Friday, February 27, 2015

Monthly Menu Planner - March


I got our menu plan finalized and posted on the side of our refrigerator this week.  The plan is based on the items I already have in our pantry and freezer.  In the past two months there were quite a few meals I had planned to make and didn’t due to having plenty of leftovers that needed to be eaten.  I went ahead and put them on this month's plan so if some of these sound like repeats that is why.


This is what we have planned for our culinary future.

Baked Ham, Scalloped Potatoes, Green Beans
Tacos w/ Shredded Lettuce, Cheese, & Salsa
Pork Fried Rice, Stir Fried Veggies, Egg Drop Soup
Creamy Tuna & Biscuits, Green Peas
Grilled Ham & Cheese Sandwich, Garden Salad
Pepperoni Pizza, Garden Salad
Chicken & Stuffing Bake, Steamed Broccoli
Ham & Bean Soup, Cornbread, Garden Salad
Macaroni & Cheese w/ Diced Ham, Peas & Carrots
Spaghetti & Meat Sauce, Garden Salad
Denver Style Breakfast Burritos, Hash browns
Grilled Hot Dogs, Tater Tots, Veggies & Dip
Pork Verde, Steamed Rice, Garden Salad
Meat Loaf, Baked Potatoes, Green Beans
Corned Beef, Potatoes & Carrots, Cabbage Salad
Mongolian Chicken, Steamed Rice, Stir Fried Veggies
Pizza Pasta, Garden Salad
Sloppy Joes, Potato Chips, Veggies & Dip
Chicken Enchiladas, Lettuce & Tomatoes
Broccoli Cheddar Quiche, Fruit Salad
Ham & Potato Hash, Toast, Fruit
Taco Salad (a la the 1970s!)
Patty Melts, Steak Fries, Veggies & Dip
Split Pea Soup, Cornbread, Garden Salad
Lemon Chicken, Roasted Veggies
Spanish Rice, Garden Salad
Waffles, Bacon & Eggs, Fruit


It all sounds pretty darn tasty to me.  Do you make up meal plans?  What great things do you have lined up?



Thursday, February 26, 2015

KIS - Making Lists & My Day Planner


You all know by now I am a serious list maker.  I makes lists for just about everything and I looooove crossing stuff off of them as I get things done.

I happen to be one of those people that if I have to remember it in my head then I am always thinking about stuff so I don't forget about it.  The busier I get the more stuff I have to think about which turns to worry because I don't want to forget and pretty soon I am completely stressed out.  Having things jotted down on paper alleviates problem entirely.  Now if I lose my list we have a whole other problem.


So I keep my lists collectively in my day planner so I have less of an opportunity to lose them.  My day planner sits on my desk and I often refer to it as my brain, or more often, my external hard drive.  Cause after fifty years my internal hard drive is FULL. 

I also keep some of my lists on my computer and I back them up on my flash drive.  As time goes by I find I am getting to be more and more comfortable doing this.  However, nothing feels more cathartic to me than the act of writing things down on paper.  It is still my preferred method.


My day planner is a basic black number with pockets on the inside of each cover and places for  my all important mechanical pencils and Clic eraser.  I tuck my shopping lists, Christmas planner (a school composition book), a spiral notebook of my plans and goals and other important things needing attention inside.  If there is a birthday coming up and I need to send a card I tuck it inside so I know where it is when I need it.  And since it is right there I don't forget about it.

The nicest thing is that my day planner keeps everything in a neat, concise and small space eliminating clutter and it is very portable.  Because of its size I can't overstuff it which forces me to get things done and regularly purge the things I put inside.

The calendar I use is simply one I print off of my computer using Publisher.  It is the same format as the one I use to make my monthly meal plans.  You can easily download one from the internet too if you don't happen to have Publisher.  I also like to keep a small pocket calculator in my day planner for quick math calculations and a few jumbo paper clips to help me stay organized.

Are you a list maker?  Do you use a day planner?  How are some ways you stay on top of things and get stuff done?


Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Buffalo Chicken Pizza


I needed something quick for supper the other night and as a result this pizza was born.  I grabbed a ball of pizza dough out of the freezer and let it thaw in the fridge while I was at work so when I got home all I had to do was roll it out and put on the toppings.


