Tuesday, October 26, 2010

7 soups in I don't know how many days...

Ha!  Well, it was 7 soups in 7 days.  Now I've lost track.  Work, out of town, hubby gone, birthday parties all equal not really sticking to a plan.  I finally made the chili I was talking about tonight for dinner.  Chris is at work tonight so I guess we'll eat it tomorrow too.

I have seen and experienced both sides of the coupon world.  I have done the "hit every store for the great deals" thing, and I have also spent time waaaaay mellowed out.. almost too much :)  I have now found such a nice medium to it all.  I stay in a comfortable budget.  It still challenges me, but it doesn't keep me running from store to store.  When you get a grasp on how to really use coupons to their fullest (i.e. only using them when the item is on sale, etc.), and even without coupons, only shop the sales, you can sort of live a lifestyle of savings without the "crazy" aspect.

With that said, I still got 8 boxes of Cheerios today for $0.49 a box with my coupons.  It was a deal I just couldn't pass up!  I didn't even have a cart and just piled them up in my arms like a dork.  I obviously didn't go in the store planning to buy 8 boxes of Cherrios. :)

Where are you in your food budget?  Tight?  Comfortable?  Still spending too much?  Its a journey, isn't it?  I think most of us here are women that are working the food budgets (no offense if there are some guys!)  As women, wives, moms- it is empowering to save money in the kitchen and on household needs.  It frees us up a little and most of all, gives us more money to pay down debt and funds to give away.  I love watching God work in my little ol' food budget, don't you?!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

7 Soups in 7 Days- Soup Fail

So I forgot to soak my beans for chili, and when I got home from work yesterday I was at a loss for what to make... EXCEPT for the broth and cut up chicken in my fridge left over from the last few days of soup :)  So I hate to say it but yesterday's "soup" day was a big FAIL, except for the fact that the meal I made had all soup ingredients... it just wasn't runny like soup, ha.  I made chicken pot pie with a biscuit top.  Betty Crocker has a great recipe from scratch HERE- just top it with some homemade biscuits instead of the crust.  Soup and bread, right?  :)

I guess I didn't time things just right because now my husband is out of town for the next few days (lucky him to not have to eat any more soup ;), but me and the girls will just eat leftovers.  Tomato Basil and Hot and Sour will be on tonight's menu!  I plan to soak my beans for chili tonight so we'll have that tomorrow (and a bunch for the freezer too)!

If you have read my blog in the past, you've heard me say this before--- One thing I love about making things like biscuits is that you can make a few "mixes" for the next time you need to make that particular food.  I made up my biscuits and then made 3 extra baggies with the dry ingredients.  If you write on the front with a sharpie, you'll know what you need to add to complete the recipe and what temp to bake them on.  EASY!

Here's to a great night of soup leftovers and keeping cash in my wallet! :)

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

7 Soups in 7 Days- Day 4, Hot and Sour

Well, we made it past the halfway point!  I can't tell if everyone in my family is genuinely excited about the soup each night or if my hubby has discovered my blog posts LOL! :)  Either way, I think the soup last night went over well.  I've never made Hot and Sour Soup before so it was a fun learning experience.  I *loved* pouring the egg in the swirling water and watch it cook before my eyes.  I could definitely do that again!

Of course I added an "extra" with the meal.  We had a bag of the Ling Ling wontons in the freezer from Costco that were super easy and went with the soup well.  This was probably the most expensive soup so far- I'll tally everything up at the end for us to see.  Shitake mushrooms aren't the cheapest things in the world.

HERE is the recipe I used, but modified quite a bit.  I kept the stock the same, used chicken instead of pork among a few other things.  Let me know if you try this or have another recipe you love!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

7 Soups in 7 Days- Beef Stew was a WIN!

Ahhhh so much comfort in a good Beef Stew.... We have lots of Irish going on over here so it always has to have Guiness in it :)  Still no complaints on soup now 3 days in a row.  That amazes me!  In fact, my husband raved about the stew.  We'll see how tonight goes... I'll be trying something I've never made before!

The "extras", as I was reminded by a friend (thanks Andrea!), are very important to keep the man-folk happy when eating soup.  With the stew, my extra was homemade french bread.  You can view the recipe HERE.  Its an awesome and easy recipe.  I let it rise longer than she states though (I don't have a bread machine), and I usually triple the recipe to get 6 loaves and freeze them.

Here's how I make my Guiness Stew (makes enough for 4)

1.5 lbs stew meat
2 cloves garlic, chopped or sliced
1tbsp olive oil
2 bay leaves
small sprig of fresh rosemary
1 bottle Guiness
3/4 c beef broth
3 potatoes, chunked (smallish)
10 baby carrots, cut in half
2 tbsp flour mixed in 1/3 cup water

Brown the beef in olive oil and garlic.  Add bay leaves, rosemary, salt, pepper, Guiness and broth.  Cover and let simmer on low for a looong time :)  I think I let mine simmer for 2.5 hours or so.  During the last 25 minutes of cooking, add the carrots and potatoes.  When there are 5 minutes left, thicken it up with the flour and water mixture to your liking.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

7 Soups in 7 Days- Tomato Basil Success!

Day #2 was a success!  In case you didn't figure it out from the hint I gave at the end of the last post, I was roasting the last of our tomatoes from the garden to make a DELICIOUS (and mostly free) Tomato Basil Soup.  I got the recipe from a friend and it has changed my life.

