Blog Archive

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Your Turn To Share ... I Need Help

It is summer and I need a little help, so it is your turn to share w/ me all the knowledge you have !!! Here is what I need ... 

1.)  Easy simple lunches / dinners (healthy and w/ not 800 ingredients) 

2.)  Creative home games for when it is just TOO HOT outside (and I don't want to have to referee them) 

3.)  A way to use coupons that doesn't require 2 hours a day ...okay lets be serious I don't even have an extra two hours a week ... but I need to save money on my grocery bill for summer because I always have about 10 extra people over 3 or 4 days a week and need to feed them ... 

THANKS SISTERS (and brothers if there are any men out there that read my blog) ...  YEAH SUMMERTIME IS HERE !!!

photo by Maggie ... this is me before you help me !!! 

photo by Maggie ... This me after you give me some super cool tips and help for the summer .... hee hee 

NEVER DULL IN THE "O" TEAM HOUSE !!!  I am off to purge the house for the summer ... It is the  4 bigs last day of school, so I gotta get it all out of the house before they come home and cry at everything I am packing up to give away !!!! lol 

37 kind words.:

Kim said...

You're funny!! :O)

As far as the coupon thing goes, yeah.. it's way too time consuming even for me with just two kids! I don't know how people do it! I do the best that I can.. one local store triples a few times a year, so that helps, and another store doubles up to $1.00 on Wednesday. Otherwise, I try really hard to buy only wants ON SALE.. so if one type of cracker is buy one get one free this week, that's the kind of crackers we're getting! One store here always has really good buy one get one free or buy 2 get 3 free sales.. so when it's March/April and they have them on things like chips, hot dogs, salsa, etc... I really stock up because I know that we'll go through a lot of them in the summer time!

I will pop by later with some good recipe links when I have more time :O).

Chelle said...

I discovered a cheap easy meal that my family loves the other night when our cupboards were looking bare. Grated cheese and Ranch Style beans sandwiched between two flour tortillas. Heat long enough to melt cheese. Could be served with Spanish rice, corn or green salad. I couldn't believe the response. I plan on making this on those crazy days when you need a quick meal before rushing out the door.
We like to play board games. Been playing a lot of Farkle lately. Good for my 8 and 6 year old to practice math.

Shauna said...

Crock pots are a little gift to ourselves! I have so much more energy in the a.m. Take a big chunk of some roast throw a bottle of BBQ sauce on it - shred it with a fork and throw it on buns. Cut up a watermelon. D.O.N.E. :)

Carla said...

We always sign up for
This year we are incorporating *quiet hour* daily after lunch. They can read, listen to their iPod, sleep, look at magazines, etc....but must be quiet on their bed for 1 hour!! We'll see how that works! :-) They each also have a basket with summer work from their teachers that they will work on daily....and will be keep a journal. It is so hot in South TX, that I need a 3-4 hr span of time filled every day.
Good Luck!!!! info on the young girl you posted about :-)

Treasures Evermore said...

We love tortilla wraps...fill them with anything...chicken, veggies, tuna, egg salad...I also do this with Croissants...add sprouts to tuna salad or egg salad and some fresh cucumbers...yum!!!

I also make a huge batch of frozen smoothies...I get the dixie paper cups and popsicles (always have boxes of those around)...make smoothes in the blender and pour into cups...when they are slightly frozen add the can do strawberry...strawberry and kids love pineapple and coconut milk (especially my African children)...chocolate and strawberry..or raspberries....for a breakfast treat I just add a bit of protein powder from the health store and some ground flax seed or hemp seed.

I also get pastry tarts and fill them with anything and make mini chiche...bacon, eggs, cheese etc.

Hope this helps.

Kelly said...

I love to make tuna macaroni salad for lunches (I just use elbow macaroni, tuna, mayo or miracle whip and apples (or whatever veggies your kids will eat). You can make A LOT at one time, and then put it in the fridge and it's good for days.

