Monday, November 16, 2009

Menu Plan Monday

This is feeling more, and more necessary!

Monday: Chicken & brocolli/cheese frozen meal "fresh steamer" thing.
Tuesday: Leftover mexican (chili / enchillada filling)
Wednesday: Leftover ziti
Thursday: Wanchai Ferry bagged meal with frozen veggies added
Friday: Homemade soup & bread

No pizza this week? I think this might fall on the weekend.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Menu Plan Monday

I seem to be getting into the swing of things with this whole menu planning thing! I am enjoying the knowledge that I don't have to come up with something for dinner at 4:30, and also the freedom of mixing nights around and using the "plan" as more of a "guideline" when our stomachs guide us to something else. The key with the "something else"s is that they don't involve an extra shopping trip.

Monday: *Grilled Ham & Cheese Sandwiches, soup (gotta use up the ones from last year's sales!)
Tuesday: *Hamburgers & French Fries
Wednesday: Stir-fry, rice (one of these recipes, or something similar)
Thursday: Leftover chili & enchilada mix in either taco or burrito form
Friday: Pizza day

*The man of the house is cooking! I love this, since it was his idea.

Having someone else cooking on Monday & Tuesday also frees up some of my time for processing the pumpkins I bought last week with my mom's food processor which I borrowed over the weekend.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Menu Plan Monday

I'm feeling a bit of the crazy-time-creep. Things that are normally under control are becoming uncontrollable. And writing this menu plan out will make the week feel a little less hectic.

Monday: Tonight will be leftovers from last week: Baked Ziti. I might pull out a frozen veggie, too. Probably green beans. And garlic toast, or course. yum. Then off to choir rehearsal.

Tuesday: I'm going to leave the cooking to the man of the house. Hamburgers and french fries. Then we will watch the premiere of V!

Wednesday: Pumpkin Penne Pasta with some cooked chicken thrown in for good measure. Also, bread in the bread machine and creamed spinach. My family is coming over for dinner, so hopefully they'll like it!

Thursday: Enchiladas again. I really liked the filling for these and the sauce is really good. Now if I only had a moment to make my own tortillas....

Friday: Now I can't remember if Mike is working late or not, but if not, I'll be making pizza, calzones, or stromboli with this recipe.

Saturday/Sunday: I have had a hankering for chili for a while now and with the sales on canned tomatoes, I have to use up my stash from last year. So, I'll definitely make a huge pot of chili over the weekend. We'll be able to use the leftovers in different forms over the next week. (Tacos, taco salad, chili mac & cheese, and whatever I think of!) I'll be using dried beans, so I'll probably start them soaking on Friday or Saturday morning.

Ahhh.. now I feel just a little more organized.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Karns Shopping Trip

I thought I was going on a relatively simple shopping trip to our local chain, Karns, but when I discovered a catalina deal being advertised in the aisle, I stood around figuring out the best way to do it with my coupons. And I ended up getting $4 extra dollars back and some free Pillsbury products!

(just ignore the wine bottle in the background, it's more of a center piece)

Fortunately the store was not very busy, so doing 3 transactions didn't take up anyone else's time.

Transaction #1:
4 Pillsbury Crescent Rolls @ $1.67 each (4 $1 off coupons)

Subtotal: $6.68
Total after coupons: $2.68
Savings: $4
Result: $2 catalina coupon

Transaction #2:
2 Grands Biscuits @ $1 each ($1/2 coupon)
2 Grands Cinnamon Biscuits @ $1 each ($1/2 coupon)
Used $2 catalina coupon from Transaction #1

Subtotal: $4
Total after coupons: $0.00 (!!!!)
Savings: $4
Result: $2 catalina coupon

Transaction #3 (my actual groceries):
4 Quaker Oats @ 1.17 each (2 $1.25/2 coupons)
2 Hormel Pepperoni @ $3.09 each (2 $0.55 coupons, doubled to $1)
1 Sara Lee Ham @ $4.69 ($3 coupon)
2 Breyers Yogurts @ $0.50 each ($1/2 coupon)
2 Malt-o-meal "Frosted Flakes" @ $2.59 each (2 $0.50 coupons, doubled to $1)
1 Turkey Hill Ice Cream @ $2 ($1 coupon)
1 packaged dried apples @ $3.40
1 coffee mate @ $1.89
1 Onion @ $0.96
4 Peppers @ $1.92
Used $2 catalina coupon from Transaction #2

Subtotal: $31.90
Total after coupons: $18.40
Savings: $13.50

Total Out Of Pocket (OOP): $21.08
Total Savings: $21.50

Monday, September 28, 2009

Menu Plan Monday

I don't usually write out menu plans, but this week is feeling a little crazy, so I thought I'd put it down where I don't have to worry about forgetting what day is what. Of course, it's important to always go with the flow and be open to change just in case!

