Frugal February – Part 4

Even in Frugal February, one might feel the urge to splurge…kind of like the need for speed, but with money! We have been very well behaved this month! We stuck to our guns about eating out less, taking out lunches to work, taking snacks to work, and we finally cut the cord with cable.  This past week, a friend of ours was having a little birthday celebration in honor of her 30th birthday (Happy Birthday Melissa!), so we used the rare night out as an impromptu date night. We were heading downtown, so we decided to try Fat Sully’s Pizza on Tejon in downtown Colorado Springs. It had been on our list to try since before it opened in Colorado Springs and we had been hearing so many good things about Fat Sully’s Pizza from our friends who had tried it, it seemed like perfect timing! We expected to spend around $30 for our date night dinner, and we were WRONG!!! Our bill was $20 and some change (before tip…always tip your servers!). We each got a slice, with one meat topping, an order of their Garlic “Not”, and an iced tea for Todd, I drank water.  The pizza slices were good, and the slices were HUGE! The problem I normally have with pizza is the sauce, my mid-30s brought me heartburn when I eat tomato based sauces…and the part of me that is convinced I am Italian, is just heart-sick over it! I, personally, rarely eat pizza because of it, and when I do, I normally request they go easy on the sauce. But this time I didn’t, I guess I was feeling kind of rebellious! Thankfully, the sauce was good, and not overly acidic, and there was no heartburn! Woo hoo! Happy dance! Fat Sully’s Pizza ranks high on my best pizza list. However, even with the really good pizza, the best part of the meal was the garlic bread…I was in fat kid heaven! The butter! The garlic! The parmesan cheese! And, of course, the bread…which was more of a pizza crust with all this deliciousness on top.  I ended up letting Todd finish my slice, which he was perfectly okay with doing, and I tried to finish the bread. I failed, but I went down swinging! That was the BEST garlic bread I’ve ever had. And to give you a point of reference for how much I love garlic bread, I’m going to tell you a little story…back home in the Bay Area in Northern California, you can buy a Colombo sourdough bread garlic bread in the grocery stores. I grew up eating it, it was my absolute favorite. On one of my trips back to the Bay, I discovered a Colombo bread stand in one of the terminals at the Oakland Airport…I purchased TEN loaves of this garlic bread to bring home with me, and I was limited to only 10 loaves because it was all I could carry. I have a deep love of garlic bread, and it is not lightly that I state that the Garlic “Not” from Fat Sully’s Pizza is the best garlic bread I’ve had. Also, just a side note…I may not have the official name 100% correct, so please feel free to comment if I got it wrong!

We will definitely return to Fat Sully’s Pizza to try the other items on the menu, specifically, we have heard that the chicken wings were really good. But for now, we were very happy with our low cost date night, really good pizza, and some amazing garlic bread! You don’t have to have ton of money to treat yourselves to a night out, just do a little research and see what options are out there. A lot of restaurants offer happy hours, weekly specials, or special tasting nights.  Make sure to join the mailing lists for your favorite restaurants and like their Facebook & Instagram pages. Deals will pop up all the time, you just have to know where to look!

What was the best deal you found this week???

