Sunday, January 31, 2010

Menu Plan Monday

Back here, I mentioned that we were going to try to be dairy free over the winter to help with skin issues. Our son that has eczema has not has as much trouble this year, so we are going to be adding in some dairy back into their diets, as evidenced by some of the freezer cooking here and from this menu below.

Also, I just wanted to let you know that the meals that I list here are meals for the whole family. If the meal that I have selected is not vegan I will make something else for myself. I don’t list those things here. I tend to do it on the fly.

Breakfast ideas:
1. banana chocolate chip muffins
2. cereal
3. creamy blueberry oatmeal
4. eggs and toast x 2
5. waffles
6. whole wheat blender pancakes

We also have a green smoothie every other day with our breakfast. On the days we don’t we serve the boys fruit.

Lunch ideas:
1. quesadillas
2. PB, banana, and honey sandwiches
3. Corn Dog Muffins (made dairy free w/soy buttermilk)
4. Sandwich Sushi
5. mac/cheese
6. chick pea and pasta soup
7. pastina w/chicken broth

We try to serve veggies and fruit with each lunch. Choices with week include red peppers, cucumbers, carrots, celery, and salad. Fruit choices will be pineapple, banana, apples, and oranges.

Dinner ideas:
1. Pasta Fagioli
2. Buffalo Chicken Pasta
3. Spicy Black Beans and Rice w/Mango Salsa (crockpot)
4. Bean and Barley Soup (crockpot) I am going to use beans from my freezer and quick cooking barley as substitutions in this recipe.
5. Baked Ziti (Fellowship at Small Group)
6. Black Bean Tostadas with Corn Relish
7. Taco Cups

We will be having salad and bread or rolls with most dinners.

Snack ideas:
-cheese and crackers
-Brown Sugar and Cinnamon Popcorn
-vegan Oatmeal Raisin Cookies
-Cranberry Orange Bread
-veggies w/dip
-guacamole and chips

For more great menu ideas, check out

Have a great week!


Freezer Day 3 - French Toast Sticks

I finished up my freezer cooking with these French Toast Sticks. Everyone enjoyed them and they freeze well.

I do not have a formal recipe, I just wing it. Here goes!

I sliced up a couple loaves of the whole wheat bread I made a couple of days ago into thick slices. I mixed up some egg, soymilk, cinnamon, and vanilla. Then I coated each and put them in a greased stone as you see below.

Then I baked them at 350 for 30 minutes, flipping them halfway through.
These are great for little hands, they just love the dipping.

This was my husband's breakfast. The smoothie you see is made from the following:
- 2 1/2 bananas
-1 orange
-1 apple
-a small handful of frozen raspberries
-a large handful of frozen cranberries
-1 mango

Instead of the French Toast I had a smoothie along with this.

-vegan -Vanilla Coconut Yogurt
-mango (on bottom)
-vegan choc chips
-frozen raspberries

Super Delish!
Have a great one!

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Freezer Day #2 - Not for the faint hearted!

This was a little harder than I expected. The transition from my usual plan of cooking just baked goods to more dinners and sides was a little tough. The hardest part was the dishes. I had to run the dishwasher 3 times! Not sure how ladies do it for the whole month! My hats off to you!

I am happy though...I think this is really going to help me out during the week, especially the nights when we have small group and basketball.

I was able to get everything done on my list except for the French Toast Sticks, which I am going to make tomorrow morning for breakfast and then freeze. Plus, I added a few things and tried some new recipes. Overall, a great experience!

Here is what I got done (links for recipes are here):

-1 batch of whole wheat bagels (We samples some for lunch and they were yummy!)

-whole wheat waffles x2

-Layered Chicken Enchilada Casserole (I think the boys are going to like this!)

-Pasta Casserole

-1 lb taco meat

-1 lb browned ground beef

-6 hamburgers

- meatballs (half went in the freezer, half went into the sauce)

-mashed potatoes x3 (I tasted this and I think I like my own recipe better, we'll see what the boys think)

-vegan cranberry orange bread x2 (This was delish! I substitued ww pastry flour, omitted the zest, and used cornstarch for the egg replacer. I highly recommend this recipe!)

-1 1/2 dozen vegan Banana Blueberry Coconut Muffins (I used all ww pastry flour and frozen blueberries. YUM!)

