Thursday, December 31, 2009

Food Storage & 72-hr Kit Weekly Purchase List

As promised, here is the list I've been using for several years now to help me purchase long-term food stock and items for my 72-hour kits.

The list is broken down into months, and then weeks within the month. Each week, you buy the items that are designated for that week. You really don't have to stick to the weekly schedule though, it's just a suggestion.

I liked cutting out the lists for each month and taping it to the corresponding month on my calendar. As I made my shopping list, I could look at the food storage list on my calendar, see what we needed, and try to coordinate it with the sales ads. As I made my purchases, I simply crossed them off the list taped on my calendar.

Week 1: 7 gallons of water, 10 candles
Week 2: 3 cans tuna fish (or other canned meats), 5 cans tomato soup
Week 3: 10 pounds rice
Week 4: 5 gelatin mixes, 5 pudding mixes
Week 5: 10 lb bag of sugar, 1 box macaroni & cheese
This month for your 72-hr kits, get a backpack or tote bag and 2 bars of soap.

Week 6: 2 lb peanut butter, 1 box crackers, “dried” soup mixes (5 Ramen or 1pkg Lipton, etc)
Week 7: 25 lbs flour, 2 cans refried beans
Week 8: 10 lbs pasta (macaroni, spaghetti, etc)
Week 9: 10 cans/jars of fruit
This month for your 72-hour kits, get 1 large candle, 2 2-liter bottles of water for each person, water purifying tablets, and any supplies needed for infants.

Week 10: 7 cans of mushroom soup
Week 11: 2 large bottles of pasta sauce
Week 12: 2 boxes or bags of cereal
Week 13: Toiletries (toothpaste, shaving cream, toothbrushes, shampoo, razors, etc)
This month for your 72-hr kits, get matches and a battery powered radio (or batteries for the radio if you already have a battery powered radio), and add 10 one dollar bills to your kit.

Week 14: 10 lbs powdered milk
Week 15: Mixes: cake, pancake, muffin, cookies, etc.
Week 16: 10 lbs dried beans
Week 17: 7 cans cream of chicken soup
This month for your 72-hr kits, 2 flashlights with batteries (or replace batteries if you already have flashlights), paper and pens, and 10 one dollar bills.

Week 18: bottled juices
Week 19: 10 cans/jars of vegetables
Week 20: 10 lbs oats
Week 21: 5 lbs oil or shortening
Week 22: 1 bottle vitamins
This month for your 72-hr kits, toilet paper, paper towels, paper plates, cups, plasticware.

Week 23: 2 cans pork and beans, 1 large box mashed potatoes
Week 24: condiments: mustard, mayonnaise, catsup, pickes, etc.; 1 box salt
Week 25: aluminum foil, plastic garbage bags, Ziploc bags
Week 26: laundry detergent, dish soap, etc.
This month for your 72-hr kits, make sure you have a change of clothes for each family member (including shoes & socks), sleeping bags, and extra blankets. Add food items for each family member requiring no refrigeration or cooking (graham crackers, granola bars, raisins, canned fruits, canned meats, pudding snacks, etc). Be mindful of specialty items like formula or baby food needed for infants or small children.

Week 27: 9 gallons of water, sweeteners (honey, syrup, etc)
Week 28: feminine products, Tylenol, Motrin
Week 29: 3 cans tuna fish (or other canned meats), 4 cans tomato sauce, 2 cans soup
Week 30: 10 pounds rice
Week 31: 5 gelatin mixes, 5 pudding mixes
This month for your 72-hr kits, make sure you have a can opener, utility knife, and first aid kit (band aids, Neosporin, Benadryl, gauze patches, swabs, cotton balls, hydrogen peroxide, etc).

Week 32: 10 lbs sugar, 1 box macaroni and cheese
Week 33: 2 lbs peanut butter, 1 box crackers, “dried” soup mixes (5 Ramen, 1 pkg Lipton, etc)
Week 34: 25 lbs flour, 2 cans refried beans
Week 35: 10 lbs pasta (macaroni, spaghetti, etc)
This month for your 72-hr kits, make sure you have feminine items, plastic bags and ties for garbage, Ziploc baggies, a set of scriptures, copies of patriarchal blessings, copies of legal papers (passport, drivers’ license, social security card, immunizations, wills, insurance policies, birth certificates, etc).

Week 36: 10 cans/jars of fruit
Week 37: 7 cans of mushroom soup
Week 38: 2 large bottles of pasta sauce
Week 39: 12 rolls toilet paper
This month for your 72-hr kits, add 10 one dollar bills, a small ax, a single flare, and laundry soap.

Week 40: 2 boxes or bags of cereal
Week 41: 10 lbs powdered milk
Week 42: mixes: cake, pancake, muffins, cookies, etc.
Week 43: 10 lbs dried beans
Week 44: 7 cans cream of chicken soup
This month for your 72-hr kits, add extra supplies to first aid kit, and over the counter medications (Tylenol, etc) as well as prescription medications.

Week 45: bottled juices
Week 46: 10 cans/jars of vegetables
Week 47: 10 lbs oats
Week 48: 3 cans pork and beans, 1 large box mashed potatoes
This month for your 72-hr kits, add a plastic bucket with a tight fitting lid, and personal hygiene items (toothbrush, toothpaste, deodorant, shampoo, razors, etc).

