July 31, 2011

Weekly Matchups and Deals—Watch for Back-to-School Savings this week!

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Co-op Deals Stores/Three Rivers Market through 8/2 (Watch for new matchups to be posted by Money Saving Maine-iac in the next couple of days)

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Office Max Back to School Deals

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Office Depot Back to School Deals

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Staples Back to School Deals

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Earth Fare Deals for this month (watch for new matchups to be posted in the next day or so by Frugally Farming Family)

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Target

kroger deals kroger sales logo

Kroger advantage_card

Ingles

Walgreens

Walgreens

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CVS

dg A few deals at Dollar General here

The Knoxville News Sentinel Coupon Expo

We had a fantastic time at the Knoxville News Sentinel Coupon Expo yesterday!  It was so nice to meet many of you and to have the opportunity to talk about one of my favorite topics!  Below are some of the photos from the event, kindly passed to me by Little Red Hen Consignment Tagging Service:

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Kristen of Little Red Hen Consignment Tagging Service  Not only is Kristen a super nice person, she has a great business that makes consigning easy!  Check out her website, which I’ve linked for more information.  When we decide to be consignors, I’ll most definitely be relying on Kristen’s experience and services!!

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Tom of Duck Duck Goose setting up his booth.  This was my first time to meet the DKDKG group, and I was so impressed with how professional, welcoming, and warm they all were!  I’m looking forward to their next sale!DSC_8097

The Duck Duck Goose sale is around the corner (Sept 22-26).  I’m shopping this year, and after the recent Jack & Jules sale and Kristen’s advising, I think I’ve learned some tricks that will help me make the most of the shopping trip.

DSC_8098Patrick of Corner of Your Field with KARM Thrift Stores.  Are you a thrift store shopper yet?  If not, you are missing some great deals!  One of the great things about KARM stores is that every time I’ve walked into one they have been clean and smell good.  Some of the other thrift stores I’ve shopped at either smell like cigarette smoke or have everything crammed together where you can’t easily shop.  Check the link for more information about the Corner of Your Field program and how your church can partner.

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Susie of the One Call Club for Seniors with great information and the famous “yellow book” for seniors.  If you or someone you love is 50 years of age or older, I highly recommend you check out this program.  I have heard rave reviews about it from many clients and family members!  If you don’t yet have a copy of the yellow book, you can phone the Knox County Office on Aging and learn how to obtain a copy.

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Lisa from the Swap2Save Coupon Club that is held at Wallace Memorial Baptist Church.  Their next meeting is Thursday, August 4th, and it is a great opportunity to swap coupons, share tips, and spread the coupon love!  For more information, be sure to check out their Facebook page.  Lisa is not only a great person, but she’s also super knowledgeable about couponing and the many tricks of the trade!

 DSC_8103Elaine and Pat from Faith UMC, along with Stefanie who is not shown, greeted guests and passed out the fantastic “Get Ready Bags” from the Knox County Emergency Management Agency.  Thanks Diane for these!! Thanks to the Faith gals for all they did to help out with this event—you are such a blessing! DSC_8105The Healthy Living Expo will be here before you know it!  In case you didn’t know, and I didn’t before the fair, they put out a great magazine that often has coupons inside!  Thanks for being a part of this event!  I can’t wait until the next Healthy Living Expo!

Sara at Knoxville News Sentinel Coupon Expo

Sara from Three Rivers Market was spreading the news about all of the great ways you can save money at TRM.  Check my TRM tab to view the most recent sales, and visit the store for some great deals!  The new store will be opening very soon, and I can’t wait!!  I’ve been a TRM shopper for years now, and I find that they have some of the best prices for organic products.  I love their bulk buy section!

 Gabe at Coupon ExpoAnd that’s me!  Thanks so much to Heather and all the gals at the Knoxville News Sentinel for all they did to organize and publicize the event.  Heather has some great deals for Sunday only subscriptions that I’ll be posting very soon for you!  Have you seen today’s paper yet—full of back to school deals!! 

