Monday, March 29, 2010

Menu Plan Monday

This week is a travel week. That means this weekend we will be eating at my parents' house for the holiday. It also means that I get a little reprieve from cooking. :) Here's our plan for the week:

Monday - Chicken with spinach, peppers, and cucumbers on whole wheat tortillas
Tuesday - Leftover hamburgers on whole wheat rolls
Wednesday - Vegetable curry (been wanting to make this recipe for a week, but didn't have the curry paste)
Thursday - Leftover veggie curry
Friday - Chicken quesadillas (from the freezer)
Saturday - Mom's cooking
Sunday - Grab and growl (aka grab something from the fridge because we just got home :))

Breakfasts are the norm: homemade bagels, banana bread, waffles, and cereal
Lunches will be leftovers, tuna wraps, pb&j

Want to get some more ideas from other menu plans? Head over to

Friday, March 26, 2010

Food Waste Friday

*Sigh* It's apparently getting to be that time of year where my bread products suck in all the condensation in the air and turn moldy. I wasted a quarter loaf of whole wheat bread this week, in addition to a half of a container of ricotta cheese and a half of a bagel. I was determined to use the ricotta before it went bad, but when I opened it to use it, I realized I was too late. A loaf of whole wheat bread typically lasts about five days in our house. This one lasted about three before it started to get fuzzy. Bummer. I'll try to keep a better eye on our bread products now that I know they are getting moldy quicker.

How did you do this week? Head over to Frugal Girl to see how others fared.

Busy Mom's Bible

A few weeks ago, I requested a free Bible from Zondervan. I thought, "What the heck? I'm a busy mom and would love a quick, easy way to do my devotions." My Bible arrived a few days after my request and I was excited to get started. Well, true to form, my life has just been crazy lately. As I've mentioned in previous posts, I have a cranky, teething toddler with tummy issues on my hands who has not been sleeping well at all. When I don't have my hands full with her, I am trying to catch some precious zzzz's. Everything has suffered in the meantime, including my time to spend reading my Bible.

All that said, I have been able to get into the Bible a few times since receiving it. The Bible is set up so there are 52 devotions (one for each week). The devotions are grouped into four with each group having a specific focus. Some examples are: "God is..., Raising your kids, and Your relationships." Each devotion is broken down into one minute, five minute and ten minute devotions, depending on how much time you have to spend. So, there are devotions even for the busiest of days.

The devotions have a scripture and a short paragraph to go along with the scripture (one minute devotion). Then, there is another passage given if you have more time to read. The five minute devotion is something to reflect on and encourage prayer and the ten minute is something specific to study. The ten minute devotion directs you to a section in the back of the Bible with additional verses to study that go along with that week's topic.

I really have enjoyed this Bible so far. I like that there are devotions for the days when I feel like I can't possibly fit one more thing in and then also for those days that I have a few extra minutes (I haven't had one of those days in awhile). My one complaint is that there are only 52 devotions. I suppose those devotions could be broken down into three separate devotions (the one, five and ten minute devotions), but, for me, I wish it had more than 52. All in all, I think this is a great asset for a busy mom who still has a desire to spend time in the Word. Want to check it out? Head over to Busy Mom's Bible.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

March budget update and an epiphany (of sorts)

In case any of you are wondering, I have successfully brought down my grocery budget pretty significantly. I have been keeping track of my receipts and it looks like we are averaging around $80/week for the month of March. Wahoo! We were a little over last week, but I went to the Farmer's Market and bought enough meat to last us a few weeks. So, that extra $$ will translate into less spending in the coming weeks. $80/week may sound like a lot, but I was averaging around (sometimes over) $100/week in January. I will take the extra $80/month!!! :)

So, how have I cut my grocery budget (when I say "groceries", that includes all household supplies like cleaning agents, paper products, etc, as well as food)? Well, I cut down on my use of paper products for one, which has nothing to do with my shopping, but everything to do with saving some money. I was using a fair amount of paper towels in the past. Not only does this increase the amount of garbage I'm producing, but I'm basically throwing money down the drain. I'm trying to be more conscious about my use of them and use rags or dish towels whenever possible.

