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Saturday, January 31, 2009

Over Budget This Week

Technically. But it looks like this will get me 2 weeks, with one run for milk.

1st Stop: Hy-Vee
2 Dannon Drinkables $3.00
3 Hyvee lt. sour creams .88x3
4 Gen Mills Cereals at $1.68/each- 2 1/2 coupons= 1.18 each
1 Frito Lay salsa .79 after $2.00 coupon for buying two bags of chips (see below)
1 orange marmalade 1.74
2 Wavy Lays chips BOGO 3.99
1 Orville Redenbacher @ $1.67 (couldn't get the coupon to print.. oh well)
1 Family size take and bake cheese pizza for the boys tomorrow $7.00
2 hyvee tortillas @ $1.59
1 dole celery .59
1 bag dole salad mix .97
1 bag coleslaw mix .97
1 red pepper .88
bag of red grapes 1.99
Total $33.79

2nd stop Fareway-
4 smoked johnsonville brats 4/10 - $5/4= $5.00
Rotellas Buns .99
pt. blueberries 1.99
wedge blue cheese 3.11
smuckers grape 1.29 - .35 coupon= .96
A-1 Steak Sauce 2.99- 1/1= $1.99
A-1 Marinade 1.99- 1/1= .99
4 avocados @ .44 each= 1.76
dole mini carrots .97
Total 17.09

3rd Stop Bag n Save-
4 Old El Paso Taco Shells .99 each - 1/2, and 1.10/2= .50 each
petite sirloin 8.85
2 mac and cheese .25 each
3 birds eye chopped spinach .99 each - 1/3 coupon
4 dr. pepper 12 packs $12- $1 store coupon = $11
2 loaves Pep Farm 100% whole wheat bread $1.09 each
2 bottles sauve shampoo @ $1 each minus .50/2 coupon= .75 each
Total- $28.00

Grand Total
$78.88 plus $10.50 hubby spent at Aldi on 3 milks, 1 honey, and 1 bag of bananas
which brings me to $89.38

This puts me over by $29.38, so that will leave me just $30 for next week but that should be easy. With all the stock ups we've done, I don't think we'll need anything but milk next week.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Free Diet Dr. Pepper

Diet Dr. Pepper. Nectar of the gods. :) Get a free bottle here

Monday, January 26, 2009

I didn't take any pictures today,

But I think I'm starting to get the hang of this coupon thing. I stopped at Baker's to take one last round at the Mega Event. All starting prices are the Mega Event price, figuring in the $5 off. Here's how I did:

Dark Chocolate Chex Mix- $1.69, .50/1 MF, .60/1 cfire= .59
Steam Fresh Broc & Cheese- $1.00, .50/1 MF, .50/1 scuts= FREE
Steam Fresh Broc & Cheese-$1.00, .50/1 MF= .50
2 Wheat Thins @ $1.89/ea, $2/2 MF= .89 each
4 Coffee Mate FF Vanilla Creamers @ $2.49/ea, 1.50/1 FF= .99 each
Fiber One Bars @ $2.09, .50/1 MF, .50/1 scuts= $1.09
5lb. bag of Russet potatoes @ $1.49

Total vendor coupon savings= $17.60
Total store savings=$9.16
Total savings= $26.76
OOP= $8.41 (a 76% savings!)

Plus I snagged 2 of the .75 Kraft cheese coupons from the feeder in the dairy dept. and will use those at another store that is having the $1.49 sale this week, without the 10 item requirement.


Cool Opportunity!

One of my favorite blogs to follow is Gayle at Grocery Cart Challenge. Gayle feeds her family of 6 on $60 a week. She's been a real inspiration as I set my budget goals. Gayle has landed upon a great giveaway, worth $250. Coffee lovers, check it out here

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Okay Walgreens Overachievers...

Don't laugh at me. But I made my first attempt at Walgreens today. Found the Colgate sale for $2.99 with the $2RR. In the ad it said "like paying .99! I read that and immediately thought, "nope, I have $1 coupon, so that's like FREE!" So yes, I walked into Walgreens and bought toothpaste. LOL. I have my Easy Saver catalog now and I'll be watching you wonderful talented bargain shoppers. But I have a free toothpaste. I'm a loser. LOL ;)

Meal Plan Week of 1/25

We kept to last week's plan perfectly until Saturday when the water heater went out and my goal was to not have to wash dishes. We're back up and running, but I didn't take out the roast to thaw out just in case. So tonight we're having Crockpot Garlic Lemon Chicken.

