Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Strawberry Banana Smoothie

If you were wondering why I stock up on every fresh fruit and vegetable available, here is why. We love to pull out berries, that we picked fresh and stored in our freezer, months later. Yesterday, the girls asked for a smoothie and I was happy to make them one. We really don't have a set recipe.... we just throw whatever fruit we have in and blend. Ripe bananas make the smoothies sweet, so we never add sweetener. I have also made green smoothies for the girls and they love them.

Approximate: Strawberry Banana Recipe

1 ripe banana
2 c. strawberries
1 six oz. strawberry yogurt
1 c. water

Blend together. If it is too thick, just add water. Our fruit was all frozen. If you have fresh fruit, you might want to add ice.

The girls wanted to take a picture of their cups too! So cute!


Cubed Steak and Tomatoes Recipe

The other day at Bi-Lo, I bought some cubed steak on sale. We have tried several recipes with cubed steak, but the other night my husband put together a dish that was my favorite. I'll give you the recipe, but it might not be exact, it was a made up recipe.

Cubed Steak and Tomatoes

1 lb. cubed steak

2 tablespoons flour
salt and pepper
1 can diced tomatoes

1/2 onion sliced

1/2 cup chopped celery

Cover steak in flour salt and pepper. Pound steak thin with mallet. Brown steak in some cooking oil in a large sauce pan, add tomatoes, onion, and celery. Cover and simmer on low for one hour and fifteen minutes.

Serve over rice and a vegetable side dish.

Cubed steak and Tomatoes $3

Rice: $.10

Broccoli: Free

Meal Total: $3.10 for the 4 of us!


Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Composting = A Great Garden

Last summer, we started composting. So, this year when we started our garden we used our compost. It was not quite ready, but my husband put it into the soil and turned the soil several times over a week long period. Then the dirt was ready for planting.

Since this is techniquely our first garden, we started out small. We planted tomatoes, summer squash, cucumbers, and okra. Most of the seeds were planted at the site of the compost soil, but we had so many plants to come up that we had to transplant a few to another part of our yard. As the plants grew, we could tell a big difference in how hearty the plants at the compost site were in comparision to the plants in other places. We were surprised to see the difference that compost soil makes in a garden. I actual had to put Miracle Grow on the plants that were not at the compost site to keep them from turning yellow.

Top Picture: No compost
Bottom Picture: Compost

We were so happy to see that the effort we put into composting has paid off for us. We have even had some volunteer tomato plants come up from the compost site. Score! Free tomato plants = FREE TOMATOES!

I hope you will be encouraged to compost. It is great for the environment, reduces trash, and makes for nutrient rich soil for your garden.


Monday, June 28, 2010

Homemade Freezer Pie Crusts

Last night, I made some pie crusts to store in the freezer. We are getting ready for some visitors,
so I am trying to make preparations ahead of time. I have found that it is super easy to make pie crust and store them in the freezer. You can store them in the freezer for up to 10 months.
Freezer Pie Crust
12 c. flour
4 teaspoons salt
1 lb. vegetable shortening
1 1/4 c. water

Mix together flour and shortening with a pastry blender. It should be the consistency of cornmeal. Then, measure 2 cups and add 4 tablespoons of water. Mold into a ball.
Cut seven 12 inch pieces of aluminum foil and seven 12 inch pieces of saran wrap. Place a ball of crust in saran wrap and wrap tightly. Then, place it in foil and wrap tightly to seal. Repeat for each ball. Write the date and place in freezer.

To use just unthaw.

This makes holiday meals easy! and cheap!

I think I'll use some of my freezer pie crust to make pies with my frozen berries.
For more great Menu Plan Monday recipes and a great freezer cooking book giveaway click here.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Breaded Cod Recipe

ALL YOU Grocery Challenge

Last night was one of my favorite dinners. We had cod fish filets, brown rice, tomato salad, and left over squash casserole. Yum! We try to have fish once a week.
Breaded Cod
1/2 lb Cod fish (2 small filets)
1 c. bread crumbs
3 tablespoons parmesan cheese
1/2 c. milk
Mix bread crumbs and parmesan cheese together. Dip cod in milk and then roll in bread crumbs. Bake at 425 degrees for 6 minutes per 1/2 inch thickness.
Cod $3.50
Tomato salad $.25
Brown rice $.25
Dinner $4

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Week One ALL YOU Grocery Challenge Totals

This has been a great week for me. I was able to snag a few freebies and good deals at a couple of stores. I am always surprised each week at how much I save! If you buy items at the lowest price and use coupons, the saving adds up quickly.

