Black Bean Chili – 21 Day Fix Approved

Looking for more penny pinched recipes? Here you go!

We’re 3 days into the 21 Day Fix (I’m loving the group that’s joined me there!), and had to share a quick recipe we tried earlier this week!


My husband loves chili, so I was determined to find a lightened up recipe that he would like. This was perfect (really, so good), and the best part was that we have leftovers to pack for lunches this week.


Here’s how to get started . . . 


Chili (makes 8 servings)




21 DAY FIX SERVINGS: 1/2 green, 1 red, 1/2 yellow for 1 cup serving


  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1.5 lbs raw 93% lean, ground turkey
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 medium green (or red) bell pepper, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1.5 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tbsp chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 2 (15 oz) cans black beans (can also used pinto beans), drained & rinsed
  • 1 (15 oz) can all-natural diced tomatoes, no sugar added (do not drain)
  • 1 (12 oz) can rotel (do not drain)
  • 12 fresh cilantro sprigs, finely chopped (optional, for garnish)


  1. Heat olive oil in saucepan over medium high heat.
  2. Add onion, bell pepper, garlic and turkey and cook over medium high heat until turkey is cooked through and veggies are tender.
  3. Next, add cumin, chili powder, salt and cayenne pepper to saucepan.
  4. Cook for one minute, stirring constantly.
  5. Add drained beans, Rotel and canned tomatoes with liquid.
  6. Bring to a boil.
  7. Reduce heat to low and continue to cook, 15-20 minutes until thickened.
  8. Sprinkle with cilantro and serve. Enjoy!



Recipe adapted from Super NoVA Mom. If you need a little more menu inspiration, go HERE

Try more chili recipes here:

Slow Cooker White Chicken Chili

Slow Cooker Chili Colorado Burritos


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The Ultimate Guide To A Better Grocery Budget Part 3: Don’t Turn a Mega Sale Into A Mega Mess.


New to this series? See Part 1 & Part 2. 

It’s week three of our four weeks to a better grocery budget series, and we’re focusing this week on how to not allow a “Mega Sale” to turn into a “Mega Mess”.


What on earth? A Mega Sale can turn into a Mega Mess?


Oh yes, my friends. Indeed it can.


Kroger started their Mega Sale yesterday and it was my only option to shop this week due to the weather (watch the video to hear more.) 


My normal temptation is to get it all. 


To grab all the deals.


To not pass by a single thing that has the lovely blue tag screaming “I’m-a-mega-sale-price-so-you-really-need-me.” 


Because if the store tells me it’s a deal, it’s deal, right? 


However, while I still went over budget (a tiny bit), I did much better than I normally do because I was determined to stick at least a little closer to my budget. 


So what do you do when you’ve spent too much?

1. Give yourself grace.

If you’ve overspent already, there’s nothing you can do to change it. Give yourself grace, determine to focus more on your total budget the next time you shop, and be thankful you have a nicely stocked pantry.

2. Determine to use what you’ve bought.

Once you’ve overspent, there’s no going back, but you can make a plan to use what you’ve bought (saving money in the long run!)


Come up with a menu plan based on what’s in your fridge and freezer, skip eating out because you probably have plenty already at home, and determine to strategically shop the next time you head into a Mega Sale.

3. The next time you shop, be mindful of what the “deals” really are.

An easy example of this was on the Quaker Oatmeal. The Quaker was priced at $1.89 after the Mega Sale. However the store brand was $1.50, and there was a $1/2 Kroger ecoupon on Kroger Oatmeal. Definitely the best price! Next time you shop, be really cautious of the “Mega Sale” deals to make sure they really are your best prices. If they’re not, pass those by (and remember stores like Aldi may offer a better deal every day!)


Guys, I’ve said it a jillion times here, but there is no other area in your family’s finances that you have complete control over. You can’t lower your car payment or mortgage or electricity bill today, but you can choose how much you want to spend at the grocery store. 


Determine to make 2016 the year that you transform your family’s grocery budget ~ you can do this! 


Whew. Hopping off my soap box now. 🙂 


Okay, ready to see what I bought? (It took two pictures!) Here we go . . .




