Monday, December 5, 2011

Monday Menu Plan

I have a very busy week and I know a meal plan will help, so here it is:


Monday - pancakes
Tuesday - Finger food lunch
Wednesday - Mac'n'Cheese
Thursday - out with friend/nuggets
Friday - French toast
Saturday - Kids with Grandma
Sunday - Kids with Grandma


Monday - Pork Chops, Rice, Green Salad
Tuesday - Kids with Sitter - Ravioli
Wednesday - Soft Tacos
Thursday - Daddy dinner - Russian Chicken
Friday - Leftovers
Saturday - Kids with Grandma
Sunday - Kids with Grandma


Quick Update

Just wanted to drop in and say I have the very best intentions for this blog, but my time is so limited I just can't seem to post! I am managing to stay on top of my latest project at and I am busy at home, too, still trying to be resourceful but having less time to blog about it!

Please be patient and visit Project Twenty-Six in the meantime. =^)


Sunday, October 30, 2011

Fred Meyer Sale on Annie's Mac'n'Cheese!

I was looking at the Fred Meyer ad for this week and wanted to be sure you all saw the awesome deal on Annie's Macaroni and Cheese.

If you Buy 10 participating products, Annie's is only $.69/box! Sweet Deal!

Apples are also $.78/lb and Organic Pears are $.98/lb, both great sales I'm planning to take advantage of.


Monday, October 10, 2011

Monday Menu Plan

It's been busy around here between canning and homeschooling, as ever. I'm also really trying to squeeze in work on the new blog (that I haven't posted to yet):

I definitely want to plan my meals though, to lessen life's general insanity so here's the plan for this week.

Baked Pasta, Garlic Bread, Green Salad
Beef & Pineapple Skewers with brown rice
Bacon & Bleu Cheese Burgers with long green & yellow beans (fancy green beans)
Stir Fry
Frozen Meal
Frozen Meal

I have several freezer meals I need to use up and this week is as good as any.

Grilled Cheese
Out for Lunch
Finger Food

I have been using up all that old stuff, slowly, including sweetened condensed milk in crockpot macaroni & cheese. Weird, huh? But it tastes pretty good and I got to use up something I bought on accident!


Sunday, October 9, 2011

Amazing Week for Rite-Aid

My new neighbor, Ashlee, just alerted me to the stellar sale week Rite Aid is having. I don't play the drug store game anymore because I just don't have time to squeeze it in, but I'm really tempted after looking at the list!

Here's a link to For the Mommas which has a complete list.

This week you can get FREE after UPR & SCRs: Comtrex, Chloriseptic Spray or Lozenges, Carefree Product, Cepacol (love this!), Blistex, Burt's Bees Throat Drops, Rite Aid hand sanitizer, Zarbee's Cough Syrup, and Emergen-C to name a few.

Look at the list here at For The Mommas to see even more.

Thanks Ashlee!


Friday, September 23, 2011

A Resourceful Tip - Pizza Slicer Double Duty

This tip is from Real Simple's October 2009 issue:

Your pizza slicer is good for more than just slicing those pies - How about using it to chop lettuce or other salad toppings for nice, bite-sized pieces?

I love salad and all the yummy things we put on top add such flavor and variety! How easy to use this slicer to make preparation faster.


Thursday, September 22, 2011

Purging 26 Things a Day for a Year

I have been giving a new idea some thought and after discussing it with DH, we're going to move forward.

I mentioned it here before and I think it will be a good challenge for me to discipline myself into giving, purging, and being less attached to material things.

The goal is to purge 26 items each day for a full year (That's over 9,000 items in total), and keep a blog tracking my journey.

I have been trying it out for about two weeks and so far it isn't too hard. Mail doesn't count, nor do the many little projects and papers the girls bring home from their classes. I can only include 'trash' if it's something that has been lying around for months causing me grief and time wasted every time I trip over it, have to move it to find something else, or wonder why I can't just throw it away!

We plan to start the project on October 1, but I'm getting a few days done ahead so I can miss a day if I get sick or something.

Here's the dilemma: what do we call this project? It'd be fun to have something kind of catchy but my non-creative self can't dream up something and even the very creative DH is at a loss.

Here are some of our more lame ideas so far:
26 Things
Tossing 26
Purging 26
26 a day
26 goodbyes
Parting with 26
Removing 26

See? All kind of lame. Please give us some ideas!


Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Albertsons Coupon RoundUp!

I just saw a very cool bit of news in the Albertsons ad for this week!

Albertsons is rounding up all manufacturer's coupons to $1.00 this week! Obviously coupons over $1.00 will be their face value but this is a good chance to use all those $.25 and $.35 coupons for great deals!

I'm headed to the Redmond Albertsons because they consistently have a great markdown section.

I'm also going to use some very old manufacturer's coupons I inherited from my mother-in-law with no expiration date. Some of them are awesome. Here's a photo of a few $0.15 favorites.

And these are just hilarious. I don't know what a store would even do with these because there are no bar codes and are dated 1977!

I also plan to get some Honey Nut Cheerios for $1 per box with these babies.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

A Resourceful Tip - Color Coded Keys

Have you seen those specialty keys that have a design or team logo on them? You can purchase a blank key and then have them cut to match one or more of your own keys.