For dinners I like a good taco bar, any kind of pasta with jar sauce is easy (and I usually sneak in some veggies into the sauce). Dinner salads with meat in them. Hotdogs are not always the most nutritious, but so easy on a busy summer day. And my daughters favorite is Kraft mac and cheese with browned ground beef and diced tomatoes(1lb. ground beef for every 2 boxes of mac and cheese, 1 can diced tomatoes).

I wish I could help you with couponing but I'm bad at it. I have learned that store brands are the same for most items so never buy name brand and for a big house like yours, shop at a warehouse store and buy their brands.

Have your kids join the Pizza Hut reading club and take them to the library each week. When they read so many books they get FREE pizza! An easy, cheap dinner that kept your kids busy rolled in one!

Enjoy your summer Gwen!

Tony and Heather Snyder said...

The games I can't help you with. I struggle to get my 21 month to play on her own.

For meals I'm not very good at either but here are a few things that help me. I freezer cook. Sometimes I make extra of good meals to freeze (lasagna, soups) and sometimes I spend an afternoon or evening to back freezer items (hot pockets, burritos, breads, breakfast stuff like pancakes and waffles). I also menu plan. On Monday's I make a list of five main dishes and five sides. I can then mix and match according to how each day is going. The sides are all carbs or starches and then we have a veggie or a fruit. It takes the stress out of realizing at 4 that I have no meat thawed for dinner.

As for coupons. Go clip-less. Take your inserts each week, put the date on the top and file them in a convenient spot. Then a day before you go shopping look at a site that matches deals and coupons ( is good....go to "Store Deals", click "Local Deals", then click they store you want). They will list whats on sale and what coupon it matches with (i.e. $1/1 Post Raisin Bran Cereal 3/6 RP [Red Plum). Then you go to that insert, clip the coupon and go to the store. Make sure you check your local store flyer first. Sometimes deals across the country aren't the same (i.e. in SD they have Kraft BBQ sauce on sale and her in IL they have Baby Rays). Also be aware of when stores run deals: in our area Kroger and Jewel are Thur-Wed; Meijer, Walgreen's, and Target are Sun-Sat.

Another good thing to know is that sales go through 12 week cycles. So when I stock up on juice at Meijers 10 for $10 sale I buy 12 weeks worth. If I don't I pay $.30 extra per concentrate. Sometimes your limited by coupons though. Also, know your price points. Execpt for fish and steak I never buy meat over $2/lb. I get 16 oz of pasta under $.70 or I don't buy. check out the book Miserly Moms. I've never read it but I've heard its great and would love to read it. She does price points, loss leaders (buying things on the front and back page of an add only b/c they are selling it at a loss to get you in the store), when its better to make at home (Maple Syrup) and when its better to buy (Marshmellows).

Hope that helps!

Erin said...

OOOH! I will have to check back to these comments to get some ideas myself!!! :)

One game that we just got that my kids love is called "Headbandz." It is fun!

A couple of SUPER easy recipes:
Home at Six Soup:
1 1/2 lb gr. beef (or turkey or whatever)(BROWNED WITH chopped onion and drain)
1 can of corn
1 can of kidney beans
8 oz can of tomato sauce
28oz can of diced tomatoes
1 T chili powder
1t cumin
1t dried basil leaves
Mix browned, drained meat with the rest and simmer for an hour. I serve with sour cream, shredded cheddar, and fritos!

Also a roast is super easy! I get a lean one and put it in the crockpot with whatever veggies we want, one package of onion soup mix, and 1 cup of water. Cook on low for 8 or so hours!

Lari said...

