Frugal Friday – Thai Beef Wrap Recipe

Here’s another rambling story of things that I did this week to save money. For starters, though, a fail: I frittered away $50 on TWO different fast-food dinners. Both times I was out doing things with a bunch of kids, and it felt like the best way to finish what we needed to do before getting on home. We ordered off the dollar menu, drank water, shared fries, etc.  But feeding 8 people adds up, especially when most of them are hungry teens.  Looking back, I’d rather have spent that money on something more lasting.

I’m thinking I need a stash of errand-food — stuff that’s really easy to grab out of the fridge at home, toss in a cooler, and take along when I know errands are going to take awhile.  We almost never buy anything individual and snackish, so granola bars, cheese sticks, yogurt cups, or peanut butter cracker packs would still be a treat, but at a much lower cost to the wallet. The trick would be to hide those goodies at home, so they wouldn’t be gobbled up before we needed them.

Now. On to the successes of the week.

  • Made three loaves of Harvest Grain bread and stuck one in the freezer.
  • Resisted the urge to do fast food for dinner yet another evening when the kitchen was torn up. Instead I cleared a space on the stove, warmed up soup  (yay for double batches!) and served it with bread and salad.
  • Now, on to the reason the kitchen was torn up. This week I’ve been staining our 90’s honey-oak kitchen cabinets a deeper, richer color.  I am sooo excited about this project. The stain was $16 for a pint.  I applied it with old socks, and that little pint literally did the entire kitchen. To make this project even more exciting, months ago, when doing our bathroom stain, I bought drawer pulls and knobs enough for the kitchen, which my husband is going to install this weekend.  So this will be a really affordable facelift.  Hoping to be able to show it to you next Wednesday.  Fun!
  • I took the time to look at the booklet sent by our bank about their merger with a new bank.  I think our accounts won’t have monthly charges, but it seems I need to look for a new bank for most of the kids’ savings, as it looks like they would be charged $6 a month unless they keep above a $1000 balance, which isn’t realistic for several of our kids.  Treasure Valley folks– any suggestions for kids’ accounts?
  • After looking at MANY thrift stores, we finally found a prom dress for my daughter at a nice consignment store that was having a 40% off sale.  The dress was literally new with tags (original price $179) but thanks to the sale, it was $55.  It looks beautiful on her and will only take a tiny bit of altering (by moi– wish me luck.)
  • I sent off a baby gift for a friend’s daughter that consisted of things I’d sewn from my newly organized fabric stash.  Very fun!  I also finished sewing several more purses that I cut out last winter.  Thinking they’d make a fun gift for a wide variety of ladies.
  • I’ve been working hard to not waste any of the veggies from last week’s Bountiful Basket.  Most challenging has been THREE large heads of lettuce.  The BB lady said they had a couple extra lettuces and offered them in my box, so of course I accepted. We used most of the last head today, in Thai beef wraps (recipe below). Along with the usual grated carrot and minced onion, I also diced a zucchini really small and mixed it in with the ground beef, which makes it much more bearable to the ones of mine who don’t love zucchini.  I’ve shared the recipe before, but included it again here, in case you want to try it.  I’m always pleased at how happily kids eat their veggies when I serve this.

Thai Lettuce Wraps

Thai Lettuce Wraps


  • big bunch of chard, spinach, or lettuce – probably a pound or so
  • 2 carrots, grated or minced
  • 1 onion, minced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 lb lean ground beef (or ground turkey)
  • soy sauce or teriyaki sauce to taste (about 1/4 cup?)


  1. Wash chard or lettuce leaves, shake off extra water, and set aside in a bowl. Shred carrot, onion, garlic, and any other veggie that you desire using a food processor. Cook ground meat in a large skillet with a little slosh of sesame oil, if you have it. If you are using ground turkey, you will probably need a tablespoon or two of oil as you cook it.
  2. Once meat is cooked, remove from pan and cook chopped veggies in the remaining oil until soft.
  3. Return hamburger to pan and mix with veggies and a good slosh of teriyaki sauce or soy sauce (probably around 1/4 cup). Add a cup or two of cooked rice, if desired. Salt and pepper to taste. Cook over medium heat for a few more minutes, til ingredients are well mixed and heated.
  4. Serve by wrapping leaves of chard or lettuce around several tablespoons of meat. Let people take their own lettuce and their own serving of meat/veggies and wrap right on their plate.


How did your week go?  I enjoyed reading the frugal accomplishments from the Prudent Homemaker earlier this week and I’d love to hear yours too.  Would any of you like me to add a linky to these frugality posts?  That way those of you who blog could easily share the links to your frugality posts, and it’d be easier for everyone to hop around to see what others are doing.  Let me know what you think, and if there is enough interest, I’ll add a linky next week.


  1. Those lettuce wraps are going to make it onto my new menu! Haven’t tried anything like that before. After receiving a Vitamix blender as a gift I’ve been on the hunt for fruits and veggies that can be used for smoothies. At my local grocery store I discovered they put out a rack every couple of days with marked down produce that is still edible, but maybe on the downside of freshness. I managed to find bananas, oranges, pineapple and grapes for 25 cents a pound! I brought them home and washed them, de-stemmed the grapes, cut the pineapple and froze it all on cookie sheets right away. Now I have put it into zip lock bags in the freezer and I can quickly grab a handful of the few things that I want to throw into a smoothie easily! It also tastes a little better knowing that I was able to get such a good deal on the fruits!

