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Monthly Archives: November 2011

Saving With A Baby!

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Oh babies!  So cute, so cuddly, so incredibly expensive.  To help you maximize your saving here are the ways to save when it comes to your baby needs.

Diapers – The following 2 reward programs allow you to collect points for purchasing their products.  The programs are free to join and easy to use.  You’ll find reward codes inside the product, you’ll enter them online, collect points, and redeem for coupons (or other great stuff!).   Creating your account is easy, just click the links below.

Pampers – Gifts To Grow

Huggies – Enjoy The Ride

Click here for a list of codes to get you started!

Luvs – join their mailing list

Formula – Another expensive need your baby may have is formula!  You can sign up with the following companies and they will send you information, samples and coupons/checks for formula.  I 100% support breastfeeding mommas, but even if you breastfeed you might eventually need formula.

Similac – Strong Moms

Gerber – Start Healthy, Stay Healthy

Enfamil

Baby Gear – These are just a few of the stores you might be shopping or registering at for your new baby, click each link to join their mailing list.

Baby Depot – they don’t send out a lot of coupons, but when they do, there usually aren’t too many restrictions.  So it’s a good place to buy some of your “big-ticket items”.

Buy Buy Baby affiliated with Bed, Bath & Beyond

Babies R Us – They offer a rewards program and you can combine it with your registry.  Personally, I am not a fan of Babies R Us , their coupons and rewards program are not very customer friendly, and neither is their return policy.  But, I have yet to know a pregnant woman that doesn’t register here (myself included) so I’m including it.

Target – like their facebook page (Target Baby) for special offers!

Motherhood Maternity – they offer a free gift bag for your first purchase when you register in the store.  My bag came with a $20 credit to Shutterfly – which we used to buy personalized thank you cards for lots of the baby gifts we received!

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Meatless Monday…Zucchini Ripieni (Stuffed Zucchini)

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Meatless Monday…Zucchini Ripieni (Stuffed Zucchini)

I love zucchini!  That’s all there is to it.

Just because it’s Meatless Monday doesn’t mean it can’t be yummy (and fun!). 

This dish could not be easier!  And I was pleasantly surprised that besides the zucchini themselves, I had everything else needed!

Zucchini Ripieni (ripieni means stuffed in Italian)
3 Zucchini (medium size): $2.50
1/2 c. Feta Cheese, if yours is in big chunks, chop it up: $0.50
1/2 c. Red Pepper, chopped: $1
1/4 c. Onion, chopped: $0.25
1 TBSP Butter or Olive Oil (Pantry)
1/8 TSP Oregano (Pantry)
 
Adjust the filling as you like! Makes 6 “boats”.  Approximate cost: $4.25
 
Wash zucchini, cut off ends and discard.  Then cut zucchini in half lengthwise.
Using a melon baller, scoop out middle section of zucchini to form something resembling a canoe/boat.  Be sure to leave the sides of the zucchini about 1/4 inch thick.  Save scooped out portion for following step.
 
Steam Zucchini boats for about 4 minutes, then place Zucchini upside down on paper towel to soak up some of the moisture.
 
Roughly chop the scooped out Zucchini (should be in about 1/2 inch chunks).  Saute the chopped Red Pepper, Onion and the leftover Zucchini bits, in Butter or Olive Oil over medium heat. 
 
Remove mixture from heat and add Feta and Oregano, lightly stir.  Place Zucchini in a shallow oven safe dish (or cookie sheet).  Then scoop mixture into your Zucchini boats.
Broil for about 4-5 minutes, until cheese starts to look toasty.  These came out best when broiled about 4-5 inches from heat source.  And ta-da…
 
Served with Garlic Mashed Potatoes – stay tuned for that recipe!  Happy Monday Y’all!

Organic Produce vs. Conventional – Cost Comparison

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In honor of Meatless Monday I wanted to share with you a comparison of the cost of  organic vs. conventional produce.  Using the EWG’s (Environmental Working Group) list of the 2011 “Dirty Dozen” I gathered the cost for each item and listed it for you below.

