Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Cooking Dried Beans

I found out this weekend how much canned beans cost in comparison to cooking your own. I ran to Wal-Mart in a pinch for a can of kidney beans and discovered the lowest price was $.76 for the store brand. Weren't these just $.50 to $.60 cents a can not that long ago?

I ended up purchasing a can of Bush's kidney beans for $.84 because the store brand had all kinds of extra goodies added, one of which was  High Fructose Corn Syrup.

No thanks. I'll take the plain kind, please. 

I always knew it was considered a better buy to cook my own, but sometimes after doing something for a while, you tend to forget. This was a good reminder to me how much I've been saving by routinely cooking my own beans!

So whether it's cost or health you're thinking of (or both), cooking your own dried beans is a good thing.

The health benefits are obvious: canned beans are higher in sodium and are more apt to have other additives in them. Read your labels! I was shocked the first time I read a label on a can of beans. All along, I had thought that I was getting a pure whole food. Ummm...not so much. Now I check as brands and types of beans vary! And when using canned beans, I make sure to rinse them well!
 As far as cost goes, I recently purchased a one pound bag of kidney beans for $1.39. Once cooked, it yielded 8 cups of beans. Since each 15-16 oz, can contains approximately  2 cups, I got 4 cans worth of beans from one bag.  Each 2 cups cost only $.35 in comparison to the store-bought can for $.76 or $.84 each.

I realize some brands of  dried beans may be even cheaper than the bag I used. Wal-mart's dried beans are less expensive, I know. Pinto beans are usually even more cost effective. So if you're able to get dried beans at a lower price, your overall savings will be much greater!

When cooking beans, I soak them overnight with a bit of  an acidic ingredient (optional) added such as lemon juice or whey to aid in better digestion. Stephanie from Keeper Of The Home has an informative post on cooking dried beans along with soaking instructions and resources here.

In the morning, I drain the soaking water and add fresh water to the beans in a large cooking pot. I turn the beans on high heat. After coming to a boil, I turn the burner to a low to medium heat and let cook until tender, about one hour depending on the kind of bean. Beans such as lentils and split peas cook in a much shorter time!

Several years ago(when I first started cooking dry beans), I found this great article on different methods of cooking beans and a basic list of approximate dry bean yields. I printed the article and put it into my resource notebook. It has been so helpful!

Here's the list:
  • 1 cup dry black beans —–> yields 3-1/2 cups when cooked
  • 1 cup dry kidney beans —–> yields 3 cups when cooked
  • 1 cup dry pinto beans —–> yields 3 cups when cooked
  • 1 cup dry navy beans —–> yields 2-1/2 cups when cooked
  • 1 cup dry Great Northern beans —–> yields 3 cups when cooked
When cooking beans, I plan to make more than what I need and freeze the rest. Beans can be frozen in a small container or in a freezer bag. I prefer using bags as they take up less space. I divide the beans up into 1 or 2 cup portions to use in recipes.

Having the beans in the freezer is almost as convenient as opening a can. They are ready to put into casseroles, soups or to heat up and eat for a quick meal.

Cooking my own dried beans works for me!

**Thanks to We Are THAT Family for hosting Works For Me Wednesday!

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

No Super Doubles

I just discovered through forum and blog reading that apparently, Harris Teeter is NOT running a Super Doubles coupon event this week(9/30-10/6).

Since I had mentioned that it was coming up in this post, I wanted to clarify just in case someone read that bit of info and was planning to run to Harris Teeter early on Wednesday!

I love a good coupon sale but my shelves are pretty well-stocked, so I may just take the week off from grocery shopping!

Gratituesday: The Simple Things

If you read here long enough, you'll realize that it doesn't take much to make me happy. The little events, the simplest things often fill my heart with thankfulness and praise.

This can seem rather silly sometimes. I did write a post about  scrapbook paper, after all!

Sometime this summer, I got some Hefty zipper bags for a wonderful price by combining a sale with coupons. I even told a friend about my awesome score, finishing the lively tale (complete with hand motions) with " And they were the zipper kind with the little slider on the top!" Apparently, this made me very happy.

Last week, I posted on Facebook how excited I was about the arrival of my gluten order. Yes. I am original.

I think I've created a pretty strong case for how much I like the little things!

Some simple things I'm thankful for today:

  • The cool fall weather we're experiencing this week. The mornings are so nice and cool. Great for running!
  • We had a nice wind yesterday. Actually, it was pretty strong at times and lots of branches came down around the neighborhood. I had laundry out on the clothesline and wind blowing through helped it to dry softer and more quickly.
  • Yummy breakfast burritos this morning!
  • A very successful show last Saturday. We sold  a lot of product! Praise the Lord!
  • We listed a few items on ebay this week. They are already doing very well. Another praise!
  • A nice walk with Cherished Dog this morning. 
  • Cleaning out boxes and decluttering!
What simple things are you thankful for today? 

