Is Summer Snacking Wrecking your Grocery Budget?

popcorn with butter.jpg

Chatting with a friend via Insta yesterday, we were lamenting the “OMG DO THEY EVER STOP EATING!!” of summer vacation.

I’ve never begrudged my kids snackies when they are hungry, but seriously, on days when we are at home, building Legos and watching movies- THEY EAT ALL DAY.  I can’t let them rummage through the cupboard and eat whatever, so I started the snack box (for the pantry) and snack drawer (in the fridge).

We’ve had “The snack box” and the “snack drawer” in our kitchen for about 2 years now.

In the cupboard, I’ve got a basket like this one. It’s full of various types of treats and snacks. Instead of buying individually bagged treats, I often buy a box of whatever (in the photo below it’s animal crackers) and divide the large box into snack-sized Ziploc bags).  It just depends on what is available at Grocery Outlet and 99 Cents Only on my weekly shopping trip. Those are my go-to snack stores.

IMG_6483.jpg
The Snack Drawer in the Fridge
IMG_6481
Pantry Snack Box- Refilled weekly

The Pantry Snack Box contains shelf-stable stuff: Juice boxes, crackers, chips, dried fruit, fruit snacks, individual Peanut/nut butter cups. I usually tuck a couple bags of microwave popcorn too. Sadly, we have none left. I was informed that I *must* rectify that matter tomorrow.

The Fridge Snack Drawer contains some of the following: Cheese sticks, yogurt, Ziploc bags of fruit or veggies (watermelon wedges, strawberries, grapes, carrots, celery, and jicama are just a few favorites), little cups of hummus, guac, ranch dip (homemade with greek yogurt and ranch dip mix).

The snacks vary by week, and I took these pics today- It’s midweek and they are pretty picked over- I did refill the Pantry Snack Box with stuff from the cupboard. That’s my secret- don’t put it all out at once. I stash the extras in the back of the pantry, where tiny arms can’t reach.

For those who read my blog regularly, you know that my weekly family grocery budget is $80. I spend about $25 of my weekly budget on stuff for the snack box/drawer. Sometimes more, sometimes less. During the school year, the function of these becomes for packing lunches in the morning. The Big Kid doesn’t really like sandwiches, and as he’s a vegetarian he gets most of his protein from nuts/seed butter and dairy sources.

I also keep Go-gurt style tube yogurts in the freezer- Those are mostly for Bitty, Big Kid doesn’t care for yogurt too often.

For the grown-ups, there is a basket in the pantry full of protein and fiber snack bars (Along with other more “grownup” snacks- which are sometimes new snacks that the kids veto after sampling). I get those at Grocery Outlet or 99 Cents Only. Grocery Outlet locations in my area always have a great variety of protein bars, snack bars, and protein cookie (Like these, which are also a hit with the Big Kid, so I have to dole them out) for a lot less than grocery or club stores.

IMG_6482
Close-up of the Pantry Snack Box. There is a little bit of something for everyone!

This is how my family keeps everyone fed at home and on budget. I’d love to hear about your family’s ideas to solve this issue.

Yogurtland: Save the Date, Free Yogurt Coming Soon!

International Frozen Yogurt Day is 2/6/18. Mark your Calendars! There will be all kinds of freebies and deals!

Yogurtland has advertised theirs already:Screen Shot 2018-01-27 at 8.44.14 PM.png

And if you don’t live near a Yougurtland… Menchie’s is joining the free Froyo bandwagon with a BOGO offer:

Screen Shot 2018-01-27 at 8.46.36 PM.png

I am looking forward to taking the kids to Yogurtland. Henry and I love Whoppers (aka chocolate dipped cannon balls), so I know what we’ll be getting!

Freebies & Amazing Deals at Vons!

Vons has really been stepping up their game recently. Log on to your Vons account (either on vons.com or the Vons app), click the Just4U button, and search FREE in the search bar.

What you’ll get varies, but my free offers this week are:

A free Pizza and free yogurt! In addition to these great freebies I’ve also got a $5/$25!

Screen Shot 2018-01-18 at 9.46.43 AM.pngThis week Smart Ones Frozen Entrees are .99 when you buy four or more. I have a few buy 7, get 2 free peelie coupons from the last time I bought Smart Ones- I tend to buy the ones that have coupons on them, so I can save the extra coupons for future purchases.

We’ve been eating a lot at home lately, so we’ve pretty much emptied the freezer. I re-arranged some stuff, so I’ve got tons of room for an onslaught of entrees!

Here is my plan:

Buy 27 Smart Ones Entrees @ .99/each= $26.73

Redeem $5/$25 Coupon on Vons Club

Use 3 Buy 7, get 2 free Peelie coupons

Total OOP= $15.79

And as a double dip, I’ll submit my receipt to Fetch Rewards where I’ll earn points for my purchase.

 

 

 

Save with These Make Ahead Breakfasts!

file000369727419
Everyone loves something easy. And I like something healthy too. So when I can find food that’s easy to prep and healthy, I’m in! I love doing breakfast prep once a week. It keeps us out of the drive thru, and that helps our bottom line.

