Wednesday, March 31, 2010

The Last of the Toothpaste

I have no idea where I read this tip years ago, but I know it's not my own idea.

If you get to end of your toothpaste tube, instead of wrestling with it every morning for two weeks to squeeze those last bits out of the top, just snip off one of the back corners. You'll be able to easily & efficiently get all of the toothpaste remnants to move to the new exit (the bottom of the tube).

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Macaroni & Cheese Pie

Yesterday I made the meals for my monthly meal swap. I have been wanting to make a family favorite, macaroni 'n' cheese pie, for several months, but needed to have enough pie tins and to bake a ham. We just had two ladies drop out of our group so I only had to make 6 pans, but I also wanted extra for my family and for families with new babies who we sometimes take meals to. I decided to make 10.

First I had to prepare & measure the ingredients. I planned to make 5 double batches but didn't think to take a picture until I was already into the first batch. As it turned out I only made 4 double batches because the double batches were filling about 2 1/2 pie tins. I think my recipe is for a 9" pie plate and I had 8" tins. It took me a lot of time to put these together because I had my own kids plus a friend to play and, as you can imagine, I had a lot of interruptions.

This was a pretty inexpensive meal overall because I was able to buy all the ingredients on awesome sales and the meat was free. I always try to keep prices down, obviously, but meal swap meals tend to be a little more expensive because of lots of meat, cheese, or ingredients that are hard to find on sale. Here's the breakdown:

2 cups breadcrumbs $.50
3 cups butter $2.50
4 cups diced onions $.75
2 2/3 cups flour $.25
mustard & spices - $.25
20 cups milk ~ 1 1/4 gallon $3.50 (organic on clearance!)
16 cups pasta $2.76
3# cheese $6.49
8 cups diced ham - free gift
parmesan topping $3.49

Overall $20.50 / 10 pans = $2.05 each

Here's the recipe for Macaroni & Cheese Pie:

1/4 cup bread crumbs
1 1/2 t. salt
1 t. olive oil
2 c. uncooked macaroni
6 T. butter
1/2 c. chopped onion
1/3 c. flour
3/4 t. dry mustard
1/2 t. white pepper
1/4 t. nutmeg
2 1/2 c. milk
2 1/2 c. shredded cheese

1. Preheat oven to 375. Grease/spray 9" pie plate & sprinkle with breadcrumbs.
2. Cook noodles with 1 t. olive oil - should make about 5 cups cooked.
3. Meanwhile, melt butter at med/high heat. Add onion & sautee about 5 minutes so onions get really soft. Stir in flour, salt, mustard, white pepper, & nutmeg. It should bubble quickly.
4. Gradually add milk until sauce thickens. Add cheese reserving 1/2 cup for topping.
5. Remove from heat and stir in cooked noodles. Spoon mixture into pie plate and sprinkle with reserved 1/2 cup cheesse.
6. Bake until golden & bubbly, 25-30 minutes, and let stand 15 minutes to set. Slice it into pie wedges and serve.

This recipe also suggests adding food coloring as the sauce thickens to make it more orange, but I prefer to leave it out. Also, when I add one cup of ham to this recipe I leave out the salt. Usually the ham is salty enough to flavor this dish. I used 2 c. of cheese in the sauce and sprinkled grated parmesan on top instead of the additional 1/2 c. of cheddar.

Let me know if you try it out and enjoy it.


Monday, March 29, 2010

Double Coupons Again

Just a reminder that Albertson's had three double coupons in the Sunday paper again. Go see what kind of deals you can snag!


Weekend Groceries

QFC is having a sale this week on tomatoes & bagged lettuce so I headed over and discovered there was another deal I hadn't seen that was Buy 8/Get $4 off (or $.50 off each item). The items included in that promotion are things we normally buy and I happened to have related coupons so the prices were low enough to justify buying and I spent $25.00.

