Foodie Friday…

So it’s Foodie Friday and I have come up short.  :/

I got up this morning and frantically started flipping through my Recipe Binder and Pinterest board to find a recipe to showcase today.  I came up with nothing.  I want to stick with healthy recipes … afterall it is still January and those healthy resolutions should still be top of mind. 😉

But in all honesty … this is a great reflection of my life from the past few weeks.  If I don’t have a recipe to showcase, then I haven’t been cooking.  See when you have a big birthday like I just had, you end up going out a lot for dinners and such.  Going out means no cooking. 🙂

Business has really picked up thanks to recent PR.  But when business picks up, I don’t get much else done.  I especially don’t have time to write out weekly menus, type out a grocery list, and muster up the energy to grocery hop.  Raymond went to the grocery store 2 weeks ago (thank goodness) but we are now down to the bare bones.  We have eaten out a lot this week.  It is something I hate doing, but will resort to it if I don’t have time for anything else.

So I ask you … any good recipes you would like to share?  🙂  Even pointing me in the direction of your Pinterest Foodie Board would be awesome. 🙂

Until next time…

Jennifer Signature

Weekly Menu Planner {Free Printable}…

If you do a lot of cooking, then you probably do a lot of planning for that cooking.  In this house, we cook.  In order to cook, we have to be prepared.  In order to be prepared, this chick needs to know what to buy from the grocery store.

Disclaimer #1: I hate making out a grocery list and I hate going to the grocery store.  Both are tedious and take up too much time.  Doesn’t help that I have to lug those groceries up a flight of stairs and unpack them … myself.  Whew .. tired just thinking about it!

Disclaimer #2: We eat roughly 3 meals a day … at home … each.  Unless I have a lunch appointment, we are both eating 3 meals a day at home.  Good for the pocket book and waist but something else you have to be prepared for.  When we run out of food, we eat out.  And I hate eating out .. often!

With that said, if I wasn’t prepared each week with a menu plan and grocery list, then we would never cook.  I’ve purchased menu planners from Target & Michaels for years.  I’ve borrowed menu planners from other bloggers for months.  Nothing really worked for me.  So I decided to make my own .. and share it with you! 🙂

HOW I USE IT:

  • Weather:
    • It might seem weird to include this in a planner for meals.
    • I like to cook based on the weather.
    • Example: 45 degrees and rainy.  We are having soup or pot roast.  60 degrees and sunny.  Salad topped with grilled chicken.
  • Plans:
    • I use this to write out meetings and appointments for each day.
    • If I’m having lunch with someone, then I don’t need to worry about lunch for me that day … only Raymond.
  • Dinner:
    • I don’t plan breakfast and lunch.
    • We usually eat the same things for breakfast each week.
    • We eat leftovers for lunch.
  • {TO COOK}:
    • I use the section for anything special I want to make that week.
    • Salsa.
    • Mini Apple Pies.
    • It serves as a reminder so I can easily grab the recipe and don’t let those groceries go to waste!
  • {IN THE PANTRY}:
    • I hate wasting food.
    • I base our meals off what we have in the pantry and freezer.
    • This cuts down on the grocery bill … some.
  • I fill out the menu planner each week and then use the planner to write out the grocery list.  Yes I have a process. 😉  I’m a process kinda gal.

Feel free to print a copy for yourself.  And if you use the planner, then I would love to hear your thoughts?  Is it helping? 🙂

Weekly Menu Planner {Free Printable}

Until next time…

{Guest Post} Pam’s Pantry

Guest post for everyone today!  Pam Sultzman from Pam’s Pantry!

I met Pam for coffee a few weeks ago, and we gabbed for hours!  She helps people organize their recipes {which I love}, as well as runs a virtual assistant business!  She is sharing tips on how to organize your recipes! 🙂 Thanks Pam!

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Organize Recipes Once & For All

For many cooks, “recipe collection” is defined as a pile of cookbooks, magazines, yellowed news clippings, computer printouts and spattered note cards that requires patient sifting when looking for that recipe you know you have somewhere.

