Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Monday, September 24, 2012

Money Monday- Meal Planning

Before I get started I thought I should give everyone a bit of info about my family.  My family is made up of me, Mr. Chic, our 4 dogs and 1 ferret.  Mr. Chic and I are HORRIBLE about eating out and blowing $100s of dollars on crappy food.  Why you may ask?? pure convenience! I dislike stopping to the store on my way from work and Mr. Chic feels the same.  This is why we meal plan.  Some gals go all out with planning a month in advance, shopping one day per month, saving serious $$$ using coupons and strategic shopping... that's really not me. :)  We meal plan so we eat healthier, spend less $, have more time in the evenings and we don't have to have this conversation every night:

Me "What do you want for dinner?"
Mr. Chic "I don't know. You?"
Me "Not sure... Burgers?"
Mr. Chic "No burgers do not sound appetizing. Steak?"
Me "Eh... pasta??"
Mr. Chic "No, Had pasta for lunch"
Me "Stop and grab KFC?"
Mr. Chic "Perfect!"

You see the never ending cycle of annoyance over what to have for dinner and then stopping because we are to lazy to cook.  I am not saying the way I meal plan is perfect-o but it works for us. :)  I would LOVE to hear how you meal plan!

We plan our meals like this:
Saturdays- light breakfast, snack, Date Night
Sunday- Larger breakfast, snack, Dinner
Monday- Pre-made breakfast, sandwiches for lunch, Dinner
Tuesday- Pre-made breakfast, sandwiches or leftovers for lunch, Dinner
Weds-Pre-made breakfast, sandwiches or leftovers for lunch, Dinner
Thurs- Pre-made breakfast, sandwiches or leftovers for lunch, Dinner
Fri- Pre-made breakfast, sandwiches or leftovers for lunch, Dinner

Friday Evening
1. AFTER dinner I sit down with hubby and we plan our meals. I love this worksheet from mommytracked.com  You can download it for free HERE.  There are TONS of printable online.  I suggest goggling "Meal Planning Printable" and finding the one that works best for you.  Make sure you leave the blogger a comment and say "Thanks!"

Eat Sheet Menu Planner

2.  Before looking at the weekly grocery ads I take a peak at my coupon file and check out the pantry. ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS shop your pantry, freezer and fridge before looking at the ads.

3. While we are planning what we want to eat we also look at the ads for our local grocery stores.  We mainly buy our groceries at Smiths and our meat at Rio Rancho Meats.  We try to support as many local farmers as possible too. 

4.  After we create our plan I double check the local Albertsons ad just to make sure they do not have anything we need to stock up on. ;) Majority of the time Smiths is cheaper and their rewards program is AH-Mazing but I always check :) Its my OCD thing :)

5.  SHOP- We like to shop on Friday evenings.  The stores are less busy and we have already ate so less "mmmm that looks good" falls into our cart. I set a budget before we go.  Always set a realistic budget.  If you need meat, milk, eggs, veggies, etc don't say "I will only spend $40". Its just sets you up to be boo boo lipped :(

6.  Up groceries away

7.  Hang out with Hubby

While cooking a light breakfast I wash the veggies, separate meat, and misc prep work

We normally have a large breakfast on Sunday mornings.  Normally we have the burners going, ovens on, dishwasher is filling up so we start prep cooking for the week.

An example of prep cooking is, if I am cooking bacon in the oven I can throw some baked potatoes in, bake my casserole, etc.  If the oven is already on why waste the space and energy???

On Sundays I also make all the breakfasts for the week.  Some mornings we like breakfast burritos, others its just fruit.  Mr. Chic will also make himself Oatmeal during the week.  Normally I make about a dozen burritos and freeze them. This lasts a couple of weeks for us.

I also separate snacks into easy grab bags, brown the burger I need, separate groceries that need to be frozen, etc.  Any food I can make a head I will (pasta sauces, soups, etc).  Normally after we cook I will toss in a couple of dutch ovens with some soups and let them slow cook. After the soups are done I portion them into containers and freeze.