A couple of notes: 

  • The higher an item is ranked, the larger the number of pesticides are found in it (ex: Apples have the highest pesticide content).
  • Prices listed are the “regular” prices, weekly sales and seasonal items were not taken into account.
  • All items listed are the fresh variety, not canned, pickled or frozen.
  • Every effort was made to compare “apples to apples” in terms of size, weight, packaging, etc.
The Dirty Dozen Cost To Buy Organic Cost To Buy Conventional Cost Difference
1 – Apples      
    Fuji $2.99/lb $2.29/lb $0.70/lb
    Gala $2.99/lb $2.29/lb $0.70/lb
    Red Delicious $2.29/lb $1.99/lb $0.30/lb
2 – Celery $2.99/bunch $1.99/bunch $1/bunch
3 – Strawberries $4.99/lb $3.79/lb $1.20/lb
4 – Peaches NA in fall season   NA
5 – Spinach $3.99/ 5oz. ($0.80/oz) $3.69/6oz. ($0.62/oz) $0.18/oz
6 – Nectarines (imported) NA in fall season   NA
7 – Grapes (imported) NA $2.79/lb NA
8 – Sweet Bell Peppers      
    Red Bell Pepper $3.99/each $2.99/each $1/each
    Green Bell Pepper $1.99/each $1.49/each $0.50/each
9 – Potatoes      
    Russet $1.99/lb $1.19/lb $0.80/lb
10 – Blueberries (domestic) NA $4.99/lb NA
11 – Lettuce      
    Romaine $3.99/12oz. ($0.33/oz) $3.79/16oz ($0.24/oz) $0.07/oz
    Spring Mix $3.99/5oz. $3.69/5oz. $0.30/per 5oz. package
    Green Leaf Lettuce $2.79/head $1.99/head $0.80/head
12 – Kale/Collard Greens $2.99/bunch $1.99/bunch $1/bunch

 How can you shop smarter?

  • Become familiar with your store’s organic section!  Most people avoid this area all together because they think buying organic is too expensive.  Cruise this section first while shopping to see if anything is on special, or just looks good!  Typically stores will put all of the organic items together in one area, which makes it convenient to see what they have, but it makes comparing prices vs. the same conventional produce more time-consuming.
  • Look for weekly sales.  Even organic produce goes on sale.  For example: Now is the time to stock up on APPLES–I’ve seen organic varieties sold for less than $1.50/lb!
  • Think QUALITY when it comes to QUANTITY.  If there is a particular food that you eat every day, you may want to make sure to invest in the organic version – for me this is carrots!  Even though they aren’t a “Dirty Dozen” vegetable I always buy organic carrots, since I eat them almost every day. 
  • It’s ok to go “half & half”.  Don’t feel guilty if you don’t buy everything organic, every time you shop.  When you can fit it into your budget and your menu, do it!  Every little bit will help.

How do you shop for organic produce?  Have any tips to share?  Leave a comment if you do!

A Whole Chicken…You Can Do It!

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A Whole Chicken…You Can Do It!

“Chicken, not scared.”  As kids this is what a friend and I mis-heard a popular character (Bond, James Bond) say, in many of his  popular movies.

As it turns out, he was saying one of the most popular movie quotes of all times “Shaken, not stirred.”  Oops.  Oh well. 

And for many years I was too “chicken” to try to cook anything but the standard boneless-skinless chicken breasts.  Would I ever dare to cook a WHOLE CHICKEN?   Probably not, that’s too scary, and probably way too advanced, right?

Wrong!  Turns out it couldn’t be easier. 

Boiling a chicken is one of the easiest ways to cook a whole chicken and results in the most tender, moist chicken as well as broth.

