menu planning and store sales.

 She sees that her trading is profitable, and her lamp does not go out at night. vs. 18

A couple of weeks ago, I talked about the importance of menu planning and how beneficial it can be for you and/or your family. To see that, check it out here. Well, I recently have been trying to improve the way I do menu planning.

Planning meals is a great way to be organized and save money; however, if you use it to try a lot of new recipes with all of these ingredients that you don’t have/are expensive, then your grocery bill sky rockets..and you wonder: “How did that happen?!”

A couple of days ago, I shared a website with you all about how to find recipes using whatever is already in your pantry, fridge, and freezer. It was called “What’s in your fridge?” This was a challenge to utilize what food you already have and plan your menus around that.

Well, today I want to talk about how to plan your menu based off store sales. This is another money-saving tip with your grocery bill. Before making your menu, get an inventory of what you have in your home, as mentioned before. THEN find out what your local grocery stores have on sale that week. After that, decide what’s for dinner in the upcoming week.

Here are ways to find your local store sales:

1. Store fliers/weekly ads.

These can be found online, in newspapers, or in the store.

Here are the links to find the grocery stores’ fliers  that may be in your area:

Aldi

CVS

Dierbergs

Dollar General

Dominicks

Jewel Osco

Kroger

Meijer

Save-A-Lot

Schnucks

ShopRite

Target

Walgreens

Walmart

2. Sign up for emails through Money Saving Mom

This is a great resource and a little bit more convenient than the first option. Money Saving Mom allows you to go to her store deals link and sign up for any local store sales. Then every week, she will send them to your inbox. It’s that easy!

3. Talk to others. 

If you have friends who are also wanting to stay on a budget, get a system where you each share sales, coupon, etc with each other. My mom calls me frequently just to tell me that blueberries are on sale at one store or pork loins are $1.99 a lb at another store.

What to do next?

Once you know what stores have sales, plan your meals.

For example:

At Kroger this week, Ragu Pasta Sauce is on sale for $1.49. At Aldi, Happy Farms Shredded Cheese is on sale for $1.79.

I already have ground beef, spaghetti noodles, onions, eggs, diced tomatoes, parsley, salt, and pepper at home.

So I can purchase the sauce and mozzarella cheese on sale and buy cottage cheese regular price (or look online for a coupon).

Then I have all the ingredients I need for Lasagna Casserole from Money Saving Mom.

Also, for lunch, I can plan to eat cottage cheese 2 days that next week and find another recipe where I use mozzarella cheese for another dinner that week.

See how that works? It saves you more money rather than just picking out  a recipe that looks good and having to buy most of the ingredients in that recipe.

Use what you have in your home, shop the sales, AND go to multiple stores. Go where the deals are!

You may say, “Well, doesn’t it use more gas whenever you go to multiple stores?” Yes, but if they are all within just a few minutes within one another, it is more cost effective to shop at different stores (wherever the deals are) rather than stay at one place in fear of using a little bit of gas.

What are ways you are able to save a couple of bucks on your grocery bill? 

Remember: It’s about spending less so you can give/save more.

* This is part of the Somewhat Simple link party.

monkey bread.

She rises while it is yet night and provides food for her household… vs. 15a

A few nights ago I decided to make baked bananas for my two roommates. Well, I had just bought a bag of bananas. They were neon green in color. They weren’t quite ripe enough. But I thought, surely if I bake them, they will still taste okay. Basically, I was too impatient to wait a few days because I really wanted to eat bananas with honey and cinnamon on top THAT INSTANT. Let’s just say: bad idea. Whenever I went to peel it, the peeling looked like a corn stalk. Still yet I thought: it probably doesn’t taste that bad. One bite into it changed my mind about that too.

At this point, my two roommates and I could practically taste sweet goodness in our mouth. We all three had been so excited to eat a little dessert that night. So, I thought…what should we make instead?

As I shared with you in my post yesterday, there’s this website called My Fridge Food. You can here about how awesome it is here.

Anyway, we put in the items that we had in our pantry, freezer, and refrigerator and then narrowed it down to “dessert.”

Monkey bread came up…and we had all of the ingredients! Sounds like it was meant to be.

So monkey bread is what we made.

I would definitely recommend making this. For 3 reasons: It takes very little ingredients, it is really really delicious, and it seems like you spent hours on it when really it was about 30 minutes.

Here are the ingredients…

Step 1: Cut the biscuits in half (if they are small) or in quarter pieces (if they are big).

Step 2: Mold the pieces in little balls and roll them in a sugar/cinnamon mixture. (about 1/2 cup sugar with a few dashes of cinnamon).

Step 3:  Form balls into pan (a bundt pan is best, but we didn’t have one) to create the bread. Then pour a boiling mixture of butter and brown sugar  (about 1/2 cup butter and a couple tablespoons of brown sugar) over the bread.

Step 4:  Smash the balls together so they aren’t so uniform looking.

Step 5: Bake on 350 degrees for about 20 minutes (or until brown) and let cool before you dig in. It should look something like this…

Serve and enjoy!

* This is part of the Blue Cricket Design link party.

homemade mozzarella sticks: skinny style.

She looks well to the ways of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness. vs. 27

I did it. I finally made homemade mozzarella cheese sticks. About a month ago, I found this recipe on Skinny Taste: baked mozzarella cheese sticks. Baked= healthy. Well, they are semi-healthy. They are even called “skinny mozzarella sticks.” Needless to say, I’ve been swooning over these.

Well, these turned out surprisingly well! However, it did take a long time. The assembly part and baking part, not so much. The freezing part was time consuming. Oh well, it was worth it when I had that first warm, cheesy bite.

Here are the cast of characters:

Breaking it down:

  • 12 sticks mozzarella string cheese (I recommend skim-milk cheese for a healthier version)
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 2 tbsp flour
  • 5 tbsp Italian seasoned breadcrumbs
  • 5 tbsp panko crumbs
  • 2 tsp parmesan cheese
  • 1 tbsp dried parsley
  • olive oil cooking spray

Here’s how you make it:

Step 1: Cut the 12 mozzarella sticks in half (to make 24 sticks).

Step 2: Freeze em’ (don’t skip this step!).

Step 3: Set up assembly station.

Put beaten egg in one bowl, flour in another bowl, and italian bread crumbs, panko crumbs, Parmesan cheese, and parsley in another bowl.

Step 4: Take sticks out of freezer, and dip them in flour first, egg second, and crumbs third.

Step 5: Put the assembled sticks back in the freezer.

Make yourself some hot tea while you wait and watch a short tv show. Or go to Sarah’s blog and leave her a nice comment. Both options are good.

Step 6: Put foil on a baking pan and spray with the olive oil mist.

Step 7: Lightly spray the mozzarella sticks with the olive oil too.

Step 8: Cook on 400 degrees. Cook them on one side for 5 minutes. Turn them over and cook the other side for 5 minutes. Take out of the oven. And smile at your cheesy creation.

Step 9: If you’re feeling it, serve with marinara.

So let me know if you make these and how they turn out! Also, what are other homemade recipes you like to make?

*This is part of Fingerprints on the Fridge link party.

*This is part of Homestead Barn Hop.

*This is part of The Girl Creative link party.

the design of cooking.

Many women have done excellently, but you surpass them all. vs. 29

I’m attempting to enter into the world of gourmet cooking. Where it’s not just throwing something together for the sake of filling my belly but putting time and effort into make it a culinary creation. Now Kaleb and I have a new favorite meal. Salmon Croquettes. I found this simple, yet classy kinda recipe from Tasty Kitchen about a month ago and put it on my list of I-have-to-make-this-asap recipes. Well, it was a success! Mr. Cook enjoyed it just as much as I did. I’m hoping that whenever my last name matches his, I will have that Cook exquisite taste.

Here are the cast of characters for this meal…

You can find the detailed measurements and steps on the link above. But here’s how it works in lamen terms…

Chop an onion , saute it in butter, and add a clove or minced garlic…

Throw onion/garlic mix and the rest of the ingredients in a bowl and get your hands dirty…

Form those salmon croquettes into patties (they are basically like crab cakes, but salmon). And let them chill for about 15 minutes in the refrigerator (important step!)

On medium high heat, cook them on the stovetop until they are nice and brown. Well, maybe more tan. Brown may be too burnt. Yeah, let’s go with tan. Add a few more bread crumbs to each side while tanning.

Then serve with other delicious sides like asparagus and rice…yum! Whenever you are preparing more of a fancy meal where you are putting special effort into the presentation of it, it’s important to put foods that go well together. Not just taste well together, but also look good together. Like they were made for one another.

I heard gourmet cooking defined as being an art where you consider balances between textures and colors that has a lasting, memorable effect on the time allotted to the eating experience. Keep in mind, this is like low grade “gourmet.” It was REALLY simple. However, I want to be able to make meals where I consider it an art… my time to create whatever I want for the certain occasion to make the people involved happy. Just like Steve Jobs who was obsessed with design and ran one of the most successful companies in the world. Appearance does make a difference.