I'm doing a sketchy meal-plan this week - with my birthday, a wedding, and a party all planned for this week - I just figured we'd have a few meals at home, but not many. I also didn't want to buy much produce as we'll be taking a trip next week for our annie-versary. Here's my (overly ambitious) plan to empty the fridge, feed us quick and cheap, and hopefully not waste anything.

Tuesday - Pizza for the birthday girl (yeah!)
Wednesday - Tacos with peppers and onion
Thursday - Grilled chicken paninis, soup (ala Campbell's), chips
Friday - DH's cousin's wedding
Saturday - leftovers, if those are gone (still being optimistic, we'll rely on Knorr's pasta dishes topped with grilled chicken)
Sunday - birthday dinner at Olive Garden - all hail never-ending pasta bowl!
There have been so many deals lately, that I'm actually looking forward to a slowdown on sales, so I can get Annie's Market organized - right now there are bags and bags of canned soup ($.25-$.50 each) and canned veggies ($.39 each) that still need to be put away. I'm usually somewhat better at keeping up with the flow, lately though - everything else is sounding like more fun. Surprise....who knew I wasn't naturally inclined towards organization? Mom, this is a good time to keep quiet!

In a huge effort to clean out the freezer, each Sunday, DH & I pick a large, random item and spend the week trying to keep re-inventing leftovers out of it. The week of 32 pieces of grilled chicken went very well - none was left to make into chicken salad, and not a single piece went to waste. This week, it's a whole pork tenderloin, and I'm happy to report - it's about half eaten already. Two more dinners and it should be gone, or with just a small chunk left to get tossed into pork fried rice. Oh, that does sound tasty. I just gave myself another idea. But, naturally, I digress.

Even though this was my idea, I have to admit, it certainly challenges the creativity of the cook to keep making over the main meat of the week. I'm happy to note that my experiment is working well, and that for next week - I'm planning a rare treat - London Broil. I'm also planning some chicken drummies with that because I can't handle too much red meat, and because DH can plow through a cow (beef) like nobody's business. In his defense, London Broil on the grill is heavenly, so I can't really blame him too much. I hope there's enough left to make some Steak Sammies. A girl can dream...

If we can clear some room, we'll be able to grab some $.99 lb. ground beef from Butera this week - I've been craving po'boys, and some nice meatballs. I also am eyeing a deal on roasting chickens over at Caputo's for $.79 lb. Not the greatest deal, but I'd like to roast 3-4 chickens and freeze them - much better than having a chicken moment (where I breakdown and buy a rotisserie chicken and pay far more than it's worth) and having to settle for overcooked, dry, slightly cold rotisserie chicken or worse, buy a bucket of fried chicken (too greasy, though still very tasty), if I ever get chicken at all. I love having a fully stocked freezer of all my favorites, now I just need to clear some room to bring in a little bit of variety.

Any tricks up your sleeve to paring down the freezer and remaking leftovers? I'd love some fresh new ideas!
DH & I have been making a conerted effort to eat out of our freezer and have been on a very tasty journey. Sunday we grilled an 8 lb. pork tenderloin and will be having variations on that throughout the week. Thought we needed a break from chicken, since that's what we ate most of last week.

Monday - Mediterranean Pork Tenderloin sammies, salad, grapes
Tuesday - Aranchera (thin cut beef steak from the Mexican market), beans, tortillas, rice, lettuce, tomato
Wednesday - Pork tenderloin, mashed potatoes, gravy, and salad
Thursday - 3-Cheese & Veggie Frittata, hashbrowns, apples, toast
Friday - Pork tacos topped with cilantro and onion, beans, and rice, side salad
Saturday - Date night
Sunday - DH is grillin' again - meat of the week! LOL

Dessert - brownies, biscotti

Breakfast - yogurt, cereal, breakfast wraps, cereal, apples 'n' peanut butter, cereal - did I mention we have tons of cereal?!
Buy $15 get a $5 coupon OYNO for select Campbell's products. Here are some of the great deals I've grabbed from this sale:

Buy 20 cans tomato or chicken noodle soup (10.xx oz. each) at $.50/can. Spend $10, receive a $5 coupon that keeps on rolling. So far, I've done this transaction 4 times. I love tomato soup and grilled cheese (so does my sister, who will be the happy receipient of half of my spoils from this sale).