I diced up half of a very large chicken breast half and browned it in a skillet with a little oil and 1/2 cup of diced onion.  Then I seasoned it with a little Frank's Red Hot Sauce.  We love this stuff.


Next I brushed the crust with 2 Tbs. of Buffalo Ranch dressing.  Topped that with a cup of pizza blend cheese, then the chicken and a thinly sliced Roma tomato.  Then I sprinkled the top with 1/4 tsp. of dried basil.  I baked the pizza at 450° for 14 minutes.


In further keeping with the Buffalo theme I made a quick coleslaw using shredded cabbage mix and some Blue Cheese dressing.  I topped the salad with some fresh cracked pepper.

We loved this pizza.  It is definitely one of our new favorites.


Note:  You can make your own Buffalo Ranch dressing simply by mixing some Frank's Red Hot Sauce with your regular buttermilk dressing.



Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Grocery Budget Update - February


My stock up meat item this month was ground turkey. We had no ground turkey left in the freezer so I was happy to be able to restock this item that I enjoy using a lot.  My oldest and I stood in the meat department for quite awhile doing the math calculations to determine which was the best buy.  We finally decided on two 3# packages of lean ground turkey for $17.58 less a $3.00 OFF coupon Fred Meyer had sent to me for a meat purchase.  I was able to divide the meat into eight packages to freeze.


I was able to stock the freezer with 10# of grated cheese.  Five pounds of pizza blend and five pounds of cheddar Monterey jack.  I also added the ten jars of peanut butter to the pantry I had purchased ahead in January.


My non food budget came in at $30.38, a little bit over, for cat food, cat litter, dish soap, mouthwash, cotton swabs, cough syrup and fabric softener.  I used a lot of coupons and purchased everything on sale so I was spending as little as possible on each item.  The cough syrup was only 74¢.  I also bought a bottle of facial cleanser and a gallon of distilled water.


This is the food breakdown for the month.  The items I highlighted are the stock up items:

Groceries

 $$$







Cheese - 5#

          13.98
Cash & Carry

Cheese - 5#

          13.48
Cash & Carry

Chili paste

            2.69
Cash & Carry

Sweet chili paste

            2.57
Cash & Carry

Seasoning sauce

            2.08
Cash & Carry

Coconut

            5.07
Cash & Carry

Mung bean noodles (2)

            2.16
Cash & Carry

Peanut butter (10)

            9.80
Sale

Ground Turkey - 6#

          17.58
Sale

Customer Appreciation Coupon

          (3.00)


Turkey bacon (2)

            2.98
Sale/Coupon

Pork Sausage - 1# (2)

            5.00
Sale Raincheck

Pasta (6)

            2.74
Store Coupon/Coupon
Milk - 1/2 gal

            0.99
Store Coupon

Orange juice - 1/2 gal (5)

            4.96
Store Coupon

Tortillas (2)

            2.00
Sale

Salsa (3)

            3.90
Sale/Coupon

Steak (2)

            4.00
Sale

Cereal

            1.19
Sale/Coupon

Bananas

            1.25


Mushrooms

            0.99
Markdown

Romaine

            0.98


Tomatoes

            0.45
Sale

Carrots

            1.29


Bell peppers

            1.98


Celery

            0.60


Coleslaw mix

            0.98


Garlic bulb

            0.34


Broccoli

            1.20
Sale

Cauliflower

            2.49
Sale

Customer Appreciation Coupon

          (2.00)


Tortilla chips (2)

            1.00
Store Coupon

Olives (2)

            2.00


Pink lemonade (3)

            4.17
Markdown

Milk - 1 gal

            2.09


Eggs - 1 doz. (2)

            1.76
Sale

Flour -25#

            8.29







Total

 $    124.03



$124.03 ÷ 28 days ÷3 people = $1.48 per person per day!

99¢ each!

On sale and with two $1 OFF coupons made these just 46¢ each!
How did you save money on groceries this month?  Were you able to find some good sales and stock up on anything?


Monday, February 23, 2015

Last Week's Thrifty Moves


This flu bug has seriously kicked my butt.  I'm not alone it seems, however, as it has affected everyone pretty much the same way but I'm not a patient patient.  In fact quite the opposite.  I get resentful and frustrated.  Finally I am on the mend and creeping back to normal.

