Saturday, February 28, 2009
My favorite musical of all time is "Sound of Music". Although lately we have been watching "Mama Mia" quite a bit. Actually April has been watching that every morning before school & "Sound of Music" before she goes to bed. She is a musical junkie too. We have so much fun watching them - just singing and dancing along.....
Thursday, February 26, 2009
One such convenience item is Shake 'n Bake. You may think the box at the store is reasonable. I honestly haven't priced it lately, but I'm sure it's somewhere in the $1 to $1.50 range. However you can make the same stuff at home for probably less than $0.50. The main ingredient is bread crumbs. Keep the ends of your bread loaves in a plastic bag in the freezer till you have enough for a cup. Grate them into an freezer safe container. Use 1 cup for this recipe, store the rest in the freezer for another use.
Home version of Shake 'n Bake
1 cup of bread crumbs
1 tsp celery salt
1 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup flour (I use a 50/50 mixture of white and whole wheat)
2 tsp poultry seasoning
1 tsp paprika
3/4 tsp pepper
4 tsp onion powder
1/2 cayenne pepper
Mix all ingredients and store in an airtight container. Use as needed. You may want to adjust the amounts of the spices to your taste.
Another convenience item that gets expensive is instant oatmeal packets. I usually make our own packets, using sandwich or snack ziploc bags from the Dollar Tree to store them. The measurements of the additions to the oatmeal are going to vary according to what you like. Some people like more fruit or they like their oatmeal pretty sweet. The measurements I have below are simply guesses cause quite honestly I don't actually measure - I just add whatever ingredient till I think it's looks right.
Apples & Cinnamon Instant Oatmeal
1 container of instant oatmeal (I do like to use Quaker Oats because it doesn't get as gummy.)
2 cups of dried apple chunks
2 Tbsp cinnamon
1/4 cup sugar
Peaches/Blueberries/Strawberries & Cream Oatmeal
1 container of instant oatmeal (again... I'm partial to Quaker)
2 cups dried fruit
1/2 cup non-dairy powdered creamer
1/4 cup sugar
Honey Mustard is yet another example of overpriced convenience food (well, condiment). It's so easy to make. Again - taste it as your making it and adjust the measurements to your taste.
2 cups dijon mustard
1/2 c honey
1/2 cumin (to give it a little smokey depth to the flavor)
Mix well. Store for up to a month in the fridge.
This is by far the easiest thing to make. Simply mix together equal parts of honey and butter. It's easiest if the butter is softened. Whip together and store in an airtight container in the fridge.
I hope you can benefit from at least one of these. By the way, the Honey Butter & Honey Mustard could be mixed and put into a cute jar, add a spreader, and pretzels and you have a great gift for someone!
If you want some other great recipes go check out The Grocery Cart Challenge!
One great deal that I came across this month and somehow forgot to blog about was a fantastic deal on whole chickens. On Friday the 13th our local Hy-vee had whole chickens for $0.59 a pound!!! I haven't seen it that cheap in over a year. I picked up 5 of them before I even went to work. When I got off work I brought them home to put in the freezer. I was truly hoping to have more room in the freezer so I could go buy more (there was no limit) but I could only fit 4 of them into the freezer. So we left one out and smoked it for supper that Sunday. It's not very often that a deal that great comes along it seems.
Monday, February 23, 2009
So tomorrow night we will have tuna melts............... and lentil soup. I have to try again - you know how it is!
Sunday, February 22, 2009
Saturday we did a whole lot of nothing, other than sitting and looking at each other. Which was actually kind of nice. We spend so much time on the go and with both Layne and I working full-time outside the home that it's nice to just sit here and spend time as a family. We decided that on Sunday we would go see Coraline in 3-D at the theatre so we would go to the early service at church.
