Sunday, January 27, 2013

Sunday Again...

The start to a new week just comes way too fast.  The end of last week was a bit crazed and chaotic with the hubby traveling home and getting delayed on Thursday... thankfully he got his final delay just before 5pm and they put him up in a hotel.  If you have to get a major delay at least let it be earlier and in your favor.. So we were told he would be home by dinner Friday.  Great!  I pulled a roast out to thaw while I worked in the morning.. Ran an errand after work and then made it home alive and unscathed- roads were HORRID with the first major snow of the season... I ran in the house, heated a pan and seared off my roast, seasoned, added broth and water, lidded it and tossed into the oven before I layered up and went out to shovel 3+ inches off the driveway... I had the meat on slightly lower then usual since I figured we would have a later dinner.. I tossed carrots in and attended to the kids when they finally arrived home, about 20min later due to bus delays....

OF COURSE, I get that text of delays.. then they are boarding!  Then they are delayed for deicing.. Then longer delay.. I figured we were not having dinner with daddy.. I checked on my roast and it seemed a little tough still. GREAT!  I pulled the carrots out since they were done and tossed that dish into the fridge.  I turned off the oven and told kids to get dressed.. they were getting haircuts!  Just then hubby texted me to order pizza for dinner.. Fine by me!  I ordered pizza when the haircuts were finishing and we drove to get our order.. (Hubby was going to expense dinner so I chose the pizza shop I love that is slightly pricier then I care for).. Awesomely enough hubby
s cousin, who works at said pizza shop, was at the counter and gave us a killer discount so that made it all better! 

Hubby made it home and was there to hype the kids up, give them lots of his *gifts*.. shampoo, soap, lotion and flavored teas he pilfers for me!  lol

Saturday kids had basketball and we picked up more groceries/stockpile at ALDI...I had put the cold roast on low in the crock when we left at 1130a, so when we got home it was PERFECTLY tender!  I poured the hot broth into a sauce pan with the carrots to rewarm them and then make gravy.  Dinner was rounded out with some egg noddles,the leftover corn in the fridge and some Sourdough rolls I bought from the freezer section earlier in the week(sale/coupon deal). 

Sunday, Oh Lazy, Sunday.  Kids were in charge of themselves for breakfast so they decided on yogurt and pop tarts.. Lunch was leftover pizza from Friday night, carrots, cucumbers, hummus and pretzels. 

Snacks today were cookies (defrosted from the freezer), pumpkin muffins( defrosted from the freezer) and fruit smoothies... Maddie liked these, the boy were less impressed.  I used frozen blueberries and peaches, a few chunks of frozen banana and coconut milk.. I used too much coconut milk and it tasted a bit watered down...

Dinner was some Italian marinated chicken, frozen peas, baked sweet potatoes and green salad.  Since today is National Chocolate Cake Day.. I whipped up a half recipe of Hershey's Perfectly Chocolate Cake... I skipped the icing and just sifted some powdered sugar on top...

Since it is Sunday night it is time to re-assess the contents of the fridge and counters.. I do not like to make lunches the night before, I have issues with sandwiches that sit for too long, so I just make sure I don't have to go looking for stuff at 630am!  Do i have enough juice boxes or do I need to full the Rubbermaid containers? Make sure there is bread, chips/pretzels, fruit/veggies for packing.  Are the reusable containers clean?  Just having these things in order make Monday that much easier.. It goes without saying that I also make sure there are K-Cups on the spinner, water in the machine and sweetener in the dish for my wake up call! 

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Had to bite the bullet and buy food..

I ate the last banana this morning.. The last of the milk is expired, there are no more eggs.  I have a small package of 3 chicken breasts and a single  beef roast in the freezer.  I have done my job.. For a large majority of the month I have managed to avoid major food shopping and focus on using what we had on hand.. It encourages creative thought and cooking, discourages food waste and helps save a few dollars in the long run.

The plan - hubby's plan that is- was to go to Aldi Friday night.. to stock up on the items we like to get there. That is fine.. but there are still many more items I prefer from Giant Eagle or Marcs..I grabbed my coupons and headed out to the Eagle.. I used more then a dozen coupons.. bought some stuff that we probably did not need at all.. but were on sale and I could coupon it.. and I bought some stuff that was regular price no deals at all.. You gotta do what you gotta do.  In the end my bill came to $156.56 and I earned .30 in gas points today....

Out of that...I made no deal at all purchases for Madeline..a 3.99 pint of Sorbet and a half gallons of Coconut Milk at 3.49.  Poor girlie is having real problems if she eats/drinks milk.. so these items are necessary...

I grabbed some lunch meat at the deli and those items came to 9.34.  Kraft Cheese was on sale and I had a coupon so all together with deli sliced cheese and blocks of cheese I spent 12.11 on that.

