Thursday, July 30, 2009

Crockpot Beef Fajitas

If I haven't mentioned it before, I LOVE my crockpot. It is just SO nice to come home from work and have dinner already cooked, sitting there waiting patiently for you. This dish is nice because you can use relatively cheap cuts of meat (I usually use london broil) - since it is sliced thin and slow cooked all day, it gets pretty tender. I haven't tried this with chicken yet, but I'm sure it would come out just as good.

I like to get everything ready the night before, so in the morning all I have to do is dump everything in the crock and turn it on. For this dish, that means I slice the meat and veggies the night before and have them ready in the fridge. Then I set out the crockpot and the fajita seasoning on the counter so I see them and remember to get everything going in the morning. I don't function so well in the mornings, so if I don't have the "reminder" on the counter, I will forget :)

Crockpot Beef Fajitas
  • 1 lb thinly sliced steak
  • 1 package fajita sesoning mix, or homemade equivalent
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 to 2 cups sliced bell peppers (I like a mix of green and red)
  • 1 to 2 cups sliced onion
  • 6 flour tortillas
  • toppings of your choice: grated cheese, sour cream, etc
Put meat in crockpot, top with seasoning, add water. Cook on low all day (8-10) hours. About 30 - 60 minutes before serving, add bell peppers and onions and mix well. Serve on warmed flour tortillas, top with cheese and sour cream.

For more great recipes, check out:
Grocery Cart Challenge Recipe Swap
Crockpot Wednesdays

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Itch to Pitch - The Kitchen Junk Drawer

Once again, I've had a crazy and hectic week and kept procrastinating on any decluttering. I had initially planned to finish off my office this week, but at some point over the weekend I discovered a veritable decluttering emergency. I don't remember if I was trying to put something in, or get something out of the kitchen junk drawer... or maybe I was just trying close the drawer after Ninja Hubz got something out (Apparently he is physically incapable of properly closing drawers and cupboard doors. After 13 years of marriage, I've come to accept this and I just close things after him instead of nagging. Gotta choose your battles). Whatever the reason I was in there, I discovered it was full. I mean completely, totally, packed to the gills, unable to open the drawer all the way FULL. My weekly decluttering project was clear.

Here it is, in all its chaotic glory:

Actually that's only about half of it. As I said, it was so full and stuff was crammed in there so tight, I couldn't open it all the way.

I carefully removed all the contents, until this is all that remained:

Birthday candles, safety pins, some peas that fell out of a seed packet, and some empty battery packaging. Oh, and our first Ninja Kitty's id tag from where we adopted him. Thirteen years ago. Very important things to keep on hand.

This is everything else that I cleared out of the drawer (click for a larger image):

Yeah, really. That was all in one drawer. Are you ready for it? The inventory:
  • 7.5 packs Juicy Fruit gum (all hard as a rock)
  • 2 dog clickers
  • 1 hex wrench tool thing
  • 1 carabiner key ring
  • 1 tiny pair cheap scissors
  • 4 books of matches
  • 1 pocket knife
  • 21 cigarette lighters (functional)
  • 2 cigarette lighters (non-functional)
  • 1 pack shoelaces (black)
  • 1 crock-pot lid holder thing
  • 1 tube ointment of some kind (for cats I think)
  • 1 tube dog toothpaste
  • 1 key fob for car we no longer own
  • 2 remote controls (no batteries) for portable fans
  • 2 candles
  • 2 books and 1 plastic thingy ma bob for Ninja Hubz' TomTom
  • 1 notepad
  • 2 doses cat flea treatment from 2003
  • 3 doses cat flea treatment from 2004
  • assorted packets of seeds
  • 1 thingy deal for circuit breaker
  • 5 assorted dog brushes/combs
  • 1 dog nail trimmer
  • 1 roll scotch tape
  • 1 flashlight (functional, surprisingly)
  • 1 mini sewing kit
  • 1 empty 35mm film canister (film?!?! really???)
  • 1 squirt gun
  • 1 tube iron cleaning stuff
  • assorted cat toys: 9 mice, 4 foam soccer balls, 1 ping pong ball, 4 poofy things with bells, 1 zip mouse
  • 2 cans shoe polish
  • 2 tubes shoe polish
  • 1 fridge/freezer thermometer
  • 1 measuring tape
  • 1 cat harness/leash
  • 1 fur removal cleaning tool
  • 2 pill minder boxes
  • 1 battery charger
  • assorted batteries
Sooooo, I'm starting to think I should probably clean and declutter more than once every 6 years. Here's the after:

