Saturday, December 31, 2011

Today's Frugal Dinner: Baked Potato Soup

Beautiful Bacon.  Sizzling away, 8 slices of bacon comprise the first step of this lovely soup.  Yes, I only have 7 slices in the pan.  I only had 7 slices left in the pack and wasn't willing to thaw the package in the freezer just for one slice.  (Plus I like to think that using 7 slices instead of 8 is somewhat cheapskate-y of me.)

While the bacon sizzles (and 4 or 5 potatoes cook in the microwave for 12 minutes), melt the butter in a large stock pot (I used my big Rachael Ray pot.) then add garlic.  Mix in the flour.  Then SLOWLY add  milk, whisking to help eliminate lumps.  Next, add in some chicken stock and KEEP WHISKING.  You want the soup to be super smooth.  This is the most labor-intensive step of this soup.  Good news, though: once this step is done, your soup is almost done.  When the soup is nicely smooth and thickening, the potatoes should be finished and ready to move on to the next step.

Cut open the potatoes and scoop the insides into the soup.  (I LOVE that I don't have to peel the potatoes for this soup.) Mash the potatoes a bit with a wooden spoon.  Stir in some cheddar cheese, sour cream, green onions, and some of that yummy bacon.

To serve, ladle into bowls and garnish with more sour cream, green onions, cheddar, and bacon.  Or, if you are like my kids and have hang-ups about most of those items, just bacon.  (That reminds me, don't tell my Dianna that there is cheese in here.  She won't touch it if she knows, and she currently thinks I make "famous" potato soup.  I'd like to keep up the delusion that I'm a good cook.  And don't tell Jarod either, because he currently has a thing about "cooked" cheese.  If it's melty, he doesn't like it, apparently.  If we could just keep this between us, that would be great.  Thanks a heap.)

This recipe is amazing, and the girls at http://www.ourbestbites.com/ has certainly helped to make it not-so-bad-for-you.  I love their lower-fat twist to the soup.  I must admit that I used 2% milk not skim and I used full-fat sour cream instead of low-fat, because that's how I roll. (Really, I needed to buy a big container of sour cream to help make several recipes and the only big container was the regular version.)


8 slices of bacon, divided
4 or 5 potatoes (about 2 1/2 pounds)
2-3 cloves of garlic, minced
1/2 c. flour
4 1/2 c. milk
1 14 oz. can of chicken broth
2 c. grated cheddar (I used sharp.), divided
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1 1/2 c. sour cream, divided
1/2 c. chopped green onions, divided

Cook 8 slices of bacon.  Crumble and set aside.
Wash the potatoes well, then poke them several times with a fork.  Microwave for 12 minutes, or until cooked through. (12 minutes is perfect in my microwave.)
In a large pot, melt the butter, then add the garlic.  Cook for several minutes, then add the flour, stirring well to combine.
Stir in the milk slowly, whisking constantly to make smooth.  Add the chicken broth and whisk until completely smooth.
Once the soup is smooth and beginning to thicken, turn the heat down.  Cut open the potatoes and use a spoon to scoop out the innards.  Use a wooden spoon to smash the potatoes a good bit. Add 1 1/2 c. cheese, 3/4 c. sour cream, 1/4 c. green onions, and 4 slices of crumbled bacon. 
That's it! The soup is ready to serve! Garnish with more cheese, sour cream, bacon, and green onions.

Let's talk price:
bacon - purchased at Sam's for $13.48 for 3 1/2 lbs. - $2.25
4-5 potatoes - purchased at Sam's for $3.98 for 10 lbs. - $1
2-3 cloves of garlic - purchased at Sam's for $4.72 for 48 oz. - $.10
1/2 c. flour - purchased at Sam's for $7.28 for 25 lbs. - $.05
4 1/2 c. milk - purchased at Sam's for $3.89 for 1 gal. - $1.09
14 oz. chicken broth - purchased at Publix on BOGO sale $2.59 for 2 (32 oz.) boxes - $.65
2 c. grated cheddar - purchased at Sam's for $3.98 for 2 lb. - $1.00
salt - $0.00
pepper - $.02 est.
1 1/2 c. sour cream - purchased at Publix for $2.59 for 24 oz. - $.86
green onions - purchased at Publix for $.60 for a bunch - $.08
Bread from the Publix bakery, because I just couldn't resist - $2.99
Tortilla chips - leftovers from lunch at Red Robin
Total cost for this meal: $10.09
We have enough leftovers to have a little snack tomorrow afternoon.  Or when up at 2:00 am with a hungry baby.  Plus there's enough bread for another 2 or 3 soup meals.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Tonight's Frugal Dinner - Talani's Famous Ham

This ham that Talani makes with leftovers is so ridiculously delicious that we gobbled it up before we could take a picture of it.  It may not be "famous" to the world, but we like it so much that it's definitely famous around our house. It's NOT a healthy meal, necessarily, but we like it anyway. 

Talani combines chopped up leftover spiral sliced ham (from Christmas dinner this time) with spicy brown mustard, brown sugar, and butter.  It just cooks until it's heated through and the sugar isn't grainy anymore.  Sometimes it's really saucy; tonight it was not.  Sometimes it's really sticky; tonight it was not.  It was wonderful.  We ate it with rice.  I had seconds.  And I don't regret it.  At all.

Talani's Famous Ham and Rice

about 2 c. leftover spiral-sliced glazed ham, chopped $3 (We bought our ham at $1.99/lb., and I'm estimating that we ate 1 1/2 lb.)
1 1/2 Tbsp. brown sugar $.05
3 Tbsp. spicy brown mustard $.23
2 Tbsp. butter $.16
2 c. rice $.25

Combine rice and 4 c. water.  Bring to a boil, then reduce heat.  Rice will be done in approximately 18 minutes.
Meanwhile, combine ham, sugar, mustard, and butter.  Simmer and sizzle until heated through and the sugar isn't grainy anymore.

Total cost: $3.69

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Today's Cheapskate DESSERT: Lime Meltaways

Oh my, I LOVE baking.  I can't believe it's taken me 34 years to figure out what a great hobby it is.  I always dreaded the clean up, I guess, and that kept me from trying too many things.  I have grasped the fact that clean up is part of the process, and that the process is captivating.  I get more relaxation from baking, I think, than even a nap.  (And I've always loved naps.) 
I've followed http://www.closetcooking.com/ on twitter for quite some time, enjoying the recipes, but feeling like they were out of my league.  I recently read the recipe for dark chocolate shortbread with fleur de sel, and I was intrigued.  I browsed his Kevin's blog a little bit and came across the recipe for lime meltaways.  WELL, if there's anything I'd like to snack on more than chocolate chunk cookies, it's lime cookies.  I have a special affinity for just about anything citrus.

I did make a couple of tweaks, but nothing major.  At least I hope it doesn't turn out to be major.  I'm only about half way done with the recipe as I type this portion of this post.

Lime Meltaways

1 1/2 sticks butter, at room temperature ($.94)
1/3 c. powdered sugar ($.12)
zest of 2 limes ($.67)
2 Tbsp. lime juice
1 Tbsp. vanilla extract (I used almond just because, and I was just shy of a tablespoon.) ($.21)
1 3/4 c. + 2 Tbsp. flour ($.30)
2 Tbsp. corn starch ($.05)
1/4 tsp. salt ($.00)
3/4 c. powdered sugar ($.27)

Total for the batch: $2.56
My batch made 3 dozen cookies.