Week 49: Treats for baking: cocoa, coconut, chocolate chips, vanilla extract
Week 50: 12 rolls toilet paper
Week 51: 10 boxes macaroni and cheese
Week 52: 2 lbs peanut butter, 1 box crackers, “dried” soup mixes (5 Ramen, 1 pkg Lipton, etc)
This month for your 72-hr kit, add 10 one dollar bills. Add food items for each family member requiring no refrigeration or cooking (graham crackers, granola bars, raisins, canned fruits, canned meats, pudding snacks, etc.).

Now of course, this isn't the "list to end all lists." You may not like macaroni and cheese, so there would be no reason to keep it on this list. Instead, you can substitute the macaroni and cheese (or cream of chicken soup, or dried beans, or anything else on this list you may not like) with something else, something you do like. There's no sense in stockpiling something that will be difficult to swallow later on if you had to eat from your food storage. So definitely feel free to mark up this lst to suit your own needs. :)

And also, note that your long-term food storage isn't just about food. It's important to have other items stored on-hand, such as your toiletries, storage bags and condiments. We all use this, might as well buy 'em up. Especially if there's a sale and you have a coupon, right?

If this list isn't quite what you're looking for, never fear! There are more lists to come, so check back often as I will continue to post more food storage helps.

Happy New Year, everyone!

Wok's For Dinner: Easy Enchiladas

Rona, you left a comment a couple days ago requesting the recipe for these enchiladas. I emailed the recipe to you, but I'm not sure if it went through. I'm sorry if it didn't. I made some changes to my blogger & gmail settings, and I'm still learning how to work with the new settings.

I went out all for tonight's meal. The kids are at their grandparents' house having a sleepover. And instead of going out to eat, hubs and I are ringing in the new year here at home. I decided to make dinner a romantic event. I pulled out the fine china plates and wine glasses, lit some candles, and even put some sparkling pear juice on ice! Hubs sure was surprised. And while we ate, it was quiet--quiet!! What a difference from our usual dinner meals. And to think that 6 years ago it was just the two of us. Where has the time gone? :)

Easy Enchiladas

1 lb ground beef
1 medium onion, diced
1 can (28oz) crushed tomatoes
2 Tbsp chili powder
1 tsp cumin
2 Tbsp sugar
salt and pepper, to taste
1 cup water
8 flour or corn tortillas
grated cheese
toppings: olives, sour cream

Brown ground beef and diced onion; drain fat. Add tomatoes, chili powder, cumin, sugar, salt and pepper. Stir in water. Simmer for 10 minutes. Place a heaping spoonful of enchilada sauce into a tortilla. Roll up tortilla and place seam-side down into a baking dish. Continue putting enchilada sauce into remaining tortillas, using about 2/3 of the sauce. Spoon out remaining enchilada sauce over enchiladas and sprinkle with cheese. Add sliced olives on top. Bake in preheated 350 degree oven for 20 minutes and serve.

If freezing: Prepare enchilada sauce and place in gallon-size freezer bag. Squeeze out air, seal, lay flat and freeze. Thaw 24-36 hours in refrigerator. My enchilada sauce was just a little frozen, so I heated it up in the microwave for about 3 minutes, then spooned it into the tortillas to make the enchiladas. Bake as directed above.

These were ok. I think this is only the second time I've ever made beef enchiladas. Hubs said that he preferred my chicken enchiladas. I think the flavor was a little off because I accidentally used basil-infused crushed tomatoes. So they were more like spaghetti-meets-enchiladas. Different, but not bad.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Wok's For Dinner: Grilled Chicken Salad

This has to be, like, the healthiest meal imagineable. At least, that's my opinion, and my husband's, too, because he made a comment during supper about how happy I should be because he was eating healthy food. We were supposed to have this meal Tuesday night, but hubs had ulterior motives and dragged me and the kids kicking & screaming to Cici's for pizza (although the kids were more or less skipping their way, and I was the one kicking & screaming, metaphorically speaking, of course!). So I told hubs that we'll just push back the meals by one day, and instead of going out to eat on New Year's Eve as a date night, we'll have to either eat at home or crash his parents' house and eat supper there when we drop the kids off to spend the night.

Grilled Chicken Salad

3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
2-3 Tbsp Italian salad dressing
salad fixin's (I used red and green leaf lettuce from our garden, grated carrots, diced celery, a little shredded cheese and orange slices)

Cut chicken breasts into strips and place into large nonstick skillet with salad dressing. Saute' chicken in salad dressing over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until done, about 15 minutes. Serve your chicken over your favorite tossed salad.

If freezing: Place cooked chicken breasts into a quart-size freezer bag. Squeeze out the air, seal and freeze. Thaw 24 hours in refrigerator. Serve cold over your salad, or heat the chicken up in the microwave for 1-2 minutes and then serve over your salad.

One thing that's nice about this meal is that it can be as "no fuss" of a meal as you like. Make your chicken and pop open a bag of salad and you're done! Or you can make a homemade version with all your favorite add-ins. Our lettuce is still thriving, even with the freezing temperatures we are having each night, so for now I'll forego the bagged salad and make the homemade version.