I struggle w/ lunches during the summer too...we usually just have sandwiches or left overs from dinner...if there are any ;-) With 4 hungry boys and a hungry hubby I never know.
I try to use my crockpot a lot...brisket, just add meat and dump bbq sauce on it, drumsticks, usually not terribly expensive, add bbq on it. Do a search for 365 crockpot, she has tons of recipes and uses mostly fresh ingredients. Not a CP one, but spaghetti's always a big hit and makes a ton, so does chili.
I'm not a huge couponer but I do price-match from other stores @ WM. Saves me extra time and trips. HTH!

FitzFam said...

Games to play inside:~ Hide stuffed animals all over the house (remember where you hide them!!!) give the kids flashlights or toilet paper rolls turned into binoculars and have them go on a safari.
~Print bible verses on different colored paper and have the older kids help the younger kids memorize them. This is easy because little kids can memorize colors so after a short while you will be able to say "What verse is on the ORANGE card?" or red card or what have you.
~Potentially messy, but what's a little mess every now and then?? Take masking tape and put the tape into letters on big pieces of paper. Have the kids paint with water colors all over the tape and paper, when the paint dries pull the tape off and there is a beautiful painting and an outline of a letter they're working on. You can make a cross or have the older two come up with cool tape designs.

Ok, there's three days worth. Good luck with the remaining 95! :-)

JennStar said...

hmmm. . . .well, we love breakfast for dinner. And we have a tradition that each summer we have ice cream for dinner once.
On a fun note, we like to make ice cream- I bought the cheap Rival maker and it works great- has for 3 summers! :o)
As for couponing, I don't know how you do it, but I like because I can make a list and print it out and gather my coupons from there. I don't clip any until I need them- they just sit in their folder in the file boxes until I need them (not sure how you do it). And I get their emails, so I know when the new Publix flyer has been posted.
For games inside- we stock up on a few new board games in the summer- last year it was battle ship, the year beore was Rummy cube. And we build tents out of blankets and chairs and watch movies under them- one side pulled up so we can see the tv.
I don't know if any of that helps. We always have a PJ day, too!! :o)

woosterweester said...

I highly recommend the book Super Summer Challenge by Linda H. Wicks. We have four littles at home (age 6 and under) and I know it sounds crazy to recommend a book because seriously WHO has time to read right? But it is a short little how-to guide and plan for summer! It's like 80 pgs (large print) and like 30 pages are easy recipes, simple summer activities/crafts, and a chart examples for the super summer challenge. It's AWESOME! It's too hard for me to explain succinctly in a comment section but I would be glad to explain further in email or you can find the book on amazon I believe? Our kids are really excited about our Super Summer Challenge and it will keep them from saying "I'm bored" all summer long!:)
Good luck!


Making me dreams a reality said...

Try a chicken, pesto and pasta salad. It is super cheap and if you buy smoked chicken it is super quick too. It's just pesto, chicken (smoked or cooked) and pasta. I like to through in baby tomatoes and mushrooms too but that's not for everyone.

Small Stones said...

I don't have any great advice...But I AM in need of some! :) I do so hope that if you receive any good ideas, you will share with us. :)

Nancy said...

Place boneless chicken in a crockpot to cook (8 hours on low should do it if frozen). Shred into a bowl and add 1 package dry ranch dressing and 8 oz of cream cheese. Mix together and then add a bag of cooked egg noodles.
My kids love it.

Nancy said...

Italian Beef
2-3 ob rump roast
2 pkgs dry Italian seasoning
1 jar peppericini (in the pickle aisle) and its juice.

Put above ingredients in crockpot, cook on low 8-10 hours.
Remove meat to shred, place back in seasoning mixture.
Serve on sub rolls with mozzarella cheese.

Now-your time to share:)

emily said...

To tired to write, too long to hey tell, will just call you tomorrow. :) Got some goods for you.

JCrew said...

Sorry I don't have any cool ideas or recipes for you, but I hope you share when you get them!

ashley said...

Got this cookbook for christmas "Dining on a dime" by Tawra Kellam and Jill Cooper. Great ideas and good for big families. You can get it used on amazon for 10$. Hope this helps and good luck:)

hawleykj said...

