Can you believe Friday is here already?! The weekend has crept up and I’m still reeling (and weeping 😦 ) from my unexpected expense of the week. Turns out having Muffy dying did not make it into the forecasted car budget for the year. Someone once said to budget $50 a month to unexpected car repairs…this year the 01 Honda got new breaks, a new radiator, and now a new muffler. I’m no mechanic but I think that $50 was a gross understatement in terms of budgeting…then again, I heard it over 10 years ago and my car is rounding out her 16th year. Well, I just did a quick google search – apparently the new rule (probably not so new) is to budget $100 a month for car repairs. Huh. Don’t worry – the
doctor mechanic assures me going forward she is fit as a fiddle. Yeah, right…
Anywho, this weeks spending fiasco has led me to want to shine the spotlight on the flip side of the coin. The saving side. I would like to start a weekly series showcasing my (and yours!) frugal tips from the week. What I saved, how I saved, and any kind of household updates that help to contribute to our financial bottom line. I hope you will join me in posting your own frugal wins in the comments section so we can all help each other out.
This week, Frugal Friday is focusing on food.
Despite that tiny car repair issue, I saved major dough on meals. Not my dough – but dough none the less. You see, my BF and I are at the delicate stage of expanding our relationship and the responsibilities that go along with that. He has kids. And not any kid of kids – TEENAGE BOY kind of kids (ages 13 and 15). Yikes! This situation is not entirely new to me – I nannied for a family of two boys for 7 years – but they weren’t teens. There’s a whole set of rules that go along with teenagers.
- Don’t ask them direct questions – they shut down (true for all teens not just boys).
- Don’t expect them to understand the full cycle of “cleaning up”. Getting dishes close to the sink or garbage near the trash can is close enough.
- The toilet seat now belongs in the up position. If it is down, it deserves to get peed on. Pay no mind to the fact that they too have to sit while doing certain “functions”.
- Never, ever, ask the about girls.
- Never try to use slang terms like “On Fleak”. We just aren’t cool enough.
And the biggest lesson I learned this week was:
6. Never EVER ask them what they want for dinner. JUST MAKE IT.
When you ask first, you will undoubtedly get a varying array of fast food to fine dining options…non of which you plan to indulge them in. This will be a constant battle and one you must remain strong on. Due to time constraints, my BF has had to rely heavily on the help of fast food establishments or the convenience of freezer foods to feed the boys during the week. While he is great at making lunches, after a long day of work coupled with the long commute home, dinner tends to fall by the wayside.
So, this week I was tasked with planning a dinner that both kids would like. H hates everything – especially if his brother likes it. Chipotle has become a major source of contention in this brotherhood. J, on the other hand, loves just about anything…as long as it costs money or looks cool. Sushi comes to mind. Or how about a nice surf and turf?
Yeeaaah, I wasn’t making either. Despite H not loving burritos, I decided to take a chance with a Mexican theme and settled on tacos…
In my mind, tacos are win win. They are a fugal fun fest of delights for your mouth and your wallet. Soft taco tortillas are .85¢ for 10 at Aldi. You can get them cheaper elsewhere but, for .8¢ each, I don’t feel the need to run around town to save a few cents. Also on my Aldi run, I grabbed a can of organic black beans (.79¢), taco seasoning (.35¢/packet), and a can of black olives(.75¢). If I were a person who cooked meat, I might have added a chicken breast to the whole ordeal. Since I am not, I grabbed a can of chicken ($1.85) from the BF’s pantry….this is a big step for me as a vegetarian. No judgement.
The beans and chicken got a good dose of taco seasoning while simmering in their respective pots. We had shredded cheese in the freezer, a 1/2 onion in the fridge, and a big box of fresh spinach from my salads this week. I chopped some up along with the olives, onion, and cheese and set all of the ingredients in little bowls on the table. I also added a can of Pace salsa ($1 at Dollar Tree) and some crispy restaurant style tortilla chips ($2.99) from the store-made deli section of Jewel.
Everyone loves tacos. I mean, if you don’t like tacos (or dogs) I don’t want to be your friend. I can’t. My love goes deep and I just can’t see us making it work without the occasional taco eating, guacamole indulging, margarita enhanced evening. I can’t. With this in mind, I decided to try to pry H’s mind open with a little taco experiment. If he was hungry, the food was out and ready to be eaten, and he didn’t have the option to say no, could he be convinced to eat just one?
Yes. Yes, he was . In fact, H ate two. And J did as well…despite the thrifty price tag attached.
Total spent to feed 4 was appx $8. We only used half of the olives, a small portion of the already left over bagged cheese, 1/4 of the onion, 1/2 the salsa, 1/2 the olives, a fraction of the chips, and there were a couple of tortillas spared. In theory, all I need is a can of beans and I have a great lunch for tomorrow! Oh – and we have TONS of those yummy chips left over….we will be eating those ALL week. I definitely see chilaquiles in my future!! Ways to further the savings – use dry beans, cook your own chicken breast (not gonna do it) or skip it all together, make your own tortillas (super cheap), or you can even make your own bulk taco seasoning.
I think the success of this meal was not in what the meal was, exactly, but the fact that the boys had some part in putting it together. With all the ingredients out, building their own tacos gave them a choice in what they were able to eat – well, within the taco perimeter. No cheese, no problem. Extra chicken, sure thing!
Customization is key to feeding the pickiest of eaters – I am certainly guilty of that myself…
Next group meal I plan to stick with the frugal fun theme of build your own pizzas. I mean, everybody loves pizza…If you don’t love pizza then I can’t be friends with you. 😉
Until next time…