The idea is that you won't have to search for a key on your key ring. You'll know the Mariner key is for the boat (get it? Mariner? Boat?) and be able to identify it easily.

You can also use a key wrap. There's no forgetting which is the house key when you use one of these:

Both of these options cost at least a little bit of cash, but I read about a free alternative in All You Magazine's June 2011 issue.

Why not paint a key with nail polish? It will adhere to the key easily and last a long time. It won't wear off like marker ink, for example, and it might save you a few valuable moments when you're trying to hurry a kid into the house for the potty or frantically trying to get into your car because you're going to be late for the pediatrician - again!


Monday, September 19, 2011

Monday Menu Plan

Really, you'd think I could come up with something better after a whole week away, right? Sheesh!

It was a crazy week getting homeschool rolling along with all our church activities. Additionally my computer is running terribly slowly so I can only post when I sneak onto Hubby's computer. We're hoping to get me a new computer day after Thanksgiving when electronics are at their best prices.

I decided a menu plan is a necessity this week for my sanity. Last week's winging it showed in our dinner selections. =^) Anyway here's the menu plan:

Monday - Mac'n'cheese
Tuesday - pbj with pears (packed lunch)
Wednesday - quesadilla
Thursday - bagels (packed lunch)
Friday - pizza pockets
Saturday - leftovers
Sunday - grilled cheese

Monday - pulled beef with pasta salad
Tuesday - soft tacos
Wednesday - sausage veggie soup (seriously old celery in fridge)
Thursday - Velveeta chicken skillet
Friday - Baked artichoke pasta
Saturday - Crockpot mac'n'cheese
Sunday - breakfast for dinner (unless we end up with company)

I still have majorly old food to use up. Despite my best intentions I don't seem use some items even though I plan to. Next week I'll try to photograph all that.


Sunday, September 11, 2011

Pharmaca Coupon

Does anyone use Pharmaca products?

I have a coupon for a free 12 oz. hand soap with $30 purchase at Pharmaca. Let me know if you'd like it (please include email address) and I'll email you for a mailing address.


Saturday, September 10, 2011

Tully's Gift Card Deal! - 20% Free

Tully's is running an excellent deal for loading up your rewards card or purchasing a gift card.

With a minimum purchase of $30, an additional 20% will be credited to the card. For example,
$30 buys $36 value. $50 buys $60 value.

This special only runs through tomorrow, September 11, 2011 so head over soon if you want to snag this deal!


Friday, September 9, 2011

Little Instrument Fix

It seems like little toys and gadgets are always getting broken at our house. Usually I just toss pieces of this or that in a bucket and then attack the bucket about twice a year. I'm coming to realize that usually the this or that isn't worth my time to fix and the kids don't even notice it's been living in pieces in the bucket. So I've gotten pickier.

I did choose to fix this little guy because we love to make music at our house and even DD#4 can shake this baby.

I'm also re-evaluating my time resources as we start homeschool and the days are just plain packed! So my posts here might be shorter or less frequent as a result. We'll see. I'm kinda excited about an idea I have to discard 26 things a day and blog about it - maybe for a whole year! I'm betting 26 things a day will get hard after just a few weeks!


Tuesday, September 6, 2011

A Month of Coupons

We were out of town for over four weeks earlier this summer. When I got home, I had a pile of coupons from the mail and circulars from the newspapers to get through. Here's what the pile looked like.

The best coupon was for $10 on a $10 purchase at Kohl's. Unfortunately it arrived and expired while we were gone.
Another good one was for a Free men or boys' haircut at Sportcuts.
I also had a Free Starbucks postcard for 15 drinks purchased.

It took me one naptime of watching a movie and clipping to cut all these out. It took another three or four sessions of sorting and filing to get everything squared away. I finished it up on August 30, about three weeks after we got home from our big trip.

Couponing can be time consuming so I always trying to combine it with another activity like my relaxing at naptime or during family movie night. It pays off when I'm at the store though and I can find coupons quickly and efficiently, especially when it's those surprise clearance deals I'm not expecting.


Monday, September 5, 2011

Monday Menu Plan - Pantry Dates Update

A huge thank you to my mom for feeding me and the 4 littles these last 10 days. It has helped very much with the grocery budget. We're not quite home yet, but I still wanted to get a menu planned for as soon as I get home.

Here's what I have that is still past date:
ridiculous amounts of frosting & marshmallows
stir fry seasoning
boxed rice, chicken flavor
cereal, Annie's

Monday - still out of town
Tuesday - stir fry (using seasoning & garden veggies)
Wednesday - baked pasta (using garden tomatoes)
Thursday - soft tacos
Friday - Small Group (take dessert for DD#4 birthday)
Saturday - Dinner out
Sunday - Macaronda with chicken (company for dinner)

Monday - still out of town
Tuesday - Mac'n'Cheese
Wednesday - Quesadilla
Thursday - PB&J (at church)
Friday - French Toast
Saturday - BBQ with family
Sunday - All-Church BBQ

Other thoughts:
1. If anyone sees Rice Krispies on sale, please let me know. I have to use up the marshmallows somehow.
2. I ground up those coffee beans from 2011 and just added them to coffee can. DH hasn't said a word, so I think they must be OK.


