Category Archives: Get Organized!
~ WEEKLY Meal Plan ~
I planned a Rite-aid deal: HERE
I planned my TOPS deals: HERE
Main purchases are the beef roast, sausage and the fish and veggies on sale this week… all to be used as part of this meal plan! Plus I am grabbing $1.25 Oreos, FREE pretzels and cheap sausage and OJ!!
Then I got back to the menu for this week – I usually use my Sundays to prep for the week, you know after my morning of THE FOOD NETWORK and I essentially prepare all the main components of each of the night’s meals…. BUT I am going to GARTH today (and hoping to have Trisha invite me to their home for some cooking fun!!) …so not a lot of prep time for me; all the meals have to be something I can easily pull together each night (or K can if I am at Garth and Trishas!!).
Monday – “Meat-Less Mondays” (Gonna try this….)
BAKED CHEESE RAVIOLI – recipe found HERE, looks like a Disney feature…?? Sounds yummy and I am going to try it without any meat though… will let you know!
Tuesday – AKA TACO TUESDAY or “As foreign as we get” night
Ranch Chicken Enchiladas – recipe found HERE… this is a new one I saw on facebook and I wanted to try the combo of the salsa and ranch! I’ll let you know how it all turns out!
Chicken and Biscuits – Actually using the last of the turkey combined with the last of the soup I made and just serving over cooked Pillsbury biscuits. Quick, easy, hearty and delicious!!
Crock Pot Slop – Everything in the crock, no stirring, 4-6 hours on high; green beans, potatoes, kielbasa, water , bouillon… Deliciousness!!
Friday – Usually PIZZA Night
Pizza – making some homemade “Just like Pizza Hut” Pan pizzas that I found HERE
Saturday – To cook or not to cook…
Leftovers, Breakfast (cereal), Something New, or eating out – it all depends on what the weekend plans end up being AND whether or not the week’s plan stayed on track… Fill in as needed or have wine for dinner and make the masses fend for themselves – my favorite plan!!
BEEF ROAST – Buying a large Top Round Roast from the TOPS sale this week and I will do in the crock with my typical onion soup mix… and we like to add horseradish! I am also going to do roasted potatoes and carrots!
SO – what are you making this week??
Thoughtful Thursday used to be a favorite column of mine – random thoughts amongst some craziness…. And I have started keeping track of tidbits I read on the internet so I figured you may be interested too… I also found a KILLER deal on a BJs Membership, so check that out too!!
Favorite ONLINE deal:
Deal(s) to watch for:
- This weekend’s 3 day sale at SAVE-A-LOT shows b/s chicken breasts for $1.79/lb.
- Next week there is a HUGE cereal sale that is part of the bonus gas point deal at TOPS – find your Qs now!!
Crazy Tips I learned this week – all from the internet, so they MUST BE TRUE!!!
- Stale, hard baguette bread? Run it under water – completely, then wrap tightly in foil, place in a cold oven, turn it on to 350 and let bread set for 15 minutes. Remove bread from oven and foil – it will be very soft now – so put it back in oven, unwrapped for 5 minutes and it will lightly crisp up…. JUST LIKE NEW!!! Check out the video: HERE
- Wrinkled shirt, pants or dress? No time or desire to iron? Throw it in your dryer – on highest setting with 3 ice cubes – for 15 minutes… melting ice will ‘steam’ the wrinkles… pull out and wear… warm, fresh and wrinkle free!! Check out the video: HERE
- Bell Peppers have a ‘gender’… naturally the female are sweeter! Flip the pepper over, ones with 4 bumps are female (have more seeds – I think it is because women are more complex) and are sweeter and are better raw, while the ones with 3 are male and are better for cooking with… say what?? Hahaha I think I need to get one of each and cut them up and taste them!!
- Hard”boiling” Eggs just got a whole lot easier! Bake eggs in muffin tins at 325 for 30 minutes… shock in ice water, peel and you have PERFECT hard ‘boiled’ eggs… bam, make fabulous deviled eggs!!!
- You can MAKE a candle melt the wax all the way to the outer ring by wrapping the outside of the candle in foil… The foil will hold the heat and melt the wax from the outside too… Check out the video: HERE
Some PERSONAL thoughts:
- I actually like pepperoncini… who knew?!!
- I wish I could take a class that would help me learn what to do with herbs… it is hard for me to determine what taste each one gives… but I am learning to use them!!
- I have had enough of winter… My feet are permanently frozen, I have every blanket in the house on my bed and my skin is very, very dry from taking HOT baths just to thaw.
- I do think Everything bagels are AMAZING!!!