It closes quite easily now :)

Check out more decluttering awesomeness at the Happy Housewife's Itch to Pitch Challenge.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Paperback Swap

Ever since I was a little kid I've enjoyed reading. A LOT. I know my poor parents must have spent a fortune buying books for me. Sure, I went to the library and got books there, but the selection was limited, and often they would only have one or two books in a series. And as any avid reader can tell you, that just doesn't cut it.

As I've grown older, I've had less time to devote to reading, which is probably just as well since my parents are no longer funding the acquisitions. But when time allows, I still enjoy a good book. I've used all sorts of sources for getting books with varying costs - the library, friends, used and new bookstores, and both new and used books through Amazon.

I like the library, but they don't always have what you're looking for when you want it, and they expect you to bring the darn things back in a few weeks :) Since my life tends to go in cycles of having loads of time to read to abruptly having no time, this isn't always convenient for me. I like to be able to have a stack of books handy, and when I find myself with some reading time on my hands, I'm ready to go.

Used bookstores are a great option for getting reasonable prices on a wide selection of books, and also offer the advantage of allowing you to trade in your old books when you're done with them. This is cool because you get new (to you) books cheap, and you don't have giant stacks of books cluttering up your house. Unfortunately, good used bookstores are becoming a thing of the past.

So I was totally intrigued when I heard about Paperback Swap (PBS). This is a site that allows you to trade books with other users free of charge. Here's how it works:
  1. You set up your account and post the books you have available to swap
  2. When someone wants one of your books, you get an email
  3. You get a few days to agree to mail the book to the requestor
  4. Once you agree to mail the book, you can print out the wrapper/shipping label. The site will tell you how much postage the book should require.
  5. You wrap the book (using the wrapper you printed out), put on some postage, and drop it in the mail
  6. When the requestor gets the book, they tell PBS it arrived, and you get a "credit".
  7. You can use your credits to request books from other members, and they will ship them to you.

Right now you get two credits right away when you post your first 10 books. I signed up last week and so far am loving it. I used my two signup credits right away, and the books I requested showed up in about a week.

They have ALL kinds of books... novels, literature, comics and graphic novels, even children's books. I'm sure there's something for everyone.

As far as shipping costs go, the PBS site will determine the cheapest option for shipping based on the book's weight. Most paperback's will cost you $2.38 using Media Mail (books less than 6 ounces will be cheaper, more than 16 ounces will cost more). You can add delivery confirmation to your package if you want, but I haven't been using it as of yet. I figure the cost of earning a credit, and therefore each book I'm going to get is $2.38 plus pennies for a couple sheets of paper and some packing tape.

It's not quite as frugal as going to the library, but it is definitely cheaper than buying books at the store! I also like the fact that someone else is getting some use out of my books after I've read them, and I don't have them piling up around the house and adding to my clutter.

If you decide to try out PBS, I would appreciate it if you could list me as the person who referred you (my PBS nickname is DalekQueen). I can earn extra credits by referring members.

If you have any tips for inexpensive books, please leave a comment. Thanks, and happy reading!

