Wednesday, October 29, 2014

How to Host a Couples Shower

I love the idea of a couples shower.  It's like a more relaxed version of an engagement party.  A chance for family and friends to get together with no pressure.

Who should Host?

The obvious answer is the bridal party.  All of the bridal party, groomsmen included.  This will be a fun way for the bridal party to get to know each other and bond over the planning.  The maid of honor (MOH) and the Best Man (BM) should take the lead, but tasks (and costs) should be spread out over the entire group.

Who to Invite?

Friends and families.  It doesn't have to be all couples, but if you invite singles, make sure that you '& guest' their invite.  Remember the rule of thumb, do not invite anyone who will not be invited to the wedding.  Always consult the bride and groom before finalizing the guest list.

Invitations should be mailed, digital reminders can be sent a week before.  Do not post it on the wedding website or Facebook page unless you have invited everyone on the wedding guest list.  Invitations should be mailed 4-6 weeks before the event.

When to Have it?

Typically couples showers are held on Saturday night.  But, with any shower it can be held in the afternoon.  Actually, it might be better in the afternoon, especially if it being held during a popular sporting event.  It would be fun to set-up a TV and let the conversations naturally flow.  Planning it at least 6 weeks prior to the wedding.

What to Serve?

The easiest idea is to host a good old fashion bbq.  No fuss, paper plates, easy clean up.  Put the men in charge of organizing the grills, and then manning them.  They should also be in charge of bar, task them with developing a themed drink, which will help you keep the costs down.


For this type of shower, with the bride and groom's approval, it is completely acceptable to state on the invitation "No Gifts Please" - if they do want gifts that is appropriate to.  If that is the case gifts should be opened in front of the guests.


Yes!  Divide into teams boys vs girls teams if you have some singles that are attending and go old school.  Think water balloon toss, three legged races.  The games don't have to be traditional, although how much fun would it be to watch the men put together wedding dresses out of toilet paper?  I'm just saying...

Theme Ideas

-Theme/Colors of the Wedding
-Stock the Bar (everyone brings a bottle)
-Fill the Garage (everyone brings a tool)

Please do not do the following:

-make it a potluck
-ask the guest to write their address on a envelope for the Thank you note
-send out a Facebook invite

Happy Planning!

Monday, October 27, 2014

Turkey Meatballs and Gravy

A couple of days ago I started my series "The $10 Dinner" and detailed how I shop to keep my grocery budget low.  As promised, below is the first in a series of recipes that will keep your family and your wallet happy.

What you Need:

1 lb of ground turkey - $3.00 (bought on sale)
1/4 cup of unseasoned bread crumbs - $0.00 - (made from leftover bread heels)
1 egg yolk $0.17 (1.99 per dozen)
1 tsp of cumin - $0.05 probably less based on # of uses per jar
1/4 cup of finely chopped white onion $0.16 (onions are 0.79 lb / 5 uses)
1 TSBP of whoreshire sauce  $0.10
Salt and Pepper to taste
1 lb of green beans $0.99
1 TBSP of olive oil - $0.05
1 packet of dry turkey gravy mix - $1.09

1 cup of milk $0.31 ($2.49 for a half gallon/8 cups)
4 russet potatoes, cleaned and diced - $0.80 ($2.49 for 5 lb bag - 13 potatoes)
4 TBSP of butter  $0.37 (2.99 lb/4 sticks/2)
4 TBSP of milk  $0.15

Grand Total: $7.24 (maybe I should call this the $7 dinner!)

How to do It:

Preheat the oven to 350.

Peel and dice your potatoes and bring them to a boil on the stove.

Clean the green beans and add them to an oven safe dish, splashing them with olive oil and salt and pepper

In a medium mixing bowl, add the turkey, bread crumbs, egg, cumin, onion, whoreshire sauce and salt and pepper to taste.  Mix together well and form into small (1 - inch) meatballs.

On the stove, over medium heat, season your cast iron skillet with the olive oil.  Once the oil is hot, add your meatballs, browning them on all sides.

Once the meatballs have been browned, transfer meatballs to an oven safe dish and place in the oven. Reduce the heat on the stove,  Add 1 cup of milk to the cast iron skillet, scrap the bottom of the pan to pick up remaining meat and juices.  Add gravy packet.  Stir (or whisk) well.  Bring to a boil.  The packet will say to add one cup of water, but use milk instead for a creamier gravy.

Drain potatoes, add butter and cream and mix well with an electric blender.

Remove meatballs from the oven and enjoy!


Saturday, October 25, 2014

The $10 Dinner - The Basics

We all know that dinner can be expensive.  Eating out can get expensive and not to mention not so great on your waistline or your wallet.  So, how do you deliver a meal that is inexpensive, nutritious, and quick.  Afterall, who wants to come home after a long day at work, and shuttle between activities and have to then stand in front of the stove?  The answer.  No one.

Hopefully, I can help.  I'm starting a new series that will help you shop better, make dinner quicker, and stick to your budget.  Let's start today with how to shop your way to a better dinner.  In the coming days and weeks, I'll post several dinner ideas, products and recipes that will help you better manage dinner time.

Typically, dinner consists of a protein, starch and a vegetable, after that everything is optional.  Boxed dinners and 'helpers', such as rice packets and boxed potatoes, can help, and they are typically budget helpers, but to me they are not an everyday solution.

The first rule is to keep the cost of your proteins between $5-$6.  Not as easy as it sounds.  This requires alittle bit of research.  Watch the price of your favorite proteins and once they hit a low price, stock up.  Frozen proteins only need to be taken out of the freezer, and popped into the frig before you leave for work (or after dinner the night before) and they will be ready to cook when you get home and are ready for them.  Think outside the regular chicken and ground beef box.  We have alot of non-traditional favorites at our house.

You cannot beat that price on chicken.

These are my turkey meatball and gravy, look for the recipe next week.

Potatoes, rice and pasta are the most popular of the starches.  Pasta can always been found on sale for under a $1.  Those flavored rice packets are a budget and a time saver, but they are typically high in sodium and fat, so they are definitely something to use in moderation.  Potatoes are great, because they are can been used in so many different ways, but they also are time consuming to prepare.  I have some time saving and great make ahead ideas for potatoes that I will be sharing over the next couple of weeks (just in time for Thanksgiving!)  But think of it this way.  You pay $2.49 for a 5 lb bag of potatoes, that typically contains 13 potatoes.  That is just $0.19/potato/serving.

Veggies are easy.  In the summer it's best to go with fresh veggies which are quick to roast or stem.  We live in the midwest and we try to freeze alot of veggies in the summer for use in the winter.  Once our stash is depleted, I switch to frozen, which gives you a lower price per serving that canned, and is lower in preservatives, and sodium. 

So I hope that you will join us for this series, I hope to provide alot of inspiration and I would love to know what tips that you use to keep your grocery budget in check!