Thursday, April 28, 2016

Space Saving Cups

I saw this idea awhile back in a Facebook post.  My girls all use just one cup all the time so at the end of the day I only have 4 kid cups in the dishwasher.  The usually all sit on the edge of the dish drainer, but if the drainer tray was getting gunky I hated to put the kids' cups on it.  I also didn't like how often the cups got knocked off the edge of the counter onto the floor.

So I dug out a few magnets that had been languishing in my craft drawers (ALL saved from other things, like magnetized grocery pads) and super-glued them to my kids' cups.  So far it's been working well! 

Love, Katie

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Salad Dressing Marinade

I hate to throw any food away.  And despite our large family I never seem to go through our salad dressing before its "best by" date, especially organic dressing.  One way I use up the dressing is to marinate and/or cook chicken in it. 

I made this last week and tossed most of it on a salad for lunch.
This is also a good way to use up little bits of dressing that linger in their bottles in the fridge.  I add oil or warm water and give the bottles a good shake.  Then I pour out the remainder onto the meat.  Little bits of dressing are great for little bits of meat. 


Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Defrosting the Freezer - Day 9

Finally, after 9 days of defrosting I decided it was time to wrap up the freezer chore.

Most of the ice had melted

The turkey was iced in and moved the entire shelf contents when I tried to get it out.

I moved the paper bag of ground beef to find these 3 jugs, still frozen solid.

Again, when I tried to pull the milk out, it brought the water-filled jugs along, too.

Turkey with huge ice defrosted in the kitchen sink.

Milk jug defrosts, frozen to it's neighbor.

The ice surrounding the milk finally loosened.

Freezer is humming again with some food still inside.  
Next up will be using freezer contents up so I can unplug for a couple months this summer.


Monday, April 25, 2016

GF/DF Menu Plan

Keeping it simple this week since I'm taking the kids to visit an Auntie.

Monday- Fajitas
Tuesday - Chili
Wednesday - Aunt's house
Thursday - Aunt's house
Friday - Potluck at Bible study small group
Saturday - Pork Chops
Sunday - Popcorn & Smoothie

Monday - Grilled Cheese (leftover taco fixings for DD2)
Tuesday - Finger Food lunch
Wednesday - Aunt's house
Thursday - Aunt's house
Friday - Mac'n'Cheese
Saturday - leftovers
Sunday - Taco Soup


Sunday, April 24, 2016

2016 Groceries Week 17 - $59.19

It was a light shopping week - yay!

First stop was Fred Meyer for a gallon of milk on Monday night.  I also bought 1# lunchmeat for $3.69, 2# shredded cheese for $4.99, 3# organic potatoes for $1.99, and clearance bell peppers for a total of $3.00,  I spent $17.91 on groceries.

My sweet friend picked these up for me at her local Grocery Outlet.  They were about $10 (still need to give my friend the cash).

I went to Fred Meyer again on Saturday for more milk. Organic gallon was $4.99 on sale, Coconut Milk half gallons were $2.00 each.  I picked up a loaf of bread for $1.34, organic celery for $1.45, organic baby carrots for $1.50/lb, 3 oranges, organic hummus for $2.99, and 2# shredded cheese again for $4.99.  I spent $25.30.

Finally, I dashed into Albertson's after church today.  We can't have family movie night without butter for the popcorn!  It was a whopping $3.99 and I grabbed tortillas, too, for fajitas.  I need to use up those bell peppers. I spent $5.98 on the two items.

I am so relieved to finally have a small spending week.  The bigger totals have really been making me doubt my grocery shopping prowess!  Lol.

Week 17 Total: $59.19
Year-to-Date 2016: $2,274.76
Weekly Average: $133.81.


Saturday, April 23, 2016

Defrosting the Freezer - Day 7

Wow - the freezer STILL has all this ice on it!
Those two middle shelves are still pretty iced over.  I can't tug anything out either.

The inside freezer is seriously jam-packed.  I'll have more room if we eat the ice cream. =) 

Another view of the packed inside freezer.

The good news is I can close the door or the freezer again.  The door seal snugs right up the freezer - yay!  But I still want to find what's stuck back in that freezer so I'll let it keep defrosting.

I pulled this chicken out on Day 7. 

It still has ice all over it and is still really cold, but not frozen.

