Friday, January 30, 2009

Creative Use of Leftovers



One of the easiest ways to make a big impact on your finances is with your grocery budget. One of the best ways to make that stretch is to USE your leftovers.

Pretty much everyone knows about planned over leftovers (rubber chicken, etc), but what about those little dabs that you don't know what to do with? Let me give an example.

Sunday: you cooked fried chicken, mashed potatoes and gravy, corn on the cob and biscuits.
You have leftover 2 and 1/2 pieces of chicken, no mashed potatoes, but you do have a dab of gravy. You've got 2 corn on the cobs and 1 biscuit.

Those two whole pieces of chicken I would use to pack a lunch, but the 1/2 pc of chicken, the corn (cob and all) I would put in my creative leftover bucket (just an empty tupperware designated for holding leftovers). The biscuit I would put in my bread bag (a ziploc containing heels, biscuits, rolls, whatever non-sandwich bread item is leftover and won't be used the NEXT day). Both the "bucket" and the breadbag are in my fridge's freezer compartment. I add to them all week long and about once every two weeks I can use the contents to make something else.

You might notice I didn't save the gravy. I would send this out for scraps. Tomato sauces generally keep well, and if there are serving size amounts of spaghetti sauce, then I will save these. White sauces and gravies, however, I will make as I use them. They only take pennies to put together and it makes for a nicer finished product.

I've found that the cardinal rule of leftovers is this:

If it won't be used the NEXT day, then it will sit in the fridge until trash day




So I make a plan for each leftover item when I'm cleaning up the kitchen. Most of our leftovers are used for lunches at our house. But many times there are odds and ends that I'm not sure what to do with. But if I put them in the fridge for us to eat later, they almost always end up going to the trash when we clean out the fridge.

Anything that is a full serving, can be stored in freezer bags. We like to make individual servings for a lunch day when there aren't leftovers. This also keeps us from having the same thing for four days in a row.

Soup, chili, and casseroles are ideal for saving as "lunch menu" freezer items. Leftover rice I will also save by itself, bagging in two cup sized servings. Rice is great to add to other dishes or to pull out and use as a sidedish, if it is packaged is usable amounts.


So you have your bucket and your bread bag. What do you do with them now?

I generally will take a look at the contents and decide to do one of three options:

  1. MAKE SOUP: meat of nearly any kind, assorted veggies, beans, rice, noodles...pretty much any kind of leftover you can think of can be used in a soup. Just add your liquid base (broth, cream sauce, tomato sauce or a combination. Then just add your leftovers and some fresh (or not leftover) ingredients too. Follow the ingredient list to decide how you want to season your soup. It can be zesty, savory, or have an ethnic flare. It's all up to you and the ingredients you have. Remember that corn cob? You can use the cob to flavor the soup (it's also good to flavor stocks). Just be sure that you cut off the corn to use and throw away the actual cob after the cooking and before serving.
  2. MAKE A CASSEROLE: By adding rice, noodles, or anything that you can "layer" then you can make what was "leftover" new again. Make a double pie crust and add your leftovers to a creamy sauce and make a "Lotsa Pots Pie". Add eggs and cheese and make it into a quiche.
  3. WRAP IT UP: If your leftovers are mostly beans and rice, or things that can have a Tex-Mex feel, why not wrap them up in a tortilla with some cheese and grill for a tasty sandwich type wrap. Another idea is to pick up some egg roll wrappers (they can be found in your produce section, usually with the organic food and tofu) for less than two dollars. You can season your leftovers with a theme of Asia with a little seasoning, soy sauce and rice or cabbage, or you can think outside the box and use the little wrappers on anything that you could wrap at all. I have used them with leftover chicken, cheese and rice casserole and they were delicious! Just be sure that you seal them up tight before you fry them. You can bake them too (I don't think they are quite as good though). Just be sure you let them brown on both sides.
To be truly frugal, don't forget to save your bones, celery tops, and other things that might be thought of as "waste" to use when you make your broth. A large ziploc can keep these kinds of things throughout the week. So that on kitchen prep day you can make a stockpot of broth without batting an eye.

For more frugal ideas to help you stay on your budget, please visit Crystal @ Biblical Womanhood for Frugal Friday, the blog carnival that highlights frugal tips and budget stretchers. Check it out!

Thursday, January 29, 2009

The Grocery Trip

Well I FINALLY got my shopping done for the week. Abby was sickish on Monday and then we got that ice/snow so I didn't try to go to town until today. The nice part is that I really didn't need to. The real reason I even tried to go at all is because of the big Dillon's sale.

So here's how I did:



Walgreens Trip


Actually this was two seperate transactions. To get the Dr Pepper deal Rewards you could only do two at a time. Since we are having some of the teenagers over on Sunday (superbowl) I thought we should have some cokes for them to drink.

Colgate Toothpaste $2.99
-2.00 Register Rewards
-.75 coupon
= $.49

Sunkist/Dr Pepper/Root Beer (3/$4.00)
-2.00 Register Rewards
=$.67 each
did that one twice

Milk $2.99 (no coupon, just the cheapest price in town)

Wonder bread 2/$4.00


Total before coupons/RR's $18.90
RR's back $6.00
Out of pocket $12.15
RR's used -$10.00
Actual money spent in store: $2.15 (that's a savings of 89%)

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Aldi's


No coupons or anything here. But there were some good deals (and prices were less than what I would pay other places). Deals worth mentioning:

Chicken Quarters $.79/lb.
Yukon Gold Potatoes, 5 lbs $1.99
Avacado's $.49 each (gotta have guacamole for Super Bowl!!)

The total was $30.69 for everything you see pictured
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Now for the serious shopping...

Dillons

There is a mix and match super deal on select items. You can get $5.00 off your total for every ten selected items, maximum of three promo offers per transaction. I did two.

$1.99 Kraft Cheese
-$ .50 Promo
-$.50 tear off coupon in the aisle (doubles) <---These were gone :'( but you should look if you go
=$1.49 ea
I bought 4



$1.49 Valley Fresh Steamers
-$.50 promo
-$.50 coupon (dbl's)
=free!! (I have two coupons!)

(this makes 6 items)

$2.50 Armour Meatballs
-.50 Promo
-.55 coupon (dbl's)
=$1.00

(this makes 7)

$1.99 Ken's Dressing
-.50 promo
-1.00 coupon
=.49

(this makes 8)

$2.49 Juicy Juice
-.50 promo x 2
-.50/2 coupon (dbl's)
=1.49 each but must buy two

(this makes 10 promo offers)

Then I did:

Pepsi 12pk $3.49
-.50 promo
-1.20 plus
=1.79 each (I bought 3)

Orville Redenbacher $1.99
-.50 promo
-.80 (doubles to $1.00)
=.69

(this makes 4)

Cheetos 2.50
-.50 promo
-.19 plus savings
=$1.81 each (bought 2)

(this makes 6)

Fiber One Bars $2.49
-.50 promo
-.50 coupon (dbls)
=.99 (had two coupons!)

(this makes 8)

Nature Valley Granola Bars $2.49
-.50 promo
-.50 coupon (doubles)
=.99 ea (had two coupons!)

This makes 10

I also picked up red tag special on banana's $.39/lb

Total before plus/coupons/promos:$73.63
Less coupons scanned -15.45
less doubles -4.35
Store coupons & promos -21.12

Out of pocket/Actual spent $32.71 (that's a savings of 56%)

Plus I got two catalina's with my receipt:
$1.00 off Kelloggs Fiber Plus Antioxidant bars
and
Save $1.50-$3.50 (depending on what you buy)
1/30-2/22 w/Nature Valley Granola Bars



So...not a bad day, all three of those pictures for a whopping total of $65.55 out of my grocery envelope

Thank You Mother Hen!


