Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Boneless Chicken breasts preparations for the freezer

I have always buy the family pack or large size to get the discount and cut the chicken breasts down into managable packages that would feed the family but I found some information about a year ago to go one step farther.  Put the marinate for the chicken in the bag when you freeze it and then it gets to marinate while defrosting.  It is great because then you can cook it on the grill- one because it is healthy and two because that makes less dishes to wash :) There are many ways to do it but here is my process.

1.  Take out everything you think that you might need (because later you will have chicken hands and have to ask someone else for help).  I get out a thin towel to put under my cutting board, my cutting board, my favorite chicken cutting knife, plastic container to put cut chicken in, plastic bags (labeled with ingredients and date), and any marinates that I might use.  I often have a few extra off to the side just in case I have more chicken then I think.

2.  Pour marinates into bottom of plastic bags.  Make sure you write a list of the different kinds of chickens because after you put them in the freezer, it is much easier to do your menu planning through a list then getting frostbite looking through the freezer.

3.  Get the chicken out of the fridge and start cutting!

4.  Bag the chicken with portions that you think that your family will eat.  My son doesn't like chicken yet so it is just my husband and I do 6 tender sized pieces per bag.  After this 5.87 lb package (cost $11.68), it will make 7 meals for us which is $1.67 for chicken for the meal.

5.  Put in freezer.  I did set one out to eat for this week and then the rest are in the freezer for the upcoming weeks.

6.  Clean up!!  I hate this part but just think of it as everything is all done and you can sit down and have a break :)

7.  Plan the meals for the upcoming weeks with all the great stuff that you put in the freezer!  That is the best part because it makes the next few weeks so much easier because you know that dinner is taken care of.

I hope that you enjoy and use some of the suggestions for your family!

Month End CVS trip

I decided that I better hurry and make it to CVS before the coupons expired TODAY (or I guess the last day was today)!!!  I got five bottles of Tide and only spent $0.05 oop.  I had five $2 coupons and $15 in ECBs and two gift cards from my return on Thanksgiving.  The remaining amount was only a nickel which sadly, I only had four pennies in my change purse so I got out the credit card!

The great thing was that I also got a $10 gift card through the promotion in this weeks ad so I got a CVS gift card to use for next time.  Then I bought medicine for my sick husband since he has gone through all of what we had in the house and used the gift card to pay for $0.49 of it so no more money out of my pocket.  Check out all three receipts (if you can read them- sorry that I made them so small)!

Monday, November 28, 2011

Menu Plan Monday

You might see a pattern to the meals listed because they are all my husbands favorites.  This is key to a long family visit to follow with a week of favorite dinners :)

Monday-  Taquitos and tater tots (husbands favorite and perfect after doctors appointment meal)
Tuesday- Grilled Buffalo Chicken wraps
Wednesday- Tacos
Thursday- Philly Cheesesteak Pasta
Friday- Spagetti and meatballs with squishy garlic bread (that was the request)
Saturday- Breaded Buffalo Tenders and oven fries
Sunday- ???? still haven't figured it out

Saturday, November 26, 2011

CVS Black Friday Trip

I took a break from cooking to run to CVS when it opened at 8 am.  I got in the door and knew that it was going to be a tough day because they didn't have any carts.  I took a rolling little cart which was not enough for all my stuff.  I left my coupon basket and my reusable bags on the counter in the front.  I couldn't figure out how to carry all that with me through the store so it was the best bet.  I proceeded to find everything that I needed except one thing that Santa was supposed to be getting with my CVS ECBs.  I realized on the last of my ten transactions (taking breaks for them to check out lots of other customers) that I didn't get the ECBs back from the King Candy Bars that I bought.  I bought the wrong one!!!!  Ugh!!!  Then I had to return on four different transactions and get money cards back for store credit.  I was feeling bad about the whole deal until I came home and added it up.  I spent $4.98 oop and had lots of ECBS left and $10.55 in store credit.  The great thing about the store credit is that I can use it to pay for the tax too!!!!  I went to a second CVS and they price matched the ad to something that wasn't ringing up correctly at the first store.  Awesome!!!!  No more money out of pocket and Santa got what he needed (not pictured since it is a gift).  I still have at least $22 in ECBs and some store credit.  I can't wait to see the upcoming deals that is going to get me :)  I hope that you all got a chance to go to CVS and get tons of great bargains.

Black Friday Preparations- I mean Thanksgiving preparations

Some people maybe up early to put in the turkey or to start all the preparations for Thanksgiving dinner but I wanted to start early for Black Friday.  We are up at all hours and need to have food especially breakfast because by the clock says it is breakfast time for all of the shopping time.  I made a loaf of Pillsbury banana quick bread (purchased during super doubles at Harris Teeter), Duncan Hines Apple Cinnamon Muffins (brought by my mom), and a loaf of homemade pumpkin bread.  I tried to take a picture but they were already eaten :)

We also made a Mississippi Mud Pie from a recipe from my friend, Christel.  It was fabulous so I asked for the recipe.  Thanksgiving seemed to be the perfect time to make it.  Sadly, we didn't have a double boiler so we improvised with a glass measuring cup in a bigger pot with a cookie cutter in the bottom.  I should have taken pictures in the process but I didn't think about it until the end.  It was really yummy warm after dinner and even better cold the next day!!!  I would highly recommend it :)  I can't share ours because it is already gone!!!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!!!

I hope that you and your family have a great Thanksgiving holiday.  We have another year to be thankful for all the blessings in our lives.  I am thankful for my wonderful son and husband who put a smile on my face every day.  I hope that you and your family enjoy all this time together.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Preparing for the Holiday Shopping Season

There are lots of ways to prepare for the holiday shopping season (which for most starts on Black Friday).  My family has always been all year shoppers for bargains which usually ends with Black Friday.  My husband used to start shopping on Christmas Eve so we have worked out a compromise....  I do the shopping :)  The best thing about shopping all year is that you are always thinking about the people that you care about and you get the best deals for them.