I found some  mark down deals on meat which helped so in the end I spent 51.64 on that.. Meat wise I got a flat of 4 chicken leg/thigh sections.. not that I like dark meat.. but it makes great soup base.. Those are currently simmering away in a stock pot with carrots, onion, celery, garlic and spices!
I bought a HUGE Pork Butt and split it into two large portions and froze those separately- 2 dinners!
I picked up 2 nice sized beef roasts for future dinner and a 2lb pack of stew meat.  I opened the stew meat and cut  most of the pieces in half as they are rather large bites.  I divided the stew meat into 2 bags and took the time to mix up my sauce for beef tips and divided into each bag. These are labeled and in the freezer.. 2 more nights of dinner!
Kids asked for meatloaf last night so I fed them macaroni and cheese instead!  I grabbed a package of ground beef and seasoned the meat and made 2 meatloaves out of it.  1 will be cooked for tonight and the other is wrapped and labeled for a future dinner.

Produce wise I grabbed bananas, clementines, 2 types of apples, 5lbs of organic carrots, organic spinach, 3 English cucumbers, 4 stem tomatoes- 24.41 went out the window here...

The rest of the stuff I bought was random items like crackers, granola bars, frozen veggies, milk, eggs, butter, half and half , hummus, gum, some canned/jarred good and over priced nose spray for the hubby...    

Overall I feel that I did pretty well... I easily have 10 nights worth of meals from the meat itself, and I have plenty of fresh fruits, carrots, hummus and lunch meat to make me and hubby happy!

SCORED! I love coupons!

I decided with the success of my shopping deals last week, I would  not worry about those items any more.. Hubby was out of town this week, kids in school, me working and making exercise time at the gym a HIGH priority.. I was doing great.. then I got a gift in the mail!  My friend Jodi sent me some .75 coupons for Colgate so I will be heading back to the Dollar Tree for more School donations.. but she also sent me a Finish coupon for $2.15.. That is like giving the alcoholic a beer.. That is like cash in my hand, yet this has an expiration date...

So this morning after kids were on the bus I worked out, dropped hubby car at the airport, came home and showered.. I left to get some groceries.. I thought I recalled Rite Aid was doing their B1G1 free on detergent again.. It was only slightly off track so I hit there first.  YUP!  I grabbed the 32ct box that was priced 7.99.  An inflated price by itself . but when you take 2.15 off and realize you are getting another box free.. it again works out to 64 loads of dishes at .09 a load!!!

I scanned the ad and noticed the deal on Post cereal.. so I went to see if they had any in stock.. and they did.. I recalled their recently being Post cereal coupons.. and I know I cut them.. I found them!  The deal was buy 2 boxes they will be $5.00.. IF you buy 2 you will get a $2.00 up reward( or semi- instant rebate).  You can do this twice.. So I found my coupons.. I used 2 coupons for $1.00 off Grape Nuts and 2 that were $1.00 off Shredded Wheat.  So I paid $6.00 in the store and received a coupon equal to $4.00 my next purchase!!! So .50 a box for name brand cereals.. Yes, thank you! I also received a $3.00 off next purchase coupon for buying over $15.00 in Finish.. So I paid $12.34 in cash and have $7.00 in coupons good starting tomorrow!!!!!!

The whole school donations thing is this.. Every year the week of their 100th day of school they have a school wide food/non perishable drive to support the local FISH- food donation pantry.  The goal is to get 100 items per classroom... which is about 5 per kid...times my 3 kids... I will be sending in lots of toothpaste, some toothbrushes, boxes of cereal.. and anything else I can deal for the additional $7.00 at Rite Aid!  It is for a good cause.. and I can send in quality items to boot!

Monday, January 21, 2013

Calling it quits for the day!

I have been busy this morning!  It is so much easier to cook and bake with kids who are able to entertain themselves!

While the kids played Uno and Skip Bo I heated up the kitchen...

I used that Ortega Tortilla Soup packet and made according to directions...Pretty much it was just flavored liquid.. and that just will not do.. So into the pot of flavor I added 1 cup of frozen corn, 1/2 a can of seasoned black beans and a can of chunk chicken breast.  Much better!  The flavor is really nice!  I heated a portion of that for my lunch and poured it over a handful of crushed tortilla chips and a Colby cheese stick I chopped down.  YUM!

I cooked a bag of frozen broccoli in homemade chicken stock.  I added a handful of chopped carrots and when nice and steamed I pureed half in the vita mix.  I ended up using the rest of the heavy cream in that soup( no Alfredo tonight) and shredded in some sharp cheddar and Colby cheeses. That is tasty also!

Since I have half a can of black beans that I will need to eat now.. I decided to go ahead and cook up some rice.. I used just 1/2 cup dry rice to 1 cup water.. That will be fine for a simple beans and rice wrap or bowl.. or in some soup.

Then I realized I had a brick of cream cheese mom left here and was close to expiration.. since I already have 2 of my own bricks I have not used I needed to figure out something quick!  I searched and managed to kill 2 birds with 1 stone and used the cream cheese and the last roll of crescent rolls... I halved this and Maddie helped me mix and spread it all in!

