Thursday, November 29, 2012

New Silk Coupons!

You guys know I LOVE me some Dark Chocolate Almond Silk.   Well I haven't had any in a very long time, so let me just tell you how excited I was to see these two coupons!

Right now at Tom Thumb, these are $3.49, so with these coupons they will be $2.49 and $2.74 respectively.  (This isn't really a "sale" as I've seen them much cheaper, but its the only place I see advertising them this week.)  I'll be on the lookout though!  Or there's always Target!


Aldi Trip: Lots Of Markdowns!

I was needing quite a few things from Aldi this week, but not quite as many as I ended up coming home with!   I really am a sucker for things marked down.  If its something we use, i have a really hard time passing up a good deal even if we don't need it right away.

Case in point:

That's over 5lbs of ground beef for $7.03.   Now right now, I have a TON  (okay maybe slightly less) of uncooked meat in my freezer, but none of it is ground beef.   I could have easily passed this up, but I didn't.   I did talk myself out of buying a 2nd package, though.

In the front of the store, there was a large markdown rack with lots of Italian-y things on it.   We like Italian-y things.   There were also some breakfast-y things.  We like those, too.

Roasted Garlic Alfredo Sauce-  $0.85 each.

Four Cheese Tortellini--$1 each  (these actually rang up $1.49 on my receipt.   I went back and showed the cashier-who I believe was a manager, and he simply opened the drawer and handed me $1).

"Cream of Wheat" -$1

Steel Cut Oats  $1.25

Now I'm pretty new to this whole healthy foods thing, so somebody please tell me the difference between a steel cut oat and a regular oat, and anything important I may need to know about them.

There were also a LOT of produce markdowns ($0.29 celery, $0.49 cranberries, $0.49 sweet potatoes, $0.69 yellow onions), but as I've ordered my Bountiful Basket I wanted to wait until Saturday to see what I would get.  I did get a bag of red delicious apples because my girls can't seem to get enough apples, so even if we get apples Saturday, I've no doubt they will still get used up.

Here's everything:

Spent roughly $53.  Add that with the $15 for the produce basket, and I've used up $68 of my $70 for the week, so hopefully that is all I need! ;)

I will add one thing that I noticed that really impressed me.  Aldi's yogurt...has no artificial dyes in it!   I've had issues with yogurts before with my oldest daughter.   Aspartame and red dye hype her up beyond belief!.  Yogurts in the past have contained both of those.   Aldi's yogurt...carrot juice for coloring!  NICE!  One less worry for me!  And only $0.39!


Garden Update

This year is the first year I've ever planted a fall garden, and I must say I've been very impressed with it.   My summer gardens have never fared well in this Texas heat, so I figured that planting a fall one might be worth a shot.

So far, it is looking more beautiful than any summer garden of mine ever has!

And yes, you can see my weenie dogs play fighting in the front.

I've already harvested some lettuces and swiss chard to mix in a salad.

The top is a type of leaf lettuce (It's kind of bitter so I won't recommend it), and the bottom is Arugula, looking kind of sparse because I'd trimmed it the day before.

I actually am seeing some beans and peas growing finally!  I've always had issues with my produce growing big enough to harvest.  They seem to stall out so I'm holding my breath on these!

A few green beans, that appear larger in this picture than they actually are.

My first pea, and I've since noticed a few more!

I'm pretty excited about my huge pot of carrots!  I tried them once before in the ground here (do not recommend!) and they got about an inch long.    I have a friend from church who has a very nice container garden, and a husband with a very green thumb, and I saw pictures of her carrots last year, and also a picture on pinterest showing how they grew well in a deep pot, so I tried it, and I have to say, so far so good!

Carrots in front, the old ice chest in the back contains a winter squash.   I'm not going to get too excited about it because borer bugs have gotten to every single squash plant I have ever attempted growing, and I did find a larva wrapped in a dead leaf in there with it last week, so apparently getting them off of the ground doesn't help too much!

Now this one is the biggest and most beautiful plant I've got growing, only I have no idea what it is!   Well, that's not entirely true.   I have 4 ideas what it could be!   You see, I planted broccoli, cauliflower  and green and purple cabbage.    Two sprouted, two did not, and I cannot recall which order I potted them in.  So this is one of those 4, and I have another smaller one in a nearby pot that looks pretty much identical, so I guess I'm playing a waiting game!  Unless one of you has any guesses?

