Monday, May 4, 2009

Refrigerator Muffins

While packing this week I came across an old notebook of recipes and found this one for refrigerator raisin bran muffins. I was thrilled because there are lots of great deals on cereal this week and this will be a great way to use up some of what we've purchased. If you haven't already printed some, you can snag Kellogg's $1/box coupons by clicking on the coupons.com box at the top left of this page.

I love this recipe because the muffins aren't too sweet, and it's so convenient to have the batter in the fridge so you can have hot muffins on the table in just a few minutes. It also makes it easy to fix just a small batch--a tin of 6 muffins fits nicely in my toaster oven. The batter will keep for a week in the fridge and I think it yields about 24 muffins. I not positive about how many because the recipe is a little smudged where something was dropped on it! :)

2 eggs
2 cups buttermilk
1/2 c vegetable oil
1/2 c sugar
3 cups raisin bran cereal
2 1/2 c all-purpose flour
1 tbsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt

Mix first four ingredients together in a large mixing bowl. Stir in raisin bran. In a separate bowl, sift flour, baking soda, and salt together. Add to wet ingredients, stirring just until mixed. Batter can be refrigerated up to 7 days.

To bake, preheat oven to 400. Grease muffin cups and fill 2/3 full with batter. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown.

Take a look at Tasty Tuesday and Tempt My Tummy Tuesday for lots more great recipes!

Updated 5/5: I was supposed to finish packing up the kitchen last night, but when I realized the baking supplies and a set of mixing bowls were still here, I decided to mix up a batch of these. I only had about 1 1/2 c of all-purpose flour (I never run out, but have been letting things get low in preparation for moving!), so I subbed a cup of quick oats for the rest of the flour. I baked six muffins in the toaster oven this morning, and my family thinks I'm awesome! My 20 month old daughter ate 2, my super-picky 3 yr old son had 1 1/2 , and hubs and I polished off the rest. After baking 6, I'd say the recipe will probably yield about 18. I'm so glad I found this recipe--I think it will become a regular breakfast around here. It would also be really easy to vary by adding nuts, sunflower seeds, dried fruits, or even different cereals.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Menu Plan Monday

We're moving this week (aaack!), so my menu planning is really just jotting down a few ideas of things we can throw together quickly. I dream that one day I'll be organized enough to prepare for something like a move by making all kinds of meals ahead of time, then storing them in the freezer so we can just heat and eat healthy homemade meals when life gets crazy. Until then, my plan is to buy lots of snacks and convenience foods in times like this. I figure living on peanut butter sandwiches and hot pockets for a week won't kill us, and is probably better for us than eating fast food. It's definitely better for the budget! :)

Armed with that philosophy, here's what we'll be eating this week:

Breakfasts
cold cereal
scrambled egg on bagel
bagel & cream cheese

Lunches
zucchini-black bean-bacon quesadillas, fruit
pbjs, chips, fruit
hot pockets, chips, fruit
tuna salad sandwiches, chips, fruit
pesto pasta

Dinners
waffles, bacon, fruit
turkey (from freezer), stuffing, steamed broccoli
ginger-soy noodles w/ broccoli
zucchini-black bean-bacon quesadillas, fruit
whole-wheat pasta w/ broccoli, bacon & cheese sauce

Pasta is definitely my favorite quick meal, in case you didn't pick up on that! :) I fried up a pound of bacon tonight, so it's ready to go for all those meals that will use it. That will make several meals really quick to put together. We had the quesadillas for dinner tonight, and the leftover filling is in the fridge ready to go for lunch tomorrow. We used monterrey jack cheese and really liked the combination of bacon, black beans & zuchini--definitely something we'll be making again! Maybe next time I'll add some corn, too.

I went to Aldi tonight and spent $27.86 on the following:
two pkgs frozen stuffed sandwiches (hot pockets) 3.78
frozen multigrain waffles 1.29
ginger-soy noodle dinner 1.69
zucchini 1.59
broccoli 1.65
chewy fruit snacks .99
pesto pasta dinner kit 1.29
stuffing mix .89
cocktail crackers 1.19
syrup 1.39
saltines .89
pasta salad kit .99
yogurt-covered raisins 1.49
dried fruit 1.49
mixed nuts 1.99
whole wheat pasta 1.09

Hubby will run to Kroger and pick up fruit (probably bananas, apples and grapes), eggs, bagels, and milk tomorrow. He'll probably get some Kellogg's cereal, too, since they have some varieties on sale this week for $1.99 and we have $1 coupons. (Click on the coupons.com link at the top left of this page if you haven't printed yours yet! CVS and Kmart both have some Kellogg's varieties on sale this week, too.) We eat a lot of cereal for breakfast, but we also love to snack on it. As a matter of fact, I'm crunching on some frosted mini-wheats as I type. :)

Want more meal-planning inspiration? Take a look at Menu Plan Monday on orgjunkie.com.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Menu Plan Monday

We did better at sticking to our menu last week but still ate out too much, especially over the weekend. We're going to be moving in less than two weeks and hubby and I both seem to be using that as an excuse to go out for dinner. ("We'll have more energy for packing after the kids go to bed if don't have to cook and clean up!") Well, very little packing has been done and we're spending too much on eating out. Hopefully I'll have more willpower this week! :-)

Breakfasts

frozen waffles and Boca sausage links
cold cereal and yogurt
oatmeal
scrambled eggs and toast

Lunches
tuna salad sandwiches, apples, pretzels
pizza quesadillas, grapes, salad
spinach and brown rice casserole, salad
baked potatoes w/broccoli, cheese and bacon bits
pbjs, grapes, pretzels
taco casserole leftovers
warm potato salad leftovers

Dinners
warm potato salad w/ smoked sausage (made w/ Boca smoked sausage instead of the real stuff), salad
taco casserole, salad
spinach & bacon pizzas on tortilla crusts, fruit salad (apples, grapes, mandarin oranges & walnuts w/ yogurt)
grilled ham & cheese sandwiches, canned tomato soup
black bean & corn stew over brown rice (my meatless version of this recipe)

Be sure to visit OrgJunkie for lots more menu planning ideas!

Grocery Shopping

I finally went to the grocery store today for some real shopping--with a list and a plan and everything. There were quick trips to Aldi and Kroger on Friday for some necessities (grapes, cheese, crackers, bread, ham, pretzels, soft drinks, and a great deal on Boca products), but unfortunately I can't find the receipts on those. I think we spent about $16--definitely between $15 and $20.

I shopped at Aldi today and here's what I got for $20.94:
ground beef 3.70
frozen waffles 1.29
black beans .59
2 8oz. blocks of cheese 2.58
2 lbs green grapes 2.69
can of albacore tuna 1.05
yogurt 1.59
tortilla chips .99
12-grain bread 1.69
italian-blend salad 1.00
iceberg salad .69
egg noodles .99
pepperoni 1.99

I also had to pay .10 for a shopping bag. I took one, but it wasn't big enough to hold all I bought. Even though it's only a dime, it just kills me when I have to buy a bag there!

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Menu Plan Monday

I haven't been very organized for the last couple of weeks, so I didn't do any menu planning or blogging. We did stay under our $40/week grocery budget, but largely because we ate out far too much. I can tell I've put a few pounds on lately and I'm sure the frequent trips to Arby's have contributed to that! I'm determined to get organized and back on track this week. I went grocery shopping on Friday (the first day of our budget week) without a list or a plan and spent $39.26. That means I had to look at what I bought and what was in the house and come up with a plan to feed us, since there wasn't any money left to run out and pick up extra ingredients. It's not the greatest menu ever, but we won't be going hungry! :-)

Breakfasts
Scrambled eggs, toast
Cold cereal, yogurt
Oatmeal
Bacon, toast

Lunches
Ham sandwiches, pretzels, grapes
Hot dogs, chips, apples
Leftover pasta w/ chickpeas & broccoli
Pbjs, pretzels, apples
Leftover white bean soup
Omelets, toast, canned fruit

Dinners
Pasta w/ chickpeas & broccoli
Vegetable stir-fry, egg rolls
Mixed-grain pancakes, bacon, fruit
White bean soup, cornbread
Spaghetti w/ meat sauce, garlic bread, salad
Chorizo tacos, roasted potatoes

Check out Menu Plan Monday at OrgJunkie.com for hundreds of menu ideas!

