Meal Plan Monday - September 30



Breakfast
Cereal
Homemade Instant Oatmeal PacketsBlueberries
Scrambled Eggs, Toast
Pancakes from the freezer

Lunch
Ham & Cheese Sandwich, Granola Bar, Carrot Sticks
Peanut Butter or Cream Cheese & Blueberry Jam Sandwich, Crackers, Grapes
Ham, Lettuce & Cucumber Wrap, Pear Slices, Pretzels
Mac & Cheese, Peas
Dinner Leftovers

Dinner
Monday:
   Apple Cider Beef Stew, Mile High Biscuits

Tuesday:
    Chicken Taco & Rice, Salad

Wednesday:
    Tuna Casserole, Leftover Biscuits

Thursday:
   Leftover Night

Friday:
   Classic Minestrone (slow cooker), Garlic Breadsticks

Saturday:
   Grilled Bacon Tomato Sandwiches, Tomato Soup

Sunday:
   Baked Ravioli



Get more menu planning ideas at Menu Plan Monday

Simply Saving Saturday - September 28


We didn't find a lot of new savings this week, but I thought I would mention what we did do:

I made Roasted Tomato Sauce in order to use up tomatoes from our garden.  This recipe is so much easier and not nearly as messy as making sauce on the stove top and it is delicious!  This will definitely be my go-to recipe for using up fresh tomatoes. 

I used up the rest of the ham from last week and I cooked another whole chicken in the crock pot this week. I was able to make chicken broth in the crock pot and several meals with the chicken including  Southwest Chicken Chili MacBaked Chicken Lasagna Rolls, and Chicken Pot Pie with Biscuit Crumb Topping.

I ran out of thyme a few weeks ago and didn't want to pay the $7.46/oz. (!) price that I found at the store.  I went to the local health food store, where they sell spices in bulk, and paid $1.75/oz.

I earned enough Swag Bucks for a $5 gift card, but I have reached the limit for gift card orders this month and will have to wait and order it next month. So far this year I have earned $85 in gift cards!

I downloaded several free ebooks that I can read with the Kindle app on my computer.

Our on-going savings:

**Wash laundry in cold water.

**Save kitchen scraps and eggshells for the compost.

**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.


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

Meal Plan Monday - September 23



Breakfast
Cereal
Homemade Instant Oatmeal PacketsBlueberries
Scrambled Eggs, Toast
Cinnamon Stovetop Granola

Lunch
Cream Cheese & Blueberry Jam Pancake Sandwich, Crackers, Apple Slices
Mini Blueberry Muffins, Carrot Sticks, Grapes
Turkey & Cheese Sandwich, Pretzels, Grapes
Mac & Cheese, Peas
Dinner Leftovers

Dinner
Monday:
   Ham and Broccoli Noodle Casserole, Squash from our garden

Tuesday:
    Southwest Chicken Chili Mac, Honey Corn Muffins

Wednesday:
    Baked Chicken Lasagna Rolls, Pull Apart Oat Rolls (instructions to make by hand in comments), Salad

Thursday:
   Leftover Night

Friday:
   Chicken Pot Pie with Biscuit Crumb Topping, Salad

Saturday:
   Scalloped Potatoes, Veggies

Sunday:
   Meatless Hash



Get more menu planning ideas at Menu Plan Monday

Simply Saving Saturday - September 21


A couple of weeks ago I got a bill in the mail for a doctor's office visit from 2 years ago that I had already paid in full.  It was under $20 and normally I would have just paid it, but I decided to call billing to find out more about it.  After talking with the billing department and with my insurance company, I found out that the insurance company had done an audit and noticed that they had processed part of the claim incorrectly. I called the billing department back this week to make the payment and was surprised when they told me that the insurance had made adjustments again and I now had a credit!  I think my phone call to the insurance company may have caused them to review the bill again.

This week I've been looking for more ways to save on electricity.  We've started turning the laptop off at night and I started using the energy preferred setting on the dryer.  It has a sensor to turn off when the laundry is dry.  I set it on "less dry" and noticed that only the jeans were a little bit damp at the end of the cycle.  I hung them on the drying rack to finish drying.  We've had some beautiful fall weather and I was able to hang a load of bedding on the clothesline to dry.  We also took the air conditioner out of the window and stored it away for next year.

