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Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Canning pickles?

I've been canning for a few years now, and seem to make new strides every year. Last year I embarked into the last of tomato and spaghetti sauce, which was awesome. This year, I'm growing pickling cucumbers for canning. Big K and I are the big pickle eaters in the house, loving all varieties....hubby likes sweet, not dill. To be most accommodating to the masses, then, sweet pickles are probably what we'll do, but I'm open to dill as well.

Have a recipe you can share? Looking for some tried and true great recipes! Thanks!

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Target has a cheap and easy dee-lish dessert!

Tonight the boys are sitting with big bowls of Edy's Ice Cream Sandwich ice cream topped with homemade blueberry syrup, and they're quite happy with the world!

At Target this week, pints of blueberries are $1.99. Edy's is on sale 3/$7 this week, but add 3 Target web coupons, and the final price is 3/$4!

Menu Plan Week of 6/29

I am absolutely stunned to be posting my menu plan for the first week of JULY!! Unbelievable how fast the year is flying. As I look at my plan, it certainly reflects the time of year. I'm really taking advantage of the fresh produce and herbs either affordably priced in the stores, or FREE from my garden! Thank you Target for the 10 cent ears of corn---I will be featuring that in a couple of meals this week.

Lots of recipes and links this week, and the whole week of dinners clocks in at about $32.

Monday 6/29
Calico Beans 3.50
Garlic Corn on the cob .40
Bread and butter .50

Tuesday 6/30
Breakfast for dinner
Hearty scrambled eggs .50
Cheesy hashbrowns .80
toast .40
Bacon $1.50

Wednesday 7/1
Chicken fajitas $5.00
Fresh Tomato and Corn Salad $1.50

Thursday 7/2
Portabello Alfredo Pasta $3.50
Tomato, basil and mozzarella salad $1.00

Friday 7/3
Lemon garlic grilled Chicken drumsticks and thighs $2.50
Green beans with bacon $1.30
Grilled cheesy potato foil packets

Saturday 7/4- 4th of July fun food nite
Hotdogs for hubby and boys- working $1.10
Hotdogs .40, buns .40, cheese .30
Pringles .50
Apple slices .50
Brownies w/ chocolate chips $1.50

Sunday 7/5
Grilled teriyaki pork tenderloin $4.00
Peanut Butter Noodles $1.25

green beans .45

Slow Cooker Calico Beans

Slow cooker Calico Beans

1 lb. any variety or combination of dried beans (use 2-4: I used great northern and black beans)
½ lb. lean ground beef
4 slices of bacon, cooked and crumbled
1 smoked pork chop (or a few leftover ribs, or 1 cup of diced ham, or smoked sausage)
1 onion, chopped
½ cup brown sugar
1T Worcestershire sauce
½ bottle chili sauce
½ cup barbecue sauce
1 can chicken broth ( I used homemade from freezer)
1T dried mustard
1 clove garlic, minced

Wash and sort through beans. Soak in bowl with 3 inches of hot water over top for 2-4 hours. Drain beans. Place in crock pot with remaining ingredients and cook on low for 8-10 hours, or until beans are tender. This is a great dish to make in advance for dinner and reheat. Serve with a veggie and bread & butter. Or take to potluck. This can be modified to use whatever leftover meats you might have. Get creative!

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Green Beans with Bacon.

Green Beans with Bacon

This is a yummy and EASY way to use up fresh green beans! Not that I have any ready in the garden yet ( thank you bunnies) but the sales have been good. :) Perhaps you have fresh green beans in YOUR garden. Lucky duck. :)

1lb. fresh green beans, washed with ends trimmed, cut into bite size pieces
1T olive oil
1T balsamic
2 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled
salt and pepper to taste

Cook green beans in large pot in steamer basket with about 2 inches of water and lid on securely for about 15 minutes, or until green beans are tender. Drain. In bowl, toss green beans, bacon, olive oil, balsamic vinegar and salt and pepper. Serve.

