Sunday, July 31, 2011

This week's menu plan...

I did make a grocery trip to Hy-Vee yesterday, but I can't find my camera! I'm having such a hard time with picture management lately.

My trip to Hy-Vee mostly consisted of produce, dairy and cereal. My grand total for groceries for the week came to about $64 after tax. I spent the other $6 on a ginormous package of toilet paper. Not bad!

Our weekend so far has looked a little something like this,

Saturday - yogurt, cheese / macaroni and cheese and hot dogs / picnic in the park (PBJ, grapes, cheetos)
Sunday - yogurt, cereal / Chipotle fake-out (ie black beans and rice) / snacks at the pool (grapes, crackers) and No Bake Lemon Cake

For breakfast during the work week, everyone will likely be eating cereal, yogurt and/or bananas. I will be eating leftover beans and rice for lunches. Daddy will be in charge of lunches at home.

Dinners will include,

Monday - spaghetti with marinara and veggies
Tuesday - a new recipe for chicken and wild rice soup in the crockpot
Wednesday - tuna noodle salad
Thursday - possibly a new recipe for chicken enchilada pasta
Friday - ?

Snacks will be granola bars, fresh pineapple, yogurt raisins, cottage cheese and veggies and dip.

See other meal plans at

No Bake Lemon Cake

Today is my mom's 62nd birthday! Happy Birthday mom!

I really enjoy blessing people with a special treat on their birthday. My mother in law's birthday cake of choice is Mocha Chocolate Chip Icebox Cake . My father in law likes Boston Cream Casserole. (This is also known as Eclair Cake, but we've been making it since before Paula Deen gave it a name!) My mom always makes my dad pumpkin cake with buttermilk caramel frosting. So fun!

Now, my mom is a little bit trickier. I'm not sure she'll ever really settle on a favorite. Sometimes she wants just a store bought birthday cake or a fresh strawberry pie from the grocery store bakery. This year, I didn't ask her what she wanted because she lovvvvvvvvvvvvvves lemon, and I wanted to try this recipe out on her. We LOVED it. It's SO lemony and refreshing!

Here is the recipe,

1 box of graham crackers
1 can of sweetened condensed milk
1/2 cup of fresh squeezed lemon juice
Zest of 1 lemon

Whisk together the can of sweetened condensed milk, the lemon juice and the zest of 1 lemon. In a 9x9 baking dish (which I didn't use,) place a single layer of graham crackers. Pour a thin layer of the lemon and milk mixture (1/3 of the mix) and add another layer of graham crackers. Repeat 3 times. On the top layer of graham crackers, you will top with a layer of lemon buttercream frosting and refrigerate over night.

Here is the recipe for the buttercream,

1 stick of butter
1 cup of powdered sugar
1-2 tablespoons of milk
1-2 tablespoons of lemon juice

With a hand mixer, beat the stick of butter and powdered sugar. Thin the mixture with the milk as necessary. VERY SLOWLY, add the lemon juice. If it curdles on you, just add a little bit more powdered sugar.

See other recipes at

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Welcome to our new normal...

I have great news! My husband got a job! He was only officially unemployed for about 2.5 weeks and we are so thankful. We feel like that is a GREAT blessing in this economy. We are a little concerned because he DID take a significant paycut, but we really feel as though he has a great future with his new company. There is a lot of growth potential in his new job, and at his old job there was literally NOWHERE for him to go. We're thankful that we're in a position where he CAN take a paycut in order to experience something new. It will definitely be a stretch for us, but we will be able to continue to save for retirement, keep a sinking fund towards a new car and hopefully be able to save for our kid's college here and there. All of those things are very important to us and hopefully as his income grows, we'll be able to add in some additional savings opportunities. We trust that God knows and will provide exactly what we need!
So, welcome! Welcome to our new normal. 
(Except, he hasn't started his new job yet, and we don't have a start date, so we're technically still in limbo.)
This week I took a $20 bill from our gift fund (that is quickly draining and will not be replaced) to make a special dessert for my mom's birthday and also to host a family of 7 for a picnic dinner tonight. 

Our first stop was to Price Chopper. I spent $22.27 after tax. My savings was $29.95.

I haven't made it on our second little trip to Hy-Vee, but I will update later today with groceries purchased and this weeks EATING AT HOME meal plan!

