Monday, August 31, 2015

Menu Plan Monday - Week of August 30, 2015

One of our meals during our camping trip - 3oz steak, two rolls, zucchini and onions (grilled), carrots, and grapes.

How on earth is it the end of August already? It just seems like summer went by ZIP this year. 

Two things this week: Back-to-School-Night is on Wednesday and we have a garage sale on Saturday.  Back to school night is when the children take all their school supplies and we get all the paperwork squared away, etc. so all we have to do is show up on the first day of school ready to go!  Not so sure about how that garage sale is going to go so I tried to keep things simple for meals.  Missy is making cookies to sell at the garage sale so she's making those on Friday (peanut butter, sugar, chocolate chip and snicker doodle - yes, she's ambitious).

Here's what we're eating this week:

Sunday, August 30:
     Breakfast: Scrambled Eggs, Zucchini Bread
     Lunch and Snack: At a local festival
     Dinner: Eggplant Parmesan, Maple Glazed Brussel Sprouts, Apple-Peach-Banana Salad

Monday, August 31:
    Breakfast: Oatmeal Muffins, Smoothies
    Lunch: Leftover Eggplant Parmesan, Toast
    Snack: Zucchini Bread
    Dinner: Stuffed Zucchini, Garlic Bread, Peach-Apple-Cantaloupe Salad

Tuesday, September 1:
    Breakfast: Oatmeal with Cinnamon and Walnuts
    Lunch: Chicken Noodle Soup, Crackers, Sliced Apples
    Snack: Yogurt, Clementine's
    Dinner: Zucchini-Sweet Potato-Regular Potato Hash, Couscous, Sliced Tomatoes and Cucumbers

Wednesday, September 2:
    Breakfast: Waffles from the Freezer, Peaches, and Walnuts
    Lunch: Leftover Hash, Sliced Apples
    Snack: Zucchini Bread, Clementine's
    Dinner: Ham Sandwiches, Sliced Veggies, Sliced Apples

Thursday, September 3:
    Breakfast: Chai Spiced Oatmeal
    Lunch: Apples with Peanut Butter, Cucumbers, Tomatoes, Yogurt
    Snack: Smoothies
    Dinner: Veggie Stir Fry, Rice, Cantaloupe

Friday, September 4:
    Breakfast: Scrambled Eggs, Toast
    Lunch: Grilled Cheese Sandwiches, Clementine's
    Snack: Cut Veggies
    Dinner: Chicken Divan, Garlic Bread, Sliced Apples

Saturday, September 5:
   Breakfast: Blueberry Coffee Cake, Smoothies
   Lunch: Tuna Sandwiches, Cut Veggies
   Snack: Peanut Butter Cookies
   Dinner: Homemade Pizza and Breadsticks
   Date Night Dessert: Apple Crisp.

What are you eating this week?

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Super Savings Saturday - $46.46 in two shops this week and our CSA

How long has it been since I've done one of these posts?  It feels like forever!

This week I stopped at two shops, harvested produce from our garden and picked up our CSA share - we have SO MUCH food in the house right now.  Such a good problem to have, no?

I had hoped to spend less this week but we made salsa and John requested chips to it with and the children are eating enough fruit for an army lately (10lbs or better per week!) so we needed to stock up a bit.  We do have a cantaloupe and an avocado from last week in the fruit department but that was it.  And that includes the plums and raspberries we received from the CSA.  I almost didn't buy the pork loin but John asked me to - we love those pork loins and haven't had one for quite  while.  We'll try to stretch it for two meals when we do eat it.

Here's the CSA for the week and bit of what we got from our garden:

Back row: Potatoes with Swiss Chard laying on top, Sweet Corn, Parsnips, Celery Greens (I use these for vegetarian soup stock), Zucchini
Middle Row: Red Onion, Green beans, Cucumbers, Garlic
Front Row: Yellow Raspberries, Plums, Broccoli Crowns, Eggplant, Basil

And this was what I picked today from our own garden:  Crookneck squash, Sweet peppers, a lone Cucumber, and LOTS of tomatoes (and yes, that is a baby bath from the hospital that they are placed in - I use them for all sorts of things).
I've been picking the yellow pear tomatoes and the purple/red cherry tomatoes every day.  We've had so much rain that the yellow pair tomatoes are huge!