Chicken Fajitas

Michelle’s Chicken Fajitas

1 lb. chicken breasts, cut into bite size pieces
½ cup of beer
1T olive oil
½ cup lime juice
4 cloves minced garlic
1/2t cumin
1/2 t salt
½ t chipotle powder or 1T adobo sauce
2 peppers, different colors, cut into 1 inch pieces
1 onion, cut into 1 inch pieces
1T olive oil

In 1 gallon Ziploc bag, place chicken. Whisk all ingredients down to peppers in a bowl and pour over chicken. Marinate at least 2 hours in fridge. In large sauce pan over medium high heat, warm 1T olive oil, then add peppers and onions, sautéing 3 minutes. Add chicken with just a little of the marinade, then discard the rest. Cook 10-15 minutes, stirring often, until chicken is cooked through. Serve with tortillas, cheese, lettuce, tomatoes and sour cream, or whatever toppings you prefer.

This post is linked to The 5 Dollar Dinner Challenge at www.5dollardinners.com, and Share My Recipe Sunday at Organize With Sandy

How to shop frugally at the warehouse stores

I'm a Sam's fan. Have been for years. We took a walking trip through Costco, and there were some great perks there. We've stayed with Sam's just because it's closer. Either way, these stores can be helpful in your shopping if you keep some things in mind.
  • Buying in bulk doesn't necessarily save you more money. If you don't use it all and the food goes to waste, you end up throwing money away. Make sure that you are careful in what you purchase, and that they are things you will indeed use in that size.
  • Know your price per ounce/unit/etc. Sam's, and I'm assuming Costco as well, is famous for carrying sizes on products that don't match up with other stores. The cleaning products have 2 more ounces in them, or things like that. I suggest taking a notebook with you to the the stores you frequent and track the prices by price per ounce. It makes your comparisons easier to do.
  • Once you know your price per ounce/unit, you can then determine if purchasing some things are better at a regular store on a great sale with a coupon.
  • Don't go hungry!
Generally, over the years I've found toilet paper and paper towels to be very competitive with other stores, especially if you are brand picky, and I am. I also found baby formula and diapers to be competitive, although with coupons you can do a lot better. It's a good fallback, though. I also think both stores are great on produce. I love buying lettuces and other things, as the pricing is MUCH lower than grocery stores. The only catch again is that you have to be willing to eat a LOT of salads or it will go bad before you can consume. Fortunately I think I was a bunny in a former life. :)

We also find great luck on purchasing things like photo paper, socks, underwear, and the salt for our water softener.

Be strategic, have a plan, and shopping in the warehouse store can be a helpful element to your frugal goals.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Baker's Bargain Meal of the Week 6/26

Your shopping list:

1 lb. Honeysuckle White Ground Turkey (sold in a 3 lb. tube)= $1.59
4 bakery fresh kaiser rolls (sold by the 6 for $1.99/bag)= $1.32
1 cantaloupe= $1.67
1 can Van Kamp's Pork and Beans= .50

Your menu:

Turkey Burgers
cantaloupe slices

Total= $5.08

Hy-Vee Bargain Meal of the Week 6/26

Here's your shopping list:
  • 1 package Hy-Vee Italian Sausage $2.99 (use half and freeze the rest for another meal)= $1.50
  • 1 box of Hy-Vee Whole Wheat Spaghetti $1.25
  • 1 jar Ragu Pasta Sauce= $1.50
  • BOGO Bakery Fresh Italian Bread (get 2 @ $1.99, use 1)= $1.00
Your Menu-

Whole Wheat Spaghetti with Italian Sausage Marinara
Italian Bread (I like to serve with olive oil mixed with Italian seasoning and garlic as a bread dip)

Brown the sausage, dice into bite size pieces and add to sauce in pan. Simmer until ready to serve. Boil water, add pasta, cook according to instructions. Drain, return pasta to pan, add sauce and toss to coat. Serve with bread.