Print them while you can

 Food inflation © Tetra Images/Corbis It is the end of the month and time to print any coupons you want to make sure you have.  Printable coupon sites often refresh their lists at the beginning of the month, and some coupons may no longer be available.  Others may be refreshed so that you can print additional coupons.  Now is the time to print if you spot any you think you might use!  Remember that when you print from bloggers’ sites, they earn a little money off of each print.  It is a great way to support your favorite bloggers and get your coupon fix.  (I do not make money off of this blog and do not have that option here.  For some of my favorite bloggers, check out my links tab).  Other coupon printable sources:

Coupons.com 

Smartsource.com

All You

Red Plum

Mambo Sprouts

A Happy Thought

DSC_7145 “The most common way people give up their power is by thinking they don't have any.” ~ Alice Parker 

July 30, 2011

Need some free dental floss?

16261110 Head over to Coupons.com and print a new $1/1 coupon for Reach dental floss. This regularly goes on sale at Kroger or drugstores for $1 or less, making it free!  Don’t need dental floss?  Pick it up and donate it to your local shelter, food pantry, free clinic, or domestic violence shelter.  Thanks Coupon Katie!

Kashi FREE Sample Cereal or Granola Bar

image So I’m loving seeing this free sample available!  Go to Kashi and choose from a free sample of their Kashi Cinnamon Harvest Cereal or Kashi TLC Peanutty Dark Chocolate Layered Granola Bar.  These usually arrive with some good coupons!

FREE Sample Kirkland Diapers

11671097 Go here for a FREE sample of Kirkland Diapers.  This is through Costco, but you do not have to be a member to sign up.  Thanks Money Saving Maine-iac!

Tip of the day—Check the girls!

Each month it is important to perform a self check breast exam and to remind those you love to do the same. Preventative health care isn't just money smart!

While you're at it, when was the last time you had your cholesterol checked, teeth cleaned, or a general workup from your PCP? If you answered, "It has been a while," to any of those questions, you might want to make some appointments. With some insurance companies, preventative health exams are free (no copay). If you don't have insurance, you might contact your local hospital to see if they offer any testing in the community. Covenant Health, for instance, has offered cholesterol and blood glucose checks for around $10-$20.

July 29, 2011

FREE Sample Nescafe Clasico

like_img Go here for a free sample of Nescafe Clasico.  If you don’t speak Spanish, click the English button to help you navigate through the site.  I’m not a fan of instant coffee, but I do like to add it to my chocolate cakes every now and again for a more complex flavor.  Yum!

FREE John Frieda Precision Foam Colour?

john_frieda_header_logo Visit John Frieda, complete a survey and you could win a FREE John Frieda Precision Foam Colour.  Not all people who complete the survey will score the freebie.  Thanks Mojo Savings!

I’ve been debating about coloring my hair after I cut it for Locks of Love.  Maybe you’ll see me as a blond or red head next time I have a coupon workshop!  Ha!

Ruby Tuesday—FREE Salad Bar Add On

211050_37365689813_5528306_n Head over to Ruby Tuesday and sign in with Facebook for a FREE Salad Bar Add On.  Don’t they have the best croutons??  Love their salads!  Thanks Hip2Save!

Bath & Body Works--$10/$30

7_29_redemptive_cpn Bath & Body Works has a new printable coupon for $10/$30 order.  While you’re shopping for back to school clothes, you might want to stop in and pick up some goodies.  Valid through July 31, 2011.

Tip of the day—Check your stores

Once a month check your food stores. This not only helps to prevent spoilage and waste, but it also helps you to keep better tabs on what you have on stock to use for meals.

  • Check your freezer. Discard what is freezer burned or what might be beyond use. Give it a good wipe down and refresh the baking soda box if needed.
  • Look in your fridge. Use any leftovers, the last of the olives, that last teaspoon of jelly, anything that might need eating to make way for fresh foods. Give everything a good wipe down and replace the baking soda box in there. Check the temperature and make sure it is at the proper level. Vacuum the coils so that it is running properly at least a couple of times a year.
  • What do you have in dry storage? Onions starting to sprout? Chop them and put them in a bag in the freezer. This will help to streamline your prep work for supper on busy nights. Potatoes starting to sprout? Consider planting them this year as part of your garden. Garlic getting tough? Roast or dehydrate it so that you can use it before it goes bad.
  • What about your pantry? Organize. I like to put the cans so that I can see the labels, because I’m anal because I like to see what is available with a quick scan. Make a habit of putting the new cans and jars in the back so that you can use them in a first in first out method. Check any food that you have preserved at home for spoilage and discard what is unsafe to use.
  • Check your spices. If you can’t smell them, then they are probably too old to use. Most spices do best if stored for 1-2 years.
  • Plan a meal or two using the odds and ends that you found in your kitchen quest.