Today I was catching up on breakfast stockup items and we now have pancakes, lemon poppy seed muffins, breakfast wraps and english muffin breakfast sandwiches ready for quick grab and heat in the freezer.Here's the rest of the week:

1/26 Monday
Chicken enchiladas in freezer $3.00
Pinto beans (beans .20, onion .l0, broth .00, bacon .20) .50
apple sauce .40
1/27 Tuesday
meatloaf in freezer $2.50
asparagus 1.00
alfredo noodles .75
1/28 Wednesday
chicken and pierogies with onions and peppers $4.00
broccoli .40
1/29 Thursday
pork chops $3.50
stuffing .75
green bean casserole $1.50
1/30 Friday- $16.00 to support the PTO
pancake man at school
1/31 Saturday
cheeseburger macaroni (mac .50, beef .75, , cheese, 1.00, milk .25) 2.50
corn .90
2/1 Sunday
super bowl
hot dogs and fries for boys $2.50

The dinner meal plan works out to about $40.00, and this includes Friday night's PTO benefit at school. We wouldn't miss the Pancake Man for anything. He's pretty much an Omaha institution and you pay as much for the entertainment as you do the food. I will take pictures to post later in the week.

Check out Laura and the gang at http://orgjunkie.com for more Menu Plan Monday!

Crockpot Garlic Lemon Chicken

1t oregano
1/2t salt
1/2t pepper
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 2lbs.) $3.00
2T butter .20
2T olive oil .20
2 cloves minced garlic .10 (I like garlic so I used more! Adjust to your preference)
3/4 cup white wine .50
1 cup chicken broth free from homemade broth in freezer
1/3 cup lemon juice (fresh or bottled) .15
2t lemon zest
1/2T lemon pepper seasoning (I used salt free- adjust seasoning to your taste)

Heat large skillet to medium-high heat. Sprinkle chicken with salt, pepper and oregano. Add butter and oil to skillet, add chicken and brown 3-5 minutes on each side. Remove chicken to slowcooker. Deglaze pan with 1 cup wine, 1 cup broth, stirring to get all the bits off the pan. Add lemon juice, zest and seasoning and bring to a boil. Pour over chicken in crockpot and cook on low for 6 hours. Can thicken sauce with cornstarch to serve. Serve over angel hair pasta, noodles, or even rice or mashed potatoes.

Would also be good with sliced mushrooms---I didn't have any :(

This clocked in right about $5.00 for us with angel hair pasta and parmesan cheese for the top!
(and I have a ton of chicken leftover to use for another meal!)

See Erin at 5 Dollar Dinners for this week's $5 Dinner Challenge!

Saturday, January 24, 2009

We have hot water!

It's back up and running- for now, anyway. Hubs was able to get the water heater back up and running after draining and flushing it a few times. This buys us at least a little time to do the research and come up with a plan to replace it that we are comfortable with. Better than having to rush and just do it. We figure it's time, though, as it's approaching 10 years old and until we put the water softener in, some of the hardest water I've ever experienced. When we moved into the house 3 years ago it ruined my hair, the coffee maker, and our washing machine. So I can only imagine what kind of sludge is in that heater!

Feeling blessed that we have some time (I hope) to do this the right way!

Not going to be a fun day

Water heater's out. Hubby discovered it this morning when making coffee. Pilot light is on but the heater is not firing up. So now he is doing some reading on how to proceed. It might just need a new thermostat, but finding one for our heater today could be tough. It also might need to be replaced. Replacing it with a bigger one is what the plan had always been, but again, probably not going to be able to walk into Lowe's and get a 100 gallon tank. If we have to spend $400 today I sure would like to be able to put the water heater we want in. Not going to be a fun day.

Now I'm working on the fly and trying to figure out what our meal gameplan is going to be for today. No hot water= no ability to clean up my mess in the kitchen. I was all excited after finding Kate @ Cooking During Stolen Moments recipe for Pizza Bread last night, and altered my meal plan. I also am out of pancakes and wanted to make some muffins. Think we might end up with the frozen lasagna from Schwan's that I have in the freezer, on paper plates for tonight. And some sandwiches in paper trays for lunch.

