Simply Saving Saturday - October 31



I have been working 4 to 5 days a week for the last few weeks as a substitute teacher.  With this extra income we were able to pay more towards our mortgage principle this month.  This is the only debt we owe and we would like to work towards paying it off early.  It is slow going, but as Dave Ramsay explains, a little bit at a time will really add up and make a difference in the long run.

I made a double batch of pumpkin pancakes (my favorite pancakes!) and froze the leftovers for a quick breakfast option on busy mornings.

The boys used free online instructions to make a Lego candy dispenser using Lego pieces from Lego sets that they have been given as gifts.

I used a coupon code offer from a designer on Ravelry to download a crochet pattern for free.

Our 12-year old printer broke several weeks ago, and after paying to print at the library several times, we decided that we needed to invest in a new one.  We bought an HP 3632 for $50 and were so excited to be able to scan and copy and also have wireless capability.

I am pretty sure this printer will pay for itself since I am now able to print coupons (doing a happy dance!).  Several years ago coupons.com ran an update and my very old computer and printer was no longer able to print coupons.  I am so excited about the extra savings I will now be able to take advantage of.


Our on-going savings:

**Wash laundry in cold water.

**Use online bill pay to pay our bills.

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

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

**Earn Bing Rewards points for gift cards, Hulu Plus subscription, Skype credits, etc.

**Husband takes lunch to work everyday.

**Turn lights off when not being used.

**Use scrap paper for notes and lists.

**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.

Meal Plan Monday - October 26
















Turkey sweet potato skillet, corn, carrots

Whole chicken in the crockpot, mashed garlic potatoes, carrot fries

Biscuit Chicken Pot Pie

Homemade pizza with whole wheat crust

Chicken Noodle Soup

Leftover night

Saturday: Soccer banquet with dinner provided

Simply Saving Saturday - October 24



We had a very busy week this week! I worked 4 days and brought a lunch with me every day.

I picked more carrots this week and am planning to pick the rest within the next week or two before the ground freezes.

With temperatures in the 30s at night and daytime temperatures in the 40s and 50s, we have needed to turn the heat on.  We set the thermostat to 62 at night and 65 during the day.

A family run apple orchard offered a free family day to all the students at the elementary school. They had lots of activities set up for the kids and the boys had a wonderful time.

We received a refund for medical expenses through the HRA benefit plan from my husband's employer.

I refilled the foaming hand soap dispenser with a little bit of liquid hand soap that I got on sale last year and mixed with water.

We ate three meatless meals this week and had leftovers for other meals during the week.


Our on-going savings:

**Wash laundry in cold water.

**Use online bill pay to pay our bills.

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

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

**Earn Bing Rewards points for gift cards, Hulu Plus subscription, Skype credits, etc.

**Husband takes lunch to work everyday.

**Turn lights off when not being used.

**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.

Meal Plan Monday - October 19



I discovered an editable weekly meal plan that I really love at simplifiedpantry.com. I saved it to my desktop and can easily add meals or delete meals--I think it will help me stay much more organized. Here's my plan for this week:


Baked Ziti made with Heart Healthy Pasta Sauce, salad

Melt In Your Mouth Meatloaf made with turkey, carrots, peas

Butternut Mac & Cheese, peas

Poor Man's Burrito Bowls made with homemade Black Beans

Creamy Avocado Alfredo

Chicken Quesadillas

Breakfast for Dinner and/or Leftovers



Get other meal plan ideas at Menu Plan Monday.

Simply Saving Saturday - October 17



I harvested the sunflower seeds from the mammoth sunflowers that we grew this summer.  One of the sunflowers had purple striped seeds!  I plan to roast the seeds after letting them soak in salt water.

I took advantage of a warm day with temperatures in the 70's and washed curtains and hung them on the clothesline to dry.  We probably won't see temperatures like that again until next spring.

Our library had a book sale and I purchased some books and a movie for under $1 each.

Walmart had t-shirts on sale for $1 each.  I bought a few for Operation Christmas Child boxes.

A few weeks ago there was a rare coupon in the newspaper for King Arthur Flour.  The coupon didn't expire until October 31, so I decided to wait to see if I could find it on sale.  It finally did go on sale this weekend and I was thrilled to get a 5 lb. bag of whole wheat flour for $1.99.

