Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Garden Report 7/27

I've wanted a garden for a while.  Like, a couple years.  This year, I was determined to have one.  I spent a lot of time trying to decide what I wanted to grow.  I asked a lot of questions.  However, now I realize that I may have needed a little bit more information in the answers I was given.  Simply hearing that a zucchini takes up "a lot of real estate" did not prepare me for what it would turn out to be!!  I so hope that it doesn't get any bigger than it is, the thing is huge!  It's lopping over into my extremely narrow walkway!  And maybe I shouldn't have planted a zucchini, a watermelon AND a cantaloupe in the same bed!  Ah, but we live and learn.  I'm already making plans for next years garden!!

Monday, July 26, 2010

MPM July 26

Wow, Monday already, huh?  Hard to believe...school starts in three weeks.  Summer can't really be nearly over, can it?

The highlight of the week clearly goes to the Cilantro Pork Tenderloin, hands down!  It was de-lish!  We love cilantro in our house, and a lot of it, so this was one I was looking forward to.  I know the directions say "or until a meat thermometer reads 160°", but David went with his gut and went by texture instead.  I'm so glad he did that, or else the pork would have been shoe leather!  Probably rather tasty shoe leather, but shoe leather nonetheless.

Also this week, I was able to stash away a few single serve meals into the freezer.  The boys and I will be gone for a week in August, and I thought it was only fair if I left David a few quick and easy meals.  He can either take them for lunch or have them for dinner.  Granted, he is perfectly capable in a kitchen.  But I also know how much it sucks to cook for just one person.  Whatever he doesn't eat while we're gone will be perfect for FFA (free for all) meals later.

Here's my plan for the week.  If you want more ideas, swing by OrgJunkies page.

Monday - Cinnamon Bun Pancakes
Tuesday - Recycled pork tenderloin, probably sandwiches
Wednesday - Spaghetti
Thursday - Pot Roast
Friday - Leftovers
Saturday - Honey Hoisin Chicken
Sunday - Tri-tip Burritos

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Swagbucks

Search & Win

They're so cool - you get swagbucks for doing searches.  Make it your homepage, download the tool bar.  It's so easy to do!  I redeem my swagbucks for Amazon.com gift cards.  I then get to shop for free!!  How cool is that?!  Check it out....and I'm talking to you MOM!! =)

Search & Win

Garden Report 7/20

I can't believe how much everything has grown in the last couple weeks.  We seem to have an earwig (??) problem, but we're not sure.  Some of the leaves on the zucchini and cucumber now look like lace....  We're trying to take care of it, and have our fingers crossed that we are correct.  Anyone have any suggestions?

Monday, July 19, 2010

MPM - July 19

It's been nice having the monthly list hanging on the fridge.....if I'd look at it!  Thankfully the pantry is stocked enough that making a few significant changes to the plan hasn't hurt me any.  And I'd probably be more successful getting some of these meals executed if I paid attention to what needs to be done the night before....like tonight.  I kind of forgot to soak the beans last night, so no plan for dinner tonight.  It's ok, the kiddos were quite happy to eat spaghettios =)...  So here's the plan for the week -

Monday - Red beans and rice, turned spaghettios
Tuesday - Red beans and rice, take deux
Wednesday - Chili and Cornbread
Thursday - Leftovers
Friday - Ham and Onion bowties
Saturday - Cilantro Pork Roast
Sunday - Balsamic chicken OR leftovers (we'll play this one by ear!)

For more menu plans, check out OrgJunkie's page.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

A lesson I'm still trying to learn

I spend a lot of time searching for ideas on ways to save money.  As I read list after list, I see that I've already implemented most of the ideas and suggestions.  We only drink water at restaurants, turn lights out, unplug unused electronics.  David takes lunches to work; I shop sales and use coupons.  I'm religious about submitting rebates. We budget, use meal plans and don't have a land-line phone.  Trust me, this list just skims the surface, but what else can we do?

The answer to that would require me to take a good look at myself.  

I've realized that I was never content with what I had.  
 
I want the latest iPhone.  
 
I want a new laptop.  
 
I want a flat screen for the bedroom. 
 
I want a new SLR camera. 
 
But I have an iPhone.  It's only seven months old.  It works just fine.
 
I have a laptop.  We rarely use it and I can still take it with me if I need it.
 
I have a TV in the bedroom.  It's not a flat screen or high def, but it shows the same TV shows as a new one would, and this TV is paid for.
 
I have a really good camera.  A few of them actually.

I can still want all those things, but I need to let them just be wants...for now.  They aren't needs.  I can start saving for something, if I want it that badly.  But none of those things are worth more debt. 
 
In fact, there really aren't many needs on our list right now.  We need to get the bike serviced, so that it continues to run correctly and efficiently.  We can't afford to let the commuter vehicle go down. We need to build an emergency fund.  We need to save for a cash Christmas.
 
Right now, those things are far more important than a few things I want.  The goal is to get out of debt, not continue to push ourselves farther into it.  It isn't the easiest, but I'm learning to be content and happy with the things I already have.  
 
It's far cheaper this way!
 
 
 
 

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Garden Update

I can't believe how much everything has grown in just two weeks.  I'm out there a few times a day, checking it all out - amazed at how it has grown since I had been in there just hours before.  The zucchini has taken off!  My pepper is already turning purple, and David keeps eyeballing the jalapeno, watching for it to cork.  I'm probably most excited that I now have a sweet Italian pepper growing.  I can already taste it in eggs!  I have also been able to enjoy the herbs, and that makes me happy.  Check it out - -

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

My Deals This Week

Want to know how much I paid for all this?