To the left of this one, you can see a rather large tomato plant.   I did not actually plant this tomato plant.  My summer garden contained tomatoes in that pot, and two sprung up from the soil uninvited.  I actually had to transplant my other smaller unknown vegetable when I realized that there where actually two types of plants growing in that pot.   Ii didn't think tomatoes did well in cooler weather, but hey...this is Texas!  We shall see what happens!

So there you have it!  That is the current state of my garden as of a few days ago  (I've been fighting with blogger to allow me to upload pictures for 3 days now, and I was finally able to figure out a way to get around my issue with the advice of some very nice bloggers!  *mwuah*).  As my summer garden this year was very disappointing, I am quite thrilled about the state of things!

I still need to learn about what to do when freezing strikes, because, this being Texas, that comes on without warning sometimes.   Thankfully the coldest its been has been around 36 so far, and nice mild temps are still showing up in the forecast, so I'm really hopeful for good results from this crop!


Monday, November 26, 2012

Menu Plan

I didn't post my menu plan last week, as I had family visiting and with Thanksgiving and all, everything was just a bit left up in the air.  Except for Thursday's meal.  I had that planned out a week in advance, and I just finished dealing with all of the leftovers yesterday.

After putting 4 turkey soups and 4 turkey pot pies in my freezer yesterday, I took inventory this morning, and found that I had 51 (yes 51!) cooked meals in my freezer, and a whole LOT of frozen meat needing to be cooked!

So my menu for the next week(s) is totally from my freezer.  We plan to be out of town for some amount of time over the Christmas holidays, so I suppose I will resume some cooking after that.  But I seriously should not have to buy meat for at least 2 months.

Here is what I've written down for this week:

eggs x2
banana bread
carrot muffins
cereal x2

Chicken nuggets x2
tuna fish sandwiches
hot dogs

Ham & Broccoli Quiche
Pork Stew
Kung Pao Pork
Lasagna x2
Soup (of some sort, I believe I have 5 types in the freezer!)


Tuesday, November 13, 2012

My Menu...A Bit Late

I really did have this menu finished up last night, I just didn't get it posted.   I did not make a menu last week, as my mom was visiting and helping with the menu/cooking.  This Friday, my husband's parents and his younger sister will be coming in town to stay next week for Thanksgiving, and I will also be picking up another basket of produce from Bountiful Baskets (I skipped last week because we were completely inundated with produce!), so I cannot wait to see what I will get and use it to plan meals for my guests.

But this week, I had just a few produce items left to use up, and them I'm employing my most loved slow cooker!

Sunday:  We took a chicken soup out of the freezer.

Monday:  Took some pork chops out of the freezer, and I made a cream soup from some leftover spaghetti squash, brussels sprouts, and cauliflower.   It was my first time making anything of the sort, and I just sort of tossed things in the pot with some homemade vegetable broth (which was nothing more than the water that the veggies were boiled in on Saturday, which my husband encouraged me to save).   I added some milk, flour, and a can of cream of chicken, and seasoned it up a bit.   It had a strange grainy texture (I guess I should have left them in the blender a bit longer), but it tasted good.   My husband filled up on soup and hardly touched his pork chop, if you can believe that!

Tuesday:  I still have broccoli to use.   I'm going to take some pre-cooked ground beef out of the freezer, and use it and some cream soup to make a beef and broccoli stroganoff type of dish and serve over pasta.  Another made up dish, so I will hope for the best!

Wednesday:  I am going to use some beef shank from my freezer and make a vegetable beef soup in my crock pot.

Thursday:  Leftovers, and I'm sure to have some to freeze as well.

Friday:   This is the day the guests arrive.  I'm making a large crockpot full of red beans and sausage, served over rice.  I will use up the last of some corn bread muffins from my freezer, also.

Saturday:  Leftovers.   And hopefully some to freeze, also.   This is both my girls favorite meal, so I like to have some always in the freezer, and I've been out for quite a while.

What are you having this week?


Thursday, November 8, 2012

Shopping Trip: Kroger And Albertsons

I *finally* made it out to the store and used some coupons again today!   It had been so long that I was afraid I had forgotten how, but everything went very well.  I even was able to get some Halloween markdowns!

