Monday Menu Plan 11/12/2018

Things are starting to slow down a bit. Lily had three performances this weekend and Kendall has her last art class this week. Matt will be out of town at a work function on both Monday and Tuesday nights.
Breakfast- Saturday- Sausage, eggs, grits, toast and hash browns  Sunday-Biscuit Monday  Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday- Choice of oatmeal, grits cereal, toast or eggos waffles.
Lunch-Saturday-Left overs  Sunday-Mexican.  Monday- Sandwich  . Kids have lunch packed including soup, uncrustables and chicken nuggets. I will be in a conference with lunch provided Wednesday and Thursday. So just a couple days of food for me.
Dinner – Saturday-Leftovers Sunday- Roast- Hawaiian style Monday-Potato soup Tuesday- Chicken Enchiladas, Wednesday- Chicken nuggets  , Thursday- Salisbury steak Friday-left overs.

Tuesday Thoughts

  • We will be heading to Michigan over the Thanksgiving holiday.  I spent most of Saturday attempting to find hotels that were reasonably priced. I am very happy to say that I was able to locate and book two hotels both including pools and breakfast for around $100 a night including the pet fee!
  • Our plan for meals includes free breakfast, lunch in the room. on the go including pasta, mac and cheese, burritos and sandwiches. We will plan to purchase one meal a day and hope to cover at least 2 of these 7 meals with gift cards.  Definitely need to step up my swag game.
  • The house is finally getting cleaned!  I arrived home from work yesterday and we were able to spend a couple of hours cleaning floors and rearranging furniture.  I have even made a list of extra cleaning I would like to accomplish in the next week.
  • My goal is to be able to set up my snow village this weekend (Veteran’s Day). I am becoming excited and I love the anticipation of this.
  • I am tired, bone weary tired. I am not sure if this is related to the time change, the fact that I am home 3 night in a row and should be for another 2, stress or a combination of all three. But I seriously could go to sleep at 8pm tonight.
  • With our trip coming up, I want to reduce and leave very little in our refrigerators in the house.  We actually ended up eating left overs for 3 full meals this past weekend. I can see a little at the end of the tunnel but also hear some grumbling as we are out of pop tarts, instant oatmeal, shredded cheese and soon grits. I have no intention of replacing these items, Wish me luck!
  • I still LOVE my new job but it has become a lot more work than initially. I have been attending at least one meeting a week but it is still by far much less work and stress than the hospital.
  • Braxton is one month old, he is awesome and growing daily! I LOVE being a grandmother or baba, much easier than I could have imagined.

October in Review

It is one thing to anticipate spending after planning and knowing exactly where you wanted to spend money but quite another for bunch of small “fixes” becoming a very expensive month. In October, we ended up with some MAJOR automotive cost. First we need the oil changed on both vans. Next the silver van needed four new tires and finally the silver van needed a new battery. UGH, we made the choice to leave our emergency fund intact at around $600 and place the new tires on a credit card. Frustrating but not a total budget disaster. The good news is that I anticipate paying off this prior to the beginning of the year!

Financial- Yikes, did you read above. In addition, I have purchased new clothes and shoes for most of us. I am hopefully that we can stop spending and enjoys frugal months prior to Christmas without really noticing a change.
Grocery budget $500- Total spent $700. Yes, that puts us over for the second month in a row. I have pulled out $100 in cash to use for groceries this month. We are stocked up and I really want to eat what we have. The good news is because of losing power in October, we moved everything from the house freezers to the ones in the building. I was able to really organize and we have a great system for pulling up and knowing what food we are going to use. I have already pulled the food we need for the month of November minus Thanksgiving so we are only buying needs and good sales.
Gas- We are currently around $200 over for the month. This does include gas for the generator we ran but about 24 hours as well. I have not figured out exactly how much we are spending but get a better idea in November.
Kid/Summer expenses: We ended up spending another $100 for Lily for theater this month. We spent around $25 on baseball games including some food. Kendall choose to begin gymnastics this month which cost $100 for the first month.
Earned $175- This is a huge improvement from the last year. We have used most of this to purchase Christmas gifts. I also paid for clothing with this money this month.
Personal-
Blogging-12 for the month. I will admit that this has been a struggle but my goal is to make this goal at least for November and December as we have no travelling planned.
Exercise- Zero… no explanation.