What a great start to my day!!

I woke up a little early, so I broke my rules about not getting on the computer until after my morning routine was done...oops! But look what I found when I logged on!

Jenny aka Mother Hen @ Ship Full of Pirates had given me this award! Aww, I'm so honored. Thank you Jenny!! You should definately go take a look at her blog if you have a large family!

I started this blog for myself and figured that probably no one but family or close friends would read it. When I started getting comments from people I don't know, I thought "Wow, someone actually IS reading it."

So I decided to put on a counter on Sunday. Every time I see the counter going up I'm seriously shocked. It's just so much more fun to write these posts when I know someone might actually READ what I'm writing...Ok, so maybe SKIM is a better word, but that's ok too!!

So I'm really excited for someone to think enough of these ramblings to give me an award.

Here are the instructions that came with the award:
This is what you need to do…Thank the person who gave the award to you, post the award on your blog or on a post, nominate up to 10 blogs which show great creativity, link to the people you chose on your post, and comment on their blogs to tell them about the award!

The ten people I'm passing the award to are:
An Unfinished Mom
Kristen@ Frugal Antics of a Harried Housewife
Kim@ Just a Southern Girl
Amy@ Life With the O'Shields In South Carolina
Miriam @ My Country Cupboard
FishMom @ Life As Mom (had to nominate her JUST for those cakes!!)
Phoebe @ Cents To Get Debt Free
Karen @ Homespun Simplicity
Jamie @ I Am A Money Magnet
Shannon @ The Grocery Weekly (because of her I am saving more $$)

Congratulations ladies. Now you pass on the awards to those that you think are most deserving.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

How to make a Sauce



When I walk through the grocery store and take a look at the pasta aisle, it never ceases to amaze me the variety of sauces on display. I can't imagine spending $3 on jarred sauce when it is SO easy to make. I think if people realized just how simple it is, they would be making their own and saving more money.

To make any sauce there are basically four components that you can mix and match:

Oil Base-butter, oil or drippings from meat

Thickening Agent- flour if making a roux or cornstarch if you are thickening from a broth
  • When making a roux, heat your oil base and then add a bit of flour to thicken, you will want to cook the flour a little bit to get rid of the "doughy" taste. Depending on the depth of the sauce you are making you may or may not want to brown the roux. Always stir constantly when making a roux, burned roux will need to be thrown out.
  • When using cornstarch the rules change. While you add flour to hot oil, cornstarch ALWAYS needs to be added to cool or cold liquid. Never add to warm/hot liquid or it will not dissolve (it's backwards, I know) and you will get lumps in your sauce. I like to use a little pint jar, put a little bit of cold broth or water and add your cornstarch and shake it. You can add a bit at a time until you get the correct thickness for your sauce.
Liquid-there are a variety to be used here, broths, bouillon broth, milk or cream, tomato sauce or juice, even water.

Seasoning Elements-This of course is defined by the type of sauce you are making and is only limited by your imagination. Some suggestions are Meat, Cheeses, Vegetables, and spices of all types. Even sweet flavors like cocoa and coconut can be found in sauces. Flavors like onion, garlic, salt and pepper can be found in almost all sauces and if you don't want chunks of certain flavors in your sauce but want the aroma and taste, you can infuse the essence by boiling the liquid you are using with the ingredients of the flavor that you like before you begin. Just discard the ingredient after the flavor has been infused into the liquid.


Here is an example of how these steps come together. This is how I make Alfredo Sauce:

  1. Melt half a stick of butter in large skillet
  2. Throw in diced onions.
  3. When onions are translucent and aromatic, throw in some flour to make roux. (hint: if you add too much flour and find your roux is a thick paste instead of a roux, just add a touch of oil. This is so simple, you can add more oil or more flour until you get the roux consistency just right)
  4. Add chicken broth, then season with salt, garlic powder and pepper. Taste with small spoon to see if flavors are right.
  5. Add cream or milk a bit at a time, to get the perfect consistency...the sauce will thicken as it cooks until it reaches a certain point. I just add a bit at a time until I get there.
  6. Last step, add a half cup or so of Parmesan Cheese.
See how easy that is? No special ingredients, no special equipment, and no reason to ever use sauce in a jar again. It sure works for me!

To see what's working for others, please go visit Rocks In My Dryer

Tackle It Tuesday

Tackle It Tuesday Meme

Well today school was cancelled because of snow. With extra people in the house you would think things would go faster (extra hands) but somehow it doesn't quite work out that way.

Here is my list for today. I will update it as I get more things accomplished:



  • All laundry washed, dried and folded or hung up and put away

  • Kitchen cleaned up from breakfast and lunch and ready for supper

  • Spend 30minutes -1hr on photo project I'm organizing in my bedroom
  • Clean Bedrooms (and help Abby when kids clean theirs)
  • Do my 365 Deed

Update: I added in making a loaf of Banana bread (and muffins) while I was cooking supper. Still haven't finished Abby's room but finished mine. We will work more on her's after dinner.

To see what other people are working on today, go see 5 Minutes for Mom

Simple Woman's Journal

For January 27,2009

Outside my window... It's 9 degrees and snow is on the ground, covering everything. There was no school today too.
I am thinking... I am putting off going to town for groceries for the second day. Maybe I will go tomorrow.
I am thankful for... a fully stocked pantry and freezers. I can't go to town, but I don't really need to except to catch the sales (which will be on all week)
From the kitchen... The kitchen isn't being used until tonight. There are a few dishes that need to be washed (did I mention that school was cancelled?).
I am wearing... grey sweat pants and grey tshirt with navy sweatshirt on the top.
I am going... nowhere. Hopefully we'll make it to town later in the week, but no plans on getting Abby out into the snow and ice.
I am reading... The Complete Tightwad Gazette (again)
I am hoping...that I got the job!
I am creating... a mess in my bedroom as I try to organize my photos...need to work on that more today.
I am hearing...Dillon talk to a friend on the phone, Abby watching cartoons, and me typing.
Around the house... the laundry is in the dryer, everyone has had lunch and I'm about to send them all to their rooms to clean up a little (that should make me popular! ha) I'll go clean my room too...my mess of photo's and boxes.
One of my favorite things... Hot chocolate on a cold day.
A few plans for the rest of the week... I need to get to town to get some of those Kroger deals and to make a return to Kmart. I would like to get that photo issue resolved in my bedroom (can you tell that's bugging me?) Other than that, just stay on task and on budget for the rest of the week.
A picture thought I am sharing with you... My dad riding one of the lots before the work starts on the last roundup (cattle work weekend) that we had (this is at my Dad's place). This picture makes me yearn for springtime and another springtime roundup!




To read more Simple Journals from other blogs, go to The Simple Woman's Daybook

Abigail

I am a mother of six. I have three children from my first marriage, a 15 yr old boy, a 14 yr old girl and an 11 yr old boy. I also have two stepdaughters who are 14 and 9. All of those ages are close together, which makes it nice for them to forge strong bonds between them. They can share clothes, listen to the same music, get together with the same group of friends, etc.

Then there is Abby. She was born when the youngest of our children was six, and the oldest one was 12. She is different from the other children in that she is just starting the preschool age, when most of them are starting their teenage years. That's a really big difference.

