Thursday, April 11, 2013

Tupua Disney trip, April 2013

In preparation for our much-anticipated weekend Disney trip, I have saved my rewards points at Tom Thumb in order to get a good discount on a gas fill up. I had enough points to get $.40 per gallon discounted, so instead of paying $3.39, I paid $2.99 per gallon. We drive an enormous vehicle, so it took $80.51 to fill 'er up, but that was a savings of $10.74. 

I am headed back to Publix this morning to pick up just a couple of things: snack items that are bogo right now. I have our snack bag otherwise packed, all with items that were on sale, most bogo. 

Monday, April 1, 2013

We're planning another Disney trip!

I do a pretty horrible job of posting here all the things I do to plan and save at Disney. In just under 2 weeks, we are headed back for a quick weekend to celebrate (a month early) our daughter's 8th birthday. Here's how I have planned and saved so far:

Hotel- we are staying at Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge and not paying a penny out of pocket. We are members of the Disney Vacation Club, and our monthly payment for that is part of our regular budget.  The $700 price tag for our stay is far more than the month's payment, and far out of our normal range for 2 nights in a hotel.

Tickets - we have passes paid for on a previous trip, so we don't have to pay anything out of pocket. The kids have 4-day passes, purchased for $129 each. The hubs and I have seasonal passes purchased at our last summer's vacation.

Gas - we will need approximately 50-55 gallons of gas for the round-trip in our suburban. Gas in town currently goes for $3.42. We have a $.40 per gallon discount for a local gas station, which will save us at LEAST $8 on our fill up just before leaving town. I purchased a gas card at Publix with their $10-off coupon, saving 20% on that $50 worth. This accounts for about 34 gallons or so. I'm hoping Publix will run their promotion again, but otherwise we'll have to pay regular price for the remaining 16 or so gallons.

Food - I have been able to set aside some money each week to cover some of our food costs. I have recently been able to pay about $300 for Disney's dining plan. That will cover all our meals on Saturday as well as lunch on Sunday. (This includes 2 table service meals, 2 counter service meals, and 2 snack.) We will have to cover dinner on Friday evening as we travel down to Orlando, breakfast on Sunday, and dinner on Sunday as we travel back home.

Souvenirs, miscellaneous, and emergency - The kids are earning their $10 souvenir budget by doing their daily chores. The hubs and I don't typically buy souvenirs aside from a magnet, picture frame, or magnet to commemorate our trip. The rest we'll cover out of our normal budget. We do try to keep tight fisted when it comes to our spending at Disney, so there isn't usually much "miscellaneous" except for the occasional extra snack.

Our whole family is counting down to our trip next weekend!

Menu plan - week of 4/1

It's that time again! Lets see what I can put together for the fam.

Monday - creamy baked chicken taquitos
Tuesday - chicken cordon blue (for the parents), chef Boyardee (for the kids)
Wednesday - pork carnitas
Thursday - hot dogs
Friday - Kuresa's famous braised pork roast (my brother-in-law's amazing creation)
Saturday - standing rib roast (aren't we fancy?)
Sunday - ????? We'll have company, so I'll have to make it good! I'll figure it out after we go meat shopping tonight.

Aside from Sunday's dinner, I have almost everything I'll need to make this entire menu.  I need hot dog buns, but that might be all. Each meal will be served with either rice or pasta and with veggies, either fresh or frozen.

CVS 4/1 - saved 58.9%

The kids and I had fun at CVS today. I have found a favorite store in town. It IS across town, but it doesn't seem to get hit by the buy-out-the-entire-inventory type of couponers. I can almost always find what I want there. 

4 assorted Dawn dish detergent - $.99 each
          - 2 $.50 p&g coupons
          - 2 $.25 p&g coupons

2 Crest pro-health rinse (1 ltr each) - $4.49 each
           2 $1.50 p&g coupons

2 oral-b power toothbrushes - $5.99 each
          2 $3 p&g coupons

2 oral-b manual toothbrushes - $2.77 each
          2 $1p&g coupons

1 Allegra 30- count - $17.99
         $5 printable
          $2 cvs coupon from the magic machine

2 crest 3D white toothpastes - $3.49 each
          2 $1 p&g coupons

1 clear hair care - $4.99
          $4.99 cvs coupon from the magic machine

Total spent: $37.26
Total saved: $53.40
Percent saved: 58.9%

PS - I did not count the $17 in extra care bucks I received. That will help make an even better savings next time!

