Friday, March 26, 2010

Weekly Shopping Trip--Savings $28.26

I am working at emptying my freezer per my hubby's motivation! So this week's shopping trip consisted of getting some necessities and few sale items.  I was able to keep my total under $35 mostly because of doing a major shopping day last week!  

I just went to two stores this week and it only took me about an hour to do my coupon clipping, reading the ads, and shopping. 

Here is the breakdown of what I purchased: 

Family Fare: 
  • 24 lbs russet potatoes $5.07
  • 2 lbs bacon $3.98
  • 2 lbs unsalted butter $2.78
  • 3 lbs stick margarine $1.77
  • 1 pkg 100 calorie Kraft cheese snacks 79¢
  • 16 oz. cream cheese $2.50
  • 2 cans Chef Boyardee canned pasta $1.50
  • 3 dozen eggs $2.64 (88¢/dozen!!)
Used $4.20 bottle deposit refund!

Total OOP: $16.83
Total Savings: $15.19
Total without sales & coupons: $32.02

  • 1 set of shoelaces $1.59 (had to replace laces in ds#1's new shoes!)
  • 4 boxes Ziploc bags $4.66 (I also got $2 off next shopping order Catalina cpn!)
  • 1 bottle Clean N Clear face cleanser $1.19
  • 3 gallons milk $6.00
Total OOP with 6% sales tax: $14.18
Total Savings: $13.07
Total without sales & coupons: $27.25

Grand Total OOP: $31.01
Grand Total Savings: $28.26
Grand Total without sales and coupons: $59.27

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Saving Money with a Full Freezer and Recipes Needed!

A couple of days after my major shopping day, my hubby went out to the freezer to get something for me and he came back in the house(we keep our upright stand alone freezer in the garage!) explaining that the freezer was stuffed full and he challenged me by saying "You seem to have trouble with an empty freezer! I bet you can't empty that freezer!?"

I explained to him all the benefits of having a full freezer:

  1. being energy efficient because it does not run as much to keep everything cool and frozen.
  2. having a stocked freezer is saving us money by not having to run to the store every day!  
  3. we do not need to empty a frost free freezer to defrost it, that is the main reason we spent the extra money for the frost free freezer, and
  4. if we lose power in a spring storm we won't lose too much frozen food because the food will take a while to have everything thaw.

These reasons didn't seem to change his mind that we need to empty it.

I am now on a mission to get us an empty freezer(or nearly empty freezer) in a month.  My hubby did not give me a time frame to empty it but the week after spring break I have another monthly Sam's run planned so that is why I am aiming for the freezer being empty in a month. 

I have just about completed my freezer inventory! In the stand alone freezer, I have several pounds of butter and margarine for baking, many bags of frozen veggies, a little over 10 lbs french fries, and several boxes toaster strudel. I do not have much in the way of meat so I will need to get more before the month is up. I also have plenty of food in my fridge freezer!! Looks like several burger meals on the horizon!!

To empty my stand alone freezer is going to take some(or maybe I should say, a lot!) motivation on my part. I have not had motivation to bake from scratch for a while, but I know that there is at least 8 cups shredded zucchini, 20 mashed bananas, and about 3 pounds of blueberries that I put in my freezer last summer to use by making up muffins, quick breads, and ??? over the winter months. The winter months are over and those items are still in there!

So I need your help by giving me some tried and true recipes to use up all that zucchini, bananas and blueberries.  What can I make or bake with these items except muffins??

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Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Reusing Plastic Ice Cream Pails Work For Me!

After my last Sam's Club run, I had several people comment asking about how I store my bulk flour, grains and other bulk items.  I know of people who use the large icing buckets for their storage but for my space and set up of my pantry those large buckets would not work the best for me.

Instead of those large icing buckets, I reuse 5 quart ice cream pails for my bulk storage because it works best for me. Ice cream is a staple for the Sonshine household. We love having homemade chocolate shakes, brownie sundaes, or ice cream sundaes. Once the ice cream is gone, I wash and dry the pails really good. I then refill the 5qt. pails with my flour (all purpose and bread), sugar (white, brown, 10x), powdered milk, noodles and oatmeal that I buy in bulk from Sam's Club.

