Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Don't make it harder than it has to be...


When I first started our grocery project in August of 2008, it took several weeks to build up a freezer and pantry stock. A lot of nights, we just kind of opened up the fridge and grazed on what we had because I wouldn't have everything I needed to make a real meal. We discovered that it wasn't painful, that we were eating less and more healthfully and that sometimes we enjoyed the freedom to decide for ourselves what sounded good. I decided to save orange juice chicken for tomorrow night, so tonight, we went back to that old tradition.

For dinner, my big girl grazed on raw veggies and hummus, a peanut butter sandwich and half an orange. I had a mini bagel with cream cheese, the other half of an orange and a few pita chips with hummus. My husband and my little girl are having a mini confetti chicken casserole that I had in the freezer.

Don't worry -- the goal of a pantry challenge doesn't have to be making the fanciest and most elaborate meal you can concoct from your overstock. You don't have to over think it -- just open up the fridge and have at it! That being said, wait until you see what I have planned for our New Years Eve dinner tomorrow (day 13 of the pantry challenge (sort of)) night!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Tuesday's Eat from the Pantry Experience


Yesterday when I got home from work, I came home to a super picked up and clean house -- especially considering that I had still left it in somewhat of a Christmas mess. Without thinking, I said to my husband, "Maybe I'll bring home Chipotle tomorrow night as a thank you." I tried to get out of it, but I couldn't! Soooooo, dinner was not from the pantry but out of a Chipotle bag. We'll make the orange juice chicken pencilled in for tonight's dinner for dinner tomorrow night instead.



My husband's lunch are always a particular challenge for me. They have to be breakfast AND lunch, not need to be heated or refrigerated, not be too crunchy for the crown on his front tooth, and not need require more than one hand. See my problem??? Pretty much all of his lunches are "pantry challenges!" Since I try to otherwise feed us a good variety of whole foods, it can be a little hard for me to keep a decent stock of lunch-worth food. I got lucky this time around in that we still had some Christmas foods around that would work for his lunch. Tomorrow he'll have two mini bagels with cream cheese, a Honeybaked ham and cheese sandwich, cashews, an orange, raspberry applesauce and a few piece of Andes toffee candy. He usually buys a drink on the road with his own spending money unless I have something I can send him easily. It's his special splurge, but I do keep thinking I should get some money from him in advance and buy him a case of some sort of bottled drinks. I am pretty on top of things, but that is one thing I can just never manage to think about ahead of time.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Pumpkin Brownies


I know I said "no baking" due to an egg and milk shortage...but...I forgot about this pumpkin brownie recipe I've been meaning to try. I had a brownie mix that desperately needed to be used, so I gave it a shot! The brownie recipe is not so much of a recipe as it is a brownie mix and a can of pumpkin. It's basically the same principle as substituting applesauce for oil, but when you sub pumpkin, that's all you need! The health benefits are even better as the pumpkin provides more fiber and is a good source of vitamins A and C, among others.

I was a little bummed because I thought we were out of ice cream. Alas, I found two Klondike bars shoved in the back of the freezer. We dined on big ol' brownie sundaes for dessert, and we didn't even feel bad about it because we were using stuff up!

And, just in case you are thinking eating from the pantry week is looking not so healthy, here's what we had for dinner:



We haven't had tuna noodles in a LONG time, but boy was my hubby happy! Plus, I am always happy to feed my girls a good dose of omega 3s AND greens (brain foods!) This is a great recipe for making sure some essential nutrients find their way in to your kid's diet. To make this, I just mixed a family pack of tuna, about 1/2 cup of light mayo, 1/4 cup of sweet pickle relish, some chopped celery and peas and salt and pepper. Then, I stirred cooled Ronzoni Smart Taste noodles in to it, and voila! Super easy and just like my mom used to make for me!

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Mini Eat-From-The-Pantry Challenge

What a crazy, busy weekend it's been. I feel like my four days off flew by with barely a chance to catch a breath -- even with being stuck at home all day yesterday!

The grocery store ads weren't great this week, so I decided it wasn't worth making an extra trip out in the snow and cold. Instead, we're going to try eating what we've already got and adding our extra $50 to the principal on our car loan! Thankfully, due to the Holidays, what we've already got to eat includes delicious Honey Baked Ham, Hickory Farms and all kinds of other random goodies. It will still be a little bit of a challenge though, as I will be working M-Th this week. I am pretty good at just getting by with whatever we've got, but I feel bad about leaving my husband in that predicament. I'll write out a short menu plan for him, so he won't have to "think" about what to feed everyone.

For breakfast/lunch/dinner, we'll be eating...

Monday - biscuits and jelly / ham sandwiches and oranges / tuna noodles and apples

Tuesday - cinnamon sugar whole wheat toast and blueberries/ ham sandwiches and steamed veggies / confetti chicken casserole

Other breakfasts this week will ikely be baby's favorite. Lunches will likely be ham sandwiches all week long. For dinner, I'm planning on really easy things like spaghetti and orange juice chicken. One thing that is kind of a bummer is that I only have about a half gallon of milk and one egg. I'll have to ration those items, so that will mean no baking or breakfast for dinner! Bummer! If all else fails, well, I've got about 5 Mrs. Smith's pies and 10 tubs of Cool Whip. We may be in a sugar coma by Friday, but surely we won't starve!

See also www.orgjunkie.com.

Snow Ice Cream


Wow. We have more snow than I have ever seen at one time in my 28 years living in Kansas City. It's both a blessing and a curse, but we're making the most of it! I am thankful I am organized enough that we have everything we need to be stuck at home for a few days. None of those snowy diaper or milk runs around here! We're just fine!

There is even enough snow that I got to try SNOW ICE CREAM for the first time! I was skeptical, but YUM. Even my husband went back for seconds. Here is how we did it.

1 gallon of snow (I filled a big mixing bowl.)
2 cups of milk
1 cup of white sugar
1 tablespoon of vanilla
1/2 teaspoon of almond extract

Basically, you just pour everything in to the mixing bowl with the snow and mix! I did go slowly with the milk to make sure I didn't make the mixture too soggy! The addition of the almond extract was my idea. Another idea would be to sub the almond extract for peppermint extract and to crush up candy canes for a topping. YUM!

Balancing Beauty and Bedlam, Vintage Recipe Thursday, Tempt My Tummy Tuesdays, Tuesdays at the Table, LifeasMom, Krazy Kitchen and Mouthwatering Monday.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Christmas Angels

Sadly, I lost all of our Christmas Eve pictures, including a wonderful set that I took of my oldest decorating Jesus' birthday cake. (And, not to mention pictures from my last two grocery store trips that I hadn't shared yet!) I'm super sad about it, but such is life!

