Category Archives: Lisa Nelsen Woods – The Lazy Budget Chef

Lisa Nelsen-Woods writes The Lazy Budget Chef When she ventured out on her own, she had to learn how to cook, because if she relied on what she had learned in 8th-grade Home Ec class, all she would be eating is soupy quiche and Snickerdoodle cookies.

Lisa does not have the time to for 14-ingredient meals that take three hours to make. After a lot of trial and error — and still more error — she learned how to make quick meals on a budget, and they are delicious! She constantly relies on her household servants Mr. Breadmaker, Mrs. Slow Cooker, and sometimes, in a pinch, Ms. Microwave to defrost something. She is constantly surprised that it takes less time to make something from scratch than it does from a box.

To her surprise, her health improved AND her food bill went down when she started cooking real food. She truly believes you can eat healthy on a budget.

Joining Lisa on this journey are her husband and her one-eyed rescue Pekingese, Blitzkrieg. He likes carrots — the dog of course — although she thinks her husband likes carrots, too.

Lisa is a professional freelance writer. You can follow Lisa on Twitter @condoblues.

Star Moms Participate in ALS Ice Bucket Challenge


By Jenny Schafer

Celebrity Baby Scoop is joining in on the Ice Bucket Challenge for ALS.

In the trending campaign, people are asking 2-3 of their friends to dump a bucket of ice water over their heads. If your friends do not accept the challenge within 24 hours, they must donate $100 to an ALS association of choice.

In the last few weeks, the #IceBucketChallenge has literally soaked some celebrities, including Justin Timerlake, Jimmy Fallon and Martha Stewart. Not to mention, some of our favorite celebrity parents such as Gwen Stefani, Nicole Richie, Jessica Alba and Gavin Rossdale. Check out Gwen and Gavin’s video here, and then see their 8-year-old son Kingston also take on the challenge

Pop superstar Jennifer Lopez also took the challenge, and got some help from her 6-year-old twins Max and Emme. The Jenny From the Block singer, 45, shared the video via Instagram.

And we loved Ben Affleck‘s funny Ice Bucket Challenge via Facebook, where he got playful with his wife, fellow actress Jennifer Garner, and their daughters Violet, 8, and Seraphina, 5, erupted in contagious giggles when he threw her into their backyard pool.

Often referred to as Lou Gehrig’s Disease, ALS is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and the spinal cord.

Celebrity Baby Scoop’s senior editor, Jenny Schafer, lost her father to ALS and created her own video to challenge a few Hollywood moms. 

Hollywood insider GG Benitez, Real Housewives of Atlanta star Phaedra Parks, Real Housewives of O.C. star Tamra Judge, and Broadway dancer, singer and actress Courtney Lopez.

First to accept the challenge was GG Benitez. See her fun video here (and here) and check out the online buzz from her clients who took the challenge: Mabel’s Labels, POSH Mommy and Freebies2Deals and The Orange Rhino.

Next up for the challenge was Courtney Lopez. Check out this priceless Instagram video, showing her support for the cause — with some help from her adorable 3 1/2-year-old daughter Gia.

“I was nominated by @herscoop and @celebritybabyscoop for the #icebucketchallenge #alsicebucketchallenge!,” Courtney says, then nominates actress Eva Longoria.

“And I nominate @evalongoria and @kearrangiovanni ! #doit,” she continues.

Courtney’s husband, Extra host Mario Lopez, couldn’t help but show his support. The Saved by the Bell alum, 40, went on to tweeting about their video.

More Hollywood mom & baby news:

Katie Holmes: “I Was A Very Nervous Mother”

“The Guncles” Expecting Baby No. 2: A Boy

Christian Bale Welcomes Second Child: A Boy

Tori Spelling & Family: Fun In The Sun

Milla Jovovich Expecting Second Child is one of the most popular blogs on the topic and the foremost provider of everything celebrity-baby, featuring baby fashion, baby names, baby trends and up-to-the-minute celebrity baby gossip and pics. Get all the latest news, updates, and photos about Hollywood’s most beloved celebrity moms, dads and their babies. Who’s the latest Tinseltown baby? Who’s due next and who just announced a pregnancy? It’s all on

13 Steps to a Better Me

By Lisa Nelsen-Woods

The thing Husband and I forgot when it comes to working with and rehabilitating a dog with behavioral fear issues is how hard and frustrating it can be in the beginning!

