Monday, February 23, 2015

Menu Plan Monday - Week of February 22, 2015

Pizza Twists
We're super cold again this week.  Brrr!   And, of course, we have a ton of things going on this week. John has night meetings, Lenten worship, and lessons out our ears.  * SIGH*  Anyway, easy sometimes wins the race and we've got soup in the freezer for a long time and my beloved crockpot so here's what we're eating:

Sunday, February 22:
    Breakfast:  Oatmeal Muffins, Bananas
    Lunch: At Church after painting the Youth Room
    Snack: Homemade Soda Crackers (thought I'd try these!)
    Dinner: Blue and Gold Scout Banquet  (bring cookies - I'm making pressed sugar cookies)

Monday, February 23:
     Breakfast: Scrambled Eggs, Diced Sweet Potatoes
     Lunch: Apples with Peanut Butter, Yogurt, Cut Veggies, Cookie
     Snack: Crackers and Cheese
     Dinner: Chicken Fingers, Oven Fries, Tossed Salad, Pineapple-Strawberry-Melon Salad

Tuesday, February 24:
     Breakfast: Oatmeal with Almonds
     Lunch: Leftovers
     Snack: Fruit
     Dinner: Venison, Potatoes and Carrots in the Crockpot, Rice, Strawberry-Pineapple-Mandarin Orange Salad

Wednesday, February 25:
     Breakfast: Scrambled Eggs, Sliced Apples
     Lunch: Leftovers
     Snack: Yogurt
     Dinner: At Church before Worship

Thursday, February 26:
     Breakfast: Chai Spiced Oatmeal
     Lunch: Apples with Peanut Butter, Cut Veggies, Crackers and Cheese, Cookie
     Snack: Crackers with Peanut Butter
     Dinner: Soup from the Freezer, Homemade Bread, Sliced Apples

Friday, February 27:
     Breakfast: Pancakes with Strawberries
     Lunch: Chicken Noodle Soup, Toast, Fruit
     Snack: Cookies
     Dinner: Fish Tacos, Tossed Salad

Saturday, February 28:
     Breakfast: Blueberry Buckle (we have a TON of frozen berries in the freezer!)
     Lunch: Breakfast Tacos
     Snack: Cookies, Leftover Buckle
     Dinner: Homemade Pizza and Breadsticks

What are you eating this week?

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Super Savings Saturday - $23.39 shop and a review of last weekend

Well, just when I thought we were getting into the swing of things here, we came right into Lent with a stomach bug for all four of us!  Yippie.  Or NOT. 

I don't like being sick and we were all sick - John and Buddy Sunday/Monday/Tuesday and Missy and me Tuesday/Wednesday/Thursday.  I was so sick I had to cancel all of my classes, which hasn't happened in a few years.  I won't tell you what the house looks like or what I still need to catch up on, just that we're FINALLY back to as normal as we get and I am completely grateful!

Last weekend we took the money we hadn't spent the last month or so and a few other odds and ends we had floating around in drawers and under couch cushions and went to Sam's Club and bought a few things, including our normal weekly shopping.  Here's what we bought:

Pork Loin
Flour Tortillas
Sweet Potatoes (Yams)
A Pineapple (which wasn't ripe yet)
36 Ct Eggs
Bread Flour
2 Gallons of Skim Milk
Lemonade Drink Mix

Hoping that holds us for a while!  I don't remember how much we spent but it was less than I had expected and more than I'd initially planned (how's that for a clear answer!).