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Menu Plan Monday

Last week we ate several "picnic" lunches at our new house while we were painting. That meant lots of sandwiches (pbj or lunch meat), chips, and apples. Because of that, there were several dishes we didn't make that are back on the menu again this week. We'll probably have a few more "picnics" this week, so I haven't planned much for lunches. The Mexican lasagna should make enough leftovers for at least two meals, so I think this menu will get us through the week.

Breakfasts
Oatmeal w/ cinnamon apples
Cold cereal, bananas
Scrambled eggs & toast

Lunches
Peanut butter sandwiches, pretzels, bananas
Canned tomato soup, grilled cheese sandwiches
Turkey sandwiches, pretzels, apples
Popcorn shrimp, fries, apples

Dinners
Veggie stir fry, egg rolls
Mixed grain pancakes, sausage, cinnamon apples
Open-faced pot roast sandwiches w/ gravy, au gratin potatoes, corn
Mexican lasagna, fruit
Sausage & cheese omelets, fruit, toast

Be sure to visit Menu Plan Monday for hundreds of great menus!

more Krogering

Trying to keep food at two houses is proving to be challenging, especially since there's not a fridge at the new house and we're making do with a cooler. I ran back to Kroger this morning so we could fix a quick lunch over there while we were painting.

Oscar Mayer turkey 2.50
bread 1.19
potato salad 1.99
pretzels 1.00

I spent $6.68, which leaves us with $16.31 in this week's budget.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Krogering

For budgeting purposes we start our new week on Fridays, and I spent about half of this week's budget tonight at Kroger. I felt reckless, shopping without coupons and paying full-price for things! However, we just found out this evening that some family members are coming over tomorrow to help us with painting at the new house, so I figured feeding them a hearty meal is the least I can do. :-) I plan to cook the roast in the slow-cooker with some peppers and italian seasoning, then shred it for sandwiches and top them with the provolone cheese. Since I have to work all day tomorrow and hubby will be busy watching the kiddos and/or painting, the slow-cooker is definitely the way to go!

Here's what I bought tonight:
beef chuck roast 5.19
2 pkgs Cocoa Via chocolate covered almonds 2.68 (on clearance)
sliced provolone cheese 2.19
Yoplait kids' yogurt 2.38
hamburger buns 1.00
italian dressing (2 packets dry mix & cruet) 2.49
bananas 1.08
Total spent $17.01, leaving us with $22.99 in this week's budget.

I would normally make my own salad dressing mix, rather than buying the packets. However, I've been wanting a cruet to mix up my own vinaigrettes and store them, so I gave in tonight and bought it.

The chocolate-covered almonds were definitely an indulgence, but I'll take them to work and stash them in my desk to keep me from visiting the vending machine. Two different times this week I gave in to cravings and spent 80 cents for a pack of peanut M&Ms. Each of the boxes I bought tonight has five individual packets, so this should be much better for the budget.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Black Bean Salsa

I made black beans in the slow-cooker today--first time I'd used it to cook dried beans--and they turned out great! We had black beans and rice tonight, and I as was thinking about ways to use up the leftovers this recipe came to mind. I find this black bean salsa totally addictive and can make a meal of it and corn chips. I also love it with a plain cheese quesadilla. I usually make it with all black beans, but have also used half kidney beans or half black-eyed peas.

Black Bean Salsa
1/4 c white wine vinegar (I've used other vinegars when I didn't have the white wine variety on hand--the taste is a little stronger, but I still though it was good)
1/4 c vegetable oil
1 1/2 t sugar
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp dried basil
2 t minced garlic (I'm a garlic-a-holic, so I usually use more!)
2 15 oz cans of black beans, drained and rinsed
1 1/2 cups frozen corn, thawed
1 small red, yellow, or orange bell pepper, finely chopped
1/2 red onion, finely chopped
2 oz can diced green chiles with liquid (or jalapenos if you like a little heat)
1/4 c chopped cilantro (I've also used parsley when I didn't have cilantro on hand)

Whisk together first six ingredients in a medium bowl. Stir in remaining ingredients and season with salt and pepper to taste. Refrigerate for at least one hour before serving to allow flavors to blend.

For more yummy recipes and kitchen tips, take a look at the Tasty Tuesday Blog Party , Kitchen Tip Tuesday, and Tempt My Tummy Tuesday.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Menu Plan Monday

This week I planned our menu with the goal of cleaning out the freezer out some, since we're going to be moving in about a month. I managed to incorporate several items (salmon, popcorn shrimp, sausage, english muffins, lots of frozen veggies), but I have some cheddar bratwurst in there that I got really cheap a couple months ago and have no idea what to do with them. I've never cooked bratwurst before. If you have any suggestions for me, please leave them in the comments! I'd really like to work them into next week's menu.

BREAKFASTS
oatmeal
scrambled egg on english muffin
cold cereal and bananas
pigs in a blanket (sausage links in crescent rolls)
applesauce muffins

LUNCHES
chili dogs, pretzels, apples
black bean soft tacos, mexican rice, grapes
chili nachos, grapes
pizza quesadillas (pepperoni, pizza sauce & mozzarella between two tortillas), carrot sticks, apples
turkey sandwiches, pretzels, grapes

DINNERS
black beans and rice, fruit salad (apples, mandarin oranges, walnuts, & grapes mixed with yogurt)
slow-cooker pork chops with apple stuffing (variation on this recipe), green beans
salmon, broccoli & cheese rice, green beans
popcorn shrimp, french fries, corn
vegetable stir-fry, egg rolls
mixed-grain pancakes, sausage, apples

Be sure to visit Menu Plan Monday at OrgJunkie.com for hundreds more great menus!

Grocery Shopping

I made two grocery runs today and the week's budget is about gone. I spent a total of $35.67 at Aldi and Kroger. Here's what I bought:

ALDI
boneless pork chops 4.02
cheddar cheese (8 oz block) 1.29
turkey lunchmeat 2.49
tortilla chips .99
pretzel sticks 1.29
tartar sauce 1.29

KROGER
3 lbs gala apples 2.99
frozen stir-fry veggies 1.25
stir-fry sauce 2.20
yoplait kids' yogurt 2.38
grapes 3.71
bananas 1.09
black beans 2.79
eggs 3.19
bread 1.39
iceberg lettuce .88

Hubby used ExtraBucks at CVS this morning to get some applesauce (two pkgs of the Mott's individual cups) with no out-of-pocket (OOP) expense. We also have $10 in Walgreen's register rewards that are expiring today, so after the kids are in bed he'll run out and use those to buy some drinks. I think we'll have to spend about $1 OOP to get 4 12-packs of pepsi products. I hope they have diet Mountain Dew. :)

Monday, March 16, 2009

Grocery shopping

So far this week, we've spent $28.60. I can't list everything we've purchased because I trashed the receipts without thinking. I'm still a little disorganized from last week. :) There were several non-essential purchases, though--beer, donuts, and a Cadbury egg come to mind. I know I also got apples, kiwi, lasagna noodles, mozzarella cheese, corn tortillas and black beans, but that's all I can remember for sure. Either way, we have most everything for our menu this week and are going to try not to spend any more. We're going to be moving in about a month and need to work on cleaning out some of what's in our freezer and cabinets!

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Slow-Cooker Lasagna

This makes a LOT of lasagna. If you have a small family or aren't big fans of leftovers, you should plan to freeze half for later.

2 26 oz jars of spaghetti sauce
1/2 lb of cooked ground meat (optional)
15 oz tub of ricotta cheese
2 cups shredded mozzarella
1/2 cup shredded parmesan
1 egg, beaten
2 tsp Italian seasoning
any vegetables you want to add (I used a box of frozen spinach, thawed and drained well, and about a cup of finely chopped uncooked broccoli)
uncooked lasagna noodles (regular, NOT the no-cook kind)

I used a 6-quart oval slow-cooker for this recipe. In a medium-sized bowl, combine egg, ricotta, 1 cup mozzarella, parmesan, Italian seasoning, and vegetables. If you're using meat, stir it into the sauce. Cover the bottom of your slow-cooker with a layer of sauce, then add a layer of noodles. You'll probably have to break the noodles to fill in all the spaces. Spread a layer of the ricotta mixture over the noodles, then cover with another layer of sauce. Continue making layers, ending with sauce. Make sure the top layer of noodles is well-covered with sauce.

Cook on low until noodles are tender and most of the liquid has been absorbed. It took about 3 1/2 hrs in my slow-cooker, but I think it cooks a little faster than most. Sprinkle the top with 1 cup of mozzarella and cover just until it melts.