We love Lacey and our committed to helping with her issues. But we are empathizing with all of those second time around parents who also forget that as wonderful and sweet newborns are, there are times when they drive you crazy! Parental sleep deprivation when the baby refuses to go to sleep night after night after night anyone?

Thankfully, Lacey sleeps through the night. However, her fears gives her the attention span of a gnat. That can be frustrating when we are trying to work on something or after an evening of barking jags because the neighbors are having a BBQ.

I wrote on my DIY blog Condo Blues about the light bulb moment I experienced when I realized why Lacey didn’t always do as I said and how my frustration feed into her frustration to boomerang back at me. Of course the first instinct is to blame the dog but to be honest, a big chunk of the problem is me (you can read about it here .)

I need to get my head back in the game. I can’t expect Lacey to consistently confident if I don’t give her a good example to follow.

I’ve spent the last year putting everything but me first that I haven’t even been on my own list.

Sound familiar to anyone?

Welcome to Project Me! That’s what I’m calling my self-improvement plan, program, whatever you want to call it.

Our silly getaway to Frankenmuth (read about it here ) and stuffing our faces with yummy food helped me move forward after Blitzkrieg’s passing and to be ready to adopt Lacey. It looks like I have a little more way to go in the consistent confidence department before I can truly help Lacey (read about it here .) This is the path I’m going to use to get back to my consistently confident, and quirky, fun self.


13 Ways to Rediscover My Self Confidence

I’m breaking this up into three sections: mind and attitude, food and diet, and body and beauty.


4 Mind and Attitude Makeover Goals

1. Put myself on a cleaning schedule. Lacey can’t handle a half day or so of me cleaning the house. I’d like to say it means I shouldn’t clean, but clutter makes me cranky! Action plan: I signed up for Fly lady coaching. FlyLady is a free site that puts you on a house cleaning and task organizing schedule. They send you a daily email (use the digest option because they send a lot of emails during the day) with reminder on that day’s task. The tasks take about 15 minutes to do so you don’t get overwhelmed. This way I get a clean house and am not cranky. I can also work with Lacey on her fear of the sweeper more often and in short spurts so she won’t get overwhelmed either. As it stands, I spend a weekend morning cleaning house and deep cleaning potty accident spots followed by cleaning up more potty accident spots because Lacey freaked out after I spent the morning cleaning the house. Hopefully this will help.

2. Leave the house. I’m not talking about running off and abandoning the family or anything. But I’ve been feeling chained to the house lately because I know Lacey will have an accident because she is so afraid of being abandoned she has an accident if she and I are in separate rooms! So I stay because Husband isn’t used to keep an eagle eye on her like I am and there are more accidents to clean. This isn’t doing any of us any good because:

  • I’m cranky because I’ve cut out a lot of activities.
  • My creativity is in the dumper because see above.
  • Husband isn’t going to learn Lacey’s cues if I am always here to interpret them
  • I noticed a slight change in Lacey’s behavior for the better the day after when I have color guard practice.
  • In other words, I am going to try not to feel guilty that Lacey is panicking because I left the house for two seconds to wheel the
    recycling bin to the curb. She’s never going to learn that I will always come back if I don’t periodically leave the house for a little bit and come

Action plan: Keep going to color guard and band practice, go to the summer festivals and dog rescue events we have almost every weekend in the summer and take Lacey if it is appropriate (and be prepared to leave early if Lacey can’t handle it.) Go on dates with Husband. Spend more time with friends and consider taking that woodworking or dance class I’ve been talking about taking.

3. Work on my 2013 DIY Goals ListDoing projects makes me happy but Lacey panics when I do projects that make noise. Although Lacey is getting used to the idea of sewing machine because it can make toys for her. Lacey is also perfectly fine with any project that involves me making food – of course.  Action plan: We need to put together a rehab plan for Lacey with the behaviorist to help her when she hears scary DIY noises when I am not in the room or house with her. I have exercises I do when I use the sweeper and washing machine. I want to check in with our pro to see how they will work for DIY noises or how to adapt them.