1.  The first tip is to start out the year is to get a notebook that you can write everyone's name in that you give to gifts to.  I like to keep track of birthdays and Christmas but I don't want to put you overboard all in one shot so start with Christmas and when you see how great it is, you can add birthdays next year.  If you have a small notebook, give each person a page.  If you have a full sized notebook, share the page with a few related people.  Don't forget the teachers, hairdressers, mailman and others that you might give gifts to through the holiday season.

2.  Set a budget for each person and add it all up to see if that meets your overall budget.  If not, go back and see where you can cut out a little money to make the budget balanced.  Cut out those extras like the hairdresser and mailman :)  Think small and homemade gifts and start searching for more frugal gifts to share.  There are always tons of ideas on the Internet like a basket with homemade play dough and a few cookie cutters or stamps for kids or Cookie Mix in a jar for busy parents with other fun cookie cutters.  There are always ways to make fun gifts for people that mean just as much, if not more.

3.  As you get gifts through the year, make a note on the page and keep them all in one place (if you don't have one place, make a note of where you put them... my mom is well known for after all the presents are opened- finding more).  Note the gift, retail price, and price paid which looks like the following:

Bath and Body Works Lotion $12 ($4) 
Bath and Body Works Shower Gel $9 ($2)
Bath and Body Works Lip gloss $5 ($0)
Loofah $5 ($1)

This helps to keep track of how much you spend so that you stay within your budget and make sure you don't spend too much any one person so that you end up not getting to others.  This person got $31 worth of gifts which you only spent $7 because you waited for the sales and the coupons.  It might help you balance the budget or get a few more things that you wouldn't normally be able to afford.

4.  Make sure you check off the items as you wrap them to make sure you pull them all out closets, under beds, and other hiding places around the house.  Nice safety measure with having a detailed list so that they aren't next years gifts.

I hope that this helps you organize the holiday shopping and get started saving lots!!!  If you have any other ideas, please post them to share with everyone.  We would all love to learn from others.

Monday, November 21, 2011

CVS Sunday trip

I guess better late then never but it really wasn't an exciting trip so there wasn't much to share.  I got the diaper deal which was a lot more money out of pocket then I normally spend but I didn't have that much left in ECBs from previous weeks.  Then I used the $4 ECB from the first transaction to get the Nabisco cracker and cookie deal (buy 4 for $5, use (2) $1/2 coupons and get $1 ECB back) and the Sunday paper so I only have $1 left for Thanksgiving shopping :(  I am sure that I will make tons more with all the deals that they have starting on Thursday.  Hope that you all get lots of great bargins with the sales coming up.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Meal Plan Monday

This week we have family in town and my husband is off work taking his vacation time so I have tried to plan lunches (first line) and dinners (lower line) to make it a little easier but lunches and dinners might end up flipping based on the days events and activities. 

Monday- Leftover Chinese food
               Rosemary chicken with egg noodles
Tuesday- Egg Rolls and Fried Rice
               Spiedie Chicken with white rice
Wednesday-  Homemade Pizza
                    Shredded Chicken Tacos with Mahatma Saffron Rice
Thursday-  Chicken Patty Wraps
                 Turkey Day so we are having Turkey and bunches of side dishes
Friday- Leftovers (or Wendy's if we are still Black Friday shopping)
Saturday- Polish Sausage with hash browns
               Parmesan Spaghetti with Edamame
Sunday- Meatball Sliders with Gemelli pasta
              (probably leftovers after family is gone)

I hope that you all have a wonderful holiday and enjoy the busy season!!!

Friday, November 18, 2011

Giant deal on cereal and milk is back

I am so excited that the deal on the General Mills cereal is back at Giant.  If you purchase 4 cereals, you get $6 off instantly and then you get a catalina for a free milk (up to $4.50).  I have looked at all the ads and I think that I am going to head there tonight and see the price on Honey Nut Cheerios which is my son's new favorite (and the rest of us love them too).  There are $0.50 printable coupons online in a variety of places.  I will see if I can put up links in my shopping post.

Quick CVS trip

I went to CVS to get the cereal that I posted about earlier.  I also got another coupon from the red machine for $1.50 off any two shampoos.  I was trying to decide which ones to get but there was a sale on the Suave shampoos and I thought that I had a coupon but it was expired :(  I got the box of cereal and two shampoos for $1.57!!  I thought it was a pretty good deal and I got $1 ECB back for using my green bag tag (in case you don't know that using reusable bags and the CVS bag tag, gets you $1 back every fourth time you use them).

There was a note on the recipt that said that if I bought $6.66 more Suave or Dove shampoo then I would get $3 ECB back plus I am only a little bit away from my $5 beauty reward ECB which I think that this would count towards.  It might work out to a great deal but I would need to buy 4 shampoos and I only have $1 ECB to pay for it currently so it would cost $5.68 plus tax oop to get back $8 ECB.  I am not sure if I am going to do it or not because I really don't need to get anymore shampoo.  I guess I will look for coupons to see if I can make it worthwhile.  I have to go over there tonight to pick up some medicine so I guess I better start looking!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Books by Robert Parker

Back a few months ago, my father mentioned this "new"author that he heard information about on a radio program.  Then after looking Robert B Parker up, realized that he has so many books out that there was tons of reading to do.  I started with the Jesse Stone series from start to end which I loved.  It was very much like the television movies (if you have seen them) so I couldn't get past picturing Tom Selleck in the lead character. 

After finishing that series, I started on the Spenser novels.  I just finished  Playmates (Spenser, No 16) by Robert B. Parker.  I have liked all of the books that I have read and this was no different.  Parker writes a very fast moving book that always turns into running for the next one in the series!  I am going to be very sad when I make it to the end of the series but I know that there are a few other books still left to read.  If you are looking for a highly entertaining, quick read that has laughs and mystery, I highly recommend any of Robert B. Parker's books.

