September 19, 2009

Getting More Beef for Your Buck & Slow Cooker Pot Roast Recipe

Madame Deals is pleased to bring you a new weekly column, Cooking with Connie. Stretching meals, cooking from a stockpile and meal planning are topics that Connie will write on. Connie is an awesome cook and she is so good at cooking a large portion of meat and then making many different meals from it. We are so excited to have Connie join us!

When buying beef roasts, it is truly helpful to know how you will be cooking and serving the beef. The most economical cut is chuck.  These roasts should always be slow roasted or braised.  They will not slice well and do not make a pretty presentation.  However, due to high marbling, chuck roasts are quite tender and moist.  Other cuts, such as round and sirloin, are leaner and slice nicely to make sandwiches or classic roast beef.  But, these cuts are generally more expensive.  When it comes to getting the most beef for your buck…choose chuck.  And especially when your local grocery store runs specials on chuck roasts or stew beef, buy it.

Here’s an easy and delicious pot roast recipe.  With this recipe, you will be able to serve tender pot roast with gravy AND you will have beef left over.  With that beef, you can create beef stew, beef hash, beef pot pie, burritos, or you could simply freeze the cooked meat for a future use.

Slow Cooker Pot Roast Recipe

Pot Roast Recipe

4-5 lb chuck roast4 cloves garlic, chopped
2 T worcestershire sauce
3 T Ranch dressing mix (1 packet)
6 oz beer (or beef broth)

Trim roast of excess fat.  Place in a slow cooker.  Sprinkle roast evenly with Ranch dressing mix.  Top with chopped garlic.  Combine worcestershire sauce and beer and pour over roast to a depth of ½ inch liquid in bottom of cooker.  Add more beer, if necessary.  Cover and cook on low for 6 hours or until beef is fork tender.

When roast is tender, remove from slow cooker and keep warm.  Stir together 3 T beer and 3 T flour until smooth.  Add this mixture to cooking juices and cook on high, uncovered, until thick.  Reserve one to two cups of cooked beef for a future use.  Return pot roast to slow cooker, smother with gravy and keep warm.  Serve with your choice of mashed potatoes, egg noodles, steamed rice, pan fried potatoes, toast, biscuits, grits, or almost anything!

*Slow cooker tip …don’t peek.  Each time you open the lid, you increase cooking time by 15 minutes AND moisture-rich steam escapes, drying out the dish!

If you like this recipe you will love these recipes:

Instant Pot Beef Roast Recipe
Instapot Pot Roast Recipe
Easy Pork Roast Recipe

September 17, 2009

Ask A Teacher: How does my child stack up?

Dear Parents,

There are times in our lives that we need to compare and there are times when we shouldn’t. I have two wonderful children that are similar and very different and I love them for their unique qualities. We as parents spend a lot of time looking at other people’s children and comparing ours to theirs. I myself do this and then the voice in my head says “stop”. We need to embrace our children for who they are. I am a certified Regular and Special Education teacher and I have a son in Kindergarten this year. My goal for him is that he enjoys learning. I am not concerned that he isn’t the best in math, reading, spelling, or science. I only care about the fact that he rushes to get ready for school each day if Blue’s Clues isn’t on. We need to compare our child’s progress in terms of their achievements. I have seen the progress he has made in just a couple of weeks in school. We go to the library at least once a week to select books to read together. It amazes me that he is starting to read to us. It makes me so happy that we are raising a kind and confident person. We are teaching him to try his best and believe in himself. He was upset that some of his friends can read already. My husband and myself explained that  it does not matter if someone else can read already. He will soon learn as well because we will practice with him. We have shown him that he is special and his gifts are unique. I am just reminding you to honor your children and help them become better by enabling them to achieve through positive reinforcement, guided activities, and most importantly communication. The best tip I can give you for raising a successful student is help them to believe in themselves. This is done by teaching them to measure each little accomplishment and be proud of themselves.

Here is my theme song which I borrowed the lines from

GREATEST LOVE OF ALL

written by Michael Masser and Linda Creed

performed by Whitney Houston

I believe that children are our future

Teach them well and let them lead the way

Show them all the beauty they possess inside

Give them a sense of pride to make it easier

( I know that this is part of the song and the meaning of the song does not have anything to do with this but I love this verse)

August 27, 2009

Ask a Teacher: How do I save all the memories

How do I preserve my child’s work?