2 Honey Nut Cheerios Mega Sale $1.49, used $1/2 Kroger ecoupon

2 Kroger Oatmeals 2/$3, used $1/2 Kroger ecoupon

3 gallons milk $2.19

2 bags Chex Mix Mega Sale $.99

5 cans Pringles Mega Sale $.99

Turkey Hill Ice Cream $2.50

Ghirardelli Brownie Mega Sale $2

2 3 pound bags Kroger Chicken Tenders $13.29, on sale Buy One Get One Free

2 Pepperidge Farm Goldfish Mega Sale $.99

1 box Lucky Charms Mega Sale $1.49, used $.50/1 Kroger ecoupon

Kroger Marshmallows $.99

Krusteaz Pancake Mix Mega Sale $1.99

Tostito Scoops Mega Sale $2.49

Krusteax Muffin Mix Mega Sale $1.69

Digiorno Pizza Mega Sale $4.49

4 Kroger Peanut Butters $1.50

2 Yoplait Gogurts $1.99, used $.75/2 Kroger ecoupon

Kroger Bread $.88

Kellogg’s Rice Krispy Treats Mega Sale $2

Sunny D Mega Sale $.99

1 1/2 dozen eggs $3.49

2 cans Kroger Green Beans $.69

Bananas $2.60

Kroger Dinner Rolls clearanced $.99

Kraft Dressing Mega Sale $1.49

Steak $5.99

Land O Lake Margarine $1.99

Kroger Shredded Cheese $1.77

Kroger Diced Tomatoes $.73

3 Velveeta Shells & Cheese Cups Mega Sale $.49

Broccoli Slaw $2.99

Organic Salad Blend $4.99

Degree Deodorant Mega Sale price $1.99, use $1.50/1 Kroger ecoupon

Axe Deodorant Mega Sale price $2.99, use $2/1 Kroger ecoupon

Dove Deodorant Mega Sale price $2.49, use $1.50/1 Kroger ecoupon

Sunny D $.99 Mega Sale price, can use $1/1 Sunny D coupon, use $1/1 Sunny D coupon (try zip 03102, if still available)

Buy 1 Colgate Sparkling White $1.89

Buy 1 Colgate Optic White $3.89, use $2/1 Kroger ecoupon




TOTAL GROCERY SPENDING IN JANUARY, INCLUDING WEEK 1  & WEEK 2 = $285.56 (and our cupboards are full.)




Are you joining me in trimming your grocery budget this monthI’d love to hear how you’re doing ~ it’s not too late to start! Leave a comment to share any tips or suggestions.





Before you shop, be sure to see how to get 20 items for 22¢ each this week ~ it really is a great week to save as long as you stick to your budget this week! 


Looking for more ways to save on your grocery budget in 2016? Here you go:

Would you like FREE daily email updates of saving and an email sent out to you with more tips each week during this series? Go HERE to subscribe, and I’d love for you to leave a comment to share your thoughts on grocery shopping on a budget – I love hearing from you! 



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Slow Cooker Pork Cacciatore

Looking for more penny pinched recipes? Here you go!


Looking for a twist on plain old chicken cacciatore? Here you go!


After scoring a great price on pork chops last week at Fresh Thyme, I had to come up with something to actually do with them.


And while normally I’d grill them or bake them, I came across this recipe and decided to try it out. (My husband loves any type of spaghetti and I haven’t made it in ages.)


This was so good, and easy. I did brown the pork chops ahead of time but several commenters shared that they skipped that step and it worked out fine too ~ easy way to make a different meal and have it all ready early in the day for a busy weeknight!



Here’s how to get started . . . 


Slow Cooker Pork Cacciatore




  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • 4 boneless pork chops
  • 18 oz jar pasta sauce
  • 18 oz diced tomatoes
  • 1 green bell pepper, seeded and sliced into strips
  • 8 oz fresh mushrooms, sliced (I omitted them because I didn’t have any, but they would have been so good!)
  • 2 large cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine or chicken broth
  • 4 slices mozzarella cheese (substituted with shredded Mozzarella)



  1. Lightly brown pork chops in olive oil over medium-high heat.
  2. Place pork chops in slow cooker.
  3. Cook onion same pan over medium heat until browned.
  4. Add in mushrooms and bell pepper, cook until these vegetables are tender.
  5. Add in pasta sauce, diced tomatoes, and white wine or chicken broth.
  6. Season with Italian seasoning, basil, and garlic.
  7. Cover pork chops with tomato sauce.
  8. Cook on low for 7 to 8 hours.
  9. Serve over cooked pasta, and top with mozzarella cheese. Enjoy!