Friday, September 2, 2011

Resourceful Gifting - Used Items

This is a big gifting time of year for our family. We have three little girl birthdays in September, October, November, then of course Christmas in December. We try to be conservative in our giving - meaning no huge piles of gifts and no piles of money spent on gifts.

One of the ways I limit my spending is to give used gifts. The kids could really care less at age 5 and under and my husband prefers used gifts because he knows they are less expensive! I also welcome used gifts because I know they are less expensive and it's better for the earth.

Here is a photo of some used items I've picked up at thrift stores and garage sales this summer in preparation of birthdays and stocking stuffers.
Just for fun here's the costs breakdown:
Barbie furniture - 7 pieces $4.00
Magnet doll pieces - $.79 (will add to DD#2s set)
Pretty fan and box - $.10!
Ken doll tuxedo - $2.50 (new Barbie/Ken outfits are like $7.00!)
Barbie jackets - $1.00? (in a bag with doll clothes & barbie clothes, mixed)
Ken lifeguard outfit - $2.50
Jane Barbie - $.25!
Pocohontas Barbie - $3.00
Ken - $3.00 (bought him for his outfit. Bonus that he's black.)
Fawn, Tinkberbell's friend - $3.00
Finger puppets - $1.00
3 sets of bracelets - $.25 each set
Fancy purse pad of paper - $.10!
Color Wonder markers - $.79
Little figurines - $.20ish each
Potato Head pets - $.50 each
Stamp roller - $1.29
Slinkies - $.99 each
Perler beads - $2.49
Duplos - $2.99

Just a side note - I also get new gift items at thrift and garage sales sometimes.

Decorative 'E' for DD#1 - $4.00
Ken outfit - $1.00
Bible activity pads - $.10 each
Nutcracker magnet set - $2.50
Stickers - $.50

I know used gifts are welcome by my kiddos and husband and I even know which of my siblings, parents, and other friends & family are fine with receiving used gifts. I also know which would not appreciate anything used. As a general rule of thumb I err on the side of caution and don't give used gifts if I don't know for sure it will be welcome.

I would never, ever give a used gift for a wedding - it's just a more formal event. And I would be cautious about anything used for a baby shower - but would go ahead depending on the item. For example, I would use a secondhand basket if I was assembling a gift basket with all new items inside. Or if the nursery theme was The Snorks or something and I have to find a gift on eBay. I would happily offer hand-me-downs at another time.

Have you given a great used gift? I'd love to hear about it!


Thursday, September 1, 2011

Yellow Pages Opt Out

Did you know you can opt out of receiving all those yellow pages that arrive on your doorstep?! I just found out yesterday reading this blog, written by a high school friend.

You head to this site and just enter your zipcode. It lists all the yellow pages available in your area. Transalation: those that will arrive on your doorstep as a free 'gift.' There are 7 for my own address and they're all huge. After you register with the site, you can choose which, if any, you want to receive and which to decline.

Maybe if enough people opt out, the phone companies will get a clue and fewer of these bulging books will be printed!


Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Peaches! Part 2, 25 Pounds!

I did another round of peach preserving last week.

A friend had shared that she froze most of her peaches for her daughters to use in smoothies all year. She described the process and it sounded good to me, so I tried it.

First I blanched, peeled, and sliced up peaches. Then I dipped them (all sides) in lemon juice to preserve color and laid them on lined cookie sheets. Then I popped them in the freezer.

After freezing, I peeled the peach slices off the wax paper and put them in Ziploc bags. The color still looked great and the fruit was holding its shape nicely. I think I'll be able to use these for smoothies, cobblers, and pies, too!

There was one casualty in my peach freezing. My favorite colander (with washed peaches in it) was on the stove waiting for the blanching water to boil. Sadly, I turned on the wrong burner and the damage was well done by the time I smelled the melting plastic and rescued the peaches. Whoops! Praise the Lord no greater damage was done and pray that I can get the melted plastic off the glass stovetop without ruining it!


Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Meal Swap - Stir Fry

Back in April I made a stir fry for my monthly meal swap. I decided to go ahead and write it up because I had some pictures and I thought it ended up pretty yummy!

I started with this recipe from all recipes and adjusted the ingredients to fit what I had on hand.

I chopped up carrots & onion and pulled broccoli florets & snap peas from the freezer. I think it was about 1/2 cup of the onion, 1 cup of carrots & peas and 2 cups of broccoli.

Then I diced up about 5 pounds of chicken and let it marinate in teriyaki sauce. I truly cannot remember if I made the sauce or if it was store-bought. Is that totally sad? My mind is full of current information and I can't remember back to April! Then I divided that meat up into 8 parts.

Finally, I divided a big brick of noodles into 8 parts. These noodles had been given to me by the kitchen coordinator at our church about 6 months previously so I wanted to use them up and get them out of the freezer!

Here's a photo of all the ingredients portioned up.

Then I got it all sorted into a big Ziploc and wrote out directions. Our printer is constantly on the fritz so I often write out cooking directions for the swap. I was particularly proud of this batch because it was finished before the swap was happening. Sometimes the girls even write out their own directions because I am frantically finishing things up as they arrive!

And here is how it looked cooked up. Yummo! I used more noodles for my own family's batch because there was a little leftover I just tossed in.


No Monday Menu Plan

You may have noticed I skipped the meal planning yesterday. I'm visiting family this week so not making the meal decisions. I am, however, doing a bit of the cooking and trying to contribute with some grocery deals I've found while here.

