holdingdownthehome

Life as a military wife and mother

What to freeze? July 6, 2011

The great thing about freezing food, is that almost ANYTHING can be frozen if you do it right. Here is a website with a lot of helpful tips on freezing different foods.

One of the things I’m starting to freeze more of are eggs! Eggs can get mighty expensive so when they are at rock bottom prices I buy a ton of them. Not to mention, hopefully in the fall our chickens will have started to lay and that will yield about 6 eggs a day.

You can check that website for how to freeze them but they want you to add sugar and stuff. You don’t really have to do that. I actually crack the eggs that I want to freeze into a big bowl. Mix them gently and pour into ice cube trays. Once frozen transfer cubes to a marked freezer bag. One cube is 1/2 an egg or 1/8 of a cup of egg. These are so great for cooking and baking. Having meatleaf? Put the egg cubes over night in the fridge to thaw, then use in the recipe! I don’t use the frozen eggs just for like, scrambled eggs.

Speaking of Meatloaf! Here is a great recipe that Weight Watchers friendly:

3/4 c Ketchup
1/4 c Minced onion
2 tbsp. Chopped fresh parsley (dried)
1 tbsp. Brown sugar
1/4 tsp. Salt
1/4 tsp. Pepper
2 Large egg whites (1 egg white and 1 egg, to bind better)
1 1/2 lb. Ground round
1/2 c Quick-cooking oats
Cooking spray

Combine 1/2 cup ketchup, onion, and next 5 ingredients in a large bowl; stir well. Add meat and oats; stir just until blended. Shape mixture into a 8×4-inch loaf pan coated with cooking spray.

Brush remaining 1/4 cup ketchup over meat loaf

Bake at 350 for 1 hour and 10 minutes or until done. Let stand 10 minutes before slicing.

Cut into 12 slices

-OR-

I LOVE to freeze meatloaf. Use a disposable loaf pan (like from a dollar store). If the meat had been frozen before, then go ahead and cook it. After it is COOLED, Put on some Glad Press and Seal (so that it is touching the meat in the pan, then wrap in foil tightly. Put in the freezer. When you want it. Take it out in the morning to thaw and warm in the oven for dinner.  Another option is to portion the meatloaf into servings, wrap individually in plastic wrap or foil and put in the freezer (label them of course). Now you have individual portions to take to lunch or feed the husband when you are out of town. 🙂

If the meat has not been cooked you can freeze it uncooked and just bake when you are ready to eat it, letting it thaw first of course.

** NEVER REFREEZE UNCOOKED MEAT ONCE IT HAS BEEN THAWED**

VOILA! Go ahead and make three or four. Easy dinner for you when you need it or an easy when to get a meal to someone else when they need it.

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Once a Month Cooking for Weight Watchers June 25, 2011

Filed under: Dinner Bell is Ringing!,Frugal living,Organization,Uncategorized — holdingdownthehome @ 19:46

I’m still new to blogging so I’m working on narrowing down the scope of this blog. One focus I would like to have that fits into frugal, organized living is the idea of Once a Month Cooking (OAMC).

The basic idea being take a couple days out of the month (or even one day a week), and doing lots of cooking and freezing it.

This works for me because I CAN cook and am pretty good at it, I just DON’T LIKE to cook. So, when I get in the mood to cook I better take advantage of it. Another plus to this is that I am on Weight Watchers® and MUST have healthy options at all times. I find if I get in a mood where I want to eat but don’t have something healthy to grab, I will grab something bad because it’s easy.

Another plus? Less processed food. I am trying very hard to stay away from “boxed” food as much as possible. So, while I could pop a Smart Ones® type meal in the microwave for a low point meal, it’s much better for my health to have something I prepared that’s not full of junk.

In this section of my blog I will be posting recipes that can be frozen for later use. Most of them will be Weight Watchers® friendly and I will try to have the nutrition information and Points Plus® values posted with the recipes.

So to get us started, here is a recipe I posted a few months ago for Pineapple-Honey Glazed Chicken. When I make this, I double, triple, or even quadruple the marinade. Then put each portion in a freezer zip bag and toss in the freezer. When we want to have this meal, in the morning I grab the marinade out, and my thawed chicken, put them all in a container in the fridge and let them go all day. Then just cook them for dinner.

The rice in this recipe can also be frozen, either in bulk or in individual portions. Then I just toss them in a bowl with a spoonful or two of water, put in the microwave just until warm through. Easy, peasy dinner!

Stay tuned for lots more freezer meal ideas!