Monday Menu Plan 10/29/2018

I see light at the end of the tunnel, our schedule should begin to slow down after this week as baseball season is over. Lily has two weeks until her performance and work is slowing to a normal pace for me. Both Lily and Zach had orthodontic appointments with changes made to their braces so I attempt to keep things soft for a couple of days as well.  You will notice several things different about this plan as we are eating out several times and we need to use up left-overs the other evenings.

Breakfast- Saturday- Pimento cheese and Bacon Biscuits, Sunday-Sausage Cresant rolls  Monday- Bagels  Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday- Choice of oatmeal, grits cereal, toast or  eggos waffles.

Lunch-Saturday-Rice Kerola  Sunday-Chicken stew  . Kids have lunch packed including soup, uncrustables and chicken nuggets. I will be eating out on Monday and Friday this week. But plan to take left overs the rest of the week.

Dinner – Saturday-Leftovers  Sunday- hot dog supper at church , Monday-Chicken nugget bowls  Tuesday- left overs   , Wednesday- IHPOP  , Thursday- Hamburgers and French fries Friday-left overs or pizza depending on my mood.

Saving on Saturday

Check out this doors….

They are the exact color to match the original brown wood paneling in my kitchen. Matt thankful painted that years ago.  These doors have remained as the one thing that was untouched until today.

I have been thinking about and wanting to paint not only the doors but also the door frame around my kitchen pantry for several months.  I discovered a half gallon of gray paint that remained from the new cabinets we installed several years ago.  Today, I finally decided I had the time to tackle this project.

Matt was great about helping remove the doors from the pantry and even helped paint the door frame.  We did hit a small hiccup, when I realized that these doors were not wood but an old plastic. I was so afraid that the paint would not stick and cover them nicely.  I had already resolved myself to spending at least some money on a couple of cans of plastic spray paint and started to paint the frame. After the doors were removed the area felt much more open.    I actually like this area a lot better without the doors, but I definitely need something to cover the pantry?   Then it hit me, we have a storage area in our shower room that I had a shower rod and curtain covering. Or should I say it was suppose to cover but we never pull the shower curtain closed because it is too much work. Perfect solution, Matt moved the shower rod and curtain in to the kitchen pantry door way!

I absolute LOVE the way this turned out!  Total out of pocket ZERO!

Homemade=less expensive and healthy

I don’t think there should be any doubt that eating a meal at home is way less expensive than eating out. For example, tonight I made oyster stew for four of us for dinner. Total cost $4 including ketchup and crackers so approximately $1 each.

But have you thought about homemade being healthy as well?  Matt worked in the restaurant industry for several years and he shared with me one time how a new “organic” restaurant was making there own vegetable stock from the throw away parts of salad ingredients.  Now if you know my family, we are not exactly the vegetarian type but it got me thinking and I did some research.  I learned that basically chicken broth and beef broth are both water with flavor/fat.  So I decided to make my own and save  the $6.95 it cost at Walmart.  The homemade version contains way less salt and no preservatives!

Last night we enjoyed T-bone steaks from our freezer for dinner.  After we finished eating, I simply tossed the remaining bones and fat in several crockpots. I fill with water and turn on low for 12 to 15 hours. No cost really.  This morning I turned the pots off and tonight I packaged up the beef broth in Ziploc bags which I was paid to take out of Walmart. Any time a recipe calls for beef broth or a beef bullion cube I use our beef  broth. It has no extra preservatives, no extra salt and usually increased the taste of most foods.

I did clean out one of the small crockpots and started a pot of homemade spaghetti sauce. I used up all the tomatoes that we picked last week ahead of the freezing temperatures, green peppers also from the garden. I have dried oregano, frozen basil and parsley leaves that also ended up in the pot. I have this cooking all night and will use the immersion blender in the morning to make the sauce smooth. Again really no cost for us and it contains no preservatives or ingredients I can’t pronounce.

After a really expensive spending week, I am so glad to save some money and keep us on a good financial track.

Spending Week

This is a totally different post than I usually blog about.   I feel like all I have been doing this week is spending money. I figured at least I am shopping the sale some what so I guess that counts right?

First, I have been using Ebates for the last several months, for my online shopping. I received one check in late September for $8 and have another schedule for November 15th that should be around 15. I will point out  that at least one of my purchases did not credit but overall it has been super easily and I only buy what I would be purchasing anyway so this is definitely free money.

