Saturday, March 17, 2018

Super Savings Saturday - $50.40 and three stores

Groceries purchased March 17, 2018.  My apologies for the dark photo - we need to replace the light over our stove and I didn't realize the photo would be that dark!

John and I had a major discussion about the food budget this last week (well, it was actually the budget in general) and decided that since the children are growing so much right now (over an inch a week each) and he's recovering from a major illness that may take upwards of a year to heal from, it is not the time to cut the grocery budget.  We have $50/week in the budget that includes the CSA we purchase each year, any trips to Sam's Club or other stocking up we do, and anything we purchase from the Farmer's Market.  We decided we needed other places to cut right now, since food is more important right now.

From that $50 budget this week, we decided to give the children each $7 to purchase snacks.  I am also planning on making No Bake Energy Bites and Oatmeal Cookies for snacking and we have yogurt, fruit and veggies all the time that anyone is welcome to.  We decided to do this because the children eat so much each week - easily individually what John and I eat combined.  We were getting weary of having to refigure dinner or breakfast because the children had eaten the ingredients! I love that they are eating fruits and vegetables, but I also love being able to just make dinner without having to think so hard all the time!

 So, we're starting by allowing them to choose what they want for now for that $7. That may change as time goes on.  The children went through the sale fliers and decided before hand how to spend their $7.  They ended up having to come up with plan B since several of the items they wanted were out of stock and there were no rain checks. I was a bit bummed that the inexpensive strawberries were all sold out and so were the inexpensive pretzels they had initially decided upon. In the end, I believe they were happy with their choices and are looking forward to eating the things they purchased this week.

We went to three stores - 3 out of four corners at an intersection near our home. I haven't done that for a while and decided that I really want to stick with one or two at most in the future.  This weekend we did go to all three. Here's what we  purchased:

Store #1:
1lb Bow-tie pasta $0.79
3lbs Gala Apples $2.89
38oz Tomato Ketchup $1.49
Oyster Crackers $0.79
1.5oz Almonds (For John's Easter Basket) $0.99
1.25oz Pistachios (For John's Easter Basket) $0.99
Cinnamon Crunch Cereal (Part of Missy's $7) $1.39

Total Spent Store #1: $7.94

Store #2:
Snyder's Pretzels (Buddy's Choice for his $7)  2@$3.19 = $6.38
Cheesy Puffs (Part of Missy's $7) $2.89
18 ct Fresh Eggs $1.09

Total Spent Store #2: $10.36

Store #3:
1 dry pint Blackberries $2
1 dry pint Grape Tomatoes $1.50
1.75lbs Seedless Grapes 1.75@$1.99/lb = $3.48
Fresh Spinach $2.99
1 dry pint pink raspberries $2
2.12lb bananas 2.12@$0.29/lb = $0.61
2 Frozen Fruit - Peaches, Blueberries (peaches for Missy from her $7, blueberries for all of us) 2@2/$5 = $5
1 Gallon Milk $3.79
2 8ct packages cinnamon rolls 2@3/$5 = $3.33
10 cups Yoplait Yogurt 10@20/$10 = %
Smart Balance $3.29

Total Store #3: $33.00

Total spent for all three stores: $50.40

And just for fun, here's what the children bought for snacks this week:
Buddy: Pretzel Rods (2 bags)
       Buddy has 62-cents left of his budget to roll over to next week.
Missy: Frozen Peaches, Cheesy Puffs, Cinnamon Crunch Cereal
        Missy has 22-cents left of her budget to roll over next week.

We still have lots of meat and veggies in the freezers, as well as plenty of other food in the pantry and freezers as well. Come back on Monday to see what we're eating!

How did your shopping go this week?

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Menu Plan Tuesday - Week of March 12, 2018

Dinner one night last week - I'm starting to fall in love with Sheet Pan Dinners.  They're really just roasted whatever (here Yukon Gold Potatoes, Carrots, and Sausage) cooked on a sheet pan in the oven. YUM!

Wow - I am having such a hard time believing it's the middle of March already!  How does that happen?  February was really, really rough for our family and March is looking up, which is encouraging. 

