Oh it’s that time of year! We are quickly approaching Thanksgiving which is immediately followed by another of my favorite holidays, Black Friday! I have a very large family. Both sets of my grandparents are still living and most of us have contributed to expanding our family by marriage or childbirth. I also have a large group of close friends and colleagues. Thus I have a lot of presents to buy at Christmas time! That is why I take advantage of Black Friday shopping.
To some, shopping on Black Friday can be overwhelming and cause anxiety or chest pain at the thought of dealing with those crowds. I thought I would share how my family and I have come to love it! First, we have made it a family tradition. My group consists of 5 women. After an amazing home-cooked farm-fresh family Thanksgiving dinner, we clean up and clear the table. Then we pull out all of the local newspapers and peruse the shopping ads. Many of our family members think we are crazy but they still enable us by contributing their newspapers.
· Make a list of the people you want to buy gifts for
· Make a list of the best bargains that you really would like to take advantage of
· Rank bargains by best location and most money saved
· Make a list of the stores you want to shop at and the bargains you want to look for at that location
· Organize list of stores by geographical location
· Cut out all relevant coupons and put in the same order as the store list
· Get a good night of rest
· Get up as early as you are comfortable leaving (we wait until 7 am)
· Wear layers of clothing and comfortable shoes
· Park in a spot that may work for shopping at several stores; finding parking spaces is time consuming on this busy day
· Go shopping with expectations that the item may be sold out, especially if it is a door-buster and keep in mind you may find other unexpected great deals
· Break up into teams to shop and hold places in line
· Avoid taking a shopping cart, it’s usually too crowded
· With at least one other member of the group, take items to your vehicle to avoid carrying heavy bags and cover with a blanket so as not to tempt thieves
· Stay hydrated with plenty of fluids and frequent snacks
· Plan for an early or late lunch to avoid a long wait
· Pace yourself, it’s a long day
· Avoid getting frustrated or upset over people bumping into you and apologize if you accidently do the same
· Keep track of the amount of money you are spending. It can add up quickly, especially when you are using credit cards
· Have fun and enjoy the experience
If this doesn’t sound like a fun plan to you, enjoy shopping in your comfy clothes at home, crowd free on Cyber Monday! There are great deals to be found on both days.
This is comfort food at its best! And it freezes well, so you can have a quick, warm meal on a busy night! I serve it over rice or biscuits, and sometimes make warm cinnamon apples to serve with it. This would be a good way to use up some of your leftover Thanksgiving turkey!
1/2 cup butter or margarine
1 small green bell pepper, chopped
3 ounces fresh mushrooms, sliced
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 1/2 cups skim milk
1 1/4 cups fat-free and/or low sodium chicken broth
2 cups cut-up cooked chicken(or turkey, or can of tuna)
1 jar (2 ounces) diced pimientos, drained
Melt butter in 3-quart saucepan over medium-high heat. Cook bell pepper and mushrooms in butter, stirring occasionally, until bell pepper is crisp-tender.
Stir in flour, salt and pepper. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until bubbly; remove from heat.
Stir in milk and broth. Heat to boiling, stirring constantly. Boil and stir 1 minute. Stir in chicken and pimientos; cook until hot. Serve over rice.
Sometimes, the thought of making dinner makes we want to scream! I get tired of having to think about it, and I tend to make the same things over and over again; it gets very boring. So then my husband and I end up gorging ourselves at an over-priced restaurant. Ugh!
To help avoid this, I make meals for the freezer whenever I’m feeling energetic. I just prep a bunch of food on a Sunday afternoon, and then I have plenty to choose from when I'm feeling uninspired.
Many meals (and side dishes) can be made in big batches, then wrapped properly and stored in the freezer until ready to use. I just grab something out of the freezer in the morning (or night before) and place it in the fridge to thaw. When I get home that night, I just cook and serve.
The following are my go-to freezer meals:
(the ones with the * should not be baked before freezing)
I always try to double-wrap to avoid freezer burn. I use plastic wrap and then foil, and then put into zipper freezer bags. Use a permanent marker to label the bag with the food item and date.
For the super-organized, you can make a master list of everything you’ve prepared, the serving sizes, and the dates so that you can scratch each meal off as you use it and know when you’re getting low and need to re-stock.
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