Saving money on food by substituting ingredients

One of the ways we save money on food is simply by working with what we have to make recipes. It saves money by using up whatever’s available in the kitchen to piece together recipes.

We also try to substitute wheat for white in anything we make – or mix half white and half wheat. For example, we’ll use part wheat flour in recipes that call for all white flour, and we’ll make spaghetti and most pasta dishes with wheat noodles, or half white and half wheat noodles.

One way I try to keep desserts a little healthier is by using oatmeal in cookie recipes and bars. It usually doesn’t affect the flavor but oatmeal has fiber in it and works just as well as flour.

I also keep dry milk on hand (it comes in a box and lasts forever) just in case we run out of milk and a recipe calls for milk. It doesn’t taste like milk so you wouldn’t want to drink it straight.

I wear this apron while cooking; it was a bridesmaids gift! I am the only one not looking at the camera... #durr

I wear this apron while cooking; it was a bridesmaids gift! I was a brunette at the time but I’m the only one not looking at the camera… #durr

I also stock up on cans of evaporated milk and try using them in cream soups or in place of cream in recipes if we don’t have cream – we just rarely have cream in the house.

Here are some of the things we often run out of and the substitutions we use:

I’m sure there are more things I’ve substituted…I just can’t think of them all now. I basically just try to stay creative in the kitchen and if I don’t have one ingredient…I try to work around that ingredient or substitute something crazy! You would be surprised at what you can still make without all of the ingredients on hand.

 

No. Don’t. Stop.

I have a pretty clear picture in my head of the house decor I’d like. But my husband is going rogue.

Ross: “I found another headboard on Craigslist.” [flips the phone over to show me]

 

Me: “No. Don’t even. Just stop it.”

 

Ross: “What!? It’s $20!”

 

Me: “Stop with the headboards. You keep sending me ugly-ass headboards. Nothing from 1970 is acceptable. 1900s, maybe, and modern maybe, but 1970…1990…none of that is okay.”

 

Ross: [laughing at how exasperated I am getting] “Okay fine, fine, I’ll stop.”

My husband can do just about anything but pick out headboards. #ihopehestops

One year birthday party – Thomas the Train theme!

Julius turned one in January and we wanted to do a low key party at the house. Being one year old, he doesn’t really care about his birthday, but we thought a Thomas the Train theme would be fun for George, and anything that is fun for George is fun for Julius by default. Plus, it was easy because we have almost everything ever made having anything to do with Thomas the Train.

We used electrical tape to make train tracks on the floor.

We used electrical tape to make train tracks on the floor.

We hung blue streamers around the house.

We hung blue streamers around the house.

I drew a big Thomas the Train illustration with crayon...it's a real piece of art ;)

I drew a big Thomas the Train illustration with crayon…it’s a real piece of art 😉

Train tracks were all over the house!

Train tracks were all over the house!

It was easy, and I didn’t have to buy much! I displayed all the train books we own and we set up every single train track. We basically filled the upstairs and downstairs with train tracks! Only one person tripped that I know of…haha. We put a Thomas the Train puzzle out by the food. We put black electrical tape on the floor to look like railroad tracks. I had balloons and blue streamers from George’s birthday and I drew a large Thomas the Train picture on the back of wrapping paper and taped it on the wall.

name-train

We played Thomas and Friends Netflix on a loop.

We played Thomas and Friends Netflix on a loop.

My dad and his second grandson

My dad and his second grandson

I used foil bread pans to make train cars and Babybel cheese wheels on the train cars, and filled each with veggies and dip and crackers and hummus. I saw this idea on the Party City website. We had about seven assorted pizzas, beer, wine and V8 Splash for the kids. I guess our neighbors’ kid loves Babybel cheese so she came over and asked me shyly if she could eat a wheel. To which I said yes of course!

Appetizer train!

Appetizer train!

Thomas the Train cake

Thomas the Train cake

Grandpa sharing his cake with baby Julius

Grandpa sharing his cake with baby Julius

Julius loading up on sugar

Julius loading up on sugar

George and Julius both had a lot of fun, and so did their little friends. Our idea of a party sure has changed, but we got to see our family and parent-friends so that was fun. I can’t really stay up late anymore anyway…10 pm is about as late as I can make it! #jeez

George helping his brother open his gifts

George helping his brother open his gifts

Julius "opening" his gifts

Julius “opening” his gifts

The birthday boy!

The birthday boy!

Making pirate valentines!

I didn’t even decide what we were doing for daycare valentines until tonight…like on my way home from work. So this idea came to me from…procrastination…or more accurately de-prioritization. I figured we have enough crafts stuff to last us well into old age, so I didn’t want to run out and buy something. I had bought Hershey’s Kisses at the grocery store because they were BOGO and I had the idea to use lipstick and make kisses on paper. I thought George would catch on and help me out.

George tried lipstick kisses without success.

George tried lipstick kisses without success.

BOGO - one bag to eat and one to give!

BOGO – one bag to eat and one to give!

George did want to try the lipstick kisses, but after his first one didn’t turn out so well (he didn’t do a very good job pursing his lips)…he didn’t want to do the kisses anymore. So I thought fast and grabbed a bunch of paper pirate hats we had leftover from around Christmastime. We weren’t really using them or playing pirates…and there were a ton of them, so I looked up some valentine’s pirate cards online and copied this one from Mer Mag.

We wrote "You arrrgh GRRReat!"

We wrote “You arrrgh GRRReat!”

I still did the lipstick kisses…because why not…and we wrote on them with marker and added glitter glue. The pirate hats are from World Market and I think the pack comes with eight of them, with ties. We only have a handful of kids at daycare, but we made a few extra for friends. I’m glad we thought of this last minute pirate valentine – it worked out well! That’s done.

Pirate valentines!

Pirate valentines!

Valentines for daycare

Valentines for daycare

To the dentist

Ross has had a few days off of work due to nasty weather. I always welcome any time he gets off of work because it means we can get some crap done around the house and I might actually have help getting the kids up in the morning which is aaaaa-mazzzzzz-ing. If we double team I’m less likely to break down in hysterics when we are walking out the front door and the dogs push over George and he falls in front of me while I’m holding the baby. It was on one of these days that Ross offered to help with the kids’ appointments. I just brought Julius to his twelve month checkup and only a few days later George and Julius were supposed to hit up the dentist. Ross took them both while I kept working, and it was awesome! Then this happened, which I found hilarious:

Me: “Can you bring George’s puppy blanket, too? I forgot it this morning and he might want it for a nap later.”

Ross: “Yep.” [Car seat in hand, opens the door to the garage.] “This is going to sound bad.”

Me: “What…?”

Ross: “I have no idea where the kids’ dentist is.”

(I smirked a little…but I don’t know where engine coolant is…so we’re probably even)