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Frugal February – Part 2

Frugal February continues in our month long series about eating good and saving money. In our day to day life, have been focusing on eating dinner at home more often, and making sure we take our lunches to work. Valentine’s day could put quite a dent in a budget, if you are not careful! Valentine’s day is on a Thursday this year, which happens to be our day off, that means we have the whole day together. However, we do not have a ton of money to be frivolous and financially reckless, so we will probably spend the day together, probably watching movies and talking about our future. The last two years, when it came time to celebrate Valentine’s day, we splurged on really good steak from a local butcher, fresh & locally grown produce, and some sort of potatoes…yes, I know potatoes are produce, but a meal with steak is not complete without potatoes, and deserves a special mention. This year on the other hand, the budget is tighter, and our goals are bigger than ever before. However, budget or no budget, we love good food, and our best date nights have been in our own kitchen. This year, we are both working our side gigs on our days off, so we made our steak dinner a little early, it wasn’t intentional, but sometimes you find an deal too good to pass up! About a week ago, we were doing our shopping at the local King Soopers, when we decided to have our Valentine’s day dinner a little early. In the meat section, there is always an end cap with their sale items, and on this trip they had New York strip steak on sale.  We got 2 steaks for right around $11. We also got a bag of baby potatoes for $2.99, and a few zucchini for about $2, so for right around $16, we had a delicious dinner, filled with great conversation and lots of love.
This weeks post isn’t about how to make a romantic dinner, but rather about how to shop for a romantic dinner for two. I have always been a frugal shopper, and the one thing I have learned, especially in the past 5 years, is that cheap and quality are not mutually exclusive. If you know how to shop, and know how much you can spend, you can make a beautiful dinner that tastes as good as it looks. When shopping the grocery store on a budget, I always make a list of what we want to cook for the next week. I go through the weekly ad to find the deals, however, there are more deals in the store.  What we put on the list isn’t necessarily what we end up buying. We start our shopping trips by getting the things that are non-negotiable, the things we have to have, like toilet paper and toothpaste. Our next stop is the meat department, in every store they have designated places that hold the specials, normally end caps, not on the back wall. Once we know what the proteins will be for the week, we can move on to the sides and veggies. I always look at the name brand side dishes on sale, and then look for the store brand version of the same dish, because the store brand will (almost always) be cheaper. In our house, we always have potatoes, and we also do a lot of zucchini and asparagus.  Stock up when you can, for instance, we went to the store last night, and they had some pot roast on sale, we got a decent size one for less than $7, got home and put it in the freezer.

When you know how to shop the ad, rather than just a premade shopping list, you can come up with some excellent meals that has better quality and tastes better than anything you can get from a drive-thru!

Side note…if you want a little history on Valentine’s day…

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Frugal February Part 1

Welcome to Frugal February! This month we are tightening the reins on our budget, and getting control of our finances. We have already trimmed out budget in several areas, but our food budget is always a struggle. We, obviously, like to eat, and eat well. But, at the same time, we aren’t fancy people, and our food doesn’t have to be extravagant or expensive. This month, we will focus on saving money in the kitchen! We are limiting how many times we go out to eat, and budgeting more carefully when grocery shopping. For the last week, we started by not eating out for dinner. Regardless of our tight budget, we still had some delicious dinners, even after spending only $40 for a weeks worth of groceries. We did simple meals like hot dogs and mac & cheese, along with tacos (a weekly staple in our house).

My favorite meal this week was the Italian sausage sandwiches. The Italian sausage was only $2.77 for a pack of 5 sausages, we got a pack of rolls for $0.87, we got some fancy fromage, a Tomato Basil Jack cheese, from the cheese case at King Soopers for $2.55. The french fries were $2 from the frozen food section. We only ate 3 sandwiches, and half the bag of french fries, which means we will still have a couple rolls left, 2 sausage links, and a half a bag of fries left for another meal. We will have hot dogs and french fries one night, and then sausage and pasta with garlic butter rolls another night. For $8.19, we will get 3 meals, which breaks down to only $1.37 per person per meal. I say this is a Frugal February victory!

I grew up in a home where my mom got paid once a month, and she had to make that one paycheck stretch to feed our family of five, along with all the strays (not animals, but rather our friends who stayed with us) my mom collected over the years, on a very tight budget. Todd’s father is a minister, and his mom fed and took care of their family, on a modest income. Our parents taught us both to cook on a budget, however, we openly admit we don’t always eat on a budget. Sometimes life gets in the way of the budget. We both work a lot, and work on our feet all day, and sometimes we just do not have it in us to cook dinner when we are both getting home after 8pm. When we decided to start Frugal February by not eating dinner out for 10 days, we knew it would be a struggle for us, and something we would have to do with great intention. We will not be perfect, we will budget for small dinners out, but we will work hard to spend little and eat well.

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