My family still doesn't know I am attempting 7 soups in 7 days.  I probably would have heard some complaining by now if they knew that is what I was doing, but nothing yet :) They were "soup"er (sorry, couldn't resist) excited about the tomato basil soup... I also made grilled cheese to compliment it.  Its the end of tomato season, but you may still be able to get a good deal at your local farmers market!

Here's how to make the amazing Tomato Basil Soup (thanks Jennifer B!!)

21 tomatoes (or so)
7 cloves of garlic
4 cups (or so) chicken broth
3 basil leaves
salt to taste
dollop of sour cream to garnish

Wash, core and seed your tomatoes (I leave some seeds for texture, but not a ton) set in a roasting pan/casserole dish.  Put a peeled garlic clove in 1 out of every 3 or so tomatoes.  Drizzle olive oil over.  Roast on 350 for 45 minutes.  Let cool enough for you to handle and then peel each one and put into your food processor/blender.  Pour some of the juices from roasting in as well. Blend completely.  Put back on stove, add chicken broth, a few basil leaves and salt to taste.  Add sour cream dollop for garnish. YUM!!!

Tomorrow we're going to go the beef route to keep everyone happy... I bet they still won't notice what I'm doing! :)

Saturday, October 16, 2010

7 Soups in 7 Days

Wow!  Its been a long time since I have posted.  I miss it so much!  Life is busier now than ever- I am a preschool teacher 4 days a week and clean a house bi-weekly to help pay for our daughters tuition.  We LOVE her school so it is totally worth my time away.  A huge plus is that the girls hardly notice that I am working since I'm at the same preschool as our youngest.  God is good :)

Since my hours at home each day are much less than they used to be, I've had to get creative to stay on top of meals and honestly, as many of you know, cooking after a day at work is sometimes the last thing I want to do.  With a little planning (simply writing my meal ideas out on a calendar), we manage to stay pretty much in our food budget.  I do have to say that eating out here and there has been an amazing break on those needed nights, but I'm really going to try hard before the holidays to save eating out for date nights only.  We'll see how that goes.

In honor of it officially feeling like fall, we are going to attempt 7 soups in 7 days... Shhh don't tell my family.  I'll let it be a surprise, ha.  I'll cook some other things here and there to break up any monotony, but we'll try a different soup each day.  It will be great to have left overs as well for the freezer!

Day #1 (today)- Chinese Chicken Soup (not pictured... that is just a random pic)

This is how I made it today (using up some of the last of my garden ingredients), but it always changes.  Cut up bok choy is good in it, as well as spinach.  Sorry, no measurements.. just throw it all in to taste :)

-Chicken Broth
-Chopped Chicken (I boiled my whole chicken to get the first 2 ingredients)
-Brussel Spouts, chopped
-Swiss Chard, chopped
-Carrots, chopped (just a handful or so... it tends to get sweet if there are too many)
-Thai Hot Peppers... or whatever "heat" you have on hand, optional
-Green Onion, chopped
-Basil leaves (2)
-Soy Sauce, a splash
-Salt/Pepper, to taste

What will tomorrow bring?  Here's a hint: its more from my garden and the main ingredient is roasting in the oven right now! ;)

Monday, April 12, 2010

Monday's Meal Plan- Beef Week

I have another post that is more of an update coming, but I thought I'd get a meal plan out since I need to add pictures to the other one.

You haven't seen a meal plan in a long time... and I haven't officially written one out lately, which usually equals bad news.  :)  I do it in my head and then forget stuff.. no bueno, especially for the budget.  So here it is, in all it's glory.  I would LOVE to hear what you are cooking up!  We are supposed to be getting chicken that I ordered from a local farm this month, so until then, we're going to be using up ground beef from the freezer.. sorry family :)

Monday: Pot Roast with potatoes and carrots
Tuesday: Hamburgers, homemade buns, fries
Wednesday: Homemade egg noodles, Beef stroganoff
Thursday: Fish tacos and fixins
Friday: Beef Chili and cornbread

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Monday's Meal Plan

Well, a little late on the meal plan for the week!  We were out of town from Friday-Monday so I focused in on the laundry piles between last night and today :)  After my girls slept between 6-8 hours each night (which means I slept way less), imagine my delight to come home to a freezer full of easy food after last weeks couple of big cooking days.  Monday we did BBQ Chicken Calzones and Tuesday (tonight) we did Quesadillas.

If you are new to meal planning, let me encourage you to go for it-- What a HUGE money/time saver!  Pick a day (I like Monday) and take 15 or 20 minutes to start with your pantry and create meals out of what you have.  Create your grocery list on what you still need and make one trip to the store with your coupons in hand!

Here is the remainder of the week for us:

Wednesday- Pasta and Turkey Meatballs, steamed spinach
Thursday- Beef Stew, homemade bread
Friday- Meatloaf, scalloped potatoes, salad

What are you cooking up this week?

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Final Freezer Cooking Day- A Success!

