Thursday, May 31, 2012

Monthly Meal Planner - June

I posted our monthly meal plan on the side of our refrigerator giving our family a glimpse into their culinary future.  I thought I would go ahead and share it with you as a source of inspiration, if nothing else.  I enjoy checking out other’s meal plans to give me ideas too. 

I may not get everything made depending on how the leftovers work out.  Here is a list of what we will be enjoying next month: 

·         Pepperoni Pizza
·         Soup, Salad & Bread
·         Pot Roast
·         Shredded Beef Tacos
·         Chicken Fried Rice & Egg Rolls
·         Sausage Quiche
·         Reuben Sandwiches
·         Pasta Bolognese
·         Soup, Salad & Bread - again
·         Chili Stuffed Baked Potatoes
·         Chicken Quesadillas
·         Fish Fillets & Rice Pilaf
·         Lasagna & Garlic Bread
·         Beef & Bean Burritos
·         BBQ Hotdogs
·         Grilled Tuna Sandwiches
·         Creamy Chicken & Rice
·         Patty Melts & Tater Tots
·         Beef Noodle Soup & Salad
·         Chile Rellanos
·         Pesto Pizza
·         Spanish Rice Casserole

 I’ll be posting some of the recipes later on.  It all sounds pretty good to me.  What are you having this month?

Month End Grocery Wrap Up - May

I managed to stay on track and under budget this month.  Meal planning makes all the difference in the world.  We had plenty of variety and I feel we met our nutritional needs in the process. 

Here is the final tally of everything I purchased this month: 

The items highlighted in blue are my “stock up” items.  As you can see, once again, I spent more of my regular budget stocking up on things than my usual $25 per month. 

May 2012


Chuck Roast
Breakfast Links (10)
Eggs - doz (2)
Ground turkey (4)
Milk - 1/2 gal (5)
Milk - 1/2 gal (5)
Breakfast drink (4)
Cole slaw mix
Sour cream (2)


Peanut Butter (3)

Diet Coke - 8ct
Pork & Beans (4)

Corn - frozen
Peas & carrots - frozen
Sugar 10#

Parsley flakes
Almonds - sliced

Ramen (6)

Elbows (3)

Taco seasoning (3)
Au Jus


Chile Dip

Mushroom soup (2)
Tomato sauce (2)
Asparagus soup
Cream - quart
Cheddar - 2#
Garlic (2)

Chocolate chips
Olives (2)

Lettuce (2)

Cole slaw mix (2)
Hot dog buns

Hamburger buns




 $ 119.93

My non-food tally came in at $26.84.  I went slightly over. 

How did you do this month?

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

We're Back!

We just rolled in about an hour ago from our trip to Yellowstone.  Our long awaited, much anticipated trip was absolutely wonderful.  The weather could have been better – we were snowed, rained and hailed on regularly until the last day when we caught a break and the sun came out.  Along with the mosquitoes!  Even with two applications of Cutter spray they still found a way to munch on me.  Darn them! 

It was a great time spent with family and despite the fact that it was a lot of togetherness and we all have very strong and different personalities everyone got along really well.  Especially, when you are trapped inside a trailer playing games for hours on end.  Still, we found a way to make it fun and acted absolutely silly most of the time.  You can’t ask for better than that. 

I came home with a mild sore throat, most likely from the weather, and I am exhausted from the drive home.  Never has the Boise horizon looked so nice as it did today when we crested that final grade on the freeway.  My youngest cheered. 

Now we are all lining up for our turn to shower and I have a mountain of dirty laundry to tackle.  It’s definitely worth it though.  I hope you all have a family trip or outing planned this summer.  In my opinion, nothing brings a family together quite like it.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Christmas All Year Long – Gift List

I have mentioned before that I work on Christmas all year long.  For me it is not only a matter of staying on a budget but something I really enjoy doing.  I like to have all my gifts finished, wrapped and ready to give before Thanksgiving Day so I can spend the holidays focused on the actual holiday.  Not spent in the stores swept up in all that madness and chaos at risk of spending too much money and getting stressed out.  Our holidays are quite relaxing and enjoyable. 

In January I made gift bags with my daughters one Saturday.  We recycled our Christmas cards on this project.  In February we made gift tags and we sorted and re-organized the gift wrap bin. 

In March I went through all of our leftover Christmas cards and decided which ones to use and then I updated our card list.  In April I went through our Christmas ornaments and did a little more purging. 

Now it is May and this is when I typically write up my gift list because in June I start my Christmas shopping.  I brainstorm and decide what I want to give my children, my parents and close friends and then I come up with a list of friends and neighbors to give smaller homemade items to.  I also decide on a standard item to give to my children’s teachers. 

Before long I have a pretty long list and a resulting “To Do” list to go along with it.  No problem because I have plenty of time to work on it and a lot of fun projects ahead.  I will keep you posted along the way. 

When do you begin to prepare for Christmas?

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Sewing Up A Storm!

A friend of mine called me up the other day and told me that while she was cleaning out her garage over the weekend she had come across a large box as well as a garbage bag full of fabric.  She wanted to give it to me in hope that I could use it for the doll clothes I make and sell.  Of course I accepted her offer and it was quite a bonanza!  Thank you so much my dear friend!! 

There is more than just fabric for doll clothes, but yards of fabric to make summer pajamas and sundresses for my girls.  Plus there was a big bag of lace trims too.  I am absolutely thrilled. 

