Saturday, February 27, 2010

Kroger Deals and Losing My Freezer Food

So Monday morning my husband and I go to leave for work. As we walk into the garage, my heart sank. Our freezer door on the top of our refrigerator was standing wide open!

Now sometimes it pops open if you slam the refrigerator door too hard. After much arguing discussion on who was out in the garage last, we decided it didn't really matter. All of the meat I had just bought at Kroger was soft and ruined. I didn't think it was safe to eat anything that had sat all night and allowed to thaw. Since we had no idea how long it had been thawed.

We lost a six pound roast, 5 lbs of hamburger, two of which was grain fed organic. Six porkchips, 2 pounds of frozen fish, 2 lbs of ground turkey. Yes, I know, it is hard to bear!

So we decided that I would only keep things in the garage that would be okay if they had thawed like frozen waffles, icecream, frozen vegies, beans and popsicles!

So my Kroger trip consisted of the following (no photo as I had to rush home and put it away before I had to do preschool pickup).

3 skim milks $2.28 each
cat food $10.49
gum $1.29 (29 cents after coupon)
Oxy steam cleaner for our carpet steamer $10.49
Simply Orange OJ $3.00
Chuck Roast $6.03
Chuck Roast $5.83
cube steak $5.08
ground chicken (grain fed and hormone free) $2.49
ground turkey $2.49
grain fed, hormone free organic ground beef $4.29
italian salad dressing $1.24(free with coupon)
2 soy milks $2.99 ($1.99 each with coupon)
ham lunch meat $6.71
orange big K cola 99 cents for a 12 pack!
Kashi cereal $2.99 (free with coupon)
lettuce 99 cents
navel oranges $1.99
poptarts $3.69 (request from husband!)

Total $81.33

Aldi (from last week since I forgot to post it):
cat litter $3.69
10 lb potatoes $1.99
4 cans corn 55 cents each
4 cans green beans 55 cents each
4 cans diced tomatoes 55 cents each
4 cans tomato sauce 25 cents each
2 Skim milk $1.88 each
2 bouillan cubes $1.29 each
2can kidney beans 59 cents each
soymilk $2.49
2 salad mix 99 cents each
navel oranges $1.29
2 cans diced tomatos with green chilis 55 cents each
napkins $1.49
2 boxes thin spaghetti $1.99
turkey bacon $1.99
sliced bacon $1.89
celery 99 cents
carrots $1.29
green peppers $1.29
bananas 72 cents
gallon storage bags $1.69
2 pack toothbrushes $1.69
2 bnches brocolli crowns $1.29 each
1 can tomato paste 39 cents
2 can chili beans 59 cents each
2 tubes cinnamon rolls $1.49 each
red grapes $1.98
2 cans baby peas 69 cents each
2 loaves italian bread $1.19 each
oyster crackers 99 cents
fig bars $1.15
hot dog buns 69 cents
shortbread cookies $1.19
jar spaghetti sauce $1.09
2 taco mix (incase I didn't have time to make mine from scratch) 33 cents each
2 box crispy oats cereal $1.59 each
corn chex cereal $1.99
tissues 99 cents
2 cans refried beans 69 cents each
box of raisins $1.49
box of prunes $1.99
2 bags pretzel sticks $1.29
Total $79.68

I had to buy no diapers this week and hopefully put in my last formula order to a tune of $95 dollars or so.

This post is linked to Super Saving Saturday.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Homemade Noodles

When I was little growing up, my mom always made homemade noodles when we were having homemade soup. I remember we used to sneak the noodles that my mom would have drying on the table. My mom always cut them and let them dry for a while before adding them to the soup.

There is nothing better than homemade soup made with scratch noodles. Only her recipe was made with eggs and I cannot use eggs. So for the longest time I didn't make homemade noodles.

Then I found this recipe.

I made this the other day with leftover turkey. I added the gravy and the rest of the turkey stock, vegies and the homemade noodles (which I had precooked first).

Man was it delicious. Everyone loved it and really enjoyed the noodles. It was a great way to use up the leftover turkey.

