Jun 28, 2009

Menu Plan Monday - June 29, '09

Boy am I glad last week is over....I never got the menu up, we had a rather difficult weekend after my husband got into a car accident (he's fine, the car is not so fine). It left us with no transportation and a LOT of frustration, we're not exactly in a good position to have to replace a vehicle and the new baby's due in 5 weeks. I cooked completely out of the pantry last week (which was a very good thing, I only spent about $15 on basic necessities) but never really got around to making a formal menu.

This week I need to get back on track, both for the sake of our budget and for my sanity! It's easy to forget that meal planning doesn't just save money, it makes my week go easier - and with other stresses going on, I'll take any breather I can get!We're lucky enough to have friends and family closeby that will be helping us with transport until we get our own wheels again - I'm working on the menu now because a good friend is taking us grocery shopping tonight so I need a good handle on the shopping list sooner than later.

The good news - I took a freezer inventory and I have enough meat down there for over THIRTY meals - that's not including the OAMC meals I've been working on this month! I am going to try to keep the OAMC meals in reserve for when the baby comes, and cook again out of our pantry stock as much as possible. This is what I've come up with, don't forget to visit I'm an Organizing Junkie for tons of other menu plans and meal ideas!!

monday - Italian Chicken Skillet over pasta ($4.35 for 4-6 servings)

tuesday - Italian Sausage Hawaiian over rice ($4.90 for 4 servings)

wednesday - Crockpot Fried Rice ($1.25 for 4 servings)

thursday - BBQ beef sandwiches (using leftover beef roast) on homemade rolls, veggies ($2.39 for 4 servings)

friday - Dinner at my dad's (free)

saturday - Fourth of July cookout! (free)

sunday - Leftovers! (free)

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Jun 24, 2009

Last Chance - Book giveaway ends tonight!

Just a reminder that my book giveaway ends tonight! If you haven't checked out my review of If Your Kid Eats This Book, Everything Will Still be OK be sure to head over to the post and leave your comments there for entries to win!

Giveaway closes at 10PM EST and is open to US and Canada readers - I will be pulling FIVE winners so there are plenty of chances to win!

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Jun 22, 2009

Another 80% off code for Restaurant.com

Four days only - you can get a $25 gift certificate from Restaurant.com for just $2!!!

Visit Restaurant.com, browse the restaurants in your area by region or zip code - load up your shopping cart with gift certificates, and then be sure to enter the promo code DISH before you finish your checkout - all GC's in your cart will be discounted 80%!

Be sure to read the fine print, as most restaurants put some restrictions on usage of gift certificates. This is a great way to get VERY cheap nights out, or try new restaurants without spending a lot of cash. The GC's usually have up to a year before they expire too, so stock up for future gifts or special events!

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Jun 20, 2009


We've definitely got a 2 year old in the house...his latest escapades have involved catapulting himself in and out of his crib. A few days ago he brought my husband and I into his room so that he could show us (giggling the whole time) how he could hurl himself over the railing into his crib, bounce on the mattress, and then scale the side of the crib to get out in ways that would make Spider Man proud.

Yeah. Great.

Cut to me, envisioning the myriad of ways he could break his neck/arm/leg/other body part doing this without adult supervision. I could practically hear the gray hairs growing in.

That night, we had a battle of Supernanny proportions - I put him to bed at the usual time, but he decided to exercise his newfound freedom and kept getting out of his crib. Over. And over. This war of wills lasted until after 9PM...by then I thought that at least he'd get some sleep, maybe even sleep in a bit. Not so much.

Next morning, Boy Wonder decides it would be REALLY FANTASTIC to get out of bed and wake up mommy. At 4:30 in the morning. Tried putting him back to bed. He actually got out of bed quietly, went into the living room, and sat on the couch waiting for me to come snuggle. I heard him talking to himself about finding the remote, or I'd never have known. So he's apparently Harry Houdini's ninja cousin.

