April 20, 2011

The Armadillo Song

Things have been a little busy lately. Nathan and I took a trip to Pensacola, Florida, for a few days so he could show me where he went to college. Once I get the apartment back in order, I should be able to return to my irregularly scheduled blog. In the meantime, here's a song I wrote inspired by Alabama roadkill.

The Armadillo Song
Friend of Tom Bombadillo
Dances 'round laughing at Old Man Willow

The wind did billow
And then armadillo went rolling down the hill-o

Didn't make a good pillow
Tried to run across the road and got himself kill-o

What can I say? 14 hours in a car messes with your head.

Photo source

April 11, 2011

Is Paying for Coupons Worth the Money?

Buying a newspaper just for coupons, buying a book of coupons...is it worth it? I debated this for a long time. I can't speak for everyone, but this is what I've concluded.

A Sunday paper around here costs $1.75. If I can only use $2 worth of coupons from it, that's hardly worth the time it takes to clip them out. But one day I picked up a Sunday paper and saw a little paper inside with an online code to get a one-year Sunday/Thursday subscription for 99 cents a week. At that price, I thought it would be worth it.

Nathan's opinion? He was excited about getting the funnies. 

I haven't added up exactly how much we've saved a week with our paper subscription, but I know we get more than our money's worth without even trying. There are many bonuses in addition to the coupons. I have a physical copy of the weekly ads for Kroger, Meijer, and all the other local stores, which we wouldn't receive otherwise. There are restaurant coupons packed in there as well. And you can't put a price on how engrossed in the comics Nathan becomes every time we get a new paper. It's just hilarious.

The Entertainment Book
I was also worried about getting our money's worth out of the Entertainment Book, even though two of the books I've read this year recommend it. Sure it has thousands of dollars in coupons, but how many would we actually use? What finally made me decide to buy one was an offer from MyPoints to earn 1,700 points with the purchase of an Entertainment Book. I paid $17 and earned more than enough points for a $10 gift card. I knew we would save at least $7 with the coupons. 
And then I bought a bike...

The Entertainment Book has 3 coupons for Dick's Sporting Goods: $20 off $100, $15 off $75, and $10 off $50. When we bought a bike, 2 helmets, and a bike lock, the cashier let us use all 3 coupons on one transaction. We saved $45 on one purchase! No matter how many more coupons we use out of that book this year, it's already been worth it.

Is buying coupons worth the money? Depending on how much you pay for them, yes, it definitely can be!

Do you ever spend money to get coupons?

April 7, 2011

Once a Week Cooking

I don't think I could ever attempt Once a Month Cooking. I know it works for some people, but to me it just sounds overwhelming. I can't even plan out meals a week at a time since I never know when we could decide to go out of town for the weekend. But what about once a week cooking? What if I could do almost all of my food preparation for the following week on Saturday? That's my new plan. I've rearranged my chore schedule so that Saturdays are strictly grocery shopping and cooking days. This won't work out every week; some Saturdays I will be out of town, or I may be busy doing something else. The idea is to leave the day open so that if I am home and have the time to do something, I can spend some of that time cooking, whether I cook six meals or just bake a couple dozen cookies.

For my first attempt at once a week cooking, I made tuna noodle casserole, tomato teriyaki drumsticks, basil pork chops, biscuits, and chicken nuggets.

I started by cooking the egg noodles for the tuna noodle casserole.

The I trimmed the skin and fat from the drumsticks.

I made the sauce for the drumsticks and poured that into a bag with the chicken. All I had to do to complete this dish was throw it in the crock pot the morning I wanted to make it.

Once the noodles were done, I mixed in the other ingredients and my second meal was ready. (Putting the chow mien noodles on before baking was a bad idea. We decided putting them on the individual servings works best so they don't get soggy in the refrigerator.)

Next up were the biscuits. I'm trying to find a good biscuit recipe so I can make extras and freeze them, but this wasn't it.

Since the basil pork chops are a quick meal anyway, the only preparation I did for those was mixing the basil, brown sugar, and olive oil together while the biscuits were baking.

With three main dishes done, the only thing I had left to do was make the chicken nuggets for our dinner that night. 

Nathan made some amazing filet mignon and loaded mashed potatoes for one of our other dinners that week (still enjoying our Christmas steaks!). The other two nights were a date night and leftovers night.

Making four dinners in one afternoon was fairly easy and seemed to go quickly, even though I probably spent about three hours in the kitchen. If I have a little better planning for the next time, it should go even more smoothly.

Have you tried once a week or once a month cooking?

April 5, 2011

Cut Your Grocery Bill in Half

I wasn't sure what to expect from Cut Your Grocery Bill in Half with America's Cheapest Family. I don't feel like our monthly grocery budget can get any lower than it is without making some major sacrifices. And authors Steve and Annette Economides (yes, their real name) only go grocery shopping once a month, which is not something I'm willing to attempt at this point. As it turned out, I learned much more from this book than I expected. I skimmed through the chapter on stocking up and organizing since I don't really have enough space for 20 cans of tomato paste right now, but even that chapter got me thinking about how I could store and organize food.

Here are some examples of tips from the book that I liked:
  • Keep your impulse buys in a separate hand basket in your grocery cart. Before you check out, decide if you really need the items in the basket.
  • Use a calendar to track grocery store sales with dates
  • Buy medium eggs if there is more than a 5 cent difference between medium and large eggs
  • Swish water in a nearly empty jam jar and empty it into a smoothie or pancake batter

If you're at all interested in saving money on food expenses, even if you think you already know a lot, read this book. You will learn something.

Other Books Read in 2011

April 3, 2011

Super Easy & Amazing Peanut Butter Cookies

I brought some of these cookies into work and they were all gone by 3:00 that day. My coworkers thought they were amazing, but they're actually really easy to make. They only have 3 ingredients!

  • 1 cup peanut butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  1. Throw the ingredients in a bowl and mix them together
  2. Scoop up spoonfulls of the dough and drop them onto a cookie sheet
  3. Bake at 350 for 8 minutes
12-18 cookies. I doubled the recipe and ended up with 36.

Nutrition Facts
Who cares? It's a peanut butter cookie! (See original recipe here)