5 reasons to use your slow cooker

Love slow cooker recipes? Here are 5 reasons you need to use your slow cooker every single week + 17 recipes to help you get started. 


Screen Shot 2015-11-18 at 11.54.40 AM


And if you’re looking for a decent slow cooker, this one has fantastic reviews!

Recipe adapted from All Recipes. If you need a little more menu inspiration, go HERE

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The Ultimate Guide To A Better Grocery Budget: 7 (MORE!) Strategies to Save (4 Week Series – Week 2)


Update – see our menu plan this week using the groceries below over HERE. 

It’s week two of our 4 weeks to a better grocery budget series, and I’m so excited to share how we’ve saved this week! 


Since starting the 21 Day Fix on Monday (so far it’s been pretty manageable and it feels so good to be eating more fresh foods ~ yay!), I realized we were going to need to stock up on more fruits and veggies each week. So I headed out to Aldi & Fresh Thyme yesterday (I had an appointment and both stores were on my way home), and stocked up.


This week I’ll be sharing 7 more strategies to save when you shop, and promise you can do this if work at it this month! Here are the 7 things I want you to work on this week.

1. Don’t buy what you don’t need.

Okay, this isn’t always true, but if it’s not on sale and you don’t need it, wait for a better deal. I was hoping to score a little more chicken breast this week, but it was $2.49 at Fresh Thyme (remember I paid just $1.49 last week), so I decided to wait and hope for a better price.

2. Skip the pre-packaged stuff.

I absolutely love pre-packaged salad and do usually splurge on it if I can find a decent deal at all. (I know that’s terribly lazy, but it’s one of my few guilty pleasures in life – ahem!) 🙂 However when the cost was $3.99 this week at Fresh Thyme (and Aldi didn’t carry a similar brand), I chose to purchase basic leaf lettuce and spinach that I can cut up myself.

The same is true with pre-packed chips, snack packs, and cereal (although this single serving cereal deal is pretty tempting!) But for the most part, skip the pre-packed stuff when you can.

But, sometimes it’s worth paying for convenience. (I know, I totally just flipped my position on that one, huh?)

There are a few things I do buy simply out of convenience. If buying a $4.99 Aldi pizza means we won’t eat out on Friday night (and they’re huge), I just saved myself $20 in pizza delivery. And buying minced garlic pre-minced for me is one of those things that’s just worth my time to make life a wee bit simpler at our house.

3. Shop Aldi.

I cannot say this enough, but shopping Aldi alone can save you a bundle. If you’re willing to make a quick trip there to stock up on basic pantry staples, you’ll slash your budget by quite a bit, every single week!

4. Shop no more than once a week.

Y’all, this is so important. Before you shop, make a very clear list of everything you’re going to need for the following week, so you aren’t tempted to buy extra stuff on a second trip. Before shopping I used my Eat At  Home Whole Foods shopping list, and I love knowing that I’ve got everything I need in my kitchen to make an entire week’s worth of meals!

5. Know your prices.

Go HERE for more info on how to find your stock up price.

6. Shop loss leaders.

Really stock up on those items that are there to get in the door. At Fresh Thyme that was the pineapples, strawberries, pork chops, and carrots, so I stuck to fresh items and skipped the rest of the store.


At Aldi the price on bananas this week was fantastic, so a great time to stock up on those as well!

7. Sometimes it’s worth paying more if it helps you not to make an extra trip.

I’m betting I could get a better deal on dish soap and even pasta at Kroger or another grocer if I had a few coupons, but to save myself an extra trip to the store I grabbed everything I needed at Aldi and Fresh Thyme. To make an extra trip to a store to literally just save pennies isn’t worth it each week!



