Monday, April 9, 2018

Menu Plan Monday - Week of April 8, 2018

I found this photo of taco salad from who knows how long ago - yum!  I may have to put it on the menu next week because it just looks SO good!

We received more snow this week.  Snow.  In April.  Not a "dusting", mind, but a full 3 inches or so.  I really am done with winter.  But, I guess winter is not done with us, so I will keep planning my garden and push through until spring actually arrives!  Where we live, snow is always a possibility all the way up through Mother's Day in May (this year, May 13).  This winter has just seemed long. 

John and I ran to the grocery store on Friday evening last week, since we had other events all day on Saturday and were also planning on being busy Sunday afternoon.  Whole chickens were on sale for 79-cents/pound so I bought two - which is what our grocery budget could afford. I would have loved to buy more but the budget is tight and the freezer is nearly full still, so two it was. We also bought grapes at $1.69/lb (the cheapest fruit there was other than bananas - we bought those too), a bag of grapefruit (since we had a coupon and had not bought any this winter - we paid $1.72/lb with the coupon), Smart Balance and yogurt. 

We have a lot of food in the house - spinach, apples, carrots and celery for fresh vegetables and fruit in the refrigerator, and plenty of canned goods in the pantry.  We did run out of peanut butter - I'm not sure how that happened - but a church member told us to take home the leftover bread and peanut butter (half a loaf and a partially used jar) after a church event.  They wanted them to be eaten instead of thrown away, so we obliged!  I added peanut butter to the list for this week's shopping trip.  We also have plenty of other food in the freezer and pantry, so a small shopping trip was just fine.

Here's what we're eating this week:

Sunday, April 8:
     Breakfast: Toast with Peanut Butter, Blueberry-Banana Smoothies
     Lunch: Sandwiches, Apples
     Snack: Grapes
     Dinner: Taco Soup, Tortilla Chips

Monday, April 9:
     Breakfast: Cold Cereal with Milk
     Lunch: Leftover Soup
     Snack: Grapefruit or Grapes
     Dinner: Chicken Legs, Rice, Apple-Grape Salad

Tuesday, April 10:
      Breakfast: Oatmeal with Blueberries and Walnuts
      Lunch: Leftover Soup
      Snack: No Bake Energy Bites
      Dinner: Beef Gravy, Noodles, Grape-Banana Salad

Wednesday, April 11:
     Breakfast: Lemon Scones, Yogurt
     Lunch: Leftover Gravy and Noodles
     Snack: No Bake Energy Bites
     Dinner: Rice Bowl with Egg and Spinach

Thursday, April 12:
      Breakfast: Oatmeal Muffins, Scrambled Eggs
      Lunch: Spinach Salad with Craisins and Walnuts
      Snack: No Bake Energy Bites
      Dinner: Sheet Pan Dinner - Sausage, Potatoes, Green Beans

Friday, April 13:
     Breakfast: Waffles with Peach Jam
     Lunch: Spinach Salad with Craisins and Walnuts, Peach Smoothie
     Snack: No Bake Energy Bites
     Dinner: Homemade Pizza and Breadsticks

Saturday, April 14:
     Breakfast: Cinnamon Muffins, Blueberry-Banana Smoothies
     Lunch: Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwiches, Carrot and Celery Sticks, Apples and Grapes (at a dance competition)
     Snack: Homemade Sugar Cookies, Carrot Sticks, or Yogurt
     Dinner: Homemade Chili, Cornbread

What are you eating this week?

Saturday, March 31, 2018

Frugal Friday - Holy Week 2018

Wow, Holy Week hasn't been what we thought it would be. It was spring break for all of us this week and we had planned to do several small projects around the house and take a couple of free-except-for-gas day trips. That wasn't the way it turned out.  The children and I have been down and out with a massive set of head colds.  That meant we spent a ton of hours this week just laying around, sleeping and blowing our noses and coughing.  It was lousy.

Thus, we didn't do much in the way of frugal things, unless you count doing nothing, which I guess is frugal.  Here are the few things we did:

* We managed to eat all the meals at home this week.  John did bring leftovers from a meal at church home one night but otherwise we ate toast, canned or frozen soup, and 'easy' food like pancakes.

* We listened to audiobooks we checked out from the Public Library.

* We watched videos we already owned or ones that we available free online.

* We used products we already had, such as Vitamin C powder and tablets, hot showers, and rest to combat the colds we had this week.

* John packed a lunch every day and dinner one night, when he needed one.  He ate another at church and then brought home the leftover food mentioned above.

* I filled Easter Baskets for the children using previously purchased items.

* I made a  list of items we need to buy before the next pay cycle comes in and we have to pay our tax bill.  Thankfully, there's not much.  We should be just fine.

* We used hard boiled eggs purchased on sale to make Easter Eggs using food coloring, water and vinegar we already owned.  We will eat the hard boiled eggs with salad the beginning of the week. The children had lots of fun and the eggs ended up pretty!

* Missy and I put out Easter decorations we already owned. 

What did you do this week that was frugal?

Monday, March 26, 2018

Menu Plan Monday - Holy Week, March 25 - 31, 2018

Blurry photo of our Perfect Potato Soup with cheddar cheese and crumbled bacon on top.  YUM!  Perfect on a cold night.

It's Holy Week and we only have an event one night this week, other than Worship Thursday and Friday nights.  I'm rather pleased about that!  Things start to get really busy once April gets into full swing so I am looking forward to a bit of quiet before the busy sets in.