Ice on the bottom, too.


Friday, April 22, 2016

Stretching Ground Meat - Part 2

I share a couple week ago about how I stretch ground meat using onions & black beans for Mexican spiced meals.

Another of my favorite ways to use just half the amount of ground meat is to cut it with cooked quinoa.  It's filling and full of protein, but it looks funny to my family.  So this method works best for me when I hide it in casseroles.

I start with a pound of beef, an onion, garlic, and a cup of quinoa.

While the quinoa is cooking I brown the beef with onions and crushed garlic.

The quinoa only takes about 15 minutes to cook and has about 2 cups of volume.  I add it to the frying pan.

Then I mix the meat and quinoa.

This gives you 4 cups of meat mixture to work with instead of 2 cups of meat.

When I took these photos I was making a cornbread casserole and because I had so much meat mixture (twice the volume) I just made two of the casseroles up.  I cooked one and froze one for later.

Love, Katie

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Thankful Thursday

I'm pretty blessed by a Wonderful Savior.  And it sure helps me to remember when I make a list of things He's given me.

Today I'm thankful for:

  • The Holy Spirit, without whom I wouldn't be able to keep my temper in check
  • A great team of professionals who are helping us navigate challenges with a kiddo
  • A great conversation with a teacher today & a new idea to try - enzymes.
  • The long life of an old, free freezer.  
  • DH's diligence in trying to sell our old car
  • Finally starting a landscaping project that's been stalled for a couple of years.
  • Kids who like healthy food, like asparagus
  • My SIL's willingness to come stay with our kids while DH and I get away
  • Our friends who offered to let us stay at their condo in Hawaii for free!
  • A great mama who knows me and understands me
  • New friendships and encouraging conversation
  • Office Supplies!  
  • Gracious friends
  • My accountability ladies who pray for and love me
  • A happy, healthy son
  • My uncle's excellent care at Johns Hopkins
  • Sunshine!
  • Good, quick chats this week with both of my sisters
Love, Katie

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Defrosting of the Freezer - Day 3

The freezer is taking a long time to defrost!  I am keeping the door closed and the ice was so thick it's taken days and days to slowly melt.  These photos are from Day 3.

The ice has melted on the top shelf!  I found 4 packages of meat hidden back there.
These packages take up a lot of space.

So I repackaged the meat into ziploc bags.  It was still frozen.

The bottom was still pretty frozen on Day 3.
At this point I realized I could keep everything cold in there while the ice slowly melted.  So I just started changing the towels every day and pulling out whatever was newly accessible.


Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Gluten Free & Dairy Free Menu Plan

I'm still working on defrosting the freezer.  It's amazing how cold it has stayed in there!  But I do need to use some of the big, awkward sized things.

Monday - Haystacks (Nachos with toppings piled on)
Tuesday - Chicken (whole in freezer)
Wednesday - Beef Stew
Thursday - Macaronada
Friday - Turkey (whole in freezer) & Potatoes
Saturday - Turkey Pot Pie (GF/DF crust)
Sunday - Smoothie & Popcorn

Monday - Leftovers
Tuesday - Italian Sausage Soup (Sausage from freezer & using up old carrots & celery)
Wednesday - Mac'n'Cheese - GF/DF for DD2
Thursday - Sausages & veggies (packed lunch)
Friday - Pizza
Saturday - Leftovers
Sunday - Taco Soup


Monday, April 18, 2016

2016 Groceries Week 16 - $144.71

Another OK week, but still too big spending wise.

Monday afternoon I stopped at QFC and I found a bunch of clearance deals.  Organic milk was $2.89, soy yogurt was $2.79, organic ground beef was $3.99/lb, and I picked up some organic uncured bacon to try for $5.49.  I spent $51.07.

Friday I stopped in at Safeway for some chips I was bringing to our Bible Study small group.  I spent $9.95.

Saturday afternoon I shopped at Fred Meyer. I bought coconut milk, organic cucumbers, sour cream, organic baby formula, and gf/df pizza.  I found apples on clearance and organic lettuce on clearance.   I spent $28.87.

