Frugal Foods: Cheap Chili

I love chili. Chili is incredibly versatile and it’s general my go-to meal when I don’t want to work too hard or spend too much money. It’s an easy-to-please dinner that can be jazzed up with toppings and sides.

Today, I was worn out and tired after running errands with a head cold. I thought – this is the perfect time to dump a few ingredients in a pot and walk away.

Here is my version of Cheap Chili

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Ingredients list: Really, it’s JUST 3 things!

Chopped/ground meat (a ground beef and pork mix may be the most cost effective, but ground chicken or turkey is a great healthy alternative.)

Beans! I love beans. They’re packed with protein and give chili that great texture I love. I recommend buying a small bag of dry beans because they go a lot further than canned beans (about 3-5 times in terms of price). Stick a handful in a bowl of water before you go to bed and cook them prior to adding them to your chili. Kidney, pinto and black beans are my favorite.

Tomato sauce. When you buy a chili seasoning pack, the recipe on the back of the packet calls for tomato sauce, and truly, in comparison to tomato paste and diced tomatoes, this is the cheapest, and easiest option. Generic tomato sauce is 50 cents a can, NOT on sale. If you don’t live in NYC, you can probably find it for cheaper.

Spices. Basic chili seasoning consists of **chili powder, garlic powder, onion powder, salt, oregano, cayenne pepper, and cumin. **Quick rule of thumb: you will always need 2-3x the amount of chili powder to everything else** Try adding a tablespoon of sugar, very little bit!, to your chili to off-set the spicy factor of the cayenne pepper and add a bit of sweetness. I also always add fresh garlic and onion to mine!

I know that spices are costly but I promise you it’s cost effective to stock your spice cabinet. You’re going to be spending a lot more buying those pre-made packets such as the taco seasoning and chili seasoning packets. Consider buying your spices at non-grocery stores because they tend to be generic and much less expensive. Did you know Rite Aid has many $1 spices? Again, this is shelf price, not sale price. In fact, drug stores are a great place to check for any pantry items! Just a tip: you can also get a 2lb bag of white or brown rice at Rite Aid for 1.99. I often see it on sale for 1.50!

Now it’s time to jazz it up! Maybe a dollop of sour cream to the top? A handful of cheddar cheese? On a bed of rice perhaps? Smothered on top of a hotdog or fries? Or both?

There are many ways to make chili, and I’d love to hear your version.

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How do I grocery shop efficiently?

Hubby and I went back to Bravo today to stock up on some meats and buy ingredients to make chili for dinner. We didn’t use coupons or the Flipp app, and we still did really well. I simply wrote down exactly everything I needed before hand.  You don’t always need to use coupons or tirelessly look for sales to be an efficient shopper. In fact, most of the money saving comes from pre-planning meals and bringing a shopping list. Most of the money we can save comes from not buying anything you didn’t go to the grocery store for. So, yeah, it’s pretty much about self control. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t buy anything at all (that isn’t on your list), because it would be smart to take advantage of a sale or a deal, even if you didn’t intend on it, but it’s important to set a limit so you don’t lose track of your spending. Keep in mind that, you can buy everything on sale, and it still not materialize into a wholesome meal.

The key to being a smart shopper is not letting sales blind you into purchasing something 1. you don’t need. 2. is unhealthy, is not “real” food 3. you can’t turn into a meal without spending a lot more money. 

This is what we spent today. $26 bucks and we got all of this.

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With less than $50, I can pretty much feed myself and my husband for an entire week. We usually do oatmeal, pancakes, or cereal for breakfast (all generic, usually with coupons), and sandwiches or jazzed-up leftovers for lunch. Sometimes we skip lunch because we’ve had a big breakfast, or we plan to have a big dinner!

How do I make this happen every week? 

I plan everything out and write every meal in my calendar. I never go to the grocery store without a list (if I don’t make a list, forget it, it’s a disaster and I’ll overspend.)

This week’s dinners: Chili, cottage pie, a classic roast chicken, and stew (I haven’t worked out the details on that yet.) We will probably do some kind of pasta this weekend and go out for pasta sauce and noodles over the weekend ($2-5) For snacks, I stick to apples, bananas, and yogurt. I like to buy fruit that is easy to portion and easy to grab and go.

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Frugal Foods: BBQ Chicken Pizza

Today my husband came along for my usual weekly errand and grocery run. We started at Rite Aid, to purchase some cough syrup for his sniffly and sickly self. I had my catalog clippings on Flipp (app), and I had a hand-written  grocery list. Did I stick to my list? Well, not exactly. BUT, we still did well.

