Saturday, January 31, 2009

Weekly Shopping Trip--Savings $59.57 Plus

This week, I found that I needed some things from Save A Lot and Aldis so it is hard to put a dollar amount on the savings! Also this was a week where I didn't have any coupons to use with my shopping and yet I still saved money by shopping at Save A Lot, Aldis and the sales at the grocery stores. 

Here is the breakdown of my trip...

Save A Lot
  • 3lbs wide egg noodles $2.97
  • 3 lbs spaghetti noodles $2. 97
  • 4pk tomatoes $1.49
Total: $7.43

  • 1 pk broccoli crowns $1.99
  • 1 head lettuce 99¢

Family Fare(markdown meat run--all the meat was 50% off!)
  • 1.26lbs pork country style ribs $1.88
  • 1.80lbs boneless pork chops $4.48
  • 3.42lbs London Broil $8.53
Total: $14.89
Savings Total: $14.92

  • 11.16lbs ground chuck $19.96($1.79/lb)
  • 15.68lbs boneless/skinless chicken breasts $26.51($1.69/lb)
  • 2 bags Cheetos $3.38
  • 2 bags Fritos $3.38
  • 2 gallons Hawaiian Punch $4.58
  • 3-2 liters Pepsi $3.30(including deposit)
  • 6 bottles Juicy Juice $14.00
Total: $75.11
Savings Total: $44.65 

Grand Total: $159.98
Grand Total OOP(out of pocket): $100.41
Grand Total Savings: $59.57 plus what I saved going to Save A Lot & Aldi. 

For more savings stories head over to MoneySavingMom's Super Saturday Savings.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Smothered Chicken

After my friend, Sherry posted this really yummy looking chicken recipe and looking through one of my Taste of Home cookbooks to find a very similar chicken recipe, I decided that I would take a stab at creating a chicken dish that was very similar to them on my own. 

I had six chicken breasts to use and instead of pounding/flattening the chicken out, I cut it in half longwise.  I put the chicken in my skillet with about 1 tbsp. olive oil and cooked the chicken on medium high heat.

Once the juices started running clear, I sprinkled cooked real bacon bits over the pieces of chicken. I didn't measure the bacon bits but I would say that I put about 1/2 cup on 10 pieces of chicken(I kept a couple pieces of chicken plain for leftover chicken sandwiches for hubby's lunch).  I put the lid of my skillet on for about 5 minutes--just enough time for the bacon bits to heat through. 

Once the bacon heated through on the chicken, I sprinkled about 8oz of shredded cheddar cheese over the chicken. I turned the heat down to low and I put the lid back on the skillet long enough to melt the cheddar cheese.  Once the cheese was melted, the chicken was ready to serve! 

This was something really quick to put together!! I served it with french fries and corn.  A leafy green salad would have been nice too, however that got forgotten in the preparation of things! 

My family gobbled it!  I had a couple of pieces for a leftover! 

Smothered Chicken

6 boneless/skinless chicken breasts, cut long wise
1 TBSP. olive oil
1/2 cup real bacon bits
8oz cheddar cheese, shredded

Cook chicken in olive oil on medium high heat til juices run clear. Top with bacon bits and melted cheddar cheese. 

For more delicious recipes, head over to Happy To be At Home or to Blessed with Grace!

Frugal Friday

I have a menu planning system that works well in my house. It is multi-faceted and some times seems complex but it works well when everyone in my family participates! I have made up my own Master Grocery List in MS Word and I print it off each month and put it on my fridge. Then when we are low or out of something that I normally buy the item gets circled or highlighted by the person who is using the last of it or says they are taking the last one. This way, I know I need to get it from the store the next time I do my shopping.

I have also made up a MS Word document for my weekly meals. I take the time to plan out all of our meals and snacks for the week. If I didn't do this, my kids would eat the same snack item til it is gone! My kids would continue their incessant question("What's for ________?") before each meal! And I would be doing the 5'oclock rush/stress to figure out dinner and find that I forgot to pull meat out of the freezer so it will take til about 7'oclock or later before we are sitting down to the table for dinner or I just give up and order out. Ordering out though would not be good or healthy for us, esp. for dh who struggles with high cholesterol.

