My faith

I'm a Mormon.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Ham & Elections

Ham is expensive. Why didn't I know that before? I'm not sure, but I will be changing all the gcal meals that have ham in them. I couldn't afford it...

With all the hype surrounding the Presidential Elections, it's easy to forget that this year is a Utah constitutional officials election year also. Many of you probably noticed that Chris Cannon was finally ousted from his seat by not even making the Utah Primaries. I know my dad is glad about that. When I voted in 2004 (this is sad to admit) I didn't know anything about who I was voting for other than Bush & Huntsman (my mom was upset that I voted for Huntsman, since she is also a public educator and knew of his intention to push private school vouchers, but as I mentioned before I think it's turned out alright, I can imagine Huntsman running for President in the future, though who knows if he'd get nominated...?)

ANYWAY, for those of you in Utah, I found a site that at least tells who the candidates are. Utah County is in the 3rd Congressional District. (So is West Valley!)

I also think that regardless of your state, you can go to and find out who is running. I'm sure you can google and find campaign websites from there for most candidates. I'll let you know what I find. At this point I am pretty unbiased as far as the state elections go, and I'm pretty sure Huntsman will win again by a landslide, he seems to be pretty popular (at least, I haven't heard anything negative!)

OH! And if you still aren't registered to vote, there is time! Go to and fill out a form, which you can then print and mail. SO EASY! NO EXCUSES for NOT voting!!!!

(I'm starting to think I should get a master's in poli-sci or econ or something!)

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Delicious dinner

Here is what we had for dinner. I highly recommend it, the meatloaf was amazing, and the breadsticks were simple and delicious! Meatloaf is a great quick meal because you just mix it and bake. The breadsticks took maybe 10 minutes of my own time to (I just had to wait 20 minutes for them to rise, during which time I played with Baby Girl!)

Brown Sugar Meatloaf:

1/2 C packed brown sugar
1/2 C ketchup
1 1/2 lbs lean ground beef
3/4 C milk
2 eggs
1 1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1 small onion, chopped
1/4 tsp ground ginger
3/4 C finely crushed saltine cracker crumbs (about 10 crackers)

Preheat oven to 350
Lightly grease a 5 x 9 loaf pan
Press the brown sugar into the bottom of pan and spread with ketchup
In a mixing bowl thoroughly mix all remaining ingredients and shape into a loaf
Place loaf on top of ketchup
Bake in a preheated oven for 1 hr or until juices run clear.

Fantastic breadsticks (click for recipe!)

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Meal plans

I updated the meal plan calendar. I realized that some of the things on the meal plan can be quite expensive, and I figured out a couple of ways to help that.
1. If you have a small family, cut the recipe in half. You won't have to buy as much.
2. have leftovers every other night and cut out half of the meals.
3. Substitute things you don't have (i.e. feta cheese, pork...) for things that are cheaper that you may already have. Chicken can really be used in place of pork. You really don't have to use a lot of cheese in recipes, but look for sales on cheese, you can find lots of good deals.

Here is the shopping list for 2 weeks. 2 of the weeks look the same. That is because I can't go shopping until next Saturday, so I put the meals up, then realized I'll just me making stuff that's in my cupboards until I can shop. :)
One of the recipes called for "baking mix" I don't know what that is...

One last thing: the great thing about pantry staples is that you can buy them once and they last forever...

Sept 28-Oct 11 Shopping List

4 Medium Zucchini
1 Medium/Large Onion
Fresh Garlic (to taste)
1 yellow onion, sliced
1/2 red onion, sliced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 large red bell pepper, sliced
1 green bell pepper, sliced
1/3 large orange, juiced and zested
5 carrots, sliced
4 potatoes, quartered
1 cup chopped celery

b/s Chicken
Pork Tenderloins
6 slices cooked ham
6 (4 ounce) links sweet Italian sausage
1 (10 pound) fully-cooked, bone-in ham

8oz Feta Cheese
24oz Mozzarella Cheese
Apple butter
1 cup milk
6 slices Swiss cheese
1/2 cup heavy cream

10oz Frozen Chopped Spinach
cups apple juice
1 (10 ounce) package frozen green peas

28oz Pasta Sauce
Lasagna Noodles
1 (10.5 ounce) can condensed cream of chicken soup

Pantry Staples:
Olive Oil
1/4 cup brown sugar
/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1 cup dry bread crumbs
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 1/4 cups packed dark brown sugar
1/3 cup pineapple juice
1/3 cup honey
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon poultry seasoning
3 cups baking mix

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Hi everyone

I'm new as a contributor so let me start off and write what I do to save money on groceries and other expenses. I have a 4 daughter's and a husband. We home school, raise chickens and struggle to make ends meet like so many others.