Here's what I got as part of the Buy 8/Get $4 deal:

2 Yoplus yogurt 4-packs. Sale price $1.99 ($.50 deal)($1.00/2)= $.99 each
Fiber One Yogurt 4-pack. Sale price $1.99 ($.50 deal) ($.50) = $.99
Yoplait Delights yogurt 4-pack. Sale price $1.99 ($.50 deal) ($1.00) = $.49
2 Itnat'l Delight Coffee Creamers. Sale price $2.99 ($.50 deal) ($1.00/2) = $1.99 each
2 boxes of Go-Gurt yogurt. Sale price $1.99 ($.50 deal) ($1.00/2) = $.99 each

I also found markdown organic yogurt tubes for $1.50 each, cottage cheese for $1.00, the lettuce, tomatoes, bananas, & finally, a sale priced wedge of parmesan. I went for the parmesan for the freezer meals I am making today. I don't want to be the meal swap slacker, so I thought adding parmesan to the homemade mac'n'cheese pie would help. Also, I have gotten better prices on coffee creamer but $2.00 is my max for quart size and we were almost out. DH needs this stuff to make his coffee drinkable and he definitely needs his coffee!

This was a quick trip to Fred Meyer to pick up cheddar and onions for the meal swap. I obviously found a few more things.

Here's what I got for $11.96 without any coupons:

2# cheddar $4.49
10# potatoes $1.50
3# onion $1.99
Fred Meyer slow-churned vanilla ice cream $1.25 markdown
Fred Meyer caramel sweet surprise ice cream $1.25 markdown
organic stir fry veggies (pre-cut) $.99 markdown
package of 6 english muffine $.49 markdown

We were having company for dinner and having a Razzleberry pie out of the freezer for dessert so I was very excited to find ice cream on markdown! I also bought the potatoes so we'd have real and not instant out of my pantry for company. I was reminded this week that DH loves english muffins when we received some as a gift, so I was also delighted to find the markdown package. There were also lots of markdown bread & buns, but I was able to resist by reminding myself that I want to empty my freezer and I already have several loaves of bread. Yay for resisting!

OK - back to those 10 macaroni & cheese pies.


Sunday, March 28, 2010

Planted Seeds

Gardening does seem to be an alternative to lawn care...

I finally got the seeds started for the garden. I picked out the seeds that need 4 weeks or less of growing indoors because I'll probably put the garden in the ground near the end of April. The plants that need longer to grow indoors, like tomatoes, will have to be purchased because I don't have 8 weeks to get them started.

Note to self: Start plants next year in February. First task following taxes.

The seeds packets had clear directions on how deep to plant the seeds and how to thin them if more than one seed starts growing. All the directions said to keep the soil moist during germination. This is the big mistake I made last year, so this year I will keep everything well-watered!

I started zucchini, cucumber, yellow squash, broccoli, and pumpkin. I'm headed to the store later today to buy green beans and pea packets - I think those are sown straight into the dirt, but I'm buying the packets today to make sure.

A friend asked where I bought my seeds, so I'll tell you my packets are a variety of brands including Lilly Miller, Ed Hume, and whatever cheap company is at The Dollar Store. Usually I find gardening supplies/plants at Home Depot or Fred Meyer since I don't frequent nurseries. My cousin & another major gardening friend do visit nurseries, though, so they are surely worth checking out.

I'm also wanting to grow blueberries and raspberries, but I'm not sure how to work that out yet. I've seen small bushes advertised in pots and I know a blueberry bush will be easy enough to put in, but I want to be careful that any raspberries I plant don't go crazy like blackberries would. I might try the raspberries in a small pot. My cousin also has a raspberry plant in a container with a trellis that keeps it contained.

Quarterly Seventh Generation Coupons

Don't forget to print your Seventh Generation coupons by March 31st! The site resets all the coupons on April 1st for the next three month period. You are allowed to print each coupon twice each calendar quarter so head over to their site and make sure you've printed your quota.

Also, be sure your printer is ready to go. I accidentally sent about 5 coupons to print before I realized DH's computer was off which meant I couldn't network to that printer. Rats! I hope you are smarter than I am!


Friday, March 26, 2010

Menu Plan

We are headed out of town for a week on April 2nd so I am planning meals through that date.

Last week we ended up having more leftovers than I planned so the broccoli quiche got carried over and we ate it last night. I am still trying to use the contents of the freezer and pantry primarily & am looking forward to defrosting our garage freezer in sometime in April. Today the top shelf is completely frosted over and the next shelf is getting a nice start. It's an old freezer so we have to be nice to it and defrost at least once a year. I am hoping I might even be able to leave it unplugged for a month or two to save the electricity. We'll see.