That was until the dreaded stomach virus hit and everyone got to see it a second time. So it was requested by all that I don't make it again . . . for a long time. Good thing I don't have a turkey in my freezer.

I did have a photo but for the life of me, I cannot seem to find it in my folders!

This is not only a healthy alternative to store bought but it is super cheap. I personally don't think this pasta works for spaghetti dishes. However for turkey or chicken and gravy or for a soup, they are perfect.

This is linked to Frugal Friday.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Homemade Taco Seasoning

As I have stated before, our family loves tacos. We have some form of them about every other week. Which means that we go through a lot of taco seasoning.

I used to buy a large jar of it from the local warehouse club. But we rarely went anymore so we let our membership end.

Well, I just ran out. I did buy some packages at the local store. However, there is a lot of sodium in them and I am supposed to be watching my sodium. Not to mention that everyone knows it is cheaper to buy a large container of taco seasoning than it is to buy the little packets.

In addition to that, our family is trying to eat less processed foods, more healthy, made from scratch food. So I thought I would try my hand at making my own taco seasoning.

I made it today and it was super easy, I had all the ingredients already on hand. I mixed it up and used it for dinner. And it was very good, just as good as the store bought. Only I know exactly what is in this recipe. There are no additives, nothing I can't pronounce, just straight spices. Plus, I reduced the amount of sodium  that the recipe called for.

I will add a little less to the meat next time. I used hormone free ground chicken this time. And I added too much spice because it had quite a little kick to it!

I found my recipe in my absolutely favorite frugal book, Miserly Moms: Living Well on Less in a Tough Economy. But I am sure you can search for the recipe online and find many to choose from.

Not having additives and knowing exactly what is in my food works for me.

This post is linked to Works for Me Wednesday.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Tacos with Turkey and black beans

Around here we love homemade tacos, tostados and burritos. We eat one of them about every other week.

I usually have the usual toppings: lime rice, black beans, refried beans, lettuce, cheese, salsa and tomatoes.

However I kept noticing that we always had the black beans leftover, only 1-2 people would eat them. Even I never put them on my tacos.

So I decided to start adding them to my ground turkey. They take on the taste of the taco seasoning.

This is such a healthy meal. We use ground turkey instead of ground beef. We have eaten it this way for so long that a couple of months ago, I didn't have any and had to use ground beef. My family asked why the taco meat tasted funny!

This is a great way to get more fiber in their diet. Not to mention a wonderful way to stretch your meat, which I didn't think about at the time.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Allergy Free Homemade Cinnamon Rolls

My kids love cinnamon rolls. Especially homemade cinnamon rolls. I used to make them with eggs, when it was just the two girls and before we found out my third daughter had a food allergy to eggs.

I have since come up with a recipe that includes soy or rice milk, soy flour and dairy free butter. However they take quite a while to make. And while they are totally worth it when you take a bite, I don't have 2 1/2 hours in the morning to make them. So I have figured out a few short cuts.

First of all, I am making some right now for tomorrow morning. We have 2 girls staying the night tonight. They love my cinnamon rolls and request them every time. So what I do is I make them tonight all the way up to cutting them and putting them on the pan. But then I put them in the refrigerator.

Then in the morning, I pull the pan out and let it rise the last 45 minutes while I am getting everything else ready and wait for the oven to heat up.

In a pinch, on a morning when I have forgotten to make the dough, I have used my pizza dough recipe in place of the sweet dough. It worked and the kids ate it. But they did ask why they tasted different.

So, here is my recipe, which is peanut, treenut, dairy and egg free:

1 cup soy or rice milk
1/2 cup margerine ( I use Fleischman's Unsalted)
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons yeast
3 1/2 - 5 cups flour
1 tablespoon soy flour and 1 tablespoon water (this is the egg substitute)

The filling is
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup margerine (Fleischman's unsalted) softened
2 tablespoons cinnamon

Heat the milk in the microwave (about 2 minutes) then add the butter so that it melts. In a large bowl combine sugar, salt, yeast, 1 cup flour and the butter/milk mixture. Mix in the egg and 2 1/2 cups flour. You may need to adjust if your dough is too moist. Kneed on a floured surface for 10 minutes. Cover and let rise for one hour.

