Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Chicken Stir Fry

One of my husband's favorite meals is stir-fry, and I love it because it's fairly inexpensive, healthy and quick to make. That means it's a home run in our family. I usually make it without paying much attention to quantities, but since I planned to post this one, I decided to measure a bit. This recipe feeds my family of 2 adults + 2 small children and leaves leftovers for lunch for the adults as well.

  • 1 1/2 cups of rice, prepared according to directions on bag
  • 1 boneless, skinless chicken breast - cut into 1 inch chunks
  • 1 each of 3-4 vegetables - cut into 1 inch chunks: choose veggies you already have on hand and your family likes or choose what's inexpensive that week. (The picture above includes, onions, carrots, celery and yellow pepper that was on a good sale that week.)

  • 1/3 cup soy sauce
  • 2 T white cooking wine (optional - substitute water or leave out)
  • 2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/4 tsp ground ginger
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 T cornstarch
  1. Put rice on to cook
  2. While rice is cooking, prepare meat and vegetables. Be sure all meat and veggies are ready before you begin cooking. Once you start cooking this moves very fast.
  3. Heat wok (or large skillet) on high heat. Add 1-2 tablespoons canola oil.
  4. When oil begins to shimmer, place meat in wok (be prepared it may "spit"). Spread it out a bit so all pieces of meat are touching the wok bottom. While the meat is cooking, mix the sauce ingredients together. Cook meat 2-3 minutes, then stir to cook completely through. When meat is completely cooked through (about 4-5 minutes), remove from pan to serving bowl. Cover serving bowl so meat stays warm while remaining veggies are cooked.
  5. You probably won't need more oil, but if it's looking dry, you can add a bit. Be sure the oil is good and hot before adding veggies. Cook veggies in descending order of how long they will take to get hot-through. You want them crunchy, not soft and squishy. Here's the order I cooked our veggies in: onion, carrots, celery, sweet pepper, mushrooms. I cook each vegetable about 1 minute, stir, move them to the outside, then add the next vegetable. After 1 more minute I stir the vegetables, move them to the outside, and add the next vegetable. This continues until all the veggies are hot, but still crunchy.
  6. Pour the meat back into the wok and give everything a good stir. Move meat and veggies around so that there's a small well in the middle of the pan.
  7. Pour the sauce into the middle and immediately begin to stir. The sauce will thicken quickly and coat the meat and vegetables. When the sauce is thickened and everything is well coated (about 1-1 1/2 minutes), pour the whole mixture into the serving dish.
  8. Serve with rice and soy sauce.
My Note:
This recipe is very adaptable. Don't have chicken thawed? Leave it out, make it vegetarian. Have an uncooked pork chop? Use that instead. Have a bit of broccoli left? add it in. Use whatever veggies you have available. These are all veggies I have tried & used at one time or another: broccoli, onions - any variety, carrots, mushrooms, sweet peppers, celery, green beans. I'm sure you could play around with other veggies as well, though I don't recommend tomatoes or potatoes or anything that doesn't stand up to high heat.


For more kitchen tips go to Tammy's Recipes. And for more Frugal recipes and ideas go to Frugal Friday at BiblicalWomanhood.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Maryland Monday

Maryland Monday is a new series on grocery prices in the Maryland area. Each Monday I'll post the price of a common grocery item from a variety of Maryland grocery stores. I hope this helps you to find the best prices in your area and keep your grocery bill as low as possible.

This week's grocery item is
1 gallon of Skim Milk:

  • Food Lion (Westminster): $3.99
  • Giant Food (Ellicott City): $3.99
  • Mars (Ellicott City): $3.92
  • Martin's (Eldersburg): $3.69
  • Safeway (Eldersburg): $3.99 or 2 gallons for $7.50
  • Shopper's (Eldersburg): $2.59 (1%, 2% and whole are progressively higher)
  • SuperFresh (Westminster): $3.59
  • Wal-Mart (Eldersburg):$3.76
  • Weiss (Woodstock): $3.79

If you find a better price at your local store, please post it in the comments.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Walgreens - Bought $41.98, Paid $0.00 !!