Visit Tempt My Tummy Tuesday, Kitchen Tip Tuesday, Tasty Tuesday and Grocery Cart Challenge for more great recipes and tips!

Menu Plan Monday

We did not stick to our menu or our budget last week. It was the first week this year we've gone over our $40/week goal, and we went way over! Hubby had minor surgery on Thursday and his mother came up for a couple of days to help us out, so it was not a typical week. There was a lot of eating out and convenience foods. We're going to get back on track this week!

I didn't make the beef stew I had planned last week, so it's on the menu again. The beef stew and lasagna should each make enough leftovers for a couple of meals, so I'm only planning five lunches and five dinners.

BREAKFASTS
oatmeal
cold cereal
biscuits and sausage
scrambled egg and toast
granola bars, yogurt

LUNCHES
hot ham & cheese sandwiches, chips, apples
pizza muffins and tomato soup, carrot sticks
ham and cheese waffles, fruit
peanut butter sandwiches, pretzels, fruit
chicken nuggets, fries, fruit

DINNERS
spinach lasagna (slow-cooker), garlic bread, salad
beef stew (slow-cooker), biscuits
teriyaki salmon over spicy peanut noodles and broccoli
tortilla soup
chili dogs, french fries

You can find more menu planning inspiration at $5 Dinners this week.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Slow-cooker Pumpkin Butter

My family loves this pumpkin butter, and it's so easy to make in the slow-cooker. It's also very inexpensive to mix up a batch. We eat this on about any kind of bread--toast, biscuits, pancakes, bagels, muffins. This is adapted from the recipe in Not Your Mother's Slow Cooker Cookbook. The original recipe called for quite a bit more sweetener, but we think it's tasty just like this.

29 oz can of pumpkin (plain pumpkin, NOT pumpkin pie mix)
3/4 cup brown sugar
2 tbsp honey (or more to taste)
1 1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice (or your own mix of cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg & cloves)
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
juice of 1 lemon

Put everything in a crockpot, stir well, and cook with the lid on for about 2 hours. Stir every 30 minutes or so and be sure to scrape the sides down well. I use a 2 qt crock for this, but if you use a larger one it would probably cook faster. Then take the lid off and cook for another 30 mins to an hour until it gets as thick as you'd like. It will keep in the refrigerator for up to six weeks, although it rarely lasts that long at my house!

For more great recipes and tips, visit Tempt My Tummy Tuesday and Kitchen Tip Tuesday

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Menu Plan Monday

BREAKFASTS
Cold cereal
Scrambled egg on English muffin
Applesauce muffins (these were a big hit last week and will probably become regulars on our menu)
Granola bars
Oatmeal

LUNCHES
Cheese & corn quesadillas on multi-grain tortillas; Mexican rice; fruit
Hot ham & cheese sandwiches, pretzels, apples
Omelets w/ ham, swiss cheese & peppers; English muffins; fruit
Baked potatoes w/ broccoli, cheese & ham; fruit
Leftover beef stew

DINNERS
Shrimp po-boys, French fries, fruit
Salmon, brown rice pilaf, steamed broccoli
White pizza (ricotta, garlic & parmesan) on no-knead crust , salad
Homemade corn dogs , French fries, fruit
Beef stew, salad, biscuits

For more menu planning inspiration, visit Menu Plan Monday at I'm an Organizing Junkie.

Aldi

First shopping trip of the week was to Aldi, where I spent $26.28. That leaves $13.72 in the budget, which is enough to cover the rest of the things we need (milk, eggs, fruit). We also have a $20 credit at Kroger from getting a prescription filled that we'll probably use to stock up on soft drinks and some other non-essential items this week.

10 lb russet potatoes 2.99
vegetable oil 2.29
skinless, boneless salmon filets 3.99
beef stew meat 4.17
ham lunch meat 2.49
salt .33
2 pkgs broccoli crowns .59/ea
mac & cheese .35
8 oz block cheddar cheese 1.29
carrots 1.15
fresh mushrooms .59
tortilla chips .99
2 bags italian salad blend .99/ea
hot dog buns .45
hamburger buns .45
frozen fries 1.59

Walgreens Deals

We got everything in the picture above for $33.07 (after using $12 in Register Rewards) at Walgreen's and we earned $10 in Register Rewards for buying the Huggies. Here's how it worked:
  • 3 pkgs Huggies @ $10/ea - 3 $3 printable coupons (print them from the coupons.com sidebar on the left of this page)
  • 14 cans Butterball chicken broth @ 69/ea (use Walgreen's in-ad coupon to get them for .69/ea)
  • 2 Glade Sense & Spray air fresheners @ $7.99/ea - printable buy 1 get 1 free coupon - $4 mfg coupon (2/08 SS)- $8 Walgreen's Easy Saver coupon (1 coupon takes $4 off each one)
  • 2 Glade Lasting Impressions scented oil @$7.99/ea - printable buy 1 get 1 free coupon - $4 mfg coupon (2/08 SS) - $8 Walgreen's Easy Saver coupons (1 coupon takes $4 off each one)
  • 2 pkgs Energizer AA rechargeable batteries @$7.99/ea
  • 2 boxes Pediasure granola bars @$2.69/ea - $2 mfg coupons (1/11 SS)
I had $8 in overage from the 4 Glade products ($2 from each). We'll get a $5 Easy Saver rebate for buying $10 worth of broth(the $10 worth comes from the price BEFORE the in-ad coupon) and $10 Easy Saver rebate for buying two packs of Energizer batteries. So for less than $17 after Easy Saver rebates, our house smells great, our daughter has diapers, we're stocked up on broth for the next six months, and we no longer have to take the rechargeable batteries out of the camera to use the wireless mouse. :-) I'd say it was a really good shopping trip!

If you're new to bargain shopping at Walgreen's, Money Saving Mom has a great post on Walgreens 101. You can also check out more Walgreen's deals at Deal Seeking Mom.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Eat Cheap at Arby's

Arby's is really promoting their new Roastburger sandwich. I tried the bacon-cheddar one at lunch today and thought it was quite good. You can print a coupon here for a free roastburger with the purchase of a drink, or sign up to join the Arby's Extras and they'll email you a coupon for a free one. We also got lots of good Arby's coupons in the mail this week and were able to combine those with the printable for a really cheap lunch out!

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Grocery Shopping

We went to Aldi and Kroger today and spent most of what was left in this week's grocery budget. At Aldi we bought:
2 8oz blocks of cheddar cheese 2.58
ricotta cheese 1.59
mushrooms .69

And at Kroger:
4 12-packs of Big K sodas 7.08
2 jars Kroger apple juice 2.88
2 cans Del Monte low-salt corn 1.60-.75 coupons (doubled to .80, so they were free!)
8 apples 2.00
Oscar Meyer beef hot dogs 4.39 (we had a coupon from Kroger to get these FREE!)
1 lb beef stew meat 4.55

Total spent today was $18.83, leaving $5.88.

The coupon for the free Oscar Meyer hot dogs came in the mail, along with several other coupons. Kroger direct mails coupons to their customers based on your buying preferences. If you shop there regularly, this is a really nice perk!

Diaper coupons--High Value

This doesn't deal with "eating cheap", but it's a great deal if you need some diapers. There are some good Huggies coupons available in the coupons.com sidebar. It's over on the left side of the page, just click at the top where it says "See all coupons." I was able to print one for $5 off any Huggies Gentle Care product and one for $3 off any Huggies Natural Fit product. If you haven't used coupons.com before, you'll need to install their coupon printer but the process is quick and easy.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Wal-Mart

Edward ran to Wal-Mart today for some household items, and also spent $4.87 on a few groceries.

Seapack shrimp poppers (6 oz) $1.32-$1 printable coupon
Over the Moon milk $2.97 - $1 coupon
avocado .58
Oreo cakesters 100 calorie packs (2) $4.00-$2 coupon

There was also a rebate offer with the milk coupon, so we can choose to get the $1.97 back or get three more $1.50 coupons.

We have $24.71 left in this week's grocery budget.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Aldi shopping

Our first shopping trip this week was to Aldi, where we spent $10.42, leaving $29.58 in this week's budget.

tortillas .99
corn chips .99
egg noodles .99
pork chops 3.96
frozen corn .95
pretzels 1.29
dessert cheese ball 1.25

The dessert cheese ball was a real impulse buy. It was marked down and just seemed to be screaming my name. Edward thought it was pretty tasty, but Kenton and I weren't impressed. Maybe the disappointment will teach me to stay away from those impulse buys!

