Monday, December 28, 2015


The Holidays have a lot of us low on funds. In the month of December I try to buy as little as possible in the grocery department. I use the extra savings for gifts for my family.
At the end of the Holidays  a recipe may call for an ingredient that I do not have. Therefore I go to my pantry and see what I can substitute for it. 
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The recipe for the Chicken Noodle Soup said 1 1/2 cups (8 oz.)diced cooked chicken breast. I no longer had any chicken breast but I did have some cooked diced chicken thigh meat. I also did not have the required amount. Over the last year I have been using about half or less than the recipe called for. This has cut the calories considerably.
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The recipe called for 2 cans 16 ounce chicken broth. I only had one can of 14 ounce. There was a box of beef broth in my pantry so I just added 18 ounces of this to the recipe.
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I had the celery and carrots but had only one onion. Since I may need some of the onion in another recipe I used half of it and added about 1 1/2 Tablespoons dry onions instead.
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The directions said to combine the chicken broth, celery, carrots, and onion and bring mixture to a boil. I did this only with the chicken broth to give the vegetables a little more chicken flavor. Later I added the beef broth and brought it just to a boil. I then added the corn and noodles as the original recipe called for.

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The soup was delicious and hubby thought so too. This soup could be served with biscuits, cornbread, or even cheese and crackers
The original recipe will be posted below.


4 cups (two 16-ounce cans Chicken Broth
1 cup chopped celery
1/2 cup shredded carrots
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 2/2 cups (8oz.) diced cooked chicken breast
1 teaspoon dried parsley flakes
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 cup frozen whole kernel corn
Scant 1 cup (1 1/2 ounces) uncooked medium noodles

In large saucepan, combine chicken broth, celery, carrots, and onion. Bring mixture to a boil. Stir in chicken, parsley flakes, and black pepper and salt. Add corn and noodles. Mix well to combine. Bring mixture to a boil again Lower heat. Cover and simmer 10 minutes or until noodles and vegetables are tender, stirring occasionally.

174 calories, 2 gm Fat, 23 gm Protein, 16 gm Carbohydrate, 2 gm Fiber

Diabetic: 2 Meat, 1 Starch, 1 Free Vegetable

The above calculations are not for the substitutions that I made. The calculations are only for the original recipe.


HERE WE GO AGAIN- the food prices went up in the stores this month once more.  I went to buy my brand of mayonnaise (with the least amount of ingredients) at Wal-Mart and it was over $4.00. 
Needless to say saving money in the food department is getting harder and harder.  This makes me more determined to find ways of saving money. 
After reading "Penny Pinchin’ Mama" found at  Livingin on a Dime I was inspired to have ready serving sizes for meals.   On her blog I read about Portion Control control for the family. This was one of the ways Jill feed her family on such a low income and keep them healthy.  It was directed mostly to children, but the ideas are great for adults too. 
The only way I was going to do this was to portion my food out ahead of time and freeze.  This method has also saved time when preparing my meals.
So I decided to post some little methods that will stretch my dollar, and keep me from waisting food by spoilage or mold.

One of the things that kept happening to me, with only my husband and I was that one loaf of bread was molding before we could eat it. I came up with this solution.

1.   start by separating the loaf of bread in 2 slices and place them in fold top sandwich bags. My favorite brand is Glad Fold Top Sandwich Bags. They will hold a large slice of bread. The other brands that I tried were so small that they would only hold the cheaper sandwich type breads tightly.
2.  place the packaged sliced bread back in the bread plastic bag, twist tie it shut and place in the freezer.  It only takes a few minutes to thaw or 10 seconds in my microwave. This can be done with hamburger buns and homemade bread items.
You can pLace your sandwich filling on the frozen slices of bread.  Then just re-wrap them with the wrapper they were in and place in the fridge to thaw for lunches.  This can quickly be done in the morning, or evening for school or work lunches.  While you are at it, make yourself one and your lunch will be thawed and ready to eat for lunch or dinner.

Hot Dog buns are done a little different because of their length.
1.  I use a sheet of plastic wrap for 2 buns. 
2.  Place the buns toward the lower corner leaving some plastic as you see above. 

