Tuesday, October 18, 2011

The Cold Blues


I struggled all last week with a cold. My nose was a faucet, my throat was scratchy, I was losing my voice. This wasn't just any cold that drains your power and makes life miserable. This cold knocked me on my rear and said, "STAY!"

It took me a while to head back up the road to health again. The first step was I had to actually admit I was ill. I know, I'm a mom and I CAN'T get sick. It's not in our frame of reference! There was laundry to do, dishes to wash, meals to cook, faces to wash, school work to check and more. I labored on, pretending I wasn't ill until I was at the point of collapse. Are any of you nodding because you've done something similar?

So, I spent two days resting. Are any of you gasping in horror and disbelief? I know, I still feel a little guilty because, let's face it, society screams in our ears that we must be perfect robots and any weakness is unacceptable. Well, I took two guilt-free days and rested. My husband took care of most of the meals, the dishes piled up in the sink and the floor got dirty. The kids survived the ordeal by snuggling with me for a few minutes here and there and I concentrated on staying hydrated while trying NOT to rub my nose off. (Thank goodness for my lotion bar! It really soothed my aching nose.)

You know what DID happen? I woke up the third day with energy. I tackled the dishes (with little hands helping), I started a load of clothes, I felt emotionally available to my children and I am ready to tackle the world again.

I might just schedule a "sick" day every month if these are the results of a sick day (or two)!

Sunday, October 2, 2011

The Hard Lessons of Life

When you walk down the grocery aisle and pick up a package of chicken breasts, it's easy to forget where the meat comes from. It is very easy to displace your ability to consume meat from the reality of the life that is lost obtaining the meat.

Yesterday, my husband and I killed the big rooster and introduced our children to death. Part of me wants to curl up in a ball and hide from the responsibility to guide my children through the sad parts of life. Part of me knows that hiding from it doesn't make the rough patches disappear for my children. They will hurt and mourn whether I show them the tools to deal with it or not.

The back story: We purchased chickens mostly for the eggs. John and I built the chicken coop ourselves then populated it with life. When John bought these chickens, he wanted 1 rooster and 3 hens. When he picked up the chickens, the seller handed him two more adolescent chickens and said no charge. The gal had too many chickens and wanted to be rid of them so we made them part of our family.

1 month later and I noticed that one of the adolescent "females" was revealing very male qualities. The feathers were turning colorful and a red waddle was developing. We finally understood why the other chickens picked on this young chicken more -it was a rival rooster.

After a lot of discussion, we decided we wanted to let the younger rooster take over the flock. The older rooster wasn't as friendly as we wanted and we wanted a break from his constant crowing. We considered giving him away but didn't know anyone who needed a rooster. We then decided to butcher him.

I have to admit, writing what we did feels harsh. We don't take pleasure in killing. We don't enjoy the thought of ending a life. We had to face and own the actual source of the meat we so easy throw into our shopping carts.

After much blundering about, the deed was done but helping our children through this loss will take longer. Only our oldest was around for the process. He was the only one we felt was old enough to see the death. He had to leave several times and we let him come and go as he needed. My heart ached as I watched him mourn the rooster. Tears fell from all.

The younger two didn't see any part of the death so they only understand the rooster is gone. I think the concept the the rooster died isn't concrete yet and I think it should stay that way for a few more years until they have more maturity and life experience to handle death.

As we work through the loss, I feel the most important lessons I am teaching my children are:

  • It's OK to hurt. Accept the pain. Avoiding your feelings does not make them go away. Take all the time you need to process what happened (death, injury, heartbreak, etc.). We have talked about why the rooster died, what they think of the rooster being gone and more several times in just 24 hours. I'll talk to them about it as many times as they need to work through this new trial.
  • Death is a part of life. While death is sad and birth is happy, we will experience both as we live. We talked about how one day we'll get chicks from some of the eggs and as the chickens get older they will die too.
  • We did not kill for fun. We made sure everyone understood John and I did not kill the rooster because we enjoyed it. We killed the rooster for meat to nourish us and so the little rooster could grow up. While watching videos to get ideas on how to kill and butcher the chicken efficiently, we found videos of drunk guys laughing and rejoicing over the deaths. That was not the message we want our children to receive.
How do you handle guiding your children through the hard parts of life?

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Homeschooling . . . wait, what?

Homeschooling has never been on any to-do list I created. I never dreamed of the possibility of teaching any of my children at home. I needed my "me" time and it was never a possibility.

Unfortunately, my oldest is having difficulties in school and his behaviors are escalating. In good conscience, I couldn't let him continue disrupting class and without being at school, I can't tell the teachers what was triggering his behaviors.

We jumped into homeschooling rather fast and I am still determining what curriculum we will use but the lessons we have done so far are working well. Spencer is much more relaxed and we get through the material quickly.

So, how many of you home-school? How did you decide on the curriculum? Any tips for a newbie?

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

DIY: Jasmine's Space

Jasmine has been sharing the large bedroom with the boys for several months now. While it could be worse, she really needed her space away from boys and boy things. I decided that the landing at the top of the stairs was just the right amount of space for a young girl . . . with a catch.

One of the agreements I made with my parents was that I would help them get the house we are renting from them ready for other renters. That means helping update the house and clean out mom and dad's things. I knew that I was committing to a lot of work but sometimes I wonder if I'm slightly insane or something.

So, the first order of business was to empty out the space for Jasmine to use. This meant two days of organizing, packing, moving and cleaning.

I took the first picture after packing and cleaning a day. The second picture is halfway through day two and I had dug out enough to work on the closet area.

I repeated over and over to myself that it would be worth it. Jasmine would have her own space and everyone would sleep better and argue less.

Packing, packing and more packing . . . moving, sweeping, cleaning.

You can see my big helpers here cleaning the floor.

Finally, we hit a point where we had basically everything out from upstairs, everything off the walls, the closet swept and mopped and the walls ready for prepping.

In case you have never prepped walls for painting, part of that is filling in holes. It's not hard really. Grab a putty knife, slab on the wall patch and scrape off the excess.

The walls were covered with holes so this step actually took quite a long time. *sigh*

The next step I did was to paint the bottom of Jasmine's walls. Jasmine loves Tinkerbell, fairies, princesses, butterflies and any thing that is cuddly or pretty. She has a comforter that is a sky over grass with flowers so I loosely imitated the blanket. Here's the first coat of the bottom green.

