Saturday, June 21, 2008

Weekly Shopping Trip--Stretching Last Weeks

Remember last week when I saved $92.71 and purchased a bunch of markdown meat??? Well aside from a $20 shopping trip yesterday and trip to Save A Lot earlier in the week, I am going to be able to stretch what I purchased with what is in my pantry for another 8 days!!! (Which translates til next pay day!!) No major shopping trip for me this week other than to get WIC items(like milk and eggs) in the next 8 days. :)

Since my pantry challenge ended, I have been able to restock my pantry decent enough to be able to this next 8 days! (See pic below)

Yesterday I went to Family Fare to finish a couple of meals for this next week and get hubby some Wild Cherry Pepsi(his morning "coffee").

Here is what I purchased...

  • 4 cases Wild Cherry Pepsi $9.00
  • 1 bag lettuce shreds $1.00
  • .58 lbs Roma tomatoes 58 cents (these are safe ones!)
  • 1 bottle Ortega Taco Sauce $1.67
  • 2.49lbs bananas $1.47

Total $19.61 with tax & bottle deposits.

I also found some clothes for my dd this week!!

So there is the deals/savings that I found and did this week! Stay tuned to see what my menu is going to look like for the next 8 days!

To read about others weekly savings, head over to MoneySavingMom's Super Savings Saturday and BecentsAble's Centsible Shopper Show N Tell!!

Friday, June 20, 2008

Frugal Friday--OAMC My Way

"Once a month cooking" can help you cut costs only if your family enjoys the results. I tried doing "once a month cooking"(OAMC) where you make double of an entree and put one in the freezer for a later date. My family did not enjoy the "later date" meal when I would go to serve it. So instead of making up the entrees and freezing them I came up with other methods to help me save time in the kitchen preparing meals or for those times when didn't have any convenience items to pull for a quick dinner.

I wish that my Uncle was still living and was raising cattle like what he did when I was a teen. OR that I could find someone trustworthy to buy my meat in bulk. For now, I just find good meat sales at the grocery store or get it from Sam's Club.

Here is what I call "my version of OAMC".....

For 15-20lbs of ground beef, I take and make burgers and meatloaf with the raw meat and freeze them. The burgers get stacked with wax paper between them in a freezer bag. Each freezer bag has the number I need for one meal. I also make meatballs but I cook them and then flash freeze on a cookie sheet and then transfer to a freezer bag. I also brown some of the ground beef and put in plastic containers/freezer bags the amount that I need for a meal of spaghetti, chili, goulash, and sloppy joes.

For chicken meals, I normally just get the Quick frozen boneless chicken breasts/tenders because they are usually on sale more than fresh chicken. So I just take a bag out the night before for the dinner meal the next day. If I get fresh chicken I still make sure that I get it on sale and I get the boneless/skinless breasts....When I get home I clean and de-fat them and put them in a freezer bag in the number I need for a meal(usually 5-6 breasts do it for my family of 7). If the breasts are thick I will butterfly(slice them width-wise) them to make the meat stretch a little more, which means that 3-4 breasts is enough for my family. It also helps to butterfly them when you know that you are grilling them because the meat cooks more evenly! I also will cut up the raw chicken to pull out for using in soups and such. I also make sure that I get a couple of whole chickens when they are on sale to have to pull out of the freezer for the next day for a drop in the crock pot and forget type meal! LOL

For pork chops, I get one of those half boneless pork loins and bring it home and slice it into pork chops(or you can have the butcher at the grocery store do it too!) and once again make sure that I put wax paper between the chops and divide it into the meals in freezer bags.

I found doing things this way I am not tied down with the precooked meals in the freezer. If I want to try something different/new for a meal I can without having to go to the store to get other meat to use. I also found that doing my meats ahead and putting them in freezer, I have been able to cut the time in the kitchen preparing the meal in half! Most of meals I can get done in an hour or less, unless of course I am using my crock pot! LOL Also, no more wasted food from the family deciding that they didn't like the "second round".