3. Then lay that lower corner over the top.
4.  Fold in the sides

4. Roll the buns until you have all the plastic wrapped around the hot dog buns.

Packaged bread and buns
5.  Place your wrapped buns in the bag they came in and freeze just like the bread.

NOTE:  Did you know that you can buy bread that is reaching it's expiration date and by placing in the freezer it will give it back that fresh baked taste.

Creating exact proportions is great for saving money and for restricted diets.  Dinner rolls are a favorite with us and stretch a meal and fill you up.  Upon finding a Whole Wheat Honey Oatmeal Bread  recipe, I adapted it for my dinner rolls.  The best way to do this (if it is not over 4 cups of flour) is to let a bread maker do the work.

Then remove and let rise in a warm place.

You will need a floured surface, rolling pen, sharp large knife, and  greased muffin tins.

1. After rising  place the dough on a floured surface and roll with the rolling pin into a  thin rectangular shape.
2.  Using a sharp knife cut the dough into 4 sections evenly.
3.  Then cut each 4 sections into 3 sections. 
This will give you 12 cut up sections.

4.  Take each of the 12 sections and with your hands roll and shape into a ball.
5.  Place each ball in greased muffin tins and let rise to twice the size.

6.  Bake in oven till golden brown, and let cool.
7.  Wrap or place in fold top sandwich bags one muffin each, and freeze.
Now you have individual dinner rolls that all you have to do is thaw or place in the microwave on just a few sections.
My "IC Diet" requires that my food have as little or no preservatives in it.  I came across these natural tortillas in the dairy area at Wal-mart.  They were called "Tortilla Land".  They are really good.  All I do is put them in a dry cast iron skillet until they are warm and toasted on either side. 
The problem was that almost a whole package molded on me before I could finish them.  My solution was to freeze them also.

1.  Place one tortilla on a piece of wax paper.  Lay another piece of wax paper and another tortilla.  Continue to layer your tortillas in this fashion until you have done so with all of the tortillas.
2.  When you are finished, fold over the edges of wax paper toward the center.

3.  Place in a plastic freezer bag and label.
 I used the original bag too, but they would not all fit in after separating them.

Cheese and other dairy products have significantly gone up in the last year.  Cheese is one of those items that just gives a dish that added flavor.  My favorite brand is "Tillamook Cheese"   When my son was hyper-active some 30 years ago this was the cheese that I bought for him, without dyes and preservatives. Also I lived in Oregon for a few years and I have seen their cows on pasture land.
If you buy the grated cheese there is some substance on it to keep it from sticking together.  So to avoid this I grate and freeze my own cheese.  This also prevents it from molding.  It takes very little time to thaw.

1.  Lay a piece of wax paper on a flat baking dish like a cookie sheet that can go in the freezer.
2.  Grate your cheese and place the cheese on this wax paper.
3.  Place this cookie sheet in the freezer for about an hour or how ever long it takes to freeze the grated cheese.  Meanwhile you can do another activity.  Setting your timer is a good idea too.

4.  When the grated cheese has frozen, remove it from the freezer and place in a plastic freezer bag.
5.  Place this bag in a handy place in the freezer so that whenever you need a little cheese you can get to it.

Frozen vegetables was another area that I could sometimes pour too much or not enough into a pan.  Some of the wal-mart brand items that had recently been purchased were no longer the quality that they had been.  So even though I want to save money, because of  the Diabetic and IC restricted diet, I really want to enjoy what I am allowed to eat.
Knowing the number of meals I get from a bag allows me to plan my meals and not buy food items I do not need.  Believe it or not this saves me money and allows me to spend it in areas that are needed.
In years past I would be buying things I thought I was out of and go home and find I needed something else and the money was already spent.  Experience, planning, and organizing are great ways of saving money.

1.  Buy a large bag of frozen vegetables.
2.  Using a measuring cup for amount needed for a meal, measure into a freezer bag.
3.  The only mixed vegetable I can find with lima beans in them is in a store that is not known for their good prices.  So you see in my picture above that I have mixed vegetables and limas.  I measured 1 cup mix and 1/4 cup limas per package.

