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The $200 Mission has relocated to savvysuzieblog.blogspot.com - be sure to update your subscriptions and links!


SOOO stoked!

I am sooooooo stoked right now! It looks like my new blog design will be up and running tomorrow!!!! Lauren at Restored 316 Designs has done an AWESOME job and I cannot WAIT for the big reveal!

Stay tuned :)

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BIG take from Shaw's and some little man pics :)

I haven't posted about my shopping trips lately, because I haven't really hit any earth-shattering sales and I've been pretty well on budget all month. But THIS was just too good to pass up - if you live near a Shaw's, today is the last day for this week's sales, so GET THERE!!!

Their promotion is a big General Mills sale - 10/$10, 6/$10, 4/$10 and 3/$10. 90 percent of what they offered had printable and circular coupons more than once over the last month or so. AND, if you buy $30 worth of stuff, they gave you $15 Catalinas towards your next purchase! Now, I think some stores are spitting out one $15 Catalina. My stores are giving out three $5 certificates instead. BUT you can still clean house, if you either have a patient cashier or you just don't care if they get mad :)

I will post a photo of my booty as soon as I can get the pics developed (My camera is busted and we had a disposable digital on hand!) but I took home $130 worth of goods including 2 Sunday papers, I paid $42.11 out of pocket AND I still have about $30 worth of catalinas left! SOOOO, after coupons, store sales, and catalinas I brought home FIVE BAGS of goodies for $12.11!!!

I split my transactions at the register - I let her ring in about $30 worth of stuff and then cashed out with my coupons - I WISH I had read THIS POST over at "Cent"sible Sawyer because apparently the $15 catalinas print based on presale prices not after coupons! I could have done even better. Anyway, after that transaction, the register printed out six $5 off catalinas. So I let her ring in a few more items, and handed her a catalina and my coupons. I did that twice more and got pretty much everything else for free! AND I still have $30 in coupons left! Like I said before, the cashier was getting kinda snippy with me...but I made sure there weren't a lot of people in line behind me and I shopped at an off-time. So I just let it roll :)

A lot of what I got was non-perishable, and I will probably be donating a bunch of it when the Thanskgiving food drives start - that's one of the wonderful things about learning how to shop like this - not only do I have MORE than enough on hand to feed my family, I can still help others even on our limited budget!

And as promised, here's a few pics from my nephew's 2nd birthday in September - the boys don't get to see much of each other since my bro lives in NY but they didn't seem to have a problem getting along :) Click to view the album...

Cousins - September 2008

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Award Day #4 (I warned you!)

See this is what happens when I don't have time to post awards for TWO WEEKS. I hold a bloggy love-in.

Felicia from Go Graham Go! and Keely from The Un-Mom told me that I ROCK! Woo!
Makes me wanna break out the band T-shirts and the Aqua Net.

Both of these sites totally deserve the award - Felicia has awesome reviews (and gives me LOTS of bloggy love!) and Keely is in a class all her own on the wit-o-meter.

Those that receive the Rock Star award stand out. They work hard and you love knowing them. They are unique and one of a kind bloggers!


Here are just a few of the people I think are rock stars:

Punky Monkey's

Small Town Mommy

Jiggety Jigg

The Neurotic Mom

Diaries of a Domestic Goddess

Soccer Mom Says

Memoirs of a Chaotic Mommy

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Award day #3

Bridget from Mama Belly Blog decided that I was an "Uber-Amazing Blog"! If you haven't checked her out, be sure to stop by...she takes some amazing photos of her adorable little guy!


I'm so amazing, I had a fly buzz by my face just now and I swatted it. Meaning, I smacked myself in the forehead. Der. (I'm having a lot of "der" moments this week, aren't I?)

No funky requirements here, just giving props to a handful of the awesome blogs I read all the time!

Go Graham Go!

Adventures in Jujuboo

The Homesteading Housewife

The Un-Mom

The Junk Drawer

"Cents"able Momma

April's Little Family

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Award Day #2 - one for me and one for you!

OK - I am TOTALLY STOKED right now!!!!! I just won a blog redesign from Restored 316 Designs, courtesy of the awesome ladies over at MomDot!!!! Restored 316 has the most awesome designs (check out her portfolio, you'll definitely recognize a lot of her work!) and her prices are very reasonable. I had been eyeballing her for a couple of months and then *POOF*! I get a great anniversary present from MomDot!!! Speaking of, if you haven't joined the MomDot community of women, GET THERE NOW. The site is the bomb. 'Nuff said. Big changes in store for my blog, so keep watching!