Crockpot BBQ Chicken

I'm really loving crock pot recipes right now because my husband can easily throw them in the 'pot while I'm at work and have dinner ready when we get home. I found this recipe on Stick a Fork In It via Money Saving Mom, and it is a keeper! We thought the sauce tasted like Pizza Hut's honey barbeque wing sauce, and we thought it would make a great "fake out" (fake take out) meal with frozen chicken strips too.

The recipe is as follows,

4-6 pieces boneless skinless chicken breasts (i threw them in frozen... even easier!)
1 bottle BBQ sauce (I used KC Masterpiece Original.)
1/4 c vinegar
1 tsp. red pepper flakes
1/4 c brown sugar
1/2 - 1 tsp. garlic powder

mix BBQ sauce with all ingredients listed under it. place chicken in crockpot. pour sauce over it and cook on LOW for 4-6 hours. you pretty much don't even have to stir it... how easy is that!?

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Recycle Bank - McDonald's Offer

If you haven't joined RecycleBank yet, now is a great time!

Currently, you can get a coupon for a free McDonalds cone, free McCafe smoothie or a free McDonalds fruit and oatmeal for just 100 points each, and you can order multiple copies!

To find these, click on “Get Rewards” and then choose “Restaurants” on the sidebar.

Click on the “Earn Points” tab to earn points, if you don’t have enough to request these. I ordered two of each, so this will be a great free family outing!

Thanks Money Saving Mom!

Monday, July 25, 2011

Free Godiva Chocolates

Last week, we had a few spare hours in between activities, so we hit the mall for one of my favorite freebies! Did you know if you join Godiva's rewards club, you can pick up a FREE CHOCOLATE in the store once a month? Both my husband and I have a card, and we've each gotten a free chocolate of our choice many, many times. A lot of times they're also sampling something in store, so we'll get one of those too! They're also usually generous enough to dig up something for our kids, whether it be a free sample or one of their foil wrapped squares for tasting.

I really recommend signing up for this. It is great fun, and I love the sweet treat -- especially a free one!

Sunday, July 24, 2011

$50/week grocery project on unemployement week #3

I'm really late updating this week. We had a really busy weekend with a Lemon-Aid stand, Papa's birthday and my sweet middle daughter's 3rd birthday. In a stroke of stupidity, I accidentally deleted my grocery pictures for this week. Instead, here's a picture of my sweet thing,

I actually spent a little closer to $40 on groceries on Friday because I went over budget last week. I stupidly thought my husband's unemployment would be available to us by this week, but it will be AT LEAST another 2-3 weeks. (My stupidity is running rampant!) Bummer.

Ok from my purchase on Friday, let's see what I can remember...

A few pears
A few peaches
7 or so boxes of Kraft macaroni
Several loaves of 100% whole wheat bread
Several jars of PB
A package of chicken
A gallon of milk
A dozen eggs
A few cans of refried beans
A bottle of Minute Maid Juice with DHA
2 bags of salad mix
1 lb of bacon
A tomato
A few boxes of cereal

We've already made a pretty good dent in the groceries I bought. Our menu plan looks a little like this for the week,

(Last) Friday -  macaroni and green salad
Yesterday - mango lassies, frozen pizza and applesauce, BLTs
Sunday - smoothie popsicles, lunch at Nana's, fish nuggets
(Daddy will be in charge of lunches at home for the week. I'll be eating bean tostadas or PBJ.)
Monday - smoothie popsicles, crockpot BBQ chicken and fresh fruit
Tuesday - cereal, french toast with homemade blueberry sauce
Wednesday - smoothie popsicles, bean and cheese burritos
Thursday - cereal, eggs and hashbrowns

Treats and snacks will be leftover cupcakes, pudding pops, jello, cottage cheese, fresh fruit and veggies, etc.

I'm learning that to make our $50 stretch to cover ALL of our meals and snacks (including my lunches at work,) we're having to eat VERY simply...even more so than before. I'm focusing pretty hard on building up our pantry and working really hard to find some new recipes that we will all like. I have a few I am really looking forward to, but most will have to wait for a good sale to pick up some of the ingredients!

For more menu planning, see

Saturday, July 23, 2011

In This House...

Friday, July 22, 2011

Easy Money Making Opportunity through Ebates...

Have you read my post about how much I like Ebates? Ebates pays you to shop online, so it's easy to save 5%+ buying things that you would normally buy anyway!

Their referral program is really good, but right now it's even better with a $30 cash reward if you refer 3 friends by 08/31/11. Plus, your referred friend can choose from a few different $10 gift cards just for signing on! Such a great deal for both people involved!