July 28, 2011

FREE Sample Ball RealFruit Classic Pectin and $1/1 Q

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Go here for a FREE sample of Ball RealFruit Classic Pectin.  You will also receive a $1/1 coupon in your inbox with no size restriction.  Watch for the small pectin packs, and you should score these for free with the coupon.  Thanks Money Saving Maine-iac!

Tip of the day—Start planning your fall garden

In East TN we are blessed with a long growing season.  We’re able to grow crops like lettuces, turnip greens, spinach, and carrots in both the spring and fall, and now is the time to start thinking about your autumn plantings. 

  1. Take stock of what seeds you have to use for the fall.  Did you order enough lettuces?  Did you remember to pick up a pack of kale?
  2. Talk with friends to get some ideas of new varieties to try.  For instance, if you’ve never tried kale as a fall crop, I highly recommend it.  It is so much sweeter when touched by a bit of frost. 
  3. Order or purchase what you need while seeds are still available in the stores.  Near the end of the year, many local retailers start selling out of their seeds.  Shop now so that you make sure you have everything you want to plant.  I usually try to order seeds only one time a year so that I pay less for shipping.  If you can’t find what you need at local stores, consider placing an order with a few friends as a way to reduce the cost.
  4. Swap seeds with friends.  If you have a few friends who garden, share seeds with them to help you fill in what you need.  A pack of leeks will go a long way, and splitting a pack or trading some of your leek seeds for another variety, might help to save you money. 
  5. Start seeds indoors.  If you want to get a jump start on  your fall crops, you can start seeds inside in flats.  Just be sure to harden them off—in the spring you would do this because of the cold, but in the fall you’ll do it because of the heat.
  6. Don’t forget the bulbs and perennials.  In our climate, fall is the perfect time to plant spring bulbs and most perennials.  Set aside a little money in your budget for those purchases.  My favorite bulb supplier is www.vanengelen.com because you can buy in bulk and receive significant savings.  By using the trench method for planting bulbs, 100 bulbs are just as easy to plant as 50.  With the savings by purchasing in bulk, you can make a major statement in your landscape.  For perennials and trees, you can check with gardening centers and ask about bulk discounts.   Don’t be afraid to ask for a discount when making a big purchase.  Also be sure to ask if they have coupons available or honor competitor’s coupons.  Locally some of the garden centers have coupons in the Knox County School Coupon Book. 

July 27, 2011

PINK Private Shopping Event, Aug 7

072711_PN_PrivateShopEvent_05Go here to log into your PINK account (or sign up) to get your invite to the after hours, private shopping event on Sunday, August 7th at Victoria’s Secret PINK stores.   Your invite will reveal your one-night-only offer.

Don’t forget FREE Tea Day!

Tomorrow, July 28th is FREE TEA DAY!               Enjoy a Free McAlister's Famous Sweet Tea(TM) on us!     (or unsweet, if that's your thing.)           No purchase necessary. Limit one per guest. Not valid for gallons or catering.

Stop into McAlister’s tomorrow for a FREE tea!  (July 28)  Free tea day always makes me happy!

Reminder—Coupon Expo this weekend!

image Don’t forget to bring your extra coupons and extra freebies for the swap tables.  They are a huge hit at the coupon fairs, and I’m hoping that people will also enjoy them at this weekend’s expo!

The Knoxville News Sentinel is hosting a Coupon Expo on Saturday, July 30th from 9am-12n, and they have asked me to be the workshop presenter!  I’m thrilled because not only do I have the opportunity to teach people about couponing, but a portion of each ticket will go to Faith’s Food Pantry which I organize at our church!!

From 9am-12n there will be FREE Informational Booths which will include a coupon swap table hosted by the Swap 2 Save Coupon Club and a freebie swap table hosted by Faith UMCThree Rivers Market,Little Red Hen Consignment Tagging Service, Duck Duck Goose Consignment Sales, Corner of Your Field with KARM Thrift Stores,One Call Club for Seniors and booths hosted by the Knoxville News Sentinel will be in the lobby with no admission fee required to visit those.  The workshop will take place from 10am-12pm in a separate room.  There are only 75 spaces available and the cost of admission includes a 10 week trial Sunday subscription to the paper!  You cango here to register or phone 865-342-6118.