4. Read some fun brain candy books in addition to the dog behavior books I’ve been reading.  Action plan: I finally read The Hunger Games trilogy and I’m probably the last person on the planet to do so. Do you have any book recommendations?

4 Food and Diet Makeover Goals

Husband and I cook from scratch. I already avoid the big no nos of processed food, no high fructose corn syrup, no hydrogenation oils or trans fats, and follow a heart healthy low refined sugar diet. This part of the plan is a check in, tweak, and find new recipes that will keep me keeping on when I’m super busy.

1. Cut down on the constant whole wheat pasta and bread and introduce a variety of starches and grains to my diet. I noticed when I eat rice or rice noodles I don’t as sluggish the next day like I do when I chow down on whole wheat pasta for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. I’m not saying whole wheat or gluten is bad for me. What I’m saying is when Husband cooks dinner it is usually high in carbs because he is a runner, which means I’m unintentionally carbo loading too. Since I am not as athletic, I’m not burning through those carbs or need them in large amounts like Husband does. Besides a little more variety in my diet on the grain side can’t hurt. If you have any recommendations or recipes, I can use them!

2.Keep a food diary. I went to the doctor for a physical physical (everything medically AOK as usual!) Last year I cancelled my appointments with her nutritionist for what I called a food physical when Blitzkrieg got sick. Keeping a food diary helped my doctor diagnose my lactose intolerance. Now that I’m actually following a lactose free diet, I should check in to make sure I’m still getting all of the nutrients I need.

3. Find new lunch ideas and recipes. Leafy green (and lactose free) salads are leaving me hangry by mid afternoon (Hangry = so hungry you are angry.) We don’t always have leftovers to reheat. I should take Husband’s lead and make a few lunch entrees ahead of time I can eat when I stare into the cupboards and fridge and decide there isn’t anything in there I want to eat today – or have time to prepare.

4. Have more quick meal dinner options on hand. On the nights I have color guard practice, I swing through a drive through for dinner since I am rushing in the evenings to marching band practice. It would be much better (and guaranteed lactose free) if I had something homemade in the freezer to heat up and go.

5 Body and Beauty Makeover Goals

1. Make the appointments I’ve been putting off. I need a new eye doctor since mine retired and I just updated a bunch of typos I didn’t catch when I originally posted this post. I can’t remember the last time I went to the dentist so I guess that means I’m due for an exam and cleaning.

2. Get active. I lost 15 of the 25 extra pounds I gained! I till need to lose 10 more to return to the normal range of my Body Mass Index (BMI.) Action plan: Fortunately Lacey is a high energy girl who needs exercise to burn off her nervous energy. I will buy a good pair of walking shoes and a pedometer and hit the bike trail with Lacey in addition to our regular walks around the neighborhood.

3. Give myself a beauty and style makeover. A lot of my jeans and shorts are too big to wear. Yay! It’s time to celebrate my success with some new clothes. Action plan: I subscribed to Elle and got a haircut. I’m toying with dying my hair blue again. Thoughts? Oh, and shopping for cute clothes in my new size is in the plan too.

4. Make an effort to look cute. I do the jeans and slubby t shirt thing way too much since I work at home. Yes I know we are all special snowflakes and as self actualized women do not need to conform to the establishment’s version of beauty but I’m also the first to admit when I look good, I feel good. Action Plan: Donate the size 12 baggy shorts and pants. Take in some of the size 10 pants. Make more of an effort to wear jewelry and put together a cute look instead of tossing on slubby clothes before I walk Lacey. I also need to go through my makeup drawer and discard or replace as needed and consider wearing it from time to time too.

This is my plan. What do you think?

Chivy Egg Salad Recipe

I put myself through college. One semester I didn’t buy a meal plan to save money. I became a decent dorm room cook with the help of a few not quite dorm approved small kitchen appliances.