It's really different for me too. Just when I thought that time of my life was over, it wasn't. I experienced diapers, nursing, midnight feedings, and all the baby stuff all over again. But this time it was different. I was older. My other children had been very close together and it was ALOT of work when they were babies. This time, I had just one baby when I already knew exactly what I was doing. And this time I knew just exactly how fast it was all going to be over. So I have relished every second of Abby's growing. I do not mean it to sound as though I didn't or don't appreciate the moments I've spent with my other children, because I do. Each child is special and gives you their own unique memories, each have their own special bond to you. If you are a mother and you're reading this, you know exactly what I mean.

But because of the age gap, I have had time to grow as a person myself. I've gotten some maturity, some perspective, and I'm a different mother for Abby than I was able to be for my older children. I appreciate the moments more. I don't sweat the small stuff. Even colds are greeted with a different attitude than I had years ago. I know these moments are fleeting. There will be a day when Abby won't want to sit on my lap. I won't have her company in the kitchen, and she won't beg to be my helper. Right now, she wants to be wherever I am, in a few years, she will be begging to be ANYWHERE I'm not. She'll want to be with her friends, not her mother. She will never think I'm as funny as she does now. She will never think I'm as beautiful as she does now. She will never be as close to me as she is now. And while it does make me happy to think I will be able to use the bathroom by myself again at some point, I will be sad to lose my best friend. Because I know that for a few years, somewhere between middle school and adulthood, I will love her with all my heart but she will have to let me go a little, to find who she is for herself. And because of the gap of my children's ages, I know all this. I know that it's coming. So for right now, while she's still in my lap, I am grateful.

To read about other things people are grateful for, head to Heavenly Homemakers and read all the Gratituesday links.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Have you Joined The 365 Club yet?

I talked about being a member of Facebook a couple of posts back. I initially joined it because that's what the kid's at my children's school are all doing. My oldest son and stepdaughter each have an account, so I made an account also, so that I can see what is going on. Well, technically that's only the first step of all that we do to see what is going on with them, but then, that's another post isn't it?

Anyway...After I made the account, I started finding friends from high school and friends from previous jobs and other connections that I have made over the years. I have talked to friends that I haven't spoken with since high school and we are truly reconnecting by being able to see pictures of each other's kids, hear about our day to day activities, etc. What started as just another parental monitoring device is turning into some really fun "mom-time".

Today, however, I found a way that it can be even more. One of my good friends, Margie, found a group on Facebook called the 365 Club. It started at the beginning of the year and it's mission is to have as many members as possible who become ACTIVE members and will make effort every day (for 365 days) to do a random act of kindness. It could be buying coffee for the person behind you in the coffee line. It could be giving a homeless person a coat. Anything you wish. No one tells you what to do, which leaves you to be as creative or as simple as you would like. No one says who you can or can't "give" to either. Personally I think if we are all out there looking for the situations for giving, God will provide. I think that someone will be put in our way and we will know exactly what to do...IF we are looking for that.

I just think this is such a great idea. Facebook is a huge social network, if people will join and then actively participate, it could be a great mission.

Did you ever see that movie "Pay It Forward"? If you didn't go rent it right now, it's worth the rental fee (and that's saying alot from a cheapo like me! ha!). This idea works very similarly to that movie and the things that you see in that movie definately inspire.

You hear that phrase so much, "little things mean alot". Just imagine thousands of tiny little kindnesses, all spread out all over the country. Something like that could change the world.

So if you are a member of Facebook, please join today. And if you're not, join anyway. I see no reason why you have to put your name on a list to start spreading kindness. Make it your mission today and every day to spread a little kindness everywhere you go. It really can make the world a better place for our children.

Menu Plan Monday

Photobucket


This week everything on my menu is made from items in our freezer and pantry. I am still planning a shopping trip tomorrow, but Dillons has their mega sale going on, so I wanted to use as much of the grocery budget as I can to stockpile good deals. Hopefully that means I can put whatever we DON'T spend towards our debt snowball.

As always, breakfasts are fend for yourself from the choices onhand (cereal, oatmeal, usually some kind of muffin or breakfast bread, etc)

Lunches are leftovers from the night before, or soup/sandwiches from pantry

Monday:
Pork Chops
Baked Potatoes
Corn on the Cob


Tuesday:
Chicken Fettuccini w/Alfredo sauce
Broccolli
Bread

Wednesday:
Hashbrown Casserole
Little Smokies
Vegetable

Thursday:
Beef Stew
Cornbread

Friday:
Sausage Pizzas
Salad

Saturday:
Creative Leftovers (check back later in the week. I will use this recipe for a recipe swap.)
with Stir Fry veggies

Sunday:
Roasted (in crockpot) Chicken
roasted potatoes
and veggies


And that will be our week of meals. So what are you having? If you need a little more inspiration, be sure to check out OrgJunkie's site to see what other people around the blogosphere are having.

Have a great week!

Hash Brown Casserole

I'm planning on making a hash brown casserole this week, so I thought I would include the recipe. It's a great way to use up potatoes if you hit a sale (just shred them in food processor and be sure you squeeze out all the excess water). In this case I am using actual frozen hash browns. I bought them for a ridiculously low price a few weeks back and I have yet to use them. So when I was looking through my freezers to make my menu this week, I decided to make the hashbrown casserole.

That's another thing. I don't really buy the prepackaged convenience food. It's not as good for you and it's extremely overpriced. HOWEVER, always look at the sales. If you can buy two pounds of potatoes, PREPARED, for $.50 at a time when 5lbs of potatoes is costing $3 or more...then YES it is a good deal..grab it!

Hash Brown Casserole

2 lb Hash Browns
1/2 stick of margarine
1 can cream soup
1/2 stick of cream cheese is nice if you have any
1/2 onion chopped
salt and pepper to taste
2 c cheddar (reserve about half for topping)

Turn your oven to 350. Saute your onion in the butter. Remove from heat and add all the rest of the ingredients. Add the cheese for the topping and cover with foil. Cook in oven about 1/2 hr and then remove foil to brown the top. It should cook about 45 minutes in all. Easy recipe!

Saturday, January 24, 2009

God Isn't Just for Sunday's


God isn't just for Sundays. Sometimes, when life gets busy it is very easy to think because you go to church on Sunday, or you believe in God that that's enough. I don't think I'm a bad person but I can tell you I have gone for years at a time doing that and somewhere deep inside I knew God wanted to hear from me, and I should be praying more than just "thanks for the food" and "thank you God" when something good happened. But I didn't. I didn't feel that I had the time. I would forget about God until it was Sunday or until I needed something. I am trying very hard to remember that having a relationship with God is just like any other when it comes to communication. Have you ever had a friend that you only talk to once in a while? Busy lives and miles make even the closest of ties have sporadic communication. I have many friends who I have been EXTREMELY close with and while I love them, and I care for them always, the fact that we just don't talk like we used to DOES affect the relationship. The closeness isn't there like it was when there was consistent communication. I think it works the same with God.

I don't believe necessarily that that distance is felt on God's side, after all he is perfect and he loves each of us without condition. He will remember the name and details of a each of us even if we have never talked to him before. I am sure though, that he would probably like communication from us consistently anyway. It has finally dawned on me, though, after almost forty years on this planet, that the reason for the constant communication is because WE need it to feel that closeness to HIM. When I pray every day and I don't get too busy or forget to take that time, it gets easier, the relationship feels natural and close...as it should. If I spend a week (or longer) and don't take that time to thank God for my blessings, to praise the sunset that he put in the sky, to notice and thank him for all the many blessings that he sends my way each and every day, then the relationship can feel a little stiff, a little awkward...I feel like I don't know what to say to him and I can't "hear" anything he wants to tell me either.