So all the dishes have been done, kids have been lunched, hubby is packed and ready to hit the airport.. and I have all my lunches and dinners ready for the rest of the week! YIPPIE!

For my 3 friends who are reading this.. check out this blog  I was encouraged to kick start the year with the pantry eat down after I saw that they were doing it also!

Getting excited by the empty!

Silly I know.. But I just went to the deep freeze to pull out a container of soup.. thinking it was a container of beef veggie soup from December.. I figured I would eat on it this while hubby was gone this week.   Well it was chicken and veggie not veggie beef... I brought it upstairs and put it in the freezer here..We will see if I want to use that.. I have 1 beef roast and 1 pack of chicken breast left in the deep freeze.

The weather is nasty cold.. with wind chill below zero cold.. I will definitely be helping heat the house by baking.. The kids can help me make cookies and breads that can be frozen for future snacking and lunches.. I have lots of supplies to come up with some tasty treats.

For Breakfast I just used the last half of the buttermilk quart to make a batch of waffles.. Kids ate most and the last few will go into the freezer for another morning.  I pulled out a bag of some chicken broth and a bag of frozen broccoli.. I think I will whip up a simple broccoli cheese soup to use those up and some of the cheese in the fridge.
A few weeks ago while I was at R Grocery Outlet I found a pouch of Ortega All Natural Tortilla Soup....

I have seen this in the stores but I am not about to pay over $2.00 for something I don't know if I will like..I paid.$.79 for this so if it is yucky I will pour it down the drain.. If I like the flavor I think I will add some canned chicken for more bulk.

If the kids have school with these cold temps I am thinking warm foods in their lunch thermoses so Mac and Cheese or Spaghetti Oh's..

Dinners are to be determined... Tonight I am planning corn dogs (bought them at the Schwans school fundraiser) and homemade pasta Alfredo.. to finish the pint of heavy whipping cream.

I will have to report back what I end up baking when I get into that *Heat the house * mode!

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Sundown on Saturday....

..and a few days later.....

Thursday night was a great hodgepodge dinner... A little of this.. a little of that... leftover night before basketball practice.. and I mean hodgepodge..
Leftover bean soup, leftover Spaghetti Ohs from packing a lunch, some trail bologna, cheese and crackers, carrots/celery/cukes and hummus, sliced apples, some spaghetti and a veggie chikin patty....What was not eaten was tossed b/c there was not much left to worry about.  I love the sight of a cleaned out fridge.. It is like a fresh start!

I had pulled out a package of Chicken Breasts for dinner on Friday but the hubby saw a 50% off coupon code for Papa Johns.. and the way I see it.. if he mentions something like that.. he is interested in that.. So I ordered in 1 large pizza and 1 order of bread sticks . with delivery and the generous tip I added it was $15.50.  Easy night for me!

For Tonight's( Saturday) dinner I went back to that chicken and used the last of the bag of Potatoes I bought last weekend.  I made Loaded Baked Potato and Buffalo Chicken casserole

I made a partial pan and it was SO good!  Kids had Italian dressing marinated chicken and some potatoes, corn and mac and cheese as they don't like spicy... yet!

Since the oven was already going and the house can always use more heat I whipped up a recipe of Pumpkin bread and made 12 large muffins, 24 mini muffins and a loaf of bread.  These make good lunch fillers, snacks and breakfasts...

I am thinking Tomorrow's breakfast will be buttermilk pancakes to finish the buttermilk... We are meeting inlaws for dinner.. they *need* Cracker Barrel so no meal planning for me.. until next week!

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Middle of the week slump

I love reading food blogs.  I am in awe of the time, effort and abilities that these (mostly) women posses.  I definitely don't have it all together like that.  Especially the ones who can sit down and create a 7X3 chart of their meal planning for the week.. Yes.. they can plan out all 3 meals a day for each day of the week.. I cannot do that.. Does one have to become a kitchen Nazi and not allow anything to be used or eaten unless she allows it to be signed out/checked off the list?  If I tried to get that specific I would be setting myself up for a heck of a lot more work.  For example... Tuesday morning I looked into the freezer to grab the last 3 snickerdoodle bar cookies to put into lunches... but there was only 1.. Apparently when I took Maddie to scouts on Monday night he let the boys each have a cookie....So I packed her the lone cookie and scrounged through my shelf for 2 more lone snack bar type items and tossed those into lunch bags.. In the end it helped me b/c in the lunch room, no one know who has which snack bar.. thus.. no fighting over who had a *healthy* granola bar and who had the overly sweet fruity pebbles bar!  

