Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Kitchen Tips

So many of my recipes call for bread crumbs, and although I could make my own, I just don't ever think about it in time. I also think that bread crumbs are over priced. So what I do is buy stuffing. I either buy the off brand stuffing or I wait until I can find a coupon and buy it then. I have found stuffing to beat a lot cheaper than buying bread crumbs. The holidays are also a great time to stock up. What I like about stufffing is that it's pre-seasoned so there is no need to add a lot of extra spices to your dish.
I usually will take some of the stuffing and grind it up before I store it so that I can speed up those dishes that want you to coat the meat or vegetables in bread crumbs.

You can find more great ideas at Tammy's Recipes and Tempt my Tummy Tuesdays

Monday, June 29, 2009

For This Monday's menu stretching tip, I'll share the recipe from a great book I found at our local library.

The following recipe is from the book Frozen Assets: How to Cook for a Day and Eat for a Month by Deborah Taylor-Hough (Champion Press, ISBN: 1891400614).

All-Purpose Ground Meat Mix
(Makes about 12 cups)

This is a basic ground meat mix that can be used in many casseroles and recipes.

5 pounds ground meat (beef or turkey)
2 cups celery, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
2 cups onion, chopped
1 cup green pepper, diced
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon salt (optional)

Brown meat in a large pot. Drain. Stir in celery, garlic, onion, green pepper, salt and pepper; cover and simmer about 10 minutes until vegetables are tender but not soft. You can use this mixture immediately during your cooking session or freeze in two-cup portions for later use.

Suggested Uses (be creative):

Add one package taco seasoning to two cups All-Purpose Ground Meat Mix (follow package directions for amount of water). Freeze. To serve: thaw and heat taco mixture; prepare tacos as you would normally.

Taco Potatoes:
Follow instructions for taco mixture (above), but serve the mixture over baked potatoes instead of tortillas or taco shells. Top with grated cheese, diced tomatoes, sour cream, sliced green onions, sliced black olives and salsa.

Easy Taco Salads:
Follow instructions for taco mixture; place a layer of corn chips or tortilla chips on plate; spoon taco mixture over chips; add layer of shredded lettuce; add diced tomatoes, sliced green onions, sliced black olives, sour cream and salsa.

Sloppy Joes:
In a large skillet, place two cups Ground Meat Mix, one (10 3/4 ounce) can tomato soup, two tablespoons brown sugar, and one teaspoon prepared mustard. Stir. Cover and simmer ten minutes. Serve ladled onto hamburger buns.

The All-Purpose Ground Meat Mix can also be used for: stuffed peppers, chili, spaghetti, and baked ziti (further recipes can be found in the Frozen Assets book).

Friday, June 26, 2009

Frugal Fridays

Ok, my frugal Friday tip might not work for all but we have done well with it. If you are looking for cheap/free entertainment, why not try winning tickets from your local radio station. In the past 3 years we have won too many things to mention from both my husbands and mine radio stations. My husband just today won concert tickets to Cutless and Toby Mac (one of our favorite perfomers) We have won Six Flag tickets, water park tickets, several concert tickets, park admission, the list goes on. We live in a large metropolitan area so competition is stiff if you live in a smaller area you might have even better luck. Here are my tips on winning.
Place your radio stations number in your speed dial on your cell phone. If you and your husband have seperate stations, have his in yours as well. Team up when it's time to call and win, have both you and your husband on the phone. Try to win at times when not a lot of people are on the road listening or call on the weekends- I have the best success on the weekends. Good Luck!

Fighting the Fat Friday!!



My thoughts this week serves double duty. I am notorious for sneaking in veggies where you least expect them. Thankfully, I have kids and a husband who will eat veggies without much of a fight. So we found something to do this summer, and found a way to connect our kids with with heathy food. Find a Pick-Your-Own fruits and vegetables farm. My daughters and I got the pleasure of meandering up and down rows of blackberries and strawberries and SQUWEEZIE ( Squash ). We found a place on the edge of town... 20 minutes away. Check out www.pickyourown.org. Near or far... pack a picnic, enjoy and connect with God's bounty.

Windows Live™: Keep your life in sync. Check it out.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Thrifty Thursday!

Just a word on money savers this week. I have two in diapers so this was particularly a deal for me, HUggies and Pull Ups are on sale at Kroger for 8.99/ pack. There are Shortcuts.com coupons for 2.00 off and 1.50 off plus paper couons for 3.00 and 2.00 off. SO let's do the math... 17.98 for diapers - 8.50 off makes is roughly 9.48. That's about half off. And let's face it, generic diapers just dont cut it.

Lauren found her dream laptop. Find the PC that's right for you.

