Saturday, July 11, 2015

Frugal Friday - On A Saturday (again!)

More of my beautiful flowers.
It's hard to believe that another week has already gone by - time is just flying right now!  

We're not into the rest of summer without another paycheck until September.  We did a big stock up run with about half of the grocery/toiletry money until September.  I got offered a new and better contract that won't put us in the same situation again.  It does mean less money per paycheck but we won't have gaps between paychecks like we have been. Whoot!

Anyway, here's what we've been up to this last week, at least as far as frugal things go:

* Two friends loaned me books to read this week.  I had loaned one friend several books last year and the other currently has three of my books to read.  I love being able to share books with friends!

* My daughter found a dress at the store made of material that looked very much like material I had bought for her last year.  We took a photo of it and we will make her a dress in the same style using material and notions we already have. 

* I sorted out several items and priced them for the garage sale we are planning on having later this summer. 

* Cut flowers from my yard for my kitchen table.

* Made biscuits, muffins, scones, soup and pizza from scratch this week.

* We went to both Sam's Club and the grocery store and spent approximately half of our grocery money for the rest of the summer.  We have about $20 per week until September now for mostly perishables.   I'm pleased with that and I think we'll be fine.

* We returned and checked out several books and videos from the public library.

* I put together a list of free activities we could do around the community. 

* I put together a menu plan for the rest of the summer.

* My parents sent me a box of coffee - they order coffee through a free-trade organization through their church.  They sent us a box of 6lbs of coffee beans to replace the 4lbs of coffee they helped us drank (I dink about 1-2 cups per day and John doesn't drink coffee, so they drank the bulk of it) in May.

* I froze bananas and a mango for use in smoothies later.

* I reorganized my pantry so I knew exactly where things are.

What did you do this week?  

Monday, July 6, 2015

Menu Plan Monday - Week of July 5th, 2015

Our homemade ice cream - this makes the canister look really big but it's only just 2 quart and this made about a quart of ice cream. YUM!

It's hard for me to believe that it's really after Independence Day already.  I am so *not* ready for that right now.   It feels like summer is just swinging by here and we haven't really done our usual things yet.  I know that that's all coming but it feels like it's so late this year.  I'm pretty sure that's because I taught summer session for the first time and I'm used to being done with classes and all the semester busyness in May.  I know we'll have our "normal" summer but we just haven't gotten there yet!
Enough of that.
Let's talk meals this week:
Sunday, July 5, 2015:
   * Breakfast: Peanut Butter Toast, Apples
   * Lunch: Bacon, Cinnamon Biscuit Twists, Strawberries
   * Snack: Ice Cream
   * Dinner: Chicken Legs, Asparagus, Apple-Strawberry-Raspberry Salad
Monday, July 6, 2015:
    * Breakfast: Banana-Peanut Butter Smoothies
    * Lunch: Tossed Salad with Leftover Chicken
    * Snack: Yogurt
    * Dinner: Pasta with Marinara Sauce and Veggies,  Strawberry-Apple-Pear Salad
Tuesday, July 7, 2015:
    * Breakfast: Chai Spiced Oatmeal with Walnuts
    * Lunch: Leftover Pasta with a Tossed Salad
    * Snack: Yogurt
    * Dinner: Chicken Fred Rice, Sliced Apples
Wednesday, July 8, 2015:
    * Breakfast:  Scrambled Eggs, Sliced Apples
    * Lunch: Leftover Fried Rice
    * Snack: Yogurt
    * Dinner: Pot Luck at Church: Bring Pineapple Coleslaw
Thursday, July 9, 2015:
    * Breakfast: Oatmeal with Craisins and Walnuts
    * Lunch: Grilled Cheese Sandwiches, Leftover Coleslaw
    * Snack: Yogurt
     * Dinner: Beef Roast, Couscous, Strawberry-Mandarin Orange-Apple Salad
Friday, July 10, 2015:
    * Breakfast: Scrambled Eggs, Oatmeal Muffins, Strawberries
    * Lunch: Leftover Beef and Couscous
     * Snack: Yogurt
    * Dinner: Fish Tacos, Rice, Sliced Apples
Saturday, July 11, 2015:
    * Breakfast: Irish Oatmeal with Maple Cream
    * Lunch: Chicken Noodle Soup with Homemade Bread
    * Snack: Popcorn
    * Dinner: Homemade Pizza and Breadsticks
What are you eating this week? 