In the past I've had a difficult time making good deals at Walgreens. But, today was different. With a little help from Coupons by Dede and Refund Cents I had enough coupons and information to make this really work for me. I bought all this at Walgreens and spent exactly $0.00 of my own money. Here's the way the way the deal went:

Transaction #1
Bought 6 Skippy 16.3 oz @ 3/$5.00 = $10.00
Bought 2 Peparation H 10 ct Portable Wipes @ $3.99 = $7.98
Total: $17.98 (before coupons)

Paid with 2 Skippy coupons $1.00/2
Easy Saver coupon $2.00/1 (this coupon works for both Preparation H items)
2 Manufacturer coupons $2.00/1 here

Remaining Total: $7.98
Paid with Walgreens gift card earned from previous monthly rebate items.
Out of Pocket: $0.00, Earned $4.00 Register Rewards

Transaction #2
Bought 6 Skippy 16.3 oz @ 3/$5.00 = $10.00
Bought 4 Breyers Ice Cream (our favorite) @2/$7.00 = $14.00
Total $24.00 (before coupons)

Paid with 3 Skippy coupons $.60/1 (bought from CouponsbyDede)
$4.00 Register Reward
$5.00/$20.00 Walgreens coupon (here - good ONLY Friday & Saturday)
Remaining Total $13.20
Paid with Walgreens gift card earned from previous monthly rebate items.
Out of Pocket: $0.00, Earned $5.00 Register Rewards

So, I came home with $41.98 worth of groceries, paid $0.00 OOP and earned $5.00 in Register Rewards for my next Walgreens purchase. I am a happy camper!

This deal could have been a little bit better (less off my gift card) if I'd had more Skippy coupons, but I'm not complaining. I got a little help on this deal from reading the chat on RefundCents and the coupons I ordered from CoupnsbyDede. Thank you to both companies and to MoneySavingMom and CommonSenseWithMoney for leading me to them.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Teaching Children Frugality

Since school begins next week, I thought I'd post my strategy for teaching my son frugality.

Last year was his first year of taking a lunch to school. At the beginning of the year I put the sandwich, fruit, and snack in their own separate baggies in his lunch. His lunch also included a juice box. Each day, he threw away the juice box (whether empty or not) and all of the empty baggies.

As the year progressed, I realized that this was a waste of money. I could send in a thermos of juice and he'd bring it home along with any juice he didn't drink. That worked fine.

But, what to do about the baggies? So, I started asking him to bring the empties home. The plan was I'd wash them out and reuse them the next day. However, he rarely remembered to bring them home and when I reminded him he said, "Nobody else does that!"

Sometimes his fruit was an applesauce cup. I had started buying them in prepared individual servings, but this is significantly more expensive than buying in bulk. If I sent the applesauce in a small plastic cup with a spoon, he frequently threw away both the cup and the spoon!

Then, I came up with a plan. I told him I would pay him for each of the items he remembered to bring home! Each item has it's own value and he would be paid accordingly. So, here's the way it broke down:

1 penny for each of 2 zippered baggies
2 pennies for the spoon
1 nickel for the plastic bowl.

So each day he has the potential of putting 9 cents in his piggy bank, for a total of 45 cents each week. Over the course of 180 school days that's $16.20. It may not sound like a lot to you and me. But to him, it's a new toy! And while he's saving for a new toy. I'm saving a whole lot more than that by buying less expensive juice and applesauce, and by not buying nearly as many baggies, bowls and spoons.

For more ideas on frugal living go here.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Bounty Basic Paper Towels & Pop Tarts

There are two really great deals I have to pass along.

K-Mart: Bounty Basic paper towels 15 pack/$10.00 = 0.66/roll. That's the best price I've seen in a quite a while. This deal will last through Saturday, August 23.

Wal-Mart: Our local Wal-Mart has a new size of Pop-Tarts on sale.
box of 16/$2.50 - $1/2 coupon (08/03 Kellogg insert) = $0.125 per Pop-Tart!

These deals are just too good. I had to pass them along.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Weis - Cheap Chicken

Just in case you are in the area of a Weis Grocery store this week. They have a great sale on chicken.

Perdue Oven Stuffer Roasters - on sale $0.79/lb. through Wed. Oct. 20.


I love getting stuff for free, especially things I actually use. Over the last few weeks I've received all of the items in this picture for FREE!

I do have a few personal rules I use when requesting freebies.

First, I never request something we won't use. Second, I use a junk email account. This helps reduce the spam and junk advertising that is occasionally generated from freebie requests.

To receive your own Freebies check out these items:

Free sample of Post-it Super Sticky Recycled Notes here.

