Friday, June 4, 2010

No-Fuss Doesn't Mean No Order

So when I went on vacation to Maine a couple of weeks ago I had my bedroom area almost exactly how I wanted it.  And then, through packing, unpacking and bringing back the whittled down contents of storage unit, suddenly it looked like this again:

And I decided, there is no way that I am going to be able to study for grad school (which I will have started by the time you read this) in this kind of mess.  So I spent the day, cleaning, organizing and (most importantly) watching season 3 of Sex and the City on DVD.

So here are the before:

And now on the after:
The desk area

Wire cubes filled with books and teaching materials

The desk

In/out tray with my Rolodex (the rolodex is another post)

This desk doesn't have any drawers so we have a 3 drawer rolling cart.

Let's have look in those drawers shall we?

Extra supplies.  
Notice how I have whole section dedicated to postie notes.
I have entered a 12-step program for postie note addiction.

Anyway, I got the boxes on the clearance at (of all places) the grocery store.
They are plastic pencil boxes and I just leave them open and use them as dividers.

In here we have checkbooks, envelopes, address labels, stamps and some computer stuff

Paper (regular and heavy weight), extra binders, and page protectors

The best organizational idea ever!
These are my iPod sync cord and camera sync cord.  
I use them all the time and so I like them out but I don't want them taking up desk space. 
 I sent out an SOS on Facebook and one of my friends sent me this link.
In his words it's "crazy brilliant".

The desk is right next to the bed so it doubles as a side table.
This is pile of reading material.

It's not totally done.  I want to switch the places of the wire cubes and the tall boy dresser.  I also need do a sort and purge of the other (unpictured, purposely) side of the room.  But for now it is good.  I have place to study and get this grad school thing done.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010


Things I love about being home in Maine:
  • Trees (There is a severe lack of tree in Los Angeles)

  • DUNKIN DONUTS (You knew that one was coming)
  • Nature sounds
  • Adorable cousins

  • Driving the Turnpike without any traffic
  • Laddie

  • Awesome friends

  • Italian sandwiches from Sam's (I've attempted to re-create them but it's just not the same)

  • Chatting with my mom
  • Lunch with my dad
  • General foolish-ness with my brother
  • This group

Sunday, May 30, 2010


Sometimes I get overwhemed when I compare my life to my friends and aquaintences.

One of my best childhood friends had a baby yesterday.  One of my absolute best friends from high school has a three year old.  I will be a bridesmaid for another close friend this summer.  It seems like everytime I go on Facebook another friend is getting engaged, picking a date for their wedding or having a baby.  Most of the time, I'm happy for them.  They are doing what makes them happy and that makes me happy.

But there is no way that I am there yet.  I can hardly balance my own life and responsibilities let alone be responsible for someone else.  I feel like even though The Boy and I live together things are separate in a way that they won't be when/ if we get married.  We don't pay bills together first of all.  We still ask before borrowing things from one another.  And doing things for each other still seems like favors instead of obligations.  For instance, I knew that I was going to have a break at work the other day and when I got there I thought "wouldn't it be nice to get some knitting done while I am on break".  So I called him and asked him to bring my knitting stuff to my work and he agreed.  But there was no obligation on his part to do so.  I do little errands for him also but also not because I have to but because it is something nice to do for my partner.  Somehow once the ceremony is over, those little things that were favors when you were dating, or even living together, come to be things that are expected by the other person instead of appreciated as small gifts to each other.

And don't even get me started on how I don't need a baby right now.  I LOVE babies and kids, but I know that I am not in place right now to have one.  First of all I'm 3,000 miles away from any physical supporters.  If I am going to do the baby thing, I know I am going to need some support and I am also going to want to share that baby with everyone.  Not to mention the whole going back to school and working full time thing.  If I had to I could make it work, but since I have the choice, I am going to wait.

Now all that said, hearing about all the engagements, wedding plans and adorable new babies, makes me ache a little inside.  
I can't help seeing their happiness and beening just a tad bit wistful.  Just for a moment.