**Thanks to Laura of Heavenly Homemakers for hosting Gratituesday!

Monday, September 28, 2009

Menu Plan Monday

Another week. Another menu!

Last week's meal plan went well. I'm carrying over Breakfast-In-A-Hurry from Saturday night since we got FREE leftover pizza from Donato's at the show we were at that day. Can't beat FREE and their pizza is yummy!

A quick review of the new recipes I tried last week. There were several!
  • Orange Juice Millet: This was (I think) my first try with millet as  a hot cereal. The orange juice added a nice flavor. Without sweetener added, it was edible but not great. A little raw honey on top made a huge difference! Delicious! My husband really liked this, so I'll be making it again.  
  • Creamy Mac and Cheese: Very easy and wonderfully good! 
  • Sloppy Joes: This is NOT the first time I've made sloppy joes, but the first time I tried this recipe. Andy loves a classic sloppy joe sandwich. Instead of using 2 pounds of meat,  I used one (1.26 pound) package of ground beef and added a bag of cooked kidney beans to stretch the meat.  Yummy! We each had 2+ sandwiches and there's still enough for lunch for both of us today.
  • Wheat Rolls for Hamburger Buns: I decided to try my favorite recipe with a soaking step added in. Didn't turn out so great but still tasted good, just not what I had in mind! You can read more about "my buns" in this post. :-)
  • Bean Tostados: I had some corn tortillas to use up, so I used this idea for making tostados. Frying the tortillas gave them the consistency of a tortilla chip. After adding all the toppings, it was like eating a giant nacho! My nacho-loving husband was thrilled!!!! What a  great idea and corn tortillas are so cheap. I think this was our favorite recipe of the week. Definitely a winner!
Now to this week's menu!
** Our anniversary is this Friday and I wanted to cook a special dinner. I'm lacking in the creativity department at the moment. Any ideas? Please share in the comments!

B-banana-squash muffins, yogurt with blueberries
L-Potluck: I took a chicken-rice salad(a variation of beef-pilaf salad) and some cookies.
S-leftover rice salad

B-oatmeal with peanut butter and bananas
L-leftover sloppy joes
S-eat at church meeting

B-scrambled egg burritos
L-leftover rice salad
S-Monterrey beans and chicken over rice

B-leftover oatmeal from Monday
S-Garlic-butter spaghetti(my husband's specialty), steamed veggie

B-orange juice millet
S-Pork chops, homemade stove-top stuffing, steamed veggie

Friday: Our anniversary!
B- eggs in a nest, bacon
S-Special dinner: Not sure what yet, possibly something with shrimp? Feel free to share your suggestions!

Saturday: Yard Sale Day
B-cold cereal
S-Breakfast-in-a-hurry, fruit smoothies

**Visit Organizing Junkie to view lots more menu plans!

Friday, September 25, 2009

Company Girl Coffee-A Rundown Of Our Week

I'm joining in  this week with Home Sanctuary's Company Girl Coffee.Come on in and let's chat!

We're planning to hold a yard sale next weekend. As we've been cleaning and decluttering, it's turning into a much bigger yard sale than what we originally thought. I am so glad to be getting rid of things and cleaning closets, drawers, rooms and shed in the process. Whatever doesn't sell will go straight to the thrift store after the sale.

On my to-do list this week was to plant my fall garden. I realize I'm on the late side of fall planting but we'll try it anyways. I got 4 planters full of various lettuce and spinach planted so we'll see how it fares! I want to plant some peas yet, too.

I cleaned off most of the front porch, sweeping cobwebs and washing the siding. It was grimy! I'm itching to get a few fall decorations set out but will wait until after the yard sale when all the boxes are out of the way!

I've been running with a friend a few days a week and this morning when we arrived at the park, it was closed. There was  a park employee out front who told us that there was a territorial bird (possibly an owl) that they have been  trying to catch since it had attacked 2 people on the walking trail earlier this week. Yikes!

I made homemade dinner rolls this week to use as hamburger buns for sloppy joes. I used my favorite recipe for rolls but decided to add a soaking step to maximize nutrition. This is the first time I've adapted my own recipe to allow for this and apparently I didn't quite get it right. First of all, I don't think they had enough flour in them but then they didn't rise well when baking. Instead, they spread out wide and flat.(Like someone else's buns, but we won't go into that!)  Fortunately, they tasted great as I was not about to throw them out! One morning we had them sliced and toasted with our eggs and we both thought they tasted like a whole grain English muffin, complete with nooks and crannies. :-) Yummy! Hmmm...think I need to fiddle with that recipe a little to successfully add the soaking step.

We're heading out early in the morning to set up at a show for my husband's side business. A lunch is packed and ready in the fridge. We're praying for a successful day-selling-wise. I need to get to bed!

Thanks for chatting!

**Head on over to Home Sanctuary for more Company Girl Coffee posts!

Weekly Grocery Trip

Here's the lowdown on my grocery shopping this week!