Cream together butter and sugar.
Add lime zest and juice, vanilla (or almond) extract and beat well.
In a large bowl, mix flour, cornstarch, and salt.
Combine wet and dry ingredients.
Roll out the dough into a 1 1/4 inch log.
Wrap in plastic and chill in the refrigerator for at least an hour. (I used the freezer for 30 minutes.)
Slice the dough into 1/4 inch pieces and place on a baking sheet 1 inch apart.
Bake at 350 for 12-15 minutes.
Let cook on a wire rack for 4 minutes.
Dredge in powdered sugar to coat.

Lime Meltaways in the cut-into-slices phase.

**UPDATE: The cookies are done, and they are different than I expected.  They are drier than I thought.  I was expecting really buttery meltiness, not crumbly meltiness.  They taste good - tart and sweet at the same time.  I'm somewhat disappointed to be honest.  I wonder if the lack of vanilla extract was my mistake?  I had thought I'd also try making the dark chocolate shortbread cookies linked above, but now I'm not sure I want to.   Oh, well.  Really, I like them.  I do.  But I'm afraid no one else will.  And I think they might be messy with their crumbli-ness.

The first pan of Lime Meltaways as a finished product. 

Friday, December 23, 2011

Today's Cheapskate Meal: Tortellini Sausage Soup

Okay, so a food photographer I am not.  This is 1/2 pound bulk pork sausage cooking up as the first step to creating this amazing soup.  (Can I just say that, as I type this, the soup is about halfway finished, and my house already smells amazing.  I can't wait for lunch.)

Some other ingredients I needed: parsley, basil, tomato puree, minced garlic, oregano, apple cider vinegar, beef broth, carrots (mine are matchsticks), zucchini (I bought several on sale, grated them up, and froze them in individual sized bags just for this purpose.), diced onion.  On the left side, you can see a tiny corner of a cookie sheet.  That cookie sheet is filled with breadsticks from an http://www.ourbestbites.com/ recipe, and they go great with this soup.  On the right hand side, you can see my laptop with this recipe.  I wonder how many times I'll make this soup before I'll have it memorized.  I've made it at least a dozen times and I'd still be lost after the brown-the-sausage-and-add-onions-and-garlic phase.

Before I go any further, I need to give props to Kate and Sara at http://www.ourbestbites.com/.  Seriously, I don't know what my family did for food before I stumbled upon this blog in the spring.  About half of what I make comes from this blog!  I wait anxiously for each new post, and I'm constantly adding their recipes to my "try these tasty eats" folder on my favorites.

I rarely vary from a recipes ingredients or steps, because I'm terrified of messing things up.  I can say, though, that I make several tweeks to this soup and haven't had disastrous results.

Tortellini Sausage Soup

3 links Italian sausage (I use 1/2 lb. bulk sausage) $1.50
4 cloves minced garlic ($.12)
1 onion, diced (I use 1/2 an onion because I don't care for a lot of onion, and I get to make the call since I'm the one cooking!) $.25
1/2 c. water (I usually use double this, since I like to make the soup really stretch.) $0
2 cans chicken broth (I use beef.) $1.29 (BOGO)
1/2 c. apple cider (I use 1 - 1 1/2 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar.) $.10
1 16 oz. can diced tomato
1 8 oz. can tomato sauce (I use a 29 oz. can of tomato puree.  I don't like chunks of tomato.  Again, I get to make that kind of substitution cuz I'm the one cooking, and usually no one is the wiser.)  $1.89
1 c. sliced carrots ($.30)
1 tsp. dried basil ($.03)
1 tsp. dried oregano ($.03)
2 medium zucchini, grated (I use only about 1/2 of a zucchini.) $.50
8-10 oz. package frozen tortellini ($3.59)
2 Tbsp. dried parsley ($.18)

Total: $9.78.  That seems like a lot of money for one soup meal!  But it's oh-so-filling; I usually have leftovers for another meal or late night snack.  Plus, it's still MUCH cheaper than going out for a soup lunch at Olive Garden or Panera Bread.  I serve this with sprinkles of parmesan cheese and fresh breadsticks, which brings the total closer to $12 for the meal.  I'm okay with that, really.

Brown the sausage.  Drain fat if necessary. (I've never had enough to worry about draining.)
Add the onions and garlic, and cook just for a few minutes.
Add water, broth, cider or vinegar, tomatoes, carrots, basil, and oregano.  Simmer for 30 minutes.
Add zucchini and parsley.  Simmer for 15 minutes.
Add tortellini.  Simmer for about 10 minutes.
(I usually divide my soup into two parts before adding the pasta.  The grownups like tortellini, but the kids don't care for the cheese.  I take a portion of the soup, put it in another pot, and add some kind of fun little pasta shape (today it's wheels), and cook for 7 minutes. That way, they get what they like, and it's more tortellini for me!)


Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Today's Cheapskate Meal: Chipotle Pork Tacos

The sliced pork loin marinates briefly in a mixture of lime zest, lime juice, oregano, chipotle in adobo (sauce only), salt, and garlic.

I cooked up some sliced white onion then removed them from the pan.  The sliced pork loin cooks super quickly, then the onions rejoin it in the pan. 
I'm serving it on rice instead of in tortillas.  Rice is soooo much cheaper than a pack of tortillas.  I gave a thought to trying to make tortillas myself today, but I didn't think seriously enough about it to actually work up the effort it would take.  Maybe next time.  These tacos are on the menu again next week, so maybe I'll give it a shot then.  This stay-at-home vacation is the perfect time to try making tortillas.  Maybe you'll see a "cheapskate meal" post in the next week or so all about homemade tortillas.  If you don't, you can assume that either I didn't try to make them or that I did and they totally flopped!

See the original recipe for this delicious meal from ourbestbites here.

Here's the breakdown of what we had tonight:

Chipotle Pork Tacos

1 lb. pork loin or chops, sliced thin ($2.00)
zest and juice of one lime ($.33)
1/2 tsp. dry oregano ($.03)
1 tsp. brown sugar ($.03)
chipotle in adobo ($.18)**
2 tsp. minced garlic ($.15)
1/4 tsp. salt ($.00)
3 tsp. olive oil ($.08)
1 c. chopped onion ($.21)
2 c. rice ($.17)***
sour cream ($.50)
Shredded cheese ($1)

Total cost: $4.18, plus the cost of tomatoes and ranch served alongside.  So, maybe around $6?

**I used just about 1 Tbsp. of sauce from the can of chipotle in adobo.  Our family doesn't want much heat at all, so I go easy on it.  The original recipe calls for 2 tsp - 1 1/2 Tbsp, depending on the amount of heat desired.  The peppers themselves contain more heat than the sauce.
***The original recipe calls for corn tortillas.  I saved at least $2 by substituting rice.

In a bowl, combine the pork, lime juice and zest, oregano, garlic, salt, and chipotle in adobo.  Set aside. 
Saute chopped onions in a bit of olive oil, about 4 minutes.  Set aside.
Add a little more oil to the pan, then saute the pork until no longer pink, about 4 minutes. (See, the recipe goes together QUICKLY!)
Add onions to the pork and allow to cook together and get all happy.
Serve on tortillas (or rice) with sour cream and chopped cilantro. 
I like to add shredded cheese to mine.  Salsa isn't necessary and would be insulting to the spicy pork, I think. 
Shredded lettuce, diced tomato, diced avocado, etc., wouldn't be amiss, either but would add to the price bottom line.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Today's Cheapskate Meal: Dinner Rolls

Dinner rolls during the first rise.

Uniform dinner rolls during the second rise.  The recipe made 80 rolls weighing an average of 25 grams each.


Dinner rolls just after they came out of the oven.  They're beautiful.