I also am keeping a good eye on the sales fliers for my local grocery stores, CVS, Walgreens, and Rite Aid. I am fortunate enough to have 4 grocery stores within 10 miles of my house and 3 drug stores within 15 miles. I have lots of places to bargain shop and coupon match. That's another thing: I started using coupons. I can find them online or in the newspaper. I have to say that I love the site Money Saving Mom, which tells you the super duper deals out there, when there's free samples, or great coupons to take advantage of. I look at that site daily so I don't have to spend a lot of my own time tracking down the deals.

When I first started price matching, I was taking a fair amount of time doing it. I was saving money, but it was way too time consuming for me. Now I probably take a total of an hour to an hour and a half per week (throughout the course of the week) looking at circulars, checking Money Saving Mom, and printing coupons. I don't think that's too bad when it usually saves me about $50-60/week.

I have also been trying to shop at my local farmer's market more often. It's been tough to get there in the last month or so because my little baby girl is sleeping SO poorly that she usually sleeps in on Saturday mornings (after being up from 1:30 AM to 4:30 AM) and I get to too. The farmer's market ends at 1 PM, so we have missed it a few Saturdays. I think we are getting back on track though, so we'll be getting there more frequently in the coming weeks. I am planning on talking with one of the ladies from Stony Ledge Farm about their CSA for the harvesting season. I am hoping that will save me even more money once May rolls around.

So, on a more personal note, I had an epiphany of sorts yesterday. I realized that I spend a lot of time doing things FOR my family and not as much time WITH my family. I don't know if any of you have a problem differentiating between the two, but there is a big difference. I have been thinking of them as the same. I cook, clean, do laundry, etc. and I often don't know where the time goes. When I was thinking of it yesterday, it didn't seem that I was spending enough of the day with my family. I may be too hard on myself, but I'm okay with that.

I am going to try to be better about my time management. I will limit myself to an hour of computer time in the morning while J plays and I have my coffee. I may also jump on later in the day during nap time or after she goes to bed (FYI, in case you're wondering, she's napping right now. ;)). Then I will limit my kitchen time (this is a huge step for me) to no more than an hour and a half per day. If I'm not able to get everything done that I want to in that time period, I will just have to pick up where I left off the next day. I will do household chores periodically throughout the day, making sure that I am spending plenty of quality time with J and Sam, when he gets home from work. I think this is going to make for a happier household.

So, there's my confession. I encourage you to make sure that you know the difference between doing things FOR your family and spending quality time WITH them. I am more aware now. :)

Monday, March 22, 2010

Menu Plan Monday

We have had a really rough month or so around here. I have pulled more meals out of the freezer than I originally planned because of being soooo tired. It has become a regular practice in this house for our daughter to be up from 1:30 AM until 4:30 AM. Makes it really tough to have the energy to make anything. Here is our plan for this week:

Monday - Leftover lentils and rice (I think this has been on my menu plan for the last three weeks...I finally pulled it out of the freezer to use it!)
Tuesday - Bison and bean burritos (another meal I have put on my menu for a couple of weeks. It's been rough with my teething darling...I haven't gotten a chance to make tortillas)
Wednesday - Chicken quesadillas
Thursday - Vegetable curry in the crockpot
Friday - Pizza (this is our typical night for homemade pizza)
Saturday - Hamburgers with homemade rolls and baked french fries
Sunday - Leftovers

Breakfasts will consist of bagels, banana bread, waffles and cereal.
Lunches will be tuna wraps, PB&J sandwiches, leftovers and yogurt with granola.

Want to see more menu plans? Head over to orgjunkie to see what other people are cooking up this week!

