Triple Clicks

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Will Spring Ever Come?

Garage sale season has officially started around here which means deals on clothes. Unfortunately, the weather didn't get the memo and it's COLD today. 

Our town's city wide garage sales are this weekend, I have marked which ones I need to go to, along with a list of what I'm looking for. 

I went to Goodwill with my mom last Friday while I was in Nebraska, but we didn't find much. Since I'm buying clothes, I am buying dresses and tights or pants to go underneath. We are trying to get away from form fitting clothes in our house, which is easier said than done in today's world. Luckily I have girls who love dresses. And a sewing machine to make if I can't find-which is a great repurpose for large sized clothes from a thrift shop if you can't find what you want.

This year's garage sale list has little girl clothes in 3T, which is a size I do not have-after this my hand me downs start. Church shoes for Andrew and once I have all the clothes found, books. :) I love books and I love being able to expand our little library with cheap books. 

My nine year old would greatly appreciate having a selection of chapter books available, too. 

We are all just lounging today. The girls and I have a cold, Eva is the only one who can take anything for it, but she is still miserable. Dennis isn't feeling well, either, so he stayed home from work. We are impatiently waiting for spring to arrive. The kids want to be able to play outside and take walks, and I'm with them. I just want it warm. But it looks like we will have to wait. 

Monday, April 21, 2014

Popcorn Chicken Bites

I found this recipe on Pinterest from the blog Food 4 Tots. My kids LOVE this recipe, and Dennis and I agree, it's awesome. Now, I did change the recipe a bit because I don't have in the cupboard some of the things and I couldn't add anything else to my list, but it was good. 

My changes: I don't keep oyster sauce or sesame oil, so I just used black pepper, sugar, soy sauce and olive oil.  Also, I used the entire egg instead of the egg whites. 
Make sure you grease your pan first. I also did not pound the chicken, just did a little more cutting. 

Liquid Marinade
1 1/2 tsp oyster sauce
1 1/2 tsp soy sauce
1/2 tsp sesame oil
1/4 tsp white pepper
pinch of sugar

2 Boneless Skinless Chicken Breast
1/2 cup cornflakes
1/4 cup flour
2 egg whites

4 tsp garlic powder
4 tablespoon parmesan
1/4 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp black pepper

Preheat oven to 392
Trim fat from chicken and pat dry. Pound to flatten. Cut into 1 inch cubes. Mix seasoning for marinade, coat and marinade for at least an hour. 

Pound cornflakes to crumbs. Add parmesan, garlic, paprika and black pepper. Mix well. 
You need three bowls- one for flour, one for egg whites (whisked lightly), one for corn flake mixture. 

Dip chicken in flour, egg, corn flake. 
Grease baking tray, arrange chicken, spray on more grease. 

Bake 15 minutes or until golden brown turning halfway. 

I sent some to work with Dennis the next day when I made this last week, and it is not soggy the next day after storing in the fridge. Not sure about the freezer, I might make a bigger batch next month and see how that goes. 

First-World Problems and Health

Exercise. It's a good thing, it keeps us healthy. We all know that. So why is it so hard for a lot to stick to an exercise routine? 

Well.. for me, it's just plain being lazy. That and every time I've got an exercise routine down I've been told by a doctor to stop it. Crazy, isn't it? I inherited my mom's fast metabolism. Which is awesome because I can pretty much eat whatever I want. My only problem is, the more I eat, the more I lose. And while probably all of you reading are calling me plenty of names and growling at me in your head I can assure you, it's not as fun as it sounds. 

It's frustrating. Very frustrating. 

I had to stop nursing my now 2 year old because I couldn't keep up with the calories with being pregnant and nursing.  I dealt with a VERY unhappy toddler for almost a month until we got the new routine established, not how I wanted to stop nursing. 

They were pushing me to GAIN as much weight as I possibly could during my last pregnancy because the scales said I just didn't weigh enough. Whereas I had gained 35 pounds by the time it was said and done, they wanted me to gain more but because of the high metabolism, nursing and morning sickness throughout, I was underweight when I got pregnant. On top of that, my diet was limited because of a low blood pressure issue my system decided it needed to have.  

