For a while now, I have been posting my montly menus on Facebook. Well, I decided to create a blog so that more people will have the opportunity to check in and hopefully be inspired. As for the name of the blog, Sherri's Sanity, that is what montly menu planning is for me; my sanity. With 3 young kids, I do NOT have the patience for the clock to turn 5 and have no plan for dinner, it just adds to the craziness to the "witching hours" (those insane hours at the end of the day where we, moms, try to jam-pack 4 hours worth of stuff into 2) I HATE the hours of 5pm-8pm. BUT I have found that in my (almost) year of planning monthly menus, I have been so much less of a headcase during that time. When mom is happier, hubby and kids are happier. AND their tummies will be filled with yummy homemade food; even better!!Now, this blog will definitely take time to put together. Once again, I am a mother of 3 small kids and although I wish I could just sit down and crack it all out, that just isnt going to happen. So, check back often and I will try and keep things rolling. :) Another thing that fills my bucket, so to speak, is crafting! So I'm sure that will come along on the blog shortly too. Happy planning!!!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012


Can you believe how fast this month (January) has gone?? You have a week from today to get your menu and shopping list in order for February. I had some free time today, so I decided to get a jump start and get mine done :) Dont forget to plan something fun for Valentine's Day! We usually make heart-shaped pizzas, so that's what we'll do. I just cut a big heart out of paper, roll out my pizza dough, place the paper heart on top and cut around it.

I'm also trying a few new recipes this month from a website my cousin, Jill referred me to www.thesisterscafe.com

Favorite Egg Salad Sandwich (although I plan to omit the celery and add some cajun seasoning to my mayonnaise, add avacado and bacon and serve on sourdough bread, this inspired by the "Hell's Kitchen" sandwich at Heidi's Deli.. yumm :))
Rumbi Island Easy Mango Chicken and Rice
Salmon with Feta and Capers

Ok, so here's the rest of the line-up.  We are planning a trip so several days are missing...Happy planning!!

Ham Bone Soup
Turkey Burgers (served on sandwich thins)
Fish Tacos with homemade Pico De Gallo
Thai Curry Noodles
Meatball sandwiches
Sweet Pork salads (pork tenderloin w/ one jar green Herdez Salsa and 1 C brown sugar in the crock pot)
Chicken Bacon Bites
Broccoli Potato soup (only use about 1/2 C onions)
Sausage Rice Casserole
Dijon Chicken
Hot Dogs and Jalapeno poppers
Stuffed pasta shells (recipe right on the box!)
Honey Lime Enchiladas w/ Cilantro Lime Rice
Hawaiian Haystacks
Lemon Rosemary Pork and Barley and Asparagus
Tortellini Pasta Salad
Spicy chicken sandwiches
Rice soup

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Mid-month reprise

Here's what I came home with for about $215 for my mid-month shopping...
String cheese
6 yogurt
1 gal milk
2 sour cream
3 snack packs

10 Chef Boyardee (whole wheat, of course ;))
5 diced tomatoes
6 beans
4 soups
2 pasta sauce

red yams
3 lb strawberries

8 lunchables
2 canned biscuits

4 Chex Mix
2 Cheetos
4 Goldfish crackers
3 boxes other crackers
4 boxes Fruit snacks
4 boxes Granola bars

5 boxes cereal

1 large pork tenderloin (will make 6 meals!)
4 pkgs bacon
(tonight I will be picking up 20 lbs of chicken breasts from Zaycon for 1.67/lb, so this will put me a little over budget, but it will probably last 2 or 3 months)

Baby wash
Leave in Conditioner
3 boxes Fem. Prod's
Corn starch
3 pudding mixes
Olive oil
3 salad dressings
2 boxes food storage bags
3 sets food storage containers
2 Apple juice

In total I probably only used about 15 coupons. My point? Shop the sales, pay attention and you'll be in great shape even if you don't coupon (but I do suggest couponing too ;))

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

It's mid-month!