Last week I bought a ham and whole chicken on sale for $.99.  This week I cooked the ham and made My Favorite Ham and Bean Soup which was enough for a meal and several lunches.  I also made ham salad sandwiches for a potluck and will use the rest of the leftover ham for a meal next week.  I cooked the chicken in the crock pot, made overnight chicken broth and Chicken Noodle Soup with the broth and leftover chicken.  I also made Mile High Biscuits.

I made two quarts of spaghetti sauce with tomatoes from our garden and froze it in glass jars that I had saved.

This week grapes and whole chicken were on sale for $.88/lb.  I also bought potatoes for $.30/lb. and onions for $.33/lb.  I bought extra chicken and onions to freeze.  I price-matched Miracle Whip at Walmart and found $.75 coupons on the bottles and ended up paying $1.75 each.  I bought several since that is almost $1 cheaper than the generic brands.

I signed up for an offer that I noticed on Swagbucks.com for 150 Swag Bucks to sign up for audible.com for one month and get a free audiobook.  I will cancel before the free trial expires.

I cashed in Swag Bucks for two $5 Amazon gift cards.


Our on-going savings:

**Wash laundry in cold water.

**Save kitchen scraps and eggshells for the compost.

**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.


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

Shoe Boxes For Boys: Shoe Box For 2 - 4 Year Old


Welcome to the Shoe Boxes for Boys series. This year I am focusing on packing boxes for boys after reading a comment on this post about the need for more boxes for boys (especially 10-14 year olds). If you are packing Operation Christmas Child shoe boxes this year, I hope you will discover new ideas and also share your ideas!

After collecting gifts for shoe boxes all year, it's hard to believe that collection week is in just a few short months!  This year collection week will be November 18-25.

The first shoe box I packed is for a 2-4 year old boy:


Here's what I included:

Crayons
Pencils
Pencil Sharpener
Puzzles
Toy Train
Crochet Toy Car
Crochet Duck
Bouncy Ball
Crochet Backpack
Winter Hat
Toothbrush
Toothpaste
Comb
Soap
Soap Pouch
Cup


If you are planning on packing shoe boxes this year for Operation Christmas Child, here are a few links that you may find helpful:

Find a drop-off location (US - available October 4) 
Find a drop-off location (UK - available October 1)
About Me coloring page to include in shoe box (UK-scroll down to bottom of page)



Note: The information shared in this series will follow the OCC-US regulations. When packing shoe boxes from other countries, please refer to the rules and regulations from that country as they vary greatly from country to country. Thank you!

Operation Christmas Child Australia
Operation Christmas Child UK

Meal Plan Monday - September 16




Breakfast
Cereal
Homemade Instant Oatmeal PacketsBlueberries
Scrambled Eggs, Toast
Cinnamon Stovetop Granola

Lunch
Cream Cheese & Blueberry Jam Pancake Sandwich, Crackers, Apple Slices
Mini Blueberry Muffins, Carrot Sticks, Grapes
Turkey & Cheese Sandwich, Pretzels, Grapes
Whole Wheat Banana Bread spread w/cream cheese, Yogurt, Carrots & Cucumbers
Dinner Leftovers

Dinner
Monday:
   Honey Baked Ham, Squash from our garden, Peas, Mile High Biscuits

Tuesday:
    Ham & Bean Soup (using leftover ham and bone), Leftover Biscuits

Wednesday:
    The Best Whole Chicken in a Crock Pot, Rice, Corn

Thursday:
   Chicken Noodle Soup (using leftover chicken and Overnight Chicken Stock in Crock Pot)

Friday:
   Small Group Potluck

Saturday:
   Dinner Leftovers

Sunday:
   BBQ Chicken Pizza made with Whole Wheat Pizza Dough

Get more menu planning ideas at Menu Plan Monday

Simply Saving Saturday - September 14

I was so excited this week when I discovered that I can track our energy usage online.  Last year our electric company installed smart meters and even though there has been some controversy over it, I think this is going to be a wonderful benefit.  I can now look up our electricity usage by the year, month, day or hour.  I can also compare our usage with other similar households and can even enter a savings percentage and the dollar amount that we need to reach in order to save is calculated for us.  I think knowing exactly when we use the most electricity may help us find more ways to save on our electricity usage.

This week I made Whole Wheat Toaster Pastries, Fail-Proof Pizza Crust and Apple Almond Bars.  I used the leftover egg whites from the Apple Almond Bars to make an egg white omelet for lunch.  We also ate two meatless meals.