I ordered a free Gratitude Journal from In Touch Ministries.  This offer is still available if you missed it.


Our on-going savings:

**Compost kitchen and garden scraps.

**Wash laundry in cold water.

**Use online bill pay to pay our bills.

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

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

**Earn Bing Rewards points for gift cards, Hulu Plus subscription, Skype credits, etc.

**Husband takes lunch to work everyday.

**Turn lights off when not being used.

**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.

"Best Ever" Chicken Nuggets




The name for these chicken nuggets was inspired by my husband who said, "these are the best thing, ever!" the first time I made them for dinner.  My children declared them to be better than the chicken nuggets at McDonald's.

Folks, you know you've hit on a winning recipe if your children think it is better than McDonald's.

What makes these nuggets so special?  We love the crunchy, flavorful coating and the moist chicken inside.  I think these will quickly become a favorite at your house, too.


"Best Ever" Chicken Nuggets

Servings: approx. 4

1/2 cup plain breadcrumbs
1/4 cup flaxseed meal
1 tbs. grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 tsp. paprika
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. onion powder
1 large egg
1 pound chicken, cut into small chunks
1 tbs. canola oil

1.  In a bowl, mix together breadcrumbs, flaxseed meal, Parmesan, paprika, garlic powder and onion powder.
2.  In a separate bowl, whisk egg.
3.  Dip chicken pieces into egg and coat them with breadcrumb mixture.
4.  In a large nonstick skillet, add oil and heat over medium-high heat.  When the oil is hot, reduce heat to medium and place chicken nuggets in the skillet in a single layer without crowding the pan. Cook approx. 3 to 4 minutes until nuggets are crisp and golden.  Turn and cook until chicken is cooked through, about 4 to 5 minutes.
5.  Check one nugget to make sure they cooked through before removing them from the skillet to paper towel lined plate.  Add more oil to skillet before adding a second batch, if needed.



Adapted from Deceptively Delicious

Free Gratitude Journal Offer











In Touch Ministries is very generously offering their 90-day Gratitude Journal for free (one per person).  No purchase is necessary to order and no credit card information is required.  Click here to order.


Meal Plan Monday - October 12















I always try to plan my meals around what is on sale at the grocery store.  This week I planned most of our meals with apples, winter squash and skinless, boneless chicken.


Homemade Chicken Nuggets, carrot sticks, apple slices

English Muffin Pizzas, apple slices

Butternut Squash Stuffed Shells with Heart Healthy Pasta Sauce (instead of butter sauce), green beans

Quick Chicken and Corn Wraps

Garlic Chicken and Rice One Pot Meal, carrot slices

Batter Dipped Chicken Sandwiches

Tuna Noodle Casserole



Get other meal plan ideas at Menu Plan Monday.

Simply Saving Saturday - October 10




The boys and I have a four-day weekend and I'm thankful for the opportunity to cross some things off my to-do list!

My children have been asking for pancakes for breakfast, and I finally had a chance to make them this weekend.  I made a double batch of blueberry pancakes with blueberries that we picked for $1.25/lb. and froze in August.  I flash froze the leftover pancakes, and when the boys feel like pancakes for breakfast, I can take a few out and warm them up in the toaster for a quick, healthy breakfast on busy mornings.

This week we tried Mustard Glazed Chicken. By making a few changes to the recipe, it turned out to be a fairly inexpensive meal.  I substituted some of the ingredients for less expensive options that I already had on hand and I used one large boneless, skinless chicken breast to feed my whole family by butterflying the chicken breast and cutting both pieces into two more pieces for a total of four pieces. I also made a big pan of roasted potatoes and added carrots and onions from our garden.

I picked carrots from our garden. I haven't had to buy carrots for about a month now and I love that I can walk right outside for them!

I bought whole wheat bread for $1.03 per loaf and English muffins for $.99 each at the bread outlet store.  I used some of the English muffins to make breakfast sandwiches for lunch this week and I will use them next week to make English muffin pizzas for dinner.

I reused freezer bags.

I started a handmade gift.

How were you able to save this week?