I love my life the way it is and I don't see me really truly beening ready for a big change anytime soon. 
I know it will happen for me someday.

And in the end that is what brings me back to being happy that all my friends have happiness too.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Heaven in a CrockPot!

I found this recipe over on a Year of Slow Cooking and I knew from the second that I saw it that I needed to try it.  Tonight I finally got around to making it and let me tell you it is delicious.  If you want a yummy, easy dessert, this is a real winner.

Only don't do what I did and make it on a night when there is no one to share it with.  I'm trying not to eat the whole thing myself.  A tough problem to have, I know.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas!

The Boy got an invitation go to a convention in Las Vegas for free.  When I found this out, I said, "I'm coming right?" And we were off!

We stayed at the Stratosphere because they had the best rates and ratings for a hotel on the Strip.

We really liked it.  The rooms were clean and there was a upbeat, non-depressing vibe to it that we didn't feel at some of the older hotels on the Strip.

The first thing that we did was head over to the Bellagio for the buffet Brunch.  It was delicious.  We got there at the perfect time because while we were there they switched over to dinner.  We got dinner for the afternoon price!  My favorite dish was the Lobster Ravoli with cream sauce.  The Boy enjoyed the Roast Lamb and the manicotti.  We both loved the desserts.

After that we got discounted tickets for Cirque de Soelil Mystere at the Tix4Tonight booth.  If you don't have any real idea for what you want to see while you are in Las Vegas, these booths are great because there are always tickets for quite a few shows and they are discounted.  We didn't have enough time to go and change so we went over to Treasure Island where Mystere is located.  We picked up our tickets and then wandered around until seating started.  It was nice to just sit and people watch.

Mystere was amazing.  I always have fun watching Cirque shows.

We wandered over to the Bellagio to watch the water show that is set to music.  It was gorgeous.  A great FREE thing to do .  The shows happen every 30 minutes during the day and every 15 minutes at night.  Definitely worth seeing.

Then we headed back to the Stratosphere.  We hung out at the Blackjack table for a couple hours and met a couple interesting characters.  The most vocal of these characters was a Hollywood producer/ director who was there for the same convention as The Boy.  He was basically narrating everything going on in the casino.  Then a guy who had won a Viper earlier in the day joined us and played a few hands.  And then there was the handsome young man who looked so familiar but I just couldn't place.  Then it hit me.  I had been watching ABC Family the other day and Bring It On: In It To Win It was on.  This guy was the romantic interest of the main character.  I was just a little bit starstruck.

That was it for us for that night.  I had a fun day shopping the next day which I will post more about another day.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

How to Make Your Own Taco Ring

Now you may be asking yourself "What is a Taco Ring?" and I will tell you, the best use of crescent roll dough ever. EVER.
Here is a picture of a finished Taco Ring.

It looks delicious doesn't it?
*Note:  For some reason I only bought one tube of rolls for this.  Your finished product will have more crust

  • 2 tubes of crescent rolls
  • 1 lb of you meat of choice (I made these with shredded chicken, but you could use ground beef or turkey)
  • 2 tbs chilli powder
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper (adjust for your taste, we like things SPICY!)
  • Toppings (sour cream, salsa, avacado, anything else you like on your taco)
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

Heat up a pan and brown your meat, when it is browned, stir in the spices and turn off the heat.

While the meat is cooking, get started making your ring.  Open up the crescent rolls and separate it into triangles.  Grease a cookie sheet.  Then lay out the triangles in a circle with the corner on the short ends over lapping.  It will look like this but yours will have twice as many points because you didn't forget a second tube of dough.

Next add your filling on top of the crescent rolls.  Now you will lift up the points one at a time.
And tuck the point under the filling and attach it to the bottom of the ring

And keep going, doing the same thing with the rest of points.
It will look like this:
 Then pop it in the oven for 15 minutes until the crust is nice and golden.

Then cut it into wedges and top it with your favorite taco toppings.  Serve with salad or coleslaw.  I'll post my Mexican Slaw recipe another time.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

What's Been Going On

I haven't been very good at updating lately but I'm trying to get back on track.

