Category Archives: Saving Money

Our Favorite Meals List Updated

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Almost two years I ago I posted our family’s favorite meals. Since then we have added quite a few and taken away some so I thought I would take the time to do it again. Especially since in January I got most of our meals off of one site and we found some great additions to our meal rotation.

A lot of these recipes come from The Pioneer Woman – over the summer last year I scoured her website for new recipes we could try (sensing a theme in my cooking?!) and found some great ones. I will say there were quite a few we didn’t like but I’m glad we tried so many because we found some new favorites. Our more recent additions come from Mommy’s Fabulous Finds and her list of 23 Crockpot Recipes.

Chicken Recipes

Angel Chicken

After Work Chicken Noodle Soup (I had homemade dumplings to this and it is so good!)

BBQ Cranberry Chicken (in the Crock Pot)

Bowtie Chicken Alfredo (Photo by Ree Drummond, The Pioneer Woman)

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Chicken Broccoli Alfredo

Chicken N Peppers Pasta Skillet

Chicken Pinwheel Pot Pie

Chicken Quesadillas (or any other quesadilla)

Chicken Taco Bake

Chicken Spaghetti (probably our favorite of all time – photo by Ree Drummond, The Pioneer Woman)

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Grilled Chicken Bacon Sliders

Sesame Chicken (Slow Cooker)

– I serve that with Simple Sesame Noodles – goes great together!

Slow Cooker Black Bean & Salsa Chicken

Southwestern Chicken Chili

Tanise’s Chicken Casserole with Ritz & Rice (do NOT make this unless you are really feeding a crowd – it makes a ton!!)

White Bean Chicken Chili

Beef Recipes

Beef & Potato Nacho Casserole

Beef Stroganoff (in the Crock Pot)

Burgers N Fries Pot Pie

Easy Pleasing Meatloaf

Fried Round Steak

Hamburger Soup (photo by Ree Drummond, The Pioneer Woman – this is SOOOO good!)

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Mini Meatloaves (probably the 2nd favorite meal in the house especially when I had homemade mashed potatoes!)

Sour Cream Noodle Bake (photo by Ree Drummond, The Pioneer Woman)

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Slow Cooker Chili

Sweet & Sour Meatballs (in the Crock Pot)

Tater Tot Casserole

Updated Shepherd’s Pie (or any other Shepherd’s Pie – I always made extra mashed potatoes when we have mini meatloaves and use the rest for Shepherd’s Pie)

Wahoo! Chili with Beans (this is a Tastefully Simple recipe)

Other Meat Recipes

Apple BBQ Pork Tenderloin (really, really good!)

Crock Pot Sausage & Peppers

New Look Scalloped Potatoes and Ham

Perfect Potato Soup (photo by Ree Drummond, The Pioneer Woman)

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Pork Carnitas (in the Crock Pot)

Teriyaki Pork Chops (in the Crock Pot)

Pasta/Italian Recipes

Baked Ziti

Bowtie Lasagna

Creamy Baked Ziti

Easy Beef Lasagna

Easy Calzones

Pasta Skillet Dinner

Pepperoni Pizza Burger (photo by Ree Drummond, The Pioneer Woman)

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Ravioli Lasagna Recipe

Sausage Spaghetti Spirals Recipe

Spaghetti Casserole

Mexican

Beef & Bean Burritos (photo by Ree Drummond, The Pioneer Woman)

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Beef & Bean Taco Casserole

Layered Enchilada Bake (a grown-up favorite!)

Mini Taco Bowls

Nacho Chicken (in the Crock Pot)

Pineapple Chicken Burritos (in the Crock Pot and surprisingly very good!)

This is by no means an exhaustive list and I’m always looking for new recipes that our family will enjoy. I couldn’t find a good link for: Chicken Parmesan or Sausage Hoagies but we make those quite often along with spaghetti and tacos – though I usually reserve those for when I’m not home so Kirk doesn’t have to cover a complicated meal by himself.