Punch down the dough and let rise for 15 more minutes.

Roll dough out flat, try for a rectangle. Spread the room temperature margerine on the dough and sprinkle with the brown sugar and cinnamon. Roll up into a log.

Cut into 1 inch slices and place on a pan. Cover and let rise another 45 minutes.

Bake at 375 degrees for 20-25 minutes. When cooled glaze with 1 cup powdered sugar and enough soy/rice milk to make desired thickness. I start with 1 tablespoon and work then add more if I need it.

This post is linked to Tasty Tuesday, Ultimate Recipe Swap and the Grocery Cart Challenge Recipe Swap.

Friday, February 19, 2010

On a Blogging Break

You may have noticed that I have been taking an unannounced hiatus from blogging. We have had a few things going on around here.

One, my little man, while his ears are better from his surgery, he is getting teeth. He is much worse than my girls were when they got teeth. He is up about every 30-60 minutes the first few hours that we lay him down to sleep. This time is usually my blogging time. When all the kids are in bed and the chores are finished for the day. But every time I would get out my laptop to work, within 10 minutes he would be up again.

Second, my husband has decided to take a new position with a new company. So I have spent many a nights in discussions with him. This is a great opportunity for him and I am very proud of him. I know he will be great.

Third, I need to figure out a way to balance my blogging time. I have also spent the time during the day, when I would have normally been checking other blogs to post comment on them, to catch up on house work. I feel like when I devote time to blogging, then my time to clean and take care of my house is seriously lacking.

So that is where I have been. I have really enjoyed the break. While I do enjoy blogging, it is also one more thing to add to my already full plate.

So I should be back in full swing now. Thanks for being patient.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Homemade Pretzels

I know they don't look like pretzels, but I always let the girls make whatever shapes they want to. Notice one is kind of like a heart and there is one that resembles a turkey as well!

Anyway, this is the pretzel recipe that my mom made for us when I was little. I love it, we would make it for any special get together.

In our house, we used to make them only for our "girls-night" which was when daddy was out. However, we have added a little boy to the mix and changed it to "kids night". Not only that but I now make them not just for nights like that, but also make them so that they are coming out of the oven when my older two get off the bus in the afternoon. They are a wonderful snack.

They would even be great as a lunch paired with a fruit or vegetable.

These are so tasty and good for you.

Here is the recipe:

2 1/4 tsp yeast
pinch sugar
2 tsp salt
4-5 cups flour ( I use white or wheat depending on my mood)
1 1/4 cup water

Dissolve yeast in 1 1/4 cup water with the sugar. Add salt, yeast and flour. Kneed until not sticky. I do this in my Kitchen Aid mixer for about 5-6 minutes.

Cover and let rise 45 minutes.

Boil 4 cups water and 4 tsp baking soda to a boil. Drop the pretzel dough in one by one until they float. Take them out and place on a baking sheet and salt as desired.

Bake for 10-12 minutes at 475 degrees. I like mine to be soft and chewy on the top and inside and crunchy on the bottom!

We can make a batch and barely have 1-2 pretzels left. We make them all the time for sleepovers. My kids and their friends love them.

This recipe is not only allergy safe for my daughter but frugal as well. Totally a winner recipe in my book.


This post is linked to Tasty Tuesday.

Sunday, February 14, 2010


So we had a very low-key Valentine's day.  In year's past we have bought them candy (that would eventually get thrown out) and other odds and ends. But by the time we were done it ended up costing around $100 for Valentine's day for the kids. That is a little ridiculous.

Since we are trying to instill a more greatful heart in our kids, we have really started to scale back. So this year this is what we did for Valentine's day.

First I made these backpack like bags that fit over the kids chairs in the kitchen. I plan on reusing these every year.

This is what I made for my son. He loves fleece blankets. This will give him a little "lovey" that he can keep forever hopefully!

