Monday, March 30, 2009

Frugal Fun

With a tight budget we have to find ways to have fun that don't break the bank. Here are a few tips/tricks we have.

1. Buy the Entertainment book. You can quickly save the $ you put into the book and then some. We have even been able to share some coupons/savings with others for ones we wouldn't use. You also register with their website and they email you additional sales/specials. I have used coupons from the book this year for movies, coffee dates with my kids (buy one get one free), book store, grocery store restaraunt discounts etc. Some we WILL be using are the Zoo, more of the restaraunt discounts, some of the local attractions etc.

2. Rent movies alot? Check out DVD Express and see if they have one close to you. There is one in the grocery store just down from us. For $1 a night you can rent a new release. You can reserve them online and the machine holds it for 8 hours. Sign up with your email address at the machine and click "yes" for email receipt. You will get an email of your transaction which contains a code for rent one get one free! So we have been renting movies for .50 each. If you chose to keep them past 7pm the next night its just another $1. Another to check out is Red Box which also is $1 rentals. There are frequently FREE rental codes available online just google it!

3. We don't go out to eat often but when we do I try to pick a place/day that has 1/2 price or free kids meals. In our town Billy McHales and Bostons both have 1/2 price kids meals on Sundays! Check the internet, your local paper or just call around and find out if restaraunts in your area offer specials like this.

4. Look for websites that contain alot of information about your area and events. For Whatcom County check out: Kulshan ,
Neighborhood Kids

Other resources we use:
Public Libary- Books (Obviously) but movies, books on tape and Free events such as story time, crafts and other events.

Church- We look for community events sponsored by different churches in the community.

Local Parks- we are surrounded by beautiful local parks each is unique! We have challenged ourselves to visit each of the parks this summer.

Festivals- look for festivals in your area. These are usually free if you don't "shop" and can be full of fun things to watch and/or participate in.

Kids want to go to summer camp but you can't afford it? See if you can volunteer to help cut the cost! Camps need alot of help to function and are often looking for volunteers!

More to come keep checking back :) Have some great ideas to share? Please do!

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Grocery list week of 3/29/09-04/04/09

Cost Cutter

8# boneless country ribs $7.81
3 pkg hoagie rolls $2.97
1 white cake mix $1.50
2 salad dressing $6.00
1 shredded lettuce FREE (store coupon)
1 cabbage mix .43 (store coupon)
1.60# brussels sprouts $2.38
2 # butter $5.00
capers $1.79
bag oranges $3.98
baby carrots $1.50
celery .57
2 gallons milk $3.36
1 sm container cream $1.29
3.29# deli smoked turkey lunch meat $6.28 (store special $2.99 #)
green onions .50
cream cheese $1.79
sliced mozzarella $3.00
lg bag salad $2.99
onions 1.25
apples 2.69
3 lemons $1.00
tomatoes 1.31

Total: $59.39

See what Gayle and the others have done at the Grocery Cart Challenge

See how I will use these groceries in my MENU

Menu March 29-April 4th

APRIL? How did it get to be April already? Here is this weeks menu!

Sunday- Chicken with brown butter and caper sauce, rice and brussels sprouts (for me) carrots with ranch for the kids

Monday- Shredded pork sandwiches, coleslaw (am doubling this meal one will go to the school for teacher meals during conferences)

Tuesday- Chicken parmesan with pasta, homemade french rolls and green salad

Wednesday- Meatloaf, mashed potatoes and green beans

Thursday- Leftovers (CORD clean out refrigerator dinner)

Friday- Tacos

Saturday- pizza at church

Monday, March 23, 2009

Mocha Cake

This is so good. I used regular coffee but think next time I will use espresso shots to get a stronger coffee flavor. I got this recipe from teh March/April 2009 Country Home magazine.

Mocha Cake

1 cup butter
1 cup brewed coffee
1/2 c unsweetened cocoa powder
2 cups flour
2 cups sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup sour cream
2 eggs
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp vanilla
1 recipe mocha frosting (see below)
1/2 c miniature chocolate chips

In a saucepan bring butter, coffee and cocoa to a boil, stirring occasionally with a wire whisk. Remove from heat and stir in flour, sugar and salt. (note, I used my kitchenaid mixer so I did the "mixing" in the mixer bowl). Beat on medium speed for 1 minute. Add sour cream, eggs, baking soda and vanilla. Beat on medium speed until well blended, about 1 minute more. Pour batter into an ungreased pan (it calls for a sheet pan I used a large round pan). Bake at 375 for 23-25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack.

In a large bowl beat 5 T butter until light and fluffy. Add 1 pound powdered sugar a little at a time on low speed until well combined. Beat in 3T cold brewed coffee and 1 T milk or cream and 1 tsp vanilla. Beat until fluffy and spreadable. Frost cake when it is cool. Sprinkle with mini chocolate chips.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Grocery Shopping 3/22

This weeks was mostly meat. My son wanted steak for his bday dinner and it was on sale so I bought a pack and froze 1/2 of it.

The kids now know that I am going to take a picture after grocery shopping to they now "hang out" so they can get in the picture. Our cat Tabby even made it in this time LOL!