Please help to spread the news.  I hope to see you there!  Please e-mail me if you have any questions or if I can be of help.

Tip of the day—Part 6 Food Preservation Series

Today we’ll finish up the food preservation series with a brief discussion of fermentation.  Since I don’t ferment foods nearly as often as I should, I don’t have many tips for you.  However in the list of resources below, I’ve included information on Sandor Ellix Katz, who in my opinion is one of the best resources for learning how to ferment foods.  I also recommend that you check out the book Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon and attend your local chapter of the Weston A. Price Foundation to learn more information on the importance of fermentation.  Your local chapter might even offer demonstrations and classes to teach you how to ferment foods. 

Fermentation. This time of the year—sauerkraut and just about anything else.

Pros

  • The foods are often more easily digested and contain high amounts of probiotics.
  • Little equipment is needed.  The equipment needed varies based on what you are making.

Cons

  • If you have never fermented foods, I recommend that you take a class, attend a Weston A. Price Foundation meeting or Slow Foods meeting to learn more. 
  • As with any food preservation, there is a risk of becoming sick if the food is not prepared correctly.

Food Preservation Resources--

Better Homes and Gardens America’s All Time Favorite Canning & Preserving Recipes, 1996

Ball Blue Book Guide to Home Canning, Freezing, and Dehydration, 1995

Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving, Edited by Judi Kingry and Lauren Devine, 2006

Small-Batch Preserving, Ellie Topp & Margaret Howard, 2001

Wild Fermentation by Sandor Ellix Katz, 2003 and www.wildfermentation.com

Root Cellaring: Natural Cold Storage of Fruits and Vegetables by Mike and Nancy Bubel, 1990

Couponingincriticaltimes.blogspot.com (look under food preservation) email me at couponingincriticaltimes@gmail.com with questions

Blogs -- http://www.foodinjars.com/ and http://puttingupwiththeturnbulls.com/

July 26, 2011

What encouragement would you give a new couponer?

I'm working on my presentation for Saturday's coupon expo. I'd love to have a slide or two with encouraging words from other couponers near the end. I can't promise that everyone's quotes will be on there, but if you have a word or two of inspiration for someone who is just starting to coupon, I'd love to hear them. I'll add as many as I can. Thanks in advance!

You can leave them in the comments section or e-mail me

Kmart FREE Samples

kmart_banner_8881 Did you know that Kmart has a free samples page on their site?  Neither did I!  There are some good freebies on the list.  Enjoy!

New Harvest Park—“How to Grow Tomatoes and Treat Tomato Problems”

new harvest park How To Grow Tomatoes

&

Treat Tomato Problems

Thursday, July 28, 2011

4 p.m.

New Harvest Park Farmers Market

FREE

INSIDE the Community Building

(That means it’s air conditioned!)

Presented By

Master Gardener Chris Hamilton

All Workshop Attendees May Register for a Door Prize

Roman Meal Bread $1/1 Coupon

1 (2) Go here to print a $1/1 Roman Meal Bread coupon.  Thanks Together We Save

One of the types of Roman Meal breads is usually priced at $1.99 at Kroger.  With this coupon, whole wheat bread is only 99cts!

TGI Friday’s FREE Green Bean Fries, 7/26

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Receive an order of Crispy Green Bean Fries at TGI Friday’s today with this coupon!  Thanks Knoxville on a Dime!

Tip of the day—Part 5 Food Preservation Series

Today as part of the food preservation series, we’ll review water bath and pressure canning methods.

Water Bath Canning.  This form is done with high acid foods such as fruits, tomatoes, and foods in vinegar.  This time of the year—jams and jellies, pickles, relishes, salsas, and tomatoes

Pros

  • Fresh jams, jellies, salsas, and pickles are far superior to store bought.
  • These items make excellent gifts.
  • While this method requires more effort than dehydration or freezing, it does not take as long as you might think.
  • The food lasts for a long time, and it requires virtually no maintenance.  It is shelf stable. 
  • It is ready to eat once the jar is opened, making it a good food for emergency preparedness.