This is what I made my youngest daughter. I made a little flower hair rubberband and a little purse for her. She loves it.

I made a crayon roll for my second oldest. She loves creating and coloring. So this was perfect for her. I thought it turned out really cute.

I made a little notebook/diary for my oldest daughter. She really liked it also.

In addition to this they also got some adorable Valentine suckers.

This is what we created for Daddy.

Isn't it adorable? I got the idea here.

Then when we had photos taken of our son, I had a special one printed for Daddy.

Sorry about the glare, I couldn't not get it after 10 shots! Here is what the photo looks like.

Finally we created a little photo album for Daddy for when he travels. This way he won't forget what we look like! It was the kids idea!

And then just a second ago, what was delivered but this. Daddy had this delivered for all of us to share, and bears for the girls.

It was a very great Valentine's day indeed! The fruit was a perfect idea for 2 little ones with food allergies.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Homemade Lovey

I wanted to get something for my little man for Valentine's day. But he is so little, that any toys would be meaningless and candy was out of the question.

I thought that I could make a soft blanket for my son. He loves fleece blankets, and is always rubbing his face on them. He even has stolen one that my oldest daughter made with a kit at Christmas time.

I had meant to go to the fabric store and get some stuff to make the blanket. But with all the snow we have gotten in the last couple of days, going to the store for some fabric was not an option.

I remembered that I had these two fleece shirts that were in my pile for Goodwill. There was nothing wrong with them, just not something that I wore anymore. So I cut them up and used them for my fleece squares.

Then for the backing, I used one of my sons receiving blankets that we used to swaddle him in as an infant.

Take a look, I think it turned out adorable and I can't wait to give it to him onValentines's day.

It is the perfect size for him to snuggle.

This turned out to be a gift that didn't cost me anything but my time and effort. I love making things and I think my little man will love this.

This post is linked to Frugal Fridays.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Surgery Day

So, today is surgery day. Please keep our little man in your thoughts and prayers. I know to some getting tubes is no big deal, but his is our first surgery for my kids. So I am nervous to say the least.


We are home and he is sleeping. The surgery went well and was super quick. He is a little cranky but they said he should be good as new when he wakes up from his nap.

Thank you to everyone for your thoughts and prayers.

Little Man's Food Allergies

This is him the other day at the beginning of our week of the stomach bug, we were playing with the hats and gloves. He is chewing on a pretent play food steak.

My little man had blood drawn last week for food allergies. You see one of his big sisters has food allergies to eggs, dairy, peanuts and treenuts. His other bigger sister outgrew a peanut allergy. So we just figured he too would have food allergies.

I have been very diligent about not giving him anything that his sister cannot eat, just in case. Not to mention, twice now he has had soy and started to projectile vomit soon after. So I really thought he would have a soy allergy.

Well, the results are in and he is allergice to . . . one thing: egg whites. We will avoid all eggs of course.

I am leary though to start introducing him to the foods they say he isn't allergic to, specically dairy and soy. He has had products that contained soy, but the icecream and the soy formula he couldn't take.

And this is my daughter playing with the gloves and hats. About 2 hours before she started to throw up!

My youngest daughter goes in April for a six month visit for her food allergies. We are hoping that she has outgrown her dairy allergy enough that she can do a food challenge. We are also hoping that her egg allergy has gone down, not up.

She is will have a life long food allergy to peanuts, her results are way too high.

I am so thankful for the many people that have helped pave the way and made huge improvements to how those with food allergies are treated.

It is so nice to have supportive friends and family. That definately works for me.

This post is linke to Works for Me Wednesday.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Organic or not Organic

So I go back and forth between organic. On one hand I want the best for my kids don't I?
I didn't eat a lot of store bought stuff when I was growing up. We had a garden where my mom canned everything and we ate that over the winter. We grew everything from potatoes, carrots, lettuce, green peppers, corn, popcorn (I remember blisters from getting the corn off the cobb that summer!), onions, tomatoes, green beans, peas, you name it. My mom made pickles, spaghetti sauce, canned the beans, etc.