A quick (and exciting!) update.  I've been accepted to graduate school.  The program that I got accepted to is a dual program and in the end I will have both my Masters of Arts in Special Education and my Educational Specialist credential from the State of California.  I decided to apply to grad school after months of job searching and being unable to get a full-time teaching job.  I knew that eventually I would have to get my Masters and I wanted to be in a field that was more specialized then Elementary Education.  In the fall I will be in a full time PAID internship in an elementary school.  I'm very excited and also a little bit scared.

I know that the next year (and especially then next 2 months) will be hard but I know that it will be worth it.  It is all the more important that I continue to live with no-fuss.  I will need to be even more mindful of living economically and healthfully.  I will continue to write here about how I manage to do that.  I will include what works, and what doesn't work.

Coming up this week:
  • Recipe and step by step for making a Taco Ring
  • Appetizer night!
  • Our trip to Las Vegas
  • How to make your own DD Iced Coffee
  • Organizational results of the massive cleaning I am doing this week
Hope everyone has a great week and hope to hear from you soon.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Bread Store Shopping Trip

So growing up in my small hometown in Maine, it was normal to go to the bread store for all your bread needs. There was everything from bread to English muffins to pretzels to peanut butter to every kind of Hostess product you could imagine (I got to have 1 Swiss Roll in my lunchbox...). And all this at ridiculously low prices like $0.99- $1.50 for a loaf of bread depending on the quality. My mom still refuse to pay retail for bread if she can avoid it.

So I moved out here and I resigned myself to the fact that I would just have to pay retail for bread. I would just buy what was on sale and somewhat nutritionally sound.

But a few weeks back my mom came to visit. We were driving down the street and she exclaims, "There's a bread store." I sigh. Of course she would find one down the street from my apartment within days of being here that I haven't seen in 3 months of living here. So I made my way over there a few days after she left and came home with this stash.

2 loaves of "good" bread (the 100% whole wheat and potato)
1 loaf "white" bread (I don't like it but The Boy will eat it and hey it was free)
2 Minestorne soup starters (love these for quick meals)
2 packages of Thomas Betterstart Light English muffins (loves these with peanut butter)
1 jar peanut butter
1 bear of honey (I love the bear of honey. It's so cute.)

And my total cost was $14 and change (I don't remember exactly). In the store I would have paid at least $30 based on my guessimates. I could run the numbers exactly but I don't feel like it. Perhaps I will check out the retail prices for the equivalent of these products next time I go grocery shopping.

In closing, I LOVE THE BREAD STORE! and I will not be buying bread in the grocery store anymore.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Good Morning America

One of the perks of living in Los Angeles is that there are lots of free things to do. I was looking at the webpage for free studio tapings and I found that Good Morning America was taping here the morning after the Oscar's. I convinced The Boy to tag along with me for the taping.

Now let me remind you of 2 things:
1.) Los Angeles is 3 hours behind New York where GMA is based.
2.) GMA goes on the air at 7 AM in New York.

Do a little math. Now what time did taping start here? It's okay, I'll wait...

That's right taping started at 4 AM.

We had to be at the studio two hours prior to taping. And based on my experiences it is best to be there an hour before the scheduled time. So we got there at 1 AM. We didn't even bother going to bed.

It was a lot of waiting and even though we were numbers 25 and 26 in line we were only in one shot on the broadcast (if you happened to see the show we were sitting behind the "Bleacher Creatures" and when then did the intro to their piece, you could see us sitting behind them). The whole point of doing this was so that I could call my nana and say "Did you see me on GMA?" and of course she missed that one little shot.

Oh well it was a bit of an adventure but in the end I think it didn't have the return that I though it would. It's fun playing tourist in my own city but this was not what I thought it would be. Now if you'll excuse me, I need to go take a nap.