Cons

  • More equipment is needed. 
  • It is helpful to watch someone else can before you try to do it yourself.
  • If foods are not preserved properly, there is a chance you could get sick from eating the foods.

Pressure Canning.  This form of canning is done with low acid foods such as vegetables.  This time of the year—Most veggies, green beans and shelling beans

Pros

  • The food lasts for a long time, and it requires virtually no maintenance.  It is shelf stable. 
  • It is ready to eat once the jar is opened, making it a good food for emergency preparedness.
  • These save room in your freezer for other foods.
  • I think that they make a beautiful display of foods. 

Cons--

  • A pressure canner is a must have to do this kind of food preservation.  These can be expensive.  I highly recommend you buy one new for safety reasons.  If you have a hand me down, however, you can contact your county’s agricultural extension agency to find out about having the gauges and seals checked.  Locally, you can also go to Stormers True Value Hardware 8618 Asheville Hwy ,Knoxville, TN 37924, to have your canner checked.
  • If foods are not preserved properly, there is a chance you could get sick from eating the foods.

Tips for Canning Foods:

  • Stick with the recipe. When you get more experienced, you will have a better feel for what parts of the recipe you can adjust and which you can’t. When starting out, make sure you follow the recipe exactly to avoid any problems with spoilage.
  • When you first start canning, join a friend or family member to learn from him or her. Not only will you gain the experience, it will be more fun and less work.
  • Don’t try the Weck jars until you have a little experience under your belt (www.weckcanning.com). The tongue of the Weck seal will point down when sealed, but a novice might not recognize a proper seal from an improper one. The traditional Ball jar lids pop when sealed, making it more obvious if you’ve used proper technique. While the Weck jars are not hard to use, wait a while until you have a little more experience.
  • When using the Ball, Mason, or Kerr type of jar and lid system, always use new lids when water bath or pressure canning.
  • Don’t use mayo or salsa jars for canning. This practice came into place when manufacturers would give customers a little freebie by storing their foods in jars that the home canner could reuse. Now the jars at the grocery are too thin and can shatter with varied temperatures and pressures.
  • When pressure canning, have your gauges and seals checked regularly.
  • Don’t use large pressure canners on glass-top stoves.
  • Apple peeler/slicers will make apple sauce and butter a cinch. Apple corers will make pear and apple preserving easier. Cherry pitters are a must if you are going to can cherries.
  • To make peeling tomatoes and peaches easy, score the bottom of the fruit and pop into boiling water. Boil for 1-2 min. and then submerge in an ice bath. The peels will come right off.
  • Don’t squeeze jelly bags when making jelly. Your jelly will turn out cloudy—not inedible, just not as pretty.
  • When making jam, add a sliver of butter to reduce froth. When the jam is made, skim off any froth before adding to the jars so that it is prettier. Save the froth and enjoy it as a taste test.
  • Grape or muscadine jelly can sometimes turn out grainy due to the amount of tannins in the fruit. To remove some of the graininess, you can reprocess it or reheat it.
  • To avoid overflow—1. Use the hot pack method. 2. When jars are finished processing when water bath canning, turn off the heat, remove the lid and let the jars sit in the water for 5 minutes. This will help to equalize the pressure. 3. Make sure that your headspace is at the proper level.
  • Discard jars if you notice any bubbling when cooled and on the shelf. Do the finger lift test to make sure jars are sealed properly. Smell the food to make sure it doesn’t have any odor. With low acid foods, smell once they’ve been cooked, as sometimes the odor is not pronounced until heated.
  • Don’t despair if you have a jar overflow or not enough to fill for processing—just pop them into the fridge and enjoy the food in the next couple of weeks.

July 25, 2011

Chili’s FREE Appetizer or Dessert, 7/26

july26 Go here for another Chili’s Coupon. This one is redeemable 7/26/11 and is valid for either a free appetizer or dessert with entree purchase.  Yum!

Do you have a Weigel’s Rewards Card?

rewards_card_cropped My friend Allison sent me an email that she had received from Weigel’s.  There are some great deals and freebies you can receive right now if you are a Weigel’s Rewards Card member! 

To sign up for the card:

NEW Check your Weigel’s Rewards Card balance HERE.

