We rarely eat fast food for dinner but I decided the other night was the exception. The boys had 3 activities we needed to be at, all around dinnertime. We drove through McDonald’s on the way to our 2nd and 3rd activities of the night. I decided Caroline and Andrew would eat once we arrived at Alex’s practice but he needed to eat in the car on the way.

Here was my order at the drive through:

I’d like a #13, a 20 piece chicken nugget (yes, all 3 kids polished this off with no leftovers), 3 milks, and 3 small fries.

After receiving the food,  I placed Alex’s food on a tray and handed it back to him.

Andrew immediately wanted to know, “When do Caroline and I get to eat?’

When we get to the lacrosse field I will give you your food.

“What’s my food?”

I got you some chicken nuggets, a small fry, and a milk.


What do you mean what. I got you the food you asked for.

“What do you mean I got a small fry?”

I got you a small fry, Alex a small fry, and Caroline a small fry.

“What! That’s all I get for dinner?”

What are you talking about? You have this meal every time we come to McDonald’s. There will be more than enough food for you.

Why do I only get one small french fry with my meal?”

Ohhhh. No, you get a small bag of fries. With many fries inside the bag.

“Good because I need more than just one fry. I thought you were only giving me one fry. I’m hungrier than that.”

My Super Bowl Victory

My Super Bowl victory has nothing to do with the Packers or the Steelers. My victory is one between man vs. food. Okay, woman vs. food. I’m talking about the ever elusive perfect potato salad. More specifically…my mom’s potato salad. I have dreamed of making it for years.

My mom makes the best potato salad. At every family gathering, whatever time of year, this dish makes an appearance based on popular demand. Now you may have this dish down pat but remember I am not a cook. The prep time, the layering upon layering of ingredients, and the need to chill overnight, were daunting to me.

I was always intimidated. But no more. I have conquered my potato salad fears and come out the victor.

Last year I asked my mom to let me help her make the potato salad so I would learn the process. I watched as she created it layer by layer but I was sure I would never be able to recreate it. I’d like to say I promptly went and tried to make it soon after but that would be a lie. I didn’t even think about attempting it until a few days ago.

For some reason I felt sloppy joes and potato salad would be perfect for Super Bowl Sunday. I bought the ingredients and waited until the kids were in bed on Saturday night. I read the recipe several times. In fact, I read each step several times. I put the finished product into the refrigerator and hoped for the best on Sunday.

As it turns out, I was pleasantly surprised with my potato salad. It was good. Really good. After the years of worry and self doubt about tackling this recipe I scored! In fact my husband liked it too. On Super Bowl Sunday I had roughly 6 servings of the potato salad a few scoops of the potato salad with my sloppy joes.

Now I’m going to go through the family cookbook to figure out what recipe to try next!

potato saladDo you have a family recipe you’ve always wanted to master?

Honey Cornbread

So I was sitting in bed last night watching “The Mentalist” when I mentioned to Derek that I didn’t have a post for today yet. Suddenly a topic popped into my head. I announced, “I should share the cornbread and chili recipe we had tonight. Those were good.” Derek responded, “Yes, the cornbread would be a good one to share.


Me thinking.

“Oh I get it. You didn’t like the chili.”

“I’m not saying that. It was good too.”

“Right. I think that was very clever how you phrased it.”


“You are in charge of dinner tomorrow. I’m out.”

So, in light of our conversation I will only be sharing the cornbread recipe. Apparently it’s good enough to share.

Honey Cornbread

2/3 cup sugar

1/4 cup butter, softened

4 eggs

1/2 cup honey

1 and 1/3 cups milk

2 and 1/3 cups flour

1 and 1/2 tablespoon baking powder

1/2 cup corn meal

1 teaspoon salt

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cream sugar adn butter. Add in eggs, honey, and milk. Mix well.

2. Mix together flour, baking powder, corn meal, and salt. Mix dry ingredients with wet ingredients. Do not over mix. Batter will be lumpy.

3. Pour batter in greased 11 x 14 inch baking pan. Bake for 35 minutes or until golden brown. (I cooked mine in a 9 x 13 pan for 28 minutes. I think it could have been taken out a few minutes earlier – just watch it carefully).

Anyone have a tried and true chili recipe?

recipe found at www.moneysavingmom.com

Financial Goals Updated

As I mentioned in a previous post, Derek and I have made some financial goals for our family this year. One of the ways I was going to directly help was keeping an eye on the food budget.

January’s goal was to spend $125 less on groceries/eating out a month (compared to 2010 monthly average).