-1 1/2 dozen vegan Garlic Basil muffins (I haven't tried them yet, but Chuck liked them! We are having with dinner tonight. Getting a thumbs down from the boys. Won't make these again!)

Here is Cal, fresh in from sledding enjoying some raspberry tea and sampling the baked goods!

I also made a big pot of sauce that is not pictured. We'll be having it for dinner and leftover sauce will go in the freezer. I will be blogging on how I made the sauce this week.

How did your baking day go?
Blessings, Jen

Friday, January 29, 2010

Freezer Cooking Day 1 - It's in the books!

I was able to get everything done on my list for Day 1! I am excited about tomorrow! The snow and the cooking! I am not sure I'll be able to get it all done, but I am going to give it an honest try!
Stay tuned!!

Freezer Cooking in February!

Money Saving Mom and Life As MOM are teaming up again for their monthly Freezer Cooking Day. I am so excited that we are supposed to have bad weather because I am hoping that this will be my largest Freezer Cooking Day yet!

I know I made a plan not to grocery shop until the February 1st, but then the weather report said that we were going to get snow and when you live in North Carolina, you MUST go to the grocery store before it snows, so I did! Plus, it turns out that there was a little miscommunication between Chuck and I on the budget, but I'll clear that up later. It also didn't hurt that Kroger and Harris Teeter had some great deals that I couldn't pass up (I saved about $130), that were desperately needed to restock my pantry for this Freezer Cooking Day. Additionally, when I have a large portion of the dinner ready to take out of the freezer for my men, I can focus on cooking my meal separately if theirs has dairy and meat.

Here is what I have planned to make over the next few days:


-vegan - Banana Berry Coconut Muffins

-French Toast Sticks

-Whole Wheat Waffles

-Whole Wheat Bagels


-tomato sauce


-Baked Pasta Casserole

-cook and cube/shred chicken

-brown ground beef

-Freezer Mashed Potatoes

-Layered Chicken Enchilada Casserole

-Sweet Potatoes

-black beans

-chicken broth

Snacks/Baked Goods:

-vegan - garlic basil muffins

-vegan - Cranberry Orange Bread x 2

Day 1 - January 29th

1. Make Whole Wheat Bread for French Toast Sticks
2. Bake sweet potatoes
3. Cook chicken in crockpot.
4. Cook black beans in crockpot.
5. Assemble Sweet Potato Casserole and freeze.

Day 2 - January 30th

1. Peel, cube and cook potatoes in crockpot for Freezer Mashed Potatoes
2. Begin Sauce and make meatballs.
3. Brown the rest of the beef.
4. Cook pasta and make bagel dough.
5. Assemble Freezer Mashed Potatoes, Baked Pasta Casserole and Chicken Enchilada Casserole.
6. Mix up waffle mix and cook as I make all the other muffins and breads.

Day 3 - January 31st

1. Finish up anything that didn't get done and RELAX!!

We'll see how it goes!

Blessings, Jennifer

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Chocolate Cherry Valentine Cake

Tanya from this blog, was the winner of the Pampered Chef Cake pan give away and she has graciously agreed to share her recipe for her Chocolate Cherry Valentine Cake with us! She even sent us a picture!

Chocolate Love Cake

What you need:

-One chocolate cake mix
-One 16 oz. container of cool whip
-Two 21 oz. cans of cherry pie filling

What you do:

1. Make the cake as directed on the box. You can pour the cake into either two round pans or if you don’t have the round pans (but can’t wait to get them from a giveaway!) you can make it in a sheet cake and cute out the round circles.
2.Next layer cake, cool whip and then one can of cherries.

3. Repeat the layering until you end with the cherries on top.

4. I garnished my cake with shaved Hershey candy bars. Serve and then refrigerate the leftovers.

Cook Tips:

-You can replace the cherry pie filling with a fruit topping of choice or crushed candy bar such as Butterfingers (this is my favorite).

-I put this cake in the Pampered Chef trifle bowl. It makes for a great display and easier to transport. You can also place it on a decorative plate, it looks really pretty with the cherries flowing over the cake.

YUM! Thanks so much Tanya! I think my boys would love this cake!


Monday, January 25, 2010

Give Away Winner!

The random number generator says that #12 is our winner!! That is Tanya from over here. I am looking forward to sharing her Chocolate Cherry Valentine Cake with you! Just in time for Valentine's Day.