CVS Rocks!! The CVS Green Bag Tag

Many of you have heard about the new Green Bag Tags available at CVS. I finally picked one last night. I'm all about saving money like with the ECB's that CVS offers. I'm just sorry that I didn't get my green bag tag sooner! I just kept forgetting to get a tag every time I went to CVS. (My Mommy Brain has been in full force for a couple months now).

But I got one, halleluia! Each time I take a reusable bag to CVS for my purchases, the cashier will scan my green tag. And on the 4th visit, I'll earn an extra $1 ECB!

But that's not all!!!

The cashier last night said I don't even need to attach my green tag to a reusable bag. She suggested that I keep it in my purse or with my key chain. I can use it for small purchases like a 20oz soda or a bag of candy. So technically, I don't even need to bring in a reusable bag!!

Not that I make it a habit to go buy junk food at CVS.

Ok, I may have done that once or twice.

But anyhow, it's nice knowing that I can pick up one little item and say "no thanks" to the plastic CVS bag, and still get my green tag scanned to help me earn more ECBs (while helping the environment, too!). :)

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Stockpiling Your Food Storage for 2010

Several years ago, my friend Melissa over at Melissa's Bargain Blog sent me a weekly calendar that I could use as a guide for buying my long-term food storage and 72-hour kit supplies. The list details items you can purchase each week, and at the end of the year, you'll have enough long-term food to feed an adult for an entire year, and the 72-hour kit will sustain an adult for 3 days.

The list was extremely helpful for me. I have used this list ever since Melissa gave it to me. I print it up, cut out the section for each month, and tape it to my calendar. During the month, I look for deals specifically on my long-term food storage and 72-hour kit weekly purchase calendar, and I cross them off as I receive them. And little by little, I have built up our stockpile. I've also used our stockpile here and there, but I continue to add to it as I follow the weekly schedule.

My church teaches provident living, or being in a position so that we can sustain ourselves in the event of an emergency, financial hardship, job loss, etc.. That's not to say that we can't ask for help if we need it, but we shouldn't procrastinate or be in denial that an emergency, financial hardship or job loss could never happen to us.

My family learned this first-hand when my husband's business began failing a year ago. He has been on unemployment for just over a year now, and dissolved the business this past summer. Our finances were hit hard--and I mean hard. The first few months were a nightmare, and we were facing foreclosure on our home.

I was so happy that we had one thing we could rely on--our food storage. We weren't anywhere close to a year's supply; it was more like a couple month's for our family of four. But it was a starting point, and it meant that we could just shop for some of the basic necessities, which meant we could use our now-reduced income towards getting our finances straightened out.

And now, one year later, we are in a much, much better position financially. My husband is still out of work (the economy is extremely bad in our area) but we have learned to live well on less. I continue to stockpile and work on our long-term food and 72-hour kit supplies. Our long-term supply is up to about 6 month's worth now.

One of the goals that I have set for 2010 is to focus more on our long-term and 72-hour supplies. Not just in purchasing the supplies, but in organizing everything, rotating through my stock, and keeping an accurate inventory.

I'll be posting periodically how things are going, plus online tools and helps that you may find helpful and inspiring in your own quest for provident living. Oh, and that weekly calendar list that I mentioned above? I'll post that as well, so be on the lookout. :)

Monday, December 28, 2009

Wok's For Dinner: Spaghetti & String Cheese Meatballs

While I was making tonight's supper, hubs asked what we were having and looked at my menu plan list that I have on the fridge. After reading, he asked me where the string cheese was. No, there isn't string cheese in this recipe. But there is mozzarella, which gets a stringy texture when melted with the meatballs and spaghetti. Yummy!

Spaghetti & String Cheese Meatballs

1 lb frozen meatballs, or your favorite homemade version
1 jar spaghetti sauce
8 oz spaghetti (I used whole wheat)
4 oz shredded mozzarella cheese

Heat meatballs in a 3 or 4-qt saucepan on medium heat for about 5 minutes, letting them get good & browned, stirring occasionally. Stir in spaghetti sauce. Reduce heat to simmer and cover saucepan. Simmer meatbalsl and spaghetti sauce for about 20 minutes or until meatballs are hetaed through. Meanwhile, prepare spaghetti according to package directions; drain water from spaghetti after it is cooked. Return spaghetti to saucepan. Stir meatballs, spaghetti sauce, and mozzarella cheese in with spaghetti until cheese is melted. Serve.

Wok's For Dinner: Stuffed Pork Chops

This is a really tasty meal that doesn't require a lot of fuss to get it on the table. It's one of my husband's favorites, and the kids like it a lot, too.