Store #1 (sorry, I didn't get a photo)

* 3lbs Red Delicious Apples $2.89
* 3lbs Gala Apples $1.99 (I really should have bought two of these!)
* Tortilla chips 2 @ $1.19 ea = $2.38
* Lemons 2 @ $0.19 = $0.38
* 1lb Brussel Sprouts $.199

Total Store #1: $12.32

Store #2:

* Kellogg's Cereal 2 @ 2/$4 = $4 (store coupon) - we'll use these as snacks.
* Hormel Pork $6.99 (store coupon)
* Fresh Express Salad 2 @ $3.29 (B1G1 store coupon) = $3.29
* 2.86lbs Peaches @ $1.59/lb = $4.55 (this is the lowest price I've seen this year)
* 2.21lbs Pink Lady Apples @ $1.49/lb = $3.29 (same as the peaches)
* 2lb Clementine's $2.99
* 2.79lbs Yellow  Bananas @ $0.59/lb = $1.69
* 1 Gallon Kemps Skim Milk $3.79
* 1 Dozen Large Grade A Eggs $3.59

Total Store #2: $34.14

A note about the eggs:  Minnesota was hit very hard by the Bird Flu and the Minnesota State Fair does not have any birds this year since most of our farmers had to destroy their flocks. This contributes to the high price of eggs. Usually I can get eggs for between $0.99 and $1.50 a dozen.  This price that I paid today is approximately $2 more than what I usually would have paid in the past.

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

Friday, August 28, 2015

Frugal Things - Week of August 23, 2015

What I bought with my birthday money!
Another week and that means it's time for another Frugal Friday post!
I totally forgot to put the picture above in my list last week so it's here now!  My Mother-in-law sent me $20 for my birthday and I had a $10 off a $10 purchase at Kohl's so I decided that I'd try to find some new workout tops.   I hate working out with sleeves on because I sweat so much so these were perfect!  Even better: they were all on sale so I was able to get the necklace and earring set too!  I got $1.69 back in change from my birthday money after everything above was paid for.  Whoot!

It's been a pretty lazy week here - getting the house put back together after all the cleaning out we've done over the last few weeks and making a list of things that we actually need to purchase (another shelf for the utility room, a rug to replace the carpet ripped up in the living room, etc.).  Most are bigger purchases but we'll do them one at a time as we save up for them. 

Here's what we did this week in addition to our "usual" frugal things:

* I made biscuits, pizza and breadsticks, zucchini bread (two loaves), salsa, potato soup and waffles from scratch this week. 

* I froze one loaf of zucchini bread and half the waffles for later.

* Picked LOTS of tomatoes and three cucumbers this week. 

* My daughter made peanut butter cookies and decorated the house to celebrate my husband starting Residency for his Chaplain's license this week.  She did a nice job (I'll try to post photos later this weekend).  She also did a terrific job with the cookies - they were gone in two days they were so delicious!

* I took the children to work with me for about 3 hours this week - I had to get a few things done and couldn't get a sitter.  They worked on some coloring pages and mazes I had printed off for free and then played with a magnet game one of my colleagues loaned them.  They also brought books to read but didn't get to them.

* Blanched and froze yellow and purple beets.

* Shredded and froze zucchini for baking with later this year.

* Used our Health Savings Account to pay for eye doctor appointment for me and new glasses for both of our children. 

* Our children have two reams of typing paper, two boxes of facial tissues and a box of quart size Ziploc bags that each is supposed to bring for school supplies.  I talked to their teacher about bringing them in January rather than on back to school night and she was more than happy to agree since the items are used throughout the whole year!  I was happy since we're down to the dregs of our school supply budget for now.   My children attend a private school so they bring these things rather than having tax money pay for them (the school only receives tax money for special education services).

* Wrote several notes using stationary we already had.  Only needed to pay postage to mail them.

* Picked Zinneas and Snapdragons from the yard for my kitchen table. 

* Crumbled dried herbs into jars for use later.

* Cleaned the refrigerator and made a menu for the next two weeks using mostly what we have on hand.  We'll need to buy fruit, milk, eggs and maybe lettuce but that should be it unless something is on really good sale.

* Played a game we already owned for family night this week. I love how we rearranged everything so we have easier access to our games - they get played more often too.

* My husband was fed two meals at work this week so I didn't have to pack him a lunch those days. 

* Brought sliced cucumbers and tomatoes from our garden for a pot luck at church this week.  

* Signed up for health insurance through my husband's new job - that will save us approximately $700/month!  I am really excited since that money will now help us make our savings and other financial goals for this next year!