Starting today here's the plan:
Friday - Russian Chicken in the crockpot - company for dinner
Saturday - Ham & potatoes - company for dinner
Sunday - Leftovers
Monday - Cheesy Chicken Casserole
Tuesday - Tamale Pie (freezer meal)
Wednesday - Chicken Barley Soup (freezer meal)
Thursday - Lasagna (freezer meal)
Friday to Friday - Out of town with lots of leftovers for DH

Lunch out at Applebees
Grilled Cheese
Tuna Melt
Macaroni & Cheese (homemade)
PB & J
Chicken Nuggets
Lunch on road

I have lots of bread in the freezer so that's why we're having sandwiches 3 times this week. I also have to make my freezer meals this week for the swap I do each month. On Monday I'll likely make 8 pans of homemade macaroni & cheese pie with ham & parmesan. We all love this at our house, and I'm hoping the other families in the swap enjoy it, too.


Thursday, March 25, 2010

Freezer Bag Alternative

One thing I grow weary of buying is Ziploc bags for the freezer. I regularly wash these out to reuse, both gallon and quart size. However, if a bag has contained any meat I throw it out. I don't want to risk contamination.

Anyway, the cost of those freezer bags add up so I was delighted to find a tip in the February All You magazine. I can't find my copy so I'm completely paraphrasing a reader tip. Apparently she uses the thick plastic cereal bags in the freezer as a ziploc alternative. These are the plastic liners inside the boxes. I decided to give it a try since it does appear the plastic is thick and dense.

I found the cereal bags to be comparable to most other freezer bags with the obvious exception of no zip closure. I just used a wire twist and it did the job. The cereal bags, however, aren't as good as the double guard ziploc bags that actually have a liner inside the bag - those are awesome.

I think I'll go ahead and keep using the cereal bags in addition to my regular supply of freezer bags because I can easily collect them and so far, they work well enough.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Oatmeal Ideas?

We are officially out of our microwave instant oatmeal. This has been a staple item around here for years, but I'm ready to let it go provided I can come up with yummy alternatives my kids will still eat.

I already get up well before my kids so I can sure make oatmeal every morning, but does anyone out there have some ideas of things I can mix into it to make it more appealing to the kids? So far, all I can come up with is raisins & brown sugar or applesauce.

I'm sure making oatmeal from sratch will be much less expensive than the single-serve packets, and it will be simple to prepare this meal organically.

Thanks for your help!


And here are two wonderful recipes for baked oatmeal from Brooke:


1/3 cup butter
2 large egg
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
1 teaspoon nutmeg or cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup milk
2 tablespoons milk
3 cups oatmeal (regular or quick)

Melt butter.
Grease 1 1/2 quart baking dish and drop in eggs and beat well.
Add brown sugar, baking powder, vanilla, nutmeg or cinnamon, and salt. Mix well, no lumps.
Whisk in butter and both measures of milk, then add oats.
Stir well, and refrigerate overnight.
Bake, uncovered, at 350 for 35-45 min, or until set in the middle.
Serve hot with warm milk poured over.

Baked Oatmeal (Healthier but still Yummy Version)

· 2 T butter
· ¼ cup applesauce
· 2 large egg
· ½ cup brown sugar
· 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
· 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
· 1 teaspoon nutmeg or cinnamon
· 1/4 teaspoon salt
· 1 cup milk
· 2 tablespoons milk
· 3 cups oatmeal (regular or quick)
· Optional: 1 apple, peeled and diced and/ or ½ cup chopped walnuts

Melt butter.
Grease 1 1/2 quart baking dish and drop in eggs and beat well.
Add brown sugar, baking powder, vanilla, nutmeg or cinnamon, and salt. Mix well, no lumps.
Whisk in butter, applesauce and both measures of milk, then add oats, apple and nuts.
Stir well, and refrigerate overnight.
Bake, uncovered, at 350 for 35-45 min, or until set in the middle.
Serve hot with warm milk poured over.


See the comments for more ideas! Thanks everyone!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Alberson's trip

I made a quick grocery shopping trip this weekend to buy produce and to use the Albertson's double coupons. My big girls wanted to be in the picture - they are fresh out of the bath.

Here's what I bought at the Woodinville Albertson's:
Dawn dish soap - was $3.39 on clearance for $1.57 ($1.50) = $.07
Barilla Pasta - was $1.99 on clearance for $1.49 ($.75 doubled) = FREE + $.01
Ken's Caesar - was $4.39 on sale for $2.99 ($1.00 doubled) = $.99
Suave Radiant Brunette Shampoo & Conditioner - $2.79 on clearance for $1.39 ($1.00/2 doubled) = $.39 each
John Frieda Brilliant Brunette Conditioner = was $6.49 on clearance for $3.25 ($3.00) = $.25!