This method I found was great each time that I had a new baby in the house. I was able to nurse baby and put baby down for a nap and then prepare and eat dinner before baby would need my attention again. If I am using my crock pot I would just put the items in the crock pot when I had about 5 minutes in the morning before lunch.

The other thing I do is keep a baking routine where I can get a good stash of quick breads/muffins, cookies, and other snacks in the freezer. The quick breads/muffins can be used for breakfast along with some scrambled eggs. The cookies are just nice to have for that sweet tooth! LOL Another thing for breakfast that I have made ahead for my boys is "Mom's Egg McMuffins" toasted english muffin with scrambled egg patty, sliced american cheese, and bacon or ham or sausage patty. Wrap the individually with plastic wrap and then put in a bread bag. When you want one take it out microwave for 20 seconds and then turn it over and microwave for another 20 seconds, if still cold in the middle microwave for 10 more seconds. Let set for 2 minutes and eat! You can use croissants or biscuits for the same type of sandwiches.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Homeschooling with Little Ones--The Routine

As I continue my home schooling with little ones series, I thought I would give you a glimpse of what my daily routine looks like.

Please understand that this is more of a routine than watching the clock for the next time frame.

Here is our routine (the times are approximate):

7am~~I am up to get hubby’s lunch made and to get him out the door by 8am.
8am~~Breakfast and morning chores. It doesn’t happen every day, but I try to get my shower while the kids are doing their chores!
9am~~Start school (sometimes, like Mondays, start time doesn’t happen till 9:30)

Morning school time runs till 11am. During those two hours, I work/play with my little ones while my older ones do independent work. Independent work is studying AWANA verses, Math work (unless it is a new concept then it waits till the afternoon), Spelling work, and Creative/Journal Writing.

11am~~Noon “Recess time” There is another home school family on our block so the kids get together to play for an hour before lunch. If the other family is having a coop day or is gone I use the time for us to take a walk, or to play games in the backyard!

12:30pm~2:30pm Afternoon School/Quiet Time. This is when my little ones are napping. The older ones do a ½ hour of quiet reading. I am able to work with my older ones on school work. We either check or do Math together. We do Science and History together. Usually we are all done by with everything by 2:30pm sometimes it ends up closer to 3pm.

3pm~~Kids do their afternoon chores before having their free time. I take the time to get dinner prepared, work on laundry, and/or have more time with my little ones.

6pm~~Dinner time. Hubby has just come home by this time so I love to have dinner done and waiting on the table for him when he arrives home.

After dinner, each of the older kids has an “after dinner chore” that needs to be done before they are allowed any more free time. This also allows everyone’s food to settle before more play or a family walk or bike ride.

7:45pm Bedtime routine starts. Routine consists of baths, if needed, pajamas on, snack, daily Keys for Kids, and prayer. Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays are “bath nights” so bedtime routine usually starts around 7:30pm.

Kids bedtime is 8:30pm, however, the four older ones are allowed 5-15 minutes of reading time before lights are out. The amount of reading time is based on whether or not they got to bed on time or not. If it is after 8:30 before they are in bed then their reading time is cut short.

It doesn’t always happen but hubby and I usually try to get to bed around 10pm. By this time, both of us have relaxed enough from our busy day to actually go to sleep. We also have had time together to talk about our day and any problems that we need to work on together. We even take time to pray together.

So there is glimpse of what a “typical day” looks like at my house.

You probably are wondering why there is no specific time for blogging or household management (cleaning, pay bills, laundry, grocery shop, etc.) to get done because I don’t have any set times to do these things. I usually only do a school schedule four days a week so that gives me one day to get all my errands and grocery shopping done. My hubby only gets paid twice a month so there is only 2 days each month that I pay the bills. Cleaning and laundry get done during the daily chore times or on Saturday mornings. As for blogging, I work on that during quiet time or at the end of the day when the kids are in bed. Saturday or Sunday afternoons are my “planning” times, that is when weekly menus and blogging topics are decided.

