First of all, I switched cell phone providers. I had to buy new phones (2 phones on the plan), but even still at the end of a year I'll have saved about $400 over AT&T for the exact same services. Year 2 and beyond I'll save over $900 per year. Seriously.
I'm now with Boost Mobile. Rumor has it that the service isn't perfect, but they use the same cell towers as Sprint, so it's very similar in coverage areas and I've had no problems at all.
It's prepaid cellular and I went through Best Buy to get the phones. A friend of mine made the switch first, catching me totally off guard with the whole thing - it never crossed my mind to look at anyone but AT&T and it certainly never crossed my mind to consider prepaid programs. I then read an article or two at Clark Howard and I new it was time to make a move. Best Buy publishes a brochure with all their plans in it, I started there and then googled the ones that interested me, mostly because they seemed too good to be true (they aren't!).
I could have used a used phone. I'm sure I could have found one on Craigs List for a couple dollars, but I'm super happy with the phone I have (Android) and since I'm still saving plenty this year it's fine with me. I had a Blackberry before and never liked it, it wasn't as user friendly at all as the phone I have now and the service was more expensive. And there was no problem at all with keeping our phone numbers.
I've heard ads for other prepaid plans with unlimited rates at $35 month, so there may be a better deal than I got ... point is, it's not a bad idea to look around once your contract is up!
And, oh my gosh, there really is an app for that. Love it.
|Brothers, hanging out and watching a little tv. Love walking into a scene like this.|
And then there's this recipe for Green Pepper Chicken. My house smelled like a field of onions and a bunch of black pepper all day. We spent most of the afternoon figuring out what plan B would be at dinnertime. I don't care much for onion, black pepper, or peppers so I have no idea what possessed me to make this. (I take that back ... it called for green peppers, which I needed to use ASAP and was a crock pot recipe ... I was blinded to anything else)
It was soooooo good. Really. We ate every last bit of it. Had it not been rude I'm sure someone would have licked the crock pot clean.
A few notes about this recipe ...
I used a green bell pepper and a sweet pepper. I don't know exactly how common sweet peppers are, the gentleman that sells produce in our neighborhood on Saturday said something about them being sold at the fair? It's longer and thinner than the bell pepper and a lighter green. No idea, but it gave the meal a nice sweet flavor.
The tortillas distracted from the flavors, so we didn't use them.
I have two crock pots, a big one and a littler one. I have found that if I don't fill the big one fairly full it cooks way too fast so I used the smaller one for this, even with a good 1.5 lbs. of chicken and cooked it on low for about 6 hours. Worked perfectly - I took the chicken out to cut it and it just fell apart (I didn't end up with nice strips of chicken like her picture, mine was more shredded chicken). Yum.
|Girls Day -- with my mother and my daughter lunching at Carmine's in Ybor City, Tampa before heading to Ikea for the afternoon.|
And another winner recipe ... a knock off of Sweet Tomatoes' WonTon Chicken Happiness Salad. I served it as an entree with banana muffins. Again, not a bit left at the end of the night. So good that we made more the next night.
I used romaine instead of iceberg lettuce. And used much less cilantro. I love cilantro, but the children are a little less enamored with it. I'm 99% certain the original has scallions in it, I clearly recall picking them out ... I didn't add them but, if you're an onion liker, they might add a nice bit of flavor.
I've been doing the weekly recipes for almost a month now and I love it. We haven't eaten out one single time since we started this. It doesn't feel like I'm saving any money, since I'm spending a bit more on groceries, but I didn't track the Chick-Fil-A money as well as the grocery money, so it's hard to tell exactly what dining out added to the grocery budget. I love the simplicity of knowing what we're going to eat and knowing that the food we've purchased is figured into the meal plan so it's eaten before it spoils. And I especially love that we're eating much more healthy meals.
I would be happy to post my weekly menus and recipes if anyone is interested.