Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Menu Planning

I started Menu Planning last month and have found it to be not only a great time saver but also a great money saver. I found this monthly menu planning sheet on the  and printed it off, filled in each day (after looking at our calender to see if we had any plans). In order to fill it in I had my kids, my husband and myself each make a list of our favorite 10 meals (many were dups). I then filled in my menu with those meals, and added a few extras where needed.

 I started stockpiling( buying multiple items I use when I have a coupon and it is at its lowest price) about a month ago and I have a pretty good supply of my staples and I only buy my meats on sale( really good prices).  I divide and cut them up and put them in my freezer. I scallopini some chicken for some of my meals and cut some up for stir fry and fajitas so it is all ready when I take it out of the freezer to defrost. I put freezer bags with ground beef for tacos and american chop suey and make patties for grilling.  This means when I run to the store I only need to get  fresh vegis, milk, and eggs to pull my meals together.

I used to wait till 4 to figure out what I was going to make for dinner at six and was always stressed about meals and I feel much more organized now. I also love it that my kids don't have to say "what's for dinner" anymore as they know a month ahead of time what we will be having.  I hope this idea will help you get more organized with meal planning and if you have any questions let me know!


Monday, March 29, 2010

The sweet taste of Maine

Yesterday was Maine Maple Sunday!  Never heard of it? Well neither had I until Saturday.We went to visit my brother and his family this weekend.  My brother lives in maine and one of my nieces has a best friend who's parents own a Christmas tree farm. It is called Balsam Ridge.  In the spring though it is all about the maple.  They have small taps going into each maple tree, and from the taps a small tube goes around their property carrying maple sap to bigger tubes and then to a large vat.  From that large vat they have another tube that carries the sap to the "sugar house".  Now to date myself, When I was little we went to a "sugar shack" (another term used in new england) on a school field trip and they would have each tree tapped, and had a bucket hanging under each tap. The had a metal triangle  hanging over the buckets to keep things from falling in. Now everything is so high tech.  We watched as they show how the sap was cleaned and cooked to a beautiful amber colored syrup in the sugar house and even got to try samples of maple cream and maple butter. We also had breakfast out side in the freezing cold. ( i think it was in the 20's) But that is how Maine Maple Sunday is done and when in Maine you do as the Maniacs do!

Oh did I mention on Maine Maple Sunday all the Sugar Houses open up for pancake breakfasts and sell all their Maple products. We came home with a bagful of goodies. Including: Maple syrup, Maple candies, Maple Whoopie Pies, Maple butter and even Maple cotton candy! It really was fun and a great idea if you are visiting maine on the last weekend in March!

Hope everyone had a sweet weekend like I did!


Tuesday, March 23, 2010


Ugh, I am grumpy today and could use a little cheering up. I had a great weekend with temps in the 70s (insert the choirs of angels singing). But the last two days have been rain, rain and more rain. I have a couple projects in my garage that I want to start working on but I refuse to do it inside anymore. I want sun!  I have also had a back ache for 3 days due to my 10 year old mattress - it has seen its day and if we ever get our tax refund (yes you heard right- this is what happens when your husband is unemployed for four months) I will be shopping for a new mattress and maybe a new bed to boot! Boy that would make me happy.  Spring has sprung around here... sadly so has my mattress!

Does the dreary weather get you down? Or am I the only one? Does anyone else have the old mattress blues? Love to hear from you.


Monday, March 15, 2010

It's Grilling Season Around Here!

Ok, so last fall my grill started shooting fireballs at me while cooking chicken and I told my husband it was to dangerous to use any more.  Of course he could not just take my word for it. He had to try it out and have fireballs shot at him in order to agree. We decided we either needed to get a new grill or buy replacement parts for the one we had. Well after a wind storm a few months ago our grill was toppled over and the handle was broken off and the grate were broken also in addition to the already broken burner. I guess our decision was made for us. So this past weekend my husband went to Lowes and bought a new grill and we made our favorite ribs recipe. The recipe includes dry rubbing the ribs and cooking them in the oven for three hours in a water bath. This is what they look like when that is done. The meat is already falling off the bone, as you can see.

 the are great now but then you slather them in bbq sauce and cook on the grill for about another 15 minutes. The final product looks like this...

I thought I did not like ribs until I had this recipe ( my sister gave it to me).   We started making these last summer and we sent some to our neighbors. They all loved them and now when I go buy ribs at BJ's wholesale I buy them for us all and we take turns cooking a package from each neighbor. That way each family gets a rack and nothing goes to waste.


Tuesday, March 2, 2010

25% OFF

I love to save my pennies. I buy clothes on clearance at the end of the season for the kids and put them away till next year. I  always get a good deal on my family vacations (waiting till Disney offers their packages) , and stock up on non perishable food items my family likes when I know they are a good deal. The one thing I am not very good at is cutting coupons. Now don't get me wrong I do cut out the bed, bath and beyond coupons, and I use coupons I get in the mail for Kohls or Yankee Candle, but I have never been good at cutting grocery coupons. So I am setting a goal for myself this month to cut 25% off my grocery bill. I usually spend about 140$ a week ( this includes my weekly shop and little shops I make during the week for fruit or meats).  Given that amount I am going to try to cut 35$ per week off my bill each week.

How will I do this you may ask? Well I have been reading up on blogs and websites about couponing.  While I do don't want to be a "super couponer" (those people who spend hours on end trying to get everything for free, paying .05 cents for a cart full of groceries) I do want to start saving on the things I normally buy.  So I started this weekend by buying extra newspapers, I plan to do this again but from now on I will pay for the papers and leave them for someone else who does not care about the coupons.  I don't want to be wasteful. I will start a stock pile of coupons and start buying things on sale with coupons.  I have learned that you can use two coupons when there is a buy one get one promotion (which I never knew) and I also learned that cvs is a great place to get grocery deals too. I know to some 25% may seem like a little but when you keep adding it up 35$ a week that ends up being 140$ a month and over 1600.$ a year. Thats not chump change. Does anyone else out there use coupons and do you have any helpful hints for me?