Thursday, March 4, 2010


I have a confession to make. I am a horrible housekeeper. I try so hard but I have yet to find a way that works. I like to come up with systems that will keep me clutter and mess free but my desk and dining room table show that something just isn't clicking.
So what is a girl to do? Well I've been reading over at Organizing Junkie and Complete Organizing Solutions and have determined that they way to get organized is to just bite the bullet and get moving.

Here's the plan:
Desk area
  • Need a system for incoming mail and bills so that they get paid
  • Need a space and system for lesson planning
  • Need to re-evaluate filing system so that it is current to my needs
Bathroom/ Sink area
  • Need a reminder system for meds
  • Need to corral cosmetics and hair products so they are not just "out" all the time
  • Create storage area in the open area near the door for random things that don't have homes (extra linens, sports equipment, cleaning products)
  • Organize shower tub so that products have home
Sleeping area
  • Find permanent home for humidifier
  • System for movies
  • System for books and reading materials
Stay tuned for progress rpoerts and before and after pictures.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Slow Cooker Pot Roast with Garlic Mashed Potatoes

That looks great, right? Let me tell you it is just as delicious as it looks. And it is super easy with the use of my CrockPot and 3 packets (you know like you use to make dip) from the grocery store. It took me 10 minutes to prep the pot roast and 30 minutes to make the mashed potatoes including boil time.

Slow Cooker Pot Roast (adapted from Crockpot365)
2-3 lb Roast (pork or beef)
1 packet Ranch dip mix
1 packet Italian dressing mix
1 packet au jus, gravy or beef stew mix
1 cup wine (or water if you prefer, I like wine)
1-2 cups water

Optional: carrots, onions, celery chopped

Pour the packets into the bottom of the Crockpot. Put the roast in the Crockpot and turn the roast a couple times to coat the roast with the delicious seasoning. Then add your chopped veggies if you are going to add them. Pour the wine (or water if that's how you roll) over everything. Put the lid on and cook on low for 6-8 hours. Mine took 6. The meat should fall apart when you try to separate it with a couple of forks. If it doesn't it needs more time. If it is not time to eat, just flip the crockpot to warm. 1 hour before eating, add the 1-2 cups water and put the crock on high. This makes the broth a little less salty and lets it thicken a bit. Start getting your potatoes ready about 30 minutes before you want to sit down to dinner.

Garlic-y Mashed Potatoes
5-6 medium potatoes, chopped into about 1 1/2 inch size pieces
1 cup broth (from your pot roast or a box)
1-2 T butter
1/4 cup half and half
2 cloves garlic

Peel and chop the potatoes. Add them to cold water. Yes it has to be cold. I think Alton Brown once told me it leads to gummy potatoes. Something about the outsides cooking faster then the insides and then getting gummy. ANYWAY, throw the garlic into the pot too then boil the potatoes for about 15 minutes. Potatoes are done when they are fork tender (that means you can pierce them easily with a fork but they don't fall apart). Drain them then put them back in the pot. Add the broth and but and mash them up a bit. Then add the half and half and mash them a bit more. They will still be a bit chunky if you don't whip them but I like them that way.

The Verdict:
The meat was perfect. According to the boy, "The meat was tender but not so tender that it falls off your fork which is annoying." The potatoes were great (especially with the pot roast juices on top) but not as garlicy as I would have liked. I read somewhere that adding a couple cloves while the potatoes are boiling makes them garlicly but it wasn't as much as I would have liked. Over all it was delicious.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Where Have All the DDs Gooonnne?

So the one thing that I absolutely miss about the east coast is Dunkin Donuts. I mean I come from a town that has a Dunkin on every major street (not kidding). I was able to cope with the relative scarcity of DD while living in the Mid-Atlantic because there were a few key Dunkins that I could go to for a Iced Coffee or 1/2 cocoa, 1/2 coffee fix.

But here there are none. Not just, I would have to drive out of my way to get to one. There are actually none within 50 mile. Look I even searched.

