Monday, June 29, 2009

Cook It Wednesdays!

The Thrifty Mama is hosting "Cook It Wednesdays" over in her chat room this week. I'll be participating this week, and here's my list of what I'm doing:

3lbs ground beef ($5 at Walmart for a tube)- cook and package for the freezer
5lbs fruit (50¢ per lb off the reduced rack)- dehydrate
2- 2L bottles Iced tea (testing)
1- 2L bottle Ninja-ade
1- 1lb package spinach (1.79)- wash, blend, and freeze in ice cube trays for green smoothies
1 batch bread (trying out a new recipe! Thanks, Grizz!)


This time of year, many households go through a TON of Gatorade. And wow, that stuff gets EXPENSIVE!

Here's a knock-your-socks-off knockoff: I bring you Ninja-ade!

1 packet unsweetened Koolaid
2 quarts water
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup orange juice

No, it doesn't matter what flavor Koolaid (YOU have to like the flavor, though!). Yes, you can use whatever OJ you have. Yes, it tastes the same!

Free AntiBacterial at Bath and Body Works!

Hot off the press! New Bath and Body Works Coupon Here! Free AntiBacterial Foaming Hand Santizer with ANY purchase!

Expires July 5th.

One thing I do with these is print out a couple extras- and give them to people at random. Very, very fun to give away a freebie coupon!

Saturday, June 27, 2009

By request- Homemade yogurt

I'm making yogurt today, and I thought I'd post about it since I had a request for it! It is really, really easy, I promise!I'm making 2 batches, one 1/2 gallon batch of skim milk yogurt, and a quart of whole milk yogurt. I have a one year old that needs the fat!
Here's what you'll need for a basic batch:

1 4-8oz container of ACTIVE CULTURE yogurt (henceforth- starter yogurt)

1/2 gallon milk
1/2 cup powdered milk (optional)

No, I didn't take a picture of the storebought starter- DH wasn't home yet!

Heat the milk to 180 degrees. While it is heating up, pull the starter yogurt out of the fridge and let it come to room temperature. Let the milk cool down to 115 (120 if you're adding powdered milk, the powdered milk will lower the temperature). Add powdered milk now if you want (will result in a thicker yogurt). Temper the starter yogurt by adding about a cup of the warm milk mixture to the starter. This will "wake up" the cultures in your starter, and reduce incubation time. Add starter/milk mixture to the rest of the warm milk, then stick in your incubation area.

Incubation can be done in a gas oven as long as it has a pilot light. Or, wrap your container of yogurt in a heating pad and then cover that with a bath towel. Basically, you're aiming for about 110-115 degrees- optimum for the culture to grow!

Incubation time will vary, depending on how "awake" your cultures are. I usually start checking at about 4-5 hours, but it may take as long as 10-12. The longer you incubate the yogurt, the thicker and tarter it will be.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Cheater Pumpkin Muffins

Today is Everett's birthday- so I had to make him birthday "cake". Cake is in quotes because, well, it is not really cake. He's getting cheater pumpkin muffins! Here's the recipe:

Cheater Pumpkin Muffins

single batch:
1 box cake mix
1 can (15oz) pumpkin
double batch:
2 boxes Spice Cake mix
1 28oz can Pumpkin

Mix pumpkin and cake mix. Spoon into greased muffin tins.
I added a bit of applesauce to thin out the batter a tiny bit this time.Bake at 350 for 20-25 minutes, turning once (if you have a well behaved oven, you won't have to do this... my oven doesn't behave) Muffins are done when a knife comes out clean!
Ok, so I didn't get the picture done before the mini muffins got sampled. I think its safe to say he enjoyed his birthday "cake"!

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Shaws- Catalina Craziness!

Paul was home for the day (although it turns out they called him in for OT, and he missed the call). So, coupons in hand, I headed out to pick up a few things. Shaw's Catalina deals usually work off of presale prices (PSP)- and this time was no different!

Here's what I got, in two transactions at Shaws:


4 boxes Golden Grahams, PSP $3.69, on sale 2/$4
2 boxes Trix, PSP $3.29, on sale 2/$4
4 boxes Suddenly Salad, PSP 2.69, on sale 3/$4

PSP 32.10, Sale price, 17.38
used 3 $1/2 GM cereals coupons. and
used 4 40¢ off SS coupons (all doubled), and
used $10 catalina from Saturday's trip

Paid 1.14 out of pocket, got $10 catalina and $1.50/3 GM cereals catalina


Wishbone Spray Dressing, PSP 2/$5, sale $2
2 boxes Fruit Rollups, PSP 3.19, sale 2/$5
2 bags Chex Mix, PSP 2.69, on sale $1.67
2 boxes Chexbars, PSP 3.79, on sale $3
2 boxes Fruit Rollup 'stickers', PSP 2.99, on sale 2/$5

PSP total- 27.82, sale price 21.34

Used 2 60¢ off Chex mix ( and doubled
2- 50¢ off two fruit rollup, doubled
2- 50¢ off Chex bars, doubled
$10 catalina from previous order

total after sales and coupons, 4.94 out of pocket. Got another $10 OYNO catalina!