Menu Plan Monday

At least three of our dinners this week should make enough for leftovers, so I've only planned four lunches. I'm fortunate to work close enough that I can come home and eat lunch with my family most days. I try to keep lunches really simple (sandwiches and heating up leftovers work really well), since I don't want to spend my lunch hour cooking. Hubby is wonderful and does lots around the house, but cooking is not his thing! :-)

BREAKFASTS
Sausage & egg on English muffins
Cold cereal, applesauce muffins
Oatmeal
Peanut butter on English muffins
Biscuits and bacon

LUNCHES
Nachos w/ black beans, cheese, avocado & salsa; apples
Tuna salad on English muffins, pretzels, grapes
Cheese quesadillas, Mexican rice, grapes, carrot sticks
Lightlife mushroom burgers on English muffins, pretzels, carrot sticks

DINNERS
Pork chops with corn stuffing (slow-cooker), green beans, salad
Paprika beef over egg noodles, steamed broccoli & carrots
Mixed grain pancakes, bacon, apples
Mushroom-barley soup, beer bread
Omelets w/ cream cheese, avocado, bacon & salsa; English muffins; grapes

For lots more menu ideas and recipes, visit Menu Plan Monday.

Pork Chops with Corn Stuffing

This weekend I decided to go searching for some new slow-cooker recipes and found this one in an old Pillsbury cookbook. I already had everything but the pork chops, so decided to put it on the menu this week. I think it sounds great--hope it turns out well!

Pork Chops with Corn Stuffing
4 (4 oz) boneless pork chops
4 cups cornbread stuffing mix
1/2 c chopped celery
1/4 c chopped onion
1/4 tsp dried sage (I used poultry seasoning)
1 can (14 oz) chicken broth
1 (11 oz) can of mexi-corn, drained (I'm going to use frozen corn and diced bell pepper since that's what I have on hand)
1 egg, beaten

Heat a lightly-oiled skillet over medium heat. Add pork chops and cook just until browned on both sides. Season with salt and pepper, if desired. In a large bowl, combine all remaining ingredients and mix well. Spoon stuffing mixture into 3-4 quart slow-cooker coated lightly with nonstick spray. Arrange browned pork chops over stuffing. Cover and cook on low for 5-6 hours, or until pork is no longer pink in the center.

UPDATED 3/2: We had this for supper tonight and it was great! It was quick and easy, just like good slow-cooker food should be. I threw everything in my 4-quart crock when I was home for lunch and it was done perfectly when I got home this evening. The pork was super-tender and the stuffing was moist and tasty. If I make it again, though, I'll probably leave out the bell pepper (just use plain corn). Hubby found it to be a little overwhelming, and it would be fine without it. I think a chopped or coarsely grated carrot would also be a nice addition.

Visit Tempt My Tummy Tuesday and Tasty Tuesday for more great tips and recipes!

Friday, February 27, 2009

Bbq pork pizza

A couple weeks ago we got a great deal on a pork roast at Kroger. I slow-cooked it and we ate part then froze the rest for later. Yesterday I thawed some and used it to make bbq pork pizzas. These were quick, easy and very tasty! I heated the shredded pork and mixed it with a spicy bbq sauce, then spread it on a tortilla I had toasted lightly. (I'd originally planned to make a homemade pizza crust but didn't get it started in the bread machine.) I sprinkled a little chopped red onion over the meat and sauce, topped everything with shredded cheddar and put it back in the oven just long enough to melt the cheese. Since I had some cilantro on hand, I chopped a little of that on top and it added a nice kick. Edward and I both really liked this! I think the "pizza on a tortilla" idea would be a great quick and easy way to use up any type of leftover meat and sauce mixture.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

$2.08 at Kroger!

Edward hadn't done any big-time couponing in a week or so, but he made a run to Kroger tonight to get some serious deals on Pillsbury products. For $2.08 out of pocket we got the following:

5 cans of cinnamon rolls (5 count)
5 cans of crescent rolls (4 count)
5 cans of grands biscuits (5 count)
2 pkgs of Cottonelle toilet tissue (4 roll)
Colgate total toothpaste
Juicy Fruit gum (15 sticks)
Lightlife mushrooms burgers (2 count)
Reese Cups (eaten before the picture was taken :) )

You can check out Money Magnet's blog for details on the Pillsbury deals. Edward did pay in three separate transactions, using the Catalinas from the previous transactions as she describes. The toothpaste was completely free with a .75 coupon (doubled to 1.00) and a 1.50 cellfire coupon. Lightlife burgers were marked down to 1.59 for quick sale (exp. March 3), and we had a $1 coupon. The Cottonelle was .99/pkg and we had a .50/2 coup (doubled to 1.00) and and a .25 cellfire. You can almost always get the Cottonelle 4-packs dirt cheap at Kroger using coupons and cellfires.

Make Your Own Taco Seasoning

I've found that a well-stocked spice cabinet is essential to frugal cooking at home. The right seasoning can transform a plain-tasting, inexpensive ingredient like rice or potatoes into something new. You could spend a fortune buying name-brand spices, but I've found the 2/$1 jars at bargain stores like Dollar Tree and Big Lots are just as good as the high-priced varieties. I also buy large containers of spices we use regularly at Sam's and find their prices are hard to beat.

Once you get a good supply of spices you can make your own seasoning blends, like Italian or taco seasoning. An individual packet of taco seasoning sells for $1.09 at my local Kroger, so if you use it often that can add up fast! In addition to saving money, making your own lets you tailor the seasoning to your family's tastes. Here's my recipe for Taco Seasoning:

1/4 cup dried minced onion
3 Tbsp chili powder
2 tsp paprika
2 tsp garlic powder
2 tsp oregano
2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp coriander
1/2 tsp cayenne (optional)
1/2 tsp salt
2 Tbsp cornstarch

Place all ingredients in a small jar, put the lid on, and shake well to blend. Three tablespoons of the mix is equal to one packet of taco seasoning. For more seasoning blend recipes, take a look at this post from SimpleMom.net.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Kroger

We went to Kroger today and spent $19.40, which nearly finished off this week's grocery budget. Here's what we bought:

grapes 1.93
black beans .74
cream cheese 1.26
parmesan cheese 3.79
cottage cheese 1.00
walnuts 4.99
eggs 3.19
bacon 2.50

We have $6.44 left in the budget, so if there's something we really need (or want--sometimes those donut cravings get the best of us!), we can cover it.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Meijer (and free subs at Quiznos!)

We got a prescription filled at Meijer today and used a coupon that ran in their ad a couple weeks ago to get $20 off our next purchase. The only good thing about Emery having a prescription that has to be filled every month is that these types of coupons are abundant. We can almost always get $20 or $25 from Kroger, Meijer, CVS, Walgreens, or Rite Aid when we fill a prescription.

We used the $20 credit to get everything in the picture above for $2.14 out of pocket.

4 12-packs of Meijer drinks $9.00
cilantro .89
Mission whole grain tortillas 3.99 - 1.00 coupon
4-pack of silicon spatulas 5.99
3 lbs of orange bell peppers 1.47 (reduced for quick sale)
2.75 lbs of apples 1.39 (reduced for quick sale)
Valentine cards .28

I can't find anything wrong with the bell peppers--I've paid full price for ones that didn't look as good! A couple of the apples have big bruises, but we can certainly cut around them for snacking or cooking. Their regular price on apples was 1.69/lb, so I'm willing to cut around a few spots to get them for less than 1/3 of that! We hardly ever find produce reduced for quick sale at Kroger, where we do most of our shopping. Meijer always has a cart, but since it's about 10 miles away (and Kroger's literally just around the corner) we don't shop there as often.

I was excited to find the silicon spatulas on clearance. I have two that I use constantly and it will be nice to have more so I don't have to wash those two over and over on days when I do lots of cooking! We also picked up a box of Valentine cards to use next year for only .28. The Valentine clearance merchandise was very picked over, but the race car themed valentines should be just right for a 4 year old boy.