I think that's it - we were able to do quite a bit this week. 

How did you do this week?


Saturday, August 22, 2015

Frugal Things from the Last Two Weeks

It's been so busy here the last few weeks and I am SO tired.  We have quiet week off before having to jump into the frey again.  In the last two weeks we visited my cousin up on the "Iron Range" in Northern Minnesota and then spent several days camping at one of Minnesota's beautiful state parks.  It was a fun and frugal vacation and now we get to ramp up to school starting again.  Much of Minnesota starts school after Labor Day so we don't start school until September 8th this year. 

Here's what we did these last couple weeks in terms of "frugal things":

* Baked four loaves of French Bread.

* Blanched and froze green beans and sugar snap peas.

* Used saw horses and a couple of old doors to make "tables" for our garage sale.

* Went to visit my cousin and her husband for several days. We stayed at their house and they fed us.  My cousin stays with us when she comes to visit so they were pleased to reciprocate.  And we enjoyed having the extra time to talk and catch up with each other that we would have spent traveling to and from a hotel.  The closest hotel is 15 miles from their house. 

* Went to a small town version of a Fair and enjoyed the displays and the children got their faces painted.  They played lots of games and won a couple of teddy bears.  My cousin and her husband won $15 in prize too!  My cousin had entered two paintings for judging and won the Grand Prize and 1st prize in that division.

* My cousin and I went to a local quilt shop near her house that is easily one of the best fabric shops I have ever been in!  I bought $45 in fabric that I had never seen before that is perfect for my children.  This uses up about half of my Christmas present budget ($100 total for gifts for all four of us) but I am really pleased and very excited about making my children lap quilts with this fabric for Christmas - they love to curl up with a lap quilt and read so that will be perfect.  (I'll try to remember to post photos when I get them done.)

* While up at my cousin's house we went to Mine View in the Sky in Virginia, MN.   This is a view of the huge mine pit from the iron ore mining that happened in the area. The sides of the pit are now growing with greenery and the pit full of beautiful turquoise water. The view is spectacular!!!  We also got to see mining trucks up close - very cool.  Those things are HUGE!  Took some neat photos.  And this attraction was free.  And this is the last year the Mine View will be open, so we're glad we got to go.  They are re-routing the road through that area so they can mine in a different location so that view will be gone.

* My cousin teaches Water Aerobics and I was able to attend a class for free.  Fun to have a different workout now and again and to see my cousin teach a class. She's a good instructor!

* Picked a huge number of tomatoes, summer squash, and cucumbers from our garden.  Will need to pick the winter squash in a week or so.

* Made kale chips for something to snack on at the campsite.

* It rained a lot while we went camping.  We stay in a camper cabin while we're there so that wasn't a problem.  We usually cook in a campfire while we're there so we took the crockpot and cooked in that (a crockpot is one of two appliances that can be used in the camper cabin - the other is a coffee pot).   We played cards, put together a puzzle and read a lot!  Oh - and took a nap or two.  It was great.

* Once the rain stopped we got to go hiking!  We love hiking and it was so pretty - sunny and cool.  We have never been camping this late in the year and the flowers were completely different that what we usually see. 

* We also got to go swimming in the river - well, the kids went swimming and John and I sat on the beach and watched.  It was way too cold for us "old folks" to go swimming.  The kids spent lots of time swimming and then spent a lot of time building a really neat sandcastle.  It was a great way to spend an afternoon.

* Picked zinneas and daisies from my garden for my kitchen table.

* Finished stitching a decoration on a pillowcase for my son for Christmas.  I've been working on his project for a long time so I'm really glad to have it done.

* Went through the budget book and put together a tentative budget for this fall.  We don't know exactly what our take-home pay will be so we will have to tweak it but right now we are comfortable that we can meet our goals for this year and make all of our regular obligations.  This is the last year that we know we are guaranteed any "extra" in terms of our income and we want to make sure we use it wisely!

* We had a playdate with some school friends at a local park and we had a pot luck picnic lunch, where everyone brought something to share.  I asked my friend for her molasses cookie recipe since it was so delicious!

What have you done to be frugal these last few weeks?

Monday, August 10, 2015

Menu Plan Monday - On Being AWOL, busy, busy days and this week's menu

Our CSA share this week. Clockwise from bottom left: Onions, cucumbers, Russet potatoes, Beets, Green Beans, Savory, Rosemary, Zucchini, Garlic.  In the middle: A long bell pepper and sweet peas.