- I don’t think I am very good at making macaroons – or any baking for that matter – it is always a struggle for me… WHY?? This is going to be such a problem when I open my bakery… hahaha
- It is BEYOND time to do another FREEZER MEAL workshop…. When can we all get together?
Happy Weekend upon us! What great plans do you have??
Kick’en Chicken (Slow Cooker Angel Chicken)
Okay I started with your standard Angel Chicken recipe… it was really kind of bland – even for me… I am learning to love the red pepper flakes and garlic powder, but that still wasn’t enough… AND my sauce was so thick that even with my addition of milk, it still needed something… BAM (I said to myself – on the cooking show in my head)…. ZESTY Italian Dressing!! The ZESTY took it right where it needed to be… creating a sauce I could have drank (drunk? – maybe with some VODKA… OMG – why didn’t I try that??) right from the pot and saved myself the carbs of the pasta… but I used Angel hair pasta and there is no room for carbs in those tiny, thin noodles – right? RIGHT??!!
So at this point – starting with the original recipe and all of my additions, I ended up with enough sauce for 4 complete meals… I quickly bagged up chicken breasts in 2lb bags and added 2 heaping cups of sauce to each one… NICE – 3 extra freezer meals ready to go!
Then with pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard as it may be… GAWD why aren’t a poet??) I “fixed” the recipe to make it ‘normal’ meal size. AND I renamed the recipe – because now it is a “KICKED UP” version of Angel Chicken!
BUT – This is still a BIG meal – using 4lbs (or 1 big pack of breasts) so either serve it for company, or know you will have left-overs, or plan and set aside ½ the chicken making yourself a complete freezer meal – ready to go for another day! *Truthfully you could ½ all the ingredients, but who wants a ½ packet of dressing or ½ can of soup left laying around…
Here are the Ingredients ~
- 1/4 cup Butter (1/2 stick)
- 1 packet Italian Dressing Mix Powder (0.7 ounces each)
- 1 Cup Chicken Broth (I made mine with a bouillon cube)
- 1 cans golden mushroom soup
- 4 ounces cream cheese (1/2 brick)
- 1/2 Bottle ZESTY Italian Dressing
- 2 cups milk
- 1 Tsp Garlic Powder
- 1 TBSP Red Pepper Flakes
- 4 lbs (+) chicken breast
- 16 ounce box angel hair pasta (or 2 if you are making this all now, or another box for later when you pull the freezer meal out) Some have even mentioned preferring RICE
- Okay – if you are making all of the chicken at once, simply place the chicken (I cut my breasts in ½ width wise then again length wise… creating ‘chicken strips’) in your crockpot.
(If you are making 1 meal now and 1 for the freezer, place ½ the chicken in the crock and ½ in a freezer bag… If you are spontaneous or just CRAZY like me, you can then eyeball all of the sauce ingredients and place ½ of each on each chicken meal… or you can mix the sauce ingredients all in a bowl and then put ½ on each… your call… your circus! – Oh wait, that’s a whole ‘nother show in my head!!)
- Add all of the sauce ingredients on top of the chicken, give it a good stir…
- Turn crock pot on low for 6-8 hours
- When ready for dinner, prepare the pasta according to box, stir the chicken mixture again – shredding up some of the larger chunks if you prefer…. And serve it over a heaping plate of pasta!
SERIOUSLY – this may have become my new all-time favorite meal… give it a try!!
It’s “MONEY MONDAY” again… if you are following this series, this is a step by step detail of how I am getting my budget under control – and how you can too!
Here was Step ONE
And Here was Step TWO
Both initial reviews had me realizing that my LEVEL 3 spending / “monthly, weekly, daily incidentals” are always WAY higher than I budget for… and in my case, I am talking WAY more! I had to revamp my monthly budget to include a lot more items that I previously wasn’t counting (see the example in STEP 2) and even after really trying to get a complete handle on it this week threw me for a curve yet again with a few little things adding up to BIG totals… My daughter had not one – but 2 – field trips and each one cost a $20 spot and the kids had a school dance that was $10 each plus snack money… not to mention Lu needed something to wear cuz we all know you can’t wear something you already have…. I had to pay for our girl scout cookies and somehow my family managed to plow away 7 boxes in the past couple weeks… and my stupid key fob for my car quit working and I had to replace the battery, which mind you is NOT a $3 watch battery like I thought – and even though I completely redid my vehicle expense category, this was not something I ever thought of! So $200 later, I am once again revisiting my budgeted expenses and revamping and realizing that the only answer is a sugar daddy I may also have to revisit my level 2 and even level 1 expenses to determine where I can draw the money from to make the Level 3 – monthly incidentals budget out. This is where it gets very frustrating and I know for me, this is when I get sick of dealing with it and think if I ignore it will somehow fix itself… WRONG!!!
