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Thursday, April 30, 2009

Baker's Bargain Meal of the Week 4/29

This has been a grueling week for work. 12+ hours everyday, 4am to 9pm yesterday alone! I am tired, run down, and gulping vitamins like a crazy person.

As I look through ads, the last thing that sounds appealing is lots of work in the kitchen. While we try to keep more processed foods to minimum in our house, we do use them, especially in time crunches like this if I hadn't thought ahead in preparation.

The following meal ideas are just that---combinations of quick easy foods...not really RECIPES....but sometimes ya just gotta eat. LOL

8 scrambled eggs .99/doz= .64
biscuits .37 per can
Farmland Sausage Links= $1.40 (if you BOGO)
Yoplait Yogurt (out of the 8 count pack at $3.88 each)= $1.94

Kroger Peanut Butter- .98
Sarah Lee Wheat Bread- $1.18
Roberts Cottage Cheese $1.99
Pringles- $1.50 (there is a MQ for $1/2 available that would make these $1 each)
$5.65 (for ALL of it!)

Deli Rotisserie Chicken- $4.99 (easy for tonight, plus you have leftovers for another meal or reicpe--and use this to make stock!)
Kroger Frozen Veggies- $1.18
3lb. Deli Potato Salad- $3.99
$10.16 for this convenience meal that will produce lots of leftovers and free chicken stock

Hy-Vee Bargain Meal of the Week

Spaghetti Night-
Barilla Spaghetti- .99
Ragu Sauce- .99 (there are .30 MQs out there too!)
1lb roll 85% lean ground beef- $1.99(use half)= .99
Dole Ceasar Salad Kit- $2
1 lb. Strawberries- .99/lb

brown ground beef, add sauce and simmer. Cook spaghetti according to directions. Toss salad in bowl. Wash and slice strawberries and serve on the side.

Total $5.96 ($5.66 if you have Ragu coupon)

Fareway Bargain Meal of the Week 4-29

This week at Fareway, watch for the following bargains:

1lb. fresh green beans .99/lb= .99
1 lemon= .25
Texas Toast $2- use 1/2= $1
Thick cut Iowa Pork chops $1.99/lb. (get 1.5lbs.)= $3.00
Applesnax 4pk Applesauce= .99

Here's your menu-

Grilled pork chops (sprinkle with favorite seasoning and use bbq sauce if desired)
Lemon-garlic green beans
Texas Toast
and everyone gets an applesauce cup for dessert!

Cost of meal- $6.23

Sunday, April 26, 2009

When I'm not being Mom...

I am a business woman. And I like to read marketing/management/make yourself better/trend prediction type business books.

Finishing this one right now:

Seth Godin's Tribes: We Need You to Lead Us

I love Seth Godin. I've read everything. I'm on his blog, too. Smart man who understands marketing, management, LEADERSHIP, and the online world.

Here's the one I have on order to be next:

The Think Big Manifesto:

Suggested by Seth. Probably really good.

Now back to cooking and other Mom-type stuff :)

The Red Plum Insert is your friend this week for Walgreens deals

Do NOT go to Walgreens this week without going through your Red Plum insert first.

There are several coupons that make some of the RR deals even more attractive.

Band-Aid, Neosporin, and Benadryl Cream all have $1 coupons this week. Works out great for the deal this week which says buy $10 worth of these items and get $4 RR. Band aids are $3. The creams are $4. Buy 2 Band-Aids and one cream. $10. Minus $3 in MQs, is $7. You get $4 in RR, so it's like getting all 3 for $3. Not bad!

There's a "buy 2 participating cold or allergy relief products" offer this week that gives you $3 in RR. Sudafed PE, Tylenol Allergy, Tylenol Cold, and Children's Tylenol are all in the offer. These are $4.99 each. Use the $1 coupons on the Tylenol Allergy or SudafedPE to make them $8 before the $3 RR...like getting them both for $5. Zyrtec is also in this deal at $18.99. So if you are a Zyrtec user, you can combine deal with one other product, and the $4 Zyrtec coupon. If you like Zyrtec D you might consider buying the Zyrtec 24hr without sudafed, and then buying the sudafed on the side. You'll save a LOT of money this way!

Get 2 of the $1/1 Whitening Listerine Rinse coupons, buy 2 for $8, $6 after coupons, and then get $4 in RR. Like paying $1 for each one!

All in your Red Plum insert. If you need more, hit the store to stock up today! :)

How to make things go faster at meal times...

As I've mentioned before, hubby and I have the family roles all shuffled up. He stays home with the boys, while I work full time. He does much of the housecleaning, laundry and organizing. But he doesn't dust, he doesn't "girlify" stuff, and he doesn't cook or grocery shop.

Yes, he grills. Yes, he CAN cook. He tells me if I tell him what to cook, how to make it and what to get, he'll do it. Might as well do it myself. As for shopping- I've blogged about his shopping trips before. Just better to keep him off of that duty when I can. :)

I don't mind doing the cooking and shopping, as I love to cook, and I love to see the boys get excited about foods I make. Since my job sometimes requires a 12 hour day, though, I've had to get creative. When weeks got hectic, we used to just grab takeout or run through a drive through. Not healthy or economical. Now that we've decided to keep a tight budget, I've had to find ways to produce quick food here that suits my requirements. I'm really getting less and less into processed foods. We have them, but we try to keep them to a minimum.

