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Thursday, January 28, 2010

Asparagus with Lemon Dill Dipping Sauce


Well, I was going to take a picture of this today, as I'd made it to take to work. Except hubby ate it. All of it. LOL. He seriously is the world's worst late night snacker. I didn't say anything to him about not eating it because a) I've never seen him eat more veggies than necessary, and b) he doesn't like dill. I guess late night snack desperation took over :)

Anyway, this is a snack I like to make to take to work. You can also increase the amounts you make and serve as a healthy snack at a party.

1/2lb. fresh asparagus, ends removed
1T light mayonnaise
1/4 cup light sour cream
1t dijon mustard (I like to use Horseradish Dijon for a little extra kick)
1T lemon juice
1t lemon peel, finely grated
1/4t kosher salt
1/4t garlic powder
1/4t pepper
1/4t dried dill

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Drop asparagus in and cook about 2 minutes, until crisp tender. Drain and rinse in cold water to stop cooking.

Meanwhile, mix remaining ingredients in a small bowl. Cover, and chill both the dip and the asparagus until serving. Hide from hubby.

Check out other great recipes at Cooking Thursday.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Menu Plan Week of 1/25


I moved one meal from last week to this week, otherwise we stuck to our plan pretty well. It's another 6 meal week, as Thursday is the annual "Pancake Man" event at R's school, and we'll all be over there stuffing ourselves with yummy pancakes :). The $16.00 it will cost the family puts us at more than I'd prefer to spend for a week of dinners, but the proceeds go to the PTO, so I feel better about it. The 6 dinners for 4 works out to just over $25.

Monday 1/25 $4.75
corn chowder $2.75
sourdough rolls .50
fruit salad $1.50

Tuesday $3.75
chicken, mushroom and broccoli pasta $2.75
spinach and pear salad $1.00

Wednesday $4.00
Applesauce glazed pork chops $2.75
brown sugar cinnamon carrots .50
green beans .45
english muffins .30

Thursday
Pancake Man

Friday $3.75
skillet nachos $3.25
corn .50
$3.75

Saturday $4.65
tortellini and smoked sausage soup $2.75
grilled cheese sammies $1.40
apple slices .50

Sunday $5.00
Pizza Night

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Walgreens and Hy-Vee Trips 1/24

I didn't take pictures, because, honestly, I had a TON of stuff, and it all needed to go down to storage, so it seemed silly to take it all out of bags, just to take a picture and then put it all back in bags to carry it downstairs. But it was picture worthy, for sure!

Stop 1 was Walgreens. I took advantage of the Pepsi/Frito deal, buying $20 of stuff, get a $10 register reward. Got 3 bags of Tostitos, 1 Tostitos salsa, 2 Stacy's Pita Chips, and 4 bottles of soda. Plus, 4 bottles of CoffeeMate creamer, B1G1, using coupons. Used cashed and RR to pay. Total was $3.48 OOP, and I got a $10 RR. Total savings was $35.40.

Next stop- Hy-Vee's 12 hour sale. 2 bags of chicken breasts, 2 jars of peanut butter, 2 cans of nonstick spray, and 2 gallons of Land o Lake's milk, which I had free coupons for. I also stumbled upon a display where they were obviously trying to move an excess of Ziploc bags...they had the easy zips marked down to 50 cent each! I bought 7. Total for everything here- $16.35. A savings of $30.00

Total for the day- $19.83, and saved $65.40, or 77%!!! And I have a $10RR for another time.


This post is linked to the Grocery Cart Challenge. See how other people did with their shopping this week!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Hy-Vee 12-hour Sale Coupon Matchups

Hy-Vee is having a 12 hour sale on Sunday, with some pretty good prices. There are some coupon matchups that make it even better!



  • 40 oz bag Country Pride Boneless Skinless Chicken Breasts- $3.88 limit 2. Use .55 off coupon here--- print twice. Final price: $3.33 each

  • Skippy Peanut Butter- .98 each, limit 2. I have a .75/2 coupon that I think came from a Red Plum insert but I can't find the date in the coupon database. Final price: 2 jars for .62 each.

  • Tostitos 9oz bag- $1.88. There is a $1 coupon from the 1/17 Smartsource if you buy any 1 Tostitos 9oz or larger AND any Tostitos brand dip 11oz. or larger.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Easy Spinach and Grapefruit Salad

This has become my new favorite healthy salad for lunch, and it's ridiculously easy. Mix 3 cups of fresh spinach with 1 red grapefruit, sliced into sections, and 1 strawberry Fiber One yogurt. Sprinkle with poppy seeds. Toss to coat. Eat.

173 calories gives you 10 grams of fiber, 150% of your daily Vitamin A and C needs, 20% of your iron, 15% of your potassium and 15% of your calcium. Not bad, huh?