The book description on Amazon is very short but hopefully gives you an idea of the book without spoiling what it is about.  Spenser, America's favorite iron-pumping, gourmet-cooking private eye, smells corruption in college town. Taft University's hottest basketball star is shaving points for quick cash, and if Spenser doesn't watch his own footwork, the guilty parties will shave a few years off his life.  

In case you read my other post about Johnnycakes, they did eat them early on in the book :)  I laughed since I know that they have had them before but how was I to know that I was forecasting them in this book too!!!  Hope you try a book and enjoy them as much as I do.

Kleenex Share Is Back!

There was a great deal last year where you shared a box with a friend and hope that they send you one too!    The great news this year is that they send you the cool touch tissues.  I got a few boxes when there was a deal awhile back and they are very nice on a soft nose. 

Here is the link:

Please note that it was running slow when I did it so be patient but mine finally went through so it is worth the wait.  Good luck and happy tissues :)

CVS Red machine coupon

I got a coupon out of the Red machine inside the CVS yesterday for $2 off any one box of Kellogg's Crunchy Nut Cereal.  The great news is that it is on sale for $2.50 this week so you get it for $0.50 without a manufacturer coupon.  If you have one in your files, it saves you even more.  I have one from awhile ago for $1.00 so I have to find something else to buy for $0.50 :)  I can't wait to go get it tomorrow!!!  I hope that you all get the coupon too :)

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

December All You Magazine

I love this magazine- $91.47 in coupons and great articles!  It just came in the mail today so I started reading. 

There is an article about changing lemon recipes for grapefruit.  This sounds great so I am going to add that to my list.  I can probably get the zest, get some juice and still eat the grapefruit!!!  I have a lemon pound cake that is soon going to be a grapefruit pound cake.  Why does it take someone to write an article about it to make me think of trying it??  Anyone else done this before?

There is another article on how to save during the holidays.  Stock up on pantry items such as flour, sugar, butter, canned goods, spices and broths which are at a lower price during the winter season.  In addition, they say that turkeys are cheaper after Thanksgiving so I guess I will get another one after the holiday so that we might have one on Christmas too.  Also, presents to other by preparing a sweet treat, gift baskets, and other ideas.  I do some of those things already but they are great reminders.  I have been thinking about the gifts for all of the teachers at my sons school.  I am not sure if I only have to give it to the two in his classroom or if I have to give it to the floater that helps them out.  Do I give to the two people in the office?  How about the music teacher?  I can see how this could go crazy quickly.  I think that I am going to try a drink mix or a cookie in a jar but with 6 gifts if I give to all of them, I think that it might get expensive.  I already got some antibacterial stuff from Bath and Body Works because I figure they work with kids all day.  I guess I will have to keep thinking :)

Don't forget the cookie article with mouth watering recipes and pictures to match.  I can't wait to start on the Christmas cookies!!!  I bought molasses so I am making gingerbread cookies for the first time this year.  I love gingerbread cookies so I am searching for tons of different recipes and I will let you know what I think.  My favorite ones are at the bakery connected to Caryle Grand Restaurant in Arlington, VA that are as big as your head and have fresh ginger pieces in them.  If you ever get by there, check them out!!!  There is also information in the article about doing a cookie exchange.  We have done them in years past so maybe we will do one again this year :)

Anyway, I highly recommend checking out the magazine which you can get at Wal-Mart or through a subscription.  I asked for it last year for Christmas so add it to your Christmas list and maybe Santa will bring it to you too :)

Buffalo Chicken Sliders

This was adapted from a Pillsbury recipe that I made for my son's first birthday party which was a smash hit!

I start with Rhodes rolls that I take out in the morning and put in the oven to rise.  These are my favorites because they are light and fluffy (plus I can get them for $.17-$.57 per bag with coupon).  Make sure you spray the pan with non-stick spray then add the rolls and then spray the rolls too.  But you can use any rolls that you have around the house.  My own hint is to put less on the roll then you think because it is spicy :)

Then later in the afternoon when they are big enough, I bake them.
They don't have to be hot to have them with the sandwiches so it is a perfect make ahead so that they are ready for dinner.  If you are having something with rolls the night before, you could even throw a few extras on for these yummy treats the next night.  Please ignore the dirty oven (note to self- clean oven).

Then gather your ingredients for chicken using the shredded chicken that I made earlier and froze during my
post about freezer cooking, Franks Red hot sauce, butter/margarine, and crumbled blue cheese.
Put the butter and chicken in the pan to heat up.  If you can't see, the butter is in the front of the pan (bottom of picture).  I added another pad about that size later.  Note:  The butter helps calm down the heat of the hot sauce.
After it gets heated all up, add the hot sauce and stir.  Add the blue cheese (half of the container).
Mix it all up on a low setting so that the cheese melts right in and you don't see anything.  Then it is ready whenever you are for dinner.  If it gets dry, you can add more butter or a little bit of water. 

I always serve the sliders with something to calm the heat like mac and cheese put I am sure french fries would have hit the spot too!  Hope you try it soon too :)

Repurposing Leftovers

I hate leftovers and barely ever reheat them and eat them the next day like everyone tells you that you are supposed to.  I have come up with a few helpful hints to how to use leftover without having the same meal again.  The great thing is that you can make extras now and count on these for another meal without having to cook on two different nights.  This is great for every day use and even better with Thanksgiving leftovers coming up!!

1. Quesadilla- Put cheese and leftover chicken or seasoned ground beef on tortilla in heated pan.  Cover with second tortilla.  Flip when starting to get brown on bottom and cook on second side.  Cut up in triangles and serve with lettuce, salsa, or other favorite sides. 