Nessa from Ramblings of a Texas Housewife, Bridget from Mama Belly Blog, and Felicia from Go Graham Go! passed on THIS award:


Nessa posts some great recipes...I've got a few in mind for my future menu plans :) And Bridget posts gorgeous photos of her little guy and his adventures! Felicia's site is full of great mom reviews. All are worth a visit!

For this award, I am supposed to list six things about myself and then pass along to six other bloggers.

1. I currently have a Rubbermaid bin full of fuzzy scarves and crocheted hats. I get on kicks now and again and churn out tons of projects, then stuff them in a bin. I don't have to buy Christmas presents for YEARS...

2. My husband has a huge collection of Warhammer figures that he handpainted himself. I bust his chops about them but really I think they're awesome :)

3. I wasn't always Savvy....when I was in college I actually answered a personal ad from the Village Voice and met the guy for a date. Alone. In Manhattan. Der.

4. I am more of a packrat than I like to admit. I have dreams of an uncluttered house where everything has its place - but then I find a scrap of paper that I *might* have a use for eventually...and then suddenly I'm wading in junk.

5. I was actually on a date with someone else when my husband (a friend at the time) walked into the room and my first unconscious thought was "crap - I really want to be with THAT guy!"

6. Two couples hooked up at my wedding. One of them is composed of my best friend from high school and my baby (27 year old baby!) brother. It creeped me out for the first couple of weeks, but they were so happy I couldn't stay creeped. Both couples are still together, so we sometimes refer to our wedding as "The Summer of Love".

And now on to the next victims....

On the Verge

The Mom Buzz

A Womb at the Inn(sane)

Havoc and Mayhem

Thoughts from the Mrs.

Restored 316 Designs blog - (I will officially exempt her from answering questions, since she'll be working hard on my layout - but I think she deserves this award!!)

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Award day #1

I have been graced with an awesome award from Erin at The Mom Buzz and Felicia at Go Graham Go! - if you haven't checked them out yet, pop on over - The Mom Buzz was designed to highlight the awesome mommy blogs that are out there, great products and services, and to keep up on the "buzz" in the mom blogging community...if you haven't already done it, check her out and submit your blog to get Buzzed! Felicia's site has awesome reviews and stories about her little rugrat, it's one of my regular reads!


Here's the dealio:

1. Slap this baby up on your blog. Don’t be shy.
2. Link to the giver
3. Nominate up to seven other fab blogs.
4. Post links to those super fly blogs your nominating.
5. Leave messages for your recipients on their blogs…so they can feel as special as you do!

So here are the super-cool blogs I pass this award to!

Outnumbered Two to One

Just Another Stay at Home Mom

Cheaper Than Therapy

Green Stew

"Deal"icious Mom

A Year of CrockPotting

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Today is our wedding anniversary! I still can't believe it's been a year. Of course, some days it feels like it's been a hundred :)

I am so blessed with an amazing husband who loves me unconditionally, *generally* helps around the house, sets a great example for his boy, and values our friendship as much as I do. I can't imagine walking through life's ups and downs with anyone else. He makes me laugh and comforts me when I cry. He is someone I can tell cheesy jokes with or have full-on philosophical discussions with. We've had an incredibly rough year, and a lesser man would have had the shine worn off his smile by now. Not my man :) He still looks at me the way he did the first night he kissed me, and for that I am grateful!

Here's a little homage to our wedding day, hope you enjoy it!

The Wedding of the Century!

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Menu Plan Monday - Nov 3rd

It's that time of year - Holiday crunch time! Once Halloween passes, it's an all-out sprint to the end of the year. I'm hoping to have a few moments here and there to enjoy everything going on, but it always seems to fly by too quickly for my taste. We're incredibly lucky to have both sets of parents living very nearby, and extended family just a little further away...but it means that we have to start planning the Holiday shuffle NOW. Part of me just wants to keep things small and stay home, but you never know what's around the bend...so I'll enjoy the family madness for as long as I have it :)

Last week we did pretty well with the menu, I had to shuffle a few things around due to unthawed chicken (hate when that happens!) but we did a leftover night instead which got my fridge a little cleaner! The Cabbage Roll Casserole was INCREDIBLE. It was a hearty stew with very rich flavors. Hubby and I both agreed it would be amazing in a bread bowl...so I may try my hand at making mini-loaves for next time :) I think I'm going to put off the Caraway Pork chops for a little bit - we never got to it last week and hubby is working just about every night this week. We have three nights home together, but none where I'll be home all day to make any grand preparations. So I've tried to plan out meals that either use boxed shortcuts (I hit a HUGE sale today!) or fast preparations. I have plenty of muffins and bread for breakfasts, but if I find something that really tickles my fancy I might do some baking.