Yet, our youngest came out healthy and happy, the biggest yet at 8 pounds. And if you know me, you're probably like us and still trying to figure out how the heck I had an 8 lb baby. (I'm 5 nothing and typically 100 pounds soaking wet).  I know the nurses and midwife were sure surprised because she certainly didn't look like an 8 pound baby. And to that, all I have to say to the doctor in Nebraska who told me my 7 lb 9 oz boy would have to be a c-section because he was 'too big' is a tongue sticking out at you and maybe a 'na-na boo-boo'.  (No, I don't spend all day with toddlers.....) 

I do have a point behind this post, I promise. And it's not to make my whole two dozen readers jealous that I'm little. I hate it as much as you do... 

The year I got pregnant with Eva we decided we were going to start exercising. (I laugh now because we aren't really the go-getter types and my husband has a bad back so he really needs a trainer, but anyway...) We can't afford a gym membership-not like I could go because I have babies to take care of. So we went and bought the PS2 (I think that's right, I can never remember which version we have) version of a Wii fit 'game'.  It was fun...for the first few weeks.  I think I petered out about two weeks before we found out we were expecting Eva because I couldn't keep up with it. Go figure, I was only 15 weeks pregnant trying to do a hard core exercise routine. Plus keeping up with a one year old. And getting the now out-of-business family dollar store up and going. 

So, for two years, this has been sitting on the shelf, collecting dust. I'm considering starting it again. We'll see. I know Grace is only two months and I have preaching since I got pregnant with her that 'it takes nine months to gain the weight, give your body nine months to get it off'. Which makes perfect sense to me and I fully believe that. But, quit frankly, I'm tired of seeing a muffin top every time I put on a pair jeans or a skirt and I can't wear my favorite dress because of said muffin top. Which is really frustrating and leaves me with a whole two skirts to wear to church. 

I also know it's warming up (YAY) and that means, I'll start my garden and start cleaning out the gardens in the back yard. And we'll start walking every day. And housework and this and that the other.... I know the muffin top will go away soon between all this.  I just feel self-conscious is all. It won't go away. 'Course it probably doesn't help that my four old declared the other day 'mommy, your belly isn't little anymore and Grace is out'. Gee, son, thanks for THAT.  I don't remember my oldest being so brutally honest.  

I also know we (the kids and I) snack WAY TOO MUCH around here. I need to find healthy snacks that don't break the budget. Quite frankly, I'm all for the carrot sticks with ranch dip. Or the fruit with cream cheese and sweetened condensed milk dip (I'd have to get that recipe from my mom-it's GOOD).  The problem is, produce is more expensive than flour and sugar and raisins for raisin cookies. Hey, they have raisins, they have some health aspect. If say it enough, maybe it would be true?

My entire point here is that I don't FEEL healthy any more. Perhaps it's the constant back pain, perhaps it's because I want to get out of the house and walk, work on the garage, the gardens. ANYTHING but be confined to the house. Perhaps it's all in my head because of the muffin top (that makes my husband laugh that I complain about a muffin top). Most of all, perhaps I just need to be content with the body God gave me. Yes, that's got to be the key, right there. 

Now that I've probably confused and infuriated every single one of you because I'm doing nothing more than venting and am starting to even wonder if I should publish this.... I think I have uncovered the root of the problem (besides this back pain that has been driving me crazy for two months).. I'm not content. I need to pray, sit back, and be thankful to God that he has given the blessings I do have. A wonderful husband, four wonderful children. A roof over our heads, food in our bellies. And the first-world problems of muffin-tops and gardens to clean out before black birds think it's their new summer home. 

