Chicken and Broccoli Stir-fry over Buckwheat Soba noodles

When it comes to helping your budget I can’t help but mention helping your waist line. You see that is what started most of this journey for me. My husband and I started gaining weight and we decided that enough was enough we had to change our lifestyle. It was also around the same time that things went, well not so well with me with work. So budgeting was first most in my mind. So I started first looking at what we were consuming and what we were throwing away and there is something that I have noticed that has changed the way I cook. You see there is a time and a place for leftovers and what I have discovered is that it is not in every meal. Yeah when you make that soup or chili it is hard if not impossible to make enough to span several meals and that is okay. You see a dish like that is meant to be enjoyed over time. You are more likely to eat leftover soup then you are to eat the leftover casserole. You might love it the first time around but there are very few dishes that are that good the second time around.

For the past two years or so I have not payed too much attention to how I was cooking my meals. I would often make a dish and know that it was more then we should eat, but I would tell myself that it would be good leftovers. One of two things would happen, we would either eat way too much and there would be no leftovers or the leftovers wouldn’t get eaten in time and would get thrown away. Either way it is a waist, to your belly or to the trash, both a waist. So I started learning how to know when to cook for leftovers and when to not. The key is to study yourself and how much is enough. For me it is just my husband and I so I had to learn what was enough to feed us and how to cook for that. The biggest thing is to be comfortable outside of the recipe. For example I created this meal from several recipes that I have read, including some improvising. I find that this creates the perfect amount of food for my husband and I, no leftovers and it fills us up. This cooks perfectly for two.

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Always learning new tricks to save money

My husband and I, like many others, our finances always seem to be some what strained so I always find myself trying to come up with new ways to save us money. One of the biggest money drainers that I discovered was food. Food waste can be a huge financial issue for any household. So I have started some new tricks to help cut our food bill in half and so far they have worked.

One of the first changes I made is every Sunday I spend about a half hour working on the menu for the next week. This has been one of the biggest changes that has required some work but has saved me so much time and money. By coming up with weekly meal plans I have found ways to utilize things in my pantry so that I am not buying more then we can eat. Every pantry I have ever seen contains random cans and assortment of foods that have been there for probably longer then we would care to admit. Going through the pantry and actually using the items is one of the biggest money savers and it can be fun. When you find odd items that you have no idea what to do with the trick I found was through one of my favorite websites I use the ingredient search engine and search through the different recipe ideas, it is a great way to branch out and try new things and to use up ingredients that you just couldn’t seem to go through.

By creating your menu it not only saves money but also can save time. I can’t tell you the amount of times dinner time has sneaked up on me with no plans of what I would make. I would spend time going through the cupboards stressing about not having anything in the house to cook. More often then not when I have told my husband that I have nothing to make it isn’t so much that there aren’t ingredients to make dinner I am just uninspired. So this means either another trip to the store or to a restaurant, both huge money drainers. By having a plan it takes the thinking and stress out of meal time for the rest of the week. It also allows you to plan on using up ingredients so they don’t go bad. For example how many times have you purchased that bag or spinach or the broccoli and used it for one meal and then the rest of it spoiled as it just sat in the fridge unused. If you plan your week you can make sure you use up all of your fresh produce and reduce your waste.

Well that is tip number one there are more, but that is for another time.