We were out of Caesar dressing so that was the only planned food purchase & I found great clearance deals on everything else. At Albertson's there are bright red tags on shelved clearance items and neon yellow circles on diary/refrigerated items so I just scan for those.

I also spent $7 at Top Foods for produce, so $8 for food items this week including the Caesar dressing. I'm over my $100, but staying as close to it as I can.

Also a big thanks to various friends including Dana, Carly, Sarah, Meredith, and someone anonymous who have helped greatly with the groceries this month.


Monday, March 22, 2010

Starting the garden

Last spring my friend, Ruth, asked me if I would be interested in having a garden with her. We would use my yard as she doesn't have one. I was very excited about the prospect and she led the way teaching me which plants to start, when to start them and how to even plant them. She also instructed our husbands in the way of the roto-tiller as they got the ground ready to plant and then she put all of our fragile little plants in the ground. I wasn't even in town that weekend, and when I got home she showed me everything and gave me watering and weeding instructions. She ended up doing most of the weeding, stopping by a couple times a week, and I most of the watering since I was here every day already. We enjoyed the fruits of our labor together all summer, but I have to tell you I know I was getting the better end of the deal because I would have had a garden at all if it weren't for Ruth.

This is how our garden looked last July:

Now the sad news - Ruth isn't gardening with me this year. I was a little distraught and debated whether I should even attempt to garden. Then I thought of all my other gardening friends who manage a garden on their own and decided I needed an attitude adjustment. Not everyone is so very blessed as I was to have a Ruth teach me my first year. I will just be happy that I was able to learn hands-on from her, and I am resolved attempt this thing on my own! There are lots of garden bloggers and folks out there who I can learn from and of course, Ruth is just a phone all away.

The first task is to decide what to plant so Ruth found our seeds from last year and I have supplemented them with some additional purchases. I recommend you buy seeds intended for the current year. The package will be clearly labeled with the year the seeds were packaged for. Ruth said I can use the year-old seeds without trouble, too, but otherwise definitely adhere to the date. I like to start from seeds because it costs so much less than buying plants 6 or 8 weeks from now. However if you're brand new to this, please know that it's perfectly OK to buy plants that are already started. I'm just trying to save a few bucks and get to enjoy the added bonus of my kids watching things sprout.

Last year we tried lots of different plants. Here's what worked well: Cherry Tomato, Yellow Tomato, Spinach, Zucchini, Cucumber, Carrots, Lettuce, Pumpkins, Peas, Green Beans. Here's what didn't work so well: Canteloupe, Eggplant, Corn, Broccoli, Bell Pepper. This year I plant to grow all the squash again, more red & yellow tomato, but less cherry tomato. I'll also repeat the green beans, peas, & lettuce which will harvest twice. I may skip the carrots depending on space because they are so inexpensive to buy, but the kids really loved to pick the carrots so we'll see. I also want to try romaine lettuce because a friend of mine grows beautiful romaine and I prefer to spinach & spring mix which is what we had last summer. I will also try bell pepper again because Ruth is sure it will grow, but was in the shadow of the huge cherry tomato plants last year.

This are some of our odd carrots and the only fruit from the eggplant:

Here is a July harvest day - we'd get this at least once a week and sometimes more depending on how much sun was out:

If you plan to use containers or only have a small garden, consider carefully what to plant & where the containers will sit. Each seed packet has instructions on the needs of the plant. I would recommend cherry tomatoes if you want the satisfaction of something growing in abundance. Last year we had too many cherry tomatoes and by the end of the season they were spoiling on the vine. I'm sticking to one or two cherry tomato plants this year with many more of the large tomatoes for canning & freezer. Also, with little kids and time being a valuable resource the big tomatoes are just fast to pick. The sugar snap peas also grew very well and harvested early. Ruth said we could've had another whole season out of them, but I forgot to water when we first put them in - OOPS! This year I will definitely not neglect the watering!

This is what I gathered over the last few weeks for planting:

Instead of peat pots I use egg cartons to start the seeds so I don't have to buy anything. The soil is from several pots DH emptied out for me this week. Ruth gave me the berry baskets for when the plants start to outgrow the egg cartons. The toilet paper rolls are another good planting option my cousin uses, but I haven't tried it yet. That will be later this week. Today Eve and I are planting some seeds in our egg cartons, so I'll keep you posted on how it goes!


