Saturday, April 25, 2009

Mama knows best: Menu Planning

We as mamas have to be innovative and thrifty all in the same beat. Somehow we find new ways of doing things that save us money, time and maybe if we are really blessed.... sanity!

This weeks tip is on menu planning. Y'all know that I am a big menu planner. I think it saves money, time and grief! I often get lost with it, however. My hubby asks whats for dinner and I have to scramble to find the piece of paper I scribbled it on. (Or to turn on the computer to see my post!)

Then my neighbor whom we love and adore, brought me over these last week........

She found them in the dollar bin at Michael's craft stores. It has a magnet on the back so that it stays on the fridge for everyone to see. I stay on task, the family stays in the know and it actually helps me with my menu planning... woohoo!!! (And who can beat $1 !!! )

Do you have a money/time/sanity tip to share? E-mail me at !

Friday, April 24, 2009

When Mama's run out of gas.....

I have a confession to make. I have been trying to run a whole family around on an empty tank. As in I am running on empty. I am not sure how it happened, or when, but I just know that I am running on fumes. I put my hubby first, my kids first and the house management stuff first. With all those firsts, there just seems to be nothing left for me.

I took a long hard look in the mirror this morning. Who is this woman standing in front of me? Not the outgoing, feel good girl I used to be. What I see now is a nurse, driver, event planner, cook, maid, lover, counselor and the list could go on and on.

Don't get me wrong, I am not complaining. I love my job as a wife and mama. I wouldn't trade it in for anything. I have neglected myself however. I have been giving so much of myself for so long that I realized today that there is little of me left. I had to think a long time about what hobbies I had or what I loved to do. I somehow talked myself into thinking that if I did anything for myself, I was taking something away from my family. How crazy is that ?

We women are convinced from an early age that we can do everything for everyone and look cute doing it. The sad, harsh truth is that something has to give and many times its us mama's. I realized that any free time that comes my way I do something for my family. ( Bills, clean house, laundry)

Let me just say right now that if you are a mama and have experienced tired beyond comprehension, all night rocking sessions, sick and teething babies, whiney kids, messy houses, laundry piles that are close to touching the ceiling, not having enough time, sacrificing your own hygiene, saying no 1,456 times a day, being the bad guy for putting healthy food in front of your kids, daily lessons on morals and values and worry and guilt like you have never experienced before...... you are so not alone!!!

I have started to read an awesome book called 'Taking care of the ME in mommy" by Lisa Whelchel. I cannot tell you how it has given this weary mama comfort and peace today. I thought that maybe there was another mama that needed an on-line hug today. So I thought that I would share this cup of comfort that I received.

So here it goes...... it is not selfish or wrong to take care of yourself so that you can take better care of your family. When we spend time doing something by ourselves, with girlfriends or the Lord we are regrouping and become refreshed. We then come back to our family refreshed and ready to be the mama that we want to be and they deserve.

As a Christian mama, I am especially convicted about giving and shunning receiving. I felt selfish for wanting something for myself. I often feel like I should be volunteering at church or helping others in some way with any free time that I have. I then read the most profound statement in this book that I feel opened my eyes. Are you ready?.........

"God's passion to be glorified and my passion to be satisfied are not at odds."

WOW. Maybe this post is just for me but I was totally uplifted in that. Can I just tell you that I took 20 minutes to sit on my deck alone,read a couple chapters in this book and pray. I then sat on the deck in the quiet ( the kids were inside with hubby. I asked him to take them for a couple of minutes which I must admit almost killed me! What?? Me need help?) soaked up the sunshine, listened to the birds and took a breath.

You know what? When I went inside to make the peanut butter samwhiches, I felt lighter. I felt like I was serving my family and not a slave to them. Maybe Lisa is on to something here.

May 7th is National Moms night out night. Get a sitter or leave your kids with your hubby. Grab some girlfriends and go get an ice cream. Or go for a walk by yourself. Or go to a bookstore and curl up on one of those chairs you never get to sit in (You know because your running around chasing your toddler at storytime) and read a book with a cup a tea. I guarantee that the you will return home less crazy than when you left :)

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Giant Eagle Bargain meal of the week- Skillet Bow tie pasta

Bargain Meal of the Week

With 2 busy toddlers I just don't have time to make Lasagna the old fashioned way. I can't wait to try this recipe because my little ones love everything in it......and of course it looks easy! Happy Eating!

I will not expense spices/oils since most of us have them on hand.

Skillet Bow Tie Lasagna

1 pound ground beef (On sale $1.99 a lb) 1.99
1 small onion, chopped (Vidalia Onion on sale .99 a lb) .30
1 garlic clove, minced
1 (14.5 ounce) can diced tomatoes, undrained (Dei Fratelli 28 oz on sale 8 for $10) .63
1 1/2 cups water
1 (6 ounce) can tomato paste .69
1 tablespoon dried parsley flakes
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 teaspoon salt
2 1/2 cups uncooked bow tie pasta (On sale Barilla Pasta 4 for $5) 1.25
3/4 cup small curd cottage cheese (Giant Eagle on sale 2 for $5) .62
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

In a large skillet, cook beef, onion and garlic until meat is no longer pink; drain. Add the tomatoes, water, tomato paste, parsley, oregano and salt; mix well. Stir in pasta; bring to a boil.

Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 20-25 minutes or until pasta is tender, stirring once.
Combine cheeses; drop by rounded tablespoonfuls onto pasta mixture. Cover and cook for 5 minutes.