This recipe comes from the website http://www.onceamonthmom.com/.  It is designed to be frozen part of the way through the procedure then thawed at some later date.  The batch makes so many that you could totally do that. I could easily see making sets of 20 of these little beauties.  However, I don't have the number of smaller baking dishes needed to freeze these.  Plus, now I have plenty of excuse to eat delicious carbs over the next couple of days.
These rolls have a slightly pretzel-y flavor that I can't explain.  If I were more like Alton Brown I might know why they have that distinct taste.  Since I'm not more like Alton Brown, I'll just remain ignorant and enjoy the pretzel-y-ness. 
These rolls have very normal rise times.  Being slow in the kitchen, though, I - of course - have to find a way to make them take longer than necessary.  I'm obsessive about uniform rolls so I weigh them out on my digital scale to get them to weigh the same.  I weighed in grams and made rolls that were 24-27 grams each.  I ended up with one roll that was 36 grams.  I made two 18 gram rolls out of it and didn't notice a bit of difference when we ate them tonight.
  I made this recipe at Thanksgiving and it was the one failure of the day.  I think I made them too large, and that caused them to not cook through in the middle.  These smaller rolls, though, were perfectly done.
I am planning to make potato soup for lunch tomorrow, and these will go great alongside.

Dinner Rolls

2 cups warm milk  $.47
1/2 c. melted butter $.63
1/2 c. sugar $.17
2 1/4 tsp. yeast $.12
4 1/2 c. flour $.16
1/2 tsp. baking powder $.03
1 tsp. baking soda $.03
1/2 tsp. salt $.00

Combine warm milk, melted butter, and sugar.  Stir until the sugar is dissolve, then add the yeast.  Let stand for 10 minutes.  The yeast should be bubbly.  (I assemble my bread doughs a little differently.  I add the yeast to the milk and butter and let stand for 10 minutes.  Then I add the sugar and stir until dissoved.) 
In a large bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.  Pour the milk/butter/sugar/yeast mixture over the dry ingredients.  Mix very well.
Place bowl in a warm place, cover, and let rise for about an hour.
After the rise is complete, punch down, and divide into two sections.  Roll dough into golf-ball sized rolls and place in a greased 9x13 pan. (I used a 9x13 and a 9x9. I also didn't divide the dough into two sections; I just weighed it out.)  Cover and allow to rise until double. 
About half way through the rise, preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Bake the rolls for 12-15 minutes. (I started at 12, then reset the timer for another 3 minutes when they were still very raw looking.  After that 3 minutes, they still didn't look quite done, so I let them go another 3 minutes.  That gives me a total of 18 minutes.)
Upon removing rolls from the oven, rub with cold butter.  (I also like to sprinkle them with a tiny bit of salt.)
Enjoy as soon as you can touch them without blistering your fingers.

The total cost of these rolls is $1.61.  These will last several meals.

Today's Frugal Meal: Caldereta with Pork

Either my camera is on a weird setting or my kitchen lighting is funky.  I promise this dish is not so completely orange. 
Last Christmas, one of my students and her parents prepared a Filipino meal for us as a Christmas gift.  It was incredible.  They made us lumpia; we love lumpia.  And they made us caldereta.  I'd never had caldereta before.  I'd never HEARD of caldereta before.  We loved it! So much so, as a matter of fact, that I asked the mom of that student to share the recipe.  Today is the second time I have made this dish.  The first time I tried it, it was a hit, which is a good thing since I was being very daring and cooking it when we were having company. 
The recipe calls for mixed vegetables to be added in, but I just didn't want to. 
Tonight I made linguine noodles to serve under the stew.  I also made some rolls which will show up in another post, probably later this evening.

Pork Caldereta

2 lb. pork loin, diced ( I used just 1 pound for our family.) $2.00
1 Tbsp. olive oil $.10
4 cups of water, divided $.00
1 pkg. Mama Sita's caldereta mix, available at Asian food stores (I used only half the packet for our little family.  I didn't want the stew to be too spicy, and I wanted to minimize the amount of MSG I used.) $.60
3-4 medium potatoes $.99
2 c. frozen vegetables (peas, mixed veggies, etc.) $.99
1 Tbsp. cornstarch $.10

In a large skillet, brown diced pork in olive oil.  When browned, add 2 cups of water and caldereta mix.  Bring to light boil, then allow to simmer for several minutes.
Meanwhile, peel and dice potatoes.  Add potatoes and vegetables to the pork. (I added an extra cup of water at this point.  I didn't feel like I had enough to cook the potatoes through.)  Allow to cook until the potatoes are tender.  (I let it go 10 minutes.) 
Mix cornstarch with 2 cups of cold water.  Pour into pork and potato mixture.  Bring back to a boil for a minute, then reduce heat and let simmer.  (The whole cornstarch and extra water step is optional but is very appropriate to dilute the spicyness of the dish.  Even with using only half the caldereta mix, I still did this step.)
Serve with rice or noodles.
The total cost for this meal is $5.18, including the cost of half a box of linguine.  I only spent $4.19 since I left the veggies out tonight.  Add to that the cost of the dinner rolls I made ($1.61 for the whole batch; we used 1/3 of that batch, or $.54 worth.), and tonight's dinner cost us $4.73.

Today's Cheapskate Meal: Black Bean Tomato Soup

That's right, just two measly slices of bacon.  You'll be able to taste it in every bite.

Hmm.  Kinda doesn't look so good at this point.  I'm telling you, though, less than 15 minutes after this moment: bliss in the form of creamy black beany soup.

I've stumbled upon a new-to-me cooking blog - http://www.deliciousmeliscious.com/ - and have saved about half of her recipes to my favorites.  I've got a long list of new recipes to try.  It will easily take me into the spring to try all of the dishes that appeal to me.  I've tried two recipes already: mongolian beef, which was a HUGE hit at our house, and this black bean tomato soup.  The kids weren't a big fan of the soup, but they don't seem to care for black beans much. (crazy kids)  My husband is very easy to please, but he did make some happy sounds as he ate the soup.  (maybe he tasted the bacon)
I'm pathetically slow in the kitchen - although I really do think I'm getting faster the more I cook - but this recipe didn't take too long at all.  In fact, I made this soup, pao de queijo, rice, and moroccan beef (in case the soup didn't go over well) all at the same time.  I wish I had one of those fancy blenders, like a vitamix or a ninja.  Oh, well, my old food processor did the job well enough, even though I did wonder if the soup could be even smoother. 

Black Bean Tomato Soup

2 center-cut bacon slices (I used the thick slices I like so much.)
1/2 c. chopped onion
1/4 c. chopped celery (I left this out since I didn't have any celery.  I didn't miss it.)
1 tsp. cumin
1/2 tsp. chili powder
1 garlic clove, minced
1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1 (15 oz.) can black beans, rinsed
1 (14.5 oz) organic no-salt-added diced tomatoes (I used the non-organic, salty, whole stewed tomatoes because that's what I had on hand.  Since everything was pureed in the food processor, I don't figure it made a whole lot of difference.)
1 (14 oz.) can chicken broth

Cook up the two slices of bacon then remove it from the pan.  Allow it to cool, then crumble it and set aside.  Drain some fat, if necessary, so that there is just a trace left.  (I didn't have to drain at all.)  Add in the chopped onion and celery.  Cook for 5 minutes or until the celery is cooked through.  Stir in cumin, chili powder, garlic, and pepper; cook for 1 minute.  Add in beans, tomatoes, broth, and crumbled bacon.  Bring to a boil, then lower the temperature and allow to simmer for about 10 minutes.  Ladle half the soup into the bowl of your food processor or the carafe of your fancy blender.  Process or blend until smooth, leaving the lid open but covered with a cloth to let steam escape.  Remove blended soup to a bowl and repeat process with the rest of the soup. 
Serve soup with sour cream.  (The recipe on deliciousmeliscious gives guidelines for making a lime-cilantro cream.  My hubby doesn't care at all for cilantro, so I didn't bother with this.)
I served it over rice, with the sour cream and a tiny sprinkle of cheddar cheese.  It was really good, fairly healthy (would be more so without the bacon, but I couldn't do without the bacon!), and filling. 
I'll definitely make it again.  Two successful meals from this blog make it a winner in my book, and I can't wait to try another recipe!


