helpful tips

FREE Motivational Materials

Found some awesome resources for all of you out there who are looking for some money-making motivation!

Firstly, Suze Orman is offering her personal finance online course for FREE right now. Suze Orman has been called “a force in the world of personal finance” and a “one-woman financial advice powerhouse” by USA Today. She’s a two-time Emmy Award-winning television host, New York Times mega best selling author, magazine and online columnist, writer/producer, and one of the top motivational speakers in the country — she’s hailed as America’s most recognized expert on personal finance. That all being said, I think I trust her to guide me in the world of personal finance and how to best manage our family’s money. FREE for a limited time, click here to sign up for her online courses. The gift code “TODAY” will already be activated when you click through the link. You’ll be taken to an online dashboard where you can view the lessons at your leisure.

The second awesome resource that was found is this free audiobook from SharkTank called “Jump Start Your Business: How to Launch and Grow a Business from Concept to Cash”. I don’t know if you do, but I catch the show on ABC from time to time, and it is pretty addicting! This book is filled with practical advice and instructions from the Sharks themselves and is the ultimate resource for anyone thinking about starting a business or growing the one they have. Be an entrepreneur and get out there!

Freezer Meals: Week 11

Back to basics here, everyone! I have three VERY different, but VERY delicious freezer-friendly meals today to make your life just that much easier. Don’t forget that when you try these out, give us your feedback! Did you add extra ingredients, leave some out? Do you think the cooking time should be increased, decreased? Do you have different ideas on how to allow this to keep for longer in the freezer? We want to hear everything, big or small! Comment section is there for YOU.

First things first, I wanted to talk about frozen pizza. We’ve all been down this road. They’re easy, they’re good, and they’re terrible for you. The ingredients in these if you check out the box are truly brutal, and it’s tough to feed your family something that seems so unhealthy and chemically-laden. Solution is here! Make your OWN frozen pizzas, recipe courtesy of IntentionalByGrace.com. Here’s how she does it:

Frozen Pizza

Frozen Pizza [http://intentionalbygrace.com/homemade-frozen-pizzas/#_a5y_p=3296016]

  1. She makes her own pizza dough. You could store buy (I know that a lot of grocery stores sell raw pizza dough), but this is more cost efficient, and you’ll know exactly what you’re putting into it, which is only 8 ingredients, and nothing funky: water, yeast, honey, olive oil, salt, flour, italian seasoning, and garlic powder.
  2. Once you’re all set with mixing and letting the dough rise, preheat the oven and cook the pizza dough WITHOUT toppings for about 7-8 minutes to allow for a good base to build on.
  3. She makes her own sauce too! Who’s shocked?! You can, of course, use store-bought, but I love love love the idea of knowing all of the ingredients you and your family are eating. She simply uses tomato paste, sauce, water, garlic powder, basil, parsley, organo, thyme, salt, papper, olive oil, honey, and Parmesan cheese. The full recipe is in here and can be made in a stockpot or crockpot. Once done – this sauce is totally freezable – simply put in a tightly sealed plastic bag.
  4. Pizza topping ideas: since we’re freezing, use things that will freeze well. She recommends cheese, pepperoni, pineapple, onion, chicken, ground beef or turkey, green onions, olives – most things do freeze well, so go with your standard toppings!
  5. Once your pizza is assembled, wrap each pizza with plastic wrap and finish with foil. The foil allows easy writing to label which toppings are on which pizza – love it!
  6. To cook, preheat your oven to 425, remove all the wrap, place pizza on a pan, and cook for about 15 minutes. Simple!

Next up…Slow Cooker Tuscan Stew from Sweet Peas and Saffron. With the weather getting a bit cooler, I crave soup, and it’s one of my absolute favorite things to make since it’s easy, inexpensive, and I can eat it for days. It’s one of the only foods where I can say with all confidence that the leftovers are better than fresh! That overnight in the fridge or freezer really just must enhance all the flavors – blows my mind every time. Here’s a new recipe that I found that looks so comforting and delicious – cannot wait to try. Sometimes a beef stew is almost TOO hearty, so I love this chicken-based spin.

Slow Cooker Tuscan Stew

Slow Cooker Tuscan Stew [http://sweetpeasandsaffron.com/2014/09/slow-cooker-tuscan-chicken-stew.html]

Simply add boneless chicken thighs, carrots, celery, onion, garlic, tomatoes, potatoes, chicken stock, tomato paste, white wine, and fennel seeds into the slow cooker and cook for 4-6 hours. Just before serving, mix cornstarch and water together, and add in balsamic vinegar, rosemary, and salt – throw combination into the soup. Serve with crusty bread or a side salad! This sounds soooo good. If you want to freeze this prior to putting in the slow cooker – easy! Just get your ingredients together, defrost, and dump.

