Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Taco Soup

This one is from Rachel, she is one of my best friends and I love this soup!!!

1 lb. Cooked Ground Beef (I like it with ground Turkey too)
1 Can - Corn with juice
1 Can - Diced Tomatoes with chilies
1 Can - Beans (whatever kind you like)
3/4 Cup - Water
1 Pkg - Taco Mix
1 Pkg - Ranch Mix

(She puts in an onion as well, but I never have.  So you decide if you want it)

Cook this all together for about 30 minutes and then serve with chips, sour cream and cheese.  SO YUMMY!!!  Thanks for sharing this one Rachel!

Slow Cooker Chicken Fajitas

I got this one from a friend.  She has a great cookbook that is cooking meals in $5.00 or less.  I can't seem to do it, but I get close.  Anyways, here is my version.

2 - Large chicken breasts
1 - Can diced tomatoes w/ chilies
1 - Green Bell Pepper (Sliced)
1/2 - Onion (Sliced)
1 Tsp - Cumin
1 Cup - Brown Rice
1 - Can Corn
Tortilla Shells (We like Wheat for these)

Marinate chicken in tomatoes overnight if you can, or just an hour or so in the fridge.  Then put the chicken, tomatoes, pepper, onion, and cumin in the slow-cooker for 6 to 8 hours on low.  Make the rice when you get home and heat the corn.  Serve in tortillas with the rice and corn on the side.  Make sure you press out the juices before putting the meat into your tortilla.  Or you will have juices running all over your plate.

This is a great one to do the night before. Put everything in the slow-cooker before you go to bed.  Put the slowcooker in the fridge overnight.  Then before you leave for work, pull out the slow-cooker and plug it in.  When you walk in the door that evening dinner is just minutes away from being done.  Enjoy!

Moo-Shu Chicken

Okay I got this recipe from a magazine.  I can't remember where, but it could have been Rachael Ray.

Here is my version as I almost always change a recipe to fit our taste buds.

1 Tbsp - Sesame Oil
2 Cloves Garlic (chopped, minced, pressed, however you want to do it)
10oz - Shredded Coleslaw
8oz - Shredded Carrots
1/4 Cup - Hoisin Sauce (Use a little more if it looks dry)
2 Tbsp - Soy Sauce
Flour Tortillas
3 Cups - Shredded Chicken (cooked) I use chicken leftover from a whole chicken I have cooked earlier in the week.

Heat oil, add garlic in a large wok or pot.  Then add in the coleslaw and carrots and cook until everything is soft or about 8 minutes.  Stir in the sauces and chicken.  Cook until chicken is heated through.  Spoon into tortilla shells and serve.

You can buy the carrots and coleslaw already shredded.  However if you have the time, it is cheaper to do it your self.  Buy the carrots and shred, buy cabbage and chop.  Or if you have a food processor, you can do it yourself in just a few minutes.  This meal should take you about 20 minutes total.

Where To Find Recipes

So everyone is asking... where do you find your recipes?  I find them all over the place.  I have some from magazines, some from cookbooks, some from the internet, others from the back of a box or jar.  I also have some favorites from friends.  Last year my two neighbors and I decided for Christmas we would exchange recipes.  I got recipe cards and we all traded them around.  It was practically free and so much fun.  We all wrote down about 7 to 10 of our favorites and I have them in a book now.  I regularly cook at least one of each of their recipes a month now.

To start you off I am going to give you some great places to look and also post a few of my favorites. or her magazine
Some have a few too many ingredients for my taste, but I try to always cook a new recipe exactly the way it is written.  Then if we liked it, I change it up a little to make it easier for the next time and sometimes add things we like to it.

He has great easy recipes, of which I am trying several this month.  So far, we have loved all of them.
I don't know about you, but I love crescent rolls and biscuits.  With coupons and sales you can get them crazy cheap.  If you look on the Pillsbury website they have some great recipes.

I love Sandra Lee Semi Homemade, Rachel Ray, Paula Dean, and Pampered Chef.

Loved Ones
I truly believe that the best recipes come from friends and family.  So when you are looking for something new and fun to cook, send out an email or ask around for a recipe or two.

Remember that you don't have to put everything into your recipe.  If it looks good except for the olives, or mushrooms, or celery, just don't put them in.

Good luck and have fun cooking!!


Monday, November 15, 2010

Menu Planning

So I guess this part has been the easiest for me since I love lists.  List making might even be so much fun for me that it could be a downfall.  That's what my husband says at least.  Anyways, when you start meal planning, start with just one week.  Decide which day of the week you want to start with and go from there.  I like to grocery shop on Sunday.  So I normally meal plan on Friday or Saturday.  Below is a typical week.

Cereal, yogurt, eggs, bread, milk, OJ

David takes frozen lunches to work, so I buy those at Wal-Mart because they are the cheapest there.  Under $2.50 for Healthy Choice lunches which is $10 a week for lunch since he has a lunch meeting every Monday.  Then I normally eat leftovers, sandwiches, soup, grilled cheese, or whatever I manage to make with a baby on my hip.