Monday, December 19, 2011

Today's Cheapskate Meal: Pao de Queijo

Oh, these rolls!  They're AmAzInG!  They really aren't cheapskate-y, except for the fact that they are part of a meal that is oh-so-much-cheaper than eating at a restaurant.  I made these rolls to go alongside creamy black bean tomato soup.  The un-cheapskate-y part of them is the tapioca flour.  I paid $5.50 for a bag that will only make about 4 batches. 
Once again, I called upon a recipe from my favorite cooking blog, http://www.ourbestbites.com/.  I have wanted to make these rolls for, like, infinity, but couldn't because I couldn't find the tapioca flour that is a must-have.  I finally stumbled upon it this morning, so I couldn't let the day go by without giving them a try.  Sara of ourbestbites suggests sprinkling rosemary on top.  I put a pinch of dried rosemary into the batter instead.  Other than that, I pretty much did exactly what the recipe said to do.  Oh, with one more exception: I used mild cheddar instead of sharp because that's what I have.
For Sara's great backstory and lots more fabulous recipes, be sure to check out http://www.ourbestbites.com/.

Pao de Queijo

1 large egg $.16
1/2 c. milk $.12
1/4 c. oil $.06
1 c. tapioca flour  $1.38
1/2 tsp. salt $0
1/4 c. cheddar cheese  $.22
1/4 c. parmesan cheese $.12

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Put egg, milk, oil, flour, and salt into your blender or food processor.  Blend until smooth.
Add cheeses and pulse a couple of times until combined.  (This is when I added the rosemary, too.)
Pour into greased muffin tins, filling 3/4 full or a little less. (Sara says this gets her 16-20 muffins.  I only got 9.  Maybe she uses mini muffin tins?)  Sprinkle with a little extra parmesan and/or salt.  Bake at 400 for 15-20 minutes. (15 was perfect for me.) Try one as soon as it's cool enough to handle, and serve the rest while they're still warm.  (They don't reheat well, according to Sara, so don't waste time with this!)
Total cost for this side dish: $2.06, or $.23 per roll.

Today's Frugal Meal: Homemade Barbeque Pizza

This picture does not do this pizza justice.  It's HUGE.  It's delicious.  It's saucy and cheesy.  I'm getting hungry all over again just looking at the picture!
I used a wonderful dough recipe, one I regularly use for pizza dough as well as for breadsticks.  I topped the beautiful pizza with a tub of barbeque pork in sauce and a couple of handsful of shredded mozzarella cheese.  I baked the crust for about 10 minutes, added the toppings, then baked again for 10 or so minutes.  I turned on the broiler for about half a minute to try to get the cheese a bit crispy, but it didn't work like I had hoped.  I must have just not let it go long enough in my fear that it would burn. 
The key to this amazing pizza is the crust.  I use the recipe and method I learned on http://www.ourbestbites.com/.  I rarely ever deviate from this recipe at all, with one exception that I'll mention in the recipe directions below.

Pizza Crust (Or Breadsticks)
from http://www.ourbestbites.com/

1 1/2 c. warm water
1 Tbsp. sugar
1 Tbsp. yeast
1/2 tsp. salt
3-4 1/2 c. flour

In a large bowl, combine the water, sugar, and yeast. Allow to bloom for about 10 minutes.  (Here's what I do differently: I only combine the water and yeast.  After the 10 minutes, I stir the sugar in.) 
Stir in the salt.
Add in 2 cups of flour and stir until well combined.  Then add flour little by little (up to a total of 4 1/2 c.) until the dough is soft and elastic. 
Spray a bowl with non-stick cooking spray, put dough in the bowl, and cover with a damp towel.  Allow to rise for about 45 minutes. 
Punch down and roll into a circle.  (For last night's pizza, I put the whole dough into the cast iron skillet and pressed it out.  Next time, I will only use half the dough because it got realllllllly big.) Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with garlic powder and salt.  Use a pastry brush to spread seasoned oil all the way to the edge.  Prick with a fork several times.  Allow to rise for a few minutes, while the oven preheats to 425.
Bake at 425 for about 10 minutes.  Remove from oven and top.  Return to oven for another 10-12 minutes.
Enjoy the giantness that is your pizza.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Weekly Menu, Week of 12/5

Ah, December!  What a busy month!  I've tried to plan out a few weeks in advance, even though I know full well that plans will change, and I'll end up doing something out of the plan somewhere along the way.  Oh, well, it's important to me to at least start the month feeling organized!

Here's what I'm planning for us to eat this week.

Monday: Chili and frozen garlic bread
Tuesday: Glazed Bacon-Wrapped Meatloaf and noodles
Wednesday: Loaded Baked Potato Soup
Thursday: Hamburger Helper
Friday: Not-sagna pasta toss
Saturday: (Lunch) birthday party
               (Dinner) Sausage-Tortellini soup and breadsticks
Sunday:  (Lunch) Pot roast and rice
              (Dinner) Barbecue Pork Pizza using this crust

A couple of weeks ago I had a menu that I realized was really Asian inspired, though I didn't realize it until I typed out my meal plan here.  This week, I realize that our menu is really heavy on red meat.  But that's what we have, so that's what we're eatin'.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Look What I Made!: Stretchy Flower Headbands

I am so excited about the success of this little project.  I am so NOT crafty it's scary, so the fact that I was able to assemble anything at ALL is a minor miracle.  Not only was I able to get through this project, but I also completed the project in just a few minutes.
Almost everything I bought was 50% off at Hobby Lobby.  I bought 2 single-stemmed flowers for $1.67 total.  The stretchy headbands were $.99 each, and the pearls in the center cost $1.49 for 105.  I bought a package of alligator clips for $1.99 for 25.  The only things that weren't 50% off were the glue gun and glue sticks I bought, at a total cost of $12.98.  The cost for each headband was $1.96, plus the cost of the glue gun and glue sticks.  And really, I probably completed both in just 15 minutes.  I prepped myself thoroughly by reading through this blog post and assembling all my materials before beginning.  I cannot get over how easy it was!  I hope I remember to post pictures of my little girls wearing Mommy's handiwork tomorrow! 

Monday, November 21, 2011

Weekly Menu, Week of 11/21

Wow, another week already!  I am feeling my freedom slip away, as this week is my last week of maternity leave.  This time next week, I'll be teaching language to my second class of beloved sixth graders. 
Last week's menu was such a blessing; I loved having a game plan for each day.  I will say that, on a couple of days, I changed my mind and made something else.  That's acceptable, right?  I mean, this is a menu PLAN, not a menu "commandment", after all.
Here's this week's plan:

Monday: Sausage Tortellini soup and breadsticks
Tuesday: baked chicken and garlic noodles
Wednesday: chili and garlic bread
Thursday: Thanksgiving feast!
Friday: Not-sagna pasta toss and garlic bread
Saturday:
Sunday: Chicken and Dumplings (Sunday dinner)
             Summer sausage fried rice (after evening church service)

I'm purposely leaving Saturday undone.  I want to see where we stand with Thanksgiving leftovers before I plan anything for that day!