I hope this list gives you a few ideas when it comes to your next weekly or monthly meal planning. Let me know if there’s a website full of recipes you love or if you have a favorite one to share! Also, let me know if any of the links above don’t work 🙂

Saving Money in February: Learning to Sew

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This is more of a long-term plan than just the month of February and seeing the way 2 of my 7-year-olds are taking to it I have high hopes of savings lots of money on…

– clothes
– household items (curtains, room décor)
– and maybe even their wedding dresses

Okay, that may be thinking a little too far ahead – right now they’re just learning to sew in a straight line but with their small amount of new found knowledge they are already trying to skip ahead to sew purses, pillow cases and pot holders!

Thanks to my good friend Krysta at Studio Solaris we are all beginning to learn how to sew!

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Though to be perfectly honest – I’m doing a lot less of the sewing and practicing than Julianna and Rachel! In fact, I now have to fight them to even get a second on a machine.

Out of 4 girls 2 enthusiastically agreed to learn to sew, 1 said “yea, I guess so” and the other said she would rather play with Krysta’s son, Chip. I bet you can guess who is who!

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First, we learn to cut fabric (fortunately I have LOTS of practice fabric thanks to Kirk’s grandma who will be thrilled to know I am finally using it 🙂 )

Check out Rachel’s serious expression – she is going to measure this right:

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Aaah, there’s a real smile from Kaitlyn! Maybe I’m not forcing her after all…

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The girls first time using an iron – they seemed pretty excited about that too.

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Then it was on to the machines. I’ve had two sewing machines for ages thanks to Kirk’s mom who passed away ten years ago and left them to me. I can only imagine how happy she would have been to see her granddaughters sewing so eagerly on her machines. Unfortunately she passed away before the girls were even born and they never knew her but even still they are being blessed by her!

Julianna on “her” machine – one I can only guess the age of but I do know it’s at least older than me…

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Rachel on my “newer” and more mobile machine (the older one is so heavy there’s no lugging that one back and forth to class!)

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Kaitlyn got to work on Krysta’s machine and once she got started she was a good sport about trying it though she was not amongst the girls super eager to keep sewing when we got home. Maybe once we move on to re-decorating her room she’ll have more fun with it!

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I am excited for them and looking forward to learning more! Stay tuned for some major home changes. Not exactly DIY since I have Krysta to help. More like a complete beginner and a seasoned expert and I’m not exactly sure what that’s called!! I do have some home dec/painting experience but in the sewing department I’m completely new.

But learning to do it myself is the first step to saving money on these projects in the future 🙂

Saving Money in January: Couponing and Meal Planning

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It’s a new year which means it’s always a new resolve for me to save more and spend less.

Not really a resolution – more just a stepping up of my game since I’ve been couponing for years – I just like to push myself.

Every time our family goes out to eat it’s expensive – really expensive – a sit down dinner at a restaurant could cost us anywhere between $50 and $90 or even more dollars! And that’s for ONE meal!! On top of that I rarely leave a restaurant feeling it was a good experience that was worth the money I just paid for it.

However, it’s easy to say “we’re not going out to eat ever again” but it’s so much harder to do. Crazy nights where we get busy or the lack of desire to cook or the lack of ingredients in the house are all reasons we head out the door for a quick meal or order in. Don’t get me wrong, sometimes I enjoy it and I’d rather have Chick-fil-A or a restaurant meal and I’m certainly not turning down a dinner date with my husband but for a regular night meal and honestly even a weekend meal I’d rather cook from home and save the money.

That too, is easier said than done but with a lot of planning and a little shopping I can have a plan for the month that saves me time and money as well as headache of trying to figure out what’s for dinner only to find out I don’t have all the ingredients.

Enter the monthly meal plan. It’s a crazy process but I love it. I won’t go in to all the details here. Instead I will just pass along the website I’ve used this month to come up with our family meals:

Mommy’s Fabulous Finds: 23 Easy Crock Pot Freezer Meals

My crock pot has been getting a work out but considering the snow and the upcoming way below freezing temperatures we’re expecting this week the meals have been perfect!