Ready to see what we bought? Here we go . . .


Fresh Thyme (have I mentioned lately I love that store? If you have a Sprouts in your area it’s very similar.)

  • 3.56 lbs Boneless Pork Chops $2.99lb. = $10.86
  • 4 packages strawberries $6
  • 4 lb. navel apples $1.99
  • 5 lbs potatoes $1.50
  • 1.49 lb tomatoes $1.03
  • bundle green leaf lettuce $.88
  • green onions $.49
  • 4 1 lb bags organic baby carrots $.99 each = $3.96
  • 3 pineapples $.99 each = $2.97
  • spinach $.1.49
  • Total = $30.97, saved $28.65



  • 4 4 packs Fruit Bowls $1.69 each
  • 3 dozen eggs $1.39 each (that is a great price – I haven’t seen them that low in ages at Kroger!)
  • 2 carton reduced sodium broth $1.39
  • 1 package Mac & Cheese $.39 (for my 15 year old as a quick dinner when heading out the door)
  • 3 gallons skim milk $1.89
  • White bread $.85, submitted for $.50 Mobisave rebate
  • mini marshmallows $.79
  • 2 bags powdered sugar $1.29 each
  • 2.45 pounds bananas $.29/lb = $.71 (GREAT price – I haven’t seen that in ages!)
  • Instant brown rice $1.49
  • Aldi take & bake pizza $4.99
  • 2 applesauce cups $1.49
  • 2 flour tortillas $1.19
  • big bag lemons $.99 (I didn’t really need these but couldn’t pass them up – I love having them on hand to freshen my sink disposal!)
  • 2 cans black beans $.59
  • Canola cooking spray $1.49
  • Penne Pasta $.99
  • Minced garlic $1.99
  • Fit & Active Light Balsamic Vinaigrette Dressing $1.29
  • Dish Soap $189
  • Honey mustard $.99
  • Cheese ravioli $3.99
  • Cinnamon $.99
  • Total = $54.69








Are you joining me in trimming your grocery budget this monthI’d love to hear how you’re doing ~ it’s not too late to start! Leave a comment to share any tips or suggestions.


Looking for more ways to save on your grocery budget in 2016? Here you go:

Would you like FREE daily email updates of saving and an email sent out to you with more tips each week during this series? Go HERE to subscribe, and I’d love for you to leave a comment to share your thoughts on grocery shopping on a budget – I love hearing from you! 


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6 Can Chicken Tortilla Soup

Looking for more penny pinched recipes? Here you go!


You guys.


I LOVED this recipe.


And, since I’m doing the 21 Day Fix right now (so far, so good!), I’m even more excited because it’s (for the most part) 21 Day Fix approved!




I pre-cooked a ton of chicken that I got last week on sale (y’all, making it myself saved me a bundle), but you can use canned chicken or make it yourself too. Super simple, and if you want to make it a little more “man” approved, add some sour cream and tortilla chips.




Easy Peasy Chicken Tortilla (6 Can) Soup





  • Open the cans of corn, chicken broth, chunk chicken, black beans, and diced tomatoes with green chilies.
  • Pour everything into a large saucepan or stock pot. Simmer over medium heat until chicken is heated through.
  • Or, pour it all in slow cooker and cook on low for a few hours.
  • Enjoy!

21 Day Fix equivalents – makes 4-6 servings, 1 serving = 1/2 purple, 1 yellow, 1 red (make sure to use enough to chicken to count as a full serving of chicken



Recipe adapted from All Recipes. If you need a little more menu inspiration, go HERE

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The Ultimate Guide To A Better Grocery Budget: 7 Strategies to Save (4 Week Series)



So often people ask me how I really spend $100 a week or less on groceries for our family of 5, and goodness, I have to tell you it really (really) can be done. 


So, I decided this month to show you exactly what our family really buys (the good, the bad, and the ugly), so that you can see how we really make it work. Honestly, I don’t have tons of time to clip coupons (and I have seen more and more processed food coupons pop up, which don’t always work for our family), so this series will share how we do it without too much time clipping coupons.


I’m telling you what, the secret really is in the sale. 


