Thursday, June 30, 2011

Beat The Heat

I know I've mentioned that I freeze milk when it is approaching it's expiring date to save for brown bag lunches. I actually almost always have frozen drinks in my freezer, especially in the summer! I don't know about you guys, but we are ALWAYS thirsty. If I don't take a drink for each one of us when we will be gone for the day, we can easily need 2 per person. I try to save as much as I can by taking a sippy cup for the girls wherever we go. In the summer, I prefill and freeze them, and we can refill with ice and water as needed.

Today, I took 5 minutes to freeze 1 drink per day for the long weekend. Not having to buy each of them two drinks per day over the course of three days (12 drinks total) at $1.50/drink will painlessly save us $18 this weekend! Love that!

Some of my girl's favorites are -

Crystal Light (1 big packet makes 3 12 oz cups)
Green or White Tea
Diluted Apple Juice

I also love that it is not only cheaper but far healthier than a fountain drink or a juice box!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Pineapple Inside Out Cake

This is a recipe from my mom's kitchen, and it has been one of my favorites since I was a little girl! I've discovered that the best thing bout it (aside from how delicious it is) is how EASY it is! It's BARELY harder than a cake mix, and it tastes so much better!

Here is the recipe,

2 cups flour
1.5 cups sugar
1 tsp baking soda
1 lb can crushed pineapple + juice
2 eggs

Mix together by hand. (No mixers allowed!) Pour in to an ungreased 9x13 pan.

Then, combine 1/2 cup brown sugar and 1/2 cup chopped walnuts OR pecans and sprinkle over batter.

Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.

For the topping, you need,

1.5 sticks of butter
3/4 cup sugar
1 cup evaporated milk
1 tsp vanilla

Combine and boil for 3 minutes. AS soon as the cake is done pour over the hot cake.

Prepare to be amazed!

For more recipes see Balancing Beauty and Bedlam.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Summer Eatin'

I made two quick trips to the grocery store. I had a really scary experience with a man following me at Hen House in the middle of the day on Friday. It was absolutely terrifying, but let this be a reminder to pay attention to what is going on around you! I realized that I am very frequently very absorbed in my list and coupons and not paying an ounce of attention to anything else! Thankfully this time I was on my toes! This is what I picked up at Hen House,

These are my groceries at Hy Vee, but I forgot to include the milk I bought in the picture! I also left a box of Gogurt at my mom's for the girls to eat when they are at her house. My total was in the $30 neighborhood, and I believe I saved 54%, but the checker forgot to double my coupons. I was busy talking to a police officer while my groceries were being rung up. I did my best to make sure everything went through correctly. I'll just have to let it slide this time!

It's been awhile since one of my children's floating heads appeared in a photo, so here is my youngest daughter! This was my trip to Hy Vee. Between the two purchases my total came to a little over $50 after tax.

We are SO busy in the summer, and I find myself just not doing a whole lot of meal planning! On Friday we had french bread pizza and cake! It was so delicious and a special treat for us to have a store bought cake! We ate dinner out last night at a work event and today's dinner was sandwiches and fruit at the pool! We'll probably have a few nights of sandwiches and pasta with marinara this week as we have another night at the pool, blueberry picking and Bible study planned for the evenings this week. I might make a lasagna on Wednesday night. Breakfasts will include cereal, yogurt and fresh fruit. I'm also going try to get a pineapple inside out cake made because we don't have any sweets around here. It's good for the kids, but not so good for mommy!

Friday, June 24, 2011

Strawberry Shortcake Popsicles

(My girls and their cousins having a "popsicly" treat on Father's Day!)

My father in law (and my children) absolutely ADORE popsicles. I happened to come across this recipe for strawberry shortcake popsicles when I was looking for a special Father's Day dessert last week, and I thought it sounded perfectly perfect!

Here is the recipe,
  • 1 ½ cup pureed strawberries (I added a splash of water and a splash of vanilla sugar when pureeing.)
  • ½ cup crushed vanilla Oreos
  • 2 cups vanilla yogurt
  1. Puree strawberries. Place Oreos in a food processor and pulse until cookies become fine crumbs. Alternatively, place Oreos in a Ziploc and using a rolling pin to crush cookies. Add crushed Oreos to the yogurt and mix until combined.
  1. To assemble as the seen in the picture, layer the yogurt portion first and let freeze for 30 minutes before adding the strawberry layer, let this second layer freeze for 30 minutes and then add the last yogurt layer. For a quick assembly, pour each layer on top of one another without any freeze time in between and then use a skewer or fork and gently swirl for a swirled Popsicle look.
Due to my specific popsicle mold, I decided to make only two layers. They were honestly delicious, but in hindsight, I think I will try the "swirl method." I am happy to report that they were also a hit with my extended family. I made plenty of extras, and it was a good thing because EVERYONE wanted two!

Saturday, June 18, 2011

What will we eat this week?

It was somewhat of a frustrating week at the store(s) this week. I feel like I did a relatively decent job stretching my $50 (pre-tax) dollars, but I got next to nothing to make an actual MEAL! So frustrating!