Fast forward to this evening....we finally got the baby's room cleaned out (mostly) - meaning my hubby did the brunt of the work and I just did some tidying afterward. This meant that the crib was moved out of the Boy Wonder's room and replaced with...


Whether from lack of sleep, worry over broken appendages, or just sheer insanity, we bit the bullet and put him to bed tonight in a regular, plain old twin bed.


You think it took? :-)

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Jun 19, 2009

OAMC update for June

Just wanted to post a quick update on the progress I've made in stocking OAMC meals this month - I still have to make the meatballs since they are on this week's menu but by week's end this will all be tucked away! I am still shooting for using 2 freezer meals per week so this should last me for quite a while, even if I lean more heavily on the freezer meals once the baby arrives.

Chicken Bombay - 2 meals worth
Spaghetti Pie - 4 pans
Turkey veggie Lasagna - one pan (2 dinners)
Cheesy Kielbasa Bake - one large pan (2-3 dinners)
Meatballs - 2 pounds (2-3 meals)

I am finding that it's definitely easier for me to assemble meals a bit at a time, instead of setting one full day aside for cooking. Doubling recipes that are already on the menu make the process go even faster, since I'm not adding much prep time and usually just spending 10-15 extra minutes assembling the pans for the freezer. This week, the lasagna and the Kielbasa bake each took only about half an hour to put together and I took care of the freezer portion while the fresh meal was baking. I know many OAMC cooks prefer to use regular pans, but I am finding that I prefer disposable foil pans and just stack them carefully in my freezer...I get them cheap enough at the Big Lots nearby and it's worth it to not have another pan to wash!

There are some awesome sales coming up on blueberries so I am going to try and add muffins and pancakes to the stash, which will come in handy for snacks and bleary-eyed breakfasts with an infant in the house :) I've got one more month to really build the stockpile before things get crazy, if anyone has favorite freezer dishes please feel free to share!!!

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Jun 18, 2009

Printable coupon bonanza!

There have been a LOT of really great printables showing up! Here's what I've come across so far:

$1 off 1 Edge Shave gel

$1 off 1 Skintimate Shave Gel

Bic Soleil razor or refill printable

$5 off a $15 meat purchase at Stop and Shop

$1 off 2 packs of Trident gum

$1 off 2 jars of Ragu (prints in spanish, but it works!)

Buy one Entree, Get one Free at TGIFridays - good any time of the day and can be reprinted over and over! Use as often as you like between now and June 22nd!

Thanks to MommySnacks, Frugal and Fabulous, Deal Seeking Mom, and Coupon Cravings for the heads up!!

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Jun 17, 2009

Book review and giveaway! - CLOSED



Not just good advice, but also the title of a great new book I had a chance to read! Written by Dr. Lara Zibners (an Emergency Medicine pediatrician), this book is meant as a medical companion guide for parents and it delivers! Dr. Zibners offers sound advice on everything from bumps to bodily functions to real emergencies. As the book says, over half of the 25 million visits children make to the Emergency room are unnecessary or can be avoided - but unless you have a doctor in your living room, how is a mom to know what to do?

If you have "What to Expect..." books or any of Dr Sears' books, this is a MUST-HAVE addition to your library. Dr. Zibners has put together an easy-to-read guide that covers just about any medical situation you could encounter with your child...and be assured, you will have to be "Dr Mom" more often than you might like! She divides the book into areas of the body for easy reference. She writes in a great casual style - I never felt like I was reading an encyclopedia, I felt like I was talking to a real, experienced mom! At some points I was laughing out loud :) And she offers solid advice (never push your doc to prescribe antibiotics, since most of our kids are ill from viruses not bacteria!), funny stories (what has she found up the nose of a toddler?), and good home remedies and treatments when it's safe to do so (like liquid antacid for diaper rashes).