We'll have to scrape by with a picture of my very own Christmas Angels from yesterday morning. Aren't they the sweetest??? We are so blessed!


I hope everyone had a great Christmas!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Cranberry Almond Bars

Yes, yes, I borrowed another recipe from my favorite baking site Bakeat350. (Check out her cookies. They are insanely gorgeous.) These cranberry bars just looked so delicious and festive, I had to try them! I made them last night with the intent to take them to my food day at work this morning.

Aren't they pretty???


Incidentally, I ended up taking my last personal day at work today, so they're begging for me to eat them. I did try a little bite, and they are DELICIOUS. The cranberries make the sweet bars so zippy and flavorful. Although, my husband DID say it was basically a "fruit cake." Truth be told, I don't think he's ever HAD fruit cake.

Cranberry Almond Bars

3/4 cup unsalted butter, plus more for pan
1 & 1/2 c. sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp pure almond extract
1 & 1/2 c. unbleached, all-purpose flour
1/8 tsp coarse salt
2 c. fresh cranberries
1/3 c. slivered almonds

Melt the 3/4 c butter and set aside (or in the fridge) to cool.

Reserve 2 TBSP of the almonds for the top of the batter and chop the remaining. Set aside.

Preheat oven to 350. Line an 8x 8" pan with foil (for easy removal later!)

Beat the sugar and eggs for 3 minutes.

Add the cooled melted butter and almond extract; beat until combined.

Whisk together the flour & salt. Add to the sugar/butter mixture and mix on low until combined.

Stir in the cranberries and chopped almonds.

Pour the mixture into the prepared pan...spread evenly over the pan. Sprinkle with the reserved almonds.

Bake for about 50 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out with crumbs but not wet. (Cover with foil the last 5 minutes of baking to prevent over-browning, if necessary.)

Life the foil and bars out of the pan once cool!

For other recipes, see Grocery Cart Challenge.

Christmas Shopping Trip #1




I have to make a few stops this weekend, but this is the first of them. Here is what we got...

1 box of Good and Plenty
2 Pillsbury cinnamon roll bites
2 half gallons of Roberts OJ
1 Earthgrains Thin Bun 100% whole wheat
3 cans of generic corn
1 can can of generic green beans
1 can of generic pumpkin
3 Jello pudding mixes
3 Jello mixes
1 box of Cinnabon bars
1 Old Orchard juice
1 loaf of Orowheat 100% whole wheat
1 can of Swanson chicken broth
1 bottle of Triaminic
1 bag of Stacy's pita chips
200 feet of generic plastic wrap
3 8oz bags of Kraft cheese
1 big bag of baby carrots
1 lb of celery
2 bags of Ocean Spray cranberries
2.9 lbs of navel oranges
1 bag of organic yellow onions

My pre-tax total was right around $30.00. I saved around $8.00 with coupons.

We were not at home a lot this weekend, and I don't anticipate that we will be much through the course of the week either. I did, however, make a big batch of pumpkin baby's favorite and chicken noodle soup. Tonight, I'm making a cranberry almond bars for a party at work. For Christmas, I am responsible for yummy double-spiced pumpkin pie, a birthday cake for Jesus and a veggie tray. I won't be doing all of the cooking that I did for Thanksgiving, but I'm really ok with that. I've been feeling overwhelmingly busy!

See last week's shipping trip here.

See also orgjunkie.com.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Red Hot Cookies



This is definitely a great Christmas recipe! An old family favorite!

1 cup of raisins
3/4 cup of water
1 teaspoon of baking soda

Boil the water and cool. Add the raisins and 1 teaspoon of soda.

Then, cream together:

1 stick of softened butter
1 cup sugar
1 egg

Once these ingredients are incorporated, add in raisin mixture.

Then, add to mixture:

1 v. osymrsl ((Translation - 1 cup of oatmeal) My recipe card ACTUALLY says this. I believe my great aunt typed it up, and made my mom a copy who made me a copy. A typo that stands the test of time.)
2 cups of flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 cup of nuts (I omitted.)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 package of red hots


(Isn't this the most gorgeous dough???)

Bake for 12-13 minutes at 350.

This was actually the first time I've made these! I intentionally made these bigger and softer than my mom usually does. I discovered they were pretty hard to get off the cookie sheet in one piece! After I finished baking these, I called my mom and told her I thought I could improve this recipe. I realized after I talked to her that if I changed it, it wouldn't be Aunt Lila's Red Hot Cookie recipe. Maybe I won't change it. I hope my girls love the ORIGINAL Red Hot Cookies as much as the last three generations.

See also Vintage Recipe Thursday and Ultimate Recipe Swap.

Why buy consignment? Part 3


I'm a little late on this, but this was my other major Black Friday purchase. Gymboree always has really great Black Friday sales, and you can pair them with a coupon. I believe I saved 60% off retail here, and I only bought stuff that was on a super great sale. You will notice some duplicates because I also bought for my nieces for Christmas. My pre-tax total was $89.44. Incidentally, I was in the middle of cooking Thanksgiving desserts when I placed my order and didn't realize that I fell below the $100 free shipping threshold AND missed out on some Gymbucks. Not everyone is perfect -- yet I try so hard!

I purchased 1 jacket, 1 swimming suit, 15 shirts and 4 pairs of underwear. Even if you factor out the underwear, I spent an average of $5.26 per item. Several of the items actually cost less than that, but I splurged a little on the two shirts on the bottom left with the adorable Christmas prints!

Now, I know I could spend less than this to clothe my children, but with such quality and style? I haven't had such luck.

See other installments of "Why Buy Consignment?" here.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Christmas Tour


Sooooooooo, I love Christmas decorations, but I'll be honest. I totally DON'T have time for the decorating. In fact, this isn't even our tree from THIS year. It's from two years ago when I had one kid that I could keep out of it. It is certainly looking a little sparse, but it does have several of my childhood ornaments on it -- a teddy bear with my name on it, an 8 from the year of my jubilee birthday. Of course, it also includes my favorite ornament of my mom's that she gave to me -- a little tiny cookie sheet with gingerbread men. Also, ever since we had our oldest daughter, I've framed at least one picture of each of our children for them to have some day (unless I decide to keep them!) Ideally, I'd love to have a whole tree decorated in family photos. Could it get any better than that???

I'm dreaming that maybe we'll go all out with the tree and decorations next year. Of course, my real hope is that maybe I'll be too pregnant! Ha!

Christmas Tour of Homes with The Nester

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Confetti Chicken Casserole


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This is one of our favorite recipes, but I haven't made it in quite some time. I got this recipe from a friend when she brought it to me after I had our oldest daughter. Incidentally, she got the recipe from someone that brought it to her when she had her first son. I have also taken it to friends when they have had a baby. It's just a good dish for that sort of thing.