Sandwiches were (and are) my lunch mainstay. On those occasions when I bought a carton of eggs for a recipe, I had to come up with something that used the rest of the carton quickly else it would spoil in my tiny dorm room refrigerator. Hello egg salad!
Here is a great egg salad recipe you can make in a dorm room with nothing more than electric teakettle. Of course, if you have a real live kitchen don’t let that stop you from making this recipe too.

Chivey Egg Salad Recipe

You will need:6 eggs2 Tablespoons of mayonnaise (approximately 2 condiment packets worth)A squeeze of lemon juice (approximately 1 condiment packet worth)¼ cup of chives (fresh or dried)Salt and pepper to taste
Make it:
1. Hard boil the eggs using one of these two methods.

  • Boil the egg in clear water for 15 minutes in a pot on the stove.


  • Put the eggs in water in an electric tea kettle. Turn it on the tea kettle and let the water boil. Then turn off the tea kettle (mine has an electric shut off when it gets to a rolling boil) and let the eggs sit in the hot water for 15 minutes. (I learned this trick curtsey of Alton Brown.)

The eggs are perfectly hard boiled using an electric teakettle. Who knew?

Truthfully, I have a full-blown kitchen and I usually make eggs in my electric teakettlebecause it is easier. I’m a lazy chef remember?
2. Peel and chop the hard boiled eggs.3. Combine the chopped eggs, mayonnaise, lemon juice, and chive in a bowl. Mix thoroughly.

Tip: If you like houseplants (or dorm room plants) consider growing perennial herbs like chive. Chive is easy to grow, hard to kill,  and adds a nice little zip to your food year round!4. Add salt and pepper to the egg salad to taste.5. Spread it on your favorite bread and chow down!

Buying Spendy Sprouts? Grow them the Cheap and Lazy Way Instead

When they are not mush because I forgot I had them in the refrigerator, I like to kick up my sandwiches and salads with sprouts. I forget so often it doesn’t make sense for me to buy a container of sprouts at the store because my compost bin ends up eating more of them than I do.

It makes more sense for me to grow alfalfa sprouts in small batches on my kitchen windowsill. I am an even lazier gardener than I am a cook. If I can do it, you can too!

Alfalfa spouty goodness

The equipment and directions were simple. The most difficult part was finding and buying alfalfa spout seeds. This really wasn’t hard, I bought the seeds at my Home and Garden show. Health food stores sell sprouting seeds too.

You will need:

  • Alfalfa seeds
  • A sprouter, either a jar with a screen lid (lazy way and already in my house) or buy a seed sprouter.
  • A rubber band or canning jar lid used to attach the screen to the jar (if needed.)
  • Water
  • A small dish or plate is a good idea too, to catch any water that drips out of the jar – experience talking here.

I used a plastic net bag that held fresh garlic for the screen. You can also use muslin, window screen, or netting that allows air to reach the seeds. Some people even use clean pieces of old pantyhose.

Grow it:

1. Put 1 tablespoon of seeds in the jar and cover with 1 cup of water.

2. Attach the screen to the jar and let the seeds soak overnight.

3. The drain the water from the jar/sprouter through the cloth/mesh lid 24 hours later.

4. Rinse the seeds with fresh water and drain the sprouter. Lay the jar on its side or put the tray back in the sprouter in the sun. Sprouts don’t like full sunlight because it can cause the seeds to overheat or dry out. This describes our kitchen window to a T. Perfect!

5. Drain and rinse the seeds twice a day. I rinse my seeds in the morning after breakfast and in the evening after dinner.

6. When the sprouts have grown to their desired height open the jar and chow down!

The first batch of sprouts was delicious! I used them to make my favorite sandwich: Dijon mustard, tomato, Munster cheese, and sprouts, on whole wheat bread. The compost bin didn’t get any of it.