While out, I also grabbed a package of Pampers- and the cashier took my printout from, pretended it was a coupon, and rang it in as such. So it worked out to $2.99OOP for the diapers, rather than getting ECBs.

All in all, I spent $9.07 out of my envelope, didn't spend any ECBs and still have a $10 catalina for Shaws.

When I got home, I opened all the boxes of cereal and fruit rollups, and got a total of $10 in cash cards from the boxes! Which means, I "made" 93¢ for leaving the house today!

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Crockpot Chicken Pozole

Hominy is a great variation on the same old corn. It tastes like a combination of corn and potatoes, with a texture more towards the potato. I usually use dried hominy, and soak and rehydrate myself- but this recipe is based off of the canned version. Serve over rice.

Serves 4

3 chicken breasts, cubed
2 cans hominy, drained
1 can chicken stock
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp minced garlic
1 tsp chili powder
2 Tbsp dried onions

Cook on low in crockpot for 8 hours. Add in the following about 15 minutes before serving:

1 can diced tomatoes
1/2 bag frozen pepper strips (if using fresh, add at beginning. frozen are a LOT softer!)
Check for seasonings- you probably won't need more salt, but pepper is probably needed at this point.

This recipe is VERY forgiving!

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Ninja shopping, W/E 6-6

I call my shopping method "ninja" because I aim to hit 5 stores in rapid fire succession. I'm fortunate to live in an area where this is possible- I made it to 5 stores and was home before an hour had passed! Here's what I got done:

Shaws: 2 day sale Fri and Sat

Coke 2L- 88¢ plus 5¢ deposit, limit 8 (bought 8, so came out to 7.44)

BOGO blueberries (3.99)

And the Catalina deal that I'm working:
2/$4 Golden Grahams (x3, used 1.50 off catalina coupon, 4.50 for 3)
4/$5 Fuze drinks (x12, used 6 BOGO coupons from CVS tearpads, so 7.50 for 12)
4/$5 Vitamin water (x2, used 2 50¢ off coupons from 7-11 tearpads, doubled, 50¢ for 2)
3/$5 Chex mix (used 50¢ coupon, doubled, 67¢)

Total paid, $24.60. Received a BOGO catalina for Sobe Lifewater and a $10 OYNO catalina.

Walgreens: 3 separate transactions, 2 stores

Ecotrin- $2 (used $2 coupon from recent insert) free
Bayer Contour Meter, $10 (used "up to $30" coupon from 3/22 insert) free
paid 60¢ (tax on the free stuff) received 12.00 in RRs (did this 2x)

Revlon hair dryer- $12.99
Similac liquid formula, clearanced to $3.19
Used RRs from previous transaction, paid 4.99, received $10 in RRs

So I still have $22 in RRs to play with next week- sweet!


2pks Pampers 8.99, used $1.50/1 coupon (cheerios box) and $2/1 coupon (home mailer)
1pk Huggies 8.99, used $2/1 coupon (printable from
paid with $10, $5, and $4.99 ECB. Paid 68¢ in cash, got back $10 in ECBs

Price Chopper-
3 Mama Lucia boxed meatballs, (on sale buy one get 2 free 4.99)
total came to 4.99. That's all I got there!

So, grand total of my shopping trip: $36.46, $22 in RR, $10 OYNO at Shaws, $10 ECBs. I 'made' more than I spent- which means that next week will start out with the usual $40 in cash, plus $7 leftover from the last few weeks, and $58 ($42 from this week alone!) in various rewards coupons. I also have a total of $20 in Target GCs, $10 in Shaw's GCs, 4- $5 GCs from Cheerio boxes. Grand total of available cash, store credits, and GCs- $155.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Shephards' Pie

I'm a huge fan of making classic recipes in a healthier way. Shephards' Pie is one of those down-home comfort foods that I love- and my family agrees! Here's how I make my healthifed version:

Meat layer:
1/2 lb ground beef
1 cup lentils, pre cooked
2 cups beef stock, low sodium
1 tsp grill seasoning
Worcestershire or A-1

Preheat oven to 350. Brown beef with grill seasoning, drain off most of the fat. Add in lentils, then sprinkle with flour and let it cook off. Deglaze with the beef stock, then add a couple of shakes of Worcestershire or A1 sauce. Adjust seasonings now.