Fresh Sweet Corn at Hy-Vee this week

It seems the longer I have a nice garden in the summer, the more I long for good fresh produce in the winter. I get so spoiled. So imagine my pleasant surprise to see nice fresh sweet corn on sale at Hy-Vee this week at a great price-- 4 for $1. I have corn chowder on the menu this week, so this will be wonderful to use!!

BTW....it's not online, but the flyer in the paper is advertising a 12 hour sale on Sunday that looks like it has some pretty good deals. I will update you on those later this week- looks like there are some coupon matchups.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Book Interview

I don't generally talk about my job here...this blog is my escape from radio, where I can talk about my interests and other things that I enjoy. Occasionally though, opportunities come up where I get my peanut butter on my chocolate, so to speak :)

This morning I interviewed Rosalyn Hoffman, author of Bitches on a Budget. Roz is super nice, and has a fun approach to finding ways to save money, but not feel like you're skimping.

I put the interview up on my work blog if you'd like to hear it.

Walgreens Trip 1/18

I picked up 2 Neosporin Lip Health Daily Treatments, 2 Wet Ones Wipes, a bag of Cheddar Quakes and a 6pk of raisin snack boxes today- my total was $5.08, I used a $4 Register Reward I had, paid $1.08, and got $4 back in Register Rewards. Not too shabby!

Definitely take advantage of the Neosporin Lip Health deal. They are on sale 2 for $8. If you go here, you can get a $3 off coupon. Print two. That makes your out of pocket price $2, and you'll get a $3RR to use on your next trip. Moneymaker!

Throw one in your handbag, and the other with your skincare regimen. I always like to have multiples of things like this so I have them wherever and whenever I need them!

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Menu Plan Monday Week of 1/18


I have everything I need for this week's menu plan, which I just LOVE! Makes it super easy. I'm also trying a new recipe from the February Cooking Light. Saturday we are having Korean food at a friend's house. 6 meals for 4 work out to under $30.00 this week.

Monday- Meatless Monday
stuffed shells with marinara sauce $3.00
green beans .45
texas toast from freezer .75
$4.15

Tuesday 1/19
taco Tuesday $4.00
corn .50
$4.50

Wednesday 1/20
lemon parsley chicken $2.50
garlic roasted potatoes .75
asparagus spears .75
$4.00

Thursday 1/21
Shrimp fra diavolo (Feb. Cooking light) $5.00
salad $1.00
$6.00

Friday 1/22
Sloppy Josephines $3.00
baby carrots .50
orange slices .50
$4.00

Saturday 1/23
dinner with friends

Sunday 1/24
corn chowder $3.00
cornbread with honey butter 1.00
$4.00

This week's to do...

I've let the boys' breakfast choices dwindle down a bit, and I have some other projects I want to get to for snacks and lunch choices. Today I made a batch of waffles for the freezer. Here are my other goals for the week:

- I bought almost 7lbs. of bananas at Hy-Vee's Weekend Sale, as they had them on sale for .29/lb. I will turn these into banana chips and banana bread.

-Going to make some savory muffins, like these from Kate at Cooking During Stolen Moments

-need to brown the sausage in the fridge and use to make a new batch of sausage, egg and cheese wraps.

-Ry's been bugging me for chocolate chip cookies, so I think I'll have to work on that for him too. :)

-I also have pizza dough to make for tonight.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Another way to sneak nutrition into food...

I use my coffee grinder a lot...and not for coffee :)

When I see the most common "deceptively delicious" type recipes, they generally involve sneaking in pureed fruits and vegetables. What I also work on sneaking in at my house is more beans, brown rice, oats, flax, and other grains. I find it very easy to do with my coffee grinder. A half cup of steel cut oats that has been grinded to a fine flour takes seconds, and is a lovely addition to pancakes, breads, etc., without the typical oat texture.

Beans and grains together are a whole protein. A quarter cup of dried black beans and a quarter cup of brown rice grinded and added to supplement the flour in brownies adds nutritional value.

Grind up your flax and sprinkle it into oatmeal, stir into yogurt or smoothies.

My kids never notice a thing.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

A moment in honor of....

The inventor of my very favorite childhood food- Spaghettios. Donald Goerke passed away Sunday of heart failure at the age of 83. Donald also invented Campbell's Chunky Soup.

I think I may have to have some Spaghettios today in his honor.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Thank you!

A big thanks to Gabrielle at Couponing In Critical Times. I love her blog because she focuses on stockpiling and preparedness, and I still have a lot to learn! She featured this Momstoppable tip from the other day on her blog. Please stop by and check out her site!

My "Happy Weight"

Kudos to Self Magazine for restoring some sanity to weight loss. I have always been so frustrated by those "ideal weight" calculators you find online. The weight ranges they give you might be "ideal" but at least for me, hardly "realistic". I would be a skeleton. A mean, grumpy, hungry skeleton. Might as well be in Hollywood.