Freezer Cooking day 2 (yesterday) was a success!!  I was so tired last night, I just couldn't finish the pita bread and corn tortillas.. not a biggie.  I was really happy with the things I did get finished though.  Its hard to get an exact read on the costs, but I estimated that everything I made below cost me a total of about $15 with my biggest expense being white and whole wheat flour... What an example of coupons and sales coming through for me!

I thought I'd post my final list and some pictures for fun.  Next time I'll do more of a cooking day that focused on really stocking my freezer with complete meals.

  • Pancake, Waffle and Cornbread Mixes
  • Pumpkin Bread- slice and freeze
  • 60 Flour Tortillas (these are amaaaazing!  I use oil instead of shortening and added a little baking powder)
  • 25 Corn Tortillas
  • 25 Bagels
  • Pizza Dough
  • Pita Bread
  • BBQ Chicken Calzones- I don't have any bacon, so won't be adding that
  • Chili- 3 meals This is an AWESOME recipe! 
  • Spaghetti Sauce- 3 meals
  • Chicken Tetrazzini
  • Baked Ziti (for meals for new moms)

I am always overloading my poor Kitchenaid.. I could definitely use a bigger one! (Saving those Swagbucks baby!)

That is some pretty bagel dough right there (in a HUGE bowl!)

Can you tell which bagel my children helped with?

Boiling bagels!

And now baked.. YUM.  My hubby said they are the best bagels he's ever had!

Putting my little baby tortillas down for a long nap...

Final count: 58.. my hubby was stationed at the 2 pans to help me get it done faster!

Free Download- Chris McClarney's "Your Love Never Fails" & Donation to Haiti Relief!

Since we're all about deals here... If you haven't already heard my husband's music, you can get a free download right now of one of his songs, "Your Love Never Fails".  By doing that, a donation will be given to David C Cook's Haiti relief effort!!

Kingsway Music recently released an EP of his called "Introducing Chris McClarney".  Not only did it hold in the top 10 in Christian and Gospel on iTunes for over a week, over a month later, it is rockin' the top 100.  This is so great because literally no marketing dollars have gone into this project!  I am so proud of my husband- his heart and passion for Jesus is contagious.

Go to the CCM online magazine HERE and go to page 26.  You'll see the free download on the bottom of the page!

Monday, March 1, 2010

Baking Day Fun- What I Accomplished

Today was a great day although I forgot about an oil change and hair appointment at 2 different points of the day that took me away from home for a bit.  Combine those with breakfast, lunch, dinner for the family, and the fact that I ran out of flour- (what a HUGE oversight on my part!) my freezer baking day sort of went down the drain :)  

On a happy note, the calzones turned out delicious!  Next time I might add a little more sauce and cheese than I did on these.  Here are some step-by-step pics for a great freezer dinner on a night you don't want to cook! (the link to the recipe is below)
Next cover with the (thinly) rolled pizza dough.
Press in between with your fingers to help give a temporary seal, cut them apart with a sharp knife, press with a fork and trim edges.
Freeze on a baking sheet and then transfer to freezer bag!

Here is the final list of what I accomplished today- definitely pushing to finish the rest tomorrow while the kids are in school from 9am-1pm!
  • Pancake, Waffle and Cornbread Mixes
  • Pumpkin Bread- slice and freeze
  • 60 Flour Tortillas (these are amaaaazing!  I use oil instead of shortening and added a little baking powder)
  • 25 Corn Tortillas
  • 25 Bagels
  • Pizza Dough
  • Pita Bread
  • BBQ Chicken Calzones- I don't have any bacon, so won't be adding that
  • ChiliThis is an AWESOME recipe! 
  • Spaghetti Sauce
  • Chicken Tetrazzini
  • Baked Ziti (for meals for new moms)

Monday's Meal Plan- Big Cooking Day for Freezer

I spent a large portion of last week caring for my sick babies which equals soup pretty much everyday, so I'm glad to move into some different food categories this week!  I'm going to do a big cooking day today and stock back up on things I am low on.  I actually got a head start last night by using up the last of the fresh pumpkin I had in my freezer (since November) to make pumpkin bread.  I also was able to make 3 each of waffle and pancake mixes and 2 cornbread mixes.
Mixes save so much time for me- AND my hope is that they will greatly increase my chances for my husband to bring me breakfast in bed!

Here is my ultimate game plan- this time around I'm not focusing as much on main courses as I am on the time consuming parts of meals.  I don't have an official meal plan in place yet, but it will consist of things that come out of my cooking day.  We are heading out of town on Friday so I only have a few days of dinners I'm responsible for (yay!)

  • Pancake, Waffle and Cornbread Mixes
  • Pumpkin Bread- slice and freeze
  • 60 Flour Tortillas (these are amaaaazing!  I use oil instead of shortening and added a little baking powder)
  • 25 Corn Tortillas
  • 25 Bagels
  • Pizza Dough
  • Pita Bread
  • BBQ Chicken Calzones- I don't have any bacon, so won't be adding that
  • Chili- This is an AWESOME recipe! 
  • Spaghetti Sauce
  • Chicken Tetrazzini
  • Baked Ziti (for meals for new moms)
What are things you like to bake ahead and freeze?  Is there a baking day in your near future?

