Tasty Tuesday:Garlic-buttered Kale

I know what you are thinking, “um, there is nothing ‘tasty’ about kale”, but you’d be wrong! I was recently introduced to kale and I really didn’t want to try it, especially since it reminded me of turnips and collards, which have never been my friend. But with some health issues looming, I had to figure out how to get more “greens” in my diet and less junk; but I didn’t want to break the bank either

I have learned eating healthier is less expensive than what you would think. I mean the whole reason I would share a recipe on a financial blog is for the money you can save, right? So I gave this recipe a shot and it is so good, I now cook it twice a week. It takes all of about seven minutes to cook and even my son will eat it. The best part about it is the cost, which is about$1.47 per person for 4 servings.

  • 2 cloves garlic – .79
  • 4 T butter
  • 1-1 1/2 bunch kale – $2.00
  • 1 T olive oil

Staple items: Olive oil – $4.00-$8.00, Butter $2.79-$4.88, salt & pepper-$3.00

  • Remove the ribs inside the kale and chop kale into bite sized pieces
  • Mince the garlic
  • Add 1 T olive oil to a medium high pan, add 2 cloves of garlic and a pinch of salt & pepper
  • sweat the garlic 1-2 minutes
  • Add the kale to the pan, add a pinch of salt and pepper, stir until the kale begins to wilt, add 1/4 c water and cook 1-2 minutes longer
  • Place a strainer over a bowl and empty the kale, garlic mixture into the strainer, press out as much liquid as you can; discard the liquid.
  • Heat the butter in the pan and place the kale back into the pan, coat the kale with the butter and cook another 1-2 minutes, adding another pinch of salt and pepper, taste it first, it tends to get salty!!
  • remove from heat and serve

This side dish goes great with a grilled or roasted meat. A small tenderloin will run $7-$10. If you are a two vegetable kind of family, add some steamed green beans at .99/lb. Your whole meal is $4.21 per person for 4 servings.

 

 

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The True Cost of Eating Real Food

As you know, I’ve been eating more “real food” since I’ve started using Blue Apron. This weekend, my family and I visited the local farmers’ market for some fresh produce for the week and grabbed some nice rib-eyes for Mother’s Day at Earth Fare, our local whole foods store. Between both stores, we spent $81.00. We later picked all of our spring onions from the garden and decided to try this pickled green onion recipe and needed some mustard seed so we went to our local Winn Dixie. While we were there my men decided to take advantage of the low blood sugar attack I was having and load up on some snacks I normally only get in moderation and pick up a few extra things we needed like milk and bread. $160 later, I was floored! I started looking at the receipt at all the processed foods and how much they cost and was shocked. Yes, I said it! Processed foods cost more!

All I hear are people saying, “I try to eat healthy, but I just can’t afford it”.Well, I did some math, and quality and quantity are both higher with “real” food. I use to clip coupons to death, stock up on foods I didn’t really love because it was on sale. I still clip coupons, but I really only use coupons on meat, staples, and rare produce coupons. Now I find that I spend less at the store and I waste less food. I think it’s because before my brain didn’t recognize a box of something as food so at lot of it went to waste, but my brain definitely recognizes cucumbers and oranges and blocks of cheese and wants to eat them.

Here are some examples of how we wasted precious dollars buying junk at the store the other day and what we should have bought instead:

  • My son bought two packs of beef jerky, they were $7 each for about 6-8 pieces of jerky. You could get venison back-strap or top round and make your own with a much larger yield for that price. A round steak is about $6.00 per pound. You could get 1.5 lbs of meat, plus your marinade ingredients if you didn’t have them at home for the same price.
  • Next big thing we just HAD to have is ice cream which was close to $7 a quart. My husband’s favorite is banana split, so we will use this as an example. 1 bunch of bananas is around $1.31, give or take depending on how many pounds you get. Strawberries this week were 2 pints for $4 and I got a pineapple for $2.99 at the farmer’s market. Take 2 bananas, 1/4 the pineapple and 1/2 the pint of strawberries, freeze them. Put them in your Vitamix or your banana ice cream maker with a little frozen yogurt or some milk,$3.50 for 1 gallon this week, less than $3 if you drink almond or coconut milk. You can do it separate so you have 3 flavors, or all together like I do to get that nice swirly flavor effect. You’ve made homemade, healthier ice cream and you don’t even have to worry about the extra calories of the chocolate sauce you know you’re going to dump on there. If you freeze the entire bunch, berries and pineapple, you’ve doubled the amount of ice cream (about 2 qts.) for $3.80 more, if you don’t freeze them, you still have fruit left over for smoothies, pineapple whips or fresh toppings on your cereal.
  • My husband is addicted to Diet Coke. It cost him $7.99 for a 20 pack! If he drank water or tea we’d have saved tons! I only drink water with a squirt of lemon, lime, or oranges, whatever is in the fridge, it’s free almost everywhere, oh and I don’t buy bottled water at home, I just have a filtering pitcher.  When I want something fizzy I drink kombucha tea (my favorite is lemon ginger). You can make this yourself; but, eww it’s just not for me. One bottle is $3 for 2 servings, still a little high for my taste, but sometimes you just need some fizz and it’s worth it to not have to grow that THING in my kitchen; just google it, you’ll see what I’m talking about.
  • Chips! Chips are $5 a bag now – shame! Some of the best tasting chips you can make at home. Take you some flour tortillas, $2.79, cut them up into strips, toss in olive oil, sprinkle with salt and cracked black pepper and bake at 450 for about 10 minutes. So crispy! So tasty! Great with salsa, or hummus or even on top of soup. I also like to get red potatoes $2.99 and slice them very, very thin. Spritz them with olive oil spray, salt and pepper them and cook them the same way. These are very good. Lastly, cheese! Put down some parchment paper, put down finely shredded cheddar or Monterrey jack ($3.39 pre-shredded)in a little circle and cook in the oven til they are bubbly brown. When they cool, they will crisp like chips.