What I do while I am menu planning: I look at my calendar, if I am having a busy day then I make sure that lunch is something quick and the kids can get themselves, and dinner is not an elaborate meal. I look in my freezer and pantry to see what meals I can make from them. I look at the grocery ads for the week to see if there is any good sales or loss leaders that I need to purchase to complete my meals. I am one that likes to have a stocked freezer to choose meals from so that if there is a week that doesn't have good sales at any of the stores, I can just use my freezer and pantry.

The one last thing that I have done is taken the time to make Master Menu Lists, or as I call them "Menu Suggestion Lists". I wrote down every main dishside disheslunches, and snacks that my family likes and will eat on a regular basis. Then I just plug in the items on different days to make up breakfast, lunch and dinner meals and snacks. Having these lists makes menu planning work for me because it doesn't take much more than 1/2 hour to get two weeks worth of meals and snacks planned for my family. Just recently, I took the time to update my lists because certain foods are no longer being made or bought, or new meals have been added to our repertoire.

Menu planning and Menu Suggestion Lists have become a way of life around here because it helps my "dinner time stress" and time management!

For other frugal ideas, head over to Frugal Friday at Biblical Womanhood!

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Thursday Thirteen

I am going to have some fun with my list of 13 things this week!! Before I write any more I am cautioning those readers of mine that are might not want to read any further less you be tempted!  

This week my list is about chocolate!  I like chocolate, however it just isn't any old chocolate!  It has to be milk chocolate! I do not like dark chocolate!  Matter of fact, I do not even like putting semi sweet chocolate chips in my homemade chocolate chip cookies!!  I would rather use milk chocolate chips.  Here are my top 13 chocolates of choice starting with my least favorite....

13. Baby Ruth Bar

12. Nestle Crunch

11. Milk Duds

10. Whoppers

9.  3 Musketeers  

8.  Rolos

7.  Kit Kat Bar

6. Twix Bar

5. Hershey's Milk Chocolate Bar

4. Snickers 

3. Milky Way

2. M&Ms

1. Reeses' Peanut butter Cups

For more lists of 13, head over to Happy to be at Home! Today they have a list of Super Bowl links!!

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Works for Me Wednesday--Velcro Cable Ties

Are you tired of your kitchen appliance cords hanging loose when you put them away?
Are you tired of wrestling with the cords that are just loose in the drawer? Are you tired of using a wire twisty tie on your cords only to have it break several times and then not be long enough to go around your cord?

I have just the solution to your problem! Thanks to my hubby!!

He had a bunch of these things called velcro cable ties hanging around not being used after doing some "computer cord management" that he said I could use for my appliance cords!

So I went through his stash of velcro cable ties and found several different colors to use. I put a different color on each of my detachable applicance cords. Now when I have a child help me in the kitchen I can ask them to get the cord with ________ color on it so that I can use it with the appliance I am working with at the time. For those appliances with attached cords I just the velcro cable ties like the ones pictured in the packaging above because they have a hole where you wrap the cable tie around the wire/cord and it stays with the cord so you just have unwrap the cord and plug it in when you need to use the appliance.

These cable ties have made my drawer look neater! They have also made my life a little easier in the kitchen!

Colored velcro cable ties work for me!!

For more Works for Me Wednesday, head over to Rocks in my Dryer!

Carrots as Natural Sweetener

What is one of the most healthiest foods? Carrots!! They are rich in Vitamin A. Carrots are one of my kids' favorite foods. They love to take them out of the fridge and snack on them hence my love for going to Aldi's and getting a 1# bag of the baby carrots for 69 cents!

Yesterday I was in the kitchen most of the day fixing a spaghetti dinner for my family and my hubby's work team. I got thinking about those little orange veggies as used them.

Did you know that you can use carrots as sweetener instead of adding sugar to your foods? Since my kids love them it is easy for me to add them to different dishes. Although I have a few that would rather eat them raw than cooked! Also, I have not gotten them to drink them in smoothies or juice yet!