Here's what we're eating this week:

Sunday, March 25, 2018, Palm Sunday:
      Breakfast: Toast and Banana-Blueberry Smoothies
      Lunch: Brunch at Church - Fundraiser for the Youth Group
      Snack: Popcorn
      Dinner: Beef Roast, Green Beans, Potatoes, Blueberry-Apple-Banana Salad

Monday, March 26, 2018:
       Breakfast: Eggs with Spinach and Fried Potatoes
       Lunch: Ham Sandwiches, Clementine's, Carrot and Celery Sticks
       Snack: Popcorn
       Dinner: Seafood Stew, Cornbread

Tuesday, March 27, 2018:
        Breakfast: Oatmeal with Almonds and Dates
        Lunch: Leftover Beef Roast and Potatoes
        Snack: No Bake Energy Bites
        Dinner: At an Event (Pizza Party)

Wednesday, March 28, 2018:
        Breakfast: Lemon Scones, Eggs
        Lunch: Leftover Seafood Stew
        Snack: No Bake Energy Bites
        Dinner: Veggie Pot Pie, Sliced Apples

Thursday, March 29, 2018, Maundy Thursday:
        Breakfast: Potato Pancakes with Cinnamon Sugar, Raspberries and Blueberries
        Lunch: Grilled Cheese Sandwiches, Carrot and Celery Sticks
        Snack: No Bake Energy Bites
        Dinner: Roasted Veggie Couscous, Tortilla Chips

Friday, March 30, 2018, Good Friday:
         Breakfast: Hot Cross Buns, Fried Eggs, Raspberries and Blueberries
         Lunch: Leftover Couscous and Chips
         Snack: No Bake Energy Bites
         Dinner: Vegetable Noodle Soup, Matzah Bread

Saturday, March 31, 2018, Holy Saturday:
          Brunch: Egg Bake with Spinach and Potatoes, Hot Cross Buns
          Snack: Soft Pretzels
          Dinner: Homemade Pizza and Breadsticks

What are you eating this week?  Anything special for Holy Week?

Saturday, March 24, 2018

Super Savings Saturday - $46.08 Shopping Trip

Groceries purchased on March 24, 2018.

We went to three stores today and purchased the pictured groceries.  As with last week, we are spending only cash and we are allowing the children to pick $7 each of snacks for the week. This keeps them out of the groceries that we purchase for the meals and reduces the number of "We have nothing good to eat!" comments as well.  Last week and this week, it seems to be working well.

Here is what we purchased:

Store #1:
1 bag Stacy's Pita Chips $2.50 (for Missy's Snack this week - we had something else to purchase at this store, so it was easy to pick up these on sale for her)

Total Spent Store #1: $2.50

Store #2:
Cinnamon Crunch Cereal $1.39 (for Missy's Snack this week)
Marshmallow Star Cereal $1.39
1lb Rotini $0.79
3pk Colored Sweet Peppers $1.99
3lb Mandarins x2 @ $2.69/ea = $5.38 (one bag for Buddy's snack, one bag for everyone)

Total Spent Store #2: $10.94

Store #3:
Tortilla Chips $1.99
Potato Chips $1.25 (for Buddy's Snack this week)
Salad Shrimp (8oz) $2.99
2.54lbs Bananas @ $0.59/lb = $1.50
2.32lbs Braeburn Apples @ $1.49/lb = $3.46
2lbs Carrots $1.99
6oz Blueberries $2
6oz Red Raspberries $2
1lb Frozen Mango $3.29 (for Missy's snack this week)
1 Gallon 1% Milk $3.79
32oz Yogurt $3.59
8oz Shredded Cheese x2 @ $2ea = $4
1 doz Eggs $0.79

Total Spent Store #3: $32.64

Total Spent at all 3 Stores: $46.08

Missy spent all of her money for snacks, and a few of her few cents leftover from last week, for a running balance of $0.04 to carry forward.  Buddy only spent $3.94 this week and had $0.22 from last week giving him a total of $3.28 carryover for next week.

Come back on Monday and see what we have on the menu for Holy Week!

Frugal Things - Week 12 - March 17 to 23, 2018

Spring flowers from May 2017 - I'm really looking forward to our first flowers in a few weeks!
It is hard to believe that next Sunday is April already.  We have been super busy this spring and we were fighting major medical issues (thankfully, not me this time and they are now on the mend) that I am still deciding what I want to say about here. 

Either way, we are on the way upward and spring is just around the corner.  We still have snow on the ground but we have patches of dirt/grass too.  The weather has been warm enough to melt the snow several days and the sun has been shining.  I am enjoying the sun so much!   Garden plans are in full swing and I am very much looking forward to getting back into my garden.

I have not posted my frugal things for the last several weeks.  I decided to just pick up with this last week rather than wracking my brain to pull things out from the last few weeks.  So, without further ado, here are the things that we did this last week that were frugal:

* Made the following at home: Minestrone Soup, French Bread, Oatmeal Cookies, Muffins.

* I altered a dress for our daughter by taking in the back several inches and taking in the neckline.

* I downloaded the app from the library to listen to audiobooks on my phone!  I'm pretty excited about it and so are the children. We like to listen to audiobooks while doing household chores or working on crafts or projects.  Our library has a much larger selection of downloadable audiobooks than those on disk.

* We made plans for the summer garden - inventoried seeds and supplies and wrote a list of things that we need to purchase.  We also wrote a rather loose outline of what order to do the outside work.  This will depend on how much money we have to spend and the weather on the days we are free to do the work..

* We reviewed our budget and renewed our commitment to paying off several things this year and using cash for our daily/weekly purchases.  We do very little shopping other than gasoline (petrol), groceries and a very small amount of household items and clothes (this week we bought size AA batteries and facial tissues - we were completely out of both).  We are hoping to use the excess in our budget to pay off several medical commitments and the balance on our minivan. 