Speaking of gardens and the birds. The sun is starting to come up, the birds are singing-we have cardinal family and blue jay families this year. The blue jays are new. The cardinals were here last year for the first year.  Maybe I'll even get pictures..during nap time so the kids don't scare them away. Now, if anybody in the area wants to come give their kids a lesson in horticulture and what NOT to do to gardens..or what house NOT to buy if you don't garden.. Come on over, give me call, message me. I would love the help and maybe you can teach me a few things while you're at it. Because I'm bad at keeping plants alive... I planted 9 tomato plants, three have survived-the cat killed 4; 6 onion plants-yep, they died. 3 pepper plants-the cat killed the one that grew... Are you seeing a pattern here? Which, with all the dead plants, I'm scared to try an indoor herb garden, but since the garlic is already growing on my kitchen counter I need to find the instructions I pinned for that...  But since I have discovered this cat does not like vinegar (YAY! no more scratched furniture), maybe a herb garden has a chance. Can't hurt, can it? 

But seriously...if you are close, you can even take some plants home. There's flowers galore. Tree saplings if we can get them out with the root... Peppermint running around somewhere. Rhubarb-which I'm told can't be transplanted until fall, but you can sure come harvest. I even have a back yard full of vine that likes to grow beneath my dryer vent and took over the back yard last year. Heck, take the ants. PLEASE TAKE THE ANTS that have invaded my kitchen every year for 4 years.. Seriously, you can't kill them. I have tried EVERYTHING. Diatomecious earth only slows them down. Heck, bleach didn't even work and if that chemical straight from Agent Orange doesn't work, nothing will.  The point in this particular paragraph is, if you are close and want more plants in your yard, come take them-I'll even help you get them out. They will just go to the city dump here. I NEED HELP. I'm not cut out for pretty gardening and I'm wondering if I'm cut out for any gardening. out for the resident snake.. I can show you where he lives... If you need wood-we have trees that need trimmed, you can have the firewood for trimming...we even have mini-pine trees (I have no idea what they are, besides little and pine) that need cut down because the ice storm last year killed them. 

Well, now that I have begged and pleaded I suppose I  had better start on housework and maybe even start that exercise program. At least get my last cup of coffee for the day.. 6 AM and I'm on the last cup for the day. Also proof that I need to remember to proof read when I write a post at 5:30 in the morning.... 

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Beef Enchilada Skillet

A lot of recipes I have saved to try I have found on Pinterest, through an email (I am signed up for many recipe emails), through a blog or through a Facebook post. It did not occur to me to keep the web site I got it from because I never thought I'd have my own blog. So this particular recipe, I don't know where it came from other than somewhere on the internet. Please forgive me for not giving the author due credit, because I cannot.

Eating this came about because I did not check my recipe for Saulsbury Steak and I didn't have all the ingredients. So.. I started looking through my saved recipes to see what I could do with what I had on hand-another reason keeping a pantry stock spreadsheet is a good idea. 

I did change this recipe a little to match what I did have. I did not have green chiles, so I put a finely chopped onion in with the beef and garlic. With the tomato sauce, I added taco seasoning. I used flour tortillas-one whole, one tore in half. And I used just mozzarella cheese. 

Beef Enchilada Skillet
1 lb ground beef 
1/2 TBSP garlic, minced
4 oz can fire roasted green chiles
1 3/4 cup tomato sauce (14 oz can)
1 TBSP chili powder
1 tsp cumin powder 
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup lite shredded Mexican cheese, divided
2 corn (or flour) tortilla shells cut in half

In a medium bowl, add tomato sauce, chili powder, cumin, garlic powder and salt. Mix until combined; set aside. 

Tomato Sauce Mixture

In a skillet add ground beef, garlic and cook until beef is no longer pink. Drain the fat. 

Add green chiles to beef, and half of the tomato mixture. Mix until combined. Top with 1/4 cup of cheese and then the tortilla shells. Add remaining tomato sauce and top with remaining 1/4 cup of cheese. 

Turn the heat down to medium-low ad cover. Cook until sauce starts to bubble and cheese is melted. 
Let it cool for a couple of minutes and serve. 
Topping Suggestions: Avocado, Greek yogurt, jalapenos, fresh tomatoes, hot sauce. 