Now, my friend Shannon rocks her coupon trips each week, so if you’re looking for crazy savings they definitely can happen. But, if you’re pressed for time and realistically that’s not going to happen in your home, you can still (easily!) save big for your family.


I promise. 


Don’t believe me? 


Here’s my my exact process, step-by-step this week so that you can join along too! I know it may seem overwhelming at first, but I promise, you can do this. 




Let’s get started. 

Before Shopping . . .

Screen Shot 2015-12-29 at 6.25.30 PM

#1. Make a menu plan and grocery list. (I used Eat at Home Cooks Menu Plan and grocery list this week and *LOVED* it. 

While I’ve always made a menu plan and grocery list, using Eat at Home Cooks Menu Plan was new to me. But after one week I’m hooked and highly encourage you to try it out. (Her special sale ends tonight and is $10.50 for a 3 month subscription – hurry before it’s gone if you think it will help!)


Normally I make my own menu plan which takes a solid 30-45 minutes, and I love that she did all the work for me. (Especially for $3.50 per month or $.87 per week – well worth $.87 to save myself 45 minutes of time!)

Screen Shot 2015-12-29 at 6.04.51 PM

I chose the Whole Foods Menu Plan because we’re working on a healthier 2016, and the list was pretty simple to follow. (I loved that you got all three menu plan options though for one price!)


I did skip a meal that I knew our family wouldn’t eat, but we have enough in the kitchen already to make up a meal or two (and my family could eat breakfast for dinner every single night, so I can always whip up something when I need to.)


Even if we really don’t like the menus, I love that just by buying what’s on her list I have a stocked pantry for 6 meals this week. The menu and recipes looked great, but if I choose to make something else I can easily search All Recipes Ingredient Search and find something else in a pinch.


If you aren’t using All Recipes Ingredient Search when you need dinner done you have GOT to try it out. It saves dinner for our family at least once a week! 

#2. Shop your pantry.

Before heading to the store, I look over my menu plan & grocery list and determine what I already have in my fridge, freezer and pantry. I also take stock of what we’re low on for breakfasts, lunches, snacks, and household items for the week.


Since we were almost out of laundry detergent and conditioner I added those to my list this week, as well as milk, salad mix, fresh fruit, and chips for my husband to take to lunch. (Y’all, he loves his potato chips and absolutely will not pack a lunch if potato chips aren’t there. ‘Nuf said.)

Screen Shot 2016-01-07 at 1.43.05 PM

At the Store

3. Shop two stores.

Folks, this is huge and I know may not work for everyone, but is well worth it for our family. I typically shop Kroger each week for major sales and loss leaders, but also make a trip to Fresh Thyme (or a similar store) for meat and produce at least every other week, saving our family a bundle.


If you have an Aldi, Fresh Thyme, Sprouts, or even possibly Trader Joe’s in your area, I highly recommend a trip once a week (or at least every two weeks), to stock up on meat and produce. 


Their sale prices are significantly lower than anything I’ve seen at local grocery stores (unless your grocery store has a rockstar sale), and it’s pretty easy to get in and out in a few minutes. I don’t shop anything else at those stores at all (really, only produce and meat), but it saves a bundle and is well worth the extra trip at least every other week for our family!


(FYI – I don’t typically buy meat at Aldi, because I have the option of Fresh Thyme. I’ve heard people say they’ve been very pleased with it, but I love my Fresh Thyme meat and poultry and you just can’t beat the prices!)


4. Shop loss leaders.

I’ll detail this week’s store trips below, but this week when I shopped Fresh Thyme and Kroger I really watched for “loss leaders” – items that the stores put at such a good price you’ll take the time to go to their store. 



5. Don’t be brand specific.

If you need a certain item for a meal this week, buy whichever brand is on sale at the best price per ounce. For example, Del Monte tomatoes were “on sale” for $1.25 this week, but the Kroger brand was just $.73.  From what I can tell, tomatoes are tomatoes (at least when you’re choosing between Kroger and Del Monte), and there’s no way my family will have any idea whether I use the Del Monte or Kroger brand in our recipes this week.


