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Thursday, August 30, 2012

Frugal Friday--Consolidate Trips

I feel like this post will be preaching to the choir, but just in case I'll post it anyway.  

When you need to run errands, try and make your stops in a giant circle so that you don't have to retrace your steps too much.  

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Weekly Menu 9/1+


garlic bread

smoked chicken
grilled okra
grilled corn
Labor Day

chicken alfredo
broccoli salad

skillet pork chops
green beans

smoked chicken enchiladas

ez veggie beef stew
panko noodles

egg salad sandwiches
carrot sticks

Grocery Deals 8/29+

Sprouts        watermelon 2.49, cantaloupe .99 (vs. 1.25 HEB), grapes 1.50/lb, strawberries 2.50/lb, tomatoes 1.25/lb, cauliflower 1.25, lettuce .99, onions .49/lb, broccoli crowns .99/lb, celery .99, red bell peppers .99, green onions .49, cilantro .49, green bell peppers, longhorn cheese 2.99/lb, bluebell 3.99
Randalls       legs/thighs .99, 93% lean ground beef 2.99/lb, ribeye or NY strip 5.99/lb, bluebell 3.99, baby back ribs $5, corn .25
HEB               corn .20, potatoes $4/8#, plums .97/lb, t-bone 4.97/lb, pork/chicken fajitas 1.97/lb, beef fajitas 2.97/lb, gulf shrimp 5.97/lb

Monday, August 27, 2012

Tip Tuesday--Little Jobs

Have you ever been stumped on whether or not to empty the silverware basket on the dishwasher, or wipe off the kitchen counter, or change the empty toilet paper roll, put the next bag into the trash can.  Well I have.  

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Frugal Friday --Other Restaurant Tips

Keeping with last week's theme of saving money at a restaurant, I have a few more tips.

Lunch out is a great way to meet up with friends and catch up without taking away family time.  I'd love it if someone has a better idea than meeting to eat, but until then I'll still keep eating out at lunch a few days a week to keep in touch with friends.

I did meet K in the mall's food court one day and we both brought our lunches in, but it we weren't taking up any space that a paying customer would have taken because there were almost no people in the mall at all.  I bet many of you can guess which mall that was.

Other money saving ideas.... You can skip dessert at the restaurant.  Instead of paying $5 for one slice of cake you could purchase a whole cake in the bakery at the grocery store, or buy a half of one, or bake one yourself, or skip dessert altogether.

If ice cream is more your family's idea of a yummy ending to a meal instead of stopping at the ice cream shop you could buy a half gallon of Bluebell, and even at full price in the grocery store, you could save some serious cash.

Did you like how I mentioned dessert first?  Me too.  Life is uncertain and you need to know when you are going to get your next sweet fix, and how it's going to come around.  On to other ideas...

Perhaps two people at the table are considering ordering the same thing from the menu.  You could share the  entree and ask for an extra plate.  Not only will this save you some money it will also save you some serious calories.  Have you noticed that the portion sizes on the meals they serve are gargantuan?

Another idea for saving money at a restaurant is to cut your meal in half as soon as your plate arrives.  You can even ask for a to go box right away. You won't completely stuff yourself at the restaurant and you can eat the meal a second time in a few days and remind yourself how great it was.

I used this idea about 12 years ago when I was looking for a way to pay for my gym membership.  I would eat out for lunch almost every day, and on Monday and Wednesday I would cut my lunch in half and take the other half back to the office.  Then on Tuesday and Thursday I would go to the gym during my lunch break (there was a shower), and my lunch would be a repeat of the prior day.

So enjoy your meals out, if you take them, but consider saving a few dollars along the way.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Weekly Menu 8/25+


grilled pork chops
corn on the cob

grilled chicken
green beans
fruit & yogurt

cheesy spirals

crockpot beef
cottage cheese fluff

chicken fried rice
egg rolls

chicken parmesan
noodles w/pesto

dogs in a blanket
carrot sticks

Grocery Deals 8/22+

Randalls       grapes .99/lb (vs 1.77 HEB), boneless chicken 1.99/lb, 90% lean ground beef 2.99/lb

HEB             peaches .88/lb, seedless watermelon 3.88, hatch green chilies .97/lb, tomatoes .98/lb, red/gold potatoes 2.77/5#, whole chicken .77/lb, beef ribs 1.77/lb, boneless chicken br for fajitas 1.97/lb, hot dogs .77/lb

Sprouts     grapes .88/lb, cantaloupes .99, pears .99/lb, grape tomatoes 1.25, red/yellow bell peppers .99, broccoli .99/lb, green beans .99/lb, cucumbers .50, green bells .50, zucchini .99/lb,  yellow squash .99/lb, avocados .69, celery .99

Monday, August 20, 2012

Tip Tuesday--Bookcovers

Don't you just love the fall?  It's back to school time, the days are starting to get really hot so you know summer is coming to a close.  The sun is setting earlier and you can really tell it's dark before you want to collapse in bed for the night.  Does anyone else have a rule about the sun needing to be down before you can go to bed?  Never mind.

