Friday, April 16, 2010

It's All in the Envelopes

Not to brag or anything, but I am doing so much better this month saving for Italy. I know it's not time for a recap of this month's savings yet, but I at least wanted to share my money-saving tip that I implemented this month that has made a world of difference. Trust me when I tell you - it's all in the envelopes.

The lighting's a little funky in this photo, but I decided to split up my receipts for the three main areas I'm trying to cut back costs in: Liquor, meals out at restaurants, and grocery bills. Keeping track of my receipts like this has given me an organized, easy-to-access area to go back to in order to review how much I spent the week prior. For instance, I went overboard on groceries last week, spending way over $25 - so, this week, I knew I couldn't go to the grocery store for anything extra. Even though it's been hard, it's also been successful in saving money for my trip.

Another perk of preventing myself from going back to the grocery store this week was that I became more creative in the kitchen. The other night, for instance, I made what I call a "Garbage Bowl of Mexican Shrimp & Rice." I refer to it as that because I used a bunch of spices/ingredients I had on hand, and ended up with a dish that made sense and was tasty - but I wouldn't normally make this if I had the option of going to the grocery store. I had leftover frozen shrimp, a big box of Boil-in-a-bag brown rice that I had been neglecting, an avocado that needed eating, and plenty of spices on hand to give the dish a kick.

The end result was insanely spicy and flavorful, and the creamy avocado was necessary to help cool down the heat from the shrimp.

Garbage Bowl of Mexican Shrimp & Rice
Yields: 2 servings

-Pre-cooked 15-20 frozen shrimp (it's cheaper if you buy them with the tails still on)
-2 cups brown rice, cooked
-1 tbsp. minced garlic, jarred
-Few drops of Tabasco sauce
-Few drops lime juice
-Chili powder
-Cumin (just a little)
-Crushed red pepper
-Dried cilantro
-Salt and pepper
-1 tbsp. olive oil
-1/2 avocado

Directions: Heat the shrimp in a skillet with olive oil. Add chili powder, cumin, salt, pepper, crushed red pepper, and cilantro. Let cook for 3 minutes, then add Tabasco sauce and garlic. Allow to cook for another minute, then add lime juice. Cook for another 30 seconds to a minute, or until shrimp is completely heated through. Remove from heat, and cut off shrimp tails. Serve shrimp over one cup of rice per person. Add few slices of avocado to the top of each plate or bowl. Dig in!

Note: The Success Boil-in-a-bag brown rice requires, for me, a good tablespoon of butter, salt, pepper, and dried cilantro. This particular kind of rice cooks well, but tends to be bland without enough added flavoring.

Next week, I'll post how I used this shrimp and rice in a "second helping" recipe. Thanks to Fun and Fearless'   request, my second helping recipes will be a new feature on the blog (probably every other Wednesday, but still working out the details).

Have a great weekend!


  1. Aw, thanks for the shout-out! And I'll have to agree that some of my best (and tasty) meals are created when I am trying to use ingredients I have on hand to prevent them from going to waste!

  2. I LOVE the idea of the envelopes! I'm definitely going to be trying this for myself! as well as having the discipline to use what's available in the kitchen instead of going to the supermarket....!