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Super Savings - $39.80 Shop This Week

So I don't have a single photo for you this week - either the CSA or the grocery runs.   It was a rather busy week and photos just weren't my priority!  Plus, when John does the grocery shopping, I doubt he's thinking about taking photos afterward!
Either way, we sent $39.80 on groceries this week and here's what we got:

In our CSA:

* A HUGE head of cabbage (big enough to take up one entire crisper drawer in the refrigerator!)
* Tart cherries (1lb)
* Spinach
* Swiss Chard
* Kale
* Beets
* Asparagus
* Cilantro
* Sugar snap peas
* 2 Zucchini
* Sage

Store Trip #1:

* 1lb Strawberries 3@ $1.88 = $5.64
* 4.89lbs Braeburn Apples @$0.99/lb = $4.98
* 6 ears of corn (buy 3 get 3) $3.00
* 1lb Sweet Peppers bag $2.50
* 1.79 Bartlett Pears @ $1.79/lb = $3.96
* Snack Chips $1

Total Trip #1: $19.53 (Saved $1.50 or 7% according to the store receipt)

Store Trip #2:

* Hot Dog Buns 3 packages @ 1 ea = $3
* 1 pint Heavy Cream $3.49
* 1 gallon skim milk $3.79

Total Trip #2: $10.27

Come back Monday to see what we're eating!
How did you do with shopping this week?

Friday, July 3, 2015

Frugal Friday - July 3, 2015

I am loving my flowers this year - they're so pretty!
It's been a BUSY but good week.  My body is finally recovering from everything that was going on (we're still not quite sure what was happening) and my car is fixed and it's so nice to have it back!   Here are some things we've done this week in the "Frugal" arena:

* Froze more strawberries for later use in baking and smoothies.

* Baked muffins and waffles from scratch this week.

* Ate some things from the freezer - mostly soup and chili - that needed to be eaten.

* Harvested and dried basil and parsley from our garden. 

* I also harvested lettuce.  We don't have anything else that's quite ready yet.  We did get veggies from our CSA though - spinach, kale, swiss chard, zucchini (ours should be ready in a week or so), cherries, cilantro, broccoli, and a HUGE head of cabbage!

* Helped set up the Uniform Swap at the children's school.   I took my children's out-grown clothes and brought home enough that I need to only buy three uniform polo shirts and one uniform dress shirt.  They had no uniform polos or dress shirts in my children's sizes.  I did get all the bottoms that my children needed!  Hurray!  I am going to wait until closer to school starts and see if we do get the shirts but I'm going to plan on buying them, just in case.
* Fiddled with the scanner/printer/fax that we have and finally got the scanner portion working again!  I'm not quite sure what I did, but now it woks!  Yay!

* Taught a couple of "extra" Jazzercise classes and was paid for that.

* Cleaned out and set aside some things for a garage sale we're going to have later this summer.

* My car is now fixed!   This was frugal for us because we didn't pay for this - it was totally covered by the other driver's insurance.  Hurray!  I am so happy to have "my" car back.

* My son brought home a tie-died t-shirt from camp as a prize for a competition.  He's really excited.

* My daughter has been using beads and other materials we already had to make birthday gifts for her friends for the year.  She is making one for each of the girls in her class at school to give them throughout the year and one for her each of her Grandmothers for their birthdays (August and November).  They're beautiful!

* Inventoried the freezer and planned meals for the next several weeks based on what we have.  We have some things that need to be used up so we will do that so they don't go to waste. 

* Updated the budget book and planned out our budget for the rest of the summer.  I only have one more paycheck for the rest of the summer. 

* Inventoried the few gift cards we have to see how much money we have on them. 

* Renewed library books online so we didn't have to go to the library.  Downloaded a few free ebooks for my Kindle for PC.  Watched a few videos on YouTube and

We brown-bagged lunches for all three of us, cooked mostly from scratch and did most of our "usual" frugal types of things.

What have you done this week?

Monday, June 29, 2015

Menu Plan Monday - Week of June 28, 2015

I don't have meal photos this week but I do have photos of our groceries and the second box of our CSA!  So here goes:

CSA First:
Front Row: Left to Right: Peas, Garlic Chives, Garlic Scapes, Dill, Sage
Back Row: Left to Right: Lettuce, Spinach, Swiss Chard, Broccoli
Not Pictured: 1 lb Strawberries
Groceries Next: 