Thank you all for your entries, I wish I had a set for everyone! Your cakes sounded delicious.

Thanks again for reading this blog and your encouraging comments! You have made it very fun for me!


Sunday, January 24, 2010

Menu Plan Monday

Monday, January 25, 2010

cereal and banana, chocolate, peanut butter smoothie

roast beef and turkey tortilla roll ups, pretzels, carrots/celery, applesauce

Spaghetti w/“Hide the Lentils” Tomato Sauce, salad, bread

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

creamy blueberry oatmeal, apple juice

Chick Pea Sensation Patties, veggies and fruit

Soup – White Beans and Kale, salad, rolls

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

peanut butter and banana tortilla roll ups with honey

crockpot –White Chicken Chili (an old PC recipe), salad, corn muffins

Thursday, January 28, 2010

turkey or chicken salad sandwiches, veggies, fruit

chicken noodle soup, salad, rolls

Friday, January 29, 2010
toast, green drink

chick pea and pasta soup

Spaghetti w/garlic and oil, salad and bread

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Eggs, toast, green drink (dad cooks!)


Dinner at a friends house

Sunday, January 31, 2010

cereal, green drink

vegetarian chili, corn muffins
chili topped baked potatoes

For more menu ideas, check out

Blessings, Jennifer

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins

I love this recipe! I always have everything on had. They are dairy free. Though they don't have eggs, due to the honey in them, many vegans wouldn't eat them, so I won't call them vegan.

One way that I speed up the process when I make baked goods, especially those with bananas is to throw all the wet ingredients in my Vitamix. It mixes it completely in a matter of seconds. My family doesn't like chunks of warm banana, so this is a great way to avoid that.

So, in the Vitamix (you could use your blender) place 3 ripe bananas, 1/2 c. honey, 3 tbs canola oil, and 1 tsp vanilla. Blend until smooth.

Combine 1 1/2 c. ww pastry flour, 1 1/2 tsp. baking soda, 1/4 tsp. salt, 1 tsp cinnamon.

Add banana and mix until the wet and dry mixture are fully combined. I throw in a couple of handfuls of chocolate chips and/or walnuts.

I used the largest Pampered Chef cookie scoop when I am using muffins to scoop them into the stone. Bake them for about 20-30 minutes at 350. My boys also love these in mini muffins.

Have a great day!

A Productive Saturday!

As I mentioned earlier in the week, I have been trying unsuccessfully to get some things in the freezer. I am happy to report that this Saturday I was able to get some things done! It was exciting to be able to try some new recipes that I have wanted to try for a while

Here is what got done today:

1 1/2 dozen banana chocolate chip muffins (I'll be sharing this recipe tomorrow!)

These are pita pockets. I used this recipe, but I added one cup of whole wheat flour. The last time I made them with only white they were softer and shaped a little better ;) The boys liked them though. I need to work toward making them 100% whole wheat.
For lunch we ate those pitas filled with these Chick Pea Patties from Dreena Burton's book Eat, Drink, and Be Vegan. Chuck and I really enjoyed them. I think the boys just tolerated them.
I have been wanting to make tortillas for a while since the boys love them. I tried today and they didn't come out half bad. I wish they were a little thinner. They taste great, but might be hard to roll. I am looking forward to experimenting with them a little more. Making them thinner and wheat wheat.

All of my boys LOVE applesauce! I like to make it in the crockpot if I can. I was able to make one full crock, which turned out to be 3 containers, 1 for lunch, 1 for the fridge and 1 for the freezer. Love making this in the crockpot, makes the whole house smell wonderful.

I was also able to mix up a batch of hot chocolate mix. The boys have been asking me for a while. This before I mixed it up. I like doing it this way because it is easy, so much cheaper and hot chocolate at the store has a lot of stuff in it that I'd rather steer clear from. The picture above is before I shook it up. Here is the recipe I use. I just decrease sugar.
The only other thing I made that is not pictures is a batch of granola bars.

Hope your Saturday was a good one!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Plan to Restock the Freezer - Ain't happenin'!

I had mentioned a week or so ago that our freezer was getting low and I was planning to try to restock it. What I discovered is that trying to do a little bit here and there does not work because these boys eat like animals!!! I can hardly get anything to the freezer, they gobble it up before it gets there.