This post is part of Works for Me Wednesday

Monday, July 27, 2009

Weekly Grocery Shopping (7/22 - 7/28)

As I do every week, I carefully reviewed the weekly grocery ads, searched through my coupons, scoured the Internet, and carefully planned some great shopping deals. Then I got really busy doing other stuff and just didn't do most of the shopping. I'm a teeny bit bummed because there were actually some good deals last week, but honestly I just don't NEED much of anything. And you know what? The deals will come again. They always do. I'm probably overdue for a week or two off shopping. It is sooooo nice to have such a well stocked freezer and cupboards that you can just NOT shop and barely notice. I did have Ninja Hubz grab a loaf of bread at the convenience store, but that's the only "need" item I've had.

Here's the one trip I did make:


Kix cereal x4 - 4/$6 - 2x $1/2 MFC = 4.00
Arm & Hammer Laundrey Detergent x2 - 2.99 - 2x 1.00 MFC = 3.98
Whole Chicken x2 @ .59/lb = 5.42

Total: 13.92
Weekly Total: 13.92

Yup, that's it. I know last week I said I did NOT need anymore chickens, but I just couldn't pass up the .59/lb. And the laundry detergent was WAY too good a deal to miss, this is the only brand detergent I can use because Ninja Hubz has skin issues with many detergents, so I stick to what I know won't bother him.

Next week's ads look a little blah, so I may have a similar report. No worries though, I'm saving all kinds of money and still eating great!

Check out more great shopping trips at:
Super Savings Saturday
The Grocery Cart Challenge

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Menu Plan Monday - 7/26/09

Well this weekend has been as crazy as I expected it would be, and I'm sure glad I had my super easy menu plan for a lazy person set up. If I hadn't taken the time at the beginning of the week to plan ahead, we probably would have eaten out the past 4 days. Hooray for Menu Planning!

This week I forsee more laziness. Its hot and I'm tired - I don't want to be in the kitchen anymore than I absolutely have to. Sounds like a job for... Grill Man! We have a pretty big charcoal grill, and you know what? It takes just as much time and effort to cook one meal's worth of meat as it does to cook a whole mess of meat on it. So I took several bags of meat out of the freezer last night, had Ninja Hubz BBQ them all tonight, and that's going to be 3 days worth of dinners. For side dishes we'll be having some quick salads or carrot sticks, and whatever boxed potato or noodle dish that falls out of the cupboard first. I heart leftovers!

Check out more Menu Plan Monday at Org Junkie

Monday, July 20, 2009

Itch to Pitch - The Saga Continues

Its been a hectic week for me, and super super hot. We don't have A/C in our house, and once it starts getting over 90 regularly the house just never gets a chance to cool down. So I kept putting off any decluttering and before I knew it, it was Monday and I hadn't gotten anything done :( But I am getting sooo close to achieving order in my office that I didn't want to lose my momentum, so I picked a relatively small chunk and just dove in. Once I got started it wasn't bad at all. Again, I just need to keep kicking myself in the butt and DO IT.

But first, last week I posted this picture of all my computer junk I've decided to get rid of:

This weekend they had an electronics recycling event nearby, so we loaded up the truck and took it away. Now the spare bedroom looks like this:

Yay! I'm proud of us for following through. Many times we'll stack stuff in an out of the way spot intending to "take care of it later" and it just sits (how do you think I ended up with so much crap in the first place? :) But we made a plan, found when a recylcing event was scheduled, and got it done.

This week I ended up tackling one half of my computer desk. As I said, its been a crazy week so I picked a project that wasn't too big. This elephant will get eaten eventually, I just need to take small bites! Here's the before:

And here's the after:

And, if you've been following my Itch to Pitch posts, you know who really benefits when I get rid of clutter:

I swear I don't stage the cat pics, they just love getting into everything :)

Check out more of the Itch to Pitch Challenge!

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Menu Plan Monday - 7/19/09

Last week I made this Honey-Garlic Pork Chops recipe, and it was fantastic. I highly recommend you try it! I also made a mega-batch of Crockpot Chicken Taco meat, and will be incorporating the extras into this week's plan.