* We checked several books and a movie out of the library.  We also listened to the radio and several audiobooks we checked out of the library.

* I used Easter cards we already owned - mostly individuals that were left from previous years' packages of multiples - to mail Easter cards to family members. 

* We packaged up three bags of items for donation and received a tax receipt in return for that donation. 

What did you do this week that was frugal?

Monday, March 19, 2018

Menu Plan Monday - Week of March 18, 2018

Shamrock-Shaped Cinnamon Rolls for St. Patrick's Day.  Our afternoon "snack" after a lot of errand running on Saturday.  There was one roll leftover (upper right hand corner) that was mine! Yum!

We're starting this week by celebrating St. Patrick's Day a day late.  John was at an all-day church event on Saturday so we saved our Corned Beef and Cabbage for Sunday night.  It was delicious!

We have a couple of calm weeks before things really ramp up again (starting with Easter and running through the start of July), so we're going to enjoy it.  Here's what we're eating this week:

Sunday, March 18:
    Breakfast: Toast, Blueberry-Banana Smoothies
    Lunch: Grilled Cheese Sandwiches, Carrot Sticks and Sliced Apples
    Snack: Popcorn
    Dinner: Corned Beef, Maple-Roasted Cabbage, Pineapple-Raspberry-Blueberry Salad

Monday, March 19:
     Breakfast: Scrambled Eggs, Toast
     Lunch: Leftover Beef and Cabbage
     Snack: No Bake Bites
     Dinner: Roasted Veggie Couscous, Tortilla Chips, Sliced Apples

Tuesday, March 20:
     Breakfast: Oatmeal with Craisins, Almonds and Dates
     Lunch: Leftover Couscous and Chips
     Snack: No Bake Bites
     Dinner: Crab Cakes, Roasted Potatoes, Pineapple-Blackberry Salad

Wednesday, March 21:
      Breakfast: Oatmeal Muffins, Blueberry-Mango Smoothies
      Lunch: Leftover Beef and Cabbage or Soup from the Freezer
      Snack: No Bake Bites
      Dinner: Rice Bowl with Spinach and Fried Eggs

Thursday, March 22:
      Breakfast: Pancakes with Blueberries and Blueberry Jam
      Lunch: Spinach Salad with Hard boiled Eggs, Craisins, and Blackberries
      Snack: No Bake Bites
      Dinner: Sausage, Kohlrabi, Yellow Potatoes

Friday, March 23:
      Breakfast: Yogurt, Sliced Apples
      Lunch: Leftover Sausage, Kohlrabi and Potatoes or Soup from the Freezer
      Snack: No Bake Bites
      Dinner: Homemade Pizza and Bread sticks, Spinach Salad

Saturday, March 24:
       Brunch: Scrambled Eggs, Lemon Scones, Sliced Apples
       Snack: Homemade Soft Pretzels
       Dinner: BBQ Chicken Legs, Rice, Green Beans

The children also have the $13.22 in snacks they purchased this week if they would like - pretzel rods for Buddy, and frozen peaches, cheesy puffs, and cereal for Missy.

What are you eating this week?

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?

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Menu Plan, er, Tuesday - Week of January 28, 2018

Swedish meatballs - our treat after shoveling so much snow last week.  They were delicious!  I usually serve them with mashed potatoes but that night it was with rice.  Either way, this was a great pick me up after a lot of hard work.

We bought only a few things this week in the way of groceries. We had plenty in the house and only needed a few things to round out the menu this week.  I'm planning to do a pantry challenge in February and March, so this should be the norm for the next couple of weeks.  In addition to our small grocery haul, John won an apple pie at a raffle he entered, so that is being eaten as a snack this week. Yum!

We had a very eventful weekend including an ER trip and a major knee sprain.  We ended up picking up a frozen pizza at the store on Saturday after all of that.  That came out of our recreation budget rather than the grocery budget using money we had planned on spending for dinner at the Basketball Tournament this weekend. The injured party is healing and *should* be just fine in a couple of weeks.

Here's what we're eating this week:

Sunday, January 28, 2018:
     Breakfast: Banana-Mango Smoothies
     Lunch: Potluck at church (we brought a fruit salad)
     Snack: Zucchini Chocolate-Chip Cookies
     Dinner: Noodles with Tomato-Veggie Sauce

Monday, January 29, 2018:
     Breakfast: Scrambled Eggs, Clementine's
     Lunch: Spinach Salad with Chicken, Cranberries, and Walnuts
     Snack: Apple Pie
     Dinner: Perfect Potato Soup, Biscuits, Pineapple-Peach Salad

Tuesday, January 30, 2018:
     Breakfast: Oatmeal with Cinnamon and Almonds
     Lunch: Leftover Soup
     Snack: Zucchini Chocolate-Chip Cookies
     Dinner: Chicken Legs, Green Beans, Rice

Wednesday, January 31, 2018:
     Breakfast: Maple Oat Scones, Peach-Pineapple Smoothies
     Lunch: Leftover Soup
     Snack: Apple Pie
     Dinner: Chicken Wild Rice Soup, Cornbread

Thursday, February 1, 2018:
     Breakfast: Pancakes with Applesauce and Walnuts
     Lunch: Leftover Soup
     Snack: Oatmeal Cookies
     Dinner: Sandwiches, Cut Veggies

Friday, February 2, 2018:
      Breakfast: Scrambled Eggs, Toast
      Lunch: Leftover Soup
      Snack: Oatmeal Cookies
      Dinner: Homemade Pizza and Bread Sticks

Saturday, February 3, 2018:
       Brunch: French Toast, Sliced Ham
       Snack: Soft Pretzels
       Dinner: At a friend's Birthday Party (we've been invited to a 50th birthday party where dinner will be provided)

What are you eating this week?  Any good deals or new recipes at your house? 