2. Panini-  Do everything above but put in between two pieces of bread.  We have a neat press (Christmas gift from my wonderful aunt) that we use but you could do it in the grill pan with a press or weight on top of the sandwich.  Other people have been known to use waffle irons or George Forman grills- creativity is key!  We aren't all equipped like Panera to make the sandwich but you can still think like them and borrow a few ideas on things to go in the sandwich.  I think that Thanksgiving Dinner is a perfect excuse because turkey, stuffing and cranberry sauce would make a really interesting panini.

3. Wraps- There are many fun things that you can put into a wrap to make a totally new meal with leftovers from the fridge.  If you want to heat up the wrap first, just dampen a paper towel and wrap around the tortilla and heat for a few seconds in the microwave.  This will help so that it isn't as stiff so that you can fill to the brim with food.

4. Homemade Hot Pocket- Roll out crescent roll or other pre-made rolls, smooth any perforations to make sure that nothing gets out.  Take leftover ground beef, shredded or died chicken, or any other meat and put it on the dough.  Cover with cheese.  Fold the dough over and seal the edges.  Bake in the oven per the package directions until browned.

5.  Fried Rice- There are tons of recipes online but I usually use the package seasoning and the directions on there.  Put canola oil in the pan and heat up.  Put leftover rice in pan and stir occasionally.  Cut leftover chicken into small pieces and any leftover vegetables.  Add seasoning and soy sauce (I use some of the packages from the Chinese restaurant).  Let it cook for 1 minute then move it to the side of the pan.  Put an egg in and scramble.  Add the meat, leftover or frozen vegetables and stir together.  More healthy then eating out and you can put in exactly what you want.

6. Pizza- Put all the leftovers on a pizza for something different.  You can use the roll out pizza dough like Pillsbury or you can make it with yeast from scratch but the final product is a yummy pizza.  You will probably end up with something even more special then California Pizza Kitchen or those other speciality pizza chains.  How do you think that they came up with Rosemary Chicken Potato Pizza or Tostada Pizza?  Think outside the sauce, pepperoni and cheese that we always think of and I am sure you will have a great treat.

7. Salad- I like my chicken hot on my mixed green salad so I cut it up and heat it up in a pan (sometimes I throw a little Frank's red hot in too) and I have chicken salad with any other items in the pantry like cranberries, sunflower seeds, or nuts.  Super yummy and fresh with a little crumbled blue cheese which makes it seem like you are sitting in a fancy restaurant.  Think about all the salads that you get in restaurants and make your own.

8.  Won Ton or Egg Roll Wrappers-  Up until a few months ago, I had never gotten these wonderful creations but I had a coupon and bought these wonderful won ton wrappers and egg roll wrappers.  I was now stuff with trying to figure out how to use them.  I had leftover rice, taco meat, and cheese which I did a few different ways.  The first was in the won ton wrappers and folded them into little triangles.  I pan fried them and we had them for a lunch the next day.  The egg roll wrappers I used to stuff and pan fry to make chimichangas which we tried plain and I made it once with cheese sauce and once with red sauce.  I also used them to make homemade cinnamon and sugar chips, nacho cheese strips for a soup topper, and yummy nutella won tons.  I don't think that there is anything that you could put in a won ton wrapper that would not make a great creation but they are something different to try if you are interested in experimenting.

9.  Soup-  If you don't have a lot of leftovers, it is great to have a bag or container in the freezer that you can put a little extra anything in so it doesn't go to waste.  When the bag or container is full, then you can make leftover soup with chicken or tomato based recipes.  It is a great idea to not let food go to waste.

I hope that these leftover ideas help you to plan to use your leftovers and going forward plan for a yummy leftover meal by making just a little more on purpose one night!!!

30 days of 30 meals

Some people say that if you know how to make 30 things then you can make it through the month but I don't usually work under that idea but I know that certain things make it on the menu more when it is cold and others when it is hot outside. I started to work on a list of things that I cook so that I could see if I had enough meals to make it through the month without repeating the same thing.  This list isn't in neat alphabetical order or anything but the order that things came to mind... tacos being the first favorite in this house and then following from there.  We could eat spaghetti and tacos every week so we never need something different every day.  I was surprised to get as far as I did without starting my list of marinated chicken (starting at 21) which are usually served with white rice, brown rice, herb rice, whole wheat cous cous, pasta, homemade over fries, mac and cheese, and other carbs.  We eat them plain or in a wrap/tortilla or on a salad depending on the season.
1. Tacos (shredded chicken or ground beef)
2. Enchiladas (shredded chicken or ground beef)
3. Sloppy Joes
4. Spaghetti and Meatballs (also replaced with other pastas)
5. Parmesan Spaghetti with Edamame or Zucchini
6. Meatball Sliders
7. Chicken and Rice Casserole
8. Shake and Bake Chicken (with mac and cheese or stuffing)
9. Chicken Patty Wraps (from the freezer like Tyson's)
10. Chicken Parmesan with spaghetti (made with either chicken patties or homemade)
11. Buffalo chicken sliders (shredded chicken)
12. BBQ chicken sliders (shredded chicken)
13. Chicken Tortilla Soup
14. Homemade Pizza
15. Rosemary Chicken and Egg Noodles (my cousin's favorite)
16. Rosemary Chicken and Potatoes
17. Garlic Lime Chicken Fajitas
18. Spicy Fajitas
19. Asian stir fry (bread chicken cubes in corn starch and mix in sauce)
20. Fried Rice
21. Sesame Ginger Chicken
22. Zesty Italian Chicken
23. Herb and Garlic Chicken
24. Spiedie Chicken ( an upstate NY marinate that is super yummy
25. SW Spiedie Chicken
26. BBQ Spiedie Chicken
27. Raspberry Chicken
28. Sundried Tomato Chicken
29. Buffalo Chicken
30. Caribbean Jerk Chicken
31. Balsamic Chicken

Hope that this gives you some ideas of things that you can do without having the same food night after night :)

How to Meal Plan so that you aren't caught at the last minute

Does dinner come up unexpectedly every night?  It has seemed that way for me for years!  I know that my husband and I spent many nights looking at each other when it got to dinnertime and decided we will just order pizza or eat a box of cheese its instead of cooking.  The horrible idea that there is nothing in the house has been with families since the beginning of time.  My mother and mother in law have said that they would come home from spending $200 at the grocery store and the kids (us) would complain that there wasn't anything to eat.  This simple truth hasn't changed since we were kids so we have to do something about it.