So this week we have a lot going on. I am taking Thursday and Friday off work and doing some fun local stuff, a bit of a staycation. Details are fuzzy at this point, and I'm not sure what time we'll get home, but I know I will not have any desire to cook when we do. Its possible we'll end up eating out, but I would like to have food ready to go so we aren't FORCED to get take out. So I am planning some simple freezer meals for the end of the week and trying to make a plan that's flexible.
  • Sunday: Chicken & Rice burritos (with leftover taco meat). I'm making a double batch and freezing extras for later in the week
  • Monday: Meatloaf, baked potatoes, garden salad
  • Tuesday: Leftover meatloaf
  • Wednesday: Fend for Yourself
  • Thursday: Spaghetti (sauce from freezer, already made)
  • Friday: Chicken & Rice burritos from freezer
  • Saturday: Frozen pizza

Check out more great menus at Menu Plan Monday

Weekly Grocery Shopping (7/15 - 7/21)

Yes, I'm under my $50 weekly budget yet again! I think my freezer and pantry are so well stocked at this point that it really takes a fabulous deal to get me excited. Ralph's was probably the highlight of the week with their 10 item mega event deal, however it didn't seem that there were as many participating items as there usually are. But soda was a great deal, and we always need more of that (I don't drink it but Ninja Hubz is addicted)! I also bought a bunch of cookies and granola bars (which I rarely buy) since we have a lot of activities that will keep us out of the house coming up. We'll need to have some easy snacky stuff on hand. Hopefully all the fruit I picked up will balance out the crappy junk food :)

Ralph's (Kroger affiliate) is having a "10 item mega event" this week. If you buy 10 participating items, you get $5 off your total. This works out to be an extra .50 off each participating item, which can make for some great deals if you work it right. I ended up making a second trip because I did so well on the first one and still had coupons left!

Trip #1Orange juice = 1.49
Cookies 2.49 - .50 mega item - 1.00 MFC = .99
Granola Bars 2.49 x2 - 1.00 mega items - $1/2 MFC = 2.98
Mini Wheats cereal 2.49 x2 - 1.00 mega items - 2x 1.00 MFC = 1.98
2 liter coke 1.38 x 3 - 1.50 mega items - $1/3 MFC = 1.64
Hormel Pepperoni 2.00 - .55 MFC (doubled to $1) = 1.00
Oscar Mayer salami .88 x2 - $1/2 MFC = .76
Lady Speed Stick 1.75 x2 - 1.00 mega items - 2x 1.50 MFC = -.50 (overage!!)

Total = 11.39

Trip #2

2 liter coke 1.38 x 3 - 1.50 mega items - $1/3 MFC = 1.64
Whiskas cat treats 1.75 x2 - 1.00 mega items - 2x 1.00 MFC = .50
Smart Taste pasta 1.79 - 1.00 MFC = .79
Cookies 2.49 - .50 mega item - 1.00 MFC = .99
Granola Bars 2.49 x4 - 2.00 mega items - 2x $1/2 MFC = 5.96
1.38 lbs nectarines = .68
Hormel Pepperoni 2.00 - .55 MFC (doubled to $1) = 1.00
Oscar Mayer salami .88 x2 - $1/2 MFC = .76

Total = 13.37

5 lb bag potatoes = 1.49
2.12 lbs grapes = 1.63
.89 lbs red plums = .45
1.16 lbs apples = 1.38
1 lb carrots = .50
Radishes = .50
Reusable bag credit = -.05

Total = 5.90

There was a big pile of Foster Farms whole chickens marked down 50%, making them .65/lb. I only grabbed one since my freezer's pretty well packed and I wanted to make sure I stayed within my budget. Sometimes I get a little carried away when I find great deals, even knowing that I need more meat like I need a hole in the head. I think I've finally learned some self control!

(Sorry the picture's blurry, I was in a hurry to get the chicken in the freezer - it is HOT here!)
La Victoria Green Chiles 1.25 - .25 MFC (doubled) = .75
Lean pockets 2.50 - .50 MFC (doubled) = 1.50
8 pk Lever 2000 bar soap 4.99 - 1.50 MFC = 3.49
Whole chicken = 1.98
2.30 lbs banana = 1.54

Total = 9.75


Kleenex .89 x3 - .50/3 MFC = 2.17
Dawn dish soap .99 x3 - .25 MFC - .50 MFC = 1.23
Goody headband 3.99 - 1.00 MFC = 2.99 (and rebate for 3.99!)