Saturday, January 27, 2018

Super Savings Saturday - $24.34

No photo again this week.  I'm slipping! Or something like that.

We have basketball tournaments all weekend, so I ran to the grocery store Friday between other things and picked up a few groceries.

We have very full freezers and a very, very full pantry, so we're eating well in spite of not buying much.  Here's what we bought:

16oz unsweetened applesauce $1.99
8oz fresh spinach $3.99
green bell pepper $1
cucumber $1
3lb clementine's $3.99
Smart Balance $3.29
1lb Cheddar Cheese $4
32oz Yogurt $3.59
1 dozen eggs $1.49

I could have bought a little more, but we have overspent what we had planned to spend this month so we stuck with this.

Come back Monday to see what we're eating this week!

Monday, January 22, 2018

Menu Plan Monday - Week of January 21, 2018

A summer meal - I think this was 4th of July, which we also had fruit salad and homemade ice cream for.  Occasionally we purchase really good bratwurst for meals like this. YUM!

We spent just under $40 for groceries this week.  Here's what we're eating:

Sunday, January 21, 2018:
    Breakfast: Yogurt with Chia Seeds
    Lunch: Cinnamon Biscuit Twists, Sausage
    Snack: Ginger Cookies
    Dinner: Swedish Meatballs, Noodles, Green Beans

Monday, January 22, 2018:
    Breakfast: Scrambled Eggs and Toast
    Lunch: Leftover Meatballs and Noodles
    Snack: Cut Veggies
    Dinner: Baked Whitefish, Rice, Carrots, Sliced Apples and Pears

Tuesday, January 23, 2018:
     Breakfast: Oatmeal with Almonds and Dates
     Lunch: Rice Bowl with Spinach, Chickpeas, and Cranberries
     Snack: No Bake Energy Bites
     Dinner: Cabbage with Bacon and Noodles

Wednesday, January 24, 2018:
     Breakfast: Oatmeal Muffins and Raspberry-Banana Smoothies
     Lunch: Leftover Cabbage-Bacon-Noodles
     Snack: Cut Veggies
     Dinner: Breakfast Tacos

Thursday, January 25, 2018:
     Breakfast: Waffles from the Freezer, Triple-Berry Jam
     Lunch: Wheatberry Salad with Spinach and Cranberries
     Snack: No Bake Energy Bites
     Dinner: Spaghetti Dinner Fundraiser

Friday, January 26, 2018:
     Breakfast: Scrambled Eggs and Toast
     Lunch: Wheatberry Salad with Spinach and Cranberries
     Snack: No Bake Energy Bites
     Dinner: Homemade Pizza and Breadsticks

Saturday, January 27, 2018:
     Breakfast: Oatmeal-Maple Scones, Raspberry-Banana Smoothies
     Lunch and Snack:  At the Basketball Tournament
     Dinner: Vegetable Beef Barley Soup (in the Crockpot), Cornbread

We can't bring food into the Basketball tournament on Saturday or we'd pack a lunch but other than that I think we're good for this week! 

What are you eating this week?

Saturday, January 20, 2018

Super Savings Saturday - $37.88 with 2 Beef Roasts!

No photo today! 

John and I dropped the children and the  groceries off at home and went on an honest to goodness date for a short while!   It was just an afternoon coffee/tea at a local coffee shop with a gift card but it was wonderful.  He had a crazy busy week this last week and this one looks busy too with two funerals and several meetings in the ramp up for the annual congregational meeting next weekend.  I'm grateful to have had some time to spend together before the craziness sets in.

We stopped at one store after a trip to the local library and bought the following:

1lb Heart Candies $2.99
1lb Yellow Cornmeal $2.19
Large Fresh Pineapple $2.99
2.2lb Yellow Bananas @ $0.59/lb = $1.30
1.63lb Braeburn Apples @ $2.49/lb = $4.06 (This was NOT what the sign read and we didn't check the receipt until well after we had come home; we would normally never have bought them at this price!)
1 Gallon 1% Milk $3
10 6oz Yogurt Cups @ 5/$3 = $6
1.88lb and 1.86lb Beef Tip Roasts B1G1 = $11.26  ($3/lb which is a great price for this here)
1lb sausages x2 = $1.89 ($0.93/lb - another good price!)

Total Spent: $37.88
Total Savings: $14.16 or 27% according to store receipt

We had not planned on buying meat this week but the sales were excellent so we bought the two beef roasts and the two packages of sausage.  These are breakfast sausages and will be a nice treat - we haven't bought any in quite a while.  The beef roasts will provide more than one meal each with leftovers so we're pretty excited about those too.

Right now, I'd like to buy some fish for Holy Week but other than that we have meat and veggies to cover us all the way through Easter!  I'm pretty excited about that!  That means we can easily lower the grocery budget these next couple of months.  We haven't been doing a good job of that these last couple of weeks so the break will be welcome.

I have our menu totally planned out through Easter and I'm quite happy with it.  We have a full freezer, pantry and cupboard and I'm looking forward to using up the things in there and making the most of what we have. We have enough that the variety will be pretty good too. Please join me for a Pantry Challenge in February and March!

Come back Monday to see what we're eating this week. 

How did you do with your shopping this week?  Any amazing deals?

Friday, January 19, 2018

Frugal Friday - Week 3 of 52 - January 12 - 18, 2018

Some of the flowers from my garden last summer - I'm so looking forward to more this summer!

