Archive | February, 2012

To Coupon or Not to Coupon: The Update

29 Feb
Coupon holder

I will not be an Extreme Couponer, I will not be an Extreme Couponer, I will not be an Extreme Couponer, I will not be.... Remember when I said that??

It’s been exactly one month since my post where I announced that I had decided to try couponing. If you remember, my friend Karen had recommended that I try it out and I decided that even though my grocery stores didn’t accept coupons, I did enough shopping at stores like Walmart, Target and CVS, all of whom did accept manufacturer’s coupons, that I’d try it out and see how I did.

Holy Cow.

It’s addicting. It’s exhilarating.

I love it.

I’m very good at it, or at least I think I am.

And, best of all, I actually have been saving us tons of money, while getting us tons of free stuff we need too, for one month now. Because of our tight budget, having coupons on name brand items has allowed us some treats that we normally couldn’t afford, along the way as well, and that’s been fun. I’ve never seen my kids so excited for yogurt as they were the night I brought home all the Yoplait Crunch yogurts and the Yoplait flavored yogurts. They took turns calling out who was getting to eat which flavor and Alex took over loading them all into a special spot in the fridge. Yogurt. Really.

Here’s my recap of the last month; how it’s gone and what I’ve learned.

First, before I begin, I can’t thank my friends Karen and Pam enough. Both of them provided me with lots of couponing advice and Pam is local, so she was even nice enough to come with me a couple of times and was very patient as I shopped. Both of them were also extremely patient all month long as I would shop and then send them photos, texts and instant messages of what I’d just scored for free. Very patient, very good friends.

So here’s what I learned:

Free pens at Target

I found that I got the best deals once I'd gathered lots of coupons. These three packs of pens were at Target for 97 cents but I had three one dollar off coupons so all three packs were free!

1) To actually be a couponer, you actually have to *have* coupons. That may sound basic and obvious, but it’s actually more important than I knew. For example, if you can find multiple coupons for the same item, you can buy lots of it when it’s on sale and that’s what helps you get your items for free. The very first time I really went shopping with my coupons I spent more than I had to out of pocket because my coupon stash wasn’t up to snuff yet. I still got free stuff, but I knew that if I had multiple coupons, I’d have done much better than I did that first time.  To that end, I began following several different coupon sites on Facebook and on various websites (Coupon Hauls, Dreamzncolor, Coupon Mom, Simply CVS and Coupon Divas are just a few of the ones I’ve found and used.) I know that on TV they show people “dumpster diving” for multiple sets of coupons, but I have found that getting them online has been helpful and one week my friend Pam gave me A TON of coupon booklets that she was done with, and after three hours of cutting them and filing them, I was in business for real (at least until all of those expire!)

Coupon files

My first purchase: a way to organize and store my coupons. Organization is key.

2) To actually be a couponer, you need to have an organized way of storing your coupons. People use binders, expandable files, bins and more. I chose to buy two expandable files, each one has 13 spots plus extra spots in the front. I got them at Target. I chose to organize them in alphabetical order so the first one is A-D and the last one is D-Z.  So far, I haven’t had any problems with this method.

3) It’s important to go in with a list. Know what you’re looking for, what you have coupons for, what you’re getting for free, and what you need to put into separate transactions, if applicable. Being organized is key. Several of the sites I mentioned above do this organizing for you. They tell you what’s on sale at a store, what manufacturer’s coupons are out there and even give you a link to print them from if available. They also often tell you the best way to get the most for free, as in which coupons to use and how to organize your transactions. There’s lots of information and help out there.

My first coupon haul

This was my January 30 haul of free stuff from CVS-every item seen here was free- but this was not my best one. I put out more out of pocket money then I like to now. But, I'd just started. What did I know?

When I wrote my original post in January, one of the things I said was that I didn’t want to go to more than the stores I normally would go to, that I just wanted to save on what I already bought, where I already bought it. I’m pleased to say I’ve stuck to that, but I can tell you it’s SO tempting to look at other circulars and see what else is out there, where else I could go. For now though, I’m sticking to my guns. I normally shopped at Target, Walmart and CVS for my non-food items and that’s where I’ve focused my couponing efforts.