 

Chest Freezer Organization May 23, 2011

Filed under: Cleaning,Frugal living,Organization — holdingdownthehome @ 10:54
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I love, love, LOVE my big chest freezer. That thing comes in so handy when I find a great deal and have to by a ton of something.

What I don’t like is wondering if that blue shade my fingers turn while I’m searching for something will go with my outfit that day! Holy cow, I feel like sometimes I need to climb in it just to find what I need down at the bottom!

So, how can you organize a chest freezer. Well I tried crates, they just crack in the cold temp. And they are a PAIN to lug out. I tried just stacking stuff in general areas. That lasts about three days. Then a few weeks ago I was shopping and bought a bunch of the same thing (veggies I think). So I brought home a reusable shopping bag full of them and really had to hit the potty (because who can shopping without grabbing a giant Diet Coke?). So, I tossed them bag and all into the freezer. I went back a little later to grab the bag and thought, “wait a minute! HOW PERFECT!” They were all contained and easy to grab out to look for something else. So I found a few more shopping bags and put all my chicken products in one, all my bread products in another, beef in another, etc. And voila! How easy (and CHEAP) is that?! I used different colored bags for each catagory… I mean you can get them for $1 or less at most places!

And that’s it. Now my freezer is pretty organized, I know what item is in what bag and just pull it out, shut the freezer while I get what I need out of the bag, and then toss it back in! So simple and no more blue fingers! And when the freezer needs defrosting I can grab the bags in a just a couple minutes, defrost the freezer very quickly with a fan, and throw the bags back in! If it’s easy and cheap I like it!

 

Who’s ready to purge?! May 9, 2011

Filed under: Cleaning,Organization — holdingdownthehome @ 11:06

Spring is FINALLY here… at least I think so…. er, I hope so….

What does spring make you think of? What are you itching to do every spring? For me it’s flinging open the windows and flinging out the STUFF that accumulates around my house!

BUT WAIT! This can sometimes create chaos as oppose to getting said chaos under control. Here is a step by step process to get you going.

1. Get a box and label it “Give Away”, then grab your trashcan complete with trash bag. Take them to the place you want to start with. Let’s say the kids closet

2. Set your timer for 15 minutes, DON’T CHEAT!

3. Start at the top shelf, and work your way down (Or start in a corner of a space and work clockwise.

4. When you pick up an item say to yourself “Do I love this item? Have I used this item in the last year (NOTE I did NOT say “Do I think I MIGHT USE THIS SOMEDAY”)?” If the answer to both is no, either throw it away or put in the give away box.

5. When you come across something that goes somewhere else, PUT IT THERE! Then go RIGHT BACK to the closet. Don’t get Sidetracked!

6. STOP after 15 minutes and do something else or take a break. Get some distance from the project, then go back.

Just keep repeating this process until it’s clean. Even if you only do it for 15 minutes a day, you will be shocked at how quickly it will be clean! And you won’t overwhelm yourself. Don’t let yourself get into the rut that if you can’t completely finish something the same day you start it that you shouldn’t even begin! That is how our house gets cluttered in the first place.

And, something to think about when purging items… it is SO tempting to hold on to things for sentimental things and I’m all for holding on to a few heirlooms or special papers. However, we CANNOT keep everything everyone gives us, or every piece of paper or project our kids bring home. By holding on to the non-so important things, we make the REALLY important things less important. Just because you get rid of something, doesn’t mean you are getting rid of that love or memory, it just means you don’t NEED STUFF to keep that love or memory because it’s that strong! So it’s really a blessing to that other person and shows just how much you care!

Now set your timer and JUMP IN! 🙂

If you use these steps show me some before and after pictures! I would love to post them!

 

Stay Tuned! April 22, 2011

Filed under: Cleaning,Extreme couponing,Frugal living,Organization — holdingdownthehome @ 07:45

Good morning friends. I know I have been so lax about posting but that is going to change. I PROMISE! So, a couple of projects I’m going to post the next few weeks:

1. Organizing a chest freezer! Does it take you a very cold hour to find that ground turkey you need?

2. Organizing canned goods… whether you have a pantry, or like me deep cupboards in your kitchen, you need to know whats in there to be able to use it up!

3. And the big project? Finishing the painting in the kitchen!!!!!!!!! WHOO HOO! This is going to be a great one!  I’ll show you before and after if I can dig them up.

This is just a few of them… there will be more posts that this!

There are going to be TONS AND TONS of projects happening here in the next year. It’s going to be awesome! Just wait!

And if there is something you want me to blog about tell me! I love ideas! (And exclamation points!)

