After a busy Thanksgiving weekend - there are plenty of leftovers to go around, which will make meal planning a snap for me this week. There was plenty of leftover turkey (yum!) which I have frozen a quart sized bag of, leaving us with only enough thawed turkey for 2-3 meals - which is perfect.

Monday - Turkey, mashed potatoes, gravy, cranberry pear compote
Tuesday - Grilled pork tenderloin, angel hair in a parmesan cream sauce, salad
Wednesday - Grilled cheese, tomato soup, fresh fruit
Thursday - Turkey hash, cinnamon apples (check out this recipe by 4 Hats and Frugal - love her cooking!) -
Friday - Build your own sammie night - turkey, bacon, swiss or tenderloin cutlets with a basil mayo and munster - it's all good!
Saturday - date night at home: Chicken Scampi with roasted garlic, bell pepper, carmelized onions, and imported parmesan over a bed of angel hair pasta(it's cheaper than Kraft!!), garlic bread, autumn salad
Sunday - free pizza (got 3 gift cards for free pizza that I have to use by the end of the year)
I know, I know, this probably sounds a bit weird, but I was looking at all the Lipton soup mix I have (don't ask - I am definitely stocked up....until late next year - at least!) I was thinking of a different take on stuffing, as I'm not the biggest fan of the traditional sage and rosemary stuffing, so this year, I'm going to have to experiment. And Lipton is going to help!

I went to my market to see what I had on hand to work with and kept coming back to the abundance Lipton dry soup mixes, so here's what I came up with - a 6 ingredient, 15 minutes prep time stuffing that is sure to zing your taste buds! Let me know what you think:

6 C. cubed bread, any variety
32 oz. chicken broth or stock
2 envelopes Lipton Savory Garlic soup mix
2 lbs. ground turkey
2 large sweet peppers, chopped
1 large apple, any variety, peeled and chopped

Bake in an oven safe casserole covered for 1 hour at 350, uncovering during last 15 minutes of cooking, or use to stuff a turkey. This batch will stuff a 12-16 lb. turkey. This can also be used to stuff a chicken, but for average sized chicken, please use half the amount called for in the recipe.

In a large, deep skillet, brown ground turkey with bell pepper and apple. Once meat is browned, toss in bread and seasonings. While stirring, add in broth until stuffing reaches desired consistency.

I am so excited about this recipe because of the last Jewel cat sale - I grabbed the soup mix for $.06 a box, the chicken broth for $.36 a 32 oz. carton, and apples are on sale at my local Caputos for $.39 lb. and peppers at $.59 lb.
Total cost for this Thanksgiving side dish: $2.73!!

Yields: 12-14 servings or $.23 per serving

What's your favorite take on stuffing on a budget?
This will be one crazy week! DH & I will be splitting Thanksgiving between our two families, so though we're not hosting the big turkey-day dinner, I'm still making dishes to be included in each feast. My sister will be in from MN, so meals will be sketchy at best, but the best plan for a crazy 4-day, family from out-of-town, Christmas-shopping, bargain-hunting kind of week: be prepared! I'll have a few options of heat and eat kind of meals, to take the guess work out of dinner this week!

Monday - Chicken and cheese sammies on dinner rolls, fresh fruit, chips (and shopping for Thanksgiving dinner - eat before shopping....and spend far less!)

Tuesday - Leftover spaghetti, garlic bread (If I find ravioli in freezer, will top that with marinara instead....need to whittle down the freezer!)

Wednesday - Chicken in a crockpot (whatever chicken and seasoning I find are going in the crockpot - not exactly sure what I'll create!) rice, tortillas/bread, salad

Thursday - Double the family, double the turkey, double the fun!

Friday - Turkey sammies with dried cranberries (my fav!), leftovers

Saturday - DH night to cook (probably pizza...)

Sunday - Dinner out with family (got coupons for Steak & Shake and Arby's, will see if I can score coupons for Sweet Tomatoes.)
I was on the phone with DaMama yesterday, telling her how I planned to cut back on donations coming from Annie's Market, as my stockpile has taken a few good hits in recent months. As I see my basic supplies dwindle down to 3-6 months worth for my family (and DaMama, of course), I was planning on cutting back what I share with others. While that was my (somewhat selfish) sentiment, that's when the phone call came through - and changed everything. It was my sister (I only have one) and her request wasn't an easy one - she needed some help. And not for herself and her family, this call for help came through her mother-in-law from her husband's sister.

I know times have been hard for so many people and my family has been blessed in this recession (no jobs lost yet, only bonuses have been cut), but to hear of a family of 9 where only 1 adult has a fulltime job, there's a new baby, and they were planning to skip the Thanksgiving festivities this year - and hearing their very humbling request - any food we could spare. Their pantry is bare and has been for sometime, and word got around that my sister had a surplus and everyone wanted to know how she did it.

Could she help them out? Could she tell them her secret? How can she be doing so well during these times? Her husband is laid-off and back in school - how can she have such a full pantry? She laughed and said, you'd have to ask Annie, she's the one who supplies me. (Like it's some black-market operation, something secretive and covert. Next thing you know, we'll be smuggling Lipton soup mix across state lines...but I digress.) My sister offered to put some stuff together, but she also said that she'd be putting this family in need in touch with me. I am still smiling - knowing that my sister thought enough of me and our relationship that she could call upon me for help like that without thinking twice. Every now and then, when a moment like this hits you, you feel grateful, useful, and on top of the world.

To me - this is the spirit of Thanksgiving: family helping family, friends helping friends, communities pulling together. I hear touching stories on the radio about people pulling together, pooling resources, making the holidays a little better for someone else. Never did I think that the day I decide to focus in on only my family would be the day that call for help would come.

Quickly, my sister and I decided who had what to spare, and this afternoon, I'll start putting together some boxes of basics - and now, I can reflect on what I have to be thankful for this holiday season.
I'm running a little late with meal-planning this week - but, it's time to get back on track.

Tuesday - Spaghetti with mushroom provolone chicken sausage, spinach salad
Wednesday - Meal-in-One
Thursday - Hamburger Helper (DH actually asked for it for dinner), corn, salad, garlic toast
Friday - DH birthday - dinner at restaurant of his choice
Saturday - co-hosting holiday party with a girlfriend - will eat at party
Sunday - Pizza dinner with DH's family at local pizza place
I've rolled $270 in cats, with $25 remaining in cats to use for (hopefully) the next big cat madness sale!

80 boxes Lipton soup mix
10 cartons Progresso Broth (chicken and beef)
25 pkgs. Lipton sides
16 boxes of Klondike bars
5 1.5 qt. Breyers Ice Creawm
84 cans Green Giant veggies
9 boxes Lipton Tea
2 cans Green Giant asparagus
3 boxes Betty Crocker Cake mix
12 bags Chex Mix & Gardettos

For a grand total OOP of $52.17 (includes tax)
Or an average of $.21 per item!

Too bad this sale doesn't continue for another week or two....
With the latest Jewel deal on Lipton Soup Mixes (only $2.00 plus tax for 16!!), I've come up with a list of uses for them.

10. Dip mix - got to love an old stand-by like that
9. Toss with potato wedges for a fabulous, easy side dish. Roast and serve with sour cream.
8. Add 1/3 C. flour to 1 seasoning envelope and coat chicken. Easy breaded chicken pieces - roast to give them a crunchy skin.
7. Rub onto a roast. Tons of flavor for less tender cuts of meat.
6. Add to ground meat for some super-flavorful burgers. 1 envelope to 1.5-2 lbs. meat.
5. Add to ground meat and make into meatballs. 1.5 lbs. per envelope of seasoning.
4. Use as a flavor-base for gravy
3. Add to your next meatloaf
2. Add to pasta sauce (tomato based only) Lots of flavor in an instant!
1. Toss with bread cubes, drizzle with EVOO, and bake. Homemade croutons with lots of flavor.

What are your favorite ways of using dry soup mix?
I'd love some new ideas!
Looking for an alternative to your basic chicken? With a little time, and very little effort, you can have a Mexican feast on your table.

Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 1 hour
Total time: 1 hour 10 minutes

8-10 chicken drumsticks or chicken thighs (bone in)
1 packet taco or burrito seasoning mix
1 tsp. cumin
1/3 C. flour
1/2 medium onion (any variety), thin sliced

In a wide, shallow bowl, combine flour, seasoning packet, and cumin. Coat chicken with flour mixture and place on a greased baking sheet or pan. Top with onion slices.

Bake for 1 hour at 350, turning chicken over once during baking time.

Serve with cheese, tortillas, black olives, lettuce, salsa, sour cream, and your favorite taco toppings. Serve with refried beans and rice, if desired.

Yields = 4-6 servings
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Jewel is the place to be this weekend - and I should know, I spent over 2 hours there yesterday alone, between my mom, my friend Sandy, and I we filled 2 shopping carts with more than 15 transactions worth of goodies. To say we've got a jump on all things for the holiday season and parties would be about right! Here are some items and approximate breakdowns on deals we found:

All prices listed are factored AFTER the $15 in catalina coupons that print at the register and before taxes. Your store(s) may vary, but usually not by too much. All of these prices are factored without manufacturer coupons, which, if you have, will reduce your OOP for each order.

11 Progresso Broth (carton 32 oz.) $1.39

16 boxes Lipton soup mix $2.00

20 pkgs. Knorr Pasta Side Dishes $5.00, coupon will print for $2 off 8 - making 2nd round only $3!!! Look for coupons left behind by other customers at self-check- we found 2 of them to get us started.

5 1.5 qt. Breyer's Ice Cream, 1 Lipton Side Dish $.99

8 Klondike bars (what would you do.....for a Klondike bar) $8.83

24 cans 11-15 oz. Green Giant corn, peas, green beans $3.96

12 bags Gardettos, Chex Mix, Bugles $5.xx each flavor is priced slighly different, so you OOP maay vary.

So for my holiday parties, I've got loads of stuff to make cheap dip, tons of party mix (thank you Chex!), lots of veggies. For me, I don't have to do much for a Klondike bar!!

But, if you need something to do with all those cheap pasta sides - grab Target printable Q's, head over there wih the $1 off Archer Farms bakery and grab a loaf of garlic bread...for $.50. If you've got a Caputos near by, head there for Bston Leaf lettuce $2/1 (by the lb. I believe). There's a cheap and tasty meal!.
Check out here for a list of products and prices for this great cat roll!

Go to:




People will be posting the deals as they work out there - less work and calculating, but remember, each store has slightly different pricing.
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I've been so tired, overtired, and restless - the idea of making a meal plan this week is funny. I will however, give a list of things I hope to accomplish in the realm of meal-planning:

1. Make at least 2 meals that revolve around bread - I've still got plenty left to work (like 3 loaves for 2 people). Paninis, anyone?

2. Go meatless for dinner at least 1-2 times this week. Not because I want to go vegetarian, simply to use some of the eggs I have (I don't consider eggs to be meat).

3. Dessert of the week: biscotti - I made a pan of them this past week. If I have the time, will make some apple crisp for additional desserting. Don't expect biscotti to last more than 2 more days - the batch yields 35-42 cookies.

4. Stay out of Boston Market. Their chicken is addicting and the coupon for $1 meal has expired. I went there 4 days in a row with that coupon! Better than McD's and with coupon, cheaper, too!

5. For a hearty snack, I'm going to try to keep all the ingredients to make a tasty wrap on hand. Chicken, salad dressing, cheese, and lettuce. Anything else I can include is a bonus. For a mini-meal on the go, will add chips and guac. Hearty and filling! Mental note - must get lettuce...

6. If craving breakfast sammie, will use free game piece from McD's (found on supermarket floor - so free!). This should fill in the gap since I only have 3 yogurts this week, and 4 days left of breakfast to cover before the weekend.

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