Now, there are some items which a certain brand really does seem better, but if you can give yourself a little freedom to try out the less expensive item, you might save quite a few pennies each week just for going with the sale item! And, if you really do love your Charmin or Quilted Northern (toilet paper seems to be one of those areas where people love their brands?)  watch Amazon or the drug stores for a really good deal.


Here’s one other example ~ in this trip I needed laundry detergent. Tide was on sale for $4.99 for a small bottle, or the HUGE bottle of Purex with Oxi was $5.99. I’ve been pleased with Purex in the past and it was a MUCH better price per ounce, so well worth it to stock up while it’s on sale! 


6. Don’t trust the grocery store to tell you the best deals.

The grocery stores (and any retailer, really), are notorious for posting signs screaming *SALE* out loud at you just about every look, however often times those sales aren’t really a fantastic price. If you know that boneless, skinless chicken breast priced at $1.99/lb. is a stock up price and that $3.49/lb. isn’t, you’ll be able to skip a not-so-good deal for a stock-up-price deal simply by waiting for a better sale. (And I promise good sales do come around, so when you can, wait for the best price!)



Fresh Thyme had boneless, skinless chicken breast this week for $1.49 per pound. Clearly it was time for me to stock up! Unfortunately, I thought I was also getting a great stock up price on Organic salad mix, but Kroger actually had it for $.75 less per package. I’ll be watching that a wee bit more closely in the future.


7. Watch for easy coupon & savings deals at your regular grocery store (in my case, Kroger.)

Even though we’ve got plenty of toothpaste, I knew Colgate was on sale and there was a $.50 off Kroger ecouponThat coupon ended up making it $.50 per tube, which is my stock up price so I grabbed a tube while I was there.

I also picked up orange juice even though we have a bottle in the fridge, because it was $1.49 after the Kroger Mega Sale which is a great price. And I was thrilled to score 2 bottles of Herbal Essences for $.50 each after the Kroger $3/2 Kroger ecoupon – all I had to do was load it to my phone while I shopped.


Just taking a few extra minutes to quickly watch for easy deals helped me stock up on things we’ll need all month long.


***BONUS TIP.***

Each week there are basic groceries that we need, but we don’t have to buy everything in the store. This week I picked up laundry detergent, conditioner, chicken and toothpaste because they were well within my stock up price.


Last month I stocked up on string cheese, peanut butter, cereal, oatmeal, bread and beef when they were on sale, so I won’t likely need those this month. (Except bread ~ we have enough for this week but not tons, thankfully there are some rebates though for free bread right now!) 🙂


So each week I don’t have to buy everything because I know my stock up prices well enough that I can stock up when I can easily get a deal ~ and it makes shopping so much easier! If you’re completely new to menu planning and shopping based on the sales this may take a few weeks to get the hang of, but I promise it’s so worth it.




(Are you overwhelmed yet?) 🙂


Okay, so here’s the low-down-nitty-gritty of how much I really spent at Fresh Thyme and Kroger . . . 


Fresh Thyme

  • Bought 2.67 pounds Boneless Skinless Chicken Breast at $1.49/lb = $3.92
  • Bought 2.13 pounds Boneless Skinless Chicken Breast at $1.49/lb = $3.13
  • Bought 5 pounds red potatoes $1.99
  • Bought green onions $.49
  • Bought 3 pound bag green apples $3.99
  • Bought 3 yellow and orange bell peppers $.88 each = $2.64
  • Bought 4 containers strawberries 2/$3 = $6
  • Bought 2 containers organic salad blend 2/$5 (price was $1.88 at Kroger – I hate that!) 🙂
  • Bought 4.86 pounds bananas $.55/lb. = $2.67
  • TOTAL = $30.71, saved $23. 25