    • Wonderful idea! For awhile our local Albertsons would fill one of those paper totes with 4-5 lbs of ripe bananas and sell it for a buck, but they haven’t been doing it lately and I’ve missed it.

  2. I really enjoy being accountable! I was up at 6 am looking for the new post lol! My successes this week have been making birthday brownies for my 5 year old’s birthday. We went to her requested restaurant on sunday for lunch instead of monday for dinner. It was much cheaper for the 5 of us. We ordered water and timed it so it was lunch and dinner. I used up a chicken veggie mix in a homemade pot pie and cleaned up the freezer. Pulled out homemade pumpkin puree. Successfully used the ricearoni mix I made last week. Made my 5 yr old a scented heat bag and creamscicle bath salts to round out her presents. She loved it! Making the cupcakes for her party tomorrow (was rained out last week) at the park and made her mcmommy burgers and fries for her birthday. Used up the loose apples from my kids backpacks to make apple jelly and applesauce. Failures, sadly I didnt get to store quick enough to get the strawberries on sale. And I lost 2 packs of pork chunks that got shoved into back of fridge. But I did get fridge and freezer organized because this motivated me. Thanks Mary for the outlet to share!

  3. Frugal: I bought a MOUNTAIN of bananas that were “overripe”. Banana cookies, smoothies, etc… have been the hit this week. Pretty much I stayed away from the grocery stores otherwise.

    not so frugal: I bought two large 2 cubit feet of soil for $5.95 that turned out to be garbage potting soil. SAWDUST ANYONE? A total waste of money.

    Frugal: I am using ONLY recycled pots for my tomato plants. Potted about 2 hundred plants yesterday. For the most part I had to cut each and every gallon sized landscape style pot down to make it a proper 8 inch pot. Tedious, but frugal! Looking for more landscapers who will share their pots with me.

  4. Is that the amount of beef wraps you make for your family? Do you serve anything with it (rice, noodles, etc) to help fill people up? It looks delicious, but I’m concerned we might still be hungry.

    • Yes, I made the recipe with about 1.5 lb of beef for 7 people yesterday and we had a bit left over. I did add 1 small zucchini, two grated carrots and an onion for the veggies. I also cut up a mango and a couple apples. My teen boys eat a lot by my older teen girls don’t eat very much.

  5. Fugal:
    I put out a plea to borrow the new title for my book club pick. I was able to borrow the book instead of buy it. Yeah!
    I needed a new spring coat so I ordered two coats from to try on. They were $80 and $150. Then I ordered some from and found one that I really like for $40. Yeah! Super bonus frugal is that I paid no shipping and was able to try everything on at home. I can return the items to my local store and not pay return shipping.
    Not Frugal: I ordered lots of hair products for my daughter and I. It seems they all ran out at the same time. Ouch!

    • My girls go through conditioner SO fast. Last night I literally dreamed about hair products–not even kidding. I dreamed I found a container of conditioner for $12 that must have been about 3 gallons, it was so huge. I bet that would last awhile!

  6. Found winter coats on sale today for $3- bought two of the next two sizes up for my twin girls. Hit a yearly yard sale that benefits our local Christian school today. Got a pair of denim shorts and a pair of jeans, both like new for the girls to fight over. 😉 Also got some craft supplies and about a dozen kids books, and some gift boxes, all for $9.
    But tonight my girls needed new soccer cleats and I was not mentally prepared for how much those suckers cost! Yowsers! There went my savings!

  7. I love Frugal Fridays! I recently discovered that Wal-Mart has a larger crackers and peanut butter packs: 27 packs for about $6.00. I had quit buying these, but my son has been battling a very severe allergic reaction for two weeks w/near daily trips to the doctor. These crackers have been a help! I did put them high up in the laundry room. My kid are little and can’t reach. I changed my purse/diaper bag to a more roomy, straw, open topped bag. I can fit in there the box from cereal bars and refill w/crackers &/or whatever else snacks to tide over hungry kiddos. Keeps the snacks together and less likely from getting squished!

  8. Frugal:
    My daughter borrowed a prom dress from a friend instead of buying one. A couple of us moms are making a nice dinner for the group of 10 going together instead of going out to a pricey dinner.
    We ate at home all week, trying to waste very little.
    We made our own graduation announcements instead of buying them.
    Cleaned my own carpets.
    Not so frugal:
    Our dog ate all of our solar lights. grrr, not intended to happen!
    I’m out of all of our freezer meals, so we have been eating more convenience foods. Cheaper than eating out, but not as healthy or cheap as all home made.
    I cleaned out the fridge, and had to throw a bunch of condiments etc. away due to expirations.