Cost Cutter

2 pk cornish hens $4.09
bnls new york strip steak $12.90
2 gallons milk $3.54
hoagie rolls $1.99
lettuce .58
mini chocolate chips (Bulk) .44
bday candles 1.98
marinade 1.69
sour cream $1.99
pork sirloin roast $4.06
hotdog buns $1.49
baking potatoes $1.14
bulk clove powder .18
bulk chives .29
bulk nutmeg .37
vanilla ice cream $2.99
1 dozen eggs $1.89
1 orange .60

Total: $42.38
I did notice she did not give me my bag discount for bringing my own bags

Food Coop
$3.85 cranberries (needed fresh but had to buy frozen)

Total for the week: $46.23

Check out what Gail and the others did this week at The Grocery Cart Challenge

Week of 3/22-3/28

We have a crazy week ahead. Gee aren't they all? This week brings Talent show rehersals and the talent show. Youth group, ballet, preschool, band performances and much more! Oh that ontop of me working 8 hours a day. BUT I have a plan! As I type this on Sunday evening, I have gotten ready for the week. My house is clean, laundry is done. Menu is planned for the week and my calendars are coordinated (family wall calendar, desk calendar, computer and the one I carry in my purse). I have a list of things I need to get done this week and will divide them up thru the week. I live by lists. A master to do list and 2 daily to do lists (one for work and one for home).

This weeks menu:

Sunday- grilled steak, baked potatoes and brussesls sprouts (bday cake also)
Monday- Chicken & rice, veggies
Tuesday- Spaghetti, french bread and salad
Wednesday- Roasted cornish game hens, mashed potatoes and veggies
Thursday- Cranberry Pork roast (not sure what I am serving with this yet)
Friday- Tacos for the kids I am going out to dinner with friends
Saturday- at church

What a month!

March is always a crazy month. It seems like the time change and that switch from Winter to Spring and all of the events that go along with that always catch me by surprise. This year was no exception.

I celebrated my 35th birthday on March 17th. With my ex husband living out of the country I do not have "kid free" weekends. This year for my birthday I wanted some "me" time. The 2 older kids went and stayed with friends while the 2 younger kids went and stayed overnight with my parents. I went to visit my friend Bridget and got my hair colored (she is a beautician) then on to Seattle to see my BFF Paige. We went to the Melting Pot for dinner and sat and visited. I had a GREAT time and came home refreshed.

This weekend was my oldest sons 14th birthday. ACK I cannot believe he is 14! Wasn't it just yesterday I found out I was pregnant?? He is past the days of wanting to have a party at home. He and 4 of his friends went up to Mt Baker to go sledding and had a great time (with the exception of one of them dislocating their shoulder OUCH). Today we had dinner and birthday cake at home. I will have to share the recipe for this divine cake nothing better than the combination of chocolate and coffee!!

In other exciting news, my oldest daughter has made it into the tallent show! My youngest daughter is rehersing a new dance performance for a spring show and my youngest son will be registering for Kindergarden next week.

I am so amazed daily by my kids. They have been thru alot the past few years and I often worried how things would effect them. They are each their own person, their own individual tallents and personalitlies. I am so proud of them all!

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Grocery Shopping trip 3/15-3/21


Strawberries $1.98
6pk Beer $5.88
6 poptarts $7.68
3 boxes capri sun $5.91
sour cream $1.81
heavy cream $2.18
cottage cheese $1.53
4.01# bulk cat food $1.96
Italian bread $1.48
8oz shredded cheddar $1.78
lg pkg shredded mozzarella cheese $4.48
marshmallows .98
pound cake $2.97
half & half $1.16
2 crisco spray $3.96
oreos $1.58
thyme $1.98
lasagna noodles $1.73
sourdough bread $1.98
2# mix raw veggies $3.98
.48# milk chocolate block $1.62
marshmallow crispies $2.02
2 lg lemmons $.96
2# granny smith apples $1.27
4 pkg pudding $3.92
3.49# bananas $2.02
Total spent $69.97

Trader Joes
white cheddar popcorn puffs $1.99
multi grain crackers $1.69
roasted gorgonzola crackers $1.99
2 pkg brussels sprouts $3.98
laughing cow $2.99
emmental cheese $4.55
brie $4.49
TOtal : $21.68

This week was mostly SNACK stock up. We were running really low. The only thing I have left to pick up is bagels and milk.

Menu Week of 3/15-3/21

This weeks menu was planned on the fly with a crazy busy week ahead.

Sunday- Cheese and chocolate fondue with a variety of dippers
Monday- Burgers & fries
Tuesday- Crispy chicken fillets, mashed potatoes and veggies
Wednesay- Lasagna, salad and french bread
Thursday- Tacos
Friday- Encheladas
Saturday- at church

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Grocery Shopping 3/8-3/14

Did not need much this week thanks to last months stock up and the big trip I did last week.