The keys to meal planning are:

  • Shopping Smart
  • Planning
  • Prep Cooking
  • FREEZE your leftovers!  
  • Pack your lunch
  • Keep fruit handy for snack time
  • Stick to a budget
  • Stock up on great deals
If you are starting out with meal planning I suggest planning one week at a time for 2 months until you get the swing of it.  After that you will be organized and have some ideas on meals you like, what you can freeze, etc. 

Next week I will continue the smart shopping tips with how to stock your pantry and freezer on a budget.  :) 

What are some of your meal planning tips??


Sunday, September 23, 2012

Erica B. DIY Style!

I have been a follower of Erica B. for a few months.  I love her blog

 Her about me section is EXACTLY why I LOVE her blog! 

My Photo

Welcome to my DIY Style blog! How many times have you seen clothes in an upscaledepartment store or a posh boutique and cringed at the sight of the price tag? I've done it many times and have said to myself, "I could make that"! While reading my fashion sewing blog, you'll share with me in my adventures in taking "boring" patterns from drab to fab by creating "inspired" looks pulled straight from those boutiques, the runway and fashion magazines. Also my adventure in learning to tailor and couture sewing techniques.

I love re-purposing clothing, sewing and I too am learning to tailor my own clothing. I was browsing around her blog last night and she posted one of the most beautiful skirts I have EVER batted my eyelashes at. 
Visit her post HERE
Isn't that skirt amazing!  Take a peak over at her blog for the full post!  Don't forget to follow along with her. This gal is so creative, hip and you will LOVE her posts!  

Erica B.'s - D.I.Y. Style!
Visit Erica B. DIY Style! HERE

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

9/19/12 Outfit of the Day

I have been finding so many great deals shopping lately.  Friday night I picked up 2 shirts and a pair of boots at Target for about $20!  LOVE!!!  

Getting dressed this morning I decided I wanted to wear my new Minnetonka Moccasins. If you have never tried on a pair of Minnetonkas DO IT! They are the most comfortable shoes ever.  Living in New Mexico I am fortunate they are at every shop in Old Town Albuquerque.  I want to find a pair of boots.  Having calves makes this a bit harder but I am determined!  :)  

Top- Target (about) $7 BUY IT HERE
Jeans- Lane Bryant (around)$20. slim cut 
Moccasins- Minnetonka (around) $35
Necklace- Groupdealz (around) $15

Monday, September 17, 2012

Money Monday-The Dining Out Trap

Being a household of two Mr. Chic and I are TERRIBLE about dining out all of the time.  We grab breakfast, lunch and sometimes dinner outside of the house.  We waste a TON of money!!  Last week we decided to do a little experiment.  We created a meal plan for the week, a budget and went shopping.

During the week of 9/8-9/14 we spent $79 on food. 2 people! $79!  AH-mazing!!! We made an effort to really plan, eat left overs, buy a bit more in bulk, eat a tad less meat, and we saved!

Friday night 9/14 we should have created our plan, budget and went shopping again.  What did we do??  NADA!!! Let me give you a glimpse at our spending from Friday-Monday at 9:29PM.

9/14/12: Wendys- Lunch for me $3.99
              Dions- Dinner for 2 $15.04
              TOTAL= $20ish

9/15/12- Rudys BBQ- $25.69

9/16/12- Wecks- Breakfast for 2- $21.25
               Pizza Hut- $34.80 (left overs for dinner on 9/17)
              TOTAL- $45 ish
Now.. add another $20 on misc crap we bought all weekend (soda, chips, water, etc for the dog event)

2 people spent about $110 dollars on food in 3 days.  We also ate like crap.

My friends.... this is a prime example of why meal planning, budgeting and shopping are sssooo important!

The lesson to be learned here is to stick to our plan because now our grocery budget is totally busted for the week and I have to go to the gym!!!

A very bummed out Mandy Jean :(

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Organizing My Pantry

Oooo... my poor pantry. For the last 5 years it has been a catch all, food storage, extra appliance storage, sometimes medicine cabinet, and the door that is ALWAYS shut in my house. Sad because it could be such a cute little area.

This week I decided to clean out my pantry. I love having a pantry in a small kitchen but the metal shelves do not help anything!