To find out what works for others, head over to Rocks in My Dryer!

Here is the previous post of this series....Part 3 of Homeschooling with little ones

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Worthwhile Reading!!

Head over to Heart of the Matter and do some reading!! It is "Dad's Week" over there! Homeschooling Dads sharing their perspective on homeschooling and family life! Even if you don't homeschool, the articles/entries are very worthwhile the reading!

Click on the link or the graphic and do some reading!

Weblink Wednesday--Fun Ideas Calendar

Did you know...???

  • February is National Heart Month?
  • June was Seafood month?
  • Child Injury Prevention Week was the 1st week in September?
  • October is National Fire Prevention Month?
  • Games & Puzzles Week is November 16-22?
  • 1st phone call made on March 3, 1876?
  • April is National Poetry Month?
  • Amelia Earhart flew solo across the Atlantic on May 21, 1932?
  • National Chocolate Day is September 23rd?

I found all these "special" days, weeks, and months using the following sites:

Idea Calendar has an icon for each month that when you click on the icon you get a list of "specials" for the month.

Teacher's Vision has a downloadable/printable Educator's Calendar that you can print out with each day of the month filled with different things.

Holiday Insights has a wealth of insight on bizarre, wacky, unique type days throughout the whole year.

I used each site this past school year to put together different unit studies each month. I also added in the "Trivia of the Day" to our school day. I listed off something from the day and would have my munchkins investigate looking for more information on the trivia. You can learn alot about unusual events in history this way along with learning research skills online(oh don't worry I don't let the munchkins search without "safety search measures" in place!) and in resource books(like encyclopedias).

For other great links to check out...head over to Val's--Homeschooling with Encouragement!

Works for Me Wednesday--Library

I love the library! I find the library a valuable resource for me and my munchkins!

Here is the reasons why:

  1. I have found that it is very easy to get the books I need for different science and history topics without having to buy actual curriculum for those subjects. I probably look sooo funny coming into the library with a laundry basket in the back of my stroller so that I can fill it up with the different books that I will need for the week.

  2. I have signed up all of my older four kids with their own library card. They are responsible for the checking out and keep up with their books. This has proven to be very effective in making sure that the books get back on the due date without having fines. The kids know that if they forget a book and it ends up with a fine, it comes out of their allowance. It is easy to know whose book it is because they each have their own "checkout list" from the library.

  3. I have found that I can search the online card catalog to find the books that I need and place them on hold to be able to pick up at my local library rather than going to several different libraries and using up precious gas in my van. This has become so valuable to me with the price of gas these days!

  4. They have free programs geared for my kids that they enjoy doing. Right now we are doing the summer reading program. We have also done storytime and craft time at the library as well.

  5. They also have tons of free interactive reading resources for my kids that we can use instead of just reading a book! I especially love this feature for my "pre-readers". My readers love the resources as well.

  6. Possible the most important reason why I love the library is that it saves me money!! My kids(2 of which are bookworms!) can read books without me having to purchase all of them first! This way the only purchased books on our home bookshelves are ones that I know my kids enjoy reading!

Why do you like your public/community library? Does the library work for you?

To find out what works for others head over to Shannon's--Rocks in My Dryer!!

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Kitchen Tip Tuesday

With dinner(roast, carrots, and potatoes) in the crockpot....

I set out today to get some baking done to stock my freezer for the hotter days of summer! All this week we are to have temps below average(in the high 60s/low 70s) so it makes for great baking weather! Do not have to run the a/c like crazy and my freezer gets stocked.