Have I mentioned that I really want to take a shower? Gonna be a long day today, kids.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Wow-that was fun

Today I took all my coupons and took advantage of the sales. First stop was Bakers, which is a Krogers in disguise, although they don't do double coupons here. Nobody does. Oh well. No tax on food, though, so that helps. Here was my take:

10 cans of Rotel tomatoes
1 Velveeta Cheese
3 Coffee Mate Fat Free Vanilla Creamers
4 Kraft 16 slice singles
2 packages of Kraft Mozzarella 8oz
2 packages of Philadelphia Reduced Fat Cream Cheese
1 16oz. Daisy Light Sour Cream
2 jars of Pace salsa
2 boxes Orville Redenbacher popcorn
1 box Fiber One bars
1 box Nature Valley granola bars
1 box Wheat Thins
1 Kraft Light Mayonnaise

I got $15 off with the $5 Mega sale, another $9.25 in manufacturers' coupons, and $18.68 in discounts and shortcuts coupons from my Bakers card. So my grand total in savings was $42.93, and for all of the above I paid $34.39. When the checker handed me the receipt, she started to tell me what I saved, and then stopped, and let out a big "wow". That made me smile.

Next stop was Hy-Vee. I was there earlier in the week for chicken leg quarters (10lbs. for $3.90) and a few other things, but I had wanted to go back and get more Skippy peanut butter with my coupon while they were dirt cheap, and I found another coupon for the butter.

3 boxes of Kleenex @ .88/box
1 Steamfresh broccoli @ .88- .35 coupon= .53
2 Skippy PBs @ .99 each- .75 coupon
1lb. unsalted butter w/ 1.10 off coupon= $1.28
Hy-Vee total- $5.86
Today's Grand total- $40.25!
I have seen some very talented, thrifty women who could probably have shaved even more off of that, but as I'm still really new in the coupon world, I feel pretty good! Yay me LOL.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Getting Ready For My Baker's Trip

Okay...we'll see how the big coupon venture goes tomorrow. Baker's is doing the Mega Savings, with $5 off with the purchase of 10 select items. From the ad, and from what I've gleaned is the full list, here's what I have so far for coupons (the price listed reflects the Mega savings deduction of .50 per item):

.20/2 Philadelphia Cream Cheese 1.00
.75/2 Pace Salsa $1.50
1/1 Velveeta $4.49
.75/1 Kraft Mayo $2.49
.50/1 Green Giant Steamers (I have 2) 1.00
1.50/2 Coffee Mate Creamer $2.49
.50/1 Coffee Mate Creamer $2.49
1/1 Orville Redenbacher Popcorn (x2) $1.69
1/2 Fiber One Bars $2.09
1/2 Nature Valley Bars $2.09

And no coupons, but Kraft cheeses are $1.49 each for 8oz shreds, 8oz block or 12oz slices

Sunday, January 18, 2009


Menu Plan Week of 1/19

We changed a couple of meals right at the end of this past week, so I have my chili-beer pot roast on the menu again. It is going to be 40 degrees today so we are celebrating by grilling burgers LOL. After temps in the single digits and a morning low of -16 earlier this week, 40 feels like spring! My total for the week of dinners last week stayed under $17! Pretty cool, but I don't think I could do that every week. This week's dinners come to about $27.

1/19 Monday
chili $1.20
sour cream and cheese for garnish .75
cornbread in freezer
spinach salad $1.25

1/20 Tuesday
grilled cheese sandwiches 1.15
veggie beef soup in freezer-leftover
pineapple .85

1/21 Wednesday
tacos (1/2 batch of veggie taco mix, lentils, shells and cheese) $3.00
orange slices .40

1/22 Thursday
cheesy chicken pasta
bowtie veggie mix 2.50, chicken 1.00, alfredo sauce 1.00
salad $1.00

1/23 Friday
chili dogs w/ cheese $2.40
(turkey hot dogs .50, buns, .50, chili $.65, cheese .75, onions .10)
curly fries .70

1/24 Saturday
lasagna beef skillet with cheese
pasta .45, beef .90, onion .15, tomato juice .50, beef broth, garlic, salt, pepper, cheese, .50
green beans .40
salad w/ Italian vinaigrette .75

1/25 Sunday
Chili Beer pot roast and veggies 10.00 (potatoes, carrots, onions, mushrooms, chili sauce, beer)
bread and butter .30
$5.30 (2 meals—will freeze ½ for another meal)

$26.25 for the week

Gotta Love Chili

I realized today that I don't think I've made the exact same chili recipe twice. I play with it a little bit every time to fit my mood. I combined my day of cooking and freezing beans with making a batch of chili that I'll use for the next couple weeks of meals in my plan. So the variety of beans in today's batch is wider than usual- pinto, black beans, garbanzos and lentils. I usually add kidney beans, but left them out today. This is a rough estimate recipe, because I was really throwing stuff together:

1/2 red onion, chopped .15
1/4 cup diced red pepper .15
1T olive oil
1/2 lb. ground beef .90
5 cups of beans, cooked or canned, any variety you choose .80
1/2 can tomato juice .50
1 can tomato sauce .30
1 can diced tomatoes .45
3 beef boullion cubes
1 chipotle season cube (Knorr makes these)
3T chili powder
2T cumin
1T onion powder
1T garlic pepper
1/2t salt
1T sugar
1t Penzey's adobo seasoning (.30 for spices)
2 cups water

Saute onions and peppers in olive oil in dutch oven. Add meat, brown. Add beans, juice, sauce, tomatoes, water and all spices. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat and simmer for 2 hours.