I've started to make do with Iced Coffee from Starbucks, but something isn't quite right and I think it is the size. A medium Iced Coffee from DD is 24 oz which I can sip all morning and a grande Iced Coffee at Starbucks is only 16 oz. Somehow I feel incomplete after finishing the Starbucks Iced Coffee. I think that the solution is going to have to be that I start brewing my own coffee and then refrigerating it. It will be cheaper, because Starbucks is expensive and I don't like the emptyness I feel after drinking a Starbucks.

So who is going to buy me a coffee maker?

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Menu Plan Monday

Well I'm not the first to have made a menu plan and I'm not the first to have written about it. In fact, Laura, the Organizing Junkie, hosts Menu Planning Monday and I have decided to participate. I will post links to the recipes once I have posted about them. Also I have left my menu plan in the car after grocery shopping and I can't for the life of me remember what I planned for Friday. I'll add that in when I go down to the car tomorrow.


Sunday--> Spaghetti Bolganase with Garlic Bread
Monday--> Slow Cooker Pot Roast with Garlic Mashed Potatoes
Tuesday--> Some kind of Beef Stew with the left over pot roast
Wednesday--> Mac & Cheese w/ Chicken Nuggets
Thursday--> Thai Chicken Pasta (so good)
Friday --> I forgot
Saturday--> Appitizer Extravaganza (Pot Stickers, Spinich and Artichoke Dip, Potatoskins)

Breakfast and Snack

Fiber One cereal
Greek Yogurt (it was on sale!)
Fruit Salad (the fruit at the farmer's market was delicious this week)
Bagels and cream cheese
String Cheese
Girl Scout Cookies (I couldn't resist)

Check out what other people have planned for this week here.
Have Fun!

Thursday, February 25, 2010

So This is Love

I'm sitting on the bed right now and The Boy is singing his narration of everything he is doing. It is quite amusing.
It goes something like this.
"Underarmor stink. Underarmor stink."
"I really need a belt."
"You're writing about me right now aren't you..."

Love is thinking this is the most endearing thing in the world.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Chicken Pot Pie

So I got the afternoon off from work one day this week and I decided that I would make something a little more work intensive than what I usually make. I found this recipe over on Rachel Ray's site and adapted it to my own use. Feel free to do her version or my version. It won't hurt my feelings.

Chicken Pot Pie with Biscuit Crust

4 bone-in, skin-on chicken breasts
3 small onions, 2 cut in half, 1 chopped, divided
2 bay leaves
2 tablespoons EVOO – Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2 heads of broccoli broken into florets
1/2 bag baby carrots, cut into quarters
1/2 pound green beans cut into one inch peices
Salt and ground black pepper
3 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons flour
1/2 cup white wine
1 cup milk
1 cup chicken stock
3 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1 cup frozen peas
1 batch of biscuit dough (I made mine for bisquick but you could use the ones in the tube)

Make It
Place chicken, whole onion half and bay leaves in a large pot and cover with cold water. Place pot over medium-high heat and bring up to a simmer. Reduce heat to medium and simmer until chicken has cooked through, about 20 minutes. Remove chicken from pot and let cool. Reserve about 1 cup (a mugful) of the cooking liquid and then discard the remaining.

While chicken cools, place a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat with 2 turns of the pan of EVOO, about 2 tablespoons. Add chopped veggies to the pan, season with salt and pepper, and cover. Cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, 7-8 minutes. While the veggies are cooking, remove the chicken breast meat from the bones and shred.

When the veggies are tender, scoot them over to the side of the pan and add the butter to the center of the pot. Once butter has melted, add the flour and cook for about a minute. Whisk in white wine, milk, chicken stock and reserved poaching liquid. Bring up to a simmer then add the Dijon, peas and shredded chicken. Bring back up to a simmer, season with salt and pepper, and cook until the sauce has thickened, 2-3 minutes. Make the biscuit dough while the sauce thickens.

Transfer to a casserole dish and cover with the biscuit dough, I flattened biscuit size pieces and then placed then on top of the mixture.

Bake the pot pie until the filling is bubbling and the crust is golden brown, about 30 minutes. Serve.

