Saturday, January 31, 2015

Meal Plan

S: donuts (B), ribs, potato salad (D)
M: eggs and toast (B), spicy Dr. Pepper pulled pork, cole slaw (D)
T: yogurt, granola, fruit (B), cheesy chicken bacon and tator tot bake (D)
W: cereal (B), chicken cacciatore, salad (D)
T: oatmeal (B), cheeseburger soup (D)
F: cranberry bread (B), cheesy crockpot tortellini (D)
S: cereal (B), something not pizza (D)

Frugal Friday (or Saturday)

Can you tell I am not that great at planning as of late? Or maybe sticking to plans would be more accurate. Trying to come up with something for this post. Hm, I did a few Pinecone Research surveys. Found more free resources on-line for some review work for school. Took two of the kids to their book club at the library where they studied the Alamo and made models out of sugar (ok, that was last week but I forgot to list it). Took the girls to a free self-defense class for a badge for Frontier Girls. Used buy 1 get 1 free coupons for ice cream so we could stop and socialize after the class. Watched the gas in all three vehicles all week and made sure the most efficient vehicle for each trip was actually used. This was much more important than usual since we were in the middle of two weeks with no paycheck coming in due to work schedule changes. Once Alan finally got paid, I threw the budget together, paid all of the bills, and made a big grocery run with Sean and Seamus. I used a coupon at the bread store although next time I will do my best to hold off until Monday and have Alan stop in to get 10% off to go with the coupon (military discount day). While at SAMS club, I picked up several items on seasonal clearance to work on restocking the pantry. I also bought slightly over 60 lbs of chicken that was marked down. The chicken was turned into 14 freezer meals plus 6 bags of cooked shredded chicken for recipes. I also threw together 27 packets of homemade instant oatmeal and two homemade brownie mixes.  The older boys also returned from their winter camping trip with 5 lbs of carrots and 3 lbs of onions that were not used.  Used enough coupons to shave about 20% off the grocery trip to Wegmans.  Overall, not bad but nothing great. And we just stayed home a bit extra this week which does save on gas (and at times on sanity).

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Meal Plan

M: cereal (b), beef tips over rice (d)
T: eggs, biscuits (b), pork chops, potatoes (d)
W: baked oatmeal (b), jerk chicken (d)
T: cereal (b), chicken and dumpling soup (d)
F: oatmeal breakfast bars (b), tuna pasta salad (d)

Friday, January 23, 2015

Frugal Friday

Ok, I love this idea of holding yourself accountable and sharing ideas of what you have done during the week to save some money. So let's see what I can come up with.

- Alan cooked a turkey from the freezer on Sunday. Said turkey was dinner on Sunday night and the meat was used for 2 freezer meals, lunches at least once during the week, and added to soup on Monday night.
- Turkey carcass was used to make broth. There was enough for a full pot of turkey and rice soup on Monday and an extra gallon of broth which is now in the freezer.
- We ate a freezer meal this week that has been languishing in the freezer for far too long. When we made the original freezer meal, we made two of them. Apparently there is just a wee bit much rum in the molasses rum chicken for our tastes so we plan to tweak the recipe a bit when we make it next time. And lest you think we spent a lot on the rum, we would ever do such a foolish thing. Alan picked it up on one of his trips to some exotic locale.
- Alan made a batch of French bread to have with our cheese steak sandwiches for dinner this week.
- I made a triple batch of laundry detergent.
- I used coupons to get 2 bottles of shampoo for 47 cents total.
- Ordered and received two free cans of formula from Amazon. Yes, it breaks my heart that Seamus is on formula. Truly it does but sadly it is what he seems to need. Pardon me while I go cry for a while.
- Cloth diapers. Seriously, if you aren't on that band wagon, go jump ship now.
- Was given an exersaucer for Seamus. Total awesomeness.
- Found riding boots for Katie from a friend. Again, total awesomeness.
- Was given 3 or 4 bags of hand-me-downs from a family at karate. I need to sort them and pass along what we can't use.
- Made a batch of yogurt at home (can't beat a gallon of whole milk yogurt for $2.50).
- Taught Kieran how to make granola to go with the yogurt.
- Printed several review sheets for free for the kids to use in school this week.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

You Did What?