I came into my new career in a way that is familiar to many these days: I was laid off in 2004.  I had some time on my hands, so I took control of my own recipe collection.  After weeks of sorting the recipes by categories, typing, printing and laminating them to keep them clean, I was ready to put them in my new recipe box. I loved it, so I thought others might as well!!

I enjoy helping others so I started doing it for other people, charging $1 a recipe.  I also put together recipe books for families, often including personal pictures and stories, and fundraisers for schools, churches and organizations.  I especially like doing heirloom recipes because it is so important to carry on your family traditions.  My clients hand me their collections, usually in a shoe box, and I take it from there.

Tips for the Do It Yourselfers:

  • Gather all of your recipes in one place.
  • Divide the recipes into categories that make sense to you and your family.
    • The more detailed you are, the easier it will be to find a recipe.
    • Make a category for family favorites; recipes to try; family heirloom recipes and handy hints and cooking tips.
    • Throw out any recipes that are incomplete or illegible.
    • Purge the recipes you think you’ll never cook. Be honest with yourself. (♥ this suggestion!)
  • Go through your cookbooks.
    • If you only cook a few recipes from a book, save only those recipes and donate the book.
  • Organize the cookbooks you are keeping.
    • Arrange them by title or author.
  • When you try new recipes, mark the book with notes that will help you find it in the future.
    • A recipe journal works well for tracking these recipes, or take a card and fill out the recipe name plus the cookbook and page number where it can be found.
    • File the card as you normally would in your collection of recipes.
    • You no longer need to search through or remember which book had a certain recipe, just look it up in your recipe card system.

Tips on controlling that overwhelmed feeling:

  • If you are having trouble getting motivated – consider getting a pal to help you.
  • Start small – just do a little bit at a time.
    • Don’t feel you have to do the job all at one time, it should be an ongoing process.
  • Don’t get distracted – following through is important to keep on top of the situation.
  • Pick it up only once – find a place for it.

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Pam is a vendor at numerous craft shows where she sells recipe boxes, small kitchen utensils and dip mixes.  She also does home parties.  If you would like more information on how she could help you, please visit her website or send her an email.

Pam Sultzman
Pam’s Pantry
Let Me Organize Your Recipe Collection Today!
704-549-4863

www.pams-pantry.com

www.facebook.com/Pams-Pantry

What is your favorite way to organize recipes? 🙂

Until next time…

Where do you get those coupons…

Surprise for you folks today! 🙂  My dear friend, Lauren Nix, is guest blogging {again}! 🙂  She wrote a post awhile back that got a lot of exposure and comments — so she is at it again! 🙂

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The QBIC {Queen Bee in Couponing that is!!} has made a return!!  I’m back and super excited that Jennifer has requested another round of my couponing savviness. My previous guest post, ‘Goodbye Coupon Chaos’, had some great comments and questions from her readers, therefore creating today’s spinoff post.

A few readers wanted to know who, or what websites, I follow for my deals.  My first experience with couponing, and very first transaction, can be credited to Crystal at MoneySavingMom.com.   Her site is GREAT for beginners OR seasoned couponers, such as myself.  Her site is very well rounded with grocery deals, retail deals, how to create a budget, and tips for a more simplistic life.  Once I felt I was armed with enough coupon knowledge, I ventured out to other blogs/sites.  Now, please don’t become overwhelmed because WOW…there is a TON out there!!  I researched a number of sites and finally found that Jenny at SouthernSavers.com works best for me.  She is my go-to girl for grocery & drug store matchups.

You’ll need to take into consideration the ladies (or gents) who run these blogs are widespread across the U.S.  Coupons and sales are regional and are subject to varying. I love Southern Savers because 99% of the time her matchups are spot-on with my current ad. However, there are times when she may have a slight variance in her ad. Therefore, I make it a habit to visit other smaller, local-to-me blogs for the most accurate matchups.  It is my goal to use coupons and time efficiently.

