Princess Themed Birthday Cake

 

Recently, my niece was here visiting and her 6th birthday was a few weeks away. We decided to throw her a spontaneous birthday party while she was in town. So, off I went to the internet for ideas and made this masterpiece out of chocolate cake, chocolate sour cream filling and whipped buttercream frosting. Oh, so good. Too bad I can’t eat it! I love to make cakes for my favorite little people!

Frugal Tip of the Week: Update on Homemade Laundry Detergent

I started making my own laundry soup about a year ago. I wanted to post an update on that topic. I still LOVE LOVE LOVE my homemade laundry soap. I have made one change over the course of the year and that was just in what soap I grate to put in it. I did not like the smell of the Zote soap. I know they make a fragrance free version, but I wanted to go a more natural route. I have switched to using Dr. Bronner’s Castille Soap. I like this much better than the Zote and feel that my clothes are cleaner as well. And there is no smell. This girl absolutely loves that….if you haven’t noticed, I am not a fan of smelly things, unless it’s food cooking! Making my laundry detergent with this soap has raised the cost per load a bit since this soap is more expensive than Zote. I had previously calculated it out to be $0.02 per load. With the new soap it comes out to about $0.06 per load. That is still great in my book for a less chemical filled, no smelling laundry soap. No Tide for me….noway!

 

As far as dryer sheets or fabric softeners…I don’t use those either. If my clothes are static-y I put vinegar in my rinse cycle and use dryer balls.

Grocery Totals….Almost to the End of the Month! Can I Make it Under $100?

We are almost done with the Pantry challenge! Monday will be the end, but I think I may continue to just shop how I have been and only stock up if there is a screamin’ deal and I have the funds! Although, I may increase my budget to $150 to allow for that, I haven’t decided yet…

I made a few short trips the end of last week to the store. I had to go to the Hispanic Market for some good produce deals and I came home with over 7lbs of apples (made homemade applesauce!), 7 nectarines, 3 avocados and a can of peas. My total for this trip was $6.03.

I had to go to target to pick up my new glasses and while I was wondering around the store I grabbed a couple things I needed for my altered diet like all natural peanut butter, whole fruit jam (no sugar) and salad dressing. Since I have been eating so many salads, I ran out of my favorite and all we had left was ranch and I only like ranch from a restaurant, not out of the bottle! I tried to make a few dressings, but I just didn’t like them! My total for Target was $6.23.

Then yesterday I made a quick trip to Food 4 Less to get a few items, both produce and dairy, but also a couple things for my diet. I purchased:

3.5 lbs apples

1 spaghetti squash

4 tomatoes

cauliflower

spinach

6 cans of tuna

milk

ricotta cheese

Mayo

V8

Foil (I had run out. I was going to wait to buy this, but I really could have used some the other day, so I broke down and bought it.)

Can of green beans on clearance.

My total for here was $30.50

I spent $42.76 all together. Add that to my previous weeks and I am at $94.06. Just squeaking under my $100 budget! I may need another head of lettuce later in the week, but other than that we should make it!

Entering Week 4 of the Pantry Challenge….Menu Plan

I am entering the fourth week of my pantry challenge. It really hasn’t been all that challenging for me surprisingly. I had a lot more things in the freezer than I thought I did! I have only planned out our dinners for the week. Going to be winging it for lunches and breakfasts since Lance has only 4 days of school due to an inservice day. Things with an (F) are from the freezer.

 

Monday: Spaghetti with red sauce(F) and seasoned beef (F), crazy bread, salad (I will be eating spaghetti squash and no breadsticks)

Tuesday: Steak(F), mashed potatoes(F), bread machine french bread (For me, mashed cauliflower “potatoes” and salad instead of bread)

Wednesday: Turkey(F) enchiladas (sauce in freezer), beans(F)

Thursday: Whole Wheat thin crust pepperoni(F) pizza (going to make this one whole wheat)

Friday: Turkey(F) burgers on sandwich thins(F) with bacon(F), salad, smiley potatoes(F)

Saturday: Leftovers or turkey

Sunday: We are going to Disneyland and will probably eat dinner on the road on the way home.