I also found that the pails are good for storing bags of dry beans or other poly bag type things(like small bags of candy or baking chips!) so the items don't get crushed or lost in the pantry. Yes! I see from my picture that I have some work to do in getting a few things, like those marshmallows and that bag of wheat flour, into some pails!

For smaller quantities items, like wheat flour, I reuse 5lb margarine tubs.

I am able to see through the sides of the pail so I know what it is each pail. I also take the time to write on the lid with a black Sharpie marker so that I am not having to guess if it is bread flour or all purpose flour. The pails' lids are resealable and stay on quite well, however, for the flour pails I take the extra measure of putting a couple of bay leaves in the flour and piece of plastic wrap over the opening of the pail before putting the lid on to keep the bugs at bay.

Speaking of bugs, I haven't had any issues with bugs getting into my pails as my main pantry is in the basement of my house in a room that is like a cold cellar. There is a basement window in that room which we have taken black spray paint and blackened the window so there is no light that comes into the room.  Having the room totally dark helps to keep a consistent temperature in the room so that keeps the worry of bugs away as well.

I find that using plastic pails/tubs over glass jars allows my "little hands" helpers to help me get things from the pantry. I have had those "little hands" drop too many jars that have broken in their short life so I find the plastic route to be safer and easier for my little hands to handle. 

Now you know why plastic pails/tubs work for me on my pantry shelves.

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Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Cheesecake Cookie Cups

The other day after taking my pantry inventory, I found that I had several boxes of cream cheese and a can of sweetened condensed milk that were getting close to their use by dates. I also had some ready to bake cookie dough in my fridge that I needed to use but I didn't just want to make plain ol' cookies.

So I went digging around on some of my favorite baking sites and blogs and I ran across this recipe on Nestle's Very Best Baking website and decided that they would make a excellent treat for the family so I made them today along with a few alterations.

Cheesecake Cookie Cups

1 pkg. (16.5 oz.) Ready to bake chocolate chip cookie dough
2 pkgs. (8 oz. each) cream cheese, room temperature
1 can (14 oz.)sweetened condensed Milk, not evaporated
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 can (21 oz.) cherry pie filling(optional)
or 1/2 bag chocolate chips, melted with 2 tbsp Crisco

Paper-line 24 muffin cups. Place one piece of cookie dough in each muffin cup.

BAKE at 325° for 12 to 15 minutes or until cookie has spread to edge of cup.

BEAT cream cheese, sweetened condensed milk, eggs and vanilla extract in medium bowl until smooth. Pour about 3 tablespoons cream cheese mixture over each cookie in cup.

BAKE for additional 18 to 30 minutes or until set. Cool completely in pan on wire rack.

Top each with level tablespoon of pie filling or drizzle melted chocolate chips.

Refrigerate for 1 hour.

Baking Notes: I didn't have any pie filling but I had a 1/2 bag of special dark chocolate chips in my fridge. I poured the chips into a microwaveable bowl and added 2 tbsp Crisco and put the bowl in the microwave for 3 minutes or until the chips are totally melted. Once the chips are melted, I transferred them to a plastic bag and clipped the corner of the bag and drizzled the chocolate on top of the cheesecake cookie cups while they were cooling on the counter.

I am sure that you could make up a batch of chocolate chip cookie dough rather than using the ready to bake to dough and just put a 2-3 tbsp. dough in each muffin cup.

This recipe was easy to prepare although I did have to bake them longer than stated in the original recipe.  They will make an easy go to dessert for hubby to take to work or for those planned summertime potlucks!


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Monday, March 22, 2010

Menu Plan Monday 3/21-4/4

Last week I did menu plan but didn’t post it. I do not have a reason for not posting other than just do not have the motivation to do a lot of anything lately.  Last week was a pretty good week!  We had several of our favorite meals like saucy chicken, smothered chicken, and crockpot roast, carrots and potatoes. The hubby was doing a lot of late nights at work so that made for a hectic week last week. Hopefully this week will be more of a normal week, despite having something planned for each day.