Here's our menu for the week, don't forget to visit Laura and all the other MPM participants at Orgjunkie.com for more inspiration!

monday: Veggie Lo Mein ($3.24 for 6-8 servings)

tuesday: Italian Chicken Skillet ($4.35 for 4-6 servings)

wednesday: Breaded drumsticks, veggies, au gratin potatoes ($3.50 for 4 servings)

thursday: Pasta Primavera - just mix frozen veggies with your favorite sauce! ($3.00 for 8 servings)

friday: Leftover Bee Rocks and leftover broccoli cheese soup (free!!)

saturday: Sausage Oven Omelette using kielbasa, fruit and toast ($5.63 for 6 servings)

sunday: Either homemade pizza or dinner at the in-laws! ($1.98 for 4-6 servings)

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Just a quick thanks to my top Entrecard droppers for October - thanks for stopping by...a LOT :) And thanks to everyone who paid me a visit!

PhotobucketPhotobucketPhotobucketPhotobucketCarole's Thoughtful SpotPhotobucketSpices of Life and Everything Nice

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The Goodie Bag - for me and you!

The goodies for me: I have been OVERWHELMED by the awards and tags that I have gotten in the last week and a half. Thank you SO MUCH to everyone who has been thinking of me! I was going to just put them all up in one blog, but what fun is that? So next week, I am going to do an AWARD A DAY :) Suzie's spreadin' the love... so be ready...

And the goodies for you

Don't forget to print your weekend grocery coupons!

Free stuff for breastfeeding moms!

Free samples on stuff you actually use!

FREE Betty Crocker taters when you sign up for the Dinner Made Easy newsletter (I get this, they send great recipes!)

Free custom Fruit Roll Ups are back! Get them before they're gone!

Free sample of Stayfree or Carefree pads HERE

Free Playtex Sport Tampons HERE

Free Red Dress Pin (supporting the American Heart Association's Go Red campaign!) HERE (thanks to "Deal"icious Mom for that!)

Get a Neutrogena(R) or Dove(R) Facial Cleansing Cloth Sample. Click Here

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Brick #5 - Spicing it Up

I don't have a one-note palate when it comes to food. I love variety and I love FLAVOR. But I read through gourmet cookbooks and magazines, and I get disenchanted. I don't buy into the idea that I have to invest in a bunch of exotic ingredients if I want to deviate from the basic meat and potatoes, or chicken and cream of *whatever* soup casserole. Budget does not have to equal bland!

Believe it or not, meal planning becomes easier (and a lot more fun!) once you realize that you can build a perfect companion to your stockpile of food when you start viewing seasonings as an investment in making inexpensive dishes more interesting...

Brick #5 - Invest in your spice cabinet

There aren't many things I'd feel ok about paying a little more for. But good seasonings are one of those things - kind of like that pair of shoes you spent good money on, that end up lasting forever and going with everything you own. With a good set of base spices, you can make one dish take on many personalities.

The cost of spices can be a little daunting. But most basic spices can be found at your local discount or dollar store for a buck or less (for a pretty big container!) and aren't any lesser quality than the brand names. The ones I find most commonly are pepper, cinnamon, paprika, oregano, basil, bay leaves, onion salt, onion powder, garlic salt, garlic powder, and parsley. These alone would provide you with a solid seasoning foundation, especially when you add in liquid seasonings (soy sauce, worcestershire sauce, vanilla) which I usually get at my local discount grocery store for a buck a piece.

But to really get the most mileage out of the food you prepare, you will want to invest in a few more expensive items. The ones I have gotten the most use out of (aside from the list above) are rosemary, tarragon, fennel, thyme, curry, nutmeg, cardamom, caraway, celery seed, and dill. If you compare some of your favorite recipes you may find that a few seasonings carry over into multiple dishes - those would be worth adding to your arsenal as well. Just don't be afraid of the price tag. Most recipes call for 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon of the more expensive spices, because they are richer and a little goes a very long way.