Sunday - Mini Cheeseburgers, fries, and fruit

Monday - Spaghetti, rolls, fruit (I always have meat in my sauce)

Tuesday - Slow Cooker Fajitas

Wednesday - Pork Chops, Mashed Potatoes, Peas

Thursday - Creamy Cheese Chicken, couscous, fruit

Friday - Frozen Pizza and veggie

Saturday - Whole Baked Chicken, rice, veggie

From the above list I then make my grocery list.  After the grocery list is done I look at what I have on hand and cross off anything I don't need if it's already in the house.

Oh, I do add in something for dessert as well, but not every night.  Sometimes I make cookies one night, or brownies.  Maybe a cake or smoothies.  This is normally on a whim and whatever is on sale.

Just a reminder, I love to cook, so I always try to have at least one new recipe a week.  This way things are always new in the kitchen and we never get bored with what we are eating.  I would like to eventually have about 90 recipes that we LOVE and I can rotate through, but we aren't even close to that number yet.

Hope this helped get you going on your meal planning.  I'll post a few recipes soon.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Money Saving Tips - Web Sites I Use

Here are some of the great web sites I use to save money.  These are great for grocery shopping, gift shopping, and more.   This one has great coupons, lists of grocery stores and their sales  This one has great sale finds for all kinds of things  Just as it states... coupons, coupons, coupons.  This is where I print most of mine from.  She has lots of free stuff, awesome deals, great grocery and pharmacy store deals and more!  She has lots of free stuff posted.  I love her site.

I'll add more as I remember which ones I use.  Our computer crashed this past weekend and I had several saved on there.  We have a new computer and I am now having to rack my brain to remember what the sites are.  Have fun looking at these!!

Grocery Plan from October

In case anyone was wondering.... I did it!  In October, I didn't spend more than $300 on groceries and household items.  This month will be a little different with only spending $260 and my husband being in charge of his beer money.  Good luck to everyone who is budgeting and trying to save a buck.

Money Saving Tips - Getting Started

You will need to menu plan and then shop.  If you don't menu plan before you shop, you have tons of food without any kind of plan.  This creates a recipe for disaster.  You will have saved a bunch of money on all different things, but have missing ingredients for everything you want to make.  Decide where you want to shop.

I used to shop at Foodlion, Sams and Wal-Mart.  Now I primarily shop at Harris Teeter, Sams and Wal-Mart.  Occasionally, I make it to Aldi too.  Your stores will be different from mine depending on what is in your area and what is close to you.  Here is how I start my planning for the month.

First I decide what recipes I want to cook.  I look at the calendar and make sure I have picked out enough recipes and then assign them to each day of the month.  You can do this weekly, bi-weekly, or when you get good once a month.  I find it easier to just do it all at once now.  But it was a bit overwhelming at first.  Start out weekly and move up to just twice a month as it gets easier.  I have magnetic pad on my fridge with the days of the week on it.  That's where I write everything down.  You can get them at Michael's Craft Store for $1.00.

Once the recipes are decided on, I make my list of what I need.  Then I go through the fridge, freezer, and pantry to see what I already have.

Next, I look at the store circulars and see what is on sale.  I match my coupons with what is on sale, what I need, and what I will use at a later date.  There are several websites that help me do this faster now.  I will post them as well.

Once I have my list, coupons, and sale items I am off to the different stores.

Sams is where I get bulk items.  Cereal, nutri grain bars, bread, tortillas, cheese, sour cream, milk, lunch meat, whole chickens, and sometimes other meat if it's not on sale at the other stores.  Most of these items above will last the whole month for us.

Since Harris Teeter doubles, triples, and super doubles coupons that's where I like to shop.  Everyday, they double up to 99 cents.  Then if you watch they will triple or super double which is doubling up to $1.98.  These are awesome weeks when I can use a $1.50 coupon and it's really $3.00 off that item.  And if it's already on SALE, that is an awesome find.

Here is a picture of what I bought last week for $55.00 and I saved $62.00

Because you can only use 20 coupons a day at Harris Teeter I did make another trip this week.  It was a smaller purchase, but I saved again more than half of what I spent.

Wal-mart or Aldi is where I get everything else I don't have coupons for.

This can be frustrating to go to several different stores at first, but it's worth saving the money.  Since Harris Teeter is expensive to shop without coupons that is why I don't buy anything else there.  If you plan out your route properly and take a cooler if you know you are going to have items that need to stay cold, you can do this in one afternoon.  Or just get you plan together, write a list for each place and do it over a few days.  Whatever works for your busy schedule.

Money Saving Tips - What You Will Need

To get you all started off on the right foot, here is a list of things that will help you get starting on your money saving journey.  Remember, this is a life style change.  Once you get in the swing of things it will be hard not to shop with these powerful tools.

1) Computer
2) Internet
3) Printer
4) Sunday Newspaper
5) Folder/Binder/Envelopes (I will get into this in more detail later)
6) Scissors
7) About 1 Hour each week
8) Awesome recipes
9) Budget
10) A positive and can do attitude!!!