I also went to Safeway for the $0.99 eggs and was pleased to find daiya cheese on sale for $3.99.  I bought a few oranges, 3# onions and a tangelo.  I also am trying a 'cleaner' cream that was $2.10 and found a gf/df pudding to try.  I forgot to check my receipt though.  The pudding was supposed to be 50% off, but the cashier didn't scan the discount sticker so I paid a ridiculous $3.99 for a 4 pack of pudding.  Yeesh.  I spent $24.88.

DH and I were on a date Saturday night and stopped at the grocery store.  He's nice to me like that. Lol.  We found these clearance cereals for $1.29 each.

And I thought I was done for the week, but ended up at Fred Meyer late Sunday night and found 3 huge carts full of markdowns.  I was really selective because the pantry is bulging already and still found lots of stuff.  I bought all the generic canned pineapple for $0.59/can.  I did NOT get the name brand cans for $0.89/can. I found spaghetti sauce for $0.39 each.  I use this as pizza sauce or as the beginning of a sauce I add lots of other ingredients to.  Granola bars were $1.29, olives were $0.49, tuna fish was $0.39, kidney beans were $0.29, diced chiles were $0.79, organic tomatoes were $0.69, diced mangos for $0.69, and tomatoes with jalapenos were $0.29. Baby formula was $8.99 after a $10 off coupon. I spent $26.07.

Total Week 16: $144.71
Total 2016 YTD: $2,215.57
Weekly Average: $138.47


Friday, April 15, 2016

Defrosting the Freezer - Day 1

I usually defrost the freezer by the end of April so I can unplug it and save energy all summer.  This year, it's not going to happen that soon.  I haven't been able to focus on using up my stores, but I just can't leave my freezer any longer!

I can't even see what's in here!

My inside freezer doesn't have much space to put stuff.

Another view of the inside freezer.

First step, pack the bottom drawer TIGHT.

Move frozen grapes and organic chicken from outside freezer door onto bottom shelf .
After several hours there is still ice several inches thick.

Everything from the door is in the inside freezer.

The bottom shelf wasn't completely iced over so I have to prioritize those items, too.

My goal is to be able to clsoe the door completely and find out what's buried under all that ice.  I will plug it back in and be on the lookout for a new freezer soon!


Wednesday, April 13, 2016

GF/DF Menu Plan

Monday - Box macaroni & cheese
Tuesday - Leftover taco soup & strawberry pancakes
Wednesday - Pizza
Thursday - Chicken/Veggies (packed lunch)
Friday - Finger food lunch
Saturday - nachos
Sunday - Crockpot Stew

Monday - Pancakes & chicken sausage
Tuesday - Taco Salad
Wednesday - Pasta, red sauce, & organic meatballs
Thursday - Italian Sausage Soup
Friday - Potluck - chips
Saturday - Enchilada casserole (df cheese for DD2)
Sunday - Popcorn & Smoothie


Sunday, April 10, 2016

2016 Groceries Week 15 - $155.67

Gosh, Week 15 already.  Time is flying!

I had some heavy shopping early in the week, but I've been spending so much I felt like staying away from the stores toward the end of the week.  I might miss some deals, but I can't spend if I'm not there, right?

First was Fred Meyer Monday where DD1 and  had our Bible study this week.  I picked up more of that organic beef, some organic potatoes, organic cucumbers, and organic baby formula.  I found Z-bars on clearance for $1.99 and was happy to see they were GF/DF.  Wheat thins were on sale and I had an extra MC, as was the Bailey's coffee creamer with an extra MC.  I bought cottage cheese, sour cream, and cream cheese. I also found these Lunchable things for $1.49 on clearance with a $1.00 peelie on them!  I bought two so DH could have a couple really cheap lunches.  I spent $61.54.

I dropped into QFC late Monday night with an eye toward more organic beef, but alas there was none.  Instead I scored organic cottage cheese for $0.99 each(!), and several packages of sausage for $1.00 each.  I like to give the kids a little protein the morning, even if it is not-so-healthy sausage.  There was also clearance organic yogurt for $2.39/tub, clearance applesauce for $1.00/jar, and clearance apples again, 3/$0.99.  I wanted a couple of bananas for smoothies and I picked up sparkling cider for $0.99 as a treat for the hubby and some dressing for $1.29, too.  I spent $28.07 altogether - a bargain really for all that sausage and organic dairy.