Total for the meal- $5.25

Grilled Artichokes

So, I've never exactly been one to follow recipes, exactly, and I was playing around the other night with the grilled artichokes I made. Hubby had run out of propane on the grill so I did indoor cooking, but these would be GREAT on the outdoor grill as well. The recipe I started from was here. I followed the initial instructions exactly. Then when it came to the grilling part, I changed the grilling sauce a bit. Instead of lemon, I added 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar. I also added some lemon pepper. Oh me oh my, oh me oh my! These were darn good! Very flavorful and not nearly as unhealthy as the way we typically eat them, which is to boil, then to dip leaves in melted garlic butter. I will definitely make them again.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Blueberry Syrup

I'm using up some of the blueberries I bought today in a blueberry and spinach salad, tossed in a vinaigrette made with blueberry syrup, apple cider vinegar and olive oil. I'm making the syrup tonight to use part of it for the vinaigrette, and then I will freeze the rest for next week when we do pancakes for dinner.

Blueberry Syrup

2 cups of fresh blueberries, rinsed
3/4 cup sugar
1 cup water
splash of vanilla (optional)
1T lemon juice

Bring blueberries, sugar, water and vanilla (if using) to a boil in a small saucepan. Reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 15 minutes or until mixture has thickened. Strain through seive or use as is. Add lemon juice.

This post is linked to: http://grocerycartchallenge.blogspot.com/

Grilled Garlic Chicken

A great, easy marinade for your grilled chicken. This is best if you can marinade for the day. You can also marinade, then freeze the chicken for grilling at a later time.

4 boneless skinless chicken breasts

1/3 cup olive oil
3 T white wine vinegar
3 cloves garlic, minced
salt and pepper
1 t italian seasoning ( I use Penzeys Tuscan Sunset)
rind of 1 lemon ( I use Penzey's dehydrated rind-nice cheat!)

Whisk all marinade ingredients in bowl. Place chicken in gallon ziploc bag, or in a plastic container with lid. Add marinade, toss to coat, seal, and place in refrigerator for up to 24 hrs. before grilling.

Menu Plan Week of 6/21

We're not turning the oven on at all this week. I am going to try to use the grill and the microwave as much as possible, and I will be really branching out with the variety of cold salads with dinner. I'm also experimenting with some new recipes, both online and from a couple of new cookbooks I've gotten. I'll be posting more recipes as I go.

Monday 6/22
Grilled Garlic Chicken $1.50
Grilled artichokes $2.00
Spaghetti noodles with parmesan, olive oil and chopped fresh basil $1.00
Spinach and blueberry salad $1.00

Tuesday 6/23
Smoked bbq pork sandwiches $2.80
Pork $1.50, buns .50, bbq .50, cheese .30
Apple Cole Slaw $1.75
Corn .50

Wednesday 6/24
Taco salad $4.25
Nectarine slices $1.00

Thursday 6/25
Mini Cheese ravioli with portabello mushroom sauce $4.00
Salad $1.00

Friday 6/26
Steak kebobs with veggies $5.50
Potato, green bean and corn salad (making half this) $1.25

Saturday 6/27
Brat patties on buns $2.80
Slow cooker beans with smoked pork bone $1.00 for ½ (will freeze other half)

Sunday 6/28
Lemon shrimp on angel hair pasta $6.50
Broccoli .25

We're back!

We're back from our visit home, and my 20 year high school reunion. The trip was good, the reunion was awesome, and we had a great time visiting family. We are now back home with the newest addition to our home, a 26 foot MacGregor cabin sailboat. We traded my FIL our smaller boat for one of his---yes, he and my hubby are big sailing fans. Now we'll be able to take the entire family on sailing trips.

Today I have one last day off from work to unpack, stock the house back up in groceries, tend to my garden and meal plan. So expect lots of recipe posts, pictures and other goodies as I go!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Hy-Vee Bargain Meal of the week 6/18

This week's meal at Hy-Vee uses fresh fruit and vegetables to create an elegant meal for a great price.

