TOP 3 Ideas to Save $$$ on Groceries

TOP 3 Ideas to Save $$$ on Groceries
We all know that we can save money at the market by using coupons and shopping the sales. While this can help, I wanted more. First of all, a lot of the foods I like to prepare for our family are not the kinds of foods that have coupons. When I look through the coupons for our local grocery store, I see coupons for fruity cereals that are 98% sugar, and then there are coupons for gummy snacks that make me look for my toothbrush just thinking about them. I definitely have treats for the fam, but junk food is not our entire diet! And since my family does like to eat every single day of the year, I am not going to wait for shopping only during the sales at the store before I grocery shop.

So let's find other ways to save money and still feed our families well. 

☆ Opt for DRY ingredients instead of canned. 

This can be true for so many options, but here are a couple of my favorites:
            Beans 
            Lentils 
    Not only are these a cheaper option when purchased dry, but I also prefer the texture and taste when they are cooked from dry, rather than pouring them out of a can. I can also control the ingredients and salt content that way. 

If you do not usually cook these, it may just take some fun experimentation in the kitchen to work them into your rotation. You can add staples like beans and lentils to meats, pastas, rice dishes, soups, and stews. They are even a great side on their own when seasoned well. Adding beans or lentils to dishes will add to the volume of the dish, plus they add fiber and protein. Win-win situation!

☆  It's okay to cook with generic products. Really--it is! 

Always browse the bottom or the top shelf. Eye-level products are almost always name-brand products that cost more per ounce. The bottom and top shelves are where you will most likely find off-brand versions of the same thing. The store is a business, so they keep the more expensive items on the middle shelf, where it is easiest for you to see and purchase them. That's totally fine; you just have to know where to look if you want to save some dough. 

There are definitely certain items that I choose to buy a specific brand only. But most of the time, I find that generic versions are very similar if not the exact same as their branded counterparts. 

☆  Inventory what you already have. 

This is HUGE! I can't stress this enough. Look in your pantry, fridge, freezer, and spice cabinet. You likely have more than you realize. Using those items now means not having to buy duplicates or similar items at all. That is the biggest money-saving tip. 

Hope these are helpful to you! And I would love to hear your ideas as well. Share them with us!

For more inspiration on cooking and doing life in general, we would love to say HEY in our Facebook community. Come join us! https://www.facebook.com/groups/smallstepsandselfcare


Eggplant Parmesan

Eggplant Parmesan
Low Carb Eggplant Parmesan
I said for years that I do not like eggplant. But then I tried it cooked correctly. And now I am hooked. 

Eggplant Parmesan is DELICIOUS! If you think you don't like it, then you probably have not tried it. I was looking for a lower carb version of this amazing classic. So I decided to make up a recipe myself. The biggest change is the dredge used to bread the eggplant slices. 

Start with an eggplant, and cut into rounds. I like these better than cutting the eggplant the long way. It makes the eggplant easier to bread and cook and even eat.
Set up your breading station. I used coconut flour, beaten eggs, and pork Panko (ground up pork rinds) mixed with Parmesan cheese and Italian seasoning. Dip the slices of eggplant into the coconut flour, then into the beaten eggs, and lastly into the pork Panko mixture. 

Line a baking sheet with parchment (or foil sprayed with olive oil) and then place your breaded eggplant onto the baking dish. Roast the eggplant in a preheated 400 degree oven for about 30 minutes. 
Once the eggplant comes out of the oven, layer 1/2 cup of marinara sauce in the bottom of a casserole dish. Next, add a layer of eggplant slices. Top those with 3/4 cup more marinara ( I like to make my own), half of the mozzarella cheese, then repeat layers. Top with Parmesan cheese and bake at 400 degrees for 15-20 minutes. Garnish with more Parmesan and fresh basil. 

We like to serve this with a chicken breast or other protein, because while this dish is low in carbohydrates, it does not pack enough of a protein punch for us. 

Low Carb Eggplant Parmesan

Ingredients

  • 2 eggplant
  • 2-3 eggs 
  • 2-3 cups pork panko
  • 1-2 cups almond flour
  • Italian seasoning
  • 1 cup Parmesan cheese (plus more for garnish)
  • 3 cups marinara sauce 
  • 1 pound shredded mozzarella cheese
  • fresh basil









  • Instructions

    • Preheat oven to 400° F.
    • Slice eggplant into rounds discs. 
    • Beat 2 eggs. You may not need all three, so beat more as you need them.
    • Mix Pork panko with Parmesan cheese and Italian seasoning. Salt and pepper to taste, but the cheese is already salty by itself.
    • Dip into almond flour, egg, then "bread" crumbs. Then roast in preheated oven for about 30 minutes.
    • Put ½ cup marinara sauce in bottom of baking dish.
    • Layer eggplant slices with ¾ cup sauce and half of the mozzarella cheese. Repeat layers and top with Parmesan.
    • Bake until cheese is completely melted and slightly golden brown. Allow to rest 10 minutes before cutting. Garnish with more Parmesan cheese and fresh basil.
    Once you have tried this, leave a comment below with how you like it. And share your favorite recipe for a delicious, easy meal for you and your family!
    We share more recipes and healthy living in our free Facebook community https://www.facebook.com/groups/smallstepsandselfcare.. We would love to meet you and chat more!
    .
    XO,
    La Sheonda




Meal Prep THIS, and the Rest Will Be Easy...