Ingredients -

1 lb of egg noodles
1/2 red onion - diced
1 red pepper - diced
1 green pepper - diced
1 cup of mayo
1 lemon, juiced
1 8 oz bag of cheese ( 4 oz for mixture and 4 oz to top)
salt and pepper to taste
2 chicken breasts or one box of pre-cooked chicken strips

In a large mixing bowl combine all ingredients except for the noodles. Cook noodles to a firm al dente and stir in to mixture while the noodles are still piping hot. Transfer to casserole dish. Bake covered at 350 for about 20 minuets. Remove cover and top with remaining cheese. Bake for another 5 minutes. Serve and enjoy!

Note - I changed the recipe up a little today. I used 1/2 of each color pepper, white onion and fresh baby spinach. The best thing about this recipe is that you can changed it up based on the produce sales. It will always be delicious!

Balancing Beauty and Bedlam, Tempt My Tummy Tuesdays, Tuesdays at the Table, LifeasMom and Mouthwatering Monday.

Friday, December 11, 2009


Holy Exhaustion. It's 10:59, and we've just returned from our only grocery store trip this week. Thank God for the nice man that opened up a box of my children's choice of cookies for them to snack on. What a life saver. And while we're at it, God Bless Hy-Vee too. They're seriously always so nice to us there.

I wasn't so excited about my grocery store trip this week. The sale ads weren't that exciting. I didn't have time to look at my coupons before we got to the store. My husband's been complaining about what food we have/don't have. What's a mom to do?

Here is what we got --

1 lb of generic butter
2 Earthgrains sandwich thins
1 can of generic kidney beans
2 cans of generic black beans
2 cans of generic pumpkin
1 box of Little Debbie cupcakes (free)
1 bag of generic flour
1 4 lb bag of generic white sugar
1 Mazola cooking spray
1 small bag of generic slivered almonds
2 packages of Musselman's Health something or other applesauce
1 bag of Nestle chocolate chips
1 Orowheat 100% whole wheat loaf
1 Pepperidge Farm box of crackers
2 family sized tuna packages
1 bag of 100% whole wheat mini bagels
1 box of Kashi Island Vanilla (This is SO good.)
3.86 lbs of pears
3 8 oz generic cheddar bricks
1 package of Dole baby spinach
1 green bell pepper
1 red bell pepper
4.15 lbs of locally grown Macintosh apples
1 bag of Stacy's pita chips
1 Marzetti's hummus
1 gallon of hormone free milk
1 gallon of Hy-Vee orange juice (grabbed the one not on sale, oops)

I also bought a package of diapers that cost about $5 after coupons and rebate. My pre-tax total then came to right about $50. I saved about $17.50 with coupons, and I'm realizing that I ALSO forgot to give them my Upromise card, which sucks. I would have gotten a little more from that also. I'm definitely remembering why it is NOT a good idea to go to the grocery store when you're less than at the top of my game. Regardless, I did a pretty good job especially considering all of the other things I had on my plate this week.

Since the sale ads weren't that great this week, I was really focused on trying to get some different things that what we normally eat. We're all getting a little bored of the usual, so I'm working extra hard to think outside of the box. As far as what we'll be eating this week is concerned, the girls and I are going to be staying home tomorrow to do some cooking, relaxing and cuddling. We'll also focusing on refueling our bodies with not only rest but good homemade food. I'm planning on making confetti chicken casserole and red hot oatmeal cookies. Later this week, I'm hoping to bake some pumpkin bread and make some apple/pumpkin "baby's favorite."

See last week's trip here. See also LifeAsMom.

Join in the menu planning fun at www.orgjunkie.com.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

A fabulous cup of coffee...


I totally love a good cup of coffee. Every morning on my way to work, I pass by the dreaded Starbucks drive-thru, and I want to stop SO BAD. Alas, my pocketbook prevents it. Recently, I combined a couple of "tricks" to make a pretty cravable cup of coffee here at home. What's the trick??? Vanilla beans! It was about time I found a way to use the one I've had in pantry from two Christmas's ago. (Thanks mom for the brilliant stocking stuffer!)

So what's the trick?

I made vanilla bean whipped cream for Thanksgiving, but I had quite a bit left over. Igot the idea from my favorite baking blog, Bakeat350, to freeze it in dollops on a cookie sheet, and they froze up just fine! I stuck the remaining vanilla bean pod in a small food storage tub and added some white sugar. Voila - my own vanilla sugar! Who can argue with a cup of coffee doctored up with homemade whipped cream and vanilla sugar? Does it get any better???

I know whole vanilla beans aren't the cheapest ingredient, but I'll be able to use and add to this little tub of sugar for a very long time! I once heard Martha Stewart say she'd been using the same jar with vanilla bean pods for years! She just keeps topping it off. Works for me!

See Beingfrugal.net and WorksForMeWednesday.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Hammy's Sugar Cookies


My mom makes the most INSANELY good sugar cookies every year for Christmas Eve. After spending an entire year looking forward to Hammy's cookies, family and friends plan to stop by her house on the way home from church or to other Christmas Eve gatherings.

I will be honest -- I have not made these on my own. (Although I did decorate these.) I just don't have the patience for the rolling and cutting. Perhaps when my girls are older. Even still, I thought I should share the recipe. I think you will find it to be outstanding.

Hammy's Sugar Cookies

1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup shortening
1 cup sugar

Cream together.

Then add,

1 egg
1 teaspoon of vanilla
2 cups of flour.

Mix together.

Then add,

1/2 teaspoon of salt
1/2 teaspoon of baking soda
1/2 teaspoon of cream of tartar

That's it!

These will bake at 400 degrees for 8-10 minutes.

FYI, my mom says the key is to not roll to thin.

For the frosting, we like to use a mixture of powdered sugar, a little milk or cream and vanilla or almond. If you have not tried this glaze recipe before, it's super easy. Just go easy on the liquid. It will take less than you think!

See also Tempt My Tummy Tuesdays, Vintage Recipe Thursday and Ultimate Recipe Swap.

Patient Hope in New Snow


See also 5MinutesforMom.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

"Baby's Favorite" -- delicious and easy homemade baby food

I write this coming off of a grocery purchase where I just bought baby food. This is hilarious to me considering the fact that both of my girls have maybe eaten a collective five jars of baby food in their entire lifetime. I've always thought that people would make more homemade baby food if they had any idea how easy it really is. I mean, if I can find time to make it, anyone can. I've tried many different ways -- steaming, baking, crockpot, etc. I still really like the baking method for stone fruits, squash and the steaming method for vegetables, but the recipe I have really perfected is homemade baby applesauce in a variety of flavors. (My kids really like a combination of apple pear and pumpkin the best.) My 16 month old still has this homemade applesauce puree EVERY morning with baby oatmeal. My nearly 4 year old has it several times a week for a bed time snack. I love that they love eating it so much. Even on a day where I feel like we have not eaten as nutritiously as we should, I can at least know that they've both downed a huge bowl of something homemade and super healthy.