$.75/1 Gold Medal Flour Printable!

Coupons have been restocked over at Coupons.com, and I just came across a $.75/1 Gold Medal Flour coupon!  I saw this on sale at Kroger last night which will equal a great deal on flour.  Be sure to hit the back button after printing to grab 2 of these great coupons!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Harris Teeter Super Doubles- 91% Savings!

I'm so much like a little kid in a candy store with coupons- especially when Super Doubles are happening :)  Today I spent $4.90 and saved $51.60 (91%).  I would have had to spend that on the organic soup alone!!  

Go HERE for a great list, but I wanted to include a few things I found that weren't on the list for you that would be FREE!

Johnson's Safety Swabs- $1.99
$1/1 J&J Baby Product in 1/3 or 12/13 RP inserts
Final Price: FREE

Polaner's All Fruit- $2
$1/1 Polaner in February All You or 1/10 SS insert
Final Price: FREE

Bertolli's Pasta Sauce- B1G1
$.75/1 Bertolli's Sauce in 2/14 RP
Final Price: FREE

Even though I'm not blogging like I was due to time constraints, many of you have asked if I am still teaching coupon classes.  The answer is YES!  I make time for 3 a month- feel free to contact me if you are interested!

Monday, February 15, 2010

Monday's Meal Plan

Ahhh Monday :)  I sort of skipped last week because Chris was gone all week.  Never went to the store once, but the girls' and I survived though thanks to my stocked freezer.  We ended up having a fabulous Valentine's dinner at home last night including heart-shaped pasta with chicken, artichoke, and spinach and lobster tail (on sale at Publix this week!).  My hubby and I will definitely go out sometime soon- we're just not big on fighting crowds when we could just pick a night thats semi-close to V-day and it be more peaceful :)

I'm forever trying to get outside the meals I make all the time- we'll see how it goes this week.  What are you cooking up?

Monday: Seared Steak w/ Roasted Mushrooms and Spinach Salad
Tuesday: Steak Tostadas w/ Cilantro Sour Cream
Wednesday: Lasagna- I'm going to try homemade noodles
Thursday: Chicken and Dumplins
Friday: Pizza

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Winner of $25 Kroger Gift Card Giveaway!

Big congrats to Cheryl F. for winning the Kroger gift card giveaway!  She had comment #7 which was in response to writing their favorite money or time saving tip:

I save time by recording things on the computer that I used to write by hand. I never lose anything this way and it's so much easier to find what I'm looking for :)

I appreciate all of you so much- thanks for entering!

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Chicken Chili- DELICIOUS!!

So I posted on my meal plan that I was going to make Chicken Chili on Friday.  Well, I didn't want todays dinner, so I made Fridays instead :)  It was AMAZING!  I wanted to share what I did differently because if you follow the recipe as stated, you will be disappointed (and your mouth will be on FIRE!)

Here is the original recipe as stated on Allrecipes:


  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 1/2 (14 ounce) cans chicken broth
  • 2 (15.5 ounce) cans great Northern beans
  • 1 (4 ounce) can chopped green chile peppers
  • 1 roasted chicken, bones and skin removed, meat torn into bite-size pieces
  • 3 tablespoons ground cumin
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 2 tablespoons cayenne pepper
  • 1 (8 ounce) container sour cream
  • 1 (8 ounce) package shredded Monterey Jack cheese


  1. Heat olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Stir in onions, and cook until softened and translucent, about 3 minutes. Pour in chicken broth, great Northern beans, chopped chiles, and torn chicken. Season with cumin, chili powder, and cayenne pepper. Increase heat to medium-high to bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer for 10 minutes.
  2. Stir in sour cream and simmer for 5 minutes. To serve, ladle into bowls and sprinkle with Monterey Jack cheese.

Here are the changes I made:

  • Boiled a whole chicken for the meat (about 1.5 breasts) and used 4 cups of broth from that.
  • Didn't have green chiles, so I added half a can of Rotel (strained)
  • 3/4 tbsp cumin
  • 1 tbsp chili powder
  • a DASH of cayenne pepper- who on earth would put 2 tbsps in?!!  That is crazy!!
  • about 4 tbsp of sour cream
  • cheese to top instead of cooked in the soup
  • squeeze of lime juice
  • salt

Tuesday's Timesaver- Entertaining Part 3- Potlucks

Well, its been a few weeks since the last Tuesday's Timesaver- sorry friends!  If you missed the last 2 posts you can view them here and here. I love this idea from my friend Robin about doing pot-luck style dinners to keep meals inexpensive when you are entertaining.  Again, start with that pantry!  Say you have flour, yeast and cheese- well sounds like pizza to me!  Have your friends bring their favorite toppings.  By splitting things up a bit you are saving yourself time and money- and are still able to open your home and have a great time!

Here are a few of my favorite pot-luck style meals:

  • Pizza (thanks Robin!)
  • Chili- friends bring fixins
  • Tacos/ Taco Salad
  • Fondue (you provide the dips, friends bring the dippers
  • BBQ's- great for summer- have friends bring their favorite meat.  That always kind of grosses me out, so I like to provide the meat and have them bring sides :)
  • Sub Sandwiches and Soup
  • ...and of course Banana Splits for dessert!
Really and truly you can divide things up with any meal- keeps everyone involved and most importantly, its fun! What potluck style meals are your favorites?