Earth Fare- $17.40
With using coupons and sales, the only items that were regular priced were the millet and wheat berries. I was pleased since a trip to the health food store can is often a death trap to my budget!
Contents of bags(in case you're wondering):  wheat berries , millet, rolled oats.

Harris Teeter-$8.26
Total before coupons was $39.90!

Harris Teeter still had triples going on through Tuesday this week so I took advantage of that while doing regular grocery shopping!

Harris Teeter highlights:
  • 2-Mahatma rice-FREE
  • 4-Reese's peanut butter cups-FREE
  • 3-Kotex -FREE
  • 3-Tabasco Sauce-FREE
  • 3-Yakisoba noodles-FREE(Probably will donate these!)
  • 1-Edge shaving gel-FREE
  • 1-Dannon plain yogurt-$.24(Big container!)
  • 2-Pringles-$.50 each(Yum! A treat.:-)
  • 2 Scrubbing Bubbles-$.74 each
Dairy: 1 gallon raw milk-$6.00

Total for the week: $31.66
Over my current weekly $25 budget by $6.66, but I've been under-budget for several weeks, so I had the money to spend!

We also got a 30 pound order of grass-fed beef this week which I don't count in my weekly grocery budget since I budget a specific amount each month for our beef orders. This order should last us for about 4 months.

Next week Harris Teeter is running Super Doubles where they double coupons from $1-$1.98. I can't wait!

**Thanks to Money Saving Mom for hosting Super Savings Saturday and to Southern Savers for hosting Friday Finals!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Too Much Fun!

I hope you are enjoying my new blog design.  I am!

I have tried to figure out how to add a design and other stuff for a while and could not do it in the way my blog was formatted.(I did not have the Layout button and therefore, did not have access to any of the Customize tabs.) Through emails with my sister, I figured out how to upgrade my blog, through the clicking of a button. How hard was that!?!

Now I'm having fun with all the cool gadgets and things you can add and customize so easily! Yeah!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Cleaning Your Husband's Closet

It's been a while since we went through Andy's clothes so his closet and dresser drawers were due for a cleaning!

While doing laundry, I had noticed that some items were in need of replacement and Andy's dad had recently given him a huge bag of shirts! So it was time to see what all was in there. :-)

I have no idea what fits well and which items he really likes, so I wanted to wait until he was around to tackle this project!

When sorting clothes, I ask these three questions:

1)Is it still in good condition? If not,meaning it is stained or otherwise worn, throw it on the trash pile.

2)Have I worn this in the past year?

3) Do I like this article of clothing?

Our closets are small and storage space at a premium. There is no reason to keep things we do not wear or even like.

--First, we went through the closet, pulling out everything that answered 'no' to the previous three questions.

--Then, we sorted through the new-to-him clothes and added those that were 'yes' answers to the closet.

--Next, we tackled the dresser drawers. My husband and I share a dresser, so we each have three drawers. This works well and keeps clutter to a minimum.

--Lastly, we made a short list of any new items that need to be purchased.

Helpful tip: Your husband may be more inclined to help sort his clothes if he can watch a game while he's doing this chore. I just pulled the drawers one at a time into the living room so we could watch the Cubs game while getting this done!

We were finished with both the closet and the dresser drawers within an hour!

Since we tend to wear warmer weather clothing until about November, I don't usually make the seasonal clothing switch until then. His closet is all set, already! I'll just need to change out my clothing when the time comes.

We now have a big pile of clothes for our upcoming yard sale. I also now know where all our hangers have been hiding-in his closet!

Cleaning out a closet, finding all the extra hangers and spending time with my husband works for me!

**Thanks to Kristen from We Are THAT Family for hosting Works For Me Wednesday!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Gratituesday: An Exercise Partner

At the beginning of the year, I had grand and glorious plans of training to run a 5k at the beginning of March.

Oh yes. It was fun. Until I got started.

I did fine, actually. It was exceedingly difficult and I ran very slow but I was doing it. For someone who had never run any distance before, I did pretty well.

Well, the 5k in March never happened. I started to have excruciating knee pain. I could hardly walk, let alone run, for about 4-6 weeks. Added to the knee pain was that I could hardly breathe while running. I mean, why bother running if I have to use my asthma inhaler 3 times in 45 minutes when I can stay at home and feel great and never use meds for months at a time?

So I stopped running. I still walked every now and then, especially with the dog and childcare kids.

I didn't really like running that well anyways. So it wasn't much of a loss there.

But I still knew I needed to exercise more.

Fast forward to June. Somehow, I'm not sure how but a friend and I decided to meet a couple of times that week at a local park with a walking trail to walk together.

That was in June. And we're still going strong. We've met consistently 2-3 times each week since we started and I've even been motivated to exercise by myself on mornings that we don't meet.

After walking briskly for about 6 weeks, we decided to start running together. I was hesitant to get back into running(really, was I ever into it in the first place?!?)but you know what? It is a lot easier and more fun to do it with someone else. I am also much stronger this time around. And the park is a much nicer place to run than my neighborhood which tended to be a bit hilly and steep.