It was a very odd week - we started with Martin Luther King Jr Day on Monday and our daughter and I fighting a bad head cold, Missy was better Tuesday but I was not, and then I felt like we were trying to catch up all the rest of the week.  I was a bit relieved that it was Friday today!

We had several just unpleasant things going on this week but we did a very nice job of being fairly frugal - it's easy to not spend money when you're home sick, I guess.  Either way, it ended up being a reasonable week all the way around and we're looking forward to a quiet week at home and some extra rest before all the activities start to ramp up next week.

Here are some frugal things we did this week:

* We made two types of soup, biscuits, and waffles at home this week.

* John brought home leftover chicken noodle soup (homemade) and cookies from a church event.  We used those for lunch and treats.

* I cleaned out my tea stash, composed a bit that were way past usable and sorted everything else so it is more accessible and usable.  I also discovered that I have 5 tea strainers, so I put one in my bag to take up to work for my tea stash there.  I had been just letting the leaves settle before drinking.  This will be much better.

* I worked on quite a bit of embroidery this week.  All for gifts.

* We renewed library books online last weekend.  We'll return them this weekend and get a few new.

* We ate all meals and snacks at home but one, which was lunch at church for Bible Study on Sunday.

* We updated the budget book and paid the bills.  The budget will be really quite tight the rest of the month - tighter than we'd like.  But, we paid off a small medical debt and the car this month!  I'm super excited about both!  We still have several more medical bills to go, but we're making progress.

I think that's it for us this week.  What did you do this week that was frugal?

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Menu Plan - Week of January 14, 2018

Sometimes breakfast - eggs with spinach, a smoothie (raspberry and banana here), and coffee.  YUM!

I didn't get a chance to post our shopping trip this weekend so here's what I bought; stopping at the store on the way home on Friday so I didn't have to go out in the icky weekend weather (well below freezing, then snow and blowing, yippie!) unless I wanted to. 

Here's what I purchased:
2 1lb packages sliced lunch meat 2 @ $2.69/ea = $5.39
1 1lb sausage $3.69
1 packaged prepared hummus $2.99
2 1lb packages coffee 2 @ $5.99/ea = $11.98
1lb fresh blueberries $2.50
3lb Gala apples $3.69
3lb Anjou Pears $3.99
2lb bananas $1.39
10 cups yogurt $5

Total Spent: $40.62

This is more than I wanted to spend, but we are pretty well set except for milk and maybe some more fruit for the rest of the month now.

Here's what we're eating this week:

Sunday, January 14, 2018:
     Breakfast; Toast with Peanut Butter
     Lunch: At Church (Bible Study)
     Snack: Popcorn
     Dinner: Homemade Pizza and Breadsticks

Monday, January 15, 2018, Martin Luther King Jr. Day:
     Brunch: Breakfast Biscuits (Biscuits, Eggs, Ham)
     Snack: Popcorn
     Dinner: Soup from the Freezer, Crackers from the Pantry

Tuesday, January 16, 2018:
     Breakfast: Toast with Peanut Butter
     Lunch: Leftover Soup
     Snack: Cut Veggies
     Dinner: Gingerbread Pancakes, Blueberries, Bacon

Wednesday, January 17, 2018:
     Breakfast: Scrambled Eggs, Oatmeal Muffins
     Lunch: Wheatberry Salad with Spinach, Cranberries, and Almonds
     Snack: Cheese and Crackers
     Dinner: Sausage, Potato, and Corn Stew, Cornbread, Sliced Apples and Pears

Thursday, January 18, 2018:
     Breakfast: Pancakes, Blueberries and Strawberries
     Lunch: Leftover Stew
     Snack: Cut Veggies
     Dinner: Ham or Turkey Sandwiches, Cut Veggies

Friday, January 19, 2018:
     Breakfast: Scrambled Eggs, Toast
     Lunch: Wheatberry Salad with Spinach, Cranberries and Almonds
     Snack: Gingerbread Cookies
     Dinner: Homemade Pizza and Breadsticks

Saturday, January 20, 2018:
      Brunch: Potato Spinach Frittata
      Snack: Soft Pretzels
      Dinner: Roasted Root Vegetables with Chicken-Flavored Rice, Sliced Apples and Pears

What are you eating this week?

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Frugal - Week 2 of 25, Week of January 6, 2018

My children at the beach this past summer. John and I have been planning a real Summer Holiday for this year.  My parents are celebrating our 60th wedding anniversary and we're celebrating our 20th, so we all decided we need to take a Holiday together.  We're pretty excited!

It is COLD here again - the temperature this morning was listed at -12F (-24.44C).  Early this week it was almost +40F (4.4C).  It almost felt like spring was on it's way. Of course, it's way too early for that but we enjoyed the short warm-up and are now bundled back up for the weekend again. I deliberately went and ran errands yesterday Friday evening so I don't have to venture out on Saturday if I don't want to.

Here are some things that we have done this past week (Saturday 1/6 to Friday 1/12):

* At home we made soup, bread, pancakes, and muffins.

* I enjoyed treats - muffins, fruit, cookies - and a very delicious lunch at a workshop this week.  There was way too much food for lunch and the workshop coordinator brought out zip-top bags at the end of the lunch for people to take the extra home. I brought home enough salad with chicken for our evening meal on Friday evening.  It was a delicious treat - something I wouldn't have made at home due to so many expensive ingredients.

* Did ,my own ironing rather than paying for someone else to do it.

* Reattached a hook and eye to a skirt, a button to a blouse, and tacked up a fallen hem on a pair of pants.

* We put together an updated list of items we need to complete on the house.  I have already completed two small projects and hope to tackle a couple more this weekend.  These are interior projects we can do while the weather is unpleasant outside.  We will make a separate list of outside projects once the weather warms up, sometime April or May.