4.  Label your storage package and freeze.  As you can see I reused the large bag for my vegetable lima mix and another for the left over mixed vegetables.
Now all I have to do is go grab the right amount for a meal.  I do this with Normandy and California Mix frozen vegetables too.

These are just a few of my money saving packaging ideas to save money.  If you have some tried and true ways of saving money leave me a comment as I would welcome any help I can get in saving money.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015


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This is an easy meal and one I make often for our Families Tuesday Pizza Night.  We do not always have pizza on Tuesday but we named it that because we do have it often.  I am diabetic and my daughter no longer has a gal-bladder so cannot handle the boughten pizza's.
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I assemble all of my ingredients.  I have used frozen green bell peppers and chopped mushrooms.  I just take them out and lay the frozen veggies on paper towels while thawing.  I do change them if too wet a couple times.
You can see here I have a can of pizza sauce which can be used.  In this recipe I did not use the pizza sauce.  It tends to have a lot of fat in it.
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Mix your reduced-fat BAKING MIX-click here and water.  Stir till moistened.  Flatten with fingers in sprayed 8X8 baking dish.
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In a small bowl add your 8 oz can tomato sauce and Italian spices and combine.  Evenly spread this spiced tomato mix over your flattened crust.
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Now layer your meat, onions, bell peppers, and olives over the top.  You can use any combination of things you like on a pizza, just remember to calculate the ingredients that are not listed in my recipe.

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Now sprinkle the 3/4 cup skim mozzarella cheese over the top and pop it in the oven.  Cook till it is bubbly and the cheese is melted.  If you have a glass baking dish you can see that the crust is a golden brown on the bottom.
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Add the other 1/4 cup cheese on top after finished cooking. Turn off oven and place pizza back in oven for just a couple minutes till the 1/4 cup cheese is just melted.  Cut in 4 pieces and serve.



1/4 cup + 2 Tablespoons water
1 1/2 cup reduced fat BAKING MIX-or-reduced fat Bisquick
1 cup or 8 oz can tomato sauce
3/4 teaspoon Italian Spices
4 oz. cooked lean ground beef, turkey, or lean Italian turkey sausage 
1/4 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup diced or sliced mushrooms
1/4 cup diced bell pepper
2 Tablespoons sliced black olives
1  cup partially skim mozzarella cheese

Check above-below pictures for directions.

Nutritional information 1 slice

128 calories, 8.8 gr. fat, 9 gr carbohydrates, 1 Fiber
Diab: 2/3 Carb/St 1 3/4 Fat, 



1/2 cup Kraft Olive Oil Mayonnaise (reduced fat mayo)
1 cup Plain Non-Fat Yogurt (I make mine from non-fat dry milk powder)
1/2 cup skim milk (I use reconstituted non-fat dry milk powder)
3 Tablespoon Sweet Relish
2 Tablespoons Ketcup
2 Tablespoons Splenda

Directions: In medium bowl add all ingredients and with whisk blend until the mayo and yogurt is well blended.  This makes about 2 cups

Nutritional Value for 1/4 cup serving
66 calories, 7.5 gr carbohydrates, 3 gr fat
Diab: 1/2 carb/st 1/2 fat

NOTE: I am not a dietitian or nutritionist. I calculate my nutritional information from FatSecret.  I do the best I can and there could be a mistake.



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After the last doctors visit.  My A1C was 6.1.  That is pre-diabetes numbers. The doctor recommends that I loose 10 lbs. to get my A1C down below the pre-diabetes numbers.  It will also help with some infection problems that can be caused by pre-diabetes.

I am going to attempt to blog my meals that I will be cooking to loose the extra 10 lbs.

The recipes will mainly be from JoAnna Lund Cook books.  I tweak the recipes as we now find it hard to find things like fat free mayonnaise, fat free cream cheese, etc.

I will also give the nutritional information that is in the recipe and the tweaked recipes.  I am not a nutritionist or dietitian so I will do the best I can do.

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Tonight we had Cowboy Stew and Jumbo Cheesy Biscuits.  I had steamed Swiss chard also.