The top we did in a light blue. For the paints, when Menards had the free after rebate gallons of white paint, we bought as many as we were allowed. When it came time to paint Jasmine's room, I found the colors I wanted then I picked the color at the bottom of the sample card and bought a sample of that color. When I got home, I mixed a gallon of the free-after-rebate paint with each color sample. Two gallons of paint ended up costing $5.00 after tax.

I bought a Tinkerbell boarder and it divides the room really well! The fairy stickers Jasmine enjoys tremendously and is a nice touch to finish the wall. They aren't organized like I would prefer to have them, but they are Jasmine's so I let her arrange them.

One addition the space desperately needed was a fan. In the summer, it gets stuffy in this area because of poor insulation and the lack of a duct vent.

I didn't take any pictures of the process but I cut a hole in the ceiling, ran wiring to the wall, encountered many problems in the wall getting the wire to a power source but eventually, I had the wiring ready and I hung the fan. It is the perfect size for the room and adds light where Jazzy needs it.

There are a few more details I am working on like adding a rod so Jasmine can hang clothes and finishing the painting in a couple areas but you can see by Jasmine's smile that she's a happy camper in her own space!

I'll update with more pictures once I have all the details in her room sorted out.

Garage Sale-ing with a Purpose for Kids Clothes

A while back there was a post on Money Saving Mom about how to garage sale with a purpose to save money and gather supplies with a purpose and a plan. The post was specifically about getting deals at garage sales for kids clothing. While reading the post I had slap-the-forehead moments and I wished I had thought of things years ago! I cringe to think how much money I would have saved. (If I can find the link to the awesome article, I'll add it to this article later.)

The first step is to decide how many of what your child(ren) needs. Depending on where you live, you might need more shorts than pants or vice versa. I decided that I want 10 short sleeved shirts, 10 long sleeved shirts, 5 pants, 5 shorts and church clothing. They need underwear and socks too but I'll buy those new.

Second step is to inventory what you have now. What sizes and what gender do you have in the closet already? Once you have a list, make a spreadsheet on paper or on the computer listing what you need and what you have. When you garage sale, this list is your guide to ensure you get what you need and avoid impulse buying.

So, the above picture is the fruits of my first effort. I did a craig's list search for garage sales in Lincoln that advertised children's clothing. Then I did a search in the Lincoln Journal Star for the same thing. I looked at a map of Lincoln and decided which garage sales I would visit and which I would skip. Basically, I looked for several sales in the same area to maximize my time and efforts.

I didn't stop at all the sales I looked up and not every garage sale I stopped at had anything worth while but I did find some amazing deals. I found one garage sale with size 6 girl's clothing. I checked the Excel sheet and I needed all things in girl's size 6! These were name brand clothes so the asking price was higher than I would normally prefer. In the article I found, it talked about the fact that there isn't anything wrong with asking people to take a lower price.

I grabbed the 5 shirts that were the right size and the total sticker price was $7.75. I pulled out $6.00 cash and gathered my courage. I asked if the gal would take $6.00 for all. After she did the math in her head she said yes! So, 5 shirts marked of my list for $1.20 a shirt. I'm not a label snob or anything but these shirts are high quality material. They aren't going to rip easily like the shirts I find at Walmart and might last long enough that I can resell them once Jazzy has outgrown them!

After many strike outs I found a garage sale where clothes were marked .25 each! The girl's clothes were size 10 which I didn't have and there were boy long sleeved shirts sized 5 and 6 which I needed for Scotty. I grabbed everything that wasn't stained. I spotted some shoes that were $1.00 a pair and thought of my nieces. All told, I spent $7.00 at that garage sale and I basically have Jasmine's wardrobe when she is 10.

I spent a total of $13.00 and walked away with 19 shirts, 5 pants and 2 pairs of shoes. That's .50 a piece of clothing on average! When I consider that I would have paid at least $3.00 each at Walmart, I saved over $65.00 by garage sale-ing with a purpose.


My mom and I spotted a great deal on plums at the store and we went a little crazy. At least, I'm sure that's what the check out girl thought. She gave us a funny look. :)

Mom and I spent a lot of time cutting out pits and creating freezer bags full of plums. I decided that I wanted to make jam so guess what I pulled out first? Yup. My handy-dandy juicer. Have I mentioned how much I love my juicer?

After grinding up two colander's worth, I realized I needed to be somewhere. I grabbed my freezer bags and measured out the correct amounts for a batch of jam and poured it into the freezer bags. I labeled them and threw them in the freezer. When I am in a jam mood again all I have to do is dump the jam in the jam pot and add the pectin. Viola!

Did you notice that I have my bag hanging inside a blender jar? It's a trick I learned online (probably from Money Saving Mom) to prevent the bag from collapsing or spilling while you are trying to fill it. Put the bag in a jar, bowl, cup or anything else that the bag's zipper will fit over and it stays open while you are pouring. (Make sure you take out the blade if you use the mixer.) I am just in awe of how smart people can be!

Laundry Soap Follow Up

While I'm on the subject of laundry, here's an update on the laundry soap I made. This morning whenI started my one load of laundry a day, I shook the laundry soap bottle that I reuse with the liquid laundry soap and realized there were only a couple of drops left in the bottle. I opened the 5 gallon bucket I filled with detergent and realized it was almost gone.

I find myself waning nostalgic about it. I made the first batch in June and this is the third time I have filled up the big jug with detergent. I expect it to last through October which is fantastic. These huge jugs of laundry detergent cost $10.00+ at the store even when you purchase the generic brands so filling it 3 times for $3.00 has saved me at least $27.00 for these last 4 months.

I also have to be completely honest with you . . . I've been using much more detergent that I actually need in each load because I wanted to use up the liquid and start using the powder version of this laundry soap.

Instead of 1 cup (I use the measuring cup that came with the jug), I have been using a cup and extra. If I weren't impatient, I think this batch would have lasted at least 6 months.

Think about that for a moment. $3.00 for 6 months of laundry. Isn't that incredible?

Add to that the fact that I didn't buy 3 jugs of laundry soap and use up plastic containers makes me feel glowy about how "green" I can be when I try.

Now that I'm down to my last jug of liquid soap, it's time to make the dry version. I'll post on that process here soon.

One Load of Laundry a Day

Laundry is a necessary evil in life -unless you're happy walking around in clothes that bend instead of hang. As appealing that option is some days, my darling hubby can't stand smudges, smears, spots or anything on his clothes. (Boy did he get a nasty wake-up call being married to messy me!)