Organizing your coupons allows you to match your current store deals quickly & with ease; therefore, saving you time, money and keeping you on budget.  Otherwise, you’ll have one big pile of mess and will be more likely to quit before you even start.  Take the time to organize your coupons each week using whatever method works best for you and your lifestyle.  Check out my previous post here for solutions on organizing those coupons.

Another great tip is meal planning.  I highly recommend this for families of 4 or more.   You will be amazed at the cost saved each month by planning your meals around your weekly sales.  You will also be less likely to throw out expired foods.  Take a quick inventory of your cabinets before shopping–Use what you have on hand first!  Look over your sales ads and start planning.  I recently stumbled upon a meal planning site called Food On The Table.  This site uses your local store’s ad and compiles recipes with the current sales.   Super easy…and again, using your time efficiently!!  Hurry over to Food on the Table and get their online meal planning service FREE for life when you use promo code SPRINGFREE throughout the month of May.

Have any awesome tips?  I’m always game for extra advice! 🙂

Be sure to check out her blog as well:  Bella Pink Vida.

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Thanks Lauren!  Such great advice!  I must say organizing coupons and planning your meals is a great way to use your time and money wisely.  When I know what’s for dinner everyday of the week, it makes my grocery shopping more streamlined, and my week less stressful.  Pesto Chicken tonight honey! 😉

Goodbye Coupon Chaos…

I have another surprise in store for you today…dont you just love Monday surprises!  Another guest blogger! 🙂  I asked my very dear friend, Lauren Nix, if she would guest blog for me today…the topic is coupons.  Lauren is a whiz at couponing and finding deals.  Im not too bad myself, but she is much better than I! Since our economy decided to take a dip in the cool money pool a few years back, coupons have become hot and popular again.  They take time and effort to keep track of sales and deals, but can save you money in the long run.  Therefore, I dont mind spending some quality time with my paper and coupon organizer to save hard earned dollars in the end!

Thank you Lauren!  Be sure to check out her blog too! 🙂

GOODBYE COUPON CHAOS

I absolutely LOOOOOOVE couponing.  I’ve been an avid couponer for almost 4 years and can’t imagine a “full price” kinda life.  I often sit back and try to imagine what my life, and bank account, would be like without coupons.
I’ve been asked by many of my friends & family, “How do you keep up with ALL of your coupons?”  Honestly, after almost 4 years, it’s like second nature.  Once you get a good niche for how you want your coupons organized, it just flows.  There are several great methods of keeping your coupons organized and contained. Here are a few of those examples…
– The binder system.  Starting with a large three ring binder insert plastic baseball card display sheets (found at your local Walmart).  Insert your coupons into the display sheets, facing outward so you can see your coupon.  It is completely up to you how your coupons are filed; alphabetical order in each pocket, or create sections by area of the market, i.e., Health & Beauty, Frozen, Baby, Paper goods, etc.  You may want to insert some dividers in front of each section…a little extra organization.  Your binder will grow quickly, so be prepared.  I’ve actually witnessed ladies in my local grocery store with 2 binders.  One specifically for food and the other for non-food.  This normally depends on the size of your family and how long you have been couponing.
– The coupon box.  You will need a toteable box with lid.  Cut small cardboard dividers and insert your coupons behind each category.  Or use labeled envelopes to house your coupons and file in the same manner inside of the tote.  You may want to break your categories down into subcategories.  For example: Baby (being the main category) with subcategories of diapers, wipes, food, other products.  Again, this will completely depend on the size of your family, your length of couponing, and your organization comfort level
– Whole insert method.  This is my personal fav.  I have an accordion file folder with 12 sections, one for each month.  Every Sunday, I sit down and write the date on the front of each insert and place in the correct month’s slot, newest first.  This works for me because I do not have a significant amount of time to sit down each Sunday and cut EVERY coupon out of the paper.  Also, most of your couponing blogs post from which insert (whether it is SmartSource, Red Plum, or P&G) and what date they pulled the coupon.  Thus, making it super easy for me to pull the insert from that month’s tab and match my deal.  I just LOVE those fantastic ladies who do all of the leg work in finding these phenomenal deals
For example:
All Almay Eye Cosmetics $5.99
-$2 off Almay cosmetic product, SS 1/01
You will come to find your own fabulous way to organize your coupons, but hopefully these ideas have possibly sparked an interest in getting your’s together or given you an idea on how to tweak your own method.
How do you organize your coupons?  Are you happy with your method?  I’m always open to suggestions on how to be a better couponer 🙂