I also set out today that I would take pics of my adventure and come here and tell you all about it. Basically I was going to brag about what I accomplished today! Well I accomplished making a double batch of chocolate chip cookies with milk and semi-sweet chips in them. I made bars and cookies. And after they were all cooked, I realized that I forgot the vanilla extract!! UGH!
Despite my forgetting the vanilla extract in the chocolate chip cookies, I pressed on in my baking endeavor and made a double batch of oatmeal scotchies usually I just do a single batch so I was being extra careful to measure each ingredient twice. I got the mixing all done, added the vanilla extract and the butterscotch chips and started using my scoop to get cookies on the sheets to put in the oven that was heated up already from the chocolate chip cookies. I got my first sheet of oatmeal scotchies out of the oven and realized that something wasn't right because they were flat! You can see in the picture below that they look paper thin! So while I put in two more sheets of cookies to bake(my first mistake), I started going back thru the recipe and remembering what I had done to see if I missed something in the recipe. As the second sheet of cookies was finishing up with the same paper thinness. The light bulb went off in my head....I had only put in enough oatmeal(3 cups) for one batch of cookies rather than enough for 2 batches(6 cups)!

So for my last two sheets of not yet baked oatmeal scotchies, I put the balls of cookies back into the mixing bowl and put 1 cup of oatmeal in the dough and mixed it up and the picture below shows the result! They are better in that they are thicker but they still could have used more oatmeal in them.

The funny part of all this is that I didn't even have my kids helping me with the baking like I normally do!! I decided they could just play and stay out of my way for awhile.

So my tips from this adventure....
  1. Make sure you double check yourself BEFORE you bake anything, esp. cookies!
  2. If you are going to double a recipe it might help to write down the amounts of each item so before you start putting the recipe together so that you can check the items off as you go so you know what you have put in the bowl and what still needs to be added!

For more kitchen tips, resources or ideas; head over to Tammy's Recipes! Today she is giving tips on how to make an omelet! Hummm...going to have to try her tips!

Monday, June 16, 2008

Frugal Food Series

Jenn over at Frugal Upstate is in week two of her Frugal Food Series. Last week it was all about eggs! This week, she is talking about tuna!

I am part of my church's meal ministry. We make up meals and take them to other families in the church who just had a baby, who are sick, or just need a helping hand. One of the dishes that I like to make because it is easy and frugal is Cheesy Tuna Mac.

1 package (7-1/2 ounces) macaroni and cheese mix
1/2 cup milk
1 tablespoon butter
1 can (10-3/4 ounces) condensed cream of chicken(or whatever) soup, undiluted
1 can (6 ounces) tuna, drained and flaked
3/4 cup frozen peas
2 tablespoons finely chopped onion
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

Cook the macaroni according to package directions; drain. Stir in the milk, butter and contents of cheese packet. Add the soup, tuna, peas, and onion.
Spoon into a greased 1-1/2-qt. baking dish. Cover and bake at 350° for 20 minutes. Uncover; sprinkle shredded cheese on top and bake 5-10 minutes longer or until heated through and cheese is melted. Yield: 4 servings.

I have found this easy to make ahead and take to a family because I usually have all the ingredients on hand in my pantry. I make the dish all up without cooking it, cover with foil, write baking directions on the foil with a Sharpie marker. I put the shredded cheese in a separate ziploc bag. I compliment the dish with a leafy salad, homemade bread, and dessert. Simple, easy, and filling meal!

For other tuna ideas, head over to Jenn's series at Frugal Upstate!
***photo courtesy of Taste of Home

Clothes Shopping Oh My!!!

Today I went out to Save A Lot to grab a few things that I had forgotten in my weekly shopping trip and next door is Once Upon A Child advertising that there is a 50% off sale going on!! Needless to say, I did not resist temptation!! I went in to see what types of things they had on their racks!!

I am always looking for things for my girl, not because she is the only one but I haven't found a good outlet(ie church friends) for hand-me-downs for her. So I checked the racks for her size and lo and behold I found some things I couldn't resist in getting her!!

I got everything in the picture for $13.78(includes tax)!!!