Before going to Meijer, we registered at this site for Quizno's Million Free Subs promotion. They're going fast, so go sign up now and you'll get an email with a coupon for any small sub free. After we bought a kids meal and drinks for us, we paid about $7 for lunch out for the four us. It was definitely a good trip. Now I need to get busy chopping and freezing peppers! :-)

Monday, February 23, 2009

Aldi

I went to Aldi today for our first shopping trip of the week. I spent $11.02, leaving us with $28.98 in this week's budget. Here's what I got for the money:

macaroni & cheese .35
red onions .69
salsa 1.49
flour tortillas .99
salt .33
beef hot dogs 2.29
hot dog buns .85
egg noodles .99
tortilla chips .99
paper bag .06 (I forgot to take my bags!)

Aldi's selection is small but their prices are hard to beat, especially for things we don't have coupons on. I've also been pleased with their produce. They had 3 lb bags of granny smith apples for 2.38 and I'd hoped to get one of those today, but they only had a few left and they were not in good shape. Aldi's really close to our house (walking distance if the weather's nice!), so I'll probably pop in later this week and see if they have any that look better.

Breakfast--Fast, Filling & Frugal

I love breakfast, but I also love sleeping until the last possible minute. I know I need a good breakfast to function well at work, though, so I've found a hearty sandwich that I can make in about 5 minutes and eat in the car if necessary. Sausage, egg and cheese on an english muffin costs about 50 cents a serving, has 282 calories, 14.5 fat grams, a very respectable 5.5 grams of fiber and 16 grams of protein. I calculated the cost and nutritional info based on the following items:

Aunt Millie's whole grain English muffins .90/6 pack
Banquet brown & serve sausage .90/10 links
eggs 1.69/dozen
8 oz block of Kraft 2% cheddar cheese 1.66

The sausage and english muffins regularly go on sale as part of Meijer's 11/$10 promotion, and we always stock up when they do. Eggs are regular price, and Kroger frequently has their brand of cheese or Kraft available at that price.

Here's my workflow to make a sandwich in 5 minutes:
  • heat small nonstick skillet over medium & spritz with nonstick spray
  • put muffin in toaster
  • put 1 link of sausage in microwave for 1 1/2 minutes on medium
  • crack egg directly into skillet and stir to scramble (I see no need to dirty up an extra bowl for this! I use a small plastic fork so it won't scratch the pan when I stir.)
  • put a lid on the egg and get sausage out of microwave and cheese out of fridge
  • chop or crumble sausage
  • slice or shred cheese if using a block (I use my veggie peeler to shave off a few thin slices. I calculated based on 1/2 oz of cheese.)
  • sprinkle sausage and cheese over egg
  • cover pan and finish cooking until egg is set and cheese is melted
  • remove muffin from toaster, top with egg, and enjoy!
If you're really pressed for time in the mornings, you could make these ahead and just reheat in the microwave. At my local McDonald's, a sausage egg & cheese mcmuffin is $2.19, so you can make these at home for a family of four for less than you'd pay for one! And it really doesn't take any longer to cook these than it does to go through the drive-thru. A homemade mcmuffin also has 1/3 fewer calories, 1/2 the fat, and almost three times more fiber than one from McDonald's. You can view their nutrition info here.

(I really need to work on my food photography skills! Anyone have any tips?)

Visit Tempt My Tummy Tuesday, Kitchen Tip Tuesday, and the Tasty Tuesday Blog Party for more great tips and recipes!

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Menu Plan Monday

We're going to be out of town a couple of days this week, so I'm only planning four meals. I'm also going to try to get back on track with the blog and actually write about the groceries we're getting for our $40 a week. We've been doing a great job of sticking to our budget, but I haven't been doing such a great job of posting about it!

We have some crescent rolls in the fridge nearing their expiration date, and hubby requested we use them to make pigs in a blanket. I'm not a big fan of hot dogs, but I can work them into the menu occasionally if it makes him happy. :-) I'll definitely spend a little more to get the all-beef ones--even on a tight budget those are worth it to me!

Since we aren't going to need to spend as much for meals this week because of being out of town, I'm planning to buy some parmesan cheese and walnuts or pecans. Kroger has red bell peppers on sale this week too, so I'll probably also get several of those to chop and put in the freezer. I did that with green peppers at the end of summer when they were cheap, and it's super-handy.

BREAKFASTS
Yogurt muffins (I'm working on a recipe for these. I'll post later this week!)
Egg on English muffins
Cold cereal
Oatmeal

LUNCHES
Pigs in a blanket, mac & cheese, baby carrots
Tomato soup, toasted cheese on English muffins
Leftover white bean soup
Chili dogs, corn chips, baby carrots

DINNERS
BBQ pork pizza (leftover pork from freezer, bottled bbq sauce, red onion & cheddar cheese on homemade crust)
White bean soup (meatless variation on this recipe)
Black bean burritos, corn chips, fruit
Biscuits & sausage gravy, scrambled eggs, fried apples

Want more menu inspiration and recipe ideas? Check out this week's Menu Plan Monday at orgjunkie.com!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Tempt My Tummy Tuesday

Homemade pizza is one of our staples. It's fast and easy, with a little advance prep in the slow-cooker and bread machine, and it's a hit with everyone in the family. It's also a great way to use up little bits of leftover meats and veggies hanging around in the fridge. Got a few mushrooms left in the package? A single slice of ham? A couple of bites of pineapple? You've got pizza toppings!

I've shared my slow-cooker sauce recipe before. We always keep some on hand, since it freezes well. I've recently discovered that I can stir a little carrot puree into it and no one is the wiser, so it's also a great way to sneak in some veggies.

If you don't want to bother making your own pizza crust, english muffins, pita breads, or even flattened refrigerated biscuits work just fine. However, we really like the crust made in the bread machine. This recipe comes from Not Your Mother's Slow Cooker Cookbook by Beth Hensperger and yields enough for two 12-inch pizzas. Leftover dough can be wrapped in Saran Wrap and refrigerated for a day, or frozen for up to 3 months.

Whole Wheat Pizza Dough
1 1/3 cups water
1/4 cup olive oil
2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour, preferably unbleached
3/4 cup whole wheat flour
1 tsp salt
2 tsp bread machine or instant yeast

Combine all ingredients in the pan according to the instructions for your bread machine. Program for the dough cycle. When it's ready, the dough will be soft. Preheat your oven to 450. Place the dough on a work surface dusted with cornmeal and divide into the desired number of portions. Using your hands or a rolling pin, stretch or roll into the desired shape. Place in an ungreased pan dusted lightly with cornmeal. (I use my hands and just stretch it out directly in the pan. Using cornmeal and not greasing the pan gives a nice, crisp crust.) Bake crust for 7-8 minutes, then remove from oven and top with sauce and desired toppings. Return to oven for an additional 7-8 minutes. Eat hot and enjoy!

Meijer shopping

Our first shopping trip of the week was to Meijer, where we spent $16.89. They're having the "buy 10 items for $10 and get the 11th free" sale again this week, and everything we bought except the bananas was included in that sale.

Bananas .69
3 bags of Quaker rice cakes 3.00 - 1.00 coupon
Banquet brown & serve sausage 1.00
baby carrots 1.00
broccoli 1.00
mushrooms 1.00
2 boxes Green Giant frozen spinach 2.00 -.50 coupon (doubled to 1.00)
4 bags Knorr rice mixes 4.00 -two .75 coupons (doubled to 1.00)
3 boxes freezer bags 3.00
Stove Top stuffing 1.00
4 pkgs english muffins 4.00
1 can albacore tuna 1.00
-2.00 for "bonus items"

The only other thing we really need to get through the week is milk, but I'm sure Edward will find some more deals to stock up on!

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Menu Plan Monday

We stayed in our grocery budget last week, but didn't do too well sticking to our menu plan. We ate out far more than we should have--we had a couple of gift cards that we used up and we also had fast food a couple of times. While fast food once a week isn't too hard on the budget, it does add up when we go more frequently. We didn't make everything on the menu since we didn't eat at home as much, so the sausage-apple-cheddar bread pudding is on the menu again.

BREAKFASTS
Scrambled egg on English muffin
Cold cereal and banana
Fiber one bars, yogurt
Oatmeal
Peanut butter on toast

LUNCHES
Tuna salad on English muffins, baby carrots, chips
English muffin pizzas, baby carrots, fruit
Spicy peanut noodles w/ broccoli
Canned soup
Spinach & brown rice casserole, fruit

DINNERS
Salmon, roasted potatoes, green beans, salad
Sausage-apple-cheddar bread pudding
White pizza w/ spinach, fruit
Omelets w/ spinach & mushrooms, toast, fruit
Potato soup
Mixed-grain pancakes, sausage, fruit

Head over to OrgJunkie's site for lots more great menu planning ideas!