We're heading into mid-terms and toward Spring Break at both my college and the children's school.  I'm looking forward to a break - and redoing the children's bedrooms.  We've been looking at cleaning out and updating for a while and it's definitely time.  The children are growing up and are ready for a more mature space plus we just need to clean out.  But all of that is for another blog post!  This one is all about menus.

We've been buying lots of fruits and vegetables lately - the children are eating a lot (both are in a growth spurt and eat more individually than John and I combined).  We're also eating less meat due to the church season of Lent - a personal choice rather than a necessity but we're doing that just the same.

Here's what we're eating this week:

Sunday, March 11, 2018:
     Breakfast: Toast, Mango-Banana Smoothies
     Lunch: Homemade Pizza
     Snack: Cut Veggies
     Dinner: Venison Gravy, Noodles, Pineapple-Strawberry Salad

Monday, March 12, 2018:
     Breakfast: Eggs, Toast
     Lunch: Leftover Venison and Noodles
     Snack: Apples or Clementine's
     Dinner: Deconstructed Cabbage Rolls, Apple-Strawberry-Blueberry Salad

Tuesday, March 13, 2018:
      Breakfast: Rice Bowl with Eggs and Spinach
      Lunch: Leftover Cabbage Rolls
      Snack: Oatmeal Cookies
      Dinner: Minestrone Soup, Homemade Bread, Sliced Apples

Wednesday, March 14, 2018:
      Breakfast: Oatmeal Muffins, Mango-Blueberry Smoothies
      Lunch: Leftover Soup
      Snack: No Bake Energy Bites
      Dinner: Leftover Venison and Noodles with Spinach Salad

Thursday, March 15, 2018:
      Breakfast: Waffles from the Freezer with Strawberry Jam
      Lunch: Leftover Soup
      Snack: No Bake Energy Bites or Grapefruit
      Dinner: Chicken Stir Fry, Rice, Pineapple-Mandarin Orange-Banana Salad

Friday, March 16, 2018:
      Breakfast: Oatmeal with Almonds, Dates and Craisins
      Lunch: Leftover Stir Fry, Grapefruit Wedges
      Snack: No Bake Energy Bites
      Dinner: Out with a Gift Card

Saturday, March 17, 2018:
      Brunch: Potato Pancakes with Cinnamon Sugar and Bacon
      Snack: Soft Pretzels
      Dinner: Roasted Veggie Couscous, Tortilla Chips, Sliced Apples and Grapefruit Wedges

What are you eating this week?

Sunday, March 4, 2018

These are a Few of My Favorite Things - February 2018 Blessings

It's been quite a while since I've done one of these posts and I decided I need to start again. 

February 2018 was rough - 4 trips to the emergency room (ER), lots of medical/doctor appointments, unexpected and unprecedented problems at both of our jobs, and our children's school having to suspend 3 students in one day (they have never had to do that before)!  Add in the myriad of little things that have been happening (leading to my 'pecked to death by hens' statement in another recent post), and February was exhausting!

We did have blessings and I'm going to reiterate those here, for my benefit mostly.  I hope you enjoy them as well!