* Used a deal at Target to stock up on Vitamins and now we have a $5 Target gift card for use later.

How did you do this week?

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Work, Home and Family - Our Schedule (sort of)

I'm dreaming of summer and warm evening fires, like the one above.  We're supposed to get rain and then snow and then cold again through tonight (Wednesday) into Friday.  Sigh. I'm ready for winter to be done and it's only the beginning-ish of January. 

One of the things that people are doing this time of year is posting their "schedule" for their days.  And since I often get asked how I "do it all" (trust me, I definitely don't do it all!), I thought I'd jump on that bandwagon, at least in a way.  We have more of a routine than a set schedule, though we do have times to be places and the like.  This is our weekday schedule.

Some things to keep in mind:

Our children are tweens, so plenty old enough to sleep through the night, do all their own grooming, and help with the household chores.  Most days we don't have to keep reminding them to do their homework and practice instruments (they both play two).  I'm so grateful!  Having twins was so difficulty and energy draining when they were tiny, but now they keep each other company and work very well together.  The children do take dance lessons and play sports, so we have competitions, games, and practices.  They also attend Confirmation (Affirmation of Baptism) classes at our church and participate in a few church activities as well.
John and I both work outside the home, though our schedules are more flexible than many.  John, as a Pastor, pretty much sets his own schedule and has one day off during the week (in exchange for working on Sundays).  My schedule, as University Faculty and as a Graduate Student is kind of all over the place, though I get to choose what I do with my time when I'm not teaching class.  I typically do my work for my class I'm teaching at work as much as I can (fewer distractions, more resources) and I learn my Jazzercise routines at home. My schoolwork is more nebulous - between and around other things and I try to take some time to spend at the school I attend at least once a week (sometimes that works, sometimes it's doesn't). 

So, here we are: Our weekday schedule

530/6am: Lea wakes up
             Make and drink coffee and personal quiet time, which includes reading, devotions and anything else that I feel like doing.
              One day a week, I wake the children and John up at 6am because they need to leave at 630am for piano lessons.  The children eat breakfast at school that day.
              One morning a week I teach an early Jazzercise class so I'm out the door by this time - I'm dressed and ready to go, I usually pack a breakfast to eat after class but I eat a banana before so I have something in my stomach.  I take clothes and toiletries with and get ready for work after class.

7/730am: The children wake up, Lea makes breakfast
               Buddy wakes up on his own sometimes in here (often earlier), usually Missy has to be woken up.  I start making breakfast about 7am. If I'm making baked good (muffins, etc.) I'll start those at about 630am.
                If Buddy wakes up early, he reads or watches the tablet while I'm doing my thing.  If he wants something to eat or drink, he will get it himself.

730am:  John wakes up (except when there is piano lessons)
             By this time, everyone is either eating breakfast or getting ready for work/school or both.

8am: Everyone out the door!

830am: Children dropped off at school

9am: Lea's workday starts
         This is almost always at my office at work or in the library at school.  Once in a while if I really need to get away from everyone, I'll work at our really nice local public library.  This is when I spend time working on the things I need for both my teaching and my schooling and my classes are scheduled somewhere in this time. Depending on the semester, I may need to leave earlier in the morning with John finishing the morning routine due to schedule of my courses.  I'm very fortunate most of my sections don't start until 915am or later!

330/4pm: Lea heads home. 
          Three days a week, I try to leave work by this time, or I get stuck in the traffic coming out of the state and city offices in downtown St. Paul on my way home. 
         Two days a week I leave at a only slightly different time because I teach Jazzercise classes and it's out of my way to go home first.

315pm: The children finish school
         Two days a week we meet them at the door to pick them up at this time.
         Two days a week they have sports practice after school at school.
         One day a week they stay for a bit at after school care until John can get there to pick them up.
         After school care includes a snack and a drink, time to do homework, and a fun activity (playground time, games, occasional video, etc.). The two days with sports practice they receive the snack offered at after school care.
          I pick them up 2-3 days per week and John picks them up the other 2-3 days, depending on our schedules..

4pm - 9pm:  Afternoon and Evening
         What we do here varies depending on the day:  Three nights a week have sports/dance and one night has Confirmation.  We do manage to have dinner together at home at the table these nights but are all not home together before and/or after that.  Sometimes John or I will run errands or exercise while someone is at practice.  The other adult and child remain at home, working on homework, instruments, chores and anything else they want or need to work on.  Our one free night of the week is family time and we all stay home together and do something together (puzzle, game, movie, etc.).
9pm: Children's Bedtime Routine/Family Devotions
          Most nights this is when the children are getting ready for bed.  One night a week we have a child at an activity until 9pm and this is usually when everyone arrives home from confirmation due to John being the Pastor and having to clean up, etc. 
          For devotions, we typically read the Bible verses for the day from the Revised Common Lectionary and the church devotional entry for the day as well and pray together.  If we have time, one of us will read a chapter of a book first (we are finishing up the Chronicles of Narnia right now - a reread for us and super fun!).

930pm: Children to bed.

10/1030pm: Lea heads to bed. 
          My bedtime routine starts most nights as soon as the children are in bed.  Some nights I'm tired enough I go to bed before the children do. 

11pm: John heads to bed
          John usually uses the time between when I go to bed and he goes to bed as his quiet time for the day.  He's a night owl so it works perfect for him!  He's a very restless sleeper so this also gives me time to fall asleep before he joins me; it can be difficult for me to get to sleep if he falls asleep first!

That's a run down of my day.  How about yours?

