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12 Dec 2009   ·   12
Money Saving Mom

Super Savings Saturday: The last edition of 2009

I spent $11 total out-of-pocket at the health food store and Walmart this week–and I got a lot of great deals and yummy food! But alas, I didn’t get a picture because I was so busy the day I went shopping that taking a picture was the last thing on my mind.

So just imagine a mountain of healthy foods on a table–most of which were significantly marked down at the health food store. I also price-matched some deals at Walmart (like $0.18/lb bananas!) since I already had to make a trip there. All in all, it was a great shopping week–despite the fact that I didn’t get a picture!

I don’t know about you, but bargain shopping is going to be on the back burner around here for the next few weeks. My freezers are brimming full and my cupboards and pantry are packed. So I’m planning to just lay low in the grocery shopping department until January and in favor of spending lots of relaxing and fun times with family and friends.

Don’t worry, I’ll still be posting here over the next few weeks (just likely in a lighter fashion!), but we’re going to take a break from Super Savings Saturday until January 10, 2010. I hope you can join me in mostly setting aside your coupons and just enjoying time with family and friends!

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Did you snag any great deals or bargains this week or save money in other ways?
If so, be sure to post about them on your blog and leave your link
below. Please remember that this weekly round-up is to share deals you
personally got and/or money you were able to save this week. In order
to keep this weekly round-up focused on helping and inspiring others in
their efforts to save money, links which have little-to-no content
other than promoting affiliate links, etc. will be deleted. Also, to
make it easy for everyone to navigate quickly through the links, your
link must link directly to your Super Savings Saturday post.

10 Dec 2009   ·   26
Money Saving Mom

Celebrating a Simple Christmas: Give a Homemade “Club” Membership

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Here are some great (and inexpensive!) gift ideas submitted by Kasey from The Beautiful Thrifty Life which would thoroughly bless the recipients:

A couple of years ago, my husband and I decided that we should
each give one another a "love present," with the caveat that it should
not cost a lot (if any) money. As I thought of what to give him, I
started remembering all the times he had been looking through a
magazine or a cookbookand
he had come across a recipe for some decadent dessert and say, "Mmmmm! That looks good! You should really make
that sometime!"
Inspired by this, I decided to enroll him in his own personal
"Dessert of the Month Club". I gave him a fancy looking scroll stating
the terms of his enrollment (dessert must be requested by the 5th of
the month, etc.), along with a few potential dessert recipes I had cut
from magazines.
Needless to say, it hit the sweet tooth right on the
crown!
You could do something similar with this idea for others, as
well. You could try a "Dinner of the Month" club for a special friend,
in which
you could have a set day of the month (like the 2nd Sunday) that they
would come to your house for dinner. It gives them a break from
cooking, and allows you to strengthen bonds of friendship on a regular
basis. You could do a 6-month, 12-month, or whatever other enrollment
period works best for your family. For extra fun, fasten the
"enrollment certificate" to a plate, then wrap it like a normal gift.
A husband could enroll his wife or girlfriend in a
"Car Care Club" and wash and vacuum out her car for her once a month and attach the
certificate to a sponge.

For your children, you could give them coupons for things like, "Get out of cleaning
your room", "Pick your own dinner menu", or "Special date with Mom."
Decorate a box or an envelope for them to keep their coupons in.

If you have friends with young children, give them a gift certificate for 6 months
of free babysitting, planning one night a month they can leave the kids
with you and have a date (this is also a great baby shower gift!).
Attach the certificate to a rattle or another baby toy.
The wonderful thing about these "gifts that keep on giving" is
that it spreads the time and expense out over the course of several
months to a year. The only thing I would recommend is to, if at all
possible, plan the dates for service in advance and put them on your
calendar, otherwise they can be easily forgotten.


Have
you ever done something like this before or do you have other homemade
"club" membership ideas? If so, I'd love to hear about it!

Related: Kasey has some other fun and unique ideas posted here.

9 Dec 2009   ·   18
Money Saving Mom

Celebrating a Simple Christmas: Homemade Gift Bows from Recycled Magazine Pages

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A Heart for Home has a great tutorial over here for how to make your own homemade gift bows from recycled magazine pages. I love this idea–especially since many of us probably have some extra magazine pages we could use from free magazine subscriptions we've signed up for!

Have a simple and frugal Christmas tip? Email it to me, along with pictures, and I might feature it here in the next few weeks!