How To Boil Chicken:

Ingredients:
1 whole chicken (about 3lbs): $Free$ *Scroll down to see how I got it free*
3 Carrots, cleaned, skinned and cut into large chunks: $0.60
3 Stalks Celery, cleaned and cut into large chunks $0.60
1 Large Onion, quartered: $0.35
Optional: (all pantry items)
1 Bay Leaf
1 TSP Whole Peppercorns
1 TSP Minced Garlic
1-2 TSP Salt
 
This chicken produces enough meat for 2-3 main dish dinners.  Total Cost: $1.55 
(Regularly the total cost would be approximately $7-$9)
 
      
  1. Place all items except chicken in a large stock pot.  If you don’t have a stock pot, the largest pot you boil pasta in should work.
  2. Rinse chicken under running water and discard the innards.  Some birds are sold with out innards (liver bits, neck, etc) look in the body of chicken, if it’s hollow you are innard free!  I don’t know what to do with the innards, so I just toss them!
  3. Place chicken in pot with remaining ingredients and fill pot with water, until it covers the chicken.
  4. Cover with lid and bring to a boil.  Then simmer for 90-120 minutes.
  5. Chicken should be done after 90 minutes, but will be even more tender and will completely fall off the bone after 120 minutes.
  6. *For Super-Juciy-Moist-Tender Meat* do this step: remove chicken from pot and place into a casserole dish.  Pour some of the broth over the chicken – enough to cover it.  Let the chicken cool while soaking in the broth – this is the trick to keeping it moist!
  7. Once chicken is completely cool, I recommend hand shredding the meat (with clean hands of course) to ensure that you pick out any skin or bones that you don’t want to keep.  Read on for how to make broth before you discard skin or bones.
  8. Your chicken is now ready!
The possibilities are endless for your boiled chicken…shredded chicken sandwiches, chicken salad, enchiladas, chicken noodle soup, chicken pot pie…etc!
 
To continue making broth…
  1. Remove skin and bones from chicken and return them to the stock pot.
  2. Simmer for another couple of hours, 1 hour is fine, 2 hours is better!
  3. Remove from heat and let broth cool for about 10 minutes.
  4. Strain broth thru a sieve or cheese cloth into a large container.
Broth can be stored in the fridge for up to 3 days or can be frozen.  If freezing, I recommend placing broth in smaller containers or ziploc bags, just be sure to leave room for expansion. 
 
*How did I get a whole $Free$ chicken?
When you sign up to receive weekly emails from Earth Fare, they also have a weekly freebie that they send you!  Earth Fare is health food store and you can sign up for their email by visiting their website: www.earthfare.com

Fix It & Forget It Fridays

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Fix It & Forget It Fridays are my answer to how you can keep your family happy and not hungry for the weekend!

The idea behind FIFIF or FFF or  F^3 (that’s F to the third power or F-Cubed!) is that you’ve got a main-dish meal you can make in a large quantity and have available to re-heat quickly to feed your family for the weekend.  We all look forward to the weekend, but sometimes they bring along too many errands, soccer games and projects that consume us.  Having a homemade meal in the fridge makes things easy when you hear “I’m hunnngrryyy”!

Todays Fix…a whole chicken.  Stay tuned!

Dinner Dish Under $4

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Sometimes I don’t cook dinner, I merely “assemble” it.  And this recipe (if you can call it that) absolutely showcases why I am NOT a chef! But I am definitely a couponer. 🙂

So in less than 15 minutes I had a tasty dinner put together and for an unbelievable bargain!

Creamy Arrabbiata with Chicken Sausage
1 Package Johnsonville Chicken Sausage ($1.99)
1 Box Barilla Whole Wheat Linguine ($0.67)
1 Jar Wolfgang Puck Arrabbiata Sauce ($0.50)
Heaping Scoop of Philadelphia Cooking Cream – Savory Garlic ($Free$)
 
Serves 4. Total Cost: $3.16
 
  1. Cook pasta according to directions on box.  While pasta is cooking…
  2.  Heat Arrabbiata sauce in saucepan over medium heat.  Stir occasionally. 
  3. Cut each link of sausage into 5 smaller “chunks”.
  4. Place sausage on cookie sheet and heat under broiler for approximately 5-6 minutes. *Using the broiler setting on your oven is a great way to heat/cook food quickly.  Since the sausage is already cooked, you just need to heat it up!
    OR
  5. Place sausage on microwave safe plate and microwave for approximately 1:30.
  6. Add scoop of cooking cream to Arrabbiata sauce and stir.  If you like it creamier, add more cream. 🙂
  7. Add sausage, then add pasta and SERVE!  Buon Appetito!