Stuffed Pork Chops

1 box stuffing mix, any flavor (I usually use pork or chicken, this time I used low sodium chicken)
4-6 boneless pork chops

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare stuffing according to box directions. Place chops into a baking dish. Scoop prepared stuffing on top of chops. Cover baking dish with foil and bake in preheated oven for 25-30 minutes. Remove foil; return baking dish to oven and bake for an additional 10-15 minutes until stuffing is a golden brown and chops are cooked through.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

December Freezer Meal Extravaganza Recap

I'm so pleased with myself that I was finally--finally!--able to get my freezer meals over and done with this month. I postponed my cooking day by one week, mostly due to the holidays. And I sure was tempted to postpone it another week. I was missing several ingredients, but our budget did not allow for one last shopping trip. But I knew that if I postponted the event another day, then it would just be all the easier to postpone another week, and another week, and what would be the point of that?

For those of you new to the blog, I started making freezer meals in March of 2009. That month was more or less a test run, as I only made about a week & a half's worth of food. Since then, I've been whipping up a month's worth of supper meals each month, devoting one day during the month to spending a day in the kitchen making freezer meals. I did skip October since we were on vacation for about a week, and I extra freezer meals stocked in the freezer.

Freezer meals have definitely been a blessing for me and my family. I don't claim to be a professional--far from it. I read up just a tiny bit of tips from other bloggers, like Tricia at Once A Month Mom, and friends I know who have done freezer meals, and I just kind of took it from there. I don't seek out recipes that are specifically meant for freezer meals. But I do search for recipes that sound tasty, or that we've had before and have a proven track record of being delicious. Making freezer meals has been a true adventure in trial and error, definitely an experirence in "learn as I go."

But they are definitely worth it!

I'm able to spend just a little more time with my family in the evenings, since I spend less time in the kitchen. I work full-time, and before freezer meals, I literally felt like I was pulling my hair out trying to get supper on the table and the kids to bed at a decent time. But post-freezer meals, I'm able to keep my sanity, I'm less stressed, I spend less time in the kitchen and more time with my husband and children. We typically eat supper between 6 & 6:30pm, whereas before I started making freezer meals, we were eating supper between 7 and 7:30pm. What a difference!

So not much to recap about this month's experience, except that it went well, and I finished up earlier in the evening than I usually do. But that's probably because I took a few short-cuts on several meals since I didn't have all the ingredients. Instead of making the entire meal, I just cooked the meat and froze that. Like Saucy Scalloped Potatoes--I had run out of potatoes, so instead of making the whole meal, I just cooked up the ham and froze that. I'll buy potatoes later in the week, after I get paid, so on supper day for this meal, I'll just put the potatoes & other ingredients in the crock-pot and let it simmer while I'm at work, then throw in the ham before serving it.

Even though I did take some short-cuts this time around, my freezer is full, and I have plenty of meals to feed my family for the next month. It's a great feeling. :)

Menu Plan Monday--12/28-1/3/10

Well, here we are, the last week of 2009. Did Santa bring you everything you wanted for Christmas? As usual, my kids made out like bandits. Our focus now is to review the goals we set for 2009, determine areas that need improvement, and set our goals for the new year.

Here's the plan for this week's supper meals. I'll post recipes throughout the week.

Monday--Spaghetti & String Cheese Meatballs, Sugar Snap Peas, Pears
Mondays are usually our weekly "Family Home Evening" or FHE nights, where we have a special fun family activity. But the Vikings are on TV, so hubs made a special request that we have FHE on Sunday, the day before. We played a couple of the kids' new board games that they got for Christmas.

Tuesday--Grilled Chicken Salad, Rice, Oranges

Wednesday--Easy Enchiladas, Zucchini

Thursday--Eat Out or Take-Out In
Last day of the year--yikes! Time sure is flying. My husband's parents have offered to keep the kids for the evening and have them spend the time, so that means date night for hubs and I! We have no idea what we're going to do yet. I can't remember the last time the in-laws offered to take the kids when we didn't have anything planned, so I'm pretty stumped. Our church is having a New Year's Eve activity...or we could just watch the ball drop on Times Square...we'll have to see!

Friday--Li'l Cheddar Meatloaves, Black-Eyed Peas, Cauiflower

Saturday--Chicken & Vegetable Stew With Parsley Dumplings

Sunday--Chili Cups, Corn, Green Beans

For hundreds of menu plan options, visit! :)

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Holiday Traditions: Feeding the Reindeer

This particular tradition began only recently for our family. A couple of years ago, we took our son to the downtown Christmas lighting activity. There was plenty to do that night, including a booth where children could make homemade reindeer food.

We've kept up the tradition each since then, making special homemade reindeer food, and then spreading it across the front yard on Christmas Eve before going to bed so Santa's reindeer have something to snack on while Santa's snacking away on milk & cookies in the house.

Last year, both children made sure to put the reindeer food in the "perfect" spot to ensure the reindeer wouldn't miss a single bite!

Homemade Reindeer Food


6 Tbsp rolled oats
1 Tbsp glitter

Mix oats and glitter together in a baggie or paper bag. Spread across yard. Santa's reindeer will have a field day snacking on their special treat!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Holiday Traditions: A Visit From Santa

Every Christmas season, millions of children line up in shopping malls just so they can see Santa Claus. Our kids are no exception.

But one thing that is different, and a tradition that I did not grow up with, is Santa Claus comes and visits on Christmas Eve.