Dennis didn't mind this recipe so much but said it taste more Italian than Mexican. The kids didn't eat much so they obviously didn't like it. General consensus says we won't be eating this again, but maybe one of you will like it. 

I make my own taco seasoning which I got Modern Alternative Mama. It's equal parts of chili seasoning, garlic powder, onion powder, oregano and cumin. If you like more spice throw a little red pepper in there. 

My taco seasoning in an old yeast jar

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

It's a birthday!

Monday was my four year old's birthday.  It is also the last birthday in our immediate family for the year. 

I have been working on making the kids' birthday cakes instead of buying them. I don't think I did too bad with the request of a Thomas birthday. 

Not too shabby, wouldn't you say?  

I cheated and used a boxed cake mix, but hey, it was on sale a few months ago so might as well.  The icing was cream cheese icing..or is it frosting? Never could figure out the difference between the two. 

1 8 oz chunk of cream cheese, room temperature
1/2 cup of butter (one stick) room temperature
4 cups of powdered sugar
a little bit a liquid (I used water, but you could use milk, cream, I've seen recipes that use whipping cream) 
Beat together the cream cheese and butter, add the powdered sugar and mix. I needed to add liquid to get it the right consistency and since we don't keep milk in the house, I used water. Add food dye and you're ready to ice. 

I also bought some of those candy letters because they were on sale. If I had been thinking ahead I wouldn't have made so much black and saved some for a different color..But I dyed too much black and had to use it somewhere since I had a little 4 year old helper so couldn't stand there and eat it. 

We also had pizza for his birthday day. 

Homemade Pizza Dough
1 scant tablespoon yeast
1 cup warm water
2 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt

Mix yeast and water, let sit for a few minutes while you get the dry ingredients in a bowl. Add yeast, stir with fork until combined. Cover and let rise for about 5 minutes. I let it rise until the oven is heated to 425. 
Put on your pan and spread, you can make two thin crusts or one pan crust with this recipe. Use fork to poke holes  so you don't get air bubbles. 
Put in oven for 12 minutes. 

While the pizza is cooking make your pizza sauce
1 15 oz can of tomato sauce
1 tablespoon each of garlic powder, oregano, parsley
bring to a boil then turn off burner. 
The longer it sits, the more flavor it gets. I usually make a big batch when I make it because we are constantly making some form of pizza around here. 

When the crust is done, put on your toppings (I usually do sauce, meat, cheese (mozzarella and cheddar) and bake for 10-12 minutes more depending on how brown you want your crust. Cut and enjoy. 

He says he had a good birthday and I think the kids are still on a sugar high from the cake and grandma-provided ice cream. 


Saturday, April 12, 2014

Starting Home School

I have found many freebies for our home school adventure..and we haven't even started yet! 

One of my favorite sites is Free HomeSchool Deals. There is a link to sign up for emails on this page. Every day, Jamerrill sends out an email with a collection of freebies she has found, along with a weekly collection from her and 10 other bloggers that she links to on Pinterest.  As part of signing up for her newsletter, you get a free ebook with tips on how to homeschool free and frugal. I have been getting the emails for probably six months now, and am just now reading the ebook. It is full of AWESOME tips and many online resources. 

I am thoroughly convinced that I should be able to homeschool through 5th grade without any formal curriculum. And even more so after reading that book. 

I collect anything that I think might be useful. I'm sure I could be saving more, but I'm only saving it when it sounds like something the kids will benefit from. I would say about half of what I save is special deals that only last for so long, while the rest is free as long as the web site is up. 

Yesterday I printed off ABCs booklets for Andrew and Eva. Well, mostly for Andrew but I knew if I didn't print one off for Eva things would not go well. And since the printer had a booklet option, the 33 page Acrobat file only printed off 9 pages per booklet. So I was able to save paper. I'm not starting anything formal with Andrew as he is only 4, but he knows his ABCs and is trying to write letters, so I figured I will start.  

So this is my first post of what I hope to many of our adventures in homeschooling on a tight budget. 