I Ate My Way Around the Columbus Oktoberfest

Husband and I spent last weekend in Germany.
Actually, it was sorta Germany.  Husband and I spent an afternoon at the Columbus Oktoberfest eating lots and lots of fried food.
From Germany.
Well, from local German themed restaurants. That explains the fried curly potato turned nacho thing they called German nachos. 
Hang on to your cholesterol meds we’re going in!
Weinerschnitzle sandwich
With a side of sauerkraut balls
The deep fried Ruben on a stick seems appropriate since the event is at the state fairgrounds. The state fair loves their crazy fried food on a stick.
After the fried food fest, which I knew my stomach would remind me about later, why not kill the diet with a little dessert?
Gorgeous funnel cakes!
Thank you Germany for funnel cakes
Schmidt’s famous creampuffs the size of a softball!
This is a two person cream puff

 We washed it down with a demi tasse of dark German beer

After drinking one of these (over the course of the entire afternoon) you won’t notice the off key singer in the bands or that the prices are three times higher than Disneyland. Well, not as much.
This means while we had fun, Husband and I thought Columbus Oktoberfest is overpriced and overrated. You to buy individual tickets at $1 each for all food and drink purchases to cleverly disguise that an 8 ticket order of chicken really cost $8.00 a serving or the beers we drank (with the souvenir mug) actually cost $15.00 a mug.
I understand once you go to an amusement park, festival, or fair, everything automatically costs more money because they have you. I get it. I grew up in a tourist area and had summer jobs at more than my fair share of amusement parks. The difference is when I go to anywhere else; they don’t try to fake me out and try to  hide the high cost of the stuff I’m going to buy. If you are going to charge $6.00 a Schnitzel fine. Do not disguise it as six tickets to fake people out. Be honest and charge $6.00.
Husband and I could have had dinner at any of the restaurants in attendance for less money and bought more food (and made TWO VISITS!) than we did at Oktoberfest. We spent over $60 on two beers, a Weinerschnitzle sandwich, an order of sauerkraut balls, the Ruben, and a cream puff. 
Add to that the off pitch singers in the bands of varying quality make us feel Columbus Oktoberfest is more flash than substance.  It was disappointing.
My advice? Have dinner at Schmidt’s instead. It’s just as tasty, you’ll hear better music, and it is a much better return on investment.

Extreme Couponing for Healthy Food Experiment – One Year Later

One year ago, I started couponing again. In the past, I didn’t save as much money with coupons as I should, because I often used the coupon to buy an item because just because I had a coupon for it.

This time, I was determined to do it smarter. I tried the extreme couponing practice of buying and stocking up on items when I can buy it when it is on sale AND with a coupon. Coupon people call this stacking.

I made some personal green extreme couponing rules for myself to make sure I was still trying tobuy healthy food and snacks for less than regular price (our house rule is no trans fats, no high fructose corn syrup, or hydrogenated oils) and the green cleaning and health and beauty products my family prefers.
I started saving 40% or more once I subscribed to We Use Coupons. That way I can scan sale and coupon match up information when I check my email. We Use Coupons also lets you know what the coupon and store limits are for the stores you shop.
Extreme Couponing Pros

An example of the items I bought on sale or with a coupon or both.

  • I average 40% savings on my groceries. My goal isn’t to get carts of junky food free. My goal is to pay less than full price for the ingredient type food my family eats so I have money to put toward the green and natural items that don’t go on sale or issue coupons.
  • I actually read the weekly sales fliers and shop according to the sales – for the most part. However, if we are out of staple items like milk, eggs, etc. I’ll buy them whether they are on sale or not.
  • I save money on fresh produce because I try to time our need with my grocery store’s good monthly produce sale (that I did not realize they did.)
  • I’m a seasonal shopper more than I thought I was. I now know there are items such as vinegar that I didn’t think went on sale will go on sale if it is the right time of year – before Easter and at the end of summer for canning season.
  • We can afford some food that we thought was to expensive to buy regularly because I buy them in season and they are on sale. Hellllllo fresh summer berries!

Husband likes flavored creamer to save him from the spendy coffee shop coffee near his office. I bought the cheapola sale vodka to make lavender essential oil from the lavender in my garden. I bought all of the fresh vegetables via a 10 for $10 get the 11th item free sale!

  • The money I save on ingredient type food I can put towards healthy and green items that do not go on sale. Although some of these items go on sale during Earth Month that is when I may buy an extra one for later.
  • I’m surprised that there are more coupons and sales for the ingredient type food and green products I buy. It pays to skim the weekly Smart Source flier I get if I want it or not and monthly printable coupon databases.
  • Now that I have a few extra items in my pantry, my grocery shopping trips aren’t as frequent or as large as they were a year.
  • I saved money to put toward Blitzkrieg’s chemotherapy treatments by eating from the pantry and not grocery shopping (besides milk and a few things for Blitzkrieg) for the past month and a half.