So I stumbled across my kinda calculator! Self Magazine's "Happy Weight" Calculator. They ask several questions, and then give you a weight target that is skinny enough to look great, and easy enough to maintain. I did this today and discovered that I'm actually about 7lbs. UNDER my "Happy Weight"! Right on! And the thing is, I'd actually be comfortable 7lbs. higher, I just love being a little thinner and I can maintain it.

So if your goal is weight loss, I'd recommend this as a great realistic target. Good luck!

Crisis in Haiti

The photos and video coming out of Haiti this morning has really affected me. After a 7.0 magnitude earthquake yesterday, the damage is just incredible. Thousands are feared dead, and the buildings are in ruins. This is a country that has already been living in poverty. Aid will be a real task, and there are a lot of organizations that will be in need of your help. I'm a fan of the Red Cross. Your preferences might be different, or through your church...whatever it is, please think of these people and try to find a way to help. I spend so much trying to save money and provide for my family so that we would be okay in a crisis, but so that I can also help others affected.

Please keep them in your thoughts and prayers.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Reuse your cereal bags!


As I was crushing crackers for my chicken nugget breading last night, I realized that I should share a tip. I used to use my nice ziploc bags for breading, marinades, etc...I have been known to wash bags out, but never anything like that, as they are really a mess, and especially when marinading meat, I worry about not killing all the bacteria.

Instead, I give a second life to the bags in the cereal box. When the bag is empty, I wash it, let it dry and stash it in my bag drawer. They work great! Because of the thickness of the bags, they're great to use with a rolling pin for crushing- no likelihood of breaking.

Hubby laughs at me because when I was in my early 20's, I used to think his grandma was "eccentric" for reusing bags. Now I do it myself. Grandma is a smart cookie :)

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Menu Plan Week of 1/11

The arrival of hubby's smoker caused us to move some things around, so I didn't follow this past week's menu exactly. I'm bumping pizza tonight, as I'd planned bbq chicken pizza, and we've done a lot of bbq between ribs and tomorrow's brisket...so I'm a little burnt out.

A really nice week for the budget. Monday through Sunday's meals come in under $29. Taking advantage of cheap ham and broccoli from Target, .50 bags of spinach from Fareway after coupons, and leftovers from the freezer.


Sunday 1/10
Baked Chicken Tenders $3.00
steamed baby carrots .50
buttered noodles .75
spinach and apple salad .50
$4.75

Monday 1/11
Smoked Beef Brisket $4.00
rolls .50
roasted red potatoes $1.00
spinach salad w/ mushrooms and eggs $.75
$6.25

Tuesday 1/12
Ham Steaks .85
Au Gratin Potatoes $1.00
green beans .45
apple slices .50
$2.80

Wednesday 1/13
Fry Bread topped with chili and cheese (leftover chili from freezer) $2.00
corn .50
salad .75
$3.25

Thursday 1/14
Orange shrimp and broccoli stirfry $3.00
brown rice .50
potstickers $2.50
$6.00

Friday 1/15
chili cheese pasta $1.25
leftover corn .00
texas toast .75
$2.00

Saturday 1/16
cheeseburgers $3.00
fries .75
canteloupe .50
$4.25

Sunday 1/17
Pizza Night $4.00

Friday, January 8, 2010

Me Me Me!!! ::::hands waving like mad:::::::

Actually, today it's more about the cold- high today is supposed to be 4 below zero, and tonight a low of 24 below..that's actual temperature, kids, not wind chill. Yuck.

I am so ready for spring already!!!

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Getting ready to eat a lot of smoked foods...


Hubby's Christmas present finally arrived----a Bradley electric smoker. He's prepping a nice brisket in this photo, and also has a couple slabs of ribs. Let the smoking begin!!!

Stockpiling is really paying off for me this Winter

According to the paper, we've had 36 inches of snowfall already. Most of it still on the ground. Add to that the extreme cold we've been experiencing, and all of a sudden I really don't have an urge to do much shopping. Luckily for me, I don't have to. No panic pre-storm shopping trips (which can be costly). I have lots and lots of food here for as long as we need.

I have collected this week's sale ads and have started compiling a list of items I wouldn't mind picking up if the weather clears up a bit, but at the moment, I have no urge to do any more traveling than necessary. Just getting to work today was an adventure.

If you haven't built up much of a stockpile, yet another great reason to do it.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Too much snow!


I took this with my phone, so it's not the best photo...but gives you an idea of how deep the snow is getting! See in the back corner where I have my garden bed? Look at how far up the fence the snow goes!

We've added about 4 inches today and the winds are starting to kick up with is going to create even more drifting.

I'm so done with winter already!!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

How did YOU spend New Year's?