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When we arrived at Rite Aid, I was bummed that the Thermaflu was sold out! Understandable – that blizzard left a lot of us sniffly and sneezey! We ended up picking up a generic bottle of Rite Aid brand cough syrup and kept on our way.

Second mistake was not actually going to C-Town. We ended up going to Bravo across the street instead. If you guys aren’t familiar with these stores, they’re small grocery chains in the NYC area.

Luckily, we actually matched the prices on the items we intended to buy! That doesn’t make up for the fact that we did not stick to our list.

See, here is the thing – whenever I take hubby out to the grocery store with me, we end up buying more than what we went there for. That isn’t always a bad thing, though! In fact, sometimes, it works itself out for the best! While picking up the cheddar cheese (on my written list), he thought of a great idea to make use of left over BBQ chicken by utilizing what we already intend to buy + a can of biscuit dough. So, he came up with dinner at the cost of barely $2.50

I married a smart man.

So, I thought I’d share the recipe since it is not only very cost effective but delicious as well!

BBQ Chicken Pizza

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Main ingredients:
Chicken! It really doesn’t matter what kind of chicken you use.

We buy a lot of quarter legs because they’re always less than a dollar a lb. This week, and for the last several weeks, it has been 49 cents a lb. That comes out to barely 25 cents per meal (for 2). You can easily jazz up leg quarters and pair them with a vegetable and starch. It is also awesome for soups and stews!
Biscuit dough flattened out on a cookie sheet (you can use frozen/box pizza dough too, or make your own – whatever is most cost effective and easiest for you!)
Your favorite BBQ sauce (I like to go with something sweet & spicy.)
Veggies! Onions and bell peppers work really well! Feel free to add any kind of vegetable you like!
CHEESE! (Preferably cheddar.) Ranch for dipping sauce if you’re in to that sort of thing 😉


Oven @ 350 for about 10 mins.

Keep in mind, biscuits cook quickly and brown fast.

This really makes for a great, super quick, super cheap lunch. It’s also something fun to do with small kids, family and friends.

 

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Online gold mine that is Shop Miss A

 

Over a month ago, I purchased this adorable planner from shopmissa.com; an online dollar store. So, let me just say, it is amazing, and I just L.O.V.E it to pieces!

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Here is why:

  • It’s blank! What does this mean? Blank planners don’t have the dates written in.
  • It has monthly, weekly, and daily pages, as well as a yearly and monthly task list.
  • It’s faux leather and comes in various colors.
  • It has 2 pockets!
  • It lays flat! Are you left-handed? I am! And, it’s a pain in the butt writing in binders or spiral notebooks.
  • It’s fracking adorable!

More or less, Shop Miss A its an online dollar store that specializes in accessories. They have pretty much anything you can think about in regards to accessorizing.

Getting a planner for the new year is crucial for productivity and organization. I bought this specifically to help me keep track of daily, weekly and monthly tasks, as well as goal setting. Not only have I started this blog, but I do a lot of different types of writing in my personal life. I have a lot of unfinished projects that I am determined to get done this year. Writing in a planner gives me accountability.

Planners aren’t only for students, believe me. If you’re a homemaker, or a business owner, you have many tasks that need to get done through-out the day and without organization you will probably lose your mind.

I use planners to track everything from grocery lists to appointments to blog posts. If you haven’t already, I encourage ya’ll to join the planner life 🙂

Over and out!

-Jocelyn

UPDATE: Planner is sold out on shopmissa.com BUT, here is a list of retailers selling them:

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B01146E6DA?keywords=planner&qid=1453778135&ref_=sr_ph&sr=1 ($6.48 FREE SHIPPING)

https://www.wish.com/search/planner#cid=563320d80fb114138ac73705 ($6.00, $1 shipping PER ITEM)

FYI, links will open in new tab 🙂

Happy Shopping!

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Why you need to download Flipp on your phone right now!

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Flipp, a coupon and catalog app, is the best money saving tool available in the android and apple store right now. More importantly, it’s free and incredibly convenient.

Let me start by telling you a little bit about the app. This app allows you to put in your zip-code and generate all the shopping catalogs in your neighborhood. It also lets you clip coupons and make shopping lists. It’s an all-in-one shopping buddy.

During the holidays, this app can be quite a god-send. Every sales catalog is accessible in your phone. This makes budgeting and gift purchases a lot simpler and stress-free.

But, this app can be utilized all year long! In fact, I use this app on a daily basis to keep track of which grocery stores are selling what this week and at what price. I can plan every purchase, and every dollar I spend directly in my phone. This prevents me from over-spending at the grocery store and getting me in and out as quick as possible.

