Mama Duck
Sunday - Dinner at the IL's- taking something made of apples for a desert I think. not quite sure yet though

Monday - Pizza
Wednesday -Italian Wedding Soup and homemade bread - at least Joe can make the soup easy enough, lol

Thursday - Crockpot chili
Friday -  Dinner at Chez` Fridge......aka Leftovers!
Saturday - Grilled chicken salad
Mama Duck

I'm always looking to save money on the cost of food. Coupons are a great way to do this, but having them in an envelope or one of those small, velcro tabbed file systems was not working. First off an envelope is just to unorganized.. the small file systems leave it to you to either sit and wonder at the best categories to put on the tabs.. or to buy 2 sets to have a tab for each suggested label they give you. Now I'm sure many do perfectly well with  these methods.. but it was not working for me. I had found the website for the Couponizer some time ago. While I liked the look of it... $20 for a coupon organizing system seemed a little pricey.  I finally caved. My husband does not want to set a budget when it comes to food. So I told him fine, then we will start using coupons more and more.

Being me I found a coupon for $1.00 or $2.00 off the purchase of the  Couponizer system.. with shipping the total price was $23.70. I did NOT tell hubby till it arrived. He thought I was nuts to spend that much to sort coupons to save money. I told him that my goal was to have it pay for itself in the first month and then anything else was a bonus.. my ultimate goal is to have one or more of those trips where I buy oodles of items.. and pay less then $10.00, lol.

Today was my first official day of using the Couponizer. 2 local stores had fabulous sales to begin with, and are close together, so we did both. Well I'm please to say that the Couponizer did very well. I planned my shopping with the circluars and used the enclosed shopping list with the ones with coupons checked off.  Then  had my potential use coupons neatly in the section for  'coupons for this shopping trip'  I had a large stack of coupons and that did cost me time in sorting thru the stack to find the one I wanted, but was a learning curve. As I found the items and my coupons i placed them in the pocket for 'checkout' and headed to checkout. At the first store I saved $10.69 with the coupons. In the second store I saved $13.23 for a total of $23.92. Plus was able to find a coupon for $1.00 off for an item that the woman ahead of me had. While I hoped to have it pay in the first month.... my Couponizer paid for itself in the first day!  I was very impressed. The checkout woman asked me about it in the first store and I gave her the website name to check it out for herself. (If you're reading this post please click on my affiliate link in the upper right hand side to get to the website.)

To give you an idea of my new shopping buddy I thought you'd enjoy some pictures:

the outside of the organizer on top and what you get with the system on the bottom.

one section of the coupon mat on top and the entire thing stretched out on the bottom. There are a lot of categories, lol.

 These pictures show the pockets. On the top is the pocket for 'Coupons for this shopping trip' and 'Checkout'. Pretty self explanatory. On the bottom, when its time to put the coupons in the organizer sections, each section of the organizer has it's own corresponding  pocket. Just take them off the sorter and put them in the correct pocket, quick and easy.

The picture on the top shows the additional categories other then groceries. There are sections for entertainment and travel, shops and retail, restaurants and a few others. I love having a pocket for rebates as I never keep my rebate forms where I can find them. On the bottom is the last pocket which has a nice list for tracking coupons and the savings.

The front and back have a nice sturdy piece of lightly frosted plastic to protect the book. A purchase well made in my eyes and experience.

Mama Duck
Sunday - Oriental Shark Steak

1 ½ lb. shark steak sliced into ¾ inch thick steaks
¼ cup soy sauce
1Tb sesame oil
1Tb olive oil
2TB lemon juice
1/4tsp ground ginger
1 clove garlic
1tsp prepared mustard
1/2tsp sugar

Combine all ingredients except shark steaks in shallow baking dish. Add steaks and marinate about 1 hour, turning half way through. Pour off excess marinade and reserve. Broil shark steaks about 4 or 5 minutes on each side, brushing with reserved marinade when turning. Makes 4 servings.

Monday - Pizza
Tuesday - Spaghetti and Meatballs
Wednesday - Chicken and Dumplings
Thursday- Oriental sausage stir fry - this should be interesting. This is a sausage made in a local grocery store that is dark pink and supposedly tastes like boneless spare ribs.
Friday - chicken cutlets ala joe
Saturday - Chicken fried rice, heavy on the chicken and veggies and not so much the rice

Mama Duck
Sunday - Stuffed Pepper Casserole
I have a bag of frozen green pepper strips in the freezer. So instead of traditional stuffed peppers, I'll layer the dish and make a casserole out of it. I'll also be using brown rice instead of white and some mashed white beans mixed in with that (Thanks for that idea Dani!)
Monday - Pizza
Tuesday - Homemade Chicken Noodle Soup with fresh baked bread
this will be so easy as I made the chicken noodle soup tonight. I'll freeze a portion and just toss the frozen soup in the crockpot mid day for a nice easy dinner
Wednesday - Leftover night
Thursday - Herb Crusted London Broil with tuscan salad and baked potatoes. Apple Bread for desert with light whipped cream.
This week I cleaned my spice jars and restocked up on fresh herbs at the health food store. 10 varieties of fresh, organic, dried herbs cost me $7.81! Plus I have no big jars lying around with herbs that will go stale.
Friday - Malaysian Fried Chicken and rice 
I'm going to try this in a crockpot, less fat then frying the chicken and Joe can put it on mid day.
Saturday - Spaghetti and meat balls

If anyone is wondering how Joe managed with the hip surgery and the crockpot... he did just fine. He walked out of the surgery with no crutches or cane, fully weight bearing... and managed to avoid lifting the crockpot completely.