2 things:

– the recipes call for enough food to feed her family of 4 so I have been scaling up for our family, however, most of the recipes seem to make plenty to feed my family of 8

– I did not make and freeze these in advance – really each one is so easy to put in the crock pot that I don’t mind cutting up a vegetable or two the day it goes in thus avoiding the step she suggest of letting it thaw overnight

When I do make a large meal plan I do shop for as much of it as I can at the beginning of the month and then throughout the month I supplement with fresh produce and of course couponing for what’s on sale.

Which brings me to a little bit of couponing:

What I picked up at Harris Teeter’s Super Double coupon event this week (Super Doubles = HT doubles coupons with values up to $2.00)

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I will say I bought a lot more than this but these are the items that were good deals – the rest were things that I needed and sadly had to get without a coupon though I did forget to include 2 small packs of 8 Pepsi cans similar to the 8-packs from Coke pictured below.

Total before sales and coupons with the Pepsi: $85.36
What I spent after sales and coupons: $21.31

On a side note – the milk, eggs and Tabasco were not on sale, however, I put them in the picture because I purchased them to earn money back from a rewards bonus from Ibotta and since they were three items I really needed it made sense though it just about killed me to pay full price for that Tabasco – see how much I love my husband!

My total spent for those 3 items was: $9.77
After Ibotta deposited $2.50 in my account it brings that down to $7.27

And what I picked up this week at CVS:

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This is also not all I got – I purchased 3 other 12-packs of soda and a 2nd pack of paper towel for a grand total of:

Total Spent:$26.25
Total Saved: $79.94 for a 76% savings
Earned back: $23 in ECB’s (or Extra Care Bucks which is basically money I can spend at CVS on anything else that I want so my out of pocket total or OOP is $3.25 which is a savings of almost 100%)

Before I started handing over my coupons my total was $106.19 – yikes!!

I will also add that instead of doing this in one transaction I could have broken it down in to many transactions and spent less out of pocket – in fact, since I started out with $31 in ECB’s from last week (well $26 in ECB’s and a $5 off $25 coupon that was e-mailed to me) I could’ve gotten the soda deal entirely free and earned back $10 which I could have used on the next transaction and gotten that for free, etc. I’m just weird and prefer to do it all at once.

On a separate note – some of the deals I picked up I wouldn’t consider to be great deals – the paper towel deal was just okay but I needed them and since I had so many ECB’s and coupons from the previous week it really worked out for me to pick them up at CVS. Same with the soda deal – it’s not that great of a deal unless you are using ECB’s to pay for the soda.

However, the Pediasure was free and the vitamins were $1.00 after coupons and ECB’s so if you’re wondering where to start at CVS start with deals like those unless of course it’s not something you need then pick something else. I’m not into buying things or picking things up just because they are free unless I truly plan to donate them or give them away – if I buy it it’s because I’m planning to use it.

The Tums and candy were flat out free because of coupons that printed at the coupon kiosk in the store – it really does pay (literally!) to stop at that thing!!

I won’t bore you with all the match-ups – instead I will encourage you to go here for Harris Teeter match-ups: Southern Savers Harris Teeter

And here for CVS: Southern Savers CVS

How are you saving money this year?

Saving At CVS

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It wouldn’t be fair to start the new year without sharing my other big savings secret: CVS!

When I first tell people about CVS they always question me saying it is too expensive but I feel just the opposite! With a little work and planning CVS will be THE place to shop for all of your toiletry needs (often food too)

Here’s what I picked up today:

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My total spent: $11.50 or $0.96 for each item!
My total saved: $46.86
My total ECB’s earned: $16.00

So, in one sense everything you see here was FREE!

To put my savings in perspective – the total for just the Neosporin if you went in and paid full price would be $11.49 and that’s what I paid for everything in the picture!

