Don't tell me where your priorities are.

Show me where you spend your money and I'll tell you what they are.


-James W. Frick





Plan YOUR work! Work YOUR Plan!

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

52 Week Money Challege - Week 20 - Restaurant Meals at Home

So far we have started bringing our lunch to work, used the Latte Factor, cut back on travel expenses, taken a long hard look at our finances, negotiating your bills, found way to make money (or other things you need) by bartering, implemented a 30 day rule for purchases over a certain amount, and found 25 ways to have frugal fun this Spring. Hopefully, after looking at your finances you found some more places to cut back.
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This week learn how to make restaurant dishes at home to save money on going out to eat with Wise Bread.

1. Home Steakhouse Steak
As my friend Nancy put it, "When I go out to dinner, I want a steak, a baked potato with all the goodies, and a tossed green salad."
But, you may wonder — how do you save money, if your tastes run to steak? Fortunately, Linsey Knerl of Wise Bread found a fantastic how-to, using cheaper cuts of steak, over at Steamy Kitchen.
Accompaniments: Baked potatoes with sour cream, bacon bits, and green onion; and tossed green salad.
Keep it cheap: Resist the impulse to buy a bag of salad and cut up your own salad greens.

2. Su Casa Mexicana
According to my very scientific poll, another favorite for dining out is Mexican food. Now, as much as I love the food at a particular Mexican chain restaurant, I could go without hearing their overly peppy "Happy Birthday" song for the rest of my life. My husband, though, misses the fajitas. The good news is that fajitas are really easy to make and you don’t have to wear a huge sombrero at home.
Accompaniments: Tortillas, beans, and rice.
Keep it cheap: Try it with a homemade margarita!

3. At-Home Pad Thai
Tonight for dinner we are having Pad Thai, one of my restaurant favorites. Fish sauce, an important ingredient, sounds strange — but don’t leave it out! If you do not have rice noodles, you can substitute vermicelli. I am making ours with shrimp. Pork and tofu work equally well.
Accompaniments: Cucumber salad is a must.
Keep it cheap: Frozen shrimp can be a bargain. If you cook and clean it yourself, you will get further savings.

4. Chinese Stay-In
Another crowd favorite is Chinese food. Although Chinese food will rarely break the bank, you will still save money it you make it at home. I love Beef with Broccoli, which goes together quickly. My friend MZ loves General Tso's Chicken. It is pretty spicy, so be careful with those peppers!
Accompaniments: Rice, orange sections, and of course, fortune cookies!
Keep it cheap: If beef is not on sale, try thinly-sliced pork or chicken breast. Both are delicious in this recipe.

5. Your Italian Kitchen
My husband loves Italian food, but that’s not exactly a hot commodity here in the tropics. I can handle basic spaghetti and lasagna, but when I learned how to make Chicken Marsala, he was pretty happy.
Accompaniments: Buttered egg noodles and steamed zucchini go well with this.
Keep it cheap: Watch for Marsala wine to go on sale. I over-paid the other day ($13).

6. Sushi Rolls
Many of my coworkers love sushi, but they thought it would be too much trouble to make at home. It really isn't.
Accompaniments: Edamame (boiled soybeans) go nicely, and they are very easy to make, if you can boil water. Look for them in the freezer section of your grocery store.
Keep it cheap: Try a tuna (canned, with spicy mayo) or vegetarian roll.

7. Comforting Katsu
A favorite "fusion" (Japanese /Hawaiian) food we like to order when we're out is Chicken Katsu.
Accompaniments: This is a very popular item where I live and usually served with rice, macaroni-potato salad, and a tossed green salad. Talk about a stick-to-your-ribs meal!
Keep it cheap: I buy frozen chicken thighs, which are less expensive. There is no noticeable difference between fresh and frozen here, as far as I can tell.

8. Summer-at-Home Rolls
If you have not tried Vietnamese food, I predict you will love its crispness and use of fresh herbs. I never feel bad after I eat it — it is more like I have done something good for my health.
I will admit it takes practice to roll a summer roll. M mine are never pretty, but they taste great.
Accompaniments: Peanut sauce (recipe included in the link above). Of course, I could eat an old shoe if you put peanut sauce on it.
Keep it cheap: I like shrimp in my summer rolls, but again, I use frozen shrimp, which I clean and cook.

9. Faux Pho Ga
Another favorite Vietnamese recipe of my friends is Pho Ga, which is a Southeast Asian take on chicken soup.
Pho is not only delicious, but it has an added benefit — it makes you feel much better if you have a cold! I thought I was original in this discovery until I went to our local Vietnamese restaurant and ordered a bowl. The person at the counter said, "Are you getting a cold?" As it turns out, people flock there at the first sign of a sore throat. I try to keep the ingredients on hand so that I can whip up a batch.
Accompaniments: Fresh mint, basil, and green onions; Sriracha sauce. Don’t be afraid of the Sriracha sauce. You only need a few drops.
Keep it cheap: Learn how to make your own chicken broth at home and freeze it in quart bags.
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20 weeks in, these simple changes should start to become a habit. These are life changes not just to complete the 52 Week Money Challenge. The goal is to change the way you handle your finances and your life.

Challenge Total Week 20 = $210.00 

This is the 52 week money challenge that was shared with me last year. Hope this helps many of you this year.

Saving money is hard. It takes discipline and self-control to stick with the plan you developed.  This year why not make it easy on yourself?

I am a huge fan of ING (ING has been bought by Capital One and will become Capital One 360. Doesn't look like much will change...). ING lets you automate your savings so you don't have to think about it. The greatest feature is that it takes a couple days to get money transferred back to your checking account. There are a couple ways around this, but not being able to touch the money in your ING accounts is great for medium/long term savings goals.

If you have an ING, or other savings account, simply automate your savings transfers each month according to the chart below and watch the money stack up.

If you don't have a savings account, GET ONE! Not just for this challenge but everyone needs at least one savings account - with an Emergency Fund.

This week 20 should be transferred to your savings account. We are up to $210.00 this year. Things from this point on will start to grow pretty quickly. How are you doing? Any savings light bulbs going off? Have you planned what you are going to do with the money at the end of the year?


Even if you missed weeks 1 through 19, you can still get started today. Deposit $190 into a savings account and you will be caught up.


Keep Up the Good Work!

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