Friday, April 11, 2014

Shopping Trip April 10

Well.. I failed and I've been kicking myself in the butt ever since. Now, in all fairness, prices went up.. so SOME of the overage wasn't my fault. But I still went over and it will affect the rest of the budget. 

On the plus side, the kids were good and Grace was only fussy through one store. 

My meal plan:
I wrote down on a notebook paper week by week for the dinners. I'll not always follow verbatim by day, but I know I have the ingredients for everything on the meal plan. 
Lasagna, Tacos, homemade pizza and bread sticks with cake for  Andrew's birthday Monday. Salisbury steak, ravioli, spaghetti, chicken parmesan with fettucine alfredo.. and more pizza and spaghetti for fill ins. 
I also plan to try home made bread again, we tried in a borrowed bread maker and didn't like trying again now that I have an oven. I'm making pizza rolls and oatmeal cupcakes for our trip snacks to Nebraska, yes I'll share recipes. I also write down what we need to breakfast and lunch. Eggs, bacon, pancakes, orange juice, cereal, toast, coffee cake. Peanut Butter and Jelly (for hubby, not for kids), fruit, pizza bites, popcorn chicken (homemade). Hamburgers, hot dog and french fries for the weekends. 

Dollar Tree
Lasagna noodles $1.00
Baking soda 2 $0.59 each
Pancake Syrup $1.00
Apple Juice Boxes $1.00
Liquid Dish Detergent 14 oz $1.00
Tortillas 2 $1.00 each
Grand total of $7.61 with tax

Earthgrains-the bakery outlet store
10 loaves of bread for $.90 each (They were day olds, but they go straight in the freezer until we need them)
3 packages of hambuger buns at $1.10 each (yet again, go straight in the freezer until needed)
1 package of hot dog buns $1.10
Worcestershire sauce $1.49
Dill pickle slice $1.49
Grand total of $17.79 with tax

Fareway Food Store
Fiora Paper Towels 8 pack $3.99
Ground Beef 10 pounds $2.29 a pound for $22.40 (The chub was about 9 lb 7 oz, this was an ad match to a competitor)
Frozen Corn-store brand 2 at $1.29 each
Cream Cheese $0.99
Folgers $6.99
Spaghetti Sauce Rinaldi brand 4 at $1.18 each
Yeast $3.99
Roma Tomatoes $1.29 a pound paid $1.18
Bananas $0.55 a pound paid $1.64 (not on the list, but they were on sale for cheap and I knew hubby wouldn't mind bananas)
Yellow Onions 3 pound bag $1.99
Fettucine Noodles 2 at $1.00 each
Alfredo Sauce 2 at $1.50 each
Lettuce head $0.99
Refried Beans 2 at $1.49 each
Grand total of $66.13

Sam's Club
Cheerios Two Pack $5.78 (40.7 oz each box)
Captain Crunch Two Pack $5.46 (20 oz each box)
Nature Valley Oats and Honey Granola Bars $7.93 (30 pack, 2 bars in each pack) (minus digital coupon of 2.00)
Vinegar Two Pack bought two boxes at $3.58 each (one gallon jugs)
18 Count Eggs at $5.69 each
Tropical Fruit Salad 2 at $5.58 (107 oz)
Daily Chef Angel Hair Pasta 6 1 pound packs at $4.98 for the box
Jif Creamy Peanut Butter 2 pack at $4.98 (40 oz each jar)
Sugar 10 pounds at $3.98
Parmesan Cheese 24 oz at $6.98
Flour 10 pound bags 2 $4.33 each
Minute Maid Orange Juice 1 gallon 2 at $5.48 each
Sunny D 1 gallon at $2.38
Spinach and Cheese Ravioli 32 oz bag $9.98
Daily Chef Chicken Breast 6 pound bag $10.98
Shredded Mozarella Cheese 5 lb bag $13.40
Beef Patties 6 pounds $17.98
DiGiornio Pizza 3 pack box $13.44 (minus digital coupon of 4.00)
Shredded Cheddar 5 pound bag $14.95
French Fries 6 pounds $6.98
Oscar Meyer Hot Dogs 60 count $5.26
Bacon 3 pound packages 2 at $10.76 each
Butter 4 pound pack at $8.79
Flea and Tick Stuff 6 month supply $19.88 (minus digital coupon of 4.00)
Stouffer's Lasagna $10.98
Grand Total of $255.12
On most of my list from Sam's the prices went up. So I'm recording the new prices in my price compare spreadsheet so I can look for sales next time. 

