Friday, March 27, 2015

Frugal Friday

Wow - what a week.

I think my brain shut down on Monday and never woke back up.  I've been pushing for so long that I think I just hit the wall. Having both a nasty virus and then bronchitis earlier this spring I'm sure didn't help.

Either way - the week is done and we have a blessedly quiet weekend before the busy-ness of Holy Week takes over.  John and I both did a happy dance when we realized that we have nowhere to be tonight (Friday) or the whole day Saturday either.  We're hoping to run out and get groceries tonight so we don't have to go anywhere at all tomorrow (perhaps even indulging in a full-fledged pajama day! Whoot!).

My frugal list of things this week is short because I didn't have time for much else, but here's the highlights anyway:

* Made homemade biscuits, potato soup, cornbread and waffles (both to eat and for the freezer). 

* Accepted a bag of hand-me-down clothes for my son including three pairs of jeans, two pairs of cargo pants, a pair of gray dress pants, a white button down shirt, another button down shirt and a pair of pajama pants.  A friend was cleaning out and offered them - yay!

* I accepted free muffins, doughnuts, and lunch at work this week.  John had lunch provided by the church one day and a parishioner invited him to join lunch at the nursing home he was visiting one day as well. 

* John's cousin brought back pizza from Iowa for him.  We heated it up and date it - and it was delicious!

* My deal of the week: I stopped by Goodwill just to look.  I never do this, but the square, brightly colored plates we had really wanted to transition too as our white plates were diminishing just were not working for us.  I had seen some of our white plates a long time ago (3 years now!) at a different Goodwill and I'd been kicking myself for not getting them ever since.  So I look at the plates, and this store had 7 of our plates for $1.49 each!  They're name brand stoneware (I think $15 per plate when we originally got them) so this was a steal!  Even better, since it was the weekend, green tags were half off so I got 7 plates for a whopping $5.22!   We were thrilled! I also resisted the urge to buy anything else while I was there, since I really didn't need anything else. 

*  Last Saturday we attended a fundraiser for our children's school that included a silent auction.  We only bid on two things and won both and both were a huge deal compared to what we got!  Maybe we're strange in our tastes?  Who knows!  We also got a basket of "tween" girl things - books, a pink sparkley swim towel, nail polish, etc. - that no-one bid on.  The coordinator asked if we would be interested in paying $5 for it so we said yes, since it included a book series our daughter loves (she's checked most of it out from the library) and she has a birthday coming up.  The books themselves are worth about $45 so that was a good buy and now we have birthday taken care of! 

I think that it's for "unusual" things this week.  We ate at home except the times mentioned above and bagged lunches to take to work as well. 

What have you been up to this week?



Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Menu Plan Monday - On a Tuesday!


Our taco salad from last week - do you see the refried beans and tortilla chips hiding in there?
So my week started with me standing in front of my office door at work pressing my car key unlock the trunk button on my car key and wondering why my door wouldn't open.  My next thought:  "I sure hope Eric made coffee today because I guess I really do need it today!"

So, yeah.

I managed to feel wide awake about 3pm and by 9pm I was completely wiped out.  So that's why we're posting today!   Today has been much better, by the way.  We had a busy weekend and I guess I was much more tired than I thought by the time yesterday morning rolled around.  Add to that that there was three inches of that fluffy white stuff all over everything outside, and I was ready to go back to bed on Monday morning.

Today has been really good though, so here we are with the Menu Plan post!
John ran to store quick on Saturday and bought $42 worth of groceries including 20 cups of yogurt, a gallon of milk, fruit, salad greens, Craisins, eggs (these were on sale for 99-cents per dozen limit 2)and two frozen pizzas for the babysitter on Saturday to make for dinner (I totally wasn't on the ball Saturday so that was the easiest thing for us to do! They were on sale...).   By the time we got home Saturday night between the two children and the teenage male babysitter they ate two pizzas, 6 apples, 5 cups of yogurt, two oranges and half the gallon of milk!  And my son had 5 pieces of pizza, 4 apples, an orange and two glasses of milk!  I think we're seeing a preview of teenage eating here.

So what are we eating this week?  Here goes:

Sunday, March 22:
    Breakfast: Toast with Peanut Butter, Strawberries
    Lunch: Waffles with Strawberries, Almonds and Powdered Sugar
    Snack: Yogurt
    Dinner: Pizza from my husband's favorite pizza place in Iowa (his cousin brought it back for him - such a treat! We did have to reheat it but it was delicious.)