So I've really started getting into make ahead meals. Some women do Once a Month Cooking. That's a really big commitment for me--I might not want to eat those foods at the end of the month ;). But I do prep a lot of the next week's meals in advance, and when I can, I make extras for other meals.

Take, for example, the chicken enchiladas I made for the freezer. I have the enchiladas individually wrapped in wax paper. In the same gallon bag, I've also place a bag of the sauce that you pour over the enchiladas, and a bag of grated cheese for the top.

And look- even written directions for hubby LOL.

I also like to do side dishes, like twice baked potatoes, and other things that take a while to prepare.
These carrots are in a butter/sherry sauce, with parsley---all we'll need to do is pop them in a microwave container and heat them up at dinner. MUCH faster than trying to make them from scratch that night. And cheaper, too. I can buy a 2lb. bag of carrots for $1, and make 4 meals worth. Not too shabby.

Meal planning and thinking things out ahead just a little can save you a LOT of time and money in the long run. No more fast food (unless you are craving it LOL).

My mom's awesome cinnamon biscuits

Comfort food. Good, simple enjoyable food. This is one of those recipes my mom made for me growing up, and now I make for the boys. I hope someday they will make them for their children.

Bake a can of biscuits according to the instructions (or make your own--great both ways, but the can is certainly quicker). I like to do this the night before I make these for breakfast, or if I'm making a bunch for dinner, this is how I can use the leftover the next day. There's something about the texture of these that is better if they are from the day before.

After baking, split the biscuits in half and butter each half evenly.

Now you get to mix up your sugar and cinnamon mixture. I like to use about a 1/2 cup of white sugar, along with 2 different cinnamon varieties. The Vietmanese cinnamon is more pungent, we call it "gum cinnamon" because it reminds us of Big Red gum. I mix it with a milder Chinese variety cinnamon. If you weren't aware there were "varieties", use what you have. They will still be awesome. If you love cinnamon though, I highly recommend you check out Penzey's. They will open you up to all kinds of varieties that offer some true differences in your dishes.

Aim for about 2 tablespoons of cinnamon-more if you like lots of cinnamon. Back it off if you like less.
Once your mixture is just right, sprinkle the cinnamon sugar evenly over your biscuits.
Turn on your broiler, and when hot, place pan under broiler. Watch closely. They are done when the mixture is bubbly and brown and has formed a crust over the top of the biscuits.
Remove from the oven, allow to cool slightly and serve. I think they go perfectly with sausage links. That's just me.
There are no leftovers. Ever. So make sure you get as many buttery, crunchy, sweet and slightly spicy goodies as you want while the going is good. I had 3. I mean 5. Yum!

Linked to The Grocery Cart Challenge's Recipe Swap. Some wonderful, inexpensive recipes available there!

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Menu Plan Week of 4/27

This week's meals are quick, easy, and most of the prep has been done ahead of time to make the week less stressful ;) I even have several of the meals ready in the freezer with directions written on them so I can easily direct hubby to prepare! The week's dinners clocks in at about $28.

4/27 Monday

chicken and black bean quesadillas $2.75

leftover grilled chicken .55, black beans .20, tortillas 1.00, cheese 1.00

spinach and orange salad $1.50


4/28 Tuesday

sloppy josephines $3.25

turkey $1.50, buns, $1.00, cheese .30

tater tots .75

buttered carrots .40


4/29 Wednesday

mini meatloaves $2.00

twice baked potatoes $1.00

green beans .40


4/30 Thursday

chicken enchiladas $2.25

corn .40

salad .75


5/1 Friday

grilled pork chops $1.75

cheesy potatoes .60

broccoli .50


5/2 Saturday

grilled chicken $2.00

macaroni and cheese $1.00

salad $1.00


5/3 Sunday

Italian beef sandwiches $4.50

Roasted potatoes .50

Fruit .50


Make Ahead Projects today

Wow! A couple of hours in the kitchen produced a LOT of results! I've taken a lot of pictures that I will post later, but in the meantime, a run down of what I've gotten done:

-2 dinners of chicken enchiladas

-3 bags of cooked, chopped chicken

-3 bags of grilled chopped chicken

-big batch of chicken broth that is probably about 10 cups

-1 bag of part cooked broccoli that I will freeze for next week's chicken and broccoli alfredo recipe

-2 meals worth of buttered carrot coins with parsley, sherry and spices

-baking biscuits right now for tomorrow morning's cinnamon biscuits

-have potatoes and eggs cooked to make potato salad for tomorrow's dinner

-3 meals worth of twice baked potatoes that I have on a cookie sheet in the freezer- I will bag up when they are frozen

Found more strawberries at .99/lb, and I still need to batch those up for the freezer, but other than that, I'm done. These things will come into play to make this next week's dinners much faster and easier to prepare. Glad I got take and bake pizzas for tonight! :)

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Hy-Vee Bargain Meal of the Week 4/22

Here are a couple of meals that I see at Hy-Vee in this week's ad.