We'll be back on plan starting next Monday and I'll be hitting up old pantry items again.


Monday, August 29, 2011

Tully's New Rewards Program

I am an equal opportunity coffee shop patron. I am not a "snooty coffee lady" as a dear friend calls herself. I do, however, drink enough espresso to notice a taste difference.

One of my favorite coffee companies is Tully's, but I've been frequenting Starbucks a bit more lately because of their loyalty program with a free birthday drink and free drink for every 15 purchased.

I was SO very delighted the other day when I went to Tully's and found they, too, have started a loyalty program! With Tully's you get 1 point for each espresso drink purchased. A free drink is awarded with the accumulation of just 10 points. Additionally, when you register your loyalty card online you are immediately awarded 10 points.

So head on over to Tully's and pick up a loyalty card. Then register online and go get your free drink!


Sunday, August 28, 2011

Peaches! - Part 1, 80 pounds

I purchased 120-ish pounds of peaches a bit ago and have been busy preserving them. My awesome cousin drove about three hours to help and I am so thankful for her willingness to come. I am also thankful to have a canning buddy because it makes the job much more pleasant!

I generally can following instructions from, a site devoted to pick-your-own farms, but also having beautiful instructions for preserving a variety of produce. Click here for the instructions for peaches.

Overall we canned 30 quarts and 24 pints of peaches in about 6 hours. We packed the jars tightly in order to save seals so it wasn't the mass of jars that always looks so satisfying. We estimate that it was about 80 pounds because one of my boxes wasn't ripe yet, I lost a few to mold, and we ate a few. DD#3, who can be quite a rascal, ate several because she managed to sneak one here and there and take a few bites.

Here's the finished product.
One cool thing my cousin tried was to use a jar from her Classico spaghetti sauce. She brought it for dinner the night before and when we peeled the label she noticed it said 'Mason' on it and that a regular seal fit the top. So we gave it a go and it worked beautifully. I thought this was especially resourceful. Her jar is the one on the left.

My cousin also bought 75 pounds of peaches herself, but they weren't ripe enough to can that day so she ended up taking them home. I'm hoping to help her, too, in a few days.

Next up: Freezing Peaches


Saturday, August 27, 2011

Beyond the Recycle Bin - Clothing/Textiles

One of my favorite new recycling discoveries is Retex Northwest.

They accept clothing, fabrics, & leather at a number of bins around the Seattle Metro area.

I posted all about the company here a few months ago.

I love that I now have a place to take stained and 'tired' things I can't donate to thrift stores.


Friday, August 26, 2011

Resourceful Gift - Baby Shower Last Weekend

I went to a baby shower last Sunday and put together a gift I thought I'd share.

I had determined I wouldn't be able to attend this event because it was out of town and we couldn't budget the airfare. Then, at the last minute, my dad and brother were able to use miles to get me a ticket.

Here's the timeline:
Thursday evening - Recieve Itinerary
Friday morning - Shop online for a gift because no time for anything else.
Friday morning - Dump perfect gifts from shopping cart when I realize next day shipping costs as much as the gifts!
Saturday afternoon - Pick out gifts with girls from our stash.
Saturday night/Sunday morning - Wrap gifts
Sunday morning - up at 5 to make flight. Home by midnight.

I wasn't crazy about giving a gift from our stash in this particular case. The parents are expecting their first baby and they have kind of expensive taste. Normally I would have definitely shopped the registry for at least part of this gift. Time just didn't allow, so I did the best I could with what I had. It was a little more frustrating when DD#2 refused to choose a gift from the stash, but insisted we pass along one of DD#4's toys. At least it was in good condition.

Here's a photo. Sorry for the poor picture quality - it was about 2AM with my cell phone.

For each item, I made a label describing who chose the item and why. I thought it might be a little more special that way. Because I didn't have cute labels or trendy ribbons, I just picked ribbons out of my box of scraps and made little labels out of blank cardstock. I had a baby footprint holepunch, thank goodness, to make it baby themed.

Overall I thought it turned out OK and I had really cute wrapping paper, too. Unfortunatly the TSA didn't think the wrapping paper was so cute and opened the package to inspect the contents. As I was trying to repair the damage, a kind agent offered me some tape that I gratefully accepted.

The gift was well received and everyone had a good laugh about the giant "Inspected by TSA" tape on the package.


Thursday, August 25, 2011

30 Pounds of Blueberries!

I bought 30 pounds of blueberries last week because they were only $2.00/lb and we love blueberries. I froze them in 10 pound batches on cookie sheets and in cake pans. Here's a shot of the first 10 pounds.

When they were frozen I dumped them into ziploc bags. In total I had 90 cups of blueberries!
Here's what one shelf in my freezer looks like.

Oh, the joys of bulk food: A lot of work to store, so worth it for the price.


Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Beyond the Recycle Bin

I love to recycle. I don't know where it comes from because I grew up in a pretty small city where the population tends to dislike "greeners." The primary industry of logging was ruined when the spotted owl made the endangered species list and feelings toward any environmental protection were pretty negative.

Somehow I ended up being a recycling advocate at my high school and even participated in a recycling 'rap' song at a student council convention as part of a recycling breakout session I presented with a friend.