Thrifty Thursday!!!!!

Okay!!! I had to share this. I dont know if you know... but coupons ROCK!
I went to Kroger tonight and my  money saving rush was this: My total was $127.58 but when I was finished with my shortcuts coupons, paper coupons , and in store card, I was down to $58.44. THAT'S A WHOPPING $69.14!!!!!!!!!! CHECK ME OUT!!! -Janette

Lauren found her dream laptop. Find the PC that's right for you.

Friday, June 19, 2009

We all have weight loss/gain stories and we are no different. We struggle like the rest of you to live a life style that honors the bodies God gave us. With our Fighting the Fat Fridays post we are going to share some of the strategies we are doing to take and keep the weight off. With it we will share helpful tips and some of the recipes we are using. We hope that you will share yours as well too. To begin this journey we want to share our stories.

Angela: I have never been what I consider a thin person- of course looking back in pictures I have to wonder why I ever thought I was "fat" -was it because I was heavier than some of my friends, at the time or just because society has allowed me to believe a lie about myself? I have always been someone whom believed exercise was important, I would way rather exercise than give up any kind of food, and through college I was pretty consistent with going to the gym. My weight struggles didn't really begin until I started having children. While pregnant with my first I put on 50 pounds while pregnant. I worked like crazy to take it off. I joined Curves, used their diet plan and lost about 25 pounds. Then with my second I didn't work so hard to take the weight off, and it took me about a year to get back to my pre-pregnancy weight. I joined another gym (my Curves had closed) and went regularly for about 4 months. Then I got pregnant again and never went back. That was a year and a half ago. So here I am. I'm about 30 pounds from my goal weight and have finally realized that I have to do something. My immediate goals are to start going back to the gym ( I am still paying for it after all) and to make a menu that includes at least 3 healthy low calorie meals a week, as well as snacks. I want to be intentional in all parts of this journey.

Janette: my weight loss journey is on going. As is everyone’s goal is to be healthy and be at a weight that is comfortable, I have and continue to struggle since I was a teen. I guess my breaking point is when I reached 336 pounds! I decided to have gastric bypass as a weight loss aid. I only lost about 40 pounds from that, not the typical 100, due to a botched surgery. Then, I had two back to back pregnancies and was careful with my gains but, with most pregnancies, gaining still happens. I realized that surgery was not the answer and have tried Weight Watchers and had some success, but not enough to keep me motivated. I have since joined a gym and hired a personal trainer whom I see once a week for now. I have lost a dress size and I think this was a good motivator. Also, my mother has lost over 100 pounds in just a year. It is a motivator to hear how much it has changed her life and how happy she is. My husband has jumped on the fitness bandwagon and he has lost about 80… I hate him… just kidding. I know my two beautiful girls should be my motivation, but I LOVE FOOD! I pray that God helps me to end my deadly love affair. I know there are people that say, “Well just stop eating, or eat less,” but food is my addiction, and I am an addict. Until Next time…

Janette turned me on to Hungry Girl. If you don't know who Hungry girl is, you should check out her site. I recently checked out her book from the library to get some ideas on low cal. dinners and snacks and have decided that I'm going to just have to go and buy the book. I actually bought it for Janette's birthday this past year, and she said she won't share :) I'm making this for dinner one night this week. It sounds yummy and I think it's something my family will enjoy too.
Crazy-good turkey taco meatloaf
1 pound raw extra-lean ground turkey
2 slices fat-free cheddar cheese
1/2 cup shredded fat free cheddar cheese
1/2 cup canned sweet corn kernels
1/4 cup chopped green bell peppers
1/4 cup chopped onions
1/2 cup salsa
1/2 packet of taco seasoning mix, dry

Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees. Cook peppers and onions for 3 minutes over medium heat in a pan sprayed with non stick spray. In a large bowl, combine onions and peppers with turkey, corn, and seasoning mix. Spread half of the mixture evenly into the bottom of a loaf pan sprayed with non stick spray. Later the two slices of fat free cheese on top of the mixture ( try and keep away from pans sides) Evenly top with the remaining mixture. Pour salsa over the top of the loaf. Cook in oven for 30 minutes. Top loaf with shredded cheese, return to oven for another 15 minutes

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Kids in the Kitchen

My children love to help cook. Anytime they see one of us in the kitchen they drag over a chair and want to help in some way. Too many times I see this as a hindrance to whatever I'm trying to accomplish and instead of taking the time to teach them basic kitchen/cooking skills which really wouldn't take long at all, I will often disappoint them by telling them they can help "next" time. I'm working on a happy medium because sometimes it's just not feasible to let them help but sometimes I can take the time and we can all enjoy the learning process together. It was with these thoughts I came up with Kids in the Kitchen. At least once or twice a week I am going to plan a meal or a snack/dessert that can easily be helped with my my children. This way, since I'm actually planning it I will make sure there is time to get it done.

last week we started by making my famous Chocolate Chip Cookies. Ok, they're not famous, but they are really good. My secret recipe comes from none other than the side of the Arm and Hammer baking soda box. Trust me- They're the best. If you take them out of the oven a minute early and let them finish baking on the sheet- you will have soft, gooey cookies that no one can resist.