I know that your child will come home with a lot of papers. I know this because I used to make up the assignments. I am now on the other end of the process and trying to figure out the best way to honor my son’s progress. I came up with a system that works for us. I thought I would share.

On Friday when Matthew brings home his work we are going to place it in a sheet protector in a binder. I will try to gather a variety of subjects to showcase his academic growth. When we select the artifact we will laminate it. I have a personal laminator available at Sam’s club $24.95 and the sheets are about $7.00 for 25. There are also self adhesive laminating sheets for a similar cost and you do not need a machine.

You can do this for less money by taking pictures of your child’s work. You can use those picture and make a book of all your child’s artwork using a service like Snap Fish. They have super coupons out there. To find them go to Deal Taker. This is where I find ALL my online coupons. I mean take a minute it could save you a couple of bucks or more because it is not what you SAVE but what you Spend so spend less to buy the things you are already buying.

I also have taken a poster board and folded it in half and stapled around the edged to make a large artifact holder. I am going to slip in a index card detailing Matthew’s reflection on his work. This is a great way for your child to feel good about themselves and their work and it makes getting rid of the rest of the work less traumatic.

As a teacher I encourage you to set aside some time once a week to review your child’s success. We all work for something whether it is money, alternate services, praise, or something that we find rewarding. A child no matter what age needs your support. If you start this process early it will affirm the importance of education. This artifact collection system will allow you to bridge the gap between school and home. It will allow you to make comparisons and sight specific progress. The best praise is one that is specific. “Wow, Matthew I see that now you can write your name using a capital letter.” This will make Matthew feel great knowing you noticed his progress. The memories we make are priceless and keeping a record of them will be a treasure your child will have forever in their hearts and in their hands.

August 24, 2009

Learning the Coupon Language

This cheat sheet is brought to you by our pal GINA!

For all my newbie frugal friends, I thought I would share some of the terminology you will commonly see and what the abbreviations or terms mean. It can get quite confusing and I myself am still learning. This list is by no means all inclusive and I would love to hear form you if you have something to add.

Here is an alphabetical list of some of the terminology you will run into out there in the world of frugal living.

BOGO, B1G1F: “Buy 1, Get 1 Free”

Blinkies: coupons found in the little red boxes with blinking lights near the products in the grocery store

BTFE: Box Tops for Education

Catalinas: these coupons are typically generated at check-out for specific items, or to be used as cash on your next purchase.

CPN: coupon

ECB: Extra Care Bucks, these are printed on your receipt and can be used like cash at CVS, must be used with your CVS card, and other rules apply

FAR: Free after rebate

IP: Internet printable coupon

MFC, MFR : manufacturer’s coupon, I have been spelling this one out but will use the abbreviation from now on. These come from you guessed it manufacturers and are mostly found in your newspaper

MIR: Mail in Rebate

Peelie: coupons found stuck on product packaging that you peel off

P&G: Proctor and Gamble coupon insert from newspaper

OAS: “on any size” Some coupons specifically state on them that they can be used on any size product.

OOP: out of pocket expense, how much you actually paid for something

Overage: when you save more than the items costs, store policies vary and you may or may not get to “keep” your overage

RP: Red Plum coupon insert from newspaper

RR: Register Rewards: Walgreens version of the ECB (see above) spendable like cash at Walgreens, earned by purchasing specific products

SS: Smart Source coupon insert from newspaper

Stacking: Using a MFC with a store cpn or other deal on the same item (doable at CVS, Walgreens, and Target quite easily)

Store coupons : Store specific coupons

Tear Pad: pad of refund forms or coupons found hanging from a store shelf or display

V, Valassis: Same as Red Plum

WSL: while supply lasts.

WYB: when you buy

Your Mileage May Vary (YMMV): This one is new to me and basically means that your savings may be different then what is posted because of regional variances such as sale prices and cpn availability.

Hope this helps and let me know if you have some to add to my list, I will do an updated post with your additions.

August 16, 2009

Stockpile Organization

Stockpile Organization

 

Due to my recent shopping adventures to Harris Teeter, my pantry was in need of stockpile organization. One of the secrets to saving money, is to stockpile. This means to buy extra items your family uses regularly when the items are at their rock bottom price. We all know that Harris Teeter triples or Kmart super doubles allows for a plethora of stockpiling opportunities! I would like to share some tips to make stockpiling easier and more efficient.