Of course, if you are lucky enough to have a green thumb (I killed a chia pet - don't trust me with your houseplants!) you can grow many herbs either in your garden or on your windowsill, and get all the goodness for free! And the only thing better than inexpensive is FREE :) (I haven't found that fresh herbs from the store are cheaper than bottled, plus they go bad before I can finish using them.) I have also heard that some whole foods stores will sell bulk spices by the ounce, you can bring your own baggies and just get a little instead of buying a whole package. Haven't found that in my area yet but I'm looking! Investigate your spices the same way you are investigating your food prices, and find out where you'll get the most bang for your buck!

If you've been following along this series, you already know what your "pet" foods are - now you can scan your pet recipes and figure out what groups of seasonings appeal to your family's tastes. Start building with the things you will use most frequently, and then you can add to your arsenal slowly. Choose one pricey spice to try out, and experiment with it a couple of times before you add something else. You'll expand your culinary knowledge as well as your spice rack!

Next week, I'll talk more about why a little planning can save a lot of money!

Here are a few base seasoning combinations that will take you on a little trip around the globe:

Mexican: chili powder, garlic, onion powder, salt
Oriental: soy sauce, garlic, onion powder, ginger
Italian: oregano, basil, pepper, fennel
Indian: curry, garlic, onion powder, sesame seeds, cardamom
Szechuan: soy sauce, ginger, garlic, onion powder, red pepper flake

These are just starting points - with the right spices in your arsenal you can adjust any basic dish and make it as exotic as you like!

Some additional resources:

Ten herbs and spices that will make simple foods pop!

Homemade seasoning blend recipes

Spice substitutions if you don't have the exact seasoning in a recipe

Recipezaar and AllRecipes both have ingredient search options - if you want to try out a new spice just plug it in along with any other ingredients you might want to use, and see what comes up!

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Fast Freebies

Happy Wednesday! I am working on the next Bricklaying installment, I also got a few tags and awards that I have to catch up on...brings a tear to my eye ;) I could use a few extra hours in the day! Or a trained monkey to dictate my blogs to while I'm doing everything ELSE....no promises on the grammar.

Anyway, here are a couple of GM freebies to get you past the midweek hump!


Fruit Roll-ups

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It's the Great Pumpkin!

I am sitting here watching "It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown". By myself. (the Boy Wonder is in bed and hubby is working - I'm a dork, I know!) It's actually one of my favorite Halloween traditions. I still have fond memories of checking the TV Guide as a kid to find out when it was on, and my mom would make a big family night of it. We'd bring our pillows and blankets to the living room, and everyone would curl up together to watch. It would usually turn into a big slumber party in the living room because we were tired by the time it was over.

It was one piece of a week of anticipation, costume parties at elementary school, scoping out the candy that Mom had bought (so we could pounce on whatever was left over after the doorbell stopped ringing!), watching my dad set up his decorations on the lawn (complete with outdoor speakers so he could play his "spooky music"), and ultimately trick-or-treating on Halloween evening. My folks always dressed up too, my dad would usually stay behind to hand out treats and my mom would walk us around the neighborhood. We had a great little block with lots of kids and all of the parents knew each other. At the end of the night, my brothers and I would dump our booty on the living room floor, and the negotiating would begin. If I gave you two licorice can I have one of your snickers bars? What will you give me for my Charleston Chews - it doesn't matter that I don't even like them! :)

The Boy Wonder is still a little young to start partaking of the festivities, but he's certainly aware something fun is going on this week. Hubby loves Halloween so we've got decorations all over the house (my dear son has already learned to say "skeleton"...or in his words, "skeh-ni-nin"!) I can't wait till he's old enough to get excited about the Great Pumpkin showings, and really understands the fun. I look forward to watching him deliberate over what he wants to be, what candy he hopes to get, and how he's going to scare his younger siblings...not that I ever did that. Really.

What Halloween memories do you have? Any traditions that you are carrying on to your young ones?