Sunday April came up to our bed around 5:30. At 6 she woke me up saying "It's 6:00 mom. It's time to get up." Okay, that would be a great gesture if I didn't have my alarm set for 6:30. So twice more I had to go through her waking me up to tell me the current time. On the way to church I told her that since I have an alarm clock for what time we need to get up I don't need her to wake me up every 10-15 minutes to give me an update on the time. : )
Church was great - although I do like the contemporary late service better. After church we went to my mom's house so I could use her printer. Back in December I had bought some make-up through E.L.F. online (Eyes, Lips, Face) and they had sent me a code to get a free movie pass which would actually work for our local theatre. Since we were wanting to go to the movie I thought I'd use that pass towards this movie. So I got online to use get the movie pass, except that when I went to check out and entered the code they had sent me an error popped up that it had already been used. So I couldn't get my free movie pass. Which was very disappointing.
When we got to the theatre to buy our movie passes it was $9.50 per ticket because of the additional charge for 3-D glasses. I told the gal there that we didn't need glasses because we had some (from when my mom took April to Nightmare Before Christmas). She said that it didn't matter because they can't discount even if we don't need them. Which is a crock. It would have saved us $2.50 per ticket for the glasses. First no free movie pass, then an extra charge for glasses when we didn't need any. It certainly was not working out to be an affordable outing! But the movie was really cute and 3-D was kind of neat, but not worth the extra $.
Thursday, February 19, 2009
My starting budget is $120. I purchased some boxes of Angel Food for a total of $52. Then I spent $27.72 for our sushi meal (I did also buy $15 worth of bagels but I used our entertainment budget for that. I also have spent $45.02 on various groceries through the month. So my total is $139.74 ($9.74 over budget) and the month isn't over yet. I did end January with $15.32 still in the grocery account. So that does help to offset the deficit from this month. But only leaves me $5.58 between the 2 months for the remainder of February. Yikes! that means if I buy 2 gallons of milk my budget is completely gone.....
Here is what I got:
1 quart of half & half
2 Bistro Linguine Meals (coupon buy 1, get 1 free)
2 boxes of Cinnamon toast crunch (coupon for $1 off 2)
1 Helper meal
1 box Hy-vee honey oatmeal crunch
2 cans chicken broth
4 pkgs. ramen noodles
Western French salad dressing (coupon for $0.75 off)
1 red bull (I always wanted to try it to see if it really gives me energy...)
2 - 1 lb rolls of Farmland Sausage (2 - $0.75 off coupons)
Cascade Crystal Clear (FREE w/ coupon!!)
Hy-vee softener sheets
Joy lemon-lime dish soap (coupon for $0.30 off)
My total was $31.46 before coupons.
After coupons my total was $22.88!! Yay for me!!
Monday, February 16, 2009
Homemade Cream Soup
2 cups powdered milk
3/4 cup cornstarch
1/4 cup chicken bouillon granules
2 Tbsp dried onion flakes
1 tsp dried basil
1 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp pepper
Mix ingredients well and store in an airtight container. (contents equal 9 cans of cream soup)
To use in a recipe instead of cream soup: Combine 1/3 cup of dry mix with 1 1/4 cup of cold water in a small saucepan. Cook and stir until thickened. Add to casseroles or other recipes like you would a can of any type of cream soup.
The last couple weeks I have had no creativity when it comes to menu planning. I am planning on going through some cookbooks this week to get my creative juices flowing. Here is my weekly menu for now, most of which came from Hillbilly Housewife. (But it is definitely subject to change!)
Monday - Steak (leftover) & eggs
Tuesday - Hillbilly Goulash
Wednesday - Chicken breasts, rice, & corn
Thursday - Lentil pottage
Friday - leftovers
Saturday - Alfredo Lasagna - maybe.....
Unfortunately he has now moved on to #3. I am having a truly hard time accepting this. I do not blame #3 any more than I did #2. I guess I am a bit angry that I am in this position again. I get caught smack dab in the middle because even though he may be through with #1 and #2 I am still their friends, this is a particularly hard situation when I have to listen to MIL and FIL make comments about how this was her fault because..... They know that #2 and #1 were not completely to blame, however most of the blame from them has been placed on the girls because it's easy I guess. Which when you are a parent of one of the party's involved I guess is to be expected because you usually only really know 1 side.
