Saturday, July 19, 2014

Super Savings Saturday - Two Weeks and Thank Goodness for Gift Cards!

We were so grateful this week for our CSAs and a couple of gifts we received food-wise.  We thankfully had gift cards and used them to purchase a few things for groceries  - mostly milk, eggs, and fresh fruit - these last two weeks.  Here's our "shopping" for last week:

First up: Our mostly veggie CSA:

 
Here we have (clockwise from back left): Cabbage, Beets, Swiss Chard, Sage, Garlic, Green Onions, Raspberries (YUM!), Lettuce.  In the middle: Purple Kolrhabi, and Parsley.
 
Here's what we got with our Fruit CSA: 

 
An entire case of blueberries!  Twelve Pints.  I've frozen six.  If you have any good blueberry recipes, please share!   I'm looking for something new.....
 
 
Freebees this week from friends and church:
 
 
Two bags of buns leftover from the church potluck on Wednesday night.
 
We also received cupcakes after our 4th of July fireworks party we attended (someone else didn't want to take them home.
A friend gave us a pint size Ziploc of raspberries from her garden (those are in the freezer).
 
 
 
Grocery Shopping last week(Sorry - I totally forgot to take photos of these!):
 
Store #1 with gift card:
      2 gallons store brand milk $3.09 each = $6.18
      1 tub Smart Balance $1.69
 
      Total Spent: $7.87
 
Store #2 with gift card: (we wanted some variety of fruit this week - we love blueberries, but...)
     1 dozen eggs $1.89
     4 cans Mandarin Oranges 4/$3 (coupon) = $3
     Grapes (1st pound free)
     Pears
     Two bottles of Laundry detergent on sale for $2.99 each
      Summer Sausage (John totally splurged on this for himself!)
 
Here's what we got in the mostly veggie CSA this week:
 
 
 
Clockwise from back corner: Lettuce, Red Lettuce, Cabbage, Green Onions, Zucchini, Garlic, Raspberries, Broccoli Crowns.
Across the Middle: Beets, Dill, Kale
 
 
I went to the store with a gift card on Thursday night and bought the following:
 
A gallon of milk
One dozen eggs
One Pineapple
Gala Apples
Baking Powder
Crisco Butter Flavor Baking Sticks
 
I spent: $15 and change from gift cards that I already had.  No money out of pocket!
 
We have previously unplanned company coming this weekend that will stay with us for approximately 3 weeks.  We're excited to have them visit but I honestly don't have any idea of how the budget is going to work with our company here.  I did put together a menu for the next week based on what we have so that's good to go and we'll just have to see what happens! 
 
I don't think my "no spend" month is going very well. Sigh.  At least we haven't spent much out of pocket for groceries this month.  I'm hoping to do better as the month progresses but we'll see how it goes with our company here.
 
How did you do this week?

Friday, July 11, 2014

Frugal Things We Did This Week

It's been one of those weeks - you know that kind.  The kind where you have several things started and almost nothing finished and then several other things popped up too.  I have two other posts half done - hopefully they'll get up next week!
Here are some of the things we did that saved us money this week in the midst of all the half-finished, half-started and additional things that came up this week!
* We went to a friend's house to see the fireworks last Friday for the 4th of July.  They have a get-together every year - sometimes a full-blown BBQ, other times just dessert.  We didn't bring desserts since I didn't get any made and they usually have way more than we all can eat anyway.  We did bring glow in the dark bracelets and necklaces that we already had (we bought them in packages of 20 for 2/$1 earlier this spring) to share with everyone.  We came home with a 16 mini-cupcakes that another guest didn't want to take home.

* The children and I made homemade stepping stones using a kit I bought a few years ago.  We should be able to put them out in the yard this week! I'll put them in a "low traffic" area.  That should be fun.  I'll take a photo to share when they're in place.

* We made homemade ice cream using my parents old hand crank ice cream maker.  That was fun and the ice cream was delicious!  We have enough cream left over for another batch this weekend.

The ice cream maker - getting ready to go! (It needs more ice!)

* The children played with the slip-n-slide we received from a friend for their birthday a couple of years ago and then in the sprinkler to cool off both on the 4th of July and another hot day we had.

* I finished painting the kitchen walls and John and I cleaned the vents for the oven/stove and the fridge.  Then John (bless him!) scrubbed the screens for the exhaust fan over the stove - boy were those gross!  Everything works so much better now and the fridge is so much quieter!  We try to clean all those things at least twice a year anyway but since we had to pull everything out to paint we thought we'd do it again.

