Friday, April 3, 2009

Weekly Shopping Trip---Savings $86.23

This week, I started my pantry & freezer spring cleaning event, so I did not do any stockpiling(other than some meat) and  just worked at getting the necessities to finish meals for this next week.   I was trying to only have to shop one day this week but I ended up forgetting a few things on my list, so I had to venture out again to get the remaining items.   It actually worked to my advantage having to go out a second time during the week because I was able to score some ground chuck for $1.65/lb!  I haven't seen it that low for sometime!  It would be nice for it to hit 99¢/lb again! 

Anyway, here is the breakdown for the week...

Family Fare:
  • 5.06lb pork loin $9.06
  • 1/2 gallon buttermilk $2.59
  • 20lbs potatoes $3.98
  • 3-18ct eggs $4.47
Total OOP: $20.10
Total Savings: $22.29
Total: $42.39

Aunt Millie's Bakery Outlet: 
  • 2 loaves sandwich bread $1.78
  • 6-8ct. hamburger buns $4.14
  • 1 bag-24 ct mini bagels 99¢
Total: $6.91
Total Savings: priceless---I love shopping at the bakery outlet for my bread!!

  • 3lbs. baby carrots $2.07(69¢ each)
  • 1 head lettuce 89¢
  • 2 boxes taco shells $1.98
  • 1-32oz beef broth $1.29
Total: $6.23
Total Savings: priceless!!

Meijer(1st round):
  • 2 bars Johnson buddies soap 34¢
  • 2 tubes Kids Crest toothpaste $1.98
  • Cascade Rinse Aid FREE(with coupon)
  • 1 bottle Suave body wash $1.21
  • 2 bottles Suave kids shampoo $2.42
  • 2 containers Land O Lakes butter $1.45
  • 7 bags frozen veggies $7.00
  • 10 cups Yoplait yogurt $3.60
  • 2 boxes Post cereal $3.45
  • 3 bags Meijer hashbrowns $5.00
Total OOP: $27.36
Total Savings: $22.86
Total: $50.22

Meijer(2nd trip):
  • 10.77lbs ground chuck $17.77
  • 2 bags Doritos $3.98
  • 1 family size bag tortilla chips $3.88
Total OOP: $25.63
Total Savings: $22.77
Total: $48.40

GRAND TOTAL: $154.15

Frugal Friday---Color Dying Eggs

With Easter right around the corner, it is time to decorate those eggs!  You could go out and buy those dying kits in the stores or you can use items around the house to dye your eggs.  I have found a couple of different ways that you can dye your eggs the natural way.

Pale Red: Fresh beets or cranberries, frozen raspberries

Orange: Yellow onion skins

Light yellow: Orange or lemon peels, carrot tops, celery seed or ground cumin

Yellow: Ground turmeric

Pale green: Spinach leaves

Green-gold: Yellow Delicious apple peels

Blue: Canned blueberries or red cabbage leaves

Beige to brown: Strong brewed coffee

One way to get these colors, I found over at Taste of Home

Before you begin, you'll need hard-cooked eggs that are completely dry and room temperature.

For each color of dye, find a container that won't get stained or that you can discard when finished. Make sure it is big enough to completely submerge an egg or several eggs.

Place an egg in the container. Pour dye over the egg, covering completely. Refrigerate until the desired color is achieved. (The longer the egg sits in the dye, the darker the color.) Remove the egg and let dry; refrigerate.

Decorated eggs can be displayed in egg cups or simply set on the table. You can also make a nest egg centerpiece (as in the photo above) by placing the dyed eggs on an excelsior-lined grapevine wreath.

Don't eat hard-cooked eggs that have stood at room temperature for more than 2 hours. If you plan on displaying eggs, it's best to cook extra eggs for eating.

Onion Skin Dye

To make dye from yellow onion skins, place several skins in a large pot of water. Bring to a boil; let cool and discard skins. Based on the number of onion skins used and the amount of time the eggs soak, you'll get warm tones that can range from gold to a rich terra cotta.