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Freebie for diabetics

This is less a freebie posting and more a public service announcement for Type 1 diabetics. (I should mention this is NOT a paid posting). I've mentioned before that hubby has Type 1 - this means his body produces NO insulin (as opposed to Type 2 diabetes, which when your body becomes insulin resistant - in many cases it is reversible with proper diet and exercise). He had been on injection therapy since he was nine, taking 4 or more shots every day, plus numerous finger sticks to test his blood sugar.

For a long time he did so because there wasn't a better option. As he got older, he resisted the idea of using an insulin pump because he was misinformed, thinking it was an implant. Insulin pumps are external, worn like a pager or cell phone. They connect to the body via thin tubing that attaches to the body with a small cannula, or soft needle, that stays in place for 3 days at a time. For some people, injection therapy works well - but for most, pump therapy provides more accurate insulin delivery, less injections (and less scarring at injection sites), and more consistent blood sugar levels.

We liked the control and the convenience that pumps offered, but were never crazy about those loose tubes - he is pretty active, and when he performs with his comedy group he kind of views his body as just another prop...so we had concerns about tubes getting caught and being pulled out. When we found out about the OmniPod, it was the answer we were looking for.

The OmniPod works like every other insulin pump, delivering small doses of insulin continuously through the day and allowing wearers to give themselves extra insulin at meals and when needed for high blood sugars. But unlike anything else available, the OmniPod is TOTALLY wireless. Hubby has been using it since May of this year, and it really is incredible. The disposable "pods" are very small - about a half inch thick and as long as a pager. Each pod holds about 2-3 days worth of insulin, and instead of being carried like a cell phone, they attach to the body with waterproof adhesive. The soft cannula is INTEGRATED into the pod, not separate. Insulin goes directly from the reservoir to the needle, no tubing in between. And you get a small PDA (about the size of an older Palm Pilot) which is the "communications center" for the whole system. The PDA is also a glucometer, so you don't need to have a separate piece of equipment to do your testing. And it communicates to the pods through infrared signals, for bolus doses and changes to basal rates. The PDA also has plenty of memory to store info on carb intake, blood sugars, and comes with a pretty good food/carb list for quick reference.

My husband absolutely loves it - it's very easy to program, and it's really nice to have all of his carb counts and blood sugar levels in one place for those times when he does run either high or low, to help him fine tune his settings. And because the system is wireless, he can wear the pod anywhere he has a little body fat. He has worn it on his belly, his legs and his arms, and some of the old scar tissue has already started to go away since he's only putting a needle in once every 3 days and he has a lot of injection sites to choose from. His blood sugars have stablized really fast too. We had a checkup for him just before he started with the OmniPod, and his A1C (the test to see what your average blood sugar has been over 3 months) was 8.2, which is pretty bad. Three months after starting the Pods, we had another A1C test, and this time it came back at 6.5! People with healthy pancreases test at between 3.5-5.5. That's a huge change in a short period of time.

I've had great luck with their customer service as well - every month we get a box of pods and yes, sometimes they fail. Whenever that happens I just call their service department, and they send a replacement pod free. They have always been extremely helpful with my questions, even before we decided to use their system. And most of their customer service reps are also diabetics who use the Pods, so they can answer your questions from personal experience!

Do you or someone you know have Type 1 Diabetes? Check out the OmniPod and get a free demo kit so you can see for yourself how the system works!

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Monday Redbox free rental!

Here's todays Redbox code for a free movie rental! It's only good until midnight tonight and the movie must be returned by 9PM on Tuesday.


At the redbox kiosk, choose the "Rent with a code" button, choose your movie, swipe your card and enjoy some free entertainment!

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Menu Plan Monday - Oct 27th

There's nothing predictable about a New England fall. Last week we saw temperatures dipping into the 20's overnight - I was ready to break out the window plastic and the puffy coats. Last night there was a big rainstorm, and today? It feels like mid-spring. It's true what they say - if you don't like the weather in New England, wait five minutes :)

Last week's new recipes were GREAT! The Vegetable Curry was delish...and not too spicy - even the baby loved it! There were a LOT of leftovers too - I'd say it made closer to 10 servings instead of 8. The ribs pleased even my hubby's BBQ snob palate, and the Chipotle Chicken Tenders disappeared fast. I made the Squash and Apple Casserole in the crockpot instead of the oven, it was very tasty but probably would have had a nice crust (like an apple brown betty) if it were baked. Our only snafu was leftover's night...I have discovered that I need to be a little more specific when hubby is in charge of scavenging - he ate ALL of the leftover chicken from the roaster I made last week....that was about TWO MEALS worth of leftover chicken, because I use it in stew and skillet dishes to stretch it further. I suppose I can't blame him, it is sinfully tasty...but the man needs to learn a little restraint! :)