Here is my first attempt, 2 dozen pumpkin muffins, whole wheat bread, and pumpkin bread.

Only the pumpkin bread made it to the freezer and that will be gone this week.

Attempt #2 French Toast, made two batches, they are both gone. One made it to the freezer for a couple of days, but it has already been eaten up.

Attempt #3, Maple Banana Bread, made two...this one will be eaten this morning for breakfast.
(The bread is delicious, though the picture might say otherwise ;) It is vegan and made with whole wheat pastry flour. I like to bake it in a round pan because then the boys feel like they are eating cake for breakfast and I get to feel like a cool mom for a little bit, while still giving them something healthy, but also because it bakes a lot faster. I hope you give it a try!)

Therefore, my mission to fill the freezer failed. It is still as empty as when I started.

I think if I am going to fill my freezer, I will need to make it an all day affair, just to stay ahead of the boys.

Am I disappointed....not at all, just thankful that I have four healthy boys to cook for. Just need to change my game plan a bit!


Monday, January 18, 2010

Give Away!

I am very excited to be able to offer my readers a give away. I know I don't have many, but those that have taken the time to write comments and emails have encouraged me to keep posting and I am thankful for you.

Anyway who knows me well, knows that I love Pampered Chef products. I have been using them for nearly 13 years. When my first son was a baby I became a consultant and was able to earn lots of free products. Though I was only a consultant for a short time I still enjoy getting new products at the shows I've been invited to.

The product that I will be giving away is a favorite of mine, the Cake Pan Set!

These pans are excellent. I use mine all the time. They are nonstick and have lasted many years. The value of the pans is $18.50, but one person will be selected randomly to get it for FREE as a thank you for reading my blog!

To enter all you have to do is leave me a comment with the name of the cake that you make that is your favorite. If you win, I will ask you to share your recipe on the blog.

You have one week to enter. The drawing will end on Sunday evening and the winner will be announced on Monday morning.

Thanks again!

Menu Plan Monday

I have some updates to share, a give away, and some recipes that I am hoping this week will allow. As always, we'll see....

At the very least, here is what we are eating this week.

Monday, January 18, 2010
orange poppy seed muffins, grapefruit halves w/honey
alfredo (made in Vitamix) sauce w/pasta, cukes & ranch, kiwi
tofu and broccoli stir fry w/brown rice, arugula salad, chocolate cake

Tuesday, January 19, 2010
French toast, pears, milk
tuna or turkey salad sandwiches, celery sticks, apples
WW Pasta w/vegan pesto, salad

Wednesday, January 20, 2010
maple banana bread, green drink
stromboli, cukes & ranch, applesauce
crockpot –BBQ turkey sandwiches, homemade rolls, roasted potatoes, Mrs. Stark’s Broccoli, salad

Thursday, January 21, 2010
Pumpkin bread, green drink
field trip – ham sandwiches, chips, fruit
vegan cauliflower soup, salad

Friday, January 22, 2010
toast, green drink
soup – brown rice, veggies, turkey broth
date night for us

Saturday, January 23, 2010
Eggs, toast, green drink (dad cooks!)
Family over for dinner – not sure what I am doing quite yet

Sunday, January 24, 2010
banana bundles, green drink
PB & J or tuna sandwiches, fruits & veggies

For more menu ideas, visit

Have a great week!


(PS I have a lot of spacing issues with blogger, if anyone has any tips, I'd appreciate it. Thanks!)

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Creamy Tomato Soup with Israeli Couscous

My husband loved this meal and decided that I needed to put it on the blog, so he took the picture above of his place setting! Sweet man!

One of our cold, cold evenings this week, I fixed this meal: homemade flax bread, salad with Balsamic Maple Sauce and Creamy Tomato Soup with Israeli Couscous. Israeli couscous is like tiny little balls of pasta. It is delish, my family LOVES it!

The recipe for the soup comes from one of my favorite cookbooks, Fresh from the Vegetarian Slow Cooker, by Robin Robertson. I really love this book and I normally don't like slow cooker cookbooks. I have found many slow cooker cookbooks use ingredients that we do not use, like cream of something soup. This recipe uses all whole foods and has dairy free substitutes for each recipe. This is the same book that my lentil soup recipe comes from.

Here ya have it....

