Sunday, February 28, 2010

Blessings Every Day!

I really have been happy that all the work I have been doing for 4 1/2 years building a Prepared Pantry is paying off now.  It feels good to have food and supplies on hand and not to have to run to the grocery store or Walmart all the time. 

This has also forced me to be more organized.  I have been told that I am a busy person with a husband, 4 teenagers, church volunteer service, my own business, and PTA volunteer service.  I have always tried to be organized to accomplish all that I do, but those skills have been finely honed to have dinner ready and not have Ramen Noodles every night!

Here's to living well... even without a job...

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Shopping Update

I went to 2 stores today to pick up good deals...
1. Ridley's sent out coupons for free hot dogs & free french bread.  I also needed Secret Clinical Strength Sport deodorant (I don't want to stink) so I picked up that as well... had a $2.00 off coupon for it.  Spent $5.92 total.
2. Smith's had Land O'Frost lunchmeat on sale for $2.79 and I found $2.00 off coupons on the internet.  I spent $1.75.
So, since February 9th, I have spent $54.00.  I have my meals ready for the next 2 weeks and may have to buy milk, eggs, cheese, fruits and vegetables.

We have picked up quick meals while on the run (less than $10) and I had to purchase a shirt for my daughter for a school event (Kohl's, had 15% off coupon).  We are doing it!

I sure appreciate being prepared for this job loss event, though we are holding out hopes for good news this week.  My hubby had 5 interviews this week and has only gotten 1 "no thanks".

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Making the most with what you have

I needed to take 2 steps to create my new Master Menu knowing that I needed to avoid going to the grocery story until I absolutely had to.

1. Inventory what I have - Luckily I have been working on creating my Prepared Pantry for 4 years.  We have plenty of canned meats, pasta and yes, wheat.  I really am hoping I don't have to start using the wheat, but if I do, well, I have lots and lots of recipes!  We have a lot of canned goods on hand which meant that my shopping trip yesterday was really only necessary for purchasing dairy, meat and fresh fruit.  The meat was a splurge... the store had extra-lean ground beef on sale for $1.59 a pound - I could NOT pass that up!!

2. Go through my recipe file and search the internet - I have a lot of canned chicken so I have been finding all my recipes for different kinds of casseroles, soups and such.  It is amazing how much I already have on hand!  I love the DVO Cook'n Software which I can search with the ingredients I have on hand and it spits out recipes.  Takes a lot of the guesswork out of my hands.

2 Job Interviews today... wish us luck!


Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Surviving Job Loss

My husband was laid off 2 weeks ago.  The company had a reduction in force.  We were saddened and shocked that day as well as the few days following.  This week is looking very positive with many interviews, follow-up interviews and phone calls.  Faith tells me that we will be just fine.

So, I have been practicing what I preach the past two weeks.  I rearranged our Master Menu to include only foods I have on hand and not purchased any groceries for 2 weeks except for milk.  I have had enough paper goods, cleaning supplies and groceries in my prepared pantry to keep us in a great place.  Last night we splurged and bought Little Caesar's Pizza.  We have eaten out of our food storage & prepared pantry.  I can't believe how many meals I can make.  Luckily I have canned meat on hand as well and that has helped a lot.

Today I went to the grocery store for the first time since the layoff.  I had watched the sales, gathered my coupons and I spent $46 for at least 2 weeks worth groceries.  Here's the list from 2 stores:
  • Cheerios (.29!!)
  • Electrasol
  • Canned Beans (kidney & black)
  • 5 pounds Tillamook cheese
  • Eggs (had a buy 1 get 1 dozen free coupon)
  • Sour Cream
  • 4 1/2 pound lean ground beef
  • 4 loaves bread
  • A Pineapple
  • 6 pack soda
  • 9 pounds bananas
  • 2 boxes Rozini pasta
  • 2 gallons milk
  • 5 pounds oranges
  • Bacon
  • 5 bottles of pickles (.48! each)
  • 3 pounds apples
It helped that a new grocery store just opened (Riddley's) and they sent out coupons for free bacon, soda,  and a buy 1 get one free on a gallon of milk. 

I anticipate spending less than $50 a week on groceries for my family of 6 (4 teenagers) until he finds a job.  It can be done.  It takes planning and patience and practice, but by using those skills I have already acquired, we can do it! 

Monday, February 8, 2010

Money Saving Ideas

Create your Prepared Pantry
* Purchase products that are staples when they are on sale
* Purchase in bulk - ONLY IF YOU WILL USE IT ALL (use your freezer to freeze portions)

* Plan Leftover nights
* Use Coupons!! Savvy Shopper Deals

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Where do I find Coupons?

You can find coupons in many different places, not just the Sunday paper.  Watch this quick video to learn where else you can find them:

Where do I find Coupons?

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Fun Family Activity

Last night our family had a fun night. I decided to have an object lesson while making homemade pretzels.  I used the recipe I saw on the Food Network by Guy Fieri found here:

We all took part in adding ingredients and I let everyone pick whichever topping they wanted.  They had fun raiding the spices. 

The object lesson was even with the exact same dough, they made their own shapes and had choices in their toppings.  It is kind of like life.  We are all the same - human beings - but we all look different and make choices that can be positive (the salty pretzels turned out great) or negative (garlic wasn't a favorite of one child) but we must live with the consequences of our actions. 

It can be just a moral lesson, a more philosophical or religious discussion.  I hope you find this helpful.

Monday, February 1, 2010

January Gone!

I made it through January - whew! I had some fun health issues - woke up one day with my fingers swollen up like sausages! Life can sure throw you some interesting curves. It turned out to be a reaction to something I touched. I am blaming my husband's chlorine-drenched swimming suit and have stated that this is the sign I shouldn't be doing laundry anymore, but all that happened was a box of disposable gloves ended up next to the washing machine. I got a laugh and it is all okay again.

The day I woke up with the problem was a day I was not able to use my hands very much so it was a good thing I had prepared my menu before hand. It was a night I was supposed to fix Spaghetti Pie (which was delicious the next night) but I had planned a whatever/leftover night. The family survived and we enjoyed Spaghetti Pie (recipe courtesy of my friend Cheryl which I tweaked) the next night. This is a pretty easy recipe and money saver.

Spaghetti Pie (courtesy of Cheryl Phipps)

6 oz. vermicelli (cooked, drained, and chopped) - I used thin Healthy Harvest Spaghetti
½ clove garlic, minced
¼ c butter
½ c Parmesan
1 lg. egg, beaten
1 t. dried basil
1 c. ricotta cheese or sour cream - My family doesn't like texture of ricotta, I used cottage cheese
6 oz. shredded mozzarella

1/2 pound lean ground beef - I didn't have Italian sausage so I used 1 1/4 pound ground beef
3/4 pound Italian sausage
1/2 cup chopped onion
15 1/2 oz. prepared spaghetti sauce

To make crust, combine vermicelli with next 5 ingredients. Chop the mixture and press into a 10” pie plate. I used a 9x13 pan - it made a TON

To make filling, cook ground beef, sausage, and onion together. Drain fat. Stir in spaghetti sauce and heat thoroughly.

To assemble pie, spread ricotta cheese on crust. Top with filling and cover with mozzarella. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes or until golden brown. Serves 6.