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Today’s Dillon’s Shopping Trip: Spent $9.25, Saved $31.97

1 box of Quaker Instant Oatmeal — $1.99, used $2/1 coupon (no longer available) = free

1 bottle Xtra Laundry Detergent — $1.99, used $1/1 printable coupon = $0.99

1 jug Minute Maid Orange Juice — used free catalina coupon which printed from our last shopping trip (Don’t ask me why, but every time we use my husband’s Dillon’s Shopper Card, we get great catalina coupons!)

2 cartons of Silk — reduced to $0.99 each

2 cartons of Almond Breeze Almond Milk — $1.50, used $0.55/1 printable coupon (which doubled to $1 off) = $0.50 each

1 International Coffee Creamer — $1, used $0.55/1 printable coupon (which doubled to $1 off) = free

1 Horizon Organic Milk — $1, used $1/1 printable coupon = free

1 Marie Callender’s Bakes – used free product coupon they sent to me

1 Excedrin — used free product coupon

1 Roast — reduced to $5.03

2 Jalepenos — $0.28

Total spent: $9.25
Total saved (according to my receipt): $31.97

I couldn’t figure out why my total was as low as it was, until I realized later that they ended up taking off the full product value on the free Excedrin and Marie Callender’s coupons, which gave me overage on my order since these were on sale.

You can see a complete list of Dillon’s deals here.

This Week’s Menu

Cinnamon Scones — I’ll post the recipe next week. We had these for our Christmas Eve Brunch and they were delicious!

I’ve had numerous requests to bring back the weekly menu plan feature and I’m excited that this is one thing I’m making a priority in 2011 — along with a number of other new and revived features!

(Stay tuned next week when I share more about goals for 2011 and my blogging plans and new weekly blogging schedule. I hope it will not only mean that you find more quality content on MoneySavingMom.com, but that you’ll also have a better idea of what will be posted each week — instead of my typical blogging-by-the-seat-of-my-pants, always-behind style.)

I have a plan for executing this new blogging schedule, and I’m actually pretty optimistic that it’s going to work out fairly smoothly and well. We’ll see, though. Sticking with stuff is not always my strong point, as you all well know. 😉

Menus will be posted weekly on Mondays, starting next Monday. Since it’s my “vacation” week this week, I’m giving myself the freedom to post this on Wednesday!

This Week’s Menu Plan

Breakfasts
Crockpot Oatmeal (This royally flopped! Anyone have a reliable Crockpot Oatmeal recipe? All the ones I have tried so far have turned to mushy, icky goop overnight!)
Pancakes
Cold Cereal
Smoothies
Orange Poppyseed Cake
Cold Cereal
Banana Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Muffins

Lunches
Tuna Salad Sandwiches
Stirfry over Brown Rice
Hamburger Vegetable Soup (recipe coming in January!)
Middle Eastern Lentil Soup
Macaroni & Cheese
Leftovers
Peanut Butter & Jelly Sandwiches

Hamburger Vegetable Soup — I’ll be posting the recipe in January.

Dinners
The Pioneer Woman’s Beans, Pico de Gallo and The Best Cornbread Ever (I’ve been searching high and low for a fabulous cornbread recipe and I think I’ve finally found it. I’ll share it in January!)
Bacon Wrapped Meatloaf, Sweet Potatoes, Cooked Veggies, Flat Apple Pie
Hamburger Vegetable Soup, Whole-Wheat Popovers, Raw Veggies and Fruit
Beef Hot Dogs, Cooked Peas, Baked Potatoes
Marinated Chicken over Lettuce with Pico de Gallo and Cheese
Finger Foods for New Year’s Eve (We’re celebrating with friends and family and bringing finger foods and goodies to share!)
Dinner Out

Contentment is a Choice

My husband was going through old financial statements a few days ago and we were aghast to read the numbers. During the first year Jesse was in law school, there were six months when we made less than $900 — and some months it was as low as $650. I recall that season of our lives fairly vividly, but seeing those numbers on paper again after a number of years have past was a shock to our systems.