Chicken Tacos in a Crockpot

*Super easy and great for last minute because you don't have to remember to defrost the chicken first.

Put a pound of boneless/skinless chicken breast in a crockpot. Cover with a jar of salsa, and mix in a packet of taco seasoning. Cook for 4-6 hours on low until chicken is cooked through. It shreds really easily. Serve in tortillas with whatever taco toppings you like (cheese, sour cream, lettuce, tomato, guac, etc.).

Peggy said...

One indoor game that comes to mind is a scavenger hunt. It can be as simple as someone hides an object and everyone else looks for it. Or you can make it a bit more exciting by hiding notes that give you the next clue to the hiding spot.

picksomeflowers said...

Rice and beans is a must! Black beans, red beans, whatever you like. Super easy (you can even make them in a crockpot) and saves tons on the grocery bill.

My other super saver is a poor man's Mexican. Black beans, chickpeas, corn, and cooked ground beef or shredded chicken on the stove top with a jar of salsa just until the flavors are all together. Serve over rice (or a lot of rice to help stretch it) and top with cheese. You can basically put whatever in it that works for your family. It is like the inside of a burrito.

Angie said...

Whole Chickens, boil in a big pot, tear off the bone. Then you can use the meat for many many dishes. Since a whole chicken is about $4.00 it makes a cheap meal. I use it for BBQ sands, chix tacos, chix noodle, chix alfrod, and on and on. You can also freeze the meat for later.

Coupons..well I'm hooked but here in Indiana we can not save like the TV shows, but it is so worth any time you put towards doing it. I only have two kids (for now..waiting on my honey to say yes) so I don't have tips for couponing with lots of kids. My girlfriend has 5 kids and she copouns. She leaves them at home while she goes....totally what I would do!
I get my coupons from the Sunday paper. I put my coupons in baseball card shelves. Then I have all my shelves in a 3ring binder. I can see each coupon that way. It is on I then break down my coupons by sections in the book ie. meat, baking, cleaning, personal care, paper, dairy, frozen, snacks, etc. I save the most at the drug stores. Go to the above website it is totally helpful. you can also email me w questions. I also make my own laundry soap. It is called egg noodle homemade laundry soap. We love it! Really cheap!

Makenzie said...

Just discovered a recipe for Mediterranean Grilled Cheese- a couple slices of cheddar, lots of feta cheese crumbles, a little red onion and nice ripe tomato on sourdough bread... pop on the skillet for a couple minutes! We like to eat them with pita chips and hummus. So yummy!

Lara said...

I live in AZ where it's 10,000 degrees for like six straight months, so I learned some indoor games quick!

Obstacle course. This one is great for littles, but elementary aged kids would love it too. Set up a crazy obstacle course and let them take turns doing it. Ours' even went up our stairs and back!

Also, forts are always a hit.

We also do build your own ice cream Sunday and movie afternoons with popcorn to keep things fun.

Carrie said...

I know I have lots of recipes, but for now the 1st that comes to mind that I just started making...when chicken breast is on sale, like buy one get one free...etc. I stock up in the freezer. If you have a slow cooker put them in frozen or paritally frozen, add 24oz salsa (I can my own so we always have tons) and cook on low for 7-8 hours...shred with a fork and have tacos, or make easy enchilada' makes a ton. Add corn to it too if you like. Very easy!

"Are These Kids All Yours?" said...

Oh Girl- you crack me up!!! We do sandwiches every day- yep you read that right and with homeschooling and 8 kiddos- we keep it simple, but NOT boring. We do mini pizzas on tortilla shells- just add a little sauce a little cheese and few pepperonis or meats or veggies you can put those in the micro or bake them in the oven in a few minutes, toasted meat and cheese, regular meat and cheese, fried egg, egg salad, chicken salad, tuna salad, grilled cheese, quesa dillas- where you just have tortillas and add blended cheeses and a bit of leftover chicken or hamburger, PB & J, and don't forget any breakfast ideas. If you are like me and HATE getting up too early you always feel like you love breakfast foods, but don't want them for breakfast so have them for lunch- our kids LOVE IT!!!!