For my own planning and sanity I  try to keep a basic list of what I have on hand main dish wise.. and know what I have on hand for side dishes.. and then let it all fall into place.. Last night after cleaning up dinner I had some time while the kids played cards with daddy so I went to put away some of my newest couponing additions, and did a quick straighten of the pantry shelves.. I grabbed a bag and started to fill it with things I knew I was running low on upstairs, a bottle of shampoo, some splenda, lunch snack items etc.. I also took a moment to think about dinner.  Wednesday I work and will go to the gym right after that.. I arrive home right before the kids do.. So that means crock pot needs to already be in cooking mode.. or it needs to be an easy meal night...

Knowing I had a partial bag of red meat sauce still in the freezer I decided to go with easy night!  I grabbed a box of Dreamfields pasta ( I pay more for this brand b/c it is a  lower carb  product) and a jar of Classico Tomato Basil sauce.  I know I paid $2.00 for the pasta- (that was a sale price I stocked up at)- and I bought a ton of jars of sauce when I had coupons and they were on a great sale.. I believe I paid .50 a jar! To round the meal out I grabbed some Bocca from the freezer.  (Last week the only items I bought at GE were Yoplait cups, Bocca and Sargento Cheese sticks.. all were on a great sale/great gas points and I have lots of coupons...) Kids will have their Bocca Parmigiana with plain Veggie chikin patties and hubby and I will have ours with the Basil Parmesan flavored ones.   

I have not been in the salad mood so I need to check the little bit in the veggie drawer to see if it will be salvageable for dinner.. or if I need to do a purge...

On a positive note I got the oven cleaned out!  I paid almost $5.00 for that spray cleaner.  If I did not work I was going to pitch a royal fit!  Maybe tonight I will whip up some snacks for the kids.  

Tuesday, January 15, 2013


If you know me.. you know I am coupon obsessed!  Part of the eating down the deep freezer and pantry is to use what I have and not allow it to go bad. but also frees up some funds from food shopping to other areas. The last few weeks there have been some fantastic coupons out there for non food items and my goal is to acquire as many coupons as I can and get as much stockpiled that I can.. so I don't have to worry about those items for as long as possible.  Items such as laundry soap, dishwasher detergent, toilet paper, paper towels, and personal care items.  These items will not go bad, will always been needed and are way too pricey to buy at full shelf pricing.. at least for me!  I also love the searching out the deal process and I have friends who do also.. and this makes it even more fun.  

For example.. I have a Bosch dishwasher and this high ticket item is a snob.  It only likes Finish dish washer detergent.  I assumed it was a total marketing ploy and when I got the machine I happened to have a supply of that brand so I never thought more about it.. When I was running lower on detergent I started to keep a better eye out for deals.  One day at Walmart I saw an great deal on gel packs.  They were Cascade brand and marked down to $2.00 a bag!  I bought 7.  

What a waste of money...... The fragrance was so strong it permeated every single plastic dish I washed.. some were a total loss.. some faded over time.  I ended up putting them aside and adding them to my donation pile for Holiday times.  I picked up boxes of Finish over the past few months as I saw them on sale.. but I hardly ever found good coupons.. Until 2 weeks ago....There was a coupon out for $2.15 off a box.. WOW!  This is unheard of.. It was so worthy I ran out and bought a few more papers that day. Just the savings from THAT single coupon was more then the cost of the paper itself.. so every other coupon I scored was bonus.  That week I also found  Purex laundry detergent coupons that were $1.00 off a jug.

I went through the Walgreens and Rite aid ads that Sunday to see what the specials were.  The Giant Eagle Ad comes in the mail on Tuesday  so I had to wait.  That week Rite Aid was running a B1G1free special on Finish... seriously.. could it get any better?  Walgreen's was running a deal on Purex!  My deals went like this. 

 At Rite Aid each box was 7.99 for 32 pellets.  
Rung up 47.94 before tax
after I scanned my card the total came down to 23.97.  
I used 3 coupons taking me down to $19.02 including tax.  Because I am anal.. I figured it out by the wash load.. I purchased 192 washes for $.09 a wash... That to me is a deal.  

I then drove over to Walgreens and grabbed 3 bottles of Purex that were  on sale for $3.99 a bottle.  My coupons brought it down to 2.99 each and out the door with tax I got 96 loads of detergent for .10 a load... I will be honest in that I have never properly measured out my detergent.. but I assume I get more then the bottle says b/c I use such small amounts of soap.  

Last night at my Moms of Multiples Meeting I managed to get to the coupon pile and see if there was anything that appealed to me.. Lo and behold there were 4 Finish coupons! I did the happy dance.. my friends thought I was crazy but I doubt they have a snob of a dishwasher... I have just gotten a bag of coupons cut from the in laws on Sunday and  added these 3 to the 1 I cut then... 

So today while out running errands I stopped at Target.. Their 20ct boxes of Finish were $3.99.. Using my coupons I got each bag for 1.84 before tax..That also comes down to $.09 a wash! 
Yes, if you are counting I have 10 boxes of Dishwasher detergent in my basement...That is 272 runs of the dishwasher...for the insanely low price of $26.84... This week Giant Eagle is selling an 80ct box for $10.99. 
To buy the same number of washes at GE I would spend $37.26.  