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Monday's Meal Plan- SOUP

Its sooooo cold here right now... nothing like hot soup and fresh bread on a snowy day!  Homemade soup is not only the ultimate comfort food, but it is usually very inexpensive and can be frozen for an additional meal later.  Many of the recipes I'll be using call for chicken broth as a base.  If you have read along with me for a while, you know that I make my own and keep it in the freezer along with all of my chopped up chicken in individual baggies.  I have lots of canned tomatoes and cheese from the mega event at Kroger, so those will come in handy for a few meals this week.

We started the week with some delicious beef stew- here are the remainder of the days:

MondayChunky Potato Soup and Sweet Dinner Rolls
Tuesday: Chili and cornbread
Wednesday: Beer Cheese Soup and french bread
Thursday: Corn Chowder
Friday: Chicken and White Bean Chili

What is your favorite soup for a cold day?

$25 Kroger Gift Card Giveaway!

We are snowed in today here in Tennessee- even church was cancelled!  So I thought I'd start the week off for us with a great giveaway!  How about a $25 gift card to Kroger?!  Thanks to General Mills for providing me with a gift card, info and giveaway through MyBlogSpark!

Here's the scoop.  I'm sure most of you have heard of Box Tops for Education.  Its a fabulous program that allows you to redeem marked box tops for money that will go directly to the school of your choice.  Well they have made it even easier- go HERE to sign up with your Kroger or Kroger affiliate shopper's card. (it's quick)  When you buy specified items, you will earn electronic box tops that will go directly to the school of your choice- and you'll get 5 box tops just for signing up!

You can enter the $25 Kroger gift card giveaway up to 3 different times to win to better your chances. (leave a separate comment for each entry)  The winner will be selected (using random.org) on Thursday, February 4! 
  1. Share how Box Tops for Education has helped your child's school OR some basic needs your child's school has that could benefit from this program.
  2. Share your favorite money or time saving tip.
  3. Subscribe to Seed to Sow or become a fan on Facebook (you'll get 1 email a day with a summary of blog posts- if I don't post that day, you won't get one)  If you have already done this, just let me know!

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Babies R Us- $5 e-gift card 1/28 Only!

Go HERE to become a fan of Babies R Us on Facebook and receive a $5 gift card, today (1/28) only!

Thanks Darcy!

Sunday, January 24, 2010

$.50/1 Eggland's Best Egg Coupons

Go HERE to see how to get (2) $.50/1 Eggland's Best egg coupons!  This is only valid through midnight tonight (1/24).

Thanks Ambra!

Kroger Deals- Mega Event!! 1/24

The Deals at Kroger this week are really great!  There is a mega event happening which is a "buy 10 (mix and match), get $5 off your order" deal.

Here are a couple of my favs (final cost with offer listed):

Kraft Bars or Shreds, 6-8 oz- $1.49
Sargento Cheese Shreds or Slices, 8 oz- $1.49
$1/2 Kraft Cheese Printable
$1/2 Kraft Cheese in 1/24 SS insert
$.40/1 Sargento Cheese in 1/3 SS2
Final Price: Kraft- $.99
Final Price: Sargento: $.69

Hunts Canned Tomatoes, 12-15.25 oz- $.50
Rotel Tomatoes, 10 oz- $.50
$.45/3 Hunts Tomatoes in 1/24 SS insert
$1/4 Hunts Tomatoes in December "All You" Mag
$.30/1 Rotel Diced Tomatoes in 1/24 SS insert
Final Price: Hunts- $.60 for 3 cans
Final Price: Rotel- FREE plus possible overage (depending on your Kroger)

Birds Eye Frozen Veggies, 12 oz- $1.49
$.50/1 Birds Eye in 1/10 SS insert
Final Price- $.49 ea

Go HERE for more Kroger deals!

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Huggies Sunscreen- $3 at Franklin Kroger

Check your Kroger stores for marked down sunscreen.  At the store in Franklin on Murfreesboro Rd, there is a whole bin of Huggies sunscreen for $3 in the Manager's Special section at the front of the store!  There is both the spray and rub on kinds.  I checked the expiration dates and they will for sure get us through the summer.. Great deal!

Friday, January 22, 2010

2 Week Pantry Challenge Update and New Recipe

I know you guys think I'm slackin'! :)  My responsibilities changed a bit over the last couple months and I just haven't been able to blog as much.  As you may have read, I am continuing to develop a series class for women which I'm so excited about, among about 50 million other things!

I wanted to continue my post on our Pantry Challenge for Free Range Chicken.  This is a 2 week Challenge- lasting until February 1.  I did well this week- I needed to pick up 6 loaves of bread since I had a coupon that made them $.66 ea.  Didn't want it to expire before I could make it to the store.  Last night I found myself without parmesan cheese- I asked my hubby to pick some cheap stuff up, but he got my favorite kind (4C- it doesn't have anti-caking stuff or preservatives) for $3.56. :) So my week total is $8.14, leaving me with $31.86 to go towards my chicken!!

