Have you ever charted your food expenses? Well if not, I suggest you start. The moment I saw that pie chart staring at me with the truth of just how much of our money is spent on food was a reality check! You know I love to bake and cook. But I also like to eat out and I also have a major coffee addiction. So I am now on a mission to reduce our food spending! I CAN actually make not only my morning coffee at home, but my other cups as well, what a concept! The biggest killer when eating out is drinks. As a family of 4 dining out and getting 4 soft drinks costs between 7 and 10 dollars per meal just for drinks. Making little cut backs when eating out, like bringing the food home and drinking the drinks you already have and avoiding sit down restaurants where you have to leave a tip will save quite a bit of money in the long run. Save sit down restaurants for adult date night, then it will be a treat! It’s funny because so often we will be eating out and I will say “I could make this same thing at home and I bet it would taste a lot better!” So true, then we also have the control of what ingredients we are eating and how much fat and sodium go into it.
With that I was recently making dinner and Bill said to me “you know, you really don’t have to cook a big meal every night. Some nights I’m really not even that hungry and it’s ok if we eat leftovers“. My first thought was “are you for real? What man is asking his wife to NOT make dinner?!” I know husbands who are begging their wives to PLEASE make dinner! But I thought about his point. I never make anything small, I always over make. Partially because it gives Bill and even myself leftovers for lunch the next day or 2 and partially because I always have this nagging feeling that “it just won’t be enough food”. Yeah, me, the one whose kids don’t like anything I make! When I thought about it, I realize that at the end of the week, even after we have eaten leftovers for lunch, I am still throwing away food, but I’m still making another big dinner! By the end of the week we are throwing away containers of about 4 different meals, meals that we have eaten once for dinner and once for lunch but because there are containers of other leftovers, none of it ever gets completely eaten. Money. In. The. Garbage. So this little “talk” about my obsessive cooking and baking hobby really got me thinking and I’m putting a plan into action! I would much prefer to cut out our eating out and limit down my coffee shop visits (that coffee shop visits are going to be hard, I look very forward to my coffee) and still keep cooking/baking but maybe not every night:-) The little “talk” from the hubby was a good one:-) We can all save somewhere in our lives if we try and food is one of the easiest areas to adjust a budget and make cutbacks.
The first meal I made after putting this plan into action was this recipe I am sharing, Mexican Stuffed Shells. I made this meal and we had my brother and his girlfriend over for dinner and still had major leftovers, so guess what!? I get a night off from cooking because we will eat this again, plus it will be lunch for both myself and husband. If I must make “big” then we must eat it all, waste is bad! This dish was really good and very easy. Mexican food is one of our all time favorites. I have a Mexican manicotti recipe on my blog that is similar to this, they are both great but I think I like this one a bit better. This is a great dish for a potluck, or when having company over or just because you don’t have much time to cook that week and want leftovers. It’s a great make ahead meal if you are having company and don’t want to be stuck in the kitchen. Here’s the recipe:-)
1 box jumbo shells
1 48 oz jar of salsa (I used Chi Chi’s medium thick and chunky)
1 large 31oz jar of fat free refried beans
2 lbs ground turkey
1 medium onion, diced
cilantro (to your taste, I use quite a bit)
1 bag of Mexican Shredded Cheese
5 green onions, washed and sliced
In a large pan boil water and make the shells as directed on package then set aside. At the same time in a large frying pan brown the ground turkey and onions together. When browned, drain and put in a large mixing bowl then add the refried beans and cilantro and mix together well. Get out a large baking dish, stuff each shell until full with the ground turkey/bean mixture. Pour the jar of salsa evenly over the shells. Bake at 350 degrees for about 25 minutes then remove, top with cheese and green onions and finish baking for about another 10 minutes until the shells are hot and the cheese starts bubbling. These shells are so tasty, and like most leftovers, almost better the second day left over as the flavors have really set in nice. Enjoy!
We spent considerable on food as well and I don’t mind it, except in the case of leftovers. For the most part, my husband will dutifully take them to work but there are the exceptions (and those get lodged in the back of the fridge).
Your stuffed shells look terrific and I don’t think you can ever go wrong with these types of flavors!
Thanks for sharing today!
Yes, it’s the leftovers lodged in the back of the fridge that make me crazy! haha! Mine hubby too dutifully takes leftovers to work, he loves his leftovers! Don’t even ask what my coffee shop expenses were!! I bought an espresso maker today to play with and maybe that will keep me from buying drinks out! Oh well! Thank you for the compliment on the shells, I agree, those flavors always turn out delicious, we love Mexican food. I appreciate the comment and love your blog!
Thank you for the kind words! 🙂
An espresso machine is brilliant! Will you tackle my favorite: a pumpkin spice latte? I love that drink and this time of year. It’s so hard not to drive into their parking lot each and every day.
Have a wonderful week experimenting with your new espresso maker!
OH MY GOSH, that is the first experiment I am doing and that is the reason why my coffee expenses are so out of control! haha. I blame Starbucks, they make me drive through! I will post if I have success! I think your blog says you live in the South too, here in Huntsville it’s been so warm that I’ve been addicted to pumpkin spice iced coffee, they just add the pumpkin sauce and it’s so heavenly! I have lots of ideas floating around for this espresso maker:-)
I wish I was there to be your official Taste Tester for your new espresso machine 😉 ❤
Me too!! We are playing with it right now trying to get the hang of it! Love ya!!!!
I love when I have left overs for another dinner. Especially on a busy work week where time is precious. I do more of that in the winter with stews and such where you are set for a few days.
Stew and casseroles are perfect for leftover, definately! Leftovers definitely make busy days simpler:-)
I sat here, reading your post… nodding in agreement!
Not only to the eating out expenses… but also to the over-cooking and leftovers.
I have however always been pretty conscious of the cost of a bought lunch (sandwich or salad) in Europe – so have tried to bring leftovers into the office at least 3-4times a week… and then my logic was that the money that I saved by this (4-6euros a day) equated to one night out in a restaurant!!
My downfall however is baking… at least once a week and then I land up farming out the baked goods at work (at my own expense)… so am now thinking of putting out a little *contribution* moneybox when I place the treats in the kitchen – hee hee
Thanks for reading my blog and commenting:-) See, I have the problem too where I bake then farm out the goods (because I WILL eat them if they are left in the house with me, hehe)! I send them to my neighbors and my husband is often bringing them to work! I like to try a piece of what I make then I need it to disappear for my own good since I was blessed (or cursed!) with a major sweet tooth! It does get expensive! Hey, I say give it a try with the contribution box, they may like your goods more than you even realize and be willing to chip in and help you out! We never know unless we try;-)
That’s awesome! It’s so freeing to get your money in order! 🙂