How did I do it?

Using coupons of course but more than that. At CVS a large number of products each week earn you ECB’s or “Extra Care Bucks” – these are coupons that print on the bottom of your reciept that can be used like cash on your next purchase – actually, $10 of my savings on this purchase was from an ECB I earned last week.

The best way to use your ECB’s is to roll them from one purchase to the next. You could use your ECB’s to buy anything in the store (other than the pharmacy) but you could also hold them for another transaction that earns you more ECB’s – this can be a transaction in the same day, the next day, the next week, etc. until they expire.

My deals this week:

Multi-Grain Cheerios

Regular price: $4.19/box
Sale price: $3.33/box (3 for $10.00)
Earn: $3.00 in ECB’s
Used: 3 $0.75/1 coupons printed from Swagbucks (or coupons.com)
Total not including ECB’s: (what I pay out-of-pocket the day I buy them): $7.75 or $2.58/box
After ECB’s my total is: $4.75 or $1.58/box

This wouldn’t be the best deal for me if I didn’t already have ECB’s but since I did it brought my price down quite a bit.

Colgate Toothpaste

Regular price: $3.99/each
Sale price: $2.99
Earn: $3.00 in ECB’s
Used: 2 $1.00/1 coupons from SS 01/06 (SmartSource in today’s paper)
Total not including ECB’s: $3.98
Total after ECB’s: $0.98 for both or $0.49 each

This is a great deal whether I have ECB’s from the week previous or not

Neosporin

Regular price: $11.49
Sale price: none
Earn: $2.00 in ECB’s when you spend $10.00 on Neosporin and/or Band-Aids
Used: $2.00/1 from SS 01/06 (SmartSource in today’s paper)
Total not including ECB’s: $9.49
Total after ECB’s: $7.49

Not the best deal and you may be able to put together a better deal with coupons but this is what I picked up.

The Stayfree pads are not part of an ECB deal but they are the best kind of deal you can get from CVS: flat out FREE!!

Regular price: $4.19
Sale price: Buy 1 Get 1 Free
Used: 3 Buy 1 Get 1 Free coupons from SS 01/06
Final price: FREE

YES! That is CVS policy – you can use a buy 1 get 1 free coupon on a buy 1 get 1 free sale and get both items FREE – even better the computer will automatically take off the maximum price the coupon allows – even though the pads were only $4.19 the computer took off $4.49 for each one so that “overage” applied to the rest of my order and saved me an additional $0.90. Not a lot but every bit helps 🙂

What I love about CVS is how I can use the ECB’s on even more deals and they can be used with other coupons (or stacked) – a deal like the General Mills Cereal deal wouldn’t have been that great if I didn’t already have ECB’s from last week but even if I didn’t and I wanted that deal I could either just go ahead and get it and use the $3.00 ECB’s on my next order OR I could purchase some better deals and “roll” those ECB’s on to the cereal deal.

Getting the hang of CVS takes a little bit of time but once you do it is so worth it!

Dollar Doublers at Harris Teeter!

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It seems fitting to have this post on the 2nd day of the year 🙂 It’s a great start to my year too because Dollar Doubler week is a great week to save lots of money on my groceries!

Don’t know what that is?

Let me explain 🙂

Normally Harris Teeter (my favorite store here in Northern Virginia) doubles all coupons up to $0.99 BUT on certain weeks of the year they will double coupons up to $2.00!! So if you have a $2.00 coupon it will double to $4.00 off! Combine that with the right deal and you have some serious savings.

After 2 runs today (if I had planned better it would have just been one!) this is what I picked up:

1st Run

Spent: $11.55
Saved: $48.93
Earned: $3.00 back on my next order from Classico Pasta

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2nd Run:

Spent: $14.42
Saved: $40.55
Earned Back: $1.00 back on my next order from Classico Pasta

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Spent today: $25.97

Total saved: $89.48!! That’s a saving of almost 77%!