I am experimenting with using whole wheat flour in my basic recipes so this time they did turn out different than usual, but they were still good.

Delectable Cookie Recipe
2 1/4 cups unsifted flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 cup softened butter or margarine
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar, packed
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 eggs
2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 cup chopped nuts (optional)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In small bowl, sift together flour, baking soda, and salt. In large bowl, combine butter, sugars and vanilla. With wooden spoon beat until creamy. Beat in eggs. Gradually add sifted dry ingredients. Mix well. Stir in chocolate chips and nuts. Drop by rounded teaspoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheets. Bake at 375 for 8 minutes or until lightly browned.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Kitchen Tip Tuesday

We make a lot of meals with chicken at our house. I love to buy the rotisserie chicken and see how far I can stretch it. I almost always use what's left of the chicken to make chicken stock. My issue has always been storing the broth after I make it. I'm not sure where I came up with the idea, it might have even been another kitchen tip Tuesday from long ago, but after I make the broth I let it cool a little and pour it into a muffin pan. This gives me 1/2 cup portions. I flash freeze them and then take them out and place them in a large freezer bag to use whenever a recipe calls for chicken broth.
I also use this method to freeze a lot of things. The muffin size is a perfect portion for so many foods.
you can find more great Kitchen Tips at Tammy's Recipes

Monday, June 15, 2009

Menu Stretching Monday

I love a great Pot Roast. Roast and mashed potatoes is one of those meals that takes me back to my childhood. Is there really anything that says comfort food more than roast and potatoes? We don't have it often, because it's not one of those meats that I find on sale very often, but when I can get a hold of it, we try to stretch it as far as possible. Here are a few ways to make that happen.

To save money, buy a large roast beef.

Meal 1 Roast dinner

Roast beef with mashed potatoes and a vegetable. You can prepare this in the slow cooker.

Meal 2 Sandwiches

Make hot roast beef sandwiches on wheat bread with fresh corn. You can use some of the gravy from the roast the night before to place on sandwiches.

Meal 3
BBQ Roast Beef

Chop up the remaining roast beef. Mix with sauted onions and peppers and 1 cup catsup, 2 Tbsp vinegar, 2 Tbsp brown sugar and 1 tbsp mustard to make barbecue sandwiches

Friday, June 12, 2009

Frugal Friday

One of my favorite household chores is to vacuum the carpet. I love that just vacuumed look- you know with the nice clean stripes. I really just love a clean carpet, I used to be a little bit of a clean carpet freak until the addition of pets and three children into our family, then I had to realize that LIFE HAPPENS! So my frugal Friday tip is my favorite carpet and any stain solution. In a spray bottle I place equal amounts of white vinegar, laundry soap and twice as much warm water. Spray on stain and blot up. I have seen different amounts of this same formula used but this is what works for me.
I also use Barefoot Lass's website for other great stain remover ideas.
Check out Life as a Mom for other great frugal ideas.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Face Lift

Meals for Deals is our baby. We want it to do well, and we really want it to be helpful to those who visit and use our site. We are by no means website experts so everything we have done has been trial and error, and we have had to learn a lot along the way. But we feel it's time for a face lift. We're not sure what that really means but we want our site to be inviting and easy to understand and navigate. If you get a second would you please check out the possible new home page and take our poll to tell us what you think.

Monday, June 8, 2009

This week on Menu Stretching Monday we are featuring Roasted Chicken. I believe this is one of our cheapest meals that we make. I will buy a Rotisserie chicken from Walmart for $4.99 and I can usually stretch it for 3 meals. You can really save some money if you roast your own chicken. Walmart sells raw whole chickens 2 in a pack for about the same price. Or you can buy them seperatly too.
Here are some of my favorite ways to use roasted chicken.

Meal 1 Roasted chicken

Roast a chicken or buy a rotisserie chicken. Serve chicken with a baked potato and some vegetables.

