BLT SALAD – A HEALTHY MEAL CHOICE

Sometimes we make meal decisions way too tough. Yes, we are all trying to eat healthier, and yet we want something filling and a little heartier than plain salad. This recipe for BLT Salad is a twist on regular salad, but great textures and tastes that you can really sink your teeth into!

PREPARATION FOR BLT SALAD

In a large bowl, mix the following:

1 – bag butter lettuce (if you can’t find, hearts of romaine will work just fine…I just love the taste of butter lettuce)

12-15 – grape tomatoes quartered

8 – strips of bacon cooked and crumbled (any bacon is fine even turkey bacon)

2 – handfuls of seasoned croutons

Combine all ingredients and admire how pretty and colorful it is – then add dressing and toss well.

DRESSING FOR BLT SALAD

1/4 cup light salad dressing (Miracle Whip type) or Mayo if you prefer

1 tbsp each water and apple cider vinegar

1/4 tsp sugar

Whisk together and pour over salad when ready to serve.

BLT Salad

This is a hit with my family, especially for a quick weekend lunch. I serve with a side of fresh fruit and it’s perfect! This BLT Salad recipe will yield four servings.

I adapted this recipe to my specific taste starting with a basic recipe found at Publix. It’s easily varied with pita chips or something else in the bread family…or even without the carb element.

FOUR WAYS TO SAVE ON GROCERIES

Are you on a budget like I am? Do you shake your head as you leave the grocery store wondering how you spent so much money? Well, you are not alone! As a mother of four, I learned many tips about frugal grocery shopping when we suddenly went from a two income family to a one income family several years ago. Recently, it dawned on me to share these four ways to save on groceries that you can implement today!

PLAN TO SAVE ON GROCERIES

I know, I know. You’re ready to ditch this article thinking I’m being a simpleton and insulting your intelligence. Stay with me here. It was a tough lesson for me to PLAN. There were a million reasons why this was difficult for me. First of all, I had to sit down and INTENTIONALLY make a list. For goodness sake, I had FOUR kids running around and all kinds of activities going on. And, honestly, when I heard this tip, I thought: will this really make a difference? The answer is YES! Here’s what I do to PLAN my grocery shopping.

I typically shop once a week, so I make a written menu of what we’ll have each evening for dinner first. I don’t know about you, but for me, half of cooking is deciding WHAT to cook! With that done, I start my grocery list by assessing my needs for those meals. Once I have a menu and all of the ingredients in the house, I feel like a huge burden is lifted each night as I just look at my list and prepare what I’ve already planned for.

Other factors that go into my list-making include what I need to have on hand for breakfast, snack and lunch. This will vary depending on whether or not school is in session or it’s summertime. And, the last factor that determines my list is what’s on sale that we use a lot of at our house.

Save on Groceries

KNOW THE SALE CYCLES TO SAVE ON GROCERIES

Friends, this is BIG! Once I learned this trick I started saving money like crazy! Not only that, but I found that my grocery list each week had changed significantly. In fact, some weeks I didn’t need much at all!

Sale cycles are very predictable, and you can learn them quickly if you routinely shop at the same place(s). Basically, staple items go on sale every six to eight weeks. When you know that, you can plan on stocking up during that time. Some of the items that I stock up on regularly are: spaghetti and sauce, peanut butter, condiments, snacks, juice boxes, coffee (we cannot run out of coffee), cereal, canned goods, crackers, etc. Non-food items that I regularly stock up on include: toilet paper, dish detergent, laundry detergent, diapers, pet food, household cleaners, personal products (toothpaste, hair care, deodorant, feminine hygiene products), etc. I look to stock up at my local Publix when they have items that I use a lot in their weekly BOGO FREE (BUY ONE GET ONE FREE) offers.

In other words, when something I use a lot of is on sale, I buy enough to last until the next time it will be on sale. Make sense?

