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.

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

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

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


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.

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

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

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 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:

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

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.

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

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

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

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

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

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.


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 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 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 before, you'll need to install their coupon printer but the process is quick and easy.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009


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! :-)

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

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

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!