Tweaked - COWBOY STEW - serves 6 (1 1/2 cups)

28 oz can diced Tomatoes undrained.
2 Tablespoons Chili powder
1 1/2 cup frozen whole-kernel Corn, (I did not thaw)
3 cups diced Potatoes
6 oz frozen cooked Kidney beans, (I did not thaw)
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 cup diced Carrots
1 cup Diced Celery
8 oz. lean round steak, cut in small chunks

Spray a slow cooker container with cooking spray.  In prepared container, combine undrained tomatoes and chili powder.  Add corn, potatoes, kidney beans, onion, carrots, and celery.  Mix well to combine.  Stir in steak pieces.  Cover and cook on LOW for 6-8 hours.  Mix well before serving.

218 calories, 3 1/2 fat, 17 gr protein, 29 gm Carbohydrates, 307 mg Sodium, 47 mg Calcium, 5 gm Fiber
Diabetic 1 1/2 Mt, 2 vegetables, 1 Starch

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1/2 cup skim milk - OR - 1/3 cup dry milk Powder and 1/2 cup water
1/2 Tablespoon vinegar
1 cup flour
1/2 Tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 Tablespoon Splenda
2 Tablespoons light I can't believe it's not butter margarine
1/4 cup + 2 Tablespoons Shredded 2% Mexican style Cheddar Cheese (I used Wal-Mart's Fiesta 2% shredded cheese.

Preheat oven to 450.  Spray a 6 holed muffin tin.  In small bowl combine milk and vinegar. Set aside.  In medium bowl combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, Splenda and cheese.  Lightly stir.  Add 2 Tablespoons of light margarine to flour mixture.  Using a pastry blender, work the margarine into flour mixture. 

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Add the milk mixture to flour mixture.  Till just blended. 

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Evenly spoon mixture into the muffin tins.
NOTE: you can also do these on a sprayed baking sheet.  Use a 1/3 cup as a guide.  They will be more flattened.  I have done them and like them this way also. 

Original - COWBOY STEW-serves 6 (1 1/2 cup)

2 cups coarsley chopped tomatoes, undrained (one 16 oz. can)
1 Tablespoon chili seasoning -( I used 2 Tablespoons)
1 1/2 cup frozen whole-kernel corn, thawed
3 cups diced potatoes
6 oz. (one 8-ounce can) red kidney beans, rinsed and drained.
1/2 cup chopped onions
1 cup Diced raw carrots
1 cup Diced celery
16 oz. lean round steak, cut into 24 pieces.

The instructions are the same as for the Tweaked Recipe 

Original Stew
252 calories, 4 gm Fat, 25 gm Protein, 29 gm Carbohydrates, 307 mg Sodium, 47 mg Calcium, 5 gm Fiber
Diabetic: 2 1/2 Meat, 1 1/2 Vegetable, 1 Starch

Tuesday, August 18, 2015


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The temperature in our area has been HOT to say the least. Yesterday it was 105. That had me wanting some frozen treats. My last doctor told me that if I lost some weight my cholesterol would go down. So loosing weight is on my agenda. That means no sugary treats. Then it occurred to me that I could make some fruit pops. So on the internet I went for some inspiration. Below is what I came up with and they were delicious.
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I only wanted to make a small batch and I only have 5 pop holders. After making them I may get some more so we can have an ample supply in our freezer.  
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I used my little Kitchen Aid food processor as my blender is on the blink. It worked great. I put the peaches, milk, fat-free half and half, Splenda and nutmeg in the processor and blending till smooth.
After processing it I poured it into a large measuring cup.
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To the mixture I add the 1/3 cup of cool whip lite.
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Using a wire whisk I gently blend the cool whip into the mixture.
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Pour the fruit mixture evenly into the pop sickle containers.
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Add the lids and place in the freezer. It will take 2-3 hours to freeze solidly. It was hard to wait but it was worth the wait. They were delicious. The best part is one pop is A FREE FOOD.
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serves 4
 6 Slices of frozen peaches thawed 
1/3 cup milk 
2 Tablespoons Fat-Free Half and Half 
2-3 Tablespoons Splenda (depending on your sweet tooth) 
1/4 Cup Cool Whip Lite 
Nutmeg-sprinkled to your taste 

Place frozen peaches, milk, fat-free Half and Half, 2-3 Tablespoons Splenda, and nutmeg in food processor or blender When completely blended to a liquid form pour into a 2-4 cup measuring cup. Add the 1/4 cup cool whip to the liquid. With a wire whisk GENTLY mix the cool whip into the peach mixture till completely blended in. Pour the mixture into the pop sickle containers. Place in freezer and let freeze 2-3 hours. When frozen run a little hot water over the pop sickle container and pop the frozen peach pop out and ENJOY.