Total cost of Meal: $5.48

Add Salad (Fresh express on sale 2 for $5) :Total cost of Meal: $6.73

Add salad and Garlic Toast (On sale 2 for $5): Total cost of Meal: $7.56

Click on the image to go find more Bargain Meal of the Week!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

WFMW - Using what you have for birthday parties!

Hee Hay Y'all!!!

My darling son turned 3 this past week. I let him have his choice of any type theme party he wanted. As expected, he wanted a cowboy party. My mind started to race. Cakes, decorations, plates, food.

You guys know that birthdays can be very expensive. Its been my experience as a event planner in another life to use what you already have to save money. You don't waste money on something you will never use again and it often looks great!

I took a basket that I had in the basement and lined it with a bandanna. ( No I was not in a gang... I think we used it for a costume one year) I had leftover plates, bowls and cups from another party so no expense there. I then found some little red buckets that I had with my fourth of July things to hold the silverware. To complete the authentic look I pulled my hubby great grandfathers oil lamp.

Another one of my hubbys relatives old pitcher.

My hubby got this straw to plant some seed around our yard. I begged him to hold off till after the party. What better place for presents? I found an old sign at a yard sale for change and hung it on the straw. Next I borrowed a old tin tub from my mama to keep the drinks cold.

I found a free template on-line for wanted posters. I then put my son, cousins, friends and his sister in them. I gave them names like "The mad dog gang" and being wanted for "nerve jumpin". The kids got a kick out of being on a wanted poster and it was free!

The party was a great success and everyone had fun. I didn't spend a fortune and I wasn't left with a bunch of stuff I didn't know what to do with afterwards. And that works for our whole family!!

For more WFMW ideas check out We are THAT family!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Meijer recipe of the week- Mama's meatloaf

Bargain Meal of the Week

It seems like everyone has a meatloaf recipe that they swear by....everyone but me! So I am going to try this recipe in hopes that my family will love it. I love that it seems so simple with few ingredients. You can also substitute ketchup for BBQ sauce. Happy Eating !!

Check out Stretching a Buck deals here to see more deals at Meijer. I will not expense spices/oils since most of us have them on hand.

Mama's Easy Meatloaf

1 pound ground beef (On sale 1.99 a lb) 1.99 3/4 cup cooked rice (Meijer rice 32 oz. bag on sale 2 for $3) .38
1 tablespoon brown sugar
3/4 cup chopped onion .50
1 tablespoon ketchup
1/2 cup ketchup

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

In a large bowl, combine the beef, rice, brown sugar, onion and 1 tablespoon ketchup. Mix well and place in a 5x9 inch loaf pan.

Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. Spread remaining 1/2 cup ketchup over the top of the loaf. Bake for 15 more minutes.

Total cost of Meal: $2.87

Add Salad (Dole on sale .98) Total cost of Meal: $3.60

Add salad and baked potatoes (Idaho potatoes sale 5 lb bag $2.50) Total cost of Meal: $4.43

Click on the image to go find more Bargain Meal of the Week!

Kroger bargain recipe of the week- Chicken with herb basting sauce!

Bargain Meal of the Week

Kroger is having some amazing deals this week with their 10 for 10 sale! They also have a 4 lb bag of bone-in-chicken for $1.99, which is a steal !!! I am trying this recipe for the first time and excited to see how yummy it is. I have all the spices in my cabinet which packs alot of flavor for next to nothing!

Check out Stretching a Buck deals here to see more deals at Kroger. I will not expense spices/oils since most of us have them on hand. W/C means with coupon.

Chicken Breasts With Herb Basting Sauce

3 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon minced onion
1 clove crushed garlic
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary, crushed
1/4 teaspoon ground sage
1/4 teaspoon dried marjoram
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/8 teaspoon hot pepper sauce .10
4 bone-in chicken breast halves, with skin .75

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F

In a bowl, prepare the basting sauce by combining olive oil, onion, garlic, thyme, rosemary, sage, marjoram, salt, pepper, and hot pepper sauce.
Turn chicken breasts in sauce to coat thoroughly. Place skin side up in a shallow baking dish. Cover.

Roast at 425 degrees F , basting occasionally with pan drippings, for about 35 to 45 minutes. Remove to warm platter, spoon pan juices over, and sprinkle with fresh parsley.

Total cost of this meal: $.85

Add Steamfresh veggies (On sale W/C .30) Total cost of meal: $1.15

Add Steamfresh veggies and Rice a Roni (On sale W/C .67) Total cost of meal: $1.82

Click on the image to go find more Bargain Meal of the Week!

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Menu Plan Plan

This week I get to use 3 new bargain recipes! I am also very excited to use 2 meats for 4 meals... woohoo!! ( The pork and the chicken) Now that's stretching your money..... Happy eating guys!

Monday: Slow cooker ribs, mac and cheese, green beans, cornbread muffins

Tuesday: Roasted Pork Loin, Asparagus, Baked potatoes, Hot rolls

Wednesday: Grilled chicken, corn on the cob, peas,

Thursday: BBQ pork samwiches, french fries, salad

Friday: Pizza night!

Saturday: Chicken and Dumplings, Mashed potatoes, Broccoli,

Sunday: Chicken-basil-tomato pasta, salad, garlic bread.

For more great menu ideas visit I'm an organizing junkie!!