  9. Frugal:
    Bought no meat this week – ate lentils a few days, then green beans with leftover fish from week before, and then some chicken (from the freezer) broth soup.
    Used half the broth for the soup, still have the other half for another soup. And the chicken from it – can mince and make sandwiches for the kids!
    Not so frugal:
    Been eating lot of cereal lately.
    Ate out yesterday when grocery shopping – overpriced chinese fast food. Not worth it!

    I have just started budgeting around a month ago. Any idea how much food + household supplies ought to cost for a family of 5, kids aged 5,3, and 6 months?

    • We are a family of 5 me and kids 16,13,5,3. My little ones are skinny minnies and eat like truckers! We live in nebraska so no winco or aldis. We average around $300 to 350 for month. No eating out and household goods included. But Ive been doing thrifty for a while. I fed all us plus my exhusband for same price in Washington state. (We were military) If hou watch sales and stock up when prices great you can really do it!

  10. I love your Frugal Fridays feature, Mary!

    Here was my best deal of the week. I had a $10 free coupon that said it was good for the Sears outlet in my neighborhood. But they wouldn’t let me use it – they said it wasn’t good at the Sears outlet even though it was printed right on the coupon. I was buying baby outfits for a cousin’s baby shower. The cashier wouldn’t accept the coupon but then she discounted all three outfits to $1 each – and they were Carter’s (priced at $9)! It didn’t make any sense whatsoever but I didn’t make a fuss and now I have a baby present for $3!

  11. Went to my favorite church sale that is held twice a year. Got a new Norwex sport towel that retails for $37.99. For a $1 I also got some teacher supplies, packets of castile soap and stamp pads for my mission trip to Nicaragua in July. I picked up 32 patterns for 10 cents each which I will sell online. Also 3 games and a bag full of books, CDs and DVDs all for selling on Amazon.

  12. I made my dress for a school fundraiser/ Gala event. I was so determined to work from my stash… which is a rather daunting feat when the event is formal attire. I was so pleased with the turnout, though!

    I enjoyed one of those rare “EVERYTHING I COULD ASK FOR” days at Value Village, where I felt very blessed to find fancy shoes and a necklace for said event, a black dress shirt for my hubby and, amazingly, Season 1 DVD of ‘The Office.’

    Otherwise? It wasn’t a great week for saving… But this exercise really helps me review my purchases and hopefully re-think my choices for the next week.

  13. Christine says:

    Frugal-avoided Starbucks even though it sounded so good.
    *Drove 18 miles to ALDI to stock up on staples. I just started shopping there. Bought 15 pounds of chicken at another store on sale and spent Sunday cooking and getting ready for the next two weeks. I have a couple of weeks of meals ready to get together quickly now. It is too hard after work to pick up that phone and order take out. My final frugal find was I had $20.00 worth of Kohl’s coupons. It allowed me to get two birthday gifts for about $13.00. I was excited.

  14. You could always make a quick run thru a grocery store instead of swinging thru a drive thru. Pick up the granola/cheese/applesauce/yogurts (or whatever reasonably healthy snacks are on sale!) instead of the not-so-healthy fast food. Probably close to the same amount of time, almost guaranteed to be cheaper even if not the best prices for whatever you get, and then you don’t have to worry about the snacks disappearing prior to errand days. (I keep granola bars/nuts/squeezable fruits in the glove box for when I have long days like that, but there are only two of us)

  15. Frugal: returned some unopened things I had purchased and decided I could live without. Went flower shopping and found some clearance flowers for only $0.60. They look pretty awful, but I’m a terrible gardener anyway and things never last very long so it might as well be a cheap purchase to start with, right? 🙂 Promptly after I bought these things, the South got flooded for close to a week straight, so my poor tomato plant that I bought looks awful. I’m really hoping it was just the too much rain, not enough sunlight that made it so bad. I haven’t had it long enough to have killed it off already otherwise!

  16. laurah says:

    Because I drive less than 5 miles a day–dropped $9 a month in car insurance
    Bought (6) four packs of beer for .50 yep 50 cents for four/made beer bread and beer cheese soup while storing rest.
    Pair of sandals at thrift store talking them down to $5 from $19 marked.
    Mixed vinegar and water and vinegar and lemon juice into spray bottles for hair conditioner saving me close to $20 in hair products.
    Turned off heat May 1!!!
    Making thousand island dressing when needed (mayo and ketchup) instead of spending money on bottles and going to waste and taking up room in refrigerator.
    Went to smaller garbage can saving $6 a month.
    Cable to family instead of larger package saving $50 monthly.

    Wow when listed- really is a bunch of money saved.

  17. I don’t live in your area – but I would look for a credit union for savings accounts. They don’t do all the sales pitches like the banks do and usually have better interest rates.
    Since you mentioned bountiful baskets – I’ll tell you my big unfrugal thing this week. I ordered the cinco de mayo extra pack that included cut tortillas ready to make into chips. Well, it got put off a day, then another, and today – they’re moldy. I’m so irritated at myself!

  18. monique says:

    Do you have Pioneer Federal Credit Union near you? My teen has an account there and so do my nephews. Pretty sure we’ve never paid any fees.

  19. Amy Mac says:

    Our children have savings accounts at Wells Fargo for free until they are 18 years old. Many in Meridian near me, I assume some out your way as well.