Also today I hit Walgreens and used the Ad coupons for boxes of tissues at .99/box.  I stacked with with my .50 off 3 boxes coupon and got 3 boxes for $.82/box.  While I was there I bought a bottle of iced tea for a dollar and it gave me an instant rebate coupon for a dollar. I will go back to Walgreens before Sat and use the ad coupon again, another manufacture coupon and this 1.00 coupon and get 3 more boxes for $.49/each.  *KNOCKING WOOD*.. we have been rather healthy.. but yes, I am preparing for doomsday buy stocking up in tissues...

The last store I hit on my circle around town was the Dollar Tree.. You either love it or hate it there.. I love it!  They now take coupons.. and granted you will not find many items that you can correlate with a coupon.. but when you do.. it makes things either free.. or pennies... I had 7 -.75 coupons.. 3 were for any type of Colgate toothpaste.. size 4oz or larger.. the other 4 were for any Colgate adult or kids toothbrushes.. I grabbed these nifty travel brushes that will be the perfect size for the kids. for less then $2.00 I added to my supply shelf.  You can never have enough toothpaste or toothbrushes..When kids have been ill I toss old brushes and give them new to lessen the chance of relapse. The toothpaste is a great item to send in when school groups ask for donations for the local pantry.  This is an item that cannot be purchased with food stamps.. and I can send in tons! 

I know that people will say that all the driving around voids the savings I have with coupons.. I disagree and I make my trips work for me.  I hit Walgreens on the way to the dentist, the Dollar Tree was on the way to the highway to go to Target.  I have lots of coupons to use so I saved money all the way around going to places I needed to go anyway!  I won't make a special trip to the Dollar Tree for a single toothbrush/paste.. but when I can get a stack.. it is worth the 10 minutes of my day!

Tonight I took the kids to the library to return books and while they searched out more I went straight to the table where people deposit their unwanted coupons.  I managed to grab almost a dozen of a specific item coupon a friend is in need of, and I managed to get more laundry detergent coupons and another Finish one in addition to a bunch of coupons for items that will go on sale at my Giant Eagle starting Thursday.  

I really need to clean the oven..

I need to see if they still sell oven cleaner spray.. That is on my too do list for today( Tuesday).  I figured that is not going to be done until later so I need to come up with a meal that is stove-top or crock-pot friendly...We just had roast...We just had grilled chicken... not wanting pasta... I looked in the freezer and then on the counter.. Decided!
Tonight is chicken pot pie filling.. like Racheal Ray calls a Stoup.. thicker then a soup, thinner then stew... I grabbed my stock pot and started to toss items in..

2 blocks of turkey broth.. from Thanksgiving bird... ( I believe these are the final ones...I think I froze 9 containers!)
1 freezer bag of cooked chunked chicken... I have no idea when I froze that..
1/3 bag of frozen mixed veggies
1/2 bag frozen corn
1/4 bag frozen peas..
That will take forever to thaw so I will just leave on stove top until I am ready..

I will dice up a few small potatoes to add to that.
My base flavor is a can of Campbells Cream of Chicken and herb soup.. I prefer to not use Cream soups( MSG, Sodium, chemical stuff) but this is a great flavor.. I will sprinkle in black pepper and some more poultry seasoning and let it bubble.. To add to the creaminess I will either add some heavy cream or half and half at the end.. Depends which is open in the fridge!

This will be served with more of that leftover Sunday bread and butter.

I am now able to see the back of the freezer!
Time to start working on the stove...

You don't have to love it.. but it's your dinner!

I went out on a limb last night(Monday).. I made something I have never made, nor have had a history of liking.. Ham and bean soup!  We had spiral ham for Christmas and I saved the bone, and then chopped some into big chunks and some into tiny small dices and tossed all into freezer for * a rainy day*. Because that is what good frugal people do...I figured I would make a pot of ham, green beans and potatoes, but then one day hubby mentioned bean soup and I figured I could give it a try...

Coincidentally, a topic of soups was going on in a message board I read and Ham and Bean came up so I figured I could manage it after I read a few peoples recipes.. I grabbed a bag of great northern when I was at Marc's.  I figured it the dinner was a total bomb I was not losing much more then the $1.89 I put into it!

Sunday night I picked through the beans and tossed into a huge pot with cold water to soak all night.  Monday morning I skimmed off the floaters.. I guess if they float they are bad...I strained and rinsed the non floaters and tossed them into my large crock pot.. I  filled with water and added my ham bone,  1 halved onion, diced carrots, 1 stalk celery quartered ( I don't like celery pieces in soups really... ) 2 cloves of garlic, a bay leaf, black pepper and some red pepper flakes. I left for work and left hubby to stir...

