Archive | Shopping on a budget RSS feed for this section

Summer Couponing Update

14 Jul
Last week's CVS haul was amazing!

Last week’s CVS haul was amazing! I spent $6 on all of this, which is equivalent to paying for just one purple bottle of the shampoo shown here. I had $25 in Extra Care Bucks and a variety of manufacturer’s coupons to combine with the CVS weekly promotions and sales.

It’s been such a long time since I did a couponing post. The springtime is so busy at work and at home that I don’t have as much time to devote to couponing as I’d like, so I didn’t have a lot of really great hauls to write about. I got lots of little deals here and there, but nothing really blog-worthy.

However, this summer in just one week’s time or so, I had two huge hauls and when I posted the photo shown here on the left on Facebook last week, I had a lot of “Please tell me how!” type of requests, so I decided that I’d do a post about couponing soon.

On the night that I came home with all of the items shown here, I said to my husband, “And I bet when I go back, I’ll have earned $5 from the Beauty Club too!” At CVS, for every $50 you spend on beauty products you get $5 back. Shampoo, conditioner, hair color, hair supplies, body wash, and all makeup products count as beauty supplies. With three girls and myself living here, we go through a whole lot of all those things. At CVS there’s always great sales and great CVS coupons to stack along with the  manufacturer’s coupons for all these types of items, you can’t go wrong.

Sure enough, when I went to CVS tonight (I realized we were completely out of extra toothbrushes and I’d just tossed mine in the trash) my $5 Beauty Club reward popped out, but so did a $5 Prescription program reward! I walked into the store with $10 to spend for free! (At CVS, for every 10 prescriptions you fill, you earn $5. You can sign up three customers per loyalty card.)

My coupons and Extra Care Bucks rewards in hand, I headed straight to the toothbrush section. After comparing prices and sales, I opted to just go with a basic set of two CVS brand toothbrushes. From there I moved on to the makeup section because when I’d scanned my card at the CVS machine, a coupon for $4 off $12 of makeup popped out. I try to keep things like foundation, mascara, and concealer, on hand because again…a house full of women, two of whom use makeup, we go through quite a bit.

This week's haul was just as good, if not better, than last week's! I had $22 in Extra Care Bucks and several manufacturers coupons to combine with the new week's sales and promotions at CVS!

This week’s haul was just as good, if not better, than last week’s! I had $22 in Extra Care Bucks and several manufacturer’s coupons to combine with the new week’s sales and promotions at CVS!

Imagine my surprise when I came upon the Physicians Formula makeup section and saw those bright yellow CVS signs that said, “Buy any 2 Physicians Formula items and receive $10 in Extra Care Bucks!” I couldn’t believe my luck! I had $4 off already! I grabbed two of the concealers that we use, which are $6.99 each, which gave me the $12 I needed to spend to use the CVS $4 coupon, knowing I’d earned my $10 back.

I moved on to the cereal section. We go through tons of cereal for breakfast and snacks, especially in the summer. I buy a huge variety usually, and we range from the healthier types to the sweeter types, depending on what coupons I have, what’s on sale and what’s left on the pantry shelves.

I had a $1 off 3 Kellogg’s cereals coupon as well as a $1 coupon off two boxes of the Cheerios in the yellow box, which also had a “get $2 Extra Care Bucks Back” sign on display.

In the end I had a total of $22 Extra Care Bucks and spent only $7 out of pocket for my entire haul shown here. That’s equivalent to paying for just one of the concealer sticks!!

I can’t emphasize enough that it’s so important to utilize all aspects of any store’s promotions in addition to manufacturer’s coupons when you shop, no matter what store you’re at. If the store utilizes a customer loyalty program, sign up for it. If they accept their own store coupons, internet coupons, manufacturer’s coupons or any combination of those things, use them to your benefit. Try to shop the sales and promotions even if you don’t currently need a particular item. If it’s something you use, it’s better to get it for free or almost free, ahead of time than to pay full price for it the day you need it. My toothbrushes are a perfect example. I’m usually very good about keeping them on hand from sales and promotions as well as from the dentist and I have enough toothpaste to sink a small ship, but somehow I’d forgotten to keep up with the toothbrushes, so some of my first $5 of Extra Care Bucks went right to a 2-pack of toothbrushes. That’s kind of a waste of Extra Care Bucks, but at least I had them to use and I didn’t have to pay for them anywhere out of pocket.