This week Buddy had money from Grandma to buy modeling clay. He has been making board games and is working on playing pieces and ran out of clay.  He was totally bummed because he knew it would be a while before he got more.  So, Grandma sent the two dresses she made for Missy and $25 to buy modeling clay!  Six packages later, he's one happy camper!   On the way home from the craft store, he and I stopped for groceries.  Here's what we got:

Cheese Crackers $1.66 (Missy is cooking dinner one night and these are for her recipe)
Crisco Butter Flavored Sticks $3.89
2 Bags Salad Greens B1G1 $2.99
Celery $1.49
2.04lb Gala Apples @ $0.99/lb = $2.02
1.01lb Red Delicious Apples @ $0.99/lb = $1.00
1lb Strawberries $2.50
2.45lbs Bananas @ $0.59/lb = $1.45
Smart Balance Spread $2.99
Yoplait Greek Yogurt 5oz 5 @ $0.88  - $1 coupon = $3.40

Total This Week: $23.39
Saved (according to store receipt): $4.43 (19%)

John and I inventoried the freezers two weeks ago and we had everything but fruit and milk from the week prior to Valentine's Day through Easter with the exception of 4 dinners.  We also had enough for at least part of several breakfasts as well, so we shouldn't have to do a lot of shopping in the next few weeks.  We're not sure what John is doing next year so we are trying to figure out the finances yet again (isn't that a never ending process?).

How did your shopping go this week?

And comes back Monday to see what we're eating.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Menu Plan Monday - Week of February 8, 2015

Hello all.  I haven't forgotten you! :)  Really.

It's just been that busy around here and I'm trying to keep my head above water.   And do all the things I have to do - like cooking, cleaning, laundry, grading, and teaching!   We also had a problem at work that means we actually "skip" a paycheck at work for me - which means I've gone from December 19th until February 20th without any income other than my husband's Vicar salary, which doesn't quite cover our medical insurance (hey - it's an internship!).  So we've been trying to stretch the budget as far as we can so we have money for things like the mortgage, utilities, and that pesky medical insurance!  If we had known about that extra two-week period, it would be fine, but since we didn't know until the middle of January, it was impossible to plan for those two weeks.

I ran to one store on Saturday and spent $32 and change on some groceries.  John and I inventoried the freezers as well so we could use up everything in the freezers - not just to defrost the deep freeze before summer but also to make use of the things we have so we don't waste.

So, on Saturday we bought the following:
* Gallon Skim Milk
* Gala Apples
* Clementine's
* 1 Cantaloupe
* Two 42oz boxes of oatmeal
* 5 cans of Campbell's Chicken Noodle Soup
* Two boxes of Raisin Bran Cereal
* Two bags of salad greens
* One bag yellow onions

This weekend is Valentine's Day and we've been trying to figure out how to get a real, honest date out without the children once a month this year.  It just works out that our children both have something on Friday evening and we have a chance to go out for dinner.  We have a gift card to a nice local restraint that we received for Christmas and we plan to use that.  We're both really looking forward to that! 

So without further ado - and our freezer inventory in mind - here's what we're eating for diner this week:

Sunday, February 8:
   Breakfast: Leftover muffins from Saturday
   Lunch: At Church
   Snack: Ice Cream
   Dinner: Chicken Pot Pie, Apple-Pear-Banana Salad

Monday, February 9:
    Breakfast: Waffles from the freezer, Clementine's
    Lunch: Leftover Pot Pie
    Snack: Popcorn
    Dinner: Scrambled Eggs, Diced Fried Potatoes, Sauted Spinach with Onions and Garlic, Apples

Tuesday, February 10:
    Breakfast: Smoothies
    Lunch: Leftover Pot Pie
    Snack: Nuts
    Dinner: Stir Fry (turkey, cabbage, peas, beans, carrots), Rice, Clementine's

Wednesday, February 11:
    Breakfast: Pancakes from the Freezer, Clementine's
    Lunch: Leftover Stir Fry
    Snack: Nuts
    Dinner: Cracker Baked Chicken, Baked Potatoes, Beets, Melon-Apple-Pear Salad

Thursday, February 12:
    Breakfast: Zucchini Bread
    Lunch: Salad with Leftover Chicken and Beets
    Snack: Valentine's Cookies
    Dinner: Soup from the Freezer, Baking Powder Biscuits, Sliced Apples

Friday, February 13:
    Breakfast: Zucchini Bread
    Lunch: Leftover Soup
    Snack: Valentine's Cookies
    Dinner: Out for Mom and Dad, At a party for the Children

Saturday, February 14: St. Valentine's Day:
    Breakfast: Blueberry Buckle
    Lunch: Sandwiches, Cut Veggies, Fruit
    Snack: Leftover Buckle
    Dinner: Homemade Pizza and Breadsticks
    Dessert: Apple Crisp

What are you eating this week?