Everyone gardened when I was little, or it seemed that way anyway. And since my dad didn't use sprays, it was organic, before things organic ws hip.

And my parents would buy a half of a grain fed steer that he hand picked every year. My dad would pick out the one he wanted and when it got to a certain weight, it would be divided into steaks, ground chuck, roasts, etc.

We didn't eat out alot, only on vacation really. Plus my mom cooked from scratch as much as possible. Back then, she did it to save money, as a family of six, it was expensive to eat out. So we ate homemade pizzas and pretzels.

I too love to cook and bake from scratch, more so than the average person I would guess. I try not to use or buy too many processed convenience foods.

Before I got pregnant with our 4th, I was convinced organic was the way to go. But we went through atleast a half gallon of milk at a meal and that only counted two kids as the third drinks soy milk. so it was getting to be that I was spending atleast 40 dollars a week just on milk.

I tried to buy as much organic as possible. But have you priced organic roasts at the grocery store? Wow.

So I have simply tried to feed my family as much home cooked meals as possible, with wholesome ingredients. And I will buy organic when it is on sale and the price is close to non organic.

But I think it is crazy to pay for organic convenience food. When you can make your own from your organic wheat flower and organic sucanat for so much cheaper. And really, how healthy is a chocolate chip cookie?  Over a made at home cookie from scratch?

So my question is this, do you buy organic or not organic?

This post is linked to Tasty Tuesday.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Menu plan week of February 7

What a week, I caught the stomach bug late Sunday night that my family had earlier in the week. So Monday and Tuesday was a hodge podge of what was super easy for me to make with the help of my hubby.

Aside from colds everyone is doing fine. We spent yesterday at a friends house for the afternoon and part of the Super Bowl. So lunch was grilled cheese and lunch meat sandwiches and dinner was pizza.

Here’s what the week looks like:

Breakfasts: waffles, cold cereal, homemade cinnamon rolls, spice muffins

Lunches: leftovers, lunch meat sandwiches, buttered noodles, soup

Dinners: spaghetti, spiral sliced ham with mashed potatoes and homemade rolls, leftover ham (with orange juice and brown sugar), taco soup with homemade rolls, slow-cooker roast with potatoes and carrots.

We should have some decent leftovers. So some of the ham and the very large roast I bought will be frozen for another time.

I will also be making some homemade cookies this week, probably oatmeal cookies, homemade Chex mix and I think I am going to try some Sunbutter cookies, I’ll have to see what I can come up with there.

This post is linked to Menu Plan Monday.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Jungle Jims and Walmart

So this week was a little strange, the stomach bug that I was hoping would bypass me, did not. So I was sick on Sunday and Monday.  So that meant that from Wednesday through Tuesday morning, someone was sick in our house. So we ate a lot of soup and jello.

I have no photos as I completely forgot to take them! I could get everything out and retake the photos, but who wants to do that? Not me.

So here goes, Jungle Jims ( a local health food store, they have everything there) was a little pricey, considering I only bought 17 items. However I had to stock up on my daughters soy products, which is always expensive. A few of these items were even on sale!

Sunbutter $4.99
Wheat Flour $3.59
Wheat Berries $3.69 ( I have a salad recipe I have been wanting to try and couldn't find these at any other store)
Pearl Barley (for soup) $3.49
2 Valentine Frostings $1.98
bag of Navel oranges $1.88
8 pack of sparkle papertowels $3.99 (NOT my Bounty but I couldn't pass up this deal)
Tofutti Fudge pops $5.99
Tofutti Chocolate covered icecream pops $5.19
4 Tofutti soy cheese  $10.40
3 soy yogerts $3.57

Total $49.68

I went to Walmart on Thursday, before the big snow storm hit and got various items.
I needed some supplies to make a baby blanket for a friend, some milk and some convenience items.

I realized that why I love to cook from scratch, it isn't always feasible. For instance, when I was in the midst of the stomach bug, my husband was scrounging for something to feed the kids. I had no "heat and serve" food ready.