This week we actually have most nights home together! Friday night we'll be going to a family Halloween party (man, I need to finish the Boy Wonder's costume!!) and we have to decide whether we'll celebrate our anniversary this weekend or next - depends on when grammie wants to have a sleepover with her boy...I am really trying to work out of my stockpile as much as possible - I had to invest in some new spices for one dish this week but other than that shopping was exclusively perishables (fruits and veggies, milk).

Baking this week will include muffins made with the leftovers from the squash and apple casserole and a batch of Applesauce Bread for breakfasts and snacks. I'll be doing a batch of 40 minute buns with half as dinner rolls and half as sandwich sized buns. I found a recipe for wheat bread, but I'm still working up the courage to give it a go...I'll post it if it works!

Here's what'll be on our table, don't forget to pay Laura a visit over at I'm an Organizing Junkie and check out all of the fabulous menus for the week! Get crazy - add yours :)

monday - Cabbage Roll Casserole ($4.28 for 6 servings)

tuesday - Bee Rocks, fruit salad ($6.50, includes 12 servings of Bee Rocks)

wednesday - Autumn Chicken, mashed butternut squash, Homemade rolls ($4.61 for 4 servings)

thursday - Lloyd's BBQ chicken on homemade buns, steamed broccoli ($3.30 for 4 servings)

friday - Halloween shindig at the in-laws - free meal!

saturday - If we don't go out for an anniversary dinner, then Caraway pork chops, leftover dinner rolls, steamed mixed veggies with butter and sweet basil ($5.40 for 4 servings)

sunday Homemade cheese pizza ($1.94)

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Brick #4 - Give a Little Sweat Equity

I had rockstar dreams. Once upon a time, I was going to be a famous actress/singer/dancer and live in the lap of luxury, with a team of dedicated employees to cater to my every whim.


Now I am the caterer...and taxi driver, personal shopper, accountant, maid, butler, activities coordinator...I should get paid by the hour! Then I could live in the lap of...oh nevermind.

With all of that going on, don't I deserve a little convenience in my life? Perhaps. But I had to sit down and take a hard look at where the small amount of money we had was going, and somewhere along the way it occured to me that HUNDREDS of dollars were disappearing out of our wallets because we were buying convenience food.

Let me clarify a little bit - in my book, "convenience food" includes ANYTHING that I could make for myself, but I choose to buy a pre-packaged version. Yes, that includes bread, pancake mix, soup, precooked meats, shredded cheese. Anything that I could DIY in my meager kitchen. There were two thought processes going on:

1. What am I buying just to avoid putting some time in at the stove?
2. What is the benefit if I did it myself instead?

The answer to the first question was a long list of prepared meals, breakfast foods, snacks, and easy dinner solutions. The answer to the second question was short: I save a LOT of money, and I KNOW what is going into my family's mouths - no fillers, preservatives or extra junk. This required me to put firmly in place another brick:

4. Give a little sweat equity in the kitchen, gain a lot in the wallet

Let's dispel a few myths about making things homemade:

It takes too much time
My breakfast muffins take 10 minutes to mix, 20 minutes to bake (while they're baking, I can do other things!). I often throw some together before I go to work in the morning, it's that easy. Same goes for most dinners that I make. Ten or fifteen minutes of prep, and I can go about other business while things cook. Especially in the crockpot - I've been known to toss ingredients into the 'pot before work, set it, and dinner's done when I get home. Easy Peasy! At first things took longer to make, but that was just me re-acquainting myself with the stuff in my kitchen :)

One of my biggest time savers was making extra portions of a meal and freezing them - I haven't yet ventured into once-a-month cooking, but making extras while I'm already in the kitchen has been a lifesaver on nights when we aren't getting home until later in the evening. Sometimes those freezer meals are the only thing standing between me and the temptation to order out. That alone saves me almost 20 bucks a week...more if you include the fact that our leftovers often become lunch at work!