There is not a lot of choice when you decide that you aren't going to eat out every night and now you have kids that you have to be a good example for :)  You need to cook dinner!  The great fact is you get something yummy that you get faster and you don't have to wait for.  The bad news is that you now have more dishes to wash :(  As my husband points out, anytime I try a new dish, there are more dishes!!

1.  Take three sheets of paper- one for pantry goods, one for freezer goods, and one for refrigerator goods.  Take inventory of what you have in all of the areas of your house and write down everything.  This is a great time to throw away anything that is expired and donate anything you don't think you are going to eat.  Anyway, if you know that you have a package of spaghetti, box of mac and cheese and a bag of rice then you will be having them for dinner next week :)

2.  Get a calendar to only use for meal planning.  I get a free one through different internet sites like Betty Crocker, Pillsbury, Turkey Hill and Oriental Trading.  I highly recommend not paying for calendars because there are plenty free out there but if you can't get on this year there are tons of sites that have weekly or monthly calendars to write meal plans or that wonderful piece of paper tool used in the first step.  I recommend either putting it on the fridge or using a notebook so that the page isn't lost after you put all the work into your menu.

3.  Now we need to write a list of the things that you can make (if you feel you can't cook, let me know and I will gladly help)

4.  Look for new recipes.  Ask friends and family members for their easy family recipes.  Try the library for lots of choices of different books from slower cooker recipes to Italian masterpieces.  Hint:  This is a weeknight dinner so don't pick the fancy chefs books yet because those recipes take much more time and expensive ingredients.  The best idea is to try a few books from the library.  I suggest The $5 Dinner Mom Breakfast and Lunch Cookbook: 200 Recipes for Quick, Delicious, and Nourishing Meals That Are Easy on the Budget and a Snap to Prepare by Erin Chase and The $5 Dinner Mom Cookbook: 200 Recipes for Quick, Delicious, and Nourishing Meals That Are Easy on the Budget and a Snap to Prepare by Erin Chase  to start with.  If you like them, add them to your Christmas list like I did.  Then go online to different recipe cites like,, and others that allow you to look by ingredients.  Then some that are by product that you might have in the house like and

5.  Decide what you are going to have for the following week (or current week) based on what is in the house and make a list of a few things that you need at the store.  The idea is that after you start to stockpile, you will be a week or so ahead of the game so that you won't be running to the store paying top dollar for items.

The great thing is that you can take out frozen meats the night before to defrost in the fridge so that you don't have to get to dinner time and not have food.  Then you can work on stocking the freezer, pantry, and make ahead meals.  During the coming weeks, hopefully you will get some ideas from my meal plans and things that will work for your family.

Menu Plan Monday

Okay, so it is barely Tuesday but I do plan my meals just about a month in advance so I did have mine written down in the drawer so let me share with you what I have on the menu this week (and then how I do it).

Monday- Asian Stir Fry with white rice (dip chicken cubes in corn starch and pan fry in oil and add sauce)
Tuesday- Buffalo Chicken Sliders with veggie mac and cheese
Wednesday- Caribean Jerk Chicken tenders with brown rice
Thursday- Speidie Chicken tenders with white rice
Friday- Spagetti and Meatballs with garlic bread (family coming into town)
Saturday-  Raspberry Chicken tenders with whole wheat cous cous
Sunday- Take out Chinese food from our favorite restaurant

Another thrify read

Be Thrifty: How to Live Better with Less by Pia Catton and Califia Suntree is a great reference book.  I don't think that reading it cover to cover was the best idea because it isn't a page turner that you just breeze through.  Do you want to know how to fix your toliet, change a tire, make your own cleaning products and cook low cost meals?  This is the book for you!  Instead of an idea book just talking about cutting costs, they do tell you how to do it so bring a notepad and pen and get ready.  There were some fun recipes that I thought I would share that hopefully gets you to take the book out of the library.

Johnnycakes (makes 8)

1/2 cup flour
1 cup cornmeal
2 tsp sugar
1 tsp salt
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 cup hot milk
1 tbsp butter

-Mix the dry ingredients, then stir in remaining ingredients.  Drop the batter by spoonfuls onto a hot, greased griddle and fry to a golden brown on both sides (like a pancake).  Repeat until batter is used.  Serve with butter, syrup, or fruit.

The other book series that I am reading makes something like these for breakfast all the time so it is an interesting link to my other reading which I will share soon!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Black Friday Ads

I don't know if any of you out there shop like my family on Black Friday (and now on Thanksgiving) but has a bunch of the ads already up there to see some of the deals.  I hope that you find some great deals for your family.

New Coupons Found!

I found a coupon for $1 off any Smuckers uncrustables which should be a good deal for some easy sandwiches.  There was also a $1 off Tom's of Maine Children's toothpaste which can be found for a great deal matched with that coupon.  If you can't find them, I found them under zip 85004 (through

There is another coupon for Libby's vegtables for $1/4 this can be used on a number for canned veggies including pumpkin because remember it is a vegtable.  There are some other good coupons on but I always have issues printing and finding them so look for Olive oil, rolls and others which would be great for the holidays.  If you can't find them, try zip 19543.  Let me know if you can't find them and I will see if I can find a link right to them.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Organizational book Finished