Monday, January 8, 2018

Menu Plan Monday - Week of January 7, 2018

Yum - Pancakes!  Both of my children can make delicious pancakes and I'm so grateful! One thing they have both asked to do this year is to learn how to cook better and to cook more often.  So each week, they will be helping with a meal and we have a few specific recipes that we are planning on working on as well.  This week Buddy is helping with Pasta with Veggie-filled Tomato Sauce on Monday and Missy will help with the Crock pot Beef Gravy on Thursday. 

Here's what we're eating this week:

Sunday, January 7, 2018:
    Breakfast: Peanut Butter Toast
    Lunch: Scrambled Eggs with Spinach, Cinnamon Biscuit Twists
    Snack: Popcorn
    Dinner: Vegetable Barley Soup, Biscuits

Monday, January 8, 2018:
     Breakfast: Scrambled Eggs, Toast
     Lunch: Leftover Soup
     Snack: No Bake Energy Bites
     Dinner: Noodles with Veggie-Filled Tomato Sauce, Spinach Salad with Strawberries

Tuesday, January 9, 2018:
     Breakfast: Oatmeal with Almonds and Dates
     Lunch: Leftover Soup or Pasta with Sauce
     Snack: No Bake Energy Bites
     Dinner: Pork and Veggie Stir Fry, Rice, Orange Wedges

Wednesday, January 10, 2018:
     Breakfast: Zucchini Bread, Strawberry-Mango Smoothies
     Lunch: Leftover Stir Fry
     Snack: No Bake Energy Bites
     Dinner: Kielbasa, Cabbage, Apple-Strawberry-Banana Salad

Thursday, January 11, 2018:
     Breakfast: Waffles with Jam
     Lunch: Salad with Leftover Kielbasa
     Snack: Zucchini Bread
     Dinner: Crock pot Beef Gravy, Noodles, Spinach Salad with Strawberries and Oranges

Friday, January 12, 2018:
    Breakfast: Strawberry-Mango Smoothies, Scrambled Eggs
    Lunch: Leftover Beef Gravy and Noodles
    Snack: Zucchini Bread
    Dinner: Homemade Pizza and Breadsticks

Saturday, January 13, 2018:
     Brunch: Egg Bake with Spinach and Potatoes
     Snack: Popcorn
     Dinner: Any Leftovers from the Week or Soup from the Freezer

What are you eating this week?

Saturday, January 6, 2018

Super Savings Saturday - $29.61

The photo above is the red velvet cake I made John for his Birthday last year (2017).  This year (2018) a friend made a BEAUTIFUL two-layer red velvet cake with cream-cheese frosting.  Sadly, I didn't get a photo of it since only three pieces came home (one for me and one for each of the children).  The rest was eaten at Bible Study and John had a second piece as an afternoon snack that day before coming home.

John and I spent a little more than half our typical monthly grocery budget at Sam's Club stocking up on some things earlier this week, so my goal is to cut back on the grocery budget this week and a few more weeks going forward to even things out a bit.   We did end up spending about $10 more today than I wanted to but that just means we have less later on this month.  That money was spent to fill a vacancy in our pantry and should last us a while.

Missy was on the ball when we got home and put the groceries away before I could take a photo.  I wasn't about to pull them out just to get a photo, so imagine in your mind what we purchased!

Here's what we spent at one store:

56oz Vegetable Oil  $2.49
Baking Powder $1.69
10oz Fresh Spinach $4.99
Green Bell Pepper $0.79
2.54lbs Pink Lady Apples @ $1.49/lb = $3.78
3.41lb Navel Oranges @ $0.99/lb = $3.38
1lb Strawberries x 2 @ 2/$3 = $3
2.53lbs Yellow Bananas @ $0.59/lb = $1.49
Crystal Farms Cheese 6oz x 3 @ 3/$5 = $5
Yoplait 5oz Yogurt Cups x 5 @ 5/$3 = $3

Total Spent (According to Receipt): $29.61
Total Savings According to Receipt: $2.50 (8%)

A note about the savings on the receipt:  This only includes deals, such as the cheese being 3/$5, or coupons that were used.  The savings on the strawberries, for example, were not included because the 2/$3 is considered a "normal" price by the computer, even though the typical price for a pound of strawberries here in January is somewhere around $4.  The yogurt price of 5/$3 is also a "normal" price, so that was not included also.

The cheese, baking powder, and vegetable oil will last us far longer than this week.  We will probably eat all the produce and the yogurt this week. Fruit is a favorite snack for the children and John likes a spinach salad with his lunch every day, so we eat that much produce pretty quickly.

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

Friday, January 5, 2018

Frugal Friday - Week 1 of 52, December 29, 2017-January 5, 2018

I keep looking at the photos of my flowers from last summer and reminding myself that our super cold spell WILL eventually pass - a high of +2F (-16.6C) today, and it was -9F (-22.8C) when I left the house this morning.  SO glad I own a down parka, lamb's wool hat and warm gloves and boots!  Garden planning is on the agenda in January, so I guess the photos are more than just a lovely reminder.

One week of 2018 is already done.  That is hard to believe!  I took this week "off" from work and spent the time "working from home" on both work and school items as well as doing a few things around the house and running a few errands.  I did teach Jazzercise and take the children to school but otherwise I stayed home!  I enjoyed it very much but now I'm ready to get back to work.  That will come Monday!

We're tightening our belt this year to pay off some debts - being very deliberate (my word for 2018) and intentional about what we're doing with our money.  So here's the frugal things from this week:

* Celebrated New Years Eve and New Years Day at home; though I did attend our New Year Kick-off class at Jazzercise.  Everyone else stayed home!  We play games we already own, eat chocolate "fondue" (melted chocolate with fruit and other treats to dip), drink sparkling juice, and watch the ball drop in Times Square via television.  This year John brought home a giant bag of mixed type popcorn (plain, caramel and cheddar cheese flavored) to add to the mix.  New Year's Day I make Buttermilk Coffee Cake, a fruit salad and bacon and we watch the Rose Parade on television.