I can't cook.
YES YOU CAN. You don't need to be Julia Child in the kitchen, you just need to be able to operate an oven/crockpot without breaking something. It's really just following basic instructions, if you could program your iPod you've worked harder at that than you would in the kitchen! Two of my favorite recipe sites, Cooks.com and Recipezaar.com are chock full of simple recipes with minimal ingredients. A good basic cookbook (my personal favorites are How To Cook Everything: Simple Recipes for Great Food and The Best of Cooking with 3 Ingredients (Flavors of Home)) can be your best friend and help in areas you aren't comfortable with - I always had questions about cooking raw meat...now I roast with the best of them!

I won't really save any money because I have to buy the ingredients
OK - most people know that is about as false as Tammy Faye Baker's eyelashes. But I do actually know people who think this way! They figure that buying ONE of something over TEN somethings makes the ONE something cheaper. But most of the time, the raw materials that you use will add up to a LOT less when you consider that you're buying enough to make SEVERAL somethings instead of just one meal.

Investing some sweat equity in your kitchen is ESSENTIAL to successfully feeding your family on a small budget. I am a working mom (anywhere between 32 and 48 hours a week) and my husband works as much or more. My son is a mini-hurricane right now. I DID NOT think I had the time to do the home cooked meals thing every night. But I knew that I could make the same thing as packaged meals for a fraction of the cost, so I made the choice to TRY.

I started just making the effort to plan very basic protein-veggie-starch dinners. The more I did it, the easier it became to branch out and try new recipes. If you stick to recipes with less than 10 ingredients (and follow your price book!) most of your dinners will end up being under $7 for 4-6 portions. That's an ENTIRE WEEK of dinners for less than 40 bucks.

Getting familiar with the flour jar will also cut major costs. I make homemade muffins, buns/rolls, and pizza dough just about every week. ALL THREE of these recipes cost me $2.73 COMBINED. That's six muffins, 12 dinner rolls and a whole pizza pie. There are a TON of cheap recipes for muffins, breads, breakfast bars and such out there, just find the ones that appeal to you! The only think I don't bake myself right now is sandwich bread - only because I get it SO cheap at Price Rite. If I can figure out how to make it for less than 75 cents a loaf, I'm all over it.

I even make our own version of 100 calorie snack packs. I buy a BIG bag of the snack of choice, and divvy it up into snack baggies. The cost? Around 5 bucks for about 20-30 servings. Those snack packs at their CHEAPEST are 2 bucks for SIX. My cost for the same number of servings - $0.25.

The added benefit of all this work? You know EXACTLY what's going into the mouths of your precious family. No fillers. No added preservatives, extra sodium, or things you can't pronounce. I don't know about you, but it makes me sleep better at night. And my husband is healthier than he's ever been, in spite of his diabetes....there's something to this "home cookin' thing"!

Next week we'll spice it up! Literally ;)

Some great resource sites:

Make ahead recipes - Your Own "fast" food

The $5 Dinner Mom - Awesome recipes, all for 5 bucks or less per meal!

Saving Money with Homemade Convenience Mixes - everything from breads to sauces to seasonings, and tips on making homemade even healthier.

Grab and Go foods

The Crockpot Lady - if it can be done in a crockpot, she's tested it! Another awesome recipe site.

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The Goodie Bag

Some freebies and discounts to get your weekend going!


Another $5/$20 coupon for Walgreens - good today 10/24 and tomorrow 10/25! Get the printable coupon OR a coupon to shop online HERE

Don't forget to print your weekend grocery coupons!

Dunkin' Donuts. Dunkin' keeps me blogging. Try Dunkin' Donuts Coffee For Free. Get a Sample

Diabetes Guide
It's Diabetes awareness month - get a free info kit for you or a loved one (Hubby has type 1 so I'm all about tooting this horn!)

Free samples on stuff you actually use!

FREE Betty Crocker taters when you sign up for the Dinner Made Easy newsletter (I get this, they send great recipes!)

Free custom Fruit Roll Ups are back! Get them before they're gone!

Apparently it's Be Nice To Your Va Jay-Jay week at Wal Mart. Get free samples of Playtex Sport tampons and Kotex

Free sample of Garnier Nutritioniste Ultra Lift HERE

Free sample of Airborne Zesty Orange - just in time for cold season! HERE

Enfamil LIPIL® Formulas. Free sample Click Here

Get a Facial Cleansing Cloth Sample. Click Here

Get signed up with Logical Media and get your blog working for you - they've been really good to me so far!

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