I have not met #3 and honestly I'm not looking forward to meeting her which is inevitable. I'm just hoping to put it off as long as I can. I find myself not liking her for 2 reasons right now. 1. She allowed him to move in with her after 1 month. 2. She has a son that lives at home who is 7 years old, AND SHE ALLOWED HIM TO MOVE IN WITH HER AFTER A MONTH. I guess for me that sends off some real warning signs. Knowing someone for 1 month is in no way shape or form enough time - especially when you have an impressionable child at home. I don't mean to judge, really, but I have to keep reminding myself that each person's circumstances are different.
Okay, I'm done ranting. Thanks for listening.
Friday, February 13, 2009
5 lb hamburger (you want it to have some fat, 70-80% is perfect)
3 tsp garlic salt
4 1/2 tsp pepper
4 1/2 tsp mustard seed (I usually add a bit extra though)
2 tsp liquid smoke
5 heaping tsp Morton Tender Quick
Mix all ingredients together. Place in doubled plastic bags. Refrigerate for 3 days, remove & knead each day. On the 3rd day knead & shape into 3 rolls. Bake on a broiler tray for 8 hours at 150 degrees.
The reason for the double bags is to make sure it stays sealed well. When you cook it you need the broiler tray so the excess fat can drain. After you have cooked it either refrigerate it or freeze it.
Thursday, February 12, 2009
(Ryan, your the only guy that I know that actually reads my blog. I hope this particular post hasn't damaged you! You know I love ya little bro!)
Layne and I don't really do much to celebrate Valentine's Day. It really is a bit of a gimmick and is an invented holiday to get consumers to spend money. This year I did decide to pick up a little something for Layne, nothing extravagant though. I wanted to get him something that he would actually enjoy, not something typical of Valentine's Day. Since Layne likes to exercise I bought him an assortment of different health bars, a package of new t-shirts (which he desperately needed!), and a 4-pack of energy drinks. I put the items in a gift bag that we already had at home and I will make him a card. I spent about $15 total for his gift and I know it is something he will use and love. He likes the bars and drinks but doesn't like to buy them because they are a bit spendy. I think it will be a nice surprise. (He doesn't read my blog, so my secret is safe. Of course he probably will read it since I posted something I don't want him to read!)
If you are into buying the stuffed animals and chocolates a great place to go is a dollar store. We have a Dollar Tree about a mile from our house that has the cutest stuffed animals and a lot of the same chocolate candies as they have in the Walmart Valentines section.
Another great idea is to make some homemade coupons to giveaway. Great suggestions for coupons could include: a car wash, the recipients favorite homemade meal, a movie rental, baked cookies or cake, babyitting services - you get the idea.
Now go create a Valentine for that special someone frugally!!
Tuesday, February 10, 2009
A freezer is not only good for storing extra meat and pizzas. You can make your own 'T.V. dinners'. Start off with a few freezer safe containers (that have individual compartments if you want) and anytime you have at least one serving left over from a meal you can make a t.v. dinner out of it. Not only will it be healthier for you than the premade ones you buy at the store, but you'll save even more money because 1. you won't be throwing away leftovers and 2. you won't be tempted to buy those frozen boxed dinners just because of the convenience.
If you have a garden your freezer will become your best friend. You can freeze most veggies, although a lot of them need to be blanched before you freeze them. Some veggies can't be frozen, or rather, they shouldn't be. This would include veggies such as cucumbers and avocados. Fruits freeze wonderfully also.
There are also foods that you can freeze that a some people don't know about or think about. Such as milk, just pour a little liquid out of the container to allow for expansion before you freeze.
Cheese is another food that freezes rather well. Particularly if it is grated. If you need a handful just pull it out of the freezer. If it clumps up just knock the bag on the counter to break the cheese apart.