If I would have taken my own advice and looked at real food v. processed, I would have seen that I could have saved us $52 on JUNK in these four categories and a whole lot of calories and chemicals. It looks like it is really IS better to buy/eat real food after all.

 

Coupon Investing Experiment – End of Pay Period (PP) 1

If you have read the coupon investing experiment, you’ll know I am taking the funds that I save by using coupons and investing them. At the end of week one, I had saved $69. By week two, I saved another $16. I also went to the movies and had rewards coupons for a free ticket, $10.50, a free medium pop-corn, $8, a free small pop-corn, $6, and a small drink $6 that were all expiring by the end of the week, so I used them all. I decided to take this from my YNAB Entertainment Category  and add it to my investments. This will give me a total of $115.50 for the pay-period to invest. According to Betterment’s handy-dandy advice calculator, adding this will increase my retirement goal by $272.00. This may seem like small-potatoes, but I see it as an integral piece of the puzzle. If I can keep this level of investing each month, we are looking at thousands more towards my retirement. Just matching that same investment during PP2 of August, I will have increased my retirement by $525. That’s another $7000 added to a 15 year investment plan if I can invest at least that much extra every pay period.

While using the extra money I got from the movie coupons, I realized I can do the same for any budget category. I have gotten the “Retail-me-not” app on my phone, which sends retail coupons directly to my phone for pet stores, clothing, and even some restaurants. Even money saved from a percentage off will be a great way to save towards my investments. I also have a Winn-Dixie rewards card, which gives you cents off your gas purchases. I plan on taking that money from my fuel category and investing it as well. It has never been more important to save money now that I see the potential returns towards my retirement.

 

E-Mealz – A Mom’s Dream Come True

I have recently used a service out of Alabama called E-Mealz. This service is a lifesaver. With your payment plan, you get a menu full of dinners for the week for a family up to four based on the sales paper at your store.

Since using E-Mealz, my grocery budget went from around $300 every two weeks, to $80-$90 once a week, and sometimes less. I have been able to save up to $120 on my grocery budget, per paycheck. I don’t have to make a grocery list out, unless I need staples or a few extra things, and I don’t have to plan dinner.

For example, I use the Kroger food chain. I purchased the three months 4 person family plan for Kroger for $15.00. Each week I can click on the previous week’s menu and this week’s menu. I print out my menu, complete with recipes and cooking directions, and my shopping list. From the list I can highlight what items I need to buy based on what is in my pantry at the time. I gather my coupons based on the items (which will save me even more money than what is totaled at the bottom of my shopping list), and I head to Kroger.

E-Mealz super-easy website is designed for the busy mom, and designed to please even the biggest cheapskate’s budget. There are coupon tips and even surprise freebie recipes on holidays.

Now you ask, “But what about the recipes, are they any good? What will they do to my waist line?” The recipes are all very delicious. Of course, they are all descretionary and it is up to you whether you cook them. I often have a meal or two that I didn’t cook during the week and I may carry those ingredients over into the next week. I keep a notebook with all the recipes printed out so that I may skim through them if I don’t care for a particular recipe.

I am always watching my waistline and so I opt to buy the more healthy of the varieties if given a chance. Many times, the same item is for sale for the same price with lower fat or sugar or salt.  There are also diet plan options available at E-Mealz for such the person, but I haven’t tried those receipes so I can’t comment on them.

Next you ask, “Is it worth the money just to pay for supper when you still have to buy breakfast and lunch items?” To that I say  yes! The one meal a day when everyone is home is dinner. It is the biggest meal and the most expensive. It makes your grocery bill low enough that you can still afford to buy eggs, lunchmeats, milk, etc., and often the grocery list includes many of these items that can also be used for breakfast and lunch. Also, the portions are big enough that you can have left-overs for lunch the next day.

At no more than $5 a month, saving you hundreds of dollars on your already growing grocery bill, with delicious and nutritious recipes, why would you not try it out for three months? If you have not saved at least $100 at the end of a month, I will be surprised!