1. I do NOT have teenage boys. That's my biggest reason on why I can save

2. I make a menu for 2 weeks. I buy groceries for what we need to make meals for the next 2 weeks. Of course the menu is more like a guideline because we are always switching days. I take that grocery list with me and stick to it.

3. I make most everything from scratch. I never buy processed or already prepared food. They cost more and aren't healthy for our bodies. Just making more stuff from scratch, I've dropped my cholesterol by 40 points.

4. I half ground beef. For example, when I make spaghetti I will cook up a pound of beef and put half in the freezer for a future meal and use only 1/2 pound for the spaghetti.  If you like your spaghetti with more meat you can use wheat as an extender which nobody would be able to tell and you'll get some great nutrition from it. I also do that for tacos.

5. I do not use coupons. I can't because of my daughter's food allergies. I can't be picky on what brands I use so nothing I ever need has coupons. I have found that since not using coupons, I'm not missing out. Plus most those foods with coupons are highly processed, sugar, and expensive stuff. I will use a Campbell's soup coupon every once in awhile even though Britney can't have soup.

6. LEFTOVERS!! We eat leftovers for lunch whenever we can. Since I home school, I don't have to worry about having stuff to pack lunches or deal with lunch money.

7. We don't buy soda or alcohol. I know of friends who have quite the expense in those areas. We also don't buy too much fruit juices, mostly because they are loaded with sugar. We love orange juice at our house.

I have to admit, we don't eat as much fruits as I would like. My 2nd daughter is allergic to most fruits and vegetables and its hard to keep fresh fruits and veggies on hand when I only go to the store twice a month. I like to take $5-$10 and hit the Farmer's Market every week or so and I hope next summer I can have my garden in full force (we have neighborhood cats which like to dig up gardens). 

Other ways I save money include using cloth diapers.  I have the same diapers from when I started cloth diapering Bmy 2nd daughter so I really save money every time I use a cloth diaper instead of a disposable.  I nurse into toddler hood.  We couldn't afford formula right now. Plus it saves on co-pays to dr. offices.

We bargain prices at most places. Even Sears you can get bargain prices.  We got a new TV earlier this year and Jeff bargained to get the floor model. We research prices before we set foot in a store. We recently got a 2003 Dodge Caravan Minivan for $6000. Don't be afraid to walk out if you don't get the price you want. It's a lot harder to do it in person but its so worth it when you get a good deal.

Look around your house and sell what you can on craigslist or local new stations websites which have free classifieds. Not only will you have some extra cash but you will declutter your house. I just got rid of all our baby stuff.  Also buying stuff used has been nice. We got a super nice bed for my 3 year old of off Craigslist for super cheap.

I believe in good karma(blessings). So de junk your house. Most people can get rid of 1/2 the clothes in their closest. Make a big donation day to your local thrift store and you will receive good karma or blessings. De junking your house always feels good.

I try to hit Target, Old navy and other stores at the end of the season when they have 75% off. I pick up clothes for the next year.

One year I bought Christmas gifts for the next year right after Christmas. It was great since so many toys were clearanced. We also bought Christmas Decor after Christmas. We have a bunch of wrapping paper that only cost pennies. I hope to do that again this year. It helps when I have a daughter who has a January birthday.

For Phone service we use Magic Jack.  It's less then $20 for a whole year. It's nice not having a bill each month for phone service. We used to not have a land line but we our babysitters needed a way to contact us in case of anything.

OK so to be fair, I have to admit to stuff I don't save money on and the biggest one is getting my hair cut and colored. But to be fair, I kind of have to keep up in that area because I do go on regular auditions for acting. I'm not going to lie, it's expensive to keep up.  However, I do use a nail school to get my nails done. $15  for a full pedicure!!

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Shopping list.

*Edited to say*: I realized I didn't include things on the list that I have in my cupboards or food storage (rice, noodles, oats, beans, etc...) I'll update the list tonight. Sorry.

I found a great web site that gives meal ideas. I realized I can just copy and paste those, and change what I don't like (a lot of them aren't too healthy). Then I just go through each recipe and copy/paste or type to my shopping list. Technology is so fabulous! And I'm getting much better at this whole meal planning thing.