This is a Christmas tradition that comes from my husband's family. On Christmas Eve, we go to my in-law's house for dinner and to open presents. But just before it's time to open our presents, Santa arrives to visit the children, bringing a small gift, and a reminder to continue being a good little boy or girl because he would return later that night with a much bigger gift, but only if they were good the rest of the evening.

Of course, a visit from Santa is a perfect picture opportunity! My daughter has yet to sit with Santa. She is very afraid of him. But our son is very brave and always has been.

My husband played the role of Santa for several years in a row, but our oldest niece kind of caught on that he was Santa. Last year, we didn't want to spoil the magic of Santa's visit, so hubs stayed himself. His aunt and uncle were visiting, so his uncle took on the role of Santa Claus. And we had our oldest niece convinced that he was the absolute, real Santa Claus. She was definitely enchanted. She did figure out later that evening that it was her great uncle, but she was smart enough to not spoil it for the younger children, and she was very pleased with herself for figuring things out.

A friend of ours will play the role of Santa this year, someone that neither of our nieces have ever met, so we'll see if we can stump them both and keep them guessing who "Santa" really is. This is definitely a fun tradition, and we all love seeing the kids' eyes light up when Santa walks into the house (excluding our daughter who will probably come running to me to be held...maybe next year she'll be ready for Santa :).

Wok's For Dinner: Mexican Pork Chops

I grew up in Texas, and if there's one thing that I miss living out here in North Carolina, it's Tex-Mex cuisine. Enchiladas Verdes, Fajitas, Arroz Con Pollo, Tamales, mouth drools just thinking about it. There is a Mexican restaurant in town that we like, and I've tried making homemade meals at home, but nothing quite compares to what I left behind when we moved here. So I was really tickled when I found the Foods and Flavors of San Antonio blog. Heaven! That's where I found this recipe.

Mexican Pork Chops

2-3 Tbsp olive oil
4 center loin pork chops, trimmed of fat
1 medium onion, chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped
1 clove garllic, minced
1/4 tsp black pepper
1 Tbsp chili powder
1/4 tsp ground cumin
1 1/2 cups water
1 can (15oz) Mexican stewed tomatoes, cut up (I used Rotel Diced Toatoes & Green Chilies)
3/4 cup long-grain white rice
1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly spray a 13x9 baking dish with cooking spray. Set aside. Heat the oil in a 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat. Add the pork chops and brown on both sides. Transfer to the prepared baking dish. Add the onion, green bell pepper, and garlic to the skillet. Saute in the pork drippings until tender. Season with black pepper, chili powder, and cumin. Add the water and tomatoes. Cover and simmer for 5 minutes to blend the flavors. Sprinkle the rice over the pork chops. Pour the sauce over. Cover with aluminum foil and bake for one hour. Uncover and sprinkle with the cheese. Bake, uncovered, for 5-10 more minutes or until the cheese melts. Stove top: Return the pork chops to the sauce in the skillet. Prepare the rice separately. Cover and simmer for 45 minutes, stirring and turning occasionally. Serve over hot cooked rice.

If freezing: Brown chops and saute' vegetables. Add seasonings and tomatoes. Cover and simmer until chops are done. Place pork chops, vegetables and seasonings in a freezer bag; squeeze out air, seal, lay flat and freeze. Thaw 24 hours in refrigerator. Prepare rice, and heat pork chops in microwave. Serve pork chops with rice and cheese, if desired.

We omitted the cheese and the rice. I prepared this as a freezer meal in advance a month ago, and I haven't been brave enough to freeze rice. I kept out the cheese to keep down the fat content. We were in a hurry to run some errands this evening, so I didn't want to spend a lot of time in the kitchen cooking up the rice. I loved the sauce and the vegetables, although they certainly packed a lot of heat! The pork chops were a little tough, which I think happened because I overcooked them during the browning process on my freezer meal day. But I'm glad I made this meal as it took me back to my favorite eateries in the San Antonio/Austin area, and even having chewy pork chops was worth that!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Bargain Buy

It's been awhile since I've posted a recent Bargain Buy. At least, it feels that way to me. I've been so caught up in holiday activities and what-nots, that I really haven't paid a whole lot attention to the sales ads, printing coupons, and finding great deals.

But this past weekend, I managed to make a quick trip to a couple stores. I took a peak at the sales ads while my daughter was in dance class Saturday morning, and saw a few great buys that were worth stocking up on.


Walgreens had a coupon to buy canned mandarin oranges for 39 cents each, so I bought 4, same as the coupon maximum. My kids love these. I normally use fresh oranges since we often get them in our monthly Angel Food Ministries fruit & veggie box order. But the mandarin oranges are nice when I make a stir fry--they help keep the theme of the meal!

And there was also a coupon to buy envelopes for 49 cents each. I picked up 6 of them, same as the coupon maximum. These envelopes are perfect for mailing pictures of the kids to their great grandparents.

You won't believe where I went shopping next. Walmart. It's not my fault! (if you're new to the blog, Walmart and I had a "falling out" several months ago and I've gone out of my way to not shop there whenever possible ever since).

But the thing is, I had bought and wrapped all my husband's presents. And then he gave me this "list" of what he wanted for Christmas. Of course, nothing I had bought him was on his list. And I just couldn't ignore the puppy dog look in his eyes as he handed me his list.

