Monthly Archives: February 2011

One Now … One Later

Today ends my week’s worth of cooking. I’m back to work tonight and the family will be eating leftovers for the next 3 nights. Thankfully my husband will eat pretty much anything and doesn’t complain and the toddler eats pretty much nothing. So its win, win.

For my meals this week I tried to plan budget friendly recipes that were different enough from each other to stay interesting but used a lot of the same ingredients in different ways. I also made a point to eat from my pantry items as much as possible.

My husband has promised me that this weekend he is going to start turning our garage into a stockpile room for me.

I want this:

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(source)

That looks like a little piece of heaven to me!

My meals this week included:

Stuffed Bell Peppers
BBQ chicken breasts and veggies
Lentils with Baked Eggs <—didn’t like
Cuban Sandwiches
White Chili <— OMG kind of good.
Slow Cooker Chicken Thighs with Corn and Chilies.

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Today I rounded it out by making a really easy quiche recipe.

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I made 2, one for now and one to freeze for later.

Ham & Swiss Quiche
Ingredients for 2 Quiches:

  1. Frozen Pie Crust (2 pack)
  2. 5 eggs
  3. 1/2 cup egg substitute (or you could use 7 eggs)
  4. 12 oz evaporated milk
  5. 8 oz deli sliced ham chopped (I used a little more, but it was a bit too much)
  6. 4-5 oz of Swiss cheese shredded or chopped (I used leftover slices and chopped them)
  7. 3 Tbsp flour
  8. Pinch of salt, pepper and ground nutmeg.

Directions:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 350.
  2. Whish all ingredients together.
  3. Pour into pie crusts
  4. Bake for 35 minutes. Let cool for 5 minutes.

I served mine with roasted vegetables. And now I have a 2nd quiche to freeze for a meal in a couple of weeks.

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Naptime!

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A Lesson in Couponing

Today I had some extra time on my hands to do my couponing for the week. Alot of people ask me about couponing, so I thought I’d write a post about it. There are only a few basic principals about couponing:

1. Know your store’s coupon policy. You can usually find this information on the store website. Some stores double coupons, some don’t, some stores you have to buy 2 of the BOGO items to get the deal, others you don’t. Some stores stack manufacturer coupons, store coupons and even competitor coupons. Here is a great website that compares store coupon policies.

2. Combine weekly sales with coupons. You’ll never save enough money to make couponing worthwhile if you clip to save $.30 here and there. Combine store sales (especially BOGO) with coupons to save big and when you do STOCK UP! Most items go on sale about every 12 weeks or so, so when you find a great deal buy enough to last that long. If your store runs out of the sale item get a Rain Check!

3. Brand Loyalty cannot exist in successful couponing. Most people are convinced that the store brand is always the better deal. This is rarely true when using coupons. Compare the per ounce/per unit price and account for any coupons to find the lowest price, but you must be willing to try different brands.

4. Know where to find coupons. Yes, you can get coupons from the Sunday paper, but there are lots of other places to get them also. Magazines (like All You), off of products in the store (called peelies), from the cash register (called catalinas), and online. There are lots and lots of couponing websites that will do the work for you and tell you exactly what the weekly deals are and where to find the coupons.

5. Menu Planning. Don’t expect to be able to make meals off of your coupon haul from just one trip. Plan your weekly menu around sale items and around items from your stockpile then fill in the blanks with fresh produce, meats and whatever else you still need.

Check out my favorites:

Southern Savers
I Heart Publix
My Frugal Adventures
A Full Cup

Now on to my deals for today:

I first went to Rite Aid and used some Rain Checks I had for sale items. I got 3 packs of Simplify toilet paper and 2 Gillette Fusion ProGlide razors.

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The toilet paper was absolutely free. The razors were normally $12.99 each but with my rain check they were sale priced at $9.99 with a $5 UP reward. UP rewards are store coupons for that amount off your next purchase. I also had two $4 off coupons from the Sunday paper that I used.

Because I was getting this deal after the sale was over, they removed the $5 for the UP reward off of my total price. Making each razor $.99 after the coupons.

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Hint: This is a pretty common deal that is often available on razors. I never buy replacement blades (at $8.00-$10 a pack) because I can get a new razor with 2-4 blades for much cheaper than the blades themselves would cost.

My next stop was CVS.

I had a Extra Care Buck for $3.99 off my next purchase that expired today. They also had an offer on their Cadbury Eggs, buy 1 @ $.75 – get a $.75 ECB back (making it free), same thing with the jelly beans buy 1 at $.99 – get $.99 ECB back (free).

The Valentine’s Day stuff was on clearance for 75% off. I bought stuff to help fill my son’s Easter Basket (he’s 2, he’ll never know the difference). I also bought Valentine’s cards for his class for next year. Why not?!

With my ECB that I already had, I paid $.40 out of pocket for these items. I also got back $1.74 worth of additional ECB. So the store basically paid me to take these items.

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Last stop, Publix.

I won’t go through the details of every item I purchased, but I used the basic principals listed above to buy these items for almost 70% off the normal value.

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As you can see I definitely stocked up on dishwasher detergent. I got each box for $2.50, they are normally $6.99. So I bought 7 of them!

The frozen veggies were both free, as were the 2 containers of Greek yogurt. The store actually paid me to take all 4 of the Mozzarella cheese blocks (normally $4.50 each).

There was a great deal on Green Giant canned veggies, but I don’t really like vegetables from a can. The one thing I do love that uses canned veggies is Green Bean Casserole, so I got 4 cans of french style green beans. I can save them up for Thanksgiving or make a Thanksgiving meal another time of the year.