  • Bought 1 organic whole chicken $8.71 (this was $1.59/lb and a little more than I like to spend, but the best price I could find this week)
  • Kroger Tomatoes $.73
  • 1 1/2 dozen eggs $3.19
  • Kroger Cornmeal $1.97
  • Kroger Sausage $2.50
  • Kroger Pizza Sauce $1.39
  • Kroger Shredded Cheese $2.69
  • Celery $1.99
  • Tropicana $1.49 after Mega Sale
  • Fresh Broccoli $1.41
  • Colgate Toothpaste $1, used $.50/1 Kroger e coupon = $.50
  • Kroger Honey Mustard $1.29
  • 2 Herbal Essences Conditioner $1.49 after Mega Sale, used $3/2 Kroger e coupon = $.50
  • 1 Purex Laundry Detergent $4.99 after Mega Sale
  • 3 gallons Kroger milk $2.19
  • Kroger Half & Half $1.29
  • Mission Tortillas $1.79 (could have used $.50/1 Mission Tortilla coupon if I’d had it!)
  • Bought Lay’s Chips (for my husband – sorry guys) $2.99 after Mega Sale
  • Bought 4 Armour Lunchables $1 each (keeping it real guys – my kids do some days take lunchables when we’re in a hurry!)
  • TOTAL = $55.03 + $.70 in tax = $55.73, saved $19.84




After getting home I realized I *may* need to run back to the store for extra fruit cups for lunches and eggs ~ I should have checked on those before I left. I’ll probably swing by Aldi for those if I happen to be driving by, and should be able to stock up for less than $10, staying well under my $100 budget.




It’s been awhile since I’ve really tracked my grocery spending, so I was curious if I really still had $100 or less still in me. I am thrilled to see we can still easily stick to this budget (and could save even more if I took more time to coupon.) I’ll be sharing our weekly trips this month so you can seehow it really works, and would love for you to join in!


If you have questions about how to really change your grocery budget, I would love for you to share those ~ honestly, I love sharing all kinds of deals here on Passionate Penny Pincher, but my number one place that I love teaching folks ways to save is on their grocery budgets. 


As I’ve said (a jillion?) times before, there is no other area in your family’s finances that you can so easily control, so choosing to really change your grocery budget in 2016 really can transform your family’s financial future. 


Are you ready to join me? Let’s get started! 🙂


Looking for more ways to save on your grocery budget in 2016? Here you go:

Would you like FREE daily email updates of saving and an email sent out to you with more tips each week during this series? Go HERE to subscribe, and I’d love for you to leave a comment to share your thoughts on grocery shopping on a budget – I love hearing from you! 


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Peanut Butter Chocolate Bites


My husband’s office is nuts and each person brings in a homemade batch of cookies to share each week before Christmas, and his co-worker Jordan was sweet enough to share the recipe with me!

James said they were delicious (high praise from him – he’s usually pretty picky), and I can’t wait to try them out. However, they may have to wait until next Christmas – I’m just about ready for some new year’s dieting to start but this is the last dessert I’ll share for at least a week or two. 🙂 


Peanut Butter Chocolate Bites (Adapted from Taste of Home)


  • 1 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 4 1/2 teaspoons butter
  • 1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 12 ounces semisweet chocolate chips
  • 4 milk chocolate candy bars (1.55 oz each)
  • Optional – colored sprinkles




1.  In small bowl, combine 1/2 cup peanut butter, butter, confectioners’ sugar, and salt until smooth. Set aside.


2.  Melt the chocolate chips, candy bars and remaining 1/2 cup peanut butter. Stir until smooth.


3.  Set up paper-lined miniature muffin cups to prepare treats in, either in a muffin tin or on a plate.


4.  Drop enough chocolate mixture into each muffin cup to cover the bottom (1/4 full).


5.  Roll peanut butter interior picture into small balls (1/4 – 1/2”) and add 1 ball to the chocolate layer of each treat.

6.  Fill the remaining muffin cup with chocolate mixture and decorate with sprinkles if desired.


Store in refrigerator until ready to eat! Makes roughly 30 treats.




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Monthly Menu Plans As Low As $3.50 Per Month

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I’m so excited about this! My friend Tiffany from Eat at Home Cooks is offering her Monthly Menu Plan half off right now (as little as $3.50 per month), for new users only. 

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I’ve made many of Tiffany’s recipes and loved them, and I love that she’s put them all together with easy lists and simple instructions to make grocery shopping and menu planning so much simpler. I actually just signed up myself for 3 months and after looking round at the menus I am in LOVE.