After making this about a thousand time, I have it down to a science. Here's how you do it...

1. Fill crockpot with your favorite fruits (canned pumpkin is a great addition) and spices.



(Here I have used apples, pears and cinnamon. It honestly improves the flavor if you use a variety of different apple and pear types, but don't worry about it if you only have one variety. I aso threw in a banana that my kid didn't finish eating at the last minute. Some other things to try are just apples, apples and peaches, peaches and pears, apple and pumpkin.)

2. Let cook on low until the fruit is very tender. (Apples take the longest.)

3. Transfer to blender or food processor and puree.

4. Freeze individual servings in ice cube trays or muffin tins. (I actually find that silicone muffin wrappers are BY FAR the easiest to deal with.)


5. Transfer to food storage bag and store in freezer until ready to use.

The finished product!


Saturday, December 5, 2009


This morning's trip to the store was a little crazy. It was just SO crowded. At least they had really good samples. The girls and I dined on smoked salmon and ham, mashed potatoes, pizza, pears, brie and eggnog (or eggmog as my three year old calls it!) Who can complain!

Our trip didn't work out as exactly as planned. They were out of the buy 1 get 1 free fish sticks. They offered to sub out the bigger boxes, which was great, but it put me over budget. Looks like they also forgot to ring one of my four coupons for a free 2 liter of Coke. Not cool. For some reason my transaction alone at the store took a good 20 minutes. I thought I was watching pretty closely, but the missed coupon got by me!

Here is what we got --

4 Beechnut baby foods (free + profit from UPromise)
4 big boxes of fish sticks (2 were free)
2 cans of Rotel
4 2 litres of Coke (3 were free)
2 2 liters of Mountain Dew
1 1/2 gallon of hormone free milk
18 eggs
1 1/2 gallon of Ruby Red grapefruit juice (My favorite!)
1 bag of Ore-Ida fries
3.5 lbs of organic pears*
2.82 lbs of bananas
2.10 lbs of Granny Smith's

*One of the best (and easiest) "ideas" I've read for saving money on your grocery bill is to buy produce in bulk and to actually WEIGH the bags. I've tried this several times now. Not only do the bags typically weigh more than the specified amount, but you can also choose one sometimes that weighs significantly more. I've bought three lb bags of apples that actually weigh in at about 5 lbs more than once. Effectively, this reduces the amount you're really paying per pound. Try it out.

My pre-tax total came in at $30.00 even. I had a $10.00 gift card, I was $20 out of pocket. Over-budget by $10. I'm not going to beat myself up over it. I did good on the self-control factor. I just got taken by oversized boxes of fish sticks and a careless checker. I still saved about $29.00.

We have kind of an usual week coming up. I have Mon-Wed off work, but I will be studying very seriously for a continuing ed-type of exam on Thursday. The only days I'll really be working are Thursday afternoon and for a few hours Friday morning. (How did I get so lucky???) I'm not entirely sure what is on the menu for the week. I am making and FINALLY documenting "baby's favorite" as I write this. I also know we'll be having salsa soup tomorrow. Since we'll be home all day, we'll likely bake something. Aside from that, I'm going to be studying away from home, so daddy and the girls will be on their own for the better part of Mon-Wed. We have a a LOT of food right now, but it's sort of a strange conglomeration of things. Oh well. At least we have a lot of chicken and fish sticks.

See this week's other trip here.

For other frugal tips, see LifeAsMom. Join in the menu planning fun at orgjunkie.com.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Answered prayers look a little bit like frozen chicken...


We don't eat a lot of chicken around here, but I'd had ONE package of frozen chicken for about three weeks. I used the last one on Tuesday when I made cranberry chicken, and I literally prayed for a chicken sale. Who would guess that ALL three of my favorite stores would have chicken breasts on sale this week! God and His sense of humor...I tell ya what. Anyway, I decided to buy frozen on sale instead of fresh on sale for the first time. I hope I don't regret it.

Here's what I got on tonight's trip --

2 Kraft Singles
1 Pumpkin Spice milk
11ish lbs of frozen boneless skinless chicken breasts
1 Blue Bunny Coffee Break ice cream (I lovvvvvvve this flavor!)
2 Stove Top stuffings
1 Gingerbread cookie mix
4 Organic Ragu sauces
2 Oroweat 100% whole wheat loaves
2 cans of Libby's vegetables
2 16 oz bags of egg noodles (free)

My purchase tonight was was $37.90 pretax. I saved $45.00 or (if my math is right, 64%.) The total made me gulp a little. I don't buy much meat, but it sure did catch up with me tonight.

This week's sales were actually really good. I wanted to go to all three of my regular stores, but I knew there was no way I could do that without going over budget. Instead, we're just going to go to a one day sale tomorrow to pick up a few things on sale, eggs and milk. I have a $10 gift card that I've been forgetting to use, so we'll be trying to stay right at $20 total. It will be an exercise in self-control...which I will likely fail. LOL.

See this week's other trip here.

See last week here.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Summer Dreamin'

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Blondies


Maybe it's a little early for the Christmas plate, but I love it! Not only that, but I've NEVER used it! My mom bought it for me two Christmases ago, and I totally forgot I had it. I hope I have MANY chances to use it this season.

Moving on to the issue at hand....

We are having a sort of last minute Thanksgiving with my in-laws tomorrow, and I offered to bring dessert. I thought something casually pumpkin would be fun and appropriate, and when I stumbled across this recipe on one of my favorite baking blogs, I thought I'd give it a shot.

Recipe (from http://bakeat350.blogspot.com/)

2 c all-purpose flour (could use white whole wheat here)
1 & 1/2 tsp cinnamon
3/4 tsp ginger
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/8 tsp allspice
1/8 tsp cloves
1 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp coarse salt
1 c unsalted butter, room temp
1 & 1/4 c sugar
1 egg
2 tsp vanilla
1 c pumpkin puree
12 oz chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350. Line bottom and side of 13x9" pan with foil, leaving an overhang on all sides.

Whisk together the flour, spices, baking soda and salt.

Cream together the butter and sugar on medium-high until smooth. Beat in the egg & vanilla. Beat in the pumpkin puree (it will look curdled...do not worry).

Add the dry ingredients and mix on low just until combined. Stir in the chocolate chips.