Weigel’s offers customers a Rewards Card that has a main purpose, to save you money. Visit a local Weigel's to simply fill out an application and return it to store clerk or mail it in at your own convenience. After signing up for this Rewards Card, you will receive a card by mail within a few days. Upon receiving your card, you will begin to receive coupons with many saving opportunities.

Weigel’s Rewards Card can also be used as a Pump Start Card. This allows you to save time at the pump and pay inside when you are ready. The Weigel’s Rewards Card saves time and money. Grab an application at your local Weigel's and start saving today.

Don't have a Weigel's Rewards Card yet? CLICK HERE to get yours!

Check out the deals that Allison sent me:

FREE LARGE BAG (yes, the big bag!) of Lay's Potato Chips. Buy one, get one FREE. What a big deal. Regular price is $4.29. Two varieties - original or wavy. Offer valid through July 26, 2011.

Weigel's ICED Tea is such a deal - half gallons are just .99c each. Just present your Rewards Card when you purchase, now through July 26, 2011.

FREE 20oz Sun Drop or Diet Sun Drop with your Weigel's Rewards Card. Yep, it's FREE. Regular price $1.09. Offer valid through July 26, 2011.

Meal Planning, Week of Coupon Expo

On Saturday of this week, I’ll be the workshop presenter for the Knoxville News-Sentinel Coupon Expo.  I will be spending a good chunk of the week getting ready for that, and you’ll see a few more easy-to-prepare meals as a result.

This meal plan is for a family of 3.  We often have at least one friend or family member over to share a meal with us during the week.  Since I factor the cost of the meal when I first prepare it, leftovers will be marked as $0.  When we dine out, it comes from a different part of the family budget and those expenses will also show $0.

Meal 1

Date Night with Hubby

Approximate cost—Tip only

Ways I saved on this meal—We have a couple of free appetizer coupons for Ruby Tuesday and will use those for our meal.  We’ll leave a tip for the server based on the amount that those would have otherwise cost.  We received the free appetizer coupons when we had some mix-ups with our meal and the manager came to our table when last at a Ruby Tuesday. 

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Meal 2

Supper at my dad’s place

Approximate cost--$0

Ways I saved on this meal—We’ll plan to eat supper at my dad’s at least one night this week.  The great thing about having him in the same city is that we are able to see him more often.  Sometimes he comes over to our place and sometimes we go to his.  Not only does it make the meals more interesting to have someone else prepare something, but it saves each of us money. 

~~~~~

Meal 3

Pasta with homemade pesto

Approximate cost--$0.50 (cheese only)

Ways I saved on this meal—When I was the speaker for the Weston A. Price Foundation meeting last week, Michael and Teresa surprised me with a quart jar full of homemade pesto!!  I was thrilled.  On this night, we’ll scoop out some of it and add it to the Ronzoni pasta that I “bought” for free with coupons and Mega Event sale at Kroger a month or so ago.  The only addition will be a bit of Parmesan cheese that we have in the fridge.  I’ll probably add some of the fresh veggies from the garden as a side dish/salad.

~~~~~

Meal 4

Hot Dogs with Whole Wheat Buns

Squash from the garden

Sliced tomatoes and cucumbers from the garden

Roasted green beans from the garden

Approximate cost--$3

Ways I saved on this meal—I picked up the nitrate free hot dogs at Kroger when on sale last, and I think that with the coupon they were $1.49.  The whole wheat buns are the Rudi’s organic brand that I picked up at Three Rivers Market with a $1/1 coupon, making them only $1.50 a pack.  They are THE BEST hot dog buns I’ve ever tasted.  YUM!  The rest of the food will be from the garden, making it essentially free. 

~~~~~

Meal 5

Patty Melts

Leftover veggies from the garden

Veggies from the freezer

Approximate cost--$4.50

Ways I saved on this meal—I purchased organic ground beef at the grocery marked down with a coupon, making it a great deal!  I’ll fry these in a cast iron skillet with a bit of seasoning and add some cheese at the last minute to the top.  We’ll enjoy whatever veggies we have that need eating in the fridge, and if needed we’ll pull some green beans or purple hull peas from the freezer to add to the meal.