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Alot of people tell me that they tried couponing, but found it to be too much work and not worth their time. It definitely is alot of work, and its probably not worth the time in the big scheme of things. To me couponing is alot like running and cooking though. Its a hobby for me, its fun and I enjoy putting the time into it. The high I get from saving a bunch of money couponing is very similar to the high runner’s experience.

And that’s that.

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Stuffed Peppers

I may have miscalculated something.

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Menu Planning

Menu planning is hard. Its especially hard when you combine the desire to eat healthy and the desire to save money. Those factors often clash.

My fridge is barren.

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It looks alot more full than it really is. Its really just a bunch of condiments.

I’ve got a bunch of recipe books pulled out, trying to find inspiration.

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One thing I’m trying to do to help save money is make several meals that use the same ingredients in different ways and use items I already have on-hand.

So far my weekly menu looks like this:

White Chili – using leftover pork loin from last night’s Cuban sandwiches and dried beans instead of canned to make it way cheaper.

BBQ chicken – Have alot on hand from a great sale a few weeks ago.

Chicken Tacos – Made a double batch and froze it last week.

Ham & Swiss Quiche – Have plenty of eggs and swiss cheese on hand.

Crockpot Chicken Thighs with Corn and Green Chilies – I just love this recipe (from Weight Watchers), I’ll probably spend the most money making this.

Puree of Lentils w/ Baked Eggs – Sounds weird, looks weird. But for some reason I want to try it. That and I have plenty of lentils and eggs already.

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Aaaaand now I’m hungry.

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Mercedes Half Marathon 2011

Today was the Mercedes Marathon/Half Marathon in Birmingham. I signed up a little over 3 weeks ago on a whim since my knee has been feeling alot better lately. The Mercedes race was my 2nd Half Marathon and my absolute favorite race last year. This year it makes my 4th Half!

I won’t go in to details but I have had a very bad week for several reasons. It definitely seemed like the stars have not been aligned in my favor lately. I’ve been afraid that the stress in my life lately would negatively affect my race. I almost decided not even to bother doing the race. Honestly, the only reason I went through with it was because of the money I had spent on the race and the hotel room.

This morning I had a little pep talk with myself. I told myself that I would do the best I could do right now, even if I know I’ve done better before. I knew that I had several extenuating circumstances to consider. I wanted this race to be a relaxing and fun activity instead of an additional stress factor.  I told myself that I would not be embarrassed or ashamed if I didn’t do as well as I have in the past.

The race started at 7:03 this morning with more than 7000 participants!

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The pace I had set in my mind to maintain was 8:20. With that pace I would beat atleast my worst Half time of 1:53.

At the first mile my pace was 7:48. That gave me some wiggle room for later in the race.

Tim and I made a plan this morning that he would meet me at mile 3, mile 7 and the finish line. I was focused on getting to mile 3 so I could see him. My 3rd mile was super fast and I was still feeling strong.

After mile 3 I focused my energy on making it to mile 7. I was still feeling pretty decent at that point too.

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Miles 7 – 9 were the hardest miles of the race. My feet started to hurt and I was mentally starting to wear down. I took my time and stopped at each of the water stations to make sure to hydrate myself. I have been dealing with unusual mouth dryness lately. Some friends suggested I try chewing gum during the race. It helped alot!

Before I knew it I was at mile 10, 11, 12. They were flying by!

At mile 12 I realized I was on target for a REALLY decent finishing time and that I was going to beat my previous time on this course from last year (1:45:32). The last mile absolutely zoomed by and I was having a blast!

Then it was over.

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The official results haven’t been posted yet, but I think this picture pretty much sums it up.

After I checked my Garmin history I discovered that this technically is a PR for me. My time at the Montgomery Half Marathon was 1:42 but the course was only 12.91 miles long. My average pace for this race was actually 1 second faster than my time for the Montgomery race. Whoohoo!

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It feels great to have a 4th Half Marathon under my belt! Number 5 will be only a little over a month away on March 26th. Maybe I’ll bite the bullet and go for a full before long.

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The Long Run that Almost Wasn’t

Today’s long run almost didn’t happen. I woke up yesterday morning with a horrible earache that quickly progressed to include a painful lump in my throat. As soon as I could get out the door I headed to the doctor. I got an antibiotic and a steroid shot, eardrops and a diagnosis of tonsillitis and fluid on my eardrum. I felt miserable all day.

When I woke up today I felt horrible again. After some eardrops for pain, Sudafed to dry my ear out and even trying to blow dry the fluid out I actually felt a little better. I remembered my first 10K race when I woke up sick on race morning. I ran anyway, and felt better while running than I felt the rest of the day.

I decided to go ahead and give today’s 12-miler a try. The worst that could happen is that I just couldn’t do it and I quit, right?

I really did not want to miss my last long run before my race next weekend, especially since I wasn’t able to complete my long run last week. That still loomed over my head. Plus the weather today was GORGEOUS!

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No problem!

I felt great while I was running except for really dry lips. Oh and … after about 8 miles I get this spot on my foot where it feels like sandpaper rubbing. Maybe I should try doubling up my socks?

When I got back home I walked past a mirror and realized I was bleeding!

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I thought this only happened to men! Apparently my sports bra chafed me bad enough that I bled. Now I look like someone took razor blades to my chest. Has this ever happened to any of you ladies? I definitely need to slather on the Body Glide a little thicker next time.

Post run re-fueling involved this can of Amy’s Lentil Soup:

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Best lentil soup ever, especially with a sprinkle of parmesan on top. I ate the whole can, plus a hummus, tomato and arugula sammy.

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You’d think I was a vegetarian again. 😛

I’m currently cooking up this recipe for Crockpot Chicken Tacos for tonight.

I’m loving the Hillbilly Housewife website lately, its got some really good ideas for frugal recipes.

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