If Your Kid Eats This Book, Everything Will Still Be Okay: How to Know if Your Child's Injury or Illness Is Really an Emergency can be found currently on Amazon.com and in Borders Bookstores near you starting today. This is one book that I will include in every baby shower gift from now on! And FIVE of my lucky readers will win a FREE copy for their own home libraries!

To enter:

1. Follow me on Blogger or subscribe to my blog and leave a comment letting me know you've done so. If you're already a subscriber leave a comment for your first entry. Be sure that you have included an email address where I can reach you!

2. Follow me on twitter and tweet the contest! One additional entry per tweet, please include the link!

3. Share a story! Moms encounter so many weird, scary and silly medical situations with their kids, share something you experienced and/or learned while being "Dr. Mom"! Leave a comment, get another entry!

Contest will close on 6/24 at 10PM EST, winners will be selected by Random.org!

Dr. Lara Zibners on Facebook
Hatchett Press Publishing

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Jun 14, 2009

Menu Plan Monday - June 15, '09

Hard to believe it's already the middle of June! We're so focused on the baby's arrival in August that the summer already seems to be slipping by, and it's barely begun. It probably would be as bad if we didn't have SO much to do before my due date! I'm definitely in my nesting phase, I look around my house and all I see are projects for the Honey-do list :)

Last week was a good week overall, we stuck to the menu and even survived game night! I've got a lot of OAMC cooking on the docket for this week - most meals will be cooked double and half sent straight to cold storage! I don't always have time to set aside just for freezer cooking but I can always make doubles.

Here's our table for the week, don't forget to visit I'm an Organizing Junkie for TONS of other menus and ideas!

monday - Turkey Veggie Lasagna - OAMC Meal ($5.78 for 6 servings)

tuesday - Cheesy Kielbasa Bake - OAMC Meal ($6.87 for 6-8 servings)

wednesday - Grilled Cheese sandwiches, fruit salad ($4.50 for 4 servings)

thursday - Meatball subs, watermelon - OAMC meal ($6.50 for 4 servings)

friday - Orange Apricot Pork Chops, veggie, couscous - OAMC meal ($7.40 for 6 servings)

saturday - Homemade Pizza ($2.60 for 6-8 servings)

sunday - Dinner at the in-laws - Free!

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Jun 13, 2009

Stop & Shop sale matchup 6/12-6/18

Stop & Shop seems to be stepping up its game lately! Here are some of my best deals, with a little help from Slickdeals.net and Hot Coupon World!

Top Round London Broil - $1.69/lb
80% Lean ground Beef - $1.99/lb
Cantaloupe melons - $1.77/ea
Blueberries (pint) - $1.77/ea
Cut Seedless Watermelon - $0.49/lb

WishBone Salad Dressing - 10/$10
- use $1.25/2 insert coupon from 5/17 RP
*pay $0.25 each!*

Pillsbury Brownie Mix - 10/$10
- use $1 off 2 insert coupon from 3/29 RP

McCormick Grill Mates Marinade packets - 10/$10
- use $1 off 2 insert coupon from 4/19 or 5/3 RP

Hefty One-Zip storage bags - 2/$4
- use $1 off 1 insert coupon from 5/17 RP
- use $1 off 2 insert coupon from 3/29 RP

Dannon Yogurt - 3/$1
- use $1 off 10 insert coupon from 5/3 SS

Hebrew National Franks, BOGO (appx $5 for 2)
- use $1 off 1 printable (print twice!)

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Shaw's sale matchup 6/12-6/18

Here's a few of my best deals from Shaw's this week, with a little help from Slickdeals.net and Hot Coupon World!