By Tuesday I felt well enough to get the muslin I bought a couple weeks ago into the washer and dryer for a quick spin.  On Wednesday I was chomping at the bit to get started on those projects I had abandoned during the last ten days.  I pressed the muslin and cut out three tea towels out of the white.  Then I placed a vintage iron on transfer onto each one.  Super cute!

The youngest and I sorted the Christmas M&Ms for
some belated Valentine cookies.
Thursday I got out my embroidery basket (the one that used to belong to my great grandmother) and got to stitching.

Friday I was feeling like a human being once again and itching to get into the kitchen and do something productive after I got home from work.  First thing after I hung up my coat and purse was to load up the bread machine to make up a fresh ball of whole wheat dough.  I needed bread!


The girls got in the spirit with me and before long we had a double batch of blueberry pecan granola in the oven and a bowl of Death By Chocolate cookie dough mixed up.  I also made a bottle of pancake syrup while all the sugar was still out.

We watched Castle online for free.  Using our Roku and Amazon Prime membership we started watching The X Files series.  We love it!

What a mess!  No space to even walk through here.
Saturday the girls and I started the redo project in our garage storage area.  We removed everything inside and went through it.  We removed the old rickety 20 year old particle board shelving and cleaned out the entire area.  We washed all of our storage bins and the metal shelving unit.  Then we got busy putting everything away in and orderly and organized fashion.  We completed about 80% of this project before we felt the need to call it a day.  I'll post more once we get it all done.

After working hard in the garage we pumped up the tires on our bikes and went for a quick ride in our neighborhood.

I also got these guys all washed up and ready to go.  Can you guess why?
I washed out half a dozen gallon size Ziploc bags to reuse.

I did not grocery shop last week.  We ate very well from our freezer and pantry.

How thrifty were you last week?


Friday, February 20, 2015

Our Trip To The Antique Mall


Our family outing last month was to go to the antique mall and troll the aisles.  It always opens up a lot of conversation for us as my girls want to know what everything is and what it was used for.  As always, it was a ton of fun.


This time rotary phones were the big deal.  They just couldn't seem to imagine that I used to use one.  My youngest thought it would be incredibly difficult.  I think today's Smartphones are difficult.  The rotary phone is a breeze!



So many pretty vintage things and loads of fun retro stuff.  I always get mesmerized by the dishes and kitchen stuff.  And there is so much to take in.

These are just like the cafeteria trays we used when I was in grade school.

We are on the lookout for the perfect old iron to add to the vignette in my laundry room.  So far we have yet to find one so we'll just have to keep searching, which is part of the fun.  More antique shops in our future I'm afraid.  Yaaaaay!


Thursday, February 19, 2015

KIS - Schedules & Routines


For the most part I rely heavily on schedules and routines to get me easily through my day.  My job pretty much calls for me to have the same schedule and a set routine by which I get my work accomplished.  At home I find schedules and routines help me to be productive and stay on track.

However, strictly following the same set schedules and routines day in and day out would drive me absolutely mad so I have to find the happy medium.  At home I don't schedule everything although I would definitely be more productive if I did, and I keep my routines within reason.


I do keep a certain morning routine that I follow almost religiously.  I typically get up at the same time every morning, fix myself a cup of coffee and then I write for awhile.  Allowing my creative juices to flow first thing sets up my day.  Afterward I'm ready to shower, get dressed, make my bed and do the other things that need to be done.


While I am an avid proponent of having schedules and routines I also think being flexible and having unscheduled free time is just as vital.  If we were to schedule all aspects of our time I think we'd miss out on the possibilities of other things entering our lives.  Along with that becoming too focused on a routine can make it difficult to see a new and better way of doing something.  Flexibility plays an important role here, I think.


So yes, I do think schedules and routines are incredibly important and helpful to productivity but I also think tempering that and finding your happy medium is equally important as well.


What are your thoughts?  What are things you schedule and what are things you just fly by the seat of your pants on?  Do you have routines you follow?  Any that you find may tend to consume you maybe more than they should?  Or do you need to be more structured?  Not enough scheduling and things don't seem to get done?


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