Simply Saving Saturday - August 31

I was very excited to start a compost this week.  To start, we are using this easy compost bin idea from Blissfully Domestic.  Once we have some experience, we will try something bigger.  I would really like to try this 3-bin system with garbage cans.

I picked green beans, zucchini, tomatoes and a buttercup squash from the garden.

While trying to find ways to use up the tomatoes from our garden, I made Vegetable Tian.  Since I used zucchini and tomatoes from our garden, it cost just pennies to make!

I also made 5 pints of salsa with the tomatoes from our garden.

I used ground flaxseed as an egg substitute in baking this week when I ran out of eggs.

I tried a new ranch dressing recipe and I think I have finally found the one.  We weren't thrilled with the other recipes I have tried, but this one is definitely a keeper.  I didn't have the dill that the recipe called for, but we thought it was still very good without it.

We received the Fitness Reimbursement from our insurance company!  We are going to save the money and use it toward the cost of next year's gym membership.


Our on-going savings:

**Wash laundry in cold water.

**Save eggshells for the garden.

**Use online bill pay to pay our bills.

**Follow a weekly meal plan.

**Earn Swag Bucks for Amazon gift cards that I use to buy gifts.

**Earn Recyclebank points for gift cards, coupons and free magazine subscriptions.

**Husband takes lunch to work everyday.

**Turn lights off when not being used.

**Use cash to buy groceries.

**Use scrap paper for notes and lists.

**Drive to town once a week for shopping and errands.  

**Buy less cereal and eat oatmeal and other homemade breakfasts several times a week.

**Reuse plastic and paper shopping bags for small trash and recycling.

Note: Some of the links in this post are referral links. When a new member signs up using my referral link, I receive bonus points for that referral.

Back-To-School Freezer Cooking: Mini Corn Dog Muffins



I'll admit that this isn't the healthiest lunch that you could send to school, but I'm pretty sure it will be one of the most popular!  What I love about this recipe from Iowa Girl Eats (besides the fact that they are amazingly delicious!) is that they aren't made from a box mix.

That means I can mix a little wheat flour into the batter to make make them just a little bit healthier and make me feel just a little bit better about putting these in my son's lunchbox. Here's my slightly adapted version of Mini Corn Dog Muffins:

Mini Corn Dog Muffins

Makes: approx. 48 mini muffins

1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup applesauce
1/2 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 cup milk
1 cup cornmeal
1 cup white whole wheat flour
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 pkg. (8 ct.) hot dogs, cut into 1/2" pieces


1.  Mix first three ingredients in a bowl.  Whisk in eggs and milk.

2.  In a medium bowl, combine dry ingredients and mix well.  Add 1/2 dry ingredients into wet ingredients and mix well.  Stir in the rest of the dry ingredients.

3.  Spray a mini muffin pan with non-stick cooking spray and add 1 tablespoon of batter to mini muffin cups.  (I love this scoop - it works perfectly.)  Lightly press a hot dog piece into the center of each muffin cup.

4.  Bake at 375 degrees for 8-12 minutes or until golden brown.

To freeze, put muffins in a single layer on a baking sheet and flash freeze for 15-20 minutes.  Store frozen muffins in a freezer bag or container.  Put frozen muffins directly into lunchboxes.




Other posts in this series:
Back-To-School Freezer Cooking: Pancake Sandwiches
Back-To-School Freezer Cooking: Mini Muffins
Back-To-School Freezer Cooking: No-Bake Energy Bites

Meal Plan Monday - August 26



School starts this week and in our family it marks the end of summer and the beginning of fall.  This week I've added a couple of our favorite fall meals to the menu.

Breakfast
Cereal, Blueberries
Homemade Instant Oatmeal Packets, Blueberries
Scrambled Eggs, Toast
Blueberry Pancakes

Lunch
Pancake Sandwich, Yogurt, Grapes
Mini Blueberry Muffins, Carrot Sticks, Mandarin Oranges
Parmesan Herb Tortilla Chips with Salsa, Peas, Grapes
Peanut Butter & Jelly, Pretzels, Grapes
Dinner Leftovers

Dinner
Monday:
    Chicken Taco & Rice

Tuesday:
    Super Sloppy Joes, Veggie Plate

Wednesday:
    Corn Chowder, Super Easy Whole Wheat Biscuits

Thursday:
   Spaghetti

Friday:
   Zippy Shepherd's PieLemon Parmesan Broccoli

Saturday:
   Crunchy Ranch Fingers, Mashed Potato, Corn

Sunday:
   Dinner Leftovers


Get more menu planning ideas at Menu Plan Monday

Simply Saving Saturday - August 24


This week we found the first signs of fall!