Monday, March 23:
    Breakfast: Eggs and Toast
    Lunch: Salad with Tuna, Oranges
    Snack: Yogurt
    Dinner: Ultimate Potato Soup,  Biscuits, Strawberry-Apple-Grape Salad

Tuesday, March 24:
    Breakfast: Oatmeal with Almonds and Cinnamon
    Lunch: Leftover Potato Soup
    Snack: Yogurt
    Dinner: Pork Roast, Roasted Potatoes, Mixed Veggies, Apple-Strawberry-Grape Salad

Wednesday, March 25:
     Breakfast: Oatmeal Muffins, Oranges
     Lunch: Leftover Pork Roast and Sides
     Snack: Yogurt
     Dinner: At Church before Lenten Worship

Thursday, March 26:
     Breakfast: Waffles from the Freezer
     Lunch: Leftover Potato Soup (the recipe makes a huge batch!)
     Snack: Cookies
     Dinner: Soup from the Freezer, Cornbread, Orange Wedges

Friday, March 27:
     Breakfast: Blueberry Pancakes
     Lunch: Leftover Soup
     Snack: Cookies
     Dinner: Crab cakes, Rice, Tossed Salad

Saturday, March 28:
      Breakfast:  Blueberry Boy Bait (haven't tried this yet - we ended up eating cereal last week because none of us felt like a hot breakfast)
       Lunch: Salad and Soup from the freezer
       Snack: Popcorn
       Dinner:  Homemade Pizza and Breadsticks

What are you eating this week?

Friday, March 20, 2015

Frugal Friday - Where on earth did this week go?

SOOooooo...

I have three posts halfway written from the last week. 

Unfortunately, this week just seemed to fly by and I am completely wiped out. We had three nights where we didn't get home until 8pm or later (one night it was 945pm!) and posting was the very last thing on my mind. Hopefully I can get those finished and up this week!  It looks like this week is a little quieter so I'm hoping!
That said, we did do some frugal things this week so here goes:

* Returned books to the library and renewed a couple of others.  Then, of course, we brought home more!

* Ate most meals at home, ate one at church (Lenten dinner) and John and I get a date out at the school fundraiser on Saturday - it's a silent auction, dinner, and dance to raise money for the school's scholarship fun and usually a few other specific things (text books, gym equipment, etc.).  The last one was not really frugal but our children benefit as do many, many others.

* John brought home two loaves or artisan bread that was going to be thrown away after Lenten dinner on Wednesday. We enjoyed it with salad for lunch today.

* The day I left my lunch sitting on the kitchen table at home, a co-worked attended a workshop and returned with a turkey-lettuce-and-tomato on sourdough sandwich that he didn't want (he had already eaten before he went).  I gratefully accepted the sandwich!  Additionally, it was delicious!
* I taught an extra Jazzercise class this week so I earned some extra money doing that.

* I ordered myself two new pairs of workout shoes.  I usually go through 4-5 pairs per year (that's pretty normal for the number of classes I teach and attend) and hadn't replaced mine in a long time. I had been saving up so I had $100 to spend - good aerobic shoes are pricey and I hoped to get one pair and then start saving the balance for a second pair.  Instead I was able to get two pairs for just under $100 on sale with an additional discount.  That price included shipping since I bought them online.  My current workout shoes will now become my "new" "tennis shoes" for wearing around with jeans and such and my old ones that I'd been wearing around I'll recycle into planters for pansies on my front step (my cousin did this and it's adorable, plus they're porous so I don't need drain holes).

* We went for the free ice cream at Dairy Queen on Monday.  Yum!  We went quite late in the evening and they were completely out of cones in any size so they were giving away free cups of ice cream instead.  That was fine with us!
* As a family, we took several walks at the nearby park.  The children enjoyed floating sticks in the melting creek and I enjoyed watching the birds and squirrels.

* I put together a list of clothes my children need for the summer and then purchased two pairs of shorts on sale for $5 each for my daughter.  She seems to wear through rear before summer is over with the type of shorts she likes (knit) so I decided to buy new rather than looking for secondhand.  There are a few other things my children need and I will look for those at the huge "garage sale" the community education puts on in April.  Other than summer sandals for each child, I think everything else on the list is a would-be-nice item rather than a true need so I'm not going to work too hard to get them.  If I find them, great. If not, we'll be fine. 