If you didn't check out the recipe for Tuesday's baked chicken, you totally need to.  I just saw it this morning on Rachael Ray.  I don't have the ingredients for the poblano gravy, but I will totally try that sometime.  The chicken (she used turkey on the show), looked AMAZING.  I hope I can make it as mind-blowing as it looked!

I'm all set for a great week of home-cooked meals!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Menu Plan Monday: Week of November 14

Wow, is November half over already? How did that happen?  The FlyLady habit of the month is menu planning, and I'm getting in on it.  I'm very proud to proclaim that I have been a menu planner for ages.  Finally, a habit that I already have down! 
Here's what my family will be eating this week:

Monday: fried rice with summer sausage, served with teriyaki vegetables

Tuesday: Orange-sesame chicken with rice and broccoli (I have made this once before, and we found the flavor from the marinade to be very mild.  I'm planning to increase the amount of orange marmalade and red pepper flakes to give the flavor a bigger punch.  I'll also marinate the chicken a good bit longer than called for.)

Wednesday: General Tso's chicken with rice and raw carrots (first-time try, but I've loved everything I've tried from this website)

Thursday: Japanese fried chicken with rice and orange slices (another first-time try, but my SIL has made it, and her family loved it.  I really trust her when it comes to cooking, so I think this will be a winner.)

Friday: pepperoni and cheese pizza using this crust recipe

Okay, so I didn't realize that this week was so Asian-inspired.  Next week looks pretty similar, to be honest.  Must be cheap to make Asian food!  Either that, or I have lots of Asian ingredients in the pantry already; I am looking to make as many meals as I can without buying additional ingredients.
Well, that planning session was fun.  I have a menu planned for most of the rest of the month, with just 2 open slots.  Since it's all subject to change, I'll keep it a secret for now.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Today's Frugal Meal: Three from One

Not gonna lie: The past few weeks have been extremely tough financially.  And it's not going to be easier this month.  So, I am trying to be really, REALLY careful with menu planning.  I have been browsing my favorite cooking blogs and exploring new ones to find recipes I can complete with the items I already have on hand or that I can make with only minimum additional ingredients to purchase.  I am learning to repurpose (I don't know if that's the right word for it.) ingredients I have on hand in order to make a meal.  One recent example was the package of ground pork I've had in the freezer for a month or more now.  I bought it with the intent of making the best meatloaf I've ever had.  (Seriously, those ourbestbites girls have it TOGETHER!)  Some of the ingredients, though, can be pretty expensive: bacon (I don't mind the high cost of bacon, since I just LOVE it so much.  I think I probably bought it and then used it for something else.) and chili sauce.  I need to figure out how to make my own chili sauce.  Or just find it on sale.  I NEVER see coupons for chili sauce, and I don't remember it ever being on sale.  It pains me to pay full price!  Anyway, I never made the meatloaf, and now I'm trying not to buy those expensive ingredients.  So, how to use the ground pork?  I was able to stretch that one package of ground pork into three separate meals.  I wish I had taken pictures of the dishes, but alas . . . I didn't.  You can check out the links to the recipes below, though, to get an idea of how they looked. 

Meal 1 - Sausage Tortellini Soup
This is another ourbestbites masterpiece.  I really tweeked it this time, though.  I used ground pork instead of sausage; I seasoned it up as close as I could come to match the flavors of that italian sausage.  I also used a plain pasta instead of cheese tortellini because I only had a tiny bit of tortellini left.  I had to leave the carrots and onions out, since I didn't have any.  (I did use onion powder to give the flavor of the onion.) Truth be told, this soup was delicious as served.  We didn't miss the missing ingredients or find it lacking at all.  We ate almost the entire giant pot, just the four of us.  After I cooked up the pork, I set half of it aside, so that I could make . . .

Meal 2 - Notsagna Pasta Toss
I could eat this meal every week.  Rachael Ray has taught me to love ricotta.  I could seriously eat the pasta with the ricotta, parmesan, and starchy water without the meaty sauce.  Yum.  I love it when I get bites that have extra of that creamy cheese.  I didn't have to tweek this recipe that much, except to replace the onion with onion powder.  I don't cook with wine, so I always leave that out.  I usually use a bit extra stock to make up for the missing liquid.  Oh, and I used beef broth instead of chicken . . . I think the recipe calls for chicken broth.  My biggest tweek was to use the rest of the ground pork instead of ground beef.  I love this meal.  If I ever have opportunity to make you a dinner, don't be surprised if it's this lasagna-like feast.  When I made the tomato sauce, I added a bit of extra stock to stretch the sauce and went a little bit shy on adding it to the creamy cheesy pasta.  I knew I wanted a good bit of meaty sauce left so I could make . . .

Meal 3 - (Semi-) Homemade Pizza
I enjoy making pizza crust from scratch using this ourbestbites recipe, but this particular night I needed to be fast so I ended up using a refrigerated pizza dough from the Publix bakery. ($2.59 -- ouch! I think I could make 3 batches for that price.)  I used a bit of plain tomato sauce plus the meaty tomato sauce from the previous meal along with shredded mozzarella for the toppings.  The pizza was delicious, and I only missed my homemade pizza crust because the store bought one ended up being MUCH thinner than the crust I make. 

All that from one 2-pound package of ground pork.  I think I spent around $5 for that meat, so that averages out to $1.67 per meal.  These three meals average out at about $4 each.  We feasted! We didn't feel like we were being cheapskates, that's for sure.  I'll just keep that little bit of information to myself.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Shake up!

While I haven't left behind my wannabe cheapskate mindset, I'll admit to being seriously off track. The summer was tight financially; it always is. I thought for sure I'd do a better job starting in September, but I didn't. I discovered how much I like cooking from scratch at home and have come across several recipes that we love. I have found myself shopping for ingredients to make those dishes instead of buying what's on sale and at rock bottom price. I really do intend to get back to it soon.
Then, just about two weeks ago, we had the biggest shake up our family has ever experienced. The baby girl we were expecting to be born the week of thanksgiving was born October 4 - eight weeks early. Our little Audrey is doing great, but we are looking at another month in the NICU. I plan to make several posts about what brought about her early birth and pictures of our precious girl. I know it won't really have anything to do with being a cheapskate, but I'm so crazy about our little one and so amazed by the goodness of God and our friends that I just can't help it. Plus, it's my blog, and I can post whatever I like.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Tonight's Frugal Dinner - fried rice

I doubt I'll get a picture in to this post.  Sorry.
So, we should just establish a point after which the cost of the items used in recipes no longer has to be accounted.  For instance, if I've had something over a year, could I just not calculate the cost in to my recipes?  I know, that's silly reasoning.  If that's all it took, I'd just keep everything for a year before cooking it, then everything would be free, right?  Yeah, it doesn't work that way.  It's just that, for the fried rice, I'm using sesame seeds that I've had for at least a year, and I don't have a clue how much they cost.

Here's the best estimate I can make:

2 c rice - $.30
butter - $.25
Soy sauce - $.30
Smoked sausage - $.50
bacon - $3.00
eggs - $.30
sesame seeds - $.15
ramen seasoning - $.17

Total for a huge pot of fried rice - $4.97.  I'll serve my veggies separate from the fried rice.  'Cuz that's how I prefer it. 
That takes my total for dinner to just about $6.00.

I had to estimate the cost of most of the items.  I know the smoked sausage is right on.  And the eggs.  But the rest, since I don't really use measurements, is pure hypothesis.