Nothing.

No, that wasn't a typo.  Here's how I did it...

Rite Aid:
Crest Toothpaste on sale for $2.99
- $.75 coupon
Out of pocket $2.49 (tax included)
Rebate of $2.99
= $.50 profit

Target:
5 travel Axe deodorants $4.85
- (5) $1.00 coupons
OOP $.25 (tax only - I also had Q-tips on this transaction to buffer the .15 overage with the coupons)

CVS:
Transaction #1
4 cans Scrubbing Bubbles @ $2.50 ea = $10
- (2) $2/2 coupons
-5.00 ECB
OOP $1.83
Got back $5 ECBs for buying $10 in Scrubbing Bubbles
Profit $3.17

Transaction #2
8pk Bounty $6.99
9pk Charmin $5.49
-$2 CVS coupon for Bounty 8pk
-$.25 coupon Bounty
-$.25 coupon Charmin
-$9.00 ECBs
OOP $1.60
Got back $2.00 ECBs
Profit $.40

So, all said and done, I was paid $3.82 to take all of this out of the stores.  I love bargain shopping!

Monday, July 5, 2010

How Do I Plan My Menu?

Planning a menu is a two-part deal - 1) planning it, and 2) shopping for it.  So how do you make sure you get everything you need?  This is how I do mine...

First of all, I take a look in my pantry to see what I have.  I also look in the freezer.  Then I sit down at the computer with a spiral notebook.  I start researching and looking for recipes.  If I know I have a pound of red beans in the pantry, I look for a recipe that can use those beans.  Red Beans and Rice sounds good, so on my notebook I'd write:

1) Red Beans and Rice

Next, I need to know what ingredients it takes to make the meal.  I write down everything, so it looks like this:

1) Red Beans and Rice
1 lb red beans (dry), 1 (4oz) can green chilies, 1 tsp cumin, 3 cloves garlic, 6 cups cooked rice
2) Ham and Onion Bowties
8oz bowties, 10oz cooked cubed ham, 4T minced red onion, 4T pickle relish, 2½T mayo, 2½T cider vinegar

Once I have my menu planned out, I take my notebook to the freezer, refrigerator and pantry.  I'm going to go shopping at home first.  There's no sense buying duplicates if I have it at home.  Now I start crossing out what I have here at home.

1) Red Beans and Rice
1 lb red beans (dry), 1 (4oz) can green chilies, 1 tsp cumin, 3 cloves garlic, 6 cups cooked rice
2) Ham and Onion Bowties
8oz bowties, 10oz cooked cubed ham, 4T minced red onion, 4T pickle relish, 2½T mayo, 2½T cider vinegar


After I've crossed out everything that I have here at home, I circle or highlight what has not been crossed off yet, like so:

1) Red Beans and Rice
1 lb red beans (dry), 1 (4oz) can green chilies, 1 tsp cumin, 3 cloves garlic, 6 cups cooked rice
2) Ham and Onion Bowties
8oz bowties, 10oz cooked cubed ham, 4T minced red onion, 4T pickle relish, 2½T mayo, 2½T cider vinegar
  
Now it's time to make up my shopping list.  For these two recipes, I only need pickle relish, so on the list it goes.   If it's something I know I've written a few times on my menu planner, like an onion, I use ticker marks to determine how many I need.  

Pickle Relish
Onion || ½cup ||| ¼cup

That means I need 5 onions and a ½ cup and ¼cup, so 6 onions total.

Keep going until you've got your list made.  Now, if you use coupons, check to see if you have any coupons for what you are going to need to buy. 

That's it - that's how I get from the menu plan to my shopping list without all sorts of duplicates or (worse yet) missing a necessary ingredient. Easy Peasy!

Sunday, July 4, 2010

MPM - July 5

For July, I'm putting myself up to an Eat from the Pantry challenge and giving the monthly plan a try again.  My hope is that it will keep the grocery bill low this month and clear out some of the meat I have hiding in the deep freezer.  About a week ago, I went thru the freezers and pantry to see what I had, and came up with my menu from that.  I'm excited to already be able to use fresh herbs from my garden, and have plans to substitute all the dry herbs needed in recipes with fresh, home grown herbs. I'm getting antsy to harvest something other than herbs, but it'll happen soon enough!  So, here is what we'll be eating this month.

Balsamic Chicken  (scroll down to Tuesday's menu for this recipe)
Ham
Split Pea Soup
Red Beans and Rice
Burgers
Ham and Onion Bowties
Honey Hoisin Chicken
Taco Pasta (planned for this week)
Italian Sausage and tortillas
Pasta with Italian Sausage (planned for this week)
Chili and Corn Bread
Meatballs and Gravy over Rice (planned for this week)
Mexi-Mac Skillet
Philly Cheese steaks (planned for this week)
Eggs and Toast (planned for this week)
Pancakes
Cilantro Pork Tenderloin
Soup and Sandwiches
Prime Rib
Turkey Tetrazzini (planned for this week)
Post Roast
Jalapeno Bean Dip
Grilled Chicken
Burgers
Busy Day Dinner

For more menus and recipe ideas, check out OrgJunkie's page