I also went to Shopko because of sales. 
Kids Organizer Bin $29.88 (Originally $99.99, this was a closeout sale while supplies last)
Kids Plates 5 pack $4.99
Kids Bowls 5 pack $4.99
Thomas toy for Andrew's birthday cake $4.99
Cottonelle 12 pack $4.48 (originally $6.99)
Grand Total of $52.29
Shopko was not figured in the grocery bill as most of it was extra. 

I went over by $46.65. Grand Total of just groceries was $346.65. 
Yeah... I'm not happy. Hubby wasn't thrilled, but the food was needed. 
I could have avoided SOME of that overage had I gone to Sam's first as I usually do because Fareway had cheese and bacon on sale. Sam's only takes certain credit cards and since I left that card in Dennis' wallet I had to wait for Sam's until we met him for lunch.  I had to pay the high price at Sam's because there was no way I was going back to Fareway with two toddlers who were done shopping by this point. 

On the plus side, our living room is a little neater with the new toy box. We were using just miscellaneous broken Tupperware dishes, old gallon ice cream containers and Folgers containers, now it's being stored vertically..except for the many trucks that are too big for the container. And the kids also helped me put the shelf together. 

I do think it's going to be LONG weekend. Andrew is already begging for his Thomas birthday cake (only because he wants to play with the toy). His birthday is Monday. 

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Preparing For Shopping Trip (Phase 2)

Time to make the grocery list. The sales ad around here come out on Wednesday, so on shopping weeks I'm checking ads Wednesday morning as kids allow and making my list.  The older ones are used to it, Grace is not very happy right now despite having a full tummy and dry diaper. 

I subscribe to get emails from the grocery stores I shop at, this gives me the link to the ads easily available along with the digital ads and special savings set out by the particular store in the chain.

I have added a few stores to my routine this month. Dollar Tree is getting thrown back in the loop as I stopped going to them for awhile because I was getting dollar items from our store (Salem Dollar), we are strictly online now except for the few locals who still buy from us.  I'll stop there first and get what deals I can. Shopko is added for an extra, but it is on the list because the sale is this weekend and I will be in town. We received their sale magazine and found a toy bin organizer I have been wanting on closeout. $29.99 for a normally $100 item as long as supplies last. Yeah, we're getting it. 

I was a little excited as I glanced through my email as I had extra ads from two stores that they are having a four day sale, usually means I can fit more groceries in... but the sales weren't as good this time. Most of my list is normally done at Sam's Club-so you won't see that until I do my post on my spending on my trip. This post is just the sales I found that will help us. 

When I look at the ads I have my spreadsheet up that has a place for each store. Under each store I have the heading of: item, unit, price, how long the sale lasts and the total. On the same spreadsheet file I have a separate page for the final list. This page also has a place for each store, price of one item, total items needed, total price for the item, and running total of the store. My budget is $300 MAX for groceries and paper goods needed for the month. I do try to go lower as we spend about $50 through the month on eggs and OJ, but that's not always possible.

I make a note of anything in the ad that we might be able to buy, whether it's on my list or not. 