Sunday, March 21, 2010

Vita Bee Bread

I am not able to eat all-organic, nor do I make it a priority to find out the very healthiest options for my family. I do, however, attempt to put together reasonably balanced meals, give the kids lot of dairy, fruit & veggies, and watch all of our sugar intake.

One of my favorite products in Vita Bee bread made by Fred Meyer. It is the only reasonably priced, whole wheat bread I can find that isn't loaded with sugar. It doesn't have sugar or corn syrup in it; it's sweetened with honey which works for me. I can get it regularly for $1.66 because FM puts it on sale at that price often, but once every three months or so it's on sale for $1.25 and if I'm really lucky I can catch it in the markdown day for $.79.

I've been buying this stuff for several years, but I finally read a story on the package. Apparently FG Meyer (the founder of FM) was dissatisfied with the bread available so set about creating this one. Above all he wanted to be able to make excellent toast so if you love toast this is another good reason to try it out!


Friday, March 19, 2010

Diaper Cake

Well, I didn't get to the gardening today, but I still hope to manage something before the weekend is out. Instead, here is a fun post about diaper cakes.

Last week I mentioned the DH accidentally opened a package of diapers I had intended as a gift. I receved a great suggestion to make a diaper cake out of those diapers. I hadn't seen one of these "live" only a photo, so I set about learning more.

Click here for a great tutorial video on YouTube. This is for the "candlestick" style of cake.

Here are written intructions from using more common supplies in case you don't have tiny rubber bands or really big rubber bands lying around.

I watched another bunch of videos and saw lots of variations:
- The biggest difference is a fan style cake where you layer/fan the flat diapers in a circular shape, then secure with the rubber band.
- You can use receiving blankets or that crinky paper you buy in a twisted rope to make an outer border to the layers if you want to cover up the diapers.
- I saw a bottle of sparkling cider as the center base.
- Many people did one layer with a large gift on top or instead of the simply decorated cake in the video added lots of small gifts as cake garnish.

Thanks for the great idea Sarah!


Thursday, March 18, 2010

PCC Organic Milk

As I reported yesterday, I am out of grocery money so we are using the gift card a friend gave us to buy the basics. DH ran out for milk the other night and we were delighted to find that PCC has a great price on organic milk! He came home with two gallons totaling $8.78. He doesn't remember exactly, but DH thinks one gallon was $4.19 and the other $4.59. We got 2% and nonfat. This is the cheapest regular price on organic milk I've seen in this area.

Also, because of the budget I opted not to go to Albertson's to use the double coupons that came in the Sunday paper. Did you notice some more are in the weekly ad? There are three in the ad that should have arrived in your mailbox on Tuesday or Wednesday. These three are good until Saturday & I may try to use these on non-grocery items or if I can get groceries for free.

p.s. tomorrow will be my first post on gardening for this year!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Wednesday Menu Plan

On Tuesdays I update the budget and I was dismayed to discover yesterday that I've already spent my $100 for the month. Oh no! Now it will truly be a pantry challenge to see what I can come up with for meals.

I also received a gift card from a friend that I can use to buy milk & produce for the rest of the month.

The plan for this week is to utilize everything outdated in the pantry as well as clearing some older thing out of the fridge. This weekend I plan to scrub out the fridge so I figure using stuff up beforehand is a good idea.

Wednesday - pot roast with old potatoes & carrots
Thursday - pulled pork sandwiches & applesauce (using hot dog buns - why not?)
Friday - breakfast for dinner, pancakes & bacon & oranges
Saturday - chicken helper & salad
Sunday - soft tacos
Monday - Swiss loaf (freezer meal) & salad
Tuesday - broccoli quiche (freezer meal) & fruit

pb & j
grilled cheese
leftover pulled pork
chicken nuggets

muffin tops (old)
pop tarts (old)
yogurt drinks
pb toast

Tuesday, March 16, 2010


It was so nice this weekend I had to take advantage of that sun! We all headed outside - DH to mow the lawn and the girls and I to re-hang our clothesline. While it wasn't hot out, the sun was enough to dry a load of laundry on both Saturday and Sunday. I also was able to dry 3 loads yesterday! Yahoo for saving on the electric bill and being a tiny bit green!

p.s. of course the sun was behind a cloud when I took this picture!