Has it really been three weeks since I posted? 

Where on earth does the time go?

Sorry for being AWOL (absent without leave, for those of you who are unfamiliar with the term).  I have several posts half done and had all kinds of grand plans for posting this summer and - woosh - right out the window they went!

My only excuse, and not a very good one at that, is that we've been super busy!
We had unplanned company for two weeks, I turned 40, we celebrated our 17th wedding anniversary, we tore our one set of storage shelves and installed an "office in a closet" instead, cleaned out a whole bunch of junk stuff from our house and had a thrift/yard sale, and weeded the garden like a pair of maniacs.   We also attended Family Camp for John's Internship church and the children attended Vacation Bible School at our home church. 
John wrapped up his Internship and is now off on his next adventure of Chaplain Residency with a few days off for R&R (if you can call having a thrift/yard sale R&R!) in between!  I don't think it's quite sunk in yet that Internship is over but it will soon, I'm sure.  He helped paint a friend's house in preparation for their selling it.  And had spent a lot of time going through papers, filling out paperwork and all that comes with ending internship and starting a residency.

I've been working on graduating (FINALLY!), getting ready for the fall courses I'm teaching this year, and doing some pretty intense physical therapy for my hip, which has been giving me major problems off and on for about three years now but particularly since mid-June.  It's working VERY well but it means that I'm stiff, sore and my energy levels are pretty low most days.  The good news is that the pain is sore muscle pain (like after a strong workout) and not I'm-going-to-knock-you-flat-out-for-several-days-and-make-you-shake pain so I can definitely handle it.  And the farther into therapy I go, the less of that there is too.  I'm really pleased but in the meantime, its taking a lot of energy!

The garden has been producing tomatoes, cucumbers, sweet peppers and summer squash in abundance so we need to keep up with that too.   We picked 22 tomatoes, one pepper and two cucumbers yesterday.  I'm not sure what we'll pick today, but making tomato sauce is on my list for today for sure!  I have a whole tub of tomatoes sitting on my kitchen table right now.

Reading all of that, it's no wonder things have been quiet here!   I miss posting and hope to get back to some type of schedule soon.  In the meantime, here's our menu for this week - lots of fresh produce included!

Grocery shopping this week: two bags of spinach, two pints raspberries, 4lbs Fuji Apples, a small watermelon, and a gallon of milk from the grocery store ($23 spent) and 4lbs of State Fair Apples from the Farmer's Market for $5. 

Here's what we're eating this week:

Sunday, August 9:
   Breakfast: Lemon Blueberry Bread, Milk
   Lunch: Turkey Sausage, Fried Potatoes, Sautéed Onions and Zucchini
   Snack: Popcorn
   Dinner: Baked Tilapia, Rice, Sautéed Onions and Zucchini

Monday, August 10:
   Breakfast: Peanut Butter Toast, Apple Slices
   Lunch: Tomato Sandwiches, Cucumber Slices, Raspberries
   Snack: Lemon Blueberry Bread
   Dinner: Pasta with Tomato Sauce, Zucchini and Onions, Raspberry-Apple Salad

Tuesday, August 11:
    Breakfast: Oatmeal Muffins, Apple Slices
    Lunch: Turkey Sandwiches, Cucumber Slices and Carrot Sticks
    Snack: Cut Veggies
    Dinner: Grilled Sausage and Zucchini, Apples

Wednesday, August 12:
    Breakfast: Oatmeal with Walnuts and Raspberries
    Lunch: Salad with Chicken, Walnuts and Oranges
    Snack: Cut Veggies
    Dinner: Pot Luck at Church: Bring sliced cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, and sliced watermelon

Thursday, August 13:
     Breakfast: Peanut Butter Toast, Apples
     Lunch: Turkey Sandwiches, Watermelon
     Snack: Cut Veggies
     Dinner: Bear Roast, Carrots, Zucchini and Potatoes in the Crockpot,  Apple-Watermelon-Orange Salad

Friday, August 14:
     Breakfast: Oatmeal with Walnuts and Craisins
     Lunch: Salad with Walnuts, Oranges, and Raspberries
     Snack: Cut Veggies
     Dinner:  Homemade Pizza and Breadsticks

Saturday, August 15:
    Breakfast: Oatmeal Muffins, Fruit
    Lunch: Snacky Lunch: Apples and Cut Veggies
    Snack/Dinner/Dessert: At a friend's wedding

What are you eating this week?