Thursday, March 17, 2011

Use What You Have

     I already told you that one of my favorite ways to save money is on food and household supplies, but why?  Well, it is one thing I can control.  I can not control gas prices and even though I can plan to drive less, living here in Phoenix, it never really works well.  My electricity bill?  Sure, I can turn the A/C up, but who wants too?  But, food...that is another story!  The way I handle groceries and cook meals, can drastically change the amount of money that goes out of my house each week.
     How many times have you run to the store on the way home to pick something up for dinner and walked out of the store with receipt worth $50?  Why does this happen so frequently and why are you not able to get it under control?  Because you do not plan ahead and use what you have.  If I came to your house today and looked in your freezer and cupboards, I would probably find food...the problem is we have gotten so used to convenience, that if we do not have something easy, or one of our "old favorites", we think we "do not have anything at all" to cook for supper.  Sound familiar?
     For three weeks in a row at the end of January, I only had $16 to spend on groceries for this family of five.  Yes, $16.  At first, I felt panic, but, there was nothing I could do and I refused to borrow any money from anyone.  I decided to take inventory of my freezer and pantry and figure this out!!!  I knew I could do it...for goodness sake, my grandmother walked from Oklahoma to Phoenix when she was a little girl, certainly I was smart enough and strong enough to handle this! 
     I took the list of everything I had and I sat down at the computer (isn't nice that we have this luxury) and looked up recipes for the things I already had.  One thing I had was 4 bags of Armour meatballs.  I had gotten them on sale, with coupons the previous month for $.50 a bag.  However, spaghetti and meatballs is one of my least favorite, I looked up meatball recipes, I did find a couple and I made a very specific list based on the menu I had made and we ate very well all week and I did not spend more than $16. 
     I did find a recipe that first week, that Mike and I love and I will make over and over!  How exciting that our destitute grocery weeks, helped us find new recipes to cook and love!  Your challenge for the rest of the week is to take inventory, (this is a great thing for one of your kids to help with) and Use What You Have for dinner this week.  No last minute grocery shopping trips.  Will it take planning?  Yes!  Will it save money?  Absolutely!  I cannot wait to hear about all your success!!

Meatball Soup Recipe


  • 1  can (14.5 oz each) Hunt's Diced Tomatoes, undrained
  • 1  can (14 oz each) beef broth
  • 1  cup  water
  • 1/2  teaspoon  Italian seasoning
  • 8  ounces  frozen cooked meatballs
  • 1  cup  frozen mixed vegetables (carrots, beans and corn)
  • 1/3  cup  dry orzo pasta or other small shaped pasta, uncooked


Hands On: 10 minutes
Total: 20 minutes

1. Combine tomatoes with their juice, the broth, water and Italian seasoning in large saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat.

2. Stir in meatballs, vegetables and orzo. Return to a boil; cover. Reduce heat to low; simmer 10 minutes, or until pasta and vegetables are tender, stirring occasionally.

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