Another food is eggs. Seriously! You can freeze these - just NOT in the shell. Crack each egg into a compartment of an ice cube tray. Pop out of the tray when frozen and into a freezer safe bag. Just take out and thaw to use, however you do need to make sure you use them right after they are thawed because they will go bad very quickly.
Monday, February 9, 2009
My husband thinks coupons are usually pretty stupid - well sometimes. He laughs and jokes when he sees me pouring over the ads and my coupons. I usually do okay, but rarely save more than $10 per trip. Sometimes I get really lucky and do save more than that, but that is very rare.
One thing about coupons is that they do you no good if you don't have them with you. I try to remember to take them with me anytime I walk out the door cause you never know when you'll end up stopping by a store. I used to just take them when I knew for sure I'd be going to the store, I've come to learn that if you don't have them you will typically end up stopping by some store where you have this great coupon for....sitting at home. So now I take them almost everywhere - yes there are times I still forget, I just put off my purchase if possible till I have the coupon with.
Another thing about coupons, it's crazy to use one just because you have one. I used to do that a lot. On occasion I still do - if it's a great coupon for a product I've always wanted to try. I do clip most all of the coupons out of the paper and save them - just in the hopes that the local Kmart will decide to have another Double Coupon week.
To really save use coupons on items that are already on sale. For example, if you have coupons for $0.35 off of pizza rolls wait to use them till the item is on sale for $1 before you use them. Then you can get the pizza rolls for $0.65 and really save. Most items come on sale at some point, and grocery stores tend to have the same products on sale every so-many weeks.
A great way to get coupons is by writing or emailing a company that has a product you really like and/or use frequently. I've emailed several companies and have had them send me coupons just for me providing them feedback. I emailed Campbells about how much my daughter loves their soups (she really does!) and they sent me several coupons for free product. I also emailed Farmland and told them how much our family likes their lower sodium bacon, they sent me a bunch of $1 off coupons. I saved those coupons till our local Hy-vee had Farmland bacon on sale for $2 and stocked up using my coupons. I bought 6 packages of bacon for $1 each!
If you contact a company about a complaint on a product it's important that you have the packaging from the product still available. About 6 years ago (when my daughter was in diapers) I bought a package of Huggies. A couple of the diapers were defective. I called the company and was able to provide them the information stamped on the package (that gave them info about where they were manufactured, the date, and the time). They sent me coupons for $11 off a package of diapers! They also sent several coupons for $1 off any Kimberly-Clark product. Which I believe I used to get some paper towels for free. : )
Do you have any good couponing strategies that you'd like to share?
1 1/4 cup milk
3/4 cup flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 Tbsp sugar
2 Tbsp melted butter
Beat eggs, stir in milk. Add flour, sugar, and salt. Add the butter last. Mix till smooth (you'll get them smooth quicker if you use a mixer or blender). Heat a skillet or griddle on medium-high heat. Add batter to hot greased skillet. (About 3 Tbsp = a 9" pancake.) Serve with syrup, jelly, or fruit.
Sunday, February 8, 2009
I don't know how many of you know about www.half.com. It's a great site to buy books (even textbooks), cd's, and even movies. I looked for the books that I had come across at Borders and found EVERY one of them for a fraction of the price. I haven't actually bought any of them yet, but I have started looking into the reviews on them to see which ones I want the most.
I know there are other sites that sell used books, but this is the only one I have used so I feel that it is currently the only one I can recommend. I have always found every book I'm trying to find on that site. It's also a great place to sell your used books! I've probably about $200 in the last year selling books that I had laying around the house.