My best deals:

Classico Pasta (by far the best deal this week)

Regular price: $2.99
Sale price: Buy 1, Get 1 Free
Used: $1.00/2 coupon from SS 11/18 (SmartSource)
Earned back: $1.00 for each 2 I bought – a total of $4.00 earned back for my next order
Final price: FREE

Sister Shubert’s Mini Loaves

Regular Price: $4.29
Sale Price: Buy 1, Get 1 Free
Used: 2 $1.00/1 coupons from SS 11/18 (SmartSource)
Final Price: $0.29 for both!

Special K Cereal and Bars

Regular Price: $3.55
Sale Price: 2/$5.00
E-Vic Special: $1.97 each
Used: $0.70/1 coupon printed from Swagbucks
Final Price: $0.57/box

ALSO: There’s a special if you buy 3 Special K items you get an automatic $2.00 off your order so I added a box of Special K bars for $2.50 which after the promotion were $0.50

Total for all 3 items: $1.64

Kraft Fresh Take

Regular Price: $3.15
Sale Price: $2.77
Used 3 $1.00/1 coupons printed from Swagbucks
Final Price: $0.77 each

A few things to note:

1. There is a doubling limit at Harris Teeter of 20 coupons per day – this includes coupons that are less than $1.00 so you should consider whether or not you want to double a coupon under $1.00 because coupons under a dollar normally double. Today I used 4 coupons that were under a dollar but the items I picked up either won’t be on sale next or most likely won’t be there next week (the kids yogurt was on clearance so I used 2 $0.75/2 coupons to bring the price down from 4 for $5.00 to 4 for $2.00)

2. The Swagbucks link is my own referral link. Swagbucks is an excellent way to earn money just from searching. I earn somewhere between $150 and $200 a year for free items on Amazon and wow does that help me save some money on books and other items! Helped me save money on lots of Christmas toys. For referrals I earn as you earn from searching – if you don’t wish to use my link I would still highly recommend you go to www.swagbucks.com and register for yourself! Coupons can also be printed from www.coupons.com but if printed through Swagbucks you earn 10 Swagbucks for every coupon printed and redeemed through them. It takes a few weeks to post to your account but 10 Swagbucks is equivalent to $0.10 back in your pocket!

3. My coupon match-ups were made using Southern Savers – she does a great job of matching up a large amount of items. It’s not perfect but still is a HUGE help to me! Lots of other coupon match-ups for this week can be found there.

4. To get the sale prices you do need to have a VIC card through Harris Teeter – when you do be sure and register your e-mail as that will make you eligible for the e-Vic specials every week. The best part? On Fridays I get a second e-mail with extra e-Vic specials – this is my biggest secret for getting cereal for $0.50 or less so I ALWAYS keep an eye out for that!

I hope this is the start to a year of good food savings 🙂

Super Doubles At Harris Teeter

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When you have what most would consider a large family – having met many people with more kids than I it’s hard for me to agree with this statment but I digress… – the biggest issue for us every month, heck, every day is food. With 5, now 6, kids I have to find a way to cut costs on breakfast, lunch and dinner.

A big budget help is, of course, coupons! As the sales vary from week to week I make it a habit to go to the grocery store every week and stock up on the best deals. Some weeks are better than others.

The best weeks are Super Doubles – where Harris Teeter doubles coupons up to $2.00 in face value meaning if you have a $2.00 coupon it will double to $4.00 off your item – and Triples where a coupon up to $0.99 will triple.

This week is one of those weeks. It’s Super Doubles time at Harris Teeter and if you are fortunate to live close to one then now is the time to stock up and take advantage of huge savings!

For example, here’s what I picked up today:

I spent: $16.00

I saved: $78.90

I earned: $3.00 back to spend on my next shopping trip to HT

Total OOP: $13.00

For some of you that might be awesome savings and others can do better but I’m pretty excited about what I got for what I spent.