So who else has kids who do things like this?
Child said he was hungry. But seriously kid, the rest of the family does not appreciate your way of helping yourself. Without permission.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Meal Plan

For the next few weeks we will be practicing the fine art of meal planning on a super small budget. Cleaning out the freezers, getting creative, and doing a bit of extra baking. I wish I could say we'd spend time cleaning out the pantry shelves but the pantry has been looking bare, oh so very bare, for quite some time. Unless you can plan meals around ro-tel tomatoes, salsa, and light bulbs. I don't know about you but I am just not that creative. :)  But every year after Christmas, I wait for the special themed baking kits to go on clearance and grab  few of those for quick snacks to make for the kids. We used one of them yesterday. I also have a sour dough bread starter in my fridge waiting to be broken out and tested. Hopefully we will be successful at not only making sour dough bread but also at getting back into the grove of making our own bread.
S: eggs and toast (B), donuts and leftovers (L), turkey, potatoes, stuffing, etc. (D)
M: overnight breakfast casserole (B), pbj (L), turkey and rice soup (D)
T: yogurt, frozen fruit (B), turkey sandwiches (L), molasses rum chicken, potatoes, salad (D)
W: eggs in toast, fruit (B), leftovers (L), cheesesteak sandwiches (D)
T: oatmeal (B), leftovers (L), stuffed pepper soup (D)
F: egg sandwiches (B), bean and cheese quesadillas (L), tuna sandwiches, maybe tomato soup (D)
S: monkey bread (B), leftovers (L), something not pizza (D)

Later in the week, Alan will make a run to Aldi's after work to pick up some produce that is on sale and replenish our fresh fruit supplies. I am hoping to get a decent amount of broth from the turkey carcass and hopefully enough turkey to make at least one freezer meal in addition to the soup. Freezer meals are your friend during busy times.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Oatmeal Packets

Super quick breakfast ideas. We totally need them around here. But we also need ones that don't quite break the bank because, well, we are rocking the budget thing right now. My kids love instant oatmeal but they only usually get it when we are staying in a hotel because 9 kids will go through probably 3 boxes in one sitting. But when they do get to have them, the younger kids just about throw one of those "My parents are the most awesome people ever" parties and we can all use that every so often. So this afternoon I put a few of my kids to work at making their own instant oatmeal packets. Yes, child labor is alive and well in this house. Yes, the kids were thrilled to make their own oatmeal packets. Yes, they will still sing the parental praises when they eat it this week. And hopefully next week. I may have to hide them above the 5 foot level if I want them to last.
I based our version off this recipe but what really happened went something like this: told children to get out sandwich bags, add 1/2 cup of oatmeal to each bag, then add maybe 1 tbs of brown sugar. Then decide if you want to toss in cinnamon, raisins or chocolate chips. I think they mostly made chocolate chip ones. And the bag Ellie brought me had something like 4 large chunks of brown sugar in it and a bunch of chocolate. Yup, this is why the kids loved making them. And, yes, I had an older child help her fix that one.

So if you make something like this with your kids, please share some flavor combos. Because Gabe said Dad is going to have to get used to making lots of hot water because they made lots of oatmeal today.

Whipped Strawberry Butter

Ok folks. We all know that real maple syrup is much better for us than the imitation stuff. Much better. Most of the bottled stuff basically comes down to high fructose corn syrup mixed with artificial colors and flavors. Which is just not the best thing to pour into your body first thing in the morning.  (Yes, I get the irony as I often am found downing a Dr. Pepper in the morning. I'm a work in progress and I'm hoping for my kids to be healthier than I am.) Truthfully, I don't think I'd ever tasted the real stuff until we moved here and I started prioritizing buying more real foods. Seriously, the stuff is awesomely delicious but oh so stinking expensive. Especially if your kids pour the way mine do. Yikes. So sometimes you need something else to put on those waffles. Again, ignore the fact that said children just might be eating frozen waffles this week because only one of our waffle makers still works, I am currently solo parenting, and sometimes you just decide to let something slide.

