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Thursday, February 11, 2010

Preparing Ahead and Saving on Pet Supplies.

I absolutely love my Cuisinart Griddler that I got at Costco last month. I got it for $70 after the instant manufacturer's rebate, but it sells for $107.99 on Amazon. I use it a lot! It is so easy to clean and I love the removeable plates..a griddle set (pancakes, grilled cheese, etc.) and one set for grilling (steaks & chops, panini, etc.).

I also really love my crock pots. I have a large one from Costco, and an older "slow cooker" that is great for smaller amounts. It has a flat rectangular base that you can cook on (but it's kinda small to be useful for more than one portion) and a metal pot that fits on top that can also be used on the stovetop and in the oven. I use one of them at least once a week. On the nights that Treklet has karate at 5:00, its handy to cook something in the crock pot so that when she comes home at 6:10 dinner is ready, whether or not I pick her up or hubby does. There is less rushing after school that way, too, so we can get homework done and be dressed and ready by 4:30.

I had the morning off so I cooked up some food for the freezer. As I said yesterday, I planned to have blueberry pancakes and sausage for Valentines Day breakfast. Since V Day is also Sunday, I thought I'd cut out some prep time so I can have a relaxing morning before church, too. I made up a batch of blueberry pancakes and layered them with wax paper in-between inside a freezer Ziploc. Into the freezer they went. I then switched to the grill plates and cooked up a pound and a half of sausage patties (last week's Vons sale) and froze them too. A plate of pancakes and sausage goes from frozen to delicious in just 1 minute in the microwave.

I used the remaining 1/2 pound of sausage, a package of shredded cheese from the Target deal last week, and Bisquick to try out a new recipe for Sausage-Cheese Balls that I got from Betty Crocker. I cut the recipe in half, because I doubt the Alien will eat it. I ate a couple and froze the rest. Ten miunutes in a 350 degree oven will do it for them at a later time.

Earlier in the week I used up some bell peppers that were not going to make it in the frig much longer, onions and some of the Italian sausage I got for cheap at Vons. I put it all in the crock pot with a can of tomatoes and a can of tomato paste and, voila! We had delcious spaghetti sauce and sausage for dinner. I froze the leftover sauce for another day.

Yesterday i used some of the .50/lb onions I got to make French Onion Soup in the crockpot, at Treklet's request. She loves to order it in restaurants, but we all know that isn't cheap. I got shredded mozzarella at Ralphs for $1/lb, so I broiled some french bread slices with mozzarella and parmesan cheese on top and floated them in the bowl of soup. She was one happy Treklet! The Alien doesn't care for onion soup, so I froze half of what I made for later, and Treklet and I will enjoy a few more bowls this week.

I have been trying to be creative in cutting down the amount of money we spend on our pets, without having to switch brands of dogfood. One idea I had last week panned out nicely! Instead of buying bedding for our guinea pig, Stinky, I used shredded paper. I mean, that stuff they sell at Petco is just crumpled and compressed paper anyway! It worked just fine, and I didn't notice any bad odor near his cage. So this week I did it again. I just put down a layer of newspaper, as usual (helps when you dump the tray) and then dumped my shredder bin on top. I had so much that I think Stinky got a cushier bed than usual, because I try to be so stingy with the storebought stuff. By shredding envelopes and junk mail, and the zillions of pieces of paper that Treklet brings home from school on Fridays, and the scraps from cutting out computer-printed coupons, I filled my shredder in just a few days. Now that is recycling! And it will probably save me about $20 a month!!

Stinky also recycles a lot of our kitchen waste. When I'm cutting veggies or fruit he gets all the scraps..carrot tops, lettuce cores, strawberry tops,bell pepper tops, broccoli leaves, etc. and I have a giant bushy parsley plant that survived the seasons in my garden which I consider free Stinky food. He hardly touches his pellets. His favorite munchy is Timothy hay, and necessary for his health, so I just have to crunch numbers on that for the best sales.

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