The temperatures went up again this week, but the nights stayed cool.  In the mornings we put a fan in one of the windows to cool the house off.  When it started to warm up, I closed all the windows and set the air conditioner to 76 degrees.  Most days the air conditioner did not turn on until 3:30 in the afternoon and we turned it off again at around 7 p.m.

I picked lettuce, green beans, and a zucchini.  The squash is almost ready to be picked!



One of my husband's coworkers gave us a big bag of beautiful blackberries.  I made two 1/2 pints of freezer jam, blackberry syrup with the seeds and pulp and we are enjoying them with cereal and oatmeal.  I'm also going to experiment with growing blackberries from the seeds.  As a thank you, we shared some of the blueberry freezer jam that I made a few weeks ago.

Amazon Mom offered a discount on select toys to all Amazon Mom members.  I signed up for a free 3-month trial and also received free 2-day shipping on my order!  Amazon Mom members also get 20% off all diapers and wipes.

With the Amazon Mom promotion, I decided to order a few gifts with Amazon gift cards that I earned from Swagbucks.com.  With promotions, free shipping and gift cards I saved $36.30 and spent under $3.

I also cashed in Swag Bucks for a $5 gift card.

I earned 25 points with Tyndale Rewards for taking a survey.  In this rewards program, books and Bibles can be purchased with rewards points that are earned.

I bought grapes for $.99/lb.  They will be a great snack to put in lunchboxes when school starts next week.  I also found a 75% off summer clearance at the grocery store and bought buckets with shovels for $.25 each and child size shovel, rake, hoe sets for $1.25 each.

Our older son turned 7 today!  He wanted an Angry Birds party and I was able to keep costs down by planning ahead so that I could buy food when it was on sale, using things that I had saved from previous birthday parties, making my own theme cake and using free printables that I found online.

I cut younger son's hair.

In my mailbox: Energizer coupons, free magazine.


Our on-going savings:

**Wash laundry in cold water.

**Save eggshells for the garden.

**Use online bill pay to pay our bills.

**Follow a weekly meal plan.

**Earn Swag Bucks for Amazon gift cards that I use to buy gifts.

**Earn Recyclebank points for gift cards, coupons and free magazine subscriptions.

**Husband takes lunch to work everyday.

**Turn lights off when not being used.

**Use cash to buy groceries.

**Use scrap paper for notes and lists.

**Drive to town once a week for shopping and errands.  

**Buy less cereal and eat oatmeal and other homemade breakfasts several times a week.

**Reuse plastic and paper shopping bags for small trash and recycling.

Note: Some of the links in this post are referral links. When a new member signs up using my referral link, I receive bonus points for that referral.

Back-To-School Freezer Cooking: No-Bake Energy Bites



My children love this healthy snack.  The recipe is originally from Smashed Peas and Carrots and is a very flexible recipe and can be made with any type of mix-ins that your family likes. If you don't have flaxseed, try replacing that ingredient with finely chopped nuts, more oatmeal or more chocolate chips(!).

Because of a peanut allergy in our family, I used sunflower butter. We've also tried them with raisins, but I think the chocolate chip version is our favorite.

No-Bake Energy Bites

1 cup oatmeal
1/2 cup peanut butter (or other nut butter)
1/3 cup honey
1 cup coconut flakes
1/2 cup ground flaxseed
1/2 cup mini chocolate chips
1 tsp. vanilla

Mix all ingredients and roll into balls.

To freeze, put them on a baking sheet and flash freeze for about 15 - 20 minutes.  Store frozen bites in a freezer bag or container in the freezer.  Put frozen bites directly into lunchboxes or thaw on the counter for 15 minutes and serve as an after-school snack.

Quick. Easy. Delicious.




Other posts in this series:
Back-To-School Freezer Cooking: Pancake Sandwiches
Back-To-School Freezer Cooking: Mini Muffins

Meal Plan Monday - August 19


Our tomatoes are finally ripening so I will be making lots of salsa this week.  This Baked Parmesan Tomatoes recipe looks like a good way to use up tomatoes, and whenever we have fresh tomatoes, BLTs are always on the menu!