I did it like this. LOL. Would you believe me if I said there were no adult beverages involved in the taking of this photo? Didn't think so. :)

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Menu Plan Monday Week of 1/4

Welcome to 2010! It's been over 1 year that I have been consistently meal planning, and it's saved money, time, and my sanity. Truly. Hubby's even commented that we never have the "what to eat" panic anymore. Ever. And we don't eat out more than once a month really either. We've figured out that I can usually make the food just as well, only cheaper :) This week's plan builds around food already in the freezer or things I'm prepping today.
Since tonight is Pizza Night, I browned extra sausage, onions and mushrooms. I divided the mixture 3 ways. One for pizza.

The next for this baked spaghetti I made today and put in the fridge for tomorrow. All I have to do is sprinkle some extra cheese on it and pop it in the oven. Thanks Laura at orgjunkie.com for the link to this last week! It looked delish!


The rest of the meat mixture combined with the extra sauce I'd made and is now in the freezer for the next time we make spaghetti.
The 7 meals for this week run about $31.

Sunday
Pizza Night
Sausage, Mushroom and Onion Pizza and Cheese Pizza $4.50
Salad $.75
$5.25

Monday
Spaghetti Bake $6.75 (eat half tonight- rest later in the week)
Green beans .50
Leftover biscuits .00
$7.25

Tuesday
Shrimp and ham fried rice $3.25 (Make rice Sunday)
Broccoli .75
$4.00

Wednesday
Garlic Broiled Chicken Thighs $3.00 (thank you .77 /lb sale!)
Baked sweet potatoes .75
Buttered noodles .60
$4.35

Thursday
Leftover spaghetti bake .00
Salad $.75
$.75

Friday
Italian beef over mashed potatoes $5.00
Steamed carrots .50
$5.50

Saturday
Chili Cheese Dinner $2.25 (using leftovers frozen from last week's turkey chili)
Corn .50
$2.75


Sunday
Pizza Night
Bbq chicken pizza and cheese pizza $5.00
Salad $.75
$5.75

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Baby Steps Challenge- Baby Step #3

We've been learning about stockpiling and making smart purchases at the store in baby steps. New habits happen by making small changes. So far, you should have a list of foods you prepare most often, and from there, you've been able to assemble a list of essential staples that you always use. I asked you to track the prices of those essentials last month with a notebook. Since these are items that you presumably buy often, at this point you should have a nice breakout of the high and low ranges for each item. Our goal is to have you only purchase foods at that low range. How? Stock up on the items you know you will use when they hit that point.

Example. We use a LOT of cheese in this house. Price range for an 8oz bag or block tends to be $1 on the low to $2.50 on the high. I NEVER want to purchase at $2.50. That's 2.5 bags on the low end. Cheese is one of those foods that keeps for a long time in the fridge, and shredded cheese can also be put in the freezer. The $1 price comes up around here at least once per month, so whenever I see it, I buy several. Today Hy-Vee had cheese for $1, and I bought 5 bags to add to my stash.

Pasta is another one for us. I wait for it to hit $1 before I purchase, then I purchase several and add to my stockpile shelves in the basement.

Pick one or two items that you can start doing this with, and set aside $5 each week for the purpose of stockpiling just to start. As you get more confident you will find yourself buying more and more in the stockpiling dept. Again, these are items that you typically use in your meal plans, so by doing this you've accomplished 2 things: 1) you're making a substantial savings on items you use regularly, and 2) you now have those items on hand whenever you need them so you never have to purchase an item at the high range out of desparation!

The amount you can stock up on depends on the space you have, and the amount you can eat up before expiration dates. I currently have 20 boxes of cereal in my basement. It looks crazy, but my 2 little boys will happy take care of those for me in short order. Best part...the average price I paid for those cereal boxes? About .50 per box. WAY better than the usual $3 non sale price, right? That leads me to my next baby step. Coupons.

Now that you are starting to take advantage of the low price, you can even improve that price by using coupons for items you use regularly on top of the low price.

For the next 2 weeks, find the Sunday paper, and cut out ONLY the coupons that match items you use. Don't cut anything you aren't likely to use...it just adds to the stack and makes more work. If you have a coupon organizer, great...I will show you how to make a very cool large organizer soon that makes finding your coupons super easy. But right now we're at baby steps, right? If you use 1 or 2 coupons each time you shop I will be so excited! Right now I just want you to get into the habit of going through the coupons and clipping out the ones that are for products you use.

Since you have familiarized yourself with the prices for those products, when you clip a coupon you can quickly imagine the possible prices. Back to that .50 box of cereal. I refuse to buy any box of cereal that costs more than $1. And yet I have 20 boxes of cereal in my basement.

Have fun over the next couple of weeks. Have a question? Ask! mrigden at gmail dot com. Have a success story? Please share! I want to hear how you're doing as we head into the New Year!

Good Luck!