USING COUPONS TO SAVE ON GROCERIES

Coupons. People think they have to spend tons of time and be an extreme couponer to save money. You don’t! If you have $5 – $10 in coupons, that is awesome! If you do that weekly, you will have saved $20 – $40 bucks in a month! Do that for a year and you will have saved $1,020 – $2,040!! That gets me excited! The thing is, you’ll likely start small with coupons and then as you become more comfortable with them, you’ll locate them more easily and feel empowered to use them.

Where do I find coupons? Sunday newspaper, special inserts that get thrown out in my yard once a week, online and I even have a phone app that I can print from. I print them as needed unless I see a GREAT coupon and know it’ll be on sale soon. COUPON + SALE = FRUGAL FIND! Also, keep in mind that many stores (including my Publix) doubles the value of a coupon up to $.50! So a $.50 coupon is worth $1.00. A $.25 coupon is worth $.50.

Cheap Ham to save on groceries

For example: recently my local Publix had Kentucky Legend boneless ham steaks on sale BOGO FREE and they were priced at $3.29 each. With the sale, it made them $1.65 each. I found coupons online that I printed off for $1.50 each. I purchased them for $.15 each final cost. I also had my husband print two coupons from his computer and I printed two more from my phone (you are limited to two coupon prints per computer for online coupons of any sort). I purchased six packs for $.90. They freeze well so I stocked up! These go on sale about every six weeks, but I don’t always have a great coupon like this one. I might buy a package or two at the BOGO FREE price, but I’ll stock up with a deal like this. (NOTE: At Publix, you can purchase one item for half price if you don’t need two of the BOGO FREE items.)

SOURCES FOR COUPONS TO HELP YOU SAVE ON GROCERIES

I believe in not trying to reinvent the wheel. Friends say: why don’t you blog more about coupons and match ups, where the deals are, etc.? I manage three blogs, and there are already some AWESOME blogs out there about couponing. I suggest you follow them and use their knowledge.

For example: Southern Savers does a fabulous job of being user friendly with regard to coupons. I check there every week when she posts the new Publix ad (click on GROCERY STORES and find your store, it doesn’t have to be Publix) and she will not only have the ad listed, but she will have coupon match ups as well! This saves you tons of time and shows you deals in advance. She also has links to drugstore ads and match ups as well as national chains (WalMart, Target, Family Dollar, Dollar Tree, etc.).

Two more that I really like are Hip 2 Save and Totally Target! Both of these have deals at lots of different places and you’ll appreciate seeing some excellent finds for gifts and stock up prices for household goods. Coupons.com is an excellent place to locate coupons and they have a phone app additionally.

SUMMARY

I hope this has made sense to you (or should I say cents?). As I quickly found out, a little planning and research can really help save on groceries! Start slow. You aren’t expected to build a stockpile overnight. For example: when peanut butter is on sale BOGO FREE and you have coupons (this happens frequently), you can buy two for less than what you would have paid for one. If you have enough coupons, buy four and then it’ll be quite a while before peanut butter shows up on your shopping list again.

Watch product expiration dates. If I have products that are approaching expiration and I know I can’t use them all, I donate them. Food banks are happy to get them…and so are hungry mouths.

Do you use any of these tips to save on your groceries? Leave us a comment and share what you do!

SUGARLANDS DISTILLING COMPANY BRINGS MOONSHINE TO GATLINBURG

I received two sample moonshines for this review compliments of Sugarlands Distilling Company. No other compensation was received and opinions are 100% my own. 

It’s no secret that I love the Smoky Mountains. In fact, I love them so much that my husband and I honeymooned in the Tennessee town of Gatlinburg!

There have always been things associated particularly with Gatlinburg: Ober Gatlinburg, the Sky Lift, Sweet Fanny Adams Theater, Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies, fudge, flapjacks, mountains and entertainment! Now there’s a new gig in town, turning tales of illegal liquor chases of yesteryear into moonshine reality. Welcome to Gatlinburg, Sugarlands Distilling Company!

Sugarlands Distilling Company, located in downtown Gatlinburg, produces quality, craft moonshine and whiskey. Guests can sample authentic moonshine, take a production tour, and purchase Sugarlands Shine and other wares.