Store #1:
Toilet Cleaner $2.19
Mini Pretzels $1.79
S&W Canned Beans 6 @ 10/$6 = $3.60
Betty Crocker Fruit Snacks $1.50
Cracked Wheat Bread $2.50
Chicken Drum Sticks 4.51lbs @ $0.88/lb = $3.97
Red Mango $0.88
Pears 2.60lbs @ $.99/lb = $2.57
Apples 2.33lb @ $1.49/lb = $3.47
Raspberries (dry pint) 2 @ 2/$4 = $4
Blueberries (dry pint) 2 @ 2/$4 = $4
Smart Balance Spread $2.99
200 ct Coffee Filters $1.79
Total (with tax): $35.25
Store #2:
100ct Kleenex $1.01
Total (with tax): $1.08
So what are we eating this week?  Lots of salad - we have lettuce and spinach and Swiss Chard (silverbeet) from the CSA and we have Butter Crunch Lettuce in our yard that we need to eat.  We also have a few things in the freezer we're trying to use up.  Here's what we're eating this week:
Sunday, June 28:
   Breakfast: Toast with Peanut Butter, Apple or Pear
   Lunch: At Church: Bring Dessert Bars
   Snack: Yogurt
   Dinner: Homemade Pizza and Breadsticks
Monday, June 29 (My parent's 57th Wedding Anniversary!)
   Breakfast: Strawberry-Banana Smoothies with Toast
   Lunch: Chicken Noodle Soup, Bread, Apple or Pear
   Snack: Yogurt
   Dinner: Salad with Chicken, Walnuts, Berries and Couscous
Tuesday, June 30:
    Breakfast: Oatmeal with Walnuts and Craisins
    Lunch:  Leftover Salad
    Snack: Yogurt
    Dinner: Baked Potatoes with Chili, Salad, Berry-Apple Salad
Wednesday, July 1:
    Breakfast: Scrambled Eggs and Toast
    Lunch: Leftover Chili, Salad
    Snack: Yogurt
    Dinner:  Pot Luck at Church: Bring a Tossed Salad
Thursday, July 2:
    Breakfast: Oatmeal with Walnuts and Craisins
    Lunch:  PB&J, Cut Veggies, Apple or Pear
    Snack: Yogurt
    Dinner:  Vegie Stir Fry, Rice, Berry-Apple Salad
Friday, July 3:
    Breakfast: Oatmeal Muffins, Berries
    Lunch: Beef Stew, Bread, Fruit
    Snack: Yogurt
    Dinner: Homemade Pizza and Breadsticks
Saturday, July 4, Independence Day:
    Brunch:  Buttermilk Coffee Cake, Bacon, Sliced Apples and Pears
    Lunch: Hot Dogs in Buns, Corn on the Cob, Red-White-and-Blue Fruit Salad
    Snack: Homemade Ice Cream
    Dinner: At a Friend's House: Bring a Tossed Salad
The chili, chicken noodle soup and beef stew are from the freezer as is the bacon and the chicken.  We are at a friend's house for Independence Day on Saturday and are planning on bringing a Tossed Salad for the dinner and then we'll stay and enjoy the fireworks at a nearby park.   We'll make homemade ice cream on Saturday and we should have enough cream to make two batches - one vanilla and one strawberry.  I will go shopping on Friday to get what we need to make that.
We had lots of apples and pears leftover from last week and the children will take a fruit snack and pretzels for extra snacks at camp each day.  They rarely get fruit snacks but they asked for them and since they were on sale, I agreed.   They spend 8 hours a day outside at camp each day so I think they can have a little "junk food" every now and again! 
We're hoping to get beets (beetroot), cabbage and perhaps cherries and raspberries too this week in our CSA!  I'm excited!
What are you eating this week?

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Frugal...Saturday - It's been busy around here!

Some of my beautiful flowers!  They are making me SO happy this summer!
It's been a pretty wild month or so around here and I'm far busier than I thought I would be.  Teaching summer session is brutal - both for me and the students.  Three hours of class each day, five days a week.  Thankfully we're almost done for the summer!  John has been at camp and a retreat with the 4th-6th graders and the high school kids, respectively. He has more trips coming up this summer too.  I was in a bad car accident earlier this month (thankfully I am okay but our car is still getting repaired) and I have been fighting a bunch of other health "stuff" lately.  I'm pretty sure that having a break from work and school and all that will help - not much longer and then I'll get that break!

We've been trying to be pretty frugal lately since we're on short income this summer too (like last summer) - I don't get paid when I'm not teaching and with the car and a few other things we've had some pretty big expenses.  Yes, we have insurance, but there are other expenses too.

So, anyway, here are some of the highlights for frugal activities from the last couple of weeks:

* I've been picking flowers from my garden to decorate our kitchen table.  I had a goal this year to have more cutting flowers and it looks like I've succeeded.  I love it!
* The children and I are participating in the summer reading program for the library.  The children are so excited! So we've been going to the library each week.  We usually come home with at least 16 books for the week.  We've also picked up lots of audio books for the car when we're driving everywhere.

* Our home congregation decided to close the small lending library they had since very few people were using it.  They added the books to the "Take a Book, Leave a Book" space by the main doors - which people are using regularly.  Before they did that, anyone who had checked out a book in the last 5 years was asked if they wanted it.  I acquired the first five volumes of a favorite mystery series.  They were on my list to buy at some point and now I don't have to!  