In my first week’s haul shown above, the majority of my coupons were CVS store coupons coupled with their own store promotions. At CVS you can stack their own store coupons with each other, so for example, if you have a CVS coupon off of Almay makeup for $2 off $10, and you have a CVS coupon for $5 off $15 of makeup, you can use both. If you have manufacturer’s coupons off of Almay you can use those as well. And if you’re lucky there may be a promotion going on such as a Buy One Get One 50% off, or an Extra Care Bucks promotion where you earn back some of what you’ve spent. If you have two manufacturer’s coupons for the same item and you buy two of that item you can use both coupons in addition to your CVS coupons. You can use manufacturer’s coupons off of the half-priced items and even off the free items for a Buy One Get One Free promotion.

No matter what store you go to, be sure to know their coupon policies before you go in. Not all stores are the same. I do the best with my coupons at CVS and Target in my area because they have their own store coupons and promotions to couple with the manufacturer’s coupons.

If you’re new to couponing, or want to be, I’d say start small. Pick just a couple of stores that you frequent most and try it out there before going all over the place trying to hit up every store in your town with your coupons. And remember, anything you save is better than not saving at all, and you’ll get out of it what you put in to it. If you have lots of time to devote, you’ll save more money. If you have a little bit of time to devote to it, you’ll save a little less money, but every penny saved is money in your pocket rather than someone else’s pocket!

Good luck and happy saving!!

Fun Friday: New blender review and recipe

13 Jun
A new blender for all our delicious smoothies!

A new blender for all our delicious smoothies!

You know you’ve been married a long time when a new blender in the house is super-exciting news.

We used to have a blender that we’d had for years and years. It did a decent job and it got quite a bit of use in our kitchen. However, it couldn’t really handle ice, especially when we wanted smoothies, and it was extremely loud when we used it with ice. It didn’t matter though, we kept on using it. If it’s not broken, as they say, don’t fix it.

Well, that philosophy worked until the day smoke came out of the old blender during a smoothie-making session. My husband was making the smoothies and he called out to me from the kitchen.

“I think the blender’s dead,” he said.

“If it’s that black stuff that shows up after you use it, it always does that, it’s fine,” I said.

“And does it always have smoke coming out of it?” he asked.

“The blender’s dead,” I said.

What a bummer: Time to buy a new blender, just a few weeks after our toaster-oven had also passed on into the world of over-used appliances.

But, on the bright side: Yay!!! I get to go blender shopping!!!

I decided that this time, I would shop with purpose. I wanted an affordable blender that could handle the blending of ice and frozen fruits which are so often the ingredients in our cool, refreshing smoothies.

As I wandered through Target one day, the Ninja blender caught my eye. It caught my eye because it had one of those great little red Target signs that alerts you to the fact that not only is something on sale, but you also got a gift card with its purchase.

In this particular case the blender I was looking at was on sale for $139 and you received a $25 Target gift card back with the purchase. Additionally, I am a Red Card carrier, which means I get an additional 5% off of my purchases all the time. The Red Card can be a debit card or a credit card, and ours is a debit card so our purchases still come out of our checking account.

I examined the blender box. It was an 1100 watt blender. It came with not one, but TWO travel-sized cups that fit right on top of the blender so that you blend right into them, cover and you’re good to go. The blender had three speeds as well as a Pulse button, which I never truly understand the purpose of, but it must be important so it’s good that it was there. It had a pour spout on the big blender pitcher, which I loved and it was easy to take apart and clean.

Best of all: it was advertised as being powerful enough to take on ice.

Frozen strawberries gave this smoothie a nice frozen consistency and the blender had no trouble with the frozen fruit.

Frozen strawberries gave this smoothie a nice frozen consistency and the blender had no trouble with the frozen fruit.

That’s really all I needed to see. That and the gift card special and I was sold.

On my way out of the appliance section I swung by the frozen fruit case and grabbed a bag of frozen strawberries. I could already envision a delicious smoothing coming together in our new blender that very afternoon.

Once we got the blender open and out of the box, I was really able to see some neat features on the new blender, things that I loved that I didn’t even knew were priorities.

I loved that the cover of the blender locks on and needs to be released to come off. I loved that the cover has a pour spout that opens and closes.
I loved the single-serve shake options. I loved that the measuring markings on the blender were in dark print. My last blender had a glass pitcher and the markings were raised glass so they were hard to see.

Best of all, our smoothies have been delicious.