I don't know what it says that you have to renew the book before you get to read it but it was about time management and how to make more time in your day so I figured that I better get to it since I obviously can't find time to read the book.  Find More Time: How to Get Things Done at Home, Organize Your Life, and Feel Great About It by Laura Stack was an interesting read.  There was a quiz at the beginning about the different pillars of her theory.  I thought the quiz was interesting and telling and I was excited to get started.  I took notes in the first two sections on the different things that were interesting and then I lost interest.  I think that this perfect described my life a few years ago and would have been helpful if I was still working but being a stay at home mom wasn't included at all.  Overall, I would totally recommend this for working professionals (especially those with a part time at home because that is what the author does) but not the best read for stay at home moms.  I have another book on the list that might be a better choice for us stay at home moms :)

Shopping Trips of Sunday

We left the house as a family today to hit all the stores.  I went to CVS to grab the paper and the Ajax deal ($1.99- $0.50 coupon from Oct All You and got $1 ECB back).  I used $3 ECB from last week so it was $0.69 OOP.  Then we went to the bank to deposit my Bayer rebate which I finally got after three phone calls.  They said that they had the address wrong- UGH!!!  Then we made a quick run to the library to return books.  Went over to Harris Teeter to get a loaf of bread for $1.01 and grabbed free cookies.  We drove to Home Depot and got Dylan out of the cart using the two cookies from Harris Teeter to make it through the store.  Back in the car and over to Target.  We got some free wipes (Target coupon stacked with Manufacturer coupon) and Gerber pears with a mandatory hot wheel car purchase for a total $5.07 OOP.  Two hour shopping trip door to door and all the weekend errands done!  I think that my son had enough by the time we got home but I was glad that we got out of the house and only had $6.07 OOP for the whole morning :)

Friday, November 11, 2011

My Harris Teeter Trip

I ran over to Harris Teeter after a doctors appointment this morning to find that they were out of a few things on my list but I got some rain checks to go back and get some of the stuff later which is probably for the best because I don't really need it now but it was just such a great deal that I couldn't pass some of it up.  So here is what I did get: 
2 Texas Toast Croutons (free after coupon)
1 Peter Pan Peanut Butter
2 Ocean Spray Cranberry sauce
2 Heinz Chili Sauce
2 Gold Medal All Purpose Flour
2 Gold Medal Better for Bread Flour

Below is my main receipt, which was a total of $6.30 (savings $17.11).  I ended up with a second check out because I got back money for another item that was mis-labeled the last time and I went back and got the bread flour when I realized that was included in the sale during the time I was waiting at customer service.  I actually only had to pay a few cents out of pocket -$0.12 to be exact since the total was $2.67 (I saved $4.12 in case you were keeping track).  How exciting because that usually costs a ton more then the other flour.  I was talking about making some bread this afternoon so now I have lots of flour :)

I will be getting the Johnsonville Sausage and Pillsbury crescent rolls with my rain checks at some other time.  Plus for those heading out to the store, check the deal on the Philly Cream Cheese ($1.50) and Smart Balance milk ($3.00) which are both great deals for the holiday baking.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Harris Teeter Deals 11/9 to 11/15

There is a short list of things that I am going to Harris Teeter to get but the longer I look at the website, the longer my list gets.  Please make sure you sign up for Evic and load the new coupons on in order to get the E-Vic savings on the items.  Please note that they do not double like regular coupons.

Gold Medal Flour (5 lb.) – $2.29
$0.50 Gold Medal Flour (no longer available to print)
Total= $1.29
Current Coupon – $.25 Gold Medal Flour Printable

Ricola Cough Drops (24 ct.) – Buy one, get one free – $1.09 each
B1G1 Ricola Cough Drops 10/2 SS
Total – FREE

Pillsbury Crescent Rolls (4 ct. ) – $1.00
$.50/2 Pillsbury Crescent Rolls Printable
$.50/2  Pillsbury Crescent Rolls Printable
E-VIC Coupon – $0.50/2
$.25 each when you purchase two

$1/2 Cranberry Sauce Printable
$.49 each after coupon
Heinz Cocktail Sauce – $1.69
$.50 Heinz Cocktail Printable
$.69 each after coupon

Smucker’s Strawberry or Blackjerry Jam (12 oz.) - $1.70
$.50 printable no longer available
$1.00/2 11/6 RP
$.70 after coupon

Peter Pan Peanut Butter – $1.89
$.50 All You Magazine (pulled it out so I don't remember which month SORRY!)
$1.50/3 Peter Pan Printable 
$.89 after coupon
Additional SavingStar Savings – Buy two jars of Peter Pan® peanut butter, save $1.00!

Johnsonville Ground Italian Sausage – $3.00
$.50 Johnsonville sausage 9/18 SS or 10/16 SS
$2.00 after coupon

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Reading lots of books!

I have been doing so much reading recently but I got a little ahead of myself at the library reserve system online (if you haven't used it, it is a great tool). I went on Amazon and looked for books that looked interesting and then started to look to see if they had them in the library through my online account.  The ones that we're really popular, I had to put on hold.  Being so patient, I went to the library and got another bunch of books while I was waiting.  Very quickly, the reserved books came in and I hadn't even made a dent in the other books. I now have three books to read before they are due tomorrow.  I hope that I am going to make great progress but unless I start speed reading, I don't think that I can finish three by tomorrow. 

I highly recommend a few entertaining books on budgeting, meal planning and frugal living.  Doesn't it seem strange to say entertaining in the same sentence with how to budget but an entertaining page turner regardless of the topic.  The first are by Jeff Yeager who was so humorous throughout the whole book that I had to get the second one shortly after reading the first (see why I get behind because I book jump).  He wrote The Ultimate Cheapskate's Road Map to True Riches: A Practical (and Fun) Guide to Enjoying Life More by Spending Less and The Cheapskate Next Door: The Surprising Secrets of Americans Living Happily Below Their Means which were both highly entertaining.

