Planning Healthy Meals on a Budget

I’m not sure how you all are doing this time of year but it just always seems to catch up with us and the end of one year and the beginning of a next always seems extra tight.  Rich and I sat and planned out weeks ahead and we placed our bills before pleasure.  I cancelled my long awaited hair appointment and began to budget in our meals.  Tonights meal is chicken lime soup and I did’t come up with this all on my own, I surfed the web and found a really, really awesome blog called Budget Bytes can be found here  http://budgetbytes.blogspot.com/2012/10/chicken-lime-soup-639-recipe-107-serving.html  I always changed things up a bit in recipes depending on what I can find and how it suits our family best. Like for instance she feeds her family with one chicken breast shredded in the soup, when I mentioned this to Rich he laughed pretty hard and said “You mean to tell me one tiny shredded chicken breast will feed a family of five, three of which are men?”  Yes my 14 year old is considered a man because he eats like one and that’s all that matters when it comes to planning my meals.  I begin by taking inventory, I have on hand, the onion, the garlic, olive oil and celery so I only needed a few items to complete the recipe.  I LOVE Fresh and Easy, it’s where I do most of my shopping.  I like it because it’s small and doesn’t overwhelm me like the regular market plus they always have a little section of what I call red tag, things for discount that must be used quick.  Buying four chicken breasts was much more worth the extra couple dollars then buying the pack of two since it was marked down in the red tag section. I decided to use two breasts in my soup and then cut the other two into four small pieces and bake for quick snacks before basketball practice for Dylan, or a snack for anyone else in the family who may be on the run. My friend at work gave me a small bag of green peppers so I cut one up to bake with the chicken.  My pictures below explain the recipe and show you some steps.  It’s still slowly simmering as I type this so maybe a picture will be taken later when I finish the soup.  My lighting at night is not the best for food pictures though.

IMG_0360 (1)So this is NOT the best picture I have ever taken and yes I have dirty grout but check out these red tag prices!!  No. cherries and tiny oranges were not on my list but they are good for us and I couldn’t pass them up.

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This is a tiny spread of the ingredients.  F&E didn’t sell jalapeños in single form so I improvised and bought a can of jalapeños with carrots and I also diced the carrots to toss in with the soup.  The organic chicken stock was on sale for 1.99 a carton. That bundle of cilantro was the gift from my neighbors to the north.

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So I toss the first few ingredients in the pot, a dash of olive oil,  half a diced onion because it was big and the kids don’t so much like too much onion, two celery stalks, two small jalapeños and four minced garlic cloves.  let those flavors mix up and get a little soft. The carrots were an after thought so not pictured here, added later.

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See how big and juicy the two chicken breast are?  I think two should be enough shredded into the soup.

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So with the other two breasts, I cut those into four pieces, put some seasoning on them, a little of this and that I have in the cupboard and then cut up bell pepper from my friend, not only do I put some pepper into the baked chicken, I cut one up and eat it raw because I heard it has more vitamin C than an orange, a drive through attendant told me once this as I chomped on my raw bell pepper and ordered the best coke on the planet (this was a few years back but it stuck what he said about my bell peppers and the vitamin C)

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The recipe calls for 6 cups of chicken broth but I used 8 since two of these containers that were on sale today btw for 1.99 a carton equal 8 cups.  This Christmas I got two sets of new measuring cups, these are my owl ones from Rich.

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I don’t let anything go to waste, inside this pot is the pieces of fat and little bits of chicken I trimmed for Pablo and Max.

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This is what the two breast look like shredded.

photo (3) copyThis is the soup just simmering away as the yummy smells flows through the house.

I just added one whole lime and a small bundle of cilantro we should be eating with tortilla chips but I bought a fresh french loaf from Fresh and Easy for 99 cents instead, it was cheaper than any bag of tortilla chips I could find.

5 thoughts on “Planning Healthy Meals on a Budget

  1. Love F & E when it’s on sale, don’t love it when it’s not. I find that it’s too expensive to feed a family over the size of 4 even with the coupons they give. I do enjoy their humus when that’s on sale & I’ll pick up their chicken breast when they’re $1.98/lb. I always head over to the mark down area as soon as I step foot in the store. You never know what you’ll find….xo

  2. I try to stay on budget by making a meal plan and grocery list, then staying as close as possible to it while shopping. It is getting more difficult with 2 teens in the house! I always keep an eye out for sales and reduced items. I bought loaves of bread (that I freeze right away) for 1.44 each last time, so I stocked up and bought 6 for our freezer. Soups are a great way to make meals and used up left overs.
    Sounds like you are doing great.
    xoxo

  3. Thanks a guys:) I wish we had one of the stores I have heard you talk about Jenn. I have done price comparisons with Albertsons and Von’s and F&E beats them in price and often comparable to Traders so for me it’s what works best and its closer then Traders or I would do more shopping there. We are finally getting a Whole Foods in Whittier but I’m guessing I will not go as often since its right by our Trader Joes and not just up the street. Alex your deal on bread was so good!

  4. Well you know what I’m smitten over ( besides you of course!!) those owl bowls!! Oh boy they are cute.
    I love chicken lime soup, such amazing flavor explosion. I’m always struggling with healthy meals for my family that don’t break the bank…it’s not easy. I’m gonna try this recipe. 🙂

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