Monday, February 9, 2009

Oatmeal-Carrot Bread

My children are not good about eating their vegetables, so I've been looking for ways to sneak them into our meals. I checked out Deceptively Delicious by Jessica Seinfeld and The Sneaky Chef by Missy Chase Lapine from the library last week. I wasn't too impressed with either book, but they did inspire me to come up with a quick bread recipe with carrot puree. This makes a dense, not-too-sweet bread that we've been enjoying for breakfast and snacks.

1 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/3 cup brown sugar
2 tsp cinnamon
3 Tbsp chopped sunflower seeds or chopped nuts (optional)
1 cup milk
1 egg
2 Tbsp vegetable oil
1/3 cup pureed cooked carrots (or unsweetened applesauce)
1 tsp vanilla

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Grease three mini loaf pans or one standard loaf pan.

In a medium bowl, combine milk and oats; let sit for 10-15 minutes, then beat in egg, oil, carrot puree, and vanilla. In a separate bowl, mix dry ingredients. Pour wet ingredients into dry and stir just until combined.

Spoon batter into loaf pan(s) until 2/3 full. I used mini loaf pans and baked for 20 minutes. I would guess if you're using a standard loaf pan it will need to bake for about 40 minutes. Bread is done when it starts to pull away from the edges of the pan and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

For more great recipes, take a look at Tempt My Tummy Tuesday!

Grocery Shopping

We made our first grocery run of the week today, spending $27.39 of our $40 weekly budget at Kroger. I was not impressed with the grocery ads for our area this week--no great deals. Edward only used three coupons and that has to be a new low for him! Everything we bought today was directly related to our menu for the week, no snacks or extras. We probably could have found most of the items a little cheaper at WalMart, but if we know we can shop elsewhere and stay under budget, we do it. And when you're using lots of coupons, you can almost always do better at other stores than at WalMart. Spending less time at WalMart has been an unexpected bonus of our $40/week challenge!

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Menu Plan Monday

This week I'm making it a priority to use up some of the things in my cabinets and freezer. A couple months ago, we found some great deals on Betty Crocker potatoes so I have several different varieties on hand. While digging in the freezer today I came across some forgotten turkey we froze back around Christmas, so I'll be using that up, too. I also have lots of frozen veggies so I've tried to incorporate those into the menu. Since most of the dinners I have planned this week should make leftovers, I only have three lunches planned.

Breakfasts
Waffles
Scrambled egg on English muffin
Oatmeal
Cold cereal, yogurt
Oatmeal-carrot bread

Lunches
Baked potatoes w/ broccoli & cheese
Cheese quesadillas, Mexican rice, fruit
English muffin pizzas, carrot sticks, pretzels

Dinners
Bbq beef and corn shepherd’s pie, salad
Cheesy broccoli-potato soup
Crockpot vegetable curry over basmati rice
Sausage, apple & cheddar bread pudding, fruit (I'm subbing sausage for bacon in the original recipe since that's what I have on hand)
Ham & bean soup, potato-rosemary bread
Hot open-faced turkey sandwiches, mashed potatoes

Be sure to visit OrgJunkie's site for lots and lots of great menu planning ideas!

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Stocking up at Sam's

We spent $15.88 at Sam's today on baking powder, dried minced onion, and cumin. We cook at home a lot, so we really do go through those gigantic jars of spices! Our total spent for the week is $33.98.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Super Couponing at Kroger

On his Kroger run today, Edward got everything in the picture for $4.49! We had some super-duper coupons to make this happen. A couple weeks ago Kraft had an online contest where you could play a game to try and win coupons. I won the first time I played (beginner's luck?) so I put in my address for them to mail me the coupons, figuring maybe I'd get some 50 cent or $1.00 off. Well, we got coupons for FREE Planter's nuts (up to $5), Kraft cheese (up to $3.99), Nabisco crackers (up to $4.99). We also got a coupon in the mail yesterday for a free six-pack of Boost Kid Essentials drinks. I think I saw a link to request it on one of the couponing blogs I read, but I don't remember for sure. It's not something we'd normally buy, but the kids will probably drink it and think it's a treat. The regular price on it was $11.89!!

Here are the prices on the other things we bought:
2 boxes of Multi-Grain Cheerios 1.67/ea - .75 cellfire -.50 coupon (doubled to 1.00). We had two cellfire and 2 print coupons, so we actually made a profit of .08/box on those :)
3 pkgs of Yo-Plus yogurt 6.00 - 1.00 cellfire - 1.00 coupon - 1.50 printable coupon - 1.50 printable coupon
Kroger pretzels 1.50
3 lb pork roast 2.06 (reduced for quick sale--sell by date tomorrow, so we had it tonight and froze the leftovers)

We paid $.09 for the cashews after the coupon, $1 on the yogurt, and the full price for the pretzels and pork roast, for our grand total of $4.49. Edward intended to buy cokes too, but got so caught up in the couponing excitement that he forgot. :-) We also spent $2.87 at Aldi on a 5 lb bag of potatoes, saltines, and broccoli. That brings our weekly total to $18.10.

Visit hip2save's blog for a link to the Yo-Plus $1.50 printable coupon and some other good printables.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Krogering

First shopping trip of the week was to Kroger today. Here's what we bought:

taco shells 1.70
Ronzoni spaghetti 1.64
yoplait yo-plus yogurt (2) 4.00 - 1.00 cellfire coupon - 1.00 coupon -.55 coupon (doubled to 1.00)
hillshire farms ham 3.50 - .55 coupon (doubled to 1.00)
iceberg lettuce .75
hamburger buns 1.19
flour tortillas 1.96

Total spent was $10.74, leaving us with $29.26 in this week's budget. No real steals today, but we did get a really good deal on the yogurt.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Menu Plan Monday

Another week has flown by and it's time again for menu plans. Hopefully I'll be better about sticking to mine this week. Last week we ate a lot of junk, but I also made the brown rice & spinach casserole three times. And I have it on the menu again this week, too. I just can't get enough of that stuff--it's cheap and easy to make, healthy, and it tastes great. I've planned five lunches and five dinners this week, since we'll probably go out to eat once and a couple of the meals should make enough for leftovers.

Breakfasts
scrambled egg on toast
cold cereal
Kashi TLC bars, yogurt
oatmeal
waffles and fruit
cinnamon rolls, sausage, fruit

Lunches
spicy peanut noodles with broccoli
cheese quesadillas, rice, salad
tuna salad sandwiches, carrot sticks, apples, pretzels
hot ham & cheese sandwiches, carrot sticks, apples, pretzels
brown rice & spinach casserole, fruit

Dinners
mixed-grain pancakes, sausage, applesauce
pizza, salad
pulled pork sandwiches, roasted potatoes, green beans
red beans & rice, salad
ham & cheese omelets, biscuits, fruit

Catching Up

Last week the weather was a little crazy around here with lots of snow and ice, and I got off my regular schedule and lazy about posting, cooking, and everything else! The rest of our weekly shopping was another trip to Kroger on Tuesday where we got 2 cans of chili, 2 bottles of salad dressing, 4 pkgs of cheese, 3 pkgs of blueberries, eggs, and flour for a total of $19.30. That made our total for the week $37.19. We didn't stick to our menu plan very well and ate a lot of canned soup, snack foods, etc. We'll be doing our best to get back on track this week!

Monday, January 26, 2009

Menu Plan Monday

I've only planned four lunches this week, since I have two different soups on the menu. Both should make enough to have leftovers for a couple of lunches. I have the warm potato salad with smoked sausage on the menu again this week, since I didn't make it last week because we decided to eat out one night. We'll be having meatloaf tonight, thanks to some leftovers from Sunday lunch at my aunt & uncle's house. It's great having family nearby! :-)

I'm so glad I found a great waffle recipe on Money Saving Mom's site last week. They're made with all whole wheat flour, and I used half applesauce and half oil for the fat and they turned out great. Kenton even turned down syrup and chose to eat his plain this morning!

Here's our plan for the coming week:

Breakfasts
scrambled egg on english muffin
cold cereal
Kashi TLC bars
oatmeal
waffles and sausage
carrot bread (I'm still working on a recipe for this. I have a ton of carrots and am looking for a healthful way to use them up. If I come up with a good recipe, I'll share it.)

