Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Coupons and Meal planning

      Through out my 15 years of marriage I have always used coupons to some extent. It wasn't until about 2 and 1/2 years ago that I began to seriously clip and use coupons, I also changed the way I made out my grocery lists. As a family of five (with 2 of those 5 being a teen and preteen boy that could out eat a bear), I know I had to do better with our grocery budget. I started by revamping the way I make out my grocery list. I will look at the grocery store sale fliers to see what meat and veggies are on special.  Then I start at the beginning of each month and make out a monthly menu, using recipes that will incorporate as many sale items as I can. Planning enough meals for the whole month with a few extras in case I need to substitute a meal. After I have my final monthly menu I go to the pantry and the freezer to see what I already have on hand for each recipe. Next I  sit down and write out my grocery list specific to each of the meals I have planned for the month. I break down my list in 2 for the first half of the month and then the second half of the month. This has worked out very well

        After I have my meals planned and my lists written I print out and clip coupons for things that I need for my recipes that are not on sale. I also try not to clip or print to many more coupons than I can use in 1 or 2 grocery trips, simply because the printable coupons tend to expire rather quickly. Once I take care of the main meal coupons, I look for coupons for snacks that my kids eat and that my husband takes to work. I bake most all of our sweets and breads so I usually skip these coupons. We, do however eat a lot of yogurt and I have found that most of the yogurt coupons do take a significant amount of depending on the brand.

       Another thing that I started doing was when my kids want to try something new I wait until it is either on special or I find a coupon for a good bit off. My kids can be very picky so I have found that if I wait and get it when it is cheap I am not out as much if they don't end up liking it.

    By doing these simple things I cut our grocery budget by half. We were paying between $500 and $600 a month, which for a family of five does not seem to bad. Now  I am paying between $250 and $300 a month, this is much better.


Thursday, August 12, 2010

Homemade Granola

      I love having granola for breakfast, but when I looked at what is in most store bought granola I cringed. I went on a hunt for a good tasting and simple granola recipe. I found the following recipe base.

Honey Vanilla Granola
1/2 cup Butter
1/2 cup Honey
2 teaspoons Cinnamon
1 teaspoon Vanilla
4 cups Old Fashioned Oats
This is the base for the granola, to this you can add 1/2 cup each of nuts of your choice, coconut, brown rice cereal, or any kind of dried fruit. I also like to add about 2 T of a wheat germ and flax seed mix.

The first step is to melt the butter and the Honey, as they are melting adding in the cinnamon. Once the butter is completely melted remove from heat and add the vanilla.

Next gather all your dry ingredients, mixing bowls, and 9x13 baking dish or a deep sided cookie sheet.

Mix all your dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl. If you are going to add any nuts or dried fruit this is when you would add them. I like to add pecans and cranberries.

Once you have mixed your dry ingredients, pour over your honey and butter mixture. Mix until everything is coated evenly. Then spread in your baking pan.

Now pop it in a 325 degree oven, bake for 10 minutes, stir through turning the granola so it will brown evenly. Bake for another 10 minutes, remove from the oven and let cool in the baking pan. Once cool store in an air tight zip lock bag or container. This is a wonderful alternative to traditional cereal, it also makes a wonderful snack.

Hope you enjoy.


Monday, August 2, 2010

Where does the time go?

  I have had a busy couple of weeks. My three are in morning swim lessons, which takes up the better part of our morning. But this is our last week, they are kind of bummed about that. School is just around the corner, I am excited and a little bummed at the same time. This was the first summer in a long time that I have had all three kids at home with me. The boys usually spend most of there summers in Ohio with all of our family, so this summer has been fun. A little trying at times when it is to hot to be outside, but otherwise wonderful.

  Today I feel old, my oldest son and I went and registered him for high school! I can not believe that my baby boy is a freshman in high school this year. Not only is he starting high school, but his younger brother is going into 5th grade and my baby girl is going to be a big first grader. They have all been in school for the last 2 years, but until this year it did not really hit me how fast they are growing up. The next thing I know my oldest will be driving, that is scary stuff right there.

  I will say it is wonderful to watch them grow into such wonderful children and now young adults. Now for the next few short weeks I will relish them being silly, sleeping late and having that last little bit of summer fun.

Summer vacation is ruff.

2boys sharing a room for the summer, means too many late nights.

Hope all you moms are enjoying this last little stretch of summer.