Then I moved to Seattle where all things green are encouraged and felt right at home. Would you believe my hometown still doesn't have a recycle program?! Seriously! My folks burn their paper products and throw the rest away. When I have room in my car I actually bring my reycling home to Seattle because I can't bear to just throw it away there. If my mom reads this she'll probably laugh at my level of commitment, but I don't mind.

I don't consider myself an extremely green person and I'm not extraordinarily concerned about my carbon footprint. I am however aware of my responsibility to this earth that God created and made humankind steward of. We should use our resources wisely and conservatively, while keeping in mind that God also created the earth and other creatures for our use. It can be a delicate balance!

This was supposed to be quick post about reycling options outside of just tossing in the reycle bin but I got a little off topic!

Please share if you know of charities or other organizations that want your recycled goods that would otherwise go in the trash or recycle bin.


Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Sausage Vegetable Soup - Using Garden Produce

I just had a friend ask for my recipe for Sausage Vegetable Soup. So I thought I'd go ahead and post it here in case anyone else is interested. I generally make this about three times a month this time of year because it uses lots of our garden vegetables.

I originally found a recipe on allrecipes. No surprise there for you regular readers, right? And I modify it based on what's on hand or what I need to use up.

Here's what I do:

1 pound Italian sausage (mild, spicy, organic - whatever you like)
1.5 cups chopped onion
1.5 cups sliced carrots
1 celery stalk with leaves, chopped
1 T. fresh, chopped garlic
1 t. basil
1 t. rosemary
1/4 t. crushed red pepper
1/4 t. sage
1 can diced tomatoes (14.5 ounce) or 2 cups of rough chopped tomatoes
5 cups chicken broth
1 can kidney beans, drained (16 ounce) or 2 cups of zucchini
1 cup uncooked pasta shells or two potatoes, chopped small

1. Brown the sausage in a big pot, breaking it into bite sized pieces. Add the fresh garlic so the meat gets flavored.
2. Stir in 3.5 cups of chopped veggies (onion, carrots, & celery) depending on how much you have of what. Cook for 10 minutes to soften.
3. While the veggies cook with the meat add the dry spices: basil, rosemary, sage, & crushed red pepper. The red pepper is imperative for the flavor of this soup - don't leave it out. If you don't like spice, just use a pinch but you've got to add it.
4. Add tomatoes. I just chop up 2 cups worth or more from the garden.
5. Stir in broth - I generally just use 4 cups (because all my stock is measured in 2 cup portions in my freezer) and add a little water if needed.
6. Stir in beans. I usually don't use beans, but chop up a big zucchini or two small ones. In the winter when I don't have fresh zucchni I'll use beans. If you use beans, let the soup simmer for about 20 minutes. If you use zucchini, add it in the last five minutes, not at this point or it'll get overcooked.
7. At a simmer, add 1 cup of pasta. I usually use a tiny pasta, like ditalini or acini de pepe. If I need to use a potato or two, I'll use those instead, chopped small, but not both. Reduce to low heat and let cook for 8-10 minutes.
8. I like to serve it with a little grated parmesan. Yummo!

I also sometimes add a small can of tomato sauce for a little more flavor if I run out of or don't have enough chicken broth.


Monday, August 22, 2011

Are a fool and his money soon parted?

The philosophical (or not) comic strip, Lola, tries to answer that question in their comic style:

"A fool and his money are soon parted."

- Thomas Tusser & John Bridges

Does this hit close to home?



Sunday, August 21, 2011

Garden Update!

Last time I posted about the garden, this is what my yard looked like.

I managed to get all the weeding done and it took awhile because I was also redirecting lots of vines and thinning some plants. It took four 'sessions' of weeding, some with kids and some without to get it all finished.
Here is what the garden yielded this week. Plus some lettuce we already ate. Not tons of stuff, but definitely helping the budget!

These are the cucumber plants. One lonely lemon cucumber grew, but it's vine has withered so I don't think there will be more. There are two other cucumber plants among the zucchini that are doing OK.

This is the beginning of an acorn squash. We'll see how it progresses.

Here is the newly thinned lettuce. It looks so much healthier and more appetizing now, even though there is less of it!

Finally the tomatoes are coming in! So far only early girls have ripened, but this week lots of green globes started appearing on the other 4 plants. Yahoo!

I'll try to post again about the garden next week.


Saturday, August 20, 2011

Saturday Shopping - $14.90

I shopped this morning and spent $14.90. After my horrible spending this week I decided I needed to be very conservative.

I bought:
4 packages of ravioli (natural/preservative free)- clearance price $1.79 each
Organic mint - clearance price $.99
Bag of romaine - clearance price $.79
Pre-made formula - $5.59 ($5.00 coupon) = $.59
Bag of iceberg mix salad - clearance price $.89
Bananas - $.64/lb
Can of garbanzo beans - clearance price $.49
3 loaves of Vita-Bee bread - clearance price $.99

We have lots of fruit and veggies and plenty in the pantry & freezer.

Here's what my pantry looks like after all my shopping this week. And you can't even see the cases of macaroni and baby mum-mums stacked on the floor on the right hand side.


Peaches, Blueberries, & Cherries

I bought lots of produce this week in Sultan with a friend of mine.