Using an offset spatula (or the back of a spoon), spread the batter into the prepared pan. Bake for about 35-40 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean (or with a few crumbs, not batter). Cool completely in the pan.

***

One thing I will say is that I thought this recipe was pretty darn easy. I can't always get in to baking from scratch because it can just be so darn fussy. This recipe totally wasn't though, which was great!

I'm excited to share them with the family tomorrow. We might try them with vanilla ice cream. Regardless, I think everyone will really love them. Hopefully everyone likes pumpkin!

Our Crazy Kitchen, Balancing Beauty and Bedlam, Tempt My Tummy Tuesdays, Tuesdays at the Table, LifeasMom and Mouthwatering Monday.

Sam's Club Edition

The circulars for the days between Thanksgiving and next Wednesday's new circulars were unimpressive. I decided to take the opportunity to make a trip to Sam's. I have a love/hate relationship with Sam's. I think it's possible to get some good deals, but it usually seems easier to spend $500. I went with the intent to spend our usual $50. I came out $57 later. I figure for Sam's, that is a success. The problem, however, is what will eat??? Here is what we got (not picture is a sea salt grinder my baby was clinging to for dear life --)




In the meantime, I also found out that we are having an impromptu and casual Thanksgiving at my in-laws tomorrow. My mother in law is getting a Honeybaked ham, so I said I'd bring double batches of green bean casserole and red hot jello. I'm also going to try a new recipe for pumpkin chocolate chip bars. I may have myself in over my head seeing as how I still have a huge Thanksgiving mess to clean up, dinner to prepare, Daddy at work until the wee hours of the morning and church before lunch tomorrow. What am I thinking?

Even though we were ALREADY over budget, we still had to stop to get some things for tomorrow's meal. I had to pick up the super cheap stuff at the store while we were at it. This purchase had to come out of our Christmas gift budget. Do you think I can convince the in-laws that our Thanksgiving dinner was their Christmas present??? Here is what we got at Price Chopper --


My pre-tax total was $21.51. I saved $16.66 total. All of that was store savings as I am realizing that my yogurt coupon is still in my pocket. Not such a bad total for an emergency stop with no coupons! Even still, let's hope next week is better!

Other than red hot jello and green bean casserole, we'll probably eat cranberry chicken with wild rice and sweet potatoes on Monday night. Other lunches and dinners will include breakfast for dinner, Velveeta shells and cheese with broccoli, nachos with black beans and cheese, spaghetti and garlic bread, grilled cheese and tomato soup. Lunches on Wed- Fri will be brown bag. Snacks will include Doritos, Z-bars, berries and yogurt, bagels and cream cheese, walnuts with dried cherries and my girl''s most unlikely favorite snack -- corn straight from the can. See other menu plans at orgjunkie.com.

See last week here.

See also LifeAsMom.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Why Buy Consignment Part 2

I know I've mentioned before that I am not a huge fan of buying or selling consignment. I will occasionally stop to poke around one, but not often! I always think they stink of cigarette smoke, and I truly have never found anything even close to great. Instead, I've gotten pretty good at shopping the sales with a coupon, and I do most of my shopping at Gymboree, Carter's and Target. (See what a Gymboree purchase looks like here.)

How much do you think you spend on your kid's clothes in a year? Any guesses? I can't really say what I spend for sure, but I do know that $100 in one trip sounds like a lot! However, what if you planned carefully and only spent $100 5 or 6 times a year??? It sounds like a reasonable amount to me, at least. While I'm sure you could clothe your kids for much less, I'm not entirely sure you could do it with the same sense of style and quality. (Prove me wrong, if you can!)

All that being said, Black Friday was an important kid's shopping day for us. I ordered $85 worth of clothes both for my girls and for gifts for my nieces at Gymboree.com yesterday (and got $25 Gymbucks,) and we hit the Carter's store early this morning. Everything purchased was for my girls, except for one outfit for my new nephew. Here's what I got at the Carter's store for just over $100 after tax.

Pictured you see -

2 three packs of underwear
4 sets of fleece pajamas (Incidentally, one of these was FAR more expensive than I anticipated. Who would have guessed a size 4 set was $10 more than a size 4T set. A good reminder to check ALL price tags!)
4 dresses
1 jacket
1 bubble
5 two pieces outfits
1 one piece outfit
1 fleece jacket

I'm calculating that the average per item/outfit/set is right around $6.70. Right around a middle of the road consignment price, right? But, these clothes are new. Not only that, but both of my girls will wear most things, and since these clothes are such great quality, they will was and re-sell or donate well. At $6.70, I'm thinking I can make close to 50% back on the back end -- even after two kids.

For a general rule of thumb, I did have to set a price guideline. My limit for a shirt is $5. For jeans, dresses and jackets, the limit is $10. (I am guilty of spending a little more on Gymboree shirts and dresses. I just love everything about them, and so do my girls.) However, I do try to stay FAR under those guidelines when I'm shopping at Target and Carters. As another note, I buy the majority of our shoes at Target when they go on sale or clearance meaning they usually cost somewhere between $10-$15 a pair, but the girls usually only have 2-3 pairs at a time, at the most.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Double-Spiced Pumpkin Pie


I made Thanksgiving pumpkin pie for the first time four or so years ago. Without realizing that it was the "non-conformist" way to go, I used the recipe from the Eagle Brand milk can instead of plain old condensed milk. After I whipped up the filling, I decided it was too bland, so I dumped in about 50% more of each spice. To my amazement, everyone loved it. I'm not gonna lie. It was (and always is) especially good. Who knew Eagle Brand milk was the way to go?

Ingredients *

  • 1 (15 ounce) can pumpkin
  • 1 (14 ounce) can EAGLE BRAND® Sweetened Condensed Milk
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1.5 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 (9 inch) unbaked pie crust

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Whisk pumpkin, sweetened condensed milk, eggs, spices and salt in medium bowl until smooth. Pour into crust. Bake 15 minutes.
  2. Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees F and continue baking 35 to 40 minutes or until knife inserted 1 inch from crust comes out clean. Cool. Garnish as desired. Store leftovers covered in refrigerator.
*This is the recipe as I have re-written it. Original recipe calls for less of each spice.

See also OurKrazyKitchen and LifeAsMom.

Wordless Thanksgiving

Monday, November 23, 2009

White Salad





White "salad" is one of our family favorite holiday recipes. It's sort of like a coeur la creme, but without the draining process and fancy special mold. I think my mom started serving it for dessert several Christmas's ago, but these days it shows up on our Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter tables. We've given it the "salad" moniker, so we don't feel guilty about eating something that is nearly cheesecake for dinner! We let it take the place of some other not-so-exciting holiday jello salad.