So God isn't just for Sunday's. He loves us every day of the week and I hope that I will remember that I need to tell him how much I love him every day too. Not just so he will know, because he tells us that he knew what we will pray before we pray it. But I need to tell him that I love him everyday for me.

Friday, January 23, 2009

25 Random Things About Me




I have a facebook account. I'm not as active with it as alot of my friends are, but I like to keep it as a good way to see what my oldest son and stepdaughter are doing and talking about with their friends And I'm also able to keep up with friends from high school and previous jobs that live far away. I was tagged by my friend Sandy, to write 25 random things about myself and I was surprised at just how difficult that was to do. Since I had to give it such thought, to come up with 25 things that I felt able to share on such a random basis, I thought I would add it to my blog also. So here it is:


1. I've spent most of my working life in law enforcement. I got out a few years ago and now I'm currently trying to get back in (communications side).
2. I'm developing a serious blog addiction. I've been reading several blogs a day for almost a year and at the end of last year I decided to make my own. So I'm learning about that.
3. The most important thing in my life is my family. I have struggled with trying to be a normal/traditional family while dealing with the circumstances we've been dealt. Being divorced from my older kids dad and part of a blended family with my husband, his children and our daughter. I'm working on trying to keep things "normal" for Abby when she has siblings that have different parents and homes.
4. I used to sing, pretty well in fact. Carrie Underwood and I grew up in the same area and have won some of the same contests, been part of the same singing groups, etc. I wonder sometimes what might have happened if something like American Idol had been around when I was growing up. (I'm nowhere as good as Carrie, by the way, in case someone thinks I meant that but I was good enough to get a full scholarship to college.)
5. I'm currently working on rebuilding my spiritual walk. I realized (in almost a shocked way) last year that I have been angry with God since my divorce. It's strange to admit that out loud, but God already knew it even if I didn't. He's forgiven me for blaming him for my mistakes and trying to help me forgive myself and others.
6. I find complete and total bliss in all things domestic. My friend Margie thinks that makes me a stepford wife...but I know I have WAY too much of an opinion to ever make it as a Stepford!! haha
7. Speaking of opinions, I have LOTS of them. In politics, for example, I am conservative and that doesn't always mean republican. I am a strict Constitutionalist and I believe that more people should read history and maybe that would keep us from making the same mistakes, over and over and over again.
8. Sandy is afraid of mice but not snakes, so I tried to think of something I'm afraid of. I can't think of a THING that I'm afraid of, like an item or an animal, and I don't have any phobias that I can think of. The only things I'm afraid of are things HAPPENING to people that I love. I'm not sure if that counts.
9. I am probably the most frugal person that you know. And I'm proud of it.
10. I can't believe it's THIS hard for me to think of things about MYSELF!!!
11. I am chronically cheerful. It's a sickness really. There are people in my life that I should stay mad at or not be so nice to, but I can't help it. I'm a cheerful person and I can't stay mad or sour for more than an hour...I've actually tried!
12. My husband on the other hand is chronically Scroogish, he puts the bah in humbug. It's so cute! lol It's really a cover though for his sweet soft compassionate middle (and he would HATE that I told on him!)
13. I'm addicted to talk radio. I like Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, Dave Ramsey, Laura Ingraham (when I can listen to her online), Friendly Fire with Clarke Sanders (Nancy gets on my nerves), and there are several bible/christian living programs that I listen to on the weekends. My favorite thing to do is bake or cook in my kitchen with the radio dialed in to one of these programs. It stimulates my mind and my culinary senses both at the same time!
14. The music I like most is old country. The country from 60s, 70s and 80s...some of the new stuff. But don't say that I don't like variety. I like country AND western!
15. I drink too much coke. And when I say coke I mean Pepsi or Dr. Pepper. That's another thing that drives my husband crazy. It's a southern-ism that just doesn't go away. "Do you want a coke?" "What kind?, Dr Pepper?" I'm getting better about calling it POP since I moved here though because people look at you funny when you call Dr Pepper coke.
16. I'm very sentimental. Not about things, but about people. I hold them in my heart. People that I love or care about at any point in my life I will ALWAYS love or care about. If I went to high school with you or grew up with you then you are ALWAYS my friend, always on my prayer list and I always think sentimentally about you. Even if we've had a fight...see #11, I don't hold grudges.
17. I worry that future generations won't know how to do anything. It seems that no one knows how to do anything for themselves anymore. Most people can't even count back change at the cash register. People don't know how to cook from scratch, mend a hem, grow their own food or hunt for food either. What will happen if a time comes when we need to know how to do things again? I'm trying to teach my children these skills and make them understand why it's necessary to know (and that's the hard part).
18. Hand in hand with #17. I believe that the family owned farms and ranches are dying. My father, one of my heroes, is a cattle rancher. I think it's extremely important for my children to learn about ranching...like I said before, people don't care or learn about that anymore. When the time comes for them and my nephews to inherit what my father has worked for his entire life (and my brother and myself)...they should know what to do with it...and that selling out is NOT an option.
19. I know that I don't have perfect character or perfection in any way...but I really do enjoy trying to make myself a better person, mother, wife, employee and friend. Not so much in a "self improvement" BOOK kind of way, but rather by a logical, practical application kind of way...reading the books doesn't hurt though!
20. I used to smoke. I'm glad I don't anymore for many reasons, but I'm surprised that years later I still have the urge to light up during certain situations like eating with friends, or driving at night.
21. I take great delight in learning. I have an endless, almost freakish knowledge of random facts (which are mostly of no use to anyone unless you want to play trivial pursuit) and I am constantly trying to learn new skills, more history, more data/facts about areas of interest and just learning in general.
22. In case you couldn't guess...I'm a bit of a nerd!
23. In high school I was a cheerleader. I'm not sure if I was popular or not (small school...the way I remember it we were all friends, but maybe that's just me being sentimental again) but I definately wasn't a nerd. I think most of my high school friends would be surprised by how "nerdy" I've become...and I'm PROUD of it! lol
24. Now that I've admitted to being a nerd, here's a strange contradiction about me. I'm proud of being a nerd, but embarrassed of my IQ. The school or my parents (and a college course I took) were why I was tested. I have been tested three times, and each time it was only a point or two different. (A point of interest, those three times were in EXTREMELY different age groups. I find that to be quite interesting.) The reason I'm embarrassed is that the IQ is on the high side. I'm not sure if the embarrassment stems from feared expectations of others, or embarrassment for my "waste" of a high IQ, though I would wager that the scales tip more towards the latter. (it's above 160 for those dying to know)
25. I can't believe how much I've actually revealed about myself in this simple little survey.

Now if you'd like, you can use this as an exercise on your own blog, or in the comments you can tell me something random about yourself.

If you'd like to add me to Facebook, click here

Monday, January 19, 2009

The Grocery Plan


The mission...
To get the deals, not overspend the budget and to get the most for the money each and every week.

The obstacles...
The grocery store is riddled with traps to grab the ill-prepared customer.

The weapons...
A menu plan for the week, including THE LIST of items needed as priority one, the list of great deals that can be picked up as loss leaders this week as priority two, thoroughly researched ads and clipped coupons, and a shopper who is not in a hurry. Remember that comparing prices (and the prices of store brand vs coupon) is crucial to being successful at this mission.