The peaches were $14 for a 25# box = $.56/lb
I was able to get two boxes of 'second' peaches which means they are imperfect for just $7.50/box = $.30/lb
All together I've got to can or freeze 125 pounds in the next few days. Wish me luck!

The blueberries were 10# box for $20.00. I bought the maximum allowed, 30 pounds, to freeze and eat all year. We love blueberries around here!

Here's the first ten pounds ready for the freezer:

Finally, there were some end of season cherries available - a 26 pound box for just $8. I split these with a friend for $.31/lb. I don't love cherries, so I'm hoping to make cherry pie filling with these.

Stay tuned to see how the progress goes!


Friday, August 19, 2011

Overspending Habits

So I've had some serious overspending the past couple of weeks and in particular, the last few days.

It started when DH said I could buy a desk I found really cheap at an antique sale. It was a great price, but it wasn't in the budget. Then DH said I could buy a new camera since ours no longer turns on. I shopped around, used consumer reports, and purchased an inexpensive, but hopefully good quality camera. This also was not in the budget.

Meanwhile it was our turn to pay the sitter at Bible study which also wasn't in the budget because we only find out it's our turn a day or two before, usually.

Then DH and I talked about how the $100/week just isn't cutting it for gas, groceries, paper goods, clothes, anything for the house, etc. I really need about $200/week for all this but it's just not our reality. DH said we would look at the budget to give me more - but I know there's not room to give me more - and I went ahead and spent anyway because he'd given me the OK.

First it was another trip to Top Foods to use a $5/$25 coupon. We needed milk and there were some other reasonable sales.

Then it was DD#3 peeing on the floor of The Gap and me feeling guilty and finding something to buy off the clearance rack.

Next it was the trip to Champion Foods, then a friend selling a bunch of her old Mary Kay stock for 25%-50% of retail.

Finally today I bought major peaches, blueberries, and cherries.

All of this is further complicated by DH and I being a bit off and me being mad at him. Usually I eat a lot more when we fight because it makes me feel better emotionally, and I spend a lot more because it also makes me feel better emotionally with the bonus of frustrating him. I don't think either of these responses is particularly healthy, but there you go.

Now that the bulk food is taken care of it's definitely time to reign it in. Our savings account will take a hit this month, and DH will be frustrated, but it'll all be OK. It's just money, after all.


Top Foods' Great New Prescription Program

I am always on the lookout for those pharmacy deals where you get a free gift card if you fill or transfer a prescription to a particular pharmacy. A few years ago these were offered all the time, then they became more of an offer only if you transferred.

For a while Target was the only place offering a gift card with a new prescription and it was only $10, a far cry from the $25 that used to be given at many places.

Now even Target isn't offering any incentive for new prescriptions and many of the deals for transferred prescriptions have made automatic refills with that pharmacy a requirement.

That's why I was so excited to see Top Foods' new pharmacy incentive program. It's a longer-term thing, but the payoff is worth it.

First you earn 1 'point' by filling a prescription. When you earn 10 points you are rewarded with $100 to spend at Top Foods.

This is the equivalent of a $10 gift card for each prescription filled, new or transferred, the best deal around these days.

Now it might seem like 10 prescriptions is a lot and those 10 points would take a long time to accumulate. That's where this program is really great. A transferred prescription or a new presciption earn 3 points - the equivalent of $30! A repeated, refilled prescription earns 1 point.

My kiddos' pediatrician is near a Top Foods. In the future, I plan to take all those antibiotics prescriptions to Top Foods for 3 points each.


Thursday, August 18, 2011

Champion Foods - $53.00

I stopped by Champion Foods in Issaquah yesterday specifically to look for pine nuts. I also thought I'd look around for a few deals since our meal swap is considering going organic, or at least more natural and anything I can find cheap will help. I had $14, period.

I did great for the first aisle, then I happened upon the mac'n'cheese.

I weighed whether or not to go over budget, then went ahead, reasoning that I wouldn't be back in Issaquah for another month probably and this stuff might be gone. I haven't been to Champion in about six months, so this was a persuasive argument to myself.

Here's what I got:

Case of 32 Annie's Shells & White Cheddar - $20.00 = $.62 per box
Case of 32 Annie's Shells & Aged Cheddar - $20.00 = $.62 per box
Box of 18 Annie's fruit snacks - $3.00 = $.17 each (exp. June 2011)
Annie's Bunny-O's Cereal - $1.00 each (exp. July 2011)
Annie's Bunny Grahams - $1.25 each
Kashi Cereal - $1.00 each
Case of 6 boxes Baby Mum-Mums - $2.50
Toddler Mum-Mums - $.50
Chocolate Booty - $.50 (exp. July 2011)
Kettle Chips - $1.00
Terra Chips - $1.00
Pumpkin Pie Spice - $.50
Marjoram - $1.00
Organic Black Tea - $2.00
Organic Green Tea - $2.00
Kids' Organic Tea - $1.00 each
15 boxes of Near East Rice - $.50 each (exp.June 2011)

At Champion I always check dates, but for the most part the expired things are very recently expired and I don't mind using them.

I don't feel good about the overspending - more on that later - but I do like knowing that the kids will be getting much better mac'n'cheese for the next 9 months or so.

My pantry is now bulging, too. I'll post a picture with next week's meal plan.