He wanted some hunting items that he had seen at off I went. I didn't feel like trekking all over town, especially since a "quick" trip to Walmart, even if it was just to the hunting department, would have taken me an hour. (that store is too big for its own good!)

So I decided to do some price matching on some really good deals in the IGA sales ad. So the purchases below really aren't Walmart deals, but IGA deals...that justifies me going to Walmart, right?

IGA Deals Snagged at Walmart

IGA had cans of Swanson beef and chicken broth on sale for 39 cents each. What a steal!! I like making homemade chicken broth, but for this price, I simply could not pass it up. I bought 4 cans of beef broth, and 8 cans of chicken broth. It was, literally, all I could do to not buy more. After all, I needed to stick to my budget. Walmart's regular price was $0.89, so for 12 cans of broth, I saved $6 by having the cashier match IGA's sale price.

IGA also had Kraft salad dressings on sale for $2/$4. We were getting low on ranch dressing, and since this is hubs's favorite, I knew it was time to to stock up. Walmart's price was $2.42 each. I bought 4 bottles, price matched, and saved $1.68.

Finally, IGA had Kraft mayonnaise on sale for $1.98 each. I don't even remember the last time I saw it below that price. I can't remember Walmart's price, but it was well over $2. So again, I saved money. I just wish that I had looked at the label closer. I didn't realize that I had grabbed the "lime" mayonnaise. Lime? In mayonnaise? I hope it tastes good, and I hope hubs won't notice!

So that's it! How about you? Have you snagged any Bargain Buy deals yourself? Please feel free to share your story. You'll help inspire me to continue hunting for those can't-live-without deals!

Holiday Traditions: Driving & Looking At Christmas Lights

Would you believe that this was my least favorite tradition when I was growing up? I was a teenager when we started doing it, and it never made any sense driving around in circles looking at a few Christmas light displays. Can you say boring? (for a teenager not used to doing this, it was boring!)

And yet, as an adult, this is one tradition that I look forward to, probably more than any other!

Hubs and I started this family tradition a few years ago when I found a housing community that has huge light displays near where I work. We have continued this tradition every year.

This year, we went on Monday evening, our family's designated "Family Home Evening" or FHE. This is a night that, each week, we have a special family activity. We sing songs (well, that's not really anything new because we sing songs before the kids go to bed, but we just don't burst out in song any other time of day! lol), we read a scripture story, and we have a short lesson and activity. The kids don't get dessert very often, so we let them have a dessert at the end of our FHE. It's a really special event that our children look forward to every week.

And how they loved looking at the Christmas lights! It made for a great FHE. One year, we tried looking at the Christmas lights on Christmas Day, and it was kind of a disappointment. It seemed like half of the houses didn't have their lights on--they must have been visiting family and forgot to plug in the lights or set a timer. So going on a Monday night, a few days before Christmas, worked out great.
And the moral of the story? Even if your teenager things this is a boring activity, keep doing it! One day they'll come to apreciate it. I know I certainly am grateful to my mom for introducing this tradition to me.

Wok's For Dinner: Tortilla Casserole

As promised, here is the recipe for Tortilla Casserole, found on Melissa's Bargain Blog, which she got from another blogger. This was very quick to prepare, especially since the meat I used had been precooked. I just kept the meat in the freezer and pulled it out in time to thaw and be used in tonight's meal.

Tortilla Casserole

1 lb ground turkey or chicken (I used the meat from cooked chicken leg quarters)
1 tub 8oz plain yogurt
1 can cream of chicken soup
Tortillas (I used flour tortillas, but I suppose you could use corn tortillas)
Mexican shredded cheese (I used cheddar)
Sliced tomato (not in the original recipe, but I added them)

Brown the meat, breaking it into small pieces as you cook it. Mix the cream of chicken and yogurt in a separate bowl. Add in cooked meat. Put some mixture in a tortilla and rollup. Leave a little bit of the mixture for the top. Put some mixture on top and then put the cheese on top. Place tomato slices over top of enchiladas. Cover with aluminum foil. Cook for 30 minutes at 350. Serve with rice.

This was good. A little creamier than I prefer, but hubs really loved them and went back for seconds. Good meal!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Holiday Traditions: Re-enacting Luke 2

This particular tradition comes from my husband's side of the family. The kids always dressed up like shepherds, wise men, and Mary & Joseph, and re-enacted the story of the birth of the Savior as found in Luke 2.

We started up this tradition just a few years ago as my kids and my sister-in-law's kids got a little older. We open presents on Christmas Eve at my husband's parents' house. But before opening the presents, my mother-in-law takes the kids upstairs and dresses them up for the big performance. It doesn't take a lot--big shirts, towels or scarves around the head--to "magically" transform them from rambunctious little kids to quiet, almost reverent, well-behaved children (they do, after all, have an important role to fulfill!).

My husband's cousin reads from Luke 2 as the children re-enact their roles. The kids don't have to say a lot, since the words are read out loud. But they do act out the scenes, even placing a doll into a cradle to represent the baby Jesus lying in a manger.

It's enough to bring tears to my eyes now just thinking about it!