 

What is the first thing people see? March 30, 2011

Filed under: Cleaning,Frugal living,Organization — holdingdownthehome @ 11:04
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I am ashamed to say that lately, this is the first thing people see when they walk in my door. Funny how walking into a Pepto-Bismal pink room can make you nauseous! NOTE TO READERS** No, I did not paint a room this color. It came with the house and as we have been remodeling for the 5.5 years since we bought the place as we have the money to do so, this room is as yet not done. So, for now it is a mud room, play room, office, and storage room. It’s a BIG room! So, as my husband’s deployment begins I have millions of ideas for improving things around the house and was going a little nuts yesterday as to where to start first. So, I figure why not start at the front of the house and work my way around. I went through a few ideas yesterday and made a trip to Big Lots and the Dollar Store for a couple little things. Then got started this morning. Here’s how it went.

First I took EVERYTHING out of the area other than the cedar chest, and the dirt bike (Yes that’s a dirt bike for our three-year old… what? according to my husband all three-year-olds NEEDS one). I cleaned the window and the floor.

At the dollar store I grabbed a four pack of self adhesive hooks. I really wanted an area for us to put our every day jacket and my purse (which I can never find). So, we each get a place for ONE jacket a piece, including a munchkin situated hook, and a place for my purse.

What entrance is complete without a key hook? I grabbed this for $2.50 at Big Lots. Of course it was a little boring so I looked through my craft stuff and found some pretty-uppers to stick on it.

Then I grabbed this shoe rack out of the closet….

And for the finishing touches…

Put a basket on the chest for hats, gloves, or anything else, and a blanket on the chest for sitting and taking of your shoes. And of course, a picture of our favorite hero.

Voila! A new “mud room”. Total time: less than an hour. Total $ spent: $3.50.

 

Stockpiling Vs. Hoarding March 10, 2011

What is the difference between stockpiling and hoarding?

This is something that’s been on my mind since I started getting into couponing. Remember the A&E show “Hoarders”? As I look as some of the new shows like “Extreme Couponing” on TLC I can’t help but compare the two shows. Some of them are so similar it’s a bit worrisome!  Now this is going to be just MY OPINION but it is something I have seen and I have seen what it’s like to dig yourself out of it. I could even see myself going overboard with stockpiling.

Now we all know that high that comes with getting an amazing deal with coupons! Cutting your $50.00 shopping trip down to just a few dollars or even a few cents is awesome…. but did you buy the items because you needed, or will need them in the near future? Or did you buy them because you liked the feeling you got when you bought them? Here are some questions to ask yourself before you buy something… or even before you make out your shopping list:

1. Will we use the item before it’s expiration date?

2. Is this nutritionally beneficial to my family? — This is one of my favorite questions because many coupons are for boxed or pre-packaged foods that are not always very good for your health.

3. Will I use this item within the next couple years (if no exp. date).

4. Do I have ROOM to put these items without making my house into a stockpile garage?

5. Am I buying this because I NEED it or am I buying it because it’s a good deal. –And just so we are clear…. being a good deal is NOT enough reason to buy something!

Watch this video taken from the TLC show “Extreme Couponing”. In my opinion this goes beyond even extreme couponing. I consider this hoarding. This is absolutely over the top insane. If he were donating all these things, or running a store out of his house then maybe. But it is just sitting in his garage. CRAZY!

I have learned in a very short time to ask myself those few questions for a shopping trip. Let me give you an example. I have limited storage space so I have a cupboard designated to cereal. I can fit about 10-12 boxes in it… last week it was full, so even though there were other cereal deals… I passed them up. I also have about 12 tubes of toothpaste in my cupboard (I only pay tax for toothpaste never anymore than that) and even though this week I could have gotten free toothpaste at the local drugstore, I passed on it. I am also good on pasta, shampoo, and butter for a least 4-6 months… so I won’t be using any deals for these products even if they are free. I WON’T clutter my house and my life. There will be a good deal again when I need it. The only exception to this is if I get something to donate to charity.

Now couponing DOES provide you with a great opportunity to give to charity for just pennies! There are tons of couponers out there that give hundreds of pounds of food to charity every month! My favorite coupon lady, Melanie, from The Coupon Goddess is always showing us her trips to her local food bank. This is a great this to do and only adds a few minutes onto your couponing every month.

Remember, saving your family money does not need to come at the expense of your comfort at home. You can save just as much without buying EVERY good deal you come across… and in fact will probably save more.

If you feel that you have been hoarding and need help to stop the cycle please visit FLYLADY and ask a professional counselor for help. You CAN dig yourself out!