This whole batch comes to $3.55 and will be used in at least 3 meals, for a grand total cost of $1.20 per meal.

Stuffed French Toast with Fresh Strawberry Syrup

Big Thanks to Janelle over at Not Just Leftovers for posting her stuffed french toast recipe this week you can find that here. I made this for the boys this morning. I didn't have flavored cream cheese, so I used regular mixed with strawberry preserves and some fresh diced strawberries.

To top the french toast, since I had extra strawberries, I scaled this down a bit and made this recipe from Emeril ( I used about 1T of orange marmalade instead of zest)

Fresh Strawberry Syrup:
1 pound fresh strawberries, hulled and diced, or thawed frozen unsweetened strawberries (about 3 cups)
1 cup sugar
3 tablespoons fresh orange juice
1/2 teaspoon finely grated orange zest

In a medium saucepan, combine all the ingredients and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer until the strawberries are soft and the syrup is thickened and reduced by one-third to one-half in volume, 15 to 18 minutes.

Remove from the heat and let cool to room temperature before serving. (If thinner syrup is desired, strain the hot syrup through a fine mesh strainer into a clean container and let cool.)

I tried to take a picture for you but I couldn't get the right angle for it with my phone camera---the good camera is upstairs somewhere and hubby's sleeping. But YUMMO YUM YUM. My 6 year old rates things with thumbs up or thumbs down--this morning after eating, he shot out one thumb, then another thumb, then a foot, etc...apparently he gave this all body parts up! LOL. Thanks for the inspiration, Janelle!

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Aerogarden update

We're now 2 weeks in on Project Aerogarden---This was my Christmas gift from my morning show partner Ethan. The herbs going right now are thyme, basil and chives. Check out my little babies:

Hopefully in a couple more weeks I'll have something resembling herbs! LOL!

Easy Way to Control Portions

You hear it all the time. You can't "diet". You have to change habits and make it a part of your lifestyle. Sometimes it's the simplest things. Here's one that has really worked for us. See the plate on the right? That's the biggest plate size in my set, and we just used it by default. See the one on the left? That's the "salad size" plate.

We always served food on the biggest plate because, you know, the box called it the dinner plate, so I guess you eat dinner on the dinner plate, right? This summer, I decided that if I wanted to eat less, it might make sense to have a smaller plate to put it on. So we moved to the smaller plate size.

If you'll notice, it's not so small that we are getting tiny portions, but it does help us restrict what we can eat in one sitting. And, the plate looks full, which makes a big impact when I sit down and look at my food. I have a full plate, so I don't feel deprived. Hubby has lost 40lbs since summer just with a smaller plate! Amazing.
So are you eating off the huge plate, or can you downsize? Downsizing your plate could help downsize your pants, and this is a habit that is easy to live with!

Michelle's Combo Fried Rice

This is dinner tonight. We had chicken fried rice on the menu for last night, but we were out at the Pinewood Derby and had food from the snackbar there. So tonight I am using my leftover pork chops that I diced up and threw in the freezer over the weekend, and leftover chopped chicken, and making my chinese delivery favorite- combo fried rice. This recipe is fun because it really is versatile. Use the meats and veggies you have.

5 cups cold cooked brown rice (tip- if you are making something else with rice earlier in the week, cook extra and refrigerate. Fried rice is best with day or two old rice. Really.)
1T canola oil
1T butter
1/2T sesame oil
3 cups chopped cooked meat (chicken, pork, beef, etc---you can use whatever you have)
1 onion, chopped
1 carrot, grated
1 cup mushrooms, sliced (optional)
2 cups mixed frozen veggies (optional)
1 can water chestnuts, drained (optional)
1/3 cup soy sauce
couple splashes of sherry (optional)
2T garlic, crushed
2 eggs
pepper to taste
Heat wok or large skillet to medium high heat. Add oils and butter. Add onion, mushrooms and carrot and cook for 3 minutes. Add veggies if using, and cook for 2 min. Add meat, rice, garlic and water chestnuts. After 3 minutes, move rice to side and make room for place to cook eggs ( you may also cook in a separate pan and add). Whisk eggs, add to pan and cook. Add soy sauce, sherry, pepper to taste (if you like a kick you can add some crushed red pepper) (I usually add an additional splash of sesame oil for flavor here). Serve!