Total = 7.15 (not including rebate)

Grand Total = 47.56

Hrm, maybe I should have bought another chicken... :)

Check out more great shopping trips at:
Super Savings Saturday

Monday, July 13, 2009

Itch to Pitch - The Office Closet

Well I've missed out on the past two weeks of the Itch to Pitch challenge. I was on vacation and out of town, and just didn't get around to finishing anything or posting about it. I wasn't completely idle though! I've actually been working on this one in bits and pieces over the last 3 weeks. Yup, it was THAT bad.

I don't have before pictures and that is a complete tragedy. I just cannot begin to describe to you the chaos that was this closet. I could try, but you wouldn't believe me. It was basically 4 ft x 3 ft pile of CRAP that would come crashing down upon you at the slightest provocation. That's actually why I don't have before pictures. I had to look for something in the closet, and the only way I could get to where it might have been was to dig a hole through the CRAP and clear about half the closet first. Once I had all the stuff out of the closet, there was no way I was going to just toss it all back in, so the decluttering officially began!

Here's a "during" picture:

Picture all that stuff, and then a bunch more crammed into a closet. This is all the computer CRAP I've cleared out waiting to go to the electronics recycler:

In case you can't see it all, there are 4 CRTs, 5 towers, a printer, and a box of smaller odds and ends. Have you ever read those news articles about junk hoarders they find dead in their homes, buried in piles of their collected garbage? I'm starting to think I wasn't much more than a heavy gust of wind away from such a fate!

And then, there was the shelf in the closet (I managed to remember "before" pics here):

The shelf had something resembling the illusion of organization, what with those labeled shoe boxes holding items worthy of careful storage, right? Um.... no, not so much:

Those are 3 (yes, I said THREE) old CD-ROM drives that may or may not have worked when I put them in there, and 5 old hard drives, up to and including capacities of 1200 MB. Yes, that's 1.2 Gigs. Very very useful in this day and age, when I can buy a little flash card the size of my pinky with twice that amount of storage for less than $5.

And let me tell you about another one of those shoe boxes. I was too embarassed to take pictures. Guess what was in it... go on, guess. Old check books... you know, with the check duplicate slips, in case I needed to refer back to an old check. I don't mean like one or two recent ones. I mean all of them. Ever. Since I opened my first checking account 14 years ago. There were checks with my MAIDEN NAME printed on them. This is the kind of thing your family will talk about forever if they have to clean out your closets after you die. I watched two full episodes of Doctor Who on YouTube while I shredded every last slip of paper in there. I had to empty my shredder 3 times.

But I did it. I haven't seen this view of my closet since we moved in:

I sorted through reams of old papers and have this pile for the recycling bin:

Eventually I want to put some shelves in the closet and get it really organized, but I don't have a budget for that at the moment. But this is a huge improvement!

I limited myself to one box of spare computer parts that might actually be useful someday. There's some boxes with extra office supplies, and a box to hold all of Ninja Hubz camera bits. I can actually get to most everything in there without fear of injury.

Look what else there's room for!

Check out more fantastic de-cluttering action at the Itch to Pitch Challenge!

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Menu Plan Monday - 7/12/09

Last week's crockpot fest was a success - my new 6 quart crockpot arrived in plenty of time to make my roast chicken, and it came out awesome. The potato soup recipe I tried was pretty good, but I believe with some tweaking it can get better, so I'll be trying that again in a week or two.

This week I'm planning several new recipes. I seem to have an abundance of smoked sausage in the freezer, so I headed over to the Hillshire Farm's website and browsed some of their recipes and decided on the Garden Vegetable Linguini. And the pork chop recipe included in Org Junkie's menu plan last week sounded so good I decided to give that a try as well!

