Recipe: Chicken Tortellini Soup

00169.jpgAs promised last week, here is our new family favorite soup recipe. This soup came about after a shopping trip to Grocery Outlet. I discovered a bunch of cool looking ingredients I’ve not seen before. Notably, This Parmesan Brodo broth. It’s OMG so amazing. It adds what foodies call “Depth of Flavor”.

This soup is super quick and easy to make.

Ingredients:

  • 2 T. butter
  • 1 c. onions, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, diced
  • 1.5 c. celery, chopped (if you are like me and wonder why celery is so expensive, here’s the answer)
  • 1.5 c. carrots, chopped
  • 2 cartons Swansons Parmesan Brodo broth
  • 1 package Chicken and Mozzarella Tortellini
  • 3 cups fresh spinach, washed
  • 2 T. parsley (I used dehydrated, but if you’ve got it fresh, use it)
  • 1 T. Rosemary

Directions:

  1. In a large stockpot, melt butter, and add onions, celery, and carrots. Saute on low until onions are clear and soft, about 15 minutes.
  2. Add garlic and continue to cook on low, stirring frequently, until garlic is fragrant.
  3. Add broth and herbs. Cook on low/medium for about 20 minutes.
  4. Add tortellini, and cook per package directions.
  5. Turn off the heat and toss in the spinach. It cooks super quick
  6. Serve soup with garlic bread.

Note: This soup isn’t vegetarian or gluten-free. If you need a gluten-free option, there is GF tortellini available.

10 Tips to Stay on Budget for Groceries

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I frequently get skeptical looks, the side eye, or people thinking I’m starving my kids when I tell them that our grocery budget is $80/week.

It takes a lot of work, but it is doable. I cook a lot from scratch- it’s healthy, cheap, and I can control what goes into each dish (hidden veggies, fruit, less sugar, etc.). I can make a cheese pizza at home for less than $4, and that is enough pizza for the kids for two meals!

Here are a few of our family tactics to stay on budget:

  1. CASH! Go to the bank/ATM and get your grocery money out of the bank every week. This is a great way to start. I get $80 out of the ATM each Saturday for the upcoming weeks’ groceries.
  2. Inventory your Fridge, Freezer, and Pantry. Bonus- You’ll also find stuff that needs to be thrown out or donated. If you are looking for kitchen inventory printables, I like the kitchen inventories here. They are great printables.
  3. Menu Plan. Start by using what you’ve got on-hand. Eat food that’s on sale or in season. We eat a lot of strawberries in the summer because they are cheap!
  4. Make a grocery list. Stick to the list Don’t be afraid to substitute brands, or make changes based on what is on sale, or any in-store markdowns you find.
  5. Don’t be afraid to go to more than one store. I’m not saying run all over town, but going to two stores is OK. In our area, there are a 99 Cents Only store and a Grocery Outlet in the same shopping Center. I hit up both each week. Then, on the way home, I stop at Food4Less and buy milk (cheapest in town!), eggs, and bread (if 99 Cents Only doesn’t have the high protein bread we like).
  6. Eat Less Meat. Not only does it save money, but it’s better for the environment.
  7. Take advantage of local resources. There are a few food co-ops in our area. Additionally, there are free produce distributions too. A couple of my friends and I split a co-op lot twice a month. It comes out to less than $20 per person, and we get all kinds of cool stuff. A quick google search can help you find both in your area.  In the summer, we take advantage of Kid’s free lunches too.
  8. Coupon and/or use money-saving apps.  My complete list of apps can be found here. Right now my favorite apps are Fetch Rewards and Ibotta.  I love that I can use Fetch at any store. It helps because I shop a lot of Grocery Outlet and 99 Cents Only.
  9. Speaking of which… Don’t forget to check out stores like 99 Cents Only. There are all kinds of great bargains. Here is my list of 10 Great Buys at 99 Cents Only!
  10. Be Flexible. Some weeks you will go over budget. It happens. Sometimes you need to stock up on staples, or your family wants to eat something that isn’t on sale. Sometimes you really want to order a pizza and wings. That’s OK! Frugality is a journey, it’s not a punishment or a life of austerity and suffering. You can still live a fun, full life while being frugal.

Talk Back: Share a few of your families tips for staying on budget?