The other book that has some great recipes and ideas was Miserly Moms: Living Well on Less in a Tough Economy by Jonni McCoy .  She approached it in a much more serious fashion but gave lots of recipes to make from scratch to save time and money by doing it ahead of time.  I can't wait to try some of the great ideas that I jotted down but I have been too busy reading :)

Then I got the Economides family book, America's Cheapest Family Gets You Right on the Money: Your Guide to Living Better, Spending Less, and Cashing in on Your Dreams  and once I catch up with my pile of books I am going to try their other one about grocery spending.  I saw them once on a television show so I thought it would be interesting to see what more information the book provided then they did on TV.  It has step by step instructions on how to set up a budget (differently then I have ever seen) but the flow of the chapters was really great and the end was very uplifting.  They give everyone choices on the next step to do the things covered in the chapter based on the level you are willing to commit.  I can't say that there are lots of new ideas but a reminder of the basics is also helpful to make sure that we are following the suggestions.

I would highly recommend checking out your library to see if they have some of these great titles (but learn from me and don't do it all at once).  The one thing that I learned during all this was that all the different terms like cheapskate, miserly, and cheapest, mentioned in the titles, made me think about being called that or worse yet calling other people those names.  It seems to follow the old Bambi wisdom that if you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all.  I am not sure if I would like to be called miserly or a cheapskate but I fit the profile of both descriptions.  I much prefer being frugal :)

Enchiladas are made!

After getting the sauce made while cooking dinner, I knew that I had to make the rest of the enchiladas tonight so that I didn't have to do any work tomorrow during our playtime with our friends who are visiting.  I cooked up the shredded chicken with two packages of Old El Paso seasoning which I got for free with a coupon a little while ago. 

I use the 7 x 11 casserole dish and spread the enchilada sauce across the bottom.  Usually I use the 9 x 13 casserole dish but it is only going to be the two of use for dinner (since my son doesn't eat them).  Then I microwaved the corn tortillas wrapped in a moistened paper towel which I learned watching a PBS cooking show.  It helps to loosen it so that they don't crack when you are filling them.  I put a spoonful of seasoned chicken and covered with shredded cheese. 
Then, you fold the tortilla over and turn it so that the opening is at the bottom.  Cover with enchilada sauce and cheese.
Then I packaged the leftover chicken for chicken tacos later in the month and the leftover enchilada sauce and they are now happily sitting in the freezer.  I put the plastic wrap on the pan and dinner will be ready without making a huge mess tomorrow.  Sadly, I have to still clean it up tonight but I am waiting for my second wind to get started!  I tried a spoonful of chocolate frosting but it didn't help :)  Crossing my fingers that they are magically cleaned when I walk back to the kitchen.

Menu Monday

Okay, not so Monday but I didn't start the blog on a Monday so I am putting up the plan for dinner this week (half of which is over)

Monday- Tacos (my husband's favorite)
Tuesday- Taquitos and tater tots (another favorite of my husband)
Wednesday- Balsamic Chicken with Uncle Ben's rice
Thursday- Shredded Chicken Enchiladas with spicy Mahatma Rice
Friday- Spaghetti and meatballs with garlic rolls
Saturday- Philly Cheesesteak pasta
Sunday- Asian Stir Fry with fried rice

I will try to link to the recipes later just in case you want to see but I usually make them up as I go along so I don't know if I will other then the Enchiladas.

Making Mexican Enchilada Sauce

I made this last time because I didn't have a can of enchilada sauce in the cupboard but I already had everything ready to make the enchiladas so I went to google and looked at a bunch of recipes.  It was super good and I added extra tomato paste in order to make it a little thicker the way that I like it plus I am going to use what is actually in the tomato paste can that I have which is 6 oz each :)  I liked it so much that I am going to make it from now on (unless it is nearly free with a coupon).

Mexican Enchilada Sauce

·                        2 tbsp vegetable oil
·                        2 tbsp flour
·                        2 tbsp chili powder
·                        1/2 tsp cumin
·                        1/4 tsp cayenne pepper (don't have any in my cupboard so I skipped)
·                        2 cups water
·                        1 8 ounce can tomato paste (used 12 ounces because I like it thicker)
·                        1 tsp garlic powder
·                        1/2 tsp onion powder
·                        1/2 tsp salt
Heat the oil, flour and chili powder together in a large pot. Allow to cook for a minute or two.
Add the remaining ingredients and bring to a slow simmer. Stir well to combine and dissolve tomato paste in water. Allow to cook for at least 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add more spices as desired.
I am going to use what is needed to make the enchiladas and then put the rest in a freezer bag to save for the next time because it makes so much more then I need.  The great thing is that I won't have to make it next time I need it!!

One Follower!!

Yeah, my first follower!!  Okay so she is family but how cool is that :)  We talked about me starting a blog and I am actually go to do it.  I am really excited to be able to try my hand at this and so happy to have Cindy as my first follower (and first coupon trainee).  I hope that my computer skills can keep up with all the fancy stuff that I can do now!!!

Afternoon Shopping Trips

I had a few seconds before going to get my son at preschool so I decided to gather my coupons and head to Bloom first.  We really needed shredded cheese but it has been really expensive and the Bloom flyer came in the mailbox last night.  I was excited to see that they did a back page for all of the Believe in Heroes coupons that we talked about yesterday.  The Sargento cheese was on sale for $2.00 and there was a $0.55 coupon online which makes the final price per bag $0.90.  That is a great stock up price.  I took my six coupons and got six bags of cheese just under the wire to make enchiladas tonight :)  (Note:  It is actually a few cents cheaper this week at Harris Teeter at $1.90 under the B1G1 deal but Harris Teeter has a limit of two like internet printable coupons so I got them all at once at Bloom because they allow up to 10 of the same coupon).

Okay, so I am new at this taking pictures of things (and the new camera on my Christmas wish list might help since my sad camera is very broken) but I hope that you can read the receipt.  The important part is that the total was $5.62 with a savings of $12.54.  This is a great time to stock up on shredded cheese.  If you lay them flat in the freezer until they get fully frozen, then you can stack them like books so that you can fit lots! There are lots of other great deals, especially with the note on the front of the ad for SUPER DOUBLES on Sunday.  Remember that there is a limit of 20 coupons but that adds up to a lot of savings! 

