Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Freezer Cooking Menu April 2010

It's going to be a yummy month! I'm still building my freezer cooking year supply rotation, so even though I've got over two weeks worth of meals already made, we're still looking at a 30 meal Saturday.




Dinners: [The Motherload]

I"m so excited to get this one underway. Since this weekend is General Conference, though, I'll have to wait until next week. What's on tap for your OAMC day?

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

A Walrus-Sized Kick in the Pants

Ever since that meeting with Palmer College, I've been thinking of ways our family can better live a healthy lifestyle. All I can say is I've got a long way to go. C, in all of his awesomeness, is training for a freaking marathon. He comes home from his runs totally jazzed, though his latest 16-miler put him out of commission for a bit. I, on the other hand, cringe at the thought of running more than a mile at a time. I didn't used to be like this. Exercise was a big part of my life before we got married. I don't know what happened. It's not healthy though. I think I just need a kick in the pants. A big one.

I remember going to Sea World with my family for Thanksgiving my freshman year at BYU. The animal that made the biggest impact on me was the walrus. He was the fattest thing I'd ever seen. He couldn't even move. My sister leaned over to me and commented on how looking at a walrus is enough motivation to do whatever it takes to avoid the "freshman 15" [in my case, 30].  I agree. Look at this kid:

So, shortly following our little jaunt down to Florida, I got my tail in gear and started running again. I bought a gym membership and went every day. I've since fallen off that wagon. I'll start P90X and stop a week in. It's just not my thing.

I need some motivation. I could run the half-marathon on the same day as his marathon in June. I haven't committed yet. What do you think? And if you've got a surefire way to motivate yourself to get moving, I'd love to hear it!

Monday, March 29, 2010

Materialistic Monday: Chewlry

I've always been a strong believer of the "If you don't go to the mall, you won't find anything you can't live without" mentality, but every now and again a girl needs a little something...

This is my latest love:

The sprinkles charm bracelet by chewlry.

Isn't it gorgeous?! I think I look at it at least 3 times a day. Maybe I should just make it my desktop image. If you haven't seen chewlry's shop yet, GO! now. I'll wait. Have you ever seen so much fabulous, well-priced jewelry? This charm bracelet is only $15. Holy smack. It's quickly climbing the charts from a want to a need. Especially since C is taking me to see Michael Buble Wednesday night. [It's my graduation present!] He also told me I could buy something new to wear. Now, if only I could find a dress and shoes to match this bracelet, I'd really be in business. Thrift stores, here I come!

If any of you lovely readers just HAVE to buy this bracelet for me, let me know. I'll send you my address lickety split! [just kidding. but seriously.]

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Planning Your Freezer Cooking Day: Pt. 1

Part One: Plan Your Meals

Note: this will be a four part series consisting of the following. Part One: Plan Your Meals. Part Two: Your Battle Strategy. Part Three: Assemble The Troops. Part Four: Your Freezer Cooking Questions Answered! If throughout this series, you have a question, or find something I didn't really explain too well please leave your question in the comments! I'll be answering these questions in part four. If you're reading this after the series has ended, please don't hesitate to leave a comment and I'll do Q&As in the future too, or if you need an answer like, now, because you're driving to the store as we speak-which is shamefully dangerous...worse than texting...-park the car, then e-mail me at {at} gmail {dot} com and I'll get back with you asap!

The idea of OAMC or Freezer Cooking can be a lot to take in. I remember reading about it on a number of blogs and maybe an "about" article or two before just making up my mind to try it one Saturday. I work 9-5 every day at a pretty draining job. In an effort to reduce the number of nights we eat out every month, my approach to Freezer Cooking was born.

I'm a planner. I like lists, calendars, deadlines, etc. So I pulled up a calendar in trusty Microsoft Word and went to town. Our family [of two] typically eats two chicken breasts, or 1 pound of ground beef per dinner. (Because meat is the most expensive part of our diet, we try to minimize this by having a couple side dishes every meal in addition to the main course.)

I googled "Freezer Cooking Recipes" and found this site, where the bulk of February's meals came from. Additionally, I had a couple of family favorites to include and/or modify. If I could turn the entire thing into a dry mix, I did. I placed everything into a ziploc bag and labeled it in our pantry. Otherwise, I figured out how far I could possibly prepare each meal before freezing it was no longer an option, and put that into the freezer cooking plan. If this doesn't really make sense to you, I apologize. :) heh. I'll do better!

So, using my knowledge of 2 chicken breasts per dinner, I was able to calculate how many different dishes each recipe would account for. Then, I filled the calendar with that dish, making sure that there was a good amount of time between each night we were planning on eating similar meals. I try to shake it up a little bit between chicken, ground beef, and the occasional seafood or veggie dish. It's not too difficult when you've got the entire month in front of you.

A lot of places recommend only cooking for 2 weeks at a time. If that works for you, by all means go for it! In my opinion, two weeks doesn't give you enough time between similar meals and your family might get bored with the recipes you choose. Also, I'm really REALLY tired after every freezer cooking day, and the thought of doing it every two weeks doesn't sound too great. I'm a 100% or nothing kind of girl, so I'd jump in head first and just give it a go!

You don't have to do everything the first month. Sometimes just boiling, chopping and freezing chicken is all you need to make a 45 minute meal into a 10 minute one.

My first month, I focused on main-dish dinners only. By my freezer cooking, we really didn't have anything for lunches and no snack food to speak of. Side dishes were completely absent. We didn't go hungry, but I didn't have my leftovers [that I love!] for lunch the next day.

The second month, I found ways to score snack food for next to nothing using coupons and scenarios from my fave coupon blogs. Lunches were much MUCH better.