* John attended a workshop at the seminary on salary and benefits negotiating for first-time pastors.  I am sure he will use the information he learned! We are grateful that this information is free and available to him and that we live close enough to the seminary for him to attend all of these opportunities that are available.

* I downloaded two free ebooks for my free Kindle for PC. 

* We watched several TV shows online for free.

* Paid our deposit for our CSA for this summer.  And ate the last of the frozen veggies from last summer.  Looking forward to this year.

* Listened to several podcasts online for free.  I love listening to these or music while I do household chores!


I didn't get any sewing done this week and only did the bare basics on maintenance for cleaning up and out so hopefully next week I can do some more of that.   I did get my seed orders in the mail so I am planning on starting those in an old egg carton tomorrow or Sunday so we can get them in the ground the beginning of May. They're mostly flowers so that should be fine.

What have you done this last week that count as "frugal"?

Monday, March 16, 2015

Menu Plan Monday - Week of March 15, 2015

Breakfast one morning - scrambled eggs, pan fried diced sweet potatoes, and spinach in a tortilla. Tasty and filling!
I've been trying to take photos of our meals more again.  We tend to be pretty boring and repetitive with what we eat, so sometimes it seems fruitless but we've added a few new things in the mix so we'll give it a shot! 

Here's what we're eating this week:

Sunday, March 15, 2015:
    Breakfast: Cereal
    Lunch; Waffles from the Freezer, Plums
    Snack: Crackers
    Dinner: Scrambled Eggs, Biscuits, Bacon and Strawberry-Melon-Grape Salad

Monday, March 16, 2015:
    Breakfast: Peanut Butter-Banana Smoothies
    Lunch: Salad with Leftover Chicken
    Snack: Girl Scout Cookies (the children bought a box after church on Sunday)
    Dinner: Vegetable Stir Fry, Rice, Apple-Grape-Strawberry Salad

Tuesday, March 17, 2015:
     Breakfast: Oatmeal with Almonds and Craisins
     Lunch: Leftover Stir Fry
     Snack: Yogurt
     Dinner: Beef Stew (made with venison), Irish Soda Bread, Apple-Melon-Mandarin Orange Salad

Wednesday, March 18, 2015:
     Breakfast: Oatmeal Muffins with Melon Slices
     Lunch: Leftover Stew and Bread
     Snack; Yogurt
     Dinner: At Church for Lenten Dinner before Worship

Thursday, March 19, 2015
     Breakfast: Chai Spiced Oatmeal with Almonds
     Lunch: Leftover Stew with Crackers
     Snack: Yogurt
     Dinner: PB&J, Cut Veggies, Apple Slices

Friday, March 20, 2015:
      Breakfast: Scrambled Eggs, Toast
      Lunch: PB&J, Cut Veggies
      Snack: Yogurt
      Dinner: Taco Salad: Salad Greens, Tortilla Chips, Refried Beans and Salsa

Saturday, March 21, 2015:
      Breakfast: Blueberry Boy Bait (didn't get this made last weekend so we'll try it this weekend)
      Lunch: Soup from the Freezer, Crackers
      Snack: Popcorn
      Dinner: At a fundraiser for Mom and Dad; Macaroni and Cheese with Fruit for the children.

Our freezer is heading toward bare - and I'm pretty happy about it, though it means I may have to buy more veggies than usual in the next week or two.  We'll see! 

What are you eating this week?

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Super Savings Saturday - A Little More Spent Today ($64.21)

Another photo-less post for Super Savings here - we are busy getting ready for company today so the groceries just got put away right away.

I stopped at one store on my way home from a Jazzercise Strength 60 class and bought the following:

Tide Detergent $3.99
Quaker Life Cereal 2 @ $1.88 = $3.76
Two Bags Store Brand Wavy Potato Chips 2 @ $1.79  = $3.58
Calber Girl Baking Powder 2 @ $1.59 = $3.18
Old Orchard Apple Cranberry Juice 2 @ 10/$10 = $2
Hunts Tomato Ketchup $1.39
Refried Beans 2 @ $1.00 = $2
Progresso Soup 2 @ $1.00 = $2 (John likes to take this for lunch at work)
Bacon  1lb 2 @ $3.99 = $7.98
Famous Dave's BBQ Sauce $2.99
Fresh Express Salad 2 @ 2/$4 = $4
Radish Bunch $0.79
Cameo Apples 2.59lb @ $0.99/lb = $2.56
Large Black Plums 1.62 @ $0.99 = $1.60
Large Green Bell Pepper $0.99
Green Cucumber $0.69
Grapes 2.64lb @ $1.99/lb = $5.25
1 lb Strawberries $2.99
White 12ct buns $2.99
Wheat 12ct buns $2.99
Old Home 32oz Plain Yogurt $3.00
Smart Balance Buttery Spread $2.49