Here is a rundown of what I purchased...
  • Youngland brand cotton dress(blue with pink gingham check and flowers and butterflies along the bottom) $4.50-50% off = $2.25
  • Izod brand knit dress(aqua, pink and white stripe) $6.50-50%off = $3.25
  • blue jean capris with pink stitching $3.50-50%off = $1.75
  • Children's Place tan khaki skirt with the tags still on it! $4.50-50% off = $2.25
  • Children's Place tank top(orange with fish) $2.50-50%off = $1.25
  • Kidslook's denim shorts with butterfly patch $4.50-50%off = $2.25

I can't imagine going into the mall stores and picking these items up for regular price!!

If you are not familiar with Once Upon A Child, you should go check out the link and see if there is a location near you! It basically is a chain thrift/consignment store.

Menu Plan Monday 6/15-6/21

**Another week is upon us so that means it is time for another menu plan! This is just a plan and it could change on the cook’s whim!

Last week’s menus went well. I have plenty of leftovers to use for lunches for the next few days! We ended up going out to Checkers rather than having homemade pizza and breadsticks on Friday. We enjoyed our Father’s Day meal/cookout (grilled New York Strip--hubby and I, burgers—kids, potato pockets, and corn) on Saturday instead of waiting till Sunday because the weather was not looking promising for Sunday.

I did my shopping for this week already so I should be set other than getting more milk and soda pop(hubby’s “morning coffee’) in the house! I found some awesome deals on markdown meat that I will be using for my menus this week! I am hoping to pick some strawberries in the next couple of weeks so that I can make strawberry goodness!! :)

Lunches listed are for the kids and me. Hubby usually takes dinner leftovers each day.

A special thanks to Laura-Organizing Junkie for hosting Menu Plan Monday! Need help with your menus, go check other delicious meal plans that have been linked at her site! **

Sunday (6-15)
Breakfast: eggs, bacon, hash browns, and biscuits
Lunch: pizza rolls
Dinner: chicken rice casserole and crescent rolls
Snack: banana muffins

Monday (6-16)
Breakfast: cereal and toast
Lunch: leftovers
Dinner: “Italian Night” chicken parmesan/spaghetti, and garlic bread
Snack: snack basket

Tuesday (6-17)
Breakfast: pancakes and sausage
Lunch: leftovers
Dinner: roast, potatoes, carrots and honey oatmeal rolls
Snack: snack basket

Wednesday (6-18)
Breakfast: bagels and cereal
Lunch: leftovers
Dinner: bacon cheeseburgers, fries, and corn
Snack: “mystery snack”

Thursday (6-19)
Breakfast: waffles
Lunch: pizza
Dinner: saucy pork chops, mashed potatoes, and green beans
Snack: snack basket

Friday (6-20)
Breakfast: cereal and muffins
Lunch: sandwich, chips, applesauce and carrot sticks
Dinner: homemade pizza and breadsticks
Snack: homemade chocolate shakes

Saturday (6-21)
Breakfast: “Cook’s Choice”
Lunch: ?????(it’s the weekend anything goes!)
Dinner: “Homemade Long John Silvers Night” grilled chicken/fish/shrimp, fries, and corn
Snack: popcorn

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Singing Sunday

Everything Glorious
by David Crowder Band

The day is brighter here with You
The night is lighter than it's hue
Would lead me to believe
Which leads me to believe

You make everything glorious
You make everything glorious
You make everything glorious
And I am Yours
What does that make me?

My eyes are small but they have seen
the beauty of enormous things
Which leads me to believe
there's light enough to see that

You make everything glorious
You make everything glorious
You make everything glorious
And I am Yours

From glory to glory
You are glorious You are glorious
From glory to glory
You are glorious. You are glorious
Which leads me to believe
why I can believe that

You make everything glorious
You make everything glorious
You make everything glorious
And I am Yours
You make everything glorious
You make everything glorious
You make everything glorious
And I am Yours

From glory to glory From glory to glory
You are glorious. You are glorious.
You are glorious. You are glorious.

You make everything glorious
You make everything glorious
You make everything glorious
And I am Yours