This week is a back to reality sort of week. I start back to work and Lily begins classes on Tuesday. We have decided to change the way we plan and instead of planning a month at a time, we are going to make a list on Sunday and shop from the freezer. This way, we can add and change as the weather and our activities start to change. This week Thursday night is a hectic night with a quick dinner needed. I am also trying out several new to us recipes. Tonight, Monday, the creamy chicken spaghetti was a huge hit!
Breakfast- I have really focused on getting some easy to finish breakfast plans together for the week. Saturday– BLT sandwiches – Sunday-English muffins with choice of egg, sausage or Nutella, Monday- Smoothies for the kids and Matt I have a breakfast burrito. Tuesday,Wednesday, Thursday, Friday– Choice of breakfast burrito, omelet oatmeal, grits, pop tarts cereal, Lunchable brunch (special treat since the kids are enjoying the last week of summer) or toast.
Lunch–Saturday-sandwiches , Sunday-Pasta salad The kids can have a choice of sandwiches, soup, easy pasta or left-overs. I am trying to get my lunch ready the night before so I am no scrambling in the morning. Monday was a grab and go day. Tuesday- Chicken cucumber Ranch wrap, Wednesday- Taco Salad, Thursday-left-overs probably pasta salad. Friday- is my meeting day at work so I eat out.
Dinner – Saturday-left-overs choice Sunday–Left-overs Monday- Creamy Chicken spaghetti with green beans and garlic toast. Tuesday– Tacos with choice of hard or soft shell Wednesday–pork chops Thursday– Chicken filet sandwiches . Friday- Left-overs if any are available or maybe pizza.
No spend days equals savings. This idea sounds very simple and is actually foul proof. If you don’t spend any money on a given day then of course you are saving money. However, when putting this into practice it actually becomes much harder than you think. I am a very black and white person so when my understanding of No spend days is exactly that no spending what so ever even from budgeted amounts. The one exception I make is using med flex money. I don’t count this as spending because I never see this money and don’t budget for it either. During the school year there are many things that can count as spending, ball games, school activities/fees and piano. All these activities are planned but still count as spending. Gas is a big culprit during any season of the year.
I started tracking my no spend days in June. I was very shocked to see my total as 2! I was even more shocked to realize that both of these days occurred while school was in session. In July, I was able to achieve a total of seven days of no spending. Again, I was shocked to learn that one of those no spend day was on our missions trip. So far during the month of August, we have managed 3 no spend day with today counting as the third. The first no spend was on Saturday August 3rd, just prior to our beach trip and the second day was during our beach trip. Given all this information, what is the one thing that makes a no spend day work? Planning is the simple answer. The good news is that heading into the school year, I have been focused on preparing ahead aka planning. I have enough meals that grocery shopping should not need to happen but maybe twice a month to grab milk, cheese, bread and vegetables. I don’t anticipate having lots of extra time so that eliminates online shopping and any shopping really. Yesterday, I took the van for an oil change so that eliminates that expense for at least a couple of month. We have also replaced the brakes this summer and replaced tires on the older van. I am hopeful that gas will be our only vehicle expense. The kids and I all had hair appointments yesterday which means we are good for at least 2 months in that area. I may end up getting another pedicure but only one more should be sufficient. The one expense that I know is coming is school fees including signing up for Baseball, and Youth Theater.
Now to the planning part, my goal for August was 10 no spend days. I had originally stated that when school started I would shoot for 15 no spend days. I am no sure that 15 is realistic but I will wait until the end of August to decided if it is reachable.
I mentioned last week that one of the things we enjoyed doing on our vacation was shopping the outlets. Today, I am going to hopefully share some of the deals we got and several pictures as well. I did debate about sharing because you will not be able to replicate the deals but it does give you an idea of what good prices for items are.
On Sunday, we left early, before 7:30am after eating at our favorite local breakfast place.
The goal was to be at the Tanger Outlets before lunch. South Carolina has a tax free weekend usually the first weekend of August. We planned to take advantage of this sale. We were successful! Some of the deals that we were able to combine with the tax free weekend included $8 shorts (for me) at Old Navy. Children’s clothes priced at $2, $4, $6 and $8 at Old Navy. We purchased mostly clothes for Braxton with this deal but Kendall grabbed a shirt for $2.49 and Lily found 8 pair of “cool socks” for $8. We shopped at RUE 21 where we found $5 shirts, each of the girls was able to find 2 shirts that are appropriate for school and out with me!
I will say that Lily probably found the best deal at H &M. She purchased a bikini both pieces included for $11!
We also purchased a couple of shirts and an outfit for Braxton’s birthday at the Disney Outlet store.