Meanwhile, heat up a bag of frozen mixed vegetables (I use Green Giant Valley Fresh Steamers) and potatoes- you can use either leftover homemade or boxed (Potato flakes have come a LONG way! I promise! We like Betty Crocker Garlic mashed, but I skimp a bit on the water when I'm making a double batch).

Place meat layer in the bottom of a well greased casserole, then top with veggies and finally, potatoes. Sprinkle top of potatoes with paprika and parsley, bake for 10 minutes (you're just browning the tops of the potatoes a bit).

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

What I won't do in the name of Frugality

This topic came up in a chatroom I was in recently. I thought I'd blog a bit about it, because I'm rather surprised with the initial round of reactions I've gotten.

I won't buy regular pasta. There, I said it. I'll only buy the Ronzoni SmartTaste pastas, even if they are regular price of $2 per lb. Walmart has it for $1.50, and with a $1/1 coupon, that means it is 50¢ per box. It is the only brand of protein and fiber enriched pasta that I can get past Paul.

I won't buy commercial yogurt. Well, I will, but only the Fage brand Greek yogurt, and only when my own yogurt needs a new starter. I'd rather make my own, where I know exactly what went into it. The yogurt I make at home has the live cultures, more protein and calcium than regular milk (I add milk powder to it), and no added sugar. Plus, there's the distinct benefit of not having to pay $4 per quart of whole milk yogurt~ the kind that Everett eats.

I won't choose the dollar menu over the healthy option. When I hit the drive-thru, which is more frequent than I care to admit, I'll pick the more expensive yet more healthful option. My two current favorites are the McDonald's Grilled Chicken Club (no mayo) and the Dunkin Donuts Turkey Bacon Cheddar Flatbread. Both are about 400 calories, and they're both pretty good!

What won't you do in the name of frugality?

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Old Navy- What I got with my coupon!

I stayed up WAY too late Sunday night. I was in TheThriftyMama's chat room (I swear, I can still hear the popping!) with 250 others , waiting for the site update from to post. At 11:59, the site went live and the big value coupons were gone super super fast. I was one of the lucky ones- I ended up with a $75 off purchase of $100 or more!

So, of course, with the coupon burning a hole in my pocket, I begged DH to take me to ON (not a trip I could handle with the kids!). Alas, his job called him in early, only about 5 minutes after I convinced him to go. So, I had to wait until he got home from work.

My patience was rewarded! DH got home at 7, and we made it to Old Navy by 8. I had a list of stuff I wanted to get- pants for DH, shirts for Abby, a hat for Everett, a warm weather outfit for Everett. But once we hit the door, DH insisted he didn't need pants- he wanted me to pick stuff out for myself and the kids.

I have to say, I'm not a fan of the current trend of very loose tops and unfitted dresses- they all make me look pregnant! So it wasn't exactly easy to find shirts that were inexpensive and flattering, yet not too trendy. I did end up getting 5 shirts for myself, 4 shirts for Abby, Everett's hat, a bathing suit top (I prefer tankinis, but my old top is a bit too revealing for my tastes!), a skirt, and a ball for the kids. Total spent? $12.54. Yeah, I rocked it! (I'll post a picture later!)

Best of all, the staff at my local Old Navy was SUPERB! Super friendly, super helpful, and the cashiers were excited for me when my total started falling!

Another great thing- all of the shirts can be worn with the skirt, which hits right at the knee so it is also very flattering. Double bonus for the fact that the skirt is a medium- haven't been able to buy a medium skirt in years! Most of the shirts are larges- not the typical XL I've been in for years!

Photos to come- got to find the camera!

Monday, June 1, 2009

Menu Planning Monday!

This week is a bit of a wild one for us! DH's work schedule is all kinds of wonky this week, so I'm on my own for the majority of the week. I'm hoping to take the kids out Tuesday, Wednesday is my night out, and DH is off Thursday. Makes for a hectic week!

So here's the plan:

Monday: Spaghetti and Meatballs with Italian-style frozen veggies

Tuesday: Dinner on the go for kids and I, leftover Shephard's pie for DH.

Wednesday: Homemade Mac and Cheese with Broccoli and Ham

Thursday: Enchilada Lasagna

Friday: Hawaiian Pizza

Saturday- leftovers

The only thing I actually had to go out and get was the meatballs- on sale at Price Chopper for B1G2 Free. Spent $4.99, have meatballs for 3 meals!

The ham was $2.50 at Walmart for a 1lb package of prediced ham. That 1lb will stretch across 4 meals, I'll use 1/2 lb in the mac and cheese (and freeze 1/2 of that for crazy weeks), and 2 pizzas. That's 63¢ per meal! The key with this is small dices. A lot of little pieces of ham means you get some in every bite, and the flavor goes all through the meal!