Tag Archives: Budget Low Carb

Copycat Sugar Free V8 Juice recipe

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Mr. Incredible loves V8 juice. The thing is, it’s expensive and made with ingredients that can spike some people’s blood sugar. You can make a copycat for pennies on the dollar and for fewer carbs than ten plus per one cup serving.

When buying tomato paste, always, ALWAYS check the ingredients label.  Some brands have stuff in them, like added sugar. One can of Aldi tomato paste has 30 total carbs, and that was what I used for this.

Make Your Own Sugar Free V8 Juice Copycat

One can no sodium tomato paste
4 cans water (I add a bit more water to make it an even 4 cups)
Mix well then add:
1 teaspoon celery salt
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
pinch pepper
3 shakes of Worcestershire sauce
1/2 teaspoon horseradish

Several shakes of hot sauce (Optional)
A packet of sweetener (Optional)

Take all of the ingredients and mix them up (a whisk works best!), pour into a jar and store in the refrigerator.

Per one cup serving, there will be roughly 8 carbs, depending on your ingredients. This really works well in recipes like chili and soup, to give it a nice tomato flavor without adding a lot of carb.

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Freezer Friday! Saving Money on Ham

This will be the first  ever installment of what I’m going to call “Freezer Friday”. It’s going to be a day of the week where we talk about things we put in our freezers in order to save substantial amounts of money or took out of our freezers from our previous adventures and what we cooked.

This week, the sales are a little slow around here, so I think next week, I’m going to do what I call “Eating straight from the freezer” which means unless I stumble across a rock bottom price on markdowns, my meat budget should be zero. I might do this for a few weeks, because grilling season is rapidly approaching and there are going to be a ton of great meat sales I might want to partake in (last year for my birthday in April, I bought two whole, uncut ribeyes for a song and had the butcher slice them for me). Eating from the freezer is also something I do every year around the holidays, not because I want to fill it up, but because it makes my meat budget zero.

I have a 22 Cubic foot, upright freezer that I purchased at the Salvation Army in Conway, Arkansas about 12 years ago. It cost $125. It does not self defrost, so every few months, I unpack everything, check dates, defrost, wipe it down, and repack, putting what needs used first in the front. I’m sure it uses more energy than a new one, but it is labeled Energy Star, so I don’t worry too much.

I really like to eat well. I like to have a lot of variety, as a family, we enjoy lots of different things, and most of my cooking is done from scratch. The thing is, though, that I run a pretty tight budget, so I’m constantly watching for sales and markdowns because I don’t like to pay full price. So I grab items when I find a great sale, and pack them for freezing. Then, regardless of what’s on sale that week, we have plenty of variety in our meals.

Now, I’m going to talk about convenience foods. Do you ever buy these little packs of diced ham?

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Great for casseroles, omelettes, and salads, right? But at $2.79 for 8 ounces, that translates to $5.58 per pound! You can get a whole ham for .99/lb if you just keep an eye on your sales and here’s a thing: The cheaper ones always go on sale around Easter and the holidays for a rock bottom price and you can catch the really expensive ones as markdowns around the first few weeks of February. If you have freezer space, pick up a couple and put them away. Then you have ham when you want it without having to pay full price.

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A few weeks back, I picked up a cute little boneless sandwich ham for  .99/lb. we ate sliced ham and veggies for a couple of meals, ham and eggs for breakfast, then I cubed the remainder in small bits, just like those pricey packs.

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I spread it out on a cookie sheet and stuck it in the freezer. After about half an hour, I took it out, stirred the pieces around with my hands, and put it back in till they were frozen. Then, I bagged them up and now I have about three or four pounds of ham for recipes readily available and it only cost me effort and .99/lb. this is something that is still doable even if your freezer is small. That bag doesn’t take up much space in the door. It’s a gallon sized, by the way.

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Whenever I run out of ham bits, I plan a day where I cook another and do the same thing over again. I should run out of these close to Easter, so already have that plan in place.