Budget $100 in groceries for the 4 eaters in the family.

Grocery- $7.99

Non-Grocery- $1.68

Total: $9.67

Grocery- $5.69


Total: $16.39

Grocery- $.80

Non-Grocery- $1.35

Total: $2.15


Total: $17.05

Week One Totals for everything: $45.26




Broiled Eggplant with Feta and Tomatoes

We recently snagged some great eggplant at a local farm for 3 for $1! I have frozen some, made baby food, served my family 2 meals, and still have one eggplant hanging out in our refrigerator. Last night, I tried something that we have never had before and it turned out great!
Broiled Eggplant with Feta and Tomatoes
1 eggplant
4 tablespoons of sesame oil or vegetable oil
feta cheese
Coat a large baking dish with sesame oil. Slice eggplant 1/2 inch thick (peeling optional). Place eggplant in dish. Use remaining sesame oil to coat the top- best done with a pastry brush. Then, add tomato and feta as you like. Broil for 7-12 minutes. If eggplant is still too firm, but outside is brown... bake at 400 degrees until soft.

This was a yummy meal. I served it with couscos and I made an aioli sauce.

Aioli Sauce
1/2 c. mayonnaise
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 garlic cloves

Mix ingredients together and refrigerate. Will keep about one week covered in the refrigerator.

Dessert was vanilla ice cream with peaches.

Cost of this whole meal was approx. $3.00 with a few leftovers is the fridge!


Friday, June 25, 2010

Week One Bi-Lo

ALL YOU Grocery Challenge

My Bi-Lo visit this week was primarily to add in some meat. I try to buy meat when it is at it's lowest price. This week, there was a good buy on chopped steak - $2.29/ lb and pork loin chops - $1.59/ lb.

We will use some of the meat right a way and I will freeze some for later.

Total $35.47

Savings $18.71

Spent $17.05


Cheap Milk

Since I started couponing about 3 mths. ago, I have found it stressful to stand in front of the milk refrigerator at the store and see the price of milk. Milk in our area is $2.47 on sale and up to $3.99 regular price. I watch for sales, but sometimes the sales are at different stores than I shop at or we run out of milk before our store puts it on sale again. Usually, we get about 3 milks a week. This can cost us up to $12/ week. With couponing, I am starting to see that $12 is a LARGE part of our grocery bill. So, I am trying something different. I am starting to buy milk and freeze it, so that I will never have to pay regular price.

Buying items, like milk, that normally do not have coupons, is best when you have a money off coupon.

Last week, I had a $20 off coupon for filling a prescription at our Harris Teeter. Since milk was on sale.... I bought 9 milks! I know this seems excessive, but the savings adds up quickly.

9 milks $2.47 = $22.23

minus $20 coupon

9 milks = $2.23

Yeah! 3 weeks of milk for $2.23
For more Friday Finals great deals click here.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Super Doubles

Week 1 Day 5 of the ALL YOU Grocery Challenge

Yesterday was the first day of Super Doubles week at Harris Teeter. I usually don't shop there, but you can get some good deals this weeks since they double coupons up to $1.98. There really isn't a lot of coupon match-ups this week, so you have to find high value coupons and check the prices to see if you are getting a good deal. Southern Savers puts up a list of freebies to grab, if you get to the store early enough.

Today, my purchase included a few household items and some groceries.

Total: $38.11

Loyalty Card Savings: $5.73

Coupon Savings: $22.71

Spent: $9.67


Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Publix Penny Item

Week 1 Day 4 of the ALL YOU Grocery Challenge

Publix is my favorite grocery store, especially on Wednesday! Every Wednesday, our local Publix has an item that they have on sale for a penny! Usually, the penny item is their brand of an item. Recently, the penny items have included cheese, toilet paper, juice, glass cleaner, and pasta sauce. Each week there is a coupon somewhere in the middle of the Wednesday paper. If you take the coupon to Publix on Wednesday, then you can get the mystery penny item. I usually cheat and find out what it is before I go in... Southern Savers posts it every week. The only catch is that you have to buy $10 in groceries before coupons.