* Enjoyed a free outdoor concert with free coffee.  The we bought two slices of a delicious blueberry-blackberry-raspberry pie to share for $2 total (the money went to Habitat for Humanity).  I asked around for the recipe it was so good!

* Made homemade yogurt (for the first time!), puppy chow (pb and chocolate cereal snack), and sugar cookies.

* Brought home two bags of buns that no one wanted from the church pot luck on Wednesday night.  I had been planning on baking sandwich bread but we used these instead.

* A friend gave us a quart size Ziploc bag of yellow raspberries from her garden.

* We picked up our two CSA shares this week - lettuce, cabbage, green onions, beets, garlic, Swiss chard, red raspberries, sage and parsley from the one and twelve pints of blueberries from the other.  I froze six pints of blueberries.   I hung the sage and parsley to dry.

* We picked a small handful of strawberries from our plants.  More coming but not quite ripe yet - next week!  We have "baby" peppers and tomatoes now too.  My pea plants and my squash aren't looking too good but they're looking better than they were so we're hoping!  I should be able to harvest some sage, oregano and thyme from my herb garden soon.

* I mixed some paint I already had with the paint we bought for the living room - once I got the color up on the walls I didn't like it so I used what I had to change it.  So far, so good!

* Checked out several books and a few videos from the library for all four of us.

* Downloaded a few free Kindle books for my Kindle for PC.  (I have several already that I haven't read so I'm trying to hold back on this one!)

* I checked out several decorating books since we are trying to figure out a way to make our living room more comfortable for hosting guests.  We found and idea that might work and that we don't have to buy any furniture for - just rearrange things we already have and borrow from other rooms in the house!  We're excited to try it.

* Used our Science Museum membership to visit the Science Museum of Minnesota.  The kids had a blast and we ended up spending $5 for parking only.

* Made a list of Christmas gifts I want to make this year.   Now I just have to make sure I have what I need  - I think there's only one thing I need to buy and maybe a spool of thread but I want to double check before I get started on things.

* Finished embroidering my sister-in-law's wedding plaque. It turned out lovely and now I just have to take it in and get it framed!  I have a coupon and will do that this weekend.   I then worked on finishing an embroidered Bible cover I started a long time ago and never finished.  It will fit Missy's Bible for school so I may give it to her for Christmas.  That was another project that is so close to being done, I need to just finish it!

* Cleaned out our desk that stores our extra paper and some miscellaneous office supplies and found a few things that I didn't think I had anymore (mailing labels, graph paper). Hurray!  I found two things on the children's school supply list this year too.   The desk is much neater and I know how much I have of a few things that need to be used up now too.  I donated a few things that we didn't need anymore - several unopened packages of tabbed binder dividers and a travel file are two of the items we donates.

* We kept the ac turned up to 80F, tried not to have the lights on during the day since I've been using the dryer.  It's been so damp that nothing dries in a reasonable timeframe on the drying racks.

That's all I can remember right now.
How did you do this week?

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Goals - Week of July 6, 2014

Some of the BEAUTIFUL flowers we saw earlier this year at the Marjorie McNeely Conservatory at the Como Zoo.  I wish my flowers at home looked this good!

As I said earlier this week, it's been a rough week and continues on that vein.  UGH.  I've already decided that life is never "normal" and that God is still good no matter what.   

We decided that this summer was a perfect time to deep clean the house, do a lot of cleaning up and do some relatively simple and relatively inexpensive updates that we've been hoping to do for a long time.  So I've been doing a lot of cleaning and painting this last week.  The kitchen is basically done (I might have to do a second coat but I'm not sure yet) and now on to the living room!  We're hoping to tear out the carpet in there this week - that's been on my agenda for 14 years now!  There are hardwood floors under there so we're hoping those are in good enough shape to toss an area rug over them and call it good.  Eventually we'll get all the hardwood floors refinished (our main floor except the kitchen and bathroom) but not this year.

Here are my goals this week:

Work: 
Do one item on my list for getting ready for fall classes.

School:
Do two items on my list for graduating!
Talk with my advisor via email.