Our on-going savings:

**Compost kitchen and garden scraps.

**Wash laundry in cold water.

**Use online bill pay to pay our bills.

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

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

**Earn Bing Rewards points for gift cards, Hulu Plus subscription, Skype credits, etc.

**Husband takes lunch to work everyday.

**Turn lights off when not being used.

**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.

Heart Healthy Pasta Sauce

Prepared pasta sauce is very high in sodium with between 500-600 mg of sodium per serving. We were surprised to learn how much sodium is in prepared pasta sauce and one of the first changes I made when we started a heart healthy diet was to make homemade pasta sauce.   Through trial and error, I came up with a recipe that our family likes.  According to the recipe nutrition calculator at MyFitnessPal.com this recipe has about half the amount of sodium of prepared pasta sauce.


This is just a simple, basic recipe; add vegetables and/or different seasonings to your family's tastes. I like using Furmano's Chunky Crushed Tomatoes in this recipe since it adds a little bit of texture to the sauce and also has the lowest amount of sodium compared to other brands that I found in my local grocery stores.

Note: Some brands have a "no sodium added" crushed tomatoes product available. I haven't been able to find them in my area and I am unsure of the sodium content in these products. Compare sodium amounts among the brands that you find in your area for the best option.


Heart Healthy Pasta Sauce

Servings: approx. 9 (1/2 cup) servings

1/2 cup onion, finely chopped (about 1/2 large onion)
1 tsp. canola oil
1 28 oz. can crushed tomatoes
1 8 oz. can no salt added tomato sauce
1 tbs. light brown sugar
1 tsp. dried basil
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. dried oregano
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. black pepper

1.  Heat canola oil and add onion.  Saute onion over medium-low heat until soft and translucent.
2.  Add crushed tomatoes, tomato sauce, brown sugar, basil, oregano, garlic powder, salt and pepper. 
3.  Simmer for at least 30 minutes over low heat, stirring occasionally.

Meal Plan Monday - October 5



Since I am working on-call as a substitute teacher and the number of hours I work each day is unpredictable, it has been difficult to have a set meal plan in place for each day of the week. We also have soccer practice two evenings a week and Bible study one evening a week.  Needless to say, our schedule is busy right now!

I've decided to make my meal plan more flexible for our very busy weeks.  I'm going to make a list of meals for the week without planning for a specific day.  My plan is to have some easier meals for the very busy days when I have to work a full day and we are busy in the evening, and a few meals that take longer to prepare for the days I only have to work part of the day.  I think this more flexible plan will work better with our schedule.

These are the meals that I am planning to make this week, in no particular order:


Mustard Glazed Chicken with roasted carrots, potatoes and sweet potatoes

 Whole chicken in the crockpot, green beans, applesauce, refrigerator pickles, yogurt biscuits

Homemade Chicken Noodle Soup (made with leftover chicken, homemade chicken broth) with leftover biscuits

Chicken corn chowder

Leftover  Whole Wheat Calzones (I froze leftovers from last week)

Honey Soy Baked Chicken Thighs, peas, mashed potato

Spaghetti with homemade pasta sauce



Get other meal plan ideas at Menu Plan Monday.

Simply Saving Saturday - October 3




The leaves started changing this week and the temperatures are reminding us that fall is here!  I picked the last two cucumbers from our garden.

One of my children went on a school field trip to an apple orchard and brought home a little bag of apples. When he came home he already knew what he wanted to do with them: make apple pie.  We made the pie together today and it was delicious!

I made Whole Wheat Apple Oatmeal Muffins with a few apples that were starting to get soft.

I cooked a chicken in the crock pot and made overnight chicken broth.

I bought whole wheat bread from the bread outlet store for $1.03 per loaf.

Earlier this year I signed up for CN Brown Rewards and I earn points when I buy gas or make an in-store purchase at one of their Big Apple stores.  I often get $.50 off coupons and we use the coupons to buy milk (they usually have some of the lowest milk prices in our area).  This week we used a coupon and paid $2.71 for a gallon of milk.

Our younger son signed up for his own library card and we borrowed several books from the library.


Our on-going savings:

**Compost kitchen and garden scraps.

**Wash laundry in cold water.

**Use online bill pay to pay our bills.

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

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

**Earn Bing Rewards points for gift cards, Hulu Plus subscription, Skype credits, etc.

**Husband takes lunch to work everyday.

**Turn lights off when not being used.

**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.