The smoothie above has the following ingredients in it:

Two bananas

1/3 cup Nutella

1 pkg. frozen strawberries (I used 16 oz.)

about 4 cups of skim milk

This smoothie was delicious and had a decent amount of fruit in it for an after school snack!

We’ve also done chocolate/peanut butter/banana/vanilla low-fat yogurt smoothies and even a couple of “adult beverage” “smoothies” for a Memorial Day cookout we hosted. The blender has been great. It’s quieter than our old blender when we use ice and so far, no smoke, no black “stuff.” My husband has utilized the single-sized option several times and takes his smoothie to work with him in the car.

This is definitely a product I’d recommend to others. The price-point was good for our budget and the gift card helped us out too. If you’re in the market for a new blender I encourage you to consider the Ninja blender as an option! Although I have not been compensated by Target or Ninja for this review, I am so pleased with the product, I thought I’d share my opinions and experiences with you.

From after school snacks, morning breakfast to go, and adult beverages, this blender has been a great addition to our appliance family!

From after school snacks, morning breakfast to go, and adult beverages, this blender has been a great addition to our appliance family!

 

Fun Friday: Baked Oatmeal: It’s not just for breakfast

6 Jun
100_3245

I’d eat this for breakfast, lunch or dinner!

ORIGINALLY POSTED MAY 10, 2013: The other day I came across a great new recipe for baked oatmeal. It was on Skinnytaste.com, a blog I follow on Facebook. I love all kinds of oatmeal from steel cut to overnight to baked.

This recipe also had a fruity combination that I love: strawberry and rhubarb. I didn’t have rhubarb, but I noticed that it had bananas in it, and strawberry and banana is another top favorite combination of mine so I decided to make it without the rhubarb.

Besides the fact that I skipped the rhubarb, the other thing about this recipe is that I made it as an after school snack, not for breakfast! It was so good, and everyone had seconds, everyone loved it and there was very little left over.

I would definitely make this recipe again and if I had rhubarb, I’d throw it in there, but it was also fine without!

Without further ado, here, from the Skinnytaste Blog
For the fruit filling:

  • 2 1/2 cups strawberries, hulled and quartered
  • 3/4 cup rhubarb, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1 medium ripe banana, sliced thin
  • 1 tbsp cornstarch
  • 1/3 cup honey
This snack was quick to put together with simple ingredients.

This snack was quick to put together with simple ingredients.

For the Oats:

  • 1 cup uncooked quick oats (use GF oats if Gluten Free)
  • 1/3 cup slivered almonds
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 3/4 cup fat free milk (or any milk you desire)
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

DIRECTIONS
Preheat the oven to 375° F.  Lightly spray a 9 x 9″ ceramic baking dish with cooking spray; place banana slices on the bottom of the baking dish and set aside.

Combine the strawberries and rhubarb in a large bowl. Add honey, sprinkle with cornstarch and toss until fruit is well coated and place in prepared baking dish over the bananas.

In a medium bowl, combine the oats, half of almonds, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt; stir together.  In a separate bowl, whisk together the remaining honey, milk, egg, and vanilla extract, then add to the oats.

Pour the oat mixture over the strawberries and rhubarb, making sure to distribute the mixture evenly.  Sprinkle the remaining almonds over the the top.

Bake the oatmeal for about 40 minutes, or until the top is golden brown and the oatmeal has set. Serve warm from the oven.

What’s for Dinner Wednesday: Taco Stuffed Shells from She Knows and Gina

21 May
This Mexican/Italian meal was yummy!

This Mexican/Italian meal was yummy!

ORIGINALLY POSTED JUNE 26, 2013

I am never afraid to admit it: I love Facebook. I really do. I love connecting with people and I really love re-connecting with people. I also love food. I love seeing all the neat things that people are cooking and eating. Recently, a friend of Don’s from high school, Gina, posted the link to a recipe that he thought looked amazing. He posted it on my wall to see what I thought, and I thought it looked good too!

The recipe was from the site She Knows, and it certainly looked delicious! It was a recipe that combined jumbo Italian pasta shells with a Mexican filling. It sounded like something everyone would like and I actually had all but two of the ingredients to make it, we were only missing the taco seasoning and the cream cheese, both easy enough to pick up. This was also something we could make to fit our dietary restrictions just by using fat free cheese and low fat cream cheese. We also used ground turkey instead of ground beef, a leaner option.