Monday, March 15, 2010

Weekend Shopping

This weekend I just needed a break from the kids and the house so I had some leisurely shopping and hit several stores. I ended up finding some awesome deals - mostly in the markdown bins. You can probably see the brightly colored stickers on many of the items.

Here's what I bought:

5 bags of lettuce for $.99 each
lunchmeat chicken markdown 2 at $.99
lunchmeat ham markdown $.99
boneless pork roast markdown to $1.15/pound
10 yogurt cups for $.30/each
cottage cheese markdown $.99
deli steak chimichanga markdown $.99
pillsbury pie crust markdown $.99
pint organic 1/2 & 1/2 markdown $.99
4 pounds bananas

I went to Fred Meyer to pick up sugar. A 5# bag was on sale for $2.50 which isn't even a good sale, but I was completely out and since I was killing time I stopped there for it. I ended up finding some awesome deals.

10# bag of sugar markdown to $2.69 (deal!)
12 pack of kids yogurt drinks markdown to $2.59 (1.00) = %1.59
2 - 4 packs of Activia yogurt markdown to $1.29 (1.00) = $.29
ham lunchmeat markdown to $.79 ($.35) = $.44
Sourdough loaf markdown to $.79
Vitabee bread markdown to $.79
Darigold natural sour cream markdown to $.99 ($.40) = $.59
Fred Meyer toilet paper 12 double rolls markdown to $2.49.

In total I spent $10.20 at Fred Meyer for all this stuff.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Albertson's Double Coupons - 3 days only

There was an insert in the Sunday paper today with 3 double coupons for Albertson's. This time they are only good until Tuesday so try to get in there soon!

Last weekend I took my double coupons to the Albertson's in Redmond. I am continually amazed by the deals I find at that Albertson's in particular. I took a picture of my non-food purchases last weekend and most of it was from Albertson's.

The 7th Generation diapers were regularly priced at $11.99 but were on clearance for $5.49! I also had a $1.00 off a 7th Gen product that doubled so I ended up getting this package of diapers for $3.49. Several of my friends use this product so I was super excited to get a potential shower gift for such a great price. Too bad DH opened the package looking for a diaper yesterday - sorry, size 1 won't fit our 22 pound baby. Rats! So, being resourceful, I'll just save them for baby #4.

The Purex laundry detergent was also on the clearance rack. It was regularly priced at $7.99 but was marked down to $2.99. I had a buy 1/get 1 coupon so I got these jugs for only $1.49 and $1.50!

I was almost out of dishwasher detergent and really concerned I would have to pay full price. Not so! This Cascade was regularly priced at $5.99 but on sale for $3.99. I had a $1.00 off coupon that doubled so this bottle cost me $1.99.

I bought the Irish Spring at Safeway for $2.99 with one of their weekly coupons. I got to the $10 requirement to use coupons by also purchasing a four lb. bag of frozen chicken breast for $6.76 and some bananas. I am so super excited to have chicken again, even though it is a small amount. I am rationing myself!


Saturday, March 13, 2010

Better Than a Hallelujah

Does anyone else love the new Amy Grant song, "Better Than a Hallelujah?"

It just encourages me every time it's played on the radio. Not only can I talk to God about all the tough stuff, but He longs to hear it. How comforting is that? Especially because I don't want to dump it all on DH, like he does't have enough stress?

Praise God that He is here to carry my burdens, that He knows exactly what is happening in my life, and that He is holding me, sheltering me, in His hands.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Free Marie's Dressing at Safeway

Yesterday I mentioned the Buy 5/Save $5 deal Safeway is having this week. Today I saw two links for $1 off Marie's salad dressing which is one of the products in the deal.

Here's how the deal works...

Buy 5 of the following items at $1.99 each:
Eating Right salad mix
Eating Right cut vegetables
Fresh Express salad mix
Marie's salad dressing
packaged sliced mushrooms

Then $5 will come off your total, making each item $.99. I am planning to do this deal for the salad, but a $1 off coupon here or here could also net free Marie's dressing. I may end up with 4 bags of salad and a bottle of dressing for $4.

One link is for yogurt dressing which may or may not be part of the deal. The other link is to the Marie's site which will send a coupon directly to your email inbox. Thanks to Money Saving Mom for the links!


Thursday, March 11, 2010

New Menu Plan

I haven't figured out how to blog and keep my house clean. With the sun shining and the dirt showing, the blog isn't getting much attention.

I did manage my menu plan yesterday though while I flipped through the grocery ads.

