One of the 4 billion things you learn right away when you’re living the adventure of what I fondly like to call “extreme budgeting” is the ability to make food last a long long long time. Which really only means taking leftovers and disguising them as things people will actually eat. But I like to feel more glamorous than that, and it’s my blog. Not that saying “making food last a long long long time” is glamorous. I just don’t like to use the word leftovers.

I have absolutely no idea what I’m talking about.

Let me give you an example of where I’m going with this.

Do you see this? This makes me say bad words in my head.

It’s a tiny slice of lemon loaf. And they want me to drop $1.75 plus tax. For one tiny little dry slice of lemon loaf.

And get a load of this.

I have no words in my head to describe how this makes me feel. I’m doing everything in my power to not type in all caps.

It’s a packet of oatmeal with some sprinkly things to make it perfect, I guess.

For $2.45.

I can buy at least 3 boxes of oatmeal for that price, and that’s on a bad day.

I guess that was blunt enough.

So, what do you do?

You get really familiar with your pots and pans. You get intimate with your pantry. And you propose marriage to your dishwasher, cause you’re gonna want to butter him up.

Want to see what I made for around $2.50?

It’s a giant loaf of banana bread. Okay, technically it’s not a loaf, it’s a bundt banana bread. But that’s a weird thing to say. So it’s a loaf. Because I’m glamorous and it’s my blog.

I even put them in display cases to make my kids think they are at some fancy place where you buy things out of cases for Trump amounts of money.

I love that I just made that phrase up.

Here’s what it looks like 15 minutes after Tucker gets home.

This is at least a $7 slice.

And I make these to go along with  breakfast a lot. They are dense and delicious and make people happy.

Cinnamon Nutmeg muffins. You need these in your life. And they cost less than $2 to make.

See where I’m going with this?

Here are few of my favorite ways to stretch the food budget.

Eggs: These dudes are perfect. They are very inexpensive, filling, have lots of protein and can be pretty much be whatever you want them to be. One of the favorites is a frittata. It’s kind of like a garbage disposal for anything left over in your fridge, except it tastes good and you eat it. I make one at the beginning of the week so the older kids can heat it up in the mornings because their bus comes at such an ungodly hour. Add a muffin and we’re set. And don’t forget you could make breakfast burritos. Those are pretty yummy. Oh, and you bake with them. That’s yummy too.

I also make a dozen boiled eggs every week. Sometimes they get turned into deviled eggs, sometimes egg salad and sometimes they just end up in a lunch box as is. Get creative.

And I make one of the best breakfast sandwiches this side of the Potomac.

I really do have no idea what I’m talking about.

Bananas: Best budget fruit ever. You can get 10 of them for around $2.50 and use them in smoothies, slice them into oatmeal or cereal, or eat it while acting like a maniacal baboon and picking bugs out of someone’s hair. Your call.

Potatoes: Seriously, never ending. I just finished up the Thanksgiving mashed potatoes and turned them into jalapeno cheddar potatoes. They were so good I wanted to cry. And I have at least 3 pounds left so I’m seeing hash browns and french fries in our near future.

Breakfast for dinner: Happiest meal we have. Pancakes cost next to nothing, potatoes and onions are inexpensive and often, instead of bacon, I just fry up some deli ham.

Homemade pizza dough: Also one of the best ways to use up those little bits and pieces of bell pepper, onion, mushroom, meat, etc… Or you can just make breadsticks with parmesan on top. PIzza dough will actually stay in the fridge for a few days. You just take it out and let it rise to room temperature. It’s also fun for the kids to just whip up a mini pizza. (we do that with bagels, too)

Tortillas: Use them for roll up sandwiches. I’ve even been known to make a layered mexican type lasagna. $2.99 at Costco for a package of three.

Salsa: Very inexpensive to make a huge batch, and we have it ready all week. Healthy, versatile and fresh.

Honorable mentions are pasta, beans and rice. But you already know that.

These are just a few of the ways I’m making my food work for me. I’ve had so much fun figuring out what to do with 2 leftover roasted chicken legs (quick burrito with cilantro) or coming up with recipes for meats I’ve never tried, but are so inexpensive that I’d be stupid not to try it. And I’ve discovered over the past year or so that I enjoy cooking more than I ever thought I could, and I’m not incompetent, and that I like to use fresh ingredients whenever possible, and that it’s really fun when your kids ask if you made this, and you say yes, and they say “but its so good”. Okay, that last one really chaps me. But then I realize they said it was good. So I forgive them.

Here are a few really great coupons from this week.

$1 Nabisco cookies facebook offer

$1/2 Sun Chips. These go on sale often.

$1.50 Coffeemate

$1 popcorn and $1 drink at Regal Cinemas Dec 3-5

Gillette Razors at Rite Aid are on sale for $9. Last Sunday’s paper had a coupon for $4 off, and there is a $5 plus up reward. So free!

Free Greenies Dental Chew You have to be a Pet Perks member but it’s free and completely helpful

$5 Pro Plan Dog Food

$3 Natrol Products

Buy one get one free Athenos Feta cheese There is also a $1 cheese of any brand at coupons.com

Buy 2, get one free Waverly Paper Products There is also a $1.50/2 at coupons.com

These are just a few of the ridiculous amounts of the things posted on Gypsy Jules facebook. So many holiday deals on literally everything. Don’t miss out!

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