Lunches
grilled cheese sandwiches, applesauce, chips
brown rice & spinach casserole, salad, fruit
baked potatoes with broccoli & cheese sauce
sausage pizza, salad, fruit

Dinners

meatloaf, mashed potatoes, green beans
potato soup, bread, fruit
black-eyed pea soup, bread, fruit
warm potato salad w/ smoked sausage, steamed broccoli & carrots
vegetable pot pie
nachos with black beans, pepper jack cheese, salsa, and guacamole (We need a junk food fix every now and then!)

For tons of menu planning ideas, take a look at OrgJunkie's Menu Plan Monday site!

Sunday, January 25, 2009

A little more Krogering

Since we have extra money to spend this week, Edward ran back to Kroger Saturday for some more apples before the sale price ends on Sunday. He bought 8 apples ($2), gallon of organic milk reduced for quick sale ($2.98), and a bag of spinach ($1.79) for a total of $6.77. That brings our weekly total to $17.89.

While I am obviously thrifty, we almost always buy organic milk and cage-free eggs. No one in our house is a big milk drinker, but we find organic milk to be far more tasty than the conventional stuff. The same is true for eggs--I love them but I think there's a huge taste difference between the two kinds. A coworker buys eggs for $1.25/dozen from a local farmer, which is something I'd like to look into.

We wouldn't normally buy a gallon of milk, organic or otherwise, because we simply don't use that much. However, I plan to do some serious baking today and that will use up quite a bit of it. Since it was about the same price as regular with the markdown, I figured it was a worthwhile purchase.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Weekly shopping at Kroger

We went Krogering today for our big weekly grocery shop. Edward usually does the shopping, sticks to the list exactly, and gets out of the store as quickly as possible. Since I have today off from work I tagged along too and messed up his plans considerably. He'll probably never take me to the grocery again!

Here's what we bought:
4 cans of Chunky soup .59/ea (from the scratch & dent bin) -.50/4 coupon (doubled to 1.00)
mayonnaise 2.99 - .75 coupon (doubled to 1.00)
Frank's red hot sauce 1.69 -.50 coupon (doubled to 1.00)
Kraft ranch dressing 1.98 -1.00 coupon
Milk 2.98
Rotel .87 - .30 coupon (doubled to .60)
pinto beans .29 (scratch & dent)
5 blocks of Kraft cheese 1.99/ea
Ronzoni pasta 1.64
bag of popcorn 2.09
2 bags of Green Giant steamers vegetables 1.49/ea -.50 coupons (doubled to 1.00)
2 pkgs Johnsonville sausage 3.00/ea - .50 coupons (doubled to 1.00)
strawberry preserves 1.99
canned peaches 1.00
eggs 1.59
apples 1.00
grapes 1.62
organic baby greens 1.79 (reduced for quick sale)

We got $5.00 off for buying ten of the "Mega Savings" items, which made our total $31.12. However, in an unexpected surprise, we had a $20 pharmacy reward on our Kroger card from transferring a prescription a while back. It's been several weeks since we've spent more than $20 at a time at Kroger, so it hadn't shown up the last few times we were there and we'd just forgotten about it. That made our total out of pocket expense for a week's worth of groceries $11.12!

Now I have to decide how to deal with this unexpected money left in our budget. I'll probably look to stock up on some things we use regularly like juice, flour, butter, etc. We might also go to Sam's and replenish some spices that are starting to get low. When we cook at home a lot, like we're doing now, we go through those really fast and I haven't been able to beat Sam's prices on most of the ones we use regularly.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Homemade Pizza

Tonight's supper was homemade pizza with a wheat crust, topped with fresh spinach and goat cheese. And it was gooood! We love pizza and it's really easy to make dough in the bread machine and sauce in the crockpot. Pizza's also a great way to use up little bits of leftovers meats or veggies, especially if you make everyone in the family an individual-sized crust and let them top it as they want.

Here's my sauce recipe, adapted from Not Your Mother's Slow Cooker Cookbook by Beth Hensperger.

3 6-ounce cans of tomato paste
15-ounce can of tomato sauce
3 Tbsp olive oil
2-4 cloves of garlic, chopped (I use 2 tsp of the chopped stuff from a jar, and I'm sure 1/2 tsp or so of garlic powder would work, too)
1/2 tsp salt
2 Tbsp dried oregano
1 Tbsp dried basil
1 Tbsp dried parsley
1 Tbsp sugar
1/4 c water, or as needed

I use my two-quart crock for this. You'd probably be okay making it in a 4-quart, but it might cook a little faster. Put everything except the water in the slow cooker and stir well. Add just enough water to make a smooth sauce. Cover and cook on low for 6-8 hours, stirring occasionally. Try the finished sauce and add salt and pepper to taste. When finished the sauce will be very thick and brick red. It's just right for spreading on a pizza crust and also makes a great dipping sauce for breadsticks or cheese sticks. We find it makes enough for 3 or 4 large pizzas, and it freezes well.

You can find more frugal recipes and tips at Frugal Friday.

Kroger deals and steals!

Edward got everything in this picture for 15 cents at Kroger today! They're having "Mega Savings" this week. That means in addition to the weekly sale prices you get an additional $5 off if you buy ten items from a certain selection. Our Kroger doubles coupons up to 50 cents, and everything from 51 cents to 99 cents they raise to $1.

Here's how it all worked:
4 bags of Green Giant Steamers @$1.49/ea - 50 cent coupons doubled = 1.96
Chex Mix 1.99 - .60 Cellfire coupon (not doubled) -.50 coupon doubled = .39
Snapple 1.00 - .75 coupon doubled to 1.00 = 0.00
3 cans Rotel @.87/ea - .30 cent coupons doubled = .81
Fiber One bars 2.49 -.50 Cellfire coupon (not doubled) -.50 coupon doubled = .99
2 bags Quaker Quakes @1.00/ea - 1.00 coupons = 0.00
Total = $4.15 - $5.00 "Mega Savings" = NEGATIVE .85
When the cashier told Edward he had negative .85 cents, he grabbed a couple of 2/$1 candy bars, which brought the grand total up to .15.

We get multiple copies of coupons in a couple of different ways. We subscribe to the Sunday paper and the local Dollar Tree sell copies, too. Usually the ones from there don't have all the coupon inserts though, so it pays to thumb through if there's a particular Q you're looking for. We also ask our non-couponing friends and family to save their inserts for us.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Menu Plan Monday

For our $40/week grocery budget to work, I need to have a plan before we do our shopping. I've found it works best for me to have a list of things that I can choose from, rather than assigning each meal a day of the week. I plan six lunches and dinners, because there always seem to be enough leftovers to cover at least two meals during the week. Here's our plan for the coming week.

Breakfasts
scrambled egg on english muffin
cold cereal and fruit
fiber one bars
oatmeal
peanut butter on toast
carrot-raisin bran bread (my variation on this recipe)

Lunches
vegetable-cheese soup
tuna salad sandwiches, chips, fruit
spicy peanut noodles with broccoli
omelets, biscuits, fruit
baked potatoes with broccoli & cheese sauce and bacon bits
black bean & corn stew over brown rice (my turkey-less take on this recipe)

Dinners

homemade pizza with goat cheese & spinach
salmon, brown rice pilaf, green beans
homemade corn dogs, french fries, fruit
warm potato salad w/ smoked sausage, steamed broccoli & carrots
red beans & rice
homemade spinach-alfredo pizza

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Mixed Grain Pancakes

One of our favorite things to eat any time of day is pancakes. It's also one of the few foods that everyone in the family eats well. This recipe came in a booklet with my immersion blender, and it's become one of our favorites. These pancakes are cheap to make, hearty, reasonably healthy, and very tasty. With some fruit and maybe a slice of bacon or piece of sausage, this is one of our favorite meals.

1 egg
1 cup milk
1 tbsp vegetable oil
2/3 c all-purpose flour
1/3 c whole wheat flour
3 Tbsp cornmeal
3 Tbsp sunflower seeds or nuts
3 Tbsp rolled oats
1 Tbsp sugar
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt

Beat egg, milk, and oil together. (I usually add a splash of vanilla too.) Add dry ingredients and mix well. (I use the immersion blender so the sunflower seeds/nuts get broken up pretty well. You'd probably want to chop them finely if you're mixing by hand.) Heat lightly greased pan over medium heat. Pour batter by 1/4 cup fulls and cook until bubbles form on surface and edges begin to dry. Turn and cook until underside is light golden brown. We've eaten these topped with applesauce, pumpkin butter, cooked apples, sliced bananas and peanut butter, and even plain old maple syrup.

