You see, not only are we now feeding an additional mouth, but our budget has changed quite a bit since I no longer work full-time. We've always kept a pretty modest budget, so we've simply tried to add a few helpful practices to make sure we get the most out of each dollar and aren't frivolous spending hard-earned cash we could be saving!
Three very helpful things I've implemented to help us create and stay within our monthly food budget, while still buying high-quality ingredients, have been to spend some time clipping coupons, consciously look for the best deals before going to the store and bringing cash only for groceries. These things alone, while new for us, have been a big help!
I hope to share more in the future about some other things we've done to cut back on expenses and our goal to live completely debt-free, but for now let me to touch briefly on these three ideas.
First of all, let me just say that I am no fanatic couponer (nor do I have any desire to be!) but I do spend five to ten minutes every Monday going through the mailers for good coupons on items I already need to purchase. I am very conscious to only save a coupon if it is something I am already going to purchase, otherwise I end up spending more than I need to anyway!
Secondly, I pay closer attention to store ads and deals. For instance, I have learned that Sprouts typically has some of the best deals on seasonal & organic produce and certain meats (this week I got fresh Ahi fillets for $5.99/lb.!) Just being more aware of sales and such has not only saved us money, but allowed me to buy more pricey items we wouldn't normally spend the money on.
And finally, a brand new practice we've implemented is paying cash for groceries. While not rocket science, it definitely makes me think twice before buying something we don't necessarily need and keeps the budget in check. Since I've got a competitive nature, this is kind of a fun thing for me to see how much I can come in "under budget".
So now you know a bit more about where my head is at lately, I want to share a great recipe I recently tried for Pulled Pork! I should probably tell you that this is not something I would normally cook, but while grocery shopping at Sprouts last week I noticed a really great sale on boneless pork loin, like a REALLY great deal! So I purchased one and started looking for a fresh, new recipe to add to our menu. I quickly came across a simple crock pot recipe on Chow.com that looked promising. Of course, my husband was thrilled as pulled pork BBQ sandwiches are right up his ally. So you see, it was a win/win!
This was such a delicious meal (& made for excellent leftovers!) And sandwiches are just one of many possibilities. I'm thinking tacos or a salad would be equally tasty, and not to mention a great option for company or a party!
Easy Slow Cooker Pulled Pork
2 medium yellow onions, thinly sliced
4 medium garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1 cup chicken stock or low-sodium chicken broth
1 tablespoon packed dark brown sugar
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 tablespoon kosher salt, plus more as needed
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 (4-1/2- to 5-pound) boneless or bone-in pork shoulder (also known as pork butt), twine or netting removed
2 cups barbecue sauce (optional)
- Place the onions and garlic in an even layer in the slow cooker and pour in the stock or broth. Combine the sugar, chili powder, measured salt, cumin, and cinnamon in a small bowl. Pat the pork dry with paper towels. Rub the spice mixture all over the pork and place the meat on top of the onions and garlic. Cover and cook until the pork is fork tender, about 6 to 8 hours on high or 8 to 10 hours on low.
- Turn off the slow cooker and remove the pork to a cutting board. Set a fine-mesh strainer over a medium heatproof bowl. Pour the onion mixture from the slow cooker through the strainer and return the solids to the slow cooker. Set the strained liquid aside.
- If the pork has a bone, remove and discard it. Using 2 forks, shred the meat into bite-sized pieces, discarding any large pieces of fat. Return the shredded meat to the slow cooker, add the barbecue sauce, if using, and mix to combine. If you’re not using barbecue sauce, use a spoon to skim and discard the fat from the surface of the strained cooking liquid, and then add 1/4 cup of the liquid at a time to the slow cooker until the pork is just moistened. Taste and season with salt as needed.