Publix 4/1 - saved just 43.2%

Even though my percent of savings was low, I'm pleased with my trip. I got some items we needed, some we wanted, and even something new to try. 

2 chef Boyardee canned pasta - $1 each

3 medicated chapsticks - $1 each

2 barber frozen chicken items - $3 each
          - 2 $1/1 insert coupons
          (This is the item that is new for us.)

2 Barilla pasta - bogo - $1.49 for both

2 Nathan's franks - bogo - $5.29 for both

2 Polly-o string cheese - $3 each
          - 2 $.75/1 insert coupons

2 toufayan wraps - bogo - $2.09 for both

1 deli triple play (roast turkey, ham, and cheese) - $9.99

1 lb (well, a bit over) Publix top round roast beef - $9.03

5 lb (well, almost) Boston butt pork roast - $9.75

2 mentos up2u gum - 2 for $1.49

Used $5/50 competitor coupon

Total spent: $47.75
Total saved: $36.45
Percent savings: 43.2%

PS - the lady in front of me in line saved a little more than I did (but less than $40), but she spent almost $300! Makes my measly 43.2% savings seem pretty awesome!

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Menu plan?

I'm starting to run low in the deep freeze. I need a plan for how I'm going to make it through the end of the month, or I might end up at the whataburger drive thru!
Saturday - corned beef brisket
Sunday -  creamy baked chicken taquitos; pizza
Monday - popcorn chicken
Tuesday - leftovers?
Wednesday - taco rice
Friday - Mongolian chicken
Saturday - Rib roast
Sunday - Easter dinner with extended family; pizza

Friday, March 22, 2013

Just checking in

I had such grand plans for this month of my non-stick skillet. I was going to photograph and post each delicious meal I prepared for my family. Fail.
I'm just here, checking in, reporting on our mission to eat in. We have eaten in most nights since my last post two weeks ago. I did leave work early last Friday to pick up my sickie daughter from school. When I texted my husband to let him know, he asked if we wanted Chick-fil-a for lunch. Uh, yeah!
On Wednesday I put some flank steak in the crockpot with some goodness to have tops vieja ready when we came home. I turned the crockpot on, but forgot to plug it in. We ended up at sonny's barbecue with a coupon. We had tops vieja on Thursday, and it was delish!
I have noticed this month that our spending has gone down in 3 areas:
1. The obvious - we have spent hundreds less since we are eating in.
2. Gas money. We have used no less than 25% less gas than in a typical month. That's a savings of about $50!
3. Shopping. When we were eating out so much, it was so easy to say, "Hey, let's stop by Walmart, target, publix, etc to pick up . . ."  It's so much easier not to shop when you're already comfy at home.
Overall, it is not an exaggeration at all to say that we have saved $500 this month alone. I'm amazed!

Sunday, March 10, 2013

A Month-in-the-life of my non-stick skillet: day 10

So I know nobody reads this blog anymore, but I'm posting for myself anyway. I have been on a mission this month to use my non-stick skillet frequently. This is part of another mission I'm on to reduce eating out and the spending that goes along with it. (I'm pleased to report that we have tremendously reduced the amount of times we eat out by this point in a month. PLUS, we have only eaten out when we could use a coupon or for a special deal - like kids eat free at Sonny's last weekend.) It has been a full 7 days since our last restaurant meal.
This eat-in mission is part of my ongoing attempt at being a cheapskate, but it is also part of  a deeply personal prayer request between me and God regarding building the character trait of contentment. It is a thrill to experience how God is working in my life in this area. He is fulfilling my needs and giving such peace in the area of contentment.
Anyhow, I am posting here occasionally, mostly as a way to keep myself accountable regarding eating out. It's funny how God is using this seemly small area of my life to teach how big He is. I posted Friday morning about how I had big plans for my skillet for dinner. By the time I finished work that day, the last thing I wanted to do was to cook. I prayed as I left school that my husband would ask if he could take us out to dinner. I also prayed that, if He didn't want us to eat out, he would give me peace and not bitterness. All the way home, I prayed that the hubs would ask where I wanted to eat out. I mentally sifted through the dining coupons we keep in the car. When we pulled into the driveway with no offer of a restaurant dinner, I thanked God for answering my prayer (even a  "no" is an answer) and got busy in the kitchen. I made dinner rolls from scratch to go along with the not sagna pasta toss I enjoy. (It's a rachael ray recipe found on
I used my skillet yesterday to heat some corned beef hash for brunch. (I used the reduced-fat kind, so I only feel medium-sized guilt about eating that.)
Today, I will use my non-stick skillet to make caldereta, a Filipino dish something like a spicy pork stew.
I am so thankful for the way The Lord is working in my life to give me contentment. He has changed me so much in just 10 days as I have given this area over to Him. So much so that, when my kids asked my husband if we could get drinks from Sonic and he allowed it, I didn't get one. Not out of stubborn resistance, but because I truly didn't desire one. Perhaps this seems like such a trivial matter. Thousands of people never get to eat out in a month's time, but this is real growth for me. Praise The Lord!