Saturday's snack - homemade pretzels

Let's see if I can come up with a close approximation of the cost of this yummy treat:

1 1/3 c water - free!
2 T butter - $.25
1 1/2 T sugar - $.04
3/4 t salt - free! (Still using the giant vat of salt I received as a gift)
4 c flour - $1.42
2 1/2 t yeast - $.17
1 1/2 T baking soda - $.03???
Plus more water for simmering.  Plus more salt to sprinkle on top.  Both free.
I did rub the tops with butter after they came out of the oven, but I didn't use more than a teaspoon.  Maybe half that.  So let's say $.05?

Total for 15 delicious pretzels - $1.96!

I'm thinking about making these for my class as a treat for getting through the first week of school.  I'll have to figure out how to make them tomorrow but save them until Friday.  Not sure how that's going to work.  Or if I'll manage to keep my hands off of them that long!  I'll have to make two batches to get everyone.  I am thinking of making them a bit smaller/skinnier.  That will give me enough to give to my team teacher(s) and assistant and principal, too.  I think that will help them hold their shape better, too.  They puffed up so much - in rising, simmering, and baking - that many of them lost their pretzel-shape, as you can tell in the picture.

Publix, 8/20 - 90% Savings!

We went in to Publix early this morning (like 7:30) to see what deals we could find before other couponers swarmed in!  I had two deals to work that would each give overage.  We are tight in the budget this month, so I wanted to spend as little as possible.  I have a good sized shopping list, but I only bought what would allow me to spend the least.
Here's the rundown:

2 Sundown Naturals vitamin D - $2.99 each
Used $6/2 Publix coupon from the Green Advantage Flier
Used 2 $1/1 printable coupons - link at http://www.hotcouponworld.com/
Paid: FREE for both, plus $2.02 overage

2 packs Paper Mate pens - $1.99 each
Used a rain check to get them for $.50 each
Used 2 $1/1 Target printable coupons (thanks, Terri!)
Paid: FREE for both, plus $1 overage

1 lb. Rico kidnew beans - $1.59

1 small Kikkoman soy sauce - $1.45

2 small yellow onions - $.55 ($1.19/lb)

2 gallons drinking water from the refill station - $.60

Total paid: $1.09
Total saved: $10.00
Percent saved: 90.1%

Side note: Since the pens have a shelf price of $1.99, using the raincheck saved an additional $2.98.  Taking that into account, my percent of savings becomes 92.3%.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Today's Frugal Dinner - homemade hamburger buns

Today's Frugal Meal - Scones!


This delicious batch of scones cost less than $2 to make!  That is the cost without coupons.  They are delicious -- Talani ate 3 for breakfast!  We ate them plain, with no butter or jam or anything at all.  I don't want to add to them; they are just right. 
I still can't believe that I made them myself.
They are shockingly easy.  The hardest part was cutting in the butter to the flour mixture.  You're supposed to use a pastry cutter or pastry blender (what's that thing called?), but I don't have one so I used a fork.  I wasn't sure if I was doing an adequate job of combining the flour mixture and the butter, but I must have.  They turned out so so so great. 
I definitely feel like a success in the kitchen this morning.  (I needed that.  Last night was ROUGH!)

In a somewhat-related note, I started a new blog dedicated to cooking frugally.  I've posted more detail about making these scones, although I didn't post any pictures.  (I have to figure out the whole picture on the phone sent to the blog thing again and set it up for the new blog.)  I didn't know I was going to start a new blog when I made the scones, or I would have taken more pictures along the way. :)  Anyway, feel free to go on over to the new spot and let me know what you think.  I posted the detailed cost breakdown there.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Publix, 7/30 - spent $14.92, saved $29.33


It's been too long since I posted a shopping trip.  To be honest, it's been too long since I had a trip worth posting, and this one barely qualifies.  Thank goodness for free marshmallows and super cheap Pop Tarts to inspire me to publish this trip.  I am stuck in the habit now, it seems, of trying new recipes.  I love that I am finding new favorites, and I'm really enjoying the variety I can serve my family.  I have begun a good list of ingredients I need for these new recipes so I can know what to stock up on when the right sale hits.  So, as I have for the past few weeks, I bought what I need today, not necessarily what was on sale, at least for the most part.  I ended up noticing things in the store that I needed but had forgotten to add to the list, so I didn't have coupons for those items.
Here's how we did:

Pillsbury bread flour, 5 lb. - $2.99

King Arthur's whole wheat flour, 5 lb. - $3.99

1 dozen Publix eggs - $1.69

2 Kellogg's Rice Krispies - BOGO - 2 for $4.09

Publix mini marshmallows - $1.39
Used FREE peelie on Rice Krispies (wyb 2)
Paid: FREE!

6 boxes Pop Tarts - BOGO - $2.59 for 2
Used 2 $1/3 Target printables
Used 2 $1/3 MQ printables
Paid: $3.77 for all 6, or just $.63 per box!

Publix sliced pepperoni - $3.39

2 Cabot white cheddar cheese -- 2 for $5

Used $10 gift card I received as a gift

Paid: $14.92
Saved: $29.33 (includes $10 gift card)
Percent saved: 66.2%

The Pop Tarts are probably my favorite deal, followed by the marshmallows.  I wish I had thought to look for Rice Krispie coupons to make this deal even better.  I may get back to get a bit more of these things before the sale ends.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Doing Disney the Cheapskate Way

I have several pictures of our room that I hope to upload here, but I'm really awful with that stuff, so I may have to wait until my technology guru (aka my husband) can work on it.
First of all, I want to say that just because we are being cheapskates at Walt Disney World doesn't mean we're slumming it.  Quite the contrary.  My husband and I are thoroughly enjoying the standard view studio we have for 4 nights (only 3 left) at Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge Kidani Villas.  This beautiful resort and spacious, nicely appointed room is anything but cheapskate-y.  You can read more about Kidani Villas here.
To view pictures other than my own (which I Talani really will work on.), see the information about the Animal Kingdom Jambo House here.  The rooms here are very similar to Kidani, and just a short walk or bus ride away, since they are both part of Animal Kingdom Lodge.

Our lovely room has a small kitchenette with a little sink, a microwave, a coffee pot, a toaster, and a mini refrigerator.   It also is stocked with paper plates, coffee cups and glasses, and plastic knives, forks, and spoons.  We even received a roll of paper towels, a dishcloth and sponge, and a tiny bottle of Palmolive dish soap.  The bathroom is wonderfully spacious, bigger than our bathroom at home by at least 50%.  The bedroom area has a queen bed as well as a sofa that pulls out into another queen bed.  The room also came with a pack and play at no extra charge.  We have free high speed internet access (not wifi, though). 

Since I'm being honest about finances here, it makes sense that I be honest about other things, too.  I do think our room has a couple of drawbacks.  Our view is of the parking lot and bus transportation area.  In the time we have spent in the room, we haven't heard any noise from down there. (We're on the fifth floor, though; second floor rooms might not enjoy such quiet.)  In defense of the Lodge, we did reserve a standard view, knowing we'd be overlooking the pool or the parking lot.  We are high enough that, if there were any parks in our line of vision (I don't think there are), we'd have a good view of fireworks.  The other thing that I would consider a negative is the fact that it seems as though the lobby and transportation options are far away.  This is something we've experienced at the larger Jambo House, too.  The layout of the resort means that some folks have a VERY long walk to the main hub of the resort.  I wish we were closer to the lobby.