Some of my best deals:

No Yolks Pasta

For this deal I used a raincheck. You can get a raincheck at Harris Teeter when they are sold out of a sale item. They do not expire (I actually picked this raincheck up last November!) so you can save them until you need them – like during Super Doubles week. When added with a coupon they can add up to big savings:

Pasta Regular Price: $2.79/each

Raincheck Price: B1G1 free

Used 3 $1.00 off printable coupons

Final price: $0.79 for 2 or about $0.40 each!

Hershey Simple Pleasure

Regular Price: $4.15

Sale Price: None

Used 3 $2.00 off 1 coupon from SS 8/19 which doubled

Final price for each: $0.15

Dawn Dish Detergent

Regular Price: $1.39/each

Sale Price: $0.99/each

Used 2 $1.00/2 coupons from PG 8/26 which doubled

Final price for all: FREE

Glade Candle

Regular Price: $4.15/each

Sale Price: 2/$6.00 or $3.00 each

Used 2 $2.00/2 coupons from SS 8/26 which doubled

Final Price: $1.00/each – I’d prefer free but I love Glade candles – they are great for my home or as gifts

I also earned back $1.00 in a Catalina (a coupon that prints out at the register) so it made it an even better deal.

Kraft Shredded Cheese

Regular Price: $3.55/each

Sale Price: 2/$4.00 or $2.00 each

Used 1 $1.00/2 coupon from SS 8/19 which doubled

Final Price: $1.00/each

I also bought a pack of sliced cheese for $1.00 with a sale and printed coupon and for buying all 3 I earned back a $2.00 Catalina so for 3 things of cheese I paid just $1.00!!

For plenty of other deals check out Southern Savers – she has a huge list of sales and the corresponding coupons – it’s where I go to to get my match-ups. Since I can only double 20 coupons a day I have another list ready for tomorrow! I hope you find some good deals as well.

Happy Shopping.

 

Our Favorite Meals

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I haven’t done as much as I would have liked on transferring information from my old blogs to my new one but one thing I’ve wanted to do for a while is to put links to our families favorite meals all in one place on this site.

So, finally, here it is!

If you have any other recipes that you love please leave me a comment – I am always on the look out for new things to try!

Chicken Recipes

Alea’s One Pot Chicken Dinner

Angel Chicken

Bruschetta Chicken Bake

Cheesy Chicken & Salsa Skillet

Chicken & Broccoli Alfredo

Chicken N Peppers Pasta Skillet

Chicken Pinwheel Pot Pie

Chicken Quesdadillas (or any other quesadillas)

Chicken Taco Bake

Chicken Spaghetti

Easy Chicken and Biscuits

Gram’s Chicken Pot Pie Updated

Mac Chicken Cacciatore

White Bean Chicken Chili

Beef Recipes

Burger N Fries Pot Pie

Easy Pleasing Meatloaf

Ground Beef & Twice Baked Potato Pie

Mini Meatloaves

Tater Tot Casserole Recipe (there is a huge variety of Tater Tot Casserole recipes but this one is our current favorite)

Updated Shepherd’s Pie

Wahoo! Chili with Beans

Ham Recipes

Mac N Cheese Pie

New-Look Scalloped Potatoes and Ham

Pasta

Baked Ziti

Creamy Baked Ziti

Pasta Skillet Dinner

Ravioli Lasagna Recipe

Spaghetti Casserole – I don’t have a link for this so you’ll have to click on the picture to bring the recipe up

Velveeta Baked Spaghetti Square (another meatless option)

Weeknight Lasagna Toss

Mexican

Black Bean and Cheese Enchiladas (I add shredded chicken to these most of the time but they could be vegetarian and be quite good!)

Beef and Bean Taco Casserole

Layered Enchilada Bake

Mexican Shepherd’s Pie

Mini Taco Bowls

We do eat a few non-recipe meals like chicken, pork chops, pot roast, sausage hoagies and even spaghetti but I don’t have links for those.

I hope you can enjoy a few of these.