I love to add shredded carrots to my tomato based dishes. I could just chop the carrots up but I have several who don't like seeing chunks of veggies, especially in their spaghetti sauce. To add the extra vitamins along with sweetening the dish, I shred the veggies that I am going to put in my tomato based dishes. Yesterday, in my big 6 quart crockpot that I filled about 3/4 full with spaghetti sauce I added about a 1/2 dozen baby carrots(that is all I had in the house) to my sauce. I find when I shred the carrots as the dish simmers the carrots pretty much disappears.

Also adding the carrots to the tomato based sauces it helps to neutralize the acid from the tomatoes. I have found that when I add carrots to the sauce I do not have near the problem of heartburn or feeling ill than when I forget to add the carrots.

So my tip for the day....add carrots to tomato based dishes for your sweetener and added vitamins!

For more kitchen tips, ideas or recipes; head over to Tammy's Recipes OR head over to Blessed with Grace!

Glimpse into My Day & A $20 Meal!

No wonder my feet and legs hurt last night!! Here is a glimpse into my day yesterday!

On top of making sure that my kids had some schooling done, I also had to make sure that dinner was ready for my family and my hubby's work team. Yes, we entertained guests for dinner on a weeknight--something we actually do quite often!! On top of the seven that are usually at my table, I had FOUR more adults to feed and one of those adults is vegetarian!

I started out my day in the kitchen by putting ingredients in my bread machine for making dough for french bread. While the bread machine was doing its job, I set out to brown some ground beef to start working on my spaghetti sauce.

While meat was browning, I dumped the ingredients in the crockpot for the sauce. My sauce is a very basic. I used a 45oz jar and 28 oz jar of Ragu traditional sauce as my base. Then I add more spices--italian seasoning, garlic powder, black pepper, and minced onions; along with some shredded carrots. Once the tomato base of the sauce is ready, I then added some of my browned ground beef. I put the sauce on low in the crockpot while I got to work at making up a batch of meatballs.

While the meatballs were cooking, I put together some marinara sauce for the vegetarian. For the marinara sauce, I used a 29oz can of tomato puree and a 15oz can of tomato sauce. I added my spices--italian seasoning, garlic powder, black pepper, and minced onions along with shredded carrots and parmasan cheese.

By this time in the day, I needed to get lunch for my kids so it was a quick peanut butter and jelly sandwich with some chips and baby carrots. After getting lunch, it was quiet time!! My little one goes down for his nap while the others pick up a book and do some reading for a 1/2 hour! On any other day I would be picking up a book too BUT I needed spaghetti noodles for the dinner so off to the store I went leaving my 12 yo in charge for 45 minutes! Oh the niceness of having a child old enough to trust to leave for 45 minutes to an hour!

I ended up hitting up all of my corner grocery stores, that is three stores(Aldis, Family Fare, & Save A Lot)!!! Nothing like living in the big city and having a store on each corner of the intersection! Initially, I was just going to go to Save A Lot but once I got there I didn't like their selection of produce! Wait a minute, I thought you said that you needed spaghetti noodles and now you are talking about getting produce!?! Yes, I also figured out before I left for the store that I needed to get the rest of the leafy green salad makings! So I got my spaghetti noodles for dinner, egg noodles for Friday's dinner and a pack of 4 tomatoes at Save A Lot.

Then I went acrossed the street to Family Fare and decided that I wasn't going to pay their outrageous prices for their produce so I strolled by the meat counter only to find a few packages of fresh meat for 50% off!!! I couldn't resist! So I did something I normally do NOT do and got those meat pkgs despite them not being on my list!! Then I headed over to the dairy case and picked up a couple of gallons of milk for breakfast!

Off to across the street to Aldis, only because it was Monday I decided to venture in there to look at their produce. Their produce actually looked half way decent so I picked up a head of lettuce and some broccoli. Now back to the homefront to continue my dinner preparations!

Once I was back, I finally decided that I was going to do for dessert---chocolate chip cheesecake pie! I had been wanting to try this recipe for a long time! I already had all the ingredients to make it, the key was just finding the right time to make it! So I set out to make this recipe for the first time! It was very easy to make! It turned out yummy despite the fact that the chocolate chips sank to the bottom instead of staying in the cheesecake. I'll be making it again to see if I can have better success with the chocolate chips!

While the pie was cooling, I set out to make my leafy green salad. I just put the lettuce and shredded carrots together in one bowl while putting other salad toppings(chopped boiled egg, bacon bits, tomatoes, broccoli, cheese and croutons) in smaller bowls for people to add their own toppings.