Your shopping list-

1.5lbs. boneless skinless chicken breast @ $1.99/lb= $2.99
2 peaches @ 1.18/lb= about .95
2 artichokes @ .99 each= $1.98
Knorr rice side= $1

Total= $6.92

Your menu-

Baked Chicken with Peaches
Grilled Garlic Artichokes

Fareway Bargain Meal of the Week June 18th

Lots of great, easy affordable combos this week at Fareway. These would be quick weeknight dinners, and there are several outdoor grilling dinners so you can keep the heat outside!

Meal #1- (You'll feed six with this meal!)

Bacon Mushroom Burgers
Sweet 'n' Sour Tomato Salad

You need:
2lbs. ground beef @ $1.68/lb= $3.36
1 package Rotellas buns= .99
1.5lbs. roma tomatoes @ .99/lb= $1.54
3oz. slab bacon at $2.49/lb= .50

Total= $6.39

Meal #2- (this is a SPLURGE meal, bun might be fun for the weekend)

Brat patties w/ cheese on buns
fresh pineapple
potato chips

You need:
4 brat patties (about 1.5lbs) at $1.99/lb= $2.98
1 package Fastco cheese singles @ $1.50- use 4 slices= .38
1 package Rotellas buns @ .99- use half= .50
1 fresh pineapple= 2.99
1 bag Fastco Chips= .99

Total= $7.84

Meal #3-

Marinated Grilled Chicken Breasts
Knorr Rice Side
Fresh Strawberries

You Need:
3 lbs whole chicken breasts @ .99/lb= $2.97
1 Knorr Rice Side= $1.00
1 lb. strawberries- $1.49
1 Mrs. Dash Garlic Marinade @ $1.99- use half= $1.00

Total- $6.46

Meal #4

Spaghetti with meat sauce
garlic toast

You Need:
1 package Barilla Spaghetti= .99
1 jar Ragu sauce= $1.50
1/2lb. ground beef= .84
New York Garlic Toast w/ Cheese= $2.50

Total= $5.83

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Getting Ready for the Road trip

I've spent the last two days trying to get things around here ready for the trip. Part of that has been preparing food that we can take along with us for the car ride, and also snacks and munchies that we'll be able to have on hand at my inlaws. For your next trip, here are some ideas-

-muffins (I made banana chocolate chip!)
-turkey, ham and salami wraps, in different combos with american and cream cheese
-kid-size bags of grapes, cheese slices, baby carrots
-bags of popcorn mixed with trix cereal and peanut butter chips. (or any other fun combos you might have on hand!
-apples, bananas
-crackers, rice cakes, chex mix and granola bars
-box of cereal to have with us at the in-laws, along with a loaf of bread and a jar of peanut butter

You could also pack raisins and other dried fruits. I forgot to grab some! Everthing else above is going with us, along with bottles of water and soda. This makes it really easy to avoid the quik shops, and it also helps with your stops. We do a lot of "eat on the run", and it makes the trip a lot faster!

I know that we'll have more food than we'll be able to consume on the way down, but it's nice to have things like this at the in-laws, where the food isn't always kid friendly.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Very versatile and yummy muffin recipe

As we gear up for a road trip, I am preparing by making lots of foods that will travel well to help cut down any unnecessary spending. An essential is the handy, grab -n- go muffin. I love this recipe on the Food Network site for Mix-In Muffins. You can adjust what kind of muffins they are by the add-ins, but the basic mix is the same. I added banana and chocolate chips, and I swapped out 1/2 cup of the white flour for whole wheat flour. The rest I kept the same. Great recipe!