I’m dying to use my slow cooker more (she notes that she uses a 5 quart one) and this sounds like a great, easy opportunity to play around a little bit.

This stew looks chunky and hearty and perfect to fill up my family on a cold, cozy night! Enjoy!

Next and last…Healthified Kale and Portobello Lasagna. When I think about freezer meals, my mind immediately goes to lasagna, and then I think, ugh, not healthy enough. I always miss a more veggie-laden meal. But the Food Network puts such a healthy, unique spin on freezable lasagna! I can’t wait to try this recipe.

Healthified Kale and Portobello Lasagna

Healthified Kale and Portobello Lasagna [http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/food-network-kitchens/healthified-kale-and-portobello-lasagna-recipe.html]

This only takes about 25 minutes of prepwork, and execution of the layers is almost exactly like putting together a more standard lasagna dish. Puree roasted red peppers, oregano, salt, pepper, and sugar in a food processor until smooth. Mix together mozzarella, ricotta, and egg whites in a separate bowl. Heat and saute portobello mushrooms and kale with red pepper flakes and set aside.

In a baking dish, start layering! Sauce, lasagna noodles, cheese mixture, kale and mushroom mixture. At this point, you can freeze if you so please! Plastic wrap + tin foil to make sure this lasts as long as possible. When you’re ready to cook, thaw, cover with aluminum foil only, and bake for about 50 minutes on 350. Then sprinkle with some additional mozzarella and cook uncovered until bubbly. Yum!

Enjoy these! Let us know how they go!

20% Off – Amazon Costumes!

You can get 20% off of Amazon Costumes today through 10/4 by using the promo code: TRICKTREAT at checkout. Click here to see what costumes are eligible for the discount!

There’s really fewer things that kill me more than overpriced costumes that your child will only ever wear once – so I love this deal! They have adult and children costumes + some really fun accessories. You’ll definitely find something you’re sure to like. Hurry up!

Freezer Meals: Week 10

A slightly belated freezer meals rundown this week, but better late than never! This week is absolutely flying by – I forgot yesterday was even Wednesday!

In honor of #WorldVegetarianDay, I decided that this week should highlight vegetarian freezer-friendly meals! Yay! If you are missing the meat, you can always sub in your favorite kind – but these are all really fun crowd pleasers.

Eggplant Parmigiana

Eggplant Parmesan

Eggplant Parmesan [dishmaps.com]

Fast Top Ten provides us with a super easy, traditional recipe for one of my all-time favorite vegetarian meals: eggplant parm. To make the freezer friendly version, you simply assemble the dish, but don’t bake it. Wrap tightly with foil and freeze for up to 3 months. When you’re ready to enjoy, thaw completely and bake as directed.

The general recipe here is pretty simple. Simply make the sauce with a food processor and simmer. Slice, coat eggplant with flour, egg, and breadcrumbs, and fry until golden – 2-3 minutes per side. Then assemble the dish in a baking dish – tomato sauce, layering eggplant, parmesean, and mozzarella. Bake until lightly browned and bubbling (whenever you decide to eat this) for about 40-45 minutes.

Baked Mozzarella Sticks

Baked Mozzarella Sticks

Baked Mozzarella Sticks [momontimeout.com]

Who doesn’t love mozzarella sticks? MomOnTimeout.com gives us a slightly healthier, freezer friendly version of this bar food staple. These are perfect for snacks, appetizers, or game day finger foods!

Here’s the deal: this recipe is crazy easy, so long as your cheese sticks are frozen completely solid – otherwise these get goopy and sloppy really quickly! Unwrap the amount of cheese sticks of your choice, cut in half, and pop in the freezer. Set out 3 bowls – flour, egg, and breadcrumbs/parmesean combo. You know the drill – dredge in flour, dip in egg, finish with bread crumbs. You can always do a second coat if you feel you need it. Place on a lined baking sheet and place in the freezer for an hour. These can stay in the freezer as long as you want (store appropriately if it’s going to be awhile). Once you’re ready to bake, line a baking sheet with foil, spray with cooking spray, and line up your sticks. Bake for 3-5 minutes, turn, and bake for another 3-5 minutes. Serve with marinara! Yum!

Garlic and Chive Quinoa Cakes

Quinoa Cakes

Quinoa Cakes [seasonedtotaste.wordpress.com]

I am fully deep in the quinoa trend. I love the texture and the ease with which it’s made – and of course, the lack of guilt I feel eating it. OnceAMonthMeals puts a new twist on quinoa with their garlic and chive quinoa cakes.

Mix cooked quinoa, eggs, salt, pepper, garlic, shallots, and chives in a bowl and add mozzarella, Parmesan, flour, and panko. Mix well and let stand. Press into round cakes and saute patties for about 6 minutes on each side, placing on paper towels once done to remove excess oil. Allow to cool and divide into freezer bags to freeze! To serve, simply reheat in the microwave for 1-2 minutes.