Then I went to Walgreens to pick up my free photos from earlier in the week.  The receipt shows a $0 total with a savings of $14.25!  I love free pictures so that I can get caught up on my photo album project.
Luckily, made it just in time to pick up my son :)  The weather got so nice this afternoon and we went out and kicked the ball around the backyard.  It is so nice to relax and enjoy the afternoon after packing in everything this morning.

Finishing up Freezer Cooking

After a long trip in the car and barely making it to school on time, I stopped at CVS only to find out that they were totally out of peanut butter.  I did remember to get a rain check so I can always get it next week.  I got home to package up the rice.  I use the scale to make sure that they are even and divide the rice into 8 servings (4 bags with 2 servings each) just like the bag said it was going to make. 

I had already gotten the chicken off the bone before I left this morning in order to fit them in the fridge.  I put all the bones in the bowl to double check for leftover meat and get rid of any fat that I found on the chicken I was shredding.  Then I got to shredding the chicken with two forks to get it nice and fine.  I made a big container and then the stressful part is to try to figure out how much to put in the bags and how much to leave for the enchiladas.

I bagged them all up and put them in the freezer in a nice neat pile.  Right in front of my homemade breadcrumbs (more of them to come because I have a bunch of bread frozen).
I love that this is going to make a bunch of meals coming up with only one morning of work.  Sadly, I now have to stop in order to wash all the dishes which is my least favorite part of cooking!! Here is my favorite part- a filled freezer :)

Freezer Cooking Process

So I started earlier then expected with an early wake up call from my son so the cooking started earlier too.  I got the sausage cooked while starting the rice and chicken going.  Then I fixed myself a cup of tea :)  Here is the rice that I use.  In some stores it is with the other rice and other stores only have the organic variety in the natural food section but they are both the same and the same cost (just different packaging)

Then I got out my package of chicken that was on sale for $0.99 per lb.  Originally $9.04, on sale for $3.33 which I am going to make two or three meals out of- what a bargain!
Then I got the grease off the sausage with paper towels and put it in the bag for the freezer. Now when I make the homemade pizza, I take out what I need from the freezer (along with my frozen shredded cheese) and make the yummy pizza.  The rest stays in the freezer for the next time.
Then I left the other pots to simmer while I made sandwiches for my husband and son's lunch.  My son stole the bag and sandwich so I started on another one.  I am going to get ready to take him to school and then come back to shred the chicken and divide the cooled rice into freezer bags. 

With all this extra time, I might make a quick stop at CVS to see if they got more peanut butter in that is on sale this week, make homemade enchilada sauce, and get the pictures that I printed for free at Walgreens!!!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Day of cooking during preschool break

I have been working on being more creative in my cooking to try to use all the great bargains that I get.  Tomorrow is going to be my day in the kitchen to try to make some of the fun stuff to get in the freezer. I am cooking chicken breasts, sausage and making rice. 

There was a bargain on chicken breasts awhile ago and I froze the whole package.  I found a great post that cooked the chicken first, shredded it and then froze in serving size containers.  What a great idea and a time saver!!  I am going make chicken enchiladas with part of the chicken which is a great make ahead dinner.  I am going to save another part for buffalo chicken sliders.  I am not sure if I can get a third portion but I hope to make chicken tortilla soup with the remaining chicken.

I got a bunch of Johnsonville mild sausage packages on a great deal awhile ago and I am down to the last package.  I didn't know what I would be going with them but I knew that I would figure it out. and I have.  I have used the past packages to make sausage ravioli and a topping for homemade pizza.  Last time, I cooked it all up and froze it so that if I made pizza, we always had yummy sausage.  I guess we will have to go back to pepperoni soon :) 

I have been meaning to make rice to put in individual freezer bags for ages.  It is the first thing to get crossed off the list every time I run out of time.  I found this great rice that cooks up great and reheats wonderful- Lundberg Short Grain Brown rice.  The great thing is that it is like the Uncle Ben rices that you throw in the microwave but at a fraction of the cost with all the health benefits of brown rice.  My husband says it tastes like popcorn so we have nicknames it the popcorn rice.  I flatten out all the bags after I cook it and freeze them in a stack.  When I am ready to use them, I unzip or open the plastic bag and put it in the microwave for 90 seconds and then push it around and microwave 30 seconds or as needed until heated.

Freezer cooking is a great way to save time on dinner and work when you have time.  It saves on time and dishes :)

HOT coupon website

Don't miss the great website for new high value coupons at  There is a great Ore Ida coupon and Duncan Hines for $1 off which I just used at Harris Teeter to get them both free but they will make great deals at lots of places.  Make sure you get them soon because the Heinz Ketchup is already gone!

Harris Teeter Super Doubles Last Day

I am excited that I got one more try at Super Doubles before they are over but it might be a good thing that it is over since Monday was the only day that I haven't been there since it started.  I have gotten tons of bargains but I think that I need a shopping vacation (at least until next Super Doubles)!  I got free Heinz Ketchup, Muir Glen Tomato Paste, Johnsonville Chicken Sausage, Dawn Dish Detergent, Gold Peak Tea, Kotex Pads, Coffee Mate Bliss Creamer, Ore Ida Tater Tots, Fleischmans yeast, Fleischmans bread mix, Pillsbury Brownies, Philly Cooking Cream, Kettle Chips, HT Brand Bread, Can't Believe It's Not Butter Sticks, Kikoman seasoning packets, Duncan Hines Glazes, and last but not least Smart Balance milk.  I wish I could have stuck to the free stuff but I always get caught up in the moment when I am in the middle of the excitement.  I spent $165.59 out of pocket (after three price adjustments and one return).  The receipts said that I saved $569.11!!!  I can't imagine if I spent over $750 on those groceries but I guess that is what would have happened without couponing.