Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Soda Stream

Jason and I have been back and forth on whether to get a Soda Stream or not. It seems like a cool idea but I didn't want to get one thinking it would be cost effective without actually running the numbers. When I say I ran the numbers, I really mean it. I broke down each component needed to make soda (even the machine itself) to find out the cost per liter and per can. Number are my thing, so if I was going to do it I was doing to do it right.

What I found out was actually surprising. When sodas aren't on sale the Soda Stream version is much cheaper per liter and can. When packaged sodas are on sale both they and the Soda Stream version is about the same. Plus the Soda Stream bottles are concentrated and lighter than lugging 12 packs or 2 liters of soda around. It's also better for the environment not to have all the extra packaging. Although we do recycle.

Before now we had steady supply of Coke reward points to cash in for free 12 pack coupons (see earlier posts for details) but that supply has sadly ran out. We will still enter the codes when we get them and of course get our free 12 pack coupons when we can, but we don't have enough to keep up with our usage anymore.

So, we decided to go for it and order the Soda Stream. I had a coupon (big surprise) and some Kohl's cash to use plus Kohl's had a $10 rebate on the model we bought. It will end up costing us around $55.00 for the starter pack. I also had $9 reward money from Staples (again, see earlier posts for details) to use as well. I went to Staples today and got a bottle of the caffeine free diet soda for me and the cherry soda for Jason to get us started. For both bottles I only had to pay $1.01 out of pocket for these.

We also participate in the Swagbucks search engine so we can cash our points in for Amazon gift cards and get more of our Soda Stream supplies from there too making it even cheaper to own. (You can also get the details for Swagbucks in earlier posts).

We haven't received the Soda Stream yet, but I'll be sure to let you know how we like it when we get it and try it out.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Chicken Update

Don't worry I'm not going to bore you with another description of my money saving chicken process. But if you haven't read one of the previous post yet, be sure to check it out on how to save tons of money on chicken.

On my latest chicken run though, I stumbled across another way to stretch your chicken dollars even more.

We've talked before about how huge the split chicken breast are and how to take advantage of that when you process your chicken. This time I also ended up pounding the chicken breast that I was freezing whole and it turned each breast into a meal for two and doubling what meals I could make with them.

Seriously, check out the size of this chicken breast! I made sure you could see a little of my hand to give you some size reference. It's huge!

Here are 4 chicken breast that I have pounded flatter. I also show you that they're still a good thickness and not paper-thin.

Each of these will now be a meal for me a Jason. So with 4 breast, we can get 4 meals out of just these. I bought 5 packs of split breast chicken for around $25 and here you can see after my process we ended up with enough chicken for 14 meals plus 2 huge containers of chicken broth to freeze and use for the upcoming holiday meals. Not counting the chicken broth, that makes each meal around $1.78 for the chicken. With the high meat prices right now, that's not too bad at all.

Friday, November 8, 2013

New Bed for Sofie

Years ago I bought Sofie a Dora the Explorer kids play tent at a yard sale and she's been using it every winter since to sleep in. She's very cold-natured so she likes to burrow and be warm, which is why she liked the tent so much. I would throw a blanket over it to keep in more heat. Yes, she is very spoiled! The tent worked great but it is so ugly and since it's used in our bedroom I wanted something that looked a little better.

Here's the tent:

It has seen better days.

Next I bought a used Pack N Play.

I cut out the front mesh panel to give her a door and also made sure she would use it before going further. She liked it as you see.

I found some denim in my fabric stash that matched the color pretty well and made a simple cover for it to keep the heat in.

One of Sofie's beds fit perfectly in the bottom to give her some cushion and warmth.

I think she likes it, what do you think? I paid $15 for the Pack N Play and already had the denim material so it was also a pretty thrifty bed.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Cheap and Easy, Meals that is!

I love meals that are cheap and easy. I don't always have the energy or motivation to make a meal from scratch, so I love having meals in the freezer just waiting on me. One of our favorite meals for this is spaghetti. Since I have an unnatural hatred for onions, it's hard to find a spaghetti sauce at the grocery store that doesn't have them in it. So, I've always just made my own sauce. It's tons cheaper, quick and I make it the way I like it - onion free! I also make it in bulk and freeze it for super quick meals.

To start I purchased a large can of tomato sauce from Sam's for $3.18.

Then I poured that in a bowl and added my spices. You can also warm it on the stove with the spices too, but I have found that it taste the same either way, so why bother with the stove and extra cleaning.

I added oregano, garlic salt, Italian seasoning and the Nature's Seasons blend. You can add what you like or just what you have on hand. I keep adding and tasting until the tomato taste if blended well with the spices. I will warn you though to not get the mixture too spicy because it does get a stronger taste once prepared.

With every thing mixed up, I simply put the sauce in freezable containers and of course freeze then!

For me and Jason I was able to get 10 meal size portions from the 1 can of tomato sauce. That's right, 10 meals of sauce for a total of $3.18!!!  That's .38 cents a meal for the sauce!!!

The sauce thaws well on defrost in the microwave as well. Simply thaw and heat it up, that's it. We like angel hair pasta which cooks in 3 to 5 minutes, so within 5 minutes or so I can have homemade spaghetti on the table with little effort. I also like buying ground beef in bulk and browning it all at once and freezing it in small portions that can be added to meals like this in a snap. You can add ground beef, veggies or whatever fresh ingredients you like before serving as well.