I also had two other goals in mind when I decided to start.

The first was that I didn’t want to spend hours and hours doing this. I didn’t want it to take a whole lot longer than making a normal shopping list would take. I will say the very first time I did it, it took me a little bit of time to organize myself, but overall, I don’t spend a ton of time on getting ready. I am not one who wants to make this my full time job. I don’t want to spend 40 hours a week couponing and shopping. Maybe some day I will change my mind, but at this point, I’m not feeling it. I like going on my way to or from work or when I have a few minutes before I need to pick up my kids at school, but I don’t spend 13 hours in a store, or 40 hours a week making lists, the way I’ve seen on TV.

Health and beauty shelf

Here's where I store all body wash, shaving cream, shampoo, conditioner, deoderant and toothpaste. Once it's full, it's full. There's no more space now, and this photos doesn't even show it completely full.

The second goal was that I would never buy more than I could store. It’s only been a month, but I can already see why these extreme couponers end up storing 200 rolls of toilet paper under their kids’ beds and in their living rooms. I can see how it can get out of hand.

The first thing I had to do very quickly was figure out where I was going to store the things I was getting for free; or what everyone calls their “stockpiles.” Since I was mostly shopping for health and beauty items, I went into my downstairs bathroom and completely cleared off one shelf in there. I decided that was my space for stockpiling and once that space was full, I’d not buy those particular items again until I had more space to put them on the shelf.

My shelf was full in two and a half weeks. Full.

Medicine and makeup basket

Here's where I currently store any medications and makeup items that I get for free, as well as anything that won't stand up on a shelf, like toothbrushes.

I took a big basket for any medication type stuff I was getting for free as well as makeup items. That basket was pretty big and many of those makeup items are pretty small, so that basket isn’t filling up as quickly as my shelf.

My pantry shelves in the garage are still for food items, but since I buy most of my food items at stores that don’t take coupons, that hasn’t been much of an issue, except for the week when I got ten free boxes of Cheerios at CVS. That created kind of a storage issue. However, we go through a lot of cereal so it was only a temporary storage issue.

At Target on Saturday night I got all this for just $20 because I had so many coupons. I didn't have coupons for the eggs, sausage and tortilla wrappers (wrappers not shown) but everything else I did. For example, the vitamins which are normally $6 I paid $2.16 for.

My most favorite and most successful shopping trips have been at CVS, with Target being a close second. The reason being that they both provide sales and their own store coupons that can be combined with manufacturer’s coupons too. I never knew that. So for example, if you see something on sale at CVS, and they have their own coupon for it, and you have manufacturer’s coupons too, and if by chance you get their Extra Bucks as a result of purchasing said items, you’re golden. CVS also recently changed their coupon policy too, where you can not only use coupons on the items you buy, but if you have a buy one get one free sale, you can use coupons on the item you buy as well as the item you get free. That’s how I ended up with so many boxes of cereal. CVS also has a coupon machine when you walk in the door where you can scan your CVS card every single day, several times in one trip, and get coupons and sometimes even Extra Bucks too. I spent a lot of time in February getting reacquainted with my local CVS stores.

On the list of things I never knew was:

Getting better...at CVS on February 13 I spent $20 out of pocket for items not pictured here, and then got all this totally free with coupons and Extra Bucks I'd earned. Pam was there, I did a little dance when we left the store. I couldn't believe how well I'd done.

1) How often CVS has sales where you earn Extra Bucks just by making a purchase. “Buy this item and get $4 Extra Bucks at the register.” You then can turn around and use those extra bucks to purchase more items, totally free. On one of my trips I earned $42 in Extra Bucks. I spent them on items that earned me more Extra Bucks and earned $12 more Extra Bucks. Additionally, all quarter long you’re earning an additional percentage your spending back in the form of Extra Bucks that you’ll get at the end of each quarter. CVS also has a Beauty Club and every time you spend $50 you get $5 Extra Bucks, even if the $50 you “spent” was on things you “bought” for free. On your one year anniversary with their Beauty Club you get a 10% off your next Beauty Purchase coupon and it’s off your entire purchase plus what you purchase earns you more extra bucks. It’s never-ending.