Monday, January 19, 2015

Menu Plan Monday - Week of January 18, 2015

Our Christmas Eve Dinner Table!
I had hoped to have pictures of the cake I made this last week for you but it stuck to the pan and came out in crumbles.  So much for doing what I thought was a good job of greasing the pan!   The crumbs tasted good though and I guess it doesn't matter if you eat cake with a fork or a spoon!

The children are off school two days this week for Martin Luther King Jr. Day and a teacher in-service and I'm teaching 5 Jazzercise classes this week, instead of my usual 2-3, but John mercifully has a quiet week this week with only Confirmation on Wednesday night.  That means a lot of easy and/or crockpot meals this week!

Here's what we're eating:

Sunday, Jan 18th:
    Breakfast: Scrambled Eggs, Sliced Fruit
    Lunch: Potato and Sausage Frittata in the Cockpot, Baking Powder Biscuits, Orange Wedges
    Snack: Homemade Bread with Butter
    Dinner: Chicken Divan, Homemade Bread, Apple-Pear-Banana Salad

Monday, January 19th:
     Breakfast: Waffles from the Freezer, Blueberry Sauce (also from the freezer)
     Lunch:  PB&J, Cut Veggies, Sliced Apples
     Snack: Nuts
     Dinner: Chicken Flavored Rice, Roasted Root Vegetables, Oranges

Tuesday, January 20th:
     Breakfast: Scrambled Eggs, Toast
     Lunch; Veggie Fried Rice, Orange or Grapefruit
     Snack: Ice Cream
     Dinner: Potato Pancakes, Sausage, Bananas

Wednesday, January 21st:
     Breakfast: Oatmeal Muffins, Bananas
     Lunch: Leftover Chicken Divan
     Snack: Leftover Muffins
     Dinner: Chicken Noodle Soup, Tossed Salad

Thursday, January 22nd:
    Breakfast: Oatmeal with Walnuts and Craisins
    Lunch: Leftover Fried Rice
    Snack: Nuts
    Dinner: Sauteed Shrimp, Rice, Green Beans (from the freezer), Oranges or Grapefruit

Friday, January 23rd:
     Breakfast: Scrambled Eggs, Oranges
     Lunch: Leftover Soup
     Snack: Nuts
     Dinner: Venison Gravy in the Crockpot, Mashed Potatoes, Tossed Salad, Sliced Apples or Pears

Saturday, January 24th:
     Breakfast: Cinnamon Breakfast Biscuits
     Lunch: Soup from the Freezer, Tossed Salad, Fruit
     Snack: Leftover Biscuits
     Dinner: Homemade Pizza and Breadsticks

What are you eating this week?

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Super Savings Saturday - $34.68 in Groceries

Since we were out of almost everything, we spent more than we had planned today but I think just about everything in the photo, with the possible exception of the fruit, will last well into next week.

Buddy and I hit one store after my workout this morning and here's the run-down:

Butter Kernel Canned Whole Kernel Corn 4 @ $0.69 = $2.76
Buddig Lunch Meat 5 @ 5/$3 - $1 coupon = $2
3.92lbs Red Grapefruit @ $0.99/lb = $3.88
2.31lbs Gala Apples @ $0.99/lb = $2.29
2.30lbs D'Ajou Pears @ $0.99/lb = $2.28
1.1lb Red Delicious Apples @ $0.99/lb = $1.09 (Buddy asked if he could get one for him and one for Missy since they love this kind and John and I definitely do not!)
2lbs Whole Carrots $0.99
Fresh Express Salad Greens B1G1 2 @ $2.99ea = $2.99
Kemp's Vanilla Ice Cream B1G1 2 @ $4.69/ea = $4.69
Smart Balance Spread $2.49
1 dozen Grade A Large Eggs $1.99
Kemp's Skim Milk 2 @ $3.99 - $0.75 coupon = $7.23