Jazzercise:
Teach 2 classes
Learn 2 new routines
Attend at least 1 class, preferably 2

Family:
Swimming Lessons
Piano Lessons (we didn't have these last week)
Dance Lessons (we didn't have these the last two weeks)
Go to the library
Play date for Missy
Buddy has a birthday party to attend
Schedule an appointment for a family photo

Home:
Finish weeding the flower bed around the patio (I actually only have one small spot left now on Tuesday).
Finish weeding the front flower bed.
Transplant the rhododendron from the front flower bed to a better spot in the back yard.
Transplant two columbine.
Wash and polish the kitchen cabinets.
Wash, prep and paint two walls in the living room. (I'd like to get all four done, but I'm aiming for 2.)
Wash the living room curtains and furniture slip covers.
Clean out the living room bookcases, the roll top desk, the key stand, and the book baskets.
Recycle 1 recycle bin full of paper/magazines/newspaper.
Drop off one trunk load of donations for the school rummage sale.
Tear up the carpet in the living room (if I get the whole thing painted).
If I get two walls painted and the furniture I want cleaned out in the living room, I'll clean out the china cabinet and the library box too.

Faith/Ministry/Worship:
Proofread John's sermon for this weekend.
Wednesday night potluck and worship.
Help John make arrangements for phase two of Internship (which starts in August).
Keep up with my Gratefulness Journal (I've fallen by the wayside with this!)

Personal:
Paint toe nails again.
Get to bed on time five nights this week.
Finish the embroidery for my sister-in-law (I'm SO close with this one - I just need to finish the date!) and take it in for framing.

What are you up to this week?

Monday, July 7, 2014

Menu Plan Monday - Week of July 6, 2014

Pizza Twists!  YUM!

So we're sort of having a "no spend" grocery month this month - milk, butter, and maybe eggs are supposed to be the things we can buy.  I had an oops this last week and totally miscalculated a couple of things so we bought fruit and a few other things too.  Sigh.  So glad that this is a new week and we have plenty to eat regardless!

Anyway, here's what we're eating - which is mostly from our pantry, freezer and CSA's:

Sunday, July 6, 2014:
   Breakfast: Cereal and Milk
   Lunch: Chicken Noodle Soup, Matzo Bread, Sliced Apples
   Snack: Matzo Bread
   Dinner: Scrambled Eggs, Bacon, Waffles with Sliced Strawberries
   Dessert: (at a church function) Pie and Ice Cream

Monday, July 7, 2014:
   Breakfast: Peanut Butter and Banana Smoothies and/or Cereal and  Milk
   Lunch: Matzo Bread, Sliced Apples, Cut Veggies, Yogurt
   Snack: Yogurt
   Dinner: Museum Pasta Salad, Sliced Apples
   Dessert: Homemade Apple Pie and Homemade Ice Cream (treat for John)

Tuesday, July 8, 2014:
   Breakfast: Corn Meal Mush with Cream and Molasses/Maple Syrup/Honey
   Lunch: Peanut Butter Pancakes with Strawberry Jam and Almonds
   Snack: Apple Pie
   Dinner: Veggie Marinara with Pasta, Tossed Salad, Garlic Bread

Wednesday, July 9, 2014:
    Breakfast: Oatmeal Muffins and Bananas
    Lunch: Picnic Lunch: Sliced Apples, Sliced Veggies, Yogurt, Homemade Rolls
    Snack: Yogurt
    Dinner: Pot Luck at Church: Bring a Tossed Salad

Thursday, July 10, 2014:
     Breakfast: Oatmeal with Almonds and Cinnamon
     Lunch: Baked Potatoes with Cheese and Broccoli, Fruit Salad
     Snack: Yogurt
     Dinner: Brown Sugar Meatloaf, Couscous, Tossed Salad, Fruit Salad

Friday, July 11, 2014:
     Breakfast: Waffles from the Freezer with Fruit
     Lunch: Yogurt Topped with Fruit and Granola, Sliced Veggies
     Snack: Popcorn
     Dinner: Taco Soup, Tortilla Chips, Fruit Salad

Saturday, July 12, 2014:
     Breakfast: Fruit Smoothies
     Lunch: Tuna Wrap Sandwiches, Cut Veggies
     Snack: Homemade Ice Cream (I'm planning on fruit - hopefully either Blueberry or Peach)
     Dinner: Homemade Pizza and Ice Cream
     At-home Date Night Dessert: Individual Fruit Crisp (either Peach, Blueberry or Rhubarb depending on what we get this week)

What are you eating this week?