Buy 4 V-8 Splash (on sale 2/$5), 5 Pepperidge Farm cookies (on sale 2/$4), 8 Campbells Select Harvest/Chunky (on sale for $1.25/can), or 8 Pepperidge Farm Goldfish crackers (small bags $1.25 each) and spend only $5 OOP after $5 cat coupon (cat coupons are the ones that print out at the register).

On Campbell's Select Harvest, an additional coupon for $1/3 prints before you pay (typically) when buying Select Harvest, so be sure to use that, too!) Only one of those prints per order, but every little dollar really adds up!

Now, if only Kraft would put their cheese on sale with overlapping cats again, we'd have fall and winter quick meals in the bag - or in our case, on the table.
Head over to Freebies 4 Mom for get your printable coupons for $3 off Sara Lee pre-sliced delimeats!! Great deal, easy meal. Best part of it - 4 prints per computer!!
Hey, everyone! I'm finally back to my regular posting. Getting back from my trip up north took a little while to fall back into the groove of things.

Monday - dinner at mom's - I'm bringing the chicken
Tuesday - Grilled chicken with rice and beans, salad
Wednesday - Pork Roast, potatoes, carrots
Thursday - Italian-style chicken salad sammies, salad, fruit
Friday - Pork tacos with cilantro and onion, rice and beans
Saturday - Paninis with leftover chicken, swiss, and bacon, apples/grapes
Sunday - DH's night to cook!

Lunch ideas:
chicken tacos, salad topped with chicken, pork and swiss sammies, and beans 'n' rice in a tortilla.
Dessert: Apple cinnamon coffee cake, cookies (thanks, Keebler!)
Breakfast - Nutragrain bars, yogurt, cereal cups, and toast

We grilled 32 pieces of chicken yesterday (which I hounded up the day before for $6.13 for all of it!), so this week, chicken is our meat of choice, until we eaten every morsel. We marinated/seasoned it 3 different ways, to maximize our leftover possibilities. The garlic and herb will pair into Italian-style chicken salad, the teriyaki will lend itself well to chicken tacos for lunch, and the spice-rubbed chicken will easily convert to BBQ chicken and pair with rice and beans. Must thank DH for thinking of all the varieties of ways to have chicken.
Everytime I turn around, I hear yet another fastfood chain annoucing their new "Chicken (fill in the blank here) Wrap". And what a bargain they are at $1.39-$1.99 each. Wow, do they think we're really that crazy? After a trip to a local grocery store or two - here's what I discovered:

A "wrap" is nothing more than a fancy word for flour tortilla. Which are fairly cheap, or dirt cheap if you have a Mexican grocer nearby - which we do. Lots of them, in fact. Chicken, my meat of choice anyway, happened to be on sale at Dominicks - and it was 50% off on top of that - $.39 lb. for bone-in, skin on chicken thighs. Taking off the skin is easy enough and so is lightly seasoning it and have DH grill it.

As for cheese, I'm still stocked like crazy from the Kraft catalina deal, so I pulled a bag of Mexican blend shredded cheese out of the freezer, and Target obliged with $.75/2 Wishbone salad dressing - and the small bottles were $1 each. Still not breaking the bank, which makes them taste oh-so-sweet. And, so much healthier than fastfood, my dressing is light or fat free and the cheese is made with 2% milk.

The final cost for a single wrap, though my "secret recipe" yields a dozen of them, is a whopping $.21 each. The best part is - I can have a wrap anytime, any flavor, and add anything I want to them....all from the comfort of my own home. But, shhhhh - don't let McD's, KFC, etc. know that I'm on to them.

Click on my "secret recipe" to see how easy it is!
Yesterday, I stopped at Ultra Foods tog et in on the great deal on Quaker oat products - and was told that Ultra no longer allows stacking of coupons - meaning, you can NO LONGER use a store and a manufacturer coupon on the same item. I asked when this policy began and was told it has always been their policy, but that cashiers would "allow" customers to stack if they were questioned on why the coupons didn't work.

Needless to say, I left my order and will do my best not to shop there in the future. Even when I pulled out a copy of their coupon policy (that was faxed to me back in March), I was told that's the "old" policy, but when I asked at the customer service counter, I was told they didn't have a copy of the policy on hand and that they didn't give copies of that to customers - it was for store use only.

So, if there are any bargain hunters on their way to Ultra - beware! Aside from their deals on Fisher Peanut Butter, I think I'll be shopping anywhere else.
Labels: 2 comments | | edit post
It's been a crazy-busy week here - all geared towards going up north for a little visit. I've still been keeping an eye on the budget, going anywhere can cost a lot ofm oney, but there are always ways to offset the expense. Here are some of the things I've done this week:

1. Wash/dry clothes as much as possible during non-peak hours.

2. Charge my cellphone at the office. Every little bit helps. I'll be doing this with my laptop, too. There's a reason DH & I have saved more than 50% off our electric bill of last year, true we moved to a smaller place, but all the other little things add up.

3. I'll swing by Target for some more free ciabatta rolls (after coupon, of course). I'll make some sammies for the trip, and raid the stockpile for some salty snacks to nibble on during the drive - it's an 8 hour trip - so I'll make sure to bring some variety.

4. Conserve fuel cost!! Pack smart - the heavier the car is, the more fuel we'll use. I'll also use any fuel rewards I've got to get us started on our trip. Last time I filled up my car, it was $2.38 a gallon - because I had $.33 per gallon in fuel rewards to use.

5. Always have a plan. I find that when DH & I don't have a plan, it's easier to spend more $$. So, we've thought about the trip, edcided on what we'd like to do with my sister and her family, so when don't end up trying to do too many things and waste money because we didnt' have time to enjoy them. I've decided on a nice dinner with my sister (and family, of course), and everything else is just gravy from that point on.

Since I won't be posting again til Tuesday, have a fun and safe Labor Day Weekend!
Labels: 6 comments | | edit post
My Auntie Pat was born in October. I will remember that until my dying day. Her husband, Uncle Bill, was normally a gruff man, but he celebrated the entire month of her birthday, in October, with a gift each day for her. The gifts may have been something small, but the sentiment behind it was huge - and for me, a new way to celebrate life's little steps.

Now that I'm married, my husband and I celebrate each other's birth month, mine being September, his in November. For our month, we get to pick which restaurants to go to, what entertainment venues to check out, and get small gifts throughout the month from each other. The gifts are simple, he replaced my windshield wipers, brought me home flowers, and even gave me a footrub. For him, it's a back rub, I'll bake him the Cinnamon Roll Brownies, and often, a new package of socks.

As we wind our way through the fall, we go to many of the sights that are too crowded, too hot, or too expensive in the summer. Last year we toured the Morton Arboretum, 2 trips to the Chicago Botanical Gardens, apple picking, raspberry picking, went to lots of movies (we saved up our stack of punch cards for that!), ate homemade pizza, and drove through the countryside (as much of that as you can find around here, anyway) to enjoy the changing colors of fall. For us, the birth month is something to look forward to year round.

This year, as we start into my birth month, I'm looking forward to some little perks and some pampering. I'll kick it off tomorrow with a pedicure (at the local beauty school, for less than $10!), dinner with my sister (I get to do that about 3 times a year), and tons of berry picking - which will be free (as it's in Amy's Organic Garden - Amy is the sister I'm looking forward to have dinner with). Hubby is already outlining which restaurant(s) he wants to go to during his birth month - with this economy, it's never been cheaper to eat out! I love all the deals discounts, and delectable bargains we've been able to try.

Any ideas of how I should celebrate my birth month? I'd love some new ideas!

Swidget 1.0 2