This past weekend Don gave it at try. Using Gina’s recommendations, he also picked up a couple of side items: lettuce, tomato and avocado, which we served on the side. Everyone loved them! Everyone had second helpings also. This is a recipe I’d definitely make again.

Thank you for sharing, Gina!!

Stuffed Mexican shells recipe as seen on the “She Knows” website

Yields 16 stuffed shells

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 packet taco seasoning
  • 4 ounces cream cheese
  • 16 large pasta shells
  • 1 cup medium-spiced salsa, divided (more if desired) **we used mild, not medium
  • 1 cup shredded Mexican blend cheese

Directions:

  1. Brown ground beef, drain and add in package of taco seasoning. Prepare meat according to taco seasoning packet directions.
  2. Once cooked down, add in cream cheese and stir until it’s completely combined. Set aside.
  3. Add water to a large pot and put on stove to boil. Once boiling, add in 1 tablespoon kosher salt and large pasta shells. Boil till al dente.
  4. Once shells are cooked, drain, lay out in a single row and cool till they are cool enough to touch. Fill each shell with taco/cream cheese mixture. Start off by adding 1 tablespoon per shell and then adding more if there is leftover filling.
  5. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  6. Add 1/2 cup salsa to the bottom of an 8 x 8-inch pan and put stuffed shells into the pan so they are snug. Top shells with remaining 1/2 cup salsa.
  7. Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes until everything is warm.
  8. Take off foil and sprinkle with cheese and bake for another 15 minutes until cheese is melted and bubbling.

What’s for Dinner Wednesday: Garlic Roasted Kale

14 May
This made a nice change for us as a side dish with dinner.

This made a nice change for us as a side dish with dinner.

A while back I posted the recipe from our visit to the White House for the 2012 Kid’s State Dinner for Kale Chips. That visit was our first experience with kale chips, but it was not our last. My kids love them and it makes a great after school snack for sure.

Recently, however, I received an email for a variation of kale chips. This recipe was for Garlic Roasted Kale from the site My Recipes.com, and I thought I’d give it a try. The things that attracted me to this recipe were the fact that it included garlic, which I love, and it also included kosher salt, which I enjoy the flavor of as well.

I gave it a try one afternoon and the kids absolutely loved it. I decided to try it again most recently as a side dish for our dinner, instead of our usual broccoli or green beans or salad. As my kids were walking through the kitchen, they each asked what I was making and each time they were so excited when I said kale. I had to just shake my head in amazement. I don’t think I ever imagined I’d get three cheers for kale. Ever.

Below is the recipe from My Recipes.com for Garlic Roasted Kale. The only thing I skipped in this recipe was the vinegar at the end because I did not think the kids would like it, although I was pretty sure I would. The rest I did as was called for.

INGREDIENTS

  • 3 1/2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil$
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 garlic clove, thinly sliced
  • 10 ounces kale, stems removed and chopped$
  • 1 teaspoon sherry vinegar
  • DIRECTIONS
    1. Arrange oven racks in center and lower third of oven. Preheat oven to 425°. Place a large jelly-roll pan in oven for 5 minutes.
    2. Combine first 4 ingredients in a large bowl; toss to coat. Place kale mixture on hot pan, spreading with a silicone spatula to separate leaves. Bake at 425° for 7 minutes. Stir kale. Bake an additional 5 minutes or until edges of leaves are crisp and kale is tender.
    3. Place kale in a large bowl. Drizzle with vinegar; toss to combine. Serve immediately.

 

 

Easter Sweet Bread

16 Apr

This recipe makes three “small” loaves of sweet bread for Easter. It’s wonderful when you grill it!

Originally posted April 4, 2012

This recipe is one that takes a while from start to finish- nine hours to be exact- but if you’re game, it’s SO worth it! It is, of course, from my mom. She received it from a woman she worked with. It’s dated April 1992.

My mom makes it every year and I have made it once or twice myself. Don’t let the number of steps scare you off. If you go step-by-step it’s not hard.

Colleen DeMoranville’s Sweet Bread

INGREDIENTS

1/2 cup melted butter (1 stick)

2/3 cup sugar

1 tsp. salt

2 and 1/4 cups hot milk

1 pkg. dry yeast (Fleishman’s Active Dry or Rapid Rise or Red Star)

1 egg- well beaten

1 tsp. vanilla extract (can also use almond if desired)

7 cups flour (start with between five and six and add more if needed)

one 15 ounce can sliced peaches, drained and sliced thinner

DIRECTIONS

1) Mix butter, sugar, salt an d hot milk in a large bowl.