As part of the Pinterest Generation, I’ve seen and tried TONS of make ahead/batch cooked breakfasts. All with little success (not fails, really, but nothing that I’m super excited to try again or share). Here are two favorites at our house:

screen-shot-2016-09-29-at-10-22-04-pmIt seriously doesn’t get any easier!

Ingredients:

  • 2 packages of 8 count Sausage links (I used Farmer John)
  • 2 tubes 8 count biscuit dough (I scored a 2 pack at 99 Cents Only)

Directions:

  1. Cook and drain sausage links per package directions. Set aside.
  2. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees
  3. Open biscuit dough package and roll out biscuits until flat.
  4. Place sausage on flattened biscuit, roll up dough, encasing sausage.
  5. Bake for 12-15 minutes. Remove from oven and cool on wire baking rack.
  6. Once cool, store in zip top bag or container with a snap top lid. Can be stored in the fridge for up to a week, but really, they won’t last that long.

Makes 16 rolls.

Add a cuppa Joe and you’ve got a quick, filling breakfast.

And if you prefer to start your day with fruit and something rich and creamy, check out our parfait recipe (it’s seriously a no-brainer!)
screen-shot-2016-09-29-at-10-39-06-pm Inspired by my love of the McDonald’s parfaits.  I’m serious, since they changed over to Greek yogurt, my mouth waters every time I glance at the Golden Arches. You can make your own at home in just a few minutes!

I make a batch once a week! I use Ball canning jars (like these) that originally had home made jam in them (thanks Mom!), but you can use whatever jars or reusable containers you have on hand.

Ingredients:

  • 2-3 cups frozen fruit- I like berries, but feel free to use whatever is on sale or you have on hand. Skip melon, mango, banana, or pineapple- You may find them frozen, but they won’t taste very good or have a good texture in this recipe.
  • 1 large carton Vanilla Greek Yogurt (it’s about 4 cups)
  • Honey, if desired

Directions:

  1. In each container, pour in 1/4 cup yogurt.
  2. Top yogurt with 1/2 cup frozen fruit.
  3. Repeat layer of 1/4 cup yogurt. Drizzle with honey, if desired.
  4. place a few pieces of fruit on top, gently pressing down into the yogurt if needed.
  5. Screw on lid and refrigerate.

Makes 6-8, depending on sizes of jar and type of fruit used. If you need “crunchies” on your parfait, individually portion out 1 cup of cereal and stash them in the cupboard. I use the snack sized bags like these and portion out cereal, then put the portions in a tub like this one. It lives on the counter. No more cereal mysteriously being eaten in one sitting. Really, who is going to open a bunch of little bags into a big bowl and pig out?

Another tip I have for you is: Set up your coffee maker before you go to bed. For those with a classic coffee maker, it’ll just be a quick flip of the switch to get your coffee fix. We have two French Presses, I set them up at night, one I fill with cool water and steep over night to make iced coffee in the morning for myself. I prep the other with grounds and fill the Tea Kettle for a hot pot in the AM for the Mister.

I turn on the stove in the AM and in less than 10 minutes, he has a steaming cuppa Joe and I am already on my second iced coffee!

 

Talk back: What is your go-to frugal breakfast?

Review: #KABRITA Toddler Formula (Thanks #MomsMeet!)

Screen Shot 2016-04-13 at 5.39.47 PM

Recently I received a neat little box on my porch from Kabrita and Moms Meet.

It contained a canister of KABRITA Goat Milk Toddler Formula and fruit & yogurt pouches.

Immediately, Lil’ Man snagged one of the three pouches (well, not until I got this photo), and he retreated to the table to enjoy it. I gave the mixed berry to Itty Bittums, and she gobbled it up!

In the afternoon, I gave her a bottle of the Goat Milk Toddler Formula after she had some puffs and banana slices. She loved it, and I loved that it didn’t give her a rumbly tummy or gas. She’s got a sensitive tummy, and we had tried countless formulas to find one that made her tummy happy. Now that she’s getting older and is branching out to table foods, we are finding that some cow’s milk based products don’t agree with her.

Screen Shot 2016-04-13 at 6.25.09 PM
Someone did not want their photo taken today while enjoying her “milkies” as we call them

That is not the case with the KABRITA Goat Milk Toddler Formula! She is a happy little girl, and I’m a happy mommy! It’s super easy to mix up- Just one scoop per ounce of water. There is a handy little scoop in the canister.

What I love about the fruit & yogurt pouches is that they are great cold, frozen or at room temp. They come in three yummy flavors:Banana and Natural Vanilla Bean, Mixed Berry, and Mango Peach. I toss them in the freezer and slip one into Lil’ Man’s lunch bag, by lunch time, it’s nice and slushy! A perfect, healthy way to finish up lunch.

Did you know that Kabrita has a trial offer? You can learn more about it here.

Disclosure: I received this product for free from the sponsor of the Moms Meet program, May Media Group LLC, who received it directly from the manufacturer. As a Moms Meet blogger, I agree to use this product and post my opinion on my blog. My opinions do not necessarily reflect the opinions of May Media Group LLC or the manufacturer of this product.