I know I mentioned that I shop again mid-month, so I didn't want to leave everyone hanging without a post.  For those of you in AZ I wanted to share my very favorite website for coupon and sale match-ups www.thecentsableshoppin.com.  She will list deals from all the big grocery stores and right there will be a link for a printable coupon (if there is one available) or if there was one from a past newspaper. You can even click the items to create a shopping list.

So, what I usually do is make a list from each store, gather all my coupons and head to WalMart.  At WalMart I'll compare everything on my list to the prices there.  If it really is a good deal (because sometimes regular price at WalMart is cheaper and that takes away the urgency to buy certain things), I will price match it. There is one catch; if I have a coupon for said item, I take into consideration the extra savings I would get after doubling at the other store. So basically, I usually only use high value coupons at WalMart.  What usually ends up happening (because I really dont like to store hop) is I will price match Bashas, Safeway and Albertsons at WalMart and then make a Frys run as well. Fry's usually has the best/most deals and all coupons are worth $1 :)

Just a reminder, what I'm usually buying mid-month is toiletries, cereal, snacks, baking and other shelf staples that are on sale as well as meats that are on sale. Yes, I have an extra freezer, and yes I have extra shelf storage (but NOTHING like those crazies on TV).  I think both are essential to saving money. For example, today I was able to buy a large pork tenderloin for $18 (reg around $50) and cut it into 6 roasts. You do the math. It's sooo important to buy on sale!

Here's a few things on my list for this week...

Mott's Apple Juice 64 oz. $1.88 ea
Precious String Cheese 13.3-16 oz $3.99
Milk $1.57 gal. (Lim 2)
Betty Crocker Fruit Snacks 4.5 -8 oz. $0.99 ea. wyb 4
Nature Valley Granola Bars $1.77 with in-ad coupon (Lim 4)
Post Honey Bunches of Oats 14.5 oz or Fruity Pebbles 11 oz
General Mills Cereal 8.9 oz Cheerios, 12.3 oz Frosted Crunch or 10.7 oz Trix $1.88 with in-ad coupon (Lim 4)

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Chocolate Cake Waffles

Sorry, no pic for this post (yet) but try to imagine moist chocolate cake, from scratch, that's made in about 10 minutes! Yummmm :)

1 1/2 C all-purpose flour
1 C sugar
3 Tbs. cocoa
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
6 Tbs oil
1 Tbs white vinegar
1 tsp. vanilla
1 C cold water
2/3 C semi-sweet chocolate chips (optional)

Preheat your waffle iron on LOW.  Mix dry ingredients in a bowl and then make 3 wells for the vinegar, vanilla and oil.  Then, slowly pour the water over all of it and mix until thoroughly combined. Stir in chocolate chips. Spray your preheated (on low) waffle iron with cooking spray between each serving.  Pour by 3/4 cup and use the indicator, just like you would for waffles.  Turn directly onto a plate...

You can do this by turning your waffle iron (be careful not to burn yourself!) upside down and flip right onto a plate. Since these are nice and moist they will break apart if you try to use a fork!

Top with ice cream, whipped cream or even icing. Makes 4 Belgian-size cakes.

As you will notice, this is a dairy-free and eggless recipe (until you add ice cream, of course). You might even be able to sub the flour for a gluten-free type.

We love these waffles for a quick and fairly mess-free dessert!

Friday, January 6, 2012

Squeegee and a dust pan

As I grabbed a ceramic bowl for my son's ravioli this afternoon I had the thought to just get a paper plate.  But I had already grabbed the bowl, so bowl it was. 5 minutes later, bowl and ravioli came crashing off the counter. Trying to look at the bright side of things, and not kick myself for not grabbing that paper plate, I used it as an opportunity to share one of my very favorite tricks! Anytime I have a mess like this I go straight to my shower and grab my squeegee. Then, it's straight to the pantry for the dustpan.

Taadaa!  Shards of ceramic bowl and all!  I hope this comes in handy for you someday! You'll save lots of paper towels :)

Pesto Chicken Wraps

This recipe is from my neighbor, Jessica. It is so simple and quickly became one of our fav's! Here's what you'll need

3-4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 C pesto
Wet mozzerella cheese
Spinach or green leaf lettuce
Red bell pepper
Flavored tortillas (we use the green Mission ones)

Marinade your chicken in about 3/4 C pesto for about an hour.