Creamy Tomato Soup with Israeli Couscous
1tbs olive oil
1 med yellow onion chopped
1 garlic clove minced
3 cups veggie broth
1 28 oz. can crushed tomatoes
1 tbs tomato paste
pinch of sugar or natural sweetener
2 bay leaves
salt and pepper
1 c. Israeli couscous cooked
2 tbs chopped basil for garnish (didn't use)

1. Saute onion and garlic until softened, about 5 minutes. I added some crushed red pepper as well.

2. Transfer above to slow cooker and add stock, tomatoes, paste, sugar and bay leaves. Season with salt and pepper.

3. Cover and cook on low for 6-8 hours.

4. Remove the bay leaves and puree the soup, with with an immersion blender right in the slow cooker or ladle into your blender.

5. Adjust seasonings. To serve spoon about 1/4 c. couscous in the bottom of each bowl and ladle soup on top. Sprinkly with basil if you are using.


I double this recipe for my crew and we had enough for lunch the next day with sandwiches. I purchased the couscous at Trader Joe's for $1.99 and used the whole package, but the rest of the recipe is very inexpensive and warms you up from the inside out.

I hope you enjoy! I shared this recipe at for her weekly recipe exchange.

From our home to yours,

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Menu Plan Monday

So far our Eat to Live Plan (you can read more about that here) has had a rocky start. It is easy when we are home, but obviously much more difficult when we are out or at someone's home. My major downfall has been eating more carbs than I am supposed to instead of veggies.

Looks like we have a fairly low key week, so I think it will be easier to stay focused. It is amazing to see how a vegan diet with all whole food keeps Chuck's diabetes under control.

Monday, January 11, 2010

pumpkin pancakes, green drink

home school field trip - Japanese Restaurant

Spicy Black Beans and Rice (crockpot), salad

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

toast, green drink

homemade veggie soup

Creamy Tomato Soup w/Israeli Couscous, salad

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

cereal, fruit, and milk

turkey sandwiches, cukes, applesauce

tofu sticks, polenta fries, lemon broiled green beans, salad

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Pumpkin bread, green drink

Chick pea and pasta soup

Pasta Puttanesca, salad, bread

Friday, January 15, 2010
toast, green drink

hummus wraps, fruit

Vegan Mac and Cheeze, roasted veggies, salad

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Eggs, toast, green drink (dad cooks!)


Friends over – Mushroom and Sausage Pizza, Vegan Roasted Veggie Pizza, Salad

Sunday, January 17, 2010

banana bundles (my family LOVES these), green drink

PB & J or tuna sandwiches, fruits & veggies

Chickpea Sensation Patties, zucchini w/garlic and oil, salad

Our freezer is getting low, so I am hoping to bulk it up with week. I'm hoping to be able to add some recipes as I go.

Also, I am going to be doing my first give away, so stay tuned for that!

Have a great week!

For more menu ideas, check out



I love Swagbucks! It is a search engine that earns you points or swagbucks. You can use the Swagbucks you earn to "purchase" items and gift cards off of their site.

Simply download their toolbar and use it every time you search. Swagbucks come randomly, not every time you use it, but when they do it is a little pick me up. Kind of like when you were a kid and got the prize in the cereal box!

I have been able to purchase 2 gift cards so far. One was for a $5 one for Alice (they sell discount products for the home). I used it to purchase hygiene products and since they have free shipping, I got all the products for NOTHING! And yesterday I purchased a $10 Starbucks card for my sweet. Shhh...don't mention it, I want to surprise him!

I am adding a Swagbucks banner to my site. You can click on it and follow the directions to download their toolbar.

Have fun!

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Pumpkin Bread

I love making sweet breads for the boys and freezing them. It makes it so easy to have something for healthy for snack or breakfast at a moments notice.

Since my little escapade with our fall pumpkin and the creation of 20 cups of pumpkin, I have been making a lot of pumpkin bread!
Here is the recipe I use, which I tweeked a tiny bit from the Fat Free Vegan blog.
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar, packed ( I tend to decrease the sugar)
1 cup pumpkin
1/2 cup canola oil
1/2 cup water
1 tablespoon Ener-G Egg Replacer mixed well with 4 tablespoons water (2 eggs)
1 2/3 cups whole wheat pastry flour (or white flour)
1 teaspoon soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
3 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
1/4 - 1/2 cup chopped pecans or walnuts or chocolate chips or all three!
1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Oil loaf pan.