Because we have a very TIGHT budget (aka – live paycheck to paycheck) and I now can see why I am always “Robbing Peter to pay Paul”, I have to do one of 2 things: either reduce my spending – somewhere… somehow…, or increase my income! Increasing my income at this exact point in my life is not really possible so we definitely need to reduce our expenses!
Looking at Level 2 expenses – all my monthly “BILLS”, I want to start with investigating all of my utility payments… we have:
- · Propane
- · Electric
- · Verizon (cellular and internet – UGH)
- · Dish Network
- · Also our vehicle Insurance
I am going to review each one of these expenses to see exactly what we are paying… right off the bat I can tell you our VERIZON is outrageous and our DISH is useless…. I am thrilled with my insurance agent (HI MT) and I am more than happy that I locked in my propane this year. So I will start with Verizon and Dish… I’ll let you know how this goes!
Who’s playing along? How are your LEVEL 2 expenses?
New to this “oh so EXCITING” series? No worries, we are just getting started… You can catch up by reading the initial MONEY MONDAY post HERE – check it out, then come back… stick with me… misery LOVES company – right??!! LOL – well we are going to fix that!!!
AND by the way – I totally appreciate everyone’s concern about my financial self… The calls and emails making sure we were okay… * Hi Mom – hahaha! I totally did not mean to make us sound completely destitute – even if that is how it really feels some days… especially the days you spend $350 to repair your furnace only to learn you need a new one NOW… so much for that tax return again this year – UGH!!!!
So – anyhow, did you detail out your budgeted expenses? Did you learn anything about your spending?
I learned that my “Discretionary Funds/Spending” is HIGH… OMG!! Anyone else?? I knew it was high… I knew that I have issues with withdrawing funds at the ATM… You know, need lunch money for a planned trip to the city – might as well grab a $100. OR – Rite-aid has winter scarves on clearance for $3… I absolutely need 13 of them!!!
This is on top of: All 3 kids need lunch money and are already in the hole $10 each… Boy Scouts Dues are due @ $35 AND we have to buy candy from the fundraiser (approx. $20 x 2 Boys), so they can request a campership for camp which consequently ~ the registration is due NOW ($40 x 2). Then we needed a Dump pass ($20) and the dog license is due ($10) and there was a book fair at school ($10) and it is time to sign up for baseball ($50 x 2 – at least it is not all 3 anymore… high school does have it’s benefits!!) and basketball pictures are Friday ($30)… in addition to the Dr’s apt. co-pay ($20) and prescription cost ($10). Need I go on? This is in ONE week!!
So do you know what I learned? SCREW the budget – I need to get rid of the kids!
NO seriously – even though I think I was kind of serious…. What I really learned and want to point out is that YOU HAVE TO BUDGET FOR EVERYTHING!!!! NOT budgeting everything you spend money on is only setting you up for failure… The $415.00 I spent this week blew any discretionary fund right out of the water… CRAZY?? YES! But just goes to show that everything has to be budgeted at all times!!
Now go back to that budget again – Detail EVERYTHING!!!
- · LEVEL 1 – Mortgage and home expenses * Have to be paid 1st no matter what!! Taxes, Isurance… EVERYTHING!
- · LEVEL 2 – Monthly Payments, Utilities; gas (oil, propane, wood) electric, phone – cell, cable or dish, Internet, water, sewer – all Loans, Credit Payments
- · Level 3 – Monthly Incidentals; groceries, gas, spending money
Here is a list of extra expenses you may not have thought of, but that absolutely need to be made part of your budget if they pertain to you:
- · Food
- · Clothing (Back to School shopping and sneakers for every sport X 3 – UGH)
- · School / Office supplies
- · Pet Care
- · Medical expenses (copays and scripts, optical, dental)
- · Household repairs
- · Planned household purchases
- · Home Maintenance (Lawn Mowing, Snow Plowing )
- · Education costs
- · Gifts
- · Vehicle expenses (license and registration, inspections, maintenance, repairs),
- · Dues / Subscriptions
- · Clubs or Organizations
- · Donations
- · Christmas Club
- · Vacation Fund
SO – what other categories did this make you think of? It seems I come up with more daily – which is why I felt it was so important to re-visit the whole “MAKING THE BUDGET”. So, detail it all… every little thing and we can see where we can improve upon the situation!
Okay – Next Money Monday: How to view your BUDGET as a Profit and Loss Statement ~ Stay Tuned!!