Brewed Coffee Dye

Simply brew a pot of strong coffee and cool. The color can range from a light speckled tan to a more solid dark tan depending on how strong the coffee is and how long the egg soaks.

Cranberry Dye

To make a dye from fresh cranberries, boil 4 cups cranberries in 2 cups cold water until the berries burst. Let cool. Drain the mixture, saving the liquid and discarding the cranberries. To create a light blue-toned egg, soak for only a short time. We found that soaking an egg longer results in a dark gray color.  

Another way, I found was in an article called "Dying Easter Eggs--the Natural way!" by Jenny Wanderscheid:

To dye the perfect Easter eggs the natural way, here's what to do:

Put eggs in a single layer in a pan. Pour water in pan until the eggs are covered.

Add about a teaspoon of vinegar.

Add the natural dye appropriate to the color you want your eggs to be. (The more eggs you are dying at a time, the more dye you will need to use.)

Bring water to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes.

Remove the substance you used to color the eggs. Put eggs in a bowl.

If you want your eggs to be a darker shade, cover them with the dye and let them stand overnight in the refrigerator. The longer you let them stand the darker the colors will be on the eggs. 

Onion Skin Eggs

One of my favorite egg dyes is with onion skins! Gather lots of onion skins; the dry outer layers. (try to get a good variety of colors--I like plain brown best; red onion also makes a good color) Gently wrap them around*raw* eggs and hold them in place with rubber bands. Hard boil the eggs like usual. Unwrap them and WOW! Beautiful colors and designs! You may polish with vegetable oil for a nice gloss. This is a natural dye and the eggs are still quite edible. Happy eggs-ploration!

Wax Eggs

It's fun to write something on the egg with a light colored crayon - white is the most fun. The dye doesn't stick to the wax crayoned letters and they appear white (or brown if it's a brown egg) after the egg is dyed.

Rubber Band Wraps


Egg dye: For and extra bright color use food coloring paste, available at party supply shops. Dissolve a dab of paste or 6 drops of regular liquid food coloring in a cup of hot water. Stir in 1/4 cup of vinegar

Rubber bands, cut in various length widths long enough go around the egg several times

Wrap rubber bands around the egg, covering it completely. When you dip the covered egg, the dye will seep under the bands in some areas and be blocked out in other areas. Remove from the dye when the color is bright enough. Blot dry with paper towels and remove the rubber bands. If you wish, repeat with a new color. If the rubber bands pop off the egg, try using thicker ones.

Marbelized Eggs


Egg dye

1 Tablespoon vegetable oil

Lightly stir the oil into a bowl of egg dye. Immediately dip the egg into the liquid. Or stand the egg in a small cup and slowly spoon the oil-water mixture over it. When the egg dries, repeat the steps with another color for an interesting color combining effect. TIP: For cleanup, wash all dipping containers in hot soapy water and rinse with vinegar to get rid of oil.

Fingerpaint Eggs


Paper plates

Tempera paint

Put a few colors of paint on the paper plate. Hold the egg n the ends with your thumb and finger so you can rotate it while you're stamping. Dip your finger in the paint, dab off the excess on a paper towel, then gently press your finger onto the egg.

Crepe Paper Eggs


Boiled Eggs

Tissue Paper or Crepe Paper

Wet the egg and place pieces of colored tissue paper on it. Set it aside to dry. When the egg dries the tissue paper falls off and the colors stay behind.

Polka Dot Eggs

Dip a boiled egg in yellow dye. When dry glue on hole punched dots. Great for improving fine motor skills!

If you want a glossy finish on the eggs, brush them with vegetable oil. 

For more Frugal Friday resources, head over to Life as Mom!

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Thursday Thirteen--Freezing Meals

After talking about fixing and freezing individual meals for the elderly, I decided to give you thirteen guidelines to think about when putting together freezer meals.

  1. Don't thaw frozen raw meat and then re-freeze it without cooking it thoroughly first.   This is why when I get purchase my meat in bulk, I take the time to cook or divide it into meal size portions. 

