Shopping on a Budget

As a newlywed, it is important to stay on a budget. Because of this, I have compiled a list of my own do's and don'ts when I get my goods.

1. Buy items you use daily in bulk
Chicken is a staple in my kitchen. I buy big frozen packs of it so I only have to buy it roughly once a month. Because it is frozen, I can keep it longer. It is typically cheaper than fresh chicken and still tastes great.

2. Only buy in bulk if you know you are going to use it all within the expiration date
I know this seems so simple, but stores that sell bulk items promote in a way that makes overspending very tempting. If you sample something keep in mind one bite is awesome, but it may not taste as good after 10 or 15 bites. If you try something new, buy it in smaller quantities the first time and make sure you'll eat enough of it.

3. Plan for dishes that use similar ingredients
There are so many fun and tasty dishes out there to try, but if you have to purchase unique and uncommon ingredients, you will most likely spend too much. If you are going to use kale in one dish, look up another dish that uses that leafy veggie!

4. Create a budget and stick to it
This can be challenging because each month brings new surprises and events that you just can't plan for. However, there is always a way to stick to your budget. If you have a monthly budget, figure out how much you can spend in a week. This keeps you on track throughout the month. Just think of it as a fun game and challenge yourself to do better every month! :)

5. Only use coupons you need
Coupons rock! At the same time, they can cause you to purchase items you don't need. Like tip#2, use coupons for items you use regularly. Freeze what you can't use that week.

6. Make a list
Plan the meals you are going to eat for the week (using tip #3), then make your shopping list according to your meal plan. Stores that have lots of discounts on fun snacks may not be the best place to shop. Choose a store that you know will keep you on budget. If you stick to the list, you will have the right amount of food in your house and will be less wasteful.

What are your tips?

From my tiny kitchen to yours!


Grilled Pineapple and Chicken Quesadillas with Homemade Tortillas

*Please note: food tastes better than it looks in this awkward picture

I may have found one of my favorite Mexican(ish) food dishes. I love the sweet and spicy flavor in these tasty quesadillas! You can make these one of two ways: 1. You can spend an extra hour and a half making delicious homemade tortillas (It's a little time consuming, but worth every bite.) or, 2. you could go to the store and buy tortillas that taste like cardboard and pretend it tastes good. It's up to you :)

Oh, by the way, I got these recipes from The Pioneer Woman.

Let's start with the tortillas. Here are the ingredients:
  • 2-1/2 cups All-purpose flour
  • 2-1/2 teaspoons Baking Powder
  • 1 teaspoon Salt
  • 1 cup hot water (not boiling, not lukewarm, just hot)
  • 1/2 cup and 2 TBS Lard or Vegetable Shortening***
***Yes, you must buy this ingredient! I found myself trying to look inconspicuous as I searched for Lard in the baking aisle. You may want to wear a hooded sweatshirt so you can hide your face from anyone who may see you check out with this item.

Let's get cooking! You will feel so powerful in your kitchen after making homemade tortillas. I mean, this is something you can brag about to your friends, even if they are made with lard.

1. Mix the flour, baking powder, and salt.

2. Add spoonfuls of lard to the mix and use a fork or pastry cutter to combine. In the end the mixture will be very crumbly.

3. Pour in the hot water slowly and combine.

4. Leave in the bowl and kneed 30-40 times. At this point the dough will be less sticky and form a cohesive ball. Cover with a towel for an hour.
Because you just beat the crap out of the dough, it needs some time to rest and prepare for the next battle. This is a good time for you to battle your messy kitchen!

5. Roll dough into about 16 ping-pong sized balls and set on a baking sheet or tray. Cover with the towel for 20-30 min.
Think of the dough as a lazy teenager. You love them, but they need an annoying amount of rest!

6. After the dough has rested, heat up a griddle or frying pan on about medium heat. Individually roll out the balls until they are very thin, like paper thin. Place on the griddle or frying pan for about 20 seconds a side. You may have to play with the temperature and time to produce golden tortillas.
The tortillas should be soft with brown spots on them when they are ready.

That's not so bad, right? Get started! When you taste them you will be so happy you did!

Now, for the quesadillas:
  • 1 can sliced pineapple
  • 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • season salt and pepper, to taste
  • 3 cups grated Monterey Jack Cheese
  • 1 can sliced or diced JalapeƱo (it's really up to you)
  • cilantro
  • barbecue sauce (I love Sweet Baby Rays!)

You are going to just love me for sharing this with you!

1. Place chicken in a gallon zip-lock bag and pound with a meat mallet (or if you don't have one, like me, use a rolling pin) until it is an even thickness.

2. Season chicken with season salt, pepper, and a little olive oil according to your preferences.

3. Grill the chicken as you normally would. When you flip the chicken add a nice layer of BBQ sauce to one side, then add the pineapple. Grill for about 2-3 min per side.

4. Slice the chicken into very thin pieces and cut the pineapple into bite-sized chunks.

5. Now it's time to put it all together! Place grated cheese, sliced chicken, pineapples, jalapeƱos, and cilantro onto your homemade tortillas. Fry them in a pan with a little vegetable oil until both sides are a golden brown color and the cheese has melted.

6. Slice and serve!

This would be great with pineapple mango salsa or a fresh pico de gallo! I hope you enjoy this yummy and fresh meal!

I decided to incorporate a fun addition to the end of my recipes. Because the goal of this blog is to share recipes with friends (particularly newlyweds), I feel it necessary that my husband has a chance to rate the food I make. So here is the first installment of
"Honey, how's my cookin'?"
Jake's opinion:
"On a scale of 1 to Incredible, this dish is in the realm of unbelievable. It has a very authentic Mexican flavor that reminds me of one of our favorite restaurants from our honeymoon in Cabo. A definite 3 thumbs up!"

From my tiny kitchen to yours!

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