On Wednesday, we decided to venture to the second Tanger Outlets.
The biggest store that we wanted to visit was the Nike Store. One of the things that I have learned about this store is that the back wall is all clearance shoes. It has everything from kids to men’s shoe. There is usually a sign on this wall that indicates an additional percentage off. On this particular day it was 20%. Lily, Kendall and I were able to locate shoes that we liked all from this wall. At the register, I was encouraged to sign up for the Nike app which would give me an additional 10% off. I purchased 3 pair of Nike shoes for $85! If you shop at all you realize that this is a good price for even one pair of shoes. We shopped at the Simply Southern store where I purchased t-shirt dresses for the girls for $5. I also purchased several Christmas presents! Mom and I also headed to the Lane Byrant store where we shopped the clearance rack. I was able to combine $20 in birthday cash from the credit card and a school discount. I actually think my Mom did better. She found 5 tops on the clearance rack and opened a credit card account for an additional 20% off. She ended up paying $10.17 for all 5 pieces. To complete the transaction she used cash to pay off the credit card.
We finished the day at Chick A Filet, where the kids traded the books from their meal in for ice cream cones!
I have been very slack on my posting this month. In fact, this is the 5th post and today is the 15th of the month. I do have a legit reason or a couple of legit reasons for this slackness. I am going to share these with you. Of course, the first reason was vacation. We spent a lovely week at the beach. We really enjoyed time as a family. And to be quiet honest, I just did not feel like posting. I do have a couple more post to share about our beach trip and will hope to get at least one of these up this week. We arrived home on Sunday and actually got ahead of the game by unpacking completely Sunday night.
The second reason that I have not posted a lot this month is that I have been focused on stocking the freezer with breakfast and dinners to use as I start back to work next week. I am so excited to say that I am finished with this task. I currently have 75 dinners and 50 breakfasts pre-made and in the freezer. I wanted to share a little bit about this process with you. But first the reason this has been such a focus for me this week is simple LIFE. All three of the little kids will be involved in an extra curricular activity this fall. This means that not only do we have at least one activity every evening we have two activities most evening and an occasional evening where all three kids need to be somewhere different. Kendall will have a football game to cheer at every Saturday during the months of September and October. My goal is to keep Sundays as a day of rest and day to get things organized for the week.
When we arrived home on Sunday, we found peppers, pimentos, cucumbers and tomatoes ripe in the garden. Matt was able to roast 2 batches of pimentos to use to make pimento cheese during the fall and winter. I started a batch of pasta sauce in the crockpot and with the help of Zach made 10 omelet bags. We use omelet bags for breakfast, simply add the bag contents in a cup with 2 eggs and microwave for 2 minutes. Each omelet bag contains sausage, onions and pepper. Prior to leaving on vacation, I made 20 breakfast burritos to use the eggs, milk and sausage in the refrigerator.
Monday after spending several hours/days researching and book marking recipes during our vacation, I checked in the freezers and pantry and made a list of items that needed to be purchased in order to complete different meals. I added to this list pop tarts, instant oatmeal and cereal to use as well. I made 3 batch of pizza dough and froze along with the toppings (cheeseburger and chicken) for these. The pasta sauce was used to make dinner and two additional containers were placed in the freezer.
Tuesday was a shopping day. Mom and I headed to the local Food Lion and to Walmart with my long list. I am very proud to say that by using coupons, gift cards and sticking to my list, I spending $70 total. I did add two packs of chicken thighs to the crockpot to cook while shopping. For dinner, I unthawed a package of chicken livers and added sliced cucumbers and tomatoes.
Wednesday morning, I made a double batch of French toast using bread we found on sale. I added another batch of omelet bags to the freezer as well. I used the chicken thighs to place a chicken divan in the freezer. I decided to go ahead and make chicken broth with the skin and bones as several of my recipes called for it. After our dinner of chicken and dumplings, I made two bags of slow cooker lasagna. My mom and the kids helped with bagging up the dried basil that has been hanging in my building for several weeks.
Today has been another hectic day of cooking. First I cut and hung 15 stalks of basil in the building to begin the drying process. My goal is to not only preserve the basil but allow new plant growth on the existing plants. I also assembled the chicken casserole that we ate for dinner. All the kids were recruited to help with cooking and carrying things to the freezers today. Zach is awesome at browning/ cooking sausage and meats. I assembled 2 baked ziti, 5 bags of Salisbury steak and 2 packs of hamburger patties. I also bagged and froze an additional 10 cups of chicken stock. My plan is to eat one set of the hamburgers for dinner tomorrow and the other will be a meal later in the school year.
