TabbedOut... A Life Saver

I know I haven't posted all week, but I had a pretty eventful weekend this past weekend! For starters Thanksgiving was on Thursday, and of course I did a lot of cooking, and then on Saturday was my husband’s surprised birthday dinner! Both days we had family and friends come to visit, so between entertaining and cooking, I needed to take a few days off!

Now since it's Friday, I just had to tell you about this cool app I used for my husband’s surprise birthday dinner at Flip Burger Boutique that you must try this weekend!

If you haven't heard of this app called TabbedOut, you are surely missing out! TabbedOut is basically an app that allows you to check yourself out at any of their participating restaurant... and they have a lot of restaurants! It's so cool that they even have it where you can choose your tip percentage and the app will add up the total cost for you. So no more waiting in line, or on a server on a busy day to check out, no more adding up tip amounts, and get this... they will even split the check for you!

I found out about this app 2 weeks ago, and I have been hooked ever since! Not to mention... the coolest part... when you use the app for the 1st time at any of their participating restaurants you also get money off your tab, and other discounts! Also once you join they will give you a referral code to give to your friends and family... *cough cough* E4D7A2... haha! Anyway, the more friends you refer the more discounts you receive.

Now as a wife and mother of twins, I am all about savings! So this is something that I just had to share with you all! For the days when Mommy needs a break from cooking, or it's a date night, you should definitely use TabbedOut!


Spice Up Your Store Bought Pasta Sauce

Chicken Rotini Pasta

I am one woman who is a big fan of making things from scratch, especially pasta sauce; but every now and then I venture off to the pasta aisles and find myself purchasing marinara sauce.

I find store bought marinara sauce is very convent for the busy mother, because not every mother has the time or patience to make sauce from scratch, and there's nothing wrong with that! There have been days where I was just too tired to even think of trying to make a pasta sauce from scratch, and that marinara sauce sitting in our pantry came in handy... but... being who I am, I could never just use the pasta sauce without adding a bit of extra spices and herbs to it.

There is something about store bought sauce that taste like it’s just missing something... perhaps, it’s because it is manufactured, so there is no love put into it... I don't know, but what I do know is that it can taste quiet bland. Now, if you're new to me you will come to learn that I am all about spices and tasting your food as you cook, and the same thing applies to prepared sauce. Just because the label says that it has sautéed onions and garlic, or roasted pepper, doesn't mean the taste will be right by you and your family.

Ragu pasta sauce

For instance, the other night for dinner I decided to use a store bought marinara sauce for the pasta I was making. Nothing fancy it was just basic chicken and mushroom rotini pasta.

chicken and mushrooms pasta
pasta sauce

I decided that the salt and garlic powder wasn't enough for the sauce, so towards the end of cooking I seasoned my sauce with some additional dry basil, cinnamon, and pure honey.

In my opinion the cinnamon and honey counteracts the acidic taste of the tomatoes making it more flavorful. Now, no I didn't measure the amount, I just tasted as I went along, which FYI is the best way to cook.

Rotini Pasta

Once I got my sauce to my desired flavor, I added it, along with the chicken, mushrooms, garlic, and onions to my pot with my noodles. I mixed it in well, and let it sit on low heat for 10 minutes. By doing this, it allowed for all the flavors to stick to the pasta noodles, and it came out delicious!

chicken pasta

So I want to inspire and challenge you, for the next time you purchase a store bought sauce, put some of you into it, don't just season it with salt and call it a day!


10 Tips On Effective Grocery Shopping

grocery shopping tips

As some of you may know, I am a mother of infant boy and girl twins who love keeping me quite busy, so much so that grocery shopping can be a bit of a hassle when my husband is at work. Going grocery shopping without a plan is never a good idea for me, considering that if I have the twins with me I have to shop quickly before they lose their patience and want out of their car seats. So that means no browsing through every aisle, looking for random things to catch my stomach's eye... I've got to have a plan and direction to help me stay focus and on track.

I'm not sure about you, but I tend to go grocery shopping once a week, I don't have the patience or time to go every other day, and this works better for my family's schedule. Now since I cook every day, it is important for me to have a clear and concise vision when going grocery shopping, so I created a formula that has helped me to stay focused while shopping, and that has helped me to save time; time in the store, and saving time from having to go back to the store because I forgot something. It has also helped me in saving money, because I am not buying additional unnecessary items just because I saw it.

So if you're like I used to be and tend to be a stomach shopper... you know... buying what looks good in that moment vs buying something you actually need... then give some of my shopping tips a try!


Tip #1: Have a budget.

This will help you stay focused only on the things that you NEED, vs the monetary things that you want.

shopping tips


Tip#2: Write out a menu for the week.

Give yourself 7 day, even if you don't cook on all 7 days, it is always best to be prepared than to not be and have to order takeout.


Tip #3: Write a recipe list.

To your menu write down all the ingredients that you will need in order to make your weekly meals. If need be, be sure to include the measurement amounts as well, that way it will keep you from having to run back out to the grocery store for another item because you used it all in one recipe.


how to shop effectively

Tip #4: Audit your kitchen.

Yes audit your kitchen, not just your refrigerator, look through everything that you already have in comparison to the menu you wrote, and check off what you have in "stock". One of the most annoying things that I have ever done was to buy an item that I already had and that was full; or not realizing that I was out of a certain seasoning that I wanted to use... oh, and peek in your linens too, you don't want to forget that toilet paper!


Tip #5: Organize your list.

I like to use my Google KEEP app on my phone, because it allows me to check off items as I go, and I can also list them in the order of how I want to shop... For example, whenever I go to my local farmers market, I tend to shop produce, dairy, breads, then meat; so I like to write my grocery list in the order of how I enter the store. This method helps me stay focus vs straying away, and doing random shopping.


Tip #6: Eat.

Please... please, please, please.... eat before you go shopping. Grocery shopping on an empty stomach is disastrous, because you're shopping by the emotion of what you could/want to eat at that moment vs what you actually need... “Stomach shopping.”


Tip #7: Check the label.

Please check the dates on what you buy, don't just grab the 1st thing you see and keep shopping. Check the dates, make sure it hasn't/isn't coming up on its expiration date... Now that's the worst, and it isn't cost or time effective.


effective grocery shopping

Tip #8: Time yourself.

Give yourself a set time frame to grocery shop. This will prevent the every aisle stroll, because you know you only have so much time to get it done.


Tip #9: Go on slow days/time.

Try to avoid going grocery shopping with the evening after 5 p.m. work crowd, or shopping on major holidays. It will turn a simple 20 minute shopping experience into a 40 minute "I can't wait to get out of here" annoyed experience.


Tip #10: Use recyclable cloth grocery bags.

This is great for the environment, but also convenient for you. By using cloth bags, you don't have to carry so many fragile plastic bags that could rip at any point and have all your grocery out on the street.


I hope these tips were found useful to you in helping to grocery shop effectively! What are some of the ways you like to shop?