Friday, July 10, 2015


I am Experimenting with vegetarian meals, as a result of my husband's kidney stones.  

My husband has problems with uric acid in his system.  One of the ways to cut it down is to eat no more than 6 oz. of meat a day.  My dear hubby is a meat lover, so recipes have to pass his taste test. I do not know about your husband but good food makes mine a happy man :)

Here is my Recipes criteria;

The recipes have to contain ingredients from my pantry.  Some vegetarian recipes I have looked into contain ingredients that I do not even recognize.

The recipes have to be favorable or as I say yummy.

On our budget the recipe must be frugal.

This particular vegetarian dish turned out to be very yummy.  It also put a smile on hubbys face. He did not even miss the meat.  

It was filling and had a good mexican flavor without any heat to it.  My hubby can handle more spicy heat.  Being raised in the midwest I, on the other hand, can only handle a little spice. We both give it a thumbs up.  

1 1/2 Large onion, chopped
2 medium diced carrots (I chopped them in a food processor).
2 Tablespoons vegetable oil (I used olive oil)
Canola Baking Spray
1 3/4 cup frozen corn (1 can drained would work also)
2 cups cooked pinto beans
1 (8 oz) can tomato sauce
1/2 Tablespoon cumin
1/2 Tablespoon chili powder
1 cup mexican-fiesta cheese. (2% mexican-fiesta cheese).

Corn Bread Topping
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup corn meal
2 Tablespoon sugar (you could use Splenda if prefered)
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 + 1/8 teaspoon salt
1 egg
1/2 cup milk
2 Tablespoons vegetable oil

Preheat 350 degrees.  In large non-stick skillet spray baking spray.  Add 2 tablespoons oil.  On medium heat Saute' the onion and carrots till tender.  Add corn, pinto beans, and tomato sauce.  Making sure everything is heated through.  Add spice and chili powder and combine.
Add half the filling to a 8X8 sprayed baking dish. Sprinkle 1/2 cup cheese over the top.  Spread the remaining filling evenly over the first 2 layers, then spread another 1/2 cup cheese evenly over the top.

In medium bowl combine flour, corn meal, sugar, baking powder, and salt.  In small bowl add egg, milk and vegetable oil and mix well.  Add wet mixture to dry and stir till just blended.

Evenly spread mixture over the top of the filling.  Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes and golden brown or a till a toothpick comes out clean in corn bread mixture.  Set on rack to rest for 5 minutes. Cut into 8 servings.

I took a pastry brush and lightly spread a small amount of butter over the top before cutting and serving.

209 calories-6 gr. fiber,-41 gms Carbs,-1.3 fat,-23 mg cholesterol,-  (I am not a nutritionist so the amount of calories is calculated by googling the ingredients and getting the count for each one and dividing by 8).

Please feel free to share any yummy vegetarian recipes you find yummy that are frugal.

Signing off Nana

Tuesday, January 20, 2015


Mushrooms are so full of health benefits.  Keeping them fresh to use whenever you want to can be a problem.  With just the two of us home now, they can go bad pretty quickly if I do not use them right away.

I have frozen a lot of different foods, but had not tried freezing mushrooms.  I wanted to be able to take out just what I needed when adding to a recipe.
So I tried the same method I used for blueberries.
I laid them out on wax paper and placed them in the freezer.

Once they were frozen I placed them in a zip-lock bag.
They worked out great.  They still retained their flavor and texture.
I froze them for at least a month and they did great.  I do not know how long you can actually freeze them for.  Would have to experiment with different times.
You could look it up in the Ball Canning book.  I do not own an up to date book at the moment.
I will continue to use this method from now on.