice casserole. But even that will have to be sparingly done or we will run out of meat very quickly. If you live in an area that will allow you to raise chickens and rabbits then by all means do so. The eggs from the chickens would give you a much more varied diet than having beans so often. I have started cooking dried beans much more often and I use them on their own for the first meal and then as refried beans in burritos, or in chili, or on salads. I also have been getting my family used to eating bean chili with only a some beef bouillon for flavoring in the chili. Next I will be adding lentil and breadcrumbs to my ground beef for cooking things like spaghetti, stroganoff, and soups made with ground beef. I am hoping that getting my family used to seeing and tasting the beans and legumes in their ordinary dishes will acclimate their digestive tract to them as well as help them to transition to meals with no meat in them. Homemade bread made from whole grains is another food we need to acclimate our digestive system to as well. I don't want to spend the first month I have to make everything from scratch on the toilet as I am sure would happen to us after the drastic change from processed white breads and cakes to the whole grain varieties. We will be eating more bread than we do now because it is filling and comforting. When a child is hungry a slice of toast with cinnamon sugar or jam is a good holdover for them. When kids are presented with foods that they don't like but you have to prepare such as beans and rice. A slice of bread and a bit of peanut butter my give them a reprieve once in awhile or should I say the rest of the family a reprieve from hearing the child argue and fuss. Learn a lot of things you can do to hide beans in to increase the family's protein intake. Mashed beans can be hidden even in brownies! It makes a good oil substitute and makes the brownies healthier and no one can tell. Most kids will eat refried beans in tacos or burritos and lentils you can hide in spaghetti sauces and casseroles. Most kids love vegetable or minestrone soup so make sure you have beans in these. My family is not big rice fans but they will eat it with gravy or as spanish rice or in a casserole so I will have to be creative. They also like fried rice with bits and pieces of leftovers in it. If you are going to grow rabbits to eat. Don't expect city raised children to eat it if they see you dispatching the animals. Do it when they are sleeping or busy elsewhere and then cook it in a way that they will think it is chicken, like soups, pot pies, or rabbit and dumplings. Let the children feed and take care of the chickens if you have them. They will collect the eggs and be proud that they are bringing protein to the table. Also let them help in the garden. Planting seeds, weeding with supervision, and harvesting will make them want to eat their greens and broccoli much better. After all everyone should praise them about how wonderful the food is and how it is due at least partially to their hard work. This is the way it was in the old days except back then the kids would watch the animals being butchered from birth and thought of it as a natural process. They will have to be adapted to it gradually in the new society of our future. They will adapt but I don't want them to starve because they are eating Peter or Brier Rabbit. You might let them have a Doe rabbit as a breeding pet and then let them know upfront that the babies for the most part will be raised for eating. And promise that every couple of years you will let them have another Doe for raising as a breeder when the other rabbit becomes too old to breed well anymore. Well, I will stop here for the time being and write more another time. Thanks for reading my ramblings.

Chain Meals

Chain Meals - In this post I will explore a favorite system that I have for cooking what I call chain meals. This is a frugal system that I get a lot of satisfaction in using. Day One.....Let's start out by making a nice pot of dried beans. This can be made from kidney beans or pinto beans or a combination of both. Make them by overnight soak method and then fix them with your own seasonings and onions and you can even add some salt pork or bacon or ham if you want. This first night you serve your beans with rice and cornbread. Yummmm..... Day Two.....You will make a triple batch of spaghetti sauce with ground beef and your favorite recipe of spaghetti sauce. You will serve one third of this sauce on your favorite spaghetti noodles. Make garlic toast and a fruit salad to serve with it. Day Three.....You will make a large green salad and serve some of your leftover beans and fruit on the salad. I usually rinse the beans so they are not messy with the jelled broth on them. I have always loved salad with lots of toppings. I also offer grated cheddar or monterey jack for the salad as well. Day Four.....We are making Chili with the leftover beans and Spaghetti Sauce. We are going to make Mashed Potatoes to serve it over and we will sprinkle it with the leftover grated cheese. I usually just heat the Spaghetti sauce, add the beans, add a packet of chili seasoning or my own blend of spices and heat it. (If you don't like mashed potatoes with chili then you can serve it over rice or with crackers, but please try it I think you will love the combination of mashed potatoes and chili.) Day Five.....Mash and reheat the beans which will be the same as refried beans and make Burritos with your leftovers of the week. Your lettuce salad fixings and homemade refried beans and cheese make absolutely delicious burritos. Make sure you cook those flour tortillas or corn tortillas so they won't taste like raw flour paste. Day Six.....Chili Mac is on the menu. Leftover Chili mixed with cooked macaroni and topped with your favorite cheese. Serve with corn bread if you like. Now you may spread these meals out by freezing some of your beans and spaghetti sauce. I have done this for freezer meals with the directions for what I want to make with the items on the bag. There are other things that I do similar chain cooking with such as a ten pound bag of chicken legs and thighs. I will cook one meal of barbeque chicken with as many legs as it takes to feed our family out of the bag. Then I will boil the rest of the chicken to make chicken salad, chicken pot pie, chicken tortilla soup, and if anything is left it will go into a fried rice for a change of pace. Don't forget that you can always make the old standby chicken noodle soup with the broth that you cooked the chicken in and add some chicken boullion to make it richer and just a half of a cup or so of chicken that has been deboned. You can come up with chain meals for pork roast by making roast pork the first day and then make pork perlau which is like spanish rice with pork in it, then make barbeque pork to serve in toasted buns with cole slaw. You can also make curry if there was any leftover, curry with pork and apples is delish! Beef can be made as a pot roast and then you can make shepherds pie, stew, and shredded beef tostados. You can also make many other dishes with beef and your only boundary will be your imagination. Now the whole idea is to cook one or two main dishes in sufficient quantity to make a large variety of other meals. Cut up the remainder of your meats and package for other meals. Leftover rice, mashed potatoes, vegetables, etc. go into zip lock bags and put in the fridge or freezer to use for those other meals. You can make a list of meals that you can make with the ingredients in a small notebook that you put into your kitchen drawer or laminate a typed sheet with all the meals and tape it inside your kitchen upper cabinet door. That will remind you what you can make. Just take the foods from the fridge or freezer, defrost if necessary and you will have a 30 minute meal with very little work. I make my large meat meal for the week on the weekend and divvy it up into meal sized portions and mark it with a marker stating what it is and what I want to do with it. Such as the leftover beans for chili and another pack of beans for refried beans. Meats portioned out for the pies, casseroles or curry's. Mashed potatoes freeze well but they will need to be thinned with some fresh milk to get them back to the consistency you want. Rice freezes wonderfully and can be used for so many meals that it pays to cook a large amount and freeze meal sized portions for your fried rice, casseroles, soups, and as an accompaniment with gravy or curry. Most of the Oriental dishes you can make with rice, Southwest and Mexican foods also use a lot of rice. Bake up corn muffins in quantity and take out as many as you need for a meal and reheat in the microwave in a covered casserole dish with a damp paper towel in the dish with them. I hope you will try some of these dishes or at least the method with your own dishes and recipes. It is fun to see how many meals you can get from your beans, ground beef, pot roasts, ten pound bags of chicken and your pork shoulders. With one large piece of meat or cooked beans you can eat a whole week with a new dish each day. It will keep you from boredom and save you money at the same time. God bless you on your journey!