Monday: Baked Ziti (with peas in it) with leftover Beer Bread
Tuesday: Going to my parents for a Turkey Dinner (Thanksgiving in September?)
Wednesday: Pan-fried Chicken with Brown-ed Rice and Cauliflower
Thursday: Hamburgers on the Forman Grill with leftover rice or mac & cheese (make dough for Friday)
Friday: Homemade pizza (or if time gets away from me, boboli crusts from the freezer)
Saturday/Sunday: Leftovers.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Target Shopping

Hit up Target knowing that my freezer was mostly empty. No longer! Also, getting very stocked up on those single-serving flavor packets. They are going to be great for vacations and being out where there isn't easy access to filtered water. Staying hydrated and not having to tolerate nasty water is always good.

9 boxes of Eggo BakeShop products - $1.50 ($1 coupon for each)
8 Crystal Lite 3 packs - $0.99 ($1 coupon for each)
2 Aquafresh Toothpaste Travel Sized - $0.79 (2 FREE coupons)
Cornstarch-based baby powder - $1.39

Total Out Of Pocket (OOP) - $5.81
Savings - $18.50

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Double Coupon Week @ Kmart, trip #2

I don't usually shop at Kmart so twice in one week is very unusual for me. Between this trip and the last one, I really noticed their lack of selection and the amount of products that were just completely out of stock! I'm thinking of one more trip this week, but I might have to go to the other Kmart in town to see if they are better at keeping things on the shelves (even if the other store is much dirtier).

2 Dry Idea - $7.98 (2@$3.99 each) (2 $2 coupons, doubled to full price)
2 Kotex Panty Liners - $2.58 (2@1.29 each) (2 $1 coupons, doubled to full price)
2 Head & Shoulders - $10.98 (2@$5.49 each) ($2 coupon, doubled)
2 Bic Soleil 4 packs - $10.58 (2@$5.29 each) (2 $2 coupons, doubled)
Reynolds Aluminum Foil - $4.49 ($1 coupon, doubled)
Velveeta Shells - $2.29 ($1 coupon, doubled)
Orville Popcorn - $2 ($1 coupon, doubled)
3 M&Ms - $2.67 (3@$0.89 each) (1 Free coupon, 1 BOGOF coupon)

Total Before Coupons: $43.57
Total Saved (coupons and doubling): $30.34
Total (with Tax) after Coupons: $15.72

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Double Coupon Week @ Kmart, trip #1

I would have done better if I didn't fall prey to the Pringles. Oh, the Pringles. I plan on going back at least once, maybe twice more this week to make use of printable coupon match-ups.

Skintamate Shaving Gel - $1.99 ($1 coupon, doubled to full price)
Skintamate Extra Gentle - $3.79 ($1.50 coupon, doubled)
Oust - $3.29 ($2 coupon, doubled to full price)
2 EZMac - $2.18 (2 @$1.09) ($1 coupon, doubled)
3 Pudding Packs - $3.87 (3 @$1.29) ($1 coupon, doubled)
Reese's 100 cal - $3.09 ($1 coupon, doubled)
2 Pringle Fat Free - $5.18 (2@$2.59) ($1 coupon, doubled)
2 Pringle Original - $3.00 (2@$1.50) ($1 coupon, doubled)
A1 Sauce - $4.49 ($2 coupon, doubled)

Total Before Coupons: $30.88
Total Saved (coupons and doubling): $22.28
Total (with Tax) after Coupons: $8.92

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Shopping Spoils!

Today I went to Target armed with many, many coupons. And I scored some serious markdowns.