Now that all the cooking is finished, I plan to enjoy the last few days of summer with trips to the pool and Wet and wild. I may even finish my 4 book of the summer.
Vacation is a special time for my family. So today, I thought i would share 5 things that make our vacation special and unique to us.
- The beach specifically a beach in South Carolina is where you will find us on vacation during the summer . We typically spend 4-6 hours a day on the beach! Over the years, we have gained a collection of toys, boards, chairs and umbrellas that we bring each year to help occupy our time. I also enjoy sitting on a balcony listening to the waves during meals and at night. In fact, I am sitting outside now!
- Eating out. As a large family, one way we reduce our expenses is by eating at home. We typically eat out once or twice a month. On vacation, we typically eat out once a day. We also enjoy ice cream or donuts as dessert each day.
- Paper products- No one especially me wants to spend time washing dishes on vacation. We bring paper plates and utensils to use and throw away for the meals we do eat in.
- Shopping- We live in a rural area which requires a minimum of a 10 minute drive to get to the closest store. We enjoy outlets bargain stores and even specialty stores while on vacation!
- Family game nights. Typically we play a game 4 or more of the nights we are on vacation. Our current favorites are Uno,Rook, Heads up, Yahtzee and Apples to Apples. The kids also enjoy time on their electronics without having to earn via chores like the rest of the year. Electronics are not missed or used during meals or games.
Zach’s Spring baseball party ended up being a once in a lifetime experience! The party was on a C 17 Air Force plane!
What a difference a year makes. This is one of the reason, I continue to blog after so many years is the ability to read what things were happening in the past. Last year at this time, Matt was starting a new job and I was working out my notice at the hospital. I had intended to begin working 2 contract jobs in August. Fortunately, Davie County Schools offered me a position and this year I have enjoyed a month of spending time with the kids! I also have realized that I have been free styling my month in review for the last several months so this month, I am going back.
Financial-I took a $10,000 a year pay cut with my new job, however I do not have any regrets! I will be hopefully starting a second job in the afternoons which will make up the difference. We have survived this past year but a boost of income will definitely make my life easier. Something new I am tracking is the number of days a month that we don’t spend any money. In June, I had 2 days and this month I had 7! I am going to set the goal at 10 for next month and 15 on a regular basis when school starts.
Grocery Spending-$418.17 This is actually less than last year and more than my previous two months. I am pleased with this spending as I have focused on getting food prepared ahead for the coming school year. I currently have 50 meals that just need to go in crock pot or oven and plan on another 10 to prepare the week after we get home from the beach! I do think that my grocery spending will decrease when school starts as we will be only purchasing items that we need.
Gas budget- $280- Spent $291. I am going to increase the budget to $300 a month starting in August. We purchased a small car to use for my home health job so I am hopeful that this will keep our expenses close to $300 each month.
Kid/Summer expenses : Kendall has a one day cheer camp and I was responsible for paying for half of her uniform ($59). August will be expensive with school fees, baseball fee and more cheer expense
Earned $155- This is a HUGE improvement! This is definitely the most money we have earned in a month for this entire year. I honestly think it is because I am trying to make as much as possible with the focus on completing at least one survey a day on Swagbucks.
Blogging- post number 10 for the month. This is an improvement of 3 from last year but a decrease in 4 from June.
Exercise- Don’t see any this month. A regular routine will probably improve this area!
Looking ahead to August- We are planning to enjoy our beach trip which means spending but once we get back to a regular schedule and I start the second job, my goal is to stay focused and enjoy my kids!
I decided to go ahead and publish my beach menu plan a week early for several reasons. First, this will be an easy way to answer my kids questions of “what are we having for breakfast?” Second, I will be able to pull up and follow the plan no matter where I am at easily. This plan looks a lot different than my usual plans but I hate to cook and really want to enjoy the time at the beach. With a family of our size, it could literally break the bank if we attempted to eat out more than one meal a day.
Sunday is a travel day and will consist of at least two meal on the road and dinner will be left-overs from the first two meals or pasta salad.
Monday- breakfast- Eat out
dinner-chicken enchilada’s (just need to cook)
Tuesday- breakfast- Sausage cresant rolls
lunch- pasta salad-pre-made
Wednesday – breakfast- Eat out
dinner-baked ziti- just need to cook
Thursday breakfast- Jimmy Dean Croissants
lunch- hot dogs
dinner-out to eat
Friday breakfast- Eat out or pop tarts
Saturday breakfast- Jimmy Dean Croissants
lunch- Sandwich or left overs that need to be eaten
dinner-Out to eat