Awesome! Any item you can get for a penny is great. Even if I know I won't use the item, I pick it up and put it in my box to donate.

Today's penny item was apple juice.

Total: $19.54

Saved: $13.85

Spent: $5.69


CVS Deals

Week 1 Day 4 of the ALL YOU Grocery Challenge

This week is a great week at CVS, especially if you need diapers. Here is what I bought:

1 box Huggies #4 diapers (82 diapers) $19.99

2 Colgate toothpastes $2.99

1 64 oz. 100% Welch's grape juice $3


$3 Q for Huggies

2 $1 Q for toothpastes

$2 Q for Welch's

$5 off $25

$11 ECB from past purchases

Paid with a gift card that I had bought for $5 off $25 or $.20 off every dollar spent

Received $15 ECB back (I got an extra $1 for my greenbag tag)
With all discounts and new ECB received considered:
Spent: $2.15

Total for grocery: $.80 for the juice

Total for personal: $1.35

Wow! A great way to start off the grocery challenge!


Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Picking and Freezing Fruit

One of the things that I love the most about summer is the fresh fruits and vegetables that we get from a local farm. This year, we have already enjoyed picking strawberries, blackberries, blueberries, and tomatoes.
We always pick lots of berries when they are in season and store them in our freezer. They all freeze very well and are good for up to a year. Our girls especially like them for smoothies, pancakes, or to put on cereal. They are also nice to pull out and make a yummy cobbler in the middle of winter! We have found that we eat more fruit when it is readily available to us in the freezer. Fruit is also best when it is picked local and in peak season. Another great benefit is that fruit is much cheaper in season. With 2 toddlers in the house, the amount of savings that we get from picking and storing fresh fruit at the peak of the season is almost immeasurable... not to mention the environmental benefit!
Blueberries and Blackberries $3 per lb


*Note- We have an energy star freezer that we keep full at all times. Keeping a freezer full saves on energy costs. We have not noticed an increase in our energy bill since getting a separate freezer.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Eggplant Mozzarella

We recently bought eggplant at a local farm 3 for $1! I was so excited to make one of my favorite dishes... eggplant mozzarella. Our family loves this dish. It is super easy to make.

Eggplant Mozzarella

1 medium eggplant
1 egg
bread crumbs
vegetable oil
pasta sauce
fresh mozzarella

Peel (optional) and slice eggplant. Dredge in flour. Dip in egg. Roll in bread crumbs. Fry in oil until golden on both sides. Place in casserole dish and put sliced cheese on top. Cover with
pasta sauce. Bake on 350 degrees until cheese is melted.

Served with whole wheat pasta ($.34).

Side salad of vidalia onions, tomatoes ($.59/ lb picked), and cucumbers (from our garden)

After purchasing all the items on sale with coupons, buying eggplant for $.33, and making your own very inexpensive pasta sauce... this meal cost approx. $2.50. Plus, we ate the leftovers for lunch the next day. $1.25/ meal

For more great recipes Menu Plan Monday recipes click here


Sunday, June 20, 2010

Freezing Milk

Week 1 Day 1

I am super excited to start the ALL YOU Grocery Challenge with cheap milk. I felt so lucky a few days ago to snag 9 gallons of milk at our Harris Teeter for the sale price of $2.47 each. There was no advertised limit! $2.47 is about the cheapest that you can get milk these days in my area. I remember, not so long ago, that you could buy it for $1.99 regular price. Since those days are over, I have found that freezing milk is a great way to shave a couple of bucks off the grocery budget.

Milk reg. $3.36
Milk sale $2.47

Savings per milk $.89
Over the 3 weeks that the 9 gallons of milk will last for my family $8.01 savings!


Saturday, June 19, 2010

All You Grocery Challenge

My family and I are getting ready to embark on a new challenge! We have decided to participate in the ALL YOU Grocery Challenge. The challenge is to spend no more than $25 dollars per person over 12 months of age per week. So, my family will try to keep or grocery budget to less than $100/ week for the next four weeks. This should be relatively easy for us. I started couponing about 10 weeks ago and on the average spend less than $50/ week for all of our grocery, personal, and household needs. I have done this by using my favorite blog Southern Savers to look up coupon matches for the weekly sale flyers. Using this technique, we have saved lots of money and I am excited to share how we save money and make healthy meals. I hope you will join us for the next 4 weeks!