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!