Recipe -

1 cup of sour cream
1 cup of heavy whipping cream
3/4 cup sugar
1 envelope of Knox gelatin
1/4 cup water
8 oz softened cream cheese
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Combine sour cream and heavy cream in a medium saucepan. Stir in sugar. Place on low heat. Sprinkle gelatin over the quarter cup of water to soften. Stir the gelatin and water mixture in to the cream mixture and remove from heat. In a separte bowl beat the cream cheese until it's smooth. Then, and in the cream mixture and vanilla and whip with beaters until smooth. Transfer to jello mold and refrigerate. (Pictured is a double batch.)


Don't forget to share in the recipe sharing fun at JoyofDesserts, LifeAsMom, Balancing Beauty and Bedlam, Tempt My Tummy Tuesdays, Tuesdays at the Table and Mouthwatering Monday.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Thanksgiving Edition -- Sort Of...


This was somewhat of a frustrating trip. First of all, by the time we finally made it to the grocery store, it was 9 o'clock. I had been going strong since roughly 5:15. I didn't realize how tired I REALLY was until we got there. Thankfully, my husband got off work early and was able to take the baby for me. I probably would have had to turn around and head back home had that not worked out in my favor. My only other real frustration is that I just did not have as many coupons to match with the sales as I would have liked. As a result, I ended up spending more than I really wanted to, so I could pick up more than 1 of the things that were on a super good sale.

Here is what we got --

1 dozen eggs
1 bag of Reames noodles (which appear to have not rung up correctly)
2 bags of broccoli steamers
1 bag of C&H brown sugar
4 Chex seasoning mix (free, will donate)
1 Hy-Vee taco seasoning
1 can of Hy-Vee pumpkin
1 lb of Hy-Vee walnuts (more DHA love)
3 boxes of Jello pudding
2 boxes of Jello
1 box of Keebler grahams
1 box of brown Minute rice
1 loaf of 110% whole wheat bread
1 really big jar of Musselman's unsweetened applesauce
2 cans of whole berry cranberry sauce
5 bags of Hy-Vee cheese
2 1/2 gallons of organic whole milk
2 Kraft cheddar cheese bricks
3 bricks of Philadelphia cream cheese
1 pineapple

My pre-tax total was $38.00. I saved around $7.00 with coupons -- not so impressive!

Plus, the bad news is that I still hadn't been able to nail down what I was taking for sure for Thanskgiving dinner. I am in fact taking apple crisp, double-spiced pumpkin pie and green bean casserole. If I have enough time, I may treat everyone to the Maple Pear Upside-Down Cake too. I'm short some (more like SEVERAL) ingredients for the pumpkin pie and green bean casserole, so I will have to make yet another trip, which will put me even further over budget. I may not cover that trip due to time purposes, but you can be sure it will have to happen! I've been trying to wonder what I did for Thanksgiving last year. I'm pretty sure last year I took a $50.00 bonus for Thanksgiving. I didn't really want to do that last year, but I think if I am going to plan to take advantage of the sales and buy staples like cream cheese, cranberry sauce, pumpkin, etc. when it's dirt cheap, I am going to have to that again.

I did not really end up with the things to make a single complete meal from either of these trips. What a bummer! I'm going to make a cavatini for dinner and red hot Jello for dessert tonight. Those leftovers will serve us well. We had baked potato bowls for lunch, and we will be able to have sweet potato bowls later this week for lunch. We'll be able to make it through to Thanksgiving easily on things like grilled cheese, frozen chicken Anytizers, breakfast for dinner, etc. I think I'll trade my leftover Thanksgiving desserts for turkey and stuffing, which will get us through until NEXT Friday. Thankfully, Friday always seems to roll around pretty quickly!

See this week's other shopping trip here.

See also beingfrugal.net, www.orgjunkie.com and chachingonashoestring.com.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Maple Pear Upside Down Cake


My best friend lives in NYC. She sent me this recipe from the Times a few weeks back with a note that said, "I know how much you love pears." I guess that means people are noticing the nearly ridiculous volumes of produce!

Recipe -

11 tablespoons butter

3/4 cup maple syrup

1/4 cup packed brown sugar

3 to 4 pears, peeled, cored and thinly sliced

3/4 cup granulated sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla

2 large eggs

1 1/2 cups flour

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon (I added this.)

1/2 cup milk.

1. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Melt 3 tablespoons butter in a small pan over medium heat; add maple syrup and brown sugar and cook, stirring, until sugar dissolves. Bring to a boil and cook for another 2 minutes; remove from heat and set aside. When mixture has cooled a bit, pour it into a 9-inch baking pan and arrange pear slices in an overlapping circle on top.

2. With a handheld or standing mixer, beat remaining 8 tablespoons butter and the sugar until light and fluffy. Add vanilla and eggs, one egg at a time, continuing to mix until smooth. In a separate bowl, combine flour, baking powder, salt and cinnamon.

3. Add flour mixture to butter mixture in three batches, alternating with milk; do not overmix. Carefully spread batter over pears, using a spatula to make sure it is evenly distributed. Bake until top of cake is golden brown and edges begin to pull away from sides of pan, about 45 to 50 minutes; a toothpick inserted into center should come out clean. Let cake cool for 5 minutes.

4. Run a knife around edge of pan; put a plate on top of cake and carefully flip it so plate is on bottom and pan is on top. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Yield: 8 to 10 servings.

***

Now, real maple syrup is far from the most frugal thing in the world. It just so happens that I knew my mom had some sitting in her pantry that she wouldn't finish. Mom ("Hammy") is super nice, so she let me have it. I will run a good portion of this cake over to her house in return. It's not so bad having your daughter for a neighbor, I suppose!

As far as the baking process was concerned, this cake was really quite easy. The only real problem I had was some of the middle of the cake stuck as a result of not using quite enough pears. I guess I forgot how much they would cook down.

All said, this cake was SUPER delicious. What a great fall treat! We'll totally eat it again. It may even show up on our Thanksgiving menu!

Our Crazy Kitchen, Balancing Beauty and Bedlam, Tempt My Tummy Tuesdays, Tuesdays at the Table, LifeasMom and Mouthwatering Monday.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Sweet Tooth


I was wishing today a little that I could go off the record with this sugary purchase. Four pies, two tubs of ice cream, a can of whipped cream, 4 tubs of Cool Whip. Talk about a sugar coma.

I hit the Thanksgiving sales a little early today because I had to pick up something for my daughter to contribute to their Thanksgiving trail mix at school tomorrow. (Note to teacher's, more than 48 hours notice would be helpful.) Of course, I am also trying to take advantage of all of the super great Thanksgiving sales. Problem being, however, that I do not yet know for what I am responsible. I may have to find an extra $20 or so once I know for sure what I'm taking. My usuals are my awesome "double spiced" pumpkin pie, french silk pie, green bean casserole and/or broccoli salad. This year I am learning towards pumpkin pie, apple crisp and green bean casserole.