2. Combine the wet ingredients in a medium-sized mixing bowl and blend well. In a large bowl, combine the dry ingredients.

3. Add the liquid mixture to the dry, and stir well.

4. You could stir in the nuts and chocolate chips or just place them on top. Our family likes them on top.

5. Pour the batter into the pan(s) and place on the center rack of oven. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean--about 60-70 minutes for one large loaf.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Harris Teeter Super Doubles!

Harris Teeter is doing their Super Doubles Coupon Event again! I am thrilled.

I get a kick start on planning my list using this blog. Here are her match ups. I use this blog a lot because she will offer all the match up's weekly for most of our local grocery stores.

Combining these match ups with the $20 of $50 coupons I was sent in the mail is going to save me a bundle. I am very excited!

Happy Shopping,


Monday, January 4, 2010

You don't have to be afraid of Tofu!

I get a lot of questions about my diet and usually the first one is, "What do you eat for protein?" I'll begin to rattle off my sources, beans, tofu...and usually I will hear, "TOFU!, I could NEVER eat tofu!"

Don't shy away from tofu! It is an inexpensive source of protein for vegetarians and vegans and perhaps those that do not enjoy meat. It took me a while to learn how to cook it the way my family liked, but now that I've got it, they really enjoy it. Really, I wouldn't lie to you!

I think what people are most afraid of is the gelatinous texture. Believe me, I get that, it makes me gag. My solution to that is to freeze it first. Freezing it completely changes the texture.

When I get home from Trader Joe's (the most inexpensive place for tofu) I just pop the whole container right in the freezer as is. Make sure you buy EXTRA FIRM TOFU for this recipe and others like it. When I am ready to use it I pull it out and let it thaw in the fridge. When I am ready to use it, I try to squeeze out as much water as possible with my bare hands and then slice it and lay it out on a cookie sheet as you see below.

Then I place paper towels over it and attempt to press out the water with a weight of some sort for about 30 minutes.

After it is done draining, you can marinate it anyway you like, which I would recommend because tofu doesn't have any flavor. I have a great marinade that we use that I hope to post for you. It is great for stir fry, sandwichs or just plain. Anyway, I digress...

For this recipe, my trusty helpers slice the tofu into strips.

Once you have a nice pile...

Mix up your coating. We tried a gluten free coating made from processing 1 cup krisped rice cereal and 1/4 tsp. cumin. (That large container of cumin is from one of my bulk purchases. We use a lot of cumin!)

Next set up your breading station. Egg whites w/ a little water, then coating. Coat each piece in the order you see below!

You could also use bread crumbs. These are mine from the freezer. I just take the ends of my bread and instead of throwing them out I save them in the fridge. When I have enough, I process them into crumbs and use them right out of the freezer. Saves money, besides a lot of bread crumbs from the store are filled with junk.

Next, fry them up in pan with a little olive oil until golden on all sides. They will still be soft in the middle. Set your oven to 400.

Bake for about 30 minutes until they are firmer. Flip them every so often. They will become even more firm as they cool.

Our family gobbled them up with some ketchup, even Chuck! But they are also wonderful with that Balsamic Maple Sauce or BBQ Sauce. A healthy, inexpensive alternative to chicken nuggets and fish sticks.
I got this recipe from Vegetarian Times magazine. Hope you will give tofu a try!
Check out Life as Mom for more healthy recipes in his weeks Ultimate Recipe Swap.
From Our home to yours,

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Budget Question

A friend recently emailed me a question in regards to this post and my $50 budget.

Her question is..."When you say that you spend around $50 a week on groceries, does this also include tolietries, paper products, female products, and things of that nature?"

The answer to the question is most of the time, but there is a lot more to it than that and I'd like to explain a little bit further.

First let me start by saying that it had been my hope to be able to post my weekly shopping trips including pictures of what was purchased and how much was spent and saved. Unfortunately, it didn't work out. I simply don't have the time to keep up with that. I apologize for that. I was also hoping to talk more about my bulk shopping as well, but I never got to that either.

I use many different methods for keeping my weekly grocery budget low. In addition to matching coupons and sales, I also buy a lot in bulk and make almost everything from scratch.