Oh, and I didn't get pine nuts. $10 for 5 ounces was too costly, so I'll try to find a good substitution.


Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Beau Monde Spice

A friend just gave me a bunch of hand-me-down spices and one of them I've never even heard of.

It's called Beau Monde. I did a little research and found out it's used a lot in dill dressings.

Does anyone want to share how they use Beau Monde? Or post a favorite recipe using it?


Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Albertsons - 71 Cent Shopping Trip!

I love double coupons!

I went to Albertsons yesterday to use 3 double coupons and got some sweet deals!

Hamburger Helper - $1.00 sale price ($1.00/5 MC doubled) = $.60 each
Progresso Soup - $1.00 sale price ($1.00/4 MC doubled) = $.50 each
Totinos Pizza Bites - $1.00 sale price
V-8 Fusion Tea = $2.00 sale price ($1.00/2 MC doubled) = FREE (removed $.29 sales tax, too)

Total purchase $5.71

Buying 10 BoxTops for Education items also produced a $5 coupon for my 'next shopping trip' good for two weeks. So $.71 for all that!


Monday, August 15, 2011

Monday Menu Plan - Pantry Pull Dates

Over the weekend I organized my pantry noting "best by" dates and arranging my stockpile accordingly. I was surprised to find this large quantity of expired food, but I feel pretty good that about 85% of it has a pull date from this summer.

Here's a photo:

I am not one to waste food so we've got to use this up ASAP!

The most embarrassing date is actually from 2001! I probably shouldn't announce that I have food that old, but I'm sure you're all full of grace, right? It's coffee beans so I figure we'll give them a try. I have a grinder and DH doesn't really care what the coffee tastes like since he puts flavored creamer in to cover up the taste anyway. I'll keep you posted on that one . . .

Monday - Lemon Chicken (use expired marinade) & Italian Herb Rice-a-Roni (also expired)
Tuesday - Sloppy Joes (freezer meal)
Wednesday - Pork & Cashew stir-fry (from freezer)
Thursday - Orange Chicken in crockpot (using Catalina dress & orange marmalade) with rice. DH & the kids love stuff like this, but it's way too sweet for me.
Friday - Dinner at a friend's house
Saturday - Beef stir-fry with broccoli, sugar peas, carrots (and expired seasoning mix)
Sunday - Easy Turkey Pot Pie (uses stuffing mix)

Monday - Grilled Cheese
Tuesday - Pasta & Red sauce (little bit of sauce in the freezer to use up)
Wednesday - PBJ
Thursday - Quesadilla
Friday - Mac'n'Cheese
Saturday - leftovers
Sunday - Lunch Out

Clearly I have lots of junk food to use . . . yuck. I guess we'll be eating cupcakes, having cocoa on colder mornings, making some fudge at some point, and gingerbread cookies in August. Ha!


Sunday, August 14, 2011

Saturday Shopping - $54.67!

I shopped way more than I intended do. Darn! Now we just won't have gas money - gah!
I'm having a heck of a time sticking to $100 a week for my allowance.

Anyway, I spent $54.67 and this is what I got:

At Safeway:
5 boxes Kix - $1.99 each with store coupon($1/2 and $1.50/3 MC) = $1.49 ea.
2# brick of cheddar - $4.99
2# shredded cheddar - $4.99
16 ct. string cheese - $3.99 with store coupon ($.50 MC) = $3.49
bananas - $.69/lb
nectarines - $.99/lb
2# organic carrots - $1.00 each

Creamer - $2.50 sale price ($.50 MC) = $2.00
Yami Yogurt 6 pack - $1.69 clearance price
3 Turkey lunchmeat - $1.49 clearance price ($.75/2) = $1.25 each

At this point I should have just been done shopping, but I really wanted to get grapes and pears at Fred Meyer. That would have probably been OK, but then I had to just check out the clearance bins . . .

At Fred Meyer:
Pears - $.88/lb
Grapes - $.98/lb
Green Onion - $.44/bunch
Spinach - $.78/bunch
Yellow Onion - $.59/lb (Noticed the 3# bag of 'bargain onions' cost $2.29 - Hmmm)

Then the clearance items -
2 boxes of Rice Chex - $1.89 clearance price ($1.00/2 MC) = $1.39 each
FM brand Raisin Bran - $.99 clearance price
10# unbleached flour - $2.79 clearance price
Taco Shells - $.79 clearance price ($.50 MC) = $.29
2 loaves Vita-Bee bread - $.99 clearance price each
FM brand green beans - $.29 clearance price
FM brand cream of mushroom - $.49 clearance price
FM brand cream of chicken - $.29 clearance price

Finally I bought 5 bottles of formula for $.59 each after $5 coupons from a friend.

It just adds up!


Saturday, August 13, 2011

Zucchini Bread

I've had several friends ask for my zucchini bread recipe over the years. I thought I had posted it here, but I couldn't find it as I searched last night. Likely I have posted but just mislabeled the post. Oh well. It's a yummy recipe and if you have crazy amounts of zucchini in your garden it's a great way to use it up!

It's another allrecipes find. Click here to see the original.

I especially love this recipe because I only dirty my 1/2 and 3/4 measuring cups, I can use my teaspoon for the dry ingredients, and my tablespoon for the wet ingredients. It's a small thing, but if you bake a lot you'll understand how nice it is not to have to wash your cups and spoons when combining ingredients. It's just fast to put together - zip, zip, zip.