I'm not going to say that running is easy. It's not. I'm still slow and it's really hard work! But having a running companion make sit more fun and keeps me motivated when I want to quit! (And I do the same for her.)

We quote Philippians 4:13: "I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength!" as we run together. If I am not out of breath, I sing it. Yeah, I'm just crazy like that.

I've been able to run 20 minutes straight this week which is the farthest I've ever done. Next week, I will start running a 30 minute stretch. After that, I'll work up to running 3.2 miles which is a 5k.

Oh yeah, I'm planning to run my first 5k on December 5th. I'm so excited!

Starting last week, we're now meeting the days we don't run or walk to do some strength training. One day we do exercises for our upper body and the other the lower body. Ouch!!! But it's great to have a friend to do this with.

So today, I'm grateful for a walking, running and exercise partner who also happens to be a great chiropractor!;-)

**Thanks to Laura at Heavenly Homemakers for hosting Gratituesday!

Monday, September 21, 2009

Happy Homemaker Monday

The weather in my neck of the woods:

In the low 80's and mostly cloudy today. Mornings have been cool and pleasant!

One of my simple pleasures:
Staying home by myself!

On my bedside table:

The Best Life Diet by Bob Greene

On my TV:
Nothing. Oh, the blessed quietness!

On the menu for tonight:
Eating at church meeting. I'm taking some cookies, I think.

On my To Do List:
For this week:
-Finish cleaning out shed.
-Plant fall garden. Hopefully, I'm not too late!
-Continue to declutter in preparation for yard sale.

New Recipe I tried last week:
Homemade Pimiento Cheese Spread.
I didn't have bacon so I skipped it. It was pretty good and so easy to pull out for a quick lunch!

In the craft basket:
Need to do some more sewing for my upcoming Etsy shop!

Looking forward to:
Getting everything cleaned out so I can really enjoy fall!

Homemaking Tip for this week:
I've been taking one morning each week and doing food prep for the rest of the week, taking into account any baking, chopping, shredding and cooking that needs to be done. Not everything can be done in advance, of course, but a lot can be done ahead! This gives me a head start on meal prep and saves time later in the week. Best of all, I only do a major cleanup once!

Favorite Blog Post of the week (mine or other):

I enjoyed this Easy Meals In Minutes vlog at Money Saving Mom. Great ideas!

Favorite photo from last week:

No photos this week worth sharing!

Lesson learned the past few days:
Working out hurts at the beginning. A friend and I have been running together for a few months now but just started some weights and strength training last week. Ouch! :-)I've been like a little old lady!!!

On my Prayer List:
-Some personal requests.
-my husband.
-our nation and President.
-our church.

Devotionals, Scripture Reading, Key Verses:
I've been reading in the book of Mark this week for my quiet time. But what keeps going through my head right now that I want to share is the song "Enough" by Chris Tomlin.
All of You is more than enough for all of me
For every thirst and every need
You satisfy me with Your love
And all I have in You is more than enough

You are my supply
My breath of life
And still more awesome than I know
You are my reward
worth living for
And still more awesome than I know

All of You is more than enough for all of me
For every thirst and every need
You satisfy me with Your love
And all I have in You is more than enough

You’re my sacrifice
Of greatest price
And still more awesome than I know
You’re the coming King
You are everything
And still more awesome than I know

More than all I want
More than all I need
You are more than enough for me
More than all I know
More than all I can say
You are more than enough for me

You can hear the song here.

**Thanks to Sandra for hosting Happy Homemaker Monday!

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Menu Plan Monday

Happy Monday!

I've been following this meal rotation all summer but now with fall and winter just around the corner, I'm ready for a different plan.

I haven't quite come up with a specific plan yet but am going to try a simple breakfast rotation starting this week. Inspired by The Nourishing Gourmet's oatmeal challenge, I'm going to add more hot cereals to our breakfasts. I'm thinking 3 mornings a week interspersed with 2 mornings of eggs and toast. I don't think I'm up to oatmeal every day! When I say 'hot cereal', I'm talking oatmeal, baked oatmeal, grits, cornmeal mush, and experimenting with some other grains, too, such as millet. All of these grains are healthy and easy on the budget, too! The other two mornings will probably be a variety of cold cereal, yogurt or cottage cheese, something baked like muffins,pancakes or waffles, etc.

I am a morning person and a breakfast eater, but our mornings are pretty busy so I don't like to take too much time fixing breakfast on weekdays!

Here's the plan for this week:

B-cottage cheese, bananas
L-I took Savory Apple Roast with sausage and a dish of rice to our church fellowship.
S-homemade pizza pockets**, chocolate peanut butter banana smoothies

B-oatmeal with berries
S-eat at church meeting. Not sure what I'm taking yet.