With the sudden change in weather, I realized we needed some new shoes and clothes. I purchased the girls both 2 pair of boots at 40% off last weekend at The Children’s Place . In addition I purchased Lily two pair of pants and Braxton 2 pair of pants for $80.  Old Navy had a great sale on leggings so I purchased 8 pair for myself and 2 pair for Lily. On Sunday, we stopped at Walmart to get Zach a zip up jacket and found Kendall another pair of boots for a total of $40 spent.  Unfortunately, the boots I ordered online, were slightly too big, today Lily and I headed to Hanes Mall to exchange them.  Another shoe sale at 40% off caught me, both the girls ended up with an additional two pair of shoes. Yes, Kendall has received 5 new pairs of shoes in one week. I also purchased Lily a Christmas dress.  I can at least say that everything was on sale.  I don’t see that we will be needing any more shoes or clothing until Spring.

In addition to all this clothing spending, I ordered a new fryer and Roku box from Amazon this week.

On Monday, we had the oil changed in one van and Zach also had a doctor’s appointment with our new copay of $40.

WOW this month has become really expensive. I am hoping to gain a couple of weeks of no or limited spending prior to Thanksgiving.

End of Gardening Season

I mentioned last week that our weather had definitely turned colder. We actually had some frost on the windshield on Thursday morning. we have a frost warning tonight. This is a sure sign that we are at the end of our summer growing season.  Friday evening we spent about an hour, digging sweet potatoes and collecting any thing that is usable.

This year is probably the worst in terms of effort vs productions. Watermelons were plentiful, in fact we found 3 more when pulling up vines. I know that at least one of these is ready to eat!  The other two I placed  outside and will see if they finish ripening off the vines. We did find some sweet potatoes, probably around 10 pounds which is the least amount ever. We were so disappointed but we did not spend any money so we should not complain. I also harvested another gallon bucket of green peppers. We have enjoyed these all summer and I think we have enough to make it all winter in the freezer. Matt was able to locate two small pimentos and made another batch of pimento cheese this evening. I am planning to plant 2 of these plants again next year as this has become our favorite homemade spread. I also harvested a half gallon of green tomatoes, I am not sure if this will be usable but it does not hurt to try.  The greatest producer of the year is lettuce. I  started a head from some lettuce we purchased back in May. It became hot and grew so quickly that it self seeded. It started producing again in late August and we have been enjoying lettuce ever sense. It is a cold weather plant so I may be able to enjoy another month or so of lettuce. I am anxious to see if it will self seed again, but we are also continuing to harvest so it is hard to find a balance.

Our peach tree and one of the blueberry vines that we planted have also failed to survive the summer. I need to contact the company as they will send out replacements for the first two years.

I LOVE the warm weather and summer, so this is definitely a sad time of year for me.

Thursday Thoughts

  • Fall has officially arrived in North Carolina. Monday, the kids wore shorts and t-shirts to school. That afternoon, I heard complaints of how hot it was!  The house temperature was 78.  Today, the kids both are wearing long pants and long sleeves. The house temperature is currently and I am hopefully to avoid the heat til at least Saturday.
  • We will have to dig up sweet potatoes and grab the last of viable veggies from the garden as we are predicted to get our first frost Sunday night.
  • I planted some lettuce bottoms in May and after we ate some they ended up self seeding.  We have really been enjoying this lettuce during September and October. I walked out this afternoon and grabbed enough lettuce for 6 salads! This is probably the third full meal we have gotten and I grab usually a salad a week for my lunch.
  • I am coming to the realization that my job in Guam may never come about. I have already received notice that I need to renew my Guam license by Oct 26th for next year. I have yet to use this license so I am thinking that I will not renew and mark it up to a learning experience. The biggest issue is that I will need to re-do our budget in December and eliminate the need for that income.
  • Dinner this week has been a challenge, as I have had after school meetings 4 out of 5 days.  I am hoping to get a better/easier plan for next Monday and Tuesday. I also have a meeting on Monday evening so we may be ordering pizza after all.
  • I have spent my grocery budget for the month so I am forced to say No to a really good sale at Harris Teeter.
  • Going to end on a positive note, we currently are 1/3 of the way to have our Christmas completely paid for via Swagbucks. I am hopefully that by December we can purchase all large items using this free money!