This is probably the only app on my phone I use on a daily basis that isn’t Instagram or Facebook. I love it so much!

Do you know of any great shopping, couponing or discount apps? Which are your favorite? Share in the comments below!

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Why you shouldn’t wait for a blizzard to stock up for a blizzard

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If you live in the states, you’re probably getting quite a bit of snow this weekend due to the blizzard ransacking the East Coast. Thus far, we haven’t had any big scares along the lines of power outages or injuries/deaths in New York City, but upper-Manhattan did experience some issues with discolored tap just a day before the blizzard was meant to pass through.

Because of the snowfall, as well as the lack of clear tap, the entire neighborhood was standing in line at Riteaid buying out the entire stock of bottled water.

Here are a few tips to avoid standing in those long lines:

Every month, stock your pantry with 1-2 non-perishable items.  Buy what is on sale, even if you have no intention to eat it. I actually recommend purchasing food items you wouldn’t normally eat unless you really needed to. This will prevent you from eating it before you need it. ( Ex. Do not buy pudding. We like pudding too much.)

Also, don’t be afraid to shop at dollar stores. Generic items are just as good as your brand names and they tend to be a lot cheaper as well. Thrift stores are often gold mines! If you can invest in buying in bulk, I highly recommend that.  Also: ALWAYS. CHECK. EXPIRATION. DATES. I can’t stress that enough.

Here is a list of what to buy:

Water

Powered Milk

Cereal

Nuts

Granola bars

Pretzels

Crackers

Peanut butter

Canned beans

Canned tuna or chicken

Canned meals (soup, chili, stew, ect.)

Multi-vitamins

It’s important to keep in mind that high sodium foods will make you thirsty, so always opt in for the low-sodium option. If you have an infant, you may want to keep baby formula on hand. Don’t forget about pets as well! First aid kits, toilet paper, baby wipes, and emergency heating pads are also great non-food items to stock up on and/or have on hand.

There are several benefits of purchasing emergency essentials BEFORE the emergency.

For starters: It saves you a ton of money. When you buy last minute, you’re stuck with whatever is available. This means you are less likely to apply coupons, or take advantage of the best sale.

It also can save you a lot of time. If you already have a supply of food and water for emergencies, you won’t have to join in the crowds the day before a storm hits.

Not only can this save you time in the event of an emergency, it can also GIVE you time to prepare. When you plan in-advance, you are able to take care of specific or special needs your family members might have!

But, most of all, you will gain peace of mind knowing that your family is well taken care when mother nature passes through in a surprise.

Want a more detailed list? Check FEMA online.

Sit down with your family and make a plan today.

Any tips or tricks, or experiences you’d like to share? Share and comment below!

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Hello world!

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Hi, I’m Jocelyn: the gal behind the scenes, er, the computer screen! I live in New York City, the best (and most expensive) city in the world. I relocated from Hawaii with my husband 5 years ago to pursue a higher education and seek better opportunities. Not long after we arrived, I noticed it would not be an easy task for us, a young couple, while both full-time college students, to survive in such an expensive city. Affording the bare minimum: rent, utilities, food ect., along with the cost of tuition and books left our wallets very sad. Still, my love for NYC trumped my fears, and I did not let money-troubles discourage me. Over the years, I’ve developed many strategies on saving money, guilt-free spending — living large on less, and how to have fun while doing it.

I am not new to the minimalist life. In fact, I come from quite a modest home. I grew up in my grandparents home, along with the rest of our family. We shared it with myself, my mom and dad, my mom’s brother, and her parents. Oh! And, our family cat. Through watching my family pinch pennies, while stretching a paycheck to feed and cloth our family, I was raised with humility and frugality in mind. I learned the value of a memory and time spent with family. As I grew up, and moved away, I took these values with me. Time spent together with my husband means the world to me, while material possessions don’t matter as much. It wasn’t until adulthood that I realized how freeing it is.

On this blog you will find all things frugal and minimalist living! Many will pertain to life in Manhattan, but a lot of it can be applied to anyone living anywhere.  I started this blog  to share my adventures and life-hacks to ease the financial strains of living in the big city, but I hope you find these stories and words of advice helpful for you no matter where in the world you’re living.

If you’d like to read more, check-out my FAQ page! (coming soon!)

I’d love to hear from you!

Do you have any questions, concerns or words of advice for a first-time newbie blogger? Feel free to shoot me an email at jocelyn@minimalistinmanhattan.com

You can also find me on Facebook, Tumblr, Pinterest, Instagram & Twitter!

<3 Jocelyn

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