Sunshine Food Stores 

  • Whole Turkey $.99 per pound
  • Digiornio 12 inch pizza $3.99
  • Cantaloupe $0.69 per lb
  • Country Crock Soft Butter 45 oz $2.99
  • Crystal Farm Cream Cheese 8 oz $1.19
  • Land O Lakes Cottage Cheese 16 oz $1.99
  • Chicken Drumsticks $.89 per lb
  • Creamette Pasta 10/ $10

Fareway Food Stores

  • Folgers Coffee 34 oz $5.99
  • Ground Beef $2.99 per pound
  • Leaf Lettuce $.99 


  • Hy-Vee Vanilla Ice Cream 1.75 quart square $.99
  • Brown Sugar or Powdered Sugar 2 lb $.99
  • Ground Beef 1 lb chubs $.99
  • Oscar Meyer Lunchables $1.00
  • Hy-Vee canned Pineapple 15 oz $.99
  • Red Bell Peppers $.99
  • Midwest Country Fare Cat Food 16 lb $8.49

Now that I've collected sale prices, I make my final list by store.  I will tweak my meal plan if my list needs changed to fit my budget. I have already gone through my list and marked off what I have in the cupboard. Most of this is done on the computer then the final list will go on paper so I can take it to the store.

Personally, I don't use coupons much because I have found store brands to be cheaper even after the coupon. The few things we do buy name brand, I snag coupons when I see them. 

Hy-Vee does have fuel saver items-you sign up at the customer service desk and they scan your card to load any savings on to scan at the gas pump. With that card they also have digital coupons. Sometimes we use it, sometime we don't. But I don't shop by the fuel saver ad because most of what's there is name brand. 

Happy ad hunting!

Monday, April 7, 2014

Preparing for Shopping Trip (Phase 1)

This is the week for our shopping trip. I have started my meal plan. I plan about 9-10 meals before I even see the ads. Sometimes my husband helps, sometimes I can figure out enough by myself. 

Spaghetti is a staple in our house, so that's always planned on for at least three meals. 

Also on the list is pizza, tacos, fajitas, lasagna, chicken parmesan, lasagna roll-ups and ravioli. Most of these meals we will have more than once. The lasagna, lasagna roll ups and fajitas depends on prices. Those might change to something more budget friendly, those might not. We haven't had lasagna in a few months so it might just stay and I will fit it in. 

As I make my meal plan,  have my shopping list on a separate sheet right beside it.  This step is typically done on notebook paper because it's easier to change as needed. Every time I make write a meal or snack down on my meal plan sheet, I write down every ingredient I need for that. If I need the recipe, I make a note that I need to find the recipe for it-usually off my Pinterest page, but sometimes out of my cookbook or recipe box. If it's not something I make all the time, I check the recipe to make sure I get all the ingredients. The spaghetti we get variety from different flavored sauces, sometimes a sauteed onion is added to it, sometimes not. Honestly, that depends on if I have baby Grace in the moby wrap cooking or not and if I remember or not. 

As I'm making my meal plan, I make a note of anything special happening in the month. Such as birthdays, dinners with grandma (that we know of, sometimes grandma surprises us), holidays, husband on vacation.. You get the idea.  This month we have Andrew turning 4, possibly a Passover dinner happening (not sure, we haven't decided but I think it will depend on the sales), the kids and I are going to my parents' so we have to have snacks for the trip and Dennis needs food for when we are gone (he can't cook, so needs stocked up on food). Basically, I try to plan on anything and get everything in one trip. It doesn't always happen, but I try. 

Before I check the ads, I will check my pantry stock spreadsheet and usually end up eliminating four or five items off my list because I already have them in the pantry. 

As of right now, I need to update the pantry list to what I have used lately with my list I keep on the counter and then I will be ready to look at the ads on Wednesday morning when they come out. 

Today we get to go for a walk and get food for lunch for the next three days because the kids and I were pigs this month and ate all our lunch food.. Since I REALLY don't want pancakes for breakfast and lunch for three days, we are going to spend over our budget and get probably some supplies for pizza, although homemade lunchables sounds good, too.  

I'm trying to figure out how to add a recipe link to the page so I can post recipes and pictures as I make them.  I'm not exactly knowledgeable about computers, so it takes me awhile to figure things out. But I'll get it. Even if my husband has to set up the page. I'll get it! LOL I'll post more in a couple days including links to the sale ads I use. 

