Thursday, March 26, 2009

"Cents" of Accomplishment

It has become a funny little game at our house. It is funny because it makes us happy! As soon as we walk out of the grocery store door I look at my husband and ask, "How much did you save?". Last night he replied, "86 dollars and 13 cents!" Then asking me the same question, I answered, "117 dollars and 7 cents!"

We cannot even make it to the van without comparing the savings! We are saving so much money on food. We have 3 teenagers that live at home as well 4 smaller growing boys and a little blossoming 4 year old girl. They play outside so much and they are always hungry. So we try to keep as many healthy foods and snacks around as possible.

Before we moved to AZ last year, I considered myself to be rather thrifty. I would shop by the sales and would purchase as many store brands as possible. We still spent close to 400 dollars a week in food, household supplies, toiletries, diapers and wipes. We would even have friends who had smaller families tell us that was pretty good for the size family we have. However, I always felt there must be a way to save more.

My husband lost his job in December of 2007. For nine months we had no steady income. At one point, things were so lean that we had to get food from the local food pantry where I was volunteering. It was heartbreaking to serve there and listen to so many stories about people losing their jobs and the concerns they had as to how they would have food for the next day.

My heart was changed during that time as I would take people back to the pantry room and watch tears run down their faces as they picked out the food they would need to sustain them for the next week. Then I found myself in their place. It is a difficult situation when you know you will not be getting a paycheck, thus not knowing how you will feed your family. However, the Lord provided and He gave me a bigger heart for people who are struggling through hard times.

Also, through that situation I became more appreciative of everything. Now that we are in AZ and my husband has been blessed with a wonderful job, I find myself more and more conscious of money spent and how to make the most of it. We are doing the CouponSense program and it has become very rewarding for our entire family.

It is amazing how little coupons can get you so excited! But you know it is like having cash in your hand! I love to write down my savings here as I can go back and read them and encourage myself that I am doing something worthwhile to help my family. At the same time, I hope someone else will read and be encouraged or glean ideas from what we have learned and are still learning.

My dear hubby and I went shopping at Safeway together last night and here are some things we purchased. We felt a real "cents" of accomplishment or should I say "dollars" of accomplishment!

24 boxes of Rice-a-Roni .50 each
6 boxes Hefty Storage Bags 1.00 each
12 (4 packs) of Snack Pack Puddings .25 each
2 free packs of gum
3 Dial Handsoaps .80 each
6 Hillshire Farm Deli lunch meat .95 each
30 cans Chef Boyardee Pasta .55 each
4 boxes Huggies baby wipes 1.00 each
12 cans Del Monte Vegetables .67 each

On one of transactions, our savings was 61%. And the other was 53%. Now that give me some "dollars" worth of accomplishment!

By now you know that I am a crock pot junkie. I believe that thriftiness is more than saving money, but it is mostly about making the most of your time. Too much time in my kitchen keeps me from my family. So here a macaroni and cheese recipe that will feed any size crowd. The left overs are just as yummy!

Crock Pot Macaroni and Cheese

8 oz. of macaroni (cooked)
4-5 cups of milk
1 egg
1 can Campbells cheddar cheese soup
3-4 cups sharp cheddar cheese
salt and pepper to taste

Cook macaroni until tender. Spray a little non stick spray into crock pot.
Mix milk, egg, and soup.
Begin to layer the macaroni, milk mixture and cheese. Save at least a half cup of cheese to sprinkle on top.
Pour in milk mixture. This should reach top of macaroni. If not, add more milk.
Add a little salt and pepper to top and dot with a little butter or margarine.
Cook in crock pot on high for 3 hours.

You can also add ham chunks or other meat of your choice. Serve with veggie and rolls. There is your easy meal. Enjoy your family at the table!!

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