Anyway, this week we will have both homemade pumpkin butter (so easy to make if you have a crockpot) and whipped strawberry butter to top the waffles because they are yummy. And cheaper than maple syrup.

If you want a REAL recipe, here's the one I looked up. If you want to know what I really did, keep reading.

I grabbed a quart sized bag of strawberries from the freezer, defrosted them, drained them, then dumped them in a mixing bowl and sort of mashed them a bit. Added in two sticks of butter and turned the mixer on. After a while, I decided it needed more butter so I tossed a stick of butter into the microwave to soften it, dumped it in the with rest of the stuff and mixed some more. Yummy. Easy. No strange ingredients. And seriously, strawberries are sweet enough without adding sugar, I promise.  Give it a try.

Still Here

Still here. Still struggling. Still plugging along. This past year or so has been a rough one. Yup, there have been way too many normal things going wrong to just keep us on our toes. Four dead appliances, way too many car repairs to mention (including a wonderful door falling off), a kid and an ambulance ride, a couple visits from the fire department,  new baby who spent too much time in the hospital, won't nurse at all, and has something wrong that we can't quite pinpoint. Yup, crazy year. On the positive side, two kids made it through First Communion, another one was baptized, and the oldest has managed to finish his eagle project work and is managing college courses rather well. Two kids will be taking black belt tests in a few months and child number 2 is starting his eagle project. Seriously, those boys are awesome. So I guess a fairly normal year. Maybe.

And yet I find myself completely struggling emotionally, doubting and rather confused about life.  I realize most of this particular struggle started at the beginning of last year when we found ourselves suddenly feeling we were without a parish home. We've settled somewhere close to home but I'm not sure we're completely happy there. Yup, the kids can get through sacraments easily so far which is a bonus. We are also close enough to attempt to actively participate in the parish. The priest seems wonderful and the older boys have been serving funeral Masses there all year. But, well, something is missing. Maybe it is as simple as a lack of closure. Of wondering what the heck or why it was ok to treat our family the way we were when everyone else says such action were completely out of character. It is oh so hard hearing so many people say how they just love the influence of this person who  has caused our family so much confusion and pain. I've noticed myself treating our youngest daughter with a different demeanor when she is not perfect in church now because of the comments and just am no longer relaxed or comfortable in church. I mean, you tell me my child isn't welcome, you are saying the same to me. So I guess this past year has been full of doubt and that undercurrent in the background of doubting.

Makes me realize how oh so very easy it is to cause such pain, something I'm more than certain I have likely done to others in the past and for that I am sorry.

So anyway, just please pray for me to find some sense of peace, closure, and healing. Please.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Meal Plan

M: waffles with pumpkin butter (B), chicken divan casserole (D)
T: eggs in toast (B), pulled pork sandwiches (D)
W: oatmeal (B), pasta with meat sauce (D)
T: overnight breakfast casserole (B), cream cheese chicken (D)
F: oatmeal/cereal (B), vegetable alphabet soup, rolls (D)
S: quick bread, fruit (B), something other than pizza (D)

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Happy Epiphany!

While we will be doing most of our Epiphany activities tomorrow (Mom was rather busy with activities for the kids today with riding lessons,  a small grocery run, and then 3 different karate classes which necessitate lots of driving back and forth), we did spend a little time celebrating today.

We made this cheater King Cake this year. I'd love to make a more authentic version but it just was not in the cards today. We also read the book The Other Wiseman. Wonderful book but not quite an Epiphany story. I'm hoping to be able to dig up another book tomorrow.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Meal Plan

M: waffles (b), chicken parmesan casserole (d)
T: yogurt and granola (b), creamy salsa chicken (d)
W: cereal (b), bean and cheese enchiladas (d)
T: overnight breakfast casserole (b), leftovers (d)
F: oatmeal (b), crock pot Mac and cheese (d)
S: waffles (b), pizza (d)