Meal Prep THIS, and the Rest Will Be Easy...
Looking to dive into meal prep? Meal prepping can be a huge time saver. And because it helps me use what I have on hand, as well as using what I have on hand before it has to get thrown out, it also saves money. That's a win-win people!

The key to successful meal prepping starts with knowing what you have. If you have not yet read the post on making an inventory of your pantry, fridge, spice cabinet, and freezer, that is hugely helpful in getting the meal prep process started. You can find it here.


The next step is to knock out the items that take the most time to cook. For most of us, this is the protein. Chicken thighs, roast, turkey legs, meatloaf--it all takes time. And on a weeknight with a significant other and kids, that is something we just don't have. This is where meal prepping, especially the meal prepping of your proteins, will save the day.

At least once a month, I  have a meal prep Sunday where all I do is meat. I start thawing our meat, if frozen, in the refrigerator on Friday night. Then on Sunday morning, it's go time. I use my stovetop, my oven, and my Instant Pot. If you do not have an Instant Pot yet, you need this tool in your life. You can scoop yours up on Amazon here: https://amzn.to/2HwxoOB..


Since variety is needed to get through the month, Meat Prep Sunday covers all the bases at our house. I will cook up some seasoned ground beef, some ground Italian sausage, of course a good amount of bacon, bone-in chicken thighs or turkey legs, boneless skinless chicken breast, pork chops, and some chicken drumsticks. I also prep at least one roast or pork tenderloin for the crock pot. Phew! That's a lot of meat! These are what our family likes--use what you love and include as much or as little variety as you like. (NOTE: We love seafood, but do not include it in most meal preps. Seafood will generally cook up very quickly, so if you are a seafood fan, you can cook that up the night of, and it will be perfect and quick!)


I get my Instant Pot going for chicken and pork chops, preheat the oven chicken thighs, and heat my skillet up to sauté ground meat and bacon. Once everything is cooked, I load up some labeled freezer bags so that I can pull out what is needed for a meal at a glance. 

Then when it is meal time, a pot of noodles can be boiled in just a few minutes to go with the protein of choice for that night. It is easy to cook up whole meals in advance--and we do that often!--but this Meat Prep Sunday allows for so much flexibility, that it is a no-brainer for us. Bon appetit!


More ideas and help for meals and health and family are in our free Facebook group here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/smallstepsandselfcare.. Hope in there and say HEY!

XO,
La Sheonda

Do this ONE Thing Before You Start Meal Prepping. . .

Do this ONE Thing Before You Start Meal Prepping. . .
Weekly meal prep was something I always intended to do. Wanted to do. Planned to do. But I never did it. 

I was busy. I didn't have time. I wasn't sure what to make. I had all the excuses. In truth, I just needed to put a couple things in place, and meal planning became, dare I say it, EASY. If this is something that you have struggled with, you are here for a reason! 

Before you even think about WHAT you will eat this week, or HOW to make it, you need to know what you have. This sounds like a no-brainer, but most of us never give this piece enough thought. The game-changer here is a running inventory. I have one for my pantry, my fridge, my freezer, and my spice cabinet. You can go as fancy or as simple as you like with this. I found the old school method of a legal pad and a pencil work best for me. I have seen inventories on Excel spreadsheets, notes on a phone, in an inventory app, but for me, good ol' pencil and paper work best. 

Once you inventory what you already have, make a list of meals that work for you. What do you like? What will cook in the timeframe you have? Do you have a family, spouse, roommate, or others for whom you cook? What are their preferences? This is not time to plan for the upcoming week. This is what you already know and love in general. Have a family recipe for pasta sauce? Jot that down. Love that pasta salad you've tweaked since college? Add it to your list. 
Once you have your inventory completed and meals that work for you written down, now it's time to focus on THIS week. You are ready to move forward with the confidence of knowing what you have, what you know, and what you have time for. 

Here's where it gets fun! What sounds delicious? What can be crafted with what you have on your inventory? Would you like to branch out from your meal list to something fun and unknown? Lately, I have been adding more Asian-inspired dishes to my repertoire. That used to be WAY outside of my comfort zone. Pick five meals you would like to make for dinner. 
But there are seven days in the week? I choose to do five meals most weeks because there usually is an event that comes up for us to eat out, and we always have at least one day's worth of leftovers as a family. Pick the number that works for you, but five is a great starting point. 

We have tons of other hacks and tips for healthy eating, weight loss, and living fully in our free Facebook group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/smallstepsandselfcare.. We look forward to meeting you in there.

XO, 
La Sheonda