Total: $34.68
Total Saved According to Store Receipt: $9.83 (22%)

We had $80 to last us for the next 5 weeks.  This was week one.  So I now have $45.32 for the next four weeks.  As I said above, almost everything should last us into next week. I'm anticipating having to buy some fruit and maybe another dozen eggs next week and then I hope to buy flour and popcorn then too - since I have enough flour for this week and we're out of popcorn.  We'll see!
Come back Monday to see what we're eating!

Friday, January 16, 2015

Frugal Friday - January 2015 So Far

We've been so busy here since school started again last week!  I've made a huge amount of progress on getting some things crossed off my to-do list too, which I love.  I'm definitely a list-type person and it makes me feel good to cross things off my to-do lists.

We are in the penny-pinching mode again for a while - between beginning of term expenses, a break in paychecks, and a few other things, I am trying NOT to shop unless I already have the cash or a gift card in hand.  I'm also hoping to defrost our chest freezer before summer comes  - I had hoped to do that this fall but that didn't happen so spring it will be!  That means we need to eat out the freezer before then.   I'm also hoping to refine our spending habits so we can work on some big goals we have coming up!

Here's what we've done since the beginning of the 2015 year in terms of frugal things:

* Spent New Years and John's Birthday with the in-laws this year.  We used a credit for a hotel room and enjoyed just spending time with family.  It was terrific! 

* We used the pool and the weight/workout room at the hotel to exercise while we were at my in-laws.  They came "free" with the room and we got a great workout! 

* We draw names for Christmas presents in my husband's big family and I got three bags of gourmet coffee and an iTunes gift card for Christmas as well as a pastry cutter from my brother-in-law this year. All will be used and I'm honestly pretty excited about the gourmet coffee, since I rarely splurge on that myself.

* We ate most of our meals at home or took lunches.  John and I were each treated to one meal at work and John and I had one meal out.  I was also treated to wonderful snacks - fresh fruit, muffins, and other pastries - during a workshop at work. I was tempted to ask where they got the delicious pineapple from!

* For John's birthday we used tickets to a special museum exhibit we had gotten through a fundraiser raffle at church.  We paid $6 for parking and then treated ourselves to lunch at the museum too for about $25 for both of us.  A friend watched the children for us.  We had budgeted for everything (including paying the sitter!) and we had a very lovely time. We spent about 5 hours at the museum total, including lunch. This museum is one we don't go to often but it was a wonderful change of pace and a nice Birthday date for us.

* I made biscuits, cinnamon rolls, pancakes, waffles, cake, and pizza from scratch.

* We used a pre-paid punch card to get a loaf of bakery bread.

* I attended a sale at my favorite consignment store and used my Christmas gift card to buy a pair of slacks, three tops and a necklace and earring set that I can wear to work.  I have $12 of $50 left on my gift card that I will use at a later date.

* My daughter made birthday decorations for my husband using things we already had on hand.

* I cleaned out several drawers and cupboards in the kitchen, washed the shelves and drawers and put down new shelf paper that I already had (leftover from last time - I had purchased way too much!).  We threw away some broken and unusable things and donated several others.  We did end up with short list of things we need to replace, which we'll do as we can, but mostly we are just enjoying the extra shelf space!

* I updated our Budget Book and my husband and I redid our budget for the next few months.

* I used a new option to direct pay my student fees from last semester rather than having to put them on a credit card and then pay the credit card.  I love that new option!  And no interest paid!