Breakfast
Cereal, Bananas
Homemade Instant Oatmeal Packets
Scrambled Eggs, Toast

Lunch
Turkey & Cheese Sandwich, Carrot Sticks, Grapes
Mac & Cheese, Peas
English Muffin Pizzas, Applesauce, Grapes
Cheese Quesadillas, Yogurt, Apple Slices
Dinner Leftovers

Dinner
Monday:
    Korean Beef & Rice, Baked Parmesan Tomatoes, Peas

Tuesday:
     Twice Baked Taco PotatoesLemon Parmesan Broccoli

Wednesday:
    Slow Cooker Honey Sesame Chicken & Rice, Tossed Salad

Thursday:
    Breakfast for dinner: Breakfast Potatoes, Scrambled Eggs, Oranges and/or Bananas

Friday:
    Leftover Night

Saturday:
    Birthday Party Menu: Hot Dogs, Tuna Macaroni Salad, Fruit Salad, Crackers & Cheese, Cake & Ice Cream

Sunday:
    BLTs, Leftover Macaroni Salad


Get more menu planning ideas at Menu Plan Monday

Simply Saving Saturday - August 17

We had such a beautiful week this week!  On Monday we took the boys to the historic Wire Bridge on the Carrabassett River.  It is a suspension bridge that was originally built in the 1800's.  The boys love riding over it because you can feel it sway as you drive over it.  It's also a great place for one of their favorite activities: throwing and skipping rocks in the water.





Here's how we saved this week:

While I was looking over the coverage on our health insurance, I noticed that our insurance offers a Fitness Reimbursement of up to $150 per year to reimburse members for eligible gym memberships.  My husband buys a membership every year at the University Health & Fitness Center near his job and I immediately went online to apply.  We have been approved and will be receiving a reimbursement within 6 - 8 weeks!  We are thrilled with this unexpected savings!

The nice weather we've enjoyed this week has finally given the tomatoes a chance to ripen and we were able to pick a few from our garden this week.  Better late than never!

The boys received free toothbrushes and flossers from the dentist.

We didn't turn the air conditioner on this week.

I bought grapes for $.99/lb., potatoes for $.39/lb., ground beef for $1.99/lb. and boneless chicken for $1.89/lb.  I also used coupons and saved $13 for a few things that we needed and to stock up on a few things at their lowest price.

In my mailbox:  a free sample and check from Pinecone Research, Lysol rebate and a free magazine.

Our on-going savings:

**Wash laundry in cold water.

**Save eggshells for the garden.

**Use online bill pay to pay our bills.

**Follow a weekly meal plan.

**Earn Swag Bucks for Amazon gift cards that I use to buy gifts.

**Earn Recyclebank points for gift cards, coupons and free magazine subscriptions.

**Husband takes lunch to work everyday.

**Turn lights off when not being used.

**Use cash to buy groceries.

**Use scrap paper for notes and lists.

**Drive to town once a week for shopping and errands.  

**Buy less cereal and eat oatmeal and other homemade breakfasts several times a week.

**Reuse plastic and paper shopping bags for small trash and recycling.

Note: Some of the links in this post are referral links. When a new member signs up using my referral link, I receive bonus points for that referral.

Back-To-School Freezer Cooking: Mini Muffins



This month I'm preparing for the new school year by cooking food for my children's school lunch and freezing it. Muffins are a great option for back-to-school freezer cooking since most muffins freeze well.

I used my favorite Whole Wheat Apple Oatmeal Muffin recipe and substituted blueberries for the apples.   The recipe makes about 20 mini muffins and I reduced the baking time to 12 minutes.  To freeze, put the muffins on a baking sheet and flash freeze for about 20 minutes.  Put frozen muffins in freezer bags or containers to store in the freezer.


The night before, take out the number of muffins needed and thaw overnight.  Add to school lunch(es) the next morning.

I have to admit that not all of our muffins made it to the freezer.  I'll be making another batch (or two) of these muffins before school starts!



Posts in this series:
Back-To-School Freezer Cooking: Pancake Sandwiches
Back-To-School Freezer Cooking: No-Bake Energy Bites


Sharing at Foodie Friends Friday

Meal Plan Monday - August 12



Our menu for this week:

Breakfast
Cereal, Bananas
Scrambled Eggs, Toast
Homemade Instant Oatmeal Packets

Lunch
Egg Salad Sandwiches, Apple Slices
Ham & Cheese Sandwiches, Carrot Sticks
Mac & Cheese, Peas
English Muffin Pizzas, Marshmallow Fruit Salad
Dinner Leftovers

Dinner
Monday:
    Lemon ChickenSuper Easy Whole Wheat Biscuits, Rice, Vegetables

Tuesday:
    Classic Minestrone (Slow Cooker), Leftover Whole Wheat Biscuits

Wednesday:
    Leftovers

Thursday:
    Bacon Cheeseburger Pasta, Leftover Super Easy Whole Wheat BiscuitsGreen Beans from our garden

Friday:
    Slow Cooker Barbecue Chicken SandwichesCarrot Fries

Saturday:
    Vegetable Breakfast Casserole

Sunday:
    Meatless Hash


Get more menu planning ideas at Menu Plan Monday

Simply Saving Saturday - August 10


This week I made 5 pints of freezer jam with the blueberries we picked last week.