Transaction #1-
Target Brand Sponges - $0.99 ($0.75 coupon)
Quaker True Delight Bars - $2.89 ($1 coupon, $1 coupon)
Crystal Light Singles - $3.99 ($1 coupon, $1 coupon)
Hunts Ketchup - $1.09 (Free coupon)
1/2 gallon Minute Maid OJ - $0.99 (clearance)
2 Kraft Shredded Cheese - $2.09 ($1 coupon, $1 off 2 coupon)

Total Out Of Pocket (OOP) - $5.29
Saved - $13.34

Transaction #2-
Target Brand Sponges - $0.99 ($0.75 coupon)
Quaker True Delight Bars - $2.89 ($1 coupon, $1 coupon)
1/2 gallon Minute Maid OJ - $0.99 (clearance)
2 Kraft Shredded Cheese - $2.09 ($1 coupon, $1 off 2 coupon)
Kashi Waffles - $2.10 ($1.50 coupon)
Coppertone SPF 30 trial - $0.99 ($1 coupon)
Act Popcorn - $2.20 (clearance)

Total Out Of Pocket (OOP) - $6.16
Saved - $13.04

Transaction #3-
Target Brand Sponges - $0.99 ($0.75 coupon)
Quaker True Delight Bars - $2.89 ($1 coupon, $1 coupon)
1/2 gallon Minute Maid OJ - $0.99 (clearance)
2 Kraft Shredded Cheese - $2.09 ($1 coupon, $1 off 2 coupon)
Kashi Waffles - $2.10 ($1.50 coupon)
Coppertone SPF 30 trial - $0.99 ($1 coupon)

Total Out Of Pocket (OOP) - $3.96
Saved - $11.04

I went to Giant on Tuesday before going over to Mike's. I gave Mike some stuff, so everything isn't pictured.


Transaction #1-
5 Kraft BBQ Sauce - $1 each (5 $1 coupons)
5 Wheat Thins - $2 each (5 $1 coupons)
5 Triscuits - $2 each (5 $1 coupons)
4 Ritz Crackers - $2 each (4 $1 coupons)
Wacky Mac - $1 each ($1 coupon)
2 Cool Whip Dip - $1 each ($1 off 2 coupon)
Halls Cough Drops - $1.29 each ($1 off coupon)
6 Kraft Singles - $1.69 each (3 $1 off 2 coupons)
2 Breakstone Sour Cream - $1.89 each
Instant Brown Rice - $0.89
Taco Bell Dinner Kit - $1.29
Sudafed - $1.00
2 Tylenol PM - $1.65 each

Total Out Of Pocket (OOP) - $27.36
Saved - $54.74
I also got 600 gas points which equals $0.60 off per gallon of gas!!! Definitely nice when gas just hit $2.33.

Much thanks to Kraft for some serious deals this week! Those coupons getting reset was awesome. I am still reeling over the OJ find.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Grocery Shopping

A lot of the coupon-bloggers I read do this sort of post after they go shopping. I love them and I thought I'd share my spoils today.


Transaction #1-
Hershey Bliss Bar - $0.99 ($1 coupon)
Chex Mix - $0.84 ($1 coupon)
2 Kraft Bistro Mac & Cheese - $1.50 each (B1G1 coupon)
2 Kraft EZ Mac - $0.79 each (B1G1 coupon, $1 coupon)
Target Brand Sponges - $0.99 ($0.75 coupon)
Quaker True Delight Bars - $2.89 ($1 coupon, $1 coupon)
2 Gillette Shampoo (B1G1 coupon, $2 coupon)

Total Out Of Pocket (OOP) - $3.08
Saved - $16.77

Transaction #2 -
Hershey Bliss Bar - $0.99 ($1 coupon)
Chex Mix - $0.84 ($1 coupon)
2 Kraft Bistro Mac & Cheese - $1.50 each (B1G1 coupon)
2 Kraft EZ Mac - $0.79 each (B1G1 coupon, $1 coupon)
Target Brand Sponges - $0.99 ($0.75 coupon)
Quaker Carmel Mini-Rice Cakes - $1.49 ($1 coupon)

Total OOP - $0.64
Saved - $8.74

Giant Foods

2 Artisan Wheat Thins - $2.50 each (B1G1 coupon)
2 Triscuits - $2 each ($1 coupon, $1 doubler)
Taquitos - $5.99 ($1 coupon, $1 doubler)
Mrs. T's Pierogies - $2 ($1 coupon, $1 doubler)
Turkey Hill Ice Cream - $2.49 ($1 coupon, $1 doubler)
Spike's Salsa - $1.99 (FREE coupon)
2lb Carrots - $1.59
1/2 gallon skim milk - $1.46
2 Giant Salsa - $1 each
Hot Pockets - $2
Bulk Sunflower Seeds - $1.60
Bulk Gummi Taratulas - $0.22

Total OOP - $16.85
Saved - $22.42

Total Spent - $20.57
Saved - $47.93

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Water Bath Canning - How to get started!