See Gayle at Grocery Cart Challenge for more great recipes.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Saving Money With Less Waste

We started this habit back when Ry was a baby, and it was so convenient, we kept it with K and still do it now. Back in the day of baby spit ups, we ditched the cloth diapers for white hand towels that we could bleach. Baby washcloths that cost as much as a regular washcloth? Nope. We just bought several big packages of bulk washcloths at Sams. We keep stashes of these towels all over the house. Kitchen, bathrooms, garage, bedrooms. They come in handy for spill cleanup, pet accidents, dusting, general cleaning, you name it. We use fewer paper towels, and we've had these for years!

We stocked up at Sam's with both of these. It takes about 1 load of laundry every couple weeks to wash the the blue, and same with the white. It's also one of the boys' chores---fold the towels!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Chili-Beer Pot Roast

This is our family's favorite pot roast. My husband's mother makes a variation of it, which she serves on noodles. I swapped out the noodles and added potatoes. I also cook it in a slow cooker, but can be done in a roasting pan at 300 for 4 hours.

Chili-Beer Pot Roast

5-6lbs chuck roast or arm roast

4 medium potatoes, rough chopped

1/2 lb. baby carrots

1 8oz package of mushrooms, cleaned and trimmed

1 large onion, rough chopped

2t. minced garlic

1/2 packet onion soup mix (or beef boullion)

1 bottle chili sauce

3T Worcestershire sauce

1 bottle beer, any kind ( I like darker beers for this, but even a light beer will work)

1 box frozen peas

Place potatoes, carrots, mushooms and onions in crockpot. Put pot roast on top. Pour soup mix, garlic, worcestershire sauce and chili sauce on top. Fill chili sauce bottle 1/2 way with water, swish it around and add that to the crockpot as well. Cover, turn on low and let cook 6 hours. Remove lid, add beer, and let simmer for another 1-2 hours, until meat pulls away with a fork. Add peas in last half hour of cooking. Enjoy!

Monday, January 12, 2009

Chicken Alphabet Noodle Soup

Okay, Erin--I thought it was only fitting to submit a soup this week. After all of your blogging about soup week, and all of the recipes you've received, it just made me crave some! So this week, It's Chicken Alphabet Noodle Soup!

It is truly amazing what little things like special-shaped noodles can do for food consumption with kids! The boys haven't really been super eager soup eaters. I've been working on ways to improve that, and I decided I wanted to try the alphabet letters. The first challenge was finding the darn things! I visited 3 stores before I found them!

Fortunately a bag like this will only set you back about $1.20 here, and it will make a couple huge batches of soup! This went over HUGE! I kept this recipe pretty simple so it would be kid friendly. And it fits within budget!
8 cups chicken broth or stock ( I made mine Sunday from a chicken frame) .00
3 cups cooked, chopped chicken (again, from chicken over the weekend) .00
1TB olive oil
2 carrots, chopped .15
2 celery stalks, chopped .10
1/2 onion, chopped, .10
1/4 cup fresh chopped parsley .15
1 cup alphabet noodles .55
Heat olive oil in dutch oven over medium heat. Add onion, carrots and celery for 5 minutes. Add broth and chicken, bring to a boil, then reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 20 minutes. Remove lid, add pasta and parsley and continue simmering for 10-15 minutes until noodles are tender. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve with oyster crackers as desired.
So...if you save your frame and leftover chicken, you too can make a big vat of yummy, kid friendly soup for $1.05!!!!

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Menu Plan Week of Jan.12th

This week I am challenging myself---I guess it's like a pantry challenge. I'm calling it my Cheapie Challenge. I want to see just how lean I can get the dollar total for the week. It's been a process in our house over the years. Hubby never really enjoyed casseroles or skillet meals. He always wanted a meat entree, with sides. The kids helped with the evolution, and I have brought him along pretty far. We eat a lot of casseroles, skillet meals, things like that. But just how far can I go? We'll find out this week. This week's dinner plan scrapes in just under $20.