Our rent alone during those months was over $500. I’m still not sure how we made it on so little! No wonder we rarely ate meat and did so many other pretty “extreme” things. (Yes, we had money in the bank to cover most of law school, but that money was locked up in CDs and we’d both decided that it would be untouchable to us except in the case of a dire, life-threatening emergency.)

Our commitment to live within our means and stay out of debt was hard. There’s no doubt about that.

I remember we’d pay our tithe money, our rent check and our basic utility bills and then we prayed that somehow the rest of the money would stretch until the next check would come in. How we were going to afford basic necessities was constantly looming over our heads.

And yet, those months were some of the most precious and memorable in our lives. We saw God provide for us in amazing and unexpected ways. We learned to be wildly creative. We were forced to be incredibly entrepreneurial.

Most of all, we discovered that contentment is a state of the heart, unaffected by outward circumstances.

Contentment is a choice. So choose today to bloom where you’re planted. Choose to make the most of whatever situation you find yourself in. Choose to stop focusing on what you don’t have and start being thankful for the many blessings you do have.

And remember, no matter what difficulties you might be dealing with today, somebody else would love to be in your shoes.

photo by tanakawho

Yesterday’s Shopping Trips: Aldi, Dillon’s and the health food store

Health Food Store (purchased only the mark-downs): spent $11.71

I gave myself the last four weeks “off” from bargain shopping and using coupons because I was feeling uninspired and motivated to bargain shop and use coupons and because I wanted to spend that time focusing on other Christmas-related things and activities.

It was so nice to have an almost complete break where I didn’t clip a coupon, look at a sales flier or open my coupon box up. We just shopped mostly at Aldi, used up stuff from our pantry and freezer and ate lots of super simple meals.

Dillon’s trip (most purchased mark-downs, including a 10-pound bag of potatoes marked down to $1.59!): spent $13.66

The break very much re-energized me and brought back my bargain-shopping motivation and my cooking and baking inspiration. In fact, I’ve been whipping up a lot of new recipes and stepping outside my comfort zone in the kitchen.

I even bought fresh cilantro yesterday (something I’ve never purchased before!) in order to make fresh Pico de Gallo. For those who know me well, you’ll know that this is very out-of-character from the way I’ve been the last year or so. Hmm, maybe I’ll even start making my own homemade tortillas at this rate? 🙂

I’m so excited to have rediscovered my long lost love of cooking and baking and how cathartic it can be to putter around in the kitchen and make delicious food for my family! Expect quite a few new recipe posts here in the near future.

In the mean time, I’m going to go eat some of the delicious Cranberry Pecan Oatmeal I made for breakfast! I’ll share this week’s menu this evening.

Aldi Shopping Trip: spent $28.31

Celebrating a Simple Christmas: Snowflake Tortillas

Okay, so Snowflake Tortillas aren’t exactly a Christmas activity, but we included it with our planned fun family activities for this week anyway.

The girls had so much fun cutting the tortillas into different snowflake shapes.

Kaitlynn pretended hers was a mask (nevermind the un-matching clothes, she’s still learning that just because a top and bottom have pink in them doesn’t mean that they match!)

They thought the sprinkling with cinnamon/sugar mixture was the coolest thing ever.

Ready to go into the oven.

 Fresh-from-the-oven Snowflake Tortillas. Yum!

Snowflake Tortillas

Recipe adapted from Mob Mom

6 tortillas
1 tablespoon butter
2 teaspoons brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

Fold tortillas in half and then in half again (like you would make a paper snowflake). Use clean scissors to cut out shapes. Open up and brush with melted butter. Mix cinnamon and sugar together and sprinkle over the tortillas.

Bake at 375 degrees for around five minutes. Let cool slightly and then enjoy eating your creation!