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Bulk Buying

                     40 pounds of Coconut Oil

We buy in bulk what we use all the time. The past few months we have bought (outside of the normal grocery trips) Himalayan Salt, vitamins and supplements, organic oats, organic raisins, organic seeds for the garden, laundry soap, organic garlic and the latest-40 pounds of coconut oil.

There are a staples I buy about once a year from Azure Standard. They are basically an organic online grocery store.  You can order whatever you want off their site if you are willing to meet the truck in Sioux Falls.  If you don't want to mess with that, or just want a little, you can pay attention to what you order and have it shipped UPS (there are notes in the item detail when it can't ship UPS).  Once a year I buy laundry soap (BioKleen), raisins, and garlic. Last year we also had diatomaceous earth which is fossilized remains of some sort of bug crushed up (technical terms LOL) that kills creepy crawlies. It will tear into the exoskeletons of the creepy crawlies making it so they can't breath. We have luck with it for flea and tick control with the animals, but we have so much left we didn't need more. It's also good for a detox drink (not tasty good, just useful)...if you do that, my husband says that guzzling is the only way. Next year I need to remember to buy more raisins because they taste SO GOOD.  I love their garlic and the smallest amount,  which gives me about 8 cloves-a six month supply in our house, is around $5. One of those will be sacrificed to grow my own. The oats and seeds were a new thing this year. We are loving the oats and the seeds have been planted and are growing near my window sill to be planted outside if it ever warms up.  You can check out Azure Standard at 

When we stock up on vitamins and supplements we get prices from Vitacost then we start surfing the web to see if a different site has a cheaper price. I thought I had my list all ready for this order..but since we ordered we have ran out of 3 different supplements so far.  So we are taking what we have and those are back on the list for when somebody else has a sale.

The Himalayan salt was something new for us. In our quest to eat healthier we have found that salt IS good for you, as long as you eat the right kind. Himalayan salt has vitamins and other vital minerals that white table salt does not. And it's REALLY good. According to my 2 year old, it's also pretty. It's pink. But beware, it's strong, a little goes a long way. The first time I put some on my eggs I discovered this the hard way.

We started on coconut oil two years ago. We started off just here and there, mostly using it for dry skin and diaper rashes. Then, after my husband was reading posts online, I now do almost everything with it. Diaper rash cream, lotion, all natural antibiotic ointment, oil pulling, nipple ointment now that I'm nursing all the time again, ear infections, bloody noses... The kids eat it straight out of the container when they can get into it, it's like contraband candy to them.  I cook with it, season my cast iron pan with it. I'm sure I use it for much more, but that's all I can think of right now. There are many more uses for it and it's naturally antiviral and antibacterial. What we purchased is 40 pounds of machine pressed coconut oil.  It should last awhile. I'm guessing at the very least a year. It cost us $60 plus S&H from  To us, it's worth it. We started off with 5 gallons last fall sometime, when our bucket ran out we decided to get the big size. If you start with coconut oil, you might want to try both hand pressed and machine pressed. Hand pressed you will be able to taste coconut, which makes it great for a butter substitute on toast or just eating plain. The machine pressed you can't taste the coconut, which makes it great for cooking when you don't want that coconut flavor but need the oil. The only cooking I don't use coconut oil for is spaghetti and rice. Those two things just taste better with olive oil.  The oil will be solid in cold temperatures, mine actually froze when it was below zero for what seemed like a month straight, the bucket was against an outside wall. But it will melt at 76 degrees, so if you need it in a liquid or soft solid state, just put it by someplace warm.

One of the tricks I have discovered with bulk buying is to make a note of when you buy something, that way you know how long it lasts and know when you will need to buy it again so you can fit it in your budget.  I made a column for this in my pantry stock spreadsheet.

I have been buying more and more in bulk. It saves us money in the long run. It may seem like a lot to begin with, but it is better on the budget than continuously buying small amounts at a higher cost. You just have to remember the most important trick (in my mind) of buying in bulk, make sure you figure the cost per unit versus a a regular size.  Sometimes it LOOKS like a good price when it's really just the same if not more.