Couponing....let me tell you I am a beginner right now, but there are a few tips!!!! Look for Buy One Get One Free deals!!! THESE ARE AWESOME!!!! Also get the Sunday papers and get 4-6 of them- why? Because you can use all the coupons at once if you want. It will save you money on what you already buy. I usually so far have only spent a max of a couple of hours a week right before I shop- and I simply go through my list of what I need- go through my coupons (I did organize them into groups frozen, fresh, meats, health and beauty, etc. ) and pull the ones I intend to buy that day. By buying the papers you also know those great deals going on that week and stock up on specials! Also - do you do Sam's??? Because with a larger family it is great to me!!!!! They have great meats in bulk, cereal, snacks, bread, etc all in bulk :) YEAH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Ok praying you get lots of great tips :) Love you!!!!

Courtney O said...

First off, thanks for your blog!

For a recipe, you could roast a whole chicken, or 2 if your family eats a lot - just smother a whole chicken with olive oil salt, pepper and any seasoning or lemon juice (you can even stuff the lemons up in the chicken, or not) and roast at 450 for one hour. You can also chop up some potatoes and veggies like asparagus, peppers, zucchini, etc and toss with olive oil salt and pepper and throw them in with the chicken.

The prep work for the food could be a fun family activity, the older kids could help cut and the younger ones could toss the veggies with the olive oil and S&P.

As for couponing, I use the Sunday paper to cut out all coupons of products that I use. Then I go through the CVS, Walgreens and Target ads to see what's on sale and try to match the coupons with the sales. It doesn't take long and it's a nice Sunday activity. I keep the coupons in a small accordian file.

Courtney O said...

First off, thanks for your blog!

Roasting whole chickens are easy and don't take a lot of prep time or ingredients. Just smother them in olive oil, salt, pepper and maybe some thyme or other seasoning. You can also drizzle with lemon juice and then stuff the lemons inside. Bake at 450 for one hour. Also you can chop up some potatoes and veggies like asparagus, peppers, zuchinni, etc and roast with them (also toss in olive oil salt and pepper). Easy prep and in one hour they are done!

The kids could help too - the older ones could help chop and the younger ones could toss with olive oil S&P.

As for couponing I keep it simple with the Sunday paper and make it a short activity on Sunday evenings - I cut all coupons of products that I use and keep them in a small accordian file. Then I check the ads for Walgreens, CVS and Target and try to match the sales with any coupons I have on file. It doesn't take too long and I end up saving a good amount.

Hope that helps!

Tracy said...

The Super Summer Challenge book looks great and we are going to do it. You can find it at Amazon doesn't have it!

claire said...

Ham and cheese rollup
Can of thin pizza dough (u may make 2of these)
And thin sliced deli meat of choice (we like ham)
A sliced cheese of ur choice (we like provolone)

Roll out dough evenly disperse meat and cheese on it
Roll it up and bake per dough insrructions.

Kids fave!! Easy easy

Anonymous said...

Hey Gwen. Try They do all the work for you. They track the sales for your area and let you know when to use your coupons for the best deal. You have to pay to join, but the first month is free. The cost is worth it to save the time.
And you will pay way less and have tons of food to show for it! We just moved and I didn't shop for over a month, I had enough to live on(had to buy milk, eggs, produce...) Check it out. I've sorta become a coupon evangelist! Stepanie Saum

Journee said...