About 5:30pm, in the middle of getting my salad toppings ready, my hubby called me to say they were on their way! OH NO! I had roughly 20 minutes to get everything done!!! I still hadn't put the glaze on the pie, the water for the noodles hadn't been started and the french bread wasn't made into garlic toast!! Instead of staying calm and focused I went into a panic!! I called my oldest son to help me, but he really did not know what to do to help so was more in the way than anything! I got him to measure the chips out for the pie glaze and got them melting in the microwave. I worked on getting the bread sliced and buttered along with sprinkling garlic powder and parmesan cheese on top. The bread got into the oven just as they were pulling up in the driveway! However, the water for the noodles had not even been started!! UGH! Thankfully noodles do not take long to cook!

They came in a little before 6pm and we were able to sit down and enjoy the dinner by 6:30pm!

All in all, everything from the salad to the dessert turned out great! It was a success! Everyone left full and even said that everything tasted a whole lot better then going out to a restaurant!! And to think that I fed 5 adults and 5 children a whole meal for $20!! That is definitely cheaper than all of us eating at a restauraut!

Monday, January 26, 2009

Flexible Scheduling in Homeschooling

As parents, we should be raising and training our children every day,and for my family that also includes making sure that they are learning the 3 R’s. So when I am asked about my yearly school schedule, my reply is that homeschooling occurs every day of the year, whether we are using curriculum books or not.

Want to read more of how I developed and came to a workable schedule for my family??  Head over to Happy to Be at Home today where I talk about it.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Menu Plan Monday 1/25-1/31

Last week's menu plan got a little shuffled around because my hubby made the comment of having too many chicken meals in a row.  What can I say other than I got a good deal on chicken at the store.  So the day I did grocery shopping, I picked up some markdown pork chops and fixed those instead of chicken so I have a carryover meal this week.

This week’s shopping trip was making it to Sam’s and making sure that I had a variety of meat in the house for the next two weeks so that I don’t have to worry about getting anything more than milk.

This week’s menus are more family favorites along with some new dishes.  It should be an interesting week to see the kids handle the mixture of the old tried & true with some new to try dishes.  Also I am hosting dinner for my hubby’s work team (there could be an extra 4 people here one being vegetarian) on Monday!!  So I am going to fix spaghetti with a meat and marinara sauce along with a garlic toast, a salad and going to try a new dessert if I have time.

Lunches listed are for the kids & me. Unless we are having leftovers, our lunches are served with apple slices or baby carrots along with fruit juice or water.  Hubby usually takes a dinner leftover for his work lunch.

A special thanks to Laura-Organizing Junkie for hosting Menu Plan Monday! Need help with your menus; go check the over 300 other delicious meal plans that have been linked at Laura-Organizing Junkie's site or look down in my right sidebar for my menu suggestion lists! 

Sunday (1-25)

Breakfast: eggs, sausage, hash browns, and boxed donuts

Lunch: leftovers

Dinner: ???

Snack: snack basket


Monday (1-26)

Breakfast: cereal and toast

Lunch: sandwiches and chips

Dinner: spaghetti, garlic bread, leafy green salad, chocolate chip cheesecake pie

Snack: snack basket


Tuesday (1-27)

Breakfast: waffles & sausage

Lunch: leftovers

Dinner: ??? looking for inspiration

Snack: cookies & milk


Wednesday (1-28)
Breakfast: bagels and cereal

Lunch: sandwiches & chips

Dinner: Saucy Chicken, rice, green beans

Snack: snack basket

Thursday (1-29)

Breakfast: pancakes and bacon

Lunch: pizza

Dinner: beef roast, carrots, potatoes and homemade rolls

Snack: snack basket


Friday (1-30)

Breakfast: cereal and toaster strudel

Lunch: sandwiches & chips

Dinner: Marinated Italian chicken, noodles, peas, and homemade rolls (carryover)

Snack: ice cream night                                          


Saturday (1-31)  

Breakfast: “Cook’s Choice”

Lunch: ???  probably leftovers

Dinner:  ??? looking for inspiration

Snack:  snack basket  or popcorn




Scrumptious Sunday--Apple Cider Doughnuts

I found this recipe in a Taste of Home Magazine and just love it!  It is very flavorful! 