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Super Savings - A Miscalculation and $21 spent out of pocket in my "no spend" month

Well, .... as they say.... it pays to read the fine print.

Somehow I totally missed that our fruit CSA delivers every other week not every week as I assumed.  So we started off on Thursday this past week with absolutely no fruit except one very wrinkled orange that has been in my crisper drawer for who knows how long and a half a pint of blueberries (not counting some canned pears and mandarin oranges in the pantry).  UGH.  And double sigh.

That got paired with the host for the BBQ we planned on attending on the 4th of July ending up in the hospital (this wasn't totally unexpected but was a big bummer since we were all looking forward to getting together), and a run to the store was somewhat of a necessity, though in hindsight we could have spent a whole lot less.

I don't have a photo because I ran to the store super late on Thursday evening (after we had received word of our host's hospitalization) and was so tired when I got home I just put everything away.

I did stop at Aldi on the way home on Thursday since we had an idea we might not have the BBQ on Friday and there I spent just over $6 which got me:

8 ears of Corn
One package of 8 Hot Dog Buns
One Box of Ice Cream Cones
One Avocado

The later trip to Target (I went there because I needed a certain size mailing envelope that they carry there but not the grocery store) and for $15 I got the following plus the envelope:

Strawberries
Bananas
Apples
Cherry Tomatoes
A Dozen Large Eggs
Gallon of Milk

John had used a gift card earlier in the week to buy a pint of whipping cream so we could make homemade ice cream this weekend.  We have enough left for another batch of ice cream too! YUM!

I'm seriously hoping this week to keep it at a gallon of milk and maybe butter and/or eggs.  We have a ton of food in the house and you would think we could manage. Last week was a very rough week and I'm thinking that panic mostly managed the purchase of a lot of this.  I'm hoping to write more about the rough week later this week - Lord willing, of course!

How did you do with your shopping this week?

Monday, June 30, 2014

Menu Plan Monday - Week of June 29, 2014

Our Tuesday Night Dinner Last Week:
Marinara sauce with LOTS of veggies - green beans, broccoli, red onions, garlic, and yellow tomatoes.
Shell-shaped noodles.
Garlic bread made with flat, gourmet bread from the freezer.
Steamed artichokes.

I actually remembered to take some photos of our food this week!  So now I just have to remember to post them!

I have a goal for July to see how little I can spend on groceries - I will buy milk and maybe butter, depending on how things go and maybe a few other things.  We have a well stocked house, the two CSAs and a gift certificate for a couple loaves of bread from a local bakery.  We should be just fine.

This coming week has the 4th of July (Independence Day) on Friday and John home two days this week, including Friday.  We're excited about that since it seems like he's been at his Internship more than he's been home this summer partly due to a lot of overnights and a fairly lengthy commute (it's amazing what people refer to as "local" here in the metro!). We have lots of pot lucks this week to attend.  We also have a funeral this week that will be serving us dinner as well.
Here's what we're eating this coming week:

Sunday, June 29:  My parent's 56th Wedding Anniversary!
    Breakfast: Cereal and Milk
    Lunch; Scrambled Eggs, Pancakes, and Strawberries and Blueberries
    Snack: Yogurt
    Dinner: At Church after a Funeral

Monday, June 30:
   Breakfast: Smoothies, Leftover Scones
   Lunch: Pizza Twists (these were a HUGE hit last week but very messy to make)
   Snack: Sugar Cookies
   Dinner: Roasted Chicken and Potatoes, Tossed Salad, Sliced Pears

Tuesday, July 1:
    Breakfast: Oatmeal with Blueberries and Almonds
    Lunch: Salad with Leftover Chicken and Blueberries
    Snack: Yogurt and Fruit
    Dinner: Veggie Roasted Couscous, Blue Tortilla Chips, Peach-Grape-Blueberry Salad

Wednesday, July 2:
    Breakfast: Waffles from the Freezer with Peaches and Almonds
    Lunch: Leftover Couscous and Tossed Salad
    Snack: Sugar Cookies
    Dinner: Pot Luck at Church: Bring a Tossed Salad

Thursday, July 3:
   Breakfast: Oatmeal with Almonds and Cinnamon
   Lunch: Chicken Salad Lettuce Wraps, Fruit
   Snack: Yogurt with Fruit
   Dinner: Veggie Stir Fry, Rice, Sliced Fruit

Friday, July 4, Independence Day:
   Breakfast: Buttermilk Coffee Cake, Fruit
   Lunch: Pot Luck: Bring either Fruit Salad or a Tossed Salad
   Dinner: Grilled Veggies and Hot Dogs, Fruit (if necessary)
   Dessert: Pot Luck: Dessert: Sugar Cookies (we're not sure if this pot luck is dessert only or if they will serve dinner too - we'll find out later this week - either way we'll bring Sugar Cookies).