2 Great Freebies from Ralphs!

Right now Ralphs club members can add two great real food freebies to their Ralphs Club Card!

Screen Shot 2016-02-26 at 7.21.39 AMScreen Shot 2016-02-26 at 7.22.36 AM

The first great freebie is  ONE  Free Bfree bakery item – includes loaves, rolls, bagels and wraps. Available ONLY at Ralphs. This deal expires on 02/29/16, so you best hurry!

The second is the usual Free Friday Download, but this week it’s actually something yummy and a little more healthy than the usual fare. Score one Free Kroger Greek Yogurt Pre and Probiotics, any variety (5.3oz). This deal expires 03/13/2016.

One thing that I really like about Ralphs is their Free Friday Download.  If you are new to Free Friday Downloads from Ralph’s, here is more info about how it works:

WHAT IS FREE FRIDAY DOWNLOAD? An exclusive benefit to having an account online at ralphs.com is FREE products (yes, we said FREE!). When you download the free product coupon, it will be loaded directly to your Shopper’s Card and applied at checkout in-store.

HOW DOES IT WORK? Visit this page on Fridays

DOWNLOAD the digital coupon for the free product (make sure to download between 12:01 am and 11:59pm PT). View the coupon under ‘My Coupons’ in your account online or in the mobile app.

You have two weeks to redeem this coupon in store! Pick up the product at your local Ralphs store and digital coupon will automatically apply at checkout.

Don’t forget to check back on Fridays to see if a free product is available for download!

 

I’ll be getting back into the habit of posting the freebies at Ralphs as they pop back up!

Greek Yogurt- A great frugal ingredient!

IMG_7966I bet a lot of you see the coupons for Greek yogurt and pass it by.  Maybe you’ve sampled it at Costco or the grocery store and were turned off by it’s thick texture or tart taste.

Greek yogurt (or strained yogurt as it is referred to in other parts of the world) has a lot more going for it than the sugary yogurt in the little cup with a french name.

1- It’s got double the protein than regular yogurt.  That means you’ll stay fuller longer.

2- It’s lower in Carbs. That’s because most Greek yogurts don’t contains all kinds of funky sweeteners.

3- It works well in all kinds of recipes in place of sour cream, mayo, and oil. I use it in baked goods instead of the liquid oil or butter.  It adds a richness without adding fat.

4- It makes a killer chip or veggie dip, baked potato topping, or chili topping plain or dressed up with herbs and spices.

Greek Yogurt is a frugal ingredient because it’s so versatile!  You can eat it as is, dress it up with herbs, fruit, granola, or use it in recipes. We buy the large carton of Fage at Costco every few weeks.  It’s the cheapest place in town for us to get Greek Yogurt. If you aren’t a Costco shopper, keep your eyes open for coupons and sales! Here are just a few:

Here is my favorite dip recipe with Greek Yogurt- perfect for sharing at any potluck!  It’s got  thicker texture, and it’s not for a wimpy chip- I dip pita chips and veggies.

Herbed Yogurt cheese dip

Ingredients

  • 2 cups greek yogurt
  • 2 T. chopped shallots
  • 2 T. minced onions
  • 1 T. minced garlic
  • spray release (like Pam)
  • 3 T. herbs of your choice- I like Mural of Flavor from Penzey’s. (You may want more or less)
  • Salt and pepper to taste (I don’t add either)
  • cheese cloth (It’s on the baking aisle at the grocery store)

Directions

  1. Wet the cheesecloth, wring out and stretch over the mouth of a bowl.  Secure with string or a large rubber band.
  2. Gently pour the yogurt over the stretched cheesecloth, and spread evenly over the cheese cloth.  What you are doing is straining out any extra whey (liquid) from the yogurt.  This is cause it to thicken up and make one helluva dip!  You can leave it on the counter for 1-2 hours to drain, as long as the temperature in your house is at or under 75 degrees. (We never turn on the heater at our house, so that’s never a problem).  If you house is warm, you can place the bowl in the fridge.
  3. In the mean time, spray a saucepan with spray release (or you can use a little EVOO if you prefer), and saute the shallots, onions, and garlic over low for 45-50 minutes until they start to caramelize.  Remove from heat, and pour int oa large bowl.  Place in fridge to cool.
  4. After yogurt has drained, scrape the yogurt solids from the cheesecloth into the bowl with the sautéed shallots, onions, and garlic.
  5. Mix well and add herbs.  Place in fridge for a minimum of 1-2 hours before serving.  I make this dip the day before I want to serve it.
  6. Discard the liquid that drained off the yogurt and the used cheesecloth.
  7. Serve the dip with veggies, pita chips, or use it as a topping on your baked potato or chili.

Serves 10-20.

If you like your dips sweet instead of herbs and veggies, you can add a few tablespoons of jelly or jam to strained yogurt and a smidge of cinnamon to make a fruit dip.

 

How do you like to serve Greek Yogurt?