But back to school is also a time for reworking your schedule, even if you don't have kids starting school, traffic patterns change (at least here they do), you can remember what it was like to start a fresh school year full of hope and promise.... Oh, right.

So school started for us this past week.

On the first day of third grade the teachers sent home textbook #1 of 4 that needed to be covered that night.  It was only at the suggestions of the teacher that I was even able to come up with idea beyond the brown paper bag for a book cover when I figured out that Butter Krust doesn't make book covers anymore.  I think they barely make bread, so it's no surprise that they stopped making the covers too.  I guess Big Red is also out of the book cover business (remember those white ones???).  Perhaps schools don't want to promote white bread and sugary soda in the classroom anymore and I guess the broccoli growers association hasn't stepped up to start printing book covers yet.

Well, I don't usually get paper grocery bags anymore, I had just dropped off my paper recycling that morning so the newspaper option was out, and the only wrapping paper I have is for Christmas.

Not wanting to fall apart on the first day of the new year and deciding that I could solve this problem.  I thought about the giant stack of gift bags I have stashed away.  Turns out 90% of my stack is the 9x12 variety, in a full rainbow of colors.  However, these books are much larger than that, but I did have a handful of good sized bags and they worked perfectly.

So I cut them apart

Wrapped one side and folded them under
and then the other side
and ta daaaaa

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Frugal Friday--Restaurant Beverages

In our regular budget we plan to eat out for lunch after church every week. We don't live close to church so by the time we try to sleep in a little and then rush out the door to get there on time we usually haven't eaten breakfast.  If we get there early enough we might snag a few donut holes, but let's face while those are tasty, they don't really satisfy.  When church is out, we are all famished.

Then there is the race to the restaurant to beat the Baptists.  Does anyone else's family have this mentality?  And if anyone out there is a Baptist, who does your family try to beat once church is out?  Or do you just not know that restaurants are not always jammed packed on Sunday.

Of course the Baptists are just getting started when we get out, but it's a race and we feel the pressure to beat them anyway, because as I taught in the Sunday School lesson recently you should run the race so as to win the prize and if the prize is getting a table at the restaurant then our family wins on a regular basis.  Perhaps I've taken the verse out of context as C warns me not to do all the time.  Just for the record I didn't once mention to the kids that you should try to beat the Baptists.

Oh, I've way digressed.

Anyway once you get to the restaurant before or after the Baptists, and it's time to order, you might want to consider not ordering anything more than just water to drink.  Have you noticed the price of a glass of tea lately?  It's terrible!  Sometimes I have seen it be as much as $2.50 for a glass.  In full disclosure though, I do LOVE to have tea with my lunch, especially when eating Mexican food.  As any number of my regular lunch partners can attest I can drink some tea and I definitely get my money's worth, or at least I make a good run at it.

If you are on a tighter budget and a meal out is the treat, then save $10 on a party of four and skip the non-water beverages.  But if we got out to eat, please don't judge me for ordering tea, it's a personal decision and I get a LOT of enjoyment out of it.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Weekly Menu 8/18+


grilled corn
smore tortillas

baked chicken
cheddar bread
applesauce dessert

mashed potatoes
green beans

pork chops
stuffing w/ apples

green chili pork roast

tatertot casserole
peaches and cream pizza

pulled pork sandwiches
cole slaw

Grocery Deals 8/15+

Sprouts   watermelon 2.99, cantaloupe .99,  corn .20 (vs. .33 HEB), red/green bell peppers .50, boneless chicken thighs 1.77/lb, broccoli .99/lb, zucchini .99/lb, cluster tomatoes .99/lb, avocados .88, lettuce .99, celery .99, spinach .99, Bluebell 3.99
HEB   cantaloupe .97, strawberries 1.77/lb, plums .97/lb, hatch peppers .97/lb, t-bone steak 5.97, legs/thighs $1/lb, please don’t fall for the individually packaged blueberries 1.5 oz packages for $1.  That makes the tiny 6 oz package $4 and you’d never pay that for that small size; ok well I wouldn’t pay $4 for that size. 
Randalls  hatch .69/lb, cantaloupe .99,  strawberries 1.99/lb, blueberries 2.99/pt, pork chops 1.49/lb (vs 2.97 HEB), legs/thighs .99/lb, chuck steak 2.99/lb, 93% lean ground beef 2.99/lb, ground turkey $5/3# (my HEB stopped carrying the rolls of turkey meat that were $1 so this is now my best bet).
*With coupon: mayo/miracle whip 1.99, canola oil 2.99

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Frugal Friday--Going Out of Season Sale

This is a great time of the year to pick up summer toys for next year.  Of course down here there are still plenty of warm, ok hot, days ahead but the retailers have got to clear out that summer stuff to make way for Halloween decorations and Christmas trees that in their mind need to be up by Labor Day or else we shoppers just might forget that those holidays are coming.