The # 1 thing to do is go through your cupboards first and see what you already have. Even if you don't have the exact ingredient, you can modify a recipe.
Anyway, I've updated recipes for 2 weeks. Feel free to add to the calendar for the future, maybe if 1 person takes a day we can keep a couple weeks ahead, then I can look and post shopping lists. We can definitely help each other save time and energy! :)

PantryStaples & non-food
-Light bulbs
-Chocolate chips
-Sandwich bags
-Rubber-tipped baby spoon
-can of coke
-bbq sauce

Green onions
Green bell pepper

Protein & dairy
-16 b/s chicken breasts
-1 doz eggs
-package bacon
- 5 lbs ground beef
-2 pot roast (pork or beef)
2 lbs ground turkey
-sour cream
-Cottage cheese
-cheddar cheese (2 lbs)

-green beans
-broccoli caul. mix
-pie crust(I will make my own for the quiche)

-Tomato sauce*
-Black beans*
-Kidney beans*
-pinto beans*
-Cream of Chicken*

Tomato soup
Onion soup mix
Egg noodles

*=case lot sale

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Women of God

I posted this on my family blog, but thought this would also be an appropriate forum. I'd appreciate any comments if you remember the talk.
Women of God can never be like women of the world. The world has enough women who are tough; we need women who are tender. There are enough women who are coarse; we need women who are kind. There are enough women who are rude; we need women who are refined. We have enough women of fame and fortune; we need more women of faith. We have enough greed; we need more goodness. We have enough vanity; we need more virtue. We have enough popularity; we need more purity.

Oh, how we pray that every young woman will grow up to be all the wonderful things she is meant to be. We pray that her mother and father will show her the right way. May daughters of God honor the priesthood and sustain worthy priesthood holders. May they understand their own great capacity for strength in the timeless virtues that some would scoff at in a modern, liberated world for women.

Meat Extender

I realized that most of the recipes I use call for meat. Meat can be very expensive, so I suggest a few ideas to get protein without going overbudget.

1. when a recipe calls for 1 lb, use 1/2 that. You'll still get a bit of meat, but it will go twice as far!

2. Beans are a GREAT inexpensive source of protein, and have the added bonus of fiber!

3. The egg. Eat them. You can beat them and add to soups for more protein.

4. Use Wheat as a meat extender. Here's how: Simply crack the wheat in a blender, grinder, or mill on a coarse setting. Cook your hamburger, drain the fat, then add 2 cups of water and a half cup cracked wheat. Stir and simmer for 20 minutes, then add to your favorite recipes. Try it as a meat extender for hamburgers, meatloaf, lasagna, pizza, spaghetti sauce, sloppy joes, chili, or soups. And again, wheat is SO good for you!

5. At costco, ground turkey is cheaper than ground beef, and has only a fraction of the fat (18 grams vs. 27 grams)

6. Never pay more than $1.89/lb for b/s chicken breasts. They are always on sale somewhere. Plan in your food budget to buy extra when they are on sale.

7. B/s thighs are cheaper, and juicier, than breasts. A little more fat to cut off, but try them!

On the subject of meat: here is a great way an old roommate taught me how to separate ground meats. Get quart-sized ziplock bags, and put the desired amount of meat inside. Before sealing, squeeze the meat flat to fill in the entire bag. This way, you can stack the bags of meat easier, and they thaw MUCH more quickly!

How cool is Google?

I've posted the calendar to my monthly meal planning at the bottom of this blog. All you have to do is click on the meal, and it will take you to the recipe. I'm still working on getting a full month's worth of meals that I enjoy, are easy, and are cheap, but check back. I will post a shopping list when I am done, so you can go through and see what you have, and what you need in order to do the recipe. I will do the shopping list in 2-week increments, because I have to shop that often to get fresh produce anyway. If you'd like me to share the google calendar with you, leave your email as a comment. That way you can access the calendar. :) Happy cooking!

Friday, September 5, 2008

Make Room To Give

Measure your charitable donations in terms of percentages of income rather than dollars for example:

Tithing: 10%
Humanitarian: 5%
United way: 3%
Slush Account: 3%
Others: 1%

This will help keep on budget in regards to charitable donations.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Kmart & Smiths

If anyone needs baby stuff, Kmart is having a great sale right now. They have clearance on summer clothes, which is great! Also, high chairs, strollers, carseats, swings, bouncy seats, etc...

We got a booster high chair (you just attach it to a chair) for 16.99. My friend Rosalee got a little gym for $25. Just FYI

ALso, Smiths in Provo is having their case lot sale, and many things are definitely worth it, especially for food storage. 24 case can of beans: 10.48
24 case can of veggies: 13.99

Sugar, flour, fruit, tomatoes, mushrooms, peanut butter, jam, tomato sauce, cream soups, canned chicken, and many other things are on sale! Everything is while supplies last!