So, I was inspired by a post on Money Making Mom a while ago where she talked about her desire to follow an organization guru's advice and wash 1 load of laundry a day. I decided to try it and I'm thrilled with the results!
  1. I don't feel overwhelmed thinking about laundry anymore. I used to dread the thought because it was so much work washing, drying, folding and putting away 6 loads of laundry in one day. Most of the time I would get the laundry washed and dried but not put away so the clothes sat in baskets for weeks until I couldn't tell which baskets held clean clothes and which held dirty clothes so I'd take them ALL back downstairs for a wash. Now, I don't always get the clothes put away the same day as when I wash them but it's only 1 basket so I take care of it the next day without dread.
  2. The kids and hubby are happier. They can find clean clothes every day. I am happier because we haven't had a mom-I-don't-have-any-clean-underwear conversation in weeks.
  3. Dirty clothes don't pile up on floors. Every morning or two I pour all of the dirty clothes hampers into one basket and carry the dirty clothes downstairs so I have something to wash each day. We avoid the carpet of clothes my boys like to create and I stay a happier camper.
All in all, this works for us. I am so glad Crystal at Money Saving Mom blogged about the idea!

Monday, September 26, 2011

Menards Freebies 9/26

All items are free after mail-in-rebate. There are limits on how many you can buy and receive a rebate so make sure to read the fine print at the store.

Most of the sales are the same from last week. My parents were at Menards and found another deal of wall triangle brackets free after rebate.

Stain away pen: $1.50
Lifetime Ultra Caulk: $3.50 -free after rebate
Bayco Extension Cord Lock: $0.79 -free after rebate
Spot Chomp Stain Remover 13.2 oz. : $4.00 -free after rebate
Mini Storage Bin 4" x 3.25" x 5": $0.50 -free after rebate
14" Plastic Mud Pan: $4.50 -free after rebate
Broadloom Mat 18" x 24": $1.50 -free after rebate
Moldex Deep Stain Remover 32 oz.: 10.00 -Free after rebate
Utility Mat 23" x 35": $5.00 -Free after rebate
Empire Poly Rafter Square: $2.50 -Free after rebate

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Apple Butter Tutorial

I discovered a large box of cut and peeled apples in the freezer so of course I had to make Apple Butter! For those of you not familiar with Apple Butter, it is similar to Apple Sauce but spiced to have a rich flavor. It is also thickened making it a great spread for bread, bagels, English muffins or anything else you spread on. I do know people that pour a bowl and eat it like apple sauce as well. I have thrown a few spoonfuls in oatmeal to give add flavor. In other words, Apple Butter is yummy and versatile!

First, I ran all the apples through my juicer then poured the pulp back into the juice. I love my juicer!

After the mushed apples were ready, I grabbed my canning pot, filled it with water and the quart-sized jars I planned to use and turned the burner to high to start a boil.

I could have started the pot before I did anything with the apples but I didn't think about it at first. Always start your canning pot early in the canning process. You need around 20 minutes for the water to come to a boil and sterilize the jars. Sterile jars are important to prevent bacteria from living and multiplying in your food.

Once I had the water on the stove and heating up, I measured the apple mash. I had 24 cups! That's a lot of apple. I poured the mash into a large pot and added spices.

For spices I added nutmeg, cinnamon, and cloves. The rule of thumb is 1/2 tsp of each for every 4 cups of apple. You can alter this ratio to your taste. This particular ratio gives a nice spicy flavor but if you prefer a more mild apple butter, you can reduce the spices.

When I called my mom and asked for the recipe for her apple butter, she told me to add 1 cup of sugar for every cup of apple. 24 cups of sugar? That's way too much! I decided to take a risk and half the amount of sugar she said. That was still 12 cups of sugar but I felt better about that than 24 cups. I grabbed a #10 can of sugar from food storage and basically used the whole thing.

After I added the sugar I turned the burner up to high and brought the mixture to a boil. The boiling is for a couple reasons. First, the heat helps the sugar caramelize and thicken the apple butter. Second, it helps kill any bad things you don't want in your food.

Once you have a nice rolling boil in the apple butter and in canning pot, using canning jar tongs pull out a jar of filled with boiling water. Have a second pot of water filled with the tops and rings on the stove and pour the boiling water from the jar onto the lids and rings.

See the handy-dandy magnet? Those things are totally worth the money. If you want to can, buy one. It makes pulling the lids and rings out of the hot water easier than pie! Wait, so far pie has eluded my abilities -yes, the crusts have been coming out really gross -so think of something easier than making pie and it's even easier than that!
Now that we have the easier-than-that dilemma figured out, the next step is filling the jars with apple butter. I used wide mouth jars and a ladle to fill the jars. If you have regular width jars, a canning funnel makes pouring much easier.

When you fill the jars, make sure to leave at least an inch at the top empty. If you don't (like I forgot to) the apple butter can expand and pour out the top during the water bath or cooling.

In the picture to the right, I'm cleaning off the threads and tops of the jars. No matter what you are canning, make sure that the top and threads are clean so the jars will seal properly. Use a clean, damp rag.

See how high I filled the jars? I should have filled just to the point where the jar narrows instead of half way up the neck of the jar. Lesson learned.

Next step: grab the lids and rings from the small pot you poured hot water in and place them on the jars. They will be hot so I recommend using hot pads or a towel to twist the rings on. Tighten the rings down until they are snug.

Once you have the lids on, put the jars in the boiling water ('cause you left the water boiling, right?)

Depending on the size of you canning pot, you might be able to do a few jars at a time or lots of jars at a time. I think I use a standard canning pot which holds 7 quart sized jars. This turned out to be perfect for this batch of apple butter. I did 6 quarts and made 2 pints of apple butter to sell at the Seward Farmer's Market.

Let the jars boil for about 30 minutes. This gives the heat plenty of time to kill off any remaining germs and create the right vacuum for sealing.

Once your timer beeps, pull out the jars and place them on a towel on your counter. Almost immediately, you'll hear some popping. The pop is the vacuum doing it's thing and sealing the jars properly. Let the jars sit for a couple hours then press down on each lid. If your lids are sealed, they won't pop again. Unsealed jars will make a popping noise when you press down in the middle of the lid.

Here is one of the completed jars of apple butter. If you look closely, you can see a little apple butter pooled at the base of the jar and a mud-slide looking texture on the side of the jar. This is one of the jars I over filled. Crazy enough, the lid still sealed so I cleaned up the jar and put it in my pantry. Another one of the jars did not seal properly so I placed it in the fridge to eat.