8 Dec 2009   ·   18
Money Saving Mom

Celebrating a Simple Christmas: Homemade Wrapping Paper

Wrapping-paper

Tip submitted by reader, Deborah:

One of our favorite holiday traditions is to make our own wrapping
paper. We collect all our paper bags which have piled up over the year, cut them open, and decorate the blank side. The kids love
decorating and giving presents in their special paper. And we save money by not having to buy wrapping paper!

Have a simple and frugal Christmas tip? Email it to me, along with pictures, and I might feature it here in the next few weeks!

5 Dec 2009   ·   2
Money Saving Mom

Super Savings Saturday: The Freezer Cooking Day edition

Whew! It's been a big week here with the Freezer Cooking Day and yesterday's Giveaway Day! Thank you everyone for playing along!

Shoppingtrip
I only made one quick shopping trip in preparation for the Freezer Cooking Day. You can read more about it here.

Bakingday

And then I stocked up our freezer on Wednesday with all sorts of goodies. Read more about that here.

We should be well set as far as meals go through January. And with all the extra events and dinners that December often holds, it's possible our freezer meals might actually last through near the end of January.

————————–

Did you snag any great deals or bargains this week or save money in other ways?
If so, be sure to post about them on your blog and leave your link
below. Please remember that this weekly round-up is to share deals you
personally got and/or money you were able to save this week. In order
to keep this weekly round-up focused on helping and inspiring others in
their efforts to save money, links which have little-to-no content
other than promoting affiliate links, etc. will be deleted. Also, to
make it easy for everyone to navigate quickly through the links, your
link must link directly to your Super Savings Saturday post.

2 Dec 2009   ·   47
Money Saving Mom

Freezer Cooking Day: The final results (and come link up your posts, too!)

Okay, so I just have to say that my new plan of action to do the cooking in one day, have the girls spend the day with Grandma, and keep my list on the simpler side, made a big difference. I'm tired tonight, but nowhere near wiped out like I was last time around. And best of all? My house is pretty clean and the cooking is D-O-N-E!

I started at 10:15 a.m. this morning and but for a few breaks to nurse Silas, worked straight through the day until around 6:45 p.m. tonight. And I got everything but one item crossed off my list!

Here's the fruit of my efforts:

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Breakfasts:

Pumpkin Pancakes x 3
Muffin Mixes x 3 (for gifts, breakfasts, and dinners)

Main Dishes:

Tuna Noodle Casserole x 2 (used leftover Thanksgiving turkey instead of tuna–it turned out looking very yummy!)
Broccoli, Ham, and Cheese Casserole x 4 (I just made up this recipe so I don't have a link for you. I used leftover Thanksgiving ham.)
Marinated Chicken x 4 (Pour Italian dressing over frozen chicken tenders and freeze. You can add in extra seasonings or sliced onions or peppers if you like. When ready to cook, you can throw it in the crockpot on low for 6 hours or bake it in the oven for 30 to 45 minutes. We like to serve this over brown rice. It's so simple and delicious! This is such an easy recipe that it really doesn't have to be made ahead, I just find there are days when it is nice to just dump a bag into the crockpot and go. Maybe I'm the only one who has those kinds of days?!)
Barbecue Chicken x 2 (Similar to the above "recipe" just pour a bottle of barbecue sauce and some water over frozen chicken breasts and stick in a bag and freeze. You can add in extra seasonings and/or chopped onions if you like. When
ready to cook, you can throw it in the crockpot on low for 6 hours or
bake it in the oven for 30 to 45 minutes. If you make this in the crockpot, the chicken will just fall apart after it's cooked and can be served on buns for BBQ Chicken Sandwiches. My husband especially likes this!)
Stromboli x 4

Snacks/Desserts:

Brown Sugar Biscuit Twists
Banana Bread
World's Easiest Christmas Candy
(Used saltines instead of Cheez-Its. These are seriously good!)
Sugar Cookie Dough*
Hot Cocoa Mix x 6*
Slab Apple Pie x 4 

*Thanks to C&H Sugar for sending me a little gift card to use to buy some of the ingredients to try out these two recipes. I was planning to make them anyway, so I when they wrote and asked if they could send me a gift card to buy some of their sugar, I was more than happy to oblige!

Things I learned from this month's Freezer Cooking Day:

::It works well to do all the cooking in one day. Splitting it up over two days seems to create more work, less productivity, and a much messier house.

::It is much less stressful to have a babysitter–and I get more done, too! I'm definitely going to be going this route for future cooking days. The girls had a great day, Grandma enjoyed getting lots of time with her granddaughters, and I was able to be much more efficient and focused in the kitchen.