1/12 Monday
alphabet chicken soup using leftover chicken & stock from Saturday's frame $.80
pasta .50, onion .10, carrot .10, celery .10, chicken and stock (chicken in freezer, stock in fridge)
pizza melts .75 (2 English muffins .20, tomato sauce .05, Italian seasoning, mozzarella .50)

1/13 Tuesday
sauerkraut sausage and potato pot (leftover potatoes and sauerkraut from one meal, leftover brats from another, mix and heat through!) .00
salad .50
green beans .40
fish sticks for boys .50 (only because I'm not sure how the main dish will go over)

1/14 Wednesday
black bean, corn and cheese nachos $2.30 ( beans .25, onion .10, chips .50, cheese .75, sour cream, .15, salsa, .15)
orange slices .40

1/15 Thursday
breakfast for dinner
scrambled eggs $.50
sausage gravy with drop biscuits $1.50 (sausage .60, biscuits .40, gravy .50)
hashbrowns .75

1/16 Friday
chicken fried rice (chicken, brown rice .25, egg .15, onion .15 , carrot .15, mixed frozen veggies .50, sesame oil .20, soy sauce .05, sherry .10) $1.55
pineapple .85

1/17 Saturday
chili $2.50(beef $1.60, beans .75, onion .15, tomatoes (home canned), seasoning)
sour cream and cheese for topping .75
cornbread in freezer

1/18 Sunday
pot roast and veggies 10.00 (potatoes, carrots, onions, chili sauce, beer)
fruit cocktail .85
$5.85 (2 meals—will freeze ½ for another meal)

Drop Biscuits

I'll be using this recipe on Thursday- Breakfast for Dinner night--perfect for biscuits and gravy.

1 cup white flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
3 tablespoons softened butter
1/4 cup milk, use more if needed

Preheat oven to 450. Measure flour and baking powder into a bowl. Add butter to bowl and rub butter into flour with your fingers or a fork. Add milk to make a thick batter, stirring only until dough sticks together. Drop by teaspoonfuls on an ungreased baking sheet. Bake 7-8 minutes.

Aldi Trip today

And I'm completely on budget! $28.51 at Aldi- not too shabby. Here's what I got:

3 brown and serve sausage boxes @.89 each ( I need to just start buying regular sausage links, cooking them and then freezing them into baggies for breakfasts for the boys-I'm sure it would be cheaper and better quality. Next time)
bag of navel oranges 1.69
roma tomatoes 1.69
saltines .89
red onions 1.29
applesauce cups .99
eggs .99
onion rings (splurge, but yum) 1.89
choc. chips 1.49
fresh spinach 1.49
spaghetti 1.69
2 fat-free vanilla creamers for coffee @1.95 each
white onions 1.29
2 skim milks @ 1.99 each
1lb. baby carrots .69
sour cream .89
margarine .99
Total= 28.51

We have a Schwan's order this week for $31, and that at this point should keep me under $60 for the week. (as long as I don't cave and ask for a box of ice cream sandwiches while the Schwan's man is here!) I really don't anticipate any other trips to the store for the week. Besides, I'm really trying to use my stockups and my frozen leftovers this week to see just how low I can get the weekly dinner meal plan in at.

How do these prices compare for you where you are? Are you an Aldi shopper? Always curious to see the price differences around the country.

Sunday Breakfast Stockup Plan

Today I am cleaning out the freezer upstairs to make things easier to find. Since I have the deep freeze and the 2nd fridge freezer both downstairs, the freezer up here needs to really be free for daily need items, breakfast, etc. So I will be trying to organize that better today. Also need to figure out a better way to label bags so hubby can figure out what everything is!
Yesterday I baked up a batch of banana muffins with crumb topping, as I had 3 bananas on the counter BEGGING to be put into muffins. Ry loves these, but K just isn't all that into bananas, so a batch of Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins are probably in my future.
So right now we have waffles, pancakes, breakfast wraps, muffins, and I probably need to add 1 or two more things to the rotation. These boys get really bored fast! I'm always taking suggestions, if you have any ideas please post them in the comments section. I'm already pricing a waffle iron, thanks to one of my previous suggestions! ;)

Saturday, January 10, 2009

My favorite redheads....

These two just make my heart tingly every day.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Better Deli Lunch Meat At Better Prices

Several years ago in St. Louis, my husband and I got completely spoiled with Straub's grocery stores. Very high end stores that didn't carry much in the way of pantry stuff, but excelled in their produce section, bakery, meat dept. and deli. We were way out of our league in that store, but we still enjoyed occasional trips for little indulgences. Best strawberries you ever tasted, and the size of my fist. Prime meats. Seriously. Baked goods out of this world. And the deli---ah, yes. Fully prepared gourmet meals. Fabulous salads. And the day that ruined me for the rest of my life---when we ordered a pound of roast beef, and they reached into the cabinet, pulled out an UNPROCESSED, FRESH sirloin roast that they had seasoned, cooked to medium rare perfection, and then sliced wafer thin.

Trust me when I tell you that I've never been satisfied with deli roast beef after that. Tastes processed. Chemically. Rubbery. And they want like 7 bucks a pound for that junk? No way!