An open jar will last a month or two in the fridge without any problems. When you see anything growing in the apple butter, it's time to throw it out. In my house, it doesn't last long enough to go bad.

So . . . there's apple butter! I'm buying at least 1 bushel of apples from a local farmer here soon and making apple sauce and apple juice. The process is similar and I'll post how that goes in a week or two.

Did you know you can make pear butter, peach butter or most anything you want? What flavor do you want to try?

Batch Baking and Corn Dog Muffins

I did another batch baking session and made banana bread and corn dog muffins. Unfortunately the banana bread came out on the rubbery side but the kids gobbled down the corn dog muffins.

I didn't do anything special for the corn dog muffins. I used a regular corn muffin mix, poured it into the mini loaf pans, cut the hot dogs in half then placed one dog on top of the batter. While cooking the dog drops into the batter and cooks in the middle of the loaf.

The one change I would make is pouring honey on top of the muffins before cooking. The corn dog mix is fine but I like the extra pizazz honey brings to a dish.

I made several loaves and what we didn't eat I let cool on a wire rack fully then placed about 8 in each freezer bag. When I pulled these bad boys out of the freezer to serve another meal, I microwaved for 1 minute and served. The reheat tasted just as good as the original.

At the bottom of the picture to the right you can see how the corn dogs look when they are done. Yea!

My mom had an idea when she saw these. She suggested cutting the hot dogs into 1/4"-1/2" bite sized pieces and using mini loaf pans. I will try a pan of those in my next corn dog cooking session.

Have you made any fun dishes today?

Mendards Deals

Menards has several free-after-rebate items this week. There are limits on how many you can buy and receive a rebate so make sure to read the fine print at the store.

Lifetime Ultra Caulk: $3.50 -free after rebate
Bayco Extension Cord Lock: $0.79 -free after rebate
Spot Chomp Stain Remover 13.2 oz. : $4.00 -free after rebate
Mini Storage Bin 4" x 3.25" x 5": $0.50 -free after rebate
14" Plastic Mud Pan: $4.50 -free after rebate
Broadloom Mat 18" x 24": $1.50 -free after rebate
Moldex Deep Stain Remover 32 oz.: 10.00 -Free after rebate
Utility Mat 23" x 35": $5.00 -Free after rebate
Empire Poly Rafter Square: $2.50 -Free after rebate

There are many other great deals like 100 count sanitary hand wipes that are Buy One Get One Free for $3.28 and 300 count matches for $0.99.

I'm a little excited about the 14" Mud Pan. I'm going to go see what the quality of the item is. If the plastic is thick enough I might pick a couple up to use as planters next spring. :)

Did you find any great deals this week? Please share!

Getting Organized: Day 2

Yesterday I made it a big priority to laminate my chore charts. After Jazzy woke up and the boys were out the door to school, I dug around in the closet and located my laminating machine. Jasmine helped me laminate the sheets then I found my coil binding machine and added the edge to keep the pages together. Looks pretty snazzy, no?

I woke up with John again this morning to get an early start on my day. I enjoyed morning prayer with John then personal scripture study. I decided I might as well start at the beginning of the Bible again since I'm not as familiar with the Old Testament as I'd like to be.

It's 5:45 in the morning and I have 2 things knocked off my list. (The most important in my humble opinion.) After posting about 1 more topic, I'm off to Critique Circle to give my opinions to another writer.

Monday, September 19, 2011

On the Blog Again: Getting Organized

It's time for me to get organized. A big fan of Money Saving Mom, I admire how she sets goals every week. She challenges herself to exercise, bless others, clean and more. I admire how she breaks her goals down into manageable chunks and holds herself accountable.

In an effort to do similarly, I decided I would get up with hubby at way too early this morning and think out everything I want to accomplish this week. I then wrote it all out on this white board in 2 shakes of a rabbit's tail.

Oh wait, it wasn't actually that easy. I wish I were that good! I first started with a piece of paper and wrote out ideas for things I wanted to get done like harvest the last of the grapes, juice/bottle the grapes, finish the yellow room, etc. As I was doing that, it dawned on me that I have things I want to do every day and I better include those in the weekly schedule. So, I made another list and wrote down things that are basic upkeep.

  • Pray -Cause we gotta pray just to make it today
  • Scripture Study -To feast upon the words of Christ
  • Exercise -To keep my body healthy enough to do the things I want to accomplish
  • Dishes -I'm a happier person when my dishes are clean
  • 1 Load of Laundry -So I don't spend 10 hours on Saturday trying to get all the clothes clean
  • 1 Critique - at Critique Circle to earn credits for others to critique my stories
  • Blog Post -so I regularly post here
  • Call 1 Friend -to maintain my friendships
While I'm sure there are many other good things to do each day, these are most important to me. So, I had a list of miscellaneous tasks, a list of things to do daily and I already have a chore chart so I slapped them together in Word in tables for each day. I have extra lines on each day so I can add items as I think of them.

Yea! I'm done! I printed them out and I grabbed my trusty laminator. Or, I would have had it been where it was supposed to be. When I cleaned out the yellow room to tear it apart, I moved everything upstairs in the closet in the room that is now Jasmine's. I'm not about to go up and wake her with my rummaging so the lamination is on hold until the kiddos wake up.

I didn't want to throw myself off my goal of getting organized though so I searched for this spare whiteboard, scrubbed it with a magic eraser (those things are awesome!) and wrote in the days of the week. Well, I started but put the days too far apart so I erased the days and started over which was OK because it's a white board. (Yes, I am encouraging you to use a whiteboard.)

I've made this story way too long already. Time to get to the point. I have every day written, my daily tasks first, the room I will deep clean each day under that, any items from the calendar under that then bigger, various tasks along the bottom. As I think of things, I can add or erase tasks as needed. After taking the picture above I added Sharing Time to the Sunday column since I am planning the lesson and Laminate Chore Charts to the bottom misc. tasks.

This is my plan for getting organized. What will you or do you do to organize your life?

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Menards Deals

Do you cringe at rebates? I used to as well. To make taking advantage of the mail-in rebate as easy as possible use these steps:

1. Make up a page of adhesive labels with your name, address, city, state and zip on them.
2. Grab a stack of envelopes, slap a postage stamp and half of your return address labels on them and keep them in your purse/briefcase/wallet etc. Keep the other half of the address labels in with the envelopes.
3. After you check out, grab your rebate form from the stacks they have, slap your address label on the rebate form, fill in any extra information they request.
4. Rip off the portion of your receipt with your rebate (at the bottom)
5. Fill out one of the envelopes with the rebate address and place the rebate form and the rebate receipt in the envelope.
6. Seal and drop in the nearest mailbox.