2) Let cool to lukewarm.

3) Stir yeast into 1/4 cup warm water and let stand 5 minutes. (If using a thermometer it’s 110-115 degrees.

4) Add 1/4 tsp sugar or whatever the package of yeast says to add.

5) Add dissolved yeast, egg, the extract and three cups of flour to the butter, sugar, salt and milk. Mix vigorously with flat wooden spoon.

6) Add three more cups of flour and then mix well.

7) If too sticky, add more flour. It almost always needs more, but not more than 7 cups. Too much flour will make the bread tough.

8) Turn out onto floured surface and knead it for one or two minutes, then let rest for 10 minutes. Add remaining flour only if sticky.

9) Knead more until elastic.

10) Put into large buttered bowl . Turn over once so it doesn’t dry out. Cover with a dishtowel or two and let it rise in a warm place until doubled. (Takes a few hours.)

11) Punch down and knead for another minute or two. Cut in half for two long loaves or in thirds for smaller loaves and divide each of those portions into three pieces (for a total of six or nine pieces.)

12) Stretch and roll each piece until long and uniform, about 12-18 inches if divided into two portions. Shorter if divided into three.

13) Use the three pieces to make a braid with each portion.

14) Pinch ends together.

15) Insert peach slices between braids.

16) Place each loaf on a buttered cookie sheet and cover with a towel. Let rise until doubled in bulk. (Takes about 2 hours.)

17) Brush each with one egg yolk that is mixed with 1 tsp. cold water.

18) Bake at 375 degrees for 25 minutes (check at about 20 minutes) if making 2 large loaves or less if making three smaller loaves (usually between 17 and 18 minutes)

19) Remove loaves to cooling racks.

20) Cool and then glaze with mixture of:

3 cups confectioner’s sugar

1 and 1/2 tsp. vanilla

5-6 tablespoons milk

Sprinkle with colored sprinkles or non-pareils.

This photo was taken a couple of years back when Elizabeth helped me make the bread. She was probably in first grade at the time. My point is: there’s lots of opportunity for kids to help out here. There’s measuring, kneading, braiding and more, that they can help out with.

NOTE: The whole process takes about nine hours. Start in the morning, end in the evening. Mixing and kneading takes about one hour. First rising takes about two hours. Braiding takes about a half hour. Second rising takes about two hours. Baking takes about a half for each loaf, then cool and glaze.

My mom stores hers in gift boxes (like from a department store) on waxed paper.

Resolutions and Recipes: Sweet and Sour Beef and Broccoli

9 Apr

ORIGINALLY POSTED JANUARY 13, 2012: Earlier this month, when I talked about grocery shopping on a budget, one of the staples that I mentioned buying pretty regularly was stew meat. I have two recipes that I use most regularly when making something with stew meat (and I NEVER make stew, I don’t like it.) Recently though, I was looking for something new and different to make with the beef. I did a search of Allrecipes.com and I found one. The recipe called for cooking the stew meat through, throwing in broccoli and onions and adding a teriyaki sauce to it while it simmers and everything cooks through. I figured I’d try it out since I almost always have broccoli on hand and I had an onion. So, I went on Allrecipes.com again and found a teriyaki sauce recipe.

The end result, a one-dish meal (I love one-dish meals) that got all thumbs up all around and looked like this:

Sweet and Sour Beef and Broccoli Teriyaki

I love a meal that you can make in just one pan. Easy to cook, serve and clean up.

Below is the recipe for the sauce as I found it on Allrecipes.com.

Restaurant Style Teriyaki Sauce

INGREDIENTS

1/4 cup soy sauce

1 cup water

1/2 tsp. grd. ginger

1/4 tsp. garlic powder

5 Tbl. packed brown sugar

1-2 Tbl. honey

2 Tbl. cornstarch

1/4 c. cold water

DIRECTIONS

1) Mix soy sauce, one cup water, ginger, garlic powder, brown sugar and honey in small sauce pan.

2) Mix cornstarch and 1/4 cup cold water together in a measuring cup.

3) Add the cornstarch and water to the pan of sauce.
Heat to desired thickness, add water to thin.

I served this on a bed of brown rice.

ENJOY!

Happy Birthday Don and Alexandra!