Once you have rounded up all these things you will be ready to go.  The first three are not required but they sure do help when you want to print out a few coupons that you know you will use when going grocery shopping.  There are thousands of FREE coupons on the Internet for anyone to use.

The Sunday newspaper also has great coupons, but you have to purchase the newspaper.  You can set up a weekly home delivery, purchase it at a gas station, Wal-Mart, grocery store, or any where else you can find it.

Having something to put your coupons in is KEY!  If you don't have your coupons organized, you won't use them.  I know this from experience.  If you want to get a bill paying folder with all the different slots, that works well.  Then you can divide the coupons up into the different sections.  Freezer, fridge, baking, cereals, juice, caned goods, and so on.

Or, you can purchase the clear baseball card protectors and put them in a binder.  This is my preferred way of doing things.  Then you can put each coupon in its own slot and know what it is and it's expiration date.

The final way I have read about doing this is with envelopes.  You write the section of the store on the envelope and then the coupons get divided up that way.  So you should have about 10 envelopes.  Each envelope can then be put away when you are done with that area of the store.  Whatever way you choose to start out will be fine, just make sure you have your coupons with you when you are shopping, if you don't, you could miss out on some great deals you didn't see while doing your research.

Scissors are for cutting our your coupons.  I figure you all are smart enough to know this, but I would say it anyways.

I say you need about an hour each week, because you will need to look at your coupons, cut them out, organize them, menu plan, and look at the different store circulars before heading to the store.  Yes, I have a baby and I still find the time to do this.  It's very important to get these things done in order to save money at the store.

Awesome recipes!!!  I'm sure you all have some favorite recipes that you love to cook.  But everyone needs a few new ones, or just a change in what they are cooking.  Things can get boring in the kitchen and this can lead to expensive eating out.  I challenge myself to always try one new recipe a week.  Sometimes we love it, hate it, or just think it was okay.  The LOVE IT ones, get put into rotation and the others get tossed.  This way we don't get bored and we aren't always eating the same things.

Budgeting can be stressful, hard, and sometimes impossible for people.  Our budget is constantly changing.  If you don't have a budget yet, now is the time to make one.  I will post more on this later, but to start you off, look at how much you spend on groceries last month.  Then decide how much you would like to save.  If you spent $500 and would like to save $75, then you know your budget for this month will be $425.  Want to know something crazy?!  When both my husband and I were working full time jobs, we were spending almost $800 on groceries and eating out.  That is INSANE!!!  I now have a budget of $260 for groceries and household items, and $100 for eating out.

A positive attitude is key.  If you think you can't you won't!  Set reasonable goals for yourself, tell others about your goal, and then start saving.

Have fun saving!!!

Money Saving Tips

Since leaving my part time job and starting my mobile gym, money has been a little tight.  Anyone who knows anything about starting a business knows that it will take time to really get things going.  Add a newborn to the mix of things and you really have a lot on your plate.  I started using coupons about a year ago.  I have progressively gotten better at it and enjoy the challenge.  Since posting several of my finds and massive savings on Facebook, I have had some friends ask if I will teach them what I am doing.  So, I am going to start a blog series called Money Saving Tips.  Most of them will be about groceries and meal planning.  But I'm sure I will have some other things to add as well.

Let me also say that, I did not learn all of this on my own.  Rather, I learned these things from other fantastic women who have shared their money saving journey with others.  I will post great web sites for you to use, books I have read, and places I get my coupons.  I hope you have fun challenging yourself to save money.  I know I do every month!!!  Leave comments, questions, or anything else below.  I will answer them as quickly as I can.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Shutterfly... The only place I order my photos, cards, calendars, and photo books!!!

Years ago, I went to war in Iraq and I needed a way to share my pictures.  I used online photo capabilities like Shutterfly.  Then someone introduced me to Shutterfly and all the awesome perks and I have never looked back.  For the past 3 years I have made holiday cards with our pictures on them for just pennies.  There are always great promotions going on and the prices are very affordable. 

This holiday season is quickly approaching and it's time for me to choose our holiday card.  We have a new addition to our family this year so, it's important to me that I find the perfect card.  The following cards are my top choices. 

The Mod Snowflakes Christmas Card is beautifully designed.  You can list your last name, all family members names and one photo.  The square photo slot is large enough for a family picture.  Then over the top of the card is the following, "Happy Holidays". 

My next favorite card is the Snowflake Design Christmas card.  I love that the picture is so big, but you have a small area to type in something.  This is well designed and a perfect way to showcase your beautiful family

Another thing I order either for myself or as a gift each year is a calendar.  I love how each month can be personalized with birthdays, anniversaries, and special events.  You can add pictures and there are so many designs to choose from.  They are great for everyone.

This post is part of a series sponsored by Shutterfly. I was selected for this sponsorship by Shutterfly to write about my favorite things about Shutterfly.  I received 50 free Shutterfly photo cards in exchange for writing this post.