Cost Cutter
Ranch bread .99
Raw sugar $3.35
Cilantro .50
6 limes $1.00
Stir fry beef $3.10
2.12# green cabbage $1.88
4 boxes cereal $4.00
half & half $2.49
coconut milk $2.79
bagels $2.50
turkey lunch meat $1.99
bread $1.19
1 gallon milk $1.99
4 tubs whipped cream cheese (regular, brownsugar/cinnamon, spring veg)$6.00
2# butter $1.98 (store coupon .99 x 2)
2 pkg tortillas

Total: $38.33

Fred Meyer
1 rotissery chicken $6.99
1 container pasta salad $3.98

Total $11.56

Total spent this week: $49.89

Check out what Gail and the others are doing at the Grocery Cart Challenge

Menu 3/8-3/14

We have a crazy on the go week this week so I needed alot of quick meals.

Sunday- Rotissery chicken (precooked), mashed potatoes and brussels sprouts
Monday- Chili/biscuits for the kids, Thai Tuna Wraps for my small group potluck
Tuesday- Spaghetti, french rolls and salad
Wednesday- Chicken & rice and veggies
Thursday- Beef roast in the crockpot, mashed potatoes and veggies
Friday- Homemade pizza
Saturday- the kids are going to my parents overnight. I am heading to Seattle to have dinner at the Melting Pot with my best friend for my birthday YEAH!

I will be making Thai Beef salad and Chicken/Rice soup to have for my lunches this week.

Crazy Times

Last week was another crazy week. I took Thursday and Friday off to get caught up on errands and do my spring cleaning. Well, I got 1/2 of the list done! But it was great progress.

Friday my parents celebrated their 39th wedding anniversary! They wanted to celebrate by taking the entire family bowling on Saturday. It was a blast! We bolwed and laughed and had a great time.

Today Tyler went to his friend Annabellas birthay party. Its so fun to watch a group of 5 year olds together. They have an amazing energy and they resolve conflicts quickly and move on. I so wish that adults had that ability!

This last week also included several dentist and orthodontist appointments. I think I need a punch card, 9 visits and the 10th one is free. The good news is Erika and I have found the orthodontist for her. So now we move forward with the whole process. She is so glad to be getting it done. Her mouth really bothers her, not the looks of it but pain and pressure which gives her regular headaches. Soon that will all go away .

Now onto another crazy week!

Sunday, March 1, 2009

March 1st

Ok so I have no idea where this past week went. It was crazy busy and flew by. We had snow on Wednesday our "dusting" ended up closing school on Thursday UGH.

My kids are in this phase of NOT getting along and its driving me crazy. I went grocery shopping today and it was constant calls of so and so did this, so and so said this. I was about to tear my hair out. As it was I went shopping without much planning (NOT GOOD) and with the distractions of kids calls I honestly had no idea what I ended up buying.

I went to Winco and Costco today. I did pick up some juice boxes at Walmart the other day so I have added them in. Overall not bad! could have done much better though.

Pita Bites $6.99
Eggos $7.99
Cashew Chicken $8.75
String Cheese $7.99
Granola Bars $7.59
Danimals $5.39

Total spent: $44.70

I took full advantage of the bulk bins this shopping trip. I was amazed at how much stuff they have!

Half and half $1.88
2 gallons milk $3.96
1 roll sausage $2.91
vegetable oil $2.68
margarine $1.88
9 pasta roni 8.12
5 bacon $8.90
2 cans garbanzo beans $1.36
sandwich bags $2.13
green onions $.48
2 lunchables $1.96 (for DJ's field trip to Seattle this week)
2 cans LaChoy chow mein $5.00
1 pkg linquini $1.19
6 yogurt $4.32
2 maple syrup $3.96
1 chow mein noodles $1.24
4 4pk puddings $3.92
shredded coconut batter mix $1.48
rotini pasta $1.25
fresh rosemary $1.98
tortilla chips $2.28
stone ground mustard $2.58
grey poupon mustard $1.98
2 bags store brand cheetos $3.26
2.03 # brussels sprouts $3.00
6 cans tuna $4.68
2 lemons $.56
2 cans pinto beans $1.36
3 ketchup $2.94
1.57# acorn squash $1.22
2 cans white beans $1.36
3.90 # bananas $2.26

My bulk bin purchases:
3.67# cat food $1.80
.27# pine nuts $3.30
.37# pistachios (w/o shells/roasted) $3.67
.64# dutch baking cocoa $1.80
.02# bacon salt .18 (had to try it LOL)
3.95# white rice $2.65
.96# cheddar chex mix $2.81
.37# pecan pieces $1.91
2.24# chocolate milk mix $2.33
1.29# toasted corn (like cornnuts but not as hard) $2.90
.93# small cheese ravioli $4.03
.54# BBQ toasted corn (again like corn nuts) $.80
1.55# chocolate chips $3.10
.71# salted/roasted sunflower kernels $1.43
.60# smoked almonds $2.46
.41# hummus mix $1.85 (this is a ground chickpea mixture that you add water/olive oil too thought I would give it a try)

Total spent $125.03

3 boxes juice pouches $5.91

TOTAL SPENT: $175.63

We are pretty good for the month. I have not done a menu yet again bad on my part! So I will work up a menu for the next week based on what I now have on hand. I will check the sale ads this week for any good sales on meat.

Check out what others have done this week at The Grocery Cart Challenge