Extreme Couponing Cons

  • In the beginning, grocery shopping took forever because I was looking for certain things and went to more grocery stores.
  • In the beginning, I got “the fever” even though I swore I would not. Fortunately, going to more than one store every weekend got real old real quick. Fortunately after Earth Day the match ups and my needs decreased to a more normal every other week kind of thing.

We don’t eat prepared foods. I bent that rule for the frozen perogies which had a serious deal going because it was Lent and Frozen Food Month.

  • Since I’m selective about what I buy, there are weeks that it’s more miss than hit. That’s fine because it helped me get over the “coupon fever” and thought that I was missing out on something (I hate missing out on anything.)
  • I got burned a couple of times on ingredients because I didn’t check the ingredient list on the product until I got home because the deal was good on some BBQ sauce, steak sauce, and salad dressing.

  • Sometimes my family did not like the stuff I bought.  Fortunately, I did not clear a shelf and buy tons of stuff. I never do. See my rules.
  • Carrying around a bunch of store loyalty cards is a blessing and a curse. A curseful mess until I organized the loyalty cards on a key ring in my purse. A blessing because of the extra savings and in the case of the Godiva card, one free truffle a month just for showing the card in the store. Woot!


Blitzkrieg, my one-eyed rescue Pekingese, Overseer of All Food Prep, and muse has cancer.

My world is crumbling.

This is Bear. He is my first toy and best friend.
Two weeks ago, my husband and I dropped Blitzkrieg off at the vet for a grooming appointment. Later that day, we get a call from the groomer telling us one of Blitzkrieg’s broken teeth (from his abused like a punching bag days) is infected past the gum line. She asks if the vet can pull it. Of course! Maybe this is why Blitzkrieg was snoring heavier than usual?

We get a second call from the vet. Blitzkrieg’s tonsils are swollen. They wanted our permission to do a biopsy – absolutely!

The biopsy results came back.


Husband and I sat on the sofa, held each other, and cried.

Blitzkrieg tried to comfort us.

That made us cry harder.

We haven’t stopped.

It’s not fair it will end this way given the horrible 18 months that Blitzkrieg lived through in the beginning of his life. Blitzkrieg is missing an eye and teeth because he was hit and kicked. I couldn’t pick up a TV remote, book, or hairbrush without Blitzkrieg flinching and preparing for a smack. His behavior reminded me of abused children. He clearly wanted love but he watched my hands very closely just in case. It broke my heart. Every. Single. Time.

It is through sheer hard work, education, and training for the first three years we had Blitzkrieg that Husband and I have the happy go lucky confident goof ball you see on Lazy Budget Chef. Blitzkrieg doesn’t care about the remote control anymore unless it is taking the place of where he wants to rest his chin on my leg while I watch TV.

How many one eyed dogs do you know that do agility weave poles?

Do you believe a dog professional told us, “you can’t train a Pekingese”?

Blitzkrieg still twists and turns when I pet him, not out of fear but to lean against my hand. Behaviorists say this is how dogs hug back. I have to spell the word brush because Blitzkrieg knows the word and gets excited. After a brushing, he earns treats. Blitzkrieg is the smartest dog I have ever known.
Blitzkrieg is a good candidate for chemotherapy. We moved forward with the aggressive treatment the oncologist recommended because we caught it early. My husband and I are determined to give Blitzkrieg the best quality of life for as long as we can.

See this motion blur peeps? That’s why they call me Blitzkrieg!

My husband and I are trying to focus on the outpouring of love and support from our friends and Blitzkrieg’s on line fans (He’s more popular on my blogs than I am!) There are a lot of people who have said some terrible things to us and think we’re crazy and stupid for treating Blitzkrieg. Husband is floored that so many kind “strangers” have been so supportive.