Roast your peppers in the oven by cutting in half length-wise, removing seeds, stem and membrane, and spraying with cooking oil. Place skin side up on a greased dish and broil until skins are nice and charred. Allow to cool long enough to where they won't melt a baggie, then place in the baggie to "sweat". Peel/remove skins when cool enough to handle. Slice into strips lengthwise.

You can either pan fry your chicken breasts or grill them. Cut into strips after cooking...I tried baking this last time and don't recommend it because they turned out very dry :(

Assemble your wraps with a little additional pesto (optional), chicken, peppers, mozz cheese and spinach or lettuce. My kids even like a drizzle of ranch dressing. YUM!

Monday, January 2, 2012

Swedish Meatballs

This dish is a childhood favorite of mine.  I have adapted it from my mom's recipe to make it a little easier and a little healthier. I hope you like it.

For the meatballs:
1 pkg Jenni-O ground turkey
1/3 C Instant rice (uncooked)..I have also used reg. cooked rice when instant rice wasn't on hand
1 tsp. paprika
1 tsp salt
1/4 C. dry onion flakes

Mix well in a bowl. Drop by cookie scoop on a greased cookie sheet. Bake at 400 for 6 min, turn, cook an additional 6 min. Makes about 20 meatballs.

For the sauce:
1 C water
2 tsp beef bouillon granules
1 tsp Worchestershire sauce
2 cans cream of mushroom soup (I use Campbells Healthy Request)
1 C. light sour cream

Mix in a microwave save bowl and nuke it for about a minute to 90 seconds and stir until smooth.

Place your browned meatballs in a casserole dish and pour sauce over top. Bake at 350 for 45 minutes. OR you can even throw them in the crockpot and cook on low for several hours.

Serve over cooked egg noodles.

My family only eats half a recipe at one meal, so I split half for cooking and half for the freezer.  Just skip the baking part before freezing.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Because I stock up...

As I was thinking about my first post I started wondering if it would be beneficial to include my shopping list for the month. Well, it would be and it wouldn't. I'm pretty sure no one is going to copy my menu exactly so I'm pretty sure no one would have use of the EXACT shopping list. However, I do want to show you what my list looks like for the entire month because it will show you how beneficial it is to stock up on the things you use most. And in the best case scenario, you'll get those things on sale AND with a coupon, thus maximizing your savings. So, here is what my list looks like for the entire month of January.

Wet mozzerella
sour cream

Stir fry veggies
egg noodles
sweet potato fries

Green tortillas
French bread
sub rolls

Panko crumbs
egg noodles
lasagna noodles
dry onion soup
bacon bits

tomato paste
green chile
coconut milk
kidney beans

Curry paste

Ground turkey

Produce: (Week 1)
red pepper
onions (red and brown)
yellow squash and zucchini
green beans
varied fruit

So, there it is! We are all stocked up on cereals, snacks, lunch meats, juices and other breakfast and lunch items as well as meats for the whole month. I bought those on the 15th-ish of December and will shop again on the 15th-ish of January. :) Now I will go pull the coupons I have for the things on this list! I'm guessing I will spend under $200, I'll let you know how it goes!

Ok, so I got all my shopping done today (Monday) and I spent $60 at Fry's (Kroger for you non AZ peeps) and $85 at Wal Mart. I even bought a few extra things that werent on my list; a few toiletries, cereal, eggs, milk and some canned ravioli (9) for the baby. After I buy diapers and and a few things at Costco I'll be just over $200. Not bad at all!! I'll try to stay under $200 on the 15th also, but I am running low on chicken and ground turkey...