Before I give you the results, here are a few “happennings” concerning eating during the month:

Derek’s birthday dinner, cookie cake for $24.95 (yes, I could have made one, no it would not have been as good), ladies night out for me, kids eat free night at BBQ place, Ben & Jerry’s dessert trip, Double Dip trip for dessert, coffee and breakfast for a friend, several meatless nights, bought diapers and wipes (yes, that’s included in this budget for us), several impromptu visits to CVS for gatorade due to the flu, and we ate out on several occasions.

So…how did we do……..(drum roll here people, work with me)

January 2011 food groceries / eating out budget was $328.35 less than our 2010 monthly average! Yeah for us!

What was the key to our success you might ask? Well, let me tell you. I ignored looks from my husband when I knew he wanted to go out to eat. No, seriously, I think it was our meal planning and cooking some meals ahead of time. It’s always easy to go out to eat when nothing is prepared at home. But if there is a casserole already sitting in the fridge, we’re more likely to go home and eat it.

I used this little form to keep track of all the food purchases. The form actually has 2 months on it. I cut off the top section to keep in my wallet for January and will use the bottom section for February.

It helped me keep a constant watch on what we were spending.

Here’s a peek at our January form filled out.

Thank goodness my birthday is today, February 1st. Just in time for our food budget to be huge. We are going to eat like kings tonight. Who cares if we have beans and toast the rest of the month. OK, maybe not but it’s fun to dream.

Now onto our February goals.

1) February’s goal is to spend $175 less on groceries/eating out a month (compared to 2010 monthly average).

Yes, we were very successful in January, but anything can happen and I’d still like to consider $175 a big achievement in the end.

2) February house goal: anything we buy for the house (decorations or furniture) has to come from money we earned by selling items on craigslist or ebay.

We have several items in our house which I’ve wanted to get rid of and replace for a long time. Sometimes it’s hard to justify getting a new lamp when the one you have works just fine. This goal could be a total disaster but I think it’s worth a shot. Don’t worry, I bought a gallon of paint last weekend so we would at least have a project to work on while we figure out this whole craigslist game.

So that’s what’s new with us in the goals department.

How are you doing with your 2011 goals?

Muffin Love

Many of us at my house are snackers. We love to have a little something between meals. One of the most tasty snacks we enjoy are Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins. Now notice I said tasty and not healthy. Just reading a list of the ingredients could give you a heart attack. They have the tiniest bit of pumpkin in them so they qualify as an okay snack in my book.

I first saw this recipe at Money Saving Mom. I made them last fall and the boys loved them. I tried to make them in the spring but couldn’t find pumpkin in a can anywhere. So this fall I got smart. I stockpiled probably 10 cans of pumpkin. Each time a new can came home my husband would look at the can and shake his head in disbelief. But believe you me, he enjoys these just as much as the boys. Plus, he’s the biggest snacker of all of us. I have trouble keeping snack foods around because of him.

Here’s the recipe (I’ll tell you how I have modified it a bit):

Made this recipe yesterday and it made 70 mini muffins

4 eggs

2 cups of sugar (yes, I said tasty, not healthy)

1 (16 ounce) can of pumpkin (I can only always find 15 oz.)

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 1/4cups vegetable oil (original recipe called for 1 1/2 cups) – it’s a ton of oil, maybe could substitute some of it for applesauce

3 cups flour (I use half white, half whole wheat)

2 teaspoons baking soda

2 teaspoons baking powder

2 teaspoons cinnamon

1 teaspoon salt

12 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips (I put in a half bag of the mini chips)

1. In large mixing bowl beat eggs, sugar, pumpkin, vanilla, and oil until smooth.

2. Mix dry ingredients together and mix into pumpkin mixture. Fold in chocolate chips.

3. Fill greased or paper-lined muffin cups 3/4 full.

4. Bake at 400 degrees F for 16-20 minutes (9-11 minutes for the mini muffins)

I would love a new recipe for a different type of muffin. Let me know if you have a recipe and would like to share it.

Meatless Meal Ideas…I need help!

Since my goal this January is to lower our eating bill by $125.00, I’ve been thinking of some ways to do this. One way is to make my meal plan for the week and stick to it. Here’s this weeks meal plan which we have stuck to so:

Monday: Italian sausage bake, fruit

Tuesday: Pork chops,corn , applesauce, rice packet

Wednesday: homemade pizza & salad

Thursday: Blueberry muffins, eggs, fruit

Friday: Beef Stir Fry, eggrolls

Saturday:taco soup, fruit

Sunday:meatball subs, green beans, fruit

I also noticed that we eat meat for practically every dinner. That’s not good on the budget and it can’t be healthy.  Here’s a list of the meatless meals that are typically in our rotation. I would love to expand this list:

*tomato soup, grilled cheese, pickle

*broccoli, rice, cheese casserole

*homemade pizza


*breakfast foods (pancakes, blueberry muffins, waffles)

Do you have any ideas for meatless meals? I’d love to hear from you.