So, curious how this great resort could be on the Wannabe Cheapskate's blog?  Simple: we are members of the Disney Vacation Club.  This membership requires a large purchase (upwards of $17,000), but is soooo worth it for families like ours that want to vacation at Disney as often as possible.  Our membership is valid for another 45+ YEARS, and it has already paid for itself in the money it's saved us on accomodations.  I looked up the room we have this weekend on the official Walt Disney World website, and priced it out as though I were willing to make a cash reservation (yeah, right!).  If we had to pay for this room ourselves, the cost would be $1,597!  Our whole vacation is costing less than half that!  There is no way we could stay at such a lovely resort, with such a great room, without DVC.  Because the cost of our membership is considered one of our regular monthly expenses until it is paid off, it feels like our room is free.  I did a little figuring about the actual cost of our membership over the years of the membership, and it comes out to around $3 per point.  Since this vacation cost us 68 points (less than half the year's allottment of points), we are essentially paying $204 for this room, or just $51 per night!
If you are looking for a way to make Disney more affordable and enjoyable for your family, you should consider buying into the DVC.  You can tour the model rooms and see a very honest and informative presentation at Disney's Saratoga Springs Resort.  And no pressure from the sales staff -- I mean it, NO pressure.  When they ask you who introduced you to DVC, tell them it was Talani and Barbie Tupua of Pensacola, Florida.  If you buy in, we get a kick back. :)

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Tonight's Frugal Dinner, 6/9 -- Chicken Taquitos

I'm planning to make Chicken Taquitos from http://www.ourbestbites.com/ for dinner tonight.  I am setting myself up for success by putting the chicken in the crockpot already this morning.  Stay tuned for the results and pictures.

I also have a loaf of bread in the works in the bread machine.  I'm super excited about it.  We'll have fresh bread just in time for lunch!

Another Resolution

In my post yesterday about how I was planning to get back on the bandwagon in several areas I forgot one: 

I plan to prepare more (all?) of our meals at home rather than going out.  I really have no excuse not to do so.  I don't have school work filling my evening schedule, and I am mostly past the nausea stage of pregnancy.  Yes, I have every reason to do the cooking at home.  Plus, the cost of one meal out could buy a week's worth of groceries.  Since money is always tighter in the summer, I need to help all I can.

Last night's dinner wasn't an especially frugal one, but it was certainly more frugal than Chili's or even Whataburger.  I made gnocchi that I bought at Fresh Market ($5.98), with a tomato cream sauce ($.15), and pork sausage ($2.79).  I served it with garlic bread ($1.75).  This dinner cost a total of $10.67.  I liked it, although a commercial for Pizza Hut ruined my appetite.  (Weird.  Just 3 weeks ago I was CRAVING Pizza Hut like nobody's business. In fact, it was in the plan for today's lunch, but now I don't know if I can handle it.  I did say I was almost out of the nausea phase of pregnancy, right?)  The kids didn't seem to love it, either.  That's probably because gnocchi is almost unheard of around our house.  Oh, well. 

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Happy 400th Post!

Time to get back with the program! (several programs, really)  I've been so busy with school then so out of the loop with our vacation that I haven't posted anything in a really long time.  I haven't stopped couponing or anything, although I haven't done as well as I feel like I should have.  I have definitely been shopping for my needs and the needs of others rather than for what's on sale.  And is it just me, or have the Publix sales been less than desirable lately?  Anyway, we still have a few days of vacation left, and I want to get back on the bandwagon while it's easy and hope that I'll stick with it in the coming weeks.
Here are my summer resolutions:

1.  Stick to stocking up on rock-bottom-priced grocery items and the basic perishable needs (milk, eggs, bread).  Go back to a limit of $40 per week or less at Publix. (I spent $70 today.  YIKES!)

2.  Get back to following the fly lady's method of housekeeping.  I loved the sense of accomplishment and satisfaction with my home while I was working on my baby steps.  I've gotten so far from that; my house is pitiful.  Please don't ask to come over, because I will have to crisis clean.  And it's in such disarray that I could crisis clean for 2 days and not get it all done.  So, back to baby steps it is.  (I feel the overwhelming urge to go shine my sink right now.)

3.  Make bread.  I really enjoyed making bread for my family last summer.  I'm thankful for the time to do it again.

4.  This one isn't a get-back-with-the-program thing, but it is something I've determined to accomplish soon.  I want to have a yard sale.  We have TONS of health and beauty aid stuff and lots of baby clothes and toys that I want to get rid off.  I have to be careful on the baby clothes part, since we've got another one on the way and don't know if we should expect a Donovan or and Audrey, but we might be able to let some things go.  And definitely a bunch of toys.  We have way too many.  Today I told Dianna and Jarod to go into their room and find 5 things that they could sell at the yard sale.  Jarod quickly brought me 5 toys that are in good shape.  Dianna cried and said that she didn't have anything she could sell because it's all special to her.  We'll see.  I guess even she can take baby steps.

5.  Now this one I have to be careful with: I need to monitor my diet better.  I can't go overboard with it since I'm carrying a baby, but I know I can do better than I am.  I have a lot of extra padding.  I wish I could direct my calorie intake to the baby while "living off the land" for my own nutritional needs.  I want to keep my weight gain as minimal as possible.  And I need to add exercise to my routine.  (Notice I didn't say MORE exercise.  That's because none exists in my current routine.) The dog might be able to help me with that.  Even taking him on a better morning walk would be good for the both of us. 

So there you have them . . . my summer resolutions.  I'm gonna go shine my sink.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Walgreens, 5/30 -- saved 57%

I can't believe it's been almost a month since my last post. A lot has happened since then. An end to a busier-than-normal school year, dealing with first-trimester pregnancy stuff, it's been crazy! I finally found a good time to try Walgreens again, though, and I'm glad. Here's what I got:

Transaction #1:
calcium supplement - $10
Used $5 coupon from the May booklet
Paid $5.38
Received $10 rr

Transaction #2:
Celsius green tea - 3.99
Got $3 rr

Icy hot - $.99
Got $.99 rr

Bc headache powder $1.50
Got $1.50 rr

Liquid makeup - sale price $3.59

Illy canned coffee - $2
Got $2 rr

1 triscuit
1 wheat thins
$2 each
I thought I would get $2 rr each back, but I guess these were part of the same promotion, so I only got $2 rr.

Used $10 rr from first transaction. Paid $6.08. Received $9.50 in rr.

Friday, May 6, 2011

We're on Our Way to Disney!

A little weekend getaway for our family is underway. We are thrilled to surprise our children with a quick trip to Disney World. It's been almost 5 months since our last trip, and since our annual passes are expiring soon, we wanted to get one more trip in. We are staying at Disney's pop century resort, a very cheapskate choice. We are heading to Epcot tomorrow and Magic Kingdom for a bit on Sunday before coming home. We are not being especially cheapskatey, at least not any more than usual, but are planning to enjoy this trip without being obsessive about each penny spent. We will be on the road for at least 6 more hours. More to come!

Monday, April 25, 2011

Publix, 4/25 -- 84% Savings


What a fun trip!  I love grocery shopping in the morning!  I did have a little extra challenge today, since not all of the bogos and sale items were posted around the store.  I really had to rely on my store ad to make sure I was getting the right things.  I watched that check out computer like a HAWK to make sure things were ringing up as BOGOs. 