Now, I'd already spent a bundle on just the first day of the week, but I coudn't pass up the great advertised deals at County Market in Woodinville.  We have an appointment in Woodinville every Tuesday and if it makes sense we'll catch the last day of the County Market sales.  This week several Kellogg's cereals were on sale for $1.79 and I had coupons making them $1.29 each.  8oz shredded cheese was just $0.99!  I missed that the limit was 3,but the cashier offered to ring up the other 2 separately.  I protested and she insisted so I ended up with 5 at that great price.  I also picked up some parsley I needed for a recipe and a couple clearance bacon, cheddar hamburger patties for DH and I to cook on date night.  I spent $14.13.

So I didn't shop at all Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, or Sunday.  But I did stop at QFC with a kiddo on Saturday morning for the cereal deals.
We bought 4 boxes of cereal for $1.38 each after sale & coupons, organic cottage cheese was $0.97 so I got a bunch, but wow we are loaded up with cottage cheese now.  I found nitrate-free chicken sausage for $1.99, organic chicken breast on clearance for $5.99/lb, organic romaine hearts for $1.99, some Reese's cups, som clearance tomatoes, asparagus (yum!), some GF/DF chips, some GF/DF crackers to try, and some conventional crackers.  I spent $51.93.

Week 15 total: $155.67
Year-to-Date: $2,070.86
Weekly Average: $138.06

I have to get my spending down.  This is crazy.


Saturday, April 9, 2016

Buying Organic Beef in Bulk at Kroger Stores

The last two weeks of grocery shopping have had an interesting situation.

I ran across organic beef on clearance at a Fred Meyer I don't usually go to.   I bought the beef and wondered if my regular Fred Meyer might have it.

I didn't get to my normal Freddie's very soon, but found the same beef on clearance at my neighborhood QFC.  It made sense since Fred Meyer and QFC are both Kroger stores that they would have received deliveries on the same day/had the same batch of meat.

With that in mind I checked the other neighborhood QFC (they're only a few blocks apart - strange, but both do a pretty brisk business), but they did NOT have the beef on clearance.

When I finally made it to my normal Fred Meyer fully 6 days after I found the first batch of organic beef, they had it!  I was really pleased to find it.

I also use Fred Meyer and QFC printed or mailed coupons interchangeably.  They're the same company so the codes all ring up at either store.  For example, a catalina coupon might print for $2.00/5 boxes of GM cereal when I've just bought some GM cereal at Fred Meyer.  It says
Fred Meyer right on the coupon, but the next week I can use it at QFC when their GM cereal is on sale (without limits like Fred Meyer usually has).

In another similar circumstance the last two weeks, I have been hunting for So Delicious GF/DF Mac'n'Cheese.  I found it for the bargain price of $1.29/box at Grocery Outlet in Bellevue and went back the next weekend for more only to find they had a single remaining box.  When I lamented on Facebook a friend suggested I call around to other Grocery Outlets and see if they had it.  So Smart!  Additionally, I was near another Grocery Outlet in an outlying town over the weekend, but they didn't have any.  I found a store that had it about half hour drive away and a friend who lives near it said she'd so and pick any up for me.  Hooray!  And boo that there aren't more Grocery Outlets close to where I live.

Lesson: When you find a great unadvertised deal,  check at other stores of the same company if you'd like more product. 


Friday, April 8, 2016

Stretching Ground Meat

One of my favorite ways to save on the grocery budget is to stretch meat.  Meat is a huge part of the budget so using less is always a savings.

One way I stretch ground beef or ground turkey is to pad it with other food.  Earlier this week we had taco salad and I used organic ground turkey, half an onion and 2 cups of cooked black beans to bulk up the meat.

  •  organic ground turkey purchased on clearance for $2.50 and tucked into the freezer.  I defrosted it five minute before cooking.
  • half an onion, chopped, that I just pulled out of my fridge
  • black beans I cooked 2 months ago and froze in 2 cups portions so I could use them for this purpose and any time a recipe calls for a "can of black beans - 15 oz." 

All cooked & combined.  I also used garlic, cumin, chili powder, & paprika for Mexican seasoning.

Finished product
My whole family had taco salad and some had seconds.  There was still half of the meat mixture left when I cleared the table.  We used a little meat for tacos for lunch for DD2 and we used the rest for leftover taco salad for lunch yesterday.

Love Katie