Here's what I got today -

4 Mrs. Smith's pies
4 tubs of Cool Whip (Boston Cream Casserole, anyone???)
4 cans of Libby's vegetables
2 cans of Swanson chicken broth
1 bottle of Hunt's ketchup
1 bag of Sunmaid dried cherries (A budget breaker, but they are for my daughter's class tomorrow)
1 bag of Cape Cod chips
2 Breyer's Vanilla ice cream tubs
2.10 lbs of sweet potatoes

My pre-tax total was $24.62. I saved $29.55.

See this week's other shopping trip here.

See last week's groceries here.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Thanksgiving Intern

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Breakfast Cookies


Didn't these bake up beautifully???

My oldest daughter and I watched Ellie Krieger makes these on the Food Network a few weeks ago, and my daughter thought breakfast cookies sounded no less than brilliant. I was willing to try them out. We'd made a very similar kitchen sink cookie recipe of Ellie Krieger's before, and it was pretty good. I figured these would be a good, fun breakfast for all of us.

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup whole-wheat pastry flour
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • 1/4 cup dark brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup (1 small jar) strained carrot baby food
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup bran cereal flakes
  • 1/3 cup raisins
  • 1/3 cup walnut pieces, lightly toasted in a dry skillet for 2 minutes, until fragrant and chopped

Directions

Place rack in center of oven and preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Whisk together flours, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt in a medium-sized bowl. Combine butter, oil and sugars in the bowl of a stand mixer and mix on high speed, scraping down sides if necessary, until sugars have dissolved and mixture is light in color, about 1 minute. Add egg, carrot puree and vanilla and beat an additional 30 seconds. Add flour mixture and beat an additional 30 seconds. Add oats, flakes, raisins and walnuts and mix over low speed just until incorporated. Dough will be slightly sticky and less cohesive than traditional cookie dough. Line a large cookie sheet with parchment paper. Using between 3 to 4 tablespoons of batter, form a ball and place on cookie sheet. Repeat with remaining batter, leaving about 3 inches between cookies. Wet hands and use palm of hand to flatten cookies until about 1/4-inch thick. Bake for 12 minutes, until cookies are fragrant but still soft. Let cookies cool slightly, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

***

We had a really good time making these, but I will admit that I struggled a little bit with following the recipe. Since I don't have a printer, I wrote down the ingredients and just tried to remember the order in which to put things in. I ended up throwing my first butter, oil and egg mixture away. (Bummer because that Crisco Omega 3 oil sure isn't cheap!) I just COULDN'T get my softened butter to cream when adding the oil and egg at the same time. When I tried it a second time and had the same problem, I realized I was putting the egg in too soon. Next time I would cream the butter and sugar THEN add the oil and egg. Regardless, we had to get on with it, even though our mixture looked a little funny. I also had forgotten to buy carrot baby food, so we used unsweetened applesauce instead. AND, I didn't have DARK brown sugar, so I added like 1/2 teaspoon of molasses. Thankfully, they turned out just fine.

These did turn out really tender and almost caked like, which I expected as a result of our previous experience with the kitchen sink cookies. I'm sure it is a result of the reduced butter. They are pretty good and will make a great breakfast! However, I think if I were going to make these again, I would alter the recipe a little. I think with the applesauce change, these would have been super great with dried cherries (which we love and are super great for you) and raisins. With the original recipe that calls for carrots, I think I would add some more cinnamon. These were just a tiny bit bland for me.

Regardless, we will love warming these up and eating them this week! It will be hard to eat just one! And, I'm thinking next time I won't go to all the work without at least tripling the batch. 12 (or 11 in my case) breakfast cookies doesn't get 4 people very far!

Don't forget to share in the recipe sharing fun at A Few Shortcuts, Balancing Beauty and Bedlam, Tempt My Tummy Tuesdays, Tuesdays at the Table and Mouthwatering Monday.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Salsa Soup


I picked this recipe up from my mother-in-law. She made it a few weeks back, and it was just so good! Super easy too!

Ingredients:
1 onion, chopped
2 (16 ounce) can dark kidney beans
2 (15 ounce) can black beans
1 (15 ounce) can whole kernel corn, drained
1 (15 ounce) can tomato sauce
1 (15 ounce) can of chicken broth
2 (10 ounce) cans of Rotel, undrained
1 (1.25 ounce) package taco seasoning
shredded Cheddar cheese (optional)
sour cream (optional)
crushed tortilla chips (optional)
Directions:
1. Place the onion, kidney beans, black beans, corn, tomato sauce, chicken broth, and diced tomatoes in a slow cooker. Add taco seasoning, and stir to blend. Set slow cooker for low heat, cover, and cook for 5 hours.
2. Serve topped with shredded Cheddar cheese, a dollop of sour cream, and crushed tortilla chips, if desired.

The only change I really made was that I also wilted some fresh baby spinach in to it at the very end. I figured it was a painless way to sneak in some "green."

Also, a funny thing, I accidentally picked up one can of Rotel with habaneros instead of the "regular" kind, but I decided to roll with it. It WAS spicy! My girls were funny -- chowin' down with a spoon and one hand and a glass of milk in the other. I should have taken a picture!

See also Life As Mom, Balacing Beauty and Bedlam and Crock pot Wednesday.

Friday, November 13, 2009

I had a reader/friend say this week that he wasn't quite sure HOW I was getting the deals that I blog about. It's totally valid feedback. I don't write much about that aspect of this $50/week grocery project simply because I feel like there are lots of people that already do that. More so, my intent is to show what it looks like to eat and cook well on a tight budget. That being said, the resource I use the MOST is www.moneysavingmom.com. I usually also check out the Hy-Vee sales at www.couponmom.com. I also frequent coupons.com (although I do not currently have a printer), the coupon previews at www.thecouponclippers.com (to determine how many papers I think I need) and just the general Sunday circulars. That's about all I have time for! Actually, if you could see my coupon mess right now, you would know that I don't even have time for that!

Publish Post

Now, moving on to this week's trip. Hy-Vee had some super great sales. We got there pretty late in the evening, and they were pretty picked over. It's not so bad though. I love picking up rain checks for weeks when the sales may not be so great. I came home with four really good ones tonight!

Now, here's a breakdown of what I got. (Sorry the picture is blurry. I was having a hard time getting my spokes model to stand still.)