These are perfect for an appetizer or snack, or a full meal!

Make #NationalCoffeeDay Every Day

Happy Tuesday! I hope you’re all enjoying the #NationalCoffeeDay freebies! I know I am – I just headed to Dunkin’ Donuts and got a free medium iced coffee – easy! I was certainly not the only one to know about the deal. The line was long, but it moved fast.

Unfortunately, #NationalCoffeeDay can’t be everyday, so I can’t get free coffee every day. That being said, I waste SO much unnecessary money on iced coffee. I’m addicted. I always tell myself that I should be making it on my own, and doing some research really confirmed that. This seems SO easy.

Join me in making your own iced coffee! Don’t be intimidated. FrugalBeautiful makes iced coffee easy with their recipe that I found this morning. I’m inspired!

Things you need:

  • Coffee grounds of your choice
  • A jar
  • A strainer

Directions:

  • Measure our 6 ounces of coarsely ground beans with 6 cups of cool or cold water. Use a large pitcher, or a mason jar, combine, and seal. Shake the mixture to make sure the grounds don’t lump together.
  • Leave your coffee mixture out for a few hours (overnight, if you can)
  • Strain the mixture, preferably with a strainer, or even a coffee filter
  • Pour over ice and add your milk/sugar of choice!
  • Store any leftovers in the fridge.

Truly that easy – I need to try this! I can’t imagine how much money I’d save.

Freezer Meals: Week 9

Happy Wednesday & Happy Freezer Meal Day!

I’ve heard a lot about freezer meals that Pinterest’ers refer to as ‘dumps’. A ‘dump’ is when you pre-prepare a meal, freeze it, and simply dump it in a slow cooker to complete. They’re simple, convenient, and silly-easy.

I thought that today, I’d bring you in on the ‘dump’ theme with 3 recipes that follow this protocol.

First up…

Terriyaki Dump Chicken

Terriyaki Dump Chicken

Terriyaki Dump Chicken [http://acultivatednest.com/2009/02/im-just-dump-cook/]

Dump the following ingredients in a gallon size freezer bag and squeeze out as much air as you can and seal: 1 clove crushed garlic, minced ginger, soy sauce, brown sugar, cider vinegar, rice wine vinegar, 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts. Freeze. To cook, defrost overnight (or you could always go from frozen and just increase your cooking time). Take your bag and dump into a greased baking dish. Cook at 350 in a preheated oven until done. Usually this will take 25-35 minutes. If you want to cook in a crockpot, cook on low for 6 hours or high for 4 hours until chicken is no longer pink.

That’s all – enjoy!

Hearty Beef Stew

Hearty Beef Stew

Hearty Beef Stew [http://www.mommysavers.com/crock-pot-freezer-meals-hearty-beef-stew/]

MommySavers provides us with such a great recipe here – an all-time comfort food. And it’s easy! Simply add the following ingredients, raw, into 2 bags: cubed stew meat, 1 small-medium white onion, 2-3 stalks of celery, 30 baby carrots, 1 cup frozen peas, 8 baby red potatoes, 1 can diced tomatoes. You’ll then need to prepare and mix a sauce: tomato sauce, tomato paste, garlic, garlic and herb seasoning, pepper, and beef bullion. Pour sauce divided into each of the two bags, zip up, and freeze. When you’re ready to cook, thaw in the fridge overnight, pour into crock pot, and cook on low 6-8 hours or high-3-4 hours. Then you’re ready to serve!

Stickin’ Chicken

Stickin Chicken

Stickin Chicken [http://midwestmodernmomma.com/dump-chicken-recipes/]

Not only does this recipe have a fun name, but it’s just insanely easy! All you need for stickin’ chicken are boneless, skinless chicken breasts, 1/4 cup of peanut butter, soy sauce, garlic powder, cayenne pepper, and salt&pepper. Add all to a bag, zip up, and freeze. When you’re ready to cook, preheat your oven to 350 and bake for 35-40 minutes. If you want to crockpot, cook for 6-8 hours on low or 3-4 hours on high. Easy, easy! Enjoy.

Freezer Meals: Week 8

Can’t even believe it’s already Wednesday! Also can’t believe it’s the 8th week of Freezer Meals here at LCFR! Time really flies.

I’ve found some great recipes this week. The theme this week? Healthy chicken! These are all freezer meals that satisfy even the pickiest of eaters, as well as meals that are essentially guilt-free. Enjoy!

Oven Baked Chicken Strips

Freezer Ready Chicken Strips

Freezer Ready Chicken Strips [http://happymoneysaver.com/oven-baked-chicken-strips/]

HappyMoneySaver promises a crunchy chicken strip with their tried and true recipe. The secret? Italian style panko bread crumbs.