The oncologist put Blitzkrieg on steroids to reduce the swelling in his back legs and tonsils. Blitzkrieg had his first chemotherapy treatment – only six more months to go! The hospital says Blitzkrieg is responding to the initial treatment. Our previous behavioral work with our family vet is paying off. Blitzkrieg was a very good patient and quickly charmed the hospital staff. Rumor has it; by visit number two, Blitzkrieg had several vet techs wrapped around his paw. That’s my boy!

However, I don’t have the heart to tell Blitzkrieg that being on medically prescribed steroids disqualifies him from competing in the London Olympics.

What?! Are you kidding me IOC? You made that up because you

don’t want me to win gold in the Biathlon this Summer, right?!

(The kid’s on a roll. I’m not going to correct him that Biathlon is a Winter Olympic event, or that he hasn’t been training for it, or that we don’t even own the equipment to make biathlon training possible. I’m especially not bringing up the fact Blitzkrieg doesn’t have thumbs because he thinks it’s discriminatory when I do even thought I think thumbs are the thing that makes target shooting possible. )

Every dog responds differently to chemo. Our vet hospital focuses on quality of life. Husband and I we are determined to do that too. Big trips and plans are immediately cancelled and replaced with local trips to fun dog places and paying for dog chemo. We’re determined to give our tough little dog with the crappy beginning the best ending a dog could possibly have.

Could You? Would You? Dumpster Dive for Savings?

I went somewhere I thought I’d never go to save money – into a dumpster.

Let me explain.

As I was complaining about how my city makes us drop our recycling off at the city dumpster (because I forgot this errand twice that day), I chuck Bag Number One into the full dumpster with a practiced sky hook.

As I’m planning the trajectory of Bag Number Two, I see them.

A stack of flyers in door bags – GOLD!

But not for the reason you think.

I have a dog. Therefore I need doggie pick up bags. We’re running low on potty bags and plastic advertising door bags work well for this purpose.

I’m excited about finding free garbage – to use as garbage.

I’m weird like that.

I grab a couple of bags from the top of the bin and dump the contents of the door bags back into the dumpster.

Then I remember reading about people dumpster diving for coupons. I took a peek into the next door bag. Sure enough it held an unexpired coupon flyer.

I grabbed a couple.


I ended up with forty.

My coupon strategy is to clip coupons for anything we regularly use from the coupon flyer. Clipping a coupon doesn’t mean I’ll automatically use it. It just makes it easier to find in my coupon file if I want to use it. I leave the rest of the coupons attached to the flyer and store them in a folder in my grocery shopping tote bag.

There wasn’t much for me to clip from the stack. Even though I had enough flyers to clip 10-20 coupons for each item, I clipped 4 like coupons at the most. For me, couponing is not about getting a bunker full of nail polish on the cheap or clearing store shelves just because I can (I don’t work that hard at getting all of the coupons necessary to pull that off. LAZY Budget Chef, remember?) Using coupons is one more money saving strategy I use to save money on the staple items my family regularly uses so I can put the difference toward healthy things that don’t go on sale regularly.

What am doing with the rest of the coupons? I released the rest of the coupons and flyers back into the wild.

It’s illegal to sell coupons. You can legally give or trade coupons to others free of charge though. That’s what I’m doing with the restaurant coupons. I gave a few to a friend because it is her favorite restaurant. I dropped the rest of the uncut flyers off at the recycling dumpster from whence they came.

I was more excited about not needing to buy potty bags than finding hot sauce coupons anyway.

Have you gone dumpster diving? Would you?

Rothbury Farms Black Bean Burgers

One of the most wonderful things about being a Balancing Act Community Blogger is that they like to challenge me to develop recipes with a new to me ingredient like Rothbury Farms croutons.

It’s even better when that challenge email hits my inbox after I found out about it after watching a segment on The Balancing Act and before a planned look for it at the grocery store trip.

Why? Because RothBurby Farms croutons are one of the rare brands that are transfat free, high fructose corn syrup free, hydrogenated oil free, AND are made with whole wheat flour.

As a Budget Chef, I could most certainly make my own croutons without all of the nasty stuff I don’t want my family to eat. As a Lazy Chef with real world responsibilities, there isn’t always time to do so. As a result, every burger and meatloaf I make is soupy because it lacks a trans fat free crouton binder.