Crockpot Chicken Alfredo

  • 3-4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 pkg Italian salad dressing mix
  • 1 can cream of chicken soup
  • 3 Tbsp margarine or butter
  • 1 pkg cream cheese

Layer all into crock pot and cook on low for 5 to 6 hours, chicken will fall apart. Serve over cooked pasta.

Check out more menus at Menu Plan Monday

Weekly Grocery Shopping (7/8 - 7/14)

It was another week where I didn't see a whole lot that I found compelling in the ads, so I spent the majority of my weekly $50 at Food 4 Less stocking up on some basics. But at least this week I finally remembered to take some pictures!

Food 4 Less

I usually don't buy a lot of frozen dinner type stuff, but I do try and keep one or two meals worth on hand for "emergencies" - when for whatever reason my planned meal falls through or things just get crazy. Frozen pizza and the like may not be the healthiest meal, but it is still better and cheaper than take out! Still, I sometimes get pangs for junky fast food. I've been able to beat most cravings by making home made versions of pizza, mexican food, burgers, etc., but for whatever reason I have not had a lot of success making Chinese food. So, my compromise is to buy frozen orange chicken every once in a while. It is basically battered chicken nuggets with packets of sticky gooey sweet orange sauce, and it is actually just as good as the take out we used to get regularly. It is pretty inexpensive too, a bag with 3 meals worth is often on sale for $3. I mix it with rice and veggies and get a cheap, tasty, somewhat less than horrifically bad for you meal :) And, it can bail me out at dinner time if the need arises.

5 lb. bag of flour x2 = 3.76
Enchilada sauce x2 = 3.56
Tuna x4 = 1.56
Saltine crackers = .88
Cream of chicken soup x2 = 1.56
Cream of mushroom soup = .78
Canned diced tomatoes x2 = 1.36
32 oz Yogurt x2 = 3.76
Orange Chicken = 2.98
16 oz sliced ham x2 = 4.00
1 doz eggs = .69
Pretzels = 1.67
1.4 lbs nectarines = 1.09
1.4 lbs apples = .47
garlic = .98
2.5 lbs yellow onion = .63
wheat bread x2 = 1.18

Total: 33.49


Strawberris x2 = 1.54
1.6 lbs bulk brown rice = 1.12
2 lbs carrots = .99
Reusable bag credit = -.05

Total: 3.60


(Check out the Ninja Pup investigating the pepperoni!)

Gallon milk x2 = 3.98
Paper towels 1.25 - .25 MFC (doubled) = .75
3 lbs. frozen boneless skinless chicken breast = 5.07
Hormel Pepperoni 2.00 - .55 MFC (doubled up to $1) = 1.00
Hot Dogs 3.00 - FREE MFC = Free

Total: 10.90

Weekly Total: $47.99

I'm under budget and well stocked!

Check out more great shopping trips at:
Super Savings Saturday
The Grocery Cart Challenge

Saturday, July 11, 2009


This is the first year I've attempted to grow vegetables. To my complete astonishment, I've actually been fairly successful with my tomatoes.

Here's a picture of the little guys outside:

Lately I've been having a big issue with something eating the fruits in the middle of the night. I suspect its a possum, possibly a racoon. As soon as a tomato is nearly ripe, it gets clawed up and chewed on during the night.

This makes me sad. He's not even EATING most of them, just clawing them and getting possum cooties all over them so no one can have them. I added the chicken wire around the plants to try and protect them, its helping a little, but whatever I'm up against is agile and smart, so I'm still losing a few. The best defense I've found is to pick the tomatoes as quickly as I can and bring them inside before the little bugger can destroy them.

I've been using them one at a time in salads and soups. When I harvest more than one or two in a day, I stick them straight into a bag in the freezer (yes, I put the whole tomato straight in the freezer). I finally accumulated a bag full and decided it was time to attempt making some marinara sauce.