* My children have been playing in the snow and I'm really enjoying that!  They have Monday off school and we're hoping to go sledding at a nearby park!  I'm so glad it's warmed up and we can go outside without fear of getting frostbite quickly.

* I cleaned out and donated some Christmas decorations I don't think we will use again.

* A colleague brought in workout wear she no longer wanted and offered to anyone who could wear it.  I brought home two new workout tops and a pair of workout capris.  I'm particularly excited about the capris because I need new ones! 

* I've been finishing up some sewing projects that have been half-done for far too long.  A birthday present for our nephew, pajamas for me, and a new curtain for the bathroom.  Hoping to have some photos of those for you soon!

* A friend moved overseas and gave Buddy his guitar.  He hasn't played it in years and didn't want to ship it. Buddy is ecstatic!  He's wanted a guitar for years.  Now he just has to find the time to learn how to play it!  We offered to pay for it but our friend refused.  He's just excited that someone will actually play it!  John has wanted to learn the guitar too and can have free lessons through the seminary.  So, the plan is for John to take lessons and then come home and teach Buddy. 

* We went back to the cash envelope system at the beginning of the year.  We had done this in the past but we'd gotten lax about it this past fall.  The fancy paper envelopes we had used were falling apart and I hadn't had time to make the fabric ones I wanted.  So we just kind of threw the cash in the desk drawer and pulled out what we needed.  We didn't overspend but there were a lot of "Oh, I was planning on using that for..." moments.  Stressful!  Hopefully we can avoid that now again!
What have you done lately that's frugal?

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Healthy Habits - One Change Per Week: Week #2

So, how did you do with last week's challenge?

Me - I actually have to laugh. 
I started the challenge on Monday and the only day this last week I didn't do it was Tuesday. Um, yeah.  The day I posted here.   ***BLUSH***

So for this week:

Habit #2: Take "the long way".

Honestly, when I was trying to come up with a good title for this habit, it was really hard.  So "Take "the long way."" it is!
The goal for this is to build a little more activity into your day without doing anything drastic. I find that typically these things take very little extra time. And, now that I've done them for a while they are a habit - something I do without thinking!
Here's what I mean:
* When I'm at work and need to go use the restroom, I walk the long way.  In my old building, unless I was really desperate, I used the restroom one floor up and took the stairs.
* When I need to throw something away, unless it's drippy or messy, I throw it in the one farthest away.
* If I need to change the load of laundry from the washer to the dryer, I will take each piece out individually and rather than in bunches.
* When I am baking or cooking, if at all possible I mix by hand rather than with my beautiful, new mixer (love the mixer, by the way!).
* If I'm only going a couple of blocks, I walk unless it's completely beastly out.
* In the parking ramp at work, I park one floor up and take the stairs rather than parking on the ground floor or taking the elevator.
*And countless other things in a similar manner....
Now, not all these things are practical all the time.  For example, the weather these last two weeks has been well below 0F here with wind chills in the negative double digits, which means I'm driving more short distances and parking as close as I can!  Drippy egg shells go in the kitchen compost pail next to the sink, no exceptions!  If we need that shirt dry in 45 minutes, I'll grab everything out of the washer and get it in the dryer as quickly as I can.
A colleague of mine can't walk up and down stairs without great difficulty so she always takes the elevator, but she always uses the garbage and recycling cans at the opposite end of the hallway rather than the ones in our office just so she has to move a bit more.
What does this mean for our challenge this week? 
The challenge this week is to pick one small thing and do it the long way. 
It doesn't have to be big. 
It can be very small:
...chop those veggies by hand,
...mix that recipe by hand, 
...walking to the far elevator at work rather than using the closest one,
...parking one row away from where you usually do in the parking lot,
...and a whole host of other things.
I'm going to work on walking up and down the stairs at work rather than taking the elevator. I rarely go up more than one floor and I've gotten in the habit of taking the elevator when I really don't need to (the exception will be if I am pushing a cart full of equipment).
What will you pick this week?