  2. Hard boiled eggs tend to get rubbery after thawing.  If you are going to freeze them, chop them into very fine pieces and they should be okay.

  3. Cornstarch-thickened sauces, cheese sauces, and gravies made with milk tend to separate when being reheated after freezing if they are frozen by themselves. However, if they are mixed with other ingredients they are fine. 

  4. Don't freeze raw vegetables(except for diced onions, green pepper and celery) unless they have been blanched. Blanching is a short period of cooking that seals in color, texture, vitamins and flavor.   I like to just buy already frozen vegetables to stir into my recipes after the recipe has cooled and is ready for the freezer. 

  5. Cured meats like ham or bacon should be eaten within a month of freezing.  After that they seem to lose color and flavor. 

  6. Be aware that some seasonings change in intensity and flavor when frozen. Salt, green pepper and celery seem to lose some of their flavoring while black pepper, cloves, bay leaves, onions, sage, and artificial vanilla become more intense in flavor. 

  7. Deep fried foods will not stay crispy after thawing and re-heating. 

  8. Egg and milk substitutes freeze well in most recipes. 

  9. Fully cooked pasta, dry beans and rice tend to turn mushy when frozen in liquids or sauces. Undercook them by half the time if you plan on stirring them into a sauce or broth before freezing.

  10. Salad vegetables like lettuce, cucumbers, tomatoes, and radishes don't freeze well.  Actually they freeze well it is the thawing of them that does them more harm!

  11. When freezing a new recipe, only freeze one meal to see if it freezes well. You will not be saving yourself time or money if you freeze a meal that doesn't thaw and reheat well enough to be liked by your family. 

  12. Don't put hot foods into freezer bags....completely cool the foods first!

  13. In the event of a power outage, don't throw the food out because the food may still be safe to use. Without power, a full upright or chest freezer will keep everything frozen for 2 days. A half full freezer will keep food frozen for 1 day. However, anything over 6 hours it would be best to put blocks or bags of ice in the freezer until power is restored. 

For more lists, head over to Happy to be at Home.

Pantry & Freezer Spring Cleaning--Part 2

I have written down everything on my pantry shelves and in my freezers.  It took me about an hour to get the lists made and some what in categories so that I didn't have to look through the whole list to see if I had an item on hand. 

I have come up with at least 16 dinner meals that I can make from my lists.  In order to finish off those meals, I will need more veggies in the house.  As for breakfasts and lunches, I am pretty sure that I have enough items to match the 16 dinner meals.   

Most of the items that are on my list are things that I need to make homemade goodies, like yeast bread, quick breads, cakes, cookies, etc.   Now the next step is making a list of different goodies to make and making those items over the course of the month.

Next step is writing out the menus for next 2 weeks!!  Stay tuned those will be coming at the beginning of the week! 

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

The Pantry & Freezer Spring Cleaning Event

My hubby asked me the other day if I would work at spending as little as I could for groceries during the month of April so that we could pay down some lingering debt and get our budget back on track.   I agreed and I see that I am not going to be alone in my endeavors, as I found that Stephanie is going to be doing a month's worth of eating out of her pantry and freezer for April and last week Crystal aka MoneySavingMom did an "eating out of the pantry challenge" .

In order to keep me on track, I thought that I would work at blogging about the "Spring Cleaning" that is going to be occurring in my pantry and freezer. 

I will be purchasing milk, eggs, fresh fruit and veggies during April as I like to keep a fresh supply of these items on hand.  I will also need to get some meats as well because meatless meals just do not go over well with my meat lover family. 

I have bulk staple items like flour, oatmeal, and rice that I need to be using up along with other odds and ends of canned goods, like fruit and pumpkin.  I also have plenty of cake and cookie mixes that I have stockpiled from previous sales that I need to use up as well. 

I will be taking inventory of everything in the freezer and pantry in the next week along with making up meal suggestions for menu planning.  Updated: You can see the inventory results here.

It should be an interesting month!

Anyone else looking to do some spring cleaning???

New Kitchen "Servant"

A couple of weeks ago, I found that I had many reward points on my credit card, so I decided to redeem some of those points and get myself a new kitchen "servant".

It is a 6.5 quart roaster!  I am loving it!  I have been using lately for meals rather than using my oven or my crockpot.  

I did my roast, carrots and potatoes in it earlier in the week.  The roast was done just right, the potatoes were just starting to split to show that they were done, the carrots were not mushy either!!  

When I did this meal in my crockpot, I would do it different each time trying to get rid of my dried out roast and really mushy carrots.  I think it has to do with the fact that my crockpot was running hot or something!  Cause I put the food in the roast at 300° for the day and it was cooked in about 6 hours just right! 

I am looking forward to working this "servant" more in the days to come.  I just have to remember to put more liquid into it than what I did my crockpot because the roaster boils/steams as it cooks so liquid disappears faster than in a crockpot. 

Monday, March 30, 2009

Menu Plan Monday 3/29-4/4

Last week's menu planwent pretty smoothly despite the fact that I moved dinners around to different days to fit what our schedule was during the day. Even though I plan three meals and a snack daily, I write the plans down in pencil so if something comes up during the day or plans just need to be changed I can change what is written down with just an eraser and pencil.

This week’s shopping trip was purchasing items that I need for meals along with starting my spring/summer entertaining stockpile. My hubby and I love to have friends over during nice weather for barbecuing so I start working at making sure that I have things available for those events. My hubby has a tendency to call people at the last minute(day before wanting them over) so having a stockpile of drinks, snacks and paper products on hand makes those times less stressful for me.

This week’s menus are going to be some of my fix and forget it or less labor intensive meals because it is a busy week with LOTS of extra-curricular items on the agenda. This week starts spring soccer practice for two of my boys on two different nights! My hubby is starting to be involved in a men’s mentoring group on alternate Monday nights which starts this week! Also four out of five kids go in for their every 6 months dentist appt this week on Thursday. On Saturday this week we will be having friends over as to whether they are going to be here for lunch or dinner has yet to be set so I am leaving those meals open for more discussion.

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 along with various snacks 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 400 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 (3-29)

Breakfast: eggs, sausage or bacon, hash browns, and cinnamon rolls

Lunch: leftovers

Dinner: Arby’s after church

Snack: snack basket

Monday (3-30)

Breakfast: cereal, toaster strudel

Lunch: leftovers

Dinner: roast, carrots and potatoes

Snack: snack basket or yogurt

Tuesday (3-31)

Breakfast: waffles and sausage

Lunch: leftovers

Dinner: homemade pizza

Snack: cookies & milk

Wednesday (4-1)

Breakfast: bagels, eggs and yogurt

Lunch: leftovers

Dinner: oven fried chicken served with pan fries and corn

Snack: snack basket

Thursday (4-2)

Breakfast: French Toast(from freezer)

Lunch: Bob Evans--out to lunch with Grandma

Dinner: spaghetti served with garlic toast and a fresh veggie tray

Snack: snack basket

Friday (4-3)

Breakfast: cereal and toaster strudel

Lunch: sandwiches & chips

Dinner: chicken club sandwiches served with french fries and corn

Snack: ice cream night

Saturday (4-4)

Breakfast: “Cook’s Choice”



Snack: snack basket or popcorn

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Singing Sunday

By Your Side
by Tenth Avenue North

Why are you striving these days
Why are you trying to earn grace
Why are you crying
Let me lift up your face
Just don't turn away

Why are you looking for love
Why are you still searching as if I'm not enough
To where will you go child
Tell me where will you run
To where will you run

And I'll be by your side
Wherever you fall
In the dead of night
Whenever you call
And please don't fight
These hands that are holding you
My hands are holding you

Look at these hands and my side
They swallowed the grave on that night
When I drank the world's sin
So I could carry you in
And give you life
I want to give you life

(Chorus 2x)

Cause I, I love you
I want you to know
That I, I love you
I'll never let you go

(Chorus 2x)