The great thing about freezing whole tomatoes (besides the fact that possums can't open the freezer) is you can just run them under water for a couple of seconds, and the skin will slip right off. So I skinned and chopped up my bag of frozen tomatoes and cut out any weird or icky spots. I heated up some olive oil in my big stockpot and sauteed some onion and minced garlic. Then I threw in the chopped tomatoes and used a potato masher to squish them up a bunch. I added fresh sweet basil leaves (also from my garden), oregano, italian seasoning, salt, and a pinch or two of sugar (according to my mom, the sugar helps cut down the acidity of the tomatoes).

It's been simmering on my stove for a few hours and it smells awesome. I'll probably let it cook for most of the day. One thing I should have done is made more effort to remove some of the seeds before I added the tomatoes to the pot. I don't think it will be awful this way, but I'd probably like it better with fewer seeds mixed in. This is a learning experience for me :)

Now besides the frozen tomatoes, I had about 8 more tomatoes I picked this week sitting on my counter. I haven't delved into the world of canning yet, but one thing I do know is how to freeze stuff! So I set out to preserve some of my bounty.

First I cut off any weird spots on the tomatoes, then I stuck them in boiling water for about 1 minute, and then dunked them into cool water until they cooled. After this, the skins peel right off.

After that, I just diced them up and rinsed them a bit in a colander to remove the majority of the seeds (this is how I'll do the sauce next time). Then I measured them into 2 cup portions (about the size of a can of diced tomatoes) and put them in freezer bags. Here's what I ended up with for all my hard work:

Yup, that's the equivalent of 2 cans (approximate retail value $1.36). Actually, I had a little bit more, but I decided to just throw it in to the cooking marinara sauce. That's ok though, as I said this was more of a learning experience than anything. There's a lot of green tomatoes still on my plants, and the possums aren't going to get all of them... I hope :)

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Weekly Grocery Shopping (7/1 - 7/7)

I'm a little late posting this, I've been busy getting back to real life after vacation. I ended up having to run out Saturday night and do the shopping I usually do on Sundays because I realized the great soda deal Vons was having was only good through the 4th... I hate messing with my shopping routine but it was nice to have it out of the way. All in all this week's shopping went well, I was only a few dollars over my $50 target. Considering I had deliberately used up almost everything perishable in the house before we left on our trip and consequently had a lot of restocking to do, I'm ok with being a couple dollars over - after all we had a whole week of not buying groceries while out of town!

Zucchini = .32
Apples = 1.72
Radishes = .50
Nectarines = .87
Honey wheat bread = 1.69
Carrots (2 lbs) = .99
White Corn x2 = .67
Cucumber = .33
1.9 lbs Pork Roast = 3.62

Total = 10.71

The only reason I even went to Walgreens this week was because I had $6 in RR about to expire. The ad didn't have anything I needed or thought was a great deal to stock up on, so I decided to just grab some eggs and toilet paper because we were almost out of eggs, and really... can you ever have too much toilet paper? Anyway, the shelf tag on the eggs said 1.29 each, and the TP tag said 4.29. So I got 2 eggs and 1 TP and figured that was just right for using my RR with only having a buck or so OOP. Well it turns out my ninja skills are even better than I thought, because EVERYTHING rang up less than the shelf price! The eggs came up as .99 each, and the TP as $4.00. Now I'm not one to complain about being charged less, but this meant my pre-tax total was only 5.98, not enough to use the RRs! What a crazy problem to have! So I grabbed a pack of gum, which, believe it or not had a shelf tag of 1.29, and guess what... rang up at $1! Apparently I can't even waste money if I try! :)

Quilted Northern TP 9 pack = 4.00
2 dozen eggs = 1.98
Orbit Mist gum = 1.00
RR from previous trip = -6.00