Here's what I picked up at Kroger:

Shelf Price:  $52.18
Sale Price:   $28.20    (already 46% savings)
Price Paid After Coupons:  $21.20      59% Savings

Here's what I picked up at Albertsons:

Shelf Price:  $62.21
Sale Price:   $24.56  (Already  61 % Savings)
Price Paid After Coupons:  $16.66    73 % Savings

Altogether today, I spent $37.86 on $114.39 worth of groceries.  That's an average savings of  67%!


Friday, November 2, 2012

November Is My Favorite Time To Coupon (Plus New Coupons!)

To be perfectly honest, I've not done a whole lot of couponing lately.   In fact, I'm pretty sure it's been over a month since I've used one.   I've mostly been buying cheap meats and produce on sale and planning my menus around these fresh items, and I've been using up my stockpile of toiletries.  Those are getting pretty low now.  In fact, I think I can count my toothpaste tubes on one hand!  Tsk.  Tsk.

On Wednesday when I saw this week's sale items, I knew that I had to work very hard to get my coupons in order, because it is that time of year again!   What time of year is that?   Holiday season!

Yes I know that many stores have been stocking their holiday merchandise for WEEKS now, but I'm not talking about buying presents.   I'm talking about all the COOKING!   And because the food manufacturers know that a ton of extra cooking goes on during and leading up to the holidays, they put items on SALE *and* they put out coupons for those items!

When items are on sale and there is a coupon to match with that sale price, that is the best time to buy because you are going to get the lowest price on that item.  When you can buy an item at it's lowest price, then you should buy as many as you are able to (within reason!) for maximum savings.   Those savings will carry over into future months when those items are no longer on sale, but you don't have to buy them because you stocked up when they were!  I like to have about a 3-4 month supply of things on hand, as that typically will last until there is another sale and another coupon.

Some can goods will keep for a VERY long time though.  I still have canned tomatoes and cream soups that I bought this time last year, and I am finally working my way to the end of the FREE pasta I got a LONG while back!  That means it's time for me to shop again!

If you happen to have a massive stockpile, but still want to snag these deals again, now is a perfect time to think about donating some of the items that might be nearing their expiration date to a food bank or shelter.  I know many kind-hearted couponers shop throughout the year with this in mind.

If you do not have a reasonable stockpile, now is a great time to work on building one!  Here are the lastest holiday coupons that will help you get started with that:  (If you happen to not be able to see the coupons below, please click here.)


Thursday, November 1, 2012

Playing With Pumpkin

I bought a pumpkin at Aldi a few weeks back.  It was a nice big pumpkin that had a nice carving side on one side.   However, things were just busy.   That jack-o-lantern never got carved.  

So here it is, November 1st, and I look down at my kitchen floor and realize that I still have a pumpkin.   You know I hate to let anything go to waste, so I started looking back through some things I had pinned and began deciding what I was going to *do* with this huge pumpkin.

While I looked and decided, my three year old was busy happily fishing the seeds and guts out of the thing.

Then I washed off the seeds and set them aside to dry.  I will roast them tomorrow.

Then I cut the pumpkin in half down the center and laid it down on a baking sheet and baked it for about 1 1/2 hours.

After it cooled, I began peeling the skin off and pureeing.  I also chunked up a small amount to try roasting with some herbs.  Savory pumpkin sounds interesting.  I'll let you know how that goes.

My small amount of pumpkin chunks and enormous bowl of pumpkin puree.

With the pureed pumpkin, I made up a double batch of pumpkin butter.  I enjoyed the apple butter I made last year on toast, so I'm hoping I will like this one as well.  Pumpkin is new to me.

While I was at it (and hungry apparently), I mixed up a batch of these pumpkin cheesecake muffins.  I also had some cream cheese I had taken out the freezer and then didn't use, so I figured it was meant to be.

The ones on pinterest look much better, but mine still tasted great!

After all of that was done, I still had a bunch of pumpkin puree left.   I filled two quart sized freezer bags to freeze, and then I filled another small container to keep in the fridge.   I'm thinking pumpkin pancakes over the weekend!

I can thaw out the frozen ones later on and make bread or more cheesecake muffins or anything.  Pumpkin soup also sounds intriguing.  Since this was a large pumpkin and not a small sweet pie pumpkin, I will not be going the pie route as I would have to add a LOT of extra sugar.

I said today to some friends that I didn't think I wanted to see another pumpkin for a very long time, but you know if I find them marked down ridiculously cheap at Aldi, I'll probably grab another. ;)


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