Today I made my oldest daughter a two piece set of seer sucker pajamas.  I haven’t sewn for my girls before.  I’ve always wanted to but haven’t had the time.  The pajamas turned out so cute and when I gave them to her today after school she was thrilled.  I plan to make her another set.  She has outgrown and passed along all her summer pajamas to her little sister so she is in need right now. 

After sewing the pajamas I cut out a sundress for her and found I have enough of that particular piece of fabric to make another one for my youngest.  They are actually excited about having matching sundresses.  Lucky me! 

The patterns I selected are very simple and were inexpensive at $3.99 each.  I bought two.  A lot of patterns run upwards of $9.98 to 12.98 but I steer clear of those.  I purchase patterns when they go on sale and they are usually ones that have multiple items or variations of an item so I can get a lot of mileage out of them.

Pajamas are a great way to get started sewing for children.  So now I feel warmed up and ready to tackle something a little more challenging.  The sundresses will be fun to make and if I make two of them my final cost will be $2 each for two dresses.  If I make four then they’ll only be $1 each.  Pretty affordable! 

Our Walmart has a fabric section and they also have a big bargain bin where you can purchase fabric for as little as $1.50 a yard.  I may be checking that out in the not too distant future for ideas of things to make for my girls.  Hmmm…my friend just may have created a monster. J

Monday, May 21, 2012

Home Ice Cream Shoppe

My family loves ice cream.  We enjoy it all year long, but especially in the summer when it’s hot outside.  Any dessert made with ice cream is also a hit around here too. 

·                     Root beer floats
·                     Italian Sodas
·                     Milk Shakes
·                     Ice Cream Cones – sugar, waffle or regular
·                     Sundaes
·                     Banana Splits
·                     Ice cream cakes or pies 

I noticed once the recession hit that the price of ice cream went up and the size of the carton went down.  The standard half gallon carton of ice cream is no more, replaced by the 1.5 and 1.25 quart sizes. 

Now granted, we don’t need ice cream and it is one of those luxury items we can get along without, though I hope I never have to, but it sure is nice to sit on the porch after a long day and enjoy a nice gob of ice cream sitting atop a sugar cone. 

We make our own and for a fraction of the cost of store bought which allows us to enjoy it as often as we’d like.  Several years ago I bought an ice cream maker with a gel base that you freeze.  No ice or salt required.  I keep the base in the freezer so it is ready to use and in about 30 minutes we have homemade ice cream. 

I have tried a lot of recipes and for ease and thriftiness this is the one I use most often. 

Homemade Vanilla Ice Cream 

3 c. whole milk
1 c. cream
¾ c. sugar
1 Tbs. vanilla extract
Dash of salt 

Combine all ingredients. Stir with a whisk until sugar dissolves.  Pour into your ice cream freezer and freeze according to appliance instructions.  Once ice cream is done pour into a large glass bread pan and freeze additional two hours for a hard serve consistency. 

This recipe makes 1.5 quarts of ice cream. 

Chocolate Ice Cream – Heat one cup of milk and ½ c. baking cocoa until cocoa dissolves stirring constantly with a whisk so it doesn’t scorch.  Allow to cool and chill in refrigerator. 

We love to stir in add ins too for different varieties – chopped up candy bars, chocolate chips, frozen berries, leftover cheesecake, etc. 

And of course you have to have chocolate syrup! 

Chocolate Ice Cream Syrup 

½ c. baking cocoa
1 c. sugar
1 c. water
1 tsp. vanilla extract
Dash of salt 

Combine in a small saucepan.  Stir with a whisk over medium heat until syrup comes to a boil.  Remove from heat.  Transfer to a pint canning jar.  Allow to cool.  Keep in tightly covered in the refrigerator.  Stir syrup before each use. 

Makes 1 pint. 

So easy and delicious.  Do you and your family ever make ice cream?

Friday, May 18, 2012

Keeping Pasta Interesting

I’m sure my youngest would eat pasta every day, three times a day, if I’d let her.  She loves her noodles.  I, on the other hand, find that pasta once a week is more than enough and my oldest daughter pretty much agrees with me. 

The same old spaghetti or elbow macaroni can become mundane in short order so I like to keep things interesting with different sauces and meats.  But the best tip I have for making your pasta dishes special has to be using different types of pastas.

I don’t make my own pasta and I don’t have any desire too.  I love the convenience in purchasing already made dry pasta and I really appreciate the many varieties my stores have to offer.  Plus they go on sale – a lot!  I find sales for 10 packages for $10 quite often and then I stock up. 

Whenever pasta goes on sale I stock up on the special pastas aside from the regular elbow and spaghetti noodles.  These are the types I am always on the lookout for: 

·         Penne
·         Bowtie or Farfalle
·         Wagon wheels
·         Rotini and Tri-color Rotini
·         Shells – in all sizes
·         Rigatoni – in all sizes
·         Lasagna
·         Fettucine & Linguine
·         Whole wheat pastas – in any variety 

I especially love to use wagon wheel pasta in place of elbow in macaroni & cheese.  Shells are great in baked pasta dishes, pasta salads and soups.  Linguine is a nice change to regular spaghetti noodles.  I love to use fettucine instead of egg noodles whenever I make creamy chicken and noodles, just break them in half. 

Another thrifty tip is to purchase the small packages of pasta in the Hispanic foods aisle.  They usually run 3/$1 at regular price and there is more pasta in those packages than you might think.  One package of fideo makes an entire 2 quart casserole of sopa seca.  The little shells are the perfect amount to add to minestrone soup.  Melon seed pasta is perfect to use in place of orzo at a fraction of the price.  Consider giving them a try. 

I’d love to hear some of your tips regarding pasta!
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...