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

Wednesday, February 25, 2009


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


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.

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

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

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!

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.

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

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

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.

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

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

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


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.

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

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

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!