Let’s change that, shall we?

Spicy Shawarma Black Bean Burgers with Rothbury Farms Croutons

Sometimes I like to make a meatless meal to keep things interesting. It’s easier on the budget and my waistline after binging on holiday cookie for the last month. I haven’t found a black bean burger recipe that truly satisfies. I decided this is the perfect opportunity to create one!

Spicy Shawarma Black Bean Burgers

2 cups cooked dried black beans or 1 16 oz can of drained and rinsed black beans
½ chopped onion
1-2 cloves minced garlic
1 egg
3 tablespoons Shawarma spices
1 cup crushed Rothbury Farms Organic Seasoned Croutons

1.Crush the croutons in a blender, food processor, or with a rolling pin in the Rothbury Farms bag. Guess which one I did? Yep. Rolling pin. OK, I really smacked the bag with the stainless steel measuring cup I pulled out of the cupboard to measure the crushed croutons. Rooting through the lower cabinet for a rolling pin was too hard. Use whatever method you like that crushes your croutons.

2. Use a potato masher to mix the black beans, onion, garlic, egg, Shawarma spices, in a large bowl while mashing the beans.

3. Mix the crushed Rothbury Farms Organic Seasoned Croutons into the bean mixture.

Optional: Allow the mixture to sit for an hour in the refrigerator to allow the Shawarma spices to marinate for a stronger flavor. I didn’t do this while I was developing the recipe and my burgers tasted great. However, the extra burgers I froze for later, tasted a bit better. Let your taste buds and cooking timeline be your guide.

4. Roll the mixture into ball and flatten it to make a patty.

5. Grill the black bean burgers or fry them in light oil on stove over medium heat.
6. Chow down!

I buy my shawarma spices premixed at a local international grocery store. Most of those little local shops have better price and selection on spices than my traditional chain grocery store. If you can’t find premixed shawarma spices for sale, use this shawarma spice recipe to make your own.

Disclaimer: I am a Balancing Act Community Blogger and received samples of Rothbury Farms products to facilitate this review. All opinions are my own.

10 Tasty Turkey Leftover Recipes

My favorite part of every holiday meal is the leftover turkey! That extra marinade time in the refrigerator makes cooking with turkey leftovers the following day extra tasty. Sure, you can make traditional leftover turkey sandwiches, but why not try stretching your taste buds and dinner dollars with these leftover turkey recipes?

1. Crockpot Turkey Stock Homemade turkey and chicken stock tastes so much better than any broth that comes out of a carton.

2. Southwestern Turkey Soup Recipe Kick those leftovers in a spicy direction with this is Southern soup.
Photo courtesy of Taste of Home

3. Turkey Pot Pie This recipe is a far cry from the frozen gravy with one pea, one carrot, and one cube of turkey you find in the frozen food section of the grocery store.

Photo courtesy of Family Fun

4. BBQ Chicken Sandwich You can easily substitute turkey for chicken.

Photo courtesy of Eating Well

5. Somewhat Turkey Italian Wedding Soup This is my husband’s variation of Italian Wedding Soup. Instead of meatballs, he went with turkey.

6. Curried Turkey Salad Curry adds an updated and tasty zing to the traditional turkey salad sandwich.

Photo courtesy of Diana Rattray

7. Turkey Tetrazzini Hang on your cholesterol! The Pioneer Woman’s recipe calls for cream cheese and bacon. Hmmm….bacon….

Photo courtesy of The Pioneer Woman

8. Meaty Spinach Manicotti Recipe Try taking your turkey leftovers in an Italian direction. You’ll be glad you did. Bonus points to this recipe for encouraging everyone to eat their spinach!

Photo courtesy of Taste of Home

9. Turkey and Noodles Turkey and noodles is a favorite and filling quick meal.

10. Turkey, Cheese, and Pasta Wheels A round up of turkey leftovers recipes wouldn’t be complete with at least another  casserole. Pasta wheels make it fun for the kiddos, but you always can use what you have on hand if you don’t have pasta wheels.

Photo courtesy of Diana Rattray

What are you favorite leftover turkey recipes?