Check out lots more great recipes at Grocery Cart Challenge's Recipe Swap!

Rite Aid Deals

We had a $20 gift card from Rite Aid from a rebate deal and used it tonight to pick up some food items they had on sale with no out of pocket expense. We bought the following at 99 cents each:
3 Mott's applesauce (24 oz)
4 Wyler's lemonade mix
4 Sun Maid raisins (8.5 oz)
1 Bumblebee Albacore tuna
We had two coupons for $1/2 for the raisins, which lowered our total a little more. Raisins and applesauce are on the very short list of foods Kenton will eat right now, so we were happy to get these deals.

The only other food purchase we made today was $1.99 at Aldi for some goat cheese. I think that leaves me with about $1 in this week's food budget.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

41 cent crackers

Edward got three boxes of crackers at CVS today for a total of 41 cents out of pocket. Both of the kids love crackers, so these will be great for snacking. They were $1.97 each and he had a coupon for $3 off any CVS brand purchase, and $2.50 in Extra Bucks. He also earned $3 in Extra Bucks on this purchase that we can use in the future. With a little planning, CVS Extra Bucks and Walgreens Register Rewards and rebates really help stretch our budget.

Earlier this week we got drinks to feed my caffeine addiction at Walgreens. They had Pepsi products on sale five 12-packs for $15. We had a $3 off any purchase coupon and had enough on a gift card from their Easy Saver rebates to pay for them, so there was no out of pocket expense for us. We also earned $5 in Register Rewards on the purchase, and got a prescription filled that earned us another $25 gift card.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Super Deals at Kroger

Edward ran to Kroger today to pick up a few things and got a box of tissues, a can of tuna, two boxes of Green Giant frozen veggies, and two tubes of toothpaste for 28 cents! The veggies were on sale, but there were no rebates or anything fancy like that--just plain old couponing. He had coupons for all of the items from Cellfire, which are loaded directly onto your Kroger Plus Card. They can be combined with print coupons, so you can use two coupons for the same item. It can obviously add up to some fabulous deals, especially if an item is on sale. Cellfire is also great because they often have coupons for store brand products, which are really hard to come by.

You do have to register with Cellfire and give them your cell number to get their coupons, but we've never received any spam text messages or any contact at all from them since signing up. They offer coupons for a couple of different grocery chains, so even if you don't have a Kroger nearby they may have some you can use. They also have coupons for restaurants and attractions, but haven't tried any of those.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Meijer Deals!

Our new budget week doesn't really start until Friday, but the forecast is for bitterly cold weather for the next few days so we decided to go ahead and do the shopping today. Edward really didn't want to drag the kids out in 5 degree weather to go the grocery.

Despite my disappointment last week with Meijer, Edward headed back there today because they have some great 11/$10 deals advertised again this week. Their sales run from Sunday to Saturday and unlike some other chains, they are really good about restocking throughout the week. He was able to find all but two items on his list.

The total for everything in the picture was $25.54! At regular price, which we'd never pay of course, the English muffins were $3.59 each, so the 5 pkgs we bought would have been $17.95! (Since my bagel stash has now been completely exhausted, my new breakfast of choice will be egg on english muffin.) According to the receipt, the total before sale prices and coupons was $98.21. Our refrigerator and freezer are stuffed full and we still have $14.50 left to spend, which is good since we need to restock some staple items like butter and flour.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

More Crazy Days

It's been another wild couple of days with doctor's visits and such. We've mostly existed on carry-out and snacks. I guess this is one way to cut your grocery budget, but not one I would recommend. However, Edward finally won the battle with the kidney stones today, so we should be getting back to normal tomorrow. Yay!

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Crazy Days

Edward had another flare-up with his kidney stones yesterday, so we've had a crazy couple of days. We spent several hours yesterday at the ER which didn't leave much time for cooking or eating at home. Someone stayed here with the kids and they ate lots of snacks yesterday but no real meals. We picked up pizza for supper and ate it with some salad and fruit we had here. I spent $1.98 for some salad dressing when I went in Kroger to get a prescription filled, leaving us $5.03 in the weekly budget.

Today wasn't much better as far as eating normally. My dad's here to help out, so he ran out and got breakfast at McDonald's. I ran to Kroger again (it's right around the corner--too convenient sometimes!) and spent $2.98 for a pound of ground beef and made some chili and cornbread. That was lunch, and we had leftover pizza and salad for supper. The kids ate their usual snacks like yogurt, pretzels, and soy joy bars. We have $2.05 left in the budget for the rest of the week.

Friday, January 9, 2009

What we ate

Breakfast
cold cereal
Lunch
turkey (leftovers from our freezer), stove top stuffing, au gratin potatoes, green beans
(Kenton refused to eat anything)
Supper
omelets with swiss cheese & lightlife "ham", biscuits from a can, fruit
Snacks
yogurt, soy joy bars
Edward and I also had a late-night snack from McDonalds--we each had a double burger from the $1 menu and split a large order of fries. We had $3 left on a gift card that he earned from a Post-It note rebate a few months ago, so we only paid 78 cents for our junk food fix. I have to admit it was pretty good.

We ate lots of convenience foods today, and not many fruits and veggies. I usually do a lot of cooking on the weekends, so I'll try to get some healthier foods made tomorrow so we can eat a little better.

Kroger Shopping

After resting while I was shopping at Meijer, Edward decided he was up for a quick trip to Kroger. We scored a couple of good deals there.We got Lightlife vegetarian "ham" slices for 38 cents after a $1 coupon, saltines for 54 cents after coupon, 3 cans of Hunt's tomatoes from the "scratch and dent" bin for 15 cents each after coupons, and 4 Reese's Whips candy bars which were on sale 2/$1 and completely free after coupons.

We also picked up canned fruit and applesauce, a bag of tangelos, tortillas, frozen peas, a can of creamed corn that will go in a soup recipe later this week, 6 cans of tomato paste, and tried out 2 of their 43 cent cans of "Kroger value" biscuits. The grand total was $13.32, leaving us with $7.01 in this week's budget.

While at Kroger I saw they had Red Gold tomato products for 75 cents a can, a much better price than the sale I went to Meijer for. They also had 10 lb bags of potatoes for 50 cents less.

Meijer Shopping

Edward does most of our shopping, but I went to Meijer this afternoon since he's still recuperating from the whole kidney stone experience. I went there primarily for their "10 for $10 and get the 11th item free" sale. My eleven items for the sale deal were 5 cans of Red Gold tomatoes, 3 lb bag of carrots, celery, two bags of Dole romaine salad mix, baby portabella mushrooms, and pretzels. I also got 10 lbs of potatoes for $3 and Dannon yogurt 10/$4. We had a coupon for the $1 off the yogurt, too. Things didn't go quite according to plan. First, I forgot the coupon, then I grabbed the wrong kind of celery and it rang up at $2, so I didn't get the free 11th item. I was wrestling with Emery at the checkout and didn't notice it until I got in the car and looked over my receipt. My total was $19.67. Overall not a bad shopping trip, but I spent $3 more than I had to.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Edward had to go to the outpatient clinic today because he was having treatment for kidney stones, so he and I spent most of the day there. He wasn't allowed to eat after midnight last night so our eating was really off schedule. My aunt watched the kids at our house, so they were much closer to a normal today.

Breakfast
Keesha--egg on a bagel (I really like eggs and we have a stash of bagels in the freezer from when Kroger had them on sale for 90 cents a bag a few weeks ago, so that's become my standard breakfast.)
Kenton & Emery--cereal
Lunch
Kenton & Emery--pb&j on whole wheat, manadarin oranges
Keesha--really overpriced pre-made ham & cheese sandwich that was not really very tasty
Supper
Edward--oatmeal
Keesha--something resembling fried rice made from leftover brown rice pilaf and eggs
Kenton--shredded mini wheats
Snacks
yogurt, soy crisps (My aunt brought these with her and the kids love them. They're similar to a rice cake, but made from soy so they have some protein. I'll have to check the price at Kroger this week.)

I was proud that we ate at home tonight, despite the crazy day. We didn't eat particularly well, but we ate at home. Prior to this week I would have picked up fast food. We didn't resolve to cut down on our eating out (and it's not included in our $40/wk grocery budget), but it's hard to justify spending $30 on a meal out when you're only spending a little more than that for a whole week. I really haven't missed the eating out and no one else has complained, either.