2) Target’s Red Card can be a debit card OR a credit card and every time you use it you get 5% off your purchase plus your school of choice earns points. I always thought it was a credit card only and we don’t do credit cards, so I never applied for one. Now I have one and use it every time I shop.

Free stuff from CVS

Another CVS haul. I spent $27.10 out of pocket for items not pictured here, and got all of this for free, earning more Extra Bucks from this purchase as well.

Another goal I had was not purchasing anything I wouldn’t normally use or need at my house, just because it’s free, and so far I’ve been good at that. But I will say, I’m an easy-to-please shopper because in general we are not brand-specific unless there’s something we totally hate and won’t use. So for example if Crest Toothpaste is free one week, I’ll get it. If Colgate Toothpaste is free another week, I’ll get it. If Dove Body Wash is free, I buy it, and if the next week it’s Softsoap body wash, I get that too. Until I find something I hate, any brand is good. And I can tell you, I won’t need to buy body wash or deoderant or shaving cream or shampoo and conditioner for a long…long….time. Although on the flip side, with four women in the house, we go through one bottle of shampoo and one bottle of conditioner every single week on average. So although it looks like a lot on hand, it goes fast.

My month’s end total for spending and saving is as follows:

What I would have spent on Health and Beauty at Target, Walmart and CVS this month before coupons and Extra Bucks:  $588.31

What I actually spent: $317.50 (and sometimes what I spent out of pocket was just paying tax, 91 cents here, 42 cents there….)

That’s a savings of $270.81 of items I got for free.

.

100% free at Staples if you mail in the rebates. That to me, is worth it for the 42 cent stamp

What I got back additionally in rebates (another new-found joy I’ve discovered in this experience): $31.96

Total out of pocket this month after the rebates: $285.54 ($71 per week)

The biggest difference I see is that normally each month in between the grocery shopping at Price Rite or Aldi’s I’d be spending at least $100 or more every pay period at Walmart or Target or CVS on needed health and beauty items, over the counter medicine, paper goods and cleaning items and I’d only buy what I needed because I was paying full price for them. For example, in my basket photo, notice the Align? It’s normally more than $30 a box for a month’s worth of pills, which I’d pay out of pocket for every month because my daughter has to take it every day. Of the three in the basket, two were free, and one I got down to $14.

This month I noticed already that my usual “big” shopping at Price Rite two weeks ago was also less than normal, under $200 for two weeks’ worth of items and I know that it’s partly due to the fact that many of the items I automatically bought there, I now had on hand for free because of my couponing (like cereal, lunchbox snacks like granola bars, and Kleenex for example). Now that it’s time to shop again, there’s very little that I need because of my new “stockpile,” so I expect my next trip’s total to be way down as well.

I also noticed that I didn’t need to make not even one single Walmart run this month for health and beauty items or cleaning items. I got them all using my coupons at Target or CVS and earned a large portion of them for free. That’s the kind of thing I was just automatically buying as needed before, and paying full price. Now, not only did I buy what was on my list for right now, in some cases, I also have it on hand for later too, saving me money down the line as well.

Because my first shopping trip on January 30th was the one where I spent more out of pocket than I wanted to, I am curious to see how month two goes, now that I know what I’m doing and now that I have more coupons. After that first trip, my next trips had shockingly less out of pocket than that first one, so I know I’m already doing better.

VO5 Free Shampoo and Conditioner

This was one of my favorite CVS hauls because it was a total shock. I ran in for conditioner one night, we were totally out and the kids were IN the shower at home. I quickly scanned my CVS card, and to my surprise I found that I had $5 in Extra Bucks. I went to get my favorite shampoo and conditioner, the VO5, which is normally 99 cents a bottle. It was on sale for 77 cents a bottle. I came home with seven bottles and paid 42 cents out of pocket.