Got a little over a week left- this is fun!  I'm going to go with a chicken soup and homemade bread recipe tonight for ease.  

I wanted to share a new recipe I used last night- Chicken Alfredo Pizza. it is such a great pantry meal since I always have chopped chicken in the freezer and milk/butter.  Not the most low fat meal ever, but delicious.  I added Spinach and green pepper to the sauce to make it a little healthier.. so yummy!!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Groupon- 5 Barre Sculpt Classes at Seren Motus Fitness Studio for $22!!!

Local folks, here's a great Groupon for you!  My dear friend Suzanne Bowen is the Founder and Co-Owner of Seren Motus, a Fitness Studio in Franklin.  They focus on the "Barre Sculpt" method which combines dance, yoga, pilates and deep stretching- an amazing workout!!  Today only (for only 9 hours after this posts) you can get 5 Barre Sculpt Classes for $22--- Its a $93 value!!

This is for new clients only, so if you have never been- DO IT!! You will love it!

Go HERE to purchase your Groupon!

Borders- 75% off Toys

Thanks to Lillian for the heads up!

Borders has some toys (including Sprig and Alex) for up to 75% off- there aren't a ton left so check it out quickly!  This is the Borders in Cool Springs.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Monday's Meal Plan- 2 Week Challenge for Free Range Chickens :)

Seems like everyone around the frugal blogosphere is doing "pantry challenges" for any given amount of time.. some 2 weeks, some 30 days.  This is when you spend that amount of time eating out of your stockpile you have accumulated through couponing and deal finding.  These types of challenges are great because it keeps you out of the stores for a bit, gives you a break from couponing and causes more creativity to come out in the kitchen.  Honestly after the holidays, I don't have as big of a stockpile as I normally do, but I need to do a form of the "panty challenge" for another reason.

We have always been good about buying organic when we can and keeping things preservative free.  Also buying local meat and produce is so important to us, but we can't always fit that into our grocery budget.  Well, after watching "Food, Inc.", there is definitely one thing we are making a priority.  Free Range Chicken.  We have found a wonderful local farm with very competitive prices ($2.90/lb).  If you are in TN, you are in luck- you can email Top of the World Farm- topoftheworldfarm @ wildblue. net (take spaces out) to place pre-orders.  Chickens are available starting in April.  I received this from them today in an email re: their chickens.

They're as all-natural as we can get them (I say this because our customers just can't afford organic feed.) We do not feed or administer antibiotics or hormones.  We use Purina Sunfresh Chick Starter and a Game Bird feed when they're older.  They stay in the brooder for 2-3 weeks, depending on the time of year.  We then move them into 'drag pens' that are about 12 feet x 12 feet and 5 feet high.  When the birds are older, we move it twice a day to make sure they always have fresh grass to eat and aren't in a nasty environment.

I need these chickens sooner than later.  My tendency would be to pull from another area of our budget to make this happen.  But I'm going to be good and do it the right way by saving up from my food budget.  The challenge I am taking on is to start now and stay out of the grocery store until Monday, February 1.  (2 weeks)  I haven't purchased anything special to make it through, and I don't have a huge stockpile.  Hopefully the only things I'll need to go in for are milk, produce and a block of cheese.  Since I'll be depleting what we have in our pantry, the other part of the challenge is to only spend my $40 budget for the week of Feb 1st and actually be able to stock back up with that.  This will help me start saving money for our chickens! I do have a meal plan, but I'm not going to post the whole thing, but rather keep you updated daily on what we are eating.

Has anyone out there done a similar challenge?  I'd love to hear about it!

Let the games begin!

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Frugal Organizing Idea

I just read a great idea for organizing drawers inexpensively!  Head over to Sheri's Organized Life to see her post on using cereal and cracker boxes to help bring order to your home.  I'd love to add that you can get some really cute scrapbooking paper over at Hobby Lobby or Ross Dress for Less to custom cover your boxes!

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Saturday's Seed to Sow- Help Haiti

The disaster in Haiti has especially grabbed my heart.  Haiti was the first place I ever went on a missions trip to when I was 15.  As we flew over with a team on an old World War II plane, the rumbling engines drowned out everything except for my thoughts as I wondered in anticipation for what the next couple weeks would hold.  I knew my life would never be the same!

As we flew over the island, there was almost a perfect line distinguishing the Dominican Republic from Haiti.  The Dominican Republic was lush and green- Haiti looked brown and dead.  That was my first indicator of the desperateness of the people of Haiti.  We landed on a hot sunny day on a small air strip, and walked out the side of the plane down the stairs towards an open air airport under a hut.  On our way to our "home" for the next few weeks crammed in the back of a "tap tap" (cab), the smell of burning sugar cane was unavoidable.. my sister and I were just talking the other day about how consuming that smell is.. and how we could never forget it!  We saw things and people that will stay with us for the rest of our lives.

Sorry for the bad pic.. I couldn't get it to scan so I took a picture of the picture to post :)  We were there for a conference of 300 pastors across the country.  They were desperate for God- desperate for God to move in their churches- and desperate to see God change their country.  My life was changed the instant I saw how joyful the Pastors were despite the challenges they faced on a daily basis.  They worshiped with abandonment totally looking past what they saw in the natural.  I became passionate for missions on that trip- It was the first time in my life that I really was able to look past myself at the needs of others.