If you choose to accept this mission...
Your grocery budget will be maximized helping your family to eat nutritious and fabulous meals at the fraction of the cost that other families are paying for less nutritious or even (gasp!) takeout meals...which is highway robbery!

This message will self destruct in five seconds...

Don't worry, I'm not going to blow up your computer. I would, however, like to tell you about my mission this week and then report back later with the results at how I did with my weekly shopping report.


Kmart

I'm just going into Kmart for the free toothpaste. Yes, I said free toothpaste.

Colgate Total Advance normally $2.00
on sale this week 1/$1 + $1 off coupon = free!!

Walgreens

Pepsi 5/$15.00
Doritos 2/$5
(spending $20.00 on these items to get back $10.00 in register rewards)

Also checking out the Special K 2 pk for $4.99
It is supposed to have a $1.00 peelie and if that does turn into 2 cereals for 3.99 I'll take them!


Aldi's

Potatoes 5lb bag of bakers $1.99
Onions 3lb bag .79ea
Going to price check the cereal here for deals
also look for manager specials in meat and clearance
Price checking chili before I buy the 10/10 at Dillons

Dollartree


Using my allowance money for February birthday cards/greeting cards. It was another of my resolutions to be more organized in this area. I am buying cards a month at a time the last (or close to last) week of the month to send out as needed with my bills. So far, so good! At Dollartree the cards are affordable, only .50/each.

Dillons

They are supposed to be having a mega meat sale. I'll check it out.

Chops & Roast advertised 1.99/lb
thin sliced steak 2.99/pk (didn't specify size, etc)
Avacados 10/10
Salad 10/10
Stagg Chili 10/10
Frozen Veggies 10/10
Sour cream 10/10
Cheerios (GM cereal) 3/$8 + $1 off 3 coupon = 3/$7 (2.33/ea for brand name cereals)
Fast Fixin Chicken (Chicken nuggets, strips, etc) 10/10
Kroger OJ concentrate 10/10
Kroger Toaster Tarts 10/10
Kroger Pretzels/Tortilla Chips 10/10

They are also having a DVD sale. We will go browse this, but probably won't get anything unless we see a great bargain and still have money left over.



Ok, I will report back in the afternoon after we've had our day of shopping to give you the results of our trip.

How did your shopping trip go? Please let me know about the deals you got this week in the comments. Have a great Monday!

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Menu Plan Monday






Well here I am again, doing my Menu Plan for the week. You'll see that almost every day I'm using Five Minute Bread. You should definately go look at that link. I mixed it up on Saturday and will start using it on Monday. Supposedly the bread can just sit in the fridge and then you just bake it as needed all week. If it works I'll be doing that every week! Here's the plan:



Monday

Baked Potato Soup
Salad
Five Minute Bread


Tuesday

Shake & Bake Chicken
(go see my homeade version of shake and bake for frugality and great taste!)

Scalloped Potatoes
Salad (it's on sale at Dillon's this week, 10/$10)
Five Minute Bread

Wednesday

Hillbilly Goulash

Spinach

Five Minute Bread (unless we’re tired of it…then cornbread)



Thursday


Waffles or Pancakes

Bacon


Friday

Pizza night

Salad



Saturday

Cowgirl Beans

Corn on the cob

Five Minute Bread


Sunday


YOYO Meal

(Your On Your Own. Leftovers or fend for yourself!)


To see other mealplans for more ideas, go see OrgJunkie.com


Have a great week!

To Do List


I try to follow a basic weekly plan and then have a set of to-do's for each week that I can fit into my days. Here is my to-do list this week. I will come back and edit it as the week goes by and let you know how I finished up with the list.

Monday: Shopping day
lunch with my dear friend Cindy (actually just drinks and visiting...lunch will be for Abby, we're meeting at McDonalds to visit while she plays!)
straighten pantry and fridge as needed when putting groceries away


Tuesday: Focused Cleaning day (this week it's the bedrooms)
Do a basic overall cleaning of the house
focus on the bedrooms/closets upstairs


Wednesday: Free day to read/learn/etc
Work on current project
Work on blog preps
finish any work not done yesterday with the bedrooms
Prep work in kitchen that needs done if any

Thursday: Laundry/Catch up day
Interview with job I've applied for (pretty much all day with tests, etc)
Work on the laundry and the photo project while watching my tv night

Friday: Desk/Bill day
pay all bills of course
make any adjustments to budget and make next months
send in any extra money for snowball
write/send correspondance
plan errand day for next monday (get it ready if errands need run)


Saturday: free day for family
Kitchen prep/baking for the week
overall pickup/quick clean of house for weekend
Do something with the kids

Sunday: Day of Thanksgiving and Preparation
Sunday school and church
pick up paper
Go to Scotts for any good deals there
clip coupons
plan menu
plan shopping strategy
Blog preps

Homeade Shake & Bake Mix


Shake and Bake is really convenient for busy nights and it's a real crowd pleaser too. But there is NO WAY I'm spending what they want for a box of Shake and Bake when we're trying to get the most for our money. Here is my Shake & Bake recipe that I use. I mix it all up in a big bowl and then store it to use as needed.

4 c flour
4 c bread crumbs, cracker crumbs, or I buy panko bread crumbs when I see a sale (this recipe stretches them)
1/4 c salt
2 T sugar
2 t garlic powder
2 t onion powder
3 T paprika
1 T poultry seasoning
1 t (or a bit more) pepper

Mix all those up...then

Add 1/4 c oil

Cut oil into dry ingredients until it's dispersed throughout the mixture.

Store in tight container and use as needed. For added savings, use a bread bag instead of a ziploc to coat your chicken. Bread and bun bags are free and are the perfect size for shake and bake!

Note: Do not use mixture if it has touched raw chicken. Only use what you think you will need each time, you can always add more, but after it's touched the chicken you must throw it away.

Baked Potato Soup

I usually at LEAST double this recipe!


1/2 c butter/margarine
1/2 c chopped onion and garlic
1/2 c flour
Chicken broth (30 oz or so)
2 cans evaporated milk (or you can use regular or reconstituted milk instead...whatever's on-hand)
4-6 baked potatoes
cooked and crumbled bacon
shredded cheddar cheese
Chives

I bake potatoes in my crock pot all day so that this is put together really fast when I start dinner in the evening. To bake potatoes in a crock pot, wash and put potatoes in foil (and actually only the potatoes that will touch the crockery need the foil), then cook on low all day or high for about 4 hrs. They take on a nice roasty taste...very yummy and convenient.

Saute onion and garlic in butter. Stir in flour. Make into sauce by adding broth and milk.
Scoop the pulp from about two of your potatoes and add to the sauce. Bring to a boil gradually. Add remaining potatoes (diced so the soup has texture), add bacon, chives and cheese. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Put sour cream on the table or use as garnish. Excellent if served with a crusty bread and salad.

Enjoy!

Scalloped Potatoes


Here is my recipe for Scalloped Potatoes. Very yummy and not too expensive to make.

4 c sliced potatoes (as thin as you can...but keep them uniform)
3 T butter/margarine
3 T flour
1 1/2 c milk
1 t salt
bit of pepper
dash of cayenne
1 c grated chedder to put in sauce (can also use velveeta)
1/2 c additional cheese for topping
(you can also add bread crumbs under the cheese if you need to use some up)
paprika for color

Heat oven to 350 degrees. In a saucepan melt your butter. Add the flour to make rouxe when the butter is melted. Add milk all at once and stir constantly. Add seasonings to sauce and let it thicken. After sauce is thickened, remove from heat and add the cup of cheddar.