Last week I did a big trip of grocery shopping I shopped all on one day and now my freezer and pantry shelves are full!  I will still need to go to the store for milk and eggs but that should be the extent of the shopping I do for the next couple of weeks!

I have taken the time to do an inventory of what I have and actually planned out TWO weeks of meals rather than just one.  It should be very interesting if I can stick to the full two weeks of meals or if we get sidetracked.  I wrote them down on the different days in pencil so we can adjust things if we need to should a day not go as planned. My reasoning behind doing the two week plan is so that I can use up several items in my freezer by doing some baking rather than shopping.

This week’s meals are simple and using what I have on hand in the freezer and pantry.   I am hopefully going to empty things out of my freezer enough to be able to refill it with “baking goodness”.  I have 4 lbs of blueberries, 8 cups shredded zucchini, and like 20 mashed bananas that I need to use up in the next couple of months so that I can restock those items for the winter months.

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 (3-22)
Breakfast: eggs, hash browns, sausage and donuts
Lunch: chicken or fish tenders, fries and carrots
Dinner:  McDonald’s (after church)
Snack: snack basket

Monday (3-23)
Breakfast: cereal and leftover donuts
Lunch: leftovers
Dinner:  chili, rice, and corn muffins

Tuesday (3-24)
Breakfast:  waffles and sausage
Lunch: sandwiches & chips
Dinner:  beef gravy and noodles, and green peas

Wednesday (3-25)
Breakfast:  bagels and cereal
Lunch: pizza
Dinner: baked chicken, mashed potatoes & gravy, and corn

Thursday (3-26)
Breakfast: French Toast and sausage
Lunch: leftovers
Dinner:  cube steak, baked potatoes, and green beans

Friday (3-27)
Breakfast: cereal and toaster strudel
Lunch: sandwiches & chips
Dinner: chicken club sandwiches, fries and carrots
Snack: ice cream night

Saturday (3-28)
Breakfast:  Your Choice
Lunch: ???
Snack: popcorn

Sunday (3-29)
Breakfast: eggs, hash browns, sausage and cinnamon rolls
Lunch: ????
Dinner:  ???? (after church)
Snack: snack basket

Monday (3-30)
Breakfast: cereal and toaster strudel
Lunch: leftovers
Dinner:  spaghetti and garlic toast

Tuesday (3-31)
Breakfast:  waffles and sausage
Lunch: sandwiches & chips
Dinner:  skillet pork chops, mac & cheese, and peas

Wednesday (4-1)
Breakfast:  bagels and cereal
Lunch: pizza
Dinner: chicken nuggets/fish sandwiches, french fries and carrots

Thursday (4-2)
Breakfast: Pancakes and sausage
Lunch: leftovers
Dinner:  pizza and breadsticks

Friday (4-3)
Breakfast: cereal and toaster strudel
Lunch: sandwiches & chips
Dinner: grilled burgers, french fries, and corn
Snack: ice cream night

Saturday (4-4)
Breakfast:  Your Choice
Lunch: ???
Dinner: beef gravy and noodles, and green beans
Snack: popcorn

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Singing Sunday--Follow You

What an awesome song!  I attached a video of the song today along with the lyrics.

Follow You
by Leeland Dayton Mooring, Jack Anthony Mooring, Ed Cash

You live among the least of these
The weary and the weak
And it would be a tragedy
For me to turn away
All my needs You have supplied
When I was dead You gave me life
So how could I not give it away so freely?
And I’ll…
Follow You into the homes of the broken
Follow You into the world
Meet the needs for the poor and the needy, God
Follow You into the world

Use my hands, use my feet
To make Your kingdom come
To the corners of the earth
Until Your work is done
Faith without works is dead
On the cross Your blood was shed
So how could we not give it away so freely?

And I give all myself
I give all myself
I give all myself to You

© 2009 Meaux Mercy (BMI) / Meaux Jeaux Music (SESAC) (both admin. by EMI CMG Publishing) / Alletrop Music (BMI) (admin. by Music Services)