This week for free after rebate

Vaseline Sheer Infusion Lotion 6.8 oz -Limit 6 per household. (I am debating on this one. I make my own lotions but for free I can drop these off at the homeless shelter or something.)
Steel Shelf Bracket 12" -Limit 10 per household.
Shopper's Bag -Limit 10 per household.

There are other great sales but these are the free-bies! Remember, these deals may vary by location. They are also subject to location stock.

Lotion Bar Tutorial

What is a lotion bar? It is simply lotion made as a solid.

I love lotion bars. They are nice because they do not require preservatives because there is no water. They are made with beeswax which leaves a protective layer on your skin which means you do not have to re-apply lotion every single time you wash your hands. This is a bonus to me as a mom who cooks a lot. I feel like I am always washing my hands.

This lotion bar recipe is an experiment for me. I have had requests for a lotion bar with no scent or colorant for extra sensitive skin. After more research, I learned olive oil's PH is the closest oil to our natural skin's PH. Because of that, I integrated olive oil in with this batch.

Notice the scale? When working with a range of solids and liquids, it is simpler to weigh everything instead of try to measure. My measurements listed are in pounds and weight ounces. So here's my recipe.

1 lb beeswax
3.5 oz (weighed, 4oz volume)
3.5 oz (weighed, 4oz volume)
5 oz Shea butter
5 oz Cocoa butter
5 oz Mango Butter

You do not have to have several types of butters. Using only shea or mango butter will both make a nice lotion bar. You do need to have a lotion butter in the recipe. You also do not need to use jojoba oil. I simply like it though I might replace it with a different oil for budgetary reasons. Vitamin E Oil, Almond Oil or using all Olive oil will give you nice results.

I drove to Lincoln and visited Valhalla Bees at 47th and Hartley. (They are west of the Dolly Madison store and east of the indoor shooting range.) They had processed some wax and I picked up 3 lbs. I chose pound bricks because it's lower cost per pound and I make big batches at a time. If you want to make a single lotion bar, you can buy the beeswax in ounces if you want.

I also swung by Herbs and More and picked up 4 oz of Jojoba Oil. They charged $9.99 for 4 oz! This is an extremely high price so if anyone finds jojoba oil for less, please let me know where!

I do not have a dedicated sauce pan big enough for a pound of beeswax so I decided to use the microwave method. When making lotions, do not use your regular cookware. It is really hard to get it completely clean! I recommend grabbing a cheap sauce pan from Walmart or go to a donation store like Goodwill or Salvation Army to get a sauce pan dedicated to making lotions. Or, get a cheep, microwave-safe plastic bowl and dedicate it to making lotions.

I put the pound of wax, oils and butters in the bowl and microwaved for 2 minutes. Then I pulled out and stirred briefly and put the bowl back in the microwave. The picture to the right is after 2 minutes. I set the microwave for another 2 minutes then pulled the bowl out and stirred again. I did this over and over again. Please note, the bowl will get really hot in the bottom. Always tap the bowl lightly where you are going to grab and ensure it is safe to touch or wear protective oven mitts.

When the wax is almost completely melted, you can pull the bowl out and stir until the rest of the beeswax disappears.

At this point, the mixture is extremely hot. Make sure to put the bowl on a trivet or hot pad, not your counter. Also, do not touch the mixture as it can cause severe burns.

I have my dedicated mixing spoon and measuring cup in the bowl. I stirred for approximately one minute to make sure all the ingredients are combined. Notice the beautiful amber color. There is no trace of the separate ingredients. If you used bleached wax the color would be almost transparent.

If you wanted to add scent or color, this is the stage to add those. Be sure to use oil soluble colorant with this recipe. You can add regular food color to creme lotions because they contain water. Food color simply pools or makes little balls in oil. (Yes, I found out the hard way!)

I use regular muffin tins for my molds. There are many molds in a broad variety of shapes and sizes available for you to purchase if you are so inclined. Again, these need to be dedicated to your lotion/craft making. You do not want to use these to make food as it is extremely difficult to get these completely clean and the oils will contaminate your food.

I placed my muffin tin on my scale since I sell my lotion bars. If you notice, there is some wax spillage in between the cups. As the mixture cools, you can scrape the spots off easily and put the pieces back in your still warm mixture.

As the lotion bars cool, they will change to a lighter color. These lotion bars still have a slightly darker center which means they are solid on the outside and still partially liquid in the center. If you touch the tops, they are only warm, no longer hot.

If you want, you can leave the lotion bars out for several hours and let them cool. There isn't a set way to cool them as long as you allow several hours for complete cooling.

Personally, I like to get them out of the muffin tins and wrapped as soon as possible. I let them cool for approximately 30 minutes on the counter then I put them in the freezer. After about 15 minutes in the freezer, I can turn the pan upside down and drop it onto my table and the lotion bars pop out. It sometimes takes a few drops before all of them come out so don't worry if the first drop doesn't work. Getting the bars out is also why I do not fill the muffin tins to the top. The space helps protect the lotion bars from being marred during my "scientific" extraction process.

If you make a large batch like I did, you might have wax left over after filling your molds. As it cools, it will turn hard as well. Do not fear! You can simply put the bowl back in the microwave in 2 minute segments again and fill your molds again once you have emptied them.

The recipe above that I used made 20 lotion bars. I sell my lotion bars for $4.00 each and they last for months. To apply, pick up and rub on your dry skin as if you were using a bar of soap. If your bar is cold, you will need to hold the bar in your hands for a few seconds to warm the mixture enough to melt the beeswax. If the bar is hot, it is really easy to apply too much!

For happy feet, use a salt scrub (also easy to make) to buff off any dirt or dry skin. Then use the lotion bar to seal in the wonderfulness!

Happy lotion making and let me know how your bars turn out!

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Menards Deals

In retrospect, I should have written this post sooner. Menards has some amazing deals for the DIYer and this week they have had a deal where you can buy up to five gallons of paint for $11.00 then fill out a rebate card for $11.00. In other words, free after rebate.

No, you can't have Menards tint the paint. It's part of the "special" HOWEVER, you can buy a pint of paint and tint the gallon -or possibly tint several gallons depending on the color you want for a low price. Personally, I have a quart of paint that I received for free as part of a marketing campain held by a paint company. It is a deep wine red that I can use to tint one of the gallons. We have plans to remodel my parents' downstairs bathroom and the red will look amazing with the woodwork.