Oh how I have been there!
We have 7 kids and homeschool and there are days I think I spend ALL DAY thinking or preparing MEALS!
1. Look into EMealz. Seriously, Dave Ramsey endorses it and it works great! Everything is organized, etc. I used it for almost a year. I no longer use it because logistically, I do better bulk shopping at Costcos.
2. I try and carve out one afternoon to make up bulk meals to freeze. If I buy ground turkey I can make meatloaves to freeze. i also cook up meat and store in freezer bags for taco meat, taco salad meat, etc. When chicken breats on bone is on sale I buy it, cook it in a crock pot and shred it for tacos, enchiladas, etc. I also shred it and add BBQ sauce for sandwiches. Leftovers makes great quesadillas.
3. We eat sandwiches for lunch, alot. Also leftovers. THere are days we also cut up fruit and cheese and crackers for lunch.
4. BEANS! Who doesn't like bean burritos or tostadas? Beans are cheap in bulk and can cook up in a flash for burritos, tacos, tostadas, etc. BTW, eggs make great burritos too!
5. My biggest time saver is making up several of our favorites and freezing them or at least prepping beforehand and freezing what I can. I couponed for a year using Southersavers and did great but it was time consuming and with gas so high I try and not venture out often. I do stock up on snacks at Aldis.
6. When days are too stinkin hot we will make a movie afternoon. We do not watch must TV so it's a treat. I will pop corn and sometimes pull out a rootbeer float! They all make pallets, we close curtains and watch a movie.

Isaac&Kyle said...

I think you could totally get your kids involved in cutting your coupons as an inside game! Make it a competition somehow. I use a site in FL to make my grocery list and they list all of the coupons you need to cut for that week. is good as well as for other groceries. The most time intensive part is cutting the coupons, so share that load with the kids! I saved $170 a few weeks ago at the store-totally worth the effort.

Shine Like Stars said...

Play the silent game AT LEAST once a day. You have to have something for the winner or the game won't last past a couple of seconds and that totally defeats the purpose of the game. The winner can pick the next game or sit between mom and dad at dinner or get a piece of gum, etc...
This is your guaranteed 2-10 minutes of Peace & Quiet every day! :)

Barbara said...

Food...oh boy! When my kids were small I planned for a week of meals at a time. I used the crockpot a lot and made lots of soups, stews and roasts. I also got a tip from another mom. I learned to always brown 5+ pounds of hamburger at a time with chopped onions. Cool on stove (I always set a timer or I would accidently forget about it) and pop into fridge. Next morning portion it into ziplocs and freeze. Then you have quick meal prep. ie. spaghetti with meatsauce, tacos, casseroles etc. I also save my brain power by having certain dedicated meal days, like pizza and raw veg every Friday, Nacho Night--make your own nachos on Wed. or whatever. Summer snacks I just keep simple like fruit and nuts. We also make "fruit freezes" just smoothies in small dixie cups. No sticks needed, just peel the paper. YUM! I am totally going to try the coconut milk idea from above. I do the same thing with the summer activities and plan a basic activity or outing every day. We go to a local CSA farm every Tuesday, library on Wed. local pool Monday and Friday, etc. Now, I was pretty flexible about changing it around due to moods, weather, other opportunities etc., but it was nice to have a basic plan....again the brain power thing. Most late afternoons we are at home and have a quiet time(or naps),and will play in our shaded sand pit (with water!) go garage saling, slip and slide etc. We do Freakout Friday where everyone grabs stuff from the dressup trunk or whatever, make-up, colored hairspray, wigs etc and dance to some kind of really loud music. (switch the style every week) We even once made cardboard guitars to rock out with and you could make new "instruments" as a project every week if you wanted to. Oh, make sure to video and let them watch themselves on the TV! Better than any movie. You have got you hands wonderfully full... hope this helps!

Sarah said...

A quick recipe that is a great timesaver - I buy the cheap biscuits put them in muffin tins and fill them with pretty much whatever you want - taco meat and cheese, scrambled eggs and cheese - meat/gravy topped with mashed potatoes - bake em for however long the biscuits say too and then pop em in the freezer. My husband loves to take them to work.