Valentine's Day.  The children made valentine's for their friends and we enjoyed a nice dinner at home the day after.  We did buy chocolates and a few other little things for each other.  It was a nice celebration of the gift of family and love for each other and others.
A friend gifting me several necklace and earring sets she did not use or want anymore.  I had been eyeing a necklace at the store - it would be perfect with the outfit I plan to wear for Easter.  I decided I really didn't need it - we have other things we need to spend our money on.  A week later my friend gifted me one almost identical, but higher quality.  I've been having fun mixing and matching these new items with my wardrobe.
A friend gifting our daughter a string of blue twinkle lights for her bedroom.  She was thrilled!
Our daughter working her hardest to learn to do her own hair and make up for dance.  A pressure off my mind! And what confidence booster for her!
Choir practice at church - what a fun group and we're all excited to be working on Easter music right now!
Honors band - both children made it this year and are super excited about it.
Having a full pantry and freezers.
Being able to shovel snow.  We had 24 inches of snow total in February - one 12 inch (approx. 30 cm) snowfall, and two 6 inch (approx. 15 cm)  snowfalls.  Some of our neighbors had to wait for someone to come and dig them out. I'm so grateful we did not!
Both John and I earning a little extra this month - not much but every little bit helps!
Finding out our tax estimations for 2017 were almost spot on.  John's paycheck does not have state or federal tax withheld so we had to estimate how much we needed to pay.  We only have to pay a very small amount.  We are very relieved - we were concerned we were not planning well.  This was something new for us this past year.  We have always had taxes withheld in the past.
Our congregation's seminary student.  She's been such a blessing this past month!
Craft supplies - beads, thread, fabric, and origami paper we already owned turned into two different gifts for friends and family.  The gifts turned out great and were much appreciated.
Email and phone calls.  I'm so grateful we don't have to wait weeks for hand-written letters to communicate with far away friends and family.
School uniforms. What a blessing!  I'm so grateful that our children wear school uniforms each day.  They make life so much easier and save us quite a bit of money each year.
New exercise/workout wear - some a hand me down (never worn), some earned through an exercise challenge and some purchased on deep clearance.  It's been three years since I bought new exercise clothing and I really needed it! 
Medical insurance.  With all the trips to the doctor and ER, I'm grateful we don't have to pay out of pocket.  It still costs us 20% of the total but we can budget for that.  The total would be insurmountable right now.
Friends.  What a blessing they are!
Laughter and humor.  I'm not sure how we'd make it through without it!
Lent.  A season of reflection, repentance and anticipation.  What a good reminder for the end of winter, when we're all ready for a change.  I'm grateful for a season of stretching and growing.  Even if it's rather painful sometimes. 
Sunshine.  We have had a lot of sunshine in addition to the snow.  I love the bright light and the sparkle of the reflection off the snow.
I could have a slightly longer list but we will stop there for now.  I've already started March's list.
How about you?
What blessings did you have in February?  I'd love to hear!

Monday, February 19, 2018

Menu Plan Monday - Week of February 18, 2018

The GIANT box of chocolates John bought me for Valentine's Day!  Don't worry - I still have plenty of chocolates left!
 Happy week after Valentine's Day!  Or Happy Lent!  Or both! How about that?

I'm having a hard time believing that we're already past the middle of February - how in the world did that happen?  We have had a crazy couple of weeks - nothing really serious but I've been feeling a bit like I'm getting pecked to death by hens as of late.  So many things that are just taking up way more time than they should!  We will see how it all plays out in the end.

We have been trying to stick to our reduced grocery budget.  I feel like we aren't doing so well and then John reminds me how much we have not spent and I feel better.  This week we bought apples at 6lb/$5, corn chips $2, and potatoes 10lbs/$5.  A gallon of milk for just under $4.  I'm not quite staying in the $15/week that I wanted to (went WAY over last week) but we should end up just about where we want to at the end of the month.

We are in Lent right now (Ash Wednesday started the church season of Lent on the 14th), and we are eating less meat during Lent.  Typically we hear about not eating meat on Fridays but traditionally Christians were expected to abstain from meat and fish a minimum of three days per week (ideally, every day but Sunday) as well as abstaining from eggs, dairy and leavening.  We are keeping the eggs, dairy and leavening but are eliminating meat or fish from most nights of the week this year - partly to observe Lent and partly to eat down the pantry.  A win-win in our eyes!

So, without further ado, here's the menu for this week:

Sunday, February 18, 2018:
        Breakfast: Toast with Peanut Butter
        Lunch: Grilled Cheese Sandwiches, Chicken Noodle Soup, Sliced Apples
        Snack: Popcorn
        Dinner: Swedish Meatballs, Rice, Corn

Monday, February 19, 2018:
       Breakfast: Eggs and Toast
       Lunch: Leftover Meatballs and Rice
       Snack: No Bake Energy Bites
       Dinner: Perfect Potato Soup, Cornbread, Sliced Apples

Tuesday, February 20, 2018:
        Breakfast: Oatmeal with Craisins and Almonds
        Lunch: Leftover Soup
        Snack: No Bake Energy Bites
        Dinner: Roasted Veggie Couscous, Corn Chips, Sliced Pineapple

Wednesday, February 21, 2018:
       Breakfast: Mango-Banana Smoothies, Toast
       Lunch: Leftover Soup or Couscous
       Snack: No Bake Energy Bites
       Dinner: Leftover Soup or Couscous

