September 30, 2009

Keeping the Costs Down

I'm seeing more and more people worried about their grocery budget and trying to find ways to cut cost. It's been awhile since I've talked about how much I'm spending at the grocery store, but I guarantee that the most I've spent in a weeks worth of groceries has been $60 the past few months. Remember that it's just the two of us, so many meals provide us with leftovers that we then eat for lunches.

Last commissary visit I spent $65. I also went by Fresh and Easy for a few things from their sale ad (or to get items that just looked icky at the commissary). I spent $7. DH went by the commissary last Friday and bought more water for us and fresh baby spinach. He bought A LOT of water (we just can't stand the taste of the water here at all), so that was $12 total. So for two weeks we spent a total of $84. I don't think that an average of $42 a week is too shabby at all! :D

For this Friday's trip, I have 30 items on my list. This includes extras (staples that I have good coupons for), personal items, and a few items for travel. I'll update soon as to how much I spent. I only have about $8 in coupons where I usually have between $10 and $20 worth.

Speaking of coupons, I still don't go out of my way to find them. I check on a few sites (which I have linked on the sidebar) each week. I only print out the items that I ALWAYS USE. Right before I go grocery shopping, I check to see if there's anything else there that I need. A coupon is useless if you're not going to actually use the product. Just because you can get a good deal on a product doesn't mean you have to get it. Just get what you need! Sometimes if I'm extra thrifty, I good product name brand site and see if they have any coupons that I can print for that week's trip.
Secondly, I also make sure to clip all the coupons I find (and know I'll use) from Red Plum and P&G mailing ads. In some areas of the country these can only be found in Sunday newspapers. Out here I've gotten the occasional Sunday paper for free (their sad attempt at getting us to pay for future ones), and there's hardly anything in it. Not worth it at all here, but it may be where you live.
The third place I find coupons is from the store shelves and store ads. I'm one of those annoying people who takes a handful of coupons (if they have a while till they expire) if I see them hanging there by a product that I use a lot. And I always take the commissary ad they hand out. Always a few good coupons in there. I take all my coupons and save them till I need them. That's about as much work as I'm willing to do. I have zero desire to buy coupons online from others. I have no desire to search a dozen sites just for ONE coupon to save me fifty cents. I'm all about saving money, but not at the cost of my time and sanity. :)

I went to the commissary yesterday and spent $27.15 on 24 grocery items. I saved $6.95 with coupons. I also went by Fresh and Easy where I spent $11.62 on 7 items. Total for groceries is $38.77. I could have done better if I hadn't bought extras like a pie pumpkin, 2 cans of pumpkin, chocolate chips, etc. I'm not going to use any of that stuff right now (well, I'll cook the pie pumpkin and freeze the puree), but I decided it made sense to buy extras now to keep down the grocery cost for the next time when I am buying for a full menu. Oh, and yes expect lots of pumpkin to be seen on upcoming menus! Mmmmm!

Menu: Oct 2-15

This is NOT an exciting menu at all. We're going to be out of town for a good chunk of it. I'm excited to be able to see my little sister for her birthday this year! :)

Friday: Squadron Auction Night (making a rum cake for it; note that this isn't the exact recipe I'm using, but it's close)

Saturday Breakfast/Lunch: cereal and fruit

Saturday Dinner: grilled chicken salads

Sunday Breakfast/Lunch: cheese grits

Sunday Dinner: spiced beef kabobs with grilled potatoes and zucchini (did not eat from last menu)

Monday Diner: Lasagna Florentine (Despite not so great reviews, I'm giving this a try so that we can finally eat that old box of hamburger helper from many moons ago. I'll let you know how it goes.)

Out of town 10/6-10/13

Wednesday Dinner: frozen prepared meal (whatever is cheapest of the ones we’ll eat)

Thursday Dinner: Italian Sausage pasta with green beans on the side (Yeah, I'm kinda making this one up based on what's in the pantry already.)

September 25, 2009

Baked Cheese Sticks

So I really, really want to make these baked cheese sticks. My hips would appreciate it if I didn't though. So I'm encouraging all of you to make them and tell me how good they are. I'm thinking about making them as an appetizer the next time I have company over. Blake and Becky, do you want these for our next get together? :D

My other purpose for posting it is to send you over to that online friend's blog (Give Peas a Chance). If you like asian dishes, she's blogged (mostly step by step too!) quite a few. And unlike me, she remembers to occasionally take pictures of her cute bentos. And 99% of her recipes have pictures where I just claim that mine look good. Enjoy!

September 24, 2009

Fried Squash

My favorite way to cook yellow squash!

Squash, at least 3 descent sized ones, sliced
onion, diced
egg, 1 or 2 depending on how much or how little squash you make
2 tablespoons butter

Melt butter in a large, tall sided skillet over medium to medium-high heat. Add onion and squash. Be patient for the next 15-20 minutes. Stir occasionally. Usually during the first 10 minutes I put the lid on the pan and just take it off to stir. If there's a lot of liquid, I take the lid off sooner. You're waiting for the squash to cook and start to fall apart. After 20 minutes the squash should start to brown. If not, turn up the heat and wait for it to brown some. Meanwhile, beat the egg (or eggs if you used a lot of squash). Once squash is party golden brown, pour the egg on top of the squash. Stir until egg is cooked. Add salt and pepper to taste. I do recommend using more squash than you think you'll need because it does cook down quite a bit! Often the squash and onions in the beginning barely fit in my skillet, but it cooks way down and it quite easy to stir after a few minutes. Squash and eggs sounds weird to some people, but if you like squash you'll love this!