My new crockpot has been given a very thorough test run this week. It has made a couple of batches of bbq chicken drumsticks (good for lunches) , a crockpot roasted sticky chicken (too salty, I'd almost leave the salt out), chicken noodle soup, baked ziti and tomorrow it's making the brown rice for the week. It has performed like a champ and my only near miss was the ziti.. but that should have had more sauce anyway.
Mama Duck
Joe is going in for surgery again on Wednesday. Not as major as the last time, just to have a compression screw removed that was holding the bones together while he healed. It usually wouldn't come out but it bothers him a lot and he says its like sitting on his keys all day. He thinks he can manage to get the crock pot from the fridge to the counter so that dinner can be cooked when I get home. Wednesday I'll be handling it, Thursday I'm home and hopefully by friday he'll be good to go. Hmmm I may take the crock pot to work with me on Wednesday and let it cook there so it doesn't overcook.

Sunday -  Crock Pot Fried Rice
Monday - Pizza
Tuesday -  London broil with herbed butter
Wednesday - Chinese take out - Joe made an excellent point that we will be out till late with my work sched, and then to pick him up from his parents house after the surgery. If all goes well I'll pick up something before I pick up Joe. Knowing how well he did with the anesthesia the last time, he may not even want to eat more then soup.
Thursday - Slow cooker lasagna & tuscan panzella salad

how about some yummy pics?

Friday - malaysian chicken with rice
Saturday - homemade...crockpot (yes again, lol) chicken noodle soup

I'm also trying something new this week. While on my favorite crock pot blog ( I saw a brief mention on bento boxes. If you've never heard of these, they are a Japanese lunch box.  I was directed thru another site to one of the many bento box stores on the web and was enjoying window shopping. In the back of my mind was my boss and a recent business trip she took to Japan. Now my boss is tiny.. 5 feet  and maybe 3 inches tall? and a size 0 I believe. She commented that she felt like a huge giant in Japan. Looking at these little boxes in the store and having that comment rattle in my brain made me think of something. Portion control! In the somewhat typical american eyes I looked at the bento box sets and thought 'but I'll never be full'. Hmmmmm.. Yes i would be full if I do it right. I'm going to try a week of bento box style lunches. Even if I make my heavier main meals, the bento box portions will be controlled. Now of course I enjoy shopping. And of course I want to get a traditional bento box set to start off with. However I also want my new crock pot and what if I don't like the lunches like this? I then figured I'd go to Target and get some small containers to create my own bento box. I have a great insulated lunch tote that will work perfectly.  Lock and Lock containers are wonderful. Again though my frugal, budget conscious  side said wait a minute. I have a good container for an entire meal. The only challenges are that it won't keep sauces from spilling to other  sections if it tips... and well... its a lunch thing for JP and has cartoon animals on the top, lol. It will be perfect to start with. If I like this way of lunches then I'll invest in different containers. The more I thought about this, the more it makes sense for me. I'm going back to at least 80% raw foods (nuts, seeds, grains, fruits and veggies) and cut up fruits and veggies with a dip will work great, slice vegetables thin and put over rice, add some nuts in the tiny containers, etc etc etc. (Keep on the lookout for my newest blog on a raw food lifestyle). I love variety in my meals and sometimes eat too much in order to get that.

Some recipes to try in the future:
Lemon and Herb Crock Pot Roasted Chicken
Steak and Blue Cheese Roll Ups - Joe will hate this... I will love this, lol
crock pot yogurt
Mama Duck
I bought my crockpot when we moved into this house. Just about 5 years ago. It's stainless steel, removeable stoneware pot and very dependable. However I think that it tends to cook too fast. I would love a Rival Smart Crock Pot that automatically switches to warm. On Friday I made the chicken and dumplings. I had an auto temperature changer. I call it Joe, lol.  I set up the chicken to start in the morning at 6am and left him a note to turn it down to low as of 11am. I was then going to have him add in the dumplings for another 30-60 minutes and let it cool and place in the fridge. However he spent his day getting our cars inspected. Pretty much a necessity as they were both due in August. He left the house around 8 and got back at about 12 and turned the crock pot to low. I told him when he got back home (he was heading out with the second car) to call me and I'd tell him the trick for easy dumplings. He never called and I left work at 5:30... with the crock pot still going strong on Keep Warm. I got home, flipped it to high, added the dumplings (torn up refrigerated biscuits) and much to my surprise there was still quite a bit of liquid in the crock pot. usually it gets dried out more then expected. I went looking at reviews of the Rival and a Hamilton Beach crock pot and have decided to get the Rival one. It will automatically switch to low and keep foods perfect. If all goes as planned I'll pick it up Tuesday morning and will have it all set to go for a dish I have planned on Wednesday. I think I'll take the other one into work and use it for warm drinks for staff and patients as an occasional treat.