In Qt baking dish (or larger) put down a layer of potatoes (about half), then cover with half the sauce. If you are using bread crumbs, you can put some of them here in between layers. Now repeat, potatoes, sauce...then put the toppings on. Breadcrumbs, if using, and then 1/2 c cheese.

Bake for about an hour. I have also used leftover baked potatoes for this. (Reduce liquid if using baked and time is just until heated through and bubbly)

Enjoy!

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Make a Pizza with your kids


Fishmama over at Life As Mom is sponsoring Recipe Swap Thursday. So here is my submission for the recipe swap this week "In the Kitchen With Kids"

My kids LOVE pizza. They could eat pizza every day if I let them, but I limit it to just once a week on Fridays. Homeade pizza is so easy and quick (around 30 minutes at home too!!) that there is just no reason to go to the expense of buying Pizza Hut or even Dominoes. You can make a pizza for less than $2 or you can spend a little more on toppings and still come out ahead of buying from a pizza parlor!

For EACH pizza dough:

Dissolve
1 T yeast
in 1 c warm water

In a bowl add together:

1 t salt
1 t sugar
2 T oil
2 1/2 c flour

Add your yeast mixture (when it's sat a few minutes and is nice and foamy) to your dry ingredients. Then take your hands and mix it all up together. Knead the dough for five or ten minutes until it is nice and smooth.

Then I let the dough rest while I mix up a batch of pizza sauce.

One note on the crust. This does freeze well so if you think you might need your pizzas in LESS than 30 minutes, you can make this recipe ahead and freeze the dough. Set the dough out in your refrigerator the morning you plan on serving it and when you get home in the evening, you're ready to go!

For the pizza sauce:

1 8oz can tomato sauce
(I actually don't measure these spices...I just eyeball the amounts to about the following)
pinch of italian seasoning
t garlic powder
3/4 t onion powder
1/4 t black pepper
2t sugar

Taste the sauce and add a little bit more seasoning if you think you need to. Abby loves this part "gimme taste" she will say.
And then after tasting she'll say "it's juuuuuuuuust right!" (even if it needs more of something!)

At this point you can press your dough into a pizza pan dusted liberally with cornmeal.
I have found that you can pick up the dough and stretch it (1/4 turns at a time) to fit the pan (or just a bit larger) before you put it on the pan. Then you can take the edges and pretty them up...or just pile them into a ridge if you like.

Take the sauce and put a spoonful at 12, 3, 6 and 9'oclock and then a spoonful in the middle. Take the back of your spoon and spread the sauce in each area until you have a thin layer of sauce over your entire pizza crust.

Now you can take a bag of mozzerella cheese and sprinkle all over the pizza. It helps to tell your children to use the 12, 3, 6 and 9 o'clock areas in their mind to be sure they have equal sprinkling in all areas.

Now it's time for toppings. I have used almost every kind of topping you can think of. Kids usually like pepperoni though and it's a very inexpensive ingredient to use and easy to apply as a topping.

Now put your pizza in the oven at 450 degrees and bake for about 12-15 minutes.

An envelope system for Mother Hen's Homeade Thursday



Mother Hen at a Ship Full O' Pirates, one of my favorite blogs about living frugally as a large family has just started an link for Thursdays called Homeade Thursday. The only link up I've done so far is OrgJunkie's Mealplanning Monday (which is easy for me because, lets face it...I'm a meal planner!) but I can't wait to make this link up with Mother Hen my next adventure in blogging!

The directive is to tell about something homeade and do it on Thursday. It can be something made, cooked, anything you like, the way I understand it. It just has to be homeade. She also would like clear directions and pictures. Unfortunately, I think Shelby has misplaced my camera cord. I can't find it anywhere since she last put our pictures on the computer. Ah Oh! So my entry this week will have to be without my own pictures. I just tried to think of a project where I could borrow pictures to illustrate the points instead of taking them of my own project. I'll try to get that cord and have my own pictures next week!

I LOVE LOVE LOVE Dave Ramsey and would love to have his deluxe envelope system but it sells for $19.95 and we just do not have that kind of money while we are still on BS#2 (paying off debt).



So I searched around until I found something that would work for us but yet, is still in our budget.

What I found is such a simple solution and actually I think I like it even better than the Dave Ramsey envelope systems! I purchased a simple (purse sized) binder for less than $2 similar to this, but mine has a velcro flap to keep it closed:




As for the dimensions of the binder, think purse-sized planner size.

Then, at the dollar store, I found little neoprene pencil pouches (just a tad larger than an actual dollar bill...so the perfect size) for $1 each.



They came in all different colors, brights or pastels and some really funky patterns too. I chose one pouch for each envelope budgeted. Total investment was less than $8...well over half what I would have paid for Dave's and no shipping charge either. Use a hole punch to make the holes in the correct places and walah, discounted homeade (but still pretty nifty) envelope system.


Alot of you might be asking, why not just use a coupon holder? I had one of those onhand and tried it. What I found is that the change all falls to the bottom, so if you want to know exact amounts, like I do, or worry about your coins flying around and sneaking out, this pouch system is better. You might also wonder, why not just hole punch some actual envelopes? That's pretty much what Dave's system is, an actual manilla envelope in a pretty leather wallet, but I think I like the sturdiness of the neoprene to hold my money in. While my little binder doesn't have the little slots for my debit card or a coin purse, I just made a paisley patterned pouch hold my checkbook, debit card (just one) and anything else I would want...it's my actual wallet part of the wallet system. The best part of my system versus Daves is that I can put the whole binder in my purse, or I can carry just one element at a time...the individual pouches can be added or taken out of the binder as needed.

While it's not exactly totally homeade. I think that this "semi homeade" project definately follows the criteria of Mother Hen's Thursday project. For frugal families, we have to find that compromise between what we want and what will fit our needs. With a little ingenuity and creativity on our part, we might like our homeade version even BETTER!!

Happy Thursday!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Starting on the right foot and feeling a little froggy

Crystal at Biblical Womanhood had a great post today about the importance of staying on a routine. I have noticed, since I'm not working right now, that on the days in which I get up with Jason when the alarm goes off that the day goes much more smoothly. The temptation for me, while I'm not working, is take advantage of "not needing to go anywhere". I am able to wake up with the alarm, get up see everyone else off to work and school and then just snuggle back into bed with the sleeping Abigail.

I have been pretty good about not doing that however. Most days I do get on with the day after everyone else leaves. But I don't have an actual written out schedule of the things that are the most vital to be done in the mornings. I decided since Crystal threw out the challenge, this is a good opportunity for me to do so.

The directive is to list the five most important things we need to have done first thing in the morning. I found six (of course I have to be different!)
So I'll make number five a two-fer because when I'm really on top of things there might not be one or the other!

1. Get up and make bed
2. Shower and get dressed
3. Get Abby up, dressed and fed
4. Start any dinner prep, if any, while Abby is eating
5. Start a load of laundry and eat that frog (put away dishes, start breakfast dishes)

Crystal from Biblical Womanhood inspired the schedule, but this post from Simple Mom inspired the accompanying rules...which in my particular case is the crux of making the plan work.

I, Lisa aka The Owl, solemnly swear (ok...I'm trying not to do that...so how about I just pinky promise!) That I WILL NOT get on the internet until the morning routine and three items from my to-do list are done. Period.

