Thursday, April 28, 2011

Snack Time Budget Busters

My kids are always hungry.  They wake up starving.  They inhale their lunches.  They need fuel and energy after school before track practice, and they come home ready to eat their own weight in food.

 I buy a lot of ingredients versus pre-made foods.  If we have pizza, I get the flour and yeast out and make a crust.  I grate the cheese and pull out some pepperoni.  I could not afford to fill the kids up with frozen pizzas. Frozen pizzas are a great convenience, but we simply cannot afford them for the eating crew that shows up at our dinner table every night.

With that said, prepackaged snacks are a necessity for us.  We all have busy schedules and I have a hard enough time keeping up with three meals a day.  Prepackaged snacks are expensive and I hand out about two snacks per person a day!  That means we go through about 10 snacks every day!

I came up with a little trick to help control the costs of our prepackaged snacks.  I rarely ever pay more than $0.25 per snack.  I am a warehouse club member which helps, but I also watch the local grocery store sale ads.  Below are some of the snacks that fall into the $0.25 rule. These are not the healthiest snacks on the market and I am not trying to advertise these products in any way.  I'm just sharing my thought process with you.

These things are great tasting and it only takes one for the kids to feel like they have eaten a snack.  I paid $8.28 for this box.  That is a cost of $0.276 per bar.  It's a touch over the cost, but real almonds and great taste make this worth the extra two and a half cents per bar.

These bars have dried fruit, oatmeal, and nuts in them.  They cost $0.229 cents a bar.   

Nutri-Grain bars are great to have on hand because they can also work as a quick breakfast with a banana and a glass of milk.  They are also make with whole grains.  This box cost $12.47.  The cost of each bar is $0.259.

Go Gurts cost $0.233 per pouch of yogurt.  Go Gurts are full of artificial coloring, artificial flavor and have more than enough sugar to make the kids happy.  If yogurt is their idea of junk food, I am okay with that.  

I hope this helps a bit the next time you got the grocery store.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Easter Egg Leftovers...Egg Salade

We had a great Easter this year with lots of Easter eggs.  So now, it's time for egg salade.  We love egg salade and I am going to show you our favorite version.  We call it deviled egg salade because it has the same ingredients as our favorite deviled eggs.  The board of ingredients is pretty simple.  You can use your Easter eggs if they have been refrigerated, otherwise regular hard boiled eggs are just fine. 

Having some little hands to help you peel the eggs is a big help.  I love this picture. 

Okay...last sentimental picture.  I promise.

Okay, here are our eggs. 

Now, don't judge me.  This is my egg cutter upper.  You might have one of these things that is all in one piece.  Congratulations, I am really happy for you.  If you don't, you can use the food processor to break down the eggs or you can get your knife out and go to town.  I am going to use my sad and pathetic egg cutter upper and slice the eggs.  I figure that by the time I finish stirring the egg salade up, the eggs will broken up perfectly. 

Aren't they beautiful slices from an un-beautiful slicer upper?

Now, we start adding lots of yummy flavor.  Pinch of salt, pinch of pepper...




and mayo. 

Give it a stir and now all you need is a spoon.  :-)   But let's make it a sandwich...just for fun.

I am using leftover buns and some fresh spinach.  Roasted red peppers would also be super yummy, but I did not have any. 

I like to use a ice cream scoop to get a perfect round ball of egg salade on the sandwich.

It's lunch time.  Hope you like this as much as we do.  :-)

Willow Cottage Egg Salade


1 Dozen Hard Boiled Eggs, Peeled and Diced
Salt and Pepper
1 Tablespoon White Sugar
1 Tablespoon Apple Cider Vinegar
1 Tablespoon Dijon Mustard
1/4 Cup Mayo


1. In a medium bowl mix eggs, pinch of salt, pinch of pepper and remaining ingredients. Mix until well combined.

2. Chill and serve. Makes 6 1/3 cup servings or 5 1/2 cup servings. Enjoy!

For a printer friendly version of this recipe click here.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Easter Bunny and Carrot Themed Kids Table

Today I am setting the kids table.  I have spent quite a bit of time thinking about this table, so I cannot wait to see how it turns out.  I am starting at the dining room table with an orange and white polka dot table cloth.  The table cloth is homemade.  I searched high and low for the perfect carrot colored table cloth and I just could not find an affordable one.  So one trip to Hobby Lobby with a coupon in hand and I was good to go.  I will have a table cloth tutorial later on.  My daughter ironed the table cloth for me.        

Tip ~ Pull the chairs out of the way so have plenty of room when you are decorating and setting the table.

These are the supplies I have gathered up for setting the table.  I use cookie sheets as trays a lot. 

I am starting out with the centerpiece.  Isn't this a cute little centerpiece?  More on this in a bit. 

Somehow, it looks a little small and lost on the table.  It needs a little more work.

Last week I was sick.  My darling husband brought me flowers to cheer me up while I was sick.  Most of the flowers were ready for the trash this morning, but the ones that still had some life in them are going to be used again.  We don't waste anything around here.  I am going to add them to the centerpiece for a little more pop. 

Start by laying the shiny green leaves all around the base of the centerpiece. 

Next on are the three big yellow flowers.  It's still not quite there yet.  

So now we are going to tuck the little white daisy flowers in to the greens.  This one wanted to be tucked into the handle of the casserole dish. 

I love how this looks. 

I had just decided not to use these little guys because I did not think they would show up very well when my daughter (my design consultant) suggested I use them in the grass.  She is brilliant. 

I tucked them in by the eggs and they were just perfect. 

So far so good.

Now it's time for the place settings.  I LOVE these place mats. They were only $1.99 each at Bed Bath & Beyond. They also had a bunch of great colors. I am going back for two more colors next week.

Next, a plate gets centered in the middle of the place mat.  I am using our everyday dishes for the kids.    

Next cookie sheet comes into play now.

These were left over scraps from the table cloth.  I made them into tiny little cocktail napkins.  For now they are not cocktail napkins but another layer and another color in my table scape. 

The real dinner napkin goes on next.

And my favorite favor tops it off.

Place settings get the kids glasses and silverware last of all.

Then a few extra little touches.  A cute little crystal bowl of extra carrots and an orange little bunny casserole is actually going to hold a fruit sauce for the ham we are serving.  The depression glass container is going to hold a bit of butter for rolls. 

Another butter dish, sauce casserole and decoration for this end of the table. 

This is the table before I added the glasses and silverware.  I seem to have deleted the shot of the whole thing put together from this angle. 

We love the Easter bunny hiding in the grass.  The flowers really gave the centerpiece a nice punch of color.  I guess it was a good thing I got sick.

I can't wait to see the table with all the kids sitting around it laughing and eating. 

My work here is done.

Now, about the centerpiece.  I started the grass about a week and a half ago in a casserole dish.  I added a bunny from my mom's flower garden to the middle of the casserole dish.  My daughter added a few plastic eggs here and there. 

One little side note.  If you happen to be suing a real grass centerpiece be careful where you put your eggs.  If you decide to want to move the egg to a different spot later on, you might have a problem. 

Grass apparently has a memory!  It was not a big deal for me, I stuck the Easter egg back in there, but I thought it might be worth mentioning. 

I am linking this post to Between Naps on the Porch for Tablescape Thursday, to WhipperBerry's Friday Flair Linky Party and Easter Link Party at Dear Lily.