(Yes, there's only 11 there, not 12. Someone had to be brave and test them before they were shared with the rest of the family. This is me--looking out for everyone's safety lol)

Menu Plan Monday

An abbreviated week as we gear up for a road trip!


eggs, toast, fruit
open faced english muffin breakfast sandwiches, sausage, fruit
smoothies, peanut butter toast


black bean and corn soup, cheese quesadillas, carrot sticks
salami and cream cheese rollups, crackers, fruit, red pepper strips w/ranch dip
turkey wraps, apples, yogurt


ribs, spinach salad, beans, crusty bread with olive oil dip
chicken patty sandwiches, pasta salad, deviled eggs, veggies and dip

For the road:

making muffins, sandwiches, popcorn, bags of fruits and veggies, assorted other snacks to keep where we're staying. Will post with reports of how constructive I am over the next couple of days!

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Interesting finds this week

This week was a whirlwind. LOTS of hours at work gearing up for some much deserved time off. Why is it that the week before and the week after vacation is soooo crazy? I will be posting an abbreviated meal plan this week as we prepare to visit family and attend my 20th high school reunion (I promise to post pictures! I'm starting to get really excited about seeing friends from long ago and see what they're up to).

I finally got a chance to spend a few minutes in the garden yesterday for the first time since early in the week. The good- I have baby tomatoes and my cucumbers are blooming like crazy! The bad- the bunnies have managed to get around some of our pr

In between the craziness, some neat finds this week:

  • Are you watching The Next Food Network Star? I love this show I think almost as much as I love food. We got a chance to talk to Bob Tuschman on the air about this season, and he's just so nice you wanna hug him. I stumbled across his blog on what he thinks about the finalists. Check it out here.
  • While rifling through the Food Network website, I found something odd- Paula Deen making something healthy! :) Check out her video for making basic chicken stock here. Kinda stunned she didn't pour a cup of mayonnaise into it. This is a great basic recipe if you've never done it before.
  • Phoebe at Cents to Get Debt Free has a cool series on canning. Great for beginnners, but good review on how to save if you're a veteran as well. Read here.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Murad Skincare

Murad Skin Care

As I sit with a big ole zit on the bottom of my chin and cursing myself for not using the products that truly work for me, the karma train stopped as I stumbled across my favorite skincare for the sort of "reverse t-zone" I seem to get. My chin and right around my nose are oilier, everything else is dry. Few things work. Except Murad.

For me, the clarifying cleanser and the spot treatment are just enough and effective. They also have an impressive line of anti-aging and anti-cellulite treatments. I am also intrigued by the dietary supplement they are now offering!

You can get more info at Murad Skin Care. That's where I'll also be going to get more of the cleanser. LOL. When will I learn my lesson?

I think this is my new sickness

$26.00 on spices. Darn near half what I spent on groceries last week. Am I a nerd? Some herbs I've successfully grown, and a few, like dill, I've even dehydrated and kept in my cabinet- worked great. But not everything works like that, and with spices, I've come to the realization that quality makes a huge difference. While I do truly watch what I spend, there are things that I'm comfortable spending more on, and Penzey's is one of those.

All of the small jars there are newbies for me. I buy a small, to see if I like it, and use it. The tall guys behind are more staples, and those bottles will serve as the bottles for refills---Penzey's sells in larger bags, and for certain spices that's the way to go.

I also really like that they have so many salt-free options. I like salt, I use salt, but I do like to try to limit what I use, and it's difficult to do anymore.

So after this, I walked into Walmart to get plastic spoons for Ry's lunches at camp this week, and they had this big ole bin of 2 / $1 cheapo spices, seasoning salts, etc....I almost walked into it. I actually laughed out loud. Someone else today spent $2.00 on her mother load of spices. Me? Loser.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Menu Plan Monday June 8th

This week my goal is to use as much fresh produce as possible, and if I can't use it this week, find ways to preserve/cook/freeze, as we're going to be gone for part of next week and I don't want anything to go bad. I'm also supposed to make a quick overnight business trip this week. Historically when I've planned for the boys, they still eat something else (you know, mom's not around, so why not do something fun, right?), so this week I didn't even try to put something in place. Not including the boy's nite, the week comes in at under $23. We'll see what damage they do :)