Apple Cider Donuts

  • 2/3 cup packed brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 6 tablespoons butter, melted and cooled
  • 1 cup apple cider
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • Oil for deep-fat frying
  • Confectioners' sugar, optional
In a mixing bowl, beat the first seven ingredients until thick, about 5 minutes. Gradually beat in butter, then cider. Combine flours, baking powder and baking soda. Add to batter; beat just until blended. Cover and refrigerate 1 hour. Divide dough in half. Turn onto a lightly floured surface; pat to 1/2-in. thickness. Cut with a floured 2-1/2-in. doughnut cutter. Repeat with remaining dough. In an electric skillet or deep-fat fryer, heat oil to 375° degrees. Fry doughnuts, a few at a time, for 2 minutes per side. Drain on paper towels. Dust with confectioners' sugar if desired.

I usually will make the dough at night and refrigerate it until I use it in the morning. 

For more scrumptious recipes, head over to Happy to be at Home.

Singing Sunday

God of This City
by Chris Tomlin

You’re the God of this City
You’re the King of these people
You’re the Lord of this nation
You are

You’re the Light in this darkness
You’re the Hope to the hopeless
You’re the Peace to the restless
You are

There is no one like our God
There is no one like our God

For greater things have yet to come
And greater things are still to be done in this City
Greater thing have yet to come
And greater things are still to be done in this City



There is no one like our God
There is no one like our God


For greater things have yet to come
And greater things are still to be done in this City
Greater things have yet to come
And greater things are still to be done here

There is no one like our god
There is no one like our God


Greater things have yet to come
And greater things are still to be done in this City
Greater things have yet to come
And greater things are still to be done here 

Meijer Deals 1/25-1/31

Just a reminder, that I am using a West Michigan sale ad and my Meijer does NOT double coupons! Also check the THREE pages of Mealbox coupons there are several cpns that match items in this week's ad!


Buy 1 Prilosec OTC 42 ct @ $24.84 get $15 off your next shopping trip - limit 1 cpn per customer. Cpn prints at register.

Buy 25 HP 4x6 Express Prints for $0.25 each get 1 8x10 Express Print FREE!

Buy 3 Hunts Manwich Sloppy Joe Sauce get 1 Aunt Millies Hamburger Buns FREE!

Buy any Slow Cooker and Taco Bell Salsa get a 2 lb Kraft Velveeta Cheese Loaf FREE!

Buy any 4 General Mills Cereal - Wheaties, Golden Grahams, Honey Nut Clusters or Total, Oatmeal Crisp Almond or Raisin Bran, Raisin Nut Bran or Kix or Multi Grain Cheerios get $5 off instantly!


Ground Beef from Chuck Certified Angus Beef, $1.79/lb

Pork Shoulder Bone In Western Style Rib or Pork Steaks, 99¢/lb

Kraft Jello Gelatin or Sugar Free Gelatin -box 5/$3

Lays Potato Chips $1.88

Meijer Fresh Grade A Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breasts, $1.69/lb

Meijer Microwave Popcorn 3 ct 99¢

Nabisco Premium Saltines, Cheese Nips, Snak Saks, Oyster Crackers or Mac & Cheese Crackers 3/$5

Nestle Hot Cocoa Mix 99¢

Open Pit Barbecue Sauce 5/$5

Pepperidge Farm Goldfish Crackers $1

Planters Peanuts 16oz jar $1.89

Swanson Broth 14.5 oz can 3/$2

Sweet Baby Rays Barbecue Sauce 5/$5

Thorn Apple Valley Spiral Sliced Ham Half, $1.79/lb

Eckrich Smoked Sausage or Grillers 3/$5
$1/2 cpn 11-02 S

Duncan Hines Cake Mix 99¢
$1/1 cpn 11-09 S(cpn for carrot cake only)

Lipton Recipe Secret or Cup-a-soup 5/$5
75/2 cpn 11-16 RP

Chi Chis Salsa - jar 99¢
55/1 cpn 12-07 S

Keebler Club Crackers, All Bran Crackers or Graham Crackers ~~ save 50%
$1/2 cpn 12-14 RP