We loved this. I will be eating the leftovers all week.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Meat Ball Subs

This recipe is easy to put together ahead of time and let it sit in the crockpot all day and it will be ready when you get home! I made it on a Friday and both the boy and the male roomie loved it.

Meat Ball Subs

1 lb ground meat (I used turkey this time but sometimes I use beef or a mixture of beef and pork)
1 cup bread crumbs (the kind you buy in the store)
1 egg
1 T Itailan Seasoning
2 T basil
1/2 t Red Pepper Flake (optional)
1 jar tomato sauce
4 sub rolls

Make It
Preheat oven to 400. Combine meat, bread crumbs, egg, spices and 1/2 cup sauce) in a bowl. I usually mix with my hands because it comes together easier. Form into golfball size balls and place on grease baking sheet. Bake for 15 minutes you just want to brown the outside so that they don't fall apart in the crockpot. While they are baking, pour the rest of the jar of sauce into the crockpot, fill the empty jar about halfway with water and shake it up, then add the water to the crockpot. Add the meatballs to the crockpot. Cook on low for 4-6 hours. Put 4-5 meatballs on each subroll. Serve with salad.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Feels Like Wednesday

So remember how I told you that I love menu planning because I don't worry about what to cook or have to go grocery shopping all week. Yeah well this week I am wishing I had listened to myself.

Sunday I decided to go visit a friend who is visiting her mother in Orange County. I love a day at the beach and I don't think that I had seen this girl in over 4 years so I was all about visiting. I said I would leave around 12 thinking it would be an hour drive at most and I would have time to menu plan, and go to the Farmer's Market before I left. Well it turns out I'm lazy and The Boy convinced me that we didn't need to go to the Farmer's Market and we should sleep instead. And I listened. I had a great time at the beach but I have been kicking myself all week for not shopping.

Then I said, well I don't work until late on Monday, so I will grocery shop after I go to the library to pick out books for all my lessons this week. This did not go well. I had an upset stomuch the whole time I was at the library and I came home and laid in bed all pathetic like for an hour or so hoping the my stomach would calm down. It didn't. I got worse (I'll spare you the details) so I called The Boy hoping he would go get me some ginger ale and crackers. He ended up taking off work and making me go to the doctors. The doctor chastised me for not coming in sooner (it was a really bad case of sinusitis and being a person with a ton of allergies and lots of experience with sinus headaches I should have come in earlier. I just hate taking anti-biotics. I'd rather be sick.). Then Tuesday was packed with work stuff. So long story short I didn't get around to a meal plan until Wednesday. And it was stressing me out.

Anyway, I made the most amazing Indian Curry in the CrockPot last night. The Boy even ate it (after he picked out the vegetables. lesigh...). And I already told you about how I invented CrockPot Queso and Mac with Sausage (amaaaazing!). Tonight is leftovers. Probably will have that Saturday too. I'm making some delicious food for the SuperBowl on Sunday. And I don't plan on cooking until then because the fridge is packed with leftovers. Does anyone want to come help eat them?

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Making It Up as I go...

So I have a habit of making up recipes as I go along.

Sometimes I look at a recipe and go "I could make that in the CrockPot" (actually, this happens a lot. My name is Jewely and I am addicted to my CrockPot).

Sometimes I think "If I added, this and this, this recipe would be even better."

And sometime I get a reeealll bad craving for queso dip. But I want a whole meal not just a delicious snack. So I said to myself "I could make Queso and Mac for dinner, that would be delicous!" But I didn't have a recipe for Mac and Queso, so I made one up. So I made my way over to my favorite CrockPot cooking blog and found a plain old Mac and Cheese recipe. I changed it up a bit so that I could leave it and wouldn't curdle. Then I added chili peppers, and sausage. It was delicious.

Mac and Queso with Sausage

What You Need:
--1 lb bulk sausage meat (if you only can get the links, just squeeze out the meat)
--1/2 pound uncooked macaroni or hearty pasta (I used penne)
--2 1/2 cups of milk (I used skim cow's)
--1 12oz. can of evaporated milk
--2 eggs
--2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
--2 cups shredded pepper jack cheese
--1/2 t kosher salt
--1/2 t black pepper
--1 small can of chilies

What To Do:
Brown and crumble the sausage meat in a pan.