Meal #1-Barbecue Grilled Chicken night with Beans and salad-

3lbs. Hy-Vee 100% Natural Split Chicken Breast at .88/lb= $2.64
Hy-Vee BBQ Sauce= $1.29
2 cans of Van Camps Pork and Beans= .66
1 Earthbound Farms Organic Salad= $1.99 (there are coupons that were mailed out for these- .75/1 or 1.00/2)

Total cost is $6.54 or less (w/ coupons)- And you will hopefully have some chicken leftover for salad or wraps the next day for lunch.

Meal #2- Taco Night

Hy-Vee Taco Shells= .99
1lb. Honeysuckle White Fresh Ground Turkey= $1.50 (Thurs, Fri and Sat only)
Hy-Vee Refried Beans= .68
Hy-Vee Taco Seasoning= .33
Hy-Vee Picante Sauce= $1.50 use 1/4= .35
Hy-Vee Shredded Cheese= $2.00- use half= $1.00
Total Cost is $5.65

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Things I Wish I Had...

You get a little spoiled when you've lived in different places. Your rational brain tells you that not every retail or food chain can live in one city, but after living in lots of cities, your emotional brain says "why not?!?!?!?!?" So here's just a random, pathetic whine from me, after reading some other blogs, on stuff I wish we had in Omaha.

-Meijer- Got to experience this in Springfield IL. I loved this store because it was like department store meets Super Walmart, with a great deli, good produce, and great prices.
-Ikea- Yes, I have Nebraska Furniture Mart, so I can't whine too much, but it's not Ikea
-Dierbergs-best grocery store EVER. St. Louis people, you are so lucky!
-Straubs-the other best grocery store ever...more fru fru.....and also St. Louis.
-Steak and Shake- Because only they slice their pickles the long way
-Waffle House- In the South, I've found 2 Waffle Houses at the same exit, one in each direction. Think they'd be willing to spare 1?
-McAllisters Deli- Besides the stuffed baked potatoes that are bigger than my head, awesome sweet tea and honey mustard that is simply drinkable.
-Carl's Jr.- California I miss you for your fast food. But my junk in the trunk does not
-In and Out burger- Ditto
-White Castle- Actually, I don't really miss it, but my hubby does, and anything that makes him happy makes me happy :)

Anything you wish YOU had? Please feel free to whine shamelessly with me ;)

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Constructive Day

Made trips to Walgreens, Menards and Aldi.

Planted my Earthbound Farms organic lettuce seeds. Going to attempt to grow those in containers that I can move in and out of the house, but worried that lettuce would just be too tempting for the bunnies if I planted it in the garden.

Planted my green beans in transferrable fiber pots, and moved more of my pepper plants to bigger pots. Watered all the herbs and flower seedlings.

My tomato plants are starting to look AWESOME, and I'm itching to get them out in the yard. Still a little early here, though. I will take pictures and post soon.

In the kitchen, I finished breaking down the 20lbs. of 93% lean ground beef we got at Fareway. Final tally:

5 dinners worth of mini meatloaves
2 big pans of lasagna
3 bags of premade taco meat
10 packages of premade burger patties ready for the grill.

I also made a bag of sausage and cheese biscuits for the freezer for the boys' breakfast rotation. I purchased a 4lb. box of strawberries yesterday, and today I washed, hulled and chopped into 6 bags for the freezer for smoothies, etc. I used a bag of my baby carrots and made a freezer batch of brown sugar glazed carrots.

Wanted to make a big batch of twice baked potatoes for the freezer but I guess that will just have to wait! Pretty productive none the less.

Walgreens Visit 4/19

Here's some of the deals I took advantage of today.

Skintimate or Edge shaving gel $2.99 get $3 in RR

Mitchum deodorant $2.99- I still had a $1 IP that expired today, and you get $2 in RR, so it was free!

If you use Aveeno products and you've been collecting the coupons available online, you might try Walgreens this week. If you spend $30 in select products, you get a $10 RR. I use some of the Aveeno Positively Ageless line, and they had a few of the items marked at clearance pricing. I ended up getting the daily moisturizer with sunscreen and the eye serum both for $19 after coupons and RR. This is $9.50 each, and that's a GREAT deal for these products.

I also found the Walgreens brand after shave lotion (like the Afta hubby uses) on clearance for .70 each.

Taco Bell's Fiesta Family Meal

I'm in a new BzzAgent campaign for Taco Bell. We have a Taco Bell down the street, and that is one of the places we head to for a good, quick meal. There will never be enough tacos and nachos in my life :). The campaign is focusing on a new offering from Taco Bell designed to be an economical option for the family, and very simple! It's pretty cool, because they are only offering this here in Omaha and in Portland right now. Guess we get to be the test markets.

The Fiesta Family Meal has everything to make hard and soft tacos for 4, and gives everyone their choice of toppings. You get two big nifty trays. One has your taco meat, rice and refried beans in divided sections. The other divided tray has cheese, lettuce, guacamole, sour cream and tomatoes. It also comes with a bag of chips.