When I got home I pulled out the celery and gave a stir.  I tasted it and it was good.. but a little flat.  A friend had told me it would and told me to add vinegar.. I poured in a few glugs of white and apple cider and added more black pepper.. I pulled the bone out and the meat all fell off.. I let it cool and minute and then separated the meat and the gristle...I tossed the meat in and thought it could definitely use more.. so I grabbed a bag of  frozen cubed ham and dumped half of  baggie in.  Much better.

Knowing full well the kids would freak over something new.. I served then only tiny amounts.. along with a grilled cheese- made with shredded mozz/cheddar on some of that leftover bakery bread..

Of course kids freaked out at the idea of a new food.. Andrew and Maddie overcame their fears quickly and tried some carrot/bean/ham and broth.. and then moved on.. that was all I asked.  Maddie did not like the broth.. Andrew was fine.. Ben, as always, took longer but after dad provided him a piece of bread for dipping.. he admitted he liked the broth and finished his whole bowl...

I assume that if I freeze this it will be bean mush when we thaw.. so looks like Hubby and I have a lot of leftovers this week!

Simple Sunday

In laws were coming over for dinner and the weather was BEAUTIFUL...( yes, 1-13-13 it was 60 degrees out.. there has to be a record there) SO I wanted to keep dinner simple.. I grabbed yet another beef roast from the freezer and the final can of french onion soup and did that roast again... this time I tossed the entire can of soup and water into my Vitamix and blended it all down instead of tossing the onions out.. I tossed it in on low in the oven and left to run a few errands. I hit Marcs and Giant Eagle for some basics.  I came home and peeled and chopped carrots and potatoes for dinner then went to sell Girl Scout cookies with Maddie!  I made a HUGE error in judgement and there was too much liquid in the post and after adding all the veggies it ended up boiling over and the bottom of my oven is trashed.. Oh it stinks still ( on Tuesday!)

But it was delicious!  I tossed a bag of peas into the microwave to steam and served with bakery bread.. the stuff I grabbed at Giant Eagle and the loaf the in laws brought with them.

I had made a dessert before I left for the store.. I chose this one b/c it looked yummy and it only called for 1 egg.. and before shopping that is all I had!

I used a 9x9 pan instead of 9x13 and they turned out great.  Kids loved them!

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Fell off the wagon...

The writing wagon at least.. It was a VERY busy week of back to school, back to work, traveling hubby and the whole single mama game.. Oh well.. I really cannot complain..we are all healthy!

For Breakfasts this week the kids had  eggs with toast, they finished off the frozen waffles and pancakes I had stored up and I allowed Pop Tart Friday.  There might have been a cold cereal day in there.. Mornings are fuzzy for me!

For the first 2 packed lunches this week, the kids finished up the leftover homemade pizza with juice boxes, carrots and cucumbers,sliced oranges and yogurt tubes.  Other lunches this week included the basic PBJ on wheat, pretzels, baked chips, cookies I pulled from the freezer, Spaghetti Oh's or Macaroni and Cheese in the Thermos containers, veggies, bananas and yogurt.    I have no problem with the occasional *junk* lunches like O's or boxed mac and cheese, I know what they are eating for breakfast and dinner and that this is a very small portion of their overall food intake.  They enjoy it and it makes packing easy on those days I am running low on motivation or other packables! 

Dinners this week...
Monday GiGi came over to  visit before she left town for a few weeks..I baked a frozen meatloaf I had made and wrapped the last time I made meatloaf.  LOVE doing this.. Buy the meat  at a lower price in bulk and then only have to make the mixing mess 1 time!  I tightly wrapped the loaf in foil and it was ready to thaw and bake!  I prefer to freeze it raw.. I have baked and frozen then just reheated.. but I was not impressed with the meat texture reheated.  Since mixing is the worst part.. just prepping it is a huge help for future cooking.
Meatloaf was served with oven roasted potatoes ( I had purchased a small bag over the weekend) and a bag of green beans from the deep freeze.  Steamed and sauteed those in garlic butter!  There were a handful of roasted potato halves left.. kids demolished the beans and meat.
Tuesday we had an appointment in the late afternoon so I promised the kids dinner out if their behavior was good.. We went to Bob Evans- kids eat free on Tuesday.  Since they are in that 1 kid for 1 adult meal game I just had Ben get the adult burger on the $6.00 menu.  He has been wanting additional side when he gets their kids meals so the bigger burger fed him well and he ended up sharing his fries b/c there were so many more...
Wednesday I had defrosted a pack of 3 chicken breasts so I tossed 1 in a pan and poured the remaining half jar of salsa over and tossed into the oven to bake... I split the other 2 pieces and marinated in Italian dressing then sauteed them in a hot pan.. served with frozen corn and a box of stuffing.

Thursday I pulled a ring of Kielbasa out of the freezer and cooked that up for the kids.  Mom brought this over from her house so I figured I might as well get it used.  Kids ate that with steamed frozen peas and ramen noodles...I was in a hurry to get everyone fed before basketball practice and running out of ideas.  I saw the ramen and grabbed two packages.. kids loved it and did not complain so I ran with it!