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I printed off our menu plan for next week (INCLUDING recipes & grocery list) in about 2 minutes, and I can’t wait to try it out. I purchased the 3 month subscription for just $10.50, and am curious to see how my family likes it. It is such a huge time saver, that I know I’ll love using it!

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 I chose the Whole Food menu plan for next week, but you can select ANY of the menu plans she has, including a traditional recipe plan and even a slow cooker option. The best part is that once you sign up you have access to all of the menu plans, so this is such a great way to dry out different recipes and see what your family loves!
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Head on over HERE to download yours, and if you’ve tried Eat at Home menus in the past I’d love to hear your thoughts. Go HERE to get started! 




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5 Ingredient Buckeyes


If you haven’t made peanut butter buckeyes before, you have got to add them to your list this year! They’re a little time consuming, but soooooo worth the effort. Even before moving to Ohio we loved them, but now that we really are in Buckeye country we’ve decided they’re one of those things we’ve just got to make. 🙂


Here’s my favorite recipe for these . . .

4 Ingredient Buckeyes



  • 1 1/2 cups Creamy Peanut Butter
  • 1/2 cup butter or margarine, softened
  • 1 pound powdered sugar (about 3 1/2 cups)
  • 2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1 tablespoon shortening
  1. Cream together peanut butter and butter in mixer.
  2. Add 2 cups powdered sugar, and mix until blended.  Then add additional powdered sugar as needed to make the peanut butter mixture stiff enough to mold into peanut butter balls and stay on a toothpick when dipped into chocolate.
  3. Roll into balls and refrigerate until firm (about 15 minutes.)buckeye2
  4. Meanwhile, using double boiler (or makeshift double boiler like mine shown above), heat water to simmering. Then melt chocolate chips and shortening in bowl sitting on top of the simmering water. Stir frequently until smooth   buckeye3
  5. Using toothpick, dip peanut butter balls into chocolate leaving some peanut butter showing at the top to resemble buckeyes, then set on wax paper.
  6. Shake off excess chocolate.

buckeye47. To hide your toothpick mark, smooth over holes before refrigerating,  then refrigerate until hardened.  Yummmm!



Looking for more Christmas recipes to try out this Christmas?  Here are a few of our favorites . . .


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Chex Mix: Crock Pot vs. Oven?


Has anyone else been curious if Chex Mix worked in the Crock Pot? After seeing a few pins on Pinterest where people used their crock pot, I was too! So, this year when my hubby mixed up his annual big batch, we decided to bake half in the oven and cook the other half in the slow cooker.


Now, y’all know I’m a big fan of Mrs. Potts, but this time it just wasn’t a win for me. We mixed everything up according to our regular recipe, then dumped half in the crockpot and half in our slow cooker.




We cooked the Chex Mix in the slow cooker with the lid on according to several posts I’d seen, and stirred it every 30 minutes. 



The results? 

The oven clearly (overwhelmingly!) won.

The batch made in our slow cooker tasted almost stale, so during the last 30 minutes we took the lid off which seemed to help a bit. However, it just wasn’t as good, and we ended up throwing most of it away.


If you’ve had better luck making Chex Mix in your crock pot I’d love to hear about it, but I’m thinking we’ll stick with the oven from now on. 🙂 

Homemade Chex Mix


  • 1 box Cheerios
  • 1 box Wheat Chex 
  • 1 box Corn Chex
  • 1 box Rice Chex
  • 2 bags thin pretzels
  • 1 can mixed nuts
  • 1 jar regular peanuts
  • 1 lb. margarine
  • 1 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper or red pepper
  • 1 tsp. celery salt
  • 1 tsp. worcestershire
  • 1/2 tsp. tabasco sauce



  1. Mix together first seven ingredients.
  2. Melt margarine over low heat.  Add worcestershire, tabasco sauce, garlic powder, cayenne pepper, and celery salt.
  3. Slowly drizzle margarine mixture over dry ingredients.
  4. Bake at 200-225 for 2 hours, lifting and stirring every 20 minutes.


If you need a little more menu inspiration, visit the Recipe Index, and  join Passionate Penny Pincher on Facebook to keep up with all the meals & deals. And, don’t miss 12 more Christmas Treats you need to make this year!

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