Stockpile organization

First of all, only stockpile items your family uses regularly. Just because an item is “cheap” or on sale, does not mean you need to buy several of them. This is a lesson I have had to learn the hard way. I can tell you first hand that I have had to throw out a lot of expired food over the years. Over buying, is not saving money.

There is also a cycle to sales. For example, I know that Proctor & Gamble puts out a coupon insert once a month. Usually the stores will have some sort of sale that coincides with the coupons. If I miss a sale item this week, I don’t stress because I know the sale will come around again in a few more weeks.

Now, my family eats a ton of granola bars. My husband loves them and eats them daily. They are also handy to take in the car or throw in the diaper bag. Granola bars are one item we stockpile when the price is right. My suggestion is to take the granola bars out of the boxes and put them in a plastic container. This will save space and make it easy to grab and run! This same idea can be done for any snack prepackaged items.

Another item we stockpile is condiments. Those who know my husband, know that he loves condiments and sauces! We go through a ton of ketchup and salad dressing, or “dippers” as my household calls it! My suggestion for keeping these items organized is to place them in a small basket. It is easy to pull the basket out to see what you have. You can also write expiration dates on the cap top with a sharpie.

A trick I learned from my brother-in-law, is to write with a sharpie the expiration date on the outside of boxes. Many times a box will get pushed to the back of the pantry. If you have the dates readily visible, you will make sure to use the product before it expires. I also make sure to check expiration dates before I buy the product at the store. You would be surprised how many times I have picked up an item that is expired or about to expire.

For bath and body products, I have limited myself to a six month supply. What Amee and I have started doing is, giving away a lot of these products. With the drug store deals, we get a ton of bath and body products for free. We now donate most of these items or give them away to you all! There is only so much free toothpaste and razors that you can use! We encourage you all to donate your items if your stockpile limitations are reached.

See more of our stockpile organization  and clever storage solutions.

August 10, 2009

Coupon Tips & Tricks

Coupons are like money; at least that is how I feel. I look for coupons everywhere I go. Internet printable coupons are increasingly popular. Madame Deals posts links to printable coupons as often as possible.

Sometimes, you will get an error message when you go to print the coupon. Have you ever seen the message “install coupon printer” when you have already installed it? It is frustrating when you need or want a certain coupon but then can’t print it. I happened to come across a way to fix this problem. I was reading the comments on a Southern Savers post and Derek replied with a solution to the  coupon printing problem.

Ever run into a link that someone has posted that is the actual “bricks” URL (not the website it was extracted from) and you can’t print it? Wanna know why? It’s because they extracted it on a computer that was using an internet browser which is NOT the one you’re currently using.

Can you fix that?
Apparently you can. There are two little letters inside a bricks URL that tell the bricks if you are on Firefox, Internet Explorer, or Safari on a Mac (like me). Most bloggers seem to be on PCs, so for me running into a coupon I want to print from someone’s blog link was always frustrating. Now, from tracking down comments on several blogs, I’ve figured out how to change the URL in my browser to be the one I want and VOILA I can print the coupon.

Internet Explorer on a PC Bricks:
http://bricks.coupons.com/Start.asp?tqnm=qekofot7951146&bt=wi&o=54287&ci=1&c=GM&p=8dH6Da9X

http://bricks.coupons.com/Start.asp?tqnm=qekofot7951146&bt=vi&o=54287&ci=1&c=GM&p=8dH6Da9X

Firefox on a PC Bricks:
http://bricks.coupons.com/Start.asp?tqnm=qekofot7951146&bt=vg&o=54287&ci=1&c=GM&p=8dH6Da9X

http://bricks.coupons.com/Start.asp?tqnm=qekofot7951146&bt=wg&o=54287&ci=1&c=GM&p=8dH6Da9X

Safari on a Mac Bricks:
http://bricks.coupons.com/Start.asp?tqnm=qekofot7951146&bt=xs&o=54287&ci=1&c=GM&p=8dH6Da9X

Find a link you can’t print, look at the url. Change those two letters (that I’ve identified in the above URL) to wi or vi for Internet Explorer, wg or vg for Firefox, and xs for Safari, and it should print. (For the either or choices, try one and if it doesn’t work try the other)

Thanks Derek!

Another coupon tip: Every wonder what week the coupon insert was in the paper (if you have not cut your coupons yet)? Look at the spine of the coupon insert and the date will be printed on it. It is very tiny print but it is there!