Menards also had a rebate for free caulk! I'm a bit of a caulk nut. It solves so many problems like air leaks, water leaks and gaps where creepy-crawlys like to enter. Telling me I can have more caulk for free (even if it's after a rebate) is like telling a choco-holic they get a year's supply of Hershy bars!

These deals are only good until tomorrow. On Monday I'll post any other amazing deals I see.

Taco Heaven

Today I did my big shopping trip. Super Saver had a weekend sale on 80/20 hamburger meat. Since it was less than $2.00 a pound for a huge roll and I needed a few more items in Lincoln, I could justify making the trip.

While I was at Super Saver I found the huge bottle of taco sauce. I absolutely love this jug! My husband loves making nachos so I figured this would be a win-win situation.

I have hamburgers planned for a meal this week so I went ahead and made hamburger patties and put them in a container. I used about 5 lbs and I have 12 patties that will be ready to cook when we decide to eat them.

I put about 3 lbs of meat in my large Pampered Chef Sauce Pan and browned the meat. Once it was done cooking, I poured the grease out then poured a generaous amount of taco sauce in. We had nachos and afterwards, I put the leftovers in baggies to freeze.

Whoops! I forgot to mark these bags! I grabbed my masking tape and wrote the date and "taco meat" four times. I stuck the tape to the bags and threw them in the freezer.

The taco sauce I will tackle tomorrow. that is a lot of sauce to use so I will divide it up in quarts tomorrow then can it. I'll take photos so you can see how to divvy up a large container of non-meat food.

Now, to figure out how I am going to use the jug . . .

Rhubarb Joy!

When I made up all the zucchini bread, I saved a loaf to take to the neighbor who gave me the zucchini. I finally remembered to take it to her yesterday and while I was there she asked me if I wanted some rhubarb. Well, of course I did! She even had a print out of ways to use rhubarb that she gave me.

In case you aren't familiar with rhubarb, the plant grows in bushy clumps. It survives the best in cool months. It doesn't do well in southern states but northern states can generally develop a good crop. The rhubarb is immune to most pests and disease which makes it a low maintenance crop. It has a tart flavor in the stalk area which is wonderful for jams and pies. You can actually chew on the stalk like celery if you want. I remember doing so when I was a young girl in my mother's garden.

Pictured you can see the stalks that my neighbor gave to me. I'd like to say that Jasmine's hand is in the picture for reference but really she just wanted her picture taken and this was her sneaky way of getting in all the photos. :)

I took the stalks and trimmed the leaves off the top and cleaned the stalks thoroughly. I know my neighbor doesn't use pesticides on her crops but the stalks had a lot of dirt on them. Once cleaned, you know my favorite method of chopping/getting-the-food-to-manageable-sizes. Yes indeedy, I pulled out my handy-dandy juicer and threw the stalks in.

In hind-sight, I would do things differently if I get more rhubarb. The stalks went through the juicer fast enough but several large chunks popped out of the juicing part and into the pulp catcher. I will throw the stalks in the freezer next time to give them a better solidity before using the juicer. I think I'll be much happier with the results.

As it was, I ended up with a funky-looking mass. I washed my hands and ran my fingers around to catch the big chunks that eluded the juicing process. You can see them on the counter next to the bowl.

One thing I noticed was the mixture was very fiber-y. I wasn't sure how this would effect the results of baking. After looking at several of the recipes from my neighbor, I decided I would try the rhubarb bread.

The recipe is:
1 1/2 Cup Brown Sugar
2/3 Cup Oil
1 Egg
1 Cup Sour Milk (I used regular 2% milk.)
1 tsp Vanilla
2 1/2 Cup Flour
1 tsp Salt
1 tsp Soda
1 1/2 Cup Rhubarb (cut real fine)
Nuts (Optional)

1/2 C White Sugar
1 tsp. Cinnamon
1 TBSP Margarine (melted)

Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour. Makes two small loaves.

I poured the rhubarb mass into a measuring cup and ta-da! 3 Cups which means a double batch! It's a good thing you weren't in my kitchen to witness the happy dance. It was rather silly. :)

The kids and I measured, poured, stirred and generally had a blast working together again. I picked up a second mini-loaf pan at Walmart this week so I filled up both with the batter and put the remainder into mini-muffin pans.

The mini-loaves I cooked for 20 minutes. The mini-muffins cooked for 10 minutes. For this double batch, I spent about $3.00 on all the ingredients and I have 16 mini-loaves and 20 mini-muffins (after we ate our samples).

The only snafu I have right now with these is the taste. They turned out a little bland. I don't know if it is because of the type of rhubarb I used or if I should play with other recipes. I didn't make the topping because it's basically adding pure sugar. I'll whip some up tomorrow and see if it improves the taste.

My neighbor gave me the recipe for rhubarb cobbler. I plan on trying that next time I have rhubarb.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Freezer Meals Check Up

It has been almost a month since I started making freezer meals. I thought I'd let you how our family is taking it.

For convenience, freezer batch baking gets a B+. I haven't had to worry about what I am going to cook for our meals for weeks. It's already in the freezer and simply needs to be reheated. The ding down to a B is because I have to remember to pull the meal out the night before to defrost in the fridge. I have my fingers crossed that it will become routine for me eventually and this will come up to an A again.

Budget-wise this is definitely an A+! I'm not nearly as tempted to throw the kids in the car and drive to a restaurant for meals. It isn't hard to pull out food and throw it in the oven or microwave so even when I'm tired, I am still willing to cook. Now that I'm looking for great deals on foods on a regular basis and our garden is starting to produce, my cost per meal is dropping.

Nutrition-wise I give batch baking an A as well. Since I am cooking everything myself, I know exactly what is going into my meals. I have control over balancing our diets and integrating blends of ingredients that we like to eat. Also, I have been told by several nutritionists and people in the know that food retains its nutritional value longer when frozen over any other preservation technique.

In the end, I am excited to find more and more recipes and expand my knowledge of foods and home projects.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Triple Batch Zucchini Bread

Last fall one of our neighbors brought over a large zucchini. Now, when I say large, I mean a gigantic, on steroids, larger than an eggplant monstrosity! It was so large that I had no clue what to do with it besides cut it up and throw it in the freezer.

Fast forward to this week. On Monday I looked at the bananas in my kitchen and decided it was time to do some banana bread. I opened my trusty Betty Crocker Cookbook: Everything You Need to Know to Cook Today, New Tenth Edition that was a gift a few years back to find the recipe. On the same page was a recipe for Zucchini Bread!