One Roast Chicken, Three Meals!

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I love roast chicken and veg. It is one of my favorite meals to prepare and serve. It’s dead simple, it’s impressive, and there are always leftovers to repurpose.

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So many veggies!
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Compound Butter

 

 

The other night I made a roast chicken with veg and I had enough meat leftover that I was able to stretch the meat into three meals: Roast Chicken and Veg, Chicken soup (use the directions for using a rotisserie chicken), and chicken enchiladas (this recipe, but I added 1 cup shredded chicken).  Here is my fool-proof recipe for a tasty meal.

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Bock Bock Bock!

Roast Chicken, Veg, and Gravy

Ingredients:

  • 1 whole chicken, rinsed and plucked of any errant feathers. Remember to remove the bag of giblets
  • 1 stick of butter, softened to room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon of each of the following: Rosemary, Shallot Pepper, Parsley
  • 2 cups of the following veggies, chopped into bite-size pieces: carrots, celery, zuchinni
  • 1 cup of the following veggies, chopped: onion (I used sweet yellow), shallots, red bell pepper
  • 4 cloves of garlic, diced
  • salt
  • pepper
  • 2 T. corn starch (this makes the recipe Gluten-Free)
  • 1/2 c. water or chicken broth

Directions:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. In a small dish, mix butter and Rosemary, Shallot Pepper, Parsley.
  2. Spread the butter mixture under the chicken’s skin. If there is any remaining, drop a dollop in the cavity and smear on the outside of the bird.
  3. Stuff the cavity with veggies, place chicken breast side down in a baking dish.
  4. Pour remaining veggies into the baking dish around chicken.
  5. Cover loosely with foil, and bake the chicken for 20 minutes per pound.
  6. About 20 minutes before the chicken is done, remove foil and finish cooking.
  7. Chicken is done when internal temp reaches 165 degrees (we have this meat thermometer)
  8. Remove the chicken from the oven, and allow to rest for about 15-20 minutes.
  9. Remove chicken and veg from the pan and set aside.
  10. In a saucepan, heat the juice/pan drippings and 1/2 cup water or chicken broth.
  11. As the liquid comes to a boil, combine cornstarch and 1/2 c. cold water in a cup, whisk until lump free.
  12. As the liquid comes a rolling boil, slowly stir in water/cornstarch mixture and stir constantly until it thickens. Season with salt and pepper, remove from heat.

Serve the chicken, veggies, and gravy with mashed potatoes (or cauliflower).

There are no photos of after it came out of the oven. The locusts (aka the dinner guests) descended upon the chicken and carved it up.

Talk Back: What is your favorite meal to serve guests?

 

 

 

 

 

Meal Plan for the Week!

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This week has been crazy, and it’s just Tuesday! Mr. is sick, so our usual routine has been thrown off.

I’m just posting dinners for our meal plan. The kiddos usually have a small toasted bagel with cream cheese for breakfast along with fruit.  Hubs likes Oatmeal (my recipe for an easy almost instant oatmeal mix can be found here) if he’s got time, otherwise he and I have protein shakes with frozen bananas and PB2.

Lunches for Lil’ Man are usually Peanut butter and crackers, fruit, milk, a protein muffin (aka a kid cupcake), and applesauce cup. He takes his lunch every day! Hubs usually has a protein shake or I pack him leftovers or a frozen entree.

Bitty Bird and I usually have leftovers from the night before, or soup, sandwiches, quesadillas. She eats almost anything!

We’re pretty stocked up of food for the next week or so- We’ll need milk, cream cheese, and cheese. I’ll probably hit up Costco tomorrow.

Monday:

  • D: Chicken Tortilla Soup and toast

Tuesday:

  • D: Soup and grilled cheese (While Mr. is sick, we may be eating a lot of soup)

Weds:

  • D: Breakfast for dinner

Thursday:

  • D:  Spaghetti Squash boats with Vegetable Marinara sauce

Friday:

  • D: Date Night! (we go out)

Saturday:

  • D:  BBQ hamburgers and BBQ veggies

Sunday:

  • D: Leftover buffet

The menu may change, as  I pull stuff out of the pantry to rotate what we’ve got (I am trying to cut down on waste, and put the older stuff up front to get eaten first).