Using Johnsonville Chicken Sausage helped make dinner come together in no time at all!  The white bits in the photo above are cheese – I used the “3 Cheese Italian Style” variety. 

The sausage is regularly $4.99 and I had a coupon for $1.50 off , which was doubled, for a $3 discount, made it only $1.99!

 

The Philadelphia Cooking Creme has a consistency similar to greek yogurt and comes in a variety of flavors.  The “Savory Garlic” flavor complimented the Arrabbiata sauce well to create a rich, fiery flavored pasta sauce. 

Yes, I did in fact get the Philadelphia Cooking Creme for $Free$!  How?  My local HT had it on sale for $1.57 and I had a coupon for $1 off, and the coupon doubled!

I liked the creme, it made for a nice touch with the sauce and I can already think of other uses for it and look forward to experimenting.  Anyone else use it for something tasty?

Wolfgang Puck’s Arrabbiata was spicy and flavorful – as any Arrabbiata sauce should be!  Arrabbiata is Italian for “angry”, not because you’ll be angry you’re eating it, but more named for the feisty flavor it brings to any dish.

And yes, I got this jar for only $0.50.  How?  HT had the sauce on sale for $2 each.  I had a “$1 off of 2” coupon (that was doubled) as well as an HT eCoupon for $1 off.  So 2 jars would have been $4 total, but I received $3 off.  Therefore… 2 jars = $1 total!

As far as putting together an easy dinner on a tight budget, this is probably one of the most economical dishes I’ve ever made, and best of all it was spicy.  What can I say…I like it HOT! 😉

It’s Meatless Monday…Ratatouille!

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It’s Meatless Monday…Ratatouille!

Pronounced “rat-eh-too-ee” – in case you’ve never seen the Disney movie or yor dropped 3rd period French.  Ratatouille is a hearty vegetable dish you might find served a variety of ways; as a side dish, as a soup, or as a meal itself with rice, bread or pasta.  There are also several ways to prepare the dish; slow cooked in the crock pot, sautéed, baked or boiled.

When looking for recipes I compared several, and the only thing they all had in common was VEGETABLES, so I thought it would be great dish to make for Meatless Monday.  Here is my version, along with approximated cost.

Ratatouille
1 Eggplant (small to medium size), cut into 1/2 inch cubes ($1.25)
1 Onion (medium), sliced ($0.25)
1/2 Green Bell Pepper, sliced ($1)
1/2 Red Bell Pepper, sliced ($2)
1 Zucchini, sliced ($0.80)
2 Plum Tomatoes, sliced ($0.80)
3 Cloves Garlic, minced ($0.20)
3-4 TBSP Olive Oil (pantry)
2 TSP Dried Parsley (pantry)
1/3 C. Parmesan Cheese – or to taste ($1.25)
Salt To Taste (pantry)
 
2 “hearty” sized servings.   Approximate cost: $7.55 
 
  1. Preheat oven to 350, and prepare casserole dish with 1 Tbsp Olive Oil, making sure to coat bottom and sides.
  2. In skillet on medium heat, pour 1 Tbsp Olive Oil and saute Garlic until it’s light brown.  Approximately 2 minutes.
  3. Add remaining Olive Oil and Parsley to skillet and saute Onions and Eggplant.  Approximately 8-10 minutes.
  4. Once Onions and Eggplant are soft and thoroughly cooked, spoon mixture into bottom of casserole dish. Sprinkle with Salt and about 1-2 Tbsp Parmesan cheese.
  5. Then add layer of sliced Zucchini, topping with Salt and Parmesan.  Continue to layer Peppers and Tomatoes in this fashion.
  6. Add any remaining Parmesan Cheese for the top of dish.
  7. Cover, and place in preheated oven, bake for 40 minutes.
  8. Remove lid and bake for 5 more minutes to “crisp” cheese on top.
Notes/Variations
  • This version is not soupy, but it does provide enough liquid to serve over rice.
  • Bake uncovered for a drier version.
  • Use more or less of any vegetable, whatever makes your family happy.
  • You could also use Yellow Squash, Mushrooms, Yellow Bell Peppers or Red Onions.
  • This recipe easily doubles!