Saturday, July 5:
   Breakfast: Leftover Coffee Cake, Fruit
   Lunch: Snack Lunch (crackers, cheese, cut veggies, fruit, etc.)
   Snack: Popcorn
   Dinner: Homemade Pizza and Bread sticks

What are you eating this week?

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Super Savings Saturday - Spent $20.38, CSA bounty and the last bit of our stock up fund too


It's been a very strange week here - I feel like all I did was run all week but I really didn't go anywhere outside of our normal weekly running (lessons and Jazzercise - we picked up the CSA shares on the way home from these).  We're still thinking through the big decisions we have coming up and so appreciate your prayers for discernment!  Thank you so much!

As we were getting ourselves organized this week we found out that we still had $20 in the stock up fund! We were surprised - we thought we'd spent all of that.  I guess that's a good indication of how completely and totally unorganized we've been in some respects lately. UGH.  Anyway, we decided to use that to stock up on some tortilla chips and crackers (you'll see below) since those are two things we really enjoy having around the house but don't seem to be in the "regular" grocery budget.

First - here is what we received in the two CSA's we subscribe to:

First up, Veggies (and a little fruit)!
 
Clockwise from top left - Swiss Chard, Red Lettuce, Butter Crunch Lettuce, Rhubarb, Garlic Scapes, Peas, Dill (above the peas), Strawberries, Radishes, and more Lettuce (I'm not sure of the variety - a Bib variety maybe?).

 
Aren't the colors of the Swiss Chard stems beautiful?  I love how bright they are! 

 
This was our first Fruit Share box - it's all organic, small farmers but I'm not entirely sure I'd call the fruit "regional" as it was advertised. I did love that we got a letter telling us about the farmers that grew our produce. Either way, since the box is sitting on my stove, you have an idea of how big it is! We have three pints of Blueberries, a dozen or so Plums (including 4 that did not make it all the way home from pickup), four Nectarines, five Peaches, roughly 1 1/2 lbs of grapes and roughly a pound of Cherries.   They are all super delicious!
 
I froze one pint of Blueberries for use later in the year in either baking or smoothies.
 
 
Now, on to the grocery store shopping!
 
Here's what we bought from this week's grocery budge:

 
I only went to one store. Here's the price breakdown:
 
Beef Round Tip Steak 1.08lb @ $4.49/lb = $4.85
2lbs Yellow Onions $1.59
5lb Russet Potatoes $2.99
Bulk Couscous 1.54lbs @ $3.49/lb = $5.37
HUGE Cucumber $0.50
Mushrooms $0.99 (coupon)
Gallon Kemp's Skim Milk $3.99
 
Total Spent: $20.38
Saved (according to Store Receipt): $0.70 (3%)
 
I'm planning on using the steak when we're camping this summer.  I actually went for a better priced steak they were advertising but I found I needed to buy why more than I had money for (each package was well over $10) and since this was a decent price and I only needed one pound, I bought it!  I was quite happy with this trip - we only needed the milk, potatoes and onions.
 
 
The below photo is a photo of what we spent the remainder of our stock up fund on.  Could we have spent it better? Probably.  But crackers and bagels make us happy! :)


 
And yes, I did go to Aldi.
 
The one thing we really like at Aldi is the crackers, so we decided to go there since we could get the biggest bang for our buck and have crackers we liked!  Here's the price breakdown:
 
11.03oz Decaf Coffee $2.79 (I very rarely drink decaf but need some this week - I'm hoping it tastes okay - if not we have milk and sugar!)
Blue Tortilla Chips $1.69
Whole Grain Tortilla Chips $1.69
Mini Bagels $1.99
Honey $2.99
Butter Crackers $1.45
Oyster Crackers 2 @ $0.89 (we like to have these on hand for upset tummies)
Cracker Assortment $2.69
 
Total: $17.07
 
 
Come back on Monday to see what we're eating - it's a holiday week this week, you know!
 

How did you do with your shopping this week?