Fresh fruits and vegetables are plentiful and inexpensive in the summer, but what about the rest of the year? Wouldn't it be great to preserve and save those fruits and vegetables for the winter when pickings are slim? Canning is a great way to do this and save room in your freezer. There are 2 methods of canning: Water Bath Canning and Pressure Canning. The difference being this: Watter Bath Canning is for canning things that have a high acidic value (jams, some tomato sauces, etc), while Pressure Canning is used for items that have a low acidic value (green beans, and other whole vegetables). Now, I haven't done any Pressure Canning myself, so if you are interested in Pressure Canning, please try this resource. Everything from here on out will be about Water Bath Canning.

To get started, you will need a couple of tools:
- A large pot or Canner: When I got started I used my stock pot because I wasn't sure if I wanted to invest in a canner. It worked well, but I was always worried that something would go wrong - the jars were just barely covered by the water by the recommended amount. If you think you'll can more than 4 times, I would invest in a Water Bath Canner. Look for these at walmart (they ONLY have them during the canning "season" - summer) or your local hardware/homegoods store. I got mine for $25.

- Jar Grabber: This is basically a huge set of tongs that you use to take the finished jars out of the BOILING HOT WATER. You are going to want one of these so you don't end up with 2nd degree burns. They run about $10 or less at your local hardware/homegoods store.

- Funnel: This is to make sure that what you are canning safely makes it into the jars. There are special funnels for wide mouth jars, which is what I use. If you are going to can anything liquidy (jams especially), definitely get one. About $5 or less at your local hardware/homegoods store.

- Ruler: It is important to not leave too much space for air in your jars, and most recipes tell you exactly how much space is okay - having a ruler on hand in the kitchen is very helpful if you are not good at eyeballing 1/2 of an inch or less.

- Canning Jars: I would recommend checking your local craigslist or freecycle before buying these at the store. They can be found at walmart, some grocery stores, and my favorite - your local hardware/homegoods store! (You will need the corresponding canning rings for these jars) They amount of jars you will need depends on what you are canning and how many jars can be filled with your recipe.

- Canning Lids: These are NOT reusable. Please don't try, because it is not safe. They aren't very expensive, and you can find them the same places you can buy jars.

Now that you have everything to get started, what are you going to can? Think about the fruits and vegetables that are in season before you decide what to can. Buy things that are in season, on sale, or growing in your yard! The following is a list of what I made last summer - my first summer of canning!

- Peach (show above) & Plum Jam - I used the recipes and instructions that come with Certo - a type of pectin used for making jams. Making and canning jam is what I would recommend for starting out. There are a few different kinds/brands of pectin available at the grocery store with the other canning supplies. Each kind/brand has their own recipe and instructions for canning. Make sure you read all the instructions before you start and make sure you are ready to can before you start making the jam. It might even be best to read the instructions before you decide what kind of jam to make - it will tell you how much of each kind of fruit you will need to make that kind of jam, and also how the fruit must be prepared to begin. The fruit must be perfectly ripe - not under ripe or overripe so timing is key!

- Tomato Sauce - The key to make tomato sauce safe to can is adding lemon juice to raise the level of acidity. It is important to follow an approved recipe. The time in a water bath canner is pretty long for tomato sauce - 30+ minutes depending on your altitude. Feel free to divide this recipe in half or more as long as your preserve the ratio of ingredients.

- Salsa - Ball has some great mixes that you can buy at the grocery store. I used one of them to make and can salsa. The directions are included in the packaging. This also has a relatively long time for processing.

Apple Season! Fall is apple season in my neck of the woods and I found myself up to my ears with apples! I managed to can both apple butter and apple sauce this year.

Apple Sauce - I used my food mill and my arm was killing me by the end, but it was definitely worth it! I did not add any sugar to my apple sauce and it is absolutely delicious.

Apple Butter - I followed this recipe, but I did something a little different because I was making a very small amount of apple butter (I ended up with 1 jar). Instead of starting with apple sauce, I sliced up my apples and put them in the crockpot whole for about 6-8 hours on low. When they are done, they will be VERY soft, and you can just mash them with a potato masher! Then, add the spices, etc, and continue to cook as the recipe entails. This will cook down A LOT, so you will start out with tons of apples and end up with a much smaller amount of apple butter, but it will be delicious. I also used my emersion blender in the crockpot to get it very smooth and I cut back on the sugar and used honey instead. Oh, it was so delicious, we were just eating it right out of the pot.

I hope this has gotten you excited about canning and preserving your fruits and veggies - the harvest season will be here before you know it!

More resources: