Sunday, August 24, 2008

Menu Plan Monday - August 25th

This week is going to be extra busy because G and E are both returning to school, so our dinner schedule may be up in the air until we get our routines down. Also we will now be packing 3 lunchbags every day and eating a healthy breakfast before leaving the house in the mornings.

Here's the plan:

Oatmeal w/ brown sugar
Toast w/ peanut butter, yogurt
Eggs and toast

Leftovers from dinner
Lunch meat sandwich
Mac and cheese
*lunches usually have 2 or more of the following: carrot sticks, goldfish crackers, pretzels, dinner rolls, trail mix, grape tomatoes, banana, plums, pudding, cookies.


Sunday: Ravioli (frozen) w/ tomato sauce
Monday: Salad
Tuesday: Rice with stir fried veggies
Wednesday: Soup (veggie with beans)
Thursday: Spaghetti Cups
Friday: Pizza (probably this crust with leftover sauce from Sunday and ground turkey)
Saturday: Pinto beans and cornbread

I try to plan a different dinner for each night, but if one night turns out to be extremely busy and no time to cook, there are usually leftovers from an earlier night. We typically eat at least 5 dinners off our plan, and the dinners we don't get to get merged into the next week.

For more menus, visit I'm an Organizing Junkie - plus there's a giveaway! You might get lucky...

Have a great week everybody!

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Bulking Up My Emergency Fund

Lately G and I have been steadily bulking up our emergency fund. While we're focusing on paying down our credit card debt we don't want any surprise bills to overthrow our efforts.

It's a good think we have been, too, because we recently had some roof damage and the insurance company has decided it's time to replace it. If we had to come up with our deductible a few months ago, we would have had to put it on a credit card and it would have taken us three months to work our way back from the negative progress.

Now we can take care of the roof calmly and continue our road to financial recovery.


Monday, August 11, 2008

Jam-Packed Weekend

(okay, bad pun)
One of my favorite money saving tools of all time is my freezer. We bought a small chest freezer about 8 months ago to supplement our refrigerator’s freezer section, and I know that within the next 6 months it will have paid for itself. Not only is it great to be able to purchase greater quantities of perishable sale items for future use, but it’s also a great time savings when I can prepare a double amount of a meal and freeze half for later.

But I can’t keep stuffing things into it constantly without eventually taking something out. It’s been getting a little cramped in there and I need to clean it out a bit, organize what’s in there, and make an inventory so that I use up my freezer stocks to strategically stretch my food dollars.

This weekend I did a little freezer magic... After Thanksgiving, huge bags of fresh cranberries were on sale for practically nothing, so I bought a bag and threw it in the freezer. Cranberries are very easy to freeze because they don’t need any prep work at all and they freeze beautifully. Since the end of the summer is typically when I make jams and jellies and can veggies, it’s also the time of year when my stocks are lowest.

This year, our personal crops weren’t very abundant and we haven’t had a lot of time to hit the farmer’s market, so my canning adventures have been few and far between. But I decided it was time to make a bit of room in the freezer and fill up the jab cupboard at the same time. I searched around for a yummy sounding cranberry jam and came up with this one. The addition of cinnamon was intriguing and I wanted to see how it would turn out.

Cranberry Jam

It turned out great-looking and -smelling. I haven’t tried it on toast yet, the ultimate test, but should tomorrow.

I also put up a few containers of strawberry freezer jam since I found a great deal on strawberries at the grocery store but didn’t get a good picture. I used the standard recipe that comes in the liquid pectin package. Has anyone else tried this? This was my first time for a non-cooked jam and the sugar didn’t seem to combine in properly. Is this normal with freezer jam?

I’ll try to get our menu plan posted sometime today. It’s been tremendously helpful for me to plan out our meals at the beginning of the week, since when I get the question “What’s for dinner, Mom?” I have a solid answer. It makes grocery shopping a very streamlined affair as well. My weekly grocery trips are getting quicker and less expensive the more consistently I meal plan.

What time or money saving trick has been working best for you lately? Please comment, I’d love to hear from you!

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

School Daze

Well, G is finally registered for school, and E will be registering for her new elementary school tomorrow. Everyone's going to school around here but me! That's okay, with everything I've got going on lately, there's no time for school.

One thing I've figured out I do need to make more time for, though, is diet and exercise. Doing the menu planning weekly has helped tremendously, but I haven't been watching my portion sizes as well as I should and the gym has been last on my list of priorities lately. I've been watching the scale creeeeep upwards and I'm not liking the result.

So tonight I'm going to hit the books and figure out a healthy plan for a little weight loss. I'll probably work on a modified 'Weight Watchers' type program. I tried them before and the program does work, but the group meetings weren't the right environment for me. There are lots of great online resources out there and I have the basic booklet still from my last foray into the world of WW.