January 2012 and the basics

Happy New Year!! I have lots of goals to still set for this year, how about you?? Hopefully one of yours will be to start planning your dinner menus!! :)  In our house we keep breakfast and lunch pretty simple. I will probably create a general post for that later on.  But I have already sat down to make my dinner menu and will try my best to jump on the blog and add recipes, pictures, etc. as the month and year goes on. You can ALWAYS email me at sherrilyn21@hotmail.com with questions and I will do my best to get you what you need.

Now, don't be fooled. I RARELY stick to the exact menu. Things like my mood and other wrenches always get thrown into my way. BUT, because I have it all down on paper and get all my pantry and freezer items purchased at the beginning of the month, there is lots of wiggle room to switch things up :)

Here's what I do when I sit down to plan.  I print off a blank calendar (you can find online) and sit down with my previous menus for inspiration.  Always keep your previous calendars, it helps soooo much.  I'll also open up my favorite cookbook or website.  In my case it's Back to Basics by Barefoot Contessa and www.ourbestbites.com (they also have a cookbook, but the only copy I purchased I gave to my mom). And a pencil. Erasing happens a lot!

Ok, moving on. So I have my calendar, cookbook, pencil, shopping list and previous calendars handy.  I also know, pretty much, what I have stocked up in my freezer and pantry.  Backing up...in our house, I get my food budget money (cash only so we stay in budget!) twice a month; on the 1st and 15th.  I shop for the entire month of pantry and freezer items that are on my dinner menu on or around the 1st.  Then, on the 15th, I shop sales. Meat, cereal, snacks and staples. If a particular item is a steal at the beginning of the month, I suppose I would buy it then...but I tend not to even look at the ads because I have already devoted so much time on planning. Once again, moving on. So I sit down and start filling in the days. One day per week is usually devoted to double cooking; make enough for 2 meals and freeze one for later. So, then, one day is devoted to eating a freezer meal (in our case, for soccer practice night). I also don't cook on Saturdays. Saturdays are either for date night or leftovers. As I fill in a meal I will immediately write down the items I need on my grocery list.  For the first week that will include produce. For weeks following, the produce list will go on it's own list, by week. Is your head spinning???  You will find your own groove once you start. I just hope that what I do can be inspiring to you :) Maybe a list will break it down

Week 1: dinner for entire month, week 1 produce, milk
Week 2: Milk, produce for week 2
Week 3: Stock up on sale items, milk, produce for week 3
Week 4: Milk and produce for week 4

Blank Calendar
shopping list
cookbook or other references
previous calendars

For us:
Tuesdays: Double cook
Thursdays: Freezer meal
Saturday: day off, leftovers or date night

I have even seen some people devote Mondays to sandwiches, Tuesdays to chicken, Wednesday to pasta etc....this method doesnt work for us. But it might for you, so I wanted to throw it out there.

So with all that being said, here's my monthly list. Remember, I am serving a family of 5.

Swedish Meatballs
Pesto Chicken Wraps
Broiled fish and veggies
White Chicken and rice (3-4 chicken breasts, 1 pkt dry ranch dressing, 1 block cream cheese, 1 can cream mush soup, cooked in crock pot, serve over rice)
Veggie and hummus flatbread
Pot Roast
Lasagna, garlic bread and salad
Beef taquitos
Ham and funeral potatoes
Waffles and fruit
Thai Curry noodles
Chocolate Chili, cornbread
Coconut Chicken and rice
Turkey burgers, sweet potato fries
Chicken Cordon Bleu, broccoli
Meatballs (freezer), green beans
Homemade pizza
Fajitas, chips and guac/salsa
Pork chops, corn and Autumn salad
Chicken noodle soup (boil 1 C each chopped carrots and celery, 1 pkt dry Italian dressing, 3 bay leaves, 4 cups broth, 2 cups water, add 3-4 chicken breasts, cooked and cubed, cooked egg noodles)
French dip and chips (good ol' McCormicks Au Jus packet, with roast cooked in crock pot)
Lasagna (freezer)
Steak in mushroom sauce (1 pkt dry onion soup, 2 cans cream of mush soup, roast, cooked in crockpot) over rice
Butternut Squash soup with croutons
Chicken rolls, mashed potatoes

Happy planning!