Friday night we ate out since we went to pick up the hubby at the airport at 630. The kids were begging to go to Pizza Hut so we went there.  One local store does a kids eat free on Friday night where the kids can make their own personal.  It was packed.. and the line for the kids prep station was so long... With the high rates of influenza lately.. we skipped that and ordered the 19.99 meal deal.. 2  medium 1 item pizzas, 5 breads sticks and a small pan of pasta... We took home 5 slices of pizza and half the pasta.

Saturday- I mixed up a double batch of baking mix pancakes and that was breakfast and some freezer supply.  Lunch after basket ball and errand running was the remainder of the pizza hut night for the kids, I had the leftover Veggie soup I have been eating for lunch this past week.. Hubby had hummus and carrots and other random items he saw to munch on!
The weather was amazing Saturday so it was definitely a grill night.  I defrosted a 3 pack of chicken breasts so we have grilled chicken for dinner.  I pulled out a few cubes of frozen Pesto and mixed them with parm for hubby and I to slather on our chicken,  I steamed a bag of frozen broccoli and whipped up a pan of sweet corn cake/bread*.  While we ate I tossed in a pan of chocolate brownies with white chips and slivered almonds to bake.  Maddie picked that recipe out of the Hershey's cookbook and helped me pull it together.

* Sweet Corn Cake.  Chi Chi's had the best corn cake.  The restaurant is gone but you can still buy the pre packaged mix.. and I used to... but the pricing has made me stop and think that I could re create this.. so I tried and I totally mastered it!  I buy the  cheapo box of corn bread - Jiffy or Aldi brand, in a bowl dump that, 2-4 tablespoons sugar, 1 can creamed corn, 1 egg and 1/3 cup milk.. Mix and pour into a sprayed loaf pan or 8 inch casserole dish.. Bake at 350 for 40-45 minutes... Kids love it and it is fast and easy!

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Making it through the weekend...

Weekends have a tendency to fall off the regular schedule with errands and activities.  Kids started Upwards Basketball Saturday so  that means a quick breakfast and a mad rush out of the house.

Saturday: I made Pumpkin Spice pancakes.  I had planned on making another batch of the muffins from the previous night so I just prepped all the wet and dry ingredients and tossed into the fridge.  When the muffins did not come out as awesome as I had hoped for I had to figure out a way to use the already mixed ingredients.  Since the fry proportions were so close to a batch of pancakes I just mixed everything together.. added a bit more flour for consistency and poured onto the griddle.  Kids ate them with no complaint!  Waste not!
After ball, Hubby got a haircut while I picked up a few necessities at the store. Kids were hungry but we were only minutes from home so we made them wait.. Kids were in agreement for grilled cheese and Lipton soup so I put the water on to boil while I got the sandwiches prepped for the griddle.  Hubby and I scrounged for leftovers for us.
Hubby wanted to make some fish for himself for dinner so I offered kids the choice of dinner and they requested homemade pizza.  Easy enough!   Homemade crust, jarred sauce, cheese and pepperoni.  Hubby and I both had bowls of salad in addition to our meals of choice.. ( I HAD to buy some salad at the store..)

Sunday: Waffles were demanded so I made a double batch and actually had a few to toss into the freezer for quick breakfasts this week!  Lunch we met grandparents at Olive Garden so no cooking there... We were all still pretty full from lunch but the kids insist on being fed something at meal times...SO I scrounged up items and called it Appetizer night.. Using the last of the vanilla yogurt, and most of the clementines that were shriveling up I made *Creamsicle Smoothies*, I tossed a box of soft pretzel bites( and they were nearing frostbite state so glad I used them up!) into the oven and sliced up 2 apples.. I tossed mustard, cinnamon sugar and a mix of chunky peanut butter and honey on the table for dipping.

I am already 1 step ahead of dinner for Monday pulling out a meatloaf for thawing.. I originally assumed it was a loaf of pumpkin bread... Guess I should put more effort into proper labeling...

Friday, January 4, 2013

Sticking to it!

I know it is odd that I love to grocery shop.. I figure it goes hand in hand with my love of cooking and baking.  I am running low on fresh produce and perishables... Maybe I can get through the weekend... not sure...
Kids had Cream of Wheat and Raisin toast for breakfast.  I had some scrambled eggs with a few oven roasted potato wedges( leftovers of course) diced in.  I packed Andrew's lunch as he was not begging to eat school Mini Corn Dogs.  I let the kids pick up to 4 meals for January to buy and Ben and Maddie bought today.  Andrew took a juice box, yogurt tube, a lunch-able  I gave in over Christmas break and then they never ate them), carrots and cukes.  
My lunch was  a  flour tortilla with hummus, cucumber, carrot, spinach and turkey.
Dinner took me on a tour of the deep freeze... Faced with the choice of Chicken breasts or beef roast I grabbed a roast.  I let if defrost for a while and then had to figure out how to season... I am out of beef broth AND Italian dressing packets... How does one make a roast without those items???  I ALMOST ran to the store.. But I held strong.... I dug around and found a can of French onion soup on my shelf.. I remember buying it b/c it was killer cheap, not because I  would actually eat onion soup... So I pulled out a strainer and poured it through and then tossed all the onion.. added a can and a half of water... the roast... then started with my spice cabinet... garlic powder, pepper, bay... tossed it in and let it slowly bake.. OH MY it smells good....
I cut my lonely 2 potatoes into 1/8's and tossed them into the pot a while back and then, after looking at my shelf found a can of carrots and drained and dumped those in...I LOVE beef and carrots together... I was going to save the fresh carrots though for my hubby!  if he has hummus and no carrots, that can mean serious trouble for me!