I really think that will make an enormous impact on my productivity in a day. I can get online to check email and then bounce over to Living like No One Else forum, and before you know it, I'm checking (just for a second) the Google Blogger and then I'm lost in blogs for hours, learning all kinds of wonderful information and not using the time to do anything that I know I could or should.

This time between jobs is a blessing. I am able to spend extra time with Abby and get my household into the best shape it will ever be in before I have to go back to work. I can use this time to streamline things and make things easier for me when I go back to work, or I can waste it all by a lack of self control. Like I said, I've done "the right thing" most days. This schedule (and rule) is for the days when it doesn't come easy and the "right thing" is something I have to talk myself into.

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Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Cornbread Recipe

Nothing goes quite so well with a big pot of beans as cornbread.

I know alot of people make their cornbread from a mix, but there's really no reason to with a recipe as easy as this. Just in case you think you need a mix, though, I'm also adding my version of this recipe as a mix...all you do is add oil and water.

Cornbread
1/2 c oil
2 medium eggs
1 c milk (or buttermilk)
1 t salt
2 T sugar (a little more if you like a sweeter cornbread)
1 t soda
3/4 c cornmeal
1 c flour

Add all ingredients in a bowl and stir. Pour into a cast iron pan (if you have one) sprayed with non-stick cooking spray or into a square casserole dish. Bake at 375-400 (med-hot oven) for about 20 minutes. The cornbread will be perfectly browned and if you insert a knife or toothpick into the center it will come out clean. You can also use this recipe for muffins. They will bake at the same temperature but will not take as long to bake.




Cornbread Mix for busy days

Soy flour is the substitution for the eggs in this recipe. You can make this substitution in any baking recipe that calls for eggs by using 1 T soy flour + 1T water=1 egg.

2 T soy flour
1/3 c powdered milk or powdered buttermilk
1 t salt
2 T sugar
1 t soda
3/4 cornmeal
1 c flour

Just add 1/2 c oil and 1 c + 2T water to mix and bake 400 degrees for 20 minutes!
A frugal, tasty cornbread in minutes!

Red Beans and Rice

When you're on a budget like we are and you're trying to make your grocery money stretch as far as possible, the easiest place to cut the budget is GROCERIES! That means "rice and beans, beans and rice" to quote Dave Ramsey.

Here's one of the favorite bean recipes at our house:

1lb red beans
8oz ham hock/bacon/seasoning
2qt water
1T salt
3c chopped onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 c chopped green pepper
(I also throw in some celery if I have any)
1 t cayenne (or more to taste)
1 t black pepper
dash tobasco
1T worcestershire
8oz tomato sauce
pinch each of oregano and thyme

Soak your beans overnight and do crockpot next day...or soak all day and cook in afternoon as follows:

Slow cook 45 mins and then add all other ingredients except salt.

[Chemistry sidenote: Never add salt to beans until they are totally soft. Have you ever had beans with that little film on the outside? There is a chemical reaction to the beans when you add the salt and that outside layer will never soften if the salt is added too early. Adding this info for anyone who didn't know. We're all eating beans, so figured it never hurts to remind about that!]

Cook another 2 hours and check last 15-20 minutes for taste. Add salt and more cayenne if you wish. Sometimes I will also add a pinch of my cajun seasoning as well if it needs a little more kick. Serve over a big pile of steamed rice. Yummo!

Recipe for Cajun Seasoning


Here is a basic cajun seasoning with NO SALT. It's great to add to beans or any casserole that needs a little more "kick" but not more salt.

This makes a big batch. What I usually do is make it in my pyrex bowl (makes it easy to pour) and then fill up my pint jar that I keep of the stuff and then give the remaining mix to a friend. It's good stuff and cheap to make!

2T onion powder
2T garlic powder
2T oregano
2T basil
1T thyme
1T black pepper
1T white pepper
1T cayenne pepper
1 T celery seed
5T paprika

Grocery Results


Yesterday Abby and I went for our weekly shopping and errand trip. We first dropped off a jacket at the drycleaners, dropped off some paperwork to an office for Jason and then we went to the DAV (Disabled Veterans thrift store) to look around for anything that we might want or use. I picked up a canning tool for 29 cents. It would retail for probably 12-15 bucks. Abby found an absolutely essential ziploc bag full of My Little Ponies for a dollar. Something unusual that happened was when we were in line, a woman behind me asked, "now what is that thing that you have there?" I would have thought because of her age (60s?) she would have known. I realize that canning is something alot of people don't do anymore, but I would have thought that someone from my parents generation would have at least grown up around it.

Then we went to Walgreens to pick up their pepsi deal, total $16.06 and ($5.00) register reward=$11.06. Jason drinks at least two pepsi's while he's at work so instead of paying .50/ea from the machine, I paid $2/12pk. That makes them $.18/ea (inc. tax). Next we went to the discount bread store. I got two loaves of bread, some cereal and snack/lunch items for $11.29. Abby loves our grocery trips because I will always stop at McDonald's and let her have a happy meal and play on the playground. She gets her happy meal for less than $3 and I will get a large drink for a dollar more. I usually bring something to work on while she's playing with the other kids on the equipment, paperwork I need to fill out, an article I've intended to read but haven't gotten around to, etc. This week I finished cutting out the coupons from Sunday's paper and organizing them into my coupon binder.

After the lunch break, it was time for the serious shopping...Dillons. When I compared my coupons with store deals this week, I only ended up using one coupon. The .55 off Healthy Choice soup (Jason's lunch), it was doubled so I only paid .69. My grand total this week was $74.89 (Kroger savings $9.31). I also get .10 off my gas for each $100 I spend there. I haven't even tracked that savings at all. I should, after I get this coupon tracking down. After the boy helped me out with the groceries, we filled up our gas tank (saving .10/gallon) and headed home.

Totals to grocery budget:
(74.89) Dillons
(11.29) discount bread store
(16.06) Walgreens
5.00 Register Rewards
97.24 for trip 3



$450.00 Budgeted Amount
(115.16) trip 1
(126.00) trip 2
( 97.24) trip 3
$ 111.60 left to use for remainder of month

Monday, January 12, 2009

Menu Plan Monday





Ok, I'm going to try to post to Orgjunkie's menu list this week because I'm feeling REALLY brave. I think I even figured out how to put a button into my post! I'm so proud!!

Now for the menu. I'll shop for all the items needed later this morning and I will post the grocery results either later today or tomorrow.

As always it's breakfast choices from:
Cereal
Oatmeal
Muffins made over the weekend
Homeade granola bars made over the weekend

Lunches are leftovers or sandwiches

Dinners are:

Monday:
Cheeseburger Bake
Corn
Potato Bread

Tuesday:
Red Beans & Rice
salad
Cornbread

Wednesday:
Chicken Curry
rice
salad

Thursday:
Breakfast's for supper
Sausage
Biscuits and gravy
fried potatoes

Friday:
Homeade pizzas (sausage and hamburger)
salad

Saturday:
Chicken Bruschetta (I'll post this recipe on another entry)
Green Beans
Oatmeal Bread

Sunday
YOYO meal (Your On Your Own. I love this title for leftovers. I stole it from someone on one of the message boards that I frequent.)

I will shop for groceries later today and will report back with my results either later today or tomorrow. Have a great week!

Friday, January 9, 2009

Weekly Plan change and Driving to town AGAIN!