21 Mar

So what’s the best birthday gift *you* ever gave someone?

ORIGINALLY POSTED MARCH 23, 2012

Today is a very special day.

Today is Alexandra’s birthday.

Today is also Don’s birthday.

That makes me the best wife ever because seven years ago for Don’s birthday at 1:22 am I gave him our third daughter.

I know, I know, best gift ever, right?! It’s hard to top that one though, so I don’t really try. I’m back to t-shirts, pajama pants and stuff like that for his birthday gifts.

Alexandra’s First Birthday 2006

Since sharing his birthday with his daughter, Don has been blessed with getting to have a Snoopy party, a My Little Pony party, a Dora party, a Purple party and this year…Hello Kitty. Technically they’re not his parties obviously, but you see what I mean.

Birthday crowns all around on Alex’s second birthday.

Thankfully, my parents have this neat tradition that they started with us where we celebrate the adult birthday parties at their house each year and we “kids” get to choose our meal and our cake. I choose….well I won’t tell you what I choose until it’s my birthday this summer. But Don chooses a totally opposite type of meal and cake than I would choose, so I guess it’s good that we each get a chance to choose our own, to choose what we like. Don chooses meatball sandwiches (made with my mom’s homemade meatballs and gravy) with lemon cake for dessert. It’s probably the only time all year we have it and he really enjoys it.

Therefore, today I thought I’d share with you the recipe for Don’s birthday cake of choice each year, the lemon cake. It’s really yummy, I particularly love the corners.

***********************************************************************************

LEMON CAKE

A cake *just* for Daddy!

INGREDIENTS

1/4 cup oil

1/2 cup water

2 beaten eggs

Duncan Hines Lemon Cake Mix

1 can lemon pie filling (divided)

DIRECTIONS

In bowl by hand, mix together oil, water, eggs, cake mix.

Add 1/4 can of lemon pie filling into the mix.

Put into greased 9×13 dish.

On top, distribute the rest of the pie filling.

Bake 35-40 minutes at 350 degrees.

When cool, glaze with:
1 cup confectioner’s sugar mixed with 1 Tablespoon lemon juice. Add a little hot water if necessary.

What’s for Dinner Wednesday: Taco Pizza

19 Mar
This was a fabulous addition to our ever-growing list of gourmet pizzas!

This was a fabulous addition to our ever-growing list of gourmet pizzas!

A couple of weeks back, I had a typical Facebook messaging exchange with my friend Gina. It consisted of the usual commiserating about the fact that neither of us knew what to make for dinner that week. I happened to mention that I did have taco meat already cooked up and frozen, but that I didn’t necessarily want to have tacos again.

Her suggestion: Taco Pizza.

“Ohhhh…..I said, I like that idea!”

Lucky for us, there’s a bakery right down the street that sells fresh dough

If you love Tacos, you'll love trying out Gina's Taco Pizza!

If you love Tacos, you’ll love trying out Gina’s Taco Pizza!

by the pound, 24 hours a day for just a little over a dollar a bag.

That’s right, 24 hours a day. If I wanted to go at midnight to get a bag of dough, slice of pizza or a cookie, I could. I don’t, but it’s nice to know the option is there.

So last week I got my dough (during daylight hours) at the bakery and came home to get ready for our pizza dinner. We had a regular work day combined with a pre-dinner meeting and Dance for one of the girls. Pizza for dinner was the perfect answer to our need for quick, easy and delicious.

I’d actually gotten three bags of dough. We were having a ham and pineapple pizza, a meatball, cheese and sauce pizza, and our newest addition: Taco Pizza, thanks to Gina.

Coincidentally, we were also having furniture delivered the next morning between the hours of 6:30 am and 9:30 am in time for us to be out the door for work and school, but right smack-dab in the middle of lunch preparations. Having pizza for dinner the night before would allow me to bag up slices of whatever flavors anyone wanted for lunch the next day, after dinner.

Easy-peasy. It took a lot of advanced planning to make the night and next morning go off without a hitch, but it was healthier than ordering take-out that night or school lunch the next day, and much tastier too!

For this pizza, the only thing I’d do differently the next time, is crush up my tortilla chips and bake them right in there with the meat, underneath the cheese. This first time that we tried out the recipe, we crushed them up and added them on top. I found them hard to eat, but in our Taco Bake recipe we put them right inside, and I think I’d enjoy them more that way on the pizza than on top.

Otherwise, this is so easy!