Total with $0.43 tax (juice and detergent) is $64.64

Usually I would make buns but with company and being sick, I decided I had better buy them this week instead.   I usually would not have bought either the grapes or the strawberries at that price but we decided to have a little more variety for the fruit salad to serve our guests tonight (Saturday) so I purchased those too.  We have cantaloupe and pineapple from last week so we should have a good fruit salad.  

How did you do with your shopping this week?

Frugal, er, Saturday

The snow is finally all melted and the green is just barely starting to poke through.  I'm so excited about this, I can hardly stand it!   The sunshine, after such a gray and dreary winter, is marvelous and

I'm really happy with our quieter schedule right now - we're all done with swimming classes (they passed through the top level) and we rearranged our schedules a little bit so we don't have so much running in the evenings.  I'm hoping to use that time to get the garden going and spend some time outside, which I think my brain just desperately needs.

This week I was also diagnosed with bronchitis and we have friends coming for dinner tonight so I wanted to really take it easy and not do much "extra" so I can get well.  ICK.  Feeling much better today but still just dragging. Hopefully I can hold out until after our friends head home tonight!

Anyway, frugal stuff?

Some things from the last few weeks when it's been so quiet here:

* John brought home three bags of chips, a loaf of bread, peanut butter, jelly, salsa, a bag of baby carrots, a jar of peanuts and a box of raisins from the confirmation retreat.

* Attended several meals hosted by other people: several dinners at church, a banquet for Scouts, a friend's Ordination.   We even brought home leftovers from the Scouts banquet (fruit, veggies, and cupcakes!). The only down side? No leftovers for lunch the next day.

* Made from scratch: sugar cookies, biscuits, sandwich bread, cornbread, waffles, pancakes and two apple pies. 

* Watched several movies/shows on Netflix, YouTube and PBS.org.   Love that!

* Checked out several books and two books on CD from the library as well as downloading a few books free to my Kindle for PC.

* The battery for our iPad died and I was concerned about having the ability to videotape my Jazzercise class for evaluation.  Instead of buying a new battery, I used the built-in camera on my laptop and it worked better than the iPad did last year!  It has a larger range of view so I was happy with it.

* Signed our daughter up for softball through the school - cheaper by far than the city league and better coaching.  I still had my sold softball gloves from when I played in school - my smaller one from when I just started out and the larger one I use now - and my daughter fit the smaller one perfectly!  So we don't have to buy any equipment except good shoes, which she needs for summer anyway.

* My mother sent two new summer dresses than she had made our daughter and two polo shirts for our son to wear to church this summer.  She also sent me a skirt for me that I need to take in because the waist is way too big. 

* We used our Minnesota Zoo membership to take a advantage of a few indoor things when the weather was super cold a few weeks ago.   If we go twice a year, the membership has more than just paid for itself.  We try to go more than that to get our money's worth.

* I ordered two dwarf blueberry bushes so we can plant them in pots.  These are hardy to zone 3 and we're zone 5a, so we should be fine.  Won't get berries for a year or two (most likely two) but I consider them an investment. 

* Signed up for an inexpensive class through community education that gives us a guided visit to 5 different ethnic supermarkets in the area here.  I'm excited to see what I can learn and where some unknown deals are!  My mother will attend with me since it will be while she's visiting us. I'm excited about that too because she has such good ideas.

* We've been continuing to clean out - I'm so much happier with clear space than with all the clutter we've had for so long.  I keep telling myself 'slow and steady wins the race' but I feel like this part of my life is taking way too long to get through!  I guess being sick for so long just means I have more catching up to do.

* We're making significant progress eating down the freezer and I'm happy with that.  It means we've been able to use our grocery money to stock up on other things and our pantry is now full to bursting!  So blessed!

* We've done our 'usual' taking of lunches and eating leftovers as well as washing plastic baggies and other containers for taking them. 