::It is helpful to do the more intensive cooking projects first. By the end of the day, I'm running out of steam so it was good I saved the easiest things for last.

::I need to plan more in advance. Yes, I've been planning for this cooking day for a few weeks and buying groceries with it in mind, but it wasn't until a few days before that I sat down and made a list. And it wasn't until last night that I fleshed out my list. I think it would help if I made my game plan farther in advance and had the recipes printed out. Having to keep looking them up in different places just took extra time.

::I could save time by doing more prep work the day before–having the cheese already shredded, etc. would help speed up the cooking day. This is when more advance planning would also be helpful.

All in all, it was a very successful day and judging by how stuffed both of our little freezers are, I doubt I will need to do much of any cooking or baking this month–which will save me a great deal of time and effort and will also save us money since there won't be a temptation to get carryout because dinner's in the freezer!

Thanks again to FishMama and everyone else who joined us in this Freezer Cooking Day. My family thanks you, too. 🙂

Now I think I'm going to go fix myself a cup of hot cocoa and put my feet up for awhile!

——————————-

Did you have a chance to do any baking or cooking this week?
If so, post about it
on your blog and leave your link below to your direct blog post. I'd
love it especially if you could share pictures and recipes so we can
get ideas for our next Freezer Cooking Day! And I'm guessing many
others would be inspired as well.

2 Dec 2009   ·   54
Money Saving Mom

My Freezer Cooking Day helper

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As I mentioned earlier, my mom took the girls today so I could focus on cooking (I'm so blessed we live near family again!) so I only had Silas. It was so weird to be home just with him and I enjoyed the chance to get some quality one-on-one time with him.

When Silas wasn't napping, he played on the floor nearby me, or was on my hip watching my every move. I'm not quite as fast with a baby on my hip, but I've learned to manage pretty well with practice–something I've had quite a bit of over the last few years!

As you can tell from the above pictures, our little Silas is quite the doll! He's all boy and every bit Mommy's boy and we love him to pieces. And I'm sure someday, he'll learn to sleep through the night. 🙂

2 Dec 2009   ·   16
Money Saving Mom

Freezer Cooking Day: Experimenting with Stromboli

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I created a new Stromboli recipe today since I decided this one was too complicated. I used my homemade pizza dough and took that recipe times four. Then I divided the dough into four pieces and rolled them out and put organic roast beef, chopped peppers and onions, and shredded cheese.

(There are many more ideas here for fillings. Stromboli is so versatile–which is one reason I love it!)

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I rolled this up and pinched the ends under and baked two of them at 400 degrees for 15 minutes and froze them and then froze the other two unbaked. We'll see which way works better. It looks delicious and I'm anxious to try them!

2 Dec 2009   ·   37
These Brown Sugar Biscuit Twists are SO delicious, easy to make, and a total crowd pleaser! Perfect to take to brunch -- especially on Christmas morning!

Brown Sugar Biscuit Twists

These Brown Sugar Biscuit Twists are SO delicious, easy to make, and a total crowd pleaser! Perfect to take to brunch -- especially on Christmas morning!

This recipe is one of our family’s very favorite recipes. I originally adapted it from an old, falling-apart Better Homes and Gardens bread cookbook my mom had when we were growing up. I’ve made these countless times and they are so easy to do and so yummy!

We like to serve these fresh out of the oven on Christmas morning. They are also great paired with an Egg, Ham, and Cheese casserole and fruit for a simple Christmas brunch.

2 Dec 2009   ·   11
Money Saving Mom

Freezer Cooking Day: Slab Apple Pies

I'm glad I decided to tackle the Slab Apple Pies as one of the first things today because they definitely were a bit more work and if I'd waited until the end of the day, I'm pretty positive I would have run out of steam!

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I followed the recipe exactly as written here (Yes, can you believe it? I actually followed a recipe without making any changes or substitutions! We should write that one down in my baby book since it certainly is a rarity!)

I used mostly organic apples which I'd picked up a few weeks back at the health food store reduced to $0.99 per bag. They were still in pretty great shape and perfect for use in baking!

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After about 45 minutes of peeling, coring, and slicing (and wishing I had an automatic apple peeler/corer/slicer!), I was done with apples!

I made up the crusts and put everything into individual bags to be able to quickly through together this next month when I'm in need of a yummy dessert.

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I almost gave in and made one up for dinner tonight since the picture of the finished result here looks so delicious, but I showed immense self-control and just packaged them all up for the freezer!

