Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Save Big Money at Menards

I have to admit that I've learned something new about saving money this week that I didn't quite know existed! I wasn't sure that was possible, but alas a new rock has been turned. It's a fun little thing called mail in rebates from Menards. I know not everyone in the country has Menards so let me fill you in on these smart folks. Menards is kind of like Lowe's, but they also have the typical Walmart like sections with food, drinks, toiletries, and cleaning supplies. Every week, Menards has several items that will be free or just pennies after their mail in rebates. It gives you a store credit postcard to use just like $ at Menards. They also limit the amount that you can buy and receive a rebate for on each item (usually ranges from 3-20). You then take your postcard rebates and buy OTHER items that are free or almost free after rebate in order to roll your rebates just like ECBs or RRs at CVS or Walgreens. They also take coupons so it is definitely possible to get overages on your products. Yes it takes a little longer than a week to get your rebate, but you should ideally be able to do this once a month to get free items. You can even get free tools or building supplies as a part of this program!

My plan for this week will cost me about $20 to start, but will give me $27 in rebates back so I can buy other things later on this month or early August. I plan to use some of my rolling rebates to buy some school supplies for my classroom that I hope they will have on sale in the coming weeks :)

Have you discovered any new money saving tips lately? Even if you haven't, what are your tried and true tips to stretch your buck?

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Summer Lasagne

I've been experimenting with some cheap, yummy, healthy foods for summer. I've been trying to incorporate as many fresh ingredients as possible from my garden so I can save additional money on produce. Here is my ultimate favorite so far! Hope you enjoy it as much as I did!


Summer Lasagne, found in Everyday Food magazine
1 cup ricotta
1/4 cup grated Parmesan
3 tablespoons olive oil
Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
8 lasagna noodles, broken into thirds, cooked and drained
1 minced garlic clove
2 pints cherry tomatoes, halved (about 30 tomatoes)
2 small zucchini, thinly sliced
1/2 cup torn basil leaves

1. Combine ricotta, Parmesan and olive oil, and salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.

2. Heat oil in skillet over medium high and add garlic and tomatoes. Cook until slightly broken down, about 3 minutes. Transfer to bowl.

3. Add zucchini to skillet. Season with salt and pepper and cook about 5 minutes until tender. Transfer to another bowl.

4. Scatter a few tomatoes over four plates. Top with one noodle, a spoonful of ricotta mixture, zucchini and more tomatoes. Repeat layering twice, ending with noodle and tomatoes. Drizzle a little more olive oil on top. Garnish with basil and serve.

This recipe cost me approximately $3 to make and it made 4 generous servings. I used tomatoes, zucchini, and basil from my garden and I bought almost everything else with a coupon for a reduced price or at Aldi. Yes my Aldi has ricotta cheese :)

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Summer lovin'

Well as you can tell it has been another long absence. I always tend to underestimate what all will be on my plate. It seems that somehow summer has snuck halfway by on me. In about a month, we'll be back for another school year.....one that will hopefully be substantially less stressful and emotionally draining as last years was. Let me fill you in on how I have been spending my moderately relaxing summer.

1. At the gym: Yes I am trying to lose weight. So far...7 lbs gone. I wish it was substantially more considering that I spend almost 2 hours at the gym everyday. Unfortunately, I like beer so I guess that has come back to bite me in the butt...no probably the tummy.
2. Gardening: I had a major flop last year with my first year of gardening. Maybe it was the fact that it didn't rain for 28 days and the temperatures were so hot they made my tomatoes cry, but this year things (knock on wood) are going substantially better. I have 8 tomato plants of various kinds, 2 peppers, 1 eggplant, 1 onion, 6 cucumbers, a big patch of various types of lettuce, peas, and green beans. Lets hope things continue on the right track so I can enjoy the fruits of my labor.
3. Enjoying time with friends: Not everyday, but at least 4 days a week I make an effort to spend time with friends and at least 1 day a week is all about family. I love the summer because every night is like a weekend so I don't feel bad if I'm tired on a Friday and don't want to go out because I could go out on Monday night and not even worry about it.
4. Watching the Women's World Cup: Not quite as many games as last summer's men's world cup, but I'm enjoying every minute of getting to watch the sport I love. I need to soak up as much sports time as possible because it looks like football and basketball will be out this next year...
5. Coaching: The one thing I feel like succeed at when all else fails. World Cup is making me set unrealistic standards for my girls, but what can you do? I love being a head coach and we've got some great plans for this season.

It is my hope that in the coming year I can balance my "cups" much more effectively. Last year, I did a great job filling my "work cup," but I severely lacked in my "personal cup" and "wellness cup." I've found that I am happiest when all of my cups are filled and balanced. This does not mean that I have to balance time between all things evenly, but I need to do so in a way that makes me happiest. For me, the "work cup" was such a huge focus due to (pardon my french) all the shit that hit the fan last year, that I need to set some serious limits this year. I've always felt that I was a fairly effective time manager so hopefully my 4th year will be much better than my 3rd. As much as I hate to say it....I'm not sure it could get worse so the only way to go is up :)