So there you have it. My one month update on couponing. I love it, I now see a huge value in it, both in the money I’m saving and the fact that I have things on hand now that I don’t have to buy just when I’m out of them, in turn paying full price instead of having gotten it on sale with coupons and stockpiling it.

I shudder to think of all the coupons I’ve tossed in the past, all the money I could’ve saved, but my friend Pam is good about telling me not to look back, to only look forward.

And then, she gives me more coupons.

Chicken Bundles

28 Feb
Chicken bundles

You can stuff the chicken with just about anything you'd like. On this particular night I stuffed half with broccoli and half with spinach.

Back when I was a college student, I lived in a house with my friend Karen for a year. Because we were renting a full house, we had a full kitchen and we did lots of cooking. Correction: she did lots of cooking. I got several of my best recipes that I still use today, from her. When we moved out of our house at the end of that school year, she gave me a cookbook she’d made with some of my favorite recipes from her in it. Today’s recipe is one of those recipes that I got from Karen, and of course like all my favorite recipes, it’s super easy and super delicious.

The official name of it is Chicken Asparagus Bundles, but we have made them with either asparagus or broccoli or spinach and all have been great. It’s a fast recipe and when I made it last week after not having made it for a long, long time, it got five thumbs up here; a minor miracle. Even Alex, my meat-hater-since-birth, loved it. We served it with couscous that night, and a Caesar Salad on the side. On that particular night I split the bundles so that half contained broccoli and half contained spinach. Normally when we buy our frozen broccoli we buy Broccoli Florets. On one of our trips recently we accidentally bought Broccoli Cuts, which I hate because it’s almost all stems and very few florets (despite the package picture). This recipe was perfect for the cuts because I picked out all the florets to stuff half of the chicken bundles with, threw out all the stems, and then used frozen cut spinach for the rest of the chicken.

(As a total aside, this same cream cheese used here is fabulous for making stuffed mushrooms. Try it some day! Just stuff them, bake them, and eat them!)

Ingredients for Chicken Bundles

It was when I saw the cream cheese at Aldi's that I remembered this long-forgotten recipe. I hadn't made it in so long and I couldn't wait to make it!

INGREDIENTS

6 boneless chicken breast halves (I use chicken tenders.)

1 eight ounce container soft cream cheese with chives and onions

18 fresh asparagus stalks steamed until crisp tender OR thawed frozen broccoli OR thawed frozen cut leaf spinach. (I nuke the broccoli and/or the spinach to partially thaw them before stuffing the chicken.)

Butter

Paprika

Ready to go into the oven!

DIRECTIONS

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Flatten breast halves to even thickness with mallet. (I don’t need to do that for the tenders.)

Trim asparagus stems to 4 inches, if using asparagus. If not, prepare the broccoli and/or the spinach.

Spread each breast half with about 2 Tablespoons of cream cheese. (Or spread about 1 Tablespoon onto a tender.)

Place your chosen veggies inside and wrap as shown here, forming a roll.

Place rolls seam-side down in a buttered baking  dish.

Place a small pat of butter on top of each bundle.
Bake 45 minutes, baste with pan drippings after 30 minutes.

To serve, spoon any melted cheese in pan over rolls, sprinkle with paprika. (I never sprinkle with paprika.)

Cooked and ready to serve. Enjoy!

Lenten Sacrifices: what gives?

27 Feb

What to give up for Lent?

Last Wednesday was the start of Lent for our family and for many of our friends. It means that the Easter holiday is in just forty short days. Forty days to prepare yourself, however you choose to do so.

For many people, myself included, the big question is always “What should I give up for Lent this year?”

Last week, when I was in a particularly flippant and cynical mood, I posted on Facebook, saying that there wasn’t a whole lot to give up, and that as far as my beloved chocolate chips, well I just couldn’t go there. Not this year.