Friday, March 19, 2010

Food Waste Friday and Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution

So, no picture this week because there was no food waste! We almost had a red pepper casualty, but I cut off the moldy section and I used the unaffected portion. I have about half of a huge container of hummus (that I purchased at BJ's...what was I thinking???) that needs to be used soon, as the expiration date is tomorrow. I will probably mix it in with some salsa or chicken broth and use it over pasta or mixed in with some potatoes, black beans and onions (very delicious). I'll have to freeze those things though because there would be no way for me to use it up and then be able to eat all I made before IT goes bad. Anyone know how hummus would freeze?

I also have a block of cream cheese that expired on 3/16. I haven't opened it yet, so I'm sure it's still fine. I bought it to use for a specific recipe, but I have since used all the other ingredients. I haven't had the time or energy to look for another recipe that uses it because I've had a pretty miserable toddler with teething (and tummy) issues this week. If anyone has a healthy suggestion on how to use the cream cheese, I'll take it.

One side note, Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution airs next week on ABC. I encourage all of you to watch it. He goes to the fattest city in the nation to try and reform how the people perceive healthy food. He is met with much resistance. Check out the trailer.

How was your food waste this week? Head over to Frugal Girl to check on how other people did!

Monday, March 15, 2010

Menu Plan Monday

I must be honest, the last couple of weeks I haven't made a real menu plan until I sit down to write my "Menu Plan Monday" post. :) I actually have at least a week's worth of meals in my freezer, so I just buy the essentials for the week (milk, fresh veggies, etc) and go from there for my menu planning. Here's this week's plan:

Monday - Leftover chicken chili
Tuesday - Bison and bean burritos
Wednesday - Cajun lentils and rice (from the freezer)
Thursday - Leftover lentils and rice
Friday - Homemade pizza
Saturday - Chicken quesadillas
Sunday - Thai chicken (from the freezer)

Breakfasts will consist of cereal, bagels and homemade banana bread. Maybe some waffles for J. Lunches will be leftovers, tuna sandwiches (Me), peanut butter and jelly (Sam), and salads.

What does your menu plan look like? Head over to for a peek at others' meal plans.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Food Waste Friday

Once again, I have no picture of my food waste, but this week was a bit better than last week. My daughter finally cut two of her canines and two of her molars (although not completely), so she's eating much better. I blame this week's food waste on my husband. There was a leftover pear that J decided she didn't like anymore, so I asked my husband to eat it (I hate pears). He didn't.

Also, I had made some grinder rolls, of which we only used two and I decided to freeze the rest so they wouldn't get moldy. My husband said he would use them for lunches. He did, but only one and a half of them before they became fuzzy. *Sigh.* So, our casualties were a pear and one and a half grinder rolls. It's an improvement. :)

How did you do this week? Head over to The Frugal Girl and see how other people are doing on their food waste.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Attention Groton area coupon clippers

Okay, I already posted something today, but I just got back from Walgreen's and this was too good not to share! I have become a coupon clipper lately and this is the deal I scored today:

WG's has a deal where if you buy a box of Gillette razor cartridges, you get Gillette shave gel free. They also have a buy 1, get one 50% off of Gillette deodorant and body wash.
So, I bought a box of 4 cartridges, got a shave gel free. Then I bought a Gillette body wash and got 50% off a deodorant.

Here's the sweet part: there was a coupon in last Sunday's paper for a free Gillette razor with the purchase of cartridges. Also, there was a coupon a couple of weeks ago for a free body wash with the purchase of a shave gel. In addition to that, there was a coupon for $4 off 2 Gillette deodorants or body wash. Use them ALL! So, just to review, I got:

A box of 4 razor cartridges
Gillette shave gel
Gillette Fusion razor
Gillette body wash
Gillette deodorant

Go ahead, make fun of me, but I just got all that stuff as well as 2 Coffeemate creamers and 2 packages of Orbit gum for $6 (I also had $10 Register Rewards). I would say it's worth the coupon clipping! :)

Chicken stock

Okay, I may be telling you something you already know...making chicken stock is SO easy!!! I've had a couple of people tell me how easy it is and I never believe them. Recently, I got a suggestion to put the chicken bones in the crockpot with some veggies and let it go overnight. I thought nothing could be easier than that, so I tried it. I put the bones from a 4-5 pound chicken in the crockpot, sliced up 2 carrots and 3 stalks of celery, added a sliced onion, some garlic, Italian spices, salt and pepper. I poured 6 cups of water over the top, put the lid on the crockpot and set it for 10 hours on low.