So a few years ago we asked our family for a slicer for Christmas. And now I go to the meat counter and pick up either a nice sirloin roast or top round roast when they go on sale. We're currently eating off of a 10lb. sirloin roast I got for $2.49/lb. I baked it, and then we cut it into portions. One we sliced and put in the fridge, the rest we vaccuum sealed and put in the freezer. Then we just pull out a piece at a time as we need it. I also buy hams and slice them this way for far cheaper than deli prices. I even discovered that if you want processed turkey, you can buy it at Sam's for a steal and then slice it yourself. Me? I prefer waiting for a killer sale on turkey breast, then I season, roast, and throw it on the slicer. Heaven.

Gourmet, shi-shi, high-end food. Healthy. On a budget. Works for me!!!

Chicken Cacciatore

Thanks to Erin for doing the $5 dollar Challenge, and for brining great ideas every day! You keep me focused! Here's one that you can serve over noodles or mashed potatoes. I love it over mashed potatoes. I always have leftovers with this for 2 adults and 2 kids.

Chicken Cacciatore

3lbs. bone-in chicken pieces (leg quarters are awesome for this and cheap) $2.00
3TB olive oil
1 onion, big chop .20
1 green pepper , sliced .50
2 cloves garlic, minced .15
1 15 oz. can tomato sauce .40
1 can diced italian tomatoes .50 do not drain
1 t. oregano
1 can sliced mushrooms, drained .50
mashed potatoes or cooked egg noodles---either way, about .50-.75

Heat skillet on medium heat, add olive oil and then brown chicken on both sides. onion, garlic and peppers, sauce, italian tomatoes, oregano and mushrooms. Bring to a boil then turn to low, cover and simmer for 1 hour. Remove chicken from pan, allow to cool until manageable, remove from bones, return to pan, heat through. Serve over mashed potatoes or noodles.

Grand Total: $5.00 (or less)

Sunday, January 4, 2009

I got my Aero Garden Set Up!!

This was my Christmas gift from my morning show partner, Ethan---he knows I love to cook and garden, and that during the summer I have lots of fresh herbs. Now I can have them all year long! What's funny is that literally the day before we exchanged gifts, I was drooling all over one of these at Kohl's. The first herbs it comes with are basil, thyme and chives. I am about to go upstairs and see what else they offer so I can have replacement seeds. It will be nice to just have to reach over to the counter to get herbs, and not have to go all the way downstairs!

Orange Muffins

Okay, I played with a recipe I found online, made some tweaks and adjustments, and voila! Came up with these little gems. My 3yo K gave his stamp of approval! Here's the recipe as I made them. I did make a glaze with orange juice and powdered sugar for the tops, you'll need to play to come up with the consistency you want.
2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup white sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup orange juice (if batter is thick you can add a little more)
1T vegetable oil
1 egg
1 tablespoon orange zest
1 8oz container of vanilla yogurt
1t cinnamon
Heat oven to 400 degrees. Grease 12 muffin cups or line with baking cups.
In a medium bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder, orange peel, cinnamon and salt; mix well. In a small bowl, combine orange juice, oil, yogurt and egg; blend well. Add dry ingredients all at once; stir just until dry ingredients are moistened (batter will be lumpy.)
Fill cups 2/3 full. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 1 minute before removing from pan. Let cool on rack, and drizzle with glaze, if desired.

This Week's Menu Plan

This past week was pretty good. My ultimate goal is to get weekly shopping to $60. We went over a bit this week as I was taking advantage of some stockups, but should be back on target next week. I do not include my paper goods and toiletries in this price as some women do, but I do include our Schwan's purchases, which generally occur every 2 weeks. We don't purchase a lot through there, but some of the few convenience foods I do purchase I get through Schwan's because I really like their quality. And I LOVE their ice cream, especially the ice cream sandwiches. So it's one of our splurges, but I do make it work in the overall plan. And honestly, we typically only eat out about once a month, so it's nice to have some things to keep the menu interesting.

Since I was sick last weekend, I didn't get all of the breakfast stock up projects done that I wanted to, but I did get the breakfast wraps and the pancakes done. This week I hope to get to the granola bars and the muffins. We also need make another big batch of peanut butter, but that requires a trip to Sam's for the giant cans of peanuts. That probably won't happen for another couple of weeks.

Here's the menu plan. I have our dinners under $30 this week!