We live a pretty frugal lifestyle right now, so we sacrifice so much it seems, already. We only buy what we absolutely need, we only go out when we have freebies if at all possible, and we have given up pretty much everything, for just a short while longer. But, it leaves not a whole lot left to give up.

Or so I thought.

I was surprised though, my kids all chose something to give up, even though none of them are 14 so really, by the church’s rules, they don’t have to give up anything. We do abide by the no meat on Friday rule as a family though, so I guess it shouldn’t surprise me a whole lot that they wanted to partake in this part of Lent as well. Even if they don’t make it the whole 40 days with their sacrifices, I’m proud of them for trying.

And then came the question….

“Well Mommy, what are *you* giving up for Lent?”

BAM!!

There it was.

How could I not give something up for Lent if they all were? One was even giving up computer time. Gasp…I could never.

But I went back to that Facebook post from last week and re-read some of the answers that were there, this time I was in a more serious mood, less joking than I was when I originally posted, and I really began to consider them one by one, except Barbara’s who said to give up Facebook. Nope.

I liked the one from Dolores’ priest, who said to try to complain less. I don’t think I complain a lot, but then if you ask my family, it’s really all I do, in their opinion. :) I guess I could try that one.

But there were several others that I liked also, people whose priests suggested adding positivity to your life by trying to do a particular something more often, something good, something positive. I liked that.

Another friend said their priest suggested trying to do something that’s hard to do normally, something that takes extra effort, whether it is being nice to someone you don’t like a lot, or something like that. Also a possibility.

We too, went to church on Ash Wednesday and our deacon said something I found interesting as well, he mentioned that you might start praying for someone who needs it, and you might not even know that person personally, but you might know of them and know they need the extra prayers, so you could add that into your day.  Very thought provoking idea.

However, one thing stuck out most from all the friendly comments and suggestions. Dolores’ priest said, “and if you fall off the wagon, get right back on and try again.”

I guess I liked that piece of advice the most because in my mind, no one is perfect. No one is successful every time, but it’s the thought and the effort that counts.

During this time of Lent, I think it’s more about taking the time to think and reflect and make the effort to work on something, whether you’re giving it up or adding it in. It is about making yourself a better person, or at least trying to be a better person. I know we all try to live our lives to be the best we can be, but I also know that for me personally, there’s always room for improvement. And who knows, it only takes three weeks to form a good habit or something like that, so if we do end up being successful for forty days, then maybe the new good habit or whatever change we make, will stick for the long term.

And that, a true Lenten lesson, was my takeaway from what originally started out as a flippant Facebook post. Think, reflect, try hard and then try harder.

And if at first you don’t succeed, try and try again.

Sunday breakfast: Baked Apple Pancake

26 Feb
Slice of baked apple pancake

Baked apple pancake is great with or without maple syrup, and great with a dollop of whipped cream if you like it!

I don’t know about you, but on the weekends I look forward to having a big family breakfast. Usually it’s the typical pancakes, french toast or waffle breakfast, but every once in a while we do something special. In the past I’ve posted a couple of baked french toast recipes, but today’s is slightly different: Baked Apple Pancake. I love this recipe and not only is it good for a weekend breakfast, it’s also good if you’re hosting a brunch. We used to have several “Bickford’s” restaurants near us, all of which have now closed. However, they used to have a similar menu item, the Baby Apple and the Big Apple pancakes. This recipe always reminds me of Bickford’s.

Two baked apple pancakes

Watching these puff up when they cook is fun for the kids. They do deflate slightly after they come out of the oven and cool down a bit.

The recipe is somewhat involved, so give yourself some time if you’re making it. I usually make two for our family. It’s enough for everyone to have seconds and then there’s a bunch left over for a special mid-week treat for their breakfast or mine!

Below is the single recipe:

INGREDIENTS

6 eggs
1 1/2 cup milk
1 cup flour
3 Tbl. sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/2 c. margarine or butter (I use one stick of butter.)
2 apples peeled and thin sliced (at least two, depending on size. You want them to cover most of the bottom of the pan.)
4 Tbl. brown sugar  (at least, I think I use a bit more until the top is generously doused in brown sugar)

Make sure your pancake is cooked all the way through before letting it cool.