Spray crock well with cooking spray (very important, makes clean up so much easier). In a mixing bowl, whip egg and milk together. Stir in chilies and salt and pepper.

Add cheese and noodles, and stir well to combine. Pour the mixture into the crockpot.

It will be very liquidy.

Cover and cook on low for 2-5 hours, or on high for 1-3. Mine took about 4 hours. Then I switched it to warm for a bit. It was not quite as sauc-y as I would have liked so next time I might cook it for a little less time.

What We Thought:
Both the boy and I both loved this. Like I said, I would have like a little more sauce, both other than that, it was awesome.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Meal Planning and Grocery Shopping

Or, How I Go to Work, Prepare Dinner and Still Stay Sane.

It sounds scary doesn't it? MEAL PLANNING. I mean its something my mother did that never seemed to make sense. But now it makes all kinds of sense. Planning out what I'm going to cook everyday saves so much of everything. It saves money because I can plan around what is on sale, it saves time because I very rarely forget that one ingredient and doing need to run to the store before I start cooking, and most importantly it saves my sanity because I'm not worrying about "what am I going to cook tonight". Sure not everything always goes exactly as planned. Sometimes I forget to put dinner in the crockpot. Sometimes I just really want Chinese. But most of the time, I feel good knowing that I will have dinner ready within 30 minutes of getting home. And I don't have to stop at the grocery store on the way home. Which is annoying.

So below is how I do it. Take what you like and ignore what you don't. For me it works.

1)Get everything you need: For me that is: a pile of cookbooks and cooking magazines, my laptop with bookmarked recipes from blogs and such, the current sale flyer from my grocery store and my handy-dandy meal plan and shopping list spreadsheet.

2) Figure out your need each night of the week: My schedule changes every week. Some nights I work 2-4 and I can make are "real meal" easy but some nights I work 4-8 and those are crockpot nights.

3) CHECK THE SALE FLYER: I look through and see what's on sale and look for recipes for those ingredients. Usually there is some kind of beef, chicken and seafood on sale every week. For example, salmon was on sale this week for 5.99/lb and so I found a recipe for salmon burgers (they were delicious). I also check for when staple ingredients are on sale. Then I buy a bunch of them and store them in the freezer. For example, this week Jennie-O ground turkey breast was on sale (!) which I like to substitute for ground beef when I can but ground turkey is more expensive usually. So I bought 4 packages of ground turkey and threw them in freezer. Turkey chilli anyone?

4) Double check everything: I plug everything into my spreadsheet and check every recipe to make sure that I have every ingredient either in the pantry or on the list. I also double check the pantry for things that are running low. It would suck to be making chicken parm and realize there are not enough bread crumbs :-(. Don't forget to add breakfast, lunch and snack stuff.

5) Have a shopping partner: I usually take The Boy. I go by myself sometimes but it goes quicker and is less of a chore when I have company.

6) Stick to the list (most of the time): I do allow myself to get a few things not on the list (like graham crackers or something else nibbly to have with my tea) but for the most part I stick to it. Sticking to the list helps me to not overspend.

7) Bring It All Home: I usually put the meats for the next two days in the fridge and all the other meat goes in the freezer. Longer than a couple of days in the fridge and you will need to go to the store and get another pound of ground beef. Ask me how I know this. It was not my brightest idea. I take meat out of the freezer the night before I need it, stick in in the fridge and it is usually ready by the time I need it (although you can usually get away with using frozen meat in the crockpot). Check the meat couple hours (or before you leave for work) before you need it, if it is still frozen solidish, wrap it in plastic, fill the sink with cold water and leave the meat in there. It will be defrosted when you get home. Like magic. It's so cool.

Well that's all for this post. I think I will be posting the recipe for what is in my crockpot right now tomorrow.

Seriously, I'm going to go take a picture right now.