 

If you noticed all the turkey this week, it’s because I have one defrosting in the fridge right now. I had gotten 2 on sale for $0.37/lb around the holidays. I plan on grinding the meat in my meat attachment for my kitchen aid to make ground turkey. Then I will make some turkey meatballs and turkey sausage (for spaghetti) to cook up to put back in the freezer. I may be searching for other turkey recipes as well depending on how much meat I have. I didn’t get the red sauce made last week, but I will have to do it this week if we want pizza on thursday since we are using the last bit in the freezer for dinner tonight. I will be updating my grocery totals tomorrow, so keep an eye out for that.

Grocery Trip…


I ran to Fresh and Easy today to pick up some milk, yogurt and a bit of produce for the week. While there I scoped out the clearance section like usual. They had ground beef marked down to $1.29/lb, so I had to snatch it up for the freezer. I just couldn’t refuse at that price since we were down to our last pound in the freezer. I bought 6 pounds. Yep, another rule broken…I am amending my rules! If it’s too good a deal to pass up, and my budget allows, I am buying (although this is my normal shopping routine anyway!).

I spent a total of $16.42 for the items in the picture bringing my total for the month to $51.30. I set my budget at $100 for the month. I was hoping to stay at $50 like last year, but with Dallas taking his lunch everyday and my dietary restrictions and my inability to pass up a good deal, it looks like we will be closer to that $100 mark than I had hoped. I still think $100 for a family of 3 is a great deal for the month though! According to the USDA average food costs we are doing amazing. For a family of 4 in November 2010 (remember we are a family of 3) the “thrifty” plan says average is $506 per month and the “liberal” plan is $986 per month. I don’t know that I have ever spent that much in a month on groceries…even when I was planning my big birthday bash! A normal month of grocery shopping for me is under $200, I guess we fall under the super duper thrifty category….

If you would like to try this in your house, the first thing you need is a well stocked pantry/freezer in the first place. If you are wondering how to do that on a budget, read THIS.

Menu Plan For the Week

This is the 3rd week on the pantry challenge and it seems I haven’t even put a dent in our freezer! Nevertheless, here is my menu plan for the week.

Breakfasts: protein shakes for Dallas and I. Lance will have stuff from the freezer like pancakes, waffles, scones, muffins (all of which are whole wheat)or eggs or oatmeal.

Lunches: Dallas packs his own with wraps, leftovers, frozen burritos (homemade), or the ham and cheese muffin bites I made the other day.
Lance’s will be PB&J, salami/cheese, leftover pasta, and ham and cheese bites for this short holiday week at school. As for me…I don’t know yet!

Dinners:
Monday: Dinner out with Family
Tuesday: Roasted Whole Chicken (freezer), Homemade french bread, roasted sweet potatoes or mashed potatoes for Dallas (both from freezer)
Wednesday: Chicken Bacon Alfredo Bake with leftover roasted chicken
Thursday: BBQ chicken pizza (also with leftover chicken)
Friday: Burgers with homemade fries
Saturday: Jeep Poker Run, eat there
Sunday: Tacos (haven’t decided on the meat for them yet)

Don’t you love how far a $3.21 chicken can go! I plan on getting some produce this week to round out the meals a bit. I also plan on making the homemade french bread (bread machine), Red Sauce for the freezer since we are down to one container. I may also whip up some whole wheat pancakes to stock the freezer more for Lance’s breakfasts. We are running low on those as well. My kid REFUSES to even try cereal, so I like to have many options in the freezer for easy breakfasts.

Peanut Butter Balls

Last week I said that I was going to make some peanut butter balls for Lance’s lunches. He loves these little protein balls. They are simple to whip up and store wonderfully in the freezer. I don’t really follow a recipe. I just dump things together to make the consitency of a thick cookie dough.

This batch had:

About 1 cup peanut butter

1/2 c  or so dry milk powder (can use protein powder)

1/2 c or so ground flax (or chopped nuts)

2 T or so honey

Mix them all up and scoop with small cookie scoop. I rolled mine in some crushed apple cinnamon cereal and a few in some nesquik chocolate drink mix to keep the stickiness at bay. Freeze on a cookie sheet until hard then put in a baggie.

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