Wed - Pasta with meatballs - Freezer Meal
Thurs - Fettucini Carbonara w/asparagus - OLD organic fettucini from back of freezer.
Fri - Macaroni & Cheese Pie w/salad
Sat - Applebee's - A free treat
Sun - Macaronada w/salad - big thanks to Jen T. who picked up feta at Costco for me
Mon - Beef & Broccoli - need to use a can of vegetable broth and old frozen broccoli
Tue - Lentil Stew - Freezer Meal

lunch out with cousin
chicken nuggets
pb & j
leftover Mac & Cheese Pie
tuna melts

This week I'm going to Top & Safeway for groceries.

Top is having a great Tillamook sale & I'm out of cheddar, butter, and yogurt. Several varieties of Tillamook are on sale and the deal is if you spend $10, $3 will be taken off your bill. So I can buy two 2 pound bricks of Tillamook for $5 each, and then $3 is taken off making them only $3.50 each! I can also buy two pounds of butter at $2.50 each and 10 yogurt cups at $.50 each for a total of $10, then $3 will be taken off the bill making the butter only $1.77/lb and the yogurt only $.33 per cup.

Safeway has a buy 5/save $5 deal this week for salad-ish stuff. Eating Right bagged salad & veggies, Fresh Express salad, Marie's dressing, POM tea, and packaged sliced mushrooms are priced at $1.99. If you buy 5, $5 will be taken off the bill. I'm happy to pay $.99 for a bag of salad so I'll go pick up 5 bags and maybe an avocado since they're only $.50 this week.

Have a great week! I'll try to better at posting this week than I was last week!


Friday, March 5, 2010

Birthday Celebration (free Red Robin burger)

DH's birthday was last weekend and we did our best to celebrate without spending much. It is our tradition to "take Daddy his birthday" at work, so on the appointment day the girls and I woke up and baked a cake. We used a mix, frosting, and decorations from what we had on hand. Then the girls got busy at their craft table and made Daddy birthday pictures. Next we packed a lunch. Finally, we all got dressed up in party dresses. For the girls, this means poofy goodness. For me, this means any dress that fits.

We headed to the party store first for a balloon bouquet. I was pleased that we got a nice bunch including one mylar and six basic, colored ballons for $7.99. The Dollar Store sells mylar balloons, but time was short and the Dollar Store was out of the way so we ended up at the party store on the way to DH's office. We arrived on time (amazing!) and enjoyed lunch and cake at Daddy's office. Daddy also got to show off his girls to his co-workers while they were cute in their party dresses. His girls, not the co-workers. The balloons stay in Daddy's office for the day. DH is pretty reserved and wouldn't really talk about his birthday. I like to bring balloons so at least a few people will notice and wish him a Happy Brithday.

Over the weekend DH invited some friends over for a guys night in. We had the balloon decorations and the girls and I baked cupcakes for the event. I had three tubs of old frosting languishing in the fridge so we used those up and used a variety of sprinkles from the cupboard to make lots of differently decorated cupcakes. The girls were happy for a) cupcakes and b) messy sprinkles, & I was just happy to get all those frosting remnants out of the fridge.

As for gifts, Eve & I hit up the thrift store to see what bargains we could find. We were happy to stumble across a used DVD of Lilo & Stitch for $4. DH loves animated and children's movies and we have many, many of them. However, this title has been missing from our collection so we snapped it up. DH was pleased with the find and that I didn't spend much. =^)

I should note that we regularly purchase gifts for eachother that have been used - primarily books and movies purchased off Neither of us minds and both appreciate that the other didn't spend retail prices.

Finally, DH is signed up for the birthday club at Red Robin. That means he gets a coupon via email for a free birthday burger each year. Usually we would go together and buy another burger. Money being tight this year, DH is heading over with Joanna, our 9 month old, for some quality time and his free burger. The only money out of pocket is for a tip.

If you want to sign up for the Red Robin eClub, click here. Your email coupon will arrive one week before your birthday and is good for 14 days.

Click here to sign up for your annual free Red Robin birthday burger:

Enjoy your burger!

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Menu Plan

As the pantry challenge continues I am making a menu plan every week. I find that I can put together several meals with what I still have and only have to buy a few supplemental items at the grocery store.

I try to make the menu plan on Wednesday because that's the day the grocery ad dates begin each week.