Just by doing this simple step yourself, you can save over $4.00 per pound on convenience ham.

What about you guys? What do you do to save money on convenience foods? I love hearing other people’s tips and tricks, because that’s how we learn!

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Budget Low Carb $25 Seven Day, Three Meals Daily Dollar Tree Menu for One

Pretend you’re broke, or maybe you are. Maybe you paid all your bills this week and you’re left with $50. All you have in your fridge is some butter or a saved jar of bacon fat, a few packets of leftover soy sauce from the Chinese restaurant, and some salt and pepper. Do you run out and grab a few pounds of rice and beans and some Ramen or do you do your best to make yourself up a menu that fits your low carb lifestyle? My hope for you is that you pick the latter choice. I also hope this blog entry helps inspire you to see that low cost low carbing is possible.

That being said, this is a menu for one. It will make three meals a day for a week, based on the idea that you eat half for dinner and save the other half for lunch the next day. The recipes could be doubled, or they could be shared as just dinners with a second person. Personally, I found, as I cooked and ate the food, that it was more than I needed to satisfy my hunger. In fact, I bought and set aside particular items to have as snacks, and didn’t eat them. You also need access to a dollar tree that sells cooler/frozen foods, the bigger the selection, the  better. These are items that are sold in the Dollar Tree stores around Birmingham, and they sell similar items in other places.

Before I start, I want to say a couple of things.

I picked Dollar Tree for a few reasons. Out of curiosity, because there are some cool, LC items you can get there, and because sometimes when you’re broke, you don’t have the gas money for going to three or four stores to buy the sale items there. That’s how broke I’ve been.

This is not a Paleo menu, it is not an organic menu, and it is not a gourmet menu. There may even be some gluten in there somewhere. There are processed meats. Nothing is fresh. It’s a menu designed to get someone through a week on a $25 budget. If you need certain things, like coffee, creamer, and sweetener, you can find those at the Dollar Tree, but the creamer won’t be sugar free. They do sell half n half, which isn’t ideal because of the milk, but doesn’t have sugar. So, if you have to have those things, throw in three extra bucks.

The recipes are simple, easy to cook, and taste good.
Snacks are pork rinds, sunflower seeds, olives, pickles, and string cheese.
You could make all of these on Sunday if you wanted, and then package them for the week.

Some of them will make leftovers, not a huge amount, but I actually ate this exact food for a week and I didn’t go hungry. I didn’t even need snacks most days. It all depends on your appetite. There will also be some items that you have left in your pantry to roll over into your next week’s menu.

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I don’t mind foraging some, so just for funsies, I went outside and cut a handful of those wild onions that grow everywhere to add to some of the recipes for bulk and for some mild, onion flavor. I like them, and they were free. However! Unless you know for certain that you have onions, don’t try this at home.

Please do your own nutritional counts.

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My grocery purchases were these:

One bag of pork rinds
Two bags of frozen veggie mix
One bag of frozen peppers and onions
One bag of frozen spinach
One package of frozen tilapia filets
One chub of frozen breakfast sausage
One two pack of frozen chicken legs
Two 3 oz packages of shredded mozzarella (Make sure it’s real cheese, not the fake stuff)
One 3 oz package of shredded cheddar (again, real)
One three pack of string cheese
3 half dozen cartons of eggs

A bottle of real mayonnaise
A package of walnuts
A jar of pickles
A can of mackerel
A can of tuna
A bag of shelled sunflower seeds
A jar of Rinaldi pizza sauce (read your labels! Rinaldi does not have added sugar.)
A shaker of parmesan (get the smaller one, the big can is “cheese product”)
A can of black olives
A package of pepperoni slices

Sunday:

Breakfast first.
You want your breakfast sausage, a six pack of eggs, and a cup of the frozen pepper mix.
Brown the sausage and scramble the eggs with the peppers, the stir it all together and keep it in a bowl. Dip some out each morning and heat it up for breakfast. Easy.

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Next up: Tuna salad

Take your tuna, add 3 Tablespoons of mayo, add some cut up pickles, the package of walnuts, and salt and pepper. Boil two eggs.

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Cook about two cups of the veggie mix you picked (these are variable, depending on your selection) I used the California blend because it was the only broccoli/cauli combo they had, then I picked out the carrots. Put half the tuna, one egg, and half the veggies for dinner, and pack the other half for tomorrow.

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Monday:
Spinach Florentine

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Preheat oven to 400.
Thaw the whole package of spinach, put it in a mixing bowl with about 1/4 cup of mayo and 1/4 cup of parmesan, plus some salt and pepper. Put it in a small baking dish and crack four eggs on top. Salt and pepper the eggs, put in the oven, and bake for 20 minutes. You could shorten the baking time to 10-12 minutes if you wished for a runny yolk, but I like my eggs yolks firm. Serve half per meal for two separate meals. I had some sunflower seeds for a snack.

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Tuesday
Stir Fry

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There will probably be two small tilapia fillets in the package of fish. Cook them in a skillet and set them aside. If you have some bacon fat or a little butter, add that and some salt and pepper and dump half the bag of stir fry mix, minus about a half cup, into the pan and cook it till the veggies are soft and no longer frozen. Split it between two dishes, add a string cheese for a little extra protein and fat, and enjoy.

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Wednesday
Pizza cups
This was, by far, my favorite, and it made three meals worth of food.

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Preheat oven to 350
Take the pepperoni (notice that I bought the large, sandwich sized, slices. This is important.) and put one in each well of a twelve cup muffin tin. Add a Tablespoon or so of the Rinaldi pizza sauce to the top of each one. If there were extra pepperonis, chop them up and add a few to each up. Slice a few olives and add to each cup, I added some wild onions, you could get that bag of frozen pepper mix and add a few bits of chopped pepper and onion from it here. Put a little parmesan on them and top with the shredded mozzarella and bake for 15 or so minutes till they look right. And by right, I mean like this. Make a cup of your frozen veggies to eat with them.

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Thursday
Fish croquettes

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Open the fish and drain the liquid. I don’t bother with picking out the bones.
Empty the fish into a big bowl. Add the bag of shredded cheddar (the dollar tree bags are 3-4 ounce sized), add two eggs, about 1/3 cup of mayo, crush enough pork rinds finely to equal half a cup of crumbs, salt and pepper to taste, and I included about half a cup of wild onions. Mix it all together and shape the mix into three or four patties and cook them in a skillet till they have a nice crust on one side, then flip and do the same on the other side. I used a little bacon grease with these.

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When these were finished, I tossed a cup of frozen veggies into the skillet and cooked them in the leftover fat. Remember to divide your meal into two dishes.

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Friday
Peppers and eggs

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This recipe is as simple as it sounds. You heat and cook the peppers in your skillet, then break the eggs in and scramble them together. I learned this from a youtube show about depression era cooking.

Saturday
Chicken soup

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Take the two pack of chicken legs and put them in a medium pot first thing in the morning. Cover them with water and boil for maybe an hour, take them out, take the meat off the bones and refrigerate it, beak the bones in half and put them back in the water and simmer them all day on low with the lid on. It won’t be an extremely rich chicken broth, but it will make a nice enough soup broth. After 3-4 hours, strain it to get any bone pieces out, add the chicken back in, add about 1/3 cup of that pizza sauce for some flavor, then add about 2-3 cups of whatever vegetables you have left from the frozen veggies you’ve been eating on all week. Season with salt and pepper, and you have enough soup to last a couple more meals.

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By now, you may still have a few leftovers, like olives, pickles, mayo, frozen peppers, parmesan, pizza sauce, and sunflower seeds. You can roll these over into a few other items for the next week, and then you can buy a few other things, like garlic powder, a little bottle of cooking oil, etc. As you work these menus, you will find that you have more you can use per week, and as a result, have more variety.