Our first trip was to Hy-Vee,

I spent right around $30 pre-tax. I happened to notice that a lot of their prices on canned goods and shelf stable items had gone up $.25 or so. The two particular items I noticed were Contandina pizza sauce and Hy Vee brand mandarin oranges. Those are two of our favorites. Bummer! Also, aside from the cheese and strawberries, their other sales prices were really unimpressive. I decided to hold the majority of our dairy purchase for Hen House.

I was hoping to pick up a bunch of expiring and marked down dairy with coupons, but that sure didn't happen! My total was right around $20 pre-tax. I still did ok with sales and coupons, and I did track down the dairy guy in order to find out that they are marking down their expiring items in the morning. Maybe I need to change my schedule and start hitting the store BEFORE work! HA! Actually though, I do have a Hen House close to my work, so I could run there on my lunch break and store my dairy in the fridge at work until I go home. I may see if that nets better prices next week. The lower dairy prices have been a HUGE blessing for us in recent past weeks. It killed me to pay so much, even with coupons!

For meals this week, we'll probably eat enchilada soup and chili from the freezer. I'm also making pasta salad and strawberry shortcake popsicles for our Father's Day get together tomorrow. Additionally, it's time to make baby brother's first batch of baby food! I was able to pick up peaches at$.99/lb, so I think peaches will be his first food! I'll share how I make that some time this week!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

An easy way to save BIG...

(One of our DEBT FREE cars!)

I'll be honest, I get tired of nickel and diming grocery coupons. For me, it IS worth it to save a few bucks here and there, but I find the return on my time investment to not always be the best! Sometimes I have to choose other priorities.

That being said, if you're looking for a way to save big in one EASY effort, make sure you always have a coupon for an oil change! Jiffy Lube has a $10 off coupon available right now at! Perfect timing for us because we need an oil change! Now, for some changing your own oil may be a better return on investment. However, we prefer to leave ours for a quick service instead of interrupting our only day together as a family! It's a personal choice, of course!

Monday, June 13, 2011

Double Berry Crisp

 (Isn't this pan AWESOME??? My mom got me this great set of nesting bakers for Mother's Day! I'm so lucky!)

I was able to get raspberries very cheaply on sale this weekend, so I paired them with blueberries we picked last summer and made a YUMMY berry crisp. Here are the juicy details,


  • 4 small packages of raspberries
  • 4 cups of blueberries
  • 3/4 cup granulated vanilla sugar (or regular sugar)
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ofvanilla
  • 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup of all purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup old-fashioned oatmeal
  • 2 stick of melted unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup walnuts or pecans
  • 1 teaspoon of cinnamon
Combine all of the filling ingredients in a bowl and spread in a 9x13 pan. Combine all of the topping ingredients in a separate bowl and spread evenly over the filling. Bake at 350 for 30 minutes or until bubble around the edges.


For other recipes see Balancing Beauty and Bedlam.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

5 Ingredient Salsa

I'm really sorry I didn't get my grocery trip posted this weekend! We've had back to back get togethers all weekend, so I just didn't quite get to it. We did go a little over budget as I used some of our "fun" money to take food to our various different get togethers.

This is one of my favorite salsa recipes, and I'll be taking it to a BBQ we are going to tonight. Here are the ingredients,

1 regular can of stewed tomatoes
1 regular can of whole tomatoes
1 handful of fresh cilantro leaves
4-5 cloves of garlic
Juice of one lime
Salt and Pepper to taste

Place all of the ingredients in a blender and zip together!(It is pretty mild for my taste, but perfect for a crowd with varying taste buds! If you like it a little spicier, you could definitely add a little bit of fresh jalapeno.) I think people are ALWAYS happy to see salsa that didn't come from a jar! It's SO easy and worth the effort, for sure!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

LAST week's shopping trip....

I'm running behind, as usual, so this was last week's shopping trip!

I'm so sorry for the late and brief post! June and July are always SO busy for us. It is hard for me to sit down long enough to do anything let alone post a coherent blog!

I'm having a bit of a hard time getting my girls to eat these days, so I loaded up on stuff I know they will eat -- deli meat, berries, mac and cheese and milk! They were priced REALLY well, so that worked in my favor! I figured if that's all they ate for an entire week, I wouldn't be a complete failure. A vegetable failure, yes, but not a COMPLETE failure. There is a difference!

My grand total here after tax was $51 dollars. I saved close to $70, if I remember correctly. (My receipt has long disappeared, of course.)

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Do you have an Ebates account yet?

I know, I know, Ebates has been around for awhile. Previously, I've always used UPromise and Shop Discover for additional discounts when I shop online. Recently, when I needed to make an online purchase I discovered that Ebates had a FAR better percentage back than my usual go-tos, so I used it! They typically pay their cash back quarterly, but I got an email saying they were sending mine early! I got a nice little almost $5 check in the mail. Sweet!

I was definitely happy with Ebates. To make a great deal even better, they are currently offering $5 if you sign up for an Ebates account! I will certainly keep referencing their discounts against UPromise and Shop Discover for the best deal!

Friday, June 3, 2011

Beach Babe

The little guy and I are back from vacation, and we had a super great time! I came back with a renewed interest in tightening up our daily budget, so can we can have really awesome family fun! Stay tuned in the next few days for some new ideas on saving money, summer fun and, of course, grocery deals!