Spread out your pizza dough, add your taco meat on top, and throw on some crushed tortilla chips if you’d like to, before adding your cheese. We used cheddar cheese on ours because of the nature of the pizza, rather than mozzarella.

Once your pizza is cooked, it’s up to you what toppings you’d like to add, anything you’d normally add to a taco.

Here are some suggestions:

Sour cream

Avocado

Olives

Tomatoes

Lettuce

Fun Friday: Dreaming of the gardening days

14 Mar
I love seeing their kids out in the garden, exploring the things we're growing.

I love seeing their kids out in the garden, exploring the things we’re growing.

I don’t know about you, but I totally have spring fever! We’ve had a cold and snowy winter, and although I have loved those days too, I’m ready to move on. We’ve had some warm days mixed in with our end-of-winter weather this past week and it’s given us a taste of what’s coming.

Spring is right around the corner!

I truly believe that having all four seasons is a blessing, and it allows us to love and appreciate each season for its differences. To me, there’s nothing like seeing those first buds of spring as they’re starting to make their way through the ground. Seeing the leaves on the trees sprouting and feeling the sunshine and warm wind on your face is exciting to me after the winter days.

As I’ve run my errands over the past week, I’ve started to see it: signs of spring inside too…packets of seeds, seed starter kits, grass fertilizers and outdoor patio furniture. It makes my heart skip a beat when I go past the aisle, thinking of those days being upon us so soon.

This week, a friend posted an article on Facebook called “Advice for eating well on a tight budget from a mom who’s been there.” It’s about a woman who is helping those on public assistance learn how to use fresh, home-grown fruits and vegetables to supplement what they get for public assistance and to enhance their eating habits. The woman herself had been on public assistance as a mom of seven and had always tried to utilize things she could grow, in order to help nourish her family. I thought it was a great article and great to see someone who’s “been there,” giving back.

One year we "accidentally" grew pumpkins, and these were our three Halloween pumpkins that year; first time we'd ever grown our own.

One year we “accidentally” grew pumpkins, and these were our three Halloween pumpkins that year; first time we’d ever grown our own.

Although we have never been on public assistance, we have always had a pretty tight budget and we’ve always had a summer garden which helps us stay below budget on our food spending during the summer months. We grow mostly vegetables, but one year we were able to grow pumpkins, and that’s a fruit! I love seeing the kids take on roles with the garden, helping to plan it, clean it up, plant it, water it, and then to watch them run out every day to see what’s grown and what’s ready to pick. One of my all-time favorite photos from years ago is a picture of two of my daughters out in the garden in their Halloween and dress-up costumes, picking tomatoes off the plants. We had one Minnie Mouse and one Cinderella, outside, in the garden, picking veggies and it was so funny to see; but such a special memory for me as well.

There is absolutely nothing in the world like fresh, garden vegetables in my opinion, and when you’ve grown them yourself, that makes them exponentially better! I love cooking and baking with the things they’ve planted and picked and I love telling them, “This is from our garden!”

A pack of seeds is not expensive and the amount it yields is far more than what you put out financially for the seeds. As soon as last year’s garden was done, I already had a list on the fridge of our successes, so that we wouldn’t forget to plant them again this coming year. The list is still there, and it’s ready to go.

I love to see the kids eating the veggies they've picked, right off the vine, all summer long.

I love to see the kids eating the veggies they’ve picked, right off the vine, all summer long.

I think it’s important too, to make sure that our kids have an understanding of where their food comes from, that it’s not just from the grocery store. I think it’s important that they understand about nutrition and local produce as well. I like to see them eating their snap peas right off the plant outside or eating their cherry tomatoes as they pick them. I like them to know that they can grow their own food, and that you don’t need a lot of space to do it. We don’t have a huge house or a huge yard but we have a really good-sized garden and it teaches them that it doesn’t take much of anything other than hard work, to grow their own food.

So as winter comes to a close, and spring begins, I’m already dreaming of our gardening days. Spring Fever has hit hard, and I can’t wait to start picking out seeds and planning out what we’ll plant, pick and cook all summer long. Take a look at the article above, and think about how you too, can add home-grown fruits and vegetables to your summer menu!

It doesn't take a lot of space to have a garden, and lots can be done in containers if you don't have a yard at all.

It doesn’t take a lot of space to have a garden, and lots can be done in containers if you don’t have a yard at all.

 

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 596 other followers