Chicken Leg quarters - $0.69/lb (10 lb bags)
Shoulder Steak for London Broil - $1.99/lb
Southern Peaches - $0.99/lb
Shaws MarketFresh Spinach - 2/$3

Near East Couscous - 10/$10
- use $1 off 6 store printable

Prince Pasta - 10/$10

Kelloggs Cereals (Rice Krispies, Corn Flakes, Frosted Flakes, Froot Loops, Apple Jacks, Raisin Bran, Frosted Mini Wheats, Corn Pops) - 3/$9
- use $3 off 3 store circular coupon AND
- use $1 off 1 Mini Wheats or Rice Krispies insert coupon from 6/7 RP
- use $1 off 1 Frosted Flakes, Corn Pops, Froot Loops or Apple Jacks insert coupon from 6/7 RP
- use $1 off 1 Raisin Bran insert coupon from 6/7 RP
- use
$1.50 off 2 Frosted Mini Wheats printable
*pay $1 each!*

Wacky Mac Pasta 4/$5
- use $0.50/1 insert coupon from 5/10 SS (doubles)
*pay $0.25 each!*

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Jun 11, 2009

Brick #9 - Mind your P's and...P's

Reading, Writing and 'Rithmetic...wasn't that part of an old song? They were also the building blocks of education when I was very small (so long ago!). In thinking about some of the building blocks of bargain shopping, I kept coming back to those three "R's" and whether there was a way to boil things down in a similar fashion. Here's what I came up with, brought to you by the letter "P":

It's hard to be a hunter if you don't know what your quarry looks like! Growing good perception is key to bargain hunting - because the more you pay attention to how the sales cycles flow, and when the coupons show up, the more natural it will become for you to be able to spot the best deals and know when to buy or stock up. And notice that I say "growing" perception...like any good skill it takes practice! Don't be discouraged if you jump on a good deal only to find that a week later there's a steal on the same item. The longer you work at it, the easier it will become - which brings me to my next "P"...

You likely don't need to pad your stockpile with every bargain that comes down the pike (unless you're stocking a food pantry!), and there may be times when your budget simply doesn't allow a lot of extra shopping. Consequently, there will be times when you allow great sales to pass you by. But don't let those lulls in shopping allow you to ease up on your price watching! Persistence in bargain hunting will keep your skills sharp so that when you ARE ready or able, you can make the most of great prices and coupons. It's tempting to just disregard the flyers and coupon inserts if you aren't in immediate need, but you will get rusty and might miss out on some great opportunities.

Believe it or not, we also build a big mental storehouse of information by keeping up with sale trends...it becomes almost subliminal knowledge, so that we feel like we just have a "sense" that sales are coming or if we hold that coupon one more week it will be REALLY valuable - it's not magic or telepathy, it's the product of persistent sale watching! I couldn't rattle off sales cycles from the top of my head, but I do have a pretty good feel for when the next big sale should be coming up because I've watched prices even when I'm not buying, and built that underlying knowledge base.

Ahhh, if ever there was a "4-letter" word in my vocabulary, patience would be the one. I have an itchy trigger finger when it comes to sales shopping! But patience pays off in many ways. When it comes to grocery sales, having patience can often lead to really big discounts when that perfect storm of sales and coupons finally comes together. It also prevents me from turning my basement into a Costco look-alike...do I REALLY need another bottle of salad dressing or can I pass this along to someone I know who really needs it? And patience when making other purchases has scored me some great deals as well, and kept me from buying stuff I really don't need. When I think of something I need for the house, I jot it down on a list. I scan Craigslist, local yard sales, and Freecycle regularly to see if the item pops up...when I can find it at one of those sources, I can buy it knowing I'm saving a ton of money - but I also scan the sales flyers to see if the item goes on big discount. Sometimes I find that by not running out and making a purchase, I come up with creative ways to solve my problem, or make better use of something I already had. So many of what seem like "needs" turn out to be "wants" after all!

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Jun 9, 2009

80% sale at Restaurant.com

Time to stock up on those restaurant gift certificates again!

Restaurant.com is offering gift certificates at an 80% discount - that means getting a $25 gift cert for just $2!!

Just visit Restaurant.com, select your GC's (easy to search by zip code or city!) and enter the promo code PRESENT at checkout - everything in your cart will receive the discount!

Be sure to read the fine print, as most restaurants put some restrictions on GC use. Just in time for Father's day!

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