If you don't know much about how Ebates works, you can read their FAQ here.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Poor Man's Mocha

Since my husband's layoff, he's been suffering from Starbucks withdrawal. He's not a complete addict, but he sure loves Starbucks as an all too frequent special treat with his own spending money. Since there isn't any spending money in our new (hopefully short term) budget, I helped him come up with a Starbucks replacement. I saw this recipe on Hungry Girl and adapted it in to a slightly more frugal version with items we already had around the house. He thinks it's a win, so it must be good!


12 oz milk
1 tablespoon of instant coffee
1 teaspoon cocoa powder
2 teaspoons of chocolate malt powder
Sugar to taste (I used vanilla.)

Dissolve powders in 1 oz of hot water. Stir or shake with milk and serve over ice. (I didn't have any, so we shook it in an iced stainless steel drink shaker.)

Monday, July 18, 2011

Cherry "Cheesecake" Breakfast Popsicles

I mentioned a few weeks ago that I had finally solved the breakfast problem around here. I've been making all kinds of smoothie popsicles, but my latest was accidentally extra delicious! I decided to swap out half of my usual vanilla yogurt for plain to cut down the sugar. The combined plain and vanilla yogurts paired together with fresh cherries made a DELICIOUS popsicle. They taste like cherry cheesecake without the guilt! So good! My girls have been begging for them all day!

Here is the recipe,

15 pitted cherries
1/2 teaspoon of sugar
1 small container vanilla yogurt
1 small container plain yogurt
1/4 cup milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Blend the pitted cherries with the sugar. Add remaining ingredients and blend until combined. Pour in to popsicle molds and freeze!

My cost breakdown -

2 store brand yogurts, $.60
1/2 lb of cherries (approx), $1.00
Remaining ingredients, about $.40.

Total per recipe was $2.00, and it made 9.5 breakfast popsicles. Total cost per breakfast is $.21.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

What happens when your world turns upside down....

We got some bad news last Friday. Really bad. After 11 years at his employer, my husband got laid off. No severance package. No nothing. Just that he was a "drain on resources" (ie the highest paid technician in his shop) and a "You can apply again in 6 months." It was not a complete shock due to his pay range, but he was employee of the month for May AND June. You just don't expect to be let go a week after an honor like that!

The good news is that because of our financial discipline and God's blessing, we didn't have to panic! Between my salary and his unemployment, we will be able to make ends meet. My husband already has a few good employment possibilities, so we are just trusting in God's plan for our family. He knows what we need better than we do, so we can rest securely in that. We certainly appreciate your prayers as we are transitioning through this phase in our family.

That being said, it is extra important that I stick to our budget! I did unfortunately go a little over our $50 budget, but as ALL snacks, quick eats, and our Sunday afternoon lunch out have been firmly CUT, I have to be able to feed this family! I figure it is more cost effective to go slightly over our grocery budget then to have to hit McDonald's, so I'm not beating myself up over it.

Here is what I got at Price Chopper,

 My pre-tax total was $32.17. I saved $50.26. (Not bad!)

This is from our Hy-Vee purchase (minus a very expensive gallon of milk,)

My pre-tax total at Hy-Vee was about $26.50. I'm not entirely sure how much I saved as Hy-Vee does not report savings totals.

I've only got a few things firmed up for our menu plan. I'm going to make the girl's cherry "cheesecake" popsicles for breakfast throughout the course of the week. Tomorrow's lunch will be a new family favorite, chili dogs with my homemade chili. I'll also make a small batch of chicken and rice, calzones, cavatini, and we will probably have crockpot cranberry chicken at some point. We'll have fruit salad on hand for snacks at the pool. Other meals will include, PB&J, frozen pizza, ham sandwiches and bean and cheese tostadas. All can be paired with the tons of frozen veggies I have in my freezer!

For more meal plans, see

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Amish Breakfast Casserole

I've been looking for a basic breakfast casserole that my entire family would like for a long time. I found this one on, and I thought it was a good start. I made it *almost* as directed, and it went over very well! My girls rolled it up in a tortilla and ate it with sour cream. My husband and I just ate it from the pan! Although next time I think it would be really good with some peppers to add some nutritional value. You could also add spinach to make it a little like a florentine quiche without the hassle of a crust. 

It was pretty easy, and reasonably cheap! My total cost was in the neighborhood of $7.50. It is easily 12 servings, so that makes it about $.63 per serving. Cheaper than hitting the $1 menu at McDonalds!