This month, I'm figuring out how to do all of the above and adding freezable dinner rolls, homemade tortillas for frozen burritos using my husband's famous [and AMAZING] homemade re-fried beans, and various freezable side dishes. We're doing all this on the same budget as before so my couponing is going to have to be in top form. :) I'll keep you posted.

To get you started, I've created a Freezer Cooking Calendar just for you!

Click Here to Download

Note: You'll notice the option to check "extra" on each day. One of my favorite parts of freezer cooking is that while you plan for 30 meals, you rarely eat all 30 meals. Someone will invite you over for dinner, you'll have a wedding to attend, etc. The un-used meals can then be used for the next month, or in place of a night where you're "just not in the mood" for what's planned! I'm building my year supply this way, though we'll have to get a bigger freezer!

Friday, March 26, 2010

Blondies that will Knock Your Socks Off!

So, I've recently stumbled upon a Freezer Cooking recipe that is absolutely ridiculous. How often can you pull soft, delectable, chewy bar cookies out of the freezer? At our house, the answer is about once a day for 4 days. They don't last long! [Though, we don't really have any will power either. heh.]


2 3/4 c. brown sugar
15 TB butter
1/2 tsp. salt
2 tsp. baking pd.
3 c. flour
5 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
2 c. chocolate chips
1 1/2 c. walnuts

  1. Combine butter and brown sugar in heavy sauce pan.

  2. Cook until sugar is dissolved and mixture begins to boil remove from heat.

  3. Mix butter, brown sugar, with spoon, until cool

  4. Add eggs and vanilla mix on first speed

  5. Sift dry ingredients.  Add to mixer. [Or for those of us without a Kitchen-Aid *sob* elbow grease it is!]

  6. Add nuts and chocolate chips till combined.

  7. Spread batter in greased/sprayed/floured rectangular pan.

  8. Bake @350 approximately 25-30 minutes. (Jessica calls this-until GBD-golden, brown and delicious)

Note: This recipe is courtesy of Jessica McGuire, an extremely talented chef attending JWU Culinary Institute. It is also adjusted for altitudes around 7000ft, but I made it at around 4500ft. The extra butter & brown sugar are what make them chewy and wonderful even when they're cold. The only change for lower altitudes is reducing the butter a little bit, but it's up to you!

Sidenote #1: When we were down to one last bag of these blondies, C looked over at me in desperation and said, "K! Make me stop!" Then, the entire bag went down the chute. Sometimes I think willpower is over-rated.

Sidenote #2: This may be the only treat that makes it past our becoming-a-chiropractic-family lifestyle change. (More on that later.)

Monday, March 8, 2010

My New {Favorite} Hobby!

***For those of you wondering where the recipes are for freezer cooking, I haven't forgotten! They're coming! Also, I apologize for the lack of a cute header. I'm not only lacking the cute header, but any and all creative inspiration for one: sooo, we wait for my creative mojo to come back.***

So, when I did our freezer cooking for February, Cameron's only complaint was that we didn't have enough snack food. I decided that in March, that would be different. Although, we absolutely HAD TO stick to our budget. I did my research, and found some great deals on YUMMY snacks.

I found a coupon online for $1 off Keebler's new Cheesecake Middles cookies...and printed five of them. One of my favorite blogs told me that these cookies were also a part of a Buy 5 get a $5 giftcard back. So, we went to Target where that blog also told me that the Cheesecake Middles cookies were on sale for $2.25. Here's how it went down:

We grabbed 5 packages of the Keebler Cookies: total $11.25. Used 5 $1 off coupons. Total: $6.25. Got a $5 giftcard back, which brings the total to $1.25 or $.25 a box! I then handed the giftcard back to Cameron, who had 4 boxes of Wheatables and 4 $1 off coupons.

Basically, we got 9 things of snack food for $6.

After that, we found Gold Medal flour on sale for $1.50. I had six $.75 off coupons. We got 30lbs of flour for $4.50. And then we decided to try to opt out of our recently renewed costco membership. [lol.]

My favorite trip happened today, though. We got all this:

for less than $4!

Without coupons and rebates, my total was: $56.49!

I saved over 92%!

2 Old Spice Body Washes

2 Old Spice Deodorants

1 John Freida Shampoo

1 John Freida Conditioner

1 John Freida Hair Spray

4 Biore Face Washes


A New Eye Shadow Compact

I did 3 different transactions.

Transaction 1: John Freida products were 3 for $15.

I used 1 $3 off of $15 Rite Aid coupon

2 $3 off any John Freida Product

1 $1 off Root Awakening Product

and I'm submitting for a $5 SCR on Rite

Total: FREE [plus $.82 tax]

Transaction #2: Old Spice Stuff

I used another $3 off $15 Rite Aid Coupon

I also had 2 coupons for buy a deodorant get a body wash free

Then I used a $1 off of 2 deodorants

I tacked a 75% off eye-shadow onto this transaction which made the total 6.06

I'm submitting this for another $5 SCR on Rite

Total: $1.06 [because of the eye-shadow, otherwise this would be FREE too!]

Transaction #3: Biore

I had a coupon for free biore cleanser with the purchase of nose strips. They were on sale 2 for 10 and I bought 4 bringing the total to 20. I used 1 $5 off of $20 coupon from Rite Aid's video values coupon site. Then I used 2 FREE cleansers with purchase of nose strips coupons. They also had cleansers with a save $2 on 2 peelies, so I used one of those, which brought my total to $4.03, but I'm submitting for a $2 SCR on Rite Total: $2.03

All total: .82 + 1.06 + 2.03 = $3.91

Worth it.

I'll definitely be doing this again.