So, to remedy that, I am going to try and always have simple chicken nuggets and fries from the grocery in my freezer. That would have been a great help to my husband.

So my Walmart purchases went like this.

3 milks $6.54
2 bags of french fries $4.96
Lays chips $1.99
chicken tenders $3.99
3 items that cost $3 (for the life of me I cannot remember what that was! I think that means that I didn't need it huh?)
6 rick racks $6.84

For a total of $32.06

I am not doing that great in my quest to not spend so much money. But we will see! I am going to try and do better and stay out of the stores!

This post linked to Super Saving Saturday.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

New Salad Dressing

I love salads. Always have, always will. But I am very picky on my dressings, I do not like any dressing that is not italian. I will eat creamy italian, regular italian, vinigrette, anything of the sort. But that is it, if it isn't in this family, I will not eat it. I eat atleast one salad a day usually, sometimes two.

I have found a new favorite dressing. I try not to use the store bought kind because it is loaded with unhealthy stuff, so I almost never use that at home. I usually just sprinkle some salt, pepper, olive oil and red wine vinegar on my salad and eat it that way.

This is the best dressing so far that I have found to make at home. Even my youngest daughter loves it. It is so delicious, so simple and so good for you!

1/2 cup olive oil
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
2 cloves of garlic

Mix together and serve over your salad. That is it, it is so simple and so delicous. This lasts me about 3-4 salads, depending on how big they are.

This post is linked to Tasty Tuesday and Ultimate Recipe Swap.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Pushing for Spring

Do you think I am rushing Spring?

Yes, that is a Vera Bradley purse being used to hold flowers on my front door. I received that one a few years ago for my 10 year anniversary. It was the wrapping and inside was a gift from Tiffanys! But I used it so much, it was starting to get really worn on the edges. So rather that just store it away, I decided to use it! I think it looks cute, my husband thinks it is really strange. What do you think?

Oh and for the record, it is in the 30's right now. Not the coldest, but I am really hoping spring comes early this year!

This was supposed to be a  Wordless Wednesday post but I used a couple of words, I think it still counts!

Monday, February 1, 2010

Tubes for the Little Man

Well, we went to the E-N-T doctor and have decided to go ahead with tubes. He is miserable most of the time. And is either on an antibiotic or ibuprofen most of the time as well. His surgery is in 2 weeks and this mama is nervous. He is the first one of my kids to ever need surgery. Hopefully this will give him some relief.

Please keep him in your prayers! I'll give an update on it after his surgery.

Menu Plan, Week of January 31

What a week, I am so glad it is over. I had a cold all week. On Wednesday my youngest daughter started to throw up, I was up all night with her. Only to get up Thursday and find out my son (10 months old) had thrown up during the night and went right back to sleep. It was EVERYWHERE.

Then Friday night around 8:30, my husband and oldest two daughters started with it, within a half hour of each other. So I am hoping for a week of no more sickness. We ate a lot of homemade chicken soup, crackers other bland, easy on the stomach stuff.

And yes, I did talk about vomitting in a post about food. For those moms out there, I know you don't mind.

So this week, I am hoping to get back to eating more substantial food. Here is what we have in store for this week.

Sunday: breakfast was hodgepodge as everyone woke up at varying times. Lunch was grilled cheese and dinner was lasagna with honey wheat bread.

For the week:

Breakfasts: cinnamon rolls, zucchine bread, lazy granola, Cheerios.

Lunches:  leftovers, salad, buttered noodles, sandwiches

Dinners: Roz's spaghetti, taco soup, haystacks, slowcooker BBQ chicken, pizza bake (in my new stoneware casserole dish) and leftovers

This week we only have choir and basketball practice, so not so busy. Plus, I only work 2 days this week so I am hoping to catch up on some baking for the freezer, some organizing and cleaning/decluttering.

However as I write this on Sunday evening, I am feeling really sick to my stomach. I am wondering if I am starting with what everyone else had. Well, atleast everyone else is on the mend now!

This post is linked to Menu Plan Mondays.