Here is my adapted recipe,

  • 1/2 lb sliced bacon, diced
  • 1/2 medium sweet onion, chopped
  • 6 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1/4 quarter cup sour cream
  • 4 cups frozen shredded hash brown potatoes, thawed
  • 3 cups shredded Mexican blend cheese
  • 1 1/2 cups small curd cottage cheese
  • Salt and pepper to taste


  1. In a large skillet, cook bacon and onion until bacon is crisp; drain. Beat the sour cream in to the eggs. In a bowl, combine the egg and sour cream mixture with the remaining ingredients; stir in bacon mixture. Transfer to a greased 13-in. x 9-in. x 2-in. baking dish.
  2. Bake, uncovered, at 350 degrees F for 35-40 minutes or until set and bubbly. Let stand for 10 minutes before cutting.

Watching the budget...

When we went grocery shopping yesterday, we were working with a firm fifty dollar bill. Lately, I've felt really overwhelmed with my inability to pair sales with coupons, but we're still managing!

I started my shopping at Price Chopper. I picked up these items while I was there,

My total was $18.14 after tax. My savings was $24.17. Not bad!

I made another quick trip to Hy-Vee. Cheese and strawberries were on very good sales, but I paid full price for a few of the other items, like the syrup and cream cheese, because I needed them in order to use some of the things in our pantry. It wasn't a great trip, but I'll take it. I used up the second half of my $50 and had to dig a little bit of change out of the bottom of my purse. I always feel like I've done REALLY well when my $50 includes our 8.whatever Kansas food tax. This is what I picked up,

Our meals for this week include quesadilla pizza because Daddy ate the tortillas before we had it last week! I also made a delicious Amish Breakfast Casserole. I'll be sharing that recipe soon. We'll also have spaghetti and spinach pie, and I might make strawberry shortcake scones for a sweet treat. The best news of all is that I've finally (at least temporarily) solved our breakfast crisis. I've been making the girls fresh fruit popsicles with a little bit of yogurt, and they LOVE them. I'll be sharing a cost analysis on those in the next few days also.

For other meal plans, see

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Have I mentioned that I have an obsession with dishes...?

How gorgeous are these?

I found this picture on Natasha's Mulberry and Mott' s (my favorite local bakery) facebook page. I had to share it, so I could Pin It!

On that subject, have you checked out Pinterest yet? You can follow me here.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Don't Forget Your Groceries

It finally happened. I'm always afraid I'm going to leave my groceries at the drive-up, and I actually DID yesterday. I felt SO stupid when I got home and realized it. As we were driving back, I even exclaimed. "I AM SUCH AN IDIOT!" My sweet 5 year old said, "Mommy, you're not an idiot. You're kind and smart, and you have a sweet little heart, just like me." How is that for righting everything that was wrong in my world?

Here's a picture of that kind, sweet little thing after her dance recital a few weeks ago,

Ok, now back to groceries....

Talk about an unimpressive holiday ad week! Oh my gosh! What a BUMMER! Here is what I got at Hen House and Hy Vee yesterday. My total came to right around $50 after tax.

I also purchased a gallon of milk at Hen House that I forgot to include. Again, they didn't have anything marked down, but I spent some time talking to a dairy supervisor about their mark down procedures. (I was at a different store from last time.) He also said that they are marking items down in the morning. I asked him if I called ahead of time to let him know I was coming if he could hunt down some "expiring" items for me. He acted like I was a little weird, but he said he'd do it! I also asked him to mark down a gallon of farm fresh milk that had a date of July 5th, and he agreed. My best advice to you is to make friends with the dairy man at Hen House! They have a hot deal going with these dairy mark downs, especially when you can pair it with a coupon!

I won't be doing a ton of cooking this week. (What is new?) I made a lasagna and pudding pops today. We enjoyed those for dinner and will certainly enjoy the leftovers. We will spend all of the 4th at my mother in laws. I want to cook something exciting, but cooking in the heat of July doesn't sound like great fun. Right now, the plan is to take all of those lemonade half gallons, a watermelon, and a bag of chips. I'm still waiting for a stroke of creative genius for something else. I predict tomorrow AND Tuesday will be sandwiches and fruit at the pool. On either Wednesday or Thursday night, I am planning on turning my big girl loose to make a quesadilla pizza on her own. As long as I manage the oven and baking time, I think she can handle it, and I know she will be thrilled and very proud! I'm looking forward to this winter because I'm thinking as she learns to read in kindergarten, she's going to be able to handle preparing even more dishes and meals. It will be such a wonderful help!


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