2 4-packs of Jumbo muffins
1/2 gallon of Robert's OJ
1 big tub of Hy-Vee cottage cheese
1 Smart Balance butter(ish) spread
1 Smart Balance sour cream (free)
1 box of Smuckers Uncrustables (free)
2 Valley Fresh broccoli and cheese Steamers
2 Freschetta pizzas
1 Crisco with DHA (love this stuff)
2 boxes of chocolate Chex
1 can of Hy-Vee black beans
1 4 lb bag of Hy-Vee sugar
4 cans of Hy-Vee mandarin oranges
1 Jif Natural
1 bag Hy-Vee powdered sugar
1 bag of Mission tortillas
1 bag of Nestle's chocolate chips
2 boxes of Pillsbury brownies
2 tubs of Pillsbury frosting
1 bag of Pillsbury flour
1 can of Rotel
3 jars of Smuckers Simply Fruit
1 Always Infinity (free)
1 gallon of Organic Valley milk (FREE!)
2 8 oz bags of Hy-Vee cheese
1 Kraft Singles
1 Dole Baby Spinach
5.22 lbs of pears
5.89 lbs of Apples

My pre-tax total was $51.05! I saved right around $35.00 with coupons. (That is SO my best coupon total on a $50 budget EVER!) I don't know exactly what my sale savings was, but it should have been pretty good! I'm guessing I very easily came in at saving 60+% of the total cost, which is pretty good considering this is all of the shopping I'll be doing this week. It's easy to have a high savings when you're making lots of little purchases -- not so easy when you're on stop shopping!

We're staying home tomorrow to cook for the week and get the house cleaned up a little. We're going to make breakfast cookies and salsa soup. I also STILL have not made "baby's favorite," but I will on Sunday or so when my pears are ripe. I also got a super great sounding maple pear upside down cake recipe from a friend that I think we'll give a whirl. (I will certainly be sharing all of these recipes tomorrow and through the course of the week.) Also, my daughter takes snacks to preschool this week, so we'll be making pumpkin muffins.

As far as our other meals go, we have a few functions at church, my mom's and my work where we will be fed. We'll be eating meals of things like taco soup, tuna noodle salad, tortillas with black beans and cheese, baked potatoes with broccoli and cheese, fish sticks and fries, frozen pizza and whatever other goodies I can come up with! We'll be snacking on biscuits and jelly, muffins, breakfast cookies and cereal. Lunches, as usual, we'll be brown bagging!

See last week's $50/week grocery project here.

See also cha-chingonashoestring and orgjunkie.com.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Free Shampoo

I picked up two bottles of Organix with Free after Rebate tags on them at CVS a few weeks back -- one for me and one for my mom. I was surprised that we both got checks back pretty quickly! I happened then to notice that there were a few brands hanging out at various different drug stores also with similar rebate tags, so I've started picking them up as I've had an extra $6.99 here and there. I've verified that they all have different mailing addresses and seem to all be separate offers. I'm expecting some checks in the mail here pretty soon! See if you can scout any of these out at your local CVS, Walgreens or Target. What a nice treat!

See other tips at Works for Me Wednesday!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Family Portrait














This is my 3.5 year old daughter's first family portrait! I was soooooo tickled when she brought it home from pre-school. From left to right - the artist, daddy, mommy, and ohyeahbettersqueezeinbabysister. My favorite things in this picture are the scale of my hair, the lack of my husband's hair (an important and true to life detail) and his blue legs. After all, daddy only has two kinds of pants blue work pants and blue jeans. Oh, the unfailing memory of a three year old. My kid is somethin' else.

I've entered this in the Yoplait Kids Drawing Contest.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Red Hot Jello


I had to figure SOMEONE was wondering why it was necessary to fit cinnamon imperials in to our tiny grocery budget! Here is the reason!

This is yet another one of our family holiday favorites. My mom ALWAYS made it for Christmas when I was a little girl. However, I don't remember actually eating it because, as I recall, one of my cousins always ate the ENTIRE pan -- perhaps even before everyone sat down to dinner. I'm pretty sure it's his favorite thing ever. In fact, when he got married, my mom gave his wife-to-be the recipe, ingredients and a Jello mold. It was so cute!

Red Hot Jello -

1/4 cup of red hots
1 cup of boiling water
1 small box of cherry Jello
1 can of applesauce*

Melt red hots in water. Pour over jello and dissolve. Add applesauce. Pour in to bowl or Jello mold.

*I couldn't find a CAN of applesauce, for whatever reason. Instead, I used about 3/4 of a small jar of UNSWEETENED applesauce. I really, really enjoyed it with the unsweetened variety. I thought it really let the cinnamon shine through. Without the super-sweetness I was like, "This REALLY tastes like a candied apple. YUM!

Don't forget to share in the recipe sharing fun at Vintage Recipe Thursday, LifeAsMom, Balancing Beauty and Bedlam, Tempt My Tummy Tuesdays, Tuesdays at the Table.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Not-So-Super Target


We did make it to Target to finish up our grocery shopping for the week. I spent $33.28 pre-tax and saved $18.22. I was once again kind of underwhelmed. I guess my complaints are sort of the same as when we went to Wal-Mart -- fewer sales, no circular, not able to pre-plan coupons. Lesson learned - better to shop the sales at higher priced grocery store than a national chain "super store."

Our menu plan for this week won't be very elaborate. For some reason I've been feeling overwhelmingly busy. The nature of being a working mom, I suppose, is that I just don't have the time for food preparation or even "real meals" like I would like to. Believe me, I have some serious guilt over it. Anyway, we'll be eating brown bag lunches all week, except for when the girls are home with my husband on Mon and Tues. They'll eat the meatloaf and sweet potatoes on Mon. and probably fish sticks and fries on Tuesday. They usually will eat some fresh fruit while daddy prepares lunch. He actually does a great job of not just throwing them in front of a plate of junk. It takes some guidance, but he can totally manage. For dinner, aside from Monday night at Alpha, we'll probably eat frozen enchiladas, shells and cheese with added frozen broccoli and a side of apple sauce and cheese quesadillas with black beans. Friday nights always end up having to be something really fast on the way to dance -- bagels and cream cheese or PB&J. It sure isn't fancy, but my family doesn't mind!

I'm also working on altering my mom's pumpkin muffin recipe. I made them on Halloween for a Halloween open house we had at my house. I substituted 1 cup of whole wheat pastry flour for the all purpose, and you could not tell AT ALL. I also used 1/2 cup of Canola oil with DHA for half a cup of the regular canola. Next order of business is to try a higher percentage of whole wheat flour and switch the other half of a cup of regular Canola oil for unsweetened applesauce. I figure if I can pass off those switches, we'll have a much healthier snack. I'll make sure to post a final recipe once I think it's in tip-top shape.

See this week's other grocery trip here.

See also Life as Mom and Menu Planning Monday.

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