All that to say- wow.  There is such a desperate need in Haiti right now.  The earthquake has devastated an already devastated country.  The heart of Seed to Sow has always been to save money and in turn we have more to give.  If you haven't had a chance to give to the relief efforts in Haiti, go grab your last grocery receipt.  Did you save money through coupons?  Did you save money through sales?  Could you give a portion of what you saved to the Red Cross?  Lets join together and sow some seed into a nation that needs it... as we create a culture of generosity in our lives, we'll reap a harvest.. and then we can give more.  Don't you love the way God works?  Go HERE to donate to the Red Cross or text HAITI to 90999 to donate $10.

A Few Fun Websites- Earn Free Seventh Generation Dish Soap and More!

Many of you have read my previous posts about Swagbucks and Ebates, Groupon and a few others...well now I have a few more for you :)

Alice.com- As a new customer you'll get $10 when you have spent $50.  One great thing is that they find the coupons for you and apply them to your orders.. no clipping for you :)  You can shop by the best deals and highest coupon values too.  There is no shipping on any orders- I got a $5 giftcard through Swagbucks for my first order with Alice- I applied it towards toilet paper because we needed it, but there are many other great deals to be had!  Here are a few fav's:

Recyclebank- I just signed up and got 100 points for doing so.  You can immidiately use those points for stuff if you want.  I was able to get a free Seventh Generation Dish Soap and (2) $2/1 Cascadian Farms product coupons!

Kashless Earn 300 points each week for saving searches- then redeem those points for prizes through Recyclebank!

  • Get your account set up and then click on "Saved Searches" to start saving things you want to be notified about when someone posts it in your area.  (all items on Kashless are free)  You'll get 10 points for each saved search!
  • Go to "Rewards" and link your Kashless account to Recyclebank.  This is how you'll get your prizes!  
  • You can also earn 10 points for setting up your profile and a few other things.
  • There is a referral program, but its not as easy as some.  Go to the Kashless homepage and scroll down.  You'll see an "Invite Friends" tab. You can earn 20 points for each friend you invite!  If you would like an invitation from me, email me at seedtosowblog @ gmail . com (spaces out) and I'll send you an invite.  Do the same with your friends and you'll earn points fast!
Have fun! :)

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Tuesday's Timesaver- Entertaining Part 2

I am so excited about this series because as I write these posts about entertaining, I am in the midst of making changes in our lives to be more hospitable.  If you didn't see my first post, go HERE to get some background on this mini-series.

How many of us can relate to inviting people over.. say.. for Friday.  Well today is Tuesday so you make a plan and go to the store Wednesday because you think you want to make Chicken Lasagna.. Thursday you decide baked chicken sounds better and you head back to the store.. Friday you make a run to get the whip cream you forgot for the apple crisp.. and then you send your husband back out right before the guests show up for butter and beer.  Haha, I have been there so many times!  What a terrible use of time and money!

When we approach a dinner with friends the same way we approach our weekly meal planning, there isn't going to be a lot of time or money wasted at the grocery store.  Start with your pantry!! What do you have that could be the beginnings of a fabulous meal for guests?  And as far as money goes, do you know what?  If salmon isn't on sale, you don't have to serve salmon!  You can still work with your coupons and sales to create a meal that fits within your budget.

Of course, you really want your guests to feel honored.  If you are saving time by going to the grocery store only one time that week, you probably will have a little extra time to add a fun touch to the meal.  If you can get cheese inexpensively with a coupon/sale, make some cheese fondue with apples and bread for dipping as an appetizer.  Or make homemade ice cream sandwiches for dessert... how fun is that?!!  It's amazing how one special touch.. place cards, herbs from your garden to garnish a dish, or even just freshly baked cookies and milk can take a meal over the top.

What simple things do you do to add that "special touch" as you entertain?

Monday, January 11, 2010

Monday's Meal Plan

Monday: Bison Meatloaf (got the bison on mgr. special, yay!), mashed taters and salad
Tuesday: Eggplant Parm with Salad
WednesdayBBQ Chicken Calzones- making enough for the freezer as well- flash freeze them on a cookie sheet before baking-- then put them in a freezer bag for baking later.
Thursday: Dinner with friends
Friday: Chicken Tetrazzini

Breakfasts: Eggs and homemade toast, hot cereal (we have had SUCH cold weather lately!), smoothies, fresh orange juice (loving all the oranges on sale in the winter time!)
Lunches: Chicken Noodle Soup (made from the frozen broth in my freezer), Chicken Salad on Salad, Grilled Cheese sandwiches, PB&J for school lunches, cut up fruit

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Free Samples- Purex, Stayfree and Benefiber

** Edit note- Kotex samples just added!**

Here's a few freebies!

Stayfree Sample

Purex 3 in 1 Sample

Benefiber Orange

Kotex Samples- 3 different links: (thanks Happy Homemaker Cindy!)
Link 1
Link 2
Link 3

Get Your Groupon On- Here's the Scoop

I'm sure many of you have heard of Groupon by now- I really just started checking it out about a week ago and bought my first one a few days back.  This isn't just for Nashville, but for many different cities across the US. I am SO impressed with this site!  Groupon offers great ways to save (usually over 50%) on dining, entertainment and more buy "group buying".  There is always a set number that have to be purchased for the Groupon to be "on", but the good ones always pass that minimum number.