I have saved a lot of time and money by using pancakes (for pancake sandwiches) and blueberry mini muffins from the freezer to put in the boys' lunchboxes, but I discovered this week that the school meals are free for our younger son who is in the Pre-K program!

We picked tomatoes and winter squash from our garden.

I cashed in Swag Bucks for two $5 Amazon gift cards.

In my mailbox: a free magazine.


Our on-going savings:

**Wash laundry in cold water.

**Save kitchen scraps and eggshells for the compost.

**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.


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

Recipe: Apple Almond Bars



A few years ago, before I discovered the Foolproof Pie Crust recipe, my pie-making skills left much to be desired and I avoided making pie as much as possible. So I was thrilled when I came across this apple bar recipe that tastes very similar to apple pie without the traditional crust!

These bars are bursting with apple flavor with just a hint of almond that adds a delicious twist.  These Apple Almond Bars are a family favorite and a must-try dessert for a fall menu.

Apple Almond Bars 

Makes:  approx. 24 bars

Crust:
2 cups flour
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup butter
1/2 cup chopped almonds
2 egg yolks, slightly beaten

Filling:
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup flour
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
4 cups (approx. 4 medium) Granny Smith apples
    or other cooking apples, peeled, cored and thinly sliced

Icing:
1/2 cup powdered sugar
2-3 tsp. milk
1/4 tsp. almond extract

1.  Make the crust:  In a large bowl mix together flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt.  Cut in butter until crumbly and pieces are the size of small peas.  With a fork, stir in the almonds and egg yolks.  Press half of the mixture into the bottom of an ungreased 13x9x2-inch baking pan.

2.  In another large bowl mix together the filling ingredients, add apples and toss to coat.  Place the apple slices evenly over the crust.  Sprinkle remaining crust mixture over the apples.

3.  Bake at 350 degrees for about 35 minutes or until topping is golden.  Let cool.

4.  Mix the icing ingredients and drizzle over bars.  Let stand until set.




More apple recipes:
Strawberry Applesauce
Whole Wheat Apple Oatmeal Muffins

Linked to:
Weekend Potluck

Meal Plan Monday - September 9


As a new soccer mom, last week I encountered a common problem that many soccer moms face: how to get a quick and filling dinner on the table during soccer season.  This week I've added a few convenient crock pot meals to make soccer nights less stressful.


Breakfast
Cereal, Blueberries
Homemade Instant Oatmeal PacketsBlueberries
Scrambled Eggs, Toast
Whole Wheat Banana Pancakes (from the freezer)

Lunch
Cream Cheese & Blueberry Jam Pancake Sandwich, Yogurt, Pretzels
Mini Blueberry Muffins, Carrot Sticks, Grapes
Whole Wheat Toaster Pastries, Crackers & Cheese, Grapes
Whole Wheat Banana Bread spread w/cream cheese, Yogurt, Carrots & CucumbersDinner Leftovers

Dinner
Monday:
    Corn Chowder, Super Easy Whole Wheat Biscuits

Tuesday:
    Crock Pot Tater Tot Casserole, Peas

Wednesday:
    Korean Beef, Mashed Potato, Peas

Thursday:
   Classic Minestrone (crock pot), Leftover Biscuits

Friday:
   Pizza made with fail-proof pizza dough

Saturday:
   Dinner Leftovers

Sunday:
   Bacon Hashbrown Breakfast Wraps & Tomato Soup


Get more menu planning ideas at Menu Plan Monday


Simply Saving Saturday - September 7

We picked three acorn squash, tomatoes and a zucchini from our garden.

In order to use up the zucchini, we tried zucchini tots for the first time this week and I also made mini blueberry muffins for school lunches.

The grape harvest must have been very good this year because they were on sale for $.99 again this week! It has been a very long time since I have seen this price.  I bought quite a few since my children love them and they are an easy and healthy snack to add to their school lunches.

We threw all our kitchen scraps and eggshells into the compost that we started last week.



Our older son is playing on a youth soccer team and my mom was able to find him a pair of cleats that looked like new for $3.99 at Goodwill!  She also found lots of school supplies on clearance that I will save for the next school year.

We didn't need to use the air conditioner this week since the temperatures are starting to feel more fall-like, but we aren't ready to put the air conditioner away just yet as we may get some temperatures in the 80s next week.

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

The boys went with their dad to the free gym day at the University Fitness Center.


Our on-going savings:

**Wash laundry in cold water.

**Save kitchen scraps and eggshells for the compost.

**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.


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.