December OAMM Menu

Hooray, here it is, my freezer meal menu for December. Definitely late, but I'll explain that here in a second. I should call this the "January" menu since I'll be whipping everything up so late this month, but better late than neve, right?

I had intended on doing my freezer meals yesterday, but it just didn't happen. Instead, I'll be making a month's worth of freezer meals the day after Christmas.

I truly feel like I'm about 2 days behind where I feel like I need to be as far as the holidays go. I've gotten a ton of things completed this year, way better than in previous years. I owe some of that to the great organizational skills I've been learning over at and preparing! But although I tried planning, and I tried preparing, I just wasn't ready to do any freezer meals yesterday.

So instead, this upcoming week we'll be working off of some premade meals that came in a recent Angel Food Ministries order and a couple of carry-overs from my November freezer menu. I ended up with way more meats in the freezer than I intended, so I want to knock out at least a little of what's in there before filling it up.

Here's the menu for the next month (mostly freezer meals with a handful of non-freezer meals). I am taking advantage of the colder season and making a lot of soups of chili, something I don't get to do very often during the warmer months!

Freezer Meals

Grilled Chicken Salad
One Pot Chicken Dinner
Chicken & Rice L'Orange
Chicken & Vegetable Stew With Parsley Dumplings
Cornish Hens in Sour Cream
Honey BBQ Chicken

Hot Pork Sandwich With Gravy
Cuban Pork & Black Bean Soup
Sweet 'n' Sour Pork Chops
Mu Shu Pork

South of the Border Lasagna
Picadillo Chili
Chili Cups
Li'l Cheddar Meatloaves
Hungarian Cabbage Stew
Shredded Beef Sandwiches
Easy Enchiladas
Sloppy Joes

Ham It Up White Bean Soup
Saucy Scalloped Potatoes

Taco Soup

Nonfreezer Meals

Chicken Fajitas
Fish Sandwiches
Red Beans & Rice With Kielbasa Sausage
Stuffed Pork Chops
Spaghetti & String Cheese Meatballs
Chicken Tenders
Chicken and Broccoli Casserole
Homestyle Meatloaves

Carry-Over Freezer Meals

Mexican Pork Chops
Tortilla Casserole

Menu Plan Monday: 12/21-12/27/09

Aaachh!! Can it already be the week of Christmas?? I've managed to get a lot done getting ready for this day, but I still feel like I'm a day late and a dollar short. I'm not stressing just yet, but I am pretty close. So while I take a few deep breaths to remain calm, here's the menu plan for this week's dinners:

Monday--Fish Sandwiches, French Fries, Mixed Fruit
This is our weekly "Family Home Evening" or FHE as we call it. We'll drive through some of the neighborhoods in a nearby town and look at Christmas lights.

Tuesday--Tortilla Casserole, Tossed Salad With Orange Wedges
We were supposed to eat this meal last week, but it got pushed back. My friend Melissa had the recipe for Tortilla Casserole at her blog, Melissa's Bargain Blog, but the link I had been using isn't working right. I printed off the recipe several weeks ago, so I'll post the recipe later this week.

Wednesday--Mexican Pork Chops, Mango & Kiwi, Rice
Another meal we were supposed to have last week. What's really bad is that the night I had planned for this meal, I actually thought we were supposed to have Chicken Tacos, which we didn't even have until a few days later. My "mommy brain" has kicked into full gear, thanks in part (I'm guessing here) to the holidays and all the goings-on. Too much to keep up with! And I think I'm confusing myself just writing all this.

Thursday--Christmas Eve at the in-laws
They have a tradition of opening presents on Christmas Eve and having a huge holiday spread of finger foods, appetizers and all types of treats for dinner.

Friday--Christmas Day at the in-laws
Anything leftover from Christmas Eve gets served on Christmas Day, along with a baked ham. My mother-in-law is also using a turkey that I gave her to make some dish. I have no idea what it is--she won't get into specifics with me about it. But, I did manage to find out that the turkey is prepared a few days ahead of time and you discard the carcass, so it's not a traditional holiday baked interesting to see what it ends up being.

Saturday--Chicken Tenders, French Fries, Green Beans
Finally, my freezer meal cooking day!! I had intended on making my freezer meals yesterday, but with all the holiday happenings, I just wasn't as prepared as I needed to be. Plus, my refrigerator/freezer and my chest freezer are packed solid. I simpl don't have a lot of room! I overstocked up on meats, and a friend from church gave us about a 20-lb turkey. Plus, I also got a turkey from work, which I gave to my mother-in-law to use in our Christmas Day dinner (see above). Hubs did some hunting last week, and shot a deer. He came home with 30lbs of ground venison, which we've had to store in his parents' upright freezer since we had no room. But please don't misunderstand me, I'm not complaining! I'd rather have too much than too little.

Sunday--Stuffed Pork Chops, Tossed Salad, Vegetables Sicily
Finally...a day of peace & relaxation, I hope (keeping my fingers crossed!!!). :

For hundreds of menu plan options, please visit!!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Wok's For Dinner: Crockpot Beef Fajitas

My family and I enjoyed this meal for tonight's supper. I found the recipe over at The Savings Ninja. I can't say that I've ever seen a fajita recipe for the crock-pot, until this one came along! :)

Crockpot Beef Fajitas

1 lb thinly sliced steak (I used ribeye)
1 pkg fajita seasoning mix, or homemade equivalent
1/4 cup water
1-2 cups sliced bell pepper
1-2 cups sliced onion
flour tortillas
toppings such as grated cheese, sour cream, etc.