I thought I had some more $/$$ from Apple Market, but I couldn't find them this morning.  I was expecting to use a $10/$75, which would have brought my out-of-pocket to just over $10 for all that stuff.   Oh well, I must have used those Apple Market coupons some other time and gotten the savings then.  I can't wait until we get another Gulf Coast Shopper (or is it Gulf Coast Saver?) booklet.  Those things have become my best friends since Apple Market stopped putting coupons in the paper every week!
Here's what I got:

8 Pace salsa/picante sauce -- BOGO -- 2 for $2.79
Used 4 $.60/2 from 1/30 RP
Paid: $8.76 for all 8, or just $1.10 each!

6 Bic disposable razors, 4 pk -- BOGO -- 2 for $5.49
Used 6 $3/1 from 4/10 SS
Paid: FREE for all 6, plus $1.53 overage!

2 Sominex -- $3.19 each
2 Phayzyme -- $3.49 each
Used 2 $2 printables for Sominex
Used 2 $2 printables for Phayzyme
Used 2 $5/2 from the Green Advantage flier
Paid: FREE for all 4, plus $4.64 overage!

4 Playtex tampons -- BOGO -- 2 for $4.29
Used 2 $3/2 from February All You
Used 4 $1/1 from Walgreens coupon booklet
Paid: FREE for all 4, plus $1.42 overage!

2 New York sliced garlic bread -- $1.74 each (50% off sale price)
Used 2 $.40 from 3/6 SS
Paid: $2.68 for both, or just $1.34 each!

4 Kozy Shak puddings -- BOGO -- 2 for $3.19
Used 4 $.40/1 from the 3/6 SS
Paid: $4.78 for all 4, or just $1.20 each

2 Tyson country fried steak -- BOGO -- 2 for $5.99
Paid: $5.99 for both, or just $3 each!

2 Purina cat food -- $2.79 each
Used 2 $2 coupons from 4/17
Used 2 $2 Target printables
Paid: FREE for all 4, plus $2.42 overage

3 Tangerines -- $1

1.26 lb. oranges @$.99 per pound -- $1.25

1.63 lb. apples @$1.79 per pound -- $2.92

1 refrigerated pizza dough -- $1.99

Total paid: $20.66
Total saved: $111.46
Percent savings: 84.4%

Feels good to have a trip like this one.  I wish I could always keep my percent of savings in the 80's. 

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Executing the Meal Plan

Meal plan this week -- already a fail.
I thought we had a pot roast in the freezer, but it was really pork loin.  So we had frozen pizza for lunch and I'm working on the pork loin for dinner. 
So far, no anticipated problems the rest of the week.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Some Attempt at a Meal Plan

I've done horribly at menu planning, and it's been so obvious around here by how much we've been eating out.  Here's my best attempt at a meal plan for the week (I'm not about to get up and go scour the freezer & pantry; just going from memory here.)

All breakfasts will be oatmeal, cereal, or pop tarts.

Lunches/Dinners:

Sunday:
Lunch: pot roast, rice, corn
Dinner: frozen pizza

Monday:
Lunch: school/work
Dinner: not-sagna pasta toss

Tuesday:
Lunch: school/work
Dinner: pork fried rice

Wednesday:
Lunch: school/work
Dinner: Mrs. Callender's frozen meal

Thursday:
Lunch: school/work
Dinner: taco rice

Friday:
Lunch: school/work
Dinner: Swedish pancakes and turkey sausage

Saturday:
Lunch: leftovers
Dinner: soup or chili

Now, if I can just have the foresight to get the meat out of the freezer each day before work or each night after dinner, I'll be in pretty good shape.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Publix, 4/15 -- 73% savings!




8 cans Dole pineapple -- BOGO -- 2 for $1.65
Used 4 $.50/2 from the 4/10 SS
Paid: $4.36 for all 8, or just $.55 each!

1 Sorrento mozzarella cheese -- $3
Used $1/1 from the 4/10 SS
Paid: $2 (not that great of a deal, but I thought I needed it.  I then got home and finished my pasta salad with shredded mozzarella instead.  oh well.)

6 kellogg's pop tarts -- BOGO -- $2.59 for 2
Used 3 $1/3 from the 3/6 RP
Paid: $5.77 for all 6, or just $.97 each

2 Immaculate Baking refrigerated cookie dough -- 2 for $5

6 Birds Eye Steamfresh veggies -- $.89 each (thanks to 50% off sale)
Used 2 $1/3 from the 3/6 RP
Paid: $3.34 for all 6, or just $.56 each!

2 Kraft shredded mozzarella -- 3 for $5
Used $1/2 from 3/13 SS
Paid:  $2.34 for both, or just $1.17 each!

2 Kraft shredded cheddar -- 3 for $5
Used $1/2 from the 3/13 SS
Paid: $2.34 for both, or just $1.17 each

1 Hormel mini pepperoni -- $3.69

8 Lay's potato chips -- BOGO -- 2 for $3.99
Used 8 $1/1 from the Yellow Advantage Flier (expires today)
Used 8 $.55/1 from the 3/13 SS
Paid: $3.56 for all 8 bags, or just $.45 each!
(This is my favorite deal of the trip!)

Used $5/$50 Apple Market coupon

Paid: $26.56
Saved: 73.87
Percent saved: 73.6%

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Getting Caught Up On Publix Trips

I have a couple receipts that I haven't logged yet.  I don't really know the coupon matchups for these, since the receipts were just lying randomly in my purse.  I'll do my best to remember.  I should be mostly okay, since one of the transactions was just yesterday.  Here goes:

From 3/19:

4 Betty Crocker potatoes -- $1 each
Used 2 $.50/2 blinkies
Paid: $3 for all 4, or just $.75 each

2 Sundown Naturals vitamins -- total of $9.58
Used $6/2 Green Advantage flier
Used 2 $1/1 insert coupon
Paid: $1.58 for both, or just an average of $.79 each

2 Mueller's Corkscrews -- BOGO -- 2 for $1.39
Used 2 $1/1
Paid: FREE for both, plus $.61 overage!

4 Colgate toothpaste -- $1 each
Used 4 $.75 insert coupon
Paid: $1 for all 4!
(A great price for a donation to a summer missions trip!)

12 Propel waters -- 2 for $1
Used 6 $1/2 insert coupon
Paid: FREE for all 12!

Total paid: $5.72
Total saved: $40.79
Percent saved: 87.7%

From 3/14:

2 Pedigree Dentastix -- BOGO -- 2 for $3
Used 2 $2/1 insert coupons
Paid: FREE for both, plus $1 overage!

2 Maruchan ramen -- $.34

4 Sundown Vitamins -- total of $21.86
Used 2 $6/2 Green Advantage flier
Used 4 $1/1 insert coupon
Paid: $5.86 for all 4!

Total spent: 5.43
Total saved: $23.10
Percent saved: 80.9%!

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Menu Plan -- 3/19-3/25

I varied quite a bit from last week's plan.  We still ate most of the things I planned, but completely out of order.  And we did eat out a little.
I'll hope for the best with this week's plan:

Saturday: breakfast -- pierogies, turkey sausage, and muffins -- yummy!
               lunch -- sauteed beef and basil-pesto pasta
               dinner -- out?

Sunday: breakfast -- egg casserole
             lunch -- ham and rice
            dinner -- frozen pizza

Monday: breakfast -- oatmeal/pop tarts
              dinner -- Creamy Chicken Taquitos

Tuesday: breakfast -- oatmeal/pop tarts
               dinner -- Talani's honey-mustard ham

Wednesday: breakfast -- oatmeal/pop tarts
                    dinner -- beef/bean burritos

Thursday: breakfast -- out
                dinner -- Wanchai Ferry frozen meal

Friday: breakfast -- oatmeal/pop tarts
           dinner -- salsa chicken

We will probably have rice with 5 out of the 7 dinners, cuz that's how we roll.  And with so many frozen veggies in our freezer, we'll have something for every meal with little effort.  I wish I had time to make bread or rolls or biscuits.  And I'm currently obsessed with http://www.ourbestbites.com/ and really want to try some of their recipes, such as the creamy chicken taquitos for Monday night.