Print Page

September 23, 2009

Fried Squash Patties

Grated yellow squash, 3
1 egg
½ to 3/4 cup flour
onion, grated
Mix all ingredients together in a bowl. Flour amount depends on how watery your onion and squash are. This should form a thick batter. Melt butter in a skillet. I would tell you how much, but I don't know. I just add more butter as needed to cook the patties. When both sides are golden brown remove and cool either on a baking rack or on a plate with paper towels. While hot sprinkle on some salt and pepper to taste.
I know this isn't the most exact recipe of mine, but considering my family has never used a recipe for this I don't think I did too bad. I'm in a squash mood right now, so I thought I'd share this so someone else can enjoy the fried goodness for me. ;)

September 17, 2009

Tortellini with Fresh Vegetables

from Betty Crocker mobile app


  • 1 package (9 ounces) refrigerated cheese-filled tortellini
  • 1 tablespoon olive or vegetable oil
  • 1 medium bell pepper, cut into 1-inch pieces (1 cup)
  • 2 cups chopped roma (plum) tomatoes (6 to 8 medium)
  • 1 medium zucchini, cut lengthwise in half, then cut crosswise into slices (1 1/2 cups)
  • 1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic salt


  1. Cook and drain tortellini as directed on package, using 3-quart saucepan. Wipe out saucepan with paper towel; wipe dry with paper towel.
  2. Heat oil in same saucepan over medium-high heat. Cook bell pepper in oil 2 to 3 minutes, stirring frequently, until crisp-tender.
  3. Stir in tomatoes, zucchini, Italian seasoning and garlic salt. Cover and cook 3 to 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until zucchini is tender.
  4. Stir in tortellini. Cook 2 to 3 minutes, stirring occasionally, until hot.

Whole Wheat Carrot Cake

This is, by far, the best carrot cake I've ever had. DH and I find it plenty sweet without the icing, but I included the icing in the recipe.

Whole Wheat Carrot Cake

Recipe from King Arthur’s Whole Grain Baking cookbook. Thanks Nates on OHO for sharing!

· 2 nine inch round cake pans or one 9x13 inch baking pan
· 4 large eggs
· 1 ½ cup vegetable oil
· 2 teaspoons vanilla
· 1 ½ cups white sugar
· ½ cup packed brown sugar
· 2 cups whole wheat flour
· 2 teaspoons baking soda
· 1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
· 1 ½ teaspoons salt
· 1 tablespoon cinnamon
· ½ teaspoon nutmeg
· 2 ½ cups finely grated carrots
· 1 cup chopped pecans or walnuts
· 1 cup shredded or flaked coconut sweetened or not (optional)
· 1 8 ounce can crushed pineapple, drained

Grease and flour your pans. Preheat over to 350*F.
Beat eggs with an electric mixer and add oil while it is running. Add vanilla then sprinkle in the sugars. You will have a thick, foamy mixture.
Wisk flour, baking soda, baking powder and spices together in a bowl. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ones. Mix to make a smooth batter. Add carrots and nuts then the coconut and pineapple. Pour into pan(s).
Bake for 35-40 minutes for 2 nine inch rounds or 45-50 minutes for a sheet cake (9x13 pan). Bake until tester inserted into the center comes out clean. Because it’s whole wheat it won’t “spring” when you press down, so don’t test doneness this way. Cool completely.
Frosting: Mix a box of powdered sugar, a stick of butter, a block of cream cheese, some vanilla, and a tiny bit of milk. Or use store bought cream cheese frosting.

Eggplant Parmesan

Eggplant Parmesan

Recipe from Mike’s Famous, featured on Throwdown with Bobby Flay.


· Oil
· 2 large eggplants
· All-purpose flour
· 4 eggs
· bread crumbs
· 1 quart marinara sauce
· 8 ounces sliced mozzarella cheese
· 4 ounces grated Romano cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and heat oil in large pan.
Peel the eggplant and slice into ¼ inch thick slices. Coat each side of the eggplant with flour. In a separate bowl beat 4 eggs and dip the eggplant into the egg to coat each side. Then taken your bread crumbs and do the same to coat both sides. Once the oil is hot, put the eggplant in the hot oil and fry until golden brown.
Once all the eggplant has been fried, get a rectangular baking pan and start layering by adding the marinara sauce to the bottom of the pan, then the eggplant, more sauce, fresh mozzarella, Romano cheese, and continue to layer until you have reached the top of the pan. Top off with sauce, mozzarella, and grated Romano.
Place the eggplant into the oven and cook for 20-25 minutes.

Menu: Sept 18 - Oct 1

Friday dinner: Chicken and dumplings

Saturday breakfast/lunch: egg in a hole and fruit; leftovers

Saturday dinner: AF Ball

Sunday breakfast/lunch: cereal and fruit; leftover chicken and dumplings

Sunday dinner: Eggplant Parmesan

Monday dinner: Southwest Egg Rolls

Tuesday dinner: Tortellini w/ fresh veggies

Wednesday dinner: Leftover southwest egg rolls

Thursday dinner: waffles and eggs (freeze leftover waffles for later)

Friday dinner: Meatloaf (I'm cutting the recipe in half) and green beans

Saturday breakfast/lunch: whole-wheat carrot cake

Saturday dinner: steak kabobs with zucchini, onions, and potatoes

Sunday breakfast/lunch: fruit and leftover waffles

Sunday dinner: Leftover meatloaf/kabobs

Monday dinner: Southwestern chicken sandwiches (I'm kinda making this up based on a sandwich I had at a restaurant a few weeks ago.)

Tuesday dinner: red beans and rice

Wednesday dinner: Italian Sausage, spinach, and tomato pasta toss

Thursday dinner: Grilled cheese with squash