Put meat in crockpot, top with seasoning, add water. Cook on low all day (8-10) hours. About 30 - 60 minutes before serving, add bell peppers and onions and mix well. Serve on warmed flour tortillas, top with cheese and sour cream.

If freezing: Place cooked beef fajitas into a freezer bag, squeeze out air, seal, lay flat and freeze. Thaw 24 hours in refrigerator. Heat in microwave for about 3 minutes.

Hubs and I really liked these (the kids had cheese tacos). The meat was very tender and shredded easily. They really reminded me of Carne Asada tacos, since they came out more like a beef roast than beef fajitas. I give them two thumbs up!

Friday, December 18, 2009

Holiday Traditions: De Ball Cookies

I think that holiday cookies are a tradition that most families have around Christmas time. My mother-in-law makes homemade cookies with homemade frosting. They are the best-tasting. The frosting is light and fluffy and not overly sweet, and the kids have fun helping to decorate them.

On my mom's side of the family, my Great Grandmother always made De Ball (pronounced "D" Ball) cookies and Date Pinwheels. I don't even know how far back she started doing this. The De Ball cookies are my uncle's favorite, and my Great Aunt continued to make the cookies after my Great Grandmother passed away. She, too, is getting up there in age, so I started making these cookies a few years ago, using my Great Grandmother's recipe. I like sending these cookies out to family members in a care package, keeping just a few for me, my husband, and our children.

First of all, melt and cool 1 1/2 Tbsp of butter or margarine. Add 2 beaten eggs, 2/3 cup sugar, and 2 cups chopped dates. Mix and cook, stirring constantly until thick.

As the mixture heats up, the dates will get very soft and the wole mixture will turn a dark color. As you stir, make sure you stir the date mixture away from the sides of the pans. You'll cook and stir for about 10 minutes.

After the mixture has heated and cooked through and the dates have cooked down, remove the saucepan from heat. Add 1 tsp vanilla and 1 tsp salt. Allow mixture to cool.

Add 2 cups krispie rice cereal to a large bowl.

Add 1/2 cup chopped nuts and cooled date mixture.

This is where things get a little sticky. Mix cereal, dates and nuts with your hands. Dip your fingers into a little bit of butter and spread around your palms and fingers to keep the cookie mixture from sticking to you. Shape into balls or logs, using about 1 heaping tsp of the mixture. See below. I added more butter than is really needed, so you can see how to spread it over your hand. You may need to add a little bit more butter every so often to your fingertips as you shape the cookies into balls (it only takes just a little bit of butter).

Roll your date cookie balls into finely chopped nuts or coconut, or leave as is. Allow to set on wax or parchment paper.

De Ball Cookies

1 1/2 squares (1 1/2 Tbsp) butter or oleo
2 eggs, beaten well
2/3 cup sugar
1 cup dates, chopped
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp salt
2 cups crispy rice cereal
1/2 cup chopped nuts

Melt and cool butter or oleo. Add eggs, sugar and dates. Mix and cook, stirring constantly until thick, stirring away from the sides of the pan. Remove from heat; add vanlla and salt. Cool. Mix date mixture with cereal and nuts in a large bowl. Shape into balls or logs, using about 1 heaping tsp of the mixture. Roll in finely chopped nuts or coconut.

Wok's For Dinner: Parmesan-Crusted Pork Chops

Tonight's meal comes from the Unfinished Mom. I second her statement that she is "always learning to be better at all the parts of being a mom and I enjoy sharing what I've learned along the way." When I read that, I thought, "hey, that's me!"

Parmesan-Crusted Pork Chops

3/4 cup grated Parmesan
2 large eggs, whisked
1 cup Italian style bread crumbs (I used 1 cup plain + 1/2 Tbsp Italian seasoning)
4 pork chops (1/2-3/4" thick)--bone-in or boneless (I used boneless)
salt and pepper to taste
6 Tbsp olive oil (I only used 3 Tbsp)

Lay out 3 pie plates (or other similar size container with sides). Place Parmesan cheese, whisked eggs and bread crumbs in 3 separate pie plates (one ingredient in each container). Sprinkle pork chops with salt & pepper on both sides. Coat pork chops with parmesan cheese on both sides; pat to adhere. Dip chops into eggs, turn to coat both sides. Dredge pork chops in bread crumbs; turn to coat both sides. Pat to adhere. Heat 3 Tbsp oil in large skillet over medium heat. Add chops in batches if necessary; cook until golden brown and center reaches 150 degrees (~6 minutes per side). Transfer to plate; serve.

If freezing: Prepare as directed, then allow to cool. Seal in food saver and freeze. Thaw 24 hours in refrigerator. Heat in microwave for 2-3 minutes.

We loved these! The flavor of the Italian seasoning was a nice touch and really helped "make" these chops.

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