1/5 Monday
mini meatloaves (recipe w/out the cheese)$3.00
rosemary roasted potatoes .50
spinach salad with apple cider vinaigrette .75

1/6 Tuesday
Skillet nachos w/ chicken $2.50
Salad .50 ( I caught a GREAT sale on bag salad this week--65 cents per bag)

1/7 Wednesday
pan fried turkey croquettes (using frozen leftover turkey) .75
mashed potatoes and gravy 1.50
corn .40

1/8 Thursday
spaghetti w/ meatballs $2.60 canned sauce from garden, .50 spaghetti, 1.70 frozen meatballs, .40 cheese
salad .50

1/9 Friday
cheesy ham and potato casserole $2.40 (will post this recipe after I make it)
toast w/ butter and jelly .35
fruit cocktail .85

1/10 Saturday
roast chicken 4.00
stuffing made with leftover frozen stock .80
glazed carrots .50

1/11 Sunday
shepherd’s pie 3.00
spinach salad .75 (scaled back version of this for the family. recipe makes a ton)
bread and butter .30

Catch 100's more menu plans and see what other people eat every day (a fascinating topic I think LOL) at http://orgjunkie.com/ Menu Plan Monday rocks!

Shepherd's Pie

We've got this one on the meal plan for this week. If you like lots of veggies, you might up the veggies to 2 cups-we're slowly upping the veggie content with the boys.

Shepherd’s Pie

1lb. ground beef
1 cup frozen mixed veggies, thawed
½ chopped onion
2T minced garlic
1t steak seasoning
2T flour
1 cup beef broth (or 1 cup water and boullion cubes)
2T ketchup
2T Worcestershire sauce
4 cups mashed potatoes (fresh or instant-fresh is better, but instant made with a little cream cheese works in a pinch, and the cream cheese gives the potatoes a texture more similar to fresh)
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
½ cup French fried onions (optional)

Preheat oven to 375. Brown ground beef in a skillet over medium heat. Add onions while cooking. Drain excess fat, add garlic, and steak seasoning. Stir. Add flour, stir to coat, then add ketchup, Worcestershire and beef broth and let simmer until sauce thickens. Add veggies, stir, and then pour into a round casserole dish that’s been lightly coated with cooking spray. Top mixture with mashed potatoes, sprinkle with cheese, and bake for 20 minutes. Add French fried onions for the last 5 minutes, if using.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Turkey Croquettes

Holidays and lots of turkey leftovers inspire new ways to use that turkey. This is a great recipe that uses the leftover turkey, and reminds me of being a kid.

Turkey Croquettes

White sauce:
1 cup milk
2T butter
2T flour
½ t salt
¼ t pepper

Other croquette ingredients:
2 cups finely chopped, cooked turkey
1T olive oil
1/2 finely diced onion
1 t garlic
1 t dried parsley
10 saltine crackers, crushed
½ cup flour
1 beaten egg
½ cup bread crumbs

To make white sauce, melt butter in saucepan over medium heat. Add flour and let brown for 3-4 minutes. Slowly add milk and whisk. Simmer over medium-low heat until thick. Add salt and pepper. Remove from heat and once cool, chill.

When ready to make croquettes, heat olive oil in saucepan over medium heat. Add onion and sauté until onion is translucent. Remove from heat. In bowl, combine turkey, onion, garlic, parsley, white sauce from fridge, and crushed crackers. Form into small patties. Dip patties into flour, then egg, then bread crumbs. Pan fry in oil. Drain on paper towels.

Michelle's Bit O' Sausage Gravy

I love sausage gravy. With a passion. But I know it's terrible for me, so I only fix it on occasion. The problem I usually run into is that recipes are scaled to make a TON of gravy, and since I have no willpower, and it doesn't seem to freeze well, I've come up with a scaled down version that will feed two adults and a couple little guys perfectly. No leftovers. No Michelle in the kitchen licking the pan clean. (well, maybe that)

Michelle's Bit O' Sausage Gravy

1/4lb. sausage
4T flour
2 cups milk
1/2t pepper

In skillet at medium heat, brown sausage, add flour, stir, and let cook over medium heat for about 5 minutes. Add milk and simmer until thickened. Add pepper and serve.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Peanut Butter Oatmeal

Ryan's got a new favorite oatmeal: Peanut Butter Oatmeal. Healthy, stick to your ribs, and YUMMY.

Here's the recipe:

1 cup rolled oats
2 cups water
pinch of salt
1/2 cup of milk
1 banana, mashed
2TB honey
1/2t vanilla
1/2-1t cinnamon, based on your taste
1T wheat germ

heat water in pan to a boil, add oatmeal and salt, cover, reduce heat and cook 5-10 minutes until cooked. Remove from heat, stir in remaining ingredients and serve. Could substitute grated apple for the banana if you preferred.