We really liked this. It gave the family a choice in what they wanted on their taco without me having to make special orders in the drive through. Big K decided to be very adventurous and had a taco with everything. Not too shabby for a 3yo! The boys also decided they wanted me to put beans on a soft tortilla and wrap it around the hard taco shell. I like this because it held everything together and we didn't have little taco shell bits all over the place.

They thought of everything in putting this together, so all you have to do is take the lids off. Tough, huh? They were very generous with this as well. It says that it feeds 4---this house with 2 grownups, a 6yo and a 3yo had lots of leftovers. The only thing I wish we'd had more of was the chips. There wasn't quite enough for everyone to have as many as they wanted. Big K ran out and asked for more and I didn't have any more for him.

All this for $14.99. Kudos, Taco Bell. I love the idea. Hope it's a keeper!

Menu Plan Week of 4/20

Last week went "roughly" according to plan. We changed a couple of things. Friday I worked really late and I had a coupon from BzzAgent for the Taco Bell Fiesta Family Meal ( I will blog about that later), so I had hubby pick that up when I left the office so we could have dinner when I got home. Saturday was the school carnival and the boys had pretzels at school, and cotton candy, so by the time we got home they weren't even hungry. Not a nutrititious meal, to be sure, but they don't have nights like that very often.

This week we're using some freezer food and some easy meals, as I will have another busy week at work and will need food that I can throw together quickly. I figured the Italian beef dinner into a meal plan 2 weeks ago because I didn't expect the amount of leftovers we had. So that means this week clocks in right around $22. I'll take it.

4/20 Monday

Italian beef on rolls .00 (leftover from freezer )

Tater tots .75

Apple slices .40


4/21 Tuesday

pork bbq biscuit cups $1.00

(leftover bbq pork, biscuit dough, cheese)

green bean fries 1.50

pineapple .65


4/22 Wednesday

beef stroganoff $2.25

corn .40


4/23 Thursday

grilled cheese sandwiches $1.20

tomato soup $1.00

salad $1.00


4/24 Friday

grilled chicken $1.75

buttery noodles .50

green beans .40


4/25 Saturday

cheeseburgers $3.00

potato salad $2.00

carrots with dip .75


4/26 Sunday

oven fried chicken $2.00

alfredo noodles .50

broccoli .50


Saturday, April 18, 2009

Make Ahead Meals-Lasagna

This weekend I'm making freezer meals to use later this month. I am breaking down 2 10lb. tubes of ground beef we bought at Fareway this week, and along with mini meatloaves, hamburger patties, taco meat and pasta bakes, I also took the oportunity to make a couple of big trays of lasagna. Here's what I used:

1.50lbs. ground beef $3.00
1.5 boxes of lasagna noodles $2.25
2 8oz tubs of cottage cheese $1.50
1 cup of grated parmesan .75
1 8oz package of mozzarella, grated $1.25
2 eggs .15
1 8oz package of white mushrooms, chopped $1.00
1 medium onion, chopped .30
1 jar of spaghetti sauce .00 (can my own)
1 jar of tomato sauce (or 16oz can) .00 (can my own)
1 can of crushed tomatoes (24 oz can) $1.00
1 box frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained $1.00
2 bay leaves
2t italian seasoning
1t sugar
1t garlic pepper
1/4t nutmeg
1/2T garlic pepper

I used aluminum pans for this- spray each with non-stick spray. For sauce, heat large pan over medium high heat. Brown beef, onion and mushroom until meat is no longer pink. Add both sauces, crushed tomatoes, bay leaves, italian seasoning, sugar and 1t garlic pepper. Let simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

For filling, place cottage cheese, 1/2 cup mozzarella, parmesan, 2 eggs, spinach, nutmeg and garlic pepper in a large bowl. Stir.

To assemble, place about 1.5 cups of sauce in the bottom of each pan. Lay 4 uncooked noodles in each pan. Spread 1.5 cups of filling in each pan. Place 4 more noodles in each. Spread another 1.5 cups of sauce in each pan. 4 more noodles, then 1.5 cups more filling in each pan. 4 last noodles in each, 1.5 cups of sauce to top, then sprinkle remaining cheese over top. Seal well with foil and place in freezer.

To serve, thaw in refrigerator, then bake in oven with foil still on for 30 minutes at 350 degrees. Remove foil and bake 10-15 more minutes until top is golden.

Each pan of lasagna will easily serve 4 hungry people with leftovers for $6.10. My cost is a little lower with the homemade sauce, but you could also take out the mushrooms and spinach if you desire.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Baker's Bargain Meal of the Week

I'm luke warm about this week's ad at Baker's. Some good cereal prices and a few good coupon matchups, but I didn't go too crazy there this week, only spending $14. But there are opportunities for good meals, including this week's meal.