Meal 2 Chicken noodle soup

put the remaining chicken (the whole carcass) in a large pot and cover it with water just to the top of the chicken- adding a sprig of rosemary (optional), some carrots, an onion, celery- or whatever you have on hand. Cook it until the meat practically falls off the bone. Strain meat, bones and veggies. Place chicken on plate and throw out the rest. Save about 4 -5 cups of broth for future use. Place 2 cups of wide egg noodles into remaining broth with 2 cups chicken. Add vegetables of your choice I usually use onion, celery, carrots. Add salt and pepper to taste. You can also add thyme and any other seasonings you enjoy. Sometimes I throw in half a cup of uncooked rice.

Meal 3 Chicken potpie

In a medium mixing bowl, mix remaining chicken with 1 can cream of chicken soup, 1 can cream of potato soup, 1 bag mixed vegetables and salt and pepper to taste. Pour into a greased casserole dish. Cover with pie crust, or make your own crust out of Bisquick. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 min. Or until crust is brown.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

New Kroger Site

There is a new site called Bringing Hope to the Table and it is just like Cellfire , P&G esaver and Shortcuts where you can add e-coupons directly to your shopping card for Kroger. I checked it out and there are some pretty cool coupons available. Grab your Kroger card, you'll need it to get signed up.
If you are not familiar with e-coupons you can get more info on our website under Coupons 101.
All I have to say is I love them!

Thanks Delicious Mom

SONIC.... Need I Say More?

Did you know that TONIGHT Sonic Drive-ins are giving away free root beer floats to kick off summer? Stuff always tastes better when its free!
Hey Did you know that Arby's is starting a new promotion during the summer? Every Wednesday Arby's is giving away a free premium menu item. No purchase necessary. See your local store for details! Happy Eatings!

June 3rd - Free FruiTea with any sandwich purchase
June 10th - Free Roast Chicken club with any soft drink purchase
June 17th - Free Regular Sidekicker with any sandwich purchase
June 24th -Free Regular Roast Beef with any soft drink purchase

July 1st - Free Regular Beef ‘n Cheddar with any soft drink purchase
July 8th - Free Orange Cream Swirl shake with any sandwich purchase
July 15th - Free Regular Roast Beef with any soft drink purchase
July 22nd - Free Roastburger with any soft drink purchase
July 29th - Free FruiTea with any sandwich purchase

August 5th - Free Regular Roast Beef with any soft drink purchase
August 12th - Free Roast Chicken Club with any soft drink purchase
August 19th - Free FruiTea with any sandwich purchase
August 26th - Free Regular Beef ‘n Cheddar with any soft drink purchase

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Kitchen Tip Tuesdays

A friend clued me into this tip about a year ago.
An easy way to cook bacon is to line a cookie sheet with aluminum foil, place the bacon on it and cook it in the oven at 350 degrees until crisp. This usually takes my oven about 10-15 minutes depending on the cut of the bacon. This has saved me time, because it doesn't have to be looked after too closely and I can free up my stove top for other things. Clean up is quick, and best of all I don't get splattered by any grease.

For more great kitchen Tips you can visit Tammy's Recipes

Monday, June 1, 2009

Red Box

Your Free Monday Red Box Code has arrived.  Red box is offering the free code on the first Monday of every month. It's only good until midnight tonight.

Menu Stretching Monday

We are starting a new series on our blog called Menu Stretching Mondays. Each Monday we will feature a recipe that you can stretch to two, three and sometimes four meals.
This weeks main recipe is:

Four-Bean Taco Chili

2 Pounds ground beef
3 cups tomato juice
1 jar salsa
1 can (16oz) kidney beans, rinsed and drained
1 can (15oz) great northern beans, rinsed and drained
1 can (15oz) black beans, rinsed and drained
1 can (8oz) tomato sauce
1 can (8oz) tomato paste
1 can (4oz) chopped green chilies
1 envelope taco seasoning

In a soup kettle or Dutch oven, cook beef over medium heat until no longer pink; drain. Stir in the remaining ingredients. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer, uncovered for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Serve with Cornbread.

Chili Manicotti

10 uncooked manicotti shells
2 cups mozzarella cheese, divided
1 carton ricotta cheese
1/4 cup parmesan cheese
1 egg beaten
3 cups Four Bean taco chili
1 jar meatless spaghetti sauce

Cook manicotti according to package directions. Meanwhile, in a bowl, combine 1 cup mozzarella cheese, ricotta cheese, parmesan cheese and egg; set aside. Combine the chili and spaghetti sauce; pour half into a greased 13"x9" baking dish. Rinse and drain manicotti shells; stuff with cheese mixture. Place over sauce. Top with remaining sauce and sprinkle with remaining cheese. Bake uncovered , at 350 degrees for 40-45 minutes or until heated through.

Tip: If you like meat in your manicotti you can mix some of the meat mixture with the cheese before you stuff it. This recipe also freezes well.