* We flew home from my parent's house on Friday the 29th and packed water bottles and snacks for the plane rather than purchasing them on board (the flight is too short to provide a meal).  We bring empty water bottles through security and then fill them up.

* We ate all meals at home this week.  We made two types of soup, potato fries, muffins, pancakes, pizza, and cooked crab legs at home this week. 

* I sewed John a birthday gift for his birthday this week and the children made John gifts at school in their art class.  He did ask for a specific small food gift, so we bought that as well.

* We watched several movies on line and one from the library.

* We read books from the library and one we borrowed from a friend, that the library did not have.

* We spent just under $100 in groceries at Sam's Club, stocking up on several things we were out of including canned diced tomatoes, peanut butter, bread flour and almonds.  My goal for the rest of the winter is to spend only a small fraction of our typical grocery budget each week and eat form our over-loaded freezers and the pantry. I'm planning on keeping you posted!

* I peeled, sliced and froze 8 mangoes we purchased for 80-cents each.  We will use these in smoothies, baking and to eat as snacks over the next few months.

* I froze leftover soup for later use.

* I wrote thank you notes using cards we already owned for the many and generous Christmas gifts from our congregation: candied almonds, two loaves of zucchini bread, Danish sausage, Swedish meatballs, a gift card to Applebee's restaurant, a gift card to A&W restaurant, a gift card to the local grocery store, many cookies and several donations to charity in our honor.  We've eaten the cookies, candied almonds, the sausage and the meatballs already.  The zucchini bread went into the freezer for later.

* I worked on embroidery for three wedding gifts and The Big Gift that I have been working on for a while (that one is almost complete - and I can't wait to share!).

* I mailed two birthday cards that I already owned to family members celebrating birthdays this month.

* I inventoried the freezers and made a basic menu plan through the end of March.  I'll add a few things as we go, but the bulk of that is done. I'm hoping to clean out the freezers before summer so we can purchase a quarter of beef or pork in the fall as well as store our typical garden produce.

* I used sour milk to make waffles for the freezer. 

* We attended our son's basketball game for entertainment this week.  No cost since parking and admission were free. Unfortunately they lost, but the game was good.

* While home this week, I did the ironing (I'm actually caught up - YAY!), scrubbed the walls in our daughter's bedroom in preparation for painting once the weather warms up, and sorted through a large amount of accumulated detritus in our entry and entry closet. 

This year I'm trying very hard to not purchase anything that isn't necessary.  As such, I only went to Sam's Club with a list and my husband and stopped at the grocery store once to purchase the small food gift for my husband for his birthday (the crab legs came from Sam's and he picked them out).  I'm hoping to only go to the store once this next week - for groceries and another errand on Saturday and then stay out of them the rest of the week. 

What did you do this week that would count as frugal?

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Work, Home and Family - Two Sets of Specific Goals for 2018

These were a new addition to my garden this year - dwarf iris.  SO beautiful!

Over the tail end of 2017, John and I spent quite a bit of time on what we wanted to accomplish in 2018.  We came up with two areas to focus on:


Here's what we're hoping to accomplish in these two areas in 2018:

Family:  More deliberate time together and being intentional in being in touch with our extended family, including my husband's eight siblings.

Finances: To pay off two specific debts that we're starting this year with (something very unusual for us) and to complete a specific list of household repairs.

Breaking it down further, here's what we'd like these things to look like on a monthly basis in 2018:

* One evening per week spent as a family.  We used to do this regularly, but it's been sporadic for the last year or so and we've all missed it!  Time to get back to it!

* At least two dates per month for John and I.  While at home dates are great, we've realized that in this season of our lives, we need to actually leave our home and all the types of noise it offers in favor of someplace else.  These dates don't have to be fancy or expensive (a walk together would be just fine!), but they need to happen regularly.

* Talking on the phone - not via email, text, etc. - to our parents at least once per week and with at least one of John's siblings each week.  Visit in person at least four times this year. Both sets of our parents and all of John's siblings live out of state so four times per year is a do-able number for us without making our lives too hectic.

* Connecting with extended family through real letters, email, text or the internet at least once per week.  Visit with local extended family at least four times per year.  While we do have extended family in area, none are what you would call "close", taking at least 1 1/2 hour each way (most are 3 hours each way) in travel time to visit.  So, here again, four times per year makes this do-able for us.

* Track spending, using excess each month to pay off the debt.  According to our current plans, we should be able to knock one of these debts off with no problem. The other one is going to be tight - right now we're scheduled to pay it off in early 2019.  We'd like to pay that off too but it's going to take careful planning to do so!  We currently have few options for making extra money at the moment, so we need to be careful with what we have and use it as wisely as possible.

* Complete at least 2 household repairs or projects each month.  We have many repairs or necessary replacement purchases and projects for our yard and home we've put on hold since John went into Internship in May 2014.  We simply did not have the money or time to do these so we made do, mended, and went without.  Now that our finances and time have stabilized, we need to catch up!  

That's more than enough, don't you think? 

I do have a few other things I'd *like* to have happen this year, but being deliberate with my time and energy and the above goals should be more than enough to keep me busy.

I'm currently planning on taking the first Wednesday of the month to recap how we did on these the previous month.  Will you all please hold me accountable to this?

What are your goals for 2018?  If you'd like to share, I'd love to hear!