Friday, March 8, 2013

A Month In tr Life of My Non-stick Skillet: Days 4-7

As always, it's been a busy week. Here's how my skillet has helped me take care of my family:

Monday: chipotle pork tacos (
Tuesday: chili (I used the skillet to brown the ground beef before throwing it and the rest of the ingredients into the crockpot.
Wednesday: beef and bean burritos (I used the crockpot only.) I used my skillet to cook a single slice of bacon at breakfast!
Thursday: my husband was one of 30 people honored for 10 years of service with the ministry we are with. We were treated to a lovely and delicious dinner, and I didn't have to cook a bit.

I have big plans for my skillet this evening. A lovely Friday dinner coming up!

Sunday, March 3, 2013

A Month In The Life of My Non-stick Skillet: Day 3: Eggs and Potatoes

It's a BOGO breakfast!

Egg and Potato Mix-up Breakfast

I used:

2 tsp canola oil
1/2 bag frozen diced potatoes with peppers and onions
2 partial containers of Egg Beaters (about 1 1/2 c total)
4 oz smoked sausage, sliced

Heat the oil in a large non-stick skillet. Add potatoes and cook for 5 minutes. Stir, then cook another 4 minutes. Add Egg Beaters and scramble until cooked through. 
Add smoked sausage and stir to combine. Allow the sausage to heat through. (I covered my skillet and turned the heat off.)
Optional: Add shredded cheddar. 

I purchased every ingredient at Publix, and they were all BOGO, except for the oil. After coupons, I estimate this meal costs less than $4 to feed my family of 5. The cheese, if I decide to add it, was purchased at Sam's Club. I did include the cost of the cheese in my estimation of the cost.

Happy Sunday!

Saturday, March 2, 2013

64% Savings at Publix

Not pictured are 4 boxes of General Mills cereals. 

Almost everything was on sale, mostly bogo. 

Saved over $55 and spent just over $30. 

A Month in the Life of My Non-stick Skillet: Day 2: Breakfast Fried Rice

I have been wanting to try a month-in-the-life kind of motivation for myself for some time now. You know, a little extra push to cook instead of going out to eat in very non-cheapskate fashion. We did to out to dinner yesterday, which was payday for us, before we went grocery shopping. So today it behooves me to start this little self-imposed cook at home restriction. (Ugg, I REALLY enjoy eating out, and I already miss it!)
Today I made a fried rice dish for breakfast, and, like many of the meals I make, it was not especially healthy. It cost only around $3 for the whole recipe, though.

Breakfast Fried Rice

2 c uncooked rice
2 eggs
Soy sauce, to taste
4 slices bacon
Summer sausage, as much as you want

Cook rice according to package instructions. 
In a large non-stick skillet, cook 4 slices of bacon. Set the bacon aside, but don't drain the grease. 
When the rice is cooked (using leftover rice tastes even better.), add it to the skillet on medium heat. Stir so that the rice and grease are well incorporated. (Sickly unhealthy, isn't it? There's no butter, though, so you need that fat. It's called FRIED rice for a reason!) 
Make a hole in the center and add the two eggs. Scramble well. Mix eggs into the rice. Season with a bit of soy sauce. 
Crumble cooked bacon and add it to the mix. Cube summer sausage (I didn't measure mine; I just used what I had leftover in the fridge.) and add it to the pan. Stir well. 
Taste, then add soy sauce or pepper as needed. 
Optionally, finish with sesame seeds and/or green onions.  Of course, adding veggies is never a bad idea. 
Makes enough for the 5 of us, with a bit left over.