Free sample of Oatmeal Crisp Cereal here.

Thanks to "The 'Cent'sible Sawyer" for posting these freebies.

To take advantage of the free samples given away by Wal-Mart on a regular basis, go to WalMart.com; then click on the "In Stores Now" menu on the right hand side; then go down to Free Samples. You will come to a list of several items you can receive free. Take the minute required to fill out the form and you will receive your item in the mail. It usually only takes about 2 weeks to receive the item, sometimes less. I've never been bothered by unwanted emails, or junk mail by requesting these offers.

For more frugal ideas visit Frugal Friday here.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Shoppers Grocery Deals

There are a few really good deals at Shoppers this week. This is a good week to stock up.

First, they're having triple coupon days (up to $0.50) this week Aug. 14 - Aug. 17.

Here are a few other really good deals I've spotted:
Grapes (red & white seedless) - $0.99/lb.
Mueller's Pasta - $0.89/16 oz box
Ground Beef - $1.99/lb
Cottonelle Bath Tissue - $3.99/24 rolls (use $1.00 coupon from recent insert = $0.12/roll)

Any other good deals you all have spotted?

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Free Children's Advil!

I stopped at CVS yesterday and picked up their August Extra Value Book. On the front cover, big as day -- Children's Advil is on sale $5.79 for 4 oz and you get $5.79 back in Extra Bucks, making it FREE!! There is a limit of 1 per customer.

To take the best advantage of this deal ...
First, go here and print the manufacturer's coupon.
Second, if you're going to add another item (of about $4.25) use a coupon found on page 30 at this website. If you use the two coupons you'll pay $2.79 out of pocket, for the Advil and then get an additional $5.79 for your next purchase.

If you are not familiar with the Extra Care Bucks (ECBs) program at CVS, do yourself a favor and sign up today. It is a great way to save money on items your family uses every day. Basically the program works like this --

1. Sign up for their loyalty card. (I've never had a problem with unwanted emails or ads since signing up).
2. Give them your card before each purchase.
3. Pay a small amount of money for your first purchase; they'll give you back a coupon (ECBs) to use with your next purchase.
4. Use your coupon to make your next purchase, trying to include another ECB item.

As you continue to rollover your ECBs, you can use manufacturer's coupons as well as ECBs to pay for items and end up using even less ECBs and cash.

While at first CVS prices may seem on the high side, if you take advantage of the ECB program you can really do quite well at saving your family some money.

In the past several months I have made purchases of over $50.00 worth of products and spent less than $3.00 out of pocket for the whole purchase.

For a more detailed description of how to save at CVS go here.

Sunday, August 3, 2008


A Journey to Frugal is taking a vacation. We will return with our abnormally scheduled program in approximately one week (that means sometime after August 10).

Enjoy the week.

Friday, August 1, 2008

When Life Hands You Blueberries, Make Lemonade?

When life hands you blueberries, what should you do? I know what you're thinking... You can't make lemonade out of blueberries! But here's the deal; I had a blueberry MESS! And I needed to figure out what to do.

We recently picked 12 pounds of blueberries from a local farm. I made jam from some of them, but wanted to freeze a whole bunch for use later in the season and in the winter. So, after washing them, and drying them on paper towels for several hours I put them on a clean baking sheet and put them in the freezer to "flash freeze." Unfortunately, I forgot they were in there and the next time I opened the freezer door, the tray shifted and the blueberries went rolling ... EVERYWHERE! There were blueberries under the refrigerator, blueberries under the stove, even blueberries under the piano in the living room!

After we got them all cleaned up, they had to be washed ... again (since my floors are not perfectly clean!). Now I had more than a quart of mushy blueberries. What do you do with that many mushy blueberries? I certainly couldn't just throw them out after all that sweat and money! After browsing through several cookbooks, I finally came up with an idea... Blueberry Syrup!

So, I pulled out my Ball Blue Book and found the recipe for making Blueberry Syrup (it's not too difficult or intimidating, since it doesn't require a pressure canner) and proceeded to make just over 3 pints of blueberry syrup. I had enough extra to pour over the blueberry pancakes we had. It was delicious! And, now I don't have to buy or make blueberry syrup for every batch of pancakes.

So, when life hands you mushy blueberries... make blueberry syrup!

For more frugal ideas visit Frugal Friday here.