Although a new company, opening their doors in 2014, Sugarlands has won some 28 awards at both domestic and international spirits competitions. More than a million folks come through Sugarlands Gatlinburg facility each year. It seems that moonshine is quite popular and this is a good place to taste different flavors and hear some bluegrass music on the Spirit Stage!

Sugarlands Distilling Company

I am so enthused by the names of the moonshine flavors as each one distinctly represents a feeling, a taste or perhaps even a memory. Each one resonates differently with everyone. Choose some to taste that really speak to you.

Sugarlands Distilling Company

Choose from: Butterscotch Gold (40 proof), Old Fashioned Lemonade (40 proof), Silver Cloud Tennessee Sour Mash (100 proof), Butter Pecan (40 proof), Blueberry Muffin (70 proof) and my fall favorite Pumpkin Spice (40 proof), just to name a few!

Are you good with cocktail recipes? Share in the comments some ways you’d use these moonshine flavors in your cocktails! Here are some favorites of mine that you might enjoy as well on Pinterest!

If you go:
Sugarlands Distilling Company
805 Parkway
Gatlinburg, TN
www.sugarlandsdistilling.com
(865)325-1355

Hours of Operation:
Monday – Saturday 10am – 11pm
Sunday Noon – 7 pm

Sugarlands Distilling Company

Easy Go-To Meal: Hobo Dinners

Let’s face it. Not every day goes as planned. Not every day allows time for the perfect dinner to be prepared. But, as parents, we still like to have a decent dinner on the table that the kids will eat and won’t take hours in the kitchen. Let me introduce you to my easy go-to meal: hobo dinners!

I started making hobo dinners when the kids were small and days were CRAZY! I could prep them during the day and refrigerate…then pop them in the oven closer to dinner time. Hobo dinners are simple and basic, so busy moms love them almost as much as my easy veggie soup!

INGREDIENTS:

  • One pound of extra lean ground beef (divided into four patties OR you can purchase pre-made patties)
  • 6-8 small red potatoes (quartered)
  • Small package of baby carrots
  • Seasoning salt
  • Onions (optional)
  • Four squares of aluminum foil

Hobo dinners

DIRECTIONS:

Place a patty in the center of each piece of foil. Sprinkle with seasoning salt and add a handful of potatoes and carrots on top (and onions if you prefer). Bring diagonal ends of foil together and seal by rolling down or folding over.

Hobo dinners

Arrange in a shallow pan (I use a roasting pan) and place in a 350 degree oven for an hour and 10 minutes. It’s easy to adjust the recipe for however many folks you are serving.

I like to serve hobo dinners with green beans, steamed broccoli or a salad. This is such an easy go-to meal and I hope you’ll enjoy them at your house! They are also great camping meals to cook over a fire, so keep that in mind.

And, if your days are busy like mine, make them ahead, earlier in the day and refrigerate. When dinnertime rolls around, just pop them in the oven and presto! Dinner is served!

What is your go-to meal for a busy day?

Cupcakes to the Rescue

I don’t know about you, but at our house, we celebrate any joyous occasion we possibly can! From births to graduation, a job well done or a new tooth, we love the art of celebrating! And, often that celebration will include cupcakes!

Recently, our granddaughter found herself spending the night with Bee and Poppy (that’s our grandparent names) on her eight month birthday! Well, of course that called for cupcakes!

Funfetti cupcakes

A trip to the pantry and we were set to bake. We almost always have a box of Pillsbury Funfetti cake mix on hand and typically there are some sprinkles of some sort as well.

I followed the directions on the box for the cupcakes, but I have a little twist I like when making these. I add an extra 1/4 cup of water and a small packet of instant vanilla pudding. Sometimes I’ll add a teaspoon of either vanilla or almond extract as well for extra flavor.

Cupcakes with sprinkles

We topped them off with milk chocolate icing (because it’s what we had on hand) and a few Valentine’s Day sprinkles! They were quick, yummy and someone enjoyed them an awful lot!

Baby Charlee eating cupcakes

What’s your favorite go-to goodie for spontaneous special occasions?