~~~~~

Meal 6

Leftovers

Approximate cost--$0

Ways I saved on this meal—Cook once and eat twice.  Love that!

~~~~~

Meal 7

Steak on the grill

Veggie kebobs—squash, onions, bell peppers

Deviled eggs

Approximate cost--$6

Ways I saved on this meal—As I’ve mentioned before, we purchased 1/8 of a steer with friends early in the year.  The price per pound was a little more than $3.  We watched a friend’s chickens while she was gone last week, and I still have 3 of those eggs.  I’ll make up a mini batch of deviled eggs to go with the grilled foods.

~~~~~

Staples $5/$25

20110725_ebdcdbee6269e63d16e4abee1f9bda6b_updated Go here for a printable $5/$25 Staples coupon.  This will be great to add to the back-to-school savings!

Tip of the day—Part 4 Food Preservation Series

Today as part of the food preservation series, we’ll discuss dehydrating foods.  Dehydrating foods is super simple, and I hope you’ll give it a try!  If you don’t have a dehydrator, you can use your oven set at its lowest temp--just be sure to rotate your trays around and check them frequently to make sure they aren’t burning.  If your oven isn’t calibrated properly and tends to run hot, you can turn it on for 30 minutes, off for 10 to let it cool, turn it back on, etc, etc.  This will help to keep the temp at or below 150 degrees. 

Dehydrating foods.  Drying foods This time of the year—jerky, berries, peaches (my favorite!), zucchini, onions, garlic, tomatoes, and melons.

Pros

  • This is a relatively simple form of food preservation, equipment can vary. You can use the power of the sun to dehydrate foods with drying racks.  You can set your oven to a very low temperature and dry foods in there.  Or, the easiest and most reliable is to purchase a food dehydrator.  They cost about $50+, depending on the make and what bells and whistles you want. 
  • The food lasts for a long time, and it requires little maintenance.  It is shelf stable.
  • Dehydrated fruit will quickly become your family’s favorite snack. (Note, this can also be a con!) ;)

Cons

  • In the event of an emergency, water is helpful in rehydrating the foods. 
  • If you do not dehydrate the foods completely they can become moldy.  The simple fix on this is to dehydrate the foods until crispy or chewy, and then to check them the next few days.  If your foods are not stored in air tight containers, they can plump.  Store them in mason jars to make it easy to check them periodically. 

Tips for Dehydrating Foods:

  • Make your cuts of the food as uniform as possible. This will help the food on your trays to be ready all at the same time.
  • Plan ahead. Dehydration can take many hours. I often put the food in the dehydrator after supper and in the morning remove the food that is dried. Some wetter foods can take a full day to dehydrate, such as peaches and melons. Temperatures among dehydrators vary greatly. My model may take hours longer than another person’s.
  • Check every few hours. I once had the sad experience of burning an entire batch of peaches because I forgot to check them before going to bed. They were very caramel-like and had a bitter taste—not nearly as good as the ones cooked for the proper time.
  • Drain and pat your foods dry if you can. This helps reduce drying time.
  • The flavors will intensify when cooking. You can experiment with marinades and soaks but realize that the flavor will become more concentrated after dehydrating.
  • Use fresh foods. Remember that note above about the flavors intensifying? Well, a bland tomato will only taste blander. Use fresh foods whenever preserving for the best results.
  • Choose a little under-ripened, though. Opt for a ripe peach, not an under-ripened crisp one and not a super-ripe dripping one. If in doubt go for an ever so slightly under-ripened.
  • To make bananas a cinch, use an egg slicer. These make uniform slices and reduces your cutting time.
  • To treat or not to treat? What a question! Most of the time, I do not choose to treat my foods with Fruit Fresh or lemon juice when dehydrating. The browning does not affect the flavor of the food. If you mind that it is a little brown, go ahead and treat it if you like.
  • Store dehydrated foods in airtight containers. When removing foods, make sure your hands are clean and dry to reduce risk of spoilage.
  • Remove dehydrated foods when no liquid remains in the food. Fruit will be rubbery, veggies will be crisp (as a general rule). If you remove them when liquid is still inside, they will mold.
  • One of the best places I’ve seen to buy dehydrators and dehydrating supplies, such as jerky making equipment, is Bass Pro Shop.
  • If you want to play sneaky chef, grind dehydrated vegetables into a powder and add to other foods. This will up the vitamin intake.
  • An apple corer and slicer makes dehydrating go much more quickly for foods like pears and apples.