My husband and I bought a small car for me to drive. Vehicles for large families, like our suburban, are gas hogs. So we purchased this Buick Sable for $600 (PAID FOR!!) to attempt to save a little money on gas for when I make errands to town with only Abby, etc. My children, however, have seen this gas savings as an excuse to make MORE trips to town. Last night someone needed something for school today, so we drove to town. Tonight I'm driving Dillon and some of his friends to the movies. I have been to town every day this week but Monday. Oh well, at least it doesn't cost a fortune for the gas...I guess this is all part of having kids...but don't tell THEM I said that. I think I'm going to institute a new rule about "...X number of trips per week or you pay for the gas from your money". I wonder if that will fix it?

I'm also changing my weekly schedule AGAIN. I'm trying to acclimate to not working right now and making the schedule so that it will work well with when I start back to work. Here it is.

Sunday: Church, pick up paper(s), clip/organize coupons, make menu plan, grocery list
Monday: Errand/Grocery Day
Tuesday: Focused cleaning day
Wednesday: free day, reading, study, church
Thursday: Catch up/Antiprocrastination, Laundry focus
Friday: Desk Day/Pay bills/Work on debt snowball
Saturday: Family Fun, Cooking/Baking Focus

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Grocery Day!

Well I went into town today with Abby while everyone else was at work and school. It's much easier to shop with just the two of us. We went to Wal-Mart, Target and the bread store. At Target I bought a new monitor for our computer...yes, it's not a necessity, but it was a really good deal and Jason and I didn't buy anything for each other for Christmas. Besides, our snowball towards debts this month is ENORMOUS because we were so frugal this Christmas. We were even able to pay off another debt this month, so I said what the heck!

Abby and I went to McDonald's for lunch while we were in town. I didn't eat, but I bought Abby a happy meal (around 2 dollars) and she got to play with the kids in the playplace. I had as much fun watching her as she did playing. It was cheap entertainment for us both!

After lunch we went to Dillons for the groceries we hadn't purchased yet. They had the best deals on the refrigerated stuff and I bought MORE of the 2.89 milk for the freezer.

All said and done (not counting the monitor...we're counting that as part of the Christmas budget that we didn't spend) I spent $126.00. I spent $115.16 last week. I budget $450 for the month, so that means that I am now $241.16. Ideally, I should be around $225.00 at the two week mark, but I'm not worried at all. I picked up some great sale items that I can use in the next couple of weeks and we are set on milk for the rest of the month at a lower price than normal.

Tomorrow I have to buy new tires for the pickup and restock our pellet supply (our heat source). That will be a pricey day, but we should be finished spending money (besides groceries and bills of course) for the rest of the month.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Menu Plan Monday

One of the blogs I follow has a menu plan Monday and other's will link their meal plans to her blog. I am going to start posting my meal plans on my blog, but I don't think I'll link to her's just yet. I'll get a bit more experience blogging first before I jump into something like that. If you are interested in looking at the other mealplans, go have a look here.

I've been planning meals a week at a time for ages, but I'm changing the day I do it now to Mondays because of this blog thing. What I usually do is get a piece of paper and pencil or pen and look at the sale flyers for good deals. I know when something is a good deal because I keep a price book. With this in mind, I take a walk to the freezer and the pantry to see what I have on hand. I have some meal ideas in mind while I'm looking around. Then I go sit down somewhere and plan it all out. After I've got my menu, then I shop my freezer first. I pull what I need for the first half of the week and put the 2nd half on top to get before the weekend. I make notes of whatever meats/freezer items I still need to buy for the mealplan. Then I shop my pantry. I list whatever I still need to buy and I look over my perpetual grocery list for items that we're running low on that I should pick up. I also look at the sale ads and compare with my price book to plan on purchasing things that I stock in the pantry or freezer that are on deep discount or that I might have coupons for.

All that said, here is my week of menu's:

Monday

Leftover stew from two weeks ago (I made a large batch, divided into thirds, used one then and froze two for other meals...saves from eating the same thing day after day)
Grilled cheese to accompany (Abby loves grilled cheese sandwiches)


Tuesday

Fettuccini Alfredo

boil 2lbs fettucinni, melt a stick of butter and then add 1/4 or so of flour. When your rue thickens up, add in about 2c cream, half and half or milk richened up with butter (whatever's on hand). Add a little garlic, salt, pepper and 1/2 c parmesan and pour over the noodles.
Serve with Broccolli and Oatmeal Bread. I make the dough in the bread machine and cook it in my oven especially in the winter.

Wednesday

Hash Brown Casserole I have some potatoes I need to use up that I bought on sale. Also, I use cottage cheese in place of the ricotta. It's on sale this week at my grocery store and it's always cheaper than ricotta.

I am serving this with Bacon as it is also on sale this week

Biscuits (I have a homemade version of Bisquick mix that I keep on-hand to make biscuits from. It's as easy as canned and much much cheaper to make)

Thursday

Chicken Lo Mein

boil box of spaghetti while you're cooking chicken (whatever cut is cheapest) in wok. Season with salt, pepper, garlic and ginger. When the chicken finishes take it out and add the veggies in. I use onion, garlic and a frozen oriental mix (or what I have on hand if I don't have that). When veggies start to get tender, make your sauce by combining 2 T sesame oil to 6T soy sauce (I usually double that amount to feed my crowd, but that ratio is probably for the normal serving size.) The sesame oil is the key ingredient to get that oriental taste...so I wouldn't substitute that.

I don't make anything to go with Lo Mein since it's pretty much an all in one meal, but I usually make some type of dessert for anyone with a sweet tooth after eating.


Friday

Pepperoni Pizza

Crust:
2T yeast dissolved in 2C warm water

Combine:
2t sugar
2t salt
4T oil
5 c flour

mix yeast mixture to dry mixture and knead for about 5 minutes or so and then roll and stretch to put into pizza pans. Bake 450 12-15 mins. This will make two pizzas, adjust recipe as needed. I find that even for all our kids, that two is usually enough if I will put out other things to nibble on, veggies with dip, etc. I will throw on another if they have friends over.

For the sauce, take 8oz tomato sauce, add pinch of italian seasoning, dash each of garlic powder, onion powder and pepper and a palmful of sugar. This will make 2-3 pizzas.

You will also need toppings. This week we're having pepperoni (purchased a bag for 1.00 and it will make about 4 pizzas or so.) You can also put ground beef, chicken, I've even used hotdogs...I know it sounds gross, but it's not as bad as it sounds...Abby loves it!



Saturday

Southwest Lasagna Rolls I bought lasagna noodles on sale some time ago and this looks good. I use homeade chili from my freezer (again, I use one, freeze two) and cottage cheese instead of ricotta for money saved.

I will serve with a large salad and potato rolls. I make the dough in my bread machine and make into rolls to cook in the oven.



Sunday

Red Beans & Rice (is a recipe really necessary for this?)
Salad
Cornbread


Monday (as I'm making my shopping days Tuesday now, I thought I would add on Mon/Tue for next week as well.)

Fried Venison
mashed potatoes and gravy
canned grean beans
freezer rolls



Tuesday

Cheeseburger Bake

Jar of Spaghetti Sauce plus enough water to cook pasta (3 cups or so)
noodles (elbow works best and is cheapest)
lb of beef or sausage, browned and crumbled
veggies as desired (I always use onion, add others that I need to use)

Dump it all in casserole dish, cover with foil, and bake 30-40 mins until pasta is done. Add cheese to top and put back into oven until melted and yummy.




Tomorrow I will go shopping for this menu. I already have everything I need for Monday. I will check back tomorrow (hopefully) with shopping lists. Then I will continue posting menu's on Monday's and maybe I'll have enough guts to post mine with Orgjunkie's next week.