Here's a really cool part.  They have a great referral program!  When you sign up, you'll be given a link that comes directly back to you.  When your friends buy their first Groupon through your link, you'll get $10 in groupon credits!  You can use this to buy future Groupons.. how great is that?!  I had a friend (woohoo Lillian!) recently get $40 credited to her Groupon account in one day!

Here's a link to the Groupon for the next day or so.. A GREAT deal on our local Adventure Science Center and Planetarium.  I'll definitely post about the ones I really like in the future.  Get your accounts going, save some money on things you would normally go out and do and start making some Groupon Bucks!

Saturday's Seed to Sow- KIVA- Loans That Change Lives

If you haven't heard about Kiva, you are going to love it!  

Kiva is an organization that "connects people through lending for the sake of alleviating poverty."  They find real people- entrepreneurs who are simply short on money and they connect a lender with that person... or many lenders since the funds are given in $25 increments.  How amazing to take $25 and lend it, get it back and then lend it again to see lives change around the globe?! (you also have the option to withdraw the funds)

We did our first one today- it was so exciting to read through the stories of each person and pick one to loan to so they can get much needed supplies to help their business grow.  This is something that many can do, even on a tight budget because Kiva doesn't ask for hundreds of dollars from one person.  It really gives a sense of unity as we all pull together to impact an individuals' life!

Go HERE to get started!!

Friday, January 8, 2010

Valentine's Day- Heart Wreath Craft

If you are looking for a fun, frugal (and easy!) Valentine's project go HERE for a great idea to make a heart wreath.  My friend Mary made one (shown above)- I love it and can't wait to try one!

Old Navy- 75% off Clearance Sale

Woohoo!  Old Navy has started their 75% off sale!  You can shop online or in the store, but if you are shopping online, shop through a rebate program like Ebates.

Have fun!

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Groupon- $30 in food for $15 @ the Daily Dish

Go HERE for $30 worth of food for $15 at a fabulous local restaurant!  The Daily Dish here in Franklin (the grassland area) is one of our favs!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Target Clearance- 90% off

Check your Target to see they have their Christmas clearance for 90% off!!  Ours do here in Franklin- over on Columbia they had a bigger selection than in Cool Springs.

Here's what I got for right around $9!!

  • 6.5 ft Christmas Tree
  • 2 different things of glass ornaments
  • ornament hooks
  • 2 nicer individual ornaments (orig. $4 ea)
  • 3 gift bags
  • peanut m&m's
  • window clings
  • ribbon
  • 2 photo ornaments

Tuesday's Timesaver- Entertaining

I want to take a few weeks and talk about entertaining.  Today's post isn't actually going to provide any timesaver tips, per say, but will be an intro for what is to come :)  I get asked a lot about entertaining- how to fit it into a busy schedule and how to do it in a way that doesn't break the bank.

Being hospitable is a big New Years resolution for me this year.  Six years ago we moved into our house-  Hard to believe its been that long!  With the birth of our second child, my husbands instruments and music related stuff, my office and no storage or garage space, we have quickly outgrown our space.  This turned me off to entertaining- Its harder to host families with children and definitely difficult to host a group!  Well I'm saying "no more" to that.  For so long I thought "soon we'll move".  Well its not happening.. our debt HAS to be paid off first and then we can think about moving!  Its time to be content where I am and accept the quirks and craziness that an older home brings.  Everything needs fresh paint, there seems to always be one toilet out of commission and our kitchen floor is uneven, but that really isn't what relationship with others is about. Ya know, the first step to entertaining is to get the calendar out and plan.  I have chosen to accept where I am and just go for it.  Over the next few weeks I'm going to cover some great tips that will help us all save time and money as we open our homes to others!

Monday, January 4, 2010

Monday's Meal Plan- Starting the Year Off Right

Back to the ol' meal plan!!  December was meal planning chaos, LOL!  Its always the month for last minute get togethers, dinners out, family in town, etc... so I was definitely ok with being flexible.  There is something so comfortable about that meal plan though- Not to mention, its definitely one of the things that will help me save a lot of money and time.  Here's what I'm thinking for this week.  What are you cooking up?

Monday: Chicken Pot Pie
Tuesday: Artichokes, Chicken Rice
Turkey Feta Burgers, sweet potato fries
Thursday: Tacos, homemade salsa and guacamole
Friday: dinner with friends

Breakfasts: French Toast (made with
homemade french bread), circle waffles (pancakes to my 3 year old :), cold cereal
Lunches: Leftovers from tonight (baked chicken, mashed taters), pb&j, cut up veggies, taco pizzas (pizza made on tortillas)

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Awesome Christmas Lights Display- Franklin, TN

I wish I had known about these lights sooner!!!  At 213 Lipton Court, Franklin, TN 37064 you can experience some amazing lights that are synced to Christmas music on 107.7fm.  My girls LOVED watching the "dancing lights".  Hurry and get over there though because they will come down on January 5th.   Go HERE for more info.