If you've read other posts that I have done, you know that I don't tend to do things small. In fact, I tend to drive my husband crazy because I do not like to do small batches or projects. Because of this particular character trait and another factor, I decided to triple the recipe. Honestly, it was fun!

Just in case you are curious, the Betty Crocker recipe is:
3 cups shredded zucchini
1 2/3 cups sugar
2/3 cup vegetable oil
2 teaspoons vanilla
4 large eggs
3 cups all-purpose or whole wheat flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup coarsely chopped nuts
1/2 cup raisins, if desired

Put your oven rack so the tops of the pans will be in the center of the oven, pre-heat to 350 degrees, grease pans, mix ingredients (zucchini, sugar, oil, vanilla and eggs first) then pour into your pans.

The first step in this process was to prep the zucchini. I detest grating. The idea of grating all the zucchini was a horrible thought. Yet again, I was so grateful I have a juicer! I threw the gallon-sized bag of thawing zucchini in the juicer and in 5 minutes I had the pulp and juice mixed back together and ready to go. It made almost exactly 9 cups.

So I took all the ingredients and multiplied by three. I had my children there and I had them do the math "for" me. It was a nice little teaching moment. Do I get a good-job-momma gold star?

The kids helped me measure all the ingredients, mix the batter and generally make a huge mess. Once we had all the ingredients mixed together I realized that I was going to blog about this so here's the picture of the mess we made. Delightful isn't it?

While I was adding all the ingredients, I decided to use 6 cups of all-purpose flour and 3 cups of whole wheat flour. I have a large amount of wonderful wheat that I want to start integrating into our diet but I am slowly incorporating it to avoid tummy troubles.

I did hit one snafoo when adding ingredients. I could not find ground cloves. I had whole cloves so I pulled them out and looked at them closely. Did you know at the top of a clove there is a little ball? If you grab that in between your index finger and thumb, squeeze and twist slightly, it crumbles. I squeezed and twisted slightly for about 1/2 a teaspoon before I was tired of that option. I went and grabbed nutmeg and added 1 teaspoon to the batter. I think nutmeg and cloves smell similar and it wouldn't be a terrible substitution.

Once my batter was complete, I started filling pans. I didn't want all simple large loaves that you have to cut. I wanted easy to grab zucchini bread. I purchased a snazzy mini-loaf pan a week or two ago that makes 8 small loaves at a time. I also have 2 mini-muffin pans that make 24 muffins at a time. I started baking these suckers up and 2 hours later I had 2 regular loaves, 8 mini-loaves and approximately 100 mini muffins.

The mini-muffins cooked for 10 minutes, the mini-loaves cooked for 15 minutes and the loaves cooked for 50 minutes in my oven.

In case you are wondering what on earth I would do with so many, I took some to the farmer's market, I gave some away, I will freeze about half of this to pull out later, and I put the rest in the refrigerator. They will last about 2 weeks in the fridge but I'm sure we will eat them within a week.

Tonight while I was in town I went to Walmart and purchased another mini-loaf pan because I like the size they make, I have another gallon bag of frozen zucchini and I have bananas and strawberries waiting to become strawberry-banana bread. (Enough for a triple batch of course!)

For the important part, the cost was minimal. I used zucchini that I received for free from a neighbor, I used almost a whole bag of flour which is $3.00 at the store, I used about 1/4 of a #10 can of sugar which I can get for around $4.00, a dozen eggs which are about $1.25 and other miscellaneous items which total around a dollar. For $6.25 I made a lot of bread and to make it even better, I sold several muffins and received $3.00. All this food for $3.25? This is a GREAT day!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Make Your Own Liquid Soap

I just discovered this post on Savvy Housekeeping.

"How To Turn A Bar of Soap Into Liquid Hand Soap


1 c soap flakes
10 c water
1 Tbs glycerin


Cheese grater
A large pot
Measuring cup and spoons
A spatula for stirring
A soap container with a hand pump
A container to hold excess soap


First, grate the soap. Get out your cheese grater, grab the soap, and get grating. I found this to be surprisingly easy, although the soap particles tend to float in the air as you grate. You can wear a mask to avoid breathing it in. When you’re done, the soap flakes look like grated Parmesan:

One bar of soap yielded a little over 1.5 cups of flakes. The recipe only uses one cup of soap flakes, so I put the remaining soap in a jar for later use.

In a large pot, combine 1 cup soap flakes, 10 cups water, and 1 Tbs glycerin. Turn on medium-low heat and stir until the soap dissolves. This happens fast, about a minute or two.

Let the soap cool completely, then pour into the containers using the funnel. That’s all there is to it!"

From Sabrina: I am going to try this possibly tommorrow. Wednesdays are the farmer's market so it will depend on whether I get everything ready in a reasonable amount of time or not. I have some glycerin soap base that I haven't done anything with so I'll melt it down and try making it liquid which we use a lot more than bar soap.

If you have the urge to be adventurous and try this check out the comments on the Savvy Housekeeping blog before you try just to have a heads up of some issues others have experienced. Remember, every bar of soap will have different ingredients. The type you choose will affect the amount of water and glycerin you should use. If your batch doesn't come out perfect the first time, keep trying. If it is too thick, add a cup of water. If it is too runny, boil off a little bit of the water. I recommend letting it boil for 10 minutes then sit overnight to congeal. If that's not enough, boil for 10 more minutes.

Yard Project

I have been working hard in my parents' yard and I am finally starting to see some progress. Out of curiosity, I decided to measure the garden by the road to see how far I needed to go. This garden is 150 feet! No wonder I am so tired today!

My mother decided she didn't want the regular bricks along the sidewalk so she bought scalloped bricks to line the sidewalk. I think it adds a nice touch.

Yesterday, everyone chipped in and pulled weeds, tilled, leveled the soil, carted the extra soil to the strawberry bed, laid landscaping material and mulch.

The problem we are running into is all the tree stumps. Because the garden grew without maintenance for so long, several volunteer trees were able to take root. We have dug up or pulled out (using a truck) 9 trees so far.

To add a little bit of fancy to the garden, my mom had this old log from a tree cut down years ago. We grabbed it and put it on the mulch then added the large rocks to add a little extra to it. It fills the space nicely and gives the eye a break when viewing the garden.