Yoplait Yogurt 4-6 oz cups 10/$5
40/6 cpn 01-04 GM

Birds Eye Steamfresh Vegetables - frozen 3/$4
35/1 cpn 01-04 S2

Aunt Millies Homestyle Cracked Wheat or Buttermilk Bread 4/$5
35/1 cpn 01-11 RP

Aunt Millies Honey Hot Dog or Hamburger Buns 4/$5
35/1 cpn 01-11 RP

Ocean Spray Cranberry Juice or Cranergy 64 oz or 4 pk 12 oz btls 2/$5
$1/1 cpn 01-11 RP(cpn for light or diet juice only)

Uncle Bens Boil in Bag Rice 15.8 oz or Instant Brown Rice 2/$4
$1/2 cpn 01-11 RP

Kelloggs Cereal - Raisin Bran, Honey Smacks, Rice Krispies, Apple Jacks, Froot Loops, Corn Pops, Smorz, Corn Flakes, Frosted Mini Wheats or Frosted Flakes $1.88
$1.50/2 cpn 01-18 RP(cpn for Rice Krispies or Raisin Bran only)

McCormick Taco Seasoning, Chili Seasoning or Spaghetti Sauce Mix 59¢
25/2 cpn 01-18 RP

Ragu Pasta Sauce 16-26 oz jar 2/$3
75/2 cpn 01-18 RP

Daisy Sour Cream 16 oz 2/$3
50/1 cpn 01-18 S

Hormel Chili - can 99¢
55/2 cpn 01-18 S

Pepperidge Farm Layer Cakes, Turnovers, Garlic Bread or Toast - frozen 5/$10
40/1 cpn 01-18 S(cpn for frozen bread only)

Tyson Boxed Chicken or Anytizers - frozen 4/$10
75/2 cpn 01-18 S

Hillshire Farm Litl Smokies $1.99
$1/2 cpn 01-25 RP

Tennessee Pride Roll Pork Sausage 16 oz pkg 2/$4
$1/2 cpn 01-25 RP

Dinty Moore Stew - can 99¢
55/1 cpn 01-25 S

El Monterey Burritos, Chimichangas, Taquitos or Quesadilla 4/$10
$1/1 cpn 01-25 S(cpn for Taquitos only)

Hersheys Packaged Candy 2/$5
$2/2 cpn 01-25 S

Land O Lakes Butter Quarters or Spreadable Butter with Canola Oil 2/$5
50/1 cpn 01-25 S(cpn for spread only)

Nabisco Snack Crackers 2/$4
$2/2 cpn 01-25 S(cpn for Ritz, Wheat Thins or Triscuits only)


Dixie Ultra Plates 2/$4
35/1 cpn 11-16 RP

Crest Pro Health, Whitening Expressions, Multicare, Liquid Gels Toothpaste 2/$5
75/1 cpn 12-28 PG

Flexamin Product ~~ buy 1 get 1 FREE!
$5/1 cpn 01-04 R1

Natures Bounty Vitamins ~~ buy 1 get 1 FREE!
$1/1 cpn 01-04 R2

Excedrin Pain Reliever 50 ct ~~ buy 1 get 1 FREE!
$1/1 cpn 01-04 S1

Revlon Mascara ~~ save 25%
$2/1 cpn 01-11 S

Cover Girl Outlast Long Wearing Lip Color, Stain or Double Lip Shine ~~ buy 1 get 1 FREE!
$2.50/2 cpn 01-18 PG

Sunsilk Shampoo and Conditioner and Styling Products $2.49
$2/2 cpn 01-18 RP

Bic Soleil or C3 Advance Disposable Razors 4 ct 2/$9
$2/1 cpn 01-18 S

Colgate Toothpaste 2/$4
75/1 cpn 01-18 S

Vanity Fair Everyday Napkins 40-100 ct 2/$4
50/1 cpn 01-25 RP

Sure Antiperspirant or Naturals Deodorant 2/$4
$1/1 cpn 01-25 S

***Please take the time to check out your local ad, which you can find here!! IF Meijer is not your store of choice, head over to BeCentsAble's Grocery Gathering!!***