6/8 Monday
moo shoo pork wraps (using frozen thinly sliced pork I already have)
(pork $1.00, coleslaw mix .65, tortillas .50, extras .75)
fresh cubed Pineapple .75

6/9 Tuesday
penne pasta with smoked chicken, broccoli and red pepper alfredo sauce $3.50
salad $1.00

6/10 Wednesday
boys nite- Mom’s gone

6/11 Thursday
chicken patty sandwiches $2.00
fries .45
green beans .45

6/12 Friday
grilled chicken drumsticks $1.50
knorr pasta .65
steamed broccoli .60

6/13 Saturday
ribs $4.00
black bean and corn salad $1.00
roasted potatoes .75

6/14 Sunday
lemon and rosemary grilled pork chops $2.00
risotto $1.50
carrots .50 (steamed from freezer)

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Weekly Shopping June 6th

I apologize that the pictures aren't great-I just wanted to take them quickly and grabbed my phone. This is my Baker's Trip:

2 Knorr Pasta sides= .87 each - .50/2 coupon and .75 cellfire = .25 each!
2 Ramen Noodles= .17
2 Maxwell House Coffees= 5.99 each- $2/2
2 Hormel Pork Tenderloins= $8.99 each BOGO- $1/1 coupon= $4.00 each...not too shabby!
4 ears corn= .80
3 bottles Ken's Dressing= $1.66 each minus 3 $1/1 coupons
1 Tabasco Chipotle Sauce= $3.29- $1/1 coupon
2 Oscar Mayer Lite Hogs = $1.25 each minus $1/2 coupon =.75 each!
4 tomatoes on the vine= $1.37
1 dozen Dillons eggs= .69
1 Country Crock tub= $1.99 minus .55/1 coupon

Total Before Coupons and Baker's Card Savings= $67.60
Total store savings= $27.61
Total MF savings= $9.80

OOP= $30.19 (55% savings)

Hy-Vee Trip-

6 Blue Bunny Yogurts= .50 each minus $1/6 coupon
3 Kelloggs Frosted Mini Wheats= $1.68 each minus 3 $1/1 coupons= .68 each!
2 Natures Pride 100% Whole Wheat Double Fiber Bread= $2.99 each BOGO- $1.10/2 coupon= .95 each!!
2 Ragu Sauces= $1.67 each minus .75/2 coupon
1 Slimfast 6pack= $4.99- $1.40/1 coupon
4 bags Kraft Shredded Cheese= $1.50 each minus 2 $1/2 coupons
Bananas @.39/lb= $1.35
1 Del Monte Pineapple= $1.99 (forgot coupons.com coupon on printer-drats!)
Red grapes @ .99/lb.= $2.14
Green cabbage @ .69/lb= $1.14

Total OOP= $22.81 (est. at 58% savings...Hy-Vee doesn't show original prices on receipt)


2 boxes Quaker Fiber Bars2 2/$5- 2 $1/1 coupons
1 Crystal Light 6 ct = $2.67 minus $1/1 coupon
2 Ziploc bags minus $1/2 coupon
2 Coffee Mates= $3.00
1 gallon skim milk = $2.39

Total $16.29 minus $15.00 in gift cards that I've gotten for prescriptions and purchases

OOP= $1.71

Total for the week= $54.71!

Bakers Meal of the Week

Between the work schedule and my desire to keep things fairly simple here, I know that's bleeding over into my suggestions here...this is a simple, easy dish for any night.

Here's your shopping list at Baker's for this meal-

1 lb. boneless skinless chicken breasts $1.77/lb (sold in a 3lb. bag at $5.31)
4 ears fresh corn = .80
Knorr Pasta or Rice side= .87
1 fresh cantaloupe= $1.77

Your meal plan-
Marinated Grilled Chicken
Savory Grilled Corn
Knorr side of your choice
sliced cantaloupe

Meal total is $5.21 for an easy summer meal!