Thursday, February 22, 2018:
        Breakfast: Pancakes, Raspberries (from the Freezer), Raspberry Jam
        Lunch: Rice Bowls (with spinach, hard boiled eggs and cranberries)
        Snack: No Bake Energy Bites
        Dinner: Beef Roast, Carrots, Potatoes

Friday, February 23, 2018:
         Breakfast: Eggs and Toast
         Lunch: Leftover Roast with Carrots
         Snack: No Bake Energy Bites
         Dinner: Homemade Pizza (we usually make veggie pizzas with - onions, peppers, tomatoes, olives, etc.), Homemade Breadsticks

Saturday, February 24, 2018:
         Brunch: Egg Bake with Potatoes and Spinach
         Snack: Homemade Soft Pretzels
         Dinner: Soup from the Freezer, Homemade Bread

What are you eating this week?

Monday, February 5, 2018

Menu Plan Monday - Week of February 4, 2018 - Pantry Challenge Week 1

John received the above fruit bouquet as a thank you from the family of one of the funerals he officiated this last week.  It as such a neat idea and we really enjoyed the fruit.  The white items are chocolate/candy covered bananas.  This was a complete surprise and we enjoyed every bite!  Thank you W. family!

I didn't get to the grocery store until Sunday afternoon, after all the busy-ness of the weekend was completed for us.  I bought a few things in the way of groceries, but not much.  We cut our grocery budget in half for the month and we're hoping to apply the rest to some outstanding bills that we have.  So, February is going to be a Pantry Challenge Month here at our house.

Here's what we're eating this week:

Sunday, February 4, 2018:
          Breakfast:  Toast with Peanut Butter
          Lunch: At Bible Study at Church (members take turns bringing lunch)
          Snack: Fruit
          Dinner: Appetizers from the freezer - we were gifted some packages of frozen appetizers quite a while ago, so we ate those with popcorn and cut veggies and dip while watching the Super Bowl

Monday, February 5, 2018:
         Breakfast: Scrambled Eggs, Toast
         Lunch: Spinach Salad with Tuna and Strawberries
         Snack: Cut Veggies
         Dinner: Turkey Noodle Soup, Homemade Bread

Tuesday, February 6, 2018:
        Breakfast: Oatmeal with Almonds and Cranberries
        Lunch: Leftover Soup
        Snack: Cut Veggies
        Dinner:  Bratwurst, Green Beans, Rice, Apple-Strawberry Salad

Wednesday, February 7, 2018:
        Breakfast: Oatmeal Muffins, Pineapple-Mango Smoothies
        Lunch: Leftover Soup
        Snack: Cut Veggies
        Dinner: Rice Bowl with Egg, Spinach and Tomatoes

Thursday, February 8, 2018:
        Breakfast: Gingerbread Pancakes with Applesauce
        Lunch: Spinach Salad with Almonds, Mandarin Oranges, Pineapple and Cranberries
        Snack: No Bake Bites
        Dinner: Three Sisters Stew, Cornbread, Sliced Pineapple

Friday, February 9, 2018:
        Breakfast: Scrambled Eggs, Toast
        Lunch: Leftover Stew
        Snack: No Bake Bites
        Dinner: Homemade Pizza and Breadsticks

Saturday, February 10, 2018:
        Brunch: Maple Oat Scones, Bacon, Pineapple and Apple Slices
        Snack: Homemade Soft Pretzels
        Dinner: Leftover Stew or Soup from the Freezer, Spinach Salad
        Dessert: Cookies (not sure what type yet)

What are you eating this week?

Sunday, February 4, 2018

Super Savings Sunday - February Pantry Challenge Week 1

No grocery photo again this week - my children are getting way too efficient at putting those things away!  Seriously, I brought in two bags, went back out to collect the last one and the rest of my "stuff" and it was all put away!  I love it but it does mean grocery photos are pretty much non-existent.  I'm going to have to warn then next week in advance - I do want those photos!

Saturday was a busy day that ended with a wonderful birthday party for a friend. So, errands were bumped to Sunday this weekend.  This was a week with three stops - two grocery stores next door to each other and then a drug store on the way home.  The drug store stop was only because I needed to pick up a knee brace for our son - the only place close by to purchase one.

