Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Tuesday Tales: What NOT to do when you want to save money on photos

This is just a short story about how I thought I was going to get a good deal and ended up dropping more dough than I wanted to:

I had an appointment to go to Sears on Saturday.  I had received a coupon in the mail for a portrait package there for $4.99.  I thought "gee - that's a lot of photos and I'm SURE I can just get one pose...I mean, Jackson doesn't like the camera anyway so I'll probably only get one really good one."

What a joke.

I went in there with Jackson and he proceeded to take the best pictures ever.  Which meant I ended up walking out of there with $150 less than I had before.


Moral of the story:

When it comes to photos of your kids, be prepared to be suckered into spending more than you think...

Monday, March 29, 2010

Crock Pot Monday: Coke BBQ

This could be one of the easiest recipes that ever existed.  Two ingredients.  No real prep.  But this recipe yields tender, fall off the roast BBQ.

Ingredients:

1/2 boston butt.  (if you have a big enough crock pot you can do the whole thing, but I like the smaller portion of using half of the full "butt")

1 20 oz coca-cola

1. Put the butt in the crock pot.
2.  Pour the coca-cola over
3.  Cook on low for 8 hours.

That's it!  Once it is done, you pull out the meat and gently pull apart with a fork.  Serve by itself or on a bun, with bbq sauce if you'd like.  Delicious!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

PYOL: Pack Your Own Lunch

I'm going to share/give this advice right now, however I'll be the first to admit that I don't always follow my own advice. 

This might sound like a no-brainer, but if you work out of home and in an office, packing your own lunch can be an excellent way to save money.  And, as a bonus, packing your own lunch can also save you extra calories too!

For example:  Let's just say that you go with the cheapest value meal on McDonalds menu each day - the double cheeseburger meal for $2.99 (and for this example, I'm going to avoid calculating any taxes or ahem, biggie sizing anything). 

$2.99 x 5 days a week x 52 weeks per year = $777.40

Or you can get a can of Campbell's Select Harvet soup each day for $1.50 per can.

$1.50 x 5 days a week x 52 weeks per year = $390

That's a $387.40 savings per year at least!  Often when we eat out, we splurge and end up spending even more.  I never get the $2.99 meal - I often opt for a salad, bottled water, and then top it off with an iced coffee and spend upwards of $10 for lunch!

But of course I know that people avoid bringing their own lunch because it isn't as fun.  So how do you make it fun?

1.  First and foremost - grab a lunch buddy!  If you can find someone else who is interested in dining in with you, it makes it easier.  Half of eating out tends to be the socialization.  Why not get someone else involved with you to bring lunch in?  You can even take turns bringing the lunch and make it fun!

2.  Bring left overs.  When canned soup and tv dinners don't cut it, bring in leftovers from the night before. 

3.  It's all in the presentation.  Eating leftovers or tv dinners or soup out of the boring packaging can be depressing.  Grab a pretty plate that you like and keep it in the office.  Serve your food on it daily to make your food seem more posh.

4.  Don't eat in your work position.  If you have some place in your office to go to get away for a moment to eat - this would be optimal.  However, even if you can't, try to turn to a different position or angle from your normal work setting.  If you normally sit directly in front of your computer (like I do), turn to the side.  It won't feel as monotonous. 

5.  Have back up plans.  I like to keep a small stock of non-perishable options in my desk drawer (various soups, ramen noodles, etc.) so that if I'm not feeling what I brought in that day, I have some options.  It's also great for the days where I forget to prepare.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

My new favorite website

I found my new favorite website/blog: 

http://homemadebyjill.blogspot.com/



This site is full of great DIY homemade crafting tutorials and ideas!

Now if only I could craft some more hours into my day!

Monday, March 22, 2010

Crock Pot Monday: Italian Chicken Alfredo

I'm going to start a weekly post of crock pot recipes that I'm trying out.  Crock pot cooking is an excellent way to get a great bang for your buck, stretch your food dollars, and also save a ton of time and energy in the kitchen.

As a new mom, it is imperative that I find ways to cut corners and costs and crock pot/slow cooker cooking is the best way that I've found to do this.


Italian Chicken Alfredo
(This is modified from this recipe found on allrecipes.com.  I modified based on the ingredients I had readily available)
1 package of chicken breasts (I purchased a bunch on a buy one, get one sale and froze a bunch - these packages have approximately 3-4 good sized breasts in them)
1/2 regular bottle italian dressing (less than $1 at Aldi)
1 package spaghetti noodles or fettucini noodles (less than $1)
1 package cream cheese (I prefer the Neufch√Ętel lower fat alternative - generic brand is around $1)
1 can cream mushroom
oregano/parsley to season/taste

1.  Cut up chicken breasts into smaller, bite size chunks.  Toss in the crock pot.
2.  Pour 1/2 container of dressing into the crock pot and mix.
3.  Cook on low for 4 hours.
4.  At 4 hours, add melted cream cheese and cream of mushroom and mix. Add parsley and oregano to taste.
5.  Let sit for another hour.
6.  When you are close to serving time, prepare noodles in boiled water as per directions.  Prepare to your liking (ie, if you like al dente, etc.)
7.  Serve chicken mixture/sauce over noodles.

If you want, you can serve with a green tossed salad. 
7.  Add

Monday, March 8, 2010

Hair Care Tip

Are you using too much product? 

A lot of people think that more is better when it comes to shampoo and conditioner.  That's actually not true.  You only need about a dime size amount of product to wash and condition your hair.  More than that is overkill and doesn't make your hair any cleaner or more illustrious.  In fact, using too much conditioner can make your hair dirtier and weigh it down, while too much shampoo can strip your hair of extra nutrients.

Not only that - but it helps you save too.  If you aren't washing that extra product down the drain, it will extend the life.