Your shopping list:
1lb. Sterling Silver Fresh Ground Chuck $1.77
1 Bird's Eye Steamfresh corn- $1.00
1 Pasta Roni- $1.00
1lb. grapes- .88

Total: $4.65

Your Menu:
Mini Meatloaves
Pasta Roni

Nice Gift Card Scores this Week

We got a coupon from Target for a $10 gift card with any new or transferred prescription. We also got a coupon for a $20 Hy-Vee gift card with any new or transferred prescription. Got them both this week. $30 in gift card for money we were going to spend anyway. Excited that there is a Walgreens opening right down the street here shortly. Means less travel for Walgreens deals, and I'm certain they'll do a gift card to get new customers and to steal business away from the Walmart right next to them.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Custom Meat Cuts

When it comes to meat, I have 3 things that I pay attention to:

-knowing exactly how much I'm using per meal for price breakouts and budget
-having meat that has most prep work done, so that it's quick to use at meals
-portion size for calories, diet and health

I have found that buying in bulk is great. Even better, buying full sections of meat and either cutting it up myself or having the butcher do it can be even better. Example- I love boneless pork chops. I've found that buying a whole pork loin is cheaper per pound, and then I can cut the chops to 3 oz. portion sizes, which I then marinate and freeze so they are ready to cook as soon as they defrost.

For good cuts of steak, I typically wait for the Fareway here to have a great sale. They have a wonderful meat counter, and I can have the butchers cut things specifically to my liking.

You can also take your boneless skinless chicken breasts, portion them up, and have them in marinade ready to go.

Now I know I'm eating the proper portion size of meat and can't eat more (no temptation!), I can determine exact price per meal, and the prep work is all done! Works for me!

This post is linked to Works for Me Wednesday.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Getting creative with quesadillas

We love quesadillas at this house. Easy, yummy, and kid friendly! And the best part, is you can put just about anything in them, and they'll taste great! Tonight we had pizza quesadillas, with sauce, pesto, and mozzarella cheese. You can add pepperoni, black olives, onions, just like you would top a pizza. We also had blue cheese and pear quesadillas and for dessert, quesadillas made with cream cheese and homemade strawberry jam. Yum! I find that quesadillas are easy to sneak vegetables in as well, and the kids have never turned one down..

I've listed some other thought starters here. Do you make any unusual combinations of quesadillas? I'd love to hear from you! Post them in the comments section.

peanut butter and banana

primavera- thinly sliced sauteed summer squash, onions and peppers with a smear of alfredo sauce, a sprinkle of garlic pepper and a combination of mozzarella and parmesan cheeses

bacon, corn, and cheddar cheese with a sprinkle of dill

cream cheese, apple sauce and a big sprinke of cinnamon

apple slices and gouda cheese

chicken, bbq sauce and any smoked cheese

buffalo chicken-chicken breast slices, blue cheese and buffalo sauce

chili and cheese

carrot cake- cream cheese, grated carrots and raisins

cream cheese and chocolate chips

sauteed onion, artichoke hearts, feta cheese

pesto, fresh mozzarella, spinach

Have fun!!

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Freezer Stock Up This Week

Freezer stock up has begun. Today I browned two packages of sausage links. I wrap them in waxed paper sheets in pairs, then put them in a gallon sized ziploc bag in the freezer. This makes them easy to warm up-you just grab a packet, microwave it for about 30 seconds, and the boys have sausage with breakfast.

Tonight after baking a turkey breast that we will use for lunch meat this week (see how we make our own lunch meat here), I made a big batch of stock, part of which I will use tomorrow in corn chowder, the rest of which I will freeze in ice cube trays. LOVE having stock like this in the freezer...You can just grab a couple of cubes and use what you need.

This week when the sale ads come out I will be putting my eye toward some make-ahead meals for the freezer. Check back for tips and recipes on how you can make multiple meals for future use cheaply and easily!

Menu Plan Week of April 13th

A relatively simple week. And economical, too! 7 dinners for 4, clocks in at right around $25.

4/13 Monday

Corn Chowder ( thought I had already posted this on the site, but I must have been mistaken. Will post soon, so please check back)

leftover coleslaw and deviled eggs


4/14 Tuesday

pizza quesadillas $2.25

(mozzarella, pizza sauce, spinach, and canadian bacon (pepperoni would rock-6yo doesn't like it though) in flour tortillas-we have a quesadilla maker, but you could also brown the quesadillas in a pan or oven)

salad .75


4/15 Wednesday

baked macaroni and cheese $3.00

asparagus $1.00


4/16 Thursday

mini meatloaves $3.00

baked sweet potatoes .40

salad .75


4/17 Friday

tacos (meat 1.00, shells .50, cheese .50) $2.00

fruit .75


4/18 Saturday

baked chicken $1.75

buttery noodles .50

corn .40


4/19 Sunday

lemon shrimp on angel hair pasta ($6.00)

broccoli .50


Thursday, April 9, 2009

Bakers Trip 4/9

Today was a great Baker's trip! I was able to take advantage of the free milk offer with General Mills items, the P&G $3 discount, and utilize some fresh produce, and other high value coupons I had, to keep the price down. Here's my take:

2 gallons of milk- $1.99 each (normally $2.28)- 1 free= $1.99
2 Nature Sweet Tomatoes-2 for $5 (normally $3.69 each)- $1/2 coupon from Sunday inserts= 2 for $4
2 dozen Dillon eggs= .88 each
2 Fiber One Bars- on sale 3 for $8- $1 off IP coupons for each- .50 cellfire coupon off one= $1.38 each
1 Nature Valley Trail Mix bars- on sale 3 for $8- .50 coupon= $2.13(these 3 got me my milk)
1 bag Kroger long grain brown rice= $2.19
2 Coffee Mate Creamers= 2 for $5
1 Secret deodorant with $2 coupon, $1 P&G savings= $1.04
1 Gillette Body Wash $3.50- $2 P&G esaver coupon- $1 P&G savings= .50
1 Crest TP twin pack-$1.50 in coupon savings- $1 P&G savings= $2.22 for 2
Yo-Plus Yogurt- $2.69 had a free coupon that I won, plus a cellfire for .50 came off= .50 moneymaker!
1 Yoplait kids yogurt- $2.39-$1.50 IP= .89
1 Roberts Lite sour cream dip- $1- .35 coupon= .65
Total= $25.16
Saved- $37.64 60%

Price breakouts on meals

I have gotten this question on many occasions-how do you figure out the cost per meal? For me, this dovetails into the whole reason I've become such a couponer and sale shopper. Seeing the cost per meal, and then seeing how I can impact that with coupons and sales has been huge for me. This is not a difficult process; for me, it was a several step process, though. Let me explain.

I hear over and over to keep a price book for shopping. For me, this is pretty tough. I have been known to drag a notebook to Sam's so that I can do cost comparisons for certain items, but I was just overwhelmed at the idea of keeping an ongoing price record of EVERY SINGLE grocery item I use on a regular basis.

Instead, taking a shortcut, I picked a few meals that appear in my menus very regularly, and focused on them. A great example is my skillet nachos. This has been a family favorite since hubby and I first started preparing meals together 18 years ago, and is something we eat on average twice a month, without ever tiring of it. It's filling, tasty, easy, and economical. Even so, by paying attention, doing price breakouts and stockpiling, I've been able to save a LOT of money with just one meal!

Here's what I need for skillet nachos to feed my family of 4:

1/2 lb. ground beef
1 can refried beans
taco seasoning (packet or make my own)
6oz. cheese
1/2 bag of tortilla chips

Before I really made any effort to do frugal shopping, other than shopping sales when I could, the typical cost for skillet nachos would look like this:

1/2lb. ground beef (@ $2.99/lb.)= $1.45
1 can refried beans= $1.25
1 packet taco seasoning= .50
60z. cheese $1.50
1/2 bag of tortilla chips $1.50
Cost of meal=$6.20

Not ridiculous. Still a pretty frugal meal. But watch what I've been able to do by getting to know what kinds of sale prices I can expect, or what I can do with coupons.

1/2lb. ground beef (don't like to pay more than $1.80/lb.)= .90
1 can refried beans-with sales and coupons I never spend more than .65-I stock up at this price or better= .65
taco seasoning- I make my own now= .10
6oz. cheese= I don't like to pay more than $1.25 for 8oz. I stock up at that price or better= .94
1/2 bag of tortilla chips (both Aldi and Bakers sell bags for .99)= .50
New cost of meal= $3.09

Yes. You read that correctly. Just by paying attention to the prices of these few items and stocking up when they hit the lowest prices I'd seen, I've been able to cut the price of this meal in HALF. No changes to the ingredients, other than making my own taco seasoning (with less sodium, so healthier, too). Same meal, half the cost. Pretty simple.

Now, if you try to come back and say, "but Michelle, that's a lot of work to save 3 bucks", then let me remind you. We make this meal at least 24 times per year. So if I save $3.11 each meal, over the course of the year, I've saved $74.64. One meal that I serve over the course of the year. Think about how you could impact your own spending with just one meal!

So start small. Pick one or two meals that you make frequently, and concentrate on pricing the ingredients in those dishes, and get them down to your bargain price. Then stock up. It's okay for me to have 12 cans of refried beans in the basement, because just with this meal alone I will use them, not to mention other dishes like quesadillas.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Fareway Bargain Meal of the Week 4/8

This week's meal takes advantage of one of the Fareway meat counter's homemade goodies---ham loaf. Saves you the time of mixing all of the ingredients together. All you need to do is put it in the pan. The recipe for preparation and glaze is below.

Your menu:
Church Supper Ham Loaf (substitute the ham loaf for the recipe here. Cook according to these directions and with this basting sauce)
Green Bean Blue Cheese Salad

Your shopping list:
2 lb. Homemade Ham Loaf- $1.99/lb= $3.98
1lb. fresh green beans= .99
1bag Steamers corn= .88

Cost of Meal= $5.85

See bargain meals from grocery stores all over the country at www.5dollardinners.com. Thanks, Erin!!

Baker's Bargain Meal of the Week 4/8

I love frozen bread and roll dough. It's a great cheat when you don't have time for the full process, and it's great for recipes that utilize dough, like pizzas, etc. Today's recipe is like a handheld meal!