I started off by pulling EVERYTHING out of the pantry, tossing dated food, boxing up food that can be donated, pulling appliances out that we never use, washed all the shelves, door and floor.

I started putting items back in and I realized how much I dislike the wire shelving.  Seriously home builders!  Spend the extra $10 for wood please!!!!

After thinking about how I could add something stable to the shelves I had a bight idea! 

I could make temporary shelf covers with cardboard, decorative and decorative contact paper. 

1.  Using ribbon. Cut cardboard to size
2.  Cut contact paper to size.  Leave an inch on all sides to fold over
3.  Peel 1st quarter of contact paper back
4.  Lay cardboard on 1st quarter of paper and GENTLY peel the remaining 3/4. 
5.  Tuck edges under

All of the supplies that I needed to organize my pantry I had but if you were to go out and buy the supplies here is what you would need:
Dollar Tree: Cardboard Sheets (I needed 3), Contact Paper (I needed 3 rolls)
Supplies at home: Ribbon for measuring and sharp scissors. 


Friday, September 7, 2012

Fashion Friday- Fall Style

I am SSSOOOOO ready for fall.  This summer hasn't been terrible here in New Mexico but I am ready for some cooler weather.

When I think of fall I think of these 5 things:

  1. Roasted Green Chile
  2. Boots with socks
  3. The aspens turning gold in Santa Fe
  4. Parade of Homes
  5. Cooler weater
Fall is my favorite season to dress for.  I love the crisp air, warm sun and cozy evenings.

I created some fall outfits on polyvore.  Enjoy!!!  Don't you just wish all the outfits you created on polyvore would just fall into your closet....





What do you love about fall?

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Week #1- Organize my Kitchen

I decided to do the 14 week challenge at A Bowl Full of Lemons to help me get organized.  My house is a wreck right now.  Busy summer and trips have left it cluttered.  Not to mention 4 dogs, 1 ferret and a husband do not help!

Take a peak over at A Bowl Full of Lemons.  If you are taking the challenge leave me a comment and I will follow along.  You can follow me via Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Google.  Links are on the right.

WEEK #1- Kitchen (text directly from A Bowl Full of Lemons)

1. Clean out and organize all cabinets.
2. Clean out and organize all drawers.
3. Purge everything that is not used, expired, doesnt belong, collecting dust.
4. Clean out & organize fridge & freezer.
5.  Mop, wipe down cabinet doors, clean counter tops & tables.
6.  Take everything off the refrigerator door.  It makes the kitchen look messy.
7. Clean all appliances.

1. Clear off the kitchen table. This is your dumping grounds.
2.  Empty out all cabinets, drawers, and clutter!  Place ALL items into "categories" on the table.
3.  Wipe down the cabinet doors, shelves and drawers. Add new liners if necessary.
4.  Discard (trash) old, expired, and no longer used items & food. Check the dates.
5.  Place all items that are able to fit, into baskets.
6.  Place everything back into the cabinets & drawers (in categories).
7. Take everything off the kitchen counters and place onto the table. 
8. Wipe down the counters & backsplash with a good natural cleaner. 
9. Wipe down ALL small appliances & large ones too!
10. Put back items you use on a daily basis, onto the counter top.
11. Mop the floors and wipe down the table & chairs.  
12.  Empty fridge/freezer. Wipe out. Put back in an organized manner.
13.  You may clean and organize under the kitchen sink. I will share under my sink at a later date.

This is my normal kitchen.  We are fairly good about keeping the clutter out of sight.  Just don't open any cabinets ;) Bottles on top of cabinets. Mr. Chic's idea of decorating. Not mine.  

I have a small galley kitchen.  

After tidying up a bit I took the task of cleaning under my sink.  I will be brutally honest.  I have never cleaned under the sink and we bought our house in September of 2008.  Gross... I know... 


Not to bad. Just cluttered. 

After.  The red bin on the left holds my traveling cleaning kit.  The blue bin holds all dish washing products.  Green bin in the middle is for scrubbers, dusters, etc. 
Yeah for a clean sink :) 

Are you accepting the challenge??

Friday, August 31, 2012

Be Back Monday :)

We are officially off to Thrill on the Hill!  Be back Monday.