* I used the Amazon credit I received for doing a textbook review to purchase 2 more volumes of that series.  With the volumes I already had I only have two more to buy and then I'll have the whole series!
*  Picked lettuce from our garden for salads this week.   We should have other goodies coming up soon - we have baby zucchinis and green peppers out there already! 

* I'm drying chives, sage and dill for use later.  I should dry some basil too - its getting ready to pick!

* We brought home leftovers from the pot luck at church this week - there had been a funeral during the day and they asked if anyone wanted to take leftovers home.  Most of us that attended the pot luck did - pasta salad, potato salad and oven-fried chicken.  Delicious!
* I had a second pot luck this week and I brought paper napkins, paper plates and plastic silverware that we already had rather than bringing food since I went straight from work without a stop at home.

*  We had three volunteer trees in our fence line that were getting into the power lines. The power company mandates that we take them down but here they don't cut them down themselves (like they do in some places).  So we paid to have them taken out and have our big front tree trimmed at the same time.  While that wasn't frugal, we asked them to leave the leftover mulch for our flower beds.  They did and we had plenty!

* We have a problem with Creeping Charlie and I talked with the University of Minnesota Extension service to see what our options are, since we don't want to use awful chemicals - the Charlie is so close to flowers and vegetables that we definitely want to keep.  They recommended a dethatching rake and then over planting with something else.   We spent $25 on the rake and used grass seed we already had.  It's a lot of work, but it's working pretty well!  We are pleased!
* I froze strawberries and bananas we weren't able to eat before they went bad.  We will use them for smoothies or banana bread later.

* We've watched several shows for free on or YouTube. 

* We've had two bonfires in our fire pit already this spring.  We're burning the wood we've trimmed off the lilac bushes and some branches we trimmed off our front tree last year and aged over the winter.  We've all enjoyed it!  It's a really nice free family night or date night (or both with date night happening after the kids go to bed). 

* We got reimbursed by the school district for the transportation fee that we pay but don't use. Since we transport our children ourselves out of district we are eligible for a refund of that fee.  It covered part of the cost of having the trees cut down. 

I'm grateful for insurance, good medical care, helpful friends, rental cars, and lots of things to keep the children busy.  Hopefully things will be a little less busy in a week or two and I can really get some rest!

How have things been with you lately?

Monday, June 15, 2015

Menu Plan Monday - Week of June 14, 2015

So, the picture is totally not anything I made (seriously!) but was from the reception for the Confirmation class on Pentecost Sunday a couple of weeks ago.  I have been terrible at taking more food photos lately, so this is it!  Isn't it pretty?  

We're into full-blown summer mode here.  The children are in summer day-camp through the YMCA, John is gearing up for the National Youth Gathering and a couple rounds of church camp and I'm teaching summer session classes.  I've been sick more than I would like (including a very painful bout that landed me in the ER) and our weather has been beautiful! 

We spent $43 this last week on groceries and our CSA starts mid-week this week. 

Here's what we're eating this week:

Sunday, June 14, 2015:
    Breakfast: Cereal and Milk
    Lunch:  Grilled hotdogs and Hamburgers, Buns, Watermelon
    Snack: Homemade Slushies (we bought a machine for John a few years ago)
    Dinner: Pizza Twists, Tossed Salad, Strawberries

Monday, June 15, 2015:
    Breakfast:  Toast with Peanut Butter, Bananas
    Lunch: Salad with Walnuts and Cranberries, Apples
    Snack; Yogurt
    Dinner: Toasted Veggie Couscous, Tortilla Chips, Strawberry-Blackberry-Banana Salad

Tuesday, June 16, 2015:
    Breakfast: Scrambled Eggs with Toast
    Lunch: Leftover couscous, with spinach and walnuts, Apples
    Snack: Yogurt
    Dinner: Roasted Chicken and Potatoes, Green Beans, Apple-Strawberry-Pineapple Salad

Wednesday, June 17, 2015:
    Breakfast: Oatmeal Muffins
    Lunch: Leftover Chicken and Potatoes, Tossed Salad
    Snack: Yogurt
    Dinner: Pot Luck at Church: Bring Salad

Thursday, June 18, 2015:
    Breakfast: Scrambled Eggs and Toast
    Lunch: Wheat Berry Salad with Cranberries, Walnuts and Spinach
    Snack: Oatmeal Cookies
    Dinner: BLT Pasta Salad, Bananas

Friday, June 19, 2015:
    Breakfast: Toast with Peanut Butter, Oranges
    Lunch: Leftover BLT Salad
    Snack: Oatmeal Cookies
    Dinner: Fish Tacos, Fruit Salad

Saturday, June 20, 2015:
    Breakfast: Orange-Cranberry Scones
    Lunch: Salad with Tuna
    Snack: Oatmeal Cookies
    Dinner: Homemade Pizza and Breadsticks

What are you eating this week?