Friday, January 22, 2010

Weekly Shopping Trip--Savings $27.67

Time to be real... I know I have a goal for this year  that I am going to work at only going to the store twice in a month and I am going to lose the "weekly" trips! Well, I didn't stay out of the store this week like I had truly hope to do.  As I was working at thinking through menus for next week, I was finding that I was short on several items to make it through until payday(January 31st).  Looking at my receipts I think there is really one thing that I didn't need to get but couldn't resist because of a good deal.  That one thing would be Sara Lee cheesecake bites, I grab a couple of containers for hubby and I to have some for our date nights. They make for a cheap dessert for two rather than picking up something at the restaurant.

On the bright side of this though, I was tallying my monthly spending for my grocery budget, which includes food and non-food essentials(like paper products, cleaners, HBC) and found that I am only 19¢ over my monthly budget of $600.  I need to get milk this week but I have WIC for my youngest to use for the milk.   So I don't think I did too bad for the first month of the year sticking to my budget!  Now if I can just work at reducing my grocery shopping trips I will be set.

Here is a breakdown of the items I purchased this week:

Family Fare: 

  • 2 containers Sara Lee cheesecake bites $4.98
  • 3 cans Old Orchard frozen juice concentrate $4.00
  • 1 pkg flour tortillas $1.00
  • .61 lbs Round Sirloin Tip Breakfast steak $2.13(manager's markdown)
  • 1 pkg. english muffins $1.00
  • 2 pkgs Eckrich smoky links $4.00
  • 3 bottles(64oz) apple juice $5.00
Total OOP: $22.11
Total Savings: $9.30
Total without sales & coupons: $31.41

Save A Lot: 
  • 2 cans beef broth $1.26
  • 7 cans cream of chicken soup $4.13
  • 2 cans light kidney beans $1.18
  • 1 box onion soup mix 69¢
  • 10 lbs potatoes $1.79
Total OOP: $9.05

  • 3 gallons milk $6.87
  • 1/2 gallon buttermilk $2.39
  • 2 pkgs jello $1.00
  • 8 pkgs pudding mix $4.00
  • 2 bottles(64 oz) Meijer genuine juice $4.00
Total OOP (after using a total of $8.00 Catalina coupons off next shopping order): $10.26
Total Savings: $14.30
Total without sales & coupons: $24.56

Wooopss! I thought I was under $50 for the week and then realized I forgot to add in the meat I purchased!

  • 4.07 lbs cube steak $12.17
Total OOP: $12.17
Total Savings: $4.07
Total without sales: 16.24

Grand Total OOP: $53.59
Grand Total Savings: $27.67 plus the savings from shopping at Save A Lot!
Grand Total without sales & coupons: $81.26

This post is linked to: 

Parmesan Crusted Tilapia

I picked up the 30 Day Gourmet Cookbook from the library and have been looking through it and finding yummy recipes.  Even though I haven't taken to freezing any of the main dish recipes yet, I have throughly enjoyed finding new ideas to use with some old favorites.

One of the recipes that I have tried is Parmesan Crusted Tilapia.  Not only did I use the seasoned bread crumbs with tilapia but with some shrimp.
These were easy to make and yummy!

Parmesan Crusted Tilapia

1 lb frozen tilapia filets (or 1 lb shrimp)
1/3 cup Italian seasoned bread crumbs
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. paprika
1/4 tsp. black pepper
1/4 tsp. dried basil

3 tbsp. butter or margarine, melted
3 tbsp. mayonnaise or Miracle Whip

Thaw. Drain any liquids from the fish. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil. In a shallow container thoroughly mix butter and mayonnaise until combined. Stir in seasoning mix until combined. Place crumb mixture in another shallow container. Coat fish/shrimp on both sides with butter/mayonnaise mixture then dip one piece at a time in the crumbs flipping over to coat both sides. Place fish/shrimp on baking sheet. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes or until fish easily flakes when touched with a fork.

Notes: Instead of using the butter/mayonnaise mixture, you can use 1 beaten egg with 1-2 tsp. water added to dip the fish or shrimp. Also for the shrimp, instead of baking in the oven, I put 1-2 tbsp. olive oil in a skillet and fried them on the stovetop.  Also if you don't have use italian seasoned bread crumbs, use plain bread crumbs and add 2 tsp. italian seasoning to the plain bread crumbs.

