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Money saving tips : Getting more out of your groceries

Pinching Pennies
Pinching PenniesC. Watson

Thanksgiving leftovers are dwindling down. Christmas shopping lists are gearing up.

Pennies are being pinched harder this year for many in the Baltimore area. What if your pennies have been pinched all year and somehow you have to squeeze out gifts for the kids?

Here are some budget friendly meals focused on stretching a little into a lot. Maybe there's more pinching you can do out of your grocery budget.

Easy Chicken Pot Pie (recipe for 4 people)
(Estimated cost: $5.00)
*1 can cream of chicken soup
*1 large chicken breast (you'd probably normally use 4 breasts to feed 4 people) cooked & diced into nickel size pieces
*1/4 cup veggies - frozen corn, frozen peas, frozen carrots or frozen mixed veggies (whatever your family enjoys)
*1 large potato cut into cubes & microwaved with a little water for 5 minutes to help cook.
*1 can large flaky biscuits (like Pillsbury Grands but buy store brand)
*4 ceramic / oven safe bowls (most likely your cereal bowls)
Mix together the can of soup with 3/4 can of milk or water. Mix in the chicken, vegetables & potato cubes in a bowl. Sprinkle in some Mrs. Dash or salt & pepper to taste. Spray the bowls with a light coating of cooking spray. Roll out one biscuit at a time. Lay one biscuit at the bottom of the bowl and spoon 1/4 of the soup mixture over top. Roll out another biscuit and cover the mixture. Repeat for all 4 bowls. Place on a cookie tray in the center of a preheated oven at 350 degrees for 30-40 minutes.

Easy Beef Pot Pie (recipe for 4 people); similar to Chicken version above
(Estimated cost: $5.50)
*1 can beef gravy
*1 large steak or stew meat cooked & diced into nickel size pieces
*1/4 cup veggies - frozen corn, frozen peas, frozen carrots or frozen mixed veggies (whatever your family enjoys)
*1 large potato cut into cubes & microwaved with a little water for 5 minutes to help cook.
*1 can large flaky biscuits
*4 ceramic / oven safe bowls
Mix together the can of gravy with 3/4 can of milk or water. Mix in the beef, vegetables & potato cubes in a bowl. Sprinkle in some Mrs. Dash or salt & pepper to taste. Spray the bowls with a light coating of cooking spray. Roll out one biscuit at a time. Lay one biscuit at the bottom of the bowl and spoon 1/4 of the gravy mixture over top. Roll out another biscuit and cover the mixture. Repeat for all 4 bowls. Place on a cookie tray in the center of a preheated oven at 350 degrees for 30-40 minutes.

Simple Chicken Cacattiatore (recipe for 4 people)
(Estimated cost: $6.50)
*1 jar spaghetti sauce
*1 box of favorite pasta (farfalle are the little bows, penne are the little tubes)
*1 small onion
*1 small green pepper & 6 fresh mushrooms diced into quarter size pieces (can be omitted)
*1 large chicken breast (you'd probably normally use 4 breasts to feed 4 people)
With a little water cook the chicken breast especially using a lid to steam cook it to avoid shrinkage and to keep it moist. When done, cut the chicken into quarter size cubes. Start cooking your pasta per the directions on the box. Sautee the chicken, onion, green pepper & mushrooms in a tablespoon of oil with a bit of Mrs. Dash or italian seasonings for about 5 minutes frying pan to start the softening and get the flavors mixed in. Add the spaghetti sauce and stir together. Give a quick taste to the sauce and add a bit more seasoning if needed. Seasoning can fool the tongue into thinking it is feasting rather than snacking! Let the sauce, chicken & veggies simmer until your pasta is cooked. Serve on plates or in bowls.

The basic trick for spreading your grocery budget is to use less meat and more vegetables and sauces. Don't go for cheaper processed foods that might fill you up but will leave you looking for a bigger junkier snack an hour later.

Check out this favorite Oatmeal Breakfast Bar recipe that's quick, easy & you might have all the ingredients in your pantry. Don't need to buy granola bars after baking a batch of these. This easy peach pie recipe costs about $4.00 including the premade crust but is a lot more fun than buying store bought for a few pennies less.

Buy store brand. Check out Aldi's which have no club membership cards or fees and stock mostly store brand items and help save you money by only accepting cash, debit cards or independance cards (you also bring/buy your bags & bag the items yourself). A grocery cart full of good food averages only $130 versus over $200 at Food Lion or Shoppers.

Remember to take great care of the gifts you have been given.

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