Last week I cleaned out the pantry and noted dates on many items. I also pulled several expired or almost expired things to the front to use right away. Those included: 2 cans of tuna, a package of instant rice & broccoli, a package of instant alfredo noodles, velveeta shells & cheese, a can of vegetable broth and a box of raisins. I tried to incorporate these items into the meals this week and a few are left for next week.

Wednesday: Freezer Meal - beef stroganoff & salad
Thursday: Tuna Casserole & salad
Friday: Freezer Meal - Cheesy Chicken Enchilada Casserole
Saturday: Dinner Out (a Free treat)
Sunday: Chicken Taco Soup & salad
Monday: Pork Chops, Rice, & Broccoli
Tuesday: Lasagna, Garlic Bread & Asparagus

I'm running really low on lunch stuff for the girls so we've been having pb&j or grilled cheese a lot with a piece of fruit. We ate the past date Velveeta shells and the cheese wasn't easy to melt. =^) Oh well.

DH - The history of the menu plan is that if you plan your menu out for that week, then you're more likely to use what you have and be careful with the money you spend on food. Plus it helps set expectations with the fam.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Shout Out for New Camera!

Did I say camera? Why yes I did.

A big thanks to generous parents who sent DH a new digital camera for his birthday last weekend. I guess they want those pictures of grandbabies to keep coming. =^) We are praising the Lord for His provision.

Also a shout out to some friends: Dana, Corrin, and Jesca who have helped out with a variety of useful items in the last month or so. Also a big hug to DH's mom and my mom for feeding us during then 10 day trip in February. That definitely helped the grocery budget. Thank you ladies!


Monday, March 1, 2010

Deductible Car Tabs?

A friend asked this weekend about the deductibility of her car tabs so I thought I'd relay that conversation here in case anyone else has the same question.

Q: Can we deduct the RTA and other costs on the cars?

A: Taxes paid to your state & local government are deductible on Schedule A as an itemized deduction. This usually includes sales tax or state income taxes paid. The cost of your car registration each year is not deductible because it's not a tax based on the value of your vehicle, it's a flat fee to keep your car licensed. However a small piece of it, the RTA tax, is deductible - being a tax based on the estimated value of your vehicle. This amount is clearly marked on your green registration form from the State of Washington each year.

Good luck!


Albertson's Double Coupons

There were 3 double coupons included with the Albertson's insert in yesterday's paper. This time they are good for a week, so you have until Saturday 3/6/10 to use them.

I will admit that I am slightly obsessed with double coupons. In other parts of the country double (and even triple!) coupons are a pretty regular occurence and it steams me that we can't get the same deals here in the Northwest. Anyway, my 9 month old got her hands on the Albertson's insert this morning, and of course, the insert found it's quick way into her mouth. I was frantic to see if the coupons had been mangled by slobber and/or teeth, but was relieved to find only one damaged. Luckily the torn bit is not on the UPC so it should still work. Phew!


February Update

Hi friends,

Sorry to be away so long. We ended up being out of town for 10 days and then when I got home it was a busy week kicking off my new cleaning schedule. I'll write more about that later if I can figure out how to post excel files. Anyway, with all the cleaning I didn't make time for this blog. I'll try to be better!

My goal for February was to continue using food I had on hand and keep my grocery budget under $75. I didn't quite make it - I ended up around $85, but that included some gift card usage. In cash I only spent $62.90. Overall still good.

I am down to 20 boxes of cereal, 5 boxes of crackers and 9 cake/brownie mixes. That still sounds like a lot, but I am also out of lots of things I use frequently like chicken, macaroni & cheese, & croutons.

Speaking of croutons - I am still planning to try out making my own, but I have to find some time, a great recipe, and some old bread. =^)

Goals for March: Keep the grocery bill under $100. Sell 5 things on ebay to help the budget. Be more encouraging to DH about our finances instead of feeling so sorry for myself! Sheesh!

Also, I tried the pumpkin puree and it Did Not turn out. I would have posted pictures, but as you may remember our camera died. It probably didn't help that I was using old pumpkins from our fall garden. They were green in November when I pulled them all out, and over the next 8 weeks or so they slowly ripened. I thought I'd give them a try after a few more orange weeks, but they were pretty soft inside when I cut into them. I baked them in the microwave (like the directions I found on the internet said to) but they just kinda collapsed & it would have been difficult to remove the skins in that condition. It was also late and we were leaving for the 22 hour drive the next morning so I just bagged it. I'll try again in the fall with a new crop of pumpkins.