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Repurposing Meal Leftovers with Makeovers

It is getting to the end of the "Eat from the Pantry Challenge" that several of my bloggy friends have been doing this month. It has been fun reading about their creativity successes and flops.  In my reading of blogs this week, I read a post answering a question from one of their readers in regards to leftovers and the fact that their family didn't like eating leftovers.(I can't remember who it was or I would link it!) Well it got me thinking and being thankful that I have a family who doesn't mind eating leftovers. My hubby takes meal leftovers in his lunch every day, my kids love to eat from my leftover buffet and every once in a while I end up sharing those leftovers with others.

To keep my family from complaining during the times of excess leftovers and to use them up before they turn into science projects. I have been giving them a "makeover", instead of just heating them up and eating them the same way again. I can't believe how much doing this has cut down on amount of complaining from my crew and hearing "I would rather have a peanut butter and jelly sandwich than to have leftovers!"

Here is a list of leftover makeovers I have done:

1. Roasted Chicken and Gravy or Creamy Chicken can become several different things. I shred the chicken and add it to the gravy and make "Stewed Chicken Sandwiches". OR I combine chicken and leftover veggies to it and make Chicken Veggie Stew/Soup or Chicken Pot Pie or Chicken Noodle Soup.

2. Boiled or Baked Potatoes become Seasoned pan fries.

3. Roast, carrots and potatoes meal becames Beef Veggie Stew. Or I take the leftover roast and add barbecue sauce to it for sandwiches. The leftover potatoes I cut up and make cubed hashbrowns. If I end up with just roast and no veggie leftovers, I make up some gravy and make one of our favorite pantry meals of beef gravy served over noodles.

4. Chicken Rice Casserole leftovers make a good base for homemade Chicken Rice Soup.

5. Roasted Pork Loin gets barbecue sauce add to it for BQ Pork sandwiches. OR I make up some chicken gravy and heat up the pork in the gravy for Creamy Pork over Noodles.

6. Spaghetti Sauce gets used for Pizza Sauce on homemade pizzas.

7. Mashed Potatoes get put in a skillet with a pad of margarine and seasoned with seasoned salt, pepper, onion powder, and garlic powder for some seasoned potato cakes.

8. Taco meat(beef or chicken) gets made into taco salad, or put on top of a plate of nacho chips, or gets used in making quesadillas or Taco Soup.

9. Extra noodles(spaghetti, egg, elbow macaroni, etc) gets made into a pasta salad.

10. Burgers make into Salisbury Steak OR break them up and make hamburger gravy or use in spaghetti, chili, or goulash.
What are some "leftover makeovers" you make for your family?

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Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Homeschooling Hands On: Preschool Years

Those of you with a toddler or preschool-aged child who are thinking about homeschooling, I want to encourage you for a minute with something that works for me. Don’t stress over the need to purchase or do a “pre-packaged” or “in the box” curriculum with your child! You can use what you already have in your home…love, patience, and a little imagination.

Did you know that they will learn and build a great foundation for learning if you just let them imagine, interact, and explore the world around them with your guidance?
Let me explain more of what I mean along with giving you some ideas to get you started.

A child’s imagination is beginning to flourish along with being very vivid and active at this early age! Have you ever taken the time, without your child knowing, to just listen to them as they play? Oh, the stories that girls can make up as they play with their dolls or that boys make up as they play with their dinosaurs! If it isn’t the stories they tell, then it is the pictures that they draw to go with a story. Here are a few things that you do to enhance those imaginations!
  • Read books or tell stories.
  • Read picture books and make up your own story.
  • Share silly rhymes or riddles.
  • Look for faces or animals in the clouds or trees.
  • Play dress-up — Set up some shelves, boxes, or hangers where there are costume elements that your child can easily access for pretend play, such as hats, capes, masks that don’t restrict vision, and whatever other fanciful items you think of.
  • Have blocks available for them to use build whatever their heart desires.
  • Have a basket of art supplies available for them.
  • Play with puppets. Make sock puppets together to use!
  • Create a tent or house out of blankets and sheets

A toddler or preschooler loves to interact with their parents or other adults. I often hear parents joke around with each other at how talkative their young ones are, but do the adults really take the time to listen to what the child is saying? Taking the time to interact with your child will not only help them to develop their verbal skills but also their world around them. It is also important that you take the time to let your child play and interact with their peers. So what can you do to help them with interaction skills?
  • Talk to your child as he/she play about the shapes, colors, and numbers of their toys.
  • Daydream together.
  • Take field trips to the zoo, museums, and library story times.
  • Get together with friends and go to the park.
  • Join a homeschool group and do play dates.
  • Do household chores together.

What young child doesn’t like to explore? They are always on the search for something. They want to have their hands on everything. They want to see it. They want to smell it. They want to taste it. Here are some things that you can do with them to help them explore.
  • Play with Playdoh.
  • Take walks and observe nature — take a magnifying glass with you!
  • Plant a garden or grow plants in pots.
  • Bake cookies.
  • Play with sand and water.
  • Do a treasure hunt.
Let them take the time to imagine, interact, and explore their world through their eyes. Relax and let them learn by imagining they are the king of the castle, interacting with you by counting the stripes on the zebra at the zoo, and exploring the backyard looking for worms!
Doing these things with my younger children helps to relieve stress and enjoy the time of their childhood because it does not last forever!

This post is linked to:

**repost from my contributing article at Happy to be at Home!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Kate's Deconstructed Chicken Cordon Bleu

Kate's blog, Cooking During Stolen Moments has become one of my favorite blogs for finding new recipes for my family of picky eaters to try. The majority of her recipes are family friendly and I find that I keep most of the ingredients on hand in my pantry and freezer.

One of her more recent recipes, Deconstructed Chicken Cordon Bleu(this link will take you to the original recipe), I decided to try with my family instead of buying a package of ready made cordon bleu at the store. However, after reading the recipe I didn't want to go to the store to buy some of the ingredients that I didn't have on hand just special for making the recipe, so I decided to modify the recipe and use what I had in my pantry that was a workable substitute that shouldn't change the taste too much.

Here is my version of Kate's Deconstructed Chicken Cordon Bleu...

Start with getting your chicken and ham into a baking dish...

2-3 lbs boneless/skinless fresh chicken tenders
4-6 slices of ham (I use some of the thin sliced ham that I had put in the freezer around Christmas)
black pepper

Put the chicken in a skillet and brown/cook it for about 3 minutes(about 90 seconds on each side), basically long enough so that you are not using "raw" chicken.  Pepper the chicken on each side before placing the chicken in a 9x13 baking dish.  Top the chicken with pieces of ham.  I cut each of my pieces into 4 or 5 strips and used 1 or 2 strips on each piece of chicken.

Now for the cheese sauce portion of the dish...

4 Tbsp. butter or margarine
1/4 cup flour
2 cups milk
1/2 tsp. Italian seasoning
1/4 tsp. black pepper
1/2-3/4 tsp. onion powder
2 cups mozzarella cheese, divided

In a small sauce pan, melt 4 T. butter or margarine over medium heat. While the butter or margarine is melting, mix together the flour and seasonings. Once the butter or margarine is melted, stir in the seasoned flour and make sure that flour is totally moisten by the melted margarine or butter(it should be a thick paste). Slowly whisk or stir in milk. Bring to a slow boil and let slowly boil until thickened, about 3 to 5 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in 1 1/2 c. mozzarella cheese until melted.

Pour cheese sauce over the chicken and ham in the baking dish. Sprinkle the remaining 1/2 cup cheese on top of the cheese sauce.

Top with 3/4 cup to 1 cup crushed croutons. I used garlic & cheese flavored croutons. Kate's recipe calls for topping it with bread crumbs that are mixed with 1 tbsp. melted butter or margarine. So using croutons there is no need to worry about mixing them with melted butter or margarine.

I served the dish alongside mashed potatoes, green peas and biscuits.

Review: 4 out of 7 family members gave it a thumbs up! It tasted great!  This recipe was definitely easier to prepare than when I made chicken cordon bleu before. Hubby with his distinct tastes wants me to try it again but use swiss cheese because he really didn't like how the cheese sauce tasted with the mozzerella cheese. My most picky eater inhaled it and was interested in more but decided to have a biscuit instead. :) This is the picky eater who doesn't like to try new things and when he does after one bite decides he is going to sit at the table for over an hour "chewing" his food for the longest time and hopes that mom & dad will just give up and let him be done. As for the 3 that didn't like it, they did eat it and said that they would eat it again but told me not to fix it every month.

Also with the recipe calling for ham and cheese, I did not add any additional salt to the chicken or to the cheese sauce.

This post is linked to:

Monday, January 18, 2010

Menu Plan Monday 1/17-1/23

Last week was another week of success with menu planning!  I made it through the week without too much difficulty.  My new recipe, deconstructed chicken cordon bleu was a hit with most of the family(watch for a post tomorrow with pics and my version of the recipe). However, I did get a “negative” comment from my hubby… “Next time use Swiss cheese instead of mozzarella; I am sure that the cheese sauce will taste a lot better!”  So I made a note of it and will remember it for next time.

I did a BIG grocery shopping trip this week so I should be able to just do a “perishable item grocery run” using my eight dollars on your next shopping order to get what I need so hopefully it won’t cost me too much out of pocket.  I learned that doing a big shopping trip in one day can be done but it’s exhausting!  However, I am sure that I will save myself some headaches and even money this year by cutting the amount of times I do grocery shopping. I am also hoping that the time I would normally do shopping I can use my time wisely at home to work on my priorities as a wife & mother.

This week’s meals are family favorite meals.  There isn’t too much going on this week for a change. We are having dinner guests on Wednesday so I am planning a nice homemade dinner of chicken pot pie and homemade bread.  I still am thinking on a dessert to serve with guests here.  I am a little unsure/uninspired for Saturday's meals right now, when I figure something out I'll update the menu.  

This week’s lunches that are listed below are for the kids and me! Unless we are having leftovers, our lunches are served with apple slices or carrot sticks along with fruit juice or water.  Hubby usually takes a dinner leftover along with various snacks for his work lunch so I don’t take the time to really plan his lunches. I just take the next container of leftovers in the stack in the fridge that I have prepared ahead of time.

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 (1-17)
Breakfast: eggs, sausage & steak, hash browns, and donuts
Lunch: pizza & pizza rolls
Dinner:  McDonald’s dollar menu (after church)
Snack: snack basket

Monday (1-18)
Breakfast: cereal and donuts
Dinner:  creamy chicken served over egg noodles, with green beans or salad on the side.
Snack: snack basket

Tuesday (1-19)
Breakfast:  waffles and sausage
Dinner: skillet pork chops served with mashed potatoes, corn and crescent rolls
Snack: snack basket

Wednesday (1-20)
Breakfast:  bagels and cereal
Lunch: pizza leftovers from our Book It lunch at Pizza Hut
Dinner:  chicken pot pie and homemade bread
Snack: snack basket

Thursday (1-21)
Breakfast:  Pancakes and sausage
Lunch: sandwiches & chips
Dinner:  beef gravy served over egg noodles with peas or salad on the side
Snack: snack basket

Friday (1-22)
Breakfast:  cereal and toast
Lunch: ????
Dinner:  chicken club sandwiches served with French fries and fresh carrot sticks
Snack: ice cream night

Saturday (1-23)
Breakfast:  Your Choice
Lunch: ????
Dinner: ????
Snack: popcorn

Other happenings in the kitchen this week: 
  • Jewish Coffee Cake --need to make this for hubby to take to work as a treat for the blood drive.
  • Cinnamon rolls
  • Cookie Mixes from pantry
  • Baking day either on Thursday or Friday(watch for more details later in the week)

Meijer Deals 1/17-1/23

Just a reminder, that I am using a West Michigan sale ad and my Meijer does NOT double coupons! Also check the two pages of Mealbox coupons for more coupons! Please let me know if there is a good deal that I missed and I will take the time to update my deals listing.


***BUY 5 of any combo of QUAKER Hot or Cold cereals, granola bars or breakfast cookies & get ONE Tropicana OJ(59-64oz) FREE on your NEXT Shopping Trip.

***BUY 3 or more Huggies, Depend, Scott or Kotex Products and get $4 OFF your NEXT Shopping Trip or buy 2 and get $3 OFF!!! ($2/1 or $1/1 Huggies cpns)

***BUY any 4 Kellogg's Cereal(Frosted Flakes, Rice Krispies, Raisin Bran, Frosted MiniWheats, Apple Jacks or Froot Loops) or Kellogg's Poptarts get $2 off Instantly at register.

***BUY any 2 Ocean Spray Grapefruit Juice Drinks 64oz and Get One 5lb. bag red grapefruit FREE!

***TWO DAYS ONLY: Sun, Jan 17 & Mon Jan 18: Save 5% instore or online(promo code: 15mmc)when you use your Meijer Credit Card! (some exclusions apply)


Apples(red delicious, golden delicious, gala, granny smith, fuji, braeburn, or jonagold) 97¢

Aunt Millies Old Fashioned Bread (24 oz loaf) or Old Fashioned Hamburger or Hot Dog Buns (8 ct) $1.29

Eckrich Deli Ham or Bologna $2.49/lb

Lays Potato Chips 10.5-11 oz $1.99

Jello Gelatin or Pudding Mix 2/$1

Starkist Tuna Pouch 4.5-6.4oz $1.79
75/1 Mealbox cpn

Tyson All Natural Boneless Skinless Chicken Breasts $1.99/lb

Quaker Instant Oatmeal 10.9-16 oz. box. Select varieties $1.99
$1/1 cpn
$2/4 Mealbox cpn
$1/1 cpn

Quaker Oats 18 oz. canister. Quick or Old Fashioned. Select varieties. $1.49
$1/1 cpn
$1/2 Mealbox cpn
$1/1 cpn

Hunts Tomato Sauce 8oz. can 2/$1
$1/3 cpn(play 30 sec. game, register, click on Hunt's lady for coupon. You can also play once without registering.)
$1/4 Mealbox cpn

DelMonte canned Fruit 99¢
$1/4 cpn
25/1 Mealbox cpn

DelMonte canned Vegetables 69¢
$1/4 cpn
$1/5 Mealbox cpn

DelMonte Tomatoes 14.5 oz can 99¢
$1/4 cpn
25/1 Mealbox cpn

SuperPretzel 9-13oz Assorted Varieties 2/$4
50/1 cpn 12-06 RP
50/1 cpn

Tonys Original Pizza 12.7-14.3oz 2/$4
50/1 cpn 12-13 S

Aunt Jemima Mix 32-35oz Select Varieties $1.49
$1/2 cpn 01-03 R1
$1/2 Mealbox cpn

Aunt Jemima Syrup 24 oz $1.99
$1/2 cpn 01-03 R1
$1/2 Mealbox cpn

Campbells Chunky Soup 18.6-19oz can 4/$5
40/2 cpn 01-03 S2
50/4 cpn 12-13 S
$1.50/3 cpn

Muellers Pasta 12-16oz Select Varieties 79¢
$1/2 cpn 01-03 S2 (cpn is for whole wheat or pasta ribbons varieties if included)

Kelloggs Cereal 4/$10
$1/3 cpn 01-10 RP
$1.50/2 cpn

Dannon DanActive or Activia All Varieties 2/$4
$1/1 cpn 01-10 S
$1/1 cpn 12-06 S
$1/1 cpn 10-04 S

Swanson broth can 14.5 oz can 69¢
40/2 cpn 01-10 S


Meijer Reusable Grocery Bags 2/$1

Crest Extra White Plus Scope Outlast $3.49
$1/1 cpn 12-27 PG

Maybelline Eye, Lip or Face Products ~~ $2 off
$1/1 cpn 01-10 RP

Sally Hansen Nail Care ~~ 40% off
50/1 cpn 01-10 RP

Irish Spring Original 4 Oz Bar (3 bar pk) 2/$3
20/1 cpn 01-03 S1

Softsoap Premium Hand Soap 8.5oz 2/$3
35/1 cpn 01-03 S1

Vicks Nyquil 10oz or Dayquil 20ct $4.77
$2/1 cpn 01-17 PG
$1.50/1 cpn 12-27 PG

Schiff Mega Red or Move Free Prodcuts ~~ Buy One Get One FREE!
$5/1 cpn 01-17 S
$3/1 cpn 10-25 S
$2/1 cpn
$2/1 cpn

***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

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Sunday, January 17, 2010

Singing Sunday

I am back with my Singing Sunday post!! This song we sang in church this morning and I have been singing it ever since!

What a message of hope! Despite what we are going through in life or seeing on the news, like the Haiti earthquake, we can find our hope and comfort in an awesome God who won't fail us!!