Chicken Filled Stuffing Rolls

Your shopping list:
½ lb. boneless skinless chicken breast at $2.99/lb = $1.50

1 package of Rhodes Texas roll dough= $3.49 (.75 coupon in 3/29 insert will make these $2.74)

1 package of Stove Top Stuffing = $1.00

1 package Philadelphia Cream Cheese= .88

The cost will be $6.12-$6.87

Hy-Vee Bargain Meal of the Week 4/8

A question asked very frequently- Can you eat healthy/organic/natural foods on a budget? And the answer is a hearty YES! This week's meal incorporates several organic/natural items. You can see the ads online here.

Your shopping list:
1lb. Smart Chicken Ground Chicken $2.50
1 bag of Earthbound Organics Romaine Hearts $2.50 -you will use 1 for your salad at .85
(an incentive to sign up online for products you like to use just like this--I just received coupons in the mail today that will bring this cost down to $2.00, plus I'll be able to get a bag of baby organic carrots for $1.00)
2lbs. sweet potatoes at .49= .98

Your menu:
Zesty Chicken Meatloaf
Oven Roasted Sweet Potato Fries
Tossed Salad (your choice of dressing and add-ins)

Cost of Meal- $4.33 plus your pantry ingredients

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Walgreens this week

I don't know how I missed it---perhaps they didn't appear in our area inserts, or perhaps I'm a dimwit (more likely the case)---but I don't have the $3/1 coupons for the Walgreens deal this week. So I did a little research, and here's an alternate idea

Buy 2 Visines at $3.99 each (yes I got the allergy stuff-oof it's that time)
Use 2 $2/1 coupons available here
Pay $3.98 and get $3 RR= works out to .49 each

Some other good deals this week:

Betty Crocker cans of frosting or brownie mix $3 for 2.

Use 2 .50/1 MF on the frosting in today's inserts OR
Use 2.55/1 IP at coupons.com or at my quick print on the right hand side
Pay $1.90-$2 for 2 and get $1 RR= works out to .45 to .50 each

Fiber One Bar 2-packs (check at the register or in the candy aisle) $1.29 each
Use $1/1 coupon available here
Pay .29

And whatever you do, stay away from the jelly beans. I repeat, STAY AWAY from the JELLY BEANS!!! ( I failed in this mission---hoping I can at least save you!)

Some good prices at Dollar General this week

Folgers Country Roast 34.5oz- $5- use .25 MF q in today's P&G insert-
Makes it $4.75 each

Palmolive 16oz.- .85- I had a .25 MFq
Makes it .60 each

Yogos or Fruit Gushers 2 for $4- print .75/2 IP from coupons.com or in the quick print on the right side of my blog.
Makes them $3.25 for 2, or $1.63 each.

You might also check your store's clearance. I picked up bags of dried garbanzo beans for .75, and cans of artichoke heart quarters for $1.25. (yummy in salads!)

Menu Plan Week of 4/6

We followed last week's plan almost 100% with one exception- I got lazy and used cheese ravioli out of the freezer with some frozen meat sauce I had instead of spaghetti. So that's on this week's plan.

The boys are already excited about Tuesday's dinner---I've finally gotten them to eat soup--wait---LOVE soup---with this recipe. My husband, who doesn't like chicken soup, actually requested this meal because he is just stunned watching our 3yo take this soup out. Plus the kids get to help assemble the pizzas, so it's a fun family night.

I plan sides based on what I have on hand-- I do typically make small adjustments if I catch good fresh produce on sale- like the fresh broccoli I used for .75 last week. Or the sale at Aldi on asparagus for .99!

This week's meals comes in right around $30.

4/6 Monday

spaghetti with meatballs (pasta .50, sauce .00, meatballs 1.50, cheese .25)

green beans .40

salad .75


4/7 Tuesday

English muffin pizzas $.85

(muffins .35, sauce .00, cheese .50)

Chicken alphabet noodle soup $1.95 (made stock for this yesterday using leg quarters that I bought for .29/lb!)


4/8 Wednesday

beef alfredo pasta bake with carmelized onions and provolone topping $4.00 (I’m totally flying by the seat of my pants on this one—will post the recipe if the family approves!)

salad .75

biscuits with butter and honey .75


4/9 Thursday

Chinese lettuce wraps $2.55 (using ground pork on Manager's special for .99)

Orange Rice $1.25 (using brown rice, and mandarin oranges I got for .20!)


4/10 Friday

(check back later this week on this one---if you are new to price breakouts for meals, I am going to use this meal as an example of how we keep ingredients on hand for meals we eat frequently, and how you can save money!)

skillet nachos $2.90

corn .40


4/11 Saturday

grilled pork chops $1.50 (managers special .99/lb)

baked mashed sweet potatoes .35

salad 1.00


4/12 Sunday

Italian beef on hoagie rolls (rump roast $5.00, rolls $1.50)

Roasted ranch potatoes 1.00


Friday, April 3, 2009

Fru Fru Friday

Today it's almost 60 degrees outside, sunny and gorgeous. So it's hard to believe that by tomorrow night it could be snowing like crazy in April. (sigh) Yep....one last snowy hurrah for winter. They're forecasting anywhere from 2-9 inches of snow at this point, depending on who you listen to. So hubby and I are already planning a nice roaring fire, and we will toast with these as a goodbye to winter!