When I stopped in at Home Depot to pick up a few items to finish off one of my summer projects I noticed this sign.

I took a stroll through the area and found one item I had been considering making myself.  A patio chair cushion bag.  Well I wasn't exactly considering making it for that, but I was looking for a very large and sturdy bag to place the pool poles in as a storage place for the winter.  My thought was if the bag had a zipper or velcro closure it would be easier to keep the muddobbers out of it.  The last few summers I have had the pool poles in their original box, which the dobbers have really enjoyed crawling into and filling up multiple poles with many a pound of dirt.

The last time I was at Wal-Mart I noticed that the 14' red-neck pool was now $100 off.  So if you were thinking about picking one up this would be a good time to save a nice chunk of change.  Or if you have super small kids like c's age and they will have outgrown this year's pool.

It's a great time to get next year's for half the cost and just store it in your garage, shed or basement--as appropriate for your locale.

This is also a great time to pick up outdoor entertaining party ware.  If you pick up some great deals and want to show them off I'll be happy to come over and have a party with you.  You know just for scientific purposes of course, to make sure your stuff works properly and all that.

Maybe you have been eyeing a new pair of garden clippers, leather gloves, or tiki torches but didn't want to pay full price for them.   Even that cute pair of strappy sandals and sundress can be picked up for a song.   It's likely they will all be on sale about this time of year.

Certainly there is no need to go out and buy something just because it is on sale, but if you can see a need this is the time to take proper advantage and scoop up the deals before they are gone.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Grocery Deals 8/8+

Sprouts     blueberries 1.50, cherries 1.99/lb (vs 3.99 Randalls), watermelon 3.99, mango .88, peaches .99/lb, red bell peppers .33 (vs $1 Randalls), green bell peppers .50 (vs $1 Randalls), green onion .50, cucumbers .50,, celery .88 (vs 1.50 Randalls), roma tomatoes .88/lb, avocado .88 (vs 1.25 Randalls), broccoli .88/lb, zucchini .99/lb, boneless chicken 1.99/lb, pork chops or roast 1.99/lb, sourdough bread 2.99

Randalls     grapes .89/lb, strawberries 1.99, country style pork ribs 1.49/lb, boneless chicken 1.99/lb

HEB           cantaloupe .97, peaches .88/lb, hatch green chilies .97/lb, chicken breasts $1/lb, 

Weekly Menu 8/11+


baked potatoes

pulled pork sliders
corn on the cob

summer stir fry
garlic bread

tater tot hot dog casserole

squash casserole

turkey pesto panini
avocado & lettuce salad

fajita quesadillas
black bean corn salad

Friday, August 3, 2012

Breakaway Brahma

Friday evening L and I went out for our regular walk, the two mile trek up to the 'big tree' on the paved road.  Just as we were headed back to the gravel road we could hear a truck coming so we slowed down and moved over so that they would see us as they came around the blind corner.  

We gave a friendly wave as they went by with their loaded trailer, but then we heard the sound of something falling off and we could see instantly that they had lost their brahma bull.  

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Weekly Menu 8/4+

In honor of the Olympics I thought we could do a little theme eating, or at least stretch ourselves for one day of such craziness.  As I am typing this up Tuesday evening I consulted the medal count to see what countries I should look to for inspiration. 

While congratulations are in order to Kazakhstan on their 3 gold medals, I am not interested in eating their most common foods; horse meat and mutton.  Yep. 

I also looked to the Finns because I happened to see them during the opening ceremonies, but opted against Hernekeitto – peasoup, usually served on Thursday along with a dessert pancake, because it is just so darned hot and I am not in the mood for soup right now.  I love that it is served on Thursday by tradition, and while I do love Thursday, it’s not happening here; perhaps when the winter Olympics roll around. 

Weekly Ads 8/1+

Sprouts      peaches/nectarines .49/lb, red bell peppers .33, yellow onions .49/lb, red potatoes .49/lb, cucumbers .49, green bell peppers .49, yellow squash/zucchini .99/lb, broccoli .99/lb, roma tomatoes .99/lb, lettuce .99, celery .99, spinach .99, avocado .88, Colby jack cheese 2.99/lb, chicken tenders 1.99/lb, laughing cow wedges $3

HEB             strawberries 2,76/2#, pears .98/lb, mangos .77 (vs .88 Sprouts), cherries 1.77/lb (vs 1.99 Sprouts), organic cantaloupe 1.97, pork/chicken fajitas 1.97/lb, beef fajitas 2,47/lb, boneless chicken 1.97/lb

Randalls    seedless watermelon 3.77, pears .77/lb, avocados .77, grapes 1.99/lb, 90% lean ground beef 2.99/lb, NY strip 4.99/lb