B-eggs and toast
S-bean tostados with tomatoes, cheese, sour cream and salsa, based loosely on this idea, rice

B-oatmeal, fruit
S-creamy mac and cheese(new recipe), steamed veggies

B-eggs, toast
S-fish and veggie packets, honey roasted butternut squash. One of my favorite ways to eat squash!

B-oatmeal or other hot cereal, fruit
S-sloppy joes on homemade rolls, pickles, some kind of veggie

B-pancakes**, fruit
L-Gone all day. Pack a lunch!
S-breakfast-in-a-hurry(minus bacon and using only about half the cheese), fruit smoothies

**indicates freezer meals

Thanks to Organizing Junkie for hosting Menu Plan Mondays!

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Weekly Grocery Trip

This week's shopping was done at Bi-Lo, Harris Teeter, Target and a small produce stand.

I didn't get a picture of my Bi-Lo trip. Here's what I got:
--2 Chi-Chi's tortillas B1G1 at $1.69
--1 bag of Great Northern beans-$1.35
--2 boxes Surf detergent B1G1 at $5.48. Used 2 $.75/1 Q's that doubled and made the final price- $1.24 each.
--1 package pork chops on sale for $1.69 pound: $4.68
--2 Carolina Pride smoked sausage B1 G1 at $3.49. Used $1.50/1 Q to make them $.99 each.
--Bag of bananas- $1.49

Bi-Lo total: $14.05

Harris Teeter's Triple Coupon sale started Wednesday. I got everything pictured for $2.96! You can read more details here.

I know I said in last week's grocery post that I was going to take a break from Target. But they had a great deal on Kashi cereal that used only manufacturer's coupons and no store coupons, so I decided to make a quick trip. I used a FREE coupon and 3 $1.50/1 Honey Sunshine coupons from the Vocalpoint mailer and another $2/1 Kashi coupon that I received with a sample.

Total was $5.11.
Paid with $5 gift card.
Total OOP cost: $.11, plus I earned another $5 gift card to use next time!

Between this week and last week's deals and some other great cereal deals in the past couple of months, we are very well-stocked on cereal! Cereal is also a good thing to donate to food pantries since it can be eaten dry or with milk and does not need to be heated.

Bi-Lo: $14.05
Harris Teeter: $2.96
Target: $.11
Produce Stand for a butternut squash and 5 sweet potatoes: $2.50

Total spent this week: $19.62

I came in $5.38 under budget which I will either use next week or put aside for future bulk purchases.

**This post is part of Money Saving Mom's Super Savings Saturday and Southern Saver's Friday Finals!

Friday, September 18, 2009

Using Leftovers: Banana Streusel Muffins with Butternut Squash and Carrots

What do you do with a leftover piece of butternut squash, a handful of cooked Gingered Carrots and two ripe bananas?

Puree them together in the food processor and make yummy muffins!

I used my favorite banana bread/ muffin recipe and added the squash, carrot and banana puree and a streusel topping(from another muffin recipe) to create a new favorite!

Banana Streusel Muffins

1/2 cup sugar(I used evaporated cane juice crystals.)
1/2 cup butter
2 eggs
4 T. milk
2 cups flour(I use mostly whole wheat pastry flour and it works great.)
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup banana/squash/carrot puree or you can use just bananas or any combination of pureed fruits and veggies that you desire.

Mix sugar, butter and eggs well. Add milk. Mix dry ingredients together and add to sugar mixture. Last, add bananas and any of the optional ingredients desired. Pour batter into greased bread pans or muffin tins.

Make Streusel topping:

2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons brown sugar(again, I used evaporated cane juice crystals. I love the crunchiness they add to this topping!)
1/4 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 cup chopped walnuts or pecans

Cut the butter into small pieces and mix with remaining ingredients. Sprinkle the topping over the batter.

Bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes or until inserted toothpick comes out clean.

Makes about 18 muffins. This recipe also freezes well!

Using leftovers creatively, instead of wasting bits and bobs of food, stretches our grocery dollars just a bit further!

**Check out all the frugal tips and tricks at this week's Frugal Friday round-up over at Life As Mom!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Harris Teeter Triples

It's triple coupon time at Harris Teeter this week! There are many good deals to be found this time around, so if you have a Harris Teeter store nearby, I'd recommend that you make a trip!

And take your coupon box with you-they're tripling manufacturer's coupons up to $.99 face value!

My trip this morning was quite profitable-I got all that's pictured for $2.96! Before coupons, my total was just over $40!

So as not to reinvent the wheel, I won't be making a complete list of what coupons I used and exactly how much everything cost. Southern Savers and Coupon Teacher have already done that for us!

Unless there is a screaming good deal otherwise, for a triples trip, I focus solely on using coupons that are less than $1 face value. I then look for items that will be free or nearly free or things that I really need and would be less expensive bought with a triple coupon than the everyday price with only a doubled coupon(since Harris Teeter doubles up to $.99 every day).

For this trip, I was really looking for pasta and brown rice since I was almost out of both. I also had a number of Barilla pasta and various rice coupons to use.