Next up: Brown Sugar Biscuit Twists

2 Dec 2009   ·   23
Money Saving Mom

Freezer Cooking Day: Pumpkin Pancakes

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No Freezer Cooking Day is complete without a beautiful apron from Marie-Madeline Studio!

The day got off to a rocky start since all of my children seemed to have woken up on the wrong side of the bed and my patience was really tested as I tried to smile and get everyone dressed and ready in between the crying and crankiness. I wondered a few times if this Freezer Cooking Day was such a great idea, but I reminded myself that it would be worth it in the long run. So I pressed on and we finally made it out the door 15 minutes late.

After dropping the girls off at Grandma's house and coming back home and putting Silas to bed for his morning nap, I got busy on the Pumpkin Pancakes.

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I tripled the recipe here and followed it almost exactly as written, except I used sucanat in place of the sugar. Like usual, I used organic milk from the freezer. I always buy organic milk when I find it greatly reduced and then freeze what we can't use right away to use in waffles and pancakes.

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The pancake batter was a little thicker than usual pancake batter and took quite awhile to bake. But the end result was delicious! My only regret? That I just took the recipe times three. I think I should have taken it times six!

Next up: Slab Apple Pies

1 Dec 2009   ·   16
Money Saving Mom

Freezer Cooking Day: My Detailed Plan (share yours, too!)

Bakingdaybutton

I'm planning to begin baking/cooking at 10 a.m. CST sharp tomorrow and am hoping to be completely finished and have the kitchen clean by 5:30 p.m. Yes, I'm probably being a little ambitious, but that's my goal anyway!

Since I ended last Freezer Cooking Day completely worn out, I chose recipes this time which required fewer steps and prep work. I'm hoping it makes things more enjoyable and less exhausting. Only time will tell!

At any rate, here's my plan:

1. Mix up Pumpkin Pancake batter and begin baking pancakes
2. While pancakes are baking, peel and slice apples
3. Make Slab Apple Pies
4. Make Banana Bread
5. Mix biscuit dough and stromboli dough
6. Make Brown Sugar Biscuit Twists and stromboli
7. Make Sugar Cookie Dough
8. Boil Noodles, Make Muffin Mixes
9. Make Tuna Noodle Casserole
10. Make Ham and Broccoli Casserole (added this in place of the breakfast casserole)
11. Make Christmas Candy
12. Make Turkey Shepherd's Pie
13. Make Hot Cocoa Mix
14. Make Barbecue Chicken and Marinated Chicken
15. Clean up my very messy kitchen and find room for everything in my two tiny freezers
16. Put my feet up and be thankful that I'm done with most of my cooking and baking for the entire month!

Stay tuned for live-blogging and tweeting (follow me on Twitter here) tomorrow on my real-time progress complete with pictures and recipes. Don't forget to follow FishMama on her blog and Twitter or the more that 160 other women around the country who are participating in this Freezer Cooking Day and tweeting about it with the hashtag #oamc.

At the end of the day tomorrow, I'll post a final wrap-up with recipe links and a Mr. Linky so you can share your accomplishments as well, if you've been blogging about any cooking or baking you're doing this week.

See you in the kitchen tomorrow morning! For now, I'm off to get a good night's rest!

Have
you posted your Freezer Cooking Day plans or progress on your blog? If so, leave your link
below so others can be inspired with ideas and new recipes to try.
Remember to link directly to your blog post.

1 Dec 2009   ·   4
Money Saving Mom

Freezer Cooking Day: The Shopping Trip

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A freezer cooking day can't happen without lots of supplies on hand, namely groceries. While I have been stocking up over the last few weeks with this in mind, there were still some last-minute things I needed to buy for tomorrow's big Freezer Cooking Day. So I loaded up all three little ones and stopped into our local grocery store, health food store, and Aldi. Whew!

All told, we spent right around $50 for the groceries shown above including two big bags of chicken and four packages of organic grass-fed roast beef marked down from $8.99 to $1.59 at the health food store. Gotta love those kinds of bargains!

It looks like we'll be spending right under $100 total for this Freezer Cooking Day. It should well carry us through upcoming Christmas get-togethers, provide some homemade Christmas gifts, and take care of most of the cooking and baking for the entire month–especially since we still have some meals left in the freezer from last month's Freezer Cooking Day–so I'd say it's well worth the monetary investment.

I don't plan to buy many more groceries the rest of this month so the additional $75 or so we still have leftover in our grocery budget envelope should be plenty for the next four weeks.

But first I have to actually tackle the cooking!

Next up: The Detailed Step-By-Step Freezer Cooking Plan