Welcome to BusyGalTips! With a background in social work, I thrive on helping others improve their lives! This is a creative way for me to live out my passion and share ways to make your busy life a little bit more manageable. ••••••••••••• Additional bonus tips can be found on Twitter and Facebook (click the links on the left). Enjoy!


Busygals in the Kitchen: On the Menu This Week at BGT...

I thought I would share with y'all a typical week's menu in the BGT kitchen. 

You may remember some inspiration I received from Clare. True to my word, I have been planning out menus from Cooking With Trader Joe's incredible web site since January, and the benefits have been multi-faceted: we've been saving TONS of money, I've totally improved my cooking skills, we eat healthier, and we eat home-cooked meals that are filled with many organic veggies and fruits.

Here's a sample from this week (by the way, all the ingredients shown in this photo were $67. That's 5 meals-worth of food for two people, plus fruit and drinks, and 2 pre-made salad lunches, plus plenty of leftovers! I did have some of the ingredients already for the recipes below, which is why they're not in the photo. This is drastically less money than we used to spend on food when we were going out to meals pretty much 7 days per week).

Image courtesy of Busygaltips

Here's what's on the menu this week, taken straight from my grocery list at Cooking With Trader Joe's:
Image courtesy of cooktj.com

    • 1 (24-oz) bag Baby Red Potatoes (about 9-10 potatoes)
    • 3 Tbsp olive oil
    • 1/2 tsp salt
    • 1/4 tsp black pepper
    • 2 cubes frozen Crushed Garlic, or 2 cloves garlic, minced.
    • 3-4 sprigs fresh rosemary or 2 tsp dried rosemary
    • 2 (18 oz) tubes cooked polenta, sliced into 1/3" rounds
    • 1 pkg Soy Chorizo, removed from encasing, or substitute 1 lb meat cooked in Taco Seasoning
    • 2 (15 oz) cans black beans, drained
    • 3 zucchini squash, sliced
    • 1 large onion, chopped
    • 2 Tbsp olive oil
    • 1 cup shredded Mexican cheese
    • 1/2 cup Enchilada Sauce
    • 1/4 cup cilantro
    • Sour cream as garnish (optional)
    • I'm adding sliced Crimini Mushrooms to this recipe
    • This recipe is a favorite in our house!
    • 2 pieces of frozen Tandoori Naan, plain
    • 3-4 Tbsp Masala Simmer Sauce or other curry sauce
    • 1 cup frozen spinach, thawed and drained (squeeze the water out with your hands)
    • 2 Tbsp fresh Ricotta
    • 1/2 cup diced tomatoes
    • I've never made this...we'll see how it is!
    • 1/2 (16-oz) box No Boil Lasagna Noodles
    • 2 jars Tomato Basil Marinara (26 oz each)
    • 1 (14-oz) can artichoke hearts, drained and chopped (optional)
    • 1 bag frozen Misto all Griglia (grilled eggplant & zucchini), thawed
    • 3 cups shredded mozzarella
    • 1 (15-oz) container Fresh Ricotta or Fat Free Ricotta
    • 1 (16-oz) bag frozen chopped spinach, thawed
    • 1/4 cup Parmesan or grated Pecorino Romano
    • Basil or Italian parsley for garnish (optional)
    • I'm adding sliced Crimini Mushrooms to this recipe
    • 1 bag (16 oz) fusilli pasta (I used Brown Rice Pasta for this one)
    • 1 7-oz container of refrigerated Genova Pesto
    • 1/2 bag of baby spinach (3 oz)
    • 1 16-oz container heirloom cherry tomato mix
    • 1/2 cup toasted pine nuts
    • 1 container Ciliegine (fresh mozzarella balls), drained
    • Blarg...I forgot the fusili pasta!!! Someone want to pick some up for me? ;)

    So there you have it...a typical weekly menu in the BGT kitchen. If you haven't been using cooktj.com, or the menu planning idea, I highly recommend it! It's a time and money saver in our house!!!


Toys R Us Makes Gift Buying Easy for Baby Showers & Kids

I had the honor of being invited to my friend Melissa's baby shower this past weekend. It was lovely, complete with home-made cake and cupcakes by the grandma-to-be, family heirlooms, fresh lemonade, and baby gifts galore! As someone who has yet to become a mama, I was amazed, as I always am, at how much stuff a baby needs and how clueless I am about all things baby...but that's for another post altogether I suppose... :)

Now a word about the baby shower gift-buying process and a new discovery that has made life a bajillion times easier for us Busygals out there! 
Four words: "Eligible for Store Pickup."

I don't know about you, maybe it's just my luck, but I have gone to Babies/Toys-R-Us to buy baby shower gifts multiple times, and have been completely baffled by their registry gift-buying process each time. I've printed out the registry, gone to the aisle it says the product is on, and about six times out of ten, the item is nowhere to be found. I don't think I've ever gotten out of the store with whatever items I've wanted to purchase without having to ask an associate for help with locating at least one item. Oftentimes I've had to purchase items I wasn't originally intending to purchase, just because after I've been in there for an HOUR, I want to pull my hair out and don't care what I buy any more, as long as I have a gift in hand so I can get the heck out of there! 

Maybe I'm not the only one with this experience, and maybe people have complained about their inefficient registry-buying process, because I was delighted to discover this little feature on their web site when I went to check out Melissa's registry. It saved me time and frustration.

Next time you're on their web site looking for items to purchase, look for this little baby (above). Four words that can make your life much easier...Eligible for Store Pickup!

This thing is a lifesaver! 
Here's how it works:
*Select items from the registry that are Eligible for Store Pickup (yes...this limits your options as to what you can choose to buy...but the person registered for the items and wants them, so get 'em and save yourself time! ;)  )
*Select the store at which you wish to pick the items up
*Check out (using your credit card or Paypal)
*Wait for an email to confirm your order has been filled (I got mine within a couple of hours)
*Go to the store you chose to pick up at, and your items will be waiting for you at the Customer Service desk! 

No more searching, looking for someone to help you search, wandering aimlessly around the store in frustration...Yipppeeee!!!

I used this feature to purchase Melissa's gifts and was pleased with the experience and time and effort it saved me!

Added bonus: Babies/Toys R Us has a whole section dedicated to wrapping paper, gift bags, and cards that are all entirely appropriate for a baby shower or child's birthday gift, so you'll be done with all gift-giving-related tasks in no time!

Save yourself time and searching, I know I will use this feature from now on!