Dinner will be served shortly with a bag of frozen, turned steamed broccoli.  While we are eating I will be baking a batch of Pumpkin Muffins( using a bag of my pumpkin I froze weeks ago)... I am trying a new recipe

Definitely an off day!

Kids were back to school today(or yesterday.. but who is really looking at the dates?).  Packed them all a lunch of leftover BBQ Chicken Crescent wrap, carrots and cucumber slices, a peanut butter blossom cookie, a few pretzels and a 100% apple juice box.  My lunch was to finish off the bowl of salad mix with some salami and cheese tossed in.  Snacked on Fruit and hot drinks through the day.  I used my quiet with kids back to school and husband logged on to work.. Sent out a lot of PTO help requests and started to get things organized for the next few weeks!  Felt so accomplished!  I had the kids come home on the bus while I was at a PTO meeting.. Told the husband to have the kids finish the bowl of caramel popcorn.
Dinner was a total hodgepodge!  He planned it with the kids while I was gone.  I had a work event so I was not eating with them.. and he was not interested in a meal himself.. so dinner consisted of.. mac and cheese, scrambled eggs and toast and salami and cheese sandwich.  They were happy and it was all food we had in the fridge or on the shelf so it was all fair game!  I believe the husband had a turkey/cheese sandwich and carrots and hummus.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Last Day of Break! Last Day of Break!

We need to get back to our "regularly scheduled programming"... Kids need to see other people!  Summer break is easier.. the weather is more agreeable and we can get out more.. This Christmas break has been cold, snowy, icy and  everyday hubby and I have seen people post their kids have strep throat or the pukes.. so we have had no desire to take them anywhere in public they might get sick... A mom can dream right?

So I love to read blogs, love to follow blogs and get great ideas from many strangers out in the internets!  I have been doing " Mother Hubbard" weeks for years.. When I try to not grocery shop and try to eat all the junk I have in the freezer/pantry.   One of the blogs I love is encouraging a Pantry Challenge and I am all about that!

Yesterday was New Years so we have the obligatory Pork Roast, Sauerkraut, Mashed Potatoes and veggies for dinner.   Today for lunch hubby and I ate those leftovers while the kids had grilled cheese, pretzels and whatever else they could locate.  Since tomorrow we head back to *normal* I whipped up some cookies for the kids.  Peanut Butter Blossoms- to use some of the 3 open jars of peanut butter and the leftover Hershey Kisses in the freezer!  Dinner might be my problem... I am not in the mood to cook...I pulled out a package of ground chicken...I really don't like ground poultry but hubby was given it as payment for helping a friend who owns a meat market... I am thinking I will brown and flavor it and will wrap it in crescent rolls- ala Pampered Chef's " Cheeseburger Ring" Hopefully the kids cannot a huge difference in flavor.  Will serve with the bowl of salad and some veggies from the freezer.

Will have to post how that goes later!

ETA:  I browned the ground chicken and seasoned well.. Then I decided to pour some BBQ sauce in and add some cheddar.. BBQ chicken rolls... and they loved it!  No whining tonight!

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

It is never good to start the year off with regret.....

WHY WHY WHY???  A few weeks ago at BJ's Wholesale club I was tempted and taunted and succumbed... The product was marked down and seemed like a no duh... Meyer Lemon Cupcake and frosting mix.. for $1.99.. I am so easily swayed... It had words in the title like *gourmet kitchen* and *ALL NATURAL*... and like a sucker I fell for it...I should have opened the packaging first.. But Oh NO.. I had already tossed the eggs and butter into the mixer bowl so I had to suck it up and make it.. Instant concern.. the initial batter taste was... chemically.. fake...I did not waste my time on cupcakes though.. just tossed it into a square pan.  I figured if I was already knee deep in this muck I might as well finish it off and tossed the butter and *frosting* mix into the bowl. So I followed the directions and knew that I had to fix it.. Just as I was getting ready to add more butter and XXX sugar I remembered the dish of cream cheese frosting in the fridge.. I whipped that in and tossed it into a bowl to let the flavors meld......I will check on it before I go to frost the cake.. I can always add a few scrapes of fresh zest and a squeeze of juice to try to salvage it...

Lesson learned.. Stick with homemade!