Planning Weekly Meals…

The dreaded run to the grocery store.  I love to cook and create a delicious meal just as much as the next, but I dread making out a grocery list and planning the weekly meals.  However, I equally hate not having a plan and scrambling to figure out whats for dinner each and every night.

If you have a Recipe Binder (see last weeks post), then making out your grocery list is more fun.  You can flip through your binder and decide what to have each night from your organized array of recipes.  Remember to change it up and try a new recipe or two each week.

Another way to make life easier is to refer to your inventory list.  Inventory what you have on hand (freezer, refrigerator, and pantry).  If you already have 3 lbs of ground beef, then decide to make tacos or spaghetti one night.

Write out your meals for each day of the week (breakfast, lunch, and dinner).  Use the menu to transfer needed ingredients to the grocery list.

I challenge you to take this a step further and organize the list according to how the store is laid out (produce, bread, canned goods, coffee, etc).  If nothing else — organize by type.

Next week — how to plan your meals around whats on sale and coupons! 🙂

Organizing Your Recipes…

Anyone who knows me, knows I love binders.  I love to store all kinds of information in binders: holiday binder, decorating ideas binder, plants & garden binder, workout binder, and RECIPE binder! 🙂

I subscribe to roughly 6 monthly magazines (Southern Living, BH&G, Self, etc).  I love to tear ideas and recipes out of the magazines and then recycle them when Im done.  (No piles of year-old magazines sitting around my house!) But what to do with all the pages once they are torn out?  Here is my (refined) system:

1.  Tear out any recipe that you might like to try from the newspaper or a magazine, or print one online.

2.  Three hole punch the paper and place in your recipe binder

3.  Any new recipes that you have not tried and tested go in front of each section.  Recipes that you constantly use go in the back of each section in sheet protectors.

— This helps you keep track of what you have tried and like

4.  Once you have tried a new recipe

A. Throw it away if it tastes awful

B. Cut out the recipe and tape to a white piece of paper.  Place the paper in a sheet protector

How to Make a Recipe Binder:

1.  Buy a 3 ring binder (1″ or 1.5″ is best) — I like white binders with clear pockets in the front

2.  (optional) Create a cover sheet for the binder on your computer (slide in pocket on front of binder)

3.  Create different sections within the binder with tab dividers.  Ideas of sections: Seafood, Chicken & Beef, Side Dishes, Desserts (always the largest section for me), drinks, breakfast, etc

4.  Start adding to your binder!  

Ive seen some interesting ways of ‘storing’ recipes — Ive even seen a recipe drawer that I immediately labeled ‘A Hot Mess’.  The binder is a great way to keep track of recipes that you love and recipes that you might want to try.  The key — throw away a recipe if you hated the way it turned out OR store it in the binder in a sheet protector.  Make a decision right away when you try a new recipe — it will help keep the madness at bay.

Another idea – vow to try at least 2 new recipes a week.  Your family will thank you for mixing it up.

The reason I recommend cutting the recipe out and taping to a white piece of paper is to cut down on visual clutter.  Most recipes from magazines are on the same page as pictures, other recipes, and ads.  I dont need to check all that out when Im searching for a recipe.  Cut out the recipe — trash the rest!  I take it a step further and organize the recipes that I plan to keep by style.  Example:  all apple pie recipes are taped to the same page (multiple pages for me because I love to bake).  When I want to make an apple pie, I flip to the dessert section and then to the apple pie section.  Now the decision can easily be made! That might be a little over the top for some…

The binder is very helpful when it comes to planning your weekly meals and making your grocery list.  (Tips on this next week)!