I made some slightly healthier modifications:

1.5 cups all-purpose white flour
1.5 cups all-purpose wheat flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
3 teaspoons ground cinnamon
3 eggs
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup applesauce
2 1/4 cups white sugar
1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
2.5 cups grated zucchini

1. Grease and flour two 8 x 4 inch pans. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C).
2. In this order beat eggs, oil, applesauce, vanilla, and sugar together in a large bowl. (You can use your 1/2 cup without rinsing between the oil and applesauce. Also use your 3/4 cup for the sugar and your tablespoon for the vanilla here).
3. In this order add salt, baking powder, soda, cinnamon and both flours to the creamed mixture, and beat well (Add the cinnamon last because it'll color your teaspoon and use your 3/4 cup again for the flours).
4. Stir in zucchini until well combined. Pour batter into prepared pans.
5. Bake for 40 to 60 minutes, or until tester inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool in pan on rack for 20 minutes. Remove bread from pan, and completely cool.

My kids love this and we'll eat a loaf in a day easily. I have made this recipe three times this week (to share) and I didn't manage a single picture. Oh well.


Friday, August 12, 2011

Top Foods Trip $19.91

I had a coupon for $5/$25 at Top Foods this week so I headed over for a small trip. We are so desperately low on groceries I was pleased to find reasonable prices on some basics we usually pick up other places.

I mentioned earlier this week that I didn't want to grocery shop until Saturday, but I just couldn't hold out! I had several things to return to Target so I didn't have to 'draw' my grocery allowance early either.

As I checked out my total was $24.91 but I there weren't any candy bars or packs of gum in the aisle I could toss in. The cashier graciously suggested I make a "round up" donation to the charity of the month, Seattle Children's Hospital, which made my total $25 even and with $5 off, just $20. Yahoo!

Here's my haul along with DD#3:

Everything was 20% off with my $5/$25 coupon, so here's what I paid:
Mac & Cheese - $.50 sale price (20%) = $.40/box
Spinach - $1.00 sale price (20%) = $.80/bunch
Celery - $.69/lb sale price (20%) = $.55/lb
Cantaloupe - $.39/lb sale price (20%) = $.31/lb
Plums - $1.49/lb sale price (20%) = $1.19/lb
Olives - $.99 (20%) = $.79 each
Eggs - $1.19 sale price (20%) = $.95 dozen
Organic Milk - $5.49 (20%) = $4.39 gallon
Chicken Drumsticks - $.99/lb (20%) = $.79/lb
Salad Dressing - $.99 sale price (20%) = $.79 each
Bananas - $.69/lb (20%) = $.55/lb

I'm desperate for cheese so I might still head to a grocery store again this week. QFC has 2# if cheddar for $4.99 which is as good as I've seen in a long time.


Thursday, August 11, 2011

Freezer Meal Swap - Zucchini Ranch Meatloaf

Tuesday night I had my monthly meal swap. I made Zucchini Meatloaf based on a recipe I found at I had major Zucchini and major ground beef so it seemed like a good choice. Bonus that I got to use up lots of breadcrumbs that have been taking up freezer space.

Here is a photo of all the ingredients and DD#1 in her favorite pose. I actually had to buy the onions, but otherwise had the ingredients on hand.

Ingredient list:
2 pounds ground beef
3/4 cup shredded zucchini
3/4 cup diced onion
1/4 cup diced carrot
1 egg
1 t. worcestershire sauce
1 c. cheddar
1 & 1/2 c. bread crumbs
1 c. ranch dressing
1/4 c. ketchup
1/4 c. bbq sauce

I tripled this and made 5 meatloafs. The comments on the recipe indicated this was a huge recipe and could be split in two.

First I combined all the ingredients excepting the ketchup and bbq sauce

Then I split it into 5 equal portions and put one into a pan for my family's dinner.

Then I combined the ketchup & bbq sauce, again dividing it into 5 parts.
I put one portion on our loaf and popped it into the oven for an hour.

I forgot to take a photo when it came out, but my husband and kids ate it right up so I guess it was alright.

I would have made more, but I only had 3 eggs and I only had 3 cups of cheddar. With the grocery shopping dearth I resigned myself to just tripling the recipe.


Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Garden Goodness!

You can imagine the anticipation, returning from a month long trip, I had about seeing my vegetable garden. A friend agreed to come and water once a week, but other than that I wasn't sure what shape it would be in.

Alas, this is the sight that greeted me:

Scary, right? Well then I braved the knee high grass and weeds for a closer look. I saw tomatoes!

Snap Peas!

Pumkpkin Blooms!

Cucumber! Oh Happy Day - the slugs love to eat my cucumbers!

Lettuce! Trying to grow under the shade of squash leaves.


There were also lovely green beans, an acorn squash and a yellow squash plant that looks promising. Here is what we picked. Clearly we need to use some zucchini!

And clearly I need to teach DD#3 not to pick anything unless Mommy helps her - notice the green tomatoes. I'm so pleased the garden is doing well and that we'll be able to set some stores aside for the winter. I'm thanking the Lord for good weather, good friends, and hearty plants during our absence.

Next up - Weed this crazy mess! Maybe I'll manage it by next week. =^)