Wednesday, February 4, 2009
One of the things I used to do was to stretch our milk by mixing 1/2 a gallon of reconstituted powdered milk with 1/2 a gallon of 2% or whole milk. Some people say that the straight powdered milk & water mixture doesn't taste different, I don't buy that - to me it DOES taste different but is barely noticable (if at all) when you stretch it by mixing the powder/water mixture with an equal part of milk. I say used to because right now, at least for me, it doesn't save me enough money that it's worth the bother. A large box of powdered milk at Sam's Club is about $14. If you reconstituted the entire box you should get about 5.5 gallons (or 22 quarts). The total for me per gallon works out to about $2.55. I can buy a gallon of milk for $2.79 a gallon. Personally I can justify spending the extra $0.24 for that bit of convenience.
Some great place to save money in the kitchen is by making your own spice mixtures. You would be surprised by how much you could save and how many different mixtures you can come up with. I save my old spice containers to reuse with my mixtures. Here are a few recipes to get you started, you can mess around with the measurements to personalize them to your taste.
6 tsp chili powder
4 1/2 tsp cumin
5 tsp paprika
3 tsp onion powder
2 1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
8 Tbsp salt
3 Tbsp pepper
2 Tbsp paprika
1/2 Tbsp onion powder
1/2 Tbsp garlic powder
Italian Herb Mix
2 Tbsp dried basil
2 Tbsp dried oregano
1 Tbsp dried thyme
Most of these mixes can be made with spices you already have around the house. If I need to replenish my supply to be able and make more mixes or I need more of single ingredient spices I usually will hit our local Walgreens. They are often on sale for 2/$1 and sometimes even 3/$1 (with a coupon)!
Do you have a great tip to save money in the kitchen you'd like to share? If so leave a comment for me so that I may post it.
Sunday, February 1, 2009
I have only been planning my menus for a few weeks, and only posting them for a couple weeks but honestly I can already see the benefits.
1. We always know what we are having so we no longer have the "What sounds good to you?" "I don't know, what sounds good to you?" conversation.
2. Since we know what we are having we can have meat defrosted or whatever preps done prior to cooking that are necessary.
3. Less waste. Since we know what we are having and know which meals typically yield leftovers we can plan accordingly.
4. Huge money savings. We can make fewer trips to the stores. Which means less chances of being tempted to buy things we don't need.
With that said here is the plan for this week.
Sunday: chili & homemade cinnamon rolls (Which didn't turn out that great. What did I do with the awesome recipe I made 2 months ago?!?!?
Monday: French Toast & fruit
Tuesday: Leftover chili
Wednesday: Not sure. Depends on when we get home from my appt at UNMC.
Thursday: Chicken fajitas (from last weeks menu - ended up eating leftovers the night we were to eat these)
Friday: ribeye steaks, pan fried potatoes & onion, corn or peas
Saturday: Sushi night!!! My brothers & their spouses are coming over & we are going to make sushi & play guitar hero. How fun is that going to be?!?!
Tip for today: I've been seeing a lot of information about Tea Tree Oil lately and what a great product it is. Here is a link I came across when googling Tea Tree Oil. It says it is great for acne. I mixed several drops in with my witch hazel astringent. I will keep you posted on how well it works. I've only used it a couple days now and don't really want to recommend it for acne till I've used it for a lot longer. : )
We also have a pot of my husband's yummy chili (he makes the best I swear!) and some homemade cinnamon rolls (which I'm really hoping turn out okay). We had everything on hand to make the snacks, the chili, and the rolls.
Check back tomorrow when I post the menu for the week!
See, the great thing about going at that time, besides the 1/2 price deli meat, is that there is almost no one there. You can take your time and actually compare prices without feeling rushed or crowded. Here are is my purchase:
1 lb of Sara Lee premium roast beef (usually $6.50 a pound, 1/2 price): $3.25 total
.75 lb of Delusso Genoa Salami (usually $6.00 a pound, 1/2 price): $2.21 total
2 packages of the Dannon smoothies: $3.00 total
3 boxes of Fiber One cereal bars: $8.00 total before coupons, $5.00 after coupons
1 box of Fiber One toaster pastries: FREE with the purchase of 3 boxes of bars
Total purchase: $13.46
Month of January: Under budget by $1.86!!!
Wish me luck in February!