The strawberry bed turned out very nice as well. We laid regular rectangle bricks for the base and for leveling then arranged landscaping bricks on the top. We did the bricks a few weeks ago but yesterday we finally moved enough soil to fill the garden to the top. By the way, the white metal behind the stump is an old headboard. We officially have a "bed" of strawberries. Hee hee hee.

I have spent an hour or more working in every weekday for the last three weeks. My parents have spent 2-3 hours each Saturday working on it as well. If we had paid someone to do all this work, we would have spent at least $500.00 on labor already. Yes, I'm tired. Yes, it is hot, hard labor but we get the satisfaction of looking at the garden and knowing we accomplished something. We also save the hundreds of dollars to spend on food, a trip or something else that comes up. (Not to mention I'm losing my extra weight!)

Some Stores Help You Budget

I've been meaning to post for a while about a discovery I made recently. As I have been working on freezer meals and saving money on food, I lamented how I don't receive the paper and thus I cannot shop deals. On a whim I decided to look for my local stores on line. Jackpot!

In my area there is Super Saver (a B&R Store), Walmart, Hy-Vee, Sunmart and several smaller stores. Unfortunately, the closest store is 10 miles away and a small convenience store and very over-priced. The next closest store is Walmart, 20 miles away so popping over to pick up a small item is prohibitive. The next closest store is Super Saver at 30 miles away but where I would prefer to shop.

For those in the Lincoln and Omaha areas, http://www.super-saver.com/ has the local weekly ads posted online. The best part is if you click on a food item in the ad, it saves it to a shopping list which you can print out when you are done looking at the ad. That is definitely user friendly!

After looking over the ad for the week, I don't see anything that I need for my family or any deals I can't pass up. Now that I know that, I can save myself 4 gallons of gas and skip a trip towing 3 kids. Definitely a win!

After checking out Super Saver, I ventured on over to http://www.hy-vee.com/. Sometimes you can find really good deals at Hy-Vee but generally they charge more. It never hurts to look and if there's a great deal on something, I can print out the page and take it to Walmart where they price match.

To see what deals Walmart has each week, they also post their deals online at http://www.walmart.com/. Unfortunately, my local store has no ads this week.

For those of you close to a CVS or Walgreens, you definitely want to subscribe to Money Saving Mom. She posts a list of deals, coupons you can clip or print out and the bonuses you get for buying each item. For this week, she has a list posted here: http://moneysavingmom.com/2011/07/cvs-deals-for-the-week-of-july-3-9-2011.html. At CVS you can stock up on health and beauty supplies and pay a fourth to half of what you would pay otherwise.

The power at CVS is their Extra Care Bucks program. When you purchase certain items you get a coupon with your receipt for savings on your next purchases. When you plan each week, you match up deals with coupons online and in the paper which reduces the cost per item to the prices at Walmart then you receive a coupon for money off the next shopping trip. When I lived in Lubbock, I planned each week and spent about $25.00 per week on $70 worth of products. When you are a regular shopper, you also build up quarterly bonuses. I received a coupon for an extra $20.00 free at one point.

Because I did that regularly, I purchased enough supplies to last us through most of this next year and I paid around a dollar or less for each item: Toothpaste, floss, shampoo, conditioner, razors, etc.

My advice, for what it's worth, is go find out if your local stores have their deals online. Spending 10 minutes reading can save you a shopping trip and some hard earned coin!

Friday, June 24, 2011

Chicken and Rice Batch Style

I couldn't decide what to do for dinner tonight so I decided to whip up a batch of chicken and rice. It's easy to make and I realized that I could make a huge batch and freeze more meals!

So, I started by putting about 3 lbs of chicken breast in my huge Pampered Chef sauce pan. I threw in 2 chicken bouillon cubes and put the lid on to seal in the moisture and heat.

I know that 2-3 cups of rice makes one meal for my family so I put 16 cups of water in my huge stock pot and 8 cups of rice. If you want to use this recipe, keep in mind that I used the regular long grain rice, not the instant rice. Instant rice you would use 1 cup of water for 1 cup of rice. I put the burner on high and brought my rice to a boil. Once at a boil, I reduced the heat to keep the rice simmering (not boiling over) and set the timer for 15 minutes.

I used frozen chicken breasts so as they thawed, I pulled the breasts out and diced the meat. I didn't do anything fancy. I just wanted the pieces bite sized. To speed up the cutting process I could have used my chopper but I shy away from using my meat in it.

I did use it for the frozen broccoli! My kids always complain about the broccoli being too big and they can't eat it. To avoid having that conversation again I threw the pieces in the chopper and after a few whacks I dumped it in the pot with the cooked chicken. If I had to guess, I'd say I used 3 cups of diced broccoli.

About this time the rice was ready. I poured in 2 cans of cream of mushroom soup. I only added 1 more can's worth of water though. The reason is I like my chicken and rice creamy, not soupy.

After mixing in the cream of mushroom soup, I took the pan of chicken and broccoli and dumped everything in the rice. Even the stock. The bouillon cubes I placed in there while the chicken was cooking added wonderful flavor to the dish.

After more mixing, the meal was ready. I took the whole stock pot to the table to see how much the family actually eats. We ate about a fourth of the pot which meant I had 3 more meals. Yes!

I took a picture of the dinner. I'm looking at my plate and realizing that I forgot a fruit but other than that we had a wonderful, well-rounded meal. The bread is a rosemary and olive foccacia loaf that I traded some lotion for at the farmer's market on Wednesday.

Needless to say, the meal was yummy and I have 3 more in the freezer for another day. Trying to calculate the price per meal was a little tricky for me. The rice was the conundrum. I buy rice in large quantities through my church's provident living program. I cannot remember what I paid the last time I bought rice.

Since you might not have access to this program, I decided to try to find another source for buying a large quantity of rice to give a better idea of the cost per meal. I found one at Amazon.com. Emergency Food Supply, Instant White Rice I use the equivalent of one of these packets in this batch meal so the rice would cost $4.91 to make the 4 dinners.

Hopefully you can find an even better deal somewhere else. I would look on the bottom shelf in the rice area at your local grocery store and see how much the big bags are. Just store the remaining rice in a sealed container and the rice stays good for 20 years or so. Lowes has sturdy paint buckets with lids that seal for around $5.00!

But I digress. In this scenario of buying the rice from the amazon.com resource, my cost per meal is $3.75. It isn't down to $3.00 a meal yet but I also didn't buy anything on sale and I know I paid less for my rice since I didn't have to worry about shipping.

Anywho, happy cooking and let me know if you have any recipes my family should try!