Follow us on facebook at: AbbytheFJ
Follow us on Twitter: @abbytheFJ


Fashion Friday- JCP Haul

Am I the only one who is IN.LOVE with JCP???  I love their new clothes!  I love the new look!  I love EVERYTHING!  This evening I ran into JCP with hubby to spend my $25 gift card.  JACKPOT!!

I am a thrifty shopper by nature.  I always head to clearance racks first.  I love a great deal!  I walked away with $111 in clothes for $30!!! I saved over 73%.  Yeah!!!

Please be kind to my crummy photos.  I am getting ready to leave on vacation but wanted to share my great deals!!  :)

Originally $22 Paid $5

Originally $20 Paid $5

Originally $15 Paid $5

Originally $20 Paid $5

Originally $12 Paid $5

Originally $22 Paid $5

What do you think of the new JCP???

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

All-Purpose Cleaner Recipe and Prep for 20 Days to Organized and Clean Challenge

I desperately need to clean and organize my home.  I don't live in filth or anything like that but having 4 dogs, a husband, working full time, volunteering and my hobbies make keeping a cleaning routine or schedule hard.  I heard about The Organised Housewife 20 days to clean and organize your home challenge and decided I needed to try it!  Visit her blog for more details and if you decide to participate leave me a comment.  I love following along and comparing.  I also post pictures to Instagram of my progress :)

Pre-Challenge Day #1 was to create a binder to help you get organized for the challenge.  View my binder on Instagram. 

Pre-Challenge Day #2- Create a cleaning kit.  Visit the Organised Housewife for details and free printables. 
Contents: Micro cloths, rags, soft sponge, scrubber, large sponge, plastic bags, lint roller, water bottle, all-purpose cleaner and small spray bottle of vinegar (not pictured). 

I make the majority of my own cleaners.  In my opinion they are more pocket book friendly, smell better and  clean like a dream!!! 

There are MANY recipes for all-purpose cleaners on the internet.  If you are researching I would suggest peaking around and looking at the ingredients.  Some people want 100% natural, others want mild because of allergies and so on.  

Mandy Jean Chic's Clean Everything Cleaner 
Fits in a large bottle
3 cups warm water- Does not need to be boiling
1.5 Teaspoons of liquid castile soap
1/2 Cup white vinegar
2 teaspoons borax
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
*you can add essential oils if you want but I use castile soap with lavender so the oils are not needed :)

I store my cleaner with all my others and have found its ok to use on most surfaces.  Glass... NOT OK 

Sunday, August 26, 2012

20 Days to Get Organized Challenge

I read about this challenge on Cherished Treasures blog.  If you have not visited please do!  

The Organised Housewife is challenging bloggers to become more organized in 20 days.  I accepted the challenge.  You can read about the challenge here

The Organised Housewife

If you accept the challenge leave me a comment and I would LOVE to follow along!

The challenge starts on Monday Sept 3rd but the pre-challenge is starting tomorrow. 

$8 TV Stand into Temporary Kitchen Storage

I love my house but I HATE dislike my kitchen!!  Its a galley style kitchen with a teeny tiny little eating area.  NO BUENO!  About a year ago we decided to make our den into a formal dining room and add cabinets to the eat in area to extend out kitchen.  

Fast forward.... a year later....

Dining furniture is in the new formal dining space.  We decided to keep our small bar set until we add the cabinets and counters but I still DESPERATELY need storage.  

Hello sad looking TV stand.  How you do-in! 

We had been using this as a junk collector but I stole it back in the name of kitchen storage today!!! 

After Mr. Chic gave her a spray with some black spray paint I noticed the top wasn't as perfect as I hoped for. 
Moments like this is why I think the Dollar Tree carries such cute contact paper!  I use this ALL.THE.TIME! Carefully measure your area, cut, stick and admire! Easy peasy!!

As you can see by the pic I folded my edges over to make them look cleaner.  Along the bottom you will see where it has come up a bit.  Just use some scotch-tape and you are good.  

All done :) 
$5 for the cart at a yard sale
$2 for paint
$1 for contact paper

Baskets are from World Market a few years ago. 

New cabinets will look better but this will work until we are ready for that project.