All of the pasta was FREE or $.10 each and the various rice packets/boxes were all FREE. I paid $.94 a bag for the Mahatma rice since that was a really good deal for something I would buy anyways! I paid $.74 cents for 3 organic apples that were on the marked down rack and I believe the other items were FREE!

I still have gobs of coupons I could use,since I didn't really get very far out of the pasta and rice aisle today, so I may make another trip or two during this sale. There is a limit of 20 coupons per customer per day and since we want Harris Teeter to continue offering these great coupon events, I feel we should do our best to play by the rules! (Also, I think that the number of coupons you use is linked to your VIC card so the computer will not triple anymore than that.)

Happy Shopping!

And if you've already been to the triple coupon sale, let us know how you did in the comments section!

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Weekly Grocery Trip

Alternate title: Lots of FREE Dog Food!

Welcome to another weekly breakdown of my grocery shopping trips!

My hope in sharing this each week is that you will be able to snag some of these same deals! I know that because of the sales cycles of most grocery stores, some of these deals may already be over by the time Saturday rolls around. But others are still going. I find out about most of these deals from Southern Savers and Money Saving Mom. What's not to love? They do most of the brain work for me. And for that, I am thankful!

I got all of this at Bi-Lo and Harris Teeter for $12.36! The only items that were not sale-priced were the flour and kidney beans.

Highlights of this trip:
--5- (1.5 lb.) bags of Chef Michael's dog food on sale for $3 each. Used 5-$3/1 coupons to get these for FREE!

--3 cans Mighty Dog. Used 3- FREE coupons.

--Pillsbury "canned' biscuits- Used recent $1/1 printables to get these for $.25 each.

--Cantaloupe- $.99 each

--Apples- $.79 a pound.

--2 boxes Reynold's foil- $.22 each

--Corn- $.20 ear

--Bag of bananas- $1.00

--Eggs- $.99 a dozen

--Mushrooms-marked down to $1.25

Later in the week I made a trip to Target to use my $5 gift card from last week and roll over another deal. Last week's trip went so smoothly that I was excited about this trip. However...

The cashier rang up all my purchases. When she saw my coupons, she wouldn't even start scanning them. She got all flustered and called for help. I think she was put off by the B1G1 dog food coupons on the top of the stack. So another cashier came over and started scanning them. All of the coupons went through fine except 5 of the store coupons. She explained that if they do not scan they cannot take them. Ok, that's fine. Then she said that I can only use one of the store coupons per item per transaction but that she would let it go this time. Again, I'm good with that. The store coupons do state, "one per transaction" and I will try to honor that from now on. (This is the first time I've had trouble with that.)

Then she went away(back to her own register) and cashier #1 took over again. I said I wanted to take 4 string cheese and 6 of the dog foods off my order because the coupons did not go through. She said she couldn't do that because of the coupons. So I was polite. I paid($5 more than I had planned) and left and then went to Customer Service to try to return those items. If I had it to do over again, I would've kept the cheese and just returned the dog food as she put stickers on the cheese, which I'm pretty sure means that they couldn't go back onto the shelf. I felt really badly about that! So she gave me the money back-more than I had spent for those items- because it doesn't take into account the manufacturers coupons that I used which the store will get reimbursed for.

I came home so confused and not sure what I really spent. I felt like I had somehow robbed the store and I hate feeling that way. I went over it all and I did not do anything wrong, but still... I think I'll take a break from Target for a couple of weeks.

After all that trouble, here's what I got:

--5 boxes Fiber One cereal at $2.50 each ( Buy 5 Fiber one products, get a $5 gift card.)Used 3 $.75/1, 1 $1/2 manu. coupons and stacked with 5 $1/1 store coupons:$4.25.

--8 string cheese at $.40 cents each- Used 4 $1/2 store coupons. (Register automatically only took $.80 cents off for each coupon):FREE.

--2 Chef Michael's canned foods- $.84 each. Used B1G1 manu. coupon stacked with B1G1 store coupons: FREE.

When it was all said and done, I guess I did not really pay anything out of pocket as I used my gift card from last week, plus I got another $5 gift card to use next time. So I did very well considering!

I also made my monthly pilgrimage to Sam's Club this week and stocked up on cheeses, sour cream, cottage cheese, some spices, tortilla chips and a big bag of white fish. I spent $60.12. With care, the cheese and sour cream should last us about a month and a half.

Breakdown of all purchases this week:
--Aldi(for sour cream)- $.90

--Dairy (for raw milk)- $6

--Walmart(for Blue Bunny frozen yogurt treat)-$3. 54 (Will send in for full rebate as part of a Labor Day weekend promotion.)


--Harris Teeter-$8.36

Weekly grocery total: $22.80

--Sam's Club-$60.12

Total spent this week: $82.92

Did you find any great deals this week? Please tell us about it!