They’re crazy easy – grab 3 bowls and add flour, salt, and pepper to the first, eggs to the second, and Italian-style bread crumbs to the third. Slice up a chicken breast into strips and dip first into the flour mixture, then the egg wash, and then the bread crumbs.

After the chicken is coated in the panko bread crumbs, place the chicken on a parchment covered baking sheet, and place in freezer for 2-3 hours or until frozen solid. Then, transport them into a freezer safe Ziploc bag and freeze for future use.

To bake, simply place the frozen chicken strips on greased or parchment covered baking sheet and bake at 350 degrees or for 30 minutes until cooked through. Serve with the dipping sauce of your choice. Our family loves honey mustard!

Chicken Wrapped Asparagus

Chicken Wrapped Asparagus

Chicken Wrapped Asparagus [http://freezerfriendly.blogspot.com/2013/11/chicken-wrapped-asparagus.html?m=1]

Freezer Friendly blog promises an insanely easy and delicious experience with this recipe. If the promise isn’t enough, you could always refer to the fact that this recipe only requires 4 ingredients! All you need are chicken breasts, 1 head of garlic, 2 bunches of asparagus, salt & pepper.

First, you take the chicken breasts and filet them. Place inside a plastic bag and pound them thin with a mallet (or anything you have handy!). Stick 5-6 sprigs of asparagus into the middle with chopped garlic, salt, and pepper. Tie it up with some kitchen twine. Wrap each individually in foil and freeze!

When you are ready to cook them, unwrap and cook in oven on 350 for 35-45 minutes until golden.

Pretty simple, don’t you think? Can’t wait to try this one!

Easy Greek Chicken

Easy Greek Chicken

Easy Greek Chicken [http://www.livingwellspendingless.com/2015/04/22/easy-greek-chicken/]

LivingWellSpendingLess gives us yet another crazy easy chicken recipe that’s immensely freezer friendly. Here’s what you need: lemons, olive oil, garlic, salt, pepper, cracked red pepper, fresh rosemary, boneless chicken breast. Whisk together all the ingredients and divide into freezer bags. Marinate the chicken in bag for 30 minutes or longer (if you want to go straight to cooking), or, if freezing, simply press air out from the bag and toss in the freezer.

When you’re ready to cook, thaw if frozen and grill 7-8 minutes per side, basting with additional marinade. Alternatively, you can pour the contents into a slow cooker and cook on low for 4-5 hours or on high for 2-3 hours. And wait – another option! Place in casserole dish and bake at 400 degrees for 30-40 minutes.

We like this served over rice with a side salad. Perfect meal!

There you have it for this weeks freezer recipes! Let us know how you like them!

FREE Ebook on Canning, Pickling, and Freezing

I see a lot of ebooks out there in the world every day that are free – if you aren’t aware of these resources, always check Amazon! A ton of ‘classics’ are free and they run a good deal of temporary promotions outside of these as well.

There’s one in particular that is being offered for a limited time. Canning, Pickling and Freezing with Irma Harding: Recipes to Preserve Food, Family, and the American Way is a book that is not only FREE right now, but one that will help you maintain some money-saving habits through the process of food preservation.

These days, canning preservation is not nearly as common as it was awhile back, but it’s an incredibly budget friendly way to maintain food.

Reviews look incredible – say that it is a must-read for canning newbies, and that the instructions make things sound super easy.

Check it out! Let us here know how you fare!

#NationalTVDinnerDay

Happy Thursday! This week is flying by! I’m thinking every week should only last 4 days…agree?

Today, so I hear, is #NationalTVDinnerDay. I’m not here to support the TV dinner, but rather give you some history on this craze and provide you with equally as easy, equally as convenient, but so, so, so much healthier of options!

According to Wikipedia, the term ‘TV dinner’ is a genericized trademark originally used for a brand of packaged meal developed in 1953 by C.A. Swanson (sound familiar?). In the United States, the term remains synonymous with any prepackaged dinner purchased frozen in a supermarket and heated at home.

I’ll admit, I have been guilty of these, as they are junkily delicious and so easy to pop in the microwave, but I couldn’t tell you the last time I had one, as luckily, in the past decade or so, I’ve become more health-conscious.

To give you a breakdown of health concerns with TV dinners, there are quite a few:

  • The freezing process degrades the taste of food and the meals are thus heavily processed with extra salt and fat to compensate.
  • Stabilizing the product for a long period generally means that companies will use partially hydrogenated vegetable oils for some items (usually dessert), which are high in trans fat.
  • Generally, these meals contain preservatives such as BHT

I know that they’re very convenient, but guess what else is just as convenient? HOMEMADE FREEZER MEALS!

I’ve placed links to all of my compilations of freezer meals to date for your convenience below:

Week 1

Week 2

Week 3

Week 4

Week 5

Week 6

Week 7

Take a look, put a little bit of extra effort in, and call it your very own version of a TV dinner. Enjoy!