I picked beans and zucchini from the garden and I made three meals that included the zucchini.  We ate two meatless meals.

My dad told me about the book, Lasagna Gardening, and I was able to find it at the library.  It is very interesting and I'm hoping to try this gardening method in the spring.  I started saving my newspapers this week and I'm hoping to start a compost soon.


I made whole wheat pancakes with very ripe bananas and froze them.  I will use them to make pancake sandwiches to put in our children's lunchboxes when school starts in a few weeks.

I crocheted a toy car for Operation Christmas Child.  I used a free pattern and yarn from my yarn stash.

I made my own foaming hand soap to refill an old foaming hand soap dispenser.

Cashed in Recyclebank points for a $5 Amazon gift card.

We didn't use the air conditioner this week.

Price matched at Walmart.

In my mailbox: a P&G coupon and a free magazine.

Our on-going savings:

**Wash laundry in cold water.

**Save eggshells for the garden.

**Use online bill pay to pay our bills.

**Follow a weekly meal plan.

**Earn Swag Bucks for Amazon gift cards that I use to buy gifts.

**Earn Recyclebank points for gift cards, coupons and free magazine subscriptions.

**Husband takes lunch to work everyday.

**Turn lights off when not being used.

**Use cash to buy groceries.

**Use scrap paper for notes and lists.

**Drive to town once a week for shopping and errands.  

**Buy less cereal and eat oatmeal and other homemade breakfasts several times a week.

**Reuse plastic and paper shopping bags for small trash and recycling.

Note: Some of the links in this post are referral links. When a new member signs up using my referral link, I receive bonus points for that referral.

Back-To-School Freezer Cooking: Pancake Sandwiches




During the last school year I found myself hurrying in the mornings to make a school lunch for our son and wishing that I could give him something more creative than a plain old sandwich and carrot sticks.  

I first discovered the idea of pancake sandwiches on the blog 100 Days of Real Food.  I made them for lunch recently and the boys loved them!  I'm sure they would be a welcome change in their lunchboxes, but who has time to make pancakes when you are rushing to get the kids ready for school?  

Hello, freezer cooking.

The "cook now and freeze for later" philosophy not only works well for dinner, but is perfect for parents who want to give their children a healthy, exciting lunch to take to school.



Any pancake recipe can be used, but I like this healthy, no-sugar-added Whole Wheat Banana Pancakes recipe.  I doubled the recipe and used a 1/4-cup measuring cup to scoop the batter onto a griddle. I let them cool, laid them out on baking sheets and flash froze them and then put them in freezer bags to store in the freezer.



To make the pancake sandwiches, take out as many pancakes as needed and let them thaw overnight.  The next morning, cut the pancakes in half and spread one half with cream cheese and a little bit of jam or jelly and cover with the other half of the pancake.

Add yogurt and veggies for a simple lunch that your children will love!



Other posts in this series:
Back-To-School Freezer Cooking: Mini Muffins
Back-To-School Freezer Cooking: No-Bake Energy Bites

Meal Plan Monday - August 5



This week I'm looking for ways to use up zucchini from our garden!  We'll be eating a lot of zucchini in our meals as well as in baked goods.

Our menu for this week:

Breakfast
Cereal, Bananas
Scrambled Eggs, Toast
Blueberry Baked Oatmeal
Pancakes

Lunch
Tuna & Vegetable Salad Bowl
Turkey, Swiss & Spinach Wraps, Carrot Sticks
Mac & Cheese, Peas
English Muffin Pizzas
Dinner Leftovers

Dinner
Monday:
    Hot Turkey Sandwiches with leftover turkey and stuffing from last week, Green Beans from our garden

Tuesday:
    Chicken Stir Fry & Vegetables 

Wednesday:
    Chicken Taco & Rice, Tossed Salad

Thursday:
    Baked Ravioli, Parmesan Zucchini Wedges

Friday:
    Black Bean Fajitas

Saturday:
    Leftover Night

Sunday:
    Breakfast Pizza, Fruit


Get more menu planning ideas at Menu Plan Monday