**Thanks to Money Saving Mom for hosting Super Savings Saturdays and Southern Savers for hosting Friday Finals!

Wednesday, September 09, 2009


**We spent our Labor Day weekend pet-sitting for our friends. They have 5 dogs and 10 cats. Thankfully, everything went fairly smoothly. They have them on a good routine and left individualized notes for each pet concerning feeding and other points of interest. That was extremely helpful.

This was our second pet-sitting opportunity of the summer. Anyone who knows us in real life realizes how out of character this is for us. Especially me. I am not an animal lover. Before we got our dog, I did not like creatures of the canine breed. Before that, I was terrified of animals, especially dogs. So the fact that I not only have a dog and love him to pieces but actually consent to helping friends with their pets is an interesting turn of events in the story of my life.

**I cleaned my house this morning. It is so nice! I have been so busy for several months that I only got a little cleaning done here and there. It really needed a thorough cleaning job. Thankfully, I tend to be pretty neat so the place was livable. As long as we didn't look at the floors, at the cobwebs in the window, or behind the toilet...

**It's decluttering time again! Since I am no longer doing in-home childcare, I'm going through my children's toys and supplies and tossing anything that is not needed on the yard sale pile. I'm hoping to have a yard sale sometime this fall. I have two piles in the living room- a "get rid of" pile and a "to put away" pile. By the time, I'm finished with this decluttering bug, my home should be nice and orderly! I do love to get rid of things...:-)

**Our garden is pretty much done for the year. We got lots of tomatoes and cucumbers this year as well as a good harvest of peppers. My pepper plants are still bearing. I need to get some fall crops planted--lettuce, spinach, peas, perhaps another planting of green beans yet.

**We recently got this album and are really enjoying it. Some awesome songs!!!

**Simple Nest has a thought-provoking post on Finding Contentment In Our Homes. Read part two here.

Thanks for reading!

Monday, September 07, 2009

Menu Plan Monday

Happy Labor Day to all my American friends! I hope you are enjoying the last official summer holiday and that you were able to get your free Chick-fil-a sandwich today by wearing some kind of sports team apparel. We went at lunch and got our free sandwich. Yum! Thank you, Chick-fil-a! Many, many other folks were also taking advantage of this offer and you can too until closing time today. (Wearing a team shirt or other item is so easy, anybody can do it. Much easier than dressing up as cows for free food!) Oh and in case you were wondering, he wore a Redskins jersey and I wore a Chicago Cubs shirt. Our two favorite teams! Go Skins, Go Cubbies!

Here's the rest of the week's menu:

I was excited to find a butternut squash for $1.50 and an eggplant for $1 at a roadside stand yesterday. I love squash; it's one of my favorite fall foods!

Sunday-Salad, pretzels and hummus

Monday-Eat at church meeting. I'm taking some ice cream.

Tuesday- Fried and breaded eggplant with spaghetti sauce and Parmesan cheese, corn on the cob, salad

Wednesday- Rice with sausage and apples, honey butternut squash, salad

Thursday- Beef stroganoff in crock pot, noodles, orange-ginger carrots

Friday- Pan-fried round steaks, mashed potatoes and gravy, some kind of veggie or salad

Saturday-omelets, toast, fruit smoothies

**For more menu planning inspiration, head on over to Organizing Junkie!

Saturday, September 05, 2009

Super Savings Saturday: Weekly Grocery Trip

I've been out of the groove with my grocery shopping these last two weeks. Last week was way too busy and I just didn't have the time. This week was hectic trying to catch up from last week so I only did a couple of quick trips rather than actual grocery shopping.

That's the great thing about eating from our pantry. Other than fresh produce and dairy, we usually have a nice supply of basic foods on hand. So if I don't get out to shop, it isn't that much of a crisis.

In the past two weeks, I've made quick trips to Walgreens, CVS, Target, Bi-Lo and Earth Fare. The picture below shows what I got at Target this week!


Target: See deals and coupons used here.
--4 bags of Chef Michael's dog food: FREE
--5 containers of Edy's ice cream: $.50 each after coupons and gift card
--2 Johnson's Buddies soaps: FREE
--2 Gerber baby bottles: FREE
--4 trial size Tide and All detergent: FREE

--4 bags of Chef Michael's dog food, on sale for 2/$6. Used $3/1 coupon to make these FREE!

Target: $7.54(Received $5 gift card so actual cost of items pictured was $2.54!!)
Bi-Lo: $.84
Earth Fare(eggs and sweeteners): $7.38
CVS(used expiring ECB's to buy hair gel and Scrubbing Bubbles): $1.51
Walgreens( last week's trip to buy sale priced canned salmon and deodorant):$5.24

Total: $22.51

Some friends of ours went out of town for the weekend and gave us 2 big bags of produce! This included organic lettuce and salad greens, spinach, tomatoes, lots of peppers, baby carrots and apples. What a blessing!

What kind of deals have you found lately?