8 oz. Hot chocolate
1 oz. Bailey's Irish Cream
1 oz. Malibu Rum
.5 oz. creme de cacao
1 dash cinnamon
whipped cream

Mix hot chocolate to taste, add alcohol, top with whipped cream and sprinkle with cinnamon.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Hahaha---Note to self-don't send hubby on shopping trips

I already know this, but over and over again I think, "maybe this time he'll be better". Nope.

Don't get me wrong. He's actually pretty savvy, researches most purchases that are outside of the daily household needs, and totally supports my efforts to keeps costs down. His weakness is in the little stuff.

I was all excited today because I'm done with my shopping this week. Finito. And I'm under budget. I try to stay at $60, and I spent $37. Woohoo me, right? Well, hubby fixed that. I sent him to Target with the boys this afternoon to help Big K pick out a Leapster game that he earned on his sticker chart (with coupon LOL). I knew I should go. I had planned to, but I'm really under the weather today and just the doctor and the Baker's trip I made today after work did me in.

They just got back a little while ago. With the game. And a loaf of bakery bread that I had a coupon for (which was free). And 2 slurpees, a bag of popcorn, a crate of clementines, and various assorted other goodies. All wonderful. But he blew my budget extras. Oh well. My fault, right?

On the plus side, the boys came bouncing in the house from the joy (or the sugar) of having slurpees, which I must admit is a neat little treat they haven't gotten in a long time. Hopefully they'll sleep tonight hehehehe.

Hy-Vee Bargain Meal of the Week 4/1

Mmmm....chicken breast...mango....since I'm itching for spring here's a nice tropical flair for dinner.

Your shopping list:
boneless skinless chicken breasts- $1.99
1 fresh mango- .77
1 can Del Monte green beans- .68
1 bag Dole cole slaw mix- .69

Orange Mango Chicken
coleslaw (dressing recipe here)
green beans

Total for meal is $4.90

Bakers Bargain Meal of the Week for week of 4/1

This week, I'm taking advantage of the $1.75/lb sale on Honeysuckle 93% lean ground turkey. We're having turkey burgers! Full of flavor, and nice lean, healthy meat. We're having potato salad on the side.

Your shopping list:
1lb. Honeysuckle ground turkey $1.75
1 bag bakery onion or kaiser rolls $1.99 (for 6)
5lb. bag of Kroger potatoes $1.98-use 2 pounds= .80
2 large California navel oranges= $1

Your menu:

Garlic and RanchTurkey Burgers
Old Fashioned Potato Salad
sliced oranges

Total for the meal is $5.56.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Bakers One Day Sale tomorrow

Coupon matchup for tomorrow:

Land O Lakes Butter on sale for $1.58/lb. This is a great price. But it's even better when you add a .55/1 coupon, available here. This makes your final price $1.03 each!!! Limit 4.

Fareway Bargain Meal of the Week 4/1

Fareway has their rump roasts on sale for the first time in a while. $1.99/lb. Perfect for Italian roast beef sandwiches! You'll make the meat in the crock pot, too, so it's easy!

Your shopping list:

2lbs rump roast= $3.98
1 packet of italian dressing mix= $1.25
1 bag of russet potatoes @ $1.99- use 2lbs= .80
1 bag of Rotella brat buns= $1.99
1lb. Braeburn apples= .88

Your Menu:

Italian Crockpot Beef-

Place roast in crockpot, add italian dressing mix, 2T worcestershire sauce, 1tsp. of liquid smoke if you have it, cover and cook on low for 6-8 hours. Remove from crockpot, slice thinly, and return to crockpot until serving time. Serve meat on brat buns. This is so good I don't need cheese, but I do occasionally add a sliced onion at the beginning, or a jar of pepperoncini if you like spice.

Roasted Potatoes- Wash and cut potatoes into 1-inch chunks. Put into 1 gallon plastic zip bag. Add 3T olive oil, 2T crushed garlic, 1/2 tsp. of salt and 1/4 tsp. of pepper. Shake well, place on cooking sheet and bake at 425 for 30 minutes until potatoes are crisp and golden.

Slice apples and serve along with potatoes and sandwiches.

Cost of everything is just over $9.00. For a family of 4 the meat and buns will make 2 meals.

Coupon Updates Today!

It's the first day of the month, so that means new coupons online!

I did my card reloads at P&G ESaver, Cellfire, and Shortcuts. If your store has a loyalty/savings card, then make sure you head to these websites to grab extra savings! When you purchase the item and the checker scans your card, any coupon matchups will automatically deduct from your total. It's awesome.

You can also print coupons over to the right from coupons.com. I am using the $5 Leapster game coupon tomorrow at Target in combination with their $15 sale. $10 for these cartridges is great, and 3yo loves his Leapster!

Happy couponing!