Frugal hopes coming up:
* Make a new Easter tablecloth from fabric I already own.  If I have fabric leftover, I will make napkins to match.
* Finish the mending pile - this always seems to grow on it's own!  There are a few pieces that we really need soon so I have to get hoping on this!
* Finish cleaning out the family room and the living room.  Sell some of the extra furniture we have and get the rocking chair in the living room fixed (we have a friend that offered to help us re-staple the two springs that have pulled loose).  I'm hoping to have time this summer to refinish the other rocking chair and sew new cushions for both rocking chairs. 

Those are my frugal hopes for the rest of the month.  Oh, and recover from this Bronchitis so I can function properly. 

What's on your list coming up? 

Monday, March 9, 2015

Menu Plan Monday - Week of March 8, 2015

My daughter made this breaded chicken for dinner for us one night a week or so ago.  It was super yummy and we knew we needed to make it again!  It's a recipe from a cookbook she got for her birthday last year and has been wanting to try.
It's been a long week or two for us - busy weeks, busy weekends and I'm still totally sick (heading into the doctor finally tomorrow - hurray!).  I'm hoping to get back to at least a couple of blog posts a week this week again. 

John spent the weekend at a nearby church camp with the Confirmation students, the youth director and a couple of other adults from the church.  The children and I spent $41 on groceries this weekend including tater tots and corn dogs for dinner on Friday night.  Since Daddy was out of town, we decided to have a treat for dinner and watch a movie together. Quiet evening and a good one.  The rest we spent on fruit, cheese, bacon (it was on sale!) and cereal.   Saturday morning I made a big batch of waffles and we ate some and put some in the freezer for breakfasts later.   On Sunday, John brought home crackers, chips, cheese puffs, salsa, peanut butter, jelly, bread, peanuts and raisins leftover from the Confirmation Retreat. Such a surprise! Some of the bags/boxes/containers were open but there were three bags of chips and cheese puffs, a box of crackers and the jar of salsa that were unopened! I mentioned something about having a lot of leftovers and he replied that the students had eaten about four times when he brought home! Wow!

Here's what we're eating this week:

Sunday, March 8, 2015:
    Breakfast: Cereal and Bananas
    Lunch: Leftovers from the Confirmation Retreat
    Snack: Cut veggies
    Dinner: Soup from the Freezer, Bread, Clementine's

Monday, March 9, 2015:
    Breakfast: Cereal and Clementine's
    Lunch: Leftover Pizza from Saturday night
    Snack: Crackers leftover from the Retreat
    Dinner: Pork Roast, Roasted Potatoes, Corn, Apple-Pear-Cantaloupe Salad

Tuesday, March 10, 2015:
    Breakfast: Oatmeal with Raisins and Almonds
    Lunch: Leftover Pork and Potatoes
    Snack: Crackers from the Retreat
    Dinner: At a work event (Lea), At a church event (John and the children)

Wednesday, March 11, 2015:
    Breakfast: Waffles from the Freezer, Bananas and Almonds
    Lunch: PB&J, Cut Veggies, Apples
    Snack: Popcorn
    Dinner: Lenten Dinner at Church before Worship

Thursday, March 12, 2015:
     Breakfast: Scrambled Eggs and Toast, Sliced Apples
     Lunch: Apples with Peanut Butter, Carrots or Grape Tomatoes, Crackers
     Snack: Cut Veggies
     Dinner: Soup from the Freezer, Homemade Biscuits, Cantaloupe

Friday, March 13, 2015:
    Breakfast: Egg Sandwiches on Leftover Biscuits, Bananas
    Lunch: Leftover Soup
    Snack: Fruit
    Dinner: Crab Cakes (Using leftover crab from the freezer), Rice, Pineapple-Cantaloupe-Pear Salad

Saturday, March 14, 2015:
    Breakfast: Blueberry Boy Bait (I found this recipe in a library book and want to try it!)
    Lunch: Tuna Wraps, Cut Veggies
    Snack: Crackers from the Retreat
    Dinner: Homemade Pizza and Breadsticks

We're making good progress at cleaning out the freezer so we can defrost it.  I'm hoping that we can defrost it in another month or so.  I'm really happy with how low we've been keeping the grocery budget lately - this is the first week we've spend over $30 in a few weeks!   I'm hoping to keep that going for a while.  We're getting through the cooked meat in the freezer so I'm thinking I will need to bake the turkey we have in the oven in the next few weeks.  With the menus we put together in February, we will have eaten almost everything that is in our freezers by the time Easter rolls around.  I like that!