**Head over to Money Saving Mom for more Super Savings Saturday posts!

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Quiche Me

One of our very favorite meals is quiche. At any meal-breakfast, lunch or supper- quiche is delicious, versatile and can be quite economical. Because it can be eaten warm or cold, it's perfect to pack in a lunch box or picnic basket.

One of the great things about quiche is that almost any combination of meats and veggies can be used. Therefore, quiche is a wonderful use for leftover bits and pieces of whatever is left in the fridge.

Tomato Quiche

To make quiche, there is a formula involved rather than a specific recipe. I use the formula provided in Mollie Katzen's The Enchanted Broccoli Forest.

There are four elements needed to make a quiche which are as follows:

1) Crust- Use either your favorite homemade recipe or use a store-bought crust. Crusts made from mashed potatoes or rice can also be used. Place unbaked pie crust in a greased pie plate or quiche pan.

2)Cheese- This is the first layer which is put directly onto the crust. I typically use cheddar cheese as I usually keep it on hand. Swiss cheese is delicious, too! Use 1/4 to 1/3 pound depending on whether it is diced or grated and the size of your pan. I often reduce this amount and just make sure the bottom is well-covered as the cheese forms a barrier between the filling and the crust and keeps the crust flaky and crisp.

3)Filling- Place this layer over the cheese. This is where you can get creative and use whatever you have on hand. Think about the combination of meats and veggies that your family enjoys and use that as a guide.

Our favorite combinations include:
--spinach(squeeze all liquid out)and mushroom, a dash of nutmeg, bacon or ham
--fresh tomato(round slices), dill, basil
--grated zucchini and sausage
--ham and swiss

The possibilities are endless! You will want to saute many veggies, such as fresh spinach, broccoli, mushrooms and onions. Add any salt or spices to taste. My sister's family loves quiche or "meat and potato pie" as they call it, made with ground beef and hash brown potatoes.

4)Custard- The last step in putting together a great quiche is to add eggs and milk. Beat together 3 eggs and 1 cup milk and pour over the filling. Bake at 375 degrees for 35 to 40 minutes or until firm. (My oven usually takes about 45 minutes to bake.)Cool for a few minutes before slicing and serve warm or cold.
Spinach Quiche-our favorite!

I have frozen already-baked quiches successfully. Just thaw and warm in oven and it's ready to serve! I've also read that quiches can be frozen unbaked but haven't tried that yet. If you've done this, leave a comment as to how it turned out for you!

I like to have homemade unbaked pie crusts ready in the freezer to pull out whenever we get a hankering for a quiche. However, I am not always that efficient and sometimes I need to make something quick! This is when I make a crustless quiche. This is incredibly fast to put together. Again, it is more of a formula than a recipe. Trust me, it's hard to mess a quiche up!

Crustless Quiche

1) Combine quiche fillings and spread in greased pan- shredded cheese, leftover cooked potatoes, fresh or cooked veggies, cooked meat, etc.

2)Beat eggs with a little milk or cream and seasonings to taste (6 eggs for 8 x 8 pan; 10-12 eggs for 9 x 13 pan.)

3)Pour egg mixture over fillings, cover with foil and bake at 350 degrees until set in the middle. Check after 45 minutes.

Serve hot or cold.

**See more favorite recipes at Life as Mom's Ultimate Recipe Swap!

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Recycled Storage Containers

I love to reuse and re-purpose items that I already have rather than going out and always buying new ones.

One area that can cost a lot of money is buying storage containers. So although I do purchase them from time to time, I try to see what I have around the house and use that instead.

Enter those nice big clear containers that salad greens come in. We eat at least one container of salad greens a month, so I end up with a few of these around.

When I first saved these, I used them only for packaging food. You know, cookies and brownies to give away. And they work great for that-no need to return a dish!

Then I needed containers for various toys and kid's items. Again, these work great and are see-through and stackable!

I've even used them to organize small items in my pantry and for random items that need organizing such as dog accessories and plant food.

I love reusing something that would otherwise be trashed and making it work for me!

What have you repurposed or recycled lately?

**For lots of organizing tips, visit today's Works For Me Wednesday at We Are THAT Family!

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Changing Seasons

The seasons, they are changing. And not just from summer to fall, either. We are going through changes here at our house and in our lives.

(I just about wrote I am going through a change, but thought that might be taken as if I'm going through The Change. Thankfully, I am not about to enter That Season quite yet!)

Now that I'm not taking care of kids anymore, here's what I'll be focusing on for this next season:

--Better daily planning and organization for my home.

--Continue working on increasing a healthy diet.


--More time with God. Just enjoying time with Him.

--More consistent cleaning. This has really gone by the wayside lately!

--More intentional with hospitality.

--Yard work and home improvement projects. I have a lot of painting I need to do!

--Bring in a little income by doing more coupon workshops(I did my first this summer.) and selling my handmade items at local events and in my own Etsy shop(coming soon!).

--Blogging. I should have a bit more time to blog consistently which I am happy about!

--Laying around the mansion!:-)