Total: 1.33

Lawry's Taco seasoning $.99 - $.50 MFC = .49
Lawry's Chicken Taco seasoning $1.19 -$.50 = .69
(I meant to grab two of the regular taco seasonings :p)
Pace Salsa 2/$5 x2 - $1/1 MFC x2 = 3.00
Smokehouse Almods 2/$5 x2 - $1/2 MFC = 4.00
12 pk coke x5 @ 1.99ea (store coupon) - $2/3 MFC = 7.95
Wacky Mac Pasta .99 - .75 MFC (doubled) = free
La Victoria Green Chiles 1.25 - .25 MFC (doubled) = .75
Hefty One Zip freezer bags 4/$5 x4 - $1/1 MFC x2 = 3.00
Kraft American Cheese .99 (store coupon) - .50 MFC (doubled) = free
DiGiornio Flatbread Melt 3.00 - Free MFC = free
Hamburger Buns = .79
Hot Dog Buns = .79
Francisco French Rolls (6 pk) 2.49 - .75 MFC (doubled up to $1) = 1.49
Wheat bread = .99
Hillshire Farm smoked sauasage 1.99 x2 - $1/2 MFC = 2.98
Hillshire Farm Spicy Italian sausage 1.99 x2 - $1/2 MFC = 2.98
Hillshire Farm Deli Select ham 3.00 - .35 MFC (doubled) = 2.30
Bananas = 1.97
Onions = 1.94

Total = 41.35

Grand Total: 53.39

See more great shopping trips at The Grocery Cart Challenge.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Menu Plan Monday - 7/5/09

Well I had a week off from cooking while we were out of town, and the past few days have just sort of been "winging" it. My love of the crockpot continues to grow since it has been so hot I have no desire to turn on the oven or hang around a hot stove! In fact, I finally decided to order a larger 6-quart oval crockpot (my current one is 4-quart) so I can do some serious meals in it! I also got a copy of the "Fix It and Forget It Lightly" crockpot cookbook from the library, so you can expect to see a lot of crockpot meals in my menu plans as long as the weather stays hot. When we're not crockpotting, we'll be grilling.
  • Sunday: Steak salad, baked potatoes, corn on the cob - all cooked on the grill
  • Monday: Steak sandwiches (leftovers from Sunday), possibly oven fries (depends on how much effort I feel like exerting), garden salad
  • Tuesday: Crockpot Potato Soup (no, its not soup weather, but I have a big bag of potatoes that need to get eaten)
  • Wednesday: Leftovers/fend for yourself
  • Thursday: Crockpot Sticky Chicken (recipe below), garden salad
  • Friday: Chicken Salad (from leftovers)
  • Saturday: Crockpot Macaroni and Cheese

Assuming my new crockpot gets delivered as scheduled, I am going to make my favorite roast chicken recipe in the crockpot! This chicken comes out so amazingly delicious in the oven, but it takes a long time to slow roast so I rarely have time to make it. Hooray for crockpots! This is also perfect for a workday since it has be prepared and marinated overnight, so in the morning all I do is throw it in the crockpot and turn it on. How much more simple can it get?

Roast Sticky Chicken
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon white pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 onion, quartered
  • 1 whole chicken

In a small bowl, mix together salt, paprika, onion powder, thyme, white pepper, black pepper, cayenne pepper, and garlic powder. Remove and discard giblets from chicken. (I also take the skin off, I think it absorbs more flavor that way and hopefully is a little healthier). Rinse chicken cavity, and pat dry with paper towel. Rub chicken inside and out with spice mixture. Place onion into the cavity of chicken. Place chicken in a resealable bag or double wrap with plastic wrap. Refrigerate overnight, or at least 4 to 6 hours.

To cook in oven:
Preheat oven to 250 degrees F (120 degrees C). Place chicken in a roasting pan. Bake uncovered for 5 hours, to a minimum internal temperature of 180 degrees F (85 degrees C). Let the chicken stand for 10 minutes before carving.

I plan on throwing this in the crockpot before I leave for work and cooking all day on low, it will cook about 10 hours. Also, I plan on putting some balled up aluminum foil in the bottom of the crockpot so the chicken is raised up a bit and does not sit in its juices/fat all day.

Check out more great menus at Menu Plan Monday.