I buy wheat berries, white flour, whole wheat pastry flour, oats, and sometimes rice in bulk. I am in a coop called Wheat Montana. I almost never buy bread or other baked goods such as cookies. Instead I'll buy 50 lbs of white flour at about $16 and make everything from scratch or wheat berries and grind them to make bread. I make bread about 3 times per week to feed these hungry boys. They also love to snack on sweet breads, muffins, scones, cookies, etc. and I make them all.

I buy spices and sometimes coffee in bulk from another coop called Frontier. I go in with some other families and get great quality items at a fraction of the cost. This is one of the brands of spices they sell at Whole Foods.

I also rejoined a produce coop. I was in one for about 4 years and pulled out about six months ago. The problem was we weren't eating enough produce because buying it in the grocery store was much too expensive, especially for our green drinks. So we decided to get back involved. Every 10 days the coop will purchase produce in bulk and split it among many families, making the cost low. I am very happy to be back in the coop, but I am going to have to increase my weekly budget. I'll be getting to that in another post shortly.

So, to get back to the original question, most of the time those personal items are included. But, a lot of these bulk purchases are not. My husband has asked me to change that in the new year and include them. When I am spending $50 a week on groceries, I am not normally buying many of the items I buy in bulk, thus making that weekly budget low.

I hope that answers your question. I'll try to post some bulk purchases in the near future. If you have an interest in joining me in any of these coops, let me know and I'll get you the information.

From our home to yours,

Pasta Fagioli Soup

I mentioned this soup on FB and got a lot of request for recipe. Since I knew that I'd be making it on New Year's Day, I decided to hold off in the hopes that I'd take some great pictures of preparing it. Well....things got a little crazy with family in town and that never happened. So all I have for you are some pictures of leftovers and one happy boy eating the leftovers. Sorry about that! But I am positive that you are going to LOVE this recipe. Everyone that I have ever made it for loves it. BTW, this is recipe was passed to me by my friend Emily, a wonderful cook.

Pasta Fagioli

1 lb of ground Italian sausage (hot or mild)

1 small onion

2 tbs olive oil

2 minced garlic cloves

4 c. liquid (combination of chicken broth and water, either 1 can broth and 2 c. water or 1 qt broth)

1 can (drained) or 2 c. white beans (I use dry and freeze in two c. portions)

1 15 oz. can diced tomatoes, undrained

3/4 c. elbow macaroni or other small pasta

salt and pepper to taste

1 c. fresh spinach, cut in strips

parm cheese to taste

1. Brown and crumble sausage and set aside. (You can see my son doing this here.)

2. Saute onion in oil until tender and then add garlic for a minute or so.

3.Add liquid, beans, tomatoes, macaroni, sausage, and salt and pepper; bring to a boil.

4. Cook for about 10 minutes or until pasta is tender.

5. Add spinach. Cook a few minutes until it wilts.

6. Serve it up with parm cheese.

He LOVES this soup! Hope you do too!

From our home to yours,


Saturday, January 2, 2010

Imagine it, me crafty.....

I am not a crafty person, never claimed to be. It is just not my thing. I am amazed when I see the things people create.

We recently redid our bathroom. It came out wonderful and my husband did a great job! One of the things we hoped to accomplish with the new bathroom was a system to elimate the "towel problem". You know the one, it's where your child(ren) use a towel once, then toss it or hang it somewhere, then they take a new one next time. You are doing the laundry and have no idea where all these towels have come from or who to blame for them making it into to the laundry after one use.

We decided to default to our system of colors. In our house each boy has a color. We have colors, for cups.....

colors for bowls....
so why not towels!
So I hit Michael's...not my favorite thing to do, it overwhelms me to be honest. I see lots of great ideas, but not sure I can pull them off. is what I came home with, 4 wooden plaques and a bunch of wooden letters.

The boys set off painting their plaques and the letters of their name. I wish I had know that the tempura paint didn't really cover wood well. It took lots of coats and there still wasn't as dark as I wanted. Oh live and you learn.
This is what we ended up with...
Then I glued the letters on and my husband hung them in the bathroom with a hook. We bought the boys new towels, each in their own color.
Here is the end result! Not too bad and I think they will serve their purpose.
I will never be a crafty person, but sometimes it is fun to pretend! And now I will know who left their towel on the floor!!
From our home to yours,