Success! The next morning, not only did my kitchen smell yummy, but I had fresh chicken stock to use in soups, chili, whatever. And it's so cheap! Much cheaper than any of the stock you'll buy at the market. If you haven't tried it, you need to. If you have and I'm reiterating something you already know...sorry, I'll try to do better next time. :)

Monday, March 8, 2010

Menu Plan Monday

So, last week we pretty much stuck with the plan. I didn't make black bean burritos and I'm not sure when I'll make those. I have to buy one additional ingredient to make them, so I might do something else with the black beans. Anyway, here's the plan for this week (head over to for more menu plans):

Monday - Celebration dinner out
Tuesday - Chicken quesadillas
Wednesday - Two bean chili
Thursday - Chicken, tomatoes and olives over whole wheat pasta
Friday - Cajun lentils and rice
Saturday - Pizza
Sunday - Leftovers

In addition to Menu Plan Monday, I wanted to post the link to this article I read yesterday. It's really unfortunate that people eating "real food" is newsworthy, but this is what is happening to the health of America. It's really sad and appalling. Take a look: An inconvenient challenge: Eat 'real food' for a month.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Food Waste Friday

In my last post, I mentioned that I participate in Food Waste Fridays with some other bloggers over at The Frugal Girl. This is my first time dedicating a post to it. I would be ashamed if I had a picture of the food we wasted this week. The only thing that I actually wasted this week was a red pepper that looked perfectly fine from the outside, but when I cut it open it was moldy. Bummer!

My darling daughter is going through this phase where she's bored with the things she normally eats (who can blame her? The poor thing can only eat like 10 things.), so she spits out food or flat out rejects it. I try to salvage everything I can by putting food she hasn't touched into containers and saving it for another time.

I had a tupperware full of almond butter "cookies" of my experiments to get her to eat some protein in a different form. J loved them at first, but started rejecting them after about a week. By the time I thought to freeze them, they had grow a lovely green fuzz. Sigh. This tummy of hers is getting so frustrating. She can eat very few things and if I try anything new, it inevitably causes her trouble. Anyone have any creative recipes without dairy, soy, cruciferous veggies, beans, or any green veggies...I think that covers it? Right...did I mention she can eat hardly anything????

Other than the pepper and cookies, we had to throw away scraps that J had put her little hands all over, and some eggs that I tried to get her to eat for an hour (I was a little uncomfortable putting it back in the fridge after that amount of time). So much for my "no food waste" weeks. I knew it had to come to an end sometime.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Menu Plan Monday

I decided to participate in Menu Planning Monday, since many of the blogs I follow seem to do this. Planning your meals ahead of time will help to avoid those "Oh no! It's 5 pm and I don't know what we're having for dinner!" moments. Plus, it helps to avoid impulsive purchases at the grocery store, as well as having to make multiple trips. Here's what's for dinner this week in our house:

Monday - Small group. We go to a family's house from our church for Bible study and she feeds us. How nice is that?
Tuesday - Chicken fajitas
Wednesday - Black bean burritos
Thursday - Chicken sausage grinders with homemade rolls
Friday - Leftovers from Thursday
Saturday - Homemade pizza
Sunday - Chicken chili

Two of the meals this week are coming directly from my freezer. I like to freeze extras or purposely make a double batch so it saves me some time later. Right now, I have a week's worth of meals in my freezer.

For more menu planning ideas, head over to