Here's what I purchased at Store #1:

1lb coffee beans $4.99
Crisco Baking Sticks 3pk $3.79
56oz Vegetable Oil $2.49
2.18lbs Yellow Bananas @ $0.59/lb = $1.29
1 bunch Celery $1.99
1 large Butternut Squash $3 (normally I grow these, but our plant died this year)
42oz Yogurt $3.59
5 6oz Yogurt Cups @ 5/$3 = $3
1lb Cheese $4

Total Store #1: $28.14

Here's what I purchased at Store #2:

1 large pineapple $1.89
3lb Pink Lady Apples $3.89
1lb Strawberries $1.49

Total Store #2: $6.67

Here's what I purchased at the drug store:

56oz Laundry Soap $1.99 - $1 coupon = $0.99
Sales Tax: $0.13

Total drug store: $1.12

Grand Total Spent this Week: $35.93

Lower than our typical spending of around $40/week but a bit higher than I would have liked for our first week.  All but the yogurt cups, squash, and the fruit were stock up purchases.  My plan for the next few weeks is to purchase mainly some fresh fruit, milk and any really good sale meat we find.  The meat certainly isn't a necessity but would be a welcome addition.  We have approximately $15/wk from now to the end of the month to purchase groceries and toiletries if we split the money evenly between the weeks.  I'll keep you posted on how it all goes!

I went to the second store because they had advertised a low price on some fruit we normally don't purchase because of the price.  They were sold out so I went with apples and an inexpensive pineapple.  I was pretty bummed - I had been looking forward to the other fruit.  It's all good and I will enjoy the apples very much.

Come back tomorrow and see what we're eating!

Friday, February 2, 2018

Frugal Friday - Weeks 4 and 5 of 52 - January 19 - February 1, 2018

Our son took this photo about hallway through the huge snowfall we had a week and half ago.  In reality it's one of our fenced vegetable plots (the "towers" in the middle are trellis for climbing veggies such as pole beans).  The children both thought it looked like a snow castle and took a photo - I completely agree!  It's melted now, so we just have the fence and trellis with snow on the ground but I'm thoroughly enjoying the photo!

We've had a very crazy couple of weeks.  I feel like I have spent every day for the past two weeks putting out proverbial fires - little things that just drive you crazy or are completely unexpected and need to be taken care of RIGHT NOW, they can't possibly wait a minute more.  Some are very legitimate - our son's knee injury this past weekend needed to taken care of right away.  Others could wait until a reasonable hour or at least until your current thought was finished.  Then there's all the normal things that go with January and basketball season and winter weather. It's been quite the two weeks!

Here are some of the frugal things we've done during that crazy time:

*  We made spaghetti sauce, chicken wild rice soup, perfect potato soup, waffles, biscuits, cornbread, pizza, pizza twists, bread sticks, and French bread at home.

* We checked several books out of the library and returned several others.  We stopped on the way home from work another day to pick up a book on inter-library loan.

* John and I used a gift card to enjoy a coffee date out.

* John officiated 3 funerals (yes, three!) and was paid for those.

* We enjoyed a snow day at home with movies we already owned and books from the library.

* I worked the concession stand at our son's basketball tournament and received free admission.

* Our daughter helped at a music event and got to meet some professional musicians and was paid with lunch and a monetary gift.

* I worked from home two days to avoid bad weather.  We had a snow day one of those two days and I didn't have class the other day.

* We shoveled our own driveway after approximately 16 inches of snowfall rather than paying someone else to do it.

* A congregational member donated three really pretty three-ring binders to the church but the church didn't need them.  John brought them home for us to use at home.

* My mother sent our daughter a dress that she made.  Sewing is my mother's hobby and she had fabric on hand.  My daughter has a new dress that fits perfectly at no cost to any of us and my mother got to spend time on her favorite hobby. 

* The children were allowed to wear costumes to school three days last week for Spirit Week.  Both children wore clothes and costumes that they already had.  They looked great!

* John attended a week-long training session and was treated to lunch each day.  The training session was for clergy and was paid for as well.

What did you do the last few weeks that were frugal?