DIRECTIONS

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Melt margarine, don’t brown, in 10×10 or 7×12 dish (I use 11 x7 or 9×13 because that’s what I have) coated with nonstick spray.

Peel and slice apples while butter is melting.

Add apple slices to pan, spread out so they cover the bottom (which has the melted butter in it.)

Return to oven til butter sizzles.

In bowl, mix eggs, milk, flour, sugar salt, vanilla and cinnamon. Batter should be slightly lumpy.

Remove, pour batter over apples, top with brown sugar.

Bake 20-25 minutes or until puffed and lightly browned. Make sure the center is solidly cooked before you take it out to cool.

Serve with whipped cream if desired.

Serves 4-6.

Did you survive February Vacation Week? Reward yourself!

24 Feb
Vanilla pudding dessert with vanilla wafers, strawberries and bananas

A perfect treat for the end of the week!

It’s Friday!

Did you survive the week?

If so, treat yourself to a super-simple dessert that I found on Pinterest (been on there yet??) and just had to pin for future use. The future came sooner than later! If you click on the underlined words above, it’ll take you right to the blog post where I got the recipe from.

In the past, I’ve mixed vanilla wafers, vanilla pudding and bananas for a treat before, but this recipe just looked so much better because she served it in mason jars, and I just so happened to have mason jars downstairs, sitting there doing nothing.

I also happened to have both bananas and strawberries, which in my opinion go so well together, so I figured I’d throw some of those in as well.

I got my ingredients at Aldi's, including the bananas, the strawberries and the milk.

To make this, I used two small packages of instant vanilla pudding, just as I would to make pudding for my family usually, plus three bananas and almost the entire package of strawberries. I don’t have a specific number of vanilla wafers to tel you that I used, but I made six mason jars worth of dessert, so I used almost the whole package of vanilla wafers. I just threw them into a gallon-sized ziploc bag and used my rolling pin to crush them up.

You have to let the pudding chill once it’s mixed, so I mixed it first and did the other ingredients next. Once it was sufficiently solid, I started my assembly line of layering the ingredients in the jars.

mason jars

Assembly line layering worked best for creating this dessert.

The layering was easy. I simply layered the vanilla wafers first, then the pudding and the fruit. I did another layer of wafers, a little more pudding and fruit and then whipped cream on top with a couple of strawberries for a garnish. If you have any of those nice long iced tea spoons, they are the perfect utensil to use for eating this type of dessert.

This is also the kind of thing that doesn’t keep well, so once you make it, you have to eat it right away or else the vanilla wafers get soggy inside the jars and obviously you can’t refrigerate it with the cream and strawberries on top either!

I think it’s a perfect dessert for company, for summertime, or….for the last day of February Vacation!! I also saw a comment on the original post that said someone put in mini chocolate chips too! Wouldn’t *that* be yummy?! I didn’t have any, but it’s on the list for next time!

I bet your mouth is watering right now!

Enjoy!

A February Vacation treat so easy even your kids can make it!

23 Feb
Rice Krispie treat cookie cutter snacks

Caroline has been dying to try making this snack for months apparently!

My kids have definitely inherited my creative bug. They like to craft and bake all the time. They’re constantly looking in their magazines for recipes, crafts and games. I can’t keep up with all of the things they find that they want to make, try or do, in addition to all the things I want to make, try and do. (And, can I just say, it’s a good thing none of my kids are on Pinterest yet. They’d be addicted!)

Apparently way back in the fall Caroline found a snack she wanted to try out and allegedly I gave my standard answer of “We’ll see,” or maybe it was “Yup, but not today,” and forgot all about it.

Alex told me that this day was her favorite day ever because she got to paint AND play Playdoh both on the same day. Both make for good, relaxing vacation day fun!

Saturday she came up to me out of the blue and asked if she could please make this snack for her sisters, who were painting and playing play doh. She reminded me that she’s been asking me since October and that I keep brushing her off for one reason or another. This time I really had no reason to say no. I mean there was already a mess in the dining room, what’s one more activity going on in the kitchen? (And I must say, she didn’t even make a mess, she was very neat.)

Painting, like coloring, is a relaxing and engaging activity for kids of any age.

She went in and didn’t allow anyone else in there the entire time she was working, so I don’t have a ton of details for you. What I do know is that at some point on the TLC show, “Cake Boss,” she saw Buddy, the Cake Boss himself, take Rice Krispie Treats and flatten them out, using cookie cutters to make them into shapes, then frosting them to add to their cake creations. We happened to have a package of individual serving Rice Krispie treats in our snack box for school snacks. Caroline took “a whole bunch of those, there’s not too many left Mom,” and rolled them into balls together. Next, using a pizza dough roller, she rolled them out to a more workable thickness and used a variety of cookie cutters to make them into shapes. She then used several of my frostings, icings and other decorative treats to create cute little snacks for her sisters to eat when they were done with their crafting fun.

Decorated Rice Krispie Treat snacks

I was proud of Caroline for trying out this cute snack for her sisters.

Everyone stayed busy that afternoon, everyone loved the special snack, and Caroline was so proud of herself. I was proud of her, and glad I’d finally said yes, even though I only vaguely remember being asked to begin with!

I can definitely recommend this as a snack that kids can make in the kitchen themselves, with little to no help, depending on their ages. It’s not a particularly healthy snack, but it’s a fun treat and makes for a fun afternoon! If you’re looking for something to keep your kids occupied this February Vacation week, try out Caroline and Buddy’s Rice Krispie Treat snack!

February vacation AND Ash Wednesday…a double whammy!

22 Feb

All you need for a great meatless meal during Lent!

Surviving February Vacation week? I hope so! I know a lot of schools don’t actually have a vacation in February, but in our neck of the woods we do, and I’m always grateful for the break. Have you been doing anything special? If you live near a national state park, check out their website. Oftentimes they have special things planned for school vacation weeks. If not, you can always set up an indoor campsite with tents or forts.

Alex set up “Camp Rock” in our house the other day with her guitar and all kinds of stuff in her tent in her bedroom. Kept her amused and busy for quite some time. I always find forts to be a good use of time also. They stay in them for hours.

Alex was set up in her tent for a long time the other day! Forts and tents = tons of fun!

This week Lent begins in the Catholic religion, which means for my family that today is Ash Wednesday and so begins the 40 days of Lent. During Lent there are several practices we follow, one of which is the giving up of meat on certain days, namely holy days and Fridays.

One of our favorite meatless meals is Grandma Rose’s Tuna and Spaghetti. It’s pasta with a twist. It’s a Depression era meal, one that she grew up on back in the 1930’s. It’s one of our family’s favorite meals, and whenever people hear about it, they first say “ewwww” til they taste it. I’ve never had anyone try it and not like it. If you’re looking for something different to try during your 40 days of Lent, or just in general (because we do it this all year long too) give it a whirl and let me know what you think!

Tuna and spaghetti sauce

There's nothing like a pot of bubbling sauce simmering away on the stove!

GRANDMA ROSE’S FAMOUS TUNA AND SPAGHETTI

INGREDIENTS

one 28 ounce can Kitchen Ready Tomatoes

one 6 1/2 ounce can Bumble Bee Tuna and Oil

one clove garlic

1 TBl. olive oil

salt, pepper, basil, oregano to taste

1 cup water

DIRECTIONS

Use 2 qt. sauce pan and brown the garlic and oil.

Remove garlic

Add tomatoes (you can angle the cover of the pan over the pan to avoid splatter.)

Add one cup of water, plus salt